Allen Carswell sat back in his plush smoking chair and puffed lazily on his imported cigar. As a successful mystery novelist, he had long since forgotten his difficult childhood in a local orphanage. He had been found in a basket on the orphanage doorstep when only a few days old, and years of growing up in its grim surroundings had convinced him that he wanted no part of a life of poverty. He had honed his writing skills and had become an immediate success with the publication of his first novel, The Death Trap. Now, almost 40 years later, his life of luxury provided a comfortable buffer against his memories of the past when he had to scrap for every crust of bread, often going to bed hungry.
"Will there be anything else, sir?" asked William, his butler. William had set Carswell's customary glass of brandy on the table beside him, along with a couple of his favorite butter cookies.
"No thank you, William," smiled Carswell. "You may retire for the evening."
William padded silently out of the thickly carpeted study, empty tray at his side. Carswell sipped the brandy thoughtfully. For his next Jack Carter novel, he was going to have Jack team up with an old panhandler, who helps Jack solve the mystery. Carswell wanted to spend a few days doing research for the panhandler character, an approach he often took to add verisimilitude to his novels. He had found a panhandler who agreed to help him with his research for the tidy sum of $1,000, which was more than the man could make panhandling for a month or more. Finishing the last of the brandy and the cigar, he made his way upstairs to the bedroom and dropped off to sleep.
The next morning, Carswell met the elderly panhandler, Albert, who did not remember his last name anymore. Carswell accompanied Albert to a panhandling spot to observe. Just as the Albert and Carswell were getting ready to pack up and re