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Chapter 9 A Few Questions





The next day Arbogast visited all the hotels near Fairvale. He showed everyone a picture of Marion. 'Have you seen this girl?' he asked them. The answer was always 'No.'

At last, as he was driving along the Old Highway outside Fairvale, he saw a small motel by the side of the road.

'Maybe I'll be lucky with this one,' he thought. 'I've tried all the others.'

Arbogast left the road and drove up to the motel. Norman Bates was sitting outside his office in the evening sun, reading a magazine. He stood up and smiled as Arbogast got out of his car.

'I almost missed you,'Arbogast said.

'I forgot to turn on the sign,' Norman replied.'Do you want a room?'

'No thanks. I only want to ask a few questions.'

'What sort of questions?' asked Norman, turning to go into his office.

'I'm trying to find a girl,' said Arbogast, following him. 'My name's Arbogast. I'm a detective.'

'Oh really?' Norman tried to smile calmly.'A girl?'

'Her name's Marion Crane,' Arbogast explained. 'She's from Phoenix. She disappeared last Friday and her family are very worried.' He showed Norman the photograph.'Have you seen her?'

Norman shook his head without looking.

'Maybe she stopped here about a week ago?'

'No. I haven't had any visitors for more than two weeks. Business has been bad since they moved the highway.'

'Can I see your book?'

Norman gave him the book from under the desk without speaking. He watched as Arbogast took out an envelope and studied the names in the book.

'Ah.'Arbogast's finger stopped at the name of Marie Samuels from Los Angeles. 'You see? She was here last Saturday night. Look. The writing is the same as on this envelope.'

'So?' Norman said in a weak voice.

'The writing on this envelope belongs to Miss Crane.'

Norman opened his mouth to speak, but his mouth was dry and he couldn't think of the right words. Finally he said: 'It' difficult sometimes.'

Arbogast looked at Norman.'What's difficult?'

'Remembering things.'

'I know, I know,'Arbogast said softly, trying not to frighten him.

'You know, I wasn't lying, mister. I just forgot about last week.'

'I understand.'

Arbogast's friendliness seemed to make Norman calmer. He smiled, and asked to see the photograph again. This time he studied it carefully.

'Oh yes,' he said. 'I remember now. It was raining. This girl arrived late at night. She was tired and went straight to bed. She left early the next morning.'

'Did she meet anybody here?'

'No, she was alone.'

'Did she phone anybody?'

'No.'

'How do you know?'

Norman shut his eyes. It was happening again. His face was burning and he couldn't think of an answer. Finally he said: 'She was tired. She said she wanted to go straight to bed because she had a long journey the next morning. And now, Mr Arbogast, I'm very busy. I have to go.'

'One more question, please,'Arbogast said as Norman began to walk away. 'Is she still here?'

'No, she isn't. I told you before. If you don't believe me, I'll show you all the rooms.'

'No, that's all right,'Arbogast smiled.

He followed Norman outside. It was dark now. He looked up at the house on the hill and noticed a light in a window.

'Is anyone at home?' he asked, as Norman was walking away.

Norman turned round and smiled. 'No.'

 

'But there's someone sitting by that window.'Arbogast pointed at the house.

'Oh, that's my mother. She's ill.'

V Arbogast looked hard at Norman for a moment, then said: 'Did that girl offer you a lot of money?'

'What do you mean?'

'To hide her here, maybe?'

'Look mister, if you think I kidnapped her or something ...'

'I'm not saying that. But perhaps she offered you money and asked you not to tell anyone? Maybe she told you some stupid story

'Mr Arbogast, I'm not stupid,' Norman said.

'No, of course you're not. But sometimes it's just too easy to believe a pretty girl.'

'Even if I'm stupid, my mother isn't,' Norman was getting excited again. 'My mother didn't believe anything she said.'

'So your mother met her?'Arbogast looked surprised.'Can I meet your mother too? I'd like to talk to her.'

'No you can't. I told you. She's sick.'

Arbogast wanted to talk to the mother, but there was something strong and icy about Norman now. He decided not to push him. Til come back later,' he thought. 'After I've phoned the girl's sister and told her what I know.'

 







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