Matheus examined the marks on the bottom of the vase. He looked at the laptop beside him, toggling through the open websites. He’d been surprised to discover Quin did have a telephone line installed. Matheus embraced the Internet with the enthusiasm of a heroin addict discovering an untouched stash of China white. The Internet screeched back at him in the manner of an inbred electronic howler monkey in the middle of a lingering plague death. Matheus stood in front of the modem, circa 1990, trying to decide exactly which species of monkey best described the ear-rending sounds filling Quin’s office. He hoped Quin didn’t need the phone line, because Matheus refused to disconnect. He understood why people fled from dial-up as quickly as possible.
He twisted the vase, letting it catch the dim light, then set it on the coffee table. Matheus cupped his chin in one hand and regarded the vase for a few seconds. Partially to remove any doubts, but mostly to avoid looking at the man standing in front of him.