Edwin's hair was damp, just like everybody else's as he entered the subway station. It didn't look so greasy now, so he didn't get the looks of disapproval that usually greeted him wherever he went. Edwin had to wait in line to purchase a ticket from the guy working the booth, and then was upset when he had to scour all of his pockets to gather the small change needed to pay the fare.
The broad-shouldered critic crossed the turnstiles just as the next metro car entered the station. There was a great shooshing as a large body of air blew right past him, disheveling his grotesque hair even further. Without losing a moment to replace it, Edwin avoided the flow of people leaving the car and dove in. He stayed up and was soon surrounded by strangers. Moments later, the car began to move and Edwin's mind once again returned to its familiar haunts: the mystery of his friend's disappearance and the stub left for him in the safe.
It was unfortunate that the man he had thought was following him had not been doing so. Edwin would have loved to confront him, question him. He would have been bound to know something, whereas he was moving in total darkness. Valera. He didn't know where he should begin to look, or even if he should begin to look at all. After all those years, was there still something to be found?
After thinking it through for another minute or so, Edwin decided he would tackle this task like he would a gourmet meal: one course at a time. All he had to do was begin with the entrée. In this case, he figured he'd go with his first impression that Valera was the name of somebody he was meant to talk to. Before doing that, however, he needed to find that person. That was the appetizer.
A good place to start looking was his friend's old house, in the suburbs. See if there were clues as to that person's identity. Then, depending on what he did or did not find, he could visit the relatives to take a look at the belongings of his dear old friend. They were probably in storage somewhere, waiting for the siblings of the deceased (was he even deceased?) to sort through all that junk. Julian McNicolls was an avid collector: Edwin was pretty sure there were lots and lots of crates and boxes overfilling with all kinds of paraphernalia and eccentricities. He smothered a laugh: he could picture the two hot-headed siblings wasting many a night rummaging through those boxes for anything with a semblance of value, probably with the noble intent of pawning it immediately for a little cash. Julian's brothers were coarse and ignorant, nowhere as refined as his friend had been.
"Those two dimwits, muttered Edwin, shaking his head in disapproval, how could they not have been adopted?"