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Saturday, Jeff pulled into the Downens' driveway. He got out of his station wagon holding a casserole he had baked the day before. Unlike Adam, Jeff was handy in the kitchen.

"Hello, Jeff!" greeted Mrs. Downen, opening the front door.

"How is everyone?" asked Jeff, handing her the casserole.

"Wasn't that sweet of you!" exclaimed Mrs. Downen. "Everyone is fine-- just fine!"

"Is Maggie feeling all right?" asked Jeff. "I haven't seen her at the bus stop, lately."

"Bless you, no!" laughed Mrs. Downen. "Is that why you went to all this trouble?" she exclaimed, referring to the casserole.

"It wasn't any trouble," replied Jeff.

"Maggie is just fine!" replied Mrs. Downen. There was a silent pause as Jeff waited to hear Mrs. Downen's explanation, but she didn't offer one. She was standing in front of the door as if to block him from seeing inside.

"May I see Maggie-- I mean, Miss Downen?" asked Jeff.

"I'm afraid she's not here at the moment," replied Mrs. Downen, nervously.

"Is everything all right?" asked Jeff, growing more concerned.

Mrs. Downen's face fell. She stepped aside so Jeff could see inside. On the sofa, Mr. Downen was "sleeping one off" after a night of too much alcohol.

"I don't know why I tried to hide it from you," said Mrs. Downen. "You, who are so familiar with this family's troubles."

"I thought Mr. Downen had promised to quit," said Jeff.

"He didn't mean it," replied Mrs. Downen. "He never does."

"That much alcohol is never good for anyone, let alone a man as old as he is," reminded Jeff, solemnly.

"I know it!" exclaimed Mrs. Downen. "But try telling him that! It just goes in one ear and straight out the other! Once he starts talking about his perfect Wayne, there's no stopping the liquor that follows! Well, if there's nothing more, I have work to finish," said Mrs. Downen, almost tersely. Her company manners were wearing thin.

"May I see Miss Downen?" asked Jeff, for the second time.

"She's not here," replied Mrs. Downen, crossly. Then, as if repenting from her rude behavior, she added, "You might try Vera Overholt's house."

Jeff had only been inside the Downen house once, when Mrs. Downen had phoned the police accusing her husband of beating her. At the time, Mr. Downen was seventy-four years old, and it was highly questionable that if he had struck her, it was anything more than one of their usual fights. When questioned further, Mrs. Downen admitted that she had bent the truth. It was a sad household for a mentally challenged person like Maggie to live in. However, Jeff never heard Maggie complain; it was the only family she had.

After hearing Maggie might be at Vera Overholt's house, Jeff went there and asked to see Miss Downen.

"I'm sorry," replied Vera, "but Maggie is at Adam Clark's house."

Jeff did not know Adam personally, so he could not vouch for his character, other than to admit that the plumber had never had a run-in with the law. In fact, the only time Jeff had ever spoken to him was on one occasion where one of Adam's taillights had gone out. The off-duty police officer felt compelled to follow through and make sure this Adam Clark fellow was a man to be trusted around Miss Downen.

Jeff found Adam in front of his house, raking up autumn leaves.

"May I help you?" asked Adam, not recognizing Jeff out of his uniform.
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