“Yes, it is. I had it made specially” said Mr. Lauper. He had pulled himself back, and was looking with a tortured face how every eyeless doll was being picked from the floor. “It was one of the last handmade Klint Dolls. The last one, in fact. A masterpiece. He sold it just before he died. And it had been lost since. It became a myth. But I was able to track it down and found it. Some said it was Klint’s daughter. Some claimed it was Klint’s wife or his dead sister. Nobody knew because every trace that Klint ever existed was erased. Only some of his dolls lived. Not his family, not his house, and people seemed to forget they knew him. And the dolls disappeared with time, used and broken. But this one was just precious.” He finished, almost sobbing.
“You are saying, that it was an expensive doll? An antique?” asked perplexed Rogers.
“Yes. My earliest acquaintance. The Last Klint.” He finished. Rogers ran after him.
“Could you tell me more about this Klint?” He asked. Lauper’s eyes glinted, for he was asked to talk about his hero.
“Yes! Yes, his name was Gregori Klint. He came from Russia when he was a child with his family, after her sister died. I think it was a tragedy for the family, as the mother couldn’t have any more babies. So they moved. His father was a carpenter, and in his free time, he made wood dolls for the daughter they had. And that’s how he learned to make dolls. As his father died very young, when he was 16, he started to make dolls to support his mother. He was becoming famous in town when his mother died of a strange disease. Short after, he married another Russian girl named Nina. But they were very poor and when he found out he was going to be a father, he decided that he was going to take a new job in the new factory. This was the last doll he ever made, for his daughter, before retiring. He never took another job, because he died, of the same strange disease his mother died. The doll was sold by the wife in the hours of need. After that, nobody ever heard about the wife or the daughter again. That was more than twenty years ago.” told the big man. “And I had that doll, the famous Last Klint. And it was stolen from me.” He said with great sorrow. Then he left.
Detective Rogers thought that the thief was going to have a great treat when he sold the doll. But something was not falling into place. Someone who has been poking the dolls eyes out and stealing them, wouldn’t take a doll just for money. There was a reason to do this. He had been stealing dolls from small houses at first, but now, he was going to the great leagues, and it didn’t fit.
Next day, before going down to work at the station, Rogers went to check at the old newspapers. He thought, given that Klint was such a famous doll maker, it had to be mentioned somewhere. But all he could find out was his wedding date, and his epitaph. Maybe he was a great celebrity only in Mr. Lauper’s world, though Rogers.
But when he got to station, the thought kept bothering him. What person, who was in Lauper’s world too, would attack half the town’s dolls? It didn’t just fall into place. Or maybe, he had spent too much time in a small place like this, so when something interesting happened, he made it bigger than it was. Yes, it was possible he had been trapped in this city for too long, for he know talked to nobody, decreasing his self security, and was becoming something like hermit.
He sat in his for a while and called the records, to look for Klin’s daughter. Gregori and Nina Klin’s daughter. But the record showed no Klin ever borned, only one that have died. Maybe their daughter had died, short after her father, but no record was shone either. Like she had never existed. It was possible that Nina Klin moved from town before her daughter was born.
Rogers kept thinking how easy is for people to disappear in that place. And he kept wondering why Nina wanted to disappear, with daughter or childless. How a mother would want something like that, would take a risk like that for its child.
“Hey! Rogers!” called another someone from another desk, “Lauper mentioned he went to the hospital yesterday, Right?”
“Yeah!” answered Rogers, not bothering to see who shouted, “His wife.”
The neighbors maybe remembered her. The old neighborhood was a few blocks behind the old hospital. She must have lived there, it was and old place, full of small town stores, before the supermarkets outshined them. He could go and ask people.
Rogers left the old police office to arrive to an older place, even antique. The only big building was the small hospital, a few flats above the others. The rest, were small, packed houses, mostly abandoned, with old paint coming down, no window glasses, and just a few looked like they were being used for legal things. He walked for a few streets, watching the old abandoned stores, thinking one of those could have been Klin’s. But it was all a loss of time. He was about to go back when he thought about looking through the old hospital records. If something had happened with the Klin’s daughter, the hospital must be the right place.
“Police Office, could I go through the hospital records?” Asked Rogers in his usually monotone voice.
“No.” answered simply an overloaded nurse.
“You are interrupting official investigation. We need to go through some of your files”. Kept insisting, Rogers annoyed.
“Fine, but it takes us about a week to do that. Leave your information in those forms and we’ll get back to you.” Then she left. Rogers, angry, started scribbling in a yellow sheet. He read back, a while after, words like “About twenty years ago” and “Klint, Nina” made him feel like he knew nothing.
And he actually knew nothing. So he left the hospital in a slow motion feeling helpless, maybe he would never find out what happened to all the eyes of the dolls. On his way out, he heard a voice calling a “Nina” name. Thinking that was the place where all the old files were kept, he tried to slip in. But all he found out, was a room, with a lady looking curiously at him. She was not too old, but looked extremely ill. All her color drained out, dead hair, limp arms. But her face, it looked like a child’s. Or had a child’s looked. Maybe both.
“I’m sorry. I thought I heard… someone’s name…” He knew he was just babbling, but he couldn’t find something clever to say.
“That was for me. Antonina Yermak. What can I do for you?” said the small woman, in a very fine voice.
“Nothing, thank you. I’m sorry I disturbed you, ma’am.” And just when he was about to walk away. She talked again.
“It’s any disturbance. I don’t get too many visits.” She said again. That’s when he noticed. Both of her eye pupils were empty, blank. She was blind.
“Yes, well, I’m sorry. Good day to you.” Rogers ran away. The yellow form he had filled, still in the place he had left it.
It was a long week he waited for the information to come, and a long second week too. But anything had happened since the last robbery, and he was not in a rush. The phone call was a disappointment. “There was no Nina in this hospital, twenty years ago” was what he expected but it was still sad.
He had no leads, no place to steer. No, some Nina had to be in that hospital. They hadn’t even searched properly. He had to go back. And look for himself.
But after hours arguing with the hospital’s staff, he went back, swallowing his words. But one corner, a dozen nurses and half a dozen doctors came running down the hall, towards a known room.
“She was just writing a letter for her son” said the girl, a social service maybe. But the girl ran away, crying, leaving the letter in Roger’s hands. He opened it:
Y ya, tendrán que leer la carta en otro momento, por que no puedo pegar el resto.
Buen día a todos ustedes.