I looked hard at the circled day on the calendar. It was hard to believe another year had gone by. It didn’t seem that long ago.
The painter scraped a blade along the glass, taking away the names.
“This is it, Matt.” Max said, pouring me a shot of his disgusting vodka. “We are no longer Stein & Allen. I go back to being plain old Max Stein Investigations.”
He clinked my glass and I slugged the shot back, eager to get the sensation over with as quickly as possible.
“Oh, God, that’s horrible.”
“Let’s you know you’re alive.”
“You decided on what you’re going to put on your door?”
“Yeah. Matt Allen, Occult Investigations.”
“Sounds about right,” Max said.
It was hard to believe the day had finally come. After four years of working with Max, I decided to hang my own shingle. He would continue with Shadow Valley and the hard working areas, where I would take the more affluent areas of Belport like Fairhaven and Badon Heights. One of my cases would make up for ten of his.
But if he ever needs a hand, I’m there for him.
“I’m going to miss you, Max.”
“Aww, don’t go getting sentimental on me. We’ll still be inseparable, you’ll see. You’ll consult on my cases, and I’ll consult on yours. And we’ve got standing reservations every Saturday at Joe’s Deli.”
“All the same, it’s the end of an era.”
“Sure is. But that’s the great thing. It’s the beginning of a new one. Cheers.”
I sighed and put the calendar down. Max was gone, leaving me to mind the shop, the city, alone. I poured myself a drink of truly bad scotch and raised it to him, wondering, as the liquor burned down my throat, when my turn would come.