Character: Saul Panzer
Rating: G: all audiences
"Inconsistencies"Bullet for One
, chapter 15:
"You're prejudiced about marriage," I reproached him. "I may try it myself someday. Look at Saul, staked down like a tent but absolutely happy."A Family Affair
, chapter 15:
[Saul] lives alone on the top floor of a remodeled house on Thirty-eighth Street between Lexington and Third.
Lives don't always run in straight lines. Sometimes they double back on themselves, or break and start again elsewhere. Sometimes their paths are so complex that not even New York's finest operative can follow them.
He had a family, once. A wife, small like him, dark hair she kept back from her face with dime-store barrettes. Always reading--literary magazines; in the evenings she'd quote to him, her favorite lines that day, ever-expanding mental file of couplets.
By some great stroke of fortune their daughter had her mother's nose--everything in proportion in her small six-year-old face. She had just learned "Für Elise" and played it incessantly, occasionally interspersed with strains of "Mary Had a Little Lamb".
Their faces are still in his mind. Wife
. He wonders whose they are--usually he can place faces within a few moments, even from his earliest cases, but these float free of any context.
He has a different family now. They make fun of his nose and one night a week they lose to him at poker. He spends Christmasses with his sister in Poughkeepsie. He's never been in love--not properly, anyway.
Sometimes when he comes home from working on a particularly difficult case, he will start to improvise on the piano, but often his fingers come back to the simple harmonies of "Für Elise"--he doesn't know why; it was never one of his favorites; but it has a certain resonance. So it is with the quotes brought to his mind as he's scanning a crowd for his mark--certain faces suggest certain lines, lines he must have learned in school sometime.
He figures Wolfe would know something about this, this subconscious phenomenon, but of course it's too personal to tell. Maybe he'll know more someday, but until then it's just part of the grand unsolvable mystery of his life.