Книга Farewell, My Lovely. Содержание - 30

“That’s not nice,” I said. “A fellow officer.”

“So I called Nulty up and he hemmed and hawed around and spit a few times and then he said you had an idea about some girl called Velma something or other that Malloy was sweet on a long time ago and you went to see the widow of the guy that used to own the dive where the killing happened when it was a white joint, and where Malloy and the girl both worked at that time. And her address was 1644 West Fifty-fourth Place, the place Marriott had the trust deed on.”


“So I just thought that was enough coincidence for one morning,” Randall said. “And here I am. And so far I’ve been pretty nice about it.”

“The trouble is,” I said, “it looks like more than it is. This Velma girl is dead, according to Mrs. Florian. I have her photo.”

I went into the living room and reached into my suitcoat and my hand was in midair when it began to feel funny and empty. But they hadn’t even taken the photos. I got them out and took them to the kitchen and tossed the Pierrot girl down in front of Randall. He studied it carefully.

“Nobody I ever saw,” he said. “That another one?”

“No, this is a newspaper still of Mrs. Grayle. Anne Riordan got it.”

He looked at it and nodded. “For twenty million, I’d marry her myself.”

“There’s something I ought to tell you,” I said. “Last night I was so damn mad I had crazy ideas about going down there and trying to bust it alone. This hospital is at Twenty-third and Descanso in Bay City. It’s run by a man named Sonderborg who says he’s a doctor. He’s running a crook hideout on the side. I saw Moose Malloy there last night. In a room.”

Randall sat very still, looking at me. “Sure?”

“You couldn’t mistake him. He’s a big guy, enormous. He doesn’t look like anybody you ever saw.”

He sat looking at me, without moving. Then very slowly he moved out from under the table and stood up.

“Let’s go see this Florian woman.”

“How about Malloy?”

He sat down again. “Tell me the whole thing, carefully.” I told him. He listened without taking his eyes off my face. I don’t think he even winked. He breathed with his mouth slightly open. His body didn’t move. His fingers tapped gently on the edge of the table. When I had finished he said:

“This Dr. Sonderborg — what did he look like?”

“Like a doper, and probably a dope peddler.” I described him to Randall as well as I could.

He went quietly into the other room and sat down at the telephone. He dialed his number and spoke quietly for a time. Then he came back. I had just finished making more coffee and boiling a couple of eggs and making two slices of toast and buttering them. I sat down to eat.

Randall sat down opposite me and leaned his chin in his hand. “I’m having a state narcotics man go down there with a fake complaint and ask to look around. He may get some ideas. He won’t get Malloy. Malloy was out of there ten minutes after you left last night. That’s one thing you can bet on.”

“Why not the Bay City cops?” I put salt on my eggs.

Randall said nothing. When I looked up at him his face was red and uncomfortable.

“For a cop,” I said, “you’re the most sensitive guy I ever met.”

“Hurry up with that eating. We have to go.”

“I have to shower and shave and dress after this.”

“Couldn’t you just go in your pajamas?” he asked acidly.

“So the town is as crooked as all that?” I said.

“It’s Laird Brunette’s town. They say he put up thirty grand to elect a mayor.”

“The fellow that owns the Belvedere Club?”

“And the two gambling boats.”

“But it’s in our county,” I said.

He looked down at his clean, shiny fingernails. “We’ll stop by your office and get those other two reefers,” he said. “If they’re still there.” He snapped his fingers. “If you’ll lend me your keys, I’ll do it while you get shaved and dressed.”

“We’ll go together,” I said. “I might have some mail.”

He nodded and after a moment sat down and lit another cigarette. I shaved and dressed and we left in Randall’s car.

I had some mail, but it wasn’t worth reading. The two cut up cigarettes in the desk drawer had not been touched. The office had no look of having been searched.

Randall took the two Russian cigarettes and sniffed at the tobacco and put them away in his pocket.

“He got one card from you,” he mused. “There couldn’t have been anything on the back of that, so he didn’t bother about the others. I guess Amthor is not very much afraid — just thought you were trying to pull something. Let’s go.”


Old Nosey poked her nose an inch outside the front door, sniffed carefully as if there might be an early violet blooming, looked up and down the street with a raking glance, and nodded her white head. Randall and I took our hats off. In that neighborhood that probably ranked you with Valentino. She seemed to remember me.

“Good morning, Mrs. Morrison,” I said. “Can we step inside a minute? This is Lieutenant Randall from Headquarters.”

“Land’s sakes, I’m all flustered. I got a big ironing to do,” she said.

“We won’t keep you a minute.”

She stood back from the door and we slipped past her into her hallway with the side piece from Mason City or wherever it was and from that into the neat living room with the lace curtains at the windows. A smell of ironing came from the back of the house. She shut the door between as carefully as if it was made of short pie crust.

She had a blue and white apron on this morning. Her eyes were just as sharp and her chin hadn’t grown any.

She parked herself about a foot from me and pushed her face forward and looked into my eyes.

“She didn’t get it.”

I looked wise. I nodded my head and looked at Randall and Randall nodded his head. He went to a window and looked at the side of Mrs. Florian’s house. He came back softly, holding his pork pie under his arm, debonair as a French count in a college play.

“She didn’t get it,” I said.

“Nope, she didn’t. Saturday was the first. April Fool’s Day. He! He!” She stopped and was about to wipe her eyes with her apron when she remembered it was a rubber apron. That soured her a little. Her mouth got the pruny look.

“When the mailman come by and he didn’t go up her walk she ran out and called to him. He shook his head and went on. She went back in. She slammed the door so hard I figured a window’d break. Like she was mad.”

“I swan,” I said.

Old Nosey said to Randall sharply: “Let me see your badge, young man. This young man had a whiskey breath on him t’other day. I ain’t never rightly trusted him.”

Randall took a gold and blue enamel badge out of his pocket and showed it to her.

“Looks like real police all right,” she admitted. “Well, ain’t nothing happened over Sunday. She went out for liquor. Come back with two square bottles.”

“Gin,” I said. “That just gives you an idea. Nice folks don’t drink gin.”

“Nice folks don’t drink no liquor at all,” Old Nosey said pointedly.

“Yeah,” I said. “Come Monday, that being today, and the mailman went by again. This time she was really sore.”

“Kind of smart guesser, ain’t you, young man? Can’t wait for folks to get their mouth open hardly.”

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Morrison. This is an important matter to us — “

“This here young man don’t seem to have no trouble keepin’ his mouth in place.”

“He’s married,” I said. “He’s had practice.”

Her face turned a shade of violet that reminded me, unpleasantly, of cyanosis. “Get out of my house afore I call the police!” she shouted.

“There is a police officer standing before you, madam,” Randall said shortly. “You are in no danger.”

“That’s right there is,” she admitted. The violet tint began to fade from her face. “I don’t take to this man.”

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