Книга Farewell, My Lovely. Содержание - 39

“Easy, huh?” Red said softly, against the heavy clear voices of the table men calling the numbers.

“Thanks to you. He bought. He’s worried.”

Red looked this way and that and turned his lips a little more close to my ear. “Get your man?”

“No. But I’m hoping Brunette will find a way to get him a message.”

Red turned his head and looked at the tables again. He yawned and straightened away from the wall. The beak-nosed man was in again. Red stepped over to him and said: “Hiya, Olson,” and almost knocked the man off his feet pushing past him.

Olson looked after him sourly and straightened his hat. Then he spat viciously on the floor.

As soon as he had gone, I left the place and went along to the parking lot back towards the tracks where I had left my car.

I drove back to Hollywood and put the car away and went up to the apartment.

I took my shoes off and walked around in my socks feeling the floor with my toes. They would still get numb again once in a while.

Then I sat down on the side of the pulled-down bed and tried to figure time. It couldn’t be done. It might take hours or days to find Malloy. He might never be found until the police got him. If they ever did — alive.


It was about ten o’clock when I called the Grayle number in Bay City. I thought it would probably be too late to catch her, but it wasn’t. I fought my way through a maid and the butler and finally heard her voice on the line. She sounded breezy and well-primed for the evening.

“I promised to call you,” I said. “It’s a little late, but I’ve had a lot to do.”

“Another stand-up?” Her voice got cool.

“Perhaps not. Does your chauffeur work this late?”

“He works as late as I tell him to.”

“How about dropping by to pick me up? I’ll be getting squeezed into my commencement suit.”

“Nice of you,” she drawled. “Should I really bother?” Amthor had certainly done a wonderful job with her centers of speech — if anything had ever been wrong with them.

“I’d show you my etching.”

“Just one etching?”

“It’s just a single apartment.”

“I heard they had such things,” she drawled again, then changed her tone. “Don’t act so hard to get. You have a lovely build, mister. And don’t ever let anyone tell you different. Give me the address again.”

I gave it to her and the apartment number. “The lobby door is locked,” I said. “But I’ll go down and slip the catch.”

“That’s fine,” she said. “I won’t have to bring my jimmy.”

She hung up, leaving me with a curious feeling of having talked to somebody that didn’t exist.

I went down to the lobby and slipped the catch and then took a shower and put my pajamas on and lay down on the bed. I could have slept for a week. I dragged myself up off the bed again and set the catch on the door, which I had forgotten to do, and walked through a deep hard snowdrift out to the kitchenette and laid out glasses and a bottle of liqueur Scotch I had been saving for a really highclass seduction.

I lay down on the bed again. “Pray,” I said out loud. “There’s nothing left but prayer.”

I closed my eyes. The four walls of the room seemed to hold the throb of a boat, the still air seemed to drip with fog and rustle with sea wind. I smelled the rank sour smell of a disused hold. I smelled engine oil and saw a wop in a purple shirt reading under a naked light bulb with his grandfather’s spectacles. I climbed and climbed up a ventilator shaft. I climbed the Himalayas and stepped out on top and guys with machine guns were all around me. I talked with a small and somehow very human yellow-eyed man who was a racketeer and probably worse. I thought of the giant with the red hair and the violet eyes, who was probably the nicest man I had ever met.

I stopped thinking. Lights moved behind my closed lids. I was lost in space. I was a gilt-edged sap come back from a vain adventure. I was a hundred dollar package of dynamite that went off with a noise like a pawnbroker looking at a dollar watch. I was a pink-headed bug crawling up the side of the City Hall.

I was asleep.

I woke slowly, unwillingly, and my eyes stared at reflected light on the ceiling from the lamp. Something moved gently in the room.

The movement was furtive and quiet and heavy. I listened to it. Then I turned my head slowly and looked at Moose Malloy. There were shadows and he moved in the shadows, as noiselessly as I had seen him once before. A gun in his hand had a dark oily business-like sheen. His hat was pushed back on his black curly hair and his nose sniffed, like the nose of a hunting dog.

He saw me open my eyes. He came softly over to the side of the bed and stood looking down at me.

“I got your note,” he said. “I make the joint clean. I don’t make no cops outside. If this is a plant, two guys goes out in baskets.”

I rolled a little on the bed and he felt swiftly under the pillows. His face was still wide and pale and his deep-set eyes were still somehow gentle. He was wearing an overcoat tonight. It fitted him where it touched. It was burst out in one shoulder seam, probably just getting it on. It would be the largest size they had, but not large enough for Moose Malloy.

“I hoped you’d drop by,” I said. “No copper knows any thing about this. I just wanted to see you.”

“Go on,” he said.

He moved sideways to a table and put the gun down and dragged his overcoat off and sat down in my best easy chair. It creaked, but it held. He leaned back slowly and arranged the gun so that it was close to his right hand. He dug a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket and shook one loose and put it into his mouth without touching it with his fingers. A match flared on a thumbnail. The sharp smell of the smoke drifted across the room.

“You ain’t sick or anything?” he said.

“Just resting. I had a hard day.”

“Door was open. Expecting someone?”

“A dame.”

He stared at me thoughtfully.

“Maybe she won’t come,” I said. “If she does, I’ll stall her.”

“What dame?”

“Oh, just a dame. If she comes, I’ll get rid of her. I’d rather talk to you.”

His very faint smile hardly moved his mouth. He puffed his cigarette awkwardly, as if it was too small for his fingers to hold with comfort.

“What made you think I was on the Monty?” he asked.

“A Bay City cop. It’s a long story and too full of guessing.”

“Bay City cops after me?”

“Would that bother you?”

He smiled the faint smile again. He shook his head slightly.

“You killed a woman,” I said. “Jessie Florian. That was a mistake.”

He thought. Then he nodded. “I’d drop that one,” he said quietly.

“But that queered it,” I said. “I’m not afraid of you. You’re no killer. You didn’t mean to kill her. The other one — over on Central — you could have squeezed out of. But not out of beating a woman’s head on a bedpost until her brains were on her face.”

“You take some awful chances, brother,” he said softly.

“The way I’ve been handled,” I said, “I don’t know the difference any more. You didn’t mean to kill her — did you?”

His eyes were restless. His head was cocked in a listening attitude.

“It’s about time you learned your own strength,” I said.

“It’s too late,” he said.

“You wanted her to tell you something,” I said. “You took hold of her neck and shook her. She was already dead when you were banging her head against the bedpost.”

He stared at me.

“I know what you wanted her to tell you,” I said.

“Go ahead.”

“There was a cop with me when she was found. I had to break clean.”

“How clean?”

“Fairly clean,” I said. “But not about tonight.”

He stared at me. “Okey, how did you know I was on the Monty?” He had asked me that before. He seemed to have forgotten.

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