Книга: Deadly Honeymoon
Назад: Chapter 9
Дальше: Chapter 11

Chapter 10

The diner had no jukebox. Behind the counter a radio blared. The song was an old one, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Jordan doing “Stone Cold Dead in the Market.” The air was thick with cooking smells. The diner had two booths, and both of them had been occupied when they entered it. They had adjoining seats at the counter. He was drinking coffee and waiting for the counterman to finish making him a bowl of oatmeal. She had coffee too and was eating a toasted English muffin. His cigarette burned slowly in a glass ashtray. She was not smoking.

The diner was on Broadway just below Union Square. When they left Lublin’s house, they had walked along Newkirk Avenue as far as Fifteenth, and there was a subway entrance there. They went downstairs and bought tokens and passed through the turnstile and waited in silence for a Manhattan-bound train. The train came after a long wait — the BMT Brighton line, just a few cars at that hour, just a very few passengers. They rode it as far as Fourteenth Street and got out there. From the subway arcade, the diner looked like as good a place as they would be likely to find there. It was around seven when they went into the diner. They had been there for about twenty minutes.

A man who had been sitting next to Jill folded his copy of the Times and left the diner. Dave leaned closer to her and said, “I killed him.” She stared down into her coffee cup and didn’t answer. “I murdered a man,” he said.

“Not murder. It was self-defense. You were fighting and—”

He shook his head. “If an individual dies in the course of or as a direct result of the commission of a felony, the felon is guilty of murder in the first degree.”

“Did we commit a felony?”

“A batch of them. Illegal entry as a starter, and a few different kinds of aggravated assault. And Carl is dead. That means that I’m guilty of first-degree murder and you’re an accessory.”

“Will anything—”

“Happen to us? No.” He paused. “The law won’t do anything. They won’t hear about it, not officially at least. I understand there’s a standard procedure in cases like this. Lublin will get rid of Carl’s body.”

“The river?”

“I don’t know how they do it nowadays. I read something about putting them under roadbeds. You know — they have a friend doing highway construction, and they shovel the body into the roadbed during the night and cover him up the next day, and he’s buried forever. I read somewhere that there are more than twenty dead men under the New Jersey Turnpike. The cars roll right over them and never know it.”

“God,” she said.

His oatmeal came, finally, a congealed mass in the bottom of the bowl. He spooned a little sugar onto it and poured some milk over the mass. He got a little of it down and gave up, pushed the bowl away. The counterman asked if anything was wrong with it and he said no, he just wasn’t as hungry as he had thought. He ordered more coffee. The coffee, surprisingly, was very good there.

He said, “We’re in trouble, you know.”

“From Lublin?”

“Yes. He wasn’t just talking. For one thing, we shoved him around pretty hard. He’s a tough old man and he took it well but I hurt him, I know that. I messed him up and I hurt him. He’s not going to write that off too easily. But more than that, I managed to get Washburn’s name out of him, and the whole story of why Corelli was killed. He took a hell of a beating to keep from giving me Washburn’s name. He won’t want Washburn to find out that he let it out, and he’ll be sure that Washburn will find out if we get to him. So he’ll want to get us first. To have us killed.”

“Will he be able to find us?”

“Maybe.” He thought. “He knows my first name. You called me Dave in front of him.”

“It was a slip. Does he still think my name is Rita?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

“I don’t want to be killed.” She said this very calmly and levelly, as though she had considered the matter very carefully before coming to the conclusion that death was something to be avoided if at all possible. “I don’t want him to kill us.”

“It won’t happen.”

“He knows your first name, and he’s got my name wrong. That’s all he knows, and a description of us. But the description doesn’t have to fit, does it? Do you think it’s time for me to be a blonde again?”

“That’s not a bad idea.”

“Pay the check,” she said. “I’ll meet you outside, around the corner.”

He finished his coffee and paid the check. She got up and went to the washroom in the back. He left a tip and went outside. The sky was clear now, and the sun was bright. He lit a cigarette. The smoke was strong in his lungs. Too many cigarettes, too long a time without sleep. He took another drag on the cigarette and walked to the corner of Thirteenth Street He finished the cigarette and tossed it into the gutter.

When she came to him he stared hard at her. The transformation was phenomenal. She was his Jill again, the hair blond with just a trace of the brown coloring still remaining. She had undone the French twist and the hair was pageboy again, framing her face as it had always done. Her face was scrubbed free of the heavy makeup. She had even removed her lipstick and had replaced it with her regular shade. And, with the transformation, her face had lost its hard angular quality, had softened visibly. She had played the role of cheap chippy so effectively that the performance had very nearly sold him; he had almost grown used to her that way. It was jarring to see her again as she had always been before.

“I didn’t do a very good job,” she said. “I didn’t want to soak my hair, and I couldn’t get all the brown out. I’ll take care of it later, but this ought to do for now. How do I look?”

He told her.

“But it was fun pretending,” she said. “I liked being Rita, just for a while. I must be a frustrated actress.”

“Or a frustrated prostitute.”


“Jill, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be silly.”

“I was teasing, I didn’t think—”

“It’s my fault. We ought to be able to tease each other.”

“It was tactless.”

“We should not have to be tactful with each other. Let’s forget it. What do you want to do now?”

“I don’t know.”

“Where should we go?”

“We could go back to the hotel,” he said. “You must be exhausted.”

“Not especially.”

‘You didn’t sleep at all. And you didn’t sleep very well the night before last, either. Aren’t you tired?”

“Very, but not sleepy. I don’t think I could sleep. Are you tired?”


“Do you want to go back to the hotel?”

“No.” He lit another cigarette. She took it from him and dragged on it. He told her to keep it and lit another for himself. He said, “I think we ought to find out a little about Washburn. If he’s so important he probably made the papers at one time or another. We could spend an hour at the library. They keep the New York Times on microfilm, and it’s indexed. It might be worth an hour.”

“All right. Do you know how to get there? The library?”

He had used it once before, during the course for the bar exam, and he remembered where it was. They couldn’t get a cab. The morning rush hour had started and there were no cabs. They walked along Thirteenth Street to catch a bus heading uptown.

He said, “You know, with Carl dead, that’s one less person who knows what we look like. Lublin is the only one who can identify us.”

“You’re upset, aren’t you?”

He looked at her.

“About Carl,” she said.

“That I killed him?”


“Partly,” he said. He threw his cigarette away. “And I’m partly upset that I didn’t kill Lublin. I should have.”

“You couldn’t do that,” she said.

“All I had to do was hit him a little too hard. Later I could tell myself I didn’t mean to kill him, that it was just miscalculation on my part or weakness on his. And we wouldn’t have anyone after us, we would be in the clear. It would have been logical enough.”

“But you couldn’t do it, Dave.”

“I guess not,” he said.

Francis James Washburn had appeared in the Times almost a dozen times in the course of the past five years. Twice he had been called to Washington to testify before senatorial investigating committees, once in a study of gangland control of boxing, once in an investigation of labor racketeering. In each instance he had pleaded the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer any and all questions on the grounds that he might incriminate himself. The questions themselves suggested that Washburn had some hidden connections with a local of a building-trade-workers’ union, that he was unofficial president of a local of restaurant and hotel employees, that he owned a principal interest in a welterweight named Little Kid Morton, and that he was otherwise fundamentally involved in the subjects of the senatorial investigations to a considerable degree.

He had been arrested three times. He was charged with conspiracy in a bribery case involving a municipal official. He was charged with suspicion of possession of narcotics. He was picked up in a raid on a floating crap game and was then charged with vagrancy and with being a common gambler. Each time the charges were dropped for lack of evidence and Washburn was released. In one of the stories, the Times reported that Washburn had served two years in prison during the Second World War, having been convicted for receiving stolen goods. He had also done time during the thirties for assault and battery, and had been acquitted of manslaughter charges in 1937.

His other mentions in the newspaper were minor ones. He was listed as a major contributor to the campaign fund of a Republican member of the New York State Assembly. He was among those attending a Tammany Hall fund-raising dinner. He was a pallbearer at another politician’s funeral.

The over-all picture that emerged was one of a man fifty-five or sixty years old, one who had started in the lower echelons of the rackets and who had done well, moving up the ladder to a position bordering upon unholy respectability. Washburn had a great many business interests and a great many political connections. He was important and he was successful. He would be harder to reach than Maurice Lublin.

They spent a little more than a hour in the library’s microfilm room. When they got back to the hotel, the night clerk was gone and another man was behind the desk. They went upstairs. They showered, and Jill rinsed the remaining coloring out of her hair and combed and set it. Dave put on a summer suit. Jill wore a skirt and blouse. They were in the room for about an hour, then went downstairs and left the hotel.

Washburn lived at 47 Gramercy Park East. They didn’t know where that was, and Dave ducked into a drugstore and looked up the address in a street guide. It was on the East Side, around Twentieth Street between Third and Fourth Avenues.

They took a cab and got off three blocks away at the corner of East Seventeenth Street and Irving Place. They were only a few blocks from the diner where they had had breakfast. The neighborhood was shabby-genteel middle class, unimpressively respectable. The buildings were mostly brownstones. There were trees, but not many of them. The neighborhood picked up as they walked north on Irving Place.

He wondered if Lublin had Washburn’s place staked out. It was possible, he thought. He reached under his jacket and felt the weight of the gun tucked beneath his belt. They kept walking.

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Дальше: Chapter 11