Книга: Deadly Honeymoon
Назад: Chapter 10
Дальше: Chapter 12

Chapter 11

The building at 47 Gramercy Park East was a large four-story brownstone that had been thoroughly renovated around the end of the war. There were four apartments, one to a floor. There was a doorman in front, a tall Negro wearing a maroon uniform with gold piping. No, the doorman told Jill, there was no Mr. Watson in the building, but there was a Mr. Washburn up on the fourth floor, if that was who she wanted. She said it wasn’t and he smiled a servile smile.

So Washburn was on the fourth floor. They crossed the street and moved halfway down the block, out of range of the doorman. The green square of park was bordered on all sides by a high iron fence. There was a gate, locked. A neat metal sign indicated that if you lived in one of the buildings surrounding the park you were given a key to that gate, and then you were allowed to go into the park when you wanted. Otherwise the park was out of bounds. They stood near the gate and Dave smoked a cigarette.

Jill said, “We can’t stand here forever. Lublin will send somebody around sooner or later.”

“Or the police will pick us up for loitering.”

“Uh-huh. What do we do? Can we go up there after him?”

“No. He wouldn’t be alone. One of the newspaper stories mentioned a wife, so she would be there with him, I suppose. And he probably has plenty of help. Bodyguards, a maid, all or that.”

“Then what do we do?”

“I don’t know,” he said.

They walked to the corner. A uniformed policeman passed them heading downtown. He didn’t smile. They stood on the corner while the light changed twice.

“If we could get into the park—” he said.

“We don’t have a key.”

“I know,” he said. “From the park, we could keep an eye on the doorway without being seen. It would be natural enough. We could sit on a bench and wait for something to happen. We don’t even know if Washburn’s home, or who’s with him. Or what he looks like, for that matter. The one picture in the paper wasn’t much good. Blurred, the way news photos always are—”

“All those little dots.”

“And not a close-up anyway. We might be able to see him, he might come out alone, we could have a crack at following him. He’s the key to it. Unless Lublin was doing an awfully good job of last-minute lying, Washburn is our only connection with the killers.”

“Do you think we could get him to talk?”

“I don’t know. For a while I didn’t think Lublin would talk.” He looked over at Washburn’s building. “The damn thing would have to face a park,” he said. “In the movies, they always rent an apartment right across the street from the suspect and set themselves up with binoculars and gun-shot microphones and tape recorders and everything else in the world, and they’ve got him cold. But what the hell do you do when the son of a bitch lives across from a park that you can’t even get into?”

“Maybe next door?”

The buildings on either side of Washburn’s were more of the same, renovated brownstones with an air of monied respectability about them. There would be no rooms for rent there, he thought. Not at all. But maybe around in back... “Come on,” he said.

A Fourth Avenue office building was around the block from Washburn’s brownstone. They looked at the building directory in the lobby. There were three lawyers, two CPA’s, one insurance agency, one employment agency, a commercial-art studio, and a handful of small businesses identified in such a way that they might have done anything from advertising layout to import-export. The elevator seemed to be out of order. They walked up steep stairs to the fourth floor. The whole rear wall of the floor was taken up by one business, an outfit called Beadle & Graber. The office door was shut and the window glass frosted. A typewriter made frantic sounds behind the closed door.

He went to the door and knocked on it. The typewriter stopped quickly and a gray-haired woman opened the door cautiously. Dave asked if a Mr. Floyd Harper worked there, and the gray-haired woman said no, there was no Mr. Harper there. He looked over her shoulder at the window. It faced out upon a courtyard, and across the courtyard he could see the rear windows of Washburn’s apartment. The drapes were open, but he didn’t have time to see much of anything. But if he were closer to the windows, and if he had a pair of binoculars—

“You can see Washburn’s apartment from their window,” he told Jill.

“Then it’s a shame they have the office. If it were vacant, we could rent it.”

“There’s still a way.”


“Wait for me in the lobby,” he said.

They walked as far as the third floor together. Then she went on downstairs while he knocked on the door of one of the CPA’s. A voice told him to come in. He went inside. A balding man in his forties asked what he could do for him.

Dave said, “Just wanted to ask a question, if I could. I was thinking of taking an office in this building. There’s space available, isn’t there?”

“I think so. On the top floor, I believe.”

“Just one thing I wanted to know. Is this a twenty-four-hour building? Can you get in and out any time?”

You could, the accountant told him. They kept a night man on duty to run the elevator, and from six at night until eight in the morning you had to sign a register if you entered or left the building. “It’s not a bad location,” the accountant said. “The address has a little more prestige than it used to. It’s Park Avenue South now, not Fourth Avenue. Everybody in the city still calls it Fourth Avenue, of course, but it gives you a more impressive letterhead, at least for the out-of-town people. You want the rental agent’s phone number?”

“I’ve already got it,” Dave said.

There was a coffee shop two doors down the street, empty now in the gap between breakfast and lunch crowds. They ate at odd times lately, he thought. They settled in one of the empty booths and ordered sliced-chicken sandwiches. She had coffee, he had milk. The sandwiches were good and he was hungrier than he had thought. And tired, suddenly. He didn’t want to sleep, but he felt the physical need for it. A couple of times he caught himself staring dully ahead, his mind neatly empty, as if it had temporarily turned itself off. He ordered coffee after all and forced himself to drink it.

“I can go back there during the night,” he told her. He explained the way the building was kept open. “I can sign some name to the book and break into that office.”

“Break into it?”

“Pick the lock. Or break the window and unlock it There won’t be anybody around, and once I’m in I can get a good look into his place. Washburn’s.” But then he stopped and shook his head. “No,” he said. “That’s crazy, isn’t it?”

“It sounds risky. If anybody heard you—”

“More than that. In the first place, he probably closes his drapes when it gets dark out. Everybody does. Besides, all I could see would be the one room of the apartment, and it’s probably a bedroom anyway. I couldn’t keep an eye on the front door, and I would never know if he left the building. We have to be able to see the front of his building, not the back of it.”

A few minutes later she looked up and said, “But there is something we can do, honey.’


“Instead of breaking into the office. Or sneaking in. And it should be easier, and less dangerous. We could break into Gramercy Park.”

They waited on the north side of the park, about twenty yards down from the main gate. The privilege of a key to the park was evidently more symbolic than utilitarian. The park was empty except for a very old man who wore a black suit and a maroon bow tie and who sat reading the Wall Street Journal and moving his lips as he read. They waited for him to leave the park but he seemed determined to sit on his bench forever. They waited a full half hour before anyone else entered the park. Then a woman came, a very neat and very old woman in a gray tweed suit. She had a cairn terrier on a braided leather leash. She opened the gate with a key and led the dog inside and they watched the gate swing shut behind her.

The woman spent twenty minutes in the park, leading the cairn from one tree to another. The small dog seemed to have an extraordinary capacity for urine. They completed the tour, finally, and woman and dog headed for the gate. Their move was well timed. The two of them reached the gate just as the woman was struggling with the lock. She opened it, and Dave drew the gate open while Jill made a show of admiring the dog. The dog admired them. The woman and the dog passed through the gate, and Jill stepped inside and Dave started to follow her.

The woman said, “You have your own key, of course.”

“I left it in the apartment,” Jill said. She smiled disarmingly. “We’re right across the street.” She pointed vaguely toward Washburn’s building.

The woman looked at them, her eyes bright. “No,” she said gently, “I don’t think you are.”

The dog tugged at the leash but the woman stood her ground. “One so rarely sees younger people at this park,” she said. “Isn’t it barbaric, taking something as lovely as a park and throwing a fence around it? The world has too many fences and too few parks. There are times when I think Duncan” — she nodded at the dog — “has the only proper attitude toward this fence. He occasionally employs it as a substitute tree. You don’t live in this neighborhood, do you?”


“You sound as though you’re from upstate somewhere. Not native New Yorkers, certainly.” She shook her head. “Such intrigue just to rest a moment in a pleasant park. You’re married, of course. Wearing a wedding ring, both of you are, and the rings seem to match. And even if they didn’t I’d be good enough to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you’re married to each other. From out of town, and anxious to sit together in a park—” The woman smiled pleasantly. “Probably on a honeymoon,” she said. “After a year or two of marriage you’ll have had your fill of parks, I’m sure. And, probably, of each other.

“Oh, I hope not,” Jill said.

The woman’s smile spread. “So do I, my dear, so do I. You’re quite welcome to the park. My late husband and I used to go to Washington Square when we were courting. Isn’t that a dated term? I’m old, aren’t I?”

“I don’t think so.”

“You’re very charming, aren’t you? But I very certainly am old, nevertheless. Courting. I understand Washington Square’s changed a great deal since then. A great many young persons with leather jackets and beards and guitars. Perhaps that’s an argument for gates and fences after all. Every question has so many sides. I am a silly old woman, aren’t I?”


“Enjoy the park,” the woman said, passing through the gate now. “And enjoy each other. And don’t grow old too quickly, if you’ll pardon more advice. Giving unwanted advice is one of the few remaining privileges of the aged, you know. Don’t grow old too quickly. Being old is not really very much fun. It’s better than being dead, but that’s really about all one can say for it.”

The iron gate swung shut. The woman and the dog walked quickly with small and precise steps to the corner and waited for the signal to change. Then they crossed the street and continued down the block.

“We really fooled her,” Jill said.


They went to a bench on a path running along the western edge of the park. They were almost directly across from Washburn’s apartment house. The same doorman still stood at the door.

“We did fool her,” Jill said suddenly.

“That woman? How?”

“She thought we were a nice young couple,” Jill said. “I guess we used to be.” She looked away. “I’m not sure we are now,” she said quietly.

Назад: Chapter 10
Дальше: Chapter 12