Книга: Deadly Honeymoon
Назад: Chapter 11
Дальше: Chapter 13

Chapter 12

Their bench was shaded by two tall elms. There, in the park, the air was cleaner and cooler than in the surrounding city. They sat close together on the bench, looking over a stretch of green and through the grating of the fence at the luxury apartment buildings across the small street. The setting did not match the circumstances at all. Too placid, too secure. His mind would wander, and he had to force himself to remember what they were there for, and why. Otherwise he kept relaxing to fit the old woman’s image. A couple of honeymooners who wanted a few peaceful moments for themselves away from the hot hurry of New York.

Other images helped him concentrate. The five bullets pumped one after another into Joe Corelli’s head. The professionally disinterested beating he himself had taken. The direct and dispassionate rape of Jill. The cold fury of the ride into the city. Carl, Lublin’s personal heavyweight, first lumbering like a gored ox, then dead.

The watching was hard. It had seemed direct enough at the beginning, a stakeout straight out of Dragnet. You took a position and you held it and you waited for something to happen. But there was one basic difficulty. Nothing happened.

No one left Washburn’s building and no one entered it. The doorman stood at his post. At one point he lit a cigar, and after about twenty minutes he threw the cigar into the gutter. Cars drove by, the traffic never very thick. Occasionally someone with a key came into the park, either to walk a leashed dog or to sit reading a book or an afternoon paper. The drapes were still open in Frank Washburn’s apartment but it was on the fourth floor, and they were at ground level. They could tell that there were lights on, which meant there was probably someone at home, but that was all they could tell.

So it became hard to concentrate. They talked, but concentration had an unreal quality to it. There wasn’t much to say about the job at hand, about Washburn and where he might lead them. Once they had gone over that a few times they were tired of it. And any other conversation was fairly well out of place. Mostly, they sat together in silence. The silence would be broken now and then — she would ask for a cigarette, or one of them would ask a question that the other would quickly answer. Then the silence would come back again.

Until she said, “That car was here before.”

He looked up quickly. She was nodding toward a metallic-gray Pontiac that was turning west at the corner of Twentieth Street. He caught a quick look at it before another car blocked his view.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. About five minutes ago. This time it just coasted by slowly, as if they were looking for somebody.”

“Like us?”


“Did you—”

“I think there were two people in the car. I’m not sure. The first time, I didn’t pay much attention. Who looks at cars? Then the second time, just after they passed us, I remembered the car. There’s a spotlight mounted on the hood. That’s what I noticed that made me remember the car. You don’t see that many of them.”

“And the men?”

“I’m not even sure they were both men. The driver was. By the time I realized that it was the same car they had already passed us and all I saw were the backs of their heads.”

His hand went automatically to the gun, secure under the waistband of his slacks. He patted the gun almost affectionately, a nervous gesture. We are getting close now, he thought. Before we were looking for them, and now people are looking for us.

“I wish you’d had a better look at them.”

“Maybe they’ll be back.”

“Yes.” He started to light a cigarette, then changed his mind. Get up and get out, he thought. They could see into the park. This next time, they might get lucky and spot them. And then—

No, they had to stay where they were. If they could get a look at the men in the Pontiac, they were that much ahead of the game. They could not afford the luxury of running scared.

“Lublin must have sent them,” he said.

“I suppose so.”

“It only stands to reason. He doesn’t want Washburn to know that he talked, and he knows we’re going to try to get information from Washburn. So he would have Washburn’s place watched and try to head us off on the way there. It evidently took him a little while to get organized. That was good luck for us. Otherwise they would have seen us wandering around the street and—”

It was a good sentence to leave unfinished. He reached again for a cigarette, the movement an instinctive one, and his hand stopped halfway to his breast pocket. He said, “That means Washburn doesn’t know.”

“You mean about us?”

“Yes. If he knew, he would have men outside, waiting for us. But if Lublin didn’t tell him, then Lublin would have to accomplish two things. He would have to keep us from getting to Washburn, and at the same time he would have to watch the place without arousing suspicion. He would want to get to us without Washburn knowing anything about the whole play. Where are you going?”

She was standing, walking toward the fence. “To see better,” she said. “In case that car comes back.”

He grabbed her hand and pulled her back. “Don’t be a damned fool. We can see them well enough from farther back. And we can’t risk having them see us.”

He led her back across a cement walk and sat down with her on another bench. There was an extra screening of shrubbery now between them and the street. They could see through it, but it would be hard for anyone passing by to get a good look at them.

“It might not have been anything,” he said.

“The Pontiac?”

“It could have been somebody driving around the block and looking for a place to park. You sort of coast along like that when you’re trying to find a parking place.”

“Maybe, but—”

“But what?”

“I don’t know. Just a feeling.”

And he had the same feeling. It was funny, too — he half-wanted the car to turn out to be innocent, because the idea of being pursued while pursuing added a new and dangerous element to the situation. But at the same time pursuit now would be a good sign. It would mean Washburn didn’t know what was happening, which was good. It would mean for certain that Lublin’s story was true.

A few minutes later he saw the Pontiac again. Jill nudged him and pointed but he had already noticed the car himself. It was coming from the opposite direction this time, cruising uptown past Washburn’s apartment toward Twenty-first Street. It was a four-door car, the windows rolled down, the back seat empty. It was going between fifteen and twenty miles an hour.

There were two men in the front seat. At first he couldn’t get a good look at them. He squinted, and as the car drew up even with them he got a good look at the man on the passenger side. He drew in his breath sharply, and he felt Jill’s hand on his arm, her fingers tightening, squeezing hard. Then as the car moved off he got a brief glimpse of the man behind the wheel.

The man on the passenger side was thickset and short-necked with a heavy face and a once-broken nose. The man doing the driving had thick eyebrows and a thin mouth and a scattering of thin hairline scars across the bridge of his nose.

The car was gone now. It had turned at the corner, had continued west at Twenty-first Street, picking up speed once it rounded the corner. He looked after it and watched it disappear quickly from view. He turned to Jill. She had let go of his arm, and both of her hands were in her lap, knotted into tight fists. Her face was a blend of hatred and horror.

Lee and his friend. Corelli’s murderers. Their target.

They got out of there in a hurry. He said her name and she blinked at him as though her mind were elsewhere, caught up either in the memory of violation or in the plans for vengeance. He said, “Come on, we’ve got to take off.” She got to her feet and they let themselves out of the park and walked off in the opposite direction, toward Third Avenue. An empty cab came by and they grabbed it. He told the driver to take them to the Royalton.

They started uptown on Third. Jill said, “Suppose they know about the hotel?”


“I don’t know. I’m just panicky, I guess.”

“They might know,” he said. He leaned forward. “Just leave us at the corner of Thirty-fourth Street,” he said.

“Not the Royalton?”

“No, just on the corner.”

Thirty-fourth and where?”

“And Third,” he said.

There was a bar on Third halfway between Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fifth. They got out of the cab and walked to it. He didn’t relax until they were inside the bar and seated in a booth in the rear. It was ridiculous, he knew. The Pontiac was nowhere near them, they were safe, they were clear. But he couldn’t walk in the open street without the uncomfortable feeling that someone was watching them.

There was no waitress. He went to the bar and got two bottles of Budweiser and two glasses, paid for the beers and carried them to the booth. He poured beer into his glass and took a drink. She let her beer sit untouched on the table in front of her. She opened her mouth as if to speak, then shook her head suddenly and closed her mouth again without saying anything.

Finally she said, “I don’t understand it.”


“Lublin didn’t know who the killers were. That’s what he said, isn’t it?”


“Then he must have been lying. Lee and the other man were in the car. They were driving around looking for us. Is there anyone besides Lublin who knows about us?”

“No. Unless someone recognized you at Lublin’s last night.”

“Who? No one could have. So Lublin had to tell them. That meant that he hired them in the first place, and that the whole business about Washburn was a lot of nonsense, and that—”

“He wasn’t lying.”

“He must have been. He—”

“No. Wait a minute.” He picked up the glass of beer and took a long drink. The beer was very cold and went down easily. He made rings on the top of the table with the cold glass.

He said, “Lublin was telling the truth. I think I see it now. After we left, there were two things he had to do. He had to keep us from getting to Washburn, first of all. But he also had to let Lee and the other one know about us, that we were coming. They were the logical people to set after us. They were the ones we were after, first of all, and that would give them a personal stake in nailing us. It would save his hiring men to run us down, too. All he had to do was tell the two of them that a man and a woman were in town looking for Corelli’s killers, and then the two of them would handle the rest. If they got to us and killed us, Lublin was in the clear. And if we got to them first, and killed them, he was still in the clear. Because we would pack up and move out without Washburn hearing about the whole deal.”

“Is he really that scared of Washburn?”

“Washburn killed Corelli — had him killed, that is — just because Corelli tried to swindle him. Didn’t succeed, just tried. Lublin did worse than that. He informed on Washburn. I guess Lublin has a right to be scared.”

She was shaking her head. “It still doesn’t add up,” she said. “Last night, Lublin didn’t know who the killers were. If he had known he would have told us, wouldn’t he? I mean, assuming that he was telling us the truth. So how would he know who to call today? How would he know to set them after us?”

“That’s easy.”

She looked at him.

“All he had to do was ask Washburn,” he said. “Jesus, I’m so stupid it’s pathetic. He called Washburn and asked him who the men were, and Washburn told him without knowing what it was all about, and then he got in touch with them, with Lee and the other one. We went around playing detective, staking out his apartment, everything. All around Robin’s Hood’s barn, for God’s sake. We missed the shortcut”

“Where are you going?”

“To call Washburn.”

He made the call from the telephone booth right there in the bar. At first he tried to find Washburn’s number in the phone book, but there was no listing. Then he remembered and dug out his notebook. He had copied the number, along with the address, from Lublin’s address book. He dropped a dime and dialed the number, and a soft-voiced woman picked up the phone almost immediately and said, “Mr. Washburn’s residence.”

He made his voice very New York. He asked if he could speak to Mr. Washburn, please. She wanted to know who was calling. Jerry Manna, he said. She asked if he would hold the line, please, and he said that he would.

Then a man’s voice said, “Washburn here. Who’s this?”

“Uh, I’m Jerry Manna, Mr. Washburn. I—”


“Jerry Manna, Mr. Washburn. Mr. Lublin said that I should call you. He said that—”


“Yes,” Dave said. “I—”

“Hold it,” Washburn said. He had a very deep voice and spoke quickly, impatiently. “I don’t like this phone. Give me your number, I’ll get back to you. What’s the number there?”

Could Washburn trace the call? He didn’t think so. Quickly, he read off the telephone number. Washburn said, “Right, I’ll get back to you,” and broke the connection.

He sat in the phone booth, the door closed, and he wiped perspiration from his forehead. The palms of his hands were damp with sweat. Right now, he thought, Washburn could be calling Lublin. Lublin would tell him he never heard of a Jerry Manna. And then—

But why should Washburn be suspicious? Unless Lublin had told him everything after all. But Lublin wouldn’t do that, because it didn’t make any sense, that was the one thing Lublin had to avoid. And it took a long time to take a number and find out who it belonged to, where the phone was. The police could do it. Otherwise the phone company wouldn’t give out the information. But Washburn was an important criminal, the kind who would have connections in the police department. One of them could get the information for him. Then he would stall on the phone, and a couple of goons would head for the bar.

They couldn’t stay in the bar too long. If Washburn called back right away, they might be all right. But if he took too long it could be a trap.

Jill stood at the door of the phone booth, her eyebrows raised in question. He shook his head and waved her away. She went back to the table and poured beer into her glass, tilting the glass a few degrees and pouring the beer against the side of it. She raised the glass and sipped the beer.

The phone rang.

He reached for the receiver, fumbled it, knocked it off the hook. He grabbed it up and said, “Hello, Manna speaking.”

Washburn said, “All right, I can talk now. What’s the story?”

“Mr. Lublin said I should call you, Mr. Washburn.”

“You said that already. What’s it about?”

‘It’s about a builder from Hicksville,” he said carefully. “A man named Joe. Maurie said—”

“What, again?”

He took a quick breath. What, again?

“You want to know the two boys on that, is that right?”

“That’s right, Mr. Washburn. I—”

“Dammit, Maurie called me already today on that. When did you talk to him?”

“Last night.”

“Well, he called here this morning. Early. He woke me up, dammit. I gave him all of that right then. Didn’t you talk to him?”

“I can’t reach him, Mr. Washburn. I tried him a couple of times. He maybe tried to get me, but I’ve been out and he couldn’t call me where I’ve been. I thought I could take a chance and call you direct, Mr. Washburn, after I couldn’t get hold of Maurie.”

There was a long pause. Then Washburn said, “All right, dammit, but I hate these goddamned calls. They are two New York boys who work out of East New York near the Queens line. Lee Ruger is one, he’s the one to talk to, and the other is Dago Krause. The price depends on the job, what they have to do. They get a good price because they do good work, they’re reliable. That what you wanted?”

“If you could give me the address, Mr. Washburn, I would—”

“Yeah. Jesus, this is all stuff I told Maurie this morning. He got me out of bed for this, and now I’ve got to go over it all. This is a pain in the ass, you know that?”

“I really appreciate it, Mr. Washburn.”

‘Yeah. Just a minute.” He waited, and Washburn came back and said, “I can’t find the damned phone number. Krause’s address I don’t have, I never had it. Ruger’s the one you want to talk to anyhow, see. That’s 723 Lorring Avenue. There’s a phone, you can probably find it. Maurie—”

“Thanks very much, Mr. Washburn.”

Washburn wasn’t through. “Maurie’s a goddamned idiot,” he said now. “He gave you my name, is that right?”

“Well, he—”

“He should damn well know better than that What’d he do, just let it drop out?”

“More or less, Mr. Washburn.”

“You tell him he should watch his mouth, you got that? Or I’ll tell him myself. What did you say your name was? Manna?”

“Manna” he said. And, after Washburn rang off, he said, “From heaven.”

Назад: Chapter 11
Дальше: Chapter 13