The radio came on with a blast.

Some big brassy band was beating out a rock and roll rhythm.

Johnny came awake as though he'd been bitten by a snake, leaped out of the bed and grabbed for the pistol underneath his pillow.

Then he realized it was only the radio. He grunted sheepishly and noticed that Dulcy was out of bed. He felt his inside coat pocket with his free hand, still holding the pistol in his right hand, and discovered the ten thousand dollars were gone.

He patted the coat absently where it lay on the chair beside the bed, but he was looking at the empty bed. His breath came shallowly, but his face was expressionless.

'Sevened out,' he said to himself. 'You lost that bet.'

The radio was playing so loudly he didn't hear the door to the bathroom open. He merely caught a flicker of movement from the corner of his eye and turned.

Chink stood naked, with his eyes dilated and his mouth wide open, in the doorway.

They stared at each other until the moment ran out.

Suddenly the veins popped out in Johnny's temples as though they were about to explode. The scar ballooned out from his forehead and the tentacles wriggled as though trying to free themselves from his head. Then a blinding flash went off inside of his skull as though his brains had been dynamited.

His brain made no record of his next actions.

He squeezed the trigger of his. 38 automatic until it had pumped all its slugs into Chink's stomach, lungs, heart and head. Then he leaped across the floor and stomped Chink's dying bloody body with his bare feet until two of Chink's teeth were stuck into his calloused heel. After that he leaned over and clubbed Chink's head into a bloody pulp with his pistol butt.

But he didn't know he had done it.

The next thing he knew consciously after having first caught sight of Chink was that he was being held forcibly by two white uniformed cops and Chink's bloody corpse lay on the floor in the doorway, half in the bedroom and half in the bathroom, and the shower was pouring down into an empty tub.

'Turn me loose so I can dress,' he said in his toneless voice. 'You can't take me to jail buck naked.'

The cops freed him and he began to dress.

'We've called precinct and they're sending over some jokers from Homicide,' one of them said. 'You want to buzz your mouthpiece before they get here?'

'What for?' Johnny said, without stopping dressing.

'We heard the shots and the back door was open, so we came on in,' the other cop said half apologetically. 'We thought maybe it was her you'd shot.'

Johnny said nothing. He was dressed before the men from Homicide arrived.

They held him there until Detective Sergeant Brody came.

'Well, you killed him,' Brody said.

'There's all the evidence,' Johnny said.

They took him back to the 116th Street Precinct station for questioning because Grave Digger and Coffin Ed were on the case and they worked out of that station.

Brody sat as before behind the desk in the Pigeon Nest. Grave Digger was perched on the edge of the desk, and Coffin Ed stood in the shadow in the corner.

It was 8:37 o'clock and still light outside, but it didn't make any difference to them because the room didn't have any windows.

Johnny sat in the spill of light on the stool in the center of the room, facing Brody. The vertical light made grotesque patterns of the scar on his forehead and the veins swelling from his temples, but his big muscular body was relaxed and his face was expressionless. He looked like a man who'd gotten a load from his shoulders.

'Why don't you just let me tell you what I know,' he said in his toneless voice. 'If you don't buy it, you can question me afterwards.'

'Okay, shoot,' Brody said.

'Let's begin with the knife, and get that cleared up with,' Johnny said. 'I found the knife in her drawer on a Tuesday afternoon a little over two weeks ago. I just thought she'd bought it to protect herself from me. I put it in my pocket and took it to the club. Then I got to thinking about it and I was going to put it back, but Big Joe seen it. If she was so scared of me she needed to keep a skinner's knife hidden in the drawer where she kept her underwear, I was going to let her keep it. But I was handling it and Big Joe said he'd like to have a knife like that, and I gave it to him. That's the last I seen it or even thought about it until you showed it to me here on that desk and said it was the knife that killed Val, and that the preacher had said he'd seen Chink when he gave it to her.'

'You don't know what Big Joe did with it?' Brody asked.

'No, he never said. All he ever said was that if he carried it around he was scared he might get mad some day and cut somebody with it, and it was the kind of knife that would cut a man's head off when all you were trying to do was mark him.'

'Did you ever see another knife like it?' Brody asked.

'Not exactly like it,' Johnny said. 'I've seen knives what look kind of like it, but none what look exactly like it.'

Brody took the knife from the desk drawer as he had done the first time and pushed it across the desk.

'Is this the knife?'

Johnny leaned forward and picked it up.

'Yeah, but how it got stuck into Val, I couldn't say.'

'This one wasn't stuck into Val,' Brody said. 'This one was found on a shelf in your kitchen cabinet less than a half hour ago.' He then put the duplicate knife on the desk top. 'This was the one found stuck in Val.'

Johnny looked from one knife to the other without speaking.

'How do you account for that?' Brody asked.

'I don't know,' Johnny said, without expression.

'Could Big Joe have left it in the house at some time, and somebody have put it on the shelf?' Brody asked.

'If he did, I don't know about it,' Johnny said.

'All right, that's your story,' Brody said. 'Let's get back to Val. When was the last time you saw him?'

'It was about ten minutes of four when I came down from the club,' Johnny said. 'I'd been winning and the players didn't want me to quit, so I was late. Val was setting in the car waiting for me.'

'Wasn't that unusual?' Brody interrupted.

Johnny looked at him.

'Why didn't he come up to the club?' Brody asked.

'Wasn't nothing strange 'bout that,' Johnny said. 'He liked to set in my car and play the radio. He had a set of keys, him and her both, just for emergency 'cause I never let him drive. And he's set in it by the hour. I suppose it made him feel like a big shot. I don't know how long he'd been setting there. I didn't ask him. He'd said he'd come from talking to Reverend Short and he had something to tell me. But we were late and I was afraid the wake would break up before we got there-'

'He said he'd been talking with Reverend Short?' Brody interrupted again. 'At that time of night-morning, rather?'

'Yeah, but I didn't think anything about it at the time,' Johnny replied. 'I told him to stow it and tell me later, but just before we got to Seventh Avenue he said he didn't feel like going to the wake. He said he was going away, he was going to catch an early train to Chicago and he didn't know where he was going from there and I'd better listen to what he had to say 'cause it was important. I pulled up to the corner and parked. He said he'd been up to the preacher's church-if you call it a church; he'd met him there 'bout two o'clock that morning and they'd had a long talk. But before he'd got to say any more I saw a stud slipping along beside the parked cars across the street and I knew he was going to try to steal the A and P store manager's change poke. I said, wait a minute, let's watch this little play. There was a colored cop named Harris standing beside the manager while he unlocked the door, and

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