the knife and held it up my sleeve and stepped outside. Val saw me right away and said, I thought you went back upstairs to the wake, Reverend. I said, no, I've been waiting for you. He said, waiting for me for what. I said, waiting to kill you in the name of the Lord, and I leaned down and stabbed him in the heart.'

Sergeant Brody exchanged glances with the two colored detectives.

'Well, that wraps it up,' he said, then, turning back to Reverend Short, he remarked cynically, 'I suppose you'll cop a plea of insanity.'

'I'm not insane,' Reverend Short said serenely. 'I'm holy.'

'Yeah,' Brody said. He turned to the police reporter. 'Get a copy of that statement typed for him to sign as soon as possible.'

'Right,' the police reporter said, closing his notebook and hurrying from the room.

Brody rang for the attendant and left him with Grave Digger and Coffin Ed. Outside he turned to Grave Digger and said, 'You were right after all when you said that folks in Harlem do things for reasons nobody else in the world would think of.'

Grave Digger grunted.

'Do you think he's really crazy?' Brody persisted.

'Who knows?' Grave Digger said.

'Depends on what you mean by crazy,' Coffin Ed amended.

'He was just sexually frustrated and lusting after a married woman,' Grave Digger said. 'When you get to mixing sex and religion it will make anybody crazy.'

'If he sticks to his story, he'll beat it,' Brody said.

'Yeah,' Coffin Ed said bitterly. 'And if the cards had fallen just a little differently Johnny Perry would have got burned.'

Dulcy had been taken to Harlem hospital. Her wound was superficial. The knife thrust had been stopped by her sternum.

But they kept her in the hospital because she could pay for a room.

She telephoned Mamie and Mamie went to her immediately. She cried her heart out on Mamie's shoulder, while telling her the story.

'But why didn't you just get rid of Val, child?' Mamie asked her. 'Why didn't you send him away.'

'I wasn't sleeping with him,' Dulcy said.

'It didn't make any difference-he was still your husband and you kept him there in the house.'

'I felt sorry for him, that's all,' Dulcy said. 'He wasn't worth a damn for nothing, but I felt sorry for him just the same.'

'Well, for God's sake, child,' Mamie said. 'Anyway, why didn't you tell the police about Chink having another knife instead of getting Johnny to kill him?'

'I know I should have done it,' Dulcy confessed. 'But I didn't know what to do.'

'Then why didn't you go to Johnny, child, and make a clean breast and ask him what to do?' Mamie said. 'He was your man, child. He was the only one for you to go to.'

'Go to Johnny!' Dulcy said, laughing with an edge of hysteria. 'Imagine me going to Johnny with that story. I thought he had done it himself.'

'He would have listened to you,' Mamie said. 'You ought to know Johnny that well by now, child.'

'It wasn't that, Aunt Mamie,' Dulcy sobbed. 'I know he would have listened. But he would have hated me.'

'There, there, don't cry,' Mamie said, caressing her hair. 'It's all over now.'

'That's what I mean,' Dulcy said. 'It's all over.' She buried her face in her hands and sobbed heartbrokenly. 'I love the ugly bastard,' she said sobbingly. 'But I ain't got no way to prove it.'

It was a hot morning. The neighborhood kids were playing in the street.

Johnny's lawyer, Ben Williams, had got him out on bail. The garage had sent a man down to the jail with his fishtail Cadillac. Johnny came out and got in behind the wheel and the man from the garage sat in back. The lawyer sat beside Johnny.

'We'll get that manslaughter charge nol-prossed,' the lawyer said. 'You ain't got a thing to worry about.'

Johnny pressed the starter, shifted to drive, and the big convertible moved off slowly.

'That ain't what I'm worrying about,' he said.

'What is it?' the lawyer asked.

'You wouldn't know anything about it,' Johnny said. Skinny black kids in their summer shifts ran after the big flashy Cadillac, touching it with love and awe.

'Fishtail Johnny Perry,' they called after him. 'Four Ace Johnny Perry.'

He threw up his left hand in a sort of salute.

'Try me,' the lawyer said. 'I'm supposed to be your brain.'

'How can a jealous man win?' Johnny said.

'By trusting his luck,' the lawyer said. 'You're the one who's the gambler, you ought to know that.'

'Well, pal,' Johnny said. 'You'd better be right.'

Вы читаете The crazy kill
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