him at a trot past the line of official cars toward his own sedan parked at the end.

“What’s the rush?” protested Rourke. “You gave Gentry the dope on Manachee. He’ll already have that covered by the law down there. It’s a long drive, and by the time we get there…”

“We’re not going to Manachee.” Shayne released his arm at the front of his car, shoving him toward the left and striding around the other side to jerk the door open at the driver’s seat.

Rourke got in quickly without any more questions. He had seen Shayne in moods like this before, and had profited by going along and seeing what happened.

He leaned back against the cushion and got a cigarette going while Shayne made a fast U-Turn and headed back toward Miami twenty miles above the speed limit.

“All right,” said the reporter quietly. “So, we’re not going to Manachee. Then where in hell are we going?”

“To the airport. Before Will gets the same idea.”

Rourke said, “Fine. You know some plane that’s taking off for a desert island about this time?”

Shayne was leaning over the steering wheel, concentrating on his driving. “I don’t know their schedule of departures for desert islands,” he admitted. “Wish I did. But there must be something taking off at this time of night for somewhere.”

“There usually is,” Rourke grunted sourly. “From Miami International.”

Shayne said vaguely, “I don’t think it much matters where.” They were back across the river now, and in Miami’s northeast section. The bright lights of one of the world’s busiest airports were directly ahead of them, and Shayne braked hard to make the turn-off and swing around in front of the administration building.

He left it parked at the curb where it said NO PARKING, and leaped out and hurried inside the vast waiting room with Rourke at his heels.

They found her sitting demurely alone on one of the benches in the Trans-World section. She had her nice white gloves on her hands that were folded quietly in her lap, and there were two neat travelling cases on the floor on each side of her. She looked up at Michael Shayne with a pathetically weary smile as he planted himself solidly in front of her, and her gaze strayed past him to a large electric clock behind the Trans-World counter.

She said in her precise, Mid-western voice, “I suppose you’ve come to say you’ve found my husband, Mr. Shayne. It really doesn’t matter now. My plane is leaving in ten minutes.”

Shayne said gently, “You’re not going anywhere, Mrs. Shephard.” He looked down at the two travelling bags on either side of her, and asked, “Which one has the two hundred thousand dollars? Or, have you divided it up the way your husband did?”

She stood up and said quietly, “Does it matter, Mr. Shayne? Poor Steven didn’t get much more enjoyment out of it than I am going to.”


Lucy Hamilton asked practically, “But why did Sloe Burn hit that poor man with a whiskey bottle in the Pink Flamingo? That’s what I don’t understand. What did she gain by it?”

Shayne grinned at her from his end of the sofa in her apartment where he was enjoying a final cognac before going home for a well-earned rest after a pretty hectic evening.

“Sloe Burn isn’t exactly the type to stop and calculate whether she’s going to gain something or not by busting a guy with a whiskey bottle. She was just disappointed and upset and angry, that’s all. After McTige and Brannigan didn’t show up at her table in the Bright Spot when she came back after hurrying Shephard out the back, she realized he might be in danger… and his money, too, which was much more important to Sloe Burn… she went to the Pink Flamingo to see what was going on.

“And there was Brannigan alone in the room and just coming to his senses, and Shephard had vanished and Brannigan told her about the money she had just missed out on. Her reaction was perfectly in character. She didn’t have a conch shell handy, so she sloughed him with the first thing she could get her hands on.”

“Do you think she meant to hurt Shephard when she drove out to meet him on the trail and help him dig up the rest of the money?”

“I’m inclined to think not, and from the report Gentry got from the sheriff in Manachee, she swears she planned to help him dig up the money and go off with him. To a desert island, or what-have-you?” Shayne grinned over the rim of his glass at his secretary on the other end of the sofa. “Would you go off to a desert island with me, angel, if I had a hundred grand?”

She said truthfully, “I’d go off to any kind of an island with you any time, Michael, if I had to buy the tickets myself. And you know that without asking.” Her eyes twinkled at him to contradict the seriousness of her voice, and she offered an objection to his first answer:

“She did take her horrible sharpened conch shell along with her when she went to meet Shephard after he telephoned.”

“Just like you’d take your lipstick along to an assignation,” Shayne said easily.

“I don’t go to assignations, Michael.”

“Well, if you did go to an assignation. What I mean is…”

“I know what you mean,” Lucy said indignantly. “I just don’t like the way you phrase it. And that’s when Mrs. Shephard followed her from the Bright Spot and left me on the spot with Ralph… and she found them digging up the money together, and fought Sloe Burn over the conch shell and killed her husband with it.”

“Right. But she only got half the money, and she felt she deserved it all. She figured the conch shell might work as well a second time… and so she went after McTige.”

“Michael!” said Lucy suddenly. “There’s a bad discrepancy in your recapitulation of all this. Don’t you remember saying that Mrs. Shephard telephoned McTige’s room just before I reached you there. Why would she telephone him if she had already killed him?”

Shayne said, “Like almost every murderer, that’s where she made her one fatal mistake. It made me suspicious when she immediately knew it wasn’t McTige speaking over the telephone. I disguised my voice, as you know, and his voice couldn’t be very familiar to her. Yet, she knew at once it wasn’t he, and hung up. The reason she knew, of course, was because she had already killed him… and she was phoning his hotel room to establish an alibi for herself. She didn’t expect his room to answer, and wanted to leave a message to prove she had been trying to return his call. When I answered, she was flustered and hung up at once.” He finished his cognac and set the glass down on the low table in front of him.

There was a brief silence and then Lucy said in a small voice, “You’re not really a very good detective, Michael.”

“Admitted. But do we have to…?”

“Because if you were,” she interrupted determinedly, “you would have asked me how I got Baron McTige’s telephone number so I knew where to call him tonight.”

Shayne chuckled deep in his throat as he stood up. He moved over to Lucy’s end of the couch and leaned down to put both hands tightly on her shoulders. “Sometimes it’s best not to ask too many questions, angel.”

He leaned farther down and put his mouth over hers before she could say anything else.

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