you mind?”

“Not at all. I’ll wait in the car.”

“Oh, come on up. It’s cooler inside.”

“O.K.,” I said. We stood up. She was tall, all right. I

picked up the suntan lotion and the book and towel.

“I’m Diana James,” she said.

She saw me glance down at her left hand, and smiled.

“You’ll only have to make one sales talk. I’m not married.”

“I’d have given you odds the other way.”

“I was, once. But, as you say, it didn’t jell.”

We went up the outside stairs at the rear of the building and in through the kitchen. She pulled a bottle of bourbon out of a cupboard and set it on the drain.

“Mix yourself a drink, and go into the living room. Soda and ice cubes in the refrigerator.”

“I hate to drink alone this early in the day,” I said. “It scares me.”

She smiled. “All right. If you insist.”

I mixed two and handed her one. We went on through to the living room, looking out over the Gulf. She took a sip of her drink and put it on the coffee table.

“Just make yourself at home,” she said. “I think this month’s True is in the rack there. I won’t be long.”

I watched her walk back across the dining room to the short hall that led to the bedroom and bath. It seemed to take her a long time.

The car, I thought. Remember? Don’t louse it up.

I sat down and glanced around the room. It had the anonymous look of any furnished apartment, but it wasn’t cheap. Hundred or a hundred and fifty a week during the season, I thought. It was odd she didn’t already have a car, and that, not having one, she wanted to buy a secondhand one.

Her purse was on the table at the end of the couch. I glanced at it, thinking she must be careless as hell or convinced all ex-football players were honest, and then I shrugged and started to take another sip of my drink. I stopped, and my eyes jerked back to the table.

It wasn’t the purse. It was the alligator key case lying beside it. The zipper was open and the keys dangled loose on the glass. And one of them was that square-shouldered shape you recognize anywhere. It was the ignition key to a General Motors car. Just who was kidding whom?

Well, I thought, she didn’t say she didn’t have one. Maybe she wanted two, or she was selling the other one. It was her business.

When she came out she had on a short-sleeved white summer dress and gilt sandals without stockings. She was tall and cool and very easy on the eye. Taking another sip of the drink she’d left, she gathered up the purse and keys and we went out to the car. She slid in behind the wheel.

I was deliberately slow in handing her the keys to it, and she did just what I thought she’d do. She opened the alligator case and started to stab at the dash with her own. She caught herself, and glanced quickly at me. I didn’t say anything, but I was beginning to wonder. She was trying to cover up the fact that she already had a car. Why?

We cruised to the end of the sea wall and out the beach, not saying much at first. The sand was firm, and

when we began to get clear of the traffic and the suntan crowd she let it out a little, to around fifty-five.

“It handles nicely,” she said.

“You’re a good driver.” I lit two cigarettes and handed her one.

“What do you do, Mr. Scarborough?” she asked, keeping her eyes on the beach ahead.

“This and that,” I said. “I sell things. Or try to. Real estate was the last.”

“I don’t mean to pry,” she said. “But I take it you’re not doing anything at the moment?”

“That’s right. I’m thinking of going to Arabia with a construction outfit. That’s one reason I want to sell the car.”

“How soon are you going?”

“Probably sometime next month. Why?”

“Oh, I just wondered.” She didn’t say anything more for

a minute or two; then she asked, “Are you married?

“No,” I said.

“Did you ever think of making a lot of money?”

“Who hasn’t?”

“But did you ever actually think of doing anything

about it?”

“Sure. Someday I’m going to invent the incandescent lamp.”

“A little soured, Mr. Scarborough? You surely haven’t run out of dreams already? At—twenty-eight?”

“Twenty-nine. Look, with a dream and ten cents you can buy a cup of coffee. The only thing I was ever any good at was moving a football from one place to another place, with ten guys helping me. And you need two knees for it. Does this car look like twenty-five hundred bucks

to you?”

“A little tough,” she murmured. “That’s nice.”


“I was just thinking again. And I do like the car.”

“Then it’s a deal?”

She turned her head then and smiled at me. “Maybe,” she said. “We might make a deal.” She didn’t say any more. We drove on down the beach.

When we came back and parked in front of the apartment house she turned off the ignition and started to drop the keys in her purse. I held out my hand for them, saying nothing. Our eyes met, and she shrugged. We got out.

I looked back along the curb, and ahead. “Which is it?” I asked. “The Olds, or that Caddy up there?”

She smiled. “Neither. Its in the garage back in the alley. You notice things, don’t you?”

“What’s the gag?”

“What makes you think there is one? Maybe I want two cars.”

“Do you?”

She looked me right in the face. “No,” she said.

I was burning. “What’s the idea of wasting my time?”

“Maybe I wasn’t.”


“That’s up to you. I said we might make a deal. Remember?”

She went up the stairs and I followed her, remembering the long, relaxed smoothness of her on that towel. She put her purse on the table and tilted the Venetian blinds a little against the light. It was cooler in the apartment and almost dim after the glare in the street. When she turned back I was standing in front of her. I pulled her to me and kissed her, hard, with my hands digging into her back. But she wasn’t wasting my time then. I was.

It was all nothing. She rolled with it like a passed-out drunk and didn’t even close her eyes. They just watched me coolly. She broke it up with her elbows without seeming to move them, the way they can, and said, “That wasn’t quite the deal I had in mind.”

“What’s wrong with it?” I said.

“Nothing, I suppose, under the right circumstances. But I asked you up here to talk business. Why don’t you sit down? You’d probably be more comfortable.”

I was still angry, but there was no percentage in knocking myself out. I sat down. She went into the kitchen and came back in a minute with two drinks.

She sat down in a big chair on the other side of the coffee table and crossed her legs. She put a cigarette in her mouth and waited for me to leap up and hold the lighter for her.

The hell with her.

She shrugged and reached for the lighter on the coffee

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