She smiled. “Pretty, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I said, “very pretty. How about those names?”

“My face is a little tanned already, too. Did you notice?”

I stood facing her, blocking her way. “The hell with

your face.”

Her eyebrows rose coolly. “You appear to be in your usual bad mood. Didn’t you sleep well?”

“I slept fine,” I said. “I asked you a question. Have you got those names straightened out yet?”

“Would it inconvenience you too much if I had a cup of coffee before you started hounding me about it?”

She had a cup of coffee in the kitchen, black coffee

with a slug of whisky in it. I sat down across from her.

“Are you going to call those banks?” I asked.

“Only as a last resort. I’ll think about it some more


“Don’t you know that the more you think about it, the more mixed up you’ll get?”

She shook her head. “No. You see, when I wrote them down, with the names of the banks, I remembered the last names came in alphabetical order— Carstairs, Hatch, and Manning—and what I’m trying to remember now is whether the banks actually came in the order in which I

went into them. I can almost see the list. It’s so tantalizing—at times I’m positive I visualize it exactly as it was.”

“Where is the list?” I demanded.

She shrugged. “It was in the house. I forgot to pick it


“You forgot!”

“Nobody is perfect.” She smiled. “Even the great Mr.

Scarborough forgot to bring in the paper he bought.”

There it was again, that subtle needling. She knew, all right. She was laughing at me.

I leaned across the table. “Don’t stall me,” I said. “I can’t take much more of you. Are you trying to beat me out of that money?”

“Why should I?” she asked, wide-eyed. “If you carry out your end of the bargain, I can assure you I’ll carry out


“All right,” I said. “All right. Quit stalling.”

“I’m not,” she said. “I’m positive that before the end of

the month I will have remembered how they go.” I stared at her through a red mist of rage. I wanted to

smash that hateful face with my hands.

“Before it’s all over one of you will kill the other.”

I pushed back from the table, choking.

“By the way,” she said calmly, “I thought you were

going to take the radio out and have it repaired.”

I grabbed up the radio and fled.

It was like one of those dreams where you discover yourself walking out onto a stage naked before a thousand people. The minute I stepped onto the sidewalk I began to cringe. I was not only naked, I was skinless.

I forced myself to walk slowly to the car. When I was inside it wasn’t quite so bad. I drove as if the car were held together with paper clips.

A man was selling papers on a corner. I stopped, hit the horn, and passed him a nickel without looking at him as he handed the paper in. I couldn’t look at it now. I drove on, out the beach. The city began to drop away behind me. It was a bright, sunlit day with a soft breeze blowing in off the Gulf.

There were few cars now. I pulled out of the tracks and stopped among the dunes. Opening the paper was like digging up an unexploded bomb.

I looked at it.

She hadn’t remembered yet. There was no picture.

But there wouldn’t be, I thought. I’d be in jail before

they gave the story to the papers.

“MYSTERY SLAYER SOUGHT,” the headline said.

There was nothing new. They had just put the story together, with the evidence they had and what Charisse Finley had told them. Mrs. Butler and I had gone back to the house to pick up the money, and as soon as I got it I killed her and set fire to the house in an attempt to cover it up.

It was airtight. How else could they figure it?

I looked around. There were no cars in sight. I got out, carrying the radio, and walked through the dunes toward the line of brush and scrubby salt cedars back from the beach. I threw the radio into it.

“Hey, mister,” a boy’s voice said, “why’d you throw away your radio?”

I whirled. A boy of ten or twelve had come out of the bushes carrying a .22 rifle. He walked over to the radio and picked it up.

I looked at him, stupefied. Where had he come from? Then another boy walked out of the tangle of cedar ten yards away. He was carrying a rifle too.

“Hey, Eddie,” the first one called. “Lookit the radio. This man just threw it away. Can we have it, mister?”

I tried to think of something. My mouth felt dry. It was

ridiculous. The whole thing was insane.

“It’s no good,” I said at last. “It won’t play”

They stared at each other. “Why didn’t you have it


“I tell you, it’s no good!” I suddenly realized I was shouting angrily. I turned and ran back to the car.

I drove carefully and very slowly through the city, fighting every yard of the way against the almost unbearable longing to slam the accelerator to the floor and get back inside the apartment quicker, to pull the walls in around me and hide.

And when I got inside and closed the door I was in a trap. I could feel it tightening. This was where they would come to get me.

And she was there.

She was deliberately trying to drive me mad. Or kill me.

Chapter Nineteen


Through the endless hot afternoon I watched her, listening always for the sound of the elevator in the corridor. She lay on the rug in the sun with the sleeves of her pajamas rolled up, and rubbed suntan lotion on her face. After she had tanned for a while she put on the high-heeled shoes and practiced the hip-crawling walk of Susie Mumble. She went up and down the living room before me for hours, working for just the exact amount of slow and tantalizing swing.

She stopped to light a cigarette. “How’m I doin’?” She asked.

“All right, all right. You catch on fast.”

“That was a brilliant idea you had,” she said. “How do you feel, having created Susie Mumble? Like some great director? Or perhaps as Pygmalion must have felt?” Then she stopped and said thoughtfully, as if to herself, “No, I guess not. Hardly as Pygmalion. He fell in love with Galatea, didn’t he?”

“I wouldn’t know. They haven’t made a comic book of it yet.”

“Don’t reproach me with that, please. I was nasty. I’m sorry.”

So we were having a sweet phase? What was she up to now?

“I’m beginning to feel the part,” she said. “And the way to feel it is to live it, as Stanislavski says. I’m not acting Susie Mumble. I am Susie Mumble.”

“All right, all right, all right, for God’s sake, you’re Susie Mumble. But while you’re swinging it, will you please,

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