for the love of God, try to remember how those names go?”

“Oh, that,” she said airily. “I’m sure it’ll come back to me in time. Or if it doesn’t, in another week or two I’ll call the banks, as you suggested.”

Another week or two! When she had the steel in you she knew just how to turn it.

She practiced the walk some more. She didn’t need to. I tried not to look at how she didn’t need to. She could drive you crazy with that alone.

The hours passed as the hours must pass in hell.

It was night again.

I drank coffee and smoked until there was no longer any feeling in my mouth. I turned on all the lights and stood for long periods under the cold shower, slapping myself awake. I listened for the elevator in terror.

How much longer could I go on? Any hour the police might come. There was no way to tell when they might find out who I was. How much longer could I keep from going to sleep? If I dropped off she’d kill me. I could lock myself in the bathroom and go to sleep on the floor, but that would be telling her.

Why didn’t I quit? Why didn’t I just pick up the phone and tell the police to come and get her? I could run. Maybe they wouldn’t even look for me if they had her.

Then I would think of that money again and know I couldn’t ever quit. She couldn’t whip me. I would stay here and play her war of nerves with her until hell froze over and you could skate across on the ice. No woman ever born was going to cheat me out of that money now, or any part of that money. It was mine. I was going to have it. I’d get it.

I suddenly realized I was saying it aloud, to an empty room.

I dozed, sitting up. At the slightest sound I jerked erect, my heart hammering wildly. I would be drenched with sweat.

Saturday... I sneaked out to the car once and drove around until I

could buy a paper without getting out.

They had found Finley’s car at the airport.


Charisse Finley still hadn’t remembered my name. They had nothing but a description.

But they were closing in, narrowing the field. They were driving me forever toward a smaller and smaller corner.

I began to wonder if I was near the breaking point.

No! I would beat her. I could still beat her.

Though none of it showed anywhere on the surface, I knew it had to be working on her just the same as it was on me. She knew the police were looking for me, and if they found me they found her. God knows what went on inside that chromium-plated soul of hers, but no human being ever born could go on taking that kind of pressure forever without breaking. All I had to do was wait her out. All I had to do was keep her from getting a chance to kill me, and keep myself from going berserk and killing her. If I could sweat it out I could make her break and admit she had remembered how those names went. After all, she must want to run, too.

I watched her for signs of cracking. There were none. There were none at all. She lay with her face and arms in the sunlight and hummed softly to herself. She worked on Susie’s speech and mannerisms like an actress getting ready for opening night. She was sweet. And she wasn’t worried about anything at all.

The rent on those safe-deposit boxes was paid up for nearly a full year, she said.

Sometime after she had gone to bed I fell asleep. I didn’t know when, or how long I slept. The last thing I remembered was sitting straight upright straining my ears for the elevator, and then, somehow, I was lying stretched out on the sofa with that awful feeling of having been awakened by some tiny sound. I jerked my head up and looked groggily around the room, not seeing her at first.

Then I did.

She was slipping silently out into the hallway from the bedroom. She had on that nylon robe, with nothing under it, and she was carrying the scissors in her hand. She was barefoot. She took another soft step and then she saw me looking at her.

She smiled. “Oh. I’m sorry I awakened you.” I couldn’t say anything, or move. She saw me staring at the scissors. She put up a hand

and patted the curls that gleamed softly in the light from the single lamp. “I was doing a little repair work on my hair. And I thought I’d slip out to the kitchen and get a drink.”

I sat up. I still couldn’t find my voice. Or take my eyes from the long, slender blades of those scissors.

She came on into the room and sat down on the floor with her back against the big chair across from me. “Now that I have awakened you with my blundering around,” she said sweetly, “why don’t we have a cigarette and just talk?”

I watched her with horror. She calmly lit a cigarette and leaned back against the chair, doubling her legs under her. She paid no attention to the fact that she had on nothing beneath that flimsy robe.

“It’s nice here, isn’t it?” she said quietly.

So I thought I could make her crack? Somewhere deep inside me I could feel myself beginning to come unstuck. I sat still and clenched my jaws together to keep my teeth from chattering. I was shaking as if with a chill.

She opened the scissors, playing with them in her hands. She balanced one slender, shining blade on her fingertip, like a child enchanted with some new toy, and looked from it to me and smiled.

“It’s so peaceful. It makes you want to stay forever. Do you remember ‘The Lotos-Eaters’?”

Light flickered and gleamed along the blades.

“There is sweet music here that softer falls

Than petals from blown roses on the grass,

Or night-dews on still waters between walls

Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass.”

She paused. “How does it go? Something about sleep, isn’t it? Oh, yes.”

She let her head tilt back and watched me dreamily. Smoke from the cigarette in her hand curled upward around the wicked and tapering steel.

“Music that gentler on the spirit lies

Than tir’d eyelids upon tir’d eyes;

Music that brings sweet sleep down from the

blissful skies.”

She smiled. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”

I could feel myself beginning to slip over the edge. I fought it.

It wasn’t that I was afraid of a 125-pound woman with a pair of drugstore scissors in her hand. It was that she wasn’t human. She was invulnerable. She was unbeatable. Nothing could touch her.

There was a wild, crazy blackness foaming up inside rne, urging me to leap up and run, or to lunge for her and tear the scissors away and take her throat in my hands

and see if she could be killed.

I hung poised over empty nothing. I slipped a little.

She stood up. “I won’t bother you any longer, if you’re

sleepy,” she said. “I think I’ll go back to bed.” She knew just how much to turn the screw each time.


Sunday was the slow thickening of horror.

It wasn’t a day, beginning at one point and ending at another. There were no days now. Time had melted and run together into one endless and unmarked second of waiting for an explosion when the fuse was always burning and forever a quarter of an inch long.

Midnight came, and I knew I could no longer stay awake. I had to get out. I walked downstairs and around to the car and drove it slowly out of the city and along the beach. When I was far out I pulled off into the dunes and stopped.

I got out. It was black, and the breeze was cool coming in off the sea. I walked five steps away from the car and fell forward onto the sloping edge of a dune. Even as I was falling I was losing consciousness, and the last thing before I blacked out I was running alongside the spinning outer edge of a giant carousel loaded with fat

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