bundles of money and red-haired girls with cool, mocking eyes.

I awoke all at once, like a jungle animal. I turned my head. A car had stopped nearby in the darkness.

A spotlight burst from it. The hot beam swung just above my head and spattered against the side and the open door of the Pontiac. I lay still, afraid even to breathe.

It shifted, searching the ground. He had seen there was no one in the car. The light moved again, just above my head. Then it went off abruptly. I heard a car door open and shut. I held rigid. There was no chance to run. But he might miss me in the darkness.

The beam of a flashlight hit the ground a few feet to my left. He walked forward. He was nearly on top of me now. The beam flipped upward toward the car, and then swung back. It hit me right in the face. I stared into it, blinded.

“What are you doing here?” a voice growled. “You hurt? Or drunk?” Then I heard the sharp intake of breath. “Hey!”

I came off the ground, right into the light. He hadn’t had time to pull the gun. I caught part of his uniform, pulling him down to me and clubbing for his face with my fist. We were in the sand together. He kicked backward. I followed, swarming over him, wild now, my breath sobbing in my throat. I located his face at last, and swung. He jerked. I held him by the collar and swung again.

I snatched up the light, my hands shaking and dropped it. I clawed it up out of the sand again and flashed it in his face. He was out cold. I ran to the patrol car, jerked the keys out, and threw them far away in the darkness. I heaved the flashlight after them, lunged toward my own car, and fled.

I’d got away from him, but I was just buying time. And there wasn’t much more to buy. They would know now that I was here in town.

But even as I gunned the car wildly along the beach in the darkness, I was conscious that my mind was clearing, becoming colder now, and I could think.

An idea began to take shape. I could still win. I could get that money, all of it. I’d beat her yet.

And the way to beat her was to let her think she had won.

It was after five and the sky was reddening in the east when I parked the car a block away from the apartment on a cross street. No one saw me go in. I ran up the stairs. This was the last day. Only a few more hours now and we’d be gone.

No, I thought. I’d be gone.

She was in the bedroom. I put on a pot of coffee and went into the bath. I took a shower, as hot as I could stand it and then as cold as it would run, shocking myself awake.

I went into the kitchen. The coffee was almost done. I poured two quick drinks of the whisky and downed them. They burned through five days’ accumulation of exhaustion and fear and numbness, clearing my mind. I poured a cup of coffee and lit a cigarette.

I waited. There was no use waking her up. The banks wouldn’t open until ten.

At a little after seven I heard her in the bath. In a few minutes she came out. She was wearing the blouse and skirt again. It was odd that with that traveling case she hadn’t grabbed up two changes while she was at it.

“Good morning,” she said sweetly. “Did you sleep well?”

I walked over in front of her. “Have you got those names figured out yet?”

She gave me a teasing, half-mocking smile. “I’m not absolutely certain—”

I caught her by the shoulders and shook her. “Have you?”

“What is the hurry, dear? We have the rest of the month.”

I turned away from her without a word and walked over to the stove. I poured her a cup of coffee and another for myself. We sat down.

I lit her cigarette. “All right,” I said harshly. “You win.

What do you want?”

Her eyebrows lifted. “What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean,” I said. “You wore me out. I

can’t take it any longer. We’ve got to get out. They’re closing in on me.” I lit my own cigarette and dropped the match in the tray. Then I looked back at her face. “You know they’re looking for me instead of you, don’t you?”

She nodded. “I suspected it.”

“All right. I thought I could wait you out. But I can’t. I’ve taken the heat for four days but I can’t take it any longer. One of ‘em almost got me out there on the beach two hours ago, and I’ve had it. We’ve got to get out.”

“Yes,” she said quietly. Then she added, “But excuse me for interrupting you. I believe you had something else to say, didn’t you?”

“All right,” I said savagely. “I did. How much do you want? Half? Don’t go any higher than that, because I’ve still got one thing in my favor. I’ve got the keys, and if I don’t get half nobody gets anything.”

She leaned back a little in the chair and smiled. “That sounds eminently fair to me. But did it ever occur to you that possibly there was another facet to it, aside from the

money? Remember? It was something I told you.”


“That I have a deep-seated aversion to being played for

a fool. You could have saved yourself all this if you’d told me the news to begin with.”

Everybody who wanted to believe that could line up on the right. But I went along with her.

“Well, I’m sorry,” I said. “But that’s all past now. So the fifty-fifty split is O.K. with you?”

She didn’t answer for a moment. She was looking thoughtfully down at her coffee cup. Then she said, “Yes. If we still feel we want to separate when we get to the West Coast, that sounds quite fair to me.” I glanced quickly at her. “What do you mean?” She raised her eyes then. There was more Susie than Madelon Butler in them. “You don’t make it very easy for me to say, do you? But I meant just that. Maybe we won’t want to separate by the time we get there.”

“It’s funny,” I said slowly. “I had thought of that too.” There was a faint, tantalizing smile about her lips. “Changing into someone else isn’t a thing that happens only from the skin out. I told you I wasn’t acting Susie Mumble. I am Susie. And I’m becoming fascinated with her. For the past few days I’ve been increasingly conscious of unsuspected possibilities in Susie, and I was rather hoping you were too.”

Chapter Twenty

I started to get up.

She shook her head, smiling. “No, Lee. Don’t rush me. Remember, Susie is something so foreign to my entire life up to this time that I can’t hurry her. She has to do her own developing, in her own way. You understand, don’t you?”

She stopped abruptly, and before I could say anything, she added, “But enough of this. We’ve got work to do.”

We went in and sat down on the sofa. She was excited now. I put the three keys on the glass top of the coffee table. She separated them, pushing them out one at a time.

“Third National,” she murmured happily, “Mrs. Henry

L. Carstairs. Merchants Trust, Mrs. James R. Hatch. Seaboard Bank and Trust, Mrs. Lucille Manning.” It was easy now that she had won. Well, almost won. I put the keys back in my wallet.

She looked at her watch. “It’s a quarter of eight. The banks won’t open until ten. I’ve got to go to the beauty shop first, and buy some clothes.”

I exploded. “Hold it! Don’t you realize we haven’t got time for that? They know I’m here in town. Every minute of delay is dangerous.”

She broke in on me. “Not while you’re here in the apartment. And I can’t go into those banks like this. My hair may look all right to you, but to another woman it’s as ragged as if it had been chewed off. And these clothes are terrible. I look like a ragpicker. People would notice, and that’s the one thing we can’t risk. I have to look like someone who conceivably might have a safe-deposit box.”

In the end I gave in. I had to. As she pointed out, she’d be back by twelve, which was a delay of only two hours. And I didn’t want to queer it by starting a fight now.

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