Butler walking along the curb. I was big, but I wasn’t that big. I was a maniac.

They rounded up twenty witnesses and every one of them said there hadn’t been anybody there that looked anything at all like Madelon Butler. I pleaded. I raged. I described her.

Eight of them said sure, they’d seen the cupcake in the big hat, and that if I thought she looked anything like Madelon Butler there was no hope for me. Four of them were women, who’d been looking at her clothes. And there was no point in even asking the men what they’d been looking at.

Then those two kids who had seen me throw away the radio told the court that when they took it to a repair man he’d said the only way he could figure it had got in the mess it was in was that somebody had stabbed it with a knife. The repair man repeated it under oath.

Driven mad by guilt, they said. I had stabbed the radio because it kept talking about the woman I had killed. And I had been sleeping out on the beach because I was suffering from a delusion she was there in my apartment. Then I had finally blown my stack downtown in the traffic in broad daylight because I had reached the point where

any woman was beginning to look like Madelon Butler to me.

But that still wasn’t it. It was the money.

This was after they had come back from that trip to the apartment, and they were already beginning to shake their heads while they listened to my raving, if they listened at all. But when I told them for the fiftieth time what I was doing downtown, and about the banks, and how she’d run out on me after getting the money out of the last one, they said they’d check it out.

And they said this was going to be the last, if it was as crazy as the rest. They were getting tired of it. But that was all right. I knew I had them this time.

They investigated. They got sworn testimony from all the vault employees in all three banks.

No boxes had ever been rented to Mrs. Henry L. Carstairs, Mrs. James R. Hatch, or Mrs. Lucille Manning. They had never even heard of the names. And no woman even remotely answering the description I gave them had ever come into any of the vaults that day.

But, they said, Mrs. Madelon Butler herself, as president of the historical society she had founded, had had a box in each of the banks for years for the storage of documents and family papers.

When they came back and told me that, they had to call the guards.

And sometimes even now I can feel it boiling around there inside me, that yell or scream or laugh or whatever it is, when I think that for four days and nights that $120,000 was there in the bedroom of my apartment, either in that little overnight bag or under the mattress of the bed.

She’d had it all the time. But she really hadn’t heard the news over the radio before I butched it up, and she wasn’t completely sure she was off the hook until I told her. She had a good idea she was, but she wanted to be certain, and she wanted to finish the job on Susie Mumble before she scrammed.

And maybe...

But that’s why I wake up screaming.

Maybe she was on the level with that Susie Mumble

play for me. It would add up that way, too. Maybe she did want the two of us to go away together, but she didn’t want me to know she had been lying about the banks and had to go through with the act of getting it out.

That’s it, you see. I’ll never know. There’s no way I can ever know. Because she could very easily have seen that letter addressed to the police in the pocket of my coat while I was shaving.

It figures, all right. It checks out with the way she did it there at the end. That first bank, the Seaboard Trust, is on a corner, and she could merely have gone on out a side door and left me waiting there in the car forever. It would have been easier that way, and less dangerous. But if she had seen that letter to the police? She wanted me to have a good look at that money and one last, lingering glimpse of the potentialities of Susie Mumble, so I’d have something to remember in case I ever find it dull around this place.

You see why I wake up that way? It’s a dream I have.

I’m sitting there in the car watching her come out of that last bank and swing toward me across the sidewalk in the sun with the coppery hair shining and that tantalizing smile of Susie’s on her face and all that unhampered Susie running loose inside that summer dress, seeing her and thinking that in only a few minutes we’ll be in the apartment with the blinds drawn, in the semigloom, with a small overnight bag open on the floor beside the bed with $120,000 in fat bundles of currency inside it and maybe one nylon stocking, a sheer nylon with clocks, draped carelessly across one corner, as if it had been dropped hurriedly by someone who didn’t care where it fell....

And then in this dream she waves three fingers of her left hand and saunters on down the street, past me, and she’s gone, and I’m trapped in a car in traffic at high noon in the middle of a city of 400,000, where two hundred cops are just waiting for me to step out on the street so they can spot me. I wake up.


Who wouldn’t?

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