I cursed, and went back down to the car. I drove over to the library and asked for the back files of the Sanport Citizen. Beginning with the first of August, I worked back toward June. In the fourth paper I found another story on it. It was datelined Sanport, July 27.


After nearly two months of a nationwide manhunt, police announced today there has been no new light whatever thrown on the possible whereabouts of the Mount Temple bank official who allegedly absconded with $120,000 of the bank’s funds. Since the discovery on June 11 of Butler’s car, abandoned on a local street near the beach...

Well, there wasn’t anything new in that, except the fact that they definitely hadn’t found him.

I sat suddenly upright in the chair. The thing that had been bothering me all the time was just beyond my reach. I looked back at the story: “...Butler’s car, abandoned on a local street near the beach...” That was it.

That second clipping she had shown me, the one carrying the story about the car, had given the name of the street. It hadn’t sunk in at the time, but it had been bothering my subconscious ever since. I grabbed another bundle of the papers and began flipping hurriedly through them. June 14, June 13, June 11—it should be in this one. I shot my glance up column and down, across the front page. Here it was.

“The late-model automobile of the missing man was discovered early today abandoned near the beach in the 200 block of Duval Boulevard.”

I wondered why I had let it slide off the first time I’d read it. It was given right in Winlock’s ad, the thing that had taken me out there in the first place. The address of that apartment house was 220 Duval Boulevard.

I was beginning to have an idea why she was so sure Butler was dead.

Chapter Three

She came down and let me in when I rang the buzzer. Neither of us said anything until we were back up in the living room. She sat down in the same place she’d been before, across the coffee table, and smiled at me, the eyes cool and a little amused.

“I wondered if you’d be back,” she said. “And how soon.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

She lit a cigarette and looked thoughtfully at the smoke. “Let’s put it this way: If you didn’t have sense enough to see it, you wouldn’t be smart enough to be of any help. This is no child’s game, you know. And it could be dangerous as hell.”

“There’s one thing I’m still not too sure of,” I said. “And that’s why you’re so certain she’s the one that killed him and left his car in front of your apartment. Wasn’t there anybody else who could have known he was going to run off with you?”

“It’s not likely. And nobody but that vindictive bitch would have gone to that much trouble and risk of exposure just for the pleasure of letting me know. I mean, leaving the car right out front here. She would do that.”

“How about telling me the whole thing?” I said.

“Suppose you tell me something first,” she said coolly. “Do you want in this, or don’t you?”

“What do you think? I came back, didn’t I?”

“Not worried about breaking the law?”

“Let’s put it this way: Whoever’s got that money is outside the law himself, or herself. So he or she can’t yell cop. And as far as conscience is concerned, you can buy a lot of sleeping pills with sixty thousand dollars.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Who said anything about sixty thousand? I’m offering you a third.”

“And you know what you can do with your third. It’s half or nothing.”

“You’ve got a nerve—”

“What do you mean, nerve? I’m the one that has to go up there and stick his head in the lion’s mouth and search the place. You don’t take any risk.”

“All right, all right,” she said. “Relax. I just thought I’d try. A half it is.”

“That’s better. Now, tell me about it.”

“All right,” she said. “You know now why I’m so certain he’s dead. He has to be, or he’d have shown up here. Butler was no fool. He knew he didn’t have a chance unless he had a place to hide. So he and I worked it out. I got this apartment several months before he pulled it off. When he took the money and made the break he was to come here, hide in this apartment without even going out on the street for at least two months, until some of the uproar had died down and we had changed his appearance as much as possible. Then we were going to get away to the West Coast in a car and trailer, with Butler riding in the trailer. He’d turn up in San Francisco with a whole new identity. It was a fine idea, of course, except that he never did show up here. His car did, but somebody else drove it.”

“That’s right.”

“So you believe me now?” she said.

“Yes. Certainly. That was the thing that made the difference. The other story didn’t make any sense. As soon as it soaked into my head that you were the woman he was running off with— And, of course, if he didn’t show up here, it was because he couldn’t.”

“So the money’s still right there in the house in Mount Temple,” she said.

“That I’m not so sure of. Anybody might have killed him, for that much.”

“No. Nobody else could have known about it. But she did. The last time I saw him he was afraid she’d put detectives on our trail.”

“How long have you known them?” I asked. “Were you actually a nurse there in Mount Temple?”

“Yes. But that was last fall and winter. I’d been back here four months when he actually pulled it off.”

“He was pretty gone on you?”

“Maybe. In a way,” she said.

“You after him? Or the money?”

“Let’s say both. We believed in taking what we needed, and what we needed was each other. What do you want? Tristan and Isolde?”

“And now that he’s dead, you’ll settle for the money?” Then I changed it. “For half the money.”

“That’s right. What should I do? Throw myself off a cliff?”

“We’ll get along,” I said.

She crushed the cigarette out with a savage slash at the ashtray. “There’s another thing, too. She’s not going to get away with it. The drunken bitch.”

Well, I thought, I’ll be a sad...

“Get this through your head,” I said. “Once and for all. This is a business proposition, or I’m out, as of now. There’ll be no wild-haired babes blowing their tops and killing each other in anything I’m mixed up in. I thought you were tough.”

She glared at me. “I am,” she said. “What I mean is

she’s not going to get away with the money.”

“That’s better. Just keep it in mind.”

“Mount Temple’s about two hundred miles away,” I

said. “I can drive it in four hours.”

She shook her head. “You’ll have to go on the bus.”

“What do you mean, go on the bus?”

“Look. You’ll be in that house two days. Maybe three.

Where are you going to leave your car? In the drive?”

“I’ll park it somewhere else in town.”

“No. In that length of time somebody might notice it. The police might impound it. A hundred things could happen.”

I could see she was right. A car with out-of-town tags sitting around that long might attract attention. But the bus idea wasn’t much better.

“I’m supposed to get in there and out without being seen by anybody who could identify me afterward. The bus is no good.”

She nodded. “That’s right, too. We can’t be too careful about that. I think the best thing is for me to drive you up there.”

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