dawn was just beginning to break over the saw mill river when michael eased the mud-spattered studebaker into the driveway of his elmsford home.
his home. all his.
because he knew carol wasn't coming back.
he didn't know where she had gone, but he knew she wasn't coming back.
he would have to listen to questions from his parents and people in the neighborhood, and maybe put up with some razzing or snide remarks at the firm, but basically he felt relieved.
he would never have to listen to carol again.
he could be michael again, and never again have to answer to the name of henry.
he got out of the car and locked it.
he went to the front door and unlocked it.
what a bore life was, forever locking and unlocking things.
suddenly he wondered if he would ever have another girl friend, or another wife.
gee, why think about that now, when he was newly freed? he pushed the thought out of his head.
it was replaced by another thought - would he have to go through the rigmarole of actually divorcing carol? she was not coming back. not even for some of his money. somehow he knew this. so why bother?
unless he wanted to marry someone else.
that was the least of his worries right now.
he hung his hat up on the coatrack inside the front door and sat down on the couch in the living room .
did he want a drink?
strangely, he was not tired. and he didn't have to go to work.
he looked up and saw his most precious possession.
his television set.
he looked at his watch. almost five thirty. the news would come on in another hour.
he wondered what had happened to stanley slade.
he had to have been out of his mind to think he could have gotten the reward money for slade. if he had gone to the police, they would have wanted to know why he had not contacted them right away. he might have ended up in jail himself!
best to just forget the whole thing. and start his new life.
with his television. his television, that he could watch whatever he damn well pleased on.
dagmar. now there was a real woman.
though a minute ago michael had not felt tired, suddenly he fell asleep on the couch.
dreaming of dagmar.
the first coffee shop carol and fortescue came across after leaving the police station was, as mullihan had predicted, just opening up. a woman was unlocking the front door.
the proprietress, or waitress or whatever she was, saw them standing there watching her and invited them in and told them to make themselves comfortable.
new york sure was a friendly place.
they settled into a booth. carol took her pack of herbert tareytons out of her purse and took the last tareyton out of the pack and lit it.
she looked fortescue in the eye. "you told the detective he could contact me through you, if he had to."
"yes, i did, didn't i?"
"i guess that means you are going to take me on as your secretary - or girl friday or sidekick, whatever you want to call it."
"we can try it," he agreed. "we can try it for old england, see how it works out."
"good. i'm glad we got that settled."
fortescue looked over at the blackboard menus which the woman had finished writing up behind the counter. "they seem to have a very reasonably priced breakfast special. would you care for one?"
"yeah, i'm starving. i could probably eat four of them." carol laughed. "but i will settle for one of them."
fortescue looked over and caught the woman's eye. "i'll be right with you, " she told him. "as soon as i get the coffee going."
"please, take your time."
"so, " said carol, " after we eat i guess we can go back to your office and you can introduce me to your couch."
"oh - i don't think that will be necessary."
"i mean - unless of course you prefer - "
"don't worry. we are on the same page here."
"excellent." fortescue glanced over at the woman behind at the counter, who was busy at the coffee machine.
"you know, i just have one request," said carol.
"ah. and what might that be?"
"no matter what happens, no matter what cases you get or how many we are on , i don't ever, ever, ever , want to set to have to foot in elmsford new york again."
"oh, i think i can promise that much."
mortimer had started to escort hyacinth to the elevator and up to her suite when sirens started wailing out in the street, and police cars and paddy wagons screeched to a halt in front of the lobby door.
seeing that mortimer desperately wanted to rush outside himself, hyacinth told him to leave her in a chair in the lobby and go out and see what was happening.
could it have turned out any better? not only had stanley been arrested, but according to mortimer's confused account - picked up by talking to the police - one thing about mortimer, he wasn't afraid to talk to anybody - he had been arrested with some floozy who was even more wanted than himself!
mortimer had seen them together, handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser.
ha! what was going on there? not that she really cared, but it was one more reason to forget about him and keep his ill-gotten gains for herself.
needless to say the whole affair had helped sober her up a little, and she had had no trouble getting mortimer to leave her outside her door, once they had managed between them to get it unlocked.
"you sure you don't want a little hair of the dog, miss wilde?"
"i might, mortimer, but i can manage it myself, thank you."
he had left. once the door was closed behind her the one thing she really wanted to do was make sure the trunk full of stanley's stolen goods was properly covered. she knew nolan had not got into it in his search of the premises - he had been in a hurry and looking for jake - but she wanted to be really, really sure it was safe, at least for now.
once she was satisfied, she flopped back on the bed and ran through the whole night in her mind. whew! it had been "better than a play," to use that boring old expression.
all she wanted right now was to sleep. when florinda showed up, she would slip her a few dollars and send her home for the day.
and forget about reading that new play from augustus strongbow - the one he was so proud of for writing himself - that could wait until at least tomorrow too. or the next day.