Wednesday, September 30, 2015

the golden gumdrop caper, part 5

by manfred skyline

illustrated by roy dismas

originally appeared in the june through september 1956 issues of last stop - excitement magazine

editorial consultant: Prof. Dan Leo

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here

in our previous chapters, we met the notorious adventuress angie ricardo, recently sentenced to a long term in a federal penitentiary, who has been contacted by mysterious personages who propose to get her released, for their own purposes...

angie checked the glove compartment of the desoto one more time, running her hand over the whole interior.

nothing. nothing except the envelope with the two twenties, the book of matches, and the pack of cigarettes.

there was nothing written in the book of matches, unless it was in invisible ink.

the pack of old golds - nice of them to know her brand - was unopened, and she could not believe that they - whoever “they” were - went to the trouble of putting a message inside it and sealing it up again.

no, it made more sense that they did not want to risk anything - even the most cryptic note - that would point directly to the purpose and destination of the vehicle.

the only possible message was “ronnie’s “ on the book of matches. in yonkers , where dick richmond had told her to wait for a connection at the bus station.

so yonkers it was - at ronnie’s, or the bus station?

wait. could there be something in the trunk? maybe, but not likely. she would check it later. better to get away from here first.

she could not see it, but angie knew where the highway was.

the dirt road where the desoto was parked led in its general direction, with the desoto aimed down it.

she drove down the road with no lights . parts of the road were so narrow and so overhung with trees it was live driving in a tunnel.

she stopped when she got a glimpse of the highway. she took the bag of clothes and got out of the car and quickly changed into them. the night was cold, and she scratched herself a few times on the bushes beside the narrow road.

there were a shirt and a pair of pants and a dress. and a jacket. no hat. she put the pants and shirt on. they were a little loose.

a pair of shoes, also a little loose. but she did not want to wear the prison shoes. the new shoes had laces, she tied them as tight as she could.

throw the prison uniform and shoes away? she decided not to, not yet. they might come in handy if the clothes she was wearing got wet or torn or something. she stuffed the uniform and prison shoes in the bag, and put the bag in the back seat.

she realized she had not checked the back seat. but there was nothing in it, or under it.

she opened the pack of old golds. it was packed tight with cigarettes, no sign of a note or message. she took one out and lit it with the cigarette lighter from the dashboard.

finally she eased the car down off the dirt road and on to the highway and turned on the lights.

the highway was empty. the clock on the dashboard read 3:15.

she should reach yonkers just around quarter to six. perfect. the bus station would not be too crowded, but it would just be coming to life, not empty.

if nobody contacted her at the bus station, she would try ronnie’s bar or whatever it was. she hoped it opened before noon.

i should have looked in the trunk, she thought, as she rolled down the highway. there could be anything in it - a body, a suitcase with a million dollars in it or the crown jewels of russia…


the thin man took the ten of diamonds and placed it on the jack of spades. he had no place to put the five of diamonds. he shuffled three cards off the deck. six of hearts. no place to put that either.

behind him, dick richmond got up and moved to the bar. he hesitated, decided not to pour himself another drink after all, then went over to the window.

he looked at his watch. “i wonder if our girl got away all right.”

“she either did or she didn’t,” the thin man answered. he looked down at his cards. he needed a black seven. the seven of spades was already on the board.

“i need the seven of clubs,” he told dick richmond. “i can’t do anything without the seven of clubs.”

dick richmond peeked around the window shade at the dark empty street. “do you always play by the rules?” he asked the thin man.

“of course. when i am playing by myself.“ he swept all the cards up off the table and began shuffling for a new game.

dick richmond went to the bar and poured himself a drink. just a little one.


angie turned the car radio on. she got a station from pittsburgh.

the music was o k, but the disc jockey talked too much. she tried to find another station.

she got nothing but static and turned the radio off.

she couldn’t stop thinking about what might be in the trunk.

maybe this whole thing is just setting me up for a murder rap or worse, she thought. another mile and state troopers will pull me over and find who knows what?

it sounded crazy, but crazy things happened.

like what was happening right now.

she decided to pull over at the next gas station or roadside cafe - even if it was closed. and check the trunk, just so she wouldn’t keep driving herself crazy.

as soon as she made up her mind to do this, she saw a little place. one pump, and a little shack of a cafe with a dim light in the window.

she turned in, driving over gravel. if there was anybody in the little cafe, they would hear her.

there was a sign in the window. she could barely make it out. it said “open all night.”

but nobody came out to see if she wanted gas.

she opened the trunk.

it contained a spare tire, and a jack and some other tools.

no body, no suitcase, no million dollars, and no crown jewels of russia.

angie laughed. i am getting soft, she thought - soft in the head - and losing my nerve.

she decided to get a cup of coffee if the place was really open. and break one of the twenties. she did not need gas, the tank showed almost full.

she noticed how the temperature had dropped. and it felt like it might start to rain again.

she closed the trunk and took the jacket she had been provided out of the back seat. she put it on, it was too big, and the sleeves came down over her hands.

she rolled the sleeves up, took the cigarettes and matches off the front seat, and locked the car.

a single raindrop hit her on the head. she waited a few seconds, but no more came.

she headed for the door of the shack. the gravel crunched loudly beneath her feet.

part 6

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