“It’s not the kind of thing she would advertise,” the trucker said. “Jenson is okay, isn’t he? He really is in Arizona?”
I suddenly felt cold. This was dangerous. This Swede could be a lot more dangerous than
“He’s fine,” I said, forcing myself to meet the pale, staring eyes. “I had a letter from him the other day. He’s pretty pleased with this new filling station. Maybe the next time you come
through you’ll catch him.”
He looked relieved.
“I’m d@mn glad to hear it. You know, for a moment, when you said he wasn’t here, it jumped
into my mind that—well, I thought maybe he was dead.”
I was really sweating now.
“This story about her shooting her husband,” I said, “there was no proof, was there?”
He suddenly looked embarrassed.
“No, but there was a lot of talk.”
“As far as I can see, Mrs. Jenson makes Mr. Jenson very happy,” I said. “He wouldn’t like a story like that going around. I reckon he’d be pretty angry with you if he heard what you’ve been saying.”
“You mean he’s really happy with her?”
“That’s what I’m telling you.”
“Well . . . yeah, maybe, I have shot my mouth off. You forget it, will you? Don’t mention it to Mr. Jenson.”
“You forget it too.” I took his money. “That kind of talk can cause an awful lot of mischief.”
He got in the cab, slammed the door and drove off. I could see from the expression on his face I had thrown a scare into him.
He had certainly thrown a scare into me.
I stood staring after him.
Thoughts raced through my mind. So Lola had been married before. Her husband had died
violently, and there had been money missing. I felt a tightening in my chest. Jenson had also died violently, and maybe, if I hadn’t slammed the door of the safe shut, more money would have been missing.
I walked over to the lunch room veranda and sat down. I lit a cigarette, aware my hands were
My mind was now buzzing with alarm and suspicion.
According to the trucker, the Carson City police had thought Lola had not only taken the
money, but she had murdered her husband.
Had she murdered Jenson?
I thought back on that scene that now seemed terribly near to me and startlingly vivid. In my mind, I say her come into the sitting-room. I could almost hear her quick, hard breathing. She had the gun in her hand. I heard again the fast, unreal dialogue. I remembered Jenson, red in the face with anger, getting to his feet
I saw Lola looking at me as I slammed the safe door shut, then I heard again the bang of the gun.
I had been convinced then that the sound of the safe door shutting had made her accidentally tighten her finger on the gun trigger. The gun had gone off, and Jenson had been killed.
I threw the half smoked cigarette away and wiped my face with the back of my hand.
Accidentally was now the operative word.
She was suspected of murdering her first husband and money was missing. Had the shooting of
Jenson been deliberate?
It had looked like an accident, but had it been, after all, murder? She could have pinned the murder on me. Then I had another idea that made my heart skip a beat.
The safe door had been open when she had come into the room with the gun. Suppose she had
planned first to shoot Jenson, and then me, and then take the money from the safe?
Suppose this had been her plan? She could have hidden the money and then called the police. Her story would be that she and Jenson had caught me opening the safe.
I had murdered Jenson. By some trick, she had got the gun from me and had shot me in self defence. I was an escapee from Farnworth: a man with a reputation. That fat sheriff from Wentworth might very easily have accepted such a story.
But she hadn’t killed me because I had shut the safe as she had shot Jenson. She had been quick enough and smart enough to know that she couldn’t open the safe, but that I could. When she found she couldn’t blackmail me into opening it, she had had this sudden change of heart and had pretended to be in love with me. She had suddenly turned hostile when she had discovered I now wasn’t the only one at Point of No Return who could open the safe! Roy could open it!
She had the gun. I was now sure her story of getting rid of it had been a lie.
That could mean both Roy’s life and mine were in danger. She could persuade Roy to open the
safe, then she would kill him. She could kill me too. Her story could be more or less the same as the one she would have told if she had killed me when she had shot Jenson.
I got to my feet
This was guess work, sparked off by the mischievous talk of an old Swedish trucker. The
chances were that this guy Finney had committed su!cide and Jenson’s shooting had been an accident, but I wasn’t going to take chances. I remembered those hard green eyes.
There was one way to fix her. I would take the money from the safe, leaving the safe door open so she would know that there was no point in working on Roy or planning to murder me.
I had to find a safe hiding place for the money, but that wouldn’t be difficult I looked at my wrist watch. The time was ten minutes past ten. They wouldn’t be back until mid-day. I would bury the money in Jenson’s grave. If she wanted it, she would have to dig him up as well.
It was a good idea, but it didn’t work out
As I started over to the bungalow, a truck, towing a 1955 Packard came down the Wentworthroad and I had a major repair job on my hands.
The driver of the Packard was in a hurry to get to Tropica Springs. He was an aggressive and impatient salesman. He wouldn’t take no for an answer.
I was still working on the Packard when Lola and Roy came back from Wentworth.
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