For the next three days and nights I never had a chance of getting near the safe.
Lola was always around. She had given up night work, and as soon as Roy and I settled down
to our game of Gin, she went to bed.
She was now on speaking terms with me, but there was a reserve in her manner that warned me we could no longer be on the same terms as we had been before Roy arrived. I made no attempt to touch her. I didn’t even want to touch her.
I was suspicious of her, watching her all the time for
some sign that might confirm that she was planning to murder me, but the sign wasn’t there.
I also watched Roy, anxious to see if there was now any change in his attitude after his drive
with her to Wentworth, but, here again, I saw no change.
There were moments when I was tempted to take him into my confidence, but I didn’t. I had an instinctive feeling that the knowledge that what was in that safe would be too much for the urge in him to lay his hands on any easy money. So I held back, hoping sooner or later, she and he would go into Wentworth again, and I could get at the safe.
The chance came about a week later when Lola said as we were clearing up after a busy supper
trade, “There’s a good movie on in Wentworth. I want to see it. This French star: Brigitte Bardot.
I want to see her. Is anyone coming?”
Roy shook his head.
“Not me—I only go for gangster pictures.” Here was the chance I was looking for. They
wouldn’t be back before three o’clock in the morning. I would have all the time I wanted to get the money from the safe and bury it before they returned. After midnight, I wouldn’t have to worry about any interruptions.
“I’m stuck here, Roy,” I said. “I can’t go into Wentworth. It’s my turn for night duty anyway.
Take a chance: you might get a kick out of a French star.”
He looked at me, puzzled.
“I’d just as soon play cards.”
“Pretty tough on Lola to go twenty miles on her own.” I was scared I was overplaying my hand for now Lola was staring at me, but this was a chance I had to take.
“Well, when you two have made up your minds,” she said, “You don’t have to do me a favour.
I can go on my own.”
Roy suddenly grinned.
“Okay: you have a date,” he said. “Let’s go.” Soon after half past nine, Lola came from the bungalow. She was wearing a white frock I hadn’t seen before. It was tight across her chest and flared out over her hips. She had taken a lot of trouble with her make-up. The sight of her set my heart thumping which irritated me.
I watched her get in the Mercury beside Roy. He grinned at me as he gunned the engine.
Out of the comer of his mouth, he said, “This was your idea, pal: not mine.”
It was a remark I hadn’t expected from him, but I didn’t care. Once I had the money buried, I had the whip hand over them both.
“Have a good time,” I said.
Lola was staring at me. Her green eyes were mocking.
“We will. Don’t let the place run away.”
Roy shifted from neutral into drive, and the Mercury moved off.
For some moments I stood motionless, watching the red tail lights climbing the hill towards Wentworth, then I started for the bungalow, but I might have known it wasn’t going to be that easy.
The bungalow door was locked. The lock wasn’t anything, but I had to go to the repair shed for a length of wire. I then had to fashion the wire into a pick, and it took me a few moments to get the lock turned.
I went into the sitting-room and squatted down before the safe. Opening it was nothing. I had done it often enough, but this night, probably because I was nervous, I took longer than I had done before. Then just as I was opening the safe door, I heard the honk of a car horn.
A grey and yellow Cadillac stood by the pumps.
I spun the dial, making sure the door was locked again, then cursing to myself, I went out and fed gas into the car.
The driver, his wife and four awful kids wanted food. I fixed them sandwiches. They were in
the lunch room for thirty minutes. As they drove away, a truck came in and the trucker wanted ham and eggs.
So it went on.
I expected this, and it didn’t worry me. This was routine. Around midnight, the traffic would stop. I would still have three hours in which to do the job—it was enough.
At midnight the traffic did stop. I sat on the veranda, watching the long, winding road, lit by the moon for ten minutes before I got to my feet and started towards the bungalow again.
Then I paused, and this time I felt a nudge of desperation as I saw the headlights of a fast approaching car.
I was pretty certain the car would stop, at least for gas. I walked to the pumps to save time.
As the car pulled up, I saw it was an old, dusty Buick. There were two men in it. The driver
leaned out of the window, looking towards me.
He was a man around my own age, wearing a black slouch hat, a black shirt and a white tie. His sun-tanned face was thin and hatchet shaped. His small dark eyes were like bits of glass, and as expressionless.
His companion was fat, oily and swarthy with a straggly moustache and the narrow, olive black eyes of a Mexican. He was wearing a shabby, stained light grey suit and a Mexican hat, the cord under his fat chin.
There was something about these two I didn’t like. I had an instinctive feeling they were
dangerous. This was the first time since I had been at Point of No Return that I was suddenly conscious that I was alone, and this was a lonely spot
The Mexican was eyeing me over while the other man was looking around, his hard, bleak eyes
probing the shadows.
“Shall I fill her up?” I said, unhooking the gas hose.
“Yeah: fill her up,” the Mexican said.
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