COME EASY, GO EASY: Chapter 11 – The End

The man in the white tie moved from the car, still looking around. As I switched on the pump and began to shoot gas into the car, I watched him. He took off his hat and began to fan himself with it. His thinning, black hair was wet with sweat.

“It sure is hot,” I said. “One of the hottest nights I’ve known.”
I was talking for the sake of talking. These two bothered me.

I had an idea they might knock me on the head and rifle the till. Then a thought came into my mind that sent a chill through my blood. Suppose they found the safe in the bungalow . . . !
The man in the white tie had taken a pin from his coat lapel. He began to pick his teeth. I was aware now that he was staring at me: not at my face, but at the V opening of my open neck shirt.

Is this your joint, he asked abruptly. He had a soft, drawling voice. “Have you a wife and kids here?”
It was the kind of question anyone could ask, but somehow, coming from him, there was
something sinister about it.

“I’m just the hired hand,” I said, watching the dial spin on the pump. “My boss and the other hired hand will be in at any minute now.”

I figured it might be an idea to let them know I wasn’t going to be alone much longer.
He dug into his teeth with the ping, then sucked it and put it back into his lapel.

I switched off the pump, then picked the sponge out of the bucket and began to wipe over the windshield. I was watching these two the way you would watch a snake that has crawled into the bathroom while you are taking a tub.

“Let’s have something to eat, Sol,” the man in the white tie said to the Mexican. He looked at me. “What have you got, bright boy?”
“At this hour, there’s only sandwiches,” I said.
“It had better be better than sandwiches. Come on, shake the ants out of your pants. I’m

I sneaked a look at my wrist watch. The time was twenty minutes past midnight. Lola and Roy wouldn’t be back yet for at least two and a half hours. It looked as if I were stuck with these two.

I walked to the lunch room. The two men sauntered after me. They paused just inside the room, looking around.
“Anyone else here?” the man in the white tie asked.
He could easily find out for himself, so I said there was no one else here.

“Let’s eat: what have you got?”
“You can have fried chicken if you want to wait or there’s hamburgers and sandwiches.”

Sol walked past me, around the counter, pushed open the kitchen door and looked inside. He came back, shaking his head at the man in the white tie.
Then I knew I was in for trouble.

The man in the white tie said, “This your only phone?” He tapped the telephone on the wall.
“Yes,” I said. I kept my hands on my hips. I was very careful not to make any hurried
He took hold of the telephone receiver and jerked the wire away from its moorings. As he did so, his snake’s eyes watched me.

“Get that chicken cooking. You watch him, Sol.”
I went into the kitchen with Sol, breathing heavily, on my heels.
“What’s the idea?” I said as I started to heat up the chicken.
“Just relax, Pal,” Sol said, sitting on the table. His fat, brown hand caressed his gun butt.
“Never mind with the questions.”
There was a pause, then he said, “Do you like it here, pal? Don’t you find it lonely?”
“I’m used to it,” I said, aware my lips felt stiff and my heart was thumping.
“You married?”
“How do you get on for a woman, then?”
“I manage.”
The man in the white tie came in, carrying a plate of sandwiches he had taken from the glass case in the lunch room.

“Help yourself, Sol: these ain’t so lousy.” He was speaking with his mouth crammed full of food. “Watch the bright boy and keep him amused. I’m going to take a look around.”
Sol picked up two of the sandwiches and began to eat. The man in the white tie went out.

“Eddy’s a bright boy,” Sol said to me. “You have to treat him gently. “He’s got a trigger itch, but treated right, he’s bright.”
I didn’t say anything. There was nothing to say, but I was doing a lot of thinking.

This fat Mexican didn’t look so hard to take. If I could put him out of action, I was ready to take on Eddy: not the two of them, but one at the time didn’t seem too hard.
Sol said, “How much dough have you got in this dump?”
“Not much,” I said. “We banked this afternoon.”

“Yeah? That’s rough. We want dough: we want it bad.” He scooped up two more sandwiches
and began to cram them into his vast mouth. “We reckoned a dump like this would have plenty of
dough stashed away somewhere.”
“There’s a hundred bucks in the till,” I said.
“There’d better be a damn sight more than that, pal, or you might get a broken neck.”

I put two plates on the table. I was breathing fast. If I was going to take this hunk of fat now was the time.
I picked up the frying pan, containing the chicken and the boiling fat.

“There’s the gas money,” I went on as I walked over to the table. “Maybe there’s fifty bucks in the satchel, but not more.”

He shifted his bulk off the table and stood watching me as, scoop in hand, I made ready to slide the chicken onto the plates.

“You’ll have to find more, pal,” he said. “Ed isn’t the kind of guy you can stall.”
With a flicking movement of my wrist I tossed the contents of the frying pan into his fat face.

The hot oil made his scream, and he staggered back. The chicken dripped down his coat: some of it lodged in his hat.

His hand groped wildly for his gun as I slammed him across the face with the hot frying pan. Then as he reeled back, I jumped forward and belted him on the side of his jaw. He went down. Bending over him, I got his gun. I hit him on his forehead with the gun butt as he tried to struggle up. He flopped down and his eyes rolled back.
I had his gun.

As I straightened I heard the lunch room door creak open. I jumped across the room and turned off the light.
I didn’t underestimate Eddy. He was a professional killer. But at least I had a gun.

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