12 Chinks and A Woman

12 Chinks and A Woman by James Hadley Chase Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: 12 Chinks and A Woman by James Hadley Chase Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Hadley Chase
expectin' me.”
     Nightingale put down the screw-driver and looked at him. “So I was,” he said, as if remembering. “So I was. We'll go upstairs and talk.”
     Fenner followed him out of the workshop and up another short flight of stairs. Nightingale showed him into a room which was large and cool. Two big windows opened out to a small balcony. From the window, Fenner could see the Mexican Gulf.
     Nightingale said, “Sit down. Take off your coat if you want to.”
     Fenner took off his coat and rolled up his sleeves. He sat by the window.
     Nightingale said, “Perhaps a drink?”
     “Sure.”
     When the drinks were fixed, and Nightingale had settled himself, Fenner sparred for an opening. He knew he'd have to go carefully with this little guy. He didn't know how far he could trust him. It was no use getting him suspicious.
     He said at last, “How far you carryin' me?”
     Nightingale fingered his glass with his thick weak fingers. He looked a little bewildered. “All the way,” he said. “That's what you want, isn't it?”
     Fenner stretched out. “I want to get in with the boys. New York's got too hot for me.”
     “I can do that,” Nightingale said simply. “Crotti said you were an all-right guy and I was to help you. Crotti's been good to me; I'm glad to even things up with him.”
     Fenner guessed Crotti was the guy Ike got on to. . “Maybe five C's would be more concrete than Win' Crotti,” he said drily.
     Nightingale looked a little hurt. “I don't want your dough,” he said simply. “Crotti said 'help this man,' and that's enough for me.”
     Fenner twisted in his chair. It quite shocked him to see that the little man was sincere.
     “Swell,” he said hastily. “Don't get me wrong. Where I come from there's a different set of morals.”
     “I can give you introductions. But what is it exactly that you want?”
     Fenner wished he knew. He stalled. “I guess I gotta get into the money again,” he said. “Maybe one of your crowd could use me.”
     “Crotti says you've got quite a reputation. He says you've got notches on your gun.”
     Fenner tried to look modest and cursed Ike's imagination. “I get along,” he said casually.
     “Maybe Carlos could use you.”
     Fenner tried a venture. “I thought Noolen might be good to throw in with.”
     Nightingale's watery eyes suddenly flashed. “Noolen? Noolen's the south end of a horse.”
     “So?”
     “Carlos has Noolen with his pants down. You won't get any place with a piker like Noolen.”
     Fenner gathered that Noolen was a wash-out. He tried again. “You surprise me. I was told Noolen was quite a big shot around here.”
     Nightingale stretched his neck and deliberately spat on the floor. “Nuts,” he said.
     “Who's Carlos?”
     Nightingale got back his good humor. “He's the boy. Now Pio'll get you somewhere.”
     Fenner slopped a little of his Scotch. “That his name—Pio Carlos?”
     Nightingale nodded. “He's got this burg like that.” He held out his small squat hand and closed his thick fingers into a small fist. “Like that—see?”
     Fenner nodded. “Okay,” he said, “I'll be guided by you.”
     Nightingale got up and put his glass on the table. “I've got a little job to do, and then we'll go down and meet the boys. You rest here. It's too hot to go runnin' around.”
     When he had gone, Fenner shut his eyes and thought. The lid was coming off this quicker than he'd imagined. He'd have to watch his step.
     He felt a little draught and he opened his eyes. The blonde had come in and was gently shutting the door. Fenner heard her turn the key in the lock. “Jumpin' Jeeze,” he thought, “she's goin' to grab me!”
     He swung his legs

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