361

361 by Donald E. Westlake Read Free Book Online

Book: 361 by Donald E. Westlake Read Free Book Online
Authors: Donald E. Westlake
looked at me. “Yes. Arthur, go up to the house. All of you, up to the house.”
    The middle-aged woman smiled like a beautician. “You shouldn’t exert yourself, Papa.” She got up and crouched over him, hoping everyone would think she was solicitous. She was afraid to strangle him. “Don’t you talk too long, now,” she said.
    Arthur said to her, “Come on.”
    The ash-blonde called to the little girl, “Linda. Come here.”
    She came out of the water, carrying the green pail. She stopped in front of me, serious, squinting up at me with sun in her eyes. “Why do you limp?”
    “I was in an accident.”
    “When?”
    “Come along, Linda,” said her mother.
    “Two months ago,” I said.
    “Where?”
    “Your mother wants you.”
    They trailed by us, across the lawn toward the path. The middle-aged woman said, “I’m coming, Arthur.”
    They trailed diagonally up the lawn. The last thing, the ash-blonde made the little girl empty the water out of her pail. Then they were gone, between the trees.
    He told us to sit down, and we did. He kept his head back, twisted at an odd angle on a faded flower-pattern pillow. His voice was just above a whisper, no louder than his breathing. “Your father is dead,” he said.
    I said, “I want to know about Eddie Kapp.”
    “He went to jail. Years ago.” The head shook back and forth, slowly. “The Federal Government is a different proposition, Eddie.”
    “Is he still in jail? Eddie Kapp, is he still in jail?”
    “Oh, I suppose so. I don’t know. I have taken the final sabbatical, young man. I am no longer chained to the office, I—” His wandering eyes and wandering mind touched Bill again, and he frowned. “Willard? You shouldn’t be here, you know that.”
    Bill was scared. He said, “No, you mean my father.” He broke the mood before McArdle said anything useful.
    McArdle’s face started to close up. He was in the present again, and he remembered what he’d said. He watched me warily.
    I said, “Why shouldn’t he be here?”
    “Who? What are you talking about? I am retired, an old man with a bad heart...”
    “My father shouldn’t have come to New York, should he? Why not?”
    “I don’t know. My memory wanders sometimes, I’m not always responsible for what I say.”
    The boy and girl came dripping out of the water. McArdle’s head twisted to glare at them. “Go out there! Stay out there! This is none of your business!”
    “We’re going up to the house,” said the girl. She was snotty. She’d had money all her life, she didn’t care if she inherited or not. “Come on, Larry.”
    They paused to fiddle with towels and cigarettes and sunglasses. I said, “Better hurry.”
    The girl was going to be snotty to me, but then she wasn’t. She grabbed her gear and hip-jiggled away. She looked discontented, frustrated. The boy flexed his muscles at me, frowning because he’d been left out, and followed her.
    When they were gone, I turned back to McArdle. “Who would know if Eddie Kapp was out or in?”
    “I don’t know. So long ago.” The eyes misted again, cleared a little. “Maybe his sister. Dorothea. She married a chain-market manager.”
    “What name?”
    “I’m trying to remember. Carter, something like that. Castle, Kimball... Campbell! That was it, Robert Campbell.”
    I wrote it down. “That was in New York?”
    “He managed a chain market in Brooklyn. A Bohack? I don’t remember. A young man. She was young, too, much younger than her brother. A pretty thing, black hair. Glowing.”
    He was starting to dream again. I said, “Who told Willard Kelly to stay out of town?”
    “What? What?” His head nearly raised up from the pillow, and then subsided. “Don’t shout so,” he said. His breathing was louder. “I am an old man, my memory is failing me, I have a bad heart. You cannot rely on what I say. I should have told Samuel no. I should have refused.”
    “Samuel Krishman? He doesn’t know the answer, does he?”
    The

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