Make Room! Make Room!

Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison Read Free Book Online

Book: Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison Read Free Book Online
Authors: Harry Harrison
hit him doubly hard after the cool apartment, pressing on his skin and meeting the spreading warm that suffused the lower part of his body, just the kind of feeling he had the first time he got near a girl; he rested his head against the wall. Even in the pictures they passed around he had never seen a girl like this. All the ones he had banged had been glimpsed briefly in a dim light or not at all, thin limbs, gray skins, dirty as he, with ragged underclothing.
    Of course. A single lock on the inner door guarded by theburglar alarm above. But the alarm was disconnected, he had seen the dangling wires. He had learned about things like this when Sam-Sam had run the Tigers, they had broken into stores and done a couple of jobs of burglary before the cops shot Sam-Sam. A sharp jimmy would open that door in a second. But what did this have to do with the girl? She had smiled, hadn’t she? She could be there waiting when the old bastard went to work.
    It was a lot of crap and he knew it, the girl wouldn’t have anything to do with him. But she had smiled? The apartment was different, a quick job before the wiring was fixed, he knew the layout of the building—if only there was a way of getting by those chunkheads at the front door. This had nothing to do with the girl, this was for cash. He went quietly down the stairs, looking carefully before turning the corner on the ground floor and hurrying on to the basement.
    You had to ride your luck. He didn’t meet anyone and in the second room he entered he found a window that also had a disconnected burglar alarm on it. Maybe the whole building was like that, they were rewiring it or it had broken and they couldn’t fix it, it didn’t matter. The window was covered with dust and he reached up and drew a heart in the film of dust so he could recognize it from the outside.
    “You took a long time, kid,” the doorman said when he came up.
    “I had to wait while he copied the message and wrote an answer, I can’t help it.” He whined the lie with unsuspected sincerity, it was easy.
    The doorman didn’t ask to look at the board. With a pneumatic hiss the portcullis opened and he went across the empty drawbridge to the dark, crowded, dirty and stifling street.

    Behind the low hum of the air-conditioner, so steady a sound that the ear accepted it and no longer heard it, was the throbbing rumble of the city outside, beating like a great pulse, more felt than heard. Shirl liked that, liked its distance and the closed-in and safe feeling the night and thickness of the walls gave her. It was late, 3:24 the glowing numbers on the clock read, then changed soundlessly to 3:25 while she watched. She shifted position and beside her in the wide bed Mike stirred and mumbled something in his sleep and she lay perfectly still, hoping he wouldn’t wake up. After a moment he settled down, pulling the sheet over his shoulders, his breathing grew slow and steady again and she relaxed. The motion of the air was drying the perspiration from her skin, a cool feeling the length of her uncovered body, strangely satisfying. Before he had come to bed and wakened her she had had a few hours’ sleep and that seemed to be enough. Moving slowly, she stood and walked over in front of the flow of air so that it washed her body in its stream. She ran her hands over her skin, wincing when they touched her sore breasts. He was always too rough and it showed on her kind of skin; she’d be black-and-blue tomorrow, then she’d have to put heavy makeup on to cover the marks. Mike got angry if he saw her with any blemishes or bruises, though he never seemed tothink of that when he was hurting her. Above the air-conditioner the curtains were open a crack and the darkness of the city looked in, the widely separated lights like the eyes of animals; she quickly closed the curtains and patted them so they would stay shut.
    Mike gave a deep, throaty gargle, a startling sound when you weren’t used to it, but Shirl

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