Two for the Money

Two for the Money by Max Allan Collins Read Free Book Online

Book: Two for the Money by Max Allan Collins Read Free Book Online
Authors: Max Allan Collins
willing.”
    “Well, certainly, anything I can do.”
    “Good. I’ll need another room.”
    “Is there something unsatisfactory about your present suite?”
    “No. I need an extra room. It has to do with the surprise.”
    “Oh.” The clerk leaned forward and smiled and said, “What is it, are you bringing in another old friend of Mr. Werner’s? Or perhaps several? A surprise party, is that what it is? In that case you’ll be needing a catering service, you’ll need champagne and . . .”
    “Just an extra room.”
    “Well, certainly . . .”
    “Small. On an upper floor.”
    “I see.”
    “Which I will pay for.”
    “I see.”
    “Just see you don’t see.”
    “I’ll see that I don’t.”
    “Fine. How much for the room?”
    “Uh. Uh, thirty-five dollars.”
    Nolan counted off seven fives. “Can I have the key?”
    The clerk reached behind and handed Nolan a key that said 714.
    Nolan handed him another five. “And that’s for your trouble.”
    “That’s not necessary, Mr. Logan . . .”
    “I insist.”
    The clerk took the money.
    Nolan said, “You want me to sign the register or anything?”
    “Oh, yes, yes, any name at all . . .”
    Nolan took the register, smiled softly to himself and signed “E. Webb, Cicero, Illinois,” then handed the register back to the clerk, who said, “And I’ll do my best to keep from spoiling the surprise for Mr. Werner.”
    Nolan left the check-in counter, the two packages under his arm, and walked to the pair of elevators and pushed up. While he waited for his ride, he glanced down at the bill in his hand.
    One five.
    The big bankroll.
    Several people got on the elevator with him, and a boy of around six years said, “Whatcha grinnin’ about, mister?” Nolan pressed the last five into the kid’s hand and waited for his floor.

6
    The only method Nolan had ruled out completely from the number of ways Charlie might handle his visit was that of Charlie playing it straight. Oh, Charlie could conceivably fly in from Chicago, drive to the hotel to talk things over with Nolan, carrying no firearms and accompanied by no bodyguards and radiating good will.
    And Christ might decide to make his second coming tonight.
    Nolan wasn’t counting on either. At the very least he expected Charlie to show up armed. Setting up those ground rules had been something Nolan had done because he knew Charlie expected him to ask for them. So he’d asked.
    Nolan figured there were three courses of action, all similar, which seemed equally probable turns for Charlie to take.
    First, a party unknown might arrive at the hotel in the late afternoon or early evening and go up to Nolan’s room to kill him, with Charlie not even bothering to fly in.
    Or, party unknown might go up to Nolan’s room and get him at gunpoint and hold him for Charlie to execute personally.
    Or, finally, party unknown might show up, take Nolan captive (maybe or maybe not beat the piss out of him), and hold him for Charlie, who would arrive later to discuss peace terms.
    Any way he looked at it, Nolan figured he had company coming, and he spent the early afternoon getting ready for it.
    Since he was going to be moving upstairs into that extra room, he packed his bag, which took ten seconds, and set it next to the Penney’s box by the door, picking up the wrapped package from Irish at the same time.
    He took the package into the bedroom, sat on the bed, tore the wrapping paper off and got out the guns. Then he added his bolstered .38 to the three from Quad City Jukebox Service and cleaned and oiled them. When he was done, he loaded all four and placed one of the fresh Smith and Wessons in his holster, an aging leather strapwork that looped around both shoulders with a band running across the back, so that from the front, if his jacket hung open, none of the rig was visible. The other guns he tossed on the bed.
    There was a small table lamp with shade on the night-stand. Nolan unscrewed the knob atop the lamp and

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