Dan J. Marlowe
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It wasn’t at all like Hazel to go off without a word to Drake. But she did. He tried calling her at the motel, but they said she’d just checked out. No, no messages.
Drake figured he’d better do a little checking on his own.
Which is why he went to see Hazel’s business manager, Nate Pepperan, in Hudson. It had been Pepperman’s phone call which had taken Hazel to Hudson in the first place. Nate would surely know where she was.
But Nate wasn’t telling. How could he, with his throat slit?
Operation Whiplash—a tense, blood-pounding tale of mayhem, murder, and the Mafia with Drake, the Man with Nobody’s Face.
The poised guillotine. I wondered if our riding around had been in the hope of encountering Rubelli in his car. More than likely it had, and friend Robin had been wishing for a showdown. I drove back to town, and she stopped me before we came to the stoplight in the square. “I’ll walk from here,” she said. She got out and then peered in the car window from the sidewalk. “Don’t forget to call me tomorrow.” She went down the street with her plump hips tick-tocking rhythmically under her skirt.
“We’ll take two hours on and two hours off at the wheel,” I told Robin. I could see the route in my mind’s eye. At Tallulah we’d turn east on 80, crossing the Big Muddy at Vicksburg. Across the river, Highway 80 becomes Interstate 20, and Jackson wasn’t far beyond that. It was mostly two-lane to Jackson. No speed driving. “Are you planning on hammering it straight through?” Robin asked after an hour. “I’d just as soon make it as soon as possible.” “I don’t know if I can take it,” she said.
Something about the double bed, but it had been her idea to stop. She didn’t say anything, though. She eyed my body scars curiously, those created by skin transfers while I was acquiring a new face, but she made no comment about those, either. She went into the bathroom and closed the door. I was almost asleep when she came out again. Her hair was done up in a towel, and she was wearing the black-rimmed, harlequin glasses, and a smile. Period. “Hazel thought you might like to have a surrogate.
Terminal. I had a sandwich, then took my briefcase into the men’s room. I went into a cubicle and changed wigs and makeup. I took my Bianchi belt-holster from the briefcase and exchanged it for the belt I had on. I settled the Smith & Wesson in it after loading a clip. Its solid, familiar weight felt comforting. I tested the trigger-pull of the derringer before carefully inserting two of the dozen cartridges acquired from Rudy Hernandez. Fortunately the trigger-pull wasn’t unduly sensitive. I.
Oncoming car, but I could see him plainly in my headlights as I roared up on the two deputies, cruisers drawn across the highway with Jed standing in the gap between them, waving me down. I intended to try to smash my way through the space between the back-to-back cruisers whose snouts extended out onto the shoulders of the road, barring escape via that route. Jed was a good friend, but if he stood his ground he was going to have to take his chances, like I was taking mine. But then Kaiser had.