“Where did you meet him?” the cops asked. They had the tart in an interrogation room, although she did not feel as though they were about to throw her in a cell.
“Motel bar. He flashed some money at me, wanted me to write a letter.”
“Write a letter, huh?”
“Don’t look at me that way.”
“The way that says I’m some kind of working whore. I do not turn tricks.”
“All right, tell us about the letter.”
“He phonied up a letter from an imaginary old flame to this guy Lesslie. He figured I would pose as the author of the letter and bring the guy to him.”
“You the hot seductress?”
“Don’t get snide.”
“What kind of work do you do?”
“Clerical jobs. Waitressing.”
“So who is he -- the guy who hired you?”
“I don’t know.”
“I’ll tell you who is he -- he’s the guy who murdered three or four of the Big Katt’s old boyfriends. His name has been all over the papers.”
“You could have been an accessory to murder.”
“I needed a few bucks, I had no idea. You believe me, right?”
The cops frowned.
“You think I enjoyed putting my tongue in that big slob’s mouth?”
“Fact is, he grabbed someone, the psycho who sent you here, and now you’re in a spot.”
“Gimme a break.”
“Okay, you didn’t know.”
“So now what happens?”
“You’re going to go home, and be on your best behavior.”
“You’re not going to arrest me?”
“Aren’t we terrific?”
“What if I hear from this wacko?”
“Get on the phone. Don’t try anything foolish.”
She rose from the table. “Hey, you think I’m safe?”
“Just don’t be foolish.”
The tart left the station, got into her car and drove home. When she arrived, it was seven-thirty. She climbed the darkened stairs of the roominghouse, let herself in. It was dark inside the apartment and she felt a little nervous, but she put on the light. She was tired -- drained and tired. She changed out of her clothes while warming a TV dinner in the oven. In the bathroom, she ran water in the basin and washed the cheap lipstick and foundation off her face. She looked used, spent. Now she could finally get some rest.
She looked up from the basin, noticed a reflection in the mirror, a face. And she turned, startled, and felt powerful hands around her throat, and she tried to scream. It was then that she met her maker, compliments of a maniac she knew only too well, as she struggled and the hands grew tighter and tighter and the color ran out of her face and she thudded to the floor. Surely her maker would be kind and benevolent, would smile and show her mercy, more mercy than the stranger had shown, or for that matter than she had been given in her tortured life. Surely she could hope for this.
The stranger slipped back into the living room and searched her purse and the apartment and pocketed the money he’d paid her. He shut off the oven, and went out into the night. He descended the dark staircase, heading for the street, only there was something obstructing his way when he got to the bottom, something that stepped out of the shadows holding a gun. Something he had never in a thousand years expected.