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She looked at the rotting, sun-blasted shack, the one room where they all lived, slept, made love, died. Looked at the dusty lawn where no grass grew. At the steaming swamp, at her tobacco-spitting mother. Saw the sly, lustful eyes of her father’s friends. Then she looked at her own lush beauty.
Get me out of here, she prayed. Oh, please get me out of here! I’ll pay any price.
toward the south side of town. I’d have to take the chance, and leave by the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, rather than go around by Tampa. Mrs. Timothy’s home wouldn’t lead me far from my route. On her street, I spotted the cruiser in the middle of the block. It was slowing in front of her house. I rode the brakes, pulling to the curb, and sat there. I had to have money, not much, but at least enough to get me down there. The cruiser’s spotlight flashed on the house, brightly picking out the house
“I’m going to shoot, Sullivan!” I took one look up there against the star-washed side of the hotel. DeGreef was thrust halfway out the window, and I saw the gleam of his gun. He fired. I dropped. There was nothing else to do. I crashed heavily into thick bushes, hitting hard, but the pitch of the roof had brought me at least a couple of yards down. The moment I struck, I started running around the side of the hotel, scrambling through hedges. My back felt broken and my knees sagged with
wanted to meet anybody until I made sure DeGreef wasn’t around. Luz stood on the edge of the road, chewing slowly. “Morning, Luz.” He didn’t speak, waiting as I came up to him, never altering the rhythm of his chewing. In the cleared yard beyond which he stood, I saw the well-remembered cypress-sided house, and the river down there beyond the sloping bank. The pier. And standing in the yard, a battered old Pontiac sedan. Fogs shredded and slowly lifted around the sides of the house. Chickens
take it slow. There was no damned handle. “You got a guide?” the man said, rattling the change. “No. No guide.” I started walking away. “Be glad to fix you up with a guide.” “Thanks. I’ll be all right.” “Shouldn’t go traipsing around in there without you have no guide.” He started after me. I looked back. He spat, shuffling rapidly. “How’d you ever find this place without no guide?” “Just—fishing.” I kept going. He stopped, scratched his head, spat again, hauled out his newspaper and
that was an important part of it, in the beginning. “Nothing like this ever happened before,” she said. “I just made up my mind when I saw you. Believe what you like. I wanted it from you. I was waiting.” “It could have been somebody else.” “Yes, it could have. But it wasn’t.” “Doesn’t it seem a little screwy?” I said. “I never saw you before. It’s a case of rape, any way you look at it.” “Didn’t you want me?” “For hell’s sake.” “Well?” So she knew how I felt then and later, and how I