No Safety in Numbers by Edward S. Williams

No Safety in Numbers


by Edward S. Williams


Off in the country, cut off by the storm, Rose had heard the radio account of the hold-up and murder. And now she was sure that one of the men in her house was the killer. But which was it?


Table of Contents
  1. The Robbery
  2. The Man At the Window
  3. Robbery and Double Murder
  4. Mr. Hebner
  5. Mister --- Mister ...
  6. I'm Frightened, Mr. Hebner
  7. The Outside Skulker
  8. The Smell of Cordite
  9. Back to Consciousness
  10. Rose Is A Pretty Name

Chapter 1

The Robbery

A panel truck bearing the name Raytex Company turned in and parked at the Seaboard Trust’s side entrance.

The street was narrow and short, between tall buildings. At the moment it was free of pedestrians. There was one other car, a maroon coupé, parked near the next comer. A man sat behind its wheel, reading a newspaper.

The whole of that side of the street was occupied by the bank building. On the other was an office building, its first floor side windows bearing identical signs: For Rent.

Two men were in the panel truck. The driver was elderly. He wore a blue uniform and cap with a holstered gun on his belt. The other was youthful, little more than an overgrown boy, unarmed. He got out and went to the bank entrance. The uniform bank guard admitted him, greeting him by name. A few minutes later the boy came out carrying a small brown leather bag.

Nonchalantly the kid tossed the bag onto the truck’s seat and got in beside it. The driver started the motor. This was routine work for these two. For months they had come for, and transported uneventfully, the Raytex weekly payroll of forty thousand dollars. Neither of them gave that red coupé a thought. Neither noticed that its motor started simultaneously with the truck’s motor.

The lad slammed the door and the truck pulled away. It gathered speed in second, turned out to pass the coupé at the same moment in which the red car was swung carelessly out from the curb. There was the shriek of brakes — a crash — and both cars stopped. Only then did the truck driver’s hand go to his gun.

He drew it and got out. He crouched tensely behind the hood watching the man in the maroon coupé get out smiling ruefully. The other was tall and well-dressed, handsome in a dark, rugged, masculine way. His hands were empty. He seemed to have no interest save in the damage to both vehicles, which was slight. Apparently he didn’t even see the gun that covered him.

The bank guard, poised uncertainly in the side entrance of the bank, sheathed his own gun and turned back inside. It was just a running together — couple of smashed fenders — no trouble.

That’s what the driver of the Raytex truck decided as the other came around to talk to him. He slipped his pistol back into its holster.

“My fault,” the man from the coupé said. “Entirely due to my carelessness. I was thinking of something else.”

“Yeah, Mister, that’s right,” the truck driver agreed with relief.

“My name,” the other said, “is … But here. Let me show you my operator’s license. You can take its number, and my name and address to your boss. Tell him to send me the bill for damages. I’ll pay it. That okay?”

“Why, sure. Mister.” The driver extended his hand for the card.

The other pulled back his overcoat, thrust his hand inside and brought out a gun. He shot the driver through the head and turned his blazing gun on the boy. Unhurried, yet with swift efficiency, he killed them both and took the payroll bag and got back into his still running coupé It whipped around the corner and was gone.

The bank guard regained the street in time to see its rear bumper disappear.

~ End of Sample ~