At 5:15 he quietly went out the door. He was careful not to wake them and he didn’t bother to go and look at them again. This would have been the end of it all for him if Tim and Jack were not gay, but even though it looked really bad, he knew it was innocent, that she was innocent, that when all was said and done, he was very far from innocent.

He drove carefully, noted that it was starting to snow, and made sure not to speed. The police rarely bothered him anymore, this because Bailey had taken the time to speak with both departments, Columbus city proper and Whitehall. Bailey was not so innocent himself. He was playing the numbers with Robert and eating for free at Steakhouse West most of the time. He was also making a play on that gorgeous hostess, Lucy, but she was elusive and standoffish and it didn’t seem as if he or anybody he knew was going to get with her. Lucy, gorgeous as she was, did as she pleased, with whom she pleased, and she answered to no one except Mr. Bowman. She was an integral part not only of the restaurant but of the numbers game too and she well knew that her best fortunes were tied to that numbers game. This meant stringing Bailey and everyone else along but doing her damnedest not to give anything up.

Bill was early. He left his car running with the heater blasting and reclined his seat all the way to the back seat. He would’ve fallen asleep under normal circumstances, but because he was speeding, sleep was hard to come by. He had not changed his clothes, not even his underwear, and he was unhappy about this, but in the long run it was better than waking them up. He didn’t know if she knew that he was even in the house and he didn’t much care. He was holding a trump card now and that was a good feeling given his activities.

When Mary and Bea pulled into the parking lot they saw Bill there. Mary made a comment to Bea as they parked beside him. Bea just shrugged her shoulders. She didn’t much care what Bill did and who he did it with as long as she got hers. But Mary, who cared, already had a sense of apprehension.

When Bea and Mary got out of their car, Mary tapped on Bill’s window. A moment later Bill emerged from his car and walked with them to the front door even though Tommy was not there yet. It was about a minute to six and they knew Tommy would be there almost instantaneously. Anyway, snow falling, it wasn’t too cold, just about mid-thirties.

“You look like shit,” said Mary.

“Thanks a bunch,” said Bill.

“You been home?” Mary asked.


“You okay?”

“Aw, leave the boy alone,” Bea said. “Look at his eyes. He’s on drugs. I bet he didn’t get any sleep.”

“You gonna be okay to work?” asked Mary.

“Why shouldn’t I be?”

“He be okay,” said Bea.

Tommy’s car turned from Delta Road then. Not only did they see the car but they heard his tires on the gravel of the parking lot. He pulled up next to Bea’s car and quickly walked from his car to the front door where they all stood. As Tommy said good morning to them all, he put his key into the front door, opened one lock, then the next, then pushed the door open. As was their practiced routine, Bill went down the hall and turned off the burglar alarm. Mary and Bea walked on past Bill and turned on the lights to the kitchen. By this time Tommy had already begun turning on the lights in the front of the house.

SOS DD. In the kitchen Bea started a small pot of coffee on the Bunn. Mary and Bill, unbuttoning their coats on the way, headed for downstairs. Before he went down the stairs, Bill turned on the exhaust fans.

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