Delicate Ape

Free Delicate Ape by Dorothy B. Hughes

Book: Delicate Ape by Dorothy B. Hughes Read Free Book Online
Authors: Dorothy B. Hughes
empty lane. He moved without sound now; closing the door noiselessly, his walk was swift to the end of the alley. Before stepping from its narrow confines, he peered out. No one was waiting for him. It was a cheap street. Without theaters, a cavernous garage across, a small dingy restaurant, dark windows of theatrical shoes, tailor shops, leather goods. This end of the block was deserted.
    Piers left the alley in one stride and moved towards Eighth Avenue. There was more danger in picking a less lighted thoroughfare, one as deserted as a village at this hour, and none too savory at best. Nevertheless, he had no intention of walking into Cassidy’s grasping hands again. And if, as he believed, he had not been followed, he was as safe here as he would have been in Berne. He walked Eighth to 54th street. By that time he was certain he had escaped all trackers. For the remainder of the evening he was free to do as he should choose.
    He had had no plan in mind when he planned escape, nothing more than the throwing off of the confines of surveillance. But now that he was out of the box he knew what he would attempt to do. He walked across town to Broadway again. He had no hesitation in hailing a cab here in the Fifties. The men who were watching him might bribe the cabbies in the vicinity of the Astor; they could scarcely cover the town. Not a town with as many cruisers as Manhattan.
    “Grand Central,” he said. “Lexington entrance.”
    He leaned back against the leather. He could relax for this interlude. He lighted a cigarette. If he had any lingering doubts of being free he would erase them in these final maneuvers. He paid off the driver and entered the station. He didn’t go to the concourse; he followed arrows across the station and to the Biltmore exit. He went through the hotel, emerging on 43rd, and made his way to Park. The avenue lay wide and quiet save for the endless stream of traffic. He walked to the great white shaft of the International Building.
    It was possible but not probable that there would be someone in the office at this hour. After ten. The imminent Conclave meant an inordinate amount of work. If there was someone there he could ask for information of little importance. He touched the night bell and waited.
    The guard was a stocky man with suspicion gritted into his mouth. Piers stated, “I’m Thompson. Peace office.” The night guard couldn’t possibly know all employees of the Peace office even by name. “Mr. Gordon sent me over for some reports he needs.” He edged the door as he spoke. He didn’t want to remain longer on the street, not daring to look behind him, expecting the coincidence of Gordon himself passing on his way to some function or other.
    The guard was less suspicious at mention of the office and at the magic name of Gordon the scowl smoothed.
    “If you’ll take me up,” Piers suggested, “I have the key.”
    “You got to sign the register.”
    “Where is it?” Piers led away from the door.
    “Over here.” The ledger was on the elevator stool.
    Piers signed illegibly, Ed Thompson, and walked into the elevator.
    “Plenty of work with that meeting coming up, I betcha,” the guard volunteered.
    “Plenty,” Piers responded. “Anyone else here tonight?”
    “No. But some of the girls didn’t get away till after I come on.”
    Piers said, “Well, the International Conclave only meets once in two years. That’s not too tough.”
    The man stopped at the 19th floor. Their voices sounded lost in the empty, cavernous building. “I hope they’ll tell them Germans where to head in,” the guard continued with violence. “Imagine them wanting the International Army moved out of their country.”
    “You’re against it?”
    “You just bet I’m against it. Do you know why they want it?” He scowled like a conspirator. “It’s so they can start another war, that’s why.”
    “I agree,” Piers said.
    “You bet that’s what it is. All the excuses they can think

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