Murder in the Gunroom HTML version

Chapter 18
Dave Ritter, driving his small coupé, kept his eye on the white State Police car ahead.
Rand, who had come away from the Fleming home in the white car, had called Ritter
from the office of the Justice of the Peace while waiting for Walters to put up bail, after
his hearing. Now, en route to Gwinnett's, he was briefing his assistant on what had
"So everything's set," he concluded. "Mrs. Fleming jumped at it; she knows you're
coming in your own car, which you may keep in the garage there. You've left New
Belfast about now; if you show up around three, you'll be safe on the driving time. Your
name is Davies; I decided on that in case I suffer a lapsus linguæ and call you Dave in
front of somebody."
"Yeah. I'll have to watch and not call you Jeff, Colonel Rand, sir." He nodded toward the
glove-box. "That Leech & Rigdon's in there; you'd better get it out before I go to the
Flemings'. The guy at the drive-in made a positive identification; it's the one he sold
Fleming. I saw the rest of the pistols he has there; don't waste time looking him up about
them. They stink. And I saw Tip this morning. He got young Jarrett sprung on a writ." He
thought for a moment. "What does this do to the Rivers and Fleming murders?"
"We can look for one man for both jobs, now," Rand said. "Probably the motive for
Fleming was that merger he was so violently opposed to, and the Rivers killing must have
been a security measure of some sort. There; that must be Gwinnett's, now."
The State Police car had pulled up in front of a large three-story frame house with faded
and discolored paint and jigsaw scrollwork around the cornices, standing among a clump
of trees beside the road. McKenna and Kavaalen got out, with Walters between them, and
started up the path to the front steps. Ritter stopped behind the white sedan, and he and
Rand got out. By that time, Walters and the two policemen were on the front porch.
Suddenly Ritter turned and sprinted around the right side of the house. Rand stood
looking after him for a moment, then started to follow more slowly; as he did, a shot
slammed in the rear. Jerking out the changeling .38-special, he whirled and ran around
the left side of the house, arriving at the rear in time to see Gwinnett standing on a
boardwalk between the house and the stable-garage behind, with his hands raised. There
was a fresh bullet-scar on the boardwalk at his feet. Ritter was covering him from the
corner of the house with the .380 Beretta.
Rand strolled over to Gwinnett, frisked him, and told him to put his hands down.
"Nice, Dave," he complimented. "I thought of that, too, about a minute too late. As soon
as he saw Walters coming up the walk with the police, he knew what had happened.
Come on, Gwinnett; we'll go through the house and let them in."
Gwinnett's eyes darted from side to side, like the eyes of a trapped animal. "I don't know
what you're talking about," he said, stiff-lipped. "What is this, a stick-up?"