Murder in the Gunroom HTML version
Gresham must have been waiting inside the door; as soon as Rand came up onto the
porch, he opened it, and motioned the detective inside. Beyond a hasty greeting as Rand
passed the threshold, he did not speak until they were seated in the gunroom upstairs.
Then he came straight to the point.
"Jeff, can you spare the time from this work you're doing at the Flemings' to investigate
this Rivers business?" he asked. "And how much would an investigation cost me? It's got
to be a blitz job. I'm not interested in getting anybody convicted in court; I just want the
case cleared up in a hurry."
"Well—" Rand puffed at the cigar Gresham had given him, watching the ash form on the
end. "I don't work by the day, Stephen. I take a lump-sum fee, and, of course, it's to my
interest to get a case cleared up as soon as I can. But I can't set any time limit on a job
like this. This Rivers killing has more angles than Nude Descending a Staircase; I don't
know how much work I'll have to do, or even what kind."
"Well, it'll have to be fast," Gresham told him urgently. "Look. I didn't kill Arnold
Rivers. I hated his guts, and I think whoever did it ought to get a medal and a testimonial
dinner, but I did not kill him. You believe me?"
"I'm inclined to," Rand replied. "In your law practice, you know what a lying client is
letting himself in for. As my client, you wouldn't lie to me. You seem to think you may
be suspected of purging Rivers. But why? Is there any reason, aside from that homemade
North & Cheney he sold you, why anybody would think you'd killed him?"
"Great God, yes!" Gresham exclaimed. "Now look. I'm not worried about being
railroaded for this. I didn't do it, and I can beat any case that half-assed ex-ambulance-
chaser, Farnsworth, could dream up against me. But I can't afford even to be mentioned
in connection with this. You know what that would do to me, in town. I just can't get
mixed up in this, at all. I want you to see to it that I don't."
"That sounds like a large order." The ash was growing on Rand's cigar; he took another
heavy drag at it. "But why necessarily you? Rivers had plenty of other enemies."
"Yes, but, dammit, they weren't all in his shop, last evening. Just me. And one other. The
one who killed him."
"On your way out from town?" Rand inquired.
"Yes. I stopped at his place, about a quarter to nine. I was sore as hell about the hooking
he gave me on that North & Cheney, falsely so-called, and I decided to stop and have it
out with him. We had words, most of them unpleasant. I told him, for one thing, that
Lane Fleming's death hadn't pulled his bacon off the fire, that I was going to start the
same sort of action against him on my own account. But that isn't the point. The point is
that when I was going in, this la-de-da clerk of his, Cecil Gillis, was coming out. He got