Blood Game

Blood Game by Ed Gorman

Book: Blood Game by Ed Gorman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ed Gorman
from the latrine and walked with as much dignity as he could muster back toward the bleachers.

Chapter Eighteen
    The first money came in a steel box latched with a lock. A hefty man in a three-piece suit and a walrus mustache delivered it. Guild opened the door for him. The man stared down at Guild’s .44. “That Stoddard, he don’t trust nobody, does he?” the man said. He was laughing.
    He brought the box into the office, walked over, and set it on the desk.
    â€œThis is Stoddard’s son, Stephen,” Guild said, hoping the man would take a hint and not insult the father in front of the son anymore. Guild couldn’t help it; he felt sorry for the boy.
    â€œYeah, I met him,” the man said.
    Stephen Stoddard pulled a piece of paper from inside his coat. He dropped to his haunches and held the paper up to the steel box. The paper held the combination to the lock. Stephen worked quickly, deftly. In seconds the lock was open and he was throwing back the lid.
    The man whistled. “Your old man is having a good day, kid.”
    The box was packed tight with greenbacks.
    â€œThis is the biggest haul I’ve ever seen around these parts,” the man said.
    Stephen slammed the lid and latched the box again. He carried it over to the comer and set it on a small desk.
    â€œI’ll be back in another hour or so with the next box. It’s already half full.” He snorted. “The way them yokels is streamin’ in, it may not take another full hour.”
    He went to the door. “Your old man said we wasn’t to be drinkin’ no beer today. That still hold?”
    â€œYes, it does,” Stephen said.
    The man offered them a sour expression and left.
    Guild went over to the rolltop desk where he’d been sitting. He put his feet up and laid the .44 in his lap. He took a five-cent cigar from his pocket and lighted it. He watched the way the blue smoke turned the golden dust motes silver.
    Stephen went over and stood by the money box. He touched it as if it were the most precious thing he had ever seen.
    â€œBoth Dad and Victor are going to make out all right on this one,” Stephen said. “This is the one they’ve both been waiting for.”
    Guild took a drag on his cigar. “I don’t think you should be here.”
    â€œWhat?”
    â€œYou’re not hired to be a guard. I am.”
    â€œYou think I’m afraid?”
    â€œNo.”
    â€œYou think I couldn’t cut it if I had to?”
    â€œNo.”
    â€œThen why would you want to get rid of me?”
    â€œBecause I’ve got a funny feeling is all.”
    â€œWhat kind of funny feeling?”
    â€œThe kind of funny feeling this kind of money always gives me.”
    â€œI’m his son.”
    â€œI’m surprised he would want you here.”
    â€œMeaning exactly what, Leo?”
    â€œMeaning if you were my boy, I’d want you out walking around the stands. Putting a good face on things for the public. I wouldn’t want you anywhere near the money.”
    â€œDad trusts me.”
    Guild didn’t want to say what he thought: Your dad doesn’t care enough about you to move you out of the way. Instead he said, “Anyplace in particular you’d want to settle?”
    â€œBeg pardon?”
    â€œAnyplace you been thinking of settling when the time comes?”
    â€œI couldn’t leave Dad.”
    â€œI mean if something happened and you had to leave your dad. Where would you settle?”
    He seemed afraid to even speculate. “I’ve just never thought about it.” But his quickly averted eyes said that he was lying.
    â€œYou ever seen the ocean at Atlantic City?”
    â€œYes.”
    â€œBeautiful, isn’t it? And all those girls on the beach.”
    Softly Stephen said, “It’s very nice.”
    â€œYou ever seen Vermont in autumn? I’ve never seen anything like the leaves in the hills. Like

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