McNally's luck

McNally's luck by Lawrence Sanders

Book: McNally's luck by Lawrence Sanders Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lawrence Sanders
Tags: det_crime
and stared at it a moment.
    "Now who on earth can that be?" he said and picked it up.
    "Prescott McNally," he said crisply. Then:
    "What? What? Oh my God. Yes. Yes, of course. We'll be there immediately."
    He hung up slowly and turned a bleak face to me.
    "Lydia Gillsworth is dead," he said. "Murdered."
    I don't often weep but I did that night.
    We later learned that Roderick Gillsworth had called 911 before phoning my father. By the time we arrived at the poet's home, the police were there and we were not allowed inside. I was glad to see Sgt. A1 Rogoff was the senior officer present and apparently in charge of the investigation.
    Father and I sat in the Lexus and waited as patiently as we could. I don't believe we exchanged a dozen words; we were both stunned by the tragedy. His face was closed, and I stared unseeing at the starry sky and hoped Lydia Gillsworth had passed to a higher plane.
    Finally, close to midnight, Rogoff came out of the house and lumbered over to the Lexus. A1 played the good ol' boy because he thought it would further his career. But I happened to know he was a closet intellectual and a ballet maven. Other Florida cops might enjoy discussing the methods of Fred Bundy; the sergeant preferred talking about the technique of Rudolf Nureyev.
    "Mr. McNally," he said, addressing my father, "we're about to tape a voluntary statement by Roderick Gillsworth. He'd like you to be present. So would I, just to make sure everything is kosher."
    "Of course," father said, climbing out of the car. "Thank you for suggesting it."
    "Al-" I started.
    "You stay out here, Archy," he commanded in his official voice. "We've already got a mob scene in there."
    "I have something important to tell you," I said desperately.
    "Later," he said, and he and my father marched into the Gillsworth home.
    So I sat alone for another hour, watching police officers and technicians from a fire-rescue truck search the grounds with flashlights and big lanterns. Finally Rogoff came out of the house alone and stood by my open window peeling the cellophane wrapper from one of his big cigars.
    "Your father is going to stay the night," he reported. "With Gillsworth. He says to tell you to drive home. He'll phone when he wants to be picked up."
    I was shocked. "You mean Gillsworth wants to sleep in this house tonight? We could put him up or he could go to a hotel."
    "Your father suggested it, but Gillsworth wants to stay here. It's okay; I'll leave a couple of men on the premises."
    Then we were silent, watching as a wheeled stretcher was brought out of the house. The body was covered with a black rubber sheet. The stretcher was slid into the back of a police ambulance, the door slammed. The vehicle pulled slowly away, the siren beginning to moan.
    "Al," I said as steadily as I could, "how was she killed?"
    "Hit on the head repeatedly with a walking stick. It had a heavy silver spike for a handle. Pierced her skull."
    "Don't tell me it was in the shape of a unicorn."
    He stared at me. "How did you know?"
    "She showed it to me. She brought it back from up north as a gift for her husband. He collected antique canes."
    "Yeah, I saw his collection. Is that what you wanted to tell me?"
    "No. Something else. Remember my asking you about poison-pen letters? Lydia Gillsworth was the person getting them."
    "Son of a bitch," the sergeant said bitterly. "Why didn't you tell me?"
    "Because she refused to let us take it to the police. And if we had, would you have provided twenty-four-hour protection?"
    "Probably not," he conceded. "Where are the letters now?"
    "At home."
    "How's about you drive me there and hand them over. Then drive me back here. Okay? You weren't planning to get to bed early, were you?"
    "Not tonight," I said. "Let's go."
    I drove, and Al sat beside me juicing up his cigar.
    "Tell me what happened," I asked him.
    "Not a lot to tell," he said. "Gillsworth was at your place, talked to his wife on the phone, told her he'd see her soon. He says he

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