TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE PAPER-WRAPPED PACKAGE
When the newspaper truck pulled up and the late afternoon editions thudded on the pavement beside Gimpy’s stand, Benny Kerr got up from his park bench and started over. He’d read the latest on the torso murders, get a bowl of chili, and take in the double feature at the Bijou.
Benny admired Gimpy’s quickness, as the lame little newsdealer slashed the ropes on the bundle of papers and whisked headlines into view. During the past couple months, since the tool factory reconverted and he’d been laid off, Benny had come to the park every day and watched Gimpy work. Benny had seen the steady business Gimpy did in papers and magazines. He’d got to thinking that when there were plenty of cigarettes, gum, and candy again, Gimpy would be needing a helper. Benny meant to get that job. It might not pay as much, buck for buck, as working in the stockroom at the factory, but there’d be no layoffs.
Benny fished for a nickel, saw a big shot grab a paper from Gimpy, sit down, and turn to the stock market page. Benny eyed the black-eyed, black-mustached man cannily. Chances were the guy would be finished with the paper in a second.
Benny waited, bright hazel eyes studying the headlines: Second Paper-wrapped Torso Found in Warehouse!
They were the same headlines as in the earlier editions, but Benny swallowed. Because when it happens close to home, that’s what you do—you swallow.
Smaller type said, Victim identified as Teresa Famette, employee of Acme Tool Co.
Benny shivered. Because when it happens to someone you know, you do that, too—you shiver.
Tessie Famette, the second victim, had worked in the offices at the tool company and had often brought inter-department memos to the stockroom to give Benny. So had Rosa Scalise, the girl whose dismembered body had turned up first, about ten days ago.
The papers said the killer was a maniac who prowled the tenement district where Tessie and Rosa had lived. Yet he must he an inconspicuous man, for no one had actually seen him drop one of the paper-wrapped parcels that had turned up in sewers, in refuse cans, in subway stations and movie houses.
Benny Kerr blew his nose, winced at the swift pain in his nasal passages. Benny sniffled just as much now, in August, as in midwinter. Doc Kunz was treating him with some sort of medicine the doc had patented, but it didn’t seem to help much.
As Benny put his handkerchief away, his eyes drifted over the park bench up on the knoll, fascinated. One of the paper-wrapped packages had been found right there, a leg. Matt Hurley, the park cop, had sworn no suspicious strangers had been in the park that day.
Benny leaned forward. The big shot had tossed his paper on the bench and was hailing a cab. Benny swooped and grabbed the paper. He saw the package underneath it, snatched it up, and turned to give it back to the man. But the man was already in the cab. It moved away. Benny yelled, and stood there waving the package foolishly.
That was when he got the impact of the big shot’s glittering black eyes for the first time. The man was looking through the rear window of the taxi, the skin on his cheekbones drawn tight, his lips a white slash. His black eyes were like chips of hard coal behind which a fire blazed.
Benny couldn’t pull his gaze away from those hypnotic eyes until the man whipped around to the taxicab driver.
Benny saw the driver shake his head and gestured at the streams of traffic on both sides. He couldn’t stop.
The eyes came back to Benny, burned through the window, burned into Benny’s scrawny little form, cataloguing every detail. Benny grabbed for his handkerchief. He was sniffling.
HE MIGHT EVEN BE YOU
The cab was lost in traffic, then. Benny was left clutching the oblong package. He hefted it, licking his Ups. There must be something pretty valuable in it. That’s why the black-eyed man had studied him; he wanted his package back.
It was heavier than it looked, pliable yet resistant. It was the size and shape of a roll of bologna. Benny couldn’t resist looking. He intended to stay right where he was, sure that the big shot would get out of the cab and hurry back here first chance. Just the same he couldn’t resist looking.
Benny pulled the string off one end, parted the paper. Then he stiffened and felt the hard seat of the park bench behind him catch his thighs, as his knees gave out. Every muscle in Benny’s skinny frame became a tight, twanging string. His hazel eyes glazed. His one look had told him he was holding one of those packages!
It was the bull voice of Matt Hurley, the park cop, that brought Benny awake. “Benny! Hey, you forgot your package!” Benny skidded, shook his head, stopped. He saw that he was thirty feet from the bench where he’d found it. He’d been fleeing instinctively.
Hurley’s red-faced bulk plodded toward Benny. One massive, freckled paw shoved the package back into Benny’s hand. The other held the newspaper Hurley had picked up. He glared at the headlines.
“If I could just get my mitts on that guy!” Hurley burst out. “They say he’s a nut, but I say different. He’s a guy we probably know, somebody right down in our neighborhood, somebody who hangs around the park, too. He could be anybody at all. He might even be you, Benny. He left one of those packages right here under my nose. I’d just like to see him leave another one! What’s the matter, Benny? Sick?”
“Y-yeah!” Benny gurgled, his thin cheeks like ashes.
Hurley slapped Benny’s shoulder. “Better tell Doc Kunz to give you regular medicine, not any of that stuff he makes up himself. See you tomorrow, kid.”
Benny watched Hurley’s blue-coated back move off. He scuttled to a refuse can, caught himself. No! If the package were found here, Hurley surely would remember Benny had had one. For a second, Benny tried to get enough moisture into his mouth to yell after Hurley. Then he recalled Hurley’s words. He could be anybody, anybody at all. He might even be you, Benny.
Benny’s paper-thin soles slapped the sidewalk. He had to run. Hide. Get rid of it.
Yet he couldn’t get rid of it. He couldn’t drop it, throw it, not in this neighborhood. It was a magnet, sticking to him, sending its clammy coldness through the paper to paralyze his fingers. Benny fled to the only cover he could think of—his room.
He’d forgotten the black-eyed, black-mustached man. Suddenly he thought of him again, glanced back over his shoulder like a scrawny hound dog might glance at a can tied to his tail. Benny didn’t see the man. He decided the man wouldn’t be coming back after all. Why would anybody come back after this, if he’d once got rid of it?
But Benny was wrong. If he’d looked again, he’d have seen those black eyes hard on him, craftily waiting.
Benny took his usual route home. Six blocks from the park, he turned right, five blocks more, right again. Down an alley, past the warehouse—
That’s where Benny’s teeth chattered harder. Here, in this gloomy old building, was where Tessie’s torso had been found. There was a crowd around, though the homicide squad was gone.
“Hello, Benny,” said Doc Kunz. Benny jerked. The gaunt black shoestring of a doctor was at his elbow, slightly bleared blue eyes studying him professionally.
“What’s wrong, Benny?” Kunz asked. “Excitement too much for you?”
Benny’s lips worked. He almost blurted it out. He was reaching the point where he had to tell someone.
“N-noI I’m okay, doc I” Benny blurted and ducked toward the sanctuary of his room.
“I’ll stop in and have a look at you after I see Mrs. Grady,” Kunz said.
“No! Don’t come near. I mean, okay, doc!”
THE BLACK-EYED MAN
Benny ducked into the doorway of the tenement where he lived. He went up the first two flights fast, but on the third his chest began to hurt. He stopped, leaned against the narrow bannister, breathing jerkily at the musty, thick-hot air.
The black-eyed man was breathing rapidly, too. This sound was what sent Benny’s eyes skittering behind him.
A shriek tore at his vocal chords, never sounded. Benny couldn’t get it out. Then the black-eyed man was upon him, hand clamped over Benny’s mouth. The steel- strong fingers ground the bones of Benny’s jaw together, bruised Benny’s lips.
“Be quiet! Take me to your room. I’ll make you rich if you hold your tongue.”
The man shook Benny a little, eyes glowing even in the shadows of the stairway. He took his hands away tentatively, grabbed Benny again. Benny would have melted onto the steps without support. The only thing with strength was his heart, thumping, thumping. He even dropped the package.
The black-eyed man scooped up the package, pushed Benny ahead. There was no sound from him. He might have slipped away, Benny thought, as he reeled up the last steps to his room, only he hadn’t. Benny could feel the man, back there. He could feel his eyes. Benny turned the knob of his door, tried to dive in and slam it.
The man was ready for him. He shoved Benny into the room, slammed the door himself, snicked the lock. Benny backed away from him, still unable to make more that little, squeaking sounds. He backed into the bed, fell on it.
Death reached for his throat. Benny saw the slender, strong fingers stretch an l start for him. He saw the burning black eyes, the slashed lips under the black mustache. He scrounged back on the bed, hit the wall. He could go no farther. He felt his mouth opening, his tongue protruding, his eyes bulging even before the fingers touched him. He was choking himself, practically.
He felt his head get thick. Blackness swirled around him. Then those hands were on him. But they weren’t choking him. They were shaking him, jarring him back to consciousness. And the black- eyed man’s low voice was warning, “Quiet.”
Benny saw why now. He heard the knocking on his door. He heard Doc Kunz’s voice insisting, “Let me in, Benny. I want to look at you.”
The black-eyed man caught Benny’s chin in his hand, turned Benny’s eyes up into his own. The whole strength of the man’s personality was in the onyx stare he centered on Benny. That stare held Benny transfixed, sucked the little strength out of him, bored in under his hide.
“Meet me in the park tonight at nine o’clock,” the man commanded softly. “I’ll be on the bench I sat on today. I’ll have money for you, a thousand dollars. That will be only the first payment. I’ll make you rich, understand?”
“Benny, let me in!” Doc Kunz roared.
“Will you be there?” the black-eyed man hissed. “Do you want money?”
Benny heard a voice not at all like his own pant, “Yeah! Yeah, I’ll be there! Yeah, I want money! Yeah, yeah, yeah!”
He realized vaguely that something stronger than himself had taken over, instinct. He was saying anything at all to gain respite, anything to get this black- eyed monster away.
The man hesitated, trying, it seemed, to peel back Benny’s skull and look inside it. Suddenly he grated his teeth like a man risking all on a long shot. “I’ll give you five thousand for the first payment!” he said harshly. “Nine o’clock. The park. Be there. No harm will come to you.”
The man looked about the room for another means of exit, scorned the fire escape window, strode to the door, unlocked it and pushed past Doc Kunz brazenly.
Kunz fell back in surprise. “I’ll be damned!” He turned to Benny as the man disappeared down the stairs. “How did you ever get him interested in your case, Benny?” Kunz demanded.
Benny croaked, “Him? Is he a d-d-doc-tor?”
“Why, he’s famous!” Kunz said. “Dr. Haswell Falik. He’s a psychiatrist. He—
But Benny was blacking out now. The strain was over. The reaction set in …
When Benny came to, there was a pleasant stupor in his limbs. He was in bed. Doc Kunz was bending over him. The doctor’s words came slowly, as from a great distance. He was questioning Benny. Benny answered with no trouble at all. He didn’t realize that the morphine Kunz had given him was responsible for his sense of ease and well-being. He knew only that he was safe and sleepy. He told his story from beginning to end.
Benny heard Doc exclaim occasionally. He heard him mutter, too. But Benny didn’t pay much attention. Once, he looked up at Doc’s gaunt, cadaverous face, the lines of dissipation running from Doc’s nostrils to his lax lips, and thought vaguely that the doctor looked like a man who was smoking marijuana. The doc’s blue eyes weren’t a bit bleary now. The parchment-like skin on his high cheekbones showed spots of color. His long arms flapped about him, the fingers twitching.
Benny heard the doc muttering, “Falik? The great Haswell Falik! The mind doctor gone the way of his patients. He’ll plead insanity, of course. The fool!”
Benny saw the doc’s hollow eyes glow. Suddenly they were almost like those black eyes that could pin his heart to his ribs with just a look.
“He was going to take advantage of me!” Doc Kunz mumbled. Then he laughed loudly and long. He didn’t laugh at anything funny, though. He cackled. He took a bottle from his bag and drank deeply. Then he tramped from the room.
Benny let blissful drowsiness overcome him. He went to sleep, troubled only by the sudden wonder at how Dr. Falik could possibly have been going to take advantage of Doc Kunz. Kunz was a seedy slum doctor. Falik was a big- shot psychiatrist. Doc Kunz had recognized Falik, because Falik was famous. But Falik hadn’t even noticed Doc Kunz. So why or how could he take advantage of him?
When Benny awoke, Doc Kunz was beside him again. “Listen, Benny, I know everything. Everything, understand? You told it all while you were half-conscious. Don’t be afraid, Benny. You’ve got to help me catch Falik.”
Doc Kunz cackled at that and repeated, “Catch Falik! Ah, that’s good!”
Benny felt prickles between his shoulder blades. He shook his head groggily. The doc didn’t look like himself at all, didn’t sound like himself. Benny sat up, pulling the sheet around his thin chest.
“Look, Benny!” Doc Kunz shoved a newspaper onto Benny’s knees. “The arm you found in that package didn’t belong to Tessie Famette at all. It belonged to somebody else, another torso victim, Benny. Falik’s victim!”
Benny gazed at the newspaper, at a paragraph on an inside page which said, “Mr. and Mrs. Jason Devers today told the police that their daughter Jennifer, 22, has not been home for two days. Mr. Devers admitted that his daughter had been under the care of Dr. Haswell Falik, eminent psychiatrist. Dr. Falik insisted the girl was quite normal when she left his office, two days ago, but no trace of her can be found.”
Doc Kunz cackled, “Of course, no trace of her was found. Falik killed her. Dissected her body, and started to get rid of it just like—Never mind, that was the Devers’ girl’s arm you found, Benny, not Tessie Famette’s. Now tonight, Benny I want you to meet—”
“Falik?” Benny cried. “No! I won’t! I can’t! Doc, I’m too scared of him! He’ll get me, too!”
“No, he won’t Benny!” Doc said sharply. “Don’t worry. You’ll help catch him, that’s all.”
Benny shrank against his pillow. “No! I’m afraid. I’m going to tell the cops. I’m going to get Matt Hurley and—” The doc chuckled, “I’ve already talked to Hurley, Benny! He’ll be right on hand, don’t think he won’t. He’s going to be in the park. When Falik tries to—”
“Tries to kill me!” Benny burst. “Is that it? You’re going to use me as bait!”
“Easy, now, Benny,” Doc soothed. “You don’t have anything to be afraid of. Hurley won’t let anything happen. He’ll be right there. He’ll catch Falik red-handed. That’s what we want, don’t we? Benny, you want Falik caught, don’t you?”
Benny sniffled. “I don’t care! I’m scared! Once I look at his eyes, Doc, I–”
“Pshaw! Don’t look at them, then. You’re afraid Falik will hypnotize you? Nonsense!” Doc Kunz snorted. “I’m a doctor, too, Benny. Falik uses hypnotism, sure, but no one can hypnotize you if you resist them. They can’t do it with one look, either. Don’t be afraid of that, Benny. Hurley and I will be close. All you have to do is go with Falik, do what he wants you to do. He’ll lead us to the rest of the Devers girl’s body.”
“Now, Benny,” Doc Kunz frowned. “You want to co-operate with the cops, don’t you? You don’t want Matt Hurley to think you’re protecting Falik?”
“Good! That’s the stuff. Now look. It’s only eight o’clock. Get your clothes on, but don’t leave here for about forty minutes. About a quarter to nine or a little earlier, go over to the park. Meet Falik and do everything he tells you. Got that?”
Benny peered at Doc’s burning eyes, his gaunt, lined face. The doctor looked like a buzzard, like a leering old buzzard getting ready to pounce.
BUT NO HURLEY
Benny forced himself to nod. He understood all too well. He was bait. Doc said he and Matt Hurley would be nearby, but Benny chewed his lips and sniffled. Benny wouldn’t let tears come to his eyes while Doc was there, but when the black, stringy man left the room Benny hugged the sheet around himself tightly.
He fumbled with his clothing. It was hot and muggy, but he went to the closet and put on a blue turtleneck sweater that was slack around his toothpick neck.
He told himself he was okay. Hurley and Doc Kunz were on his side. He was already cleared so far as having had that package in his possession, because Doc had told Hurley how it had happened. Hurley believed Doc. But would the big cop continue to believe Doc if Benny didn’t play his part tonight?
Benny trembled. He had to go through with it. If he didn’t show up, Hurley would figure Doc had been drunk and had spun a crazy story. Just the same, the cop would come back at Benny, drag him down to headquarters.
The minutes ticked away with maddening slowness, yet with haste, too. Benny couldn’t understand it; his old alarm clock dragged and hurried at the same time. Twenty minutes whispered by. Another twenty.
“Suppose Falik comes here!” The words blurted out of Benny’s white lips, hung in the hot air in his tiny room echoed off the walls. For two full minutes afterwards Benny was incapable of motion. The paroxysms of trembling shot down into his legs. He scampered for the door. He stopped, fingers on the knob, ears actually moving.
Someone was coming up the stairs. Benny’s nostrils quivered, but he couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t even sniffle.
The almost inaudible scrape of feet on the staircase were so light a mouse might be causing them. Only Benny knew it was no mouse. It was a human being, coming closer, coming toward the door, stopping outside, leaning his ear against the flimsy wood.
Benny Kerr moved again as he had done when he’d fled from the park bench that afternoon, instinctively, without conscious volition. He ducked out the window and clambered down the fire escape. It wasn’t until he was in the alley behind the tenement building that he became conscious of hi3 surroundings. It was black down there, a fearsome place to be caught.
Benny looked up, saw a shadow on the fire escape. He ran as he never had run before. At long last, the nervous energy found some place to spend itself. Benny’s thin legs turned into driving pistons. The hard slap-slap of his feet was a tattoo on the cobbled alley. It was a sweet sound in Benny’s ears. For as energy surged through his limbs, he knew he was running as a champion sprinter. Nothing on two legs would catch him if he kept this up.
There was another thing, too. If Falik was chasing him, then Falik wasn’t in the park. Benny could run there and yell for Hurley and Doc. They’d jump out and pounce on Falik then, with no more laying traps. They’d grab the black-eyed man quick. Benny would see them with his own two eyes. He knew he’d never have nerve enough to enter his room again unless he did see Falik captured.
Benny passed the warehouse like a wraith. He went down an alley. Turn left. Left again.
Benny slackened a little, approached the park warily. Hurley and Doc Kunz would be hiding somewhere, probably near the bench where Benny was supposed to meet Falik. Benny’s eyes darted toward that bench. His senses reeled. Falik was there!
Benny couldn’t believe it, yet it was so. Falik was alone on the bench, waiting. Benny shook his head. Falik must have grabbed a taxi when he’d failed to catch Benny and hurried to the park. Benny wanted to cry. Now he’d have to go through with it after all.
He glanced fitfully about. If he could get just one glimpse of Matt Hurley’s bulk, he’d feel better. But Hurley was nowhere in sight. There were a couple of old men scattered about on the benches, some kids, but no Hurley.
“It’s okay, Benny.” The voice came from nowhere. Benny jumped. It came again. “Don’t worry, Benny. I’m behind this tree.”
Benny saw who it was, now—Doc Kunz. His long, cadaverous frame blended into the shadow behind a tree. He waved Benny toward the bench where Falik sat.
Benny stumbled forward, walked up to Falik. “H-here I am,” he stuttered.
The black eyes impaled him. In the night they seemed deeper, darker, yet more fiery, too.
Falik’s lips and mustache didn’t move, but his words were clear. “Go across the street to the Grayson Hotel. Room 317. The door is open. Don’t talk to anybody. I’ll follow you. I’ve got the money,” Falik added quickly.
Benny didn’t bother to nod. He made a beeline for the hotel, a third-rate place with a shabby, deserted lobby. The desk clerk glanced carelessly at Benny, then away. Benny skittered toward the stairs. He didn’t know why he avoided the elevator, but had he seen the pleased light in the black eyes behind him when the desk clerk paid him no attention, he would have stopped dead.
Benny climbed to the third floor. Room 317 was unlocked, as Falik had said it would be. Benny went in, switched on the lights. In a second, Falik came in. He looked Benny coldly up and down, then he looked away. For once, those black eyes stopped boring into Benny’s soul.
Benny held his breath. What was Falik waiting for? Why didn’t he say something, do something?
Benny got his answer when the door opened again and Doc Kunz came in.
Doc Kunz came in!
Doc nodded to Falik. Doc took a little phial from his pocket. Doc said, “Ready, Falik?”
That was when the blinding truth flooded through Benny Kerr. Not all the truth, just the most important part for him.
Doc wasn’t on his side, he was on Falik’s side!
Benny charged for the door. Falik caught him from behind. Doc’s long stringy arms shot out in front. Falik dragged Benny back to the bed, forced him down on it, pinned him with a knee, used those steel fingers again on Benny’s mouth.
But this time to force Benny’s mouth open, not shut. For Doc Kunz had uncorked the phial and was ready to force the contents down Benny’s throat.
He did it. He jammed the neck of the phial between Benny’s lips as Falik’s fingers forced open Benny’s mouth. Benny felt bitter liquid trickling over his tongue, down his throat.
He knew it was poison. He knew Falik and Doc Kunz were murdering him. He felt the poison hit his stomach. He felt himself grow weak. He thought, They’ll cut me up and wrap me in packages.
Falik’s knee came off Benny’s chest. Benny tried to rise, couldn’t. A heavy lethargy was upon him. He could see dimly, hear vaguely, but he couldn’t speak or move.
As in a dream, he saw Falik go to the closet, pull out paper-wrapped packages. There was the package Benny had discovered, he could never mistake that. There was another package like it. There were two more like those, only larger. Then there was a fifth package, larger. But Falik handled it easily. Jennifer Devers hadn’t been heavy.
“You don’t have to drag them out,” Doc Kunz said thickly. “Don’t you think the cops will search the place?”
“Do you think they’ll believe its suicide?” Falik asked uncertainly.
Doc Kunz cackled. “What else? Don’t worry about that. I’ve already talked to a cop, suggested that Benny was a little nutty. I talked to Matt Hurley about ten minutes before Benny was due to leave for the park. Hurley went over to question him, so he’s looking for him right now.”
Falik nodded. Benny saw him only as a blur. Benny was realizing that he had fled from Hurley, not Falik. If only he hadn’t, he thought. If only he hadn’t.
It was too late, though, and dying wasn’t so hard after all. It was pleasant, really. Like going to sleep, positive that you will sleep sound, without dreaming.
Falik’s words drifted to him dimly. “You fool! Do you think I’m going to let you live to blackmail me?”
Benny heard a faint little popping somewhere. It didn’t sound loud enough to be a gun. But a second later, there was the bam of a Police Positive. Benny knew that was a gun all right. The first one must have had a silencer on it, he thought. He drifted off … .
MIGHT EVEN BE ME
Clearly it was much harder getting awake than it had been going to sleep. Sleeping had been peaceful. Getting awake again brought with it pain and nausea. The thick, rubbery thing in his mouth, Benny learned later, was a stomach pump.
“You’re tougher than you look, Benny boy,” said a voice.
Benny saw Matt Hurley’s red face beaming at him. “How did you—”
“Take it easy, kid,” Hurley said. “You’re a good little runner, but I’m not so bad myself. I chased after you to the park, caught up just in time to see you go across to that hotel. Falik followed you, and Doc Kunz followed Falik. I strung along and listened outside the hotel room door. I didn’t know they were going to feed you poison and leave you there with the Devers girl’s body. But when Falik took a shot at Doc Kunz, I jumped in and took a shot at him. Doc Kunz is dead but he talked. I only winged Falik; he’ll go to the chair.” Benny gagged a little. “They were going to kill me, leave me there with Jennifer Devers’ body so you’d think I was the maniac killer.”
Hurley nodded. “But there was no maniac after all. Doc Kunz cut up the first two bodies to cover himself. What happened, Benny, was that Doc gave Rosa Scalise, the first girl to be found, some of his homemade medicine and it killed her. To cover himself, he cut her up like that, figuring the public would think a maniac was loose. Tessie Famette, the second victim, was Rosa Scalise’s friend who knew Rosa had been going to Doc Kunz. She got suspicious so Doc killed her too.”
Benny burst, “And when Falik killed the third girl, Jennifer Dever3, he tried to take advantage—” Benny stopped, recalling Doc Kunz’s mutterings that afternoon. “That’s what Doc Kunz meant when he said Falik was trying to take advantage of him!”
“Right,” Hurley agreed. “Falik got the story of a secret marriage out of Jennifer Devers when he was treating her. He blackmailed her for months. Then she said she was going to the cops, and Falik killed her. He figured if he cut her up and planted packages around the neighborhood where two other torso murders had already been done, the^ same man would be blamed for everything.”
“Only I caught him planting the very first package,” Benny shuddered.
“Well, you’re always hanging around the park,” Hurley shrugged. “It wasn’t so funny that it was you who saw him. The thing was you should have told me right away instead of Doc Kunz. The minute Kunz knew you’d found another package, he knew somebody else had committed murder. Even if he hadn’t seen Falik in your room, he could easily have searched the paper for missing people and figured out who had killed who. He saw a chance to frame it all on the dumb bunny who had blundered into it—you, Benny; so he went to Falik. They worked together until they thought everything was set.”
Hurley shook his head reprovingly. “You should’ve told me, Benny. You should’ve told me right off. Why didn’t you?”
Benny shivered all over. “Because you said it—might even be me!”
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