“I’m in big trouble, man,” Dick said, as he and Stan Slayter sat
zip-coding letters in the Castletown post office. For ten years working
together they had been wallowing in commiseration about their unhappy
lives. Today Dick Foon was taking his turn.
“Yeah–well, I got troubles of my own,” Stan snarled.
Dick resented the intrusion on his time for pity but let him go on.
“My god damned wife–the cheatin’ bitch!” Stan’s dark eyes slowly slid
onto Dick and held him fast.
Dick looked away sharply and shifted on his stool. “You gonna listen to
my problem or not, Stan?”
“Okay, okay–what is it?”
“You know a lot about insurance companies, right?”
“Been fightin’ for settlements most of my life.”
“And you’re not particularly against screwin’ ‘em a little, right?”
Stan grinned. “Go on.”
Dick drew a deep breath. “Well, I gotta cash in, man.” He bent his
head toward Stan and whispered, “Gotta get ridda my car.”
“Ridda your car?”
“I’m in over my head. If I don’t find a way out soon–I could go
“Bankrupt!” Stan Slayter shouted, not the soft-spoken type.
“Shhhh–” Dick said glancing around the big room.
“Not your car, man? She’s a beaut.”
“Yeah–and I hate to do it. Like givin’ up a sexy mistress. But, damn
it, I got no choice. Can’t make the payments.”
Stan nailed him with deadly eyes then grinned like a gargoyle. “So what
you do? Get into one of those zero, zero, zero deals?” Dick did not
reply. Stan shook his head and muttered, “Stupid–”
“Okay.” Stan started working faster. “So what in hell ya want me to
do?” He stopped short. “Hey, you’re not leadin’ up to a touch, I
“No, Stan, I ain’t gonna hit you up for cash. But I do need to stop
bleeding it. And the quickest way I can think to staunch it is by
dumpin’ my car.”
“Put her up for sale.” He turned sharply toward Dick and hissed. “Just
what I oughta do with my ol’ lady.”
Dick squirmed again and muttered breathlessly. “No, no, I owe too
much.” He too started working rapidly.
“So what you mean–dump your car?”
Dick checked to see if anyone’s ears were on fire. He whispered, “I
need you to make it disappear, man.”
Stan stared at him. Dick met him with his pale green eyes. They stayed
that way till Stan broke the trance. “What in hell makes you so cock
sure of me, Dickie, boy?”
“ ‘Cause there’s money in it.”
Stan’s face tightened. “Yeah? How much?”
“Thousand bucks ain’t much. What exactly you expect for it?”
“I told ya. Dump my car.”
“Just like that.”
“Yeah. I got it all figured out.” Dick bent close to Stan’s ear and
whispered his plan.
* * *
One moonless Saturday night at a quarry outside of town a silver sedan
shot off a cliff and plunged one hundred feet into stagnant water.
After bubbling boisterously for several seconds it sank out of sight.
That night Dick reported the theft then called his insurance company.
A few days later a suited agent came to Dick’s house and questioned him
for more than an hour. “So, Mister Foon–you have no idea how your car
“No. Like I told the sheriff. I locked it up tight when I went to the
movies. When the show was over I came out and found it gone.”
“Uh-huh,” the agent searched his eyes. “Well, most likely you’ll be
covered for the loss–once we recover the vehicle.”
“Yes. We have to know the final disposition of the property before we
can make a decision.”
“Have you heard lately from the authorities?”
“Well, I’m sure you will. In this county law enforcement avidly pursues
auto theft. Nearly as much as murder.”
When the agent left, Dick was elated. So certain was he of the
insurance company finding in his favor that he bought a bottle of
champagne to celebrate. He was halfway through it and feeling very
self-satisfied when he decided to call Helen Slayter. See if she could
sneak out to share in his good fortune. As soon as he punched the
number, a knock on his door startled him. He did not hear it ringing.
“Open up, Mister Foon–county sheriff!” a voice demanded. “Open up!”
Dick dropped the phone, stumbled to the door, and looked through the
peep hole. Two deputies. After frantically looking around as if to
find something to cover his ass, Dick slowly opened the door.
The peace officers pushed their way in, guns drawn. Dick jerked his
hands into the air. “Turn around, Mister Foon,” one of the deputies
said with an ominously calm tone.
Dick obliged and, as they were cuffing him, tried to be amiable.
“What’s goin’ on, fellas?”
The other deputy barked, “You’re under arrest for the murder of Mis’ess
“Murder! What in hell you talkin’ about? I didn’t kill anyone. I
“Yeah?” the deputy’s eyes narrowed. “Then, why’d we find her body in
the trunk of your car?”
Dick’s face went anemic. “My car?!”
“Yeah,” the other one said quietly. “Where you left it–at the bottom
of the Castletown Quarry. Couple of divers found it this morning.”
“Mister Slayter reported her missing about the time you reported your
car stolen,” the loud deputy barked.
The calm one put Dick into the back of the police car and said, “Told us
you been stalkin’ her for months, Mister Foon.”
“That Sonofabitch!” Dick mumbled, as the car roared away from his house.
Inside the house, on the floor lay the telephone, gushing a torrent of