Brett Halliday: Murder Takes No Holiday

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Brett Halliday Murder Takes No Holiday
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    Murder Takes No Holiday
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Brett Halliday

Murder Takes No Holiday


Michael Shayne lifted a quizzical eyebrow at Lucy Hamilton, his pert, brown-haired secretary. They were in the crowded Calypso bar at Miami’s International Airport. Lucy was seeing him off on a three-week vacation, and she had worn a new dress for the occasion, with a tight waist and a flaring skirt. From the glances she was getting, Shayne could see that he wasn’t alone in thinking that she was the best-looking woman in the place.

“Finish your drink, angel,” he said, “or that damn plane is going off without me.”

Lifting her glass, she smiled at him across the little table. “Don’t pretend you’d consider that such a tragedy.”

“Well, this wasn’t my idea, God knows,” Shayne said.

“Good heavens, Michael! A person would think you’d been sentenced to a term on the chain gang. You’re going off for three leisurely weeks on a romantic Caribbean island, with nothing to do but fish and swim and lie on the sand. Anybody but a stubborn mule named Michael Shayne would be looking forward to it.”

As his face darkened she said quickly, putting her small hand on his, “I know, Michael. I shouldn’t tease you. You think you could do all that without leaving Miami. But it wouldn’t work out. After the things you’ve been through, any ordinary man would be glad to relax for a few weeks, and let people take care of their own problems. But I know you. If you stayed in Miami, some cute little blonde would be sure to find you after a day or two, with some trouble which naturally she’d be too embarrassed to take to the police. No other private detective could help her. She’d bat her eyes and take a few deep breaths, and you’d be back in action again, broken ribs and all-Don’t look at me like that. You know what I mean. Dr. Sanborn would never have let you out of the hospital if you hadn’t promised to have a real rest, and I’m going to see that you keep your promise if it kills both of us.”

Shayne was grinning. “How do you know there aren’t any cute blondes with problems where I’m going?”

“They won’t know who you are, thank goodness. They can take their problems to somebody who hasn’t just got out of a hospital. And you’d better not encourage them, either!”

“That might be easier if you were somewhere on the same island, angel,” Shayne said lightly.

She colored and looked away. “It seems to me we’ve been over that, too. But I don’t mind saying it again if you didn’t hear me any of the other times. I have something to think about, and I think more clearly, for some reason, when you’re a few hundred miles away. Well.”

She finished her drink and said briskly, “We don’t want to keep the chain gang waiting, do we?”

Shayne laughed. He drank off his cognac, and took a sip of ice-water, after which he stood up. Taking Lucy’s arm, he steered her toward the door. It burst open and a tall, loose-jointed, untidy man, his hat on the back of his head, pushed in. It was Tim Rourke, a reporter on the Miami News, Michael Shayne’s oldest friend in Miami.

“Hey, Mike,” he said. “They’re calling your plane, did you know that? I didn’t think I was going to get here in time. Go ahead-I want to grab a fast shot. You’re looking nice, baby,” he added to Lucy. “Nice dress.”

“Thank you, Tim,” she said, smiling.

The bar-man served him promptly, and Rourke overtook Lucy and the rangy redhaired private detective in the lobby.

“You know what I did, Mike? I forgot to bring you a going-away present. That would never do. The other passengers would think you aren’t popular.”

He veered off abruptly and headed for a news-stand. Shayne and his secretary watched, amused, while the disheveled reporter made a swift series of purchases. He returned in a moment with an armload of paperbound books and a huge box of chocolates.

“Tim, you idiot,” Lucy said fondly. “Michael doesn’t like candy.”

“Then the candy’s for you,” Rourke said, putting the box into her arms. “Don’t read all these, Mike. Take your pick and leave the rest for the stewardess. There’s quite a cool bunch of chicks on this line-but of course an invalid like you wouldn’t be interested.”

He faked a punch at the redhead’s ribs, four of which had been fractured as a result of a fight in a speeding car that was being driven by a heroin wholesaler named Sal Rubio. The car had gone over an embankment. The hoodlum had been killed.

“Tim!” Lucy cried in alarm.

“Don’t worry, honey,” Rourke told her. “It wouldn’t give me any satisfaction to beat up on Mike, in his present condition. He’s too puny. Get your strength back, Mike, and I’ll carry you for a few fast rounds. Gate Five,” he said, looking up. “I do believe that’s us. Now don’t do anything too strenuous, pal. A little brainwork won’t hurt you, but no rough-housing. Remember what the doctor told you.”

He gave Shayne a large wink. Lucy demanded, “Just what do you mean by that, Tim?”

“Not a thing,” Rourke said innocently. “But I’ve known this character longer than you have. Wherever he goes, for some strange reason things seem to happen. And the big son of a-” He caught himself. “Excuse me. The big baboon usually comes out with a nice piece of change. What I wanted to say, Mike,” he said more seriously, “is you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. When I steer something somebody’s way, I expect first crack at it for the News. Do you get my point?”

“Hell, no,” Shayne said easily, “and if I didn’t know you so well, I’d say you’d been drinking.”

“Never touch the stuff.”

Lucy studied Tim suspiciously for another moment, and turned to Shayne.

“Don’t look at me,” the detective said. “I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about, if he’s talking about anything.”

“Well, I only hope I don’t live to regret this.” Coming up on her toes, she gave him a glancing kiss on the cheek. “Send me a postcard every day, Michael.”

He put an arm around her shoulders and gave her a rough hug, feeling a stab of pain in his rib-cage. “Goodbye, Miss Hamilton. This is going to be a long three weeks.”

He turned quickly. Passing through the gate with long, purposeful strides, he followed the red carpet to the big bird that was waiting for him on the hardtop. Lucy and Tim Rourke climbed to the observation deck to watch the take-off. The stewardess-and Shayne noted with amusement that she was as trim and attractive as Rourke had predicted-consulted her clipboard. She made a check beside his name and led him down the aisle. Halfway to the end she stopped, puzzled, and looked at her board again. The seat assigned to Michael Shayne was taken.

“May I see your reservation, sir?” she asked politely.

A rumpled, heavily-built man, holding a dispatch case on his lap, looked up, and Shayne recognized Jack Malloy, the customs agent-in-charge, a former Miami cop.

Malloy heaved himself up. “You just about got in under the wire, Mike. I was beginning to think that Tim Rourke was wrong.”

“What about Tim?” Shayne said.

“I ran into him this afternoon, and he told me you were taking this plane.”

The stewardess cleared her throat unhappily. “I’m afraid there’s been a mistake. I must ask to see your ticket, sir.”

“I’m not going with you, dear,” Malloy said, “so relax. I cleared it with the boys up front. But for God’s sake don’t let them take off with me aboard. It’s just the sort of thing that captain of yours would think is funny.”

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