EDGE OF NIGHT, 2.Apr.1969
“What’s the update on Laurie Karr?” Ben Travis says to Eric Barrington in Barrington’s Monticello Arms Hotel Suite #505.
“Laurie Karr is doing exceptionally well under a condition the girl might ordinarily consider hostile compared to the comfort of her snug bedroom in Monticello,” replies Barrington chewing on the tip of an unlit cigar.
“And Barney and Mona West?”
“The Wests are performing their duties quite capably.”
“Considering the large amount of their debt, I should hope so. Now, an update on Ron Christopher?”
Barrington drops his cigar in an ashtray on the stand by his chair and clears his throat before continuing, “You might say there’s been an unfortunate...small err."
"A small err? What the hell are you talking about?"
"There’s no need to worry or get bent out of shape. I know Ron inside-out."
“Explain this immediately before I am tempted to just...yank it out of you!”
“I was forced to tell Ron about Laurie Karr’s kidnapping.”
"You did what?" Ben is furious.
"I told him reluctantly about the kidnapping."
“I know you're a fool, Eric. A gigantic fool. But have you now lost your marbles?"
“No, I have not lost my marbles," disputes Barrington. "Our purpose is to keep Ron Christopher in line and under lock and key. I have succeeded with that as well as holding the operation together and keeping Mike Karr at bay.”
“Ron Christopher, I tell you, he can’t be trusted.”
“I assure you, Ben, implicitly, Ron won’t betray us.”
“What makes you so certain he's not already Mike Karrs's mole? Eric, if this blows up in our faces, we could very well -.”
“Ron Christopher will never betray us. If he does, everyone in Monticello, specifically the media, Bill Marceau and the police, will be told that he is responsible for Philip Capice’s near-fatal beating.”
“So now you've resorted to blackmailing the man you supposedly know inside-out? What kind of lunatic trust is that?”
“A little extra precaution and insurance will do us no harm to keep all of us from being prosecuted in Federal Court as Mike Karr would have it if we didn't have his precious daughter.”
“So the rook and the queen are throwing their weight around, and we've become desperate little pawns still trying to figure out how to silence meddling Mike Karr permanently.”
“We should be desperate pawns regardless,” Barrington strikes a match to his cigar and a cloud of smoke billows in the air over Ben. “Desperate enough to save what’s left of the operation before the walls crumble into pathetic little bits like Jericho...
* * *
On the riverfront at popular Ho-Hi-Ho restaurant, Ron and Cookie have a tense lunch.
“I am worried that I’m rushing you into marriage. That’s why you’ve been so much under stress.”
“Cookie, I told yo-”
“I don’t want to pressure you into marrying me just because it’s what I want. I want you to want it, too. Fully and completely as much I do when I meet you down that aisle.”
“Cookie, how many times must I remind you that I love you. My business stress with Barrington, well...it comes with the job and can’t be helped. None of it is going to stop me from marrying you come April 11th.”
“But since Barrington is kind of your boss-”
“Whatever you’re thinking in your pretty head, he’s not coming to the wedding. He's a very private secluded man. So forget about sending an invitation...” Ron notices Cookie looking away and turns around to see who Cookie is looking after. “Well, what do you think about that,” Ron says.
“I can hardly believe it myself,” A startled Cookie says. “Liz Prentiss and Vic Lamont. The very man who convicted her step-mother of murdering Harry Constable."
“Yes, if Adam hadn't gotten a confession out of Ernie Tuttle, two minutes later Julie Jamison would have been hung and died an innocent woman.” Ron turns back to Cookie. “Speaking of Adam-”
“He's my brother-in-law's very good law partner. He's-”
"That's not what I'm talking about. You dated Adam before I met you.”
“Yes, that’s true.”
“Tell me, honestly, are you over Adam Drake?”
“I am marrying you, aren’t I?” Cookie says.
“I take that as an affirmative?”
Cookie smiles, “Why should you even have to ask? My encounter with Adam Drake was a school-girl infatuation. Adam had more unreciprocated feelings for Nancy and absolutely none for me. He means nothing to me when you’re the man I am in love with and the man I am going to marry in less than week.”
* * *
"Of course, I was devastated after Steve's ghastly testimony," Liz Hillyer-Prentiss is telling Vic Lamont. "I am still shaken when I think of how he testified how deeply he resented me, my father and everything we stood for at Claybank. If I had known any of those disturbing things beforehand-"
"But how could you have known," says Vic sipping his cocktail.
"Or if I had bothered to adhere to father's advice who never wanted me to marry Steve in the first place, I would never have made such a horrible mistake. If anything I should count Steve's desertion as an hearten blessing."
"As soon as we locate Steve in Mexico. You did tell me his missive to Ruth in Los Angeles was postmarked Mexico?"
"Yes, in Mexico. He's there."
"We're find him. Get everything arranged, so you're a free woman as soon as legally possible. I assume. Your hurry is because...there's someone waiting?"
Liz sips her drink. "There isn't anyone waiting. I just want to be free of Steve who isn't coming back to Monticello. And even if he did come back to Monticello, I don't want him anymore."
"Then you're not involved with anyone? I would-"
"No, there is no one. What about you? Surely, you...a dashing attorney...isn't at all single and free."
"My social life. I should hire a social secretary. You would hardly guess all the TV dinners every night in an empty bachelor's pad. Frankly, I do a lot of overtime at the office to help prosecute of all of Monticello's innumberable bad guys. But all that work, well....it makes up the empty lonely hours at home."
"But my luck can always change. I feel it changing right now..."
"Then you've decided to leave the DA's office and work with Mike and Adam in private practice?"
"I've met with Adam. Briefly. He's excited. All for it. We're waiting now for Mike's green light. And yeah, I'm looking forward to private practice, having a normal life, a beautiful client like you for starters and more dinners...with you..who should be officially divorced soon...and then more dinners with you after you're single and I'm hoping...that you would like to continue seeing me after your divorce is final as much I want to see you."
They both smile as a perky waitress carrying two trays arrives with their lunch orders.
* * *
At dusk, the sound of traffic in the street below Monticello Arms seems to slow down and the temperature in Suite #505 changes. The night isn't getting any shorter. Sweating profusely, Ron Christopher finally gets up the courage to ask Barrington where Barrington is holding Laurie Karr.
A startled Barrington is unresponsive and, at once, lights a fresh cigar...