EDGE OF NIGHT, 4.April.1969
“Then you are granting me permission, so to speak, to divulge Laurie Karr's location?”
“I’m not granting you anything, Eric,” Travis reiterates, thinking he needs to call Joe Pollock personally and set a few matters straight, “I am ordering you to make it happen by telling Ron Christopher exactly what he wants to hear.”
Barrington starts to leave with an unlit cigar cocked in the side of his mouth. At the heavy door, he overhears Ben buzzing his secretary, Hilda, and demanding she get Joe Pollock on the phone right away.
After a delay Hilda comes back on the line, “I’m sorry, Mr. Travis, but Mr. Pollock is in a meeting. If you prefer, I could always get Charles to-”
“I don’t need Charles and don’t care if Pollock is in a meeting or down on his knees making confession. Does he know who’s calling?”
“Yes, I mentioned-.”
“Interrupt the meeting!”
Barrington shuts the door quietly. In the reception area, he waits watching like a curious cat and smiling at agitated Hilda trying desperately to get Joe Pollock back on the phone while Charles, Ben’s PR assistant, rushes past Barrington frantically and into Ben’s office.
“What mostly worries me,” Mike is saying to Ron Christopher over lunch, “is what Laurie already knows.”
“Such as?" Ron takes a swing of Scotch over ice.
“She can identify her captors.”
“Then you fear she will be killed?”
“Killed regardless if we cooperate fully or not. My baby girl isn’t coming back home alive if we don’t find her first.”
“Barrington wasn’t very happy being questioned about Laurie...”
“And he told you nothing?”
“A call came in he told me was sensitive and had to take. He asked me to leave. I did, but I don’t think he’s suspicious.”
“Suspicious or not. Ron, you’ve got ask him again where they’re keeping Laurie,” Mike says. “We’re running out of time.”
A shack in the woods
Barney and Mona are going stir crazy after Barrington informed them he doesn't see an immediate closure to the loan shark investigation. Grabbing the handgun to keep both Mona and Laurie away from it, he tucks the gun in the inside pocket of his blazer and tells Mona he’s leaving to go get drunk in a bar in Raintree.
“But you’re always leaving me here alone with her,” Mona complains. “Me...Always behind. I need to get away, too, Barney...from all this. “
“Well, you just gonna have to wait your turn.”
“Look at my hair?”
“What of it?”
“The roots. I look like an awful tramp. I gotta see a hairdresser. Something. Anything. I can’t stand it!”
“Lighting your hair up any ain’t gonna fix your looks, Mona. Far crying out loud, ya ain’t 21 anymore. When ya were ya were no Marilyn Monroe by a long shot.”
“Oh you...You disgust me! That’s right. Get out of here ya dirty bastard with your cruelty. Go on get yourself stinking face drunk for all I care.”
“Oh, to hell with you,” Barney says, waving Mona off as he hurries for the door.
“Maybe you’ll show some wisdom by using that handgun on yourself. Why don’t you? See if I care if I hear ya done shot and killed yourself. Go on! Get loaded til you can’t see straight!”
Barney slams the door.
At Monticello Arms Hotel , Ron sips another Scotch over ice Barrington has prepared. On the wall directly above Barrington’s profie, Ron glances at an intriguing painting of a stormy bay and yacht named “The Sprite.” The conversation in room #505 has become dangerous.
“Are you really sure that Laurie is well hidden?” Ron engages Barrington again.
“Yes, I’m quite sure that she is.”
“That must be one hell of a safe-house.”
“All these inquires, Ron,” Barrington laughs. “I’m beginning to believe you want to know something more? Like something you may need to get off your chest?”
“No no no,” Ron chuckles. “I just want be sure she’s really...well hidden. I mean, if Mike and the commission or the police were to-”
“Mike Karr will not involve the police. If he does, he knows the consequence will be most severe. In fact, it will be a fatal error.”
“Yeah,” Ron feels his left leg shaking and he starts to sweat, remembering the terror in Laurie’s voice the night she called Mike and Nancy. He drains his cocktail and puts the glass down on the table.
“Would you like another?”
“No, I’m okay,” he walks to the window, looks out and turns back to Barrington with fire in his eyes.
“I see you’re not satisfied.”
“I’m concerned about this whole thing blowing up.”
“I can assure you, Laurie Karr is well hidden in a secure gardener’s shack,” Barrington says, sitting down in a recliner to rest and picking up an unlit cigar.
“What?” Ron says, feelings little hairs rise on the back of his neck as he attempts to hide his emotion. He is feeling both shock and elation; and then a coming sense of doom. He quivers, looking at the empty glass he put back on the table.
“A gardener’s shack," Barrington repeats picking up a lighter. "I own the property myself. Right off Interstate 56 near the town of Raintree.” Barrington lights his cigar and silently analyzes Ron’s reaction through a cloud of smoke.
Across town from Monticello Arms in a Civic Center skyscraper, Mike is reciting a brief into a dictaphone in his office when Jeanne rushes in.
“Ron Christopher is on Line 1,” Jeanne informs Mike. “He says it’s urgent.”
After Jeanne leaves, Mike picks up the line. “Ron. Where are you?”
“Hotel lobby in a phone booth,” Ron whispers, looking over his shoulder to make sure he hasn't been followed. “Mike, we got it. Barrington told me everything...”
Mike whispers a silent prayer and smiles.
Back at the shack up in Graham county while Mona is preoccupied with styling her hair in the mirror to hide dark roots in her unsightly hair as best as she can, Laurie pulls eagerly at the telephone cord that Barney carelessly left nearby. At last the phone in her grasp, Laurie picks up the receiver hearing a dial tone . . . Meanwhile, Barrington is talking with Ben Travis on the telephone.
“The trap is set,” Barrington says.
“If Ron falls into it,” replies Travis with a sinister smirk, “we’ll do what every hunter does to his prey.”