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THE CHARACTERS: Dave, a girl he didn’t know, and a pair of thugs . . .
THE SETTING: Weston’s Tourist Cabins, with a Florida moon . . . THE STORY: Mystery, with an unforgettable climax /Vo6oc/ys (Jofaq fo 7a/6 A Short Story There was no business — which at Weston’s Tourist Cab ins, Bar & Restaurant, Clean, Cool, Comfortable — was situation normal. Sam, who passed as a cook, and I were talking about the bus accident. It had taken place some twenty miles away and we’d just heard about it on the radio: a drunken driver had forced a north-bound bus off the high way, there had been a couple of persons killed and several injured, and it was a mess all around. We were talking about it when the door opened and this girl came in, carrying a suit case. She stopped just inside, as though there were a law against her coming any closer. “Hello,” I said. She said, “You — own these cabins?” “With the help of the government and the National Bank.” “Could I rent one?” “If you have three bucks,” I said. I took her suitcase and held the door for her and we went back outside. That’s when I noticed there wasn’t any car and I thought. Oh-oh! What gives? But I didn’t figure that what ever gave could hurt business: a guy can’t lose nothing. So I led her down to a cabin, and she paid three bucks and signed the registry card as Dawn Chester. The name had a phony sound, but the three bucks were good. I put them in my pocket and went back to the bar and restaurant. Sam had missed nothing. He said, “She didn’t have no car, Mr. Dave?” “No, she didn’t.” “How’d she git here?” The address on the registry card was New York. “Maybe she walked,” I said. The two thugs, pistols in hand, raced madly for Dawn’s cabin— “I bet she was on that wrecked bus,” Sam said. “I bet she caught a ride from there.” "Why stop here?” “Don’t know; but I bet she was on that bus. She looked sort of peaked. You notice that?” “I don’t even know how ‘peaked’ looks,” I said. Sam was Alabama Negro and I was from Cicero, Illinois. I’d had my reasons for coming to Florida, and I expect Sam had his. We were something of a puzzle to each other, but we got along. A couple of cowboys dropped in. I was still surprised at finding cowboys in Florida, but in this section of the state they were all you did find: boots, big hats and all. Even horses sometimes and sometimes trucks. These had a pair of beers, and when they left, business got back to average. Sam and I were talking when the bar door opened and the girl came in again. She’d changed her clothes. Her dress was light gray. It didn't fit too well, but it wasn’t bad either. Her hair was brown and soft looking, and had a natural wave that kept it close against her head. “Do you serve food?” “Sam calls it that,” I said. “Locally, there seems some doubt.” She sat in a booth, and I stood behind the bar. Her back was to me, and I could just see the top of her head. Her hair was the same color all the way to its roots, which is a nice way for hair to be. I came out from behind the bar. “Miss Chester?” She didn’t look up. “You want something to drink before your dinner?” “Oh! I didn’t realize you were speaking to me. No, thank you.” I tried once more, when I was serving the food. I said, “Did you hear about the bus accident?” She looked up, quick, and then down again. “I heard some thing about it,” she said, and began to eat. When she’d paid and gone back to her cabin, I stared at the door. “Sam ...” “Yessur?” "That was a phony name she signed on the registry card and I’ll bet she’s never seen New York. And whether or not TW—S-Jl-47