Read CHAPTER 6 of Brain Twister , free online book, by Gordon Randall Garrett & Laurence Mark Janifer, on

The management of the Golden Palace had been in business for many long, dreary, profitable years, and each member of the staff thought he or she had seen just about everything there was to be seen. And those that were new felt an obligation to look as if they’d seen everything.

Therefore, when the entourage of Queen Elizabeth I strolled into the main salon, not a single eye was batted. Not a single gasp was heard.

Nevertheless, the staff kept a discreet eye on the crew. Drunks, rich men or Arabian millionaires were all familiar. But a group out of the Sixteenth Century was something else again.

Malone almost strutted, conscious of the sidelong glances the group was drawing. But it was obvious that Sir Thomas was the major attraction. Even if you could accept the idea of people in strange costumes, the sight of a living, breathing absolute duplicate of King Henry VIII was a little too much to take. It has been reported that two ladies named Jane, and one named Catherine, came down with sudden headaches and left the salon within five minutes of the group’s arrival.

Malone felt he knew, however, why he wasn’t drawing his full share of attention. He felt a little out of place.

The costume was one thing, and, to tell the truth, he was beginning to enjoy it. Even with the weight of the stuff, it was going to be a wrench to go back to single-breasted suits and plain white shirts. But he did feel that he should have been carrying a sword.

Instead, he had a .44 Magnum Colt snuggled beneath his left armpit.

Somehow, a .44 Magnum Colt didn’t seem as romantic as a sword. Malone pictured himself saying: “Take that, varlet.” Was varlet what you called them, he wondered. Maybe it was valet.

“Take that, valet,” he muttered. No, that sounded even worse. Oh, well, he could look it up later.

The truth was that he had been born in the wrong century. He could imagine himself at the Mermaid Tavern, hob-nobbing with Shakespeare and all the rest of them. He wondered if Richard Greene would be there. Then he wondered who Richard Greene was.

Behind Sir Kenneth, Sir Thomas Boyd strode, looking majestic, as if he were about to fling purses of gold to the citizenry. As a matter of fact, Malone thought, he was. They all were.

Purses of good old United States of America gold.

Behind Sir Thomas came Queen Elizabeth and her Lady-in-Waiting, Lady Barbara Wilson. They made a beautiful foursome.

“The roulette table,” Her Majesty said with dignity. “Precede me.”

They pushed their way through the crowd. Most of the customers were either excited enough, drunk enough, or both to see nothing in the least incongruous about a Royal Family of the Tudors invading the Golden Palace. Very few of them, as a matter of fact, seemed to notice the group.

They were roulette players. They noticed nothing but the table and the wheel. Malone wondered what they were thinking about, decided to ask Queen Elizabeth, and then decided against it. He felt it would make him nervous to know.

Her Majesty took a handful of chips.

The handful was worth, Malone knew, exactly five thousand dollars.
That, he’d thought, ought to last them an evening, even in the Golden
Palace. In the center of the strip, inside the city limits of Las
Vegas itself, the five thousand would have lasted much longer but Her
Majesty wanted the Palace, and the Palace it was.

Malone began to smile. Since he couldn’t avoid the evening, he was determined to enjoy it. It was sort of fun, in its way, indulging a sweet harmless old lady. And there was nothing they could do until the next morning, anyhow.

His indulgent smile faded very suddenly.

Her Majesty plunked the entire handful of chips five thousand dollars! Malone thought dazedly onto the table. “Five thousand,” she said in clear, cool measured tones, “on number one.”

The croupier blinked only slightly. He bowed. “Yes, Your Majesty,” he said.

Malone was briefly thankful, in the midst of his black horror, that he had called the management and told them that the Queen’s plays were backed by the United States Government. Her Majesty was going to get unlimited credit and a good deal of awed and somewhat puzzled respect.

Malone watched the spin begin with mixed feelings. There was five thousand dollars riding on the little ball. But, after all, Her Majesty was a telepath. Did that mean anything?

He hadn’t decided by the time the wheel stopped, and by then he didn’t have to decide.

“Thirty-four,” the croupier said tonelessly. “Red, Even and High.”

He raked in the chips with a nonchalant air.

Malone felt as if he had swallowed his stomach. Boyd and Lady Barbara, standing nearby, had absolutely no expressions on their faces. Malone needed no telepath to tell him what they were thinking.

They were exactly the same as he was. They were incapable of thought.

But Her Majesty never batted an eyelash. “Come, Sir Kenneth,” she said. “Let’s go on to the poker tables.”

She swept out. Her entourage followed her, shambling a little, and blank-eyed. Malone was still thinking about the five thousand dollars. Oh, well, Burris had said to give the lady anything she wanted. But my God! he thought. Did she have to play for royal stakes?

“I am, after all, a Queen,” she whispered back to him.

Malone thought about the National Debt. He wondered if a million more or less would make any real difference. There would be questions asked in committees about it. He tried to imagine himself explaining the evening to a group of Congressmen. “Well, you see, gentlemen, there was this roulette wheel ”

He gave it up.

Then he wondered how much hotter the water was going to get, and he stopped thinking altogether in self-defense.

In the next room, there were scattered tables. At one, a poker game was in full swing. Only five were playing; one, by his white-tie-and-tails uniform, was easily recognizable as a house dealer. The other four were all men, one of them in full cowboy regalia. The Tudors descended upon them with great suddenness, and the house dealer looked up and almost lost his cigarette.

“We haven’t any money, Your Majesty,” Malone whispered.

She smiled up at him sweetly, and then drew him aside. “If you were a telepath,” she said, “how would you play poker?”

Malone thought about that for a minute, and then turned to look for Boyd. But Sir Thomas didn’t even have to be given instructions. “Another five hundred?” he said.

Her Majesty sniffed audibly. “Another five thousand,” she said regally.

Boyd looked Malonewards. Malone looked defeated.

Boyd turned with a small sigh and headed for the cashier’s booth. Three minutes later, he was back with a fat fistful of chips.

“Five grand?” Malone whispered to him.

“Ten,” Boyd said. “I know when to back a winner.”

Her Majesty went over to the table. The dealer had regained control, but looked up at them with a puzzled stare.

“You know,” the Queen said, with an obvious attempt to put the man at his ease, “I’ve always wanted to visit a gambling hall.”

“Sure, lady,” the dealer said. “Naturally.”

“May I sit down?”

The dealer looked at the group. “How about your friends?” he said cautiously.

The queen shook her head. “They would rather watch, I’m sure.”

For once Malone blessed the woman’s telepathic talent. He, Boyd and Barbara Wilson formed a kind of Guard of Honor around the chair which Her Majesty occupied. Boyd handed over the new pile of chips, and was favored with a royal smile.

“This is a poker game, ma’am,” the dealer said to her quietly.

“I know, I know,” Her Majesty said with a trace of testiness. “Roll ’em.”

The dealer stared at her popeyed. Next to her, the gentleman in the cowboy outfit turned. “Ma’am, are you from around these parts?” he said.

“Oh, no,” the Queen said. “I’m from England.”

“England?” The cowboy looked puzzled. “You don’t seem to have any accent, ma’am,” he said at last.

“Certainly not,” the Queen said. “I’ve lost that; I’ve been over here a great many years.”

Malone hoped fervently that Her Majesty wouldn’t mention just how many years. He didn’t think he could stand it, and he was almost grateful for the cowboy’s nasal twang.

“Oil?” he said.

“Oh, no,” Her Majesty said. “The Government is providing this money.”

“The Government?”

“Certainly,” Her Majesty said. “The FBI, you know.”

There was a long silence.

At last, the dealer said: “Five-card draw your game, ma’am?”

“If you please,” Her Majesty said.

The dealer shrugged and, apparently, commended his soul to a gambler’s God. He passed the pasteboards around the table with the air of one who will have nothing more to do with the world.

Her Majesty picked up her hand.

“The ante’s ten, ma’am,” the dealer said softly.

Without looking, Her Majesty removed a ten-dollar chip from the pile before her and sent it spinning to the middle of the table.

The dealer opened his mouth, but said nothing. Malone, meanwhile, was peering over the Queen’s shoulder.

She held a pair of nines, a four, a three and a Jack.

The man to the left of the dealer announced glumly: “Can’t open.”

The next man grinned. “Open for twenty,” he said.

Malone closed his eyes. He heard the cowboy say: “I’m in,” and he opened his eyes again. The Queen was pushing two ten-dollar chips toward the center of the table.

The next man dropped, and the dealer looked round the table. “How many?”

The man who couldn’t open took three cards. The man who’d opened for twenty stood pat. Malone shuddered invisibly. That, he figured, meant a straight or better. And Queen Elizabeth Thompson was going in against at least a straight with a pair of nines, Jack high.

For the first time, it was borne in on Malone that being a telepath did not necessarily mean that you were a good poker player. Even if you knew what every other person at the table held, you could still make a whole lot of stupid mistakes.

He looked nervously at Queen Elizabeth, but her face was serene. Apparently she’d been following the thoughts of the poker players, and not concentrating on him at all. That was a relief. He felt, for the first time in days, as if he could think freely.

The cowboy said: “Two,” and took them. It was Her Majesty’s turn.

“I’ll take two,” she said, and threw away the three and four. It left her with the nine of spades and the nine of hearts, and the Jack of diamonds.

These were joined, in a matter of seconds, by two bright new cards: the six of clubs and the three of hearts.

Malone closed his eyes. Oh, well, he thought.

It was only thirty bucks down the drain. Practically nothing.

Of course Her Majesty dropped at once; knowing what the other players held, she knew she couldn’t beat them after the draw. But she did like to take long chances, Malone thought miserably. Imagine trying to fill a full house on one pair!

Slowly, as the minutes passed, the pile of chips before Her Majesty dwindled. Once Malone saw her win with two pair against a reckless man trying to fill a straight on the other side of the table. But whatever was going on, Her Majesty’s face was as calm as if she were asleep.

Malone’s worked overtime. If the Queen hadn’t been losing so obviously, the dealer might have mistaken the play of naked emotion across his visage for a series of particularly obvious signals.

An hour went by. Barbara left to find a ladies’ lounge where she could sit down and try to relax. Fascinated in a horrible sort of way, both Malone and Boyd stood, rooted to the spot, while hand after hand went by and the ten thousand dollars dwindled to half that, to a quarter, and even less....

Her Majesty, it seemed, was a damn poor poker player.

The ante had been raised by this time.

Her Majesty was losing one hundred dollars a hand, even before the betting began. But she showed not the slightest indication to stop.

“We’ve got to get up in the morning,” Malone announced to no one in particular, when he thought he couldn’t possibly stand another half-hour of the game.

“So we do,” Her Majesty said with a little regretful sigh. “Very well, then. Just one more hand.”

“It’s a shame to lose you,” the cowboy said to her, quite sincerely. He had been winning steadily ever since Her Majesty sat down, and Malone thought that the man should, by this time, be awfully grateful to the United States Government. Somehow, he doubted that this gratitude existed.

Malone wondered if she should be allowed to stay for one more hand. There was, he estimated, about two thousand dollars in front of her. Then he wondered how he was going to stop her.

The cards were dealt.

The first man said quietly: “Open for two hundred.”

Malone looked at the Queen’s hand. It contained the Ace, King, Queen and ten of clubs and the seven of spades.

Oh, no. He thought. She couldn’t possibly be thinking of filling a flush.

He knew perfectly well that she was.

The second man said: “And raise two hundred.”

The Queen equably tossed (counting, Malone thought, the ante) five hundred into the pot.

The cowboy muttered to himself for a second, and finally shoved in his money.

“I think I’ll raise it another five hundred,” the Queen said calmly.

Malone wanted to die of shock.

Unfortunately, he remained alive and watching. He saw the last man, after some debate internal, shove a total of one thousand dollars into the pot.

“Cards?” said the dealer. The first man said: “One.”

It was too much to hope for, Malone thought. If that first man were trying to fill a straight or a flush, maybe he wouldn’t make it. And maybe something final would happen to all the other players. But that was the only way he could see for Her Majesty to win.

The card was dealt. The second man stood pat and Malone’s green tinge became obvious to the veriest dunce. The cowboy, on Her Majesty’s right, asked for a card, received it and sat back without a trace of expression.

The Queen said: “I’ll try one for size.” She’d picked up poker lingo, and the basic rules of the game, Malone realized, from the other players or possibly from someone at the hospital itself, years ago.

He wished she’d picked up something less dangerous instead, like a love of big-game hunting, or stunt-flying.

But no. It had to be poker.

The Queen threw away her seven of spades, showing more sense than Malone had given her credit for at any time during the game. She let the other card fall and didn’t look at it.

She smiled up at Malone and Boyd. “Live dangerously,” she said gaily.

Malone gave her a hollow laugh.

The last man drew one card, too, and the betting began.

The Queen’s remaining thousand was gone before an eye could notice it. She turned to Boyd.

“Sir Thomas,” she said. “Another five thousand, please. At once.”

Boyd said nothing at all, but marched off. Malone noticed, however, that his step was neither as springy nor as confident as it had been before. For himself, Malone was sure that he could not walk at all.

Maybe, he thought hopefully, the floor would open up and swallow them all. He tried to imagine explaining the loss of $20,000 to Burris and some congressmen, and after that he watched the floor narrowly, hoping for the smallest hint of a crack in the palazzo marble.

“May I raise the whole five thousand?” the Queen said.

“It’s okay with me,” the dealer said. “How about the rest of you?”

The four grunts he got expressed a suppressed eagerness. The Queen took the new chips Boyd had brought her and shoved them into the center of the table with a fine, careless gesture of her hand. She smiled gaily at everybody. “Seeing me?” she said.

Everybody was.

“Well, you see, it was this way,” Malone muttered to himself, rehearsing. He half-thought that one of the others would raise again, but no one did. After all, each of them must be convinced that he held a great hand, and though raising had gone on throughout the hand, each must now be afraid of going the least little bit too far and scaring the others out.

“Mr. Congressman,” Malone muttered. “There’s this game called poker. You play it with cards and money. Chiefly money.”

That wasn’t any good.

“You’ve been called,” the dealer said to the first man, who’d opened the hand a year or so before.

“Why, sure,” the player said, and laid down a pair of aces, a pair of threes and a four. One of the threes, and the four, were clubs. That reduced the already improbable chances of the Queen’s coming up with a flush.

“Sorry,” said the second man, and laid down a straight with a single gesture.

The straight was nine-high and there were no clubs in it. Malone felt devoutly thankful for that.

The second man reached for the money but, under the popeyed gaze of the dealer, the fifth man laid down another straight this one ten high. The nine was a club Malone felt the odds go down, right in his own stomach.

And now the cowboy put down his cards. The King of diamonds. The King of hearts. The Jack of diamonds. The Jack of spades. And the Jack of hearts.

Full house. “Well,” said the cowboy, “I suppose that does it.”

The Queen said: “Please. One moment.”

The cowboy stopped halfway in his reach for the enormous pile of chips. The Queen laid down her four clubs Ace, King, Queen and ten and for the first time flipped over her fifth card.

It was the Jack of clubs.

“My God,” the cowboy said, and it sounded like a prayer. “A royal flush.”

“Naturally,” the Queen said. “What else?”

Her Majesty calmly scooped up the tremendous pile of chips. The cowboy’s hands fell away. Five mouths were open around the table.

Her Majesty stood up. She smiled sweetly at the men around the table. “Thank you very much, gentlemen,” she said. She handed the chips to Malone, who took them in nerveless fingers. “Sir Kenneth,” she said, “I hereby appoint you temporary Chancellor of the Exchequer at least until Parliament convenes.”

There was, Malone thought, at least thirty-five thousand dollars in the pile. He could think of nothing to say.

So, instead of using up words, he went and cashed in the chips. For once, he realized, the Government had made money on an investment. It was probably the first time since 1775.

Malone thought vaguely that the government ought to make more investments like the one he was cashing in. If it did, the National Debt could be wiped out in a matter of days.

He brought the money back. Boyd and the Queen were waiting for him, but Barbara was still in the ladies’ lounge. “She’s on the way out,” the Queen informed him, and, sure enough, in a minute they saw the figure approaching them. Malone smiled at her, and, tentatively, she smiled back. They began the long march to the exit of the club, slowly and regally, though not by choice.

The crowd, it seemed, wouldn’t let them go. Malone never found out, then or later, how the news of Her Majesty’s winnings had gone through the place so fast, but everyone seemed to know about it. The Queen was the recipient of several low bows and a few drunken curtsies, and, when they reached the front door at last, the doorman said in a most respectful tone: “Good evening, Your Majesty.”

The Queen positively beamed at him. So, to his own great surprise, did Sir Kenneth Malone.

Outside, it was about four in the morning. They climbed into the car and headed back toward the hotel.

Malone was the first to speak. “How did you know that was a Jack of clubs?” he said in a strangled sort of voice.

The little old lady said calmly: “He was cheating.”

“The dealer?” Malone asked. The little old lady nodded. “In your favor?”

“He couldn’t have been cheating,” Boyd said at the same instant. “Why would he want to give you all that money?”

The little old lady shook her head. “He didn’t want to give it to me,” she said. “He wanted to give it to the man in the cowboy’s suit. His name is Elliott, by the way Bernard L. Elliott. And he comes from Weehawken. But he pretends to be a Westerner so nobody will be suspicious of him. He and the dealer are in cahoots isn’t that the word?”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” Boyd said. “That’s the word.” His tone was awed and respectful, and the little old lady gave a nod and became Queen Elizabeth I once more.

“Well,” she said, “the dealer and Mr. Elliott were in cahoots, and the dealer wanted to give the hand to Mr. Elliott. But he made a mistake, and dealt the Jack of clubs to me. I watched him, and, of course, I knew what he was thinking. The rest was easy.”

“My God,” Malone said. “Easy.” Barbara said: “Did she win?”

“She won,” Malone said with what he felt was positively magnificent understatement.

“Good,” Barbara said, and lost interest at once.

Malone had seen the lights of a car in the rear-view mirror a few minutes before. When he looked now, the lights were still there but the fact just didn’t register until, a couple of blocks later, the car began to pull around them on the left. It was a Buick, while Boyd’s was a new Lincoln, but the edge wasn’t too apparent yet.

Malone spotted the gun barrel protruding from the Buick and yelled just before the first shot went off.

Boyd, at the wheel, didn’t even bother to look. His reflexes took over and he slammed his foot down on the brake. The specially-built FBI Lincoln slowed down instantly. The shotgun blast splattered the glass of the curved windshield all over but none of it came into the car itself.

Malone already had his hand on the butt of the .44 Magnum under his left armpit, and he even had time to be grateful, for once, that it wasn’t a smallsword. The women were in the back seat, frozen, and he yelled: “Duck, damn it, duck!” and felt, rather than saw, both of them sink down onto the floor of the car.

The Buick had slowed down, too, and the gun barrel was swiveling back for a second shot. Malone felt naked and unprotected. The Buick and the Lincoln were even on the road now.

Malone had his revolver out. He fired the first shot without even realizing fully that he’d done so, and he heard a piercing scream from Barbara in the back seat. He had no time to look back.

A .44 Magnum is not, by any means, a small gun. As handguns go revolvers and automatics it is about as large as a gun can get to be. An ordinary car has absolutely no chance against it.

Much less the glass in an ordinary car.

The first slug drilled its way through the window glass as though it were not there, and slammed its way through an even more unprotected obstacle, the frontal bones of the triggerman’s skull. The second slug from Malone’s gun followed it right away, and missed the hole the first slug had made by something less than an inch.

The big, apelike thug who was holding the shotgun had a chance to pull the trigger once more, but he wasn’t aiming very well. The blast merely scored the paint off the top of the Lincoln.

The rear window of the Buick was open, and Malone caught sight of another glint of blued steel from the corner of his eye. There was no time to shift aim not with bullets flying like swallows on the way to Capistrano. Malone thought faster than he had imagined himself capable of doing, and decided to aim for the driver.

Evidently the man in the rear seat of the Buick had had the same inspiration. Malone blasted two more high-velocity lead slugs at the driver of the big Buick, and at the same time the man in the Buick’s rear seat fired at Boyd.

But Boyd had shifted tactics. He’d hit the brakes. Now he came down hard on the accelerator instead.

The chorus of shrieks from the Lincoln’s back seat increased slightly in volume. Barbara, Malone knew, wasn’t badly hurt; she hadn’t even stopped for breath since the first shot had been fired. Anybody who could scream like that, he told himself, had to be healthy.

As the Lincoln leaped ahead, Malone pulled the trigger of his .44 twice more. The heavy, high-speed chunks of streamlined copper-coated lead leaped from the muzzle of the gun and slammed into the driver of the Buick without wasting any time. The Buick slewed across the highway.

The two shots fired by the man in the back seat went past Malone’s head with a whizz, missing both him and Boyd by a margin too narrow to think about.

But those were the last shots. The only difference between the FBI and the Enemy seemed to be determination and practice.

The Buick spun into a flat sideskid, swiveled on its wheels and slammed into the ditch at the side of the road, turning over and over, making a horrible noise, as it broke up.

Boyd slowed the car again, just as there was a sudden blast of fire. The Buick had burst into flame and was spitting heat and smoke and fire in all directions. Malone sent one more bullet after it in a last flurry of action saving his last one for possible later emergencies.

Boyd jammed on the brakes and the Lincoln came to a screaming halt. In silence he and Malone watched the burning Buick roll over and over into the desert beyond the shoulder.

“My God,” Boyd said. “My ears!”

Malone understood at once. The blast from his own still-smoking .44 had roared past Boyd’s head during the gun battle. No wonder the man’s ears hurt. It was a wonder he wasn’t altogether deaf.

But Boyd shook off the pain and brought out his own .44 as he stepped out of the car. Malone followed him, his gun trained.

From the rear, Her Majesty said: “It’s safe to rise now, isn’t it?”

“You ought to know,” Malone said. “You can tell if they’re still alive.”

There was silence while Queen Elizabeth frowned for a moment in concentration. A look of pain crossed her face, and then, as her expression smoothed again, she said: “The traitors are dead. All except one, and he’s ” She paused. “He’s dying,” she finished. “He can’t hurt you.”

There was no need for further battle. Malone reholstered his .44 and turned to Boyd. “Tom, call the State Police,” he said. “Get ’em down here fast.”

He waited while Boyd climbed back under the wheel and began punching buttons on the dashboard. Then Malone went toward the burning Buick.

He tried to drag the men out, but it wasn’t any use. The first two, in the front seat, had the kind of holes in them people talked about throwing elephants through. Head and chest had been hit.

Malone couldn’t get close enough to the fiercely blazing automobile to make even a try for the men in the back seat.

He was sitting quietly on the edge of the rear seat when the Nevada Highway Patrol cars drove up next to them. Barbara Wilson had stopped screaming, but she was still sobbing on Malone’s shoulder. “It’s all right,” he told her, feeling ineffectual.

“I never saw anybody killed before,” she said.

“It’s all right,” Malone said. “Nothing’s going to hurt you. I’ll protect you.”

He wondered if he meant it, and found, to his surprise, that he did. Barbara Wilson sniffled and looked up at him. “Mr. Malone ”

“Ken,” he said.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “Ken I’m so afraid. I saw the hole in one of the men’s heads, when you fired it was ”

“Don’t think about it,” Malone said. To him, the job had been an unpleasant occurrence, but a job, that was all. He could see, though, how it might affect people who were new to it.

“You’re so brave,” she said.

Malone tightened his arm around the girl’s shoulder. “Just depend on me,” he said. “You’ll be all right if you ”

The State Trooper walked up then, and looked at them. “Mr. Malone?” he said. He seemed to be taken slightly aback at the costuming.

“That’s right,” Malone said. He pulled out his ID card and the little golden badge. The State Patrolman looked at them, and looked back at Malone.

“What’s with the getup?” he said.

“FBI,” Malone said, hoping his voice carried conviction. “Official business.”

“In costume?”

“Never mind about the details,” Malone snapped.

“He’s an FBI agent, sir,” Barbara said. “And what are you?” the Patrolman said. “Lady Jane Grey?”

“I’m a nurse,” Barbara said. “A psychiatric nurse.”

“For nuts?”

“For disturbed patients.”

The Patrolman thought that over. “Hell, you’ve got the identity cards and stuff,” he said at last. “Maybe you’ve got a reason to dress up. How would I know? I’m only a State Patrolman.”

“Let’s cut the monologue,” Malone said savagely, “and get to business.”

The Patrolman stared. Then he said: “All right, sir. Yes, sir. I’m
Lieutenant Adams, Mr. Malone. Suppose you tell me what happened?”

Carefully and concisely, Malone told him the story of the Buick that had pulled up beside them, and what happened afterward.

Meanwhile, the other cops had been looking over the wreck. When Malone had finished his story, Lieutenant Adams flipped his notebook shut and looked over toward them. “I guess it’s okay, sir,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s justifiable homicide. Self-defense. Any reason why they’d want to kill you?”

Malone thought about the Golden Palace. That might be a reason but it might not. And why burden an innocent State Patrolman with the facts of FBI life?

“Official,” he said. “Your chief will get the report.”

The Patrolman nodded. “I’ll have to take a deposition tomorrow, but ”

“I know,” Malone said. “Thanks. Can we go on to our hotel now?”

“I guess,” the Patrolman said. “Go ahead. We’ll take care of the rest of this. You’ll be getting a call later.”

“Fine,” Malone said. “Trace those hoods, and any connections they might have had. Get the information to me as soon as possible.”

Lieutenant Adams nodded. “You won’t have to leave the state, will you?” he asked. “I don’t mean that you can’t, exactly hell, you’re FBI. But it’d be easier ”

“Call Burris in Washington,” Malone said. “He can get hold of me and if the Governor wants to know where we are, or the State’s Attorney, put them in touch with Burris too. Okay?”

“Okay,” Lieutenant Adams said. “Sure.” He blinked at Malone. “Listen,” he said. “About those costumes ”

“We’re trying to catch Henry VIII for the murder of Anne Boleyn,” Malone said with a polite smile. “Okay?”

“I was only asking,” Lieutenant Adams said. “Can’t blame a man for asking, now, can you?”

Malone climbed into his front seat. “Call me later,” he said. The car started. “Back to the hotel, Sir Thomas,” Malone said, and the car roared off.