Read Memory (Hard Case Crime) Online

Authors: Donald E. Westlake

Memory (Hard Case Crime)

Acclaim for the Work of
DONALD E. WESTLAKE!

“Dark and delicious.”

—The New York Times

“[A] book by this guy is cause for happiness.”

—Stephen King

“Donald Westlake must be one of the best craftsmen now crafting stories.”

—George F. Will

“Westlake is a national literary treasure.”

—Booklist

“Westlake knows precisely how to grab a reader, draw him or her into the story, and then slowly tighten his grip until escape is impossible.”

—Washington Post Book World

“Brilliant.”

—GQ

“A wonderful read.”

—Playboy

“Marvelous.”

—Entertainment Weekly

“Tantalizing.”

—The Wall Street Journal

“A brilliant invention.”

—New York Review of Books

“A tremendously skillful, smart writer.”

—Time Out New York

“Suspenseful...As always, [Westlake] writes like the consummate pro he is.”

—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Westlake remains in perfect command; there’s not a word...out of place.”

—San Diego Union-Tribune

“Westlake is one of the best.”

—Los Angeles Times

In the fifth week, they came for him.

It was Friday night. It was too cold now to be autumn anymore, but the snow hadn’t started yet. He was walking along the tilted slate squares of sidewalk, past the barren trees and the streetlights; it was just past midnight, and the street was deserted. He was a block from home when the highly polished new black car rolled slowly past him, going in his direction, and crept to a stop a few doors away. The passenger-side door opened, and a man climbed out. He was hard-looking. He stood on the sidewalk with his hands on his hips and squinted at Cole, the squint making the corners of his mouth turn up like the beginning of a snarl.

“Paul Cole?” The man’s voice was harsh, but soft, as though there were no strength in it and he had to strain his throat to make any sound at all.

Do I know him? Maybe he knows me from somewhere, and his is one of the faces I’ve forgotten. But if we already know each other, why did he ask me if I was me?

He moved his head and said, “Yes. I’m Paul Cole.”

The man’s right hand slipped with surprising speed into his hip pocket, and came out with a wallet, which he flipped open, saying, “Police. Get in the car...”

SOME OTHER HARD CASE CRIME BOOKS

SOMEBODY OWES ME MONEY

by Donald E. Westlake

NO HOUSE LIMIT
by Steve Fisher

BABY MOLL
by John Farris

THE MAX
by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr

THE FIRST QUARRY
by Max Allan Collins

GUN WORK
by David J. Schow

FIFTY-TO-ONE
by Charles Ardai

KILLING CASTRO
by Lawrence Block

THE DEAD MAN’S BROTHER
by Roger Zelazny

THE CUTIE
by Donald E. Westlake

HOUSE DICK
by E. Howard Hunt

CASINO MOON
by Peter Blauner

FAKE I.D.
by Jason Starr

PASSPORT TO PERIL
by Robert B. Parker

STOP THIS MAN!
by Peter Rabe

LOSERS LIVE LONGER
by Russell Atwood

HONEY IN HIS MOUTH
by Lester Dent

QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE
by Max Allan Collins

THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES
by Jonny Porkpie

THE VALLEY OF FEAR
by A.C. Doyle

MEMORY
by
Donald E. Westlake

A HARD CASE CRIME BOOK

(HCC-064)

First Hard Case Crime edition: April 2010

Published by

Titan Books

A division of Titan Publishing Group Ltd

144 Southwark Street

London

SE1 OUP

in collaboration with Winterfall LLC

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should know that it is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

Copyright © 2010 by the Estate of Donald E. Westlake

Cover painting copyright © 2010 by Glen Orbik

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Print edition ISBN 978-0-85768-345-8

E-book ISBN 978-1-78116-104-3

Cover design by Cooley Design Lab

Design direction by Max Phillips

www.maxphillips.net

Typeset by Swordsmith Productions

The name “Hard Case Crime” and the Hard Case Crime logo are trademarks of Winterfall LLC. Hard Case Crime books are selected and edited by Charles Ardai.

Printed in the United States of America

Visit us on the web at
www.HardCaseCrime.com

Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

1

After the show, they went back to the hotel room, and to bed, for the seventeenth time in three weeks. He had chosen her because, being on the road with him, she was handy; and additionally because she was married, had already clipped the wings of one male, and could therefore demand nothing more from him than he was willing to give. Why she had chosen him he neither knew nor cared.

He was deep in clench-faced sweaty blindness of physical passion when the hotel room door burst open and what could only be the husband stormed in, topcoat flaring behind him like Batman’s cloak. He rose up from the mounded woman, smiling idiotically at the enraged face rushing toward him, thinking only
What a cliché!
and so unable to take it seriously. Till the husband reached out one flailing hand and brought it back lifting a chair, the legs pointing at four spots around his head as though to frame him there symmetrically for eternity, and then he scrambled back and away from the woman, his hand slipping on her rubbery breast, and he cried out, “What are you
doing
?”

And the nurse dressed all in white said, “Ah, there you are!” She was smiling, looking down at him, pleased by his presence. Her teeth were wide and shiny, like enamel kitchen cabinets all in a row. The pale lips were an oval smile around them, but then the oval reversed to the comic exaggeration of a frown, and she said, “
Oh
, no. Don’t fade away again.”

The teeth aren’t real
, he thought.

There was nothing between the two thoughts,
what are you doing
and
the teeth aren’t real
. No transition, no time lapse, no going to sleep and waking up, no explanation.

The nurse had a face of leather, like a cowboy, but with a soft round nose. She said, “The doctor will want to talk to you. Now don’t fade away again.”

“I won’t,” he whispered, because whispering was all he dared until he found out whether or not he was real.

She went away, and his eyes looked at the ceiling, which had no character at all. It was featureless, lifeless, blameless white. He thought,
Something must have happened in between. He must have beat me up, and I must be in a hospital
. But there was no memory to go with the necessity. Not even a memory of time-lapse, such as comes when waking up from sleep. Waking up from sleep, there is the knowledge in the brain that a black form of time has been going on. But this was nothingness and less than nothingness. The four pointed chair legs, and then the nurse, and nothing in between.

A soft decayed face came into his vision, trying to look stern. It wore glasses, in which he could see twin reflections of himself, very small, being nothing but a head on a pillow. This must be the doctor.

It was. He introduced himself as such: “I am Doctor Croft. Are you awake enough to answer questions?”

“Yes.”

“Do you have to whisper?”

“I don’t know.” But he whispered it. He moved his tongue within his mouth, collecting saliva, and swallowed. “I don’t have to whisper.” His voice was rusty, like something long unused.

Other books

Trigger by Carol Jean
This Other Eden by Marilyn Harris
I'm With Cupid by Anna Staniszewski
Invisible Lives by Anjali Banerjee
The Journey by H. G. Adler