Sample L08 from Dell Shannon, The Ace of Spades. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1961. Pp. 184-191. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,034 words 708 (34.8%) quotesL08

Used by permission of William Morrow & Company, Inc. 0010-1750

Dell Shannon, The Ace of Spades. New York: William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1961. Pp. 184-191.

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`` Well '' -- said Mr. Skyros . `` I take a little time to think it over '' . It was awkward : very awkward . There would be all the nuisance of contacting someone else to take over . Someone reasonably trustworthy . And Angie would hear about it . And Angie knew --

`` Time '' , said Angie , and he smiled very sweet and slow at Mr. Skyros . `` Not too much time , because I'll be needing some more myself pretty much right away . And I done favors for you , big favor not so long back , didn't I , and I'm right here to take on where Pretty left off . No trouble . I don't want no trouble , you don't want no trouble , nobody wants trouble , Mr. Skyros '' .

Dear heaven , no , thought Mr. Skyros , turning away as another man came in . He straightened his tie at the mirror with a shaking hand ; ; the genial smile seemed painted on his face . Angie knew -- Speak of dangerous information ! ! Angie knew too much entirely already . Really he had Mr. Skyros at bay

`` Big favor I done you . Acourse there's this deal o' Denny's -- and Jackie's -- kinda hangin' fire , ain't it , maybe you've been kinda worryin' over that . And can't say I blame you '' , said Angie thoughtfully . `` This deal with the ace o' spades . Anything to do with an ace o' spades , bad luck '' .

Ace of spades -- a widow , that was what they called a widow , these low-class crooks remembered Mr. Skyros distractedly . All about that Angie knew , too . When things got a little out of hand , they very rapidly got a lot out of hand -- it seemed to be a general rule . All just by chance , and in a way tracing back to poor Frank , all of it , because naturally -- brothers , living together -- and Angie --

Mr. Skyros did not at all like the look on Angelo's regular-featured , almost girlishly good-looking face -- or indeed anything about Angelo . Mr. Skyros was not a man who thought very much about moral principles ; ; he found money much more interesting ; ; but all the same he thought now , uneasily , of the way in which Angelo earned his living -- and paid for his own stuff -- and eyed the soft smile , and the spaniel-like dark eyes , and he felt a little ill .

`` Look , my friend '' , he said , `` in my life I learn , how is it the proverb says , better an ounce of prevention to a pound of cure . I stay in business so long because I'm careful . Two weeks , a month , we talk it over again , and maybe if nothing happens meanwhile to say the cops know this and that , then we make a little deal , isn't it '' ? ?

`` That's a long while '' , said Angie . `` I tell you , you want to leave it that way , I don't fool around with it . I go over to Castro and get fixed up there . I can't wait no two weeks '' .

And Mr. Skyros didn't like Angie , but what with Prettyman and three of his boys inside , and not likely to come out -- And Angie such a valuable salesman , Prettyman said -- All the nuisance and danger of getting in touch with practically a whole new bunch of boys -- Why did everything have to happen at once ? ?

Denny said stupidly , `` Why , you ain't turning Angie down , are you , Mr. Skyros ? ? I mean , we all figured -- I guess anybody'd figure -- Angie '' --

Angelo gave him an affectionate smile . `` Mr. Skyros too smart a fellow want to get rid of me '' , he said . `` It's O.K. , Denny , everything's O.K. Ain't it , Mr. Skyros '' ? ?

Oh , God , the name repeated over and over , anybody to hear -- Not being a fool , Mr. Skyros knew why . But aside from everything else , it would scarcely be pleasant to have dealings with one who was nominally an underling and actually held -- you could say -- the whip hand . And all because of Domokous ! ! If Mr. Skyros had dreamed of all the trouble that young man would eventually cause --

Of course , there was another factor . Angie worth his weight in gold right now , but these users , they sometimes went down fast . Who knew , Angie might not last long . The sweat broke out on Mr. Skyros' forehead as he realized he had been actually thinking -- hoping -- planning -- perhaps --

Good God above , had not Domokous been enough ? ?

He patted Angelo's thin shoulder paternally . `` Now you don't want to go talking that way '' , he said . `` Sure , sure , you're the one take over for Pretty , soon as I get the supply , get started up again , isn't it ? ? You don't need worry , Angelo . I tell you , I know how it is with you , my friend , I sympathize , and I'll make it a special point -- a special favor -- get in touch , and get some stuff just for you . I don't know if I can manage it tonight or tomorrow , but I'll try my best , my friend . You see , you got to remember , we all got schedules , like any business ! ! My man , he won't be around a little while , he just fixed me up with this stuff they took out of the Elite . It's awkward , you see that , isn't it '' ? ?

`` Well , that's your business , Mr. Skyros '' , said Angie , and his dreamy eyes moved past Mr. Skyros' shoulder to gaze vaguely out the ground-glass window . `` I appreciate it , you do that . Sure . We don't none of us want no trouble . I'm in a room over the Golden Club on San Pedro , you just ask for me there , you want see me . Or maybe I call you -- tonight ? ? About nine o'clock , I call and see if you got any . A couple decks for me , Mr. Skyros -- and ten-twelve to sell , see , I like to have a little ready cash '' .

`` Oh , now , I don't know about that much '' , said Mr. Skyros . `` And you know , Angelo , Pretty , he always keeps it a strict cash basis , like they say '' --

`` Sure '' , said Angie . `` Sure , Mr. Skyros . Fifty a throw , that the deal ? ? Sure . I bring you the cash , say five hundred for ten decks . Never mind how much I cut it , how much I get '' , and he smiled his sleepy smile again . `` Standard deal , Mr. Skyros . You go 'n' have a look round for it '' .

`` I do my best '' , said Mr. Skyros earnestly , `` just for you , my friend . This is awkward for everybody , isn't it , we all got to put up with inconvenience sometimes . But I do my best for you '' . He got out of there in a hurry , brushing past another man in the door , mopping his brow .

The expedient thing -- yes , very true , one must make do as one could , in some situations . It could all be straightened out later . Not very much later , but when things had settled down a little . After this deal with the Bouvardier woman went through . An ace of spades . He was not a superstitious man , but he felt perhaps there was a little something in that , indeed . He rather wished he had never got into the business , and still -- scarcely to be resisted , a nice little profit with not much work involved , easy money

Katya Roslev , who would be Katharine Ross so very soon now , rang up her first sale of the day and counted back the change . She did not notice that the customer seized her purchase and turned away without a smile or a word of thanks . Usually she marked the few who did thank you , you didn't get that kind much in a place like this : and she played a little game with herself , seeing how downright rude she could act to the others , before they'd take offense , threaten to call the manager . Funny how seldom they did : used to it , probably . The kind who came into a cheap store like this ! ! Grab , snatch , I saw that first ! ! And , Here , I'll take this , I was before her , you wait on me now or I don't bother with it , see ! ! This kind of place

She'd be through here , just no time at all -- leave this kind of thing 'way behind . Off at noon , and she'd never come back . Never have to . Money -- a lot of money , enough . She'd be smart about it , get him to give it to her in little bills so's nobody would suspect -- maybe couldn't get it until Monday account of that , the banks -- But that wasn't really long to wait . Not when she'd waited so long already .

No need say anything at all to the old woman . She had it all planned out , how she'd do . She'd say she didn't feel good on Sunday , couldn't go to church -- there'd be a little argument , but she could be stubborn -- and when the old woman had gone , quick pack the things she'd need to take , all but the dress she'd wear Monday , and take the bag down to that place in the station where you could put things in a locker overnight , for a dime . Then on Monday morning -- or it might have to be Tuesday -- get up and leave just the usual time , and last thing , put the money in an envelope under the old woman's purse there in the drawer . She wouldn't be going to get that for an hour or so after Katya had left , go do the daily shopping . No need leave a note with it , either -- or maybe just something like , Don't worry about me , I'm going away to make a better life .

A better life . Escape . It wasn't as if she wanted much . She didn't mind working hard , not as if she figured to do anything wrong to live easy and soft -- all she wanted was a chance , where she wasn't marked as what she was . To be Katharine Ross , and work in a nicer shop somewhere , at a little more money so she could have prettier clothes , and learn ladies' manners and all like that , and get to know different people than up to now , not just the ones like her here , with foreign-sounding names , the ones went to the same church and -- Different place , different job , different people , she'd be all different too . Prettier , she'd do her hair another way ; ; smarter , and wear different kinds of clothes -- she'd be Katharine Ross , just what that sounded like .

`` You've give me the wrong change '' , said the customer sharply . `` Think I can't count '' ? ?

Katya made up the amount in indifferent silence . She was listening to other voices , out of the future . Some of those vaguely-imagined new , different people . Oh , Katharine's awfully nice , and pretty too , I like Katharine -- Let's ask Katharine to go with us , she's always lots of fun -- Katharine --

Soon , very soon now

sixteen Mendoza didn't wake until nearly nine-thirty . It was going to be another hot day ; ; already the thermometer stood close to ninety . Alison was still sound asleep ; ; he made fresh coffee and searched through all the desk drawers for more cigarettes before thinking of her handbag , and found a crumpled stray cigarette at its bottom , which tasted peculiarly of face powder . He left a note propped on the desk asking her to call him sometime today , and drove home .

After he'd got out fresh liver for Bast , he paused to look at her crouched daintily over her dish . Surely she was just a trifle fatter around the middle ? ? He seemed to remember reading somewhere that Abyssinians had large litters , and suffered a dismaying vision of the apartment overrun with a dozen kittens . `` Y que sigue despues ? ? -- What then '' ? ? He asked her severely . `` A lot of people are so peculiar that they don't like cats , it's not the easiest thing in the world to find good homes for kittens -- and , damn it , you know very well if I have them around long , impossible to give them away ! ! And I suppose now that you've finally grown up , if a little late , you'd go on producing kittens every six months or so . Yes , well , it's a pity to spoil your girlish figure -- which all those kittens would do anyway -- but I think when you've raised these we'll just have the vet fix it so there won't be any more . I wonder if the Carters would take one . And it's no good looking at me like that '' , as she wound affectionately around his ankles .