Andy did not see the newspapers the next day .
Someone on his staff -- he suspected it was Ed Thornburg -- intercepted them and for this Andy was grateful .
He finally fell asleep around six in the morning with the aid of a sleeping capsule , a crutch he rarely used , and didn't awaken until early afternoon .
Memory flooded him the instant he opened his eyes and the sick feeling knotted his stomach .
Outside his window bloomed a beautiful summer day .
Presumably the same sun was shining upon little Drew also , and those who had kidnapped him .
But where ? ?
It was still a very big world , despite all the modern cant to the contrary .
Hub was sitting in a chair that blocked the hall door .
He was dozing , perhaps the only sleep he'd gotten .
He snapped to alertness at Andy's entrance .
`` Sorry , Mr. Paxton .
Nothing new .
Lot of people waiting to see you , though '' .
`` Reporters '' ? ?
`` Our own people .
Questions about the show tonight '' .
Hub picked up the telephone .
`` Shall I let them know you're awake '' ? ?
`` I suppose .
How's Lissa , do you know '' ? ?
Hub considered .
`` Some better .
She's got plenty of guts , Mr. Paxton .
You want me to call her '' ? ?
`` She expecting me to '' ? ?
Hub shook his head so Andy told him not to bother .
The only reason for contacting Lissa was to comfort or to be comforted .
He could not manage the former or expect the latter ; ;
they had nothing to give to each other .
The omission might look peculiar to outsiders , but Andy could not bring himself to go through the motions simply for the sake of appearances .
He had little time to himself , anyway .
As the afternoon sped toward evening , the suite saw a steady procession of Paxton aides pass in and out , each with his own special problem .
Thornburg arrived with the writers .
They had spent the morning revising the act , eliminating all the gay songs , patter and dancing with a view of the best public relations .
What remained lacked the original verve but it was at least dignified , as befitting the tragic circumstances .
Raymond Fox reported that the orchestra had hastily rehearsed `` Cradle Song '' in case it was needed .
Charlie Marble was back and forth on several occasions , first to confer with Andy on the advisability of cancelling the Las Vegas engagement -- they decided it was wise -- and later to announce that a prominent comedian , also an agency client , had agreed to fill the casino's open date .
And once Bake slipped in , pale and drawn , last night's liquor still on his breath with some of today's added to it .
He asked if there was anything he could do .
Andy invented a job to keep him busy , sending him ahead to El Dorado to supervise last minute arrangements .
But from Rocco Vecchio , they heard nothing .
At last it was time to depart .
Hub , nosing about , spotted reporters in the lobby , so Andy was hustled away quietly through the hotel's service entrance in a strange car which Hub had procured somewhere .
They succeeded in eluding the curious at the hotel , but there was no chance of avoiding them at the nightclub .
El Dorado was surrounded by a mob .
They overflowed the parking lot , making progress by automobile difficult .
Long before he reached the protection of the stage door , Andy was recognized .
Word of his arrival spread through the crowd like a brushfire .
They surged around him , fingers pointing , eyes prying .
It was not a hostile gathering but Andy sensed the difference from last night's hero-worshippers .
They had come not to admire but to observe .
`` It's worse inside '' , Thornburg informed Andy .
`` Skolman's jammed in every table he could find .
Under the heading of it's an ill wind , et cetera '' .
Backstage was tomblike by contrast .
Andy's co-workers kept their distance , awed by the tragedy .
But in his dressing room was a large bouquet and a card that read , `` We're with you all the way '' .
It was signed by everyone in the troupe .
Andy couldn't help but be touched .
He instructed Shirl Winter to compose a note of thanks to be posted on the call board .
Bake was waiting to report that Lou DuVol had been sobered up to the point where he could function efficiently .
Andy gathered that this had been no small accomplishment .
Bake himself looked better ; ;
any kind of job was better than brooding .
Andy told him , `` Bake , I wish you'd talk to Skolman , see if some kind of p. a. system can be rigged up outside .
It's just barely possible with this crowd that the kidnapper wasn't able to get a table .
I wouldn't want him to miss the message '' .
`` I'll try .
Skolman isn't going to like it much , though , giving away what he should be selling '' .
Skolman wasn't the only one who didn't care for Andy's scheme .
A short time later , Lieutenant Bonner stomped into the dressing room .
`` I got a bone to pick with you , Mr. Paxton .
It's those damn loudspeakers '' .
Andy rolled up the revised script he had been studying .
`` What about them '' ? ?
`` They're going to louse me up good .
My men have been here all afternoon , setting up for this thing '' .
Bonner explained that , with the nightclub's cooperation , the police had occupied El Dorado like a battlefield .
Motion picture cameras had been installed to film the audience , the reservation list was being checked out name by name , and a special detail was already at work in the parking lot scrutinizing automobiles for a possible lead .
However , it was virtually impossible to screen the mob outside , even if Bonner had manpower available for the purpose .
`` I want you to have the speakers taken out '' .
Andy sighed .
`` Seems like we're never going to see eye to eye , Lieutenant .
Didn't they tell you what I wanted the p. a. system for '' ? ?
`` Sure , I know .
But it's such a long shot '' --
`` No longer than yours .
What do you expect to get tonight , anyway ? ?
You think somebody is going to stand up in the audience and make guilty faces ? ?
Or have a sign on his car that says , ' Here Comes the Paxton Kidnapper ' '' ? ?
Andy crumbled the script in his fist .
`` I can't stop you from doing what you think is right .
But don't try to stop me , either '' .
`` Someday '' , Bonner said , `` you're going to ask us for help .
I can hardly wait '' .
`` What you don't understand is that I'm asking for it now '' .
But Bonner departed , still full of ill will .
He had gotten stuck with a job too big for his imagination ; ;
he had to cling to routine , tested procedures .
To act otherwise would be to admit his helplessness .
But , admit or not , Bonner was helpless .
The crime showed too much planning , the kidnappers appeared too proficient to be caught by a checklist .
Andy's performance was scheduled for eleven o'clock .
He stalled for a half-hour longer , hoping to hear something from Vecchio about the ransom money .
Bake and Shirl Winter , on separate telephones , could not reach him at any conceivable location in Los Angeles , nor could they secure any clear-cut information regarding his efforts .
Bake cursed .
`` The sweaty bastard's probably halfway to Peru with our money by now '' .
When no one smiled , he felt constrained to add , `` Just kidding , natch '' .
Thornburg popped in to advise , `` Andy , Skolman's sending up smoke signals .
You about ready '' ? ?
`` What's he complaining about '' ? ?
Bake asked .
`` They're drinking , aren't they '' ? ?
`` No .
We got a bunch of sippers out there tonight .
I guess nobody wants to pass out and miss anything '' .
Thornburg added in a lower voice but Andy overheard , `` They act more like a jury than an audience '' .
Andy said , `` Well , I guess we can't wait any longer .
Hub , you stick by the stage door .
If Rock shows up during the number -- or you hear anything -- give me the signal '' .
Shirl Winter said , `` I'll stay on the phone , Mr. Paxton .
There's a couple of call-backs I can work on '' .
`` You're a sweetheart -- but leave one line open .
He may try to phone us '' .
Andy passed into the corridor , their `` good lucks '' ! !
Following him .
It was what they said before every performance but tonight it sounded different , as if he really needed it .
They were right .
The act , cut to shreds and hastily patched together during the afternoon , had not been rehearsed sufficiently by anyone .
The result had nothing of the polish , pace or cohesion of the previous night .
Here's where luck would normally step in .
But this was no ordinary show and Andy knew it .
Whether he sang well or badly had nothing to do with it .
The audience had come not to be entertained but to judge .
Twenty-four hours had changed him from a performer to a freak .
Within this framework , what followed was strained , even macabre .
Eliminating the patter and the upbeat numbers left little but blues and other songs of equal melancholy .
The effect was as depressing as a gravestone , the applause irresolute and short-lived .
Yet Andy plowed ahead , mouthing the inconsequential words as if they possessed real meaning , and gradually his listeners warmed to him .
Their clapping grew more fervent ; ;
the evening was still not beyond salvaging , not as a show but for him as a person .
The worst was yet to come .
As Andy reached the finale of his act , a subdued commotion backstage drew his attention to the wings .
Rocco Vecchio -- a perspiring , haggard Vecchio -- was standing there , flanked by two men in the uniforms of armored transport guards .
Vecchio was nodding and pointing at the large suitcase he held .
Andy felt his heart thud heavily with relief .
He waved at Fox to cut off the finale introduction .
The music died away discordantly .
He drew a deep breath .
`` Ladies and gentlemen , in place of my regular closing number tonight , I'd like to sing something of a different nature for you .
Ray , if you please -- the ' Cradle Song ' '' .
He sensed rather than heard the gasp that swept across the audience .
Nor could he blame them .
This particular song at this particular time could only be interpreted as the ultimate in bad taste , callous exploitation beyond the bounds of decency .
Having no choice , he plunged into it , anyway , holding onto the microphone for support .
`` Lullaby and goodnight .
His voice shook .
For the first time in his life he forgot the lyrics midway through and had to cover up by humming the rest .
He wondered if the audience would let him finish .
They did ; ;
though contemptuous , they were still polite .
But when he was finally through , their scorn was made apparent .
Someone clapped tentatively then quickly stopped .
Otherwise , the silence was complete .
As the lights came up , Andy could see that a number of patrons were already on their way toward the exit .
He stumbled off-stage .
`` My God '' , he muttered .
`` My God '' .
Hub was there to support him .
`` It's okay , Mr. Paxton .
The money's here , all of it '' .
At this moment , all he could think of was what he'd been forced to undergo .
`` Did you hear them ? ?
Do you know what they think of me '' ? ?
`` Bunch of damn jerks '' , Hub growled .
`` Who needs them '' ? ?
Thornburg patted his arm .
`` Sure , Andy , it'll be all right .
Nothing broken that can't be mended '' .
The words were hollow .
Thornburg knew , better than any of them , that a public image was as fragile as Humpty Dumpty .
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Vecchio shouldered in .
`` I got it , Andy .
God knows how , but I got it .
You'll never believe the places I've been today .
I practically had to sign your life away , you'll probably fire me for some of the deals I had to go for , but '' --
Andy nodded dully .
`` It doesn't matter , Rock .
We've done our part '' .
He clutched that knowledge to him as he returned to his dressing room .
The usual congratulatory crowd was conspicuously absent ; ;
the place had the air of a morgue .
Andy had no desire to linger himself but Hub reported that the mob outside was still large despite the efforts of the police to disperse them .