He was a big tall powerful-looking man of about fifty, in a trenchcoat and fedora. With one hand he lit a cigarette with a scuffed old Ronson lighter, and in his other hand he held a beat-up leather briefcase. To Harvey he looked like a combination of Robert Mitchum and William Holden. And Humphrey Bogart.
“Papa,” said Daphne.
“Hiya, Bubbles,” said Mr. MacNamara, dropping his lighter into his coat pocket. “Come give Papa Bear a hug.”
Holding her pistol outward, Daphne walked slowly, wobbling slightly on her high heels, towards Mr. MacNamara.
Papa,” she said. “I thought your aeroplane went down. Over the Pacific.”
“Indian Ocean, actually. But that was just a cover story, sweetheart. I had some business to attend to back in the old world. I didn’t know how long it would take, so, it seemed best to -- well -- leave the stage for a time.”Daphne rushed the last few steps to Mr. MacNamara and threw her arms around him. Leaning to one side, he put his briefcase on the floor, and then he wrapped his arms around Daphne and kissed the top of her head.
Harvey lowered his gun.
“This is fucked up,” he said to Dick.
Dick had let go of Frank’s tie, and now he stepped back away from him, but still keeping his pistol waist-high and pointed at Frank.
Frank straightened his toupée, and then his tie.
Brad stood off to the side, puffing on his cigar.
Harvey shoved his revolver into his waist band, took out his Tareytons and his Zippo, and, looking away while Daphne and Mr. MacNamara continued to hug, he lit up.
“Really fucking weird,” he said.
“I grant you that,” said Dick.
He squeezed Harvey’s upper arm, affectionately.
“Keep these jokers covered, will you, Harve? I’m going to have a word with my, uh, father-in-law.”
Harvey nodded, took out his pistol and waved it at Brad.
“Get on next to your buddy, there, Brad.”
“Easy, kid,” said Brad. “Just take it easy.”
Brad moved over next to Frank, who was now mopping the cut on his cheekbone with his monogrammed silk display handkerchief.
“You and your big mouth,” muttered Frank.
“My big mouth --” said Brad, “what about --”
Harvey cocked his revolver.
“No rappin’,” he said.
Frank and Brad shut up.
Dick had come up next to Daphne and Mr. MacNamara, who were still embracing. Daphne was crying, quietly. Dick gently patted her on the hip, and she turned her face and looked at him.
She stepped away from her father. He handed her his handkerchief, and with her free left hand, the one not holding the gun, she patted her eyes and cheeks.
“Hi, Mac,” said Dick.
Dick switched his Browning from his right hand to his left, and the two men shook hands.
“So,” said Mac, “it seems like you kids have got yourselves in a bit of a pickle.”
“That’s an understatement,” said Dick.
“Well, that’s why I’m here, Dick. When I found out what was going on I got here as soon as I could.”
“Thanks,” said Dick.
Mac picked up his briefcase.
Daphne handed his sodden handkerchief back to him.
“Papa, I’m just so glad you’re not dead.”
“My pleasure, Bubbles.” He stuffed the handkerchief into a side pocket of his trench coat. “Well, we better get a move on.”
He started walking down the hall, toward Harvey and Frank and Brad; Dick and Daphne walked along with him, with Mr. MacNamara in the middle.
“I brought a replacement saucer, by the way,” he said.
Daphne put her arm in her father’s.
“Fabulous! I always said you were the best father in the whole wide world.”
“I have my moments,” said Mac. He turned to Dick and whispered, “By the way, Dick, you weren’t really going to shoot old Frank just then, were you?”
“No,” said Dick, in a low voice. “I did want to scare the bastard though.”
“Well, I think you succeeded in that,” said Mac.
In fact, the dull and worn blue carpet under and around Frank’s feet to a radius of eighteen inches was stained a wet and darker blue with Frank’s own urine.
(Go here for our next hardboiled chapter. To be continued seemingly indefinitely. Kindly turn to the right hand side of this page to find a complete listing of links to all other extant episodes of Larry Winchester’s A Town Called Disdain™, third-place prize-winner of the Jackie Collins Award for Epic or Picaresque Romance.)