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Authors: Nick Carter

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BOOK: Temple of Fear
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He walked in between the two cars. They were halted now, engines purring softly, turret lights sparking around and around. Nick blinked in the glare of the headlights. He scowled, managed to lurch a little. He was Pete Fremont now and he had better not forget it. If they threw him in the sneezer he was finished. A caged hawk catches no rabbits.
"What in the hell is this all about? What goes on? People banging guns all over the place, cops stopping me! What the hell anyway?" Pete Fremont was mad and getting madder.
A cop got out of each car and walked into the bath of light. Both were small and neat. Both carried Nambu pistols, the big ones, and they were pointed at Nick. Pete.
The lieutenant looked at the big American and bowed slightly. A lieutenant! He made a note of that. Lieutenants didn't usually ride prowl cars.
"O namae wa?
"Pete Fremont. Is it all right if I put my hands down now, officer?" Heavy on the sarcasm.
The other cop, a solidly built little man with buck teeth, gave Nick a quick frisk. He nodded to the Lieutenant. Nick let his saki breath leak into the cop's face and saw him wince.
"Okay," said the lieutenant. "Hands down.
Kokuseki wa?"
Nick swayed a little. "America-jin." He said it proudly, triumphantly, as if he were just about to sing "The Star Spangled Banner."
He hiccoughed. "American-jin, by God, and don't you forget it. If you monkeys think you're going to kick me around..."
The lieutenant looked bored. Drunken Yanks were no novelty to him. He held out his hand. "Papers, if you please."
Nick Carter handed over Pete Fremont's wallet and prayed a little.
The lieutenant was riffling through the wallet, holding it before one of the headlights. The other cop was standing back out of the light now, keeping his pistol on Nick. They knew their business, these Tokyo cops.
The lieutenant shot a glance at Nick. "Tokyo
no jusho wa?"
Christ! His address in Tokyo? Pete Fremont's address in Tokyo. He didn't have a clue. All he could do was lie and hope. His brain clicked like a computer and he came up with something that might work.
"I don't live in Tokyo," he said. "I'm in Japan on business. Just got in last night. I live in Seoul. Korea." Frantically he racked his brain for an address in Seoul Had it! Sally Su's house.
"Where in Seoul?" The lieutenant had come closer now, was looking him up and down more carefully, judging him by his clothes and his smell. His half smile was disdainful. Just who are you trying to kid, saki-head?
"19 Dongjadong, Choongkoo." Nick leered and expelled saki breath at the lieutenant. "Check it out, Buster. You'll find I'm telling the truth." He let a whine creep into his voice "Say, what is this all about? I haven't done anything. I just came out here to see a girl. Then when I was leaving all the shooting started. And now you guys..."
The lieutenant was regarding him with slight puzzlement. Nick took heart. The cop was going to buy the story. Thank God he had gotten rid of the Colt. But he could still be in trouble if they went snooping around.
"You have been drinking?" It was a rhetorical question.
Nick swayed and hiccoughed again. "Yeah. I been drinking a little. I always drink when I'm with my girl. What about it?"
"You heard shooting? Guas being fired? Where?"
Nick shrugged. "I don't know exactly where. You can bet I didn't go to investigate! All I know is that I was just leaving my girl's house, minding my own business, and all of a sudden wham — wham!" He stopped and looked at the lieutenant suspiciously. "Hey! How come you people got here so fast? You were expecting trouble, eh?"
The lieutenant frowned. "I ask the questions, Mr. Fremont. But we did get a report of a disturbance around here. This neighborhood, you understand, is not of the best." He looked Nick up and down again, taking in the bedraggled suit and the crummy hat and trenchcoat. His expression confirmed his opinion that Mr. Pete Fremont belonged in this neighborhood. The phone call, as a matter of fact, had been anonymous and skimpy. There would be trouble in the Sanya district, near the flophouses, in half an hour. Shooting trouble. The caller was a law-abiding Japanese and thought the police should know. That was all — that and the click of a softly replaced phone.
The lieutenant scratched his chin and glanced around him. The light was growing. The jumble of shacks and hovels stretched for a mile in every direction. It was a maze and he knew he would find nothing in it. He did not have enough men for a proper search, even had he known what he was looking for. And the police, when they ventured into the Sanya jungle at all, went in fours and fives. He looked at the big drunken American. Fremont? Pete Fremont? That name was vaguely familiar but he couldn't place it. Did it matter? The Yank was obviously broke, on the beach, and there were a lot like him in Tokyo and any large city in the Orient. He had been shacking up with some Sanya whore. So what? That was not against the law.
Nick waited patiently. This was a time to keep his mouth shut. He was following the lieutenant's thoughts. The officer was going to let him go.
The lieutenant was about to hand the wallet back to Nick when a radio crackled metallically in one of the cars. Someone called softly to the lieutenant. He turned away, still with the wallet in his hand. "A moment, please." Always polite, the Tokyo cops. Nick cursed under his breath. It was getting too damned light! They were going to spot that dead beggar and then the stuff would hit the fan for sure.
The lieutenant came back. Nick felt a little sick as he recognized the expression on the man's face. He had seen it before. Cat knows where there is a nice fat canary.
The lieutenant opened the wallet again. "You say your name is Pete Fremont?"
Nick looked puzzled. At the same time he moved a small step closer to the lieutenant. Something had gone wrong. Badly wrong. He began to make a new plan.
He pointed to the wallet and said indignantly: "Yeah. Pete Fremont. It's all in there, for Christ's sake. Say, what is this! The old third degree? It won't work. I know my rights. You either charge me or let me go. And if you charge me I'll get right on the horn to the American Ambassador and..."
The lieutenant smiled and pounced. "I'm sure the Ambassador will be glad to hear from you, sir. I think you will have to come to the station with us. There seems to be a most curious mix-up. A man has been found dead in his apartment. A man who is also named Pete Fremont and who has been positively identified as Pete Fremont by
his
girl friend."
Nick tried to bluster. He moved another few inches closer to the man.
"So what? I didn't say I was the only Pete Fremont in the world. It's just a mistake."
The little lieutenant did not bow this time. He inclined his head very politely and said, "I am sure it is. But you will accompany us to the station, please, until we have this matter arranged." He motioned to the other cop who was still covering Nick with the Nambu.
Nick Carter went to the lieutenant in a swift gliding movement. The cop, though surprised, was well trained and went into a defensive judo posture, lax and waiting for Nick to lunge at him. Kunizo Matu had taught Nick that one years before.
Nick stopped short. He offered his right arm as bait and when the cop tried to clamp his wrist for the shoulder throw Nick took the arm away and jolted a vicious short left into the man's solar plexus. He had to get close, fast, before the other cops could start shooting.
Stunned, the lieutenant slumped forward, Nick caught him and moved behind him in a motion as fast as a heartbeat. He got a full nelson and lifted the man off the ground. He didn't weigh more than 120-130. With his legs spread wide so the man couldn't kick him in the groin Nick backed toward the steps leading to the passage behind the flophouses. It was the only way out now. The little cop dangled in front of him, an effective bullet shield.
Three cops were training guns on him now. The spotlights were feeble rays of dead light in the growing dawn.
Nick backed cautiously toward the steps. "Stay away," he warned them. "You rush me and I'll break his neck!"
The lieutenant tried to kick him and Nick put on a little pressure. The bones in the lieutenant's thin neck made a snapping sound. He groaned and stopped kicking.
"He's all right," Nick told them, "I haven't hurt him yet. Let's keep it that way."
Where in hell was that first step?
The three cops stopped following him. One of them ran back to a car and began talking rapidly into the radio mike. Calling for help. Nick didn't mind. He didn't plan to be around.
His foot touched the first step. Good. Now if he didn't make any mistakes he had a chance.
He scowled at the cops. They were keeping their distance.
"I'm taking him with me," Nick said. "Down this passage behind me. Try to follow and he's going to get hurt. Stay here like good little policemen and he will be okay. Up to you. Sayonara!"
He went backward down the steps. At the bottom he was just out of sight of the cops. He could feel the old beggar's body against his legs. He put on sudden pressure, bent the lieutenant's head forward and slammed him across the neck with a karate chop. His thumb was rigidly extended and he felt a little shock as the calloused flesh blade of his hand slammed into the scrawny neck. He dropped the man.
The Colt was lying partly under the dead beggar. "Nick scooped it up — the butt was sticky with the old man's blood — and ran down the passage. He kept the Colt in his right hand, jutting out. No one in this neighborhood was going to interfere with a man carrying a cannon.
It was now a matter of seconds. He wasn't going out of the Sanya jungle, he was going in, and once in the cops would never find him. The shacks were all of paper or wood or tin, flimsy fire traps, and it was simply a matter of bulldozing his way.
He made the turn to his right again and ran toward Matu's house. He ran in the front door, still open, and on through the inner room. Kunizo was lying there in his blood. Nick kept going.
He smashed through a paper door. A brown face peered in fright from a floor pad. The servant. Too scared to get up and investigate. Nick kept going.
He put his arms in front of his face and bulled through a wall. The paper and flimsy wood tore away with slight complaint. Nick began to feel like a tank.
He crossed a little open court littered with junk. There was another wood and paper wall. He plunged into it, leaving the outline of his big body in gaping cut-out. The room was empty. He slammed ahead, through another wall, into another room — or was it another house — and a man and woman gaped in astonishment from a floor bed. A child lay between them.
Nick touched his hat with a finger. "Sorry." He ran on.
He ran through six houses, kicked three dogs aside and surprised one couple in copulation before he came out in a narrow winding lane that led somewhere. That suited him. Somewhere away from the cops who were blundering and cursing along behind him. His trail was plain enough, but the cops were polite and dignified and had to do things the Japanese way. They would never catch him. Not in Sanya they wouldn't!
An hour later he was over the Namidabashi bridge and approaching Minowa station where he had left the Datsun parked. The station was crowded with early workers. There were many cars in the parking lot and queues already forming at the ticket windows.
Nick did not go directly into the station grounds. There was a small snack bar already open across the street and he had a
koka-kora,
wishing it was something much stronger. It had been a rugged night.
He could see the top of the Datsun. No one looked especially interested in it. He lingered over the Coke and let his eyes wander over the crowd, sifting and judging. No cops. He could have sworn to that.
Not that it meant he was out of this yet. Home free. Cops, he acknowledged, were going to be the least of his worries. Cops were fairly predictable. Cops he could handle.
Someone knew he was in Tokyo. Someone had followed him to Kunizo's place, in spite of all his precautions. Someone had killed Kunizo and set Nick up for it. That
might
have been accident, happenstance. They could have wanted to give the cops someone, anyone, to stop pursuit and questions. They might. He didn't really think so.
Or
had
someone followed him to Sanya? Had it been a setup from the very beginning? Or, if not a setup, how had someone known he would be in Kunizo's house? Nick could think of an answer to that one and he didn't like it. It made him feel a little sick. He had come to like Tonaka.
He headed for the parking lot. He wasn't going to solve anything by beating his brains out over a suburban Coke bar. He had to go to work. Kunizo was dead and he was without contacts for the moment. Somewhere in the Tokyo haystack was a needle by the name of Richard Philston and Nick had to find him. Fast.
He reached the Datsun and stared down. Passersby hissed in sympathy. Nick ignored them. All four of the tires had been slashed to ribbons.
A train came in. Nick started for the ticket window, reaching for his hip pocket. So he didn't have a car! He could take his train to Ueno Park and change to a train for downtown Tokyo. It was better, actually. A man in a car was confined, a good target, and easy to follow.
His hand came out of his pocket empty. He didn't have the wallet. Pete Fremont's wallet. The little cop had it.
Chapter 7
A trail like a bull moose on roller skates careering through a formal garden.
That, Hawk considered, was an apt description of the spoor left behind by Nick Carter. He was alone in his office, Aubrey and Terence having just departed, and after he finished going through a stack of yellow flimsies he spoke on the intercom to Delia Stokes.
"Cancel the red APB on Nick, Delia. Make it a yellow instead. All points to stand by, to offer any assistance if he asks for it, but not to interfere. He is not to be recognized, followed or reported on. Absolutely
no
interference unless he requests help. Got that?"
BOOK: Temple of Fear
5.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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