on me with a crowbar in his hand.
"Where the fuck's Jimmy gone? And what the hell are you doing out here?" he bellowed, waving the crowbar.
Pleased to meet you, too, I thought, battling my urge to turn and run. I didn't know anything about Jimmy, though I assumed he was the fleeing man, so I just stated my business. "I'm looking for Duncan Donahue."
"What the hell for?" The rasp in his voice would have scraped the shell off a turtle.
I was ready to take my toys and go home. This wasn't any fun. The circumstances didn't look auspicious and I hate people who try to intimidate me. I'd come a long way to help Julie, though; it didn't make sense to leave without trying to talk with her brother, even if he did have the manners of a junkyard dog. I didn't waste any time on pleasantries; I got right to the point.
"I want to talk about your sister Julie."
The ruddy giant laid a grimy hand on my shoulder and gestured with his chin toward the battered door. "In my office," he said, and steered me none too gently through some doors and into a chair. He dumped the crowbar in a corner, dropped himself into a chair across the desk, and subjected me to a crude third degree. "What are you, a fuckin' cop?" I shook my head. "One of those snooping social workers then? Her kids are fine, thank you, and no, you can't see 'em without showing me some kind of a court order. You got that?"
I shook my head again. He wasn't making this easy. "Look, Mr. Donahue, I'm not a social worker or a cop or anyone who's trying to hurt your sister. I'm a friend of hers. That is, I'm trying to be. I haven't really known her very long. And my mother told me I had to help."
To my surprise, he smiled at that. His smile was pleasant and with it some of his fierceness dropped away. For the first time, I saw the shadow of a resemblance to Julie. "You're a pretty big girl to be doing what your mamma tells you."
"You haven't met my mother."
"How is she? Julie, I mean," he asked with almost boyish eagerness. "Is she doing okay?"
He must be talking to her, I thought, he had her kids, but not wanting to alienate him further, I tried to answer the question. "She had a hard time that first night... when I saw her... there was a doctor in to see her. Look, I think we both know that jail is not a nice place, Mr. Donahue. I haven't seen Framingham, but it can't be nice, either. I expect it's an especially awful place for someone as sensitive as your sister. And you know how she worries about the children. The important thing is to get her out. I came to see you because Julie seems to have trusted you and confided in you. I don't believe she's guilty..."
"You're damned right she's not guilty!" he roared.
"...but it's difficult to talk with her while she's in jail. Her lawyer asked me for help. I'm trying to find out who might have wanted to harm Calvin Bass. To give the police an alternative... another suspect. "
"You make it sound like she's a suspect," he said, the genial look vanishing. He leaned across the desk and glared at me, the heat of his anger scorching me from five feet away, the bulging veins in his forearms seeming to pulse with it.
Someone knocked on the door, opened it, and stood there, not quite meeting Donahue's eyes. "Rooney sent me for the wrench," he muttered.
"Well, goddammit, go get it then. Can't you see I'm busy?" The man sidled into the corner and grabbed a large wrench. "You're gonna bring that right back, aren't ya, Joe," Donahue said. "I don't want to have to come looking for it." Cringing before Donahue's dark look, the man nodded and slouched out, leaving black fingerprints on the door.
"We're dealing with a real-life situation here, Mr. Donahue," I reminded him. "They did arrest her. So they think they have reason, don't they?" He didn't like that, but he held his tongue. With difficulty. I could tell he wanted to yell at me again. Feeling more and more out of my league, I persisted, "Do you know of anyone who wanted to hurt your
The Best of Murray Leinster (1976)