When they finally allowed Jill into Toby's hospital room in Paris, she was shocked by his appearance. Overnight, Toby had become old and desiccated, as if all his vital fluids had drained out of him. He had lost partial use of both arms and legs, and though he was able to make grunting animal noises, he could not speak.
It was six weeks before the doctors would permit Toby to be moved. When Toby and Jill arrived back in California, they were mobbed at the airport by the press and television media and hundreds of well-wishers. Toby Temple's illness had caused a major sensation. There were constant phone calls from friends inquiring about Toby's health and progress. Television crews tried to get into the house to take pictures of him. There were messages from the President and senators, and thousands of letters and postcards from fans who loved Toby Temple and were praying for him.
But the invitations had stopped. No one was calling to find out how Jill felt, or whether she would like to attend a quiet dinner or take a drive or see a movie. Nobody in Hollywood cared a damn about Jill.
She had brought in Toby's personal physician, Dr. Eli Kaplan, and he had summoned two top neurologists, one from UCLA Medical Center and the other from Johns Hopkins. Their diagnosis was exactly the same as that of Dr. Duclos, in Paris.
"It's important to understand," Dr. Kaplan told Jill, "that Toby's mind is not impaired in any way. He can hear and understand everything you say, but his speech and motor functions are affected. He can't respond."
"Is - is he always going to be like this?"
Dr. Kaplan hesitated. "It's impossible to be absolutely certain, of course, but in our opinion, his nervous system has been too badly damaged for therapy to have any appreciable effect."
"But you don't know for sure."
But Jill knew.
In addition to the three nurses who tended Toby round the clock, Jill arranged for a physiotherapist to come to the house every morning to work with Toby. The therapist carried Toby into the pool and held him in his arms, gently stretching the muscles and tendons, while Toby feebly tried to kick his legs and move his arms about in the warm water. There was no progress. On the fourth week, a speech therapist was brought in. She spent one hour every afternoon trying to help Toby learn to speak again, to form the sounds of words.
After two months, Jill could see no change. None at all. She sent for Dr. Kaplan.
"You've got to do something to help him," she demanded. "You can't leave him like this."
He looked at her helplessly. "I'm sorry, Jill. I tried to tell you...."
Jill sat in the library, alone, long after Dr. Kaplan had gone. She could feel one of the bad headaches beginning, but there was no time to think of herself now. She went upstairs.
Toby was propped up in bed, staring at nothingness. As Jill walked up to him, Toby's deep blue eyes lit up. They followed Jill, bright and alive, as she approached his bed and looked down at him. His lips moved and some unintelligible sound came out. Tears of frustration began to fill his eyes. Jill remembered Dr. Kaplan's words, It's important to understand that his mind is not impaired in any way.
Jill sat down on the edge of the bed. "Toby, I want you to listen to me. You're going to get out of that bed. You're going to walk and you're going to talk." The tears were running down the sides of his cheeks now. "You're going to do it," Jill said. "You're going to do it for me."
The following morning, Jill fired the nurses, the psysiotherapist and the speech therapist. As soon as he heard the news, Dr. Eli Kaplan hurried over to see Jill.
"I agree with you about the physiotherapist, Jill - but the nurses! Toby has to have someone with him twenty-four hours a - "
"I'll be with him."
He shook his head. "You have no idea what you're letting yourself in for. One person can't - "
"I'll call you if I need you."
She sent him away.
The ordeal began.
Jill was going to attempt to do what the doctors had assured her could not be done. The first time she picked Toby up and put him into his wheelchair, it frightened her to feel how weightless he was. She took him downstairs in the elevator that had been installed and began to work with him in the swimming pool, as she had seen the physiotherapist do. But what happened now was different. Where the therapist had been gentle and coaxing, Jill was stern and unrelenting. When Toby tried to speak, signifying that he was tired and could not bear any more, Jill said, "You're not through. One more time. For me, Toby."
And she would force him to do it one more time.
And yet again, until he sat mutely crying with exhaustion.
In the afternoon, Jill set to work to teach Toby to speak again. "Ooh...ooooooooh."
"No! Oooooooooh. Round your lips, Toby. Make them obey you. Ooooooooh."
"No goddamn you! You're going to speak! Now, say it - Oooooooooooh!"
And he would try again.
Jill would feed him each night, and then lie in his bed, holding him in her arms. She drew his useless hands slowly up and down her body, across her breasts and down the soft cleft between her legs. "Feel that, Toby," she whispered. "That's all yours, darling. It belongs to you. I want you. I want you to get well so we can make love again. I want you to fuck me, Toby."
He looked at her with those alive, bright eyes and made incoherent, whimpering sounds.
"Soon, Toby, soon."
Jill was tireless. She discharged the servants because she did not want anyone around. After that, she did all the cooking herself. She ordered her groceries by phone and never left the house. In the beginning, Jill had been kept busy answering the telephones, but the calls had soon dwindled to a trickle, then ceased. Newscasters had stopped giving bulletins on Toby Temple's condition. The world knew that he was dying. It was just a question of time.
But Jill was not going to let Toby die. If he died, she would die with him.
The days blended into one long, endless round of drudgery. Jill was up at six o'clock in the morning. First, she would clean Toby. He was totally incontinent. Even though he wore a catheter and a diaper, he would befoul himself during the night and the bedclothes would sometimes have to be changed, as well as Toby's pajamas. The stench in the bedroom was almost unbearable. Jill filled a basin with warm water, took a sponge and soft cloth and cleaned the feces and urine from Toby's body. When he was clean, she dried him off and powdered him, then shaved him and combed his hair.
"There. You look beautiful, Toby. Your fans should see you now. But they'll see you soon. They'll fight to get in to see you. The President will be there - everybody will be there to see Toby Temple."
Then Jill prepared Toby's breakfast. She made oatmeal or cream of wheat or scrambled eggs, food she could spoon into his mouth. She fed him as though he were a baby, talking to him all the time, promising that he was going to get well.
"You're Toby Temple," she intoned. "Everybody loves you, everybody wants you back. Your fans out there are waiting for you, Toby. You've got to get well for them."
And another long, punishing day would begin.
She wheeled his useless, crippled body down to the pool for his exercises. After that, she massaged him and worked on his speech therapy. Then it was time for her to prepare his lunch, and after lunch it would begin all over again. Through it all, Jill kept telling Toby how wonderful he was, how much he was loved. He was Toby Temple, and the world was waiting for him to come back to it. At night she would take out one of his scrapbooks and hold it up so he could see it.
"There we are with the Queen. Do you remember how they all cheered you that night? That's the way it's going to be again. You're going to be bigger than ever, Toby, bigger than ever."
She tucked him in at night and crawled into the cot she had put next to his bed, drained. In the middle of the night, she would be awakened by the noisome stench of Toby's bowel movement in bed. She would drag herself from her cot and change Toby's diaper and clean him. By then it would be time to start fixing his breakfast and begin another day.
And another. In an endless march of days.
Each day Jill pushed Toby a little harder, a little further. Her nerves were so frayed that, if she felt Toby was not trying, she would slap him across the face. "We're going to beat them," she said fiercely. "You're going to get well."
Jill's body was exhausted from the punishing routine she was putting herself through, but when she lay down at night, sleep eluded her. There were too many visions dancing through her head, like scenes from old movies. She and Toby mobbed by reporters at the Cannes Festival...The President at their Palm Springs home, telling Jill how beautiful she was...Fans crowding around Toby and her at a premiere...The Golden Couple...Toby stepping up to receive his medal and falling...falling...Finally, she would drift off to sleep.
Sometimes, Jill would awaken with a sudden, fierce headache that would not go away. She would lie there in the loneliness of the dark, fighting the pain, until the sun would come up, and it was time to drag herself to her feet.
And it would begin all over again. It was as though she and Toby were the lone survivors of some long-forgotten holocaust. Her world had shrunk to the dimensions of this house, these rooms, this man. She drove herself relentlessly from dawn until past midnight.
And she drove Toby, her Toby imprisoned in hell, in a world where there was only Jill, whom he must blindly obey.
The weeks, dreary and painful, dragged by and turned into months. Now, Toby would begin to cry when he saw Jill coming toward him, for he knew he was going to be punished. Each day Jill became more merciless. She forced Toby's flopping, useless limbs to move, until he was in unbearable agony. He made horrible gurgling pleas for her to stop, but Jill would say, "Not yet. Not until you're a man again, not until we show them all." She would go on kneading his exhausted muscles. He was a helpless, full-grown baby, a vegetable, a nothing. But when Jill looked at him, she saw him as he was going to be, and she declared, "You're going to walk!"
She would lift him to his feet and hold him up while she forced one leg after the other, so that he was moving in a grotesque parody of motion, like a drunken, disjointed marionette.
Her headaches had become more frequent. Bright lights or a loud noise or sudden movement would set them off. I must see a doctor, she thought. Later, when Tony is well again. Now there was no time or room for herself.
It was as though Jill were possessed. Her clothes hung loosely on her, but she had no idea of how much weight she had lost or how she looked. Her face was thin and drawn, her eyes hollow. Her once beautiful shiny hair was lusterless and stringy. She did not know, nor would she have cared.
One day Jill found a telegram under the door asking her to phone Dr. Kaplan. No time. The routine must be kept.
The days and nights became a Kafkaesque blur of bathing Toby and exercising him and changing him and shaving him and feeding him.
And then starting all over again.
She got a walker for Toby and fastened his fingers around it and moved his legs, holding him up, trying to show him the motions, walking him back and forth across the room until she was asleep on her feet, not knowing any longer where or who she was, or what she was doing.
Then, one day, Jill knew that it had all come to an end.
She had been up with Toby half the night and had finally gone into her own bedroom, where she had fallen into a dazed slumber just before dawn. When Jill awakened, the sun was high in the sky. She had slept long past noon. Toby had not been fed or bathed or changed. He was lying in his bed, helpless, waiting for her, probably panicky. Jill started to rise and found that she could not move. She was filled with such a bottomless, bone-deep weariness that her exhausted body would no longer obey her. She lay there, helpless, knowing that she had lost, that it had all been wasted, all the days and nights of hell, the months of agony, none of it had meant anything. Her body had betrayed her, as Toby's had betrayed him. Jill had no strength left to give him anymore, and it made her want to weep. It was finished.
She heard a sound at her bedroom door and she raised her eyes. Toby was standing in the doorway, by himself, his trembling arms clutching his walker, his mouth making unintelligible slobbering noises, working to say something.
He was trying to say "Jill." She began to sob uncontrollably and she could not stop.
From that day on, Toby's progress was spectacular. For the first time, he knew he was going to get well. He no longer objected when Jill pushed him beyond the limits of his endurance. He welcomed it. He wanted to get well for her. Jill had become his goddess; if he had loved her before, he worshiped her now.
And something had happened to Jill. Before, it had been her own life she was fighting for; Toby was merely the instrument she was forced to use. But somehow, that had changed. It was as though Toby had become a part of her. They were one body and one mind and one soul, obsessed with the same purpose. They had gone through a purging crucible. His life had been in her hands, and she had nurtured it and strengthened it, and saved it, and out of that had grown a kind of love. Toby belonged to her, just as she belonged to him.
Jill changed Toby's diet, so that he began to regain the weight he had lost. He spent time in the sun every day and took long walks around the grounds, using the walker, then a cane, building up his strength. When the day came that Toby could walk by himself, the two of them celebrated by having a candlelight dinner in the dining room.
Finally, Jill felt that Toby was ready to be seen. She telephoned Dr. Kaplan, and his nurse put him on the phone immediately.
"Jill! I've been terribly worried. I've tried to telephone you and there was never any answer. I sent a telegram, and when I didn't hear, I assumed you had taken Toby away somewhere. Is he - has he - "
"Come and see for yourself, Eli."
Dr. Kaplan could not conceal his astonishment. "It's unbelievable," he told Jill. "It's - it's like a miracle."
"It is a miracle," Jill said. Only in this life you made your own miracles, because God was busy elsewhere.
"People still call me to ask about Toby," Dr. Kaplan was saying. "Apparently they've been unable to get through to you. Sam Winters calls at least once a week. Clifton Lawrence has been calling."
Jill dismissed Clifton Lawrence. But Sam Winters! That was good. Jill had to find a way to let the world know that Toby Temple was still a superstar, that they were still the Golden Couple.
Jill telephoned Sam Winters the next morning and asked him if he would like to come and visit Toby. Sam arrived at the house an hour later. Jill opened the front door to let him in, and Sam tried to conceal his shock at her appearance. Jill looked ten years older than when he had last seen her. Her eyes were hollow brown pools and her face was etched with deep lines. She had lost so much weight that she looked almost skeletal.
"Thank you for coming, Sam. Toby will be pleased to see you."
Sam had been prepared to see Toby in bed, a Shadow of the man he had once been, but he was in for a stunning surprise. Toby was lying on a pad alongside the pool and, as Sam approached, Toby rose to his feet, a little slowly, but steadily, and held out a firm hand. He appeared tanned and healthy, better than he had looked before his stroke. It was as though through some arcane alchemy, Jill's health and vitality had flowed into Toby's body, and the sick tides that had ravaged Toby had ebbed into Jill.
"Hey! It's great to see you, Sam."
Toby's speech was a little slower and more precise than before, but it was clear and strong. There was no sign of the paralysis Sam had heard about. There was still the same boyish face with the bright blue eyes. Sam gave Toby a hug and said, "Jesus, you really had us scared."
Toby grinned and said, "You don't have to call me 'Jesus' when we're alone."
Sam looked at Toby more closely and marveled. "I honestly can't get over it. Damn it, you look younger. The whole town was making funeral arrangements."
"Over my dead body," Toby smiled.
Sam said, "It's fantastic what the doctors today can - "
"No doctors." Toby turned to look at Jill and naked adoration shone from his eyes. "You want to know who did it? Jill. Just Jill. With her two bare hands. She threw everybody out and made me get on my feet again."
Sam glanced at Jill, puzzled. She had not seemed to him the kind of girl capable of such a selfless act. Perhaps he had misjudged her. "What are your plans?" he asked Toby. "I suppose you'll want to rest and - "
"He's going back to work," Jill said. "Toby's too talented to be sitting around doing nothing."
"I'm raring to go," Toby agreed.
"Perhaps Sam has a project for you," Jill suggested.
They were both watching him. Sam did not want to discourage Toby, but neither did he want to hold out any false hopes. It was not possible to make a picture with a star unless you got insurance on him, and no company was going to insure Toby Temple.
"There's nothing in the shop at the moment," Sam said carefully. "But I'll certainly keep an eye open."
"You're afraid to use him, aren't you?" It was as though she was reading his mind.
"Certainly not." But they both knew he was lying.
No one in Hollywood would take a chance on using Toby Temple again.
Toby and Jill were watching a young comedian on television.
"He's rotten," Toby snorted. "Damn it, I wish I could get back on the air. Maybe I oughta get an agent. Somebody who could check around town and see what's doing."
"No!" Jill's tone was firm. "We're not going to let anyone peddle you. You're not some bum looking for a job. You're Toby Temple. We're going to make them come to you."
Toby smiled wryly and said, "They're not beating down the doors, baby."
"They will be," Jill promised. "They don't know what shape you're in. You're better now than you ever were. We just have to show them."
"Maybe I should pose in the nude for one of those magazines."
Jill was not listening. "I have an idea," she said slowly. "A one-man show."
"A one-man show." There was a growing excitement in her voice. "I'm going to book you into the Huntington Hartford Theatre. Everybody in Hollywood will come. After that, they'll start beating down the doors!"
And everybody in Hollywood did come; producers, directors, stars, critics - all the people in show business who mattered. The theater on Vine Street had long since been sold out, and hundreds of people had been turned away. There was a cheering mob outside the lobby when Toby and Jill arrived in a chauffeur-driven limousine. He was their Toby Temple. He had come back to them from the dead, and they adored him more than ever.
The audience inside the theater was there partly out of respect for a man who had been famous and great, but mostly out of curiosity. They were there to pay final tribute to a dying hero, a burnt-out star.
Jill had planned the show herself. She had gone to O'Hanlon and Rainger, and they had written some brilliant material, beginning with a monologue kidding the town for burying Toby while he was still alive. Jill had approached a song-writing team that had won three Academy Awards. They had never written special material for anyone, but when Jill said, "Toby insists you're the only writers in the world who..."
Dick Landry, the director, flew in from London to stage the show.
Jill had assembled the finest talent she could find to back up Toby, but in the end everything would depend on the star himself. It was a one-man show, and he would be alone on that stage.
The moment finally arrived. The house lights dimmed, and the theater was filled with that expectant hush that precedes the ringing up of the curtain, the silent prayer that on this night magic would happen.
As Toby Temple strolled out onto the stage, his gait strong and steady, that familiar impish smile lighting up that boyish face, there was a momentary silence and then a wild explosion of applause and yelling, a standing ovation that rocked the theater for a full five minutes.
Toby stood there, waiting for the pandemonium to subside, and when the theater was finally still, he said, "You call that a reception?" And they roared.
He was brilliant. He told stories and sang and danced, and he attacked everybody, and it was as though he had never been gone. The audience could not get enough of him. He was still a superstar, but now he was something more; he had become a living legend.
The Variety review the next day said, "They came to bury Toby Temple, but they stayed to praise him and cheer him. And how he deserved it! There is no one in show business who has the old master's magic. It was an evening of ovations, and no one who was fortunate enough to be there is likely ever to forget that memorable..."
The Hollywood Reporter review said, "The audience was there to see a great star come back, but Toby Temple proved he had never been away."
All the other reviews were in the same panegyric vein. From that moment on, Toby's phones rang constantly. Letters and telegrams poured in with invitations and offers.
They were beating the doors down.
Toby repeated his one-man show in Chicago and in Washington and New York; everywhere he went, he was a sensation. There was more interest in him now than there had ever been. In a wave of affectionate nostalgia, Toby's old movies were shown at art theaters and at universities. Television stations had a Toby Temple Week and ran his old variety shows.
There were Toby Temple dolls and Toby Temple games and Toby Temple puzzles and jokebooks and T-shirts. There were endorsements for coffee and cigarettes and toothpaste.
Toby did a cameo in a musical picture at Universal and was signed to do guest appearances on all the big variety shows. The networks had writers at work, competing to develop a new Toby Temple Hour.
The sun was out once more, and it was shining on Jill.
There were parties again, and receptions and this ambassador and that senator and private screenings and...Everybody wanted them for everything. They were given a dinner at the White House, an honor usually reserved for heads of state. They were applauded wherever they appeared.
But now it was Jill they were applauding, as well as Toby. The magnificent story of what she had done, her feat of single-handedly nursing Toby back to health against all odds, had stirred the imagination of the world. It was hailed by the press as the love story of the century. Time Magazine put them both on the cover, with a glowing tribute to Jill in the accompanying story.
A five-million-dollar deal was made for Toby to star in a new weekly television variety show, starting in September, only twelve weeks away.
"We'll go to Palm Springs so that you can rest until then," Jill said.
Toby shook his head. "You've been shut in long enough. We're going to live a little." He put his arms around her and added, "I'm not very good with words, baby, unless they're jokes. I don't know how to tell you what I feel about you. I - I just want you to know that I didn't start living until the day I met you."
And he abruptly turned away, so that Jill could not see the tears in his eyes.
Toby arranged to tour his one-man show in London, Paris and - the greatest coup of all - Moscow. Everyone was fighting to sign him. He was as big a cult figure in Europe as he was in America.
They were out on the Jill, on a sunny, sparkling day, headed for Catalina. There were a dozen guests aboard the boat, among them Sam Winters and O'Hanlon and Rainger, who had been selected as the head writers on Toby's new television show. They were all in the salon, playing games and talking. Jill looked around and noticed that Toby was missing. She went out on deck.
Toby was standing at the railing, staring at the sea. Jill walked up to him and said, "Are you feeling all right?"
"Just watching the water, baby."
"It's beautiful, isn't it?"
"If you're a shark." He shuddered. "That's not the way I want to die. I've always been terrified of drowning."
She put her hand in his. "What's bothering you?"
He looked at her. "I guess I don't want to die. I'm afraid of what's out there. Here, I'm a big man. Everybody knows Toby Temple. But out there...? You know my idea of Hell? A place where there's no audience."
The Friars Club gave a Roast with Toby Temple as the guest of honor. A dozen top comics were on the dais, along with Toby and Jill, Sam Winters and the head of the network that Toby had signed with. Jill was asked to stand up and take a bow. It became a standing ovation.
They're cheering me, Jill thought. Not Toby. Me!
The master of ceremonies was the host of a famous nighttime television talk show. "I can't tell you how happy I am to see Toby here," he said. "Because if we weren't honoring him here tonight, we'd be holding this banquet at Forest Lawn."
"And believe me, the food's terrible there. Have you ever eaten at Forest Lawn? They serve leftovers from the Last Supper."
He turned to Toby. "We really are proud of you, Toby. I mean that. I understand you've been asked to donate a part of your body to science. They're going to put it in a jar at the Harvard Medical School. The only problem so far is that they haven't been able to find a jar big enough to hold it."
When Toby got up for his rebuttal, he topped them all.
Everyone agreed that it was the best Roast the Friars had ever had.
Clifton Lawrence was in the audience that night.
He was seated at a table in the back of the room near the kitchen with the other unimportant people. He had been forced to impose on old friendships to get even this table. Ever since Toby Temple had fired him, Clifton Lawrence had worn the label of a loser. He had tried to make a partnership deal with a large agency. With no clients, however, he had nothing to offer. Then Clifton had tried the smaller agencies, but they were not interested in a middle-aged has-been; they wanted aggressive young men. In the end, Clifton had settled for a salaried job with a small new agency. His weekly salary was less than what he had once spent in one evening at Romanoff's.
He remembered his first new day at the new agency. It was owned by three aggressive young men - no, kids - all of them in their late twenties. Their clients were rock stars. Two of the agents were bearded, and they all wore jeans and sport shirts and tennis shoes without socks. They made Clifton feel a thousand years old. They spoke in a language he did not understand. They called him "Dad" and "Pop" and he thought of the respect he had once commanded in this town, and he wanted to weep.
The once dapper, cheerful agent had become seedy-looking and bitter. Toby Temple had been his whole life, and Clifton talked about those days compulsively. It was all he thought about. That and Jill. Clifton blamed her for everything that had happened to him. Toby could not help himself; he had been influenced by that bitch. But, oh, how Clifton hated Jill.
He was sitting in the back of the room watching the crowd applaud Jill Temple when one of the men at the table said, "Toby's sure a lucky bastard. I wish I had a piece of that. She's great in bed."
"Yeah?" someone asked, cynically. "How would you know?"
"She's in that porno flick at the Pussycat Theatre. Hell, I thought she was going to suck the guy's liver out of him."
Clifton's mouth was suddenly so dry that he could hardly get out the words. "Are you - are you sure it was Jill Castle?" he asked.
The stranger turned to him. "Sure, I'm sure. She used another name - Josephine something. A crazy Polack name." He stared at Clifton and said, "Hey! Didn't you used to be Clifton Lawrence?"
There is an area of Santa Monica Boulevard, bordering between Fairfax and La Cienega, that is County territory. Part of an island surrounded by the City of Los Angeles, it operates under County ordinances, which are more lenient than those of the City. In one six-block area, there are four movie houses that run only hard-core pornography, half a dozen bookshops where customers can stand in private booths and watch movies through individual viewers and a dozen massage parlors staffed with nubile young girls who are experts at giving everything except massages. The Pussycat Theatre sits in the midst of it all.
There were perhaps two dozen people in the darkened theater, all of them men except for two women who sat holding hands. Clifton looked around at the audience and wondered what drove these people to darkened caverns in the middle of a sunny day, to spend hours watching images of other people fornicating on film.
The main feature came on, and Clifton forgot everything except what was up on the screen. He leaned forward in his seat, concentrating on the face of each actress. The plot was about a young college professor who smuggled his female students into his bedroom for night classes. All of them were young, surprisingly attractive and incredibly endowed. They went through a variety of sexual exercises, oral, vaginal and anal, until the professor was as satisfied as his pupils.
But none of the girls was Jill. She has to be there, Clifton thought. This was the only chance he would ever have to avenge himself for what she had done to him. He would arrange for Toby to see the film. It would hurt Toby, but he would get over it. Jill would be destroyed. When Toby learned what kind of whore he had married, he would throw her out on her ass. Jill had to be in this film.
And suddenly, there she was - on the wide screen, in wonderful, glorious, living color. She had changed a great deal. She was thinner now, more beautiful and more sophisticated. But it was Jill. Clifton sat there, drinking in the scene, reveling in it, rejoicing and feasting his senses, filled with an electrifying sense of triumph and vengeance.
Clifton remained in his seat until the credits came on. There it was, Josephine Czinski. He got to his feet and made his way back to the projection booth. A man in shirt sleeves was inside the small room, reading a racing form. He glanced up as Clifton entered and said, "No one's allowed in here, buddy."
"I want to buy a print of that picture."
The man shook his head. "Not for sale." He went back to his handicapping.
"I'll give you a hundred bucks to run off a dupe. No one will ever know."
The man did not even look up.
"Two hundred bucks," Clifton said.
The projectionist turned a page.
He looked up and studied Clifton. "Cash?"
At ten o'clock the following morning, Clifton arrived at Toby Temple's house with a can of film under his arm. No, not film, he thought happily. Dynamite. Enough to blow Jill Castle to hell.
The door was opened by an English butler Clifton had not seen before.
"Tell Mr. Temple that Clifton Lawrence is here to see him."
"I'm sorry, sir. Mr. Temple is not here."
"I'll wait," Clifton said firmly.
The butler replied, "I'm afraid that won't be possible. Mr. and Mrs. Temple left for Europe this morning."