I looked at my watch. Just eight. We had another four hours to go before my shift went on. I got up from the stool and said:
"No use sitting here all night. Doing anything?"
"Why, no. I just got into town a little while ago. Took the bus in from Douglas. A rather rough ride, too. Matter of fact, I'll have to look for a room tonight. But I was so hungry I couldn't resist dining first."
I looked toward the tree on which his derby hung. There was no bag below it. Nor did I remember him having any. He intercepted the look.
"I left it at the bus station," he explained.
"Let's get it," I suggested. "He closes a little after eight. The last auto-bus comes in then."
The Howling Cat was just around the corner from the station but we had to cross the dark depths of an alley before we hit the corner. The Motor Transports, a trucking outfit had their siding just past the alley's mouth. I was a little ahead of the little guy, sort of leading the way, when all of a sudden a human catapult hit me at the bend in the back of my knees and I fold over like a broken accordion. I think the sound of the shot came a second later.
I was a little shaky when I got to my feet.