The dermatologist shook his head. ''ve seen cases similar to yours, but never one this bad.' Hal Baker scratched his hand and nodded. ' see, Mr. Baker, we were confronted with three possibilities. Your itching could have been caused by a fungus, an allergy, or it could be neurodermatitis. The skin scraping I took from your hand and put under the microscope showed me that it wasn't a fungus. And you said you didn't handle chemicals on the job .. ''s right.", we've narrowed it down. What you have is lichen simplex chronicus or localized neurodermatitis." sounds awful. Is there something you can do about itt ', there is.' The doctor took a tube from a cabinet in a comer of the office and opetied it. ' your hand itching nowt Hal Baker scratched again. '. It feels like it's on fire." want you to rub some of this cream on your hand.' 264 Hal Baker squeezed out some of the cream and began to rub it into his hand. It was like a miracle. ' itching has stopped!' Baker said. '. Use that, and you won't have any more V, problem." you, doctor. I can't tell you what a relief this is 11,11 give you a prescription. You can take the tube with you."

"Thank you.' P vin ri i g home, Hal Baker was singing aloud. It was the first time since he had met Judge Tyler Stanford that his hand had not itched. It was a wonderful feeling of freedom. Still whistling, he pulled into the garage, and walked into the kitchen. Helen was waiting for him. ' had a telephone call,' she said. ' Mr. Jones. He said it was urgent.9 His hand began itching. 1w, Re had hurt some people, but he had done it for the love of his kids. He had committed some crimes, but "At was for the -family. Hal Baker did not believe he really had been at fault. This was different. This was a cold-blooded murder. When he had returned the phone call, he had protested. ' can't do that, judge.

You'll have to find someone else.' 265 There had been a silence. And then, ''s the family?' The flight to Kansas City was uneventful.

Judge Stanford had given him detailed instructions. ' name is Julia Stanford You have her address and apartment number. She won't be expecting you. All you have to do is go there and handle her.' He took a taxi from the Kansas City Downtown Airport to downtown Kansas City.

"Beautiful day,' the taxi driver said. '." did you come in from?" York. I live here." place to five." is. I have a little repair work to do around the house. Would you drop me off at a hardware storet '.' Five minutes later, Hat Baker was saying to a clerk in the store, ' need a hunting knife." have just the thing, sir. Would you come this way, pleaset The knife was a thing of beauty, about six inches long, with a sharp pointed end and serrated edges.

"Will this do?"'m sure it will,' Hal Baker said. ' that be cash or charget  '.' His next stop was at a stationery store. Hal Baker studied the apartment building at 1425 Metcalf Avenue for five minutes, examining exits and entrances. He left and returned at 8 P. m., when it began to get dark. He wanted to make sure that if Julia Stan- ,ford had a job, she would be home from work. He had noted that the apartment building had no doorman. There was an elevator, but he took the stairs. It was not smart to be in small enclosed places. They were traps. He reached the third floor. Apartment 3B was down the hall on the left. The knife was taped to the inside pocket of his jacket. He rang the doorbell. A moment later, the door opened, and he found himself facing an attractive woman. '.', She had a nice smile. ' I help yout She was younger than he had expected, and he wondered fleetingly why Judge Stanford wanted her killed. Well, that's none of my business.

He took out a card and handed it to her. ''m with the A.C. Nielsen Company,' he said smoothly. ' don't'have any of the Nielsen family in this area, and we're looking for people who might be interested.' She shook her head. ', thanks.' She started to close the door. Ve pay one hundred dollars a week.' The door stayed half open. ' hundred dollars a week?' 6yes, ma'am.' The door was wide open now. ' you have to do is record the names of the programs you watch. We'll give you a contract for one year.' Five thousand dollars! ' in,' she said. He walked into the apartment. ' down, Mr. -". Jim Allen.". Allen. How did you happen to select met ' company does random checking. We have to make sure that none of the people is involved in television in any way, so we can keep our survey accurate. You don't have any connection with any television production programs or networks, do yout She laughed. ', no. What would I have to do exactly99 ''s really very simple. We'll give you a chart with all the television programs listed on it, and all you have to do is make a check mark every time you watch a program. That way our computer can figure out how many viewers each program has. The Nielsen family is scattered around the United States, so we get a clear picture of which shows are popular in which areas and with whom. Would you be interestedt ', yes.' He took out some printed forms and a pen. ' many hours a day do you watch televisiont ' very many. I work all day., ' you do watchsome television?", certainly. I watch the news at ni lit, and some- 9 times an old movie. I like Larry King.' He made a note. ' you watch much educational television?" watch PBS on Sundays." the way, do you live alone here?" have a roommate, but she's

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here.' So they were alone. His hand began to itch. He started to reach into his inside pocket to untape the knife. He heard footsteps in the hall outside. He stopped. ' you say I get five thousand dollars a year just for doing this?"'s right. Oh, I forgot to mention. We also give you a new color TV set."'s fantastid' The footsteps were gone. He reached inside his pocket again, and felt the handle of the knife-. ' I have a glass of water, please? It's been a long day.".' He watched her. get up and go over to the small bar in the corner. He slipped the knife out of its sheath and moved up behind her. She wag saying, ' roommate watches PBS more, than I do.' He lifted the knife, ready to strike. ' Julia's more intellectual than I am.' Baker's hand froze in midair. ' ' roommate. Or she was. She's gone. I found a note when I got home saying she had left and didn't know when she'd be -' She turned around, holding the glass of water, and saw the upraised knife in his hand. ' ... T She screamed. Hal Baker turned and fled. Hal Baker telephoned Tyler Stanford. ''m in Kansas City, but the girl is gone." do you mean, gonet ' roommate says she left.' He was silent for a moment. ' have a feeling she's headed for Boston. I want you to get up here right away.9 ', sir.' Tyler Stanford slammed down the receiver and began to pace. Everything had been going so perfectly! The girl had to be found and disposed of. She was a loose cannon. Even after he received control of the estate, Tyler knew he would not rest easy as long as she was alive. rve got to find her, Tyler thought. rve got to! But where? Clark came into the room.

"Excuse me, Judge Stanford. There is a Miss. Julia Stanford here to see you.' Copyright 2016 - 2023