Michaelis was astonished; they had been neighbors for four years, and Wilson had never seemed faintly capable of such a statement. Generally he was one of these worn-out men: when he wasn’t working, he sat on a chair in the doorway and stared at the people and the cars that passed along the road. When any one spoke to him he invariably laughed in an agreeable, colorless way. He was his wife’s man and not his own.
So naturally Michaelis tried to find out what had happened, but Wilson wouldn’t say a word — instead he began to throw curious, suspicious glances at his visitor and ask him what he’d been doing at certain times on certain days. Just as the latter was getting uneasy, some workmen came past the door bound for his restaurant, and Michaelis took the opportunity to get away, intending to come back later. But he didn’t. He supposed he forgot to, that’s all. When he came outside again, a little after seven, he was reminded of the conversation because he heard Mrs. Wilson’s voice, loud and scolding, down-stairs in the garage.
“Beat me!” he heard her cry. “Throw me down and beat me, you dirty little coward!”
A moment later she rushed out into the dusk, waving her hands and shouting — before he could move from his door the business was over.
The “death car.” as the newspapers called it, didn’t stop; it came out of the gathering darkness, wavered tragically for a moment, and then disappeared around the next bend. Michaelis wasn’t even sure of its color — he told the first policeman that it was light green. The other car, the one going toward New York, came to rest a hundred yards beyond, and its driver hurried back to where Myrtle Wilson, her life violently extinguished, knelt in the road and mingled her thick dark blood with the dust.
Michaelis and this man reached her first, but when they had torn open her shirtwaist, still damp with perspiration, they saw that her left breast was swinging loose like a flap, and there was no need to listen for the heart beneath. The mouth was wide open and ripped at the corners, as though she had choked a little in giving up the tremendous vitality she had stored so long.
We saw the three or four automobiles and the crowd when we were still some distance away.
“Wreck!” said Tom. “That’s good. Wilson’ll have a little business at last.”
He slowed down, but still without any intention of stopping, until, as we came nearer, the hushed, intent faces of the people at the garage door made him automatically put on the brakes.
“We’ll take a look,” he said doubtfully, “just a look.”
I became aware now of a hollow, wailing sound which issued incessantly from the garage, a sound which as we got out of the coupe and walked toward the door resolved itself into the words “Oh, my God!” uttered over and over in a gasping moan.
“There’s some bad trouble here,” said Tom excitedly.
He reached up on tiptoes and peered over a circle of heads into the garage, which was lit only by a yellow light in a swinging wire basket overhead. Then he made a harsh sound in his throat, and with a violent thrusting movement of his powerful arms pushed his way through.