The Vapor Clue by James Holding
Theme: Authors from the pages of AHMM
Source: Alfred Hitchcock’s Murders On The Half-Skull
Story Number: 89
Hub Grant and his wife have had an early start on their journey from Pittsburgh to Connecticut on a bitter cold still-dark morning. The engine develops a snag and Hub pulls into a gas station at around 5.30 in the morning. Since the gas station would open only at around 7, Hub decides to walk and check out if he can find some help from one of the houses he sees in the distance. The wife remains in the car.
Sarah Benson, the waitress of a Trucker’s rest house , is out on her way to open the shop so that the truck drivers who are regular customers, can stop by for their morning coffee. Sarah sees a man(Hub) walking down the hill towards her shop and when he is about to wave to her, she sees a dark sedan come down the hill, hit the man with full force and make a quick getaway even before Sarah could react.
Lieutenant Randall has very less to go on to catch the hit-and-run driver. The only description that Sarah can give is that she noticed a mist from the exhaust pipe which sort of covered up the license plate. It takes 12 more hours for Sarah to understand the significance of the mist from the exhaust pipe; she approaches Randall and tells him as to what the vapor clue signified; a fact which is more than enough to figure out who the hit-and-run driver was and apprehend him in a very short time.