Part 3, Chapters 9-12 Summary
In a Kansas City laundromat, Perry is washing clothes while Dick is out passing bad checks. Perry begins to worry that Dick has been caught; perhaps someone has realized the checks are bad, or perhaps he has been stopped for a minor traffic violation during which it was discovered that the car is stolen. He imagines the police soon arriving at the laundromat to arrest him. His legs begin to ache and he becomes sick to his stomach from the pain and the fear. When he goes outside, Dick arrives and kids him for being worried. He had some luck passing checks; he even got an old friend to cash one for him. They are heading for Florida that night.
Alvin Dewey has a nightmare in which he is chasing Dick and Perry. He corners them at the Clutters’ grave and shoots them, but they refuse to die. Instead, they become invisible. He wakes up and receives a phone call from Harold Nye, who has tracked Dick and Perry to Kansas City. A pawn shop owner wrote down the license plate number, which identifies the car as stolen with stolen plates. Dewey wonders why he does not feel as elated as he should. He realizes that he does not believe the killers will ever be caught; he believes they are invincible.
Dick and Perry reach Miami Beach, Florida, and find a cheap hotel. On Christmas Day, they sit outside on the beach. Perry reads an account of the murder of a nearby family and wonders if it is a copycat crime based on their murder of the Clutters. Perry feels sensitive about his crippled legs and refuses to wear swim trunks. Dick, however, walks along the beach. He strikes up a conversation with a young girl, about twelve years old. He regrets that he feels sexually attracted to pubescent girls; he has seduced several in his past. His attentions this time, however, are resisted, so he moves on. Perry listens to the Christmas carols coming over the speakers and begins to weep. Dick returns and states that it is time they move on because wages in Florida are lower even than in Mexico. He suggests that they head west to Texas or Nevada.
Bobby Rupp spends Christmas at home. For years he has walked out to the Clutter farm to give Nancy her present, but now he has no reason to go. He remembers one time when snow had fallen and made heavy travel for him. Mr. Clutter had told him a story from his own childhood: He went to town to buy presents on behalf of the entire family. A blizzard struck, but he rode the wagon back through the storm and almost got lost. When he arrived at home, he was upset to find that everyone had gone to bed instead of worrying about him, thinking he had had the sense to stay in town.