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27

IN THE deep dark woods they huddled around the television set, for warmth as much as for entertainment. The movie now was Captain Blood, Errol Flynns first picture, directed by Michael Curtiz, best known for Casablanca. Jimmy was pointing out to an uncaring audience how the obsessive close-ups of Flynn from a low-angle camera made him separate from and above the surrounding action when Kelp came blundering back through the woods to say, Well, I finally found something. It wasnt easy out here, let me tell you.

It was now shortly after dawn; Captain Blood would soon be giving way to Sunrise Semester. They had spent over an hour heading away from the house, first across open fields, then through woods, then across a county road and a plowed field and more woods until theyd felt secure enough to stop. Another county road was ahead of them; while the rest retired deeper into the woods to hide and watch television, Kelp had gone off to find them transportation, a vehicle to get them to New York.

And now Kelp was back. Slowly Dortmunder rose, clutching his back. He had found and fixed the leak in his air mattress, but the patch had popped during the night, and hed awakened stiff as a board again. Sitting around on the cold ground late at night hadnt helped much, so

that by now the movie character he resembled was no longer Frankensteins Monster but the Tin Woodman before hes been oiled.

Oh, to be home, Murchs Mom said. Home in my own warm bed.

Jimmy said, Cant we watch the finish? Its really well done.

Im almost willing, Dortmunder said. Id like to see something well done.

Like a steak, Murch said.

May said, Dont talk about food.

They turned off the TV, over Jimmys protests, and all trailed after Kelp through the woods and out to the county road, where they found a Ford Econoline van waiting for them. Colored dark green, it had lettering on the side doors that read BUXTON J. LOWERING, D. V. M.

Dortmunder said, Whats this?

The only vehicle I could find, Kelp said, that didnt have dogs or barbed wire in the way of me getting to it. People are very mistrustful out here, dont believe any of that stuff about the gullible hicks.

D. V. M., May read. Thats some kind of doctor, isnt it?

Even out here, Murch said, he steals doctors cars.

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Jimmy said.

Dortmunder looked at Kelp. A vet?

Its all I could find, Kelp insisted. You go look.

No, Dortmunder said. Its okay. Stan, you and your Mom ride up front. The rest of usll get in back. And Stan?

Mm?

Just get us to the city, okay?

Sure, Murch said. Why not?

Kelp opened the rear doors of the van, and they started to climb in. Wistfully May said, And we were going back in a Country Squire. I was really looking forward to that.

Most of the interior was taken up by a large cage. They had to get into the cage, there being no place else to sit down, and try to get comfortable on the crisscross metal bars of the cage floor. Jimmy sat on his Air France bag, May sat on the suitcase, and Kelp tried sitting on the TV set. When that didnt work he tried the hibachi, which also didnt work. Dortmunder, past caring, simply sat down on the floor.

Murch turned and called, All set back there?

Just wonderful, May said.

Murch started them forward. The drive wasnt as bumpy as it might have been.

Andy, Dortmunder said.

Uh huh?

The next time you have an idea, Dortmunder said, if you come to me with it, Ill bite your nose off.

Now what? Kelp was aggrieved again. Doggone it, this things working out isnt it? Were making thirty thousand apiece out of it, arent we?

Im just saying, Dortmunder said.

I dont see how you can complain.

Im complaining anyway, Dortmunder said. And Im also warning you.

Boy. Some people are just never satisfied. May said, Whats that smell?

Dog, Jimmy said.

Sick dog, Dortmunder said.

I suppose thats my fault, too, Kelp said. Nobody said anything.


| Jimmy the Kid | c