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7

CHAPTER FOUR::


When Parker walked into the apartment, Krauss was at the window with the binoculars. He was sitting on a metal folding chair, and his notebook and pen were on another chair next to him. There was no other furniture in the room, which had gray plaster walls from which patterned wallpaper had recently been stripped. Curls of wallpaper lay against the molding in all the corners. On the floor beside Krausss chair lay three apple cores.

Krauss turned when Parker shut the door. His eyes looked pale, the skin around them wrinkled, as though hed spent too long in a swimming pool. He said, Nothing.

Parker crossed the room and looked out the window. A clear blue cloudless day. Three stories down and one block to the north was the Manhattan exit of the Midtown Tunnel. Two lanes of cars and trucks streamed out of the tunnel, fanning apart into half a dozen lanes of traffic, curving away to the left or the right. Parker watched for a few seconds, then picked up the notebook and studied the entries. The numbers were license plates and dates and times of day. Parker said, The Pontiac came through today, huh?

So did the Mercedes, Krauss said. But there isnt any phone in either of them.

We may have to change things around. Parker dropped the notebook on the chair and said, Well try the Lincoln today, if it comes through.

Krauss looked at his watch. Ten, fifteen minutes, he said.

If it isnt any good, Parker said, Henley will come take over here at four. If he doesnt show up, that means were on the Lincoln, so just pack in everything here.

Right, Krauss said.

Parker glanced out the window again. See you later, he said, and left the apartment. He went down the warped wooden stairs and out to the street, then crossed Second Avenue and got into a blue Plymouth just around the corner on Thirty-seventh Street.

Henley, at the wheel, said, Anything new?

The Lincolns still the best bet.

Henley looked in the rearview mirror. Thats due pretty soon, isnt it?

Maybe ten minutes.

Henley rolled down his side window and lit one of his narrow cigars. They waited in the car, neither of them saying anything, until Henley, looking in the mirror again, said, Maybe.

Parker twisted around and looked out the back window. Among the cars crossing Second Avenue, coming this way, was a black Lincoln Continental. Squinting, Parker could make out the uniformed chauffeur at the wheel. Right, he said.

Henley turned the key in the ignition. When the Lincoln went by, an eight-year-old boy could be seen alone, reading a comic book in the backseat. Henley shifted into drive and eased the Plymouth into line two vehicles back from the Lincoln.

The black car led them across to Park Avenue, then north to Seventy-second Street, then through the park and north again on Central Park West. At Eighty-first Street the Lincoln made a U-turn and stopped in front of the canopied entrance to a large apartment house. Henley eased into a bus-stop zone across the street, and Parker watched as a livened doorman opened the Lincolns door, and the boy stepped out, not carrying his comic book. The doorman shut the Lincolns door and the boy went into the building. The Lincoln moved forward along the curb and stopped in a no-parking zone just beyond the canopy. The chauffeur took his cap off, picked up a tabloid newspaper from the seat beside him, and settled down to read.

Parker said, Ill be right back. He got out of the car, crossed the Street, and walked slowly down the block past the Lincoln. Looking in on the way by, he saw the telephone built into the back of the front seat. Good. He went on down to the corner, crossed to the park side of the street again, went back to the Plymouth, and slid in next to Henley. Its got one, he said.

Henley smiled, drawing his lips back to show his teeth clenched on the cigar. Thats nice, he said.

Now we wait for the kid to come out again, Parker said. Then well take a look at his route home.


| Jimmy the Kid | c