home | login | register | DMCA | contacts | help | donate |      

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


my bookshelf | genres | recommend | rating of books | rating of authors | reviews | new | | collections | | | add



8

WHEN DORTMUNDER walked into the apartment, Kelp was asleep at the window with the binoculars in his lap. For Christs sake, Dortmunder said.

Huh? Startled, Kelp sat up, scrabbled for the binoculars, dropped them on the floor, picked them up, slapped them to his face, and stared out at the Lincoln Tunnel exit.

They hadnt been able to find an apartment overlooking the Midtown Tunnel. This one, in a condemned tenement on West Thirty-ninth Street, had an excellent view of the Manhattan exit of the Lincoln Tunnel, bringing cars in from New Jersey. It also, since it faced south, got a terrific amount of sun; even though it was now October, they were all getting sunburns, with white circles around their eyes where they would hold the binoculars.

Kelp was sitting in a maroon armchair with broken springs; this was a furnished apartment, three rooms full of the most awful furniture imaginable. The floor lamps alone were cause for weeping. Kelps notebook and pen were on a drum table next to him, the drum table having been painted with green enamel and its top having been covered with Contac paper in a floral design. The walls were covered with a patterned wallpaper showing cabbage roses against an endless trellis. Some of this wallpaper had peeled itself off, and curls of it lay against the molding in all the corners. On the floor beside Kelps chair stood three empty beer cans and three full beer cans.

Dortmunder slammed the door. You were asleep, he said.

Kelp put the binoculars down and turned an innocent face. Huh? I was just resting my eyes a minute.

Dortmunder crossed the room and picked up the notebook to study the entries. You been resting your eyes since one-thirty, he said.

There wasnt anything useful since one-thirty, Kelp said. You think chauffeured limousines with a kid alone in the back seat come through every minute?

Its all that beer you drink, Dortmunder told him. You drink that stuff and then you sit in the sun here, and you go to sleep.

For maybe two minutes, Kelp said. Maybe at the most five. But not what you could call a deep sleep.

Dortmunder shrugged and dropped the notebook back on the drum table. Anyway, he said, weve got that Caddy to follow.

Sure, Kelp said. Its a natural. And I bet its got a phone in it. Why else would it have that big antenna thing?

Because its probably the police commissioner of Trenton, New Jersey, Dortmunder said, and theyll see Murch and me following the car, and well get picked up for anarchists.

Ha ha, Kelp said.

Dortmunder looked out the window. Traffic, he said.

You know, Kelp said, I have a very hopeful feeling about this operation.

I wish you hadnt told me that, Dortmunder said. He looked at his watch. If the Caddys coming through, itll be pretty soon.

Sure its coming through, Kelp said. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, right around two-thirty.

Uh huh. If it turns out its no good, Murchll come take over here at four. Try to stay awake until then.

I wasnt really asleep, Kelp said. Not really. Anyway, Im wide awake now.

Uh huh. If Murch doesnt show up here at four, that means were either following the Caddy or some damn thing has gone wrong, and you should pack up everything and go home.

Right, Kelp said.

Dortmunder glanced toward the tunnel, looked at Kelp, sighed and said, See you later.

Sure.

Dortmunder left and went down the warped wooden stairs and out to the street. He walked to the corner, went a block up Tenth Avenue, and got into the Renault just around the corner on Fortieth Street. Murch, at the wheel, said, Anything new?

Kelp was asleep, Dortmunder said.

Its all that beer he drinks, Murch said. He drinks that beer and then he sits in the sun, and he falls asleep.

I just told him that.

So what do we do? Follow the Caddy?

If it shows up.

Right. Murch started the Renault, drove a block, waited for a green light, turned left on Dyer Avenue, and parked over against the left-hand curb.

There wasnt much room in the Renault, and Dortmunder had long legs. While he shifted around, trying to get comfortable, Murch rolled down his side window and took a long narrow cigar out of his shirt pocket. Dortmunder stopped squirming to watch him light it, and then said, Whats that? You dont smoke cigars.

I thought Id try one, Murch said.

It stinks, Dortmunder said.

You think so? I kind of like it.

Dortmunder shook his head. He scrunched around again, moving himself an inch farther away from Murch, and then rolled his side window down. He hung his right arm outside, and watched the incoming tunnel traffic stream past his right elbow and on up Dyer Avenue.

Dyer Avenue, on the west side of midtown Manhattan, has almost no true existence at all. It runs eight blocks, from Thirty-fourth Street to Forty-second Street, and contains no houses, no shops, no churches or schools or factories. Lined with the blank walls of warehouse backs and overpass supports, it is partially roofed by ramps leading to the upper levels of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and is used exclusively to funnel traffic coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel. Theres no reason to park there, and in fact no parking is permitted.

Which was what the mounted policeman told them, ten minutes later. Coming up on Dortmunders side of the car, he leaned down beside the neck of his horse and said, Theres no parking here, fella.

Dortmunder looked up and back, and saw this policemans face suspended in midair. Then he saw it was a policemans head with a horses body. He just stared.

Didnt you hear me, fella? the policeman said.

Dortmunder reared back, as best he could in the Renault, closed one eye, and finally managed to get the right perspective. Oh, he said. Right. Yeah. Nodding to the policeman, he turned to tell Murch to drive them away from there.

Just a minute, the policeman said, and when Dortmunder looked at him again he was climbing down off his horse. Now what? Dortmunder thought, and he waited while the policeman got himself down onto the blacktop and leaned his head close to the window. He gave Dortmunder a hard look, and then gave Murch a hard look. He also sniffed loudly, and Dortmunder realized the police. man thought they were drunk. He sniffed again, and wrinkled his face up, and said, Whats that stink?

His cigar, Dortmunder said. I told him it stunk, he said, and watched the Caddy go by. Silver-gray Cadillac limousine, whip antenna, gray-uniformed chauffeur, kid in the backseat, Jersey plate number WAX 361. Dortmunder sighed.

Urp, Murch said. Then, being very hasty, he said, Okay, officer, Ill move it now. He even shifted into gear.

Just hold on there, the policeman said. The Cadillac went on up to Forty-second Street and turned right. The policeman, leading his horse, walked slowly in his tight riding boots around the front of the Renault. He studied the car and the license plate, and frowned through the windshield at the two men inside there. Murch gave him a big wide smile, and Dortmunder just looked at him.

There wasnt room for the horse between the left side of the Renault and the brick wall of the overpass support, so the policeman left it standing broadside in front of the car.

Still smiling broadly at the policeman, Murch said out of the corner of his mouth, What if he asks for license and registration?

Maybe theres a registration in the glove compartment.

Yeah, but I dont have a license.

Wonderful, Dortmunder said, and the policeman leaned down to look in Murchs window and say, What are you parked here for, anyway?

Murch said, I got a dizzy spell coming through the tunnel. Out front, the horses tail, which was on Dortmunders side of the car, lifted up and the horse began to relieve himself.

The policeman said, Dizzy spell, huh? Lets see your

Your horse, Dortmunder said loudly.

The policeman looked past Murch at Dortmunder. What?

Your horse, Dortmunder said, is shitting on our car.

The policeman leaned inand looked through the windshield at his horse. Son of a bitch, he said. He removed his head from the car, went around front, grabbed the reins, and led the horse away from the car.

Get us out of here, Dortmunder said.

Right. Murch put the Renault in gear again and angled out away from the curb and around the policeman and his horse. Moving slowly by, he called to the policeman, Thank you, officer. I feel a lot better now.

The horse apparently preferred walking to standing still when relieving itself, and was now walking slowly up Dyer Avenue, plopping contentedly behind itself, and ignoring the policemans efforts to make it stop. Yeah yeah, the policeman said, nodding in distraction at Murch, and to the horse said, Stop there, Abner, stop there.

Up at Forty-second Street the light was against them. They stopped, and Dortmunder said, Goddam it to hell and goddam it back again.

So well try it again Friday, Murch said.

The horsell shit in the window next time.

The light turned green and Murch made a left. You want me to take you home?

Might as well.

At Tenth Avenue the light was against them. Murch said, I threw out the cigar, did you notice?

I told you it stunk.

Friday well wait around the corner on Forty-second. You can park there.

Sure, Dortmunder said.

The light remained red. Murch looked thoughtful. He said, Listen, you in a hurry?

In a hurry for what?

Lets take a little drive, okay?

Dortmunder shrugged. Do what you want.

Fine, Murch said. The light turned green and he headed up Tenth Avenue.

Dortmunder brooded for forty blocks, as Tenth Avenue changed its name to Amsterdam Avenue and its language to Spanish, but as they crossed Eighty-sixth Street he finally sat up, looked out at the world, and said, Where we going?

Up to Ninety-sixth, Murch said, and over to Central Park West, and then down. After that Ill take you home.

Whats the idea?

Murch shrugged, and seemed slightly embarrassed. Well, you never know, he said.

You never know what?

In the hook, the car goes to Central Park West.

Dortmunder stared at him. You think the Caddys going to be on Central Park West because the car in the book was on Central Park West?

March showed increasing discomfort. I figured, he said, what the hell, it wont cost us anything. Besides, in the book the kids coming in for special speech therapy, right? So this kid, in the Caddy, hes got to be coming in to see some specialist like that, too, and Central Park West is full of those guys.

Sos Park Avenue, Dortmunder said. Sos a lot of other places, all over town.

If you dont want to do it, Murch said, its okay with me. I just figured, what the hell.

Dortmunder looked at the sign for the cross street they were passing: Ninety-fourth. You want to go to Ninety-sixth, and then down?

Right.

Well, were here already, so go ahead.

It probably wont come out to anything, Murch said, but the way I figured, what

Yeah, I know, Dortmunder said. You figured, what the hell.

Thats the way I figured, Murch said, and made the turn on Ninety-sixth Street. They traveled two blocks to Central Park West, turned right again, and headed south, with the park on their left and the tall apartment buildings on their right. They traveled south for twenty-five blocks, Murch looking more and more awkward and Dortmunder feeling more and more fatalistic, when all of a sudden Murch slammed on the brakes and shouted, Son of a bitch!

A cab behind them honked, squealed its brakes, and twisted on around them with various words shouted out into the air. Dortmunder looked where Murch was pointing, and he said, I just dont believe it.

The Caddy. Silver-gray, whip antenna, Jersey plate number WAX 361. Parked in a bus stop, big as life. When Murch drove slowly by, the chauffeur was sitting behind the wheel in there reading a tabloid newspaper. His hat was off.

Murch found a space in front of a fire hydrant in the next block. He was grinning all over his face when he switched the engine off and turned to say to Dortmunder, I just had a hunch, thats all. I figured, what the hell, and I just had a hunch.

Yeah, Dortmunder said.

You get things like that sometimes, Murch said. Its just a hunch you get, they come on you sometimes.

Dortmunder nodded, heavily. Well pay for this later on, he said, and got out of the car, and walked back up toward the Cadillac. It was parked facing this way, and the chauffeurs head was hidden behind his open newspaper.

Dortmunder didnt look right on Central Park West, and he knew it. He felt eyes on him, mistrusting him. It seemed to him that doormen, as he walked by, glared at him and clutched their whistles. Cruising cabs accelerated. Dog walkers stood closer to their Weimaraners and Schnauzers. And old men in wheelchairs, being pushed by stout black ladies in white uniforms, scrabbled at their blankets.

Dortmunder walked slowly by the Cadillac. The back seat was empty and the side windows were open, but it was very hard to see inside. Aware of being an alien here, still feeling the eyes on him, Dortmunder didnt want to stop, so he kept on walking even though he didnt know if there was a telephone in the limousine or not.

Well, he couldnt keep walking north forever. At the next corner he stopped, looked indecisive, then patted himself all over, pantomiming a search for some small but necessary object. In a large elaborate movement, he snapped his fingers, suggesting the sudden realization that the small but necessary object had been left behind; at home, perhaps. He then turned around and walked the other way.

The Cadillac was getting closer. Coming from behind it he had a clearer view of the interior, but it still wasnt good enough. He walked more and more slowly, squinting, trying to see into the damn car.

Well, screw it. He went over to the Cadillac, leaned down, stuck his head in the open window by the back seat, and saw that indeed there was a telephone mounted on the back of the front seat. He nodded in satisfaction. The chauffeur remained inside his newspaper.

Dortmunder got his head out of the Cadillac and walked briskly on down to the Renault. He opened the Renault door, but before getting in he looked back up at the Cadillac. The chauffeur still hadnt moved, but as Dortmunder watched he suddenly jumped, yanked the newspaper down into his lap, spun around and stared at the empty hack seat. He then faced front again, looking baffled. He turned his head this way and that, staring suspiciously all around. His eyes met Dortmunders, and he frowned, deeply.

Dortmunder got into the Renault. He arranged his feet as best he could, closed the door, and said, The amazing thing is, theres a goddam telephone in there.

Murch was still grinning from ear to ear, and he had his paperback copy of Child Heist open in his hands. Now we wait for the kid to come out again, he said, reading the words from the book. Then well take a look at his route home. He slapped the book shut and said, Just like it says in the book!

Yeah, said Dortmunder.


| Jimmy the Kid | c