Most of the guests staying at the N-Joy Broadway Hotel, when they got up in the morning, went out sight-seeing, but not the Williamses. They got up and went out, like everybody else, but Mrs. Williams then became May Bellamy and went to work at the supermarket downtown, while Mr. Williams reverted to one John Dortmunder, who went home to East Nineteenth Street, where he did what he usually did at home all day long, which wasn’t much.
It had been agreed that Dortmunder and May would get together back at the hotel at six, to add another hotel meal to the credit card tab they were running up, and then wait for Andy Kelp and X Hour to arrive, which they figured to be midnight; this evening, they’d try not to fall asleep. So at about five-thirty, Dortmunder left the apartment, and when he opened the street door downstairs who was coming up the stoop but Gus Brock. “Hello,” Dortmunder said.
“Hello,” Gus said, and stopped there on the steps.
Dortmunder said, “This is not a coincidence, am I right?”
Gus scrinched up his eyes. “What isn’t a coincidence? I came over to see you.”
“That’s what I meant. I’m walking uptown.”
“Then so am I.”
They started walking together, and after they made the turn onto Third Avenue and headed uptown Gus said, “I read in Newsday where we scored pretty good out on the Island last week.”
“That was us, wasn’t it? Took all that stuff from that big house in Carrport?”
“Us?” Dortmunder asked. “How do you figure ‘us’?”
“Well, you know, John,” Gus said, “you didn’t know about that place, I did. You didn’t know about the Chapter Eleven and all that, and I did.”
“Except the guy was there,” said Dortmunder. “So much for all your chapters.”
“It was our little job, John,” Gus said. “I’m just asking you to consider the situation and you’ll see it would be fair I should get a piece of this. Maybe not half, I’m not a greedy guy, but—”
Dortmunder stopped, on the sidewalk. People and traffic went by in all directions. He said, “Gus, you and I went out there to make a little visit and it didn’t happen. You went away—”
“John, don’t fault me,” Gus said. “You would’ve went away, too.”
“Absolutely,” Dortmunder said. “And I wouldn’t come to you afterward and say we did this and we did that.”
“Sure you would,” Gus said. “Can we walk, John? Where are we walking anyway?”
Dortmunder started walking again, and Gus kept pace. “Uptown,” Dortmunder said.
“Thank you. About us sharing—”
“No, Gus,” Dortmunder said. “That little visit stopped. You went away, and I was arrested.”
“Yeah, I read about that,” Gus said, and shook his head with empathetic concern. “Wow, that was a close one.”
“It wasn’t a close one,” Dortmunder said, “it was a direct hit. I was arrested.”
People going by looked at them, but kept going. Gus said, “You don’t have to shout about it, John, it isn’t like hitting the lottery or something.”
Patiently, calmly, Dortmunder said, “After I was arrested, I escaped. Nobody helped me, and especially you didn’t help me, I just—”
“Come on, John.”
“—escaped. And after I escaped I went back to that house, and that was a completely different visit, that didn’t have one thing to do with you. You were gone, and I was escaped, and it was a whole new start. So what I got was what I got and not what we got.”
They walked half a block in silence, Gus absorbing the philosophy of Dortmunder’s concept, and then he sighed and said, “John, we been friends a long time.”
“I would say,” Dortmunder said, “we’ve been associates a long time.”
“Okay, a little more precise, fine. I understand your position here, I’d be a little aggrieved at my partner, too, if the circumstances were reversed, but John I’m asking you to put yourself in my position for a minute. I’m still the guy that found the score, and I still have this like empty feeling that the score went down and I didn’t get bupkis for it.”
“You should’ve stuck around,” Dortmunder said, unsympathetically. “We could’ve escaped together.”
“John, you’re usually a reasonable kind of a guy.”
“I’m trying to break myself of that.”
“So that’s how you want to end it. Bad feelings all around.”
Again, Dortmunder stopped in the flow of pedestrian traffic to turn and frown at Gus, studying him, thinking it over. Gus faced him, being dignified, and finally Dortmunder said, “Did you hear about the ring?”
Gus looked bewildered. “Ring? What ring?”
I’m going to tell him the story, Dortmunder decided, and if he laughs that’s it, let him walk away. “It’s the reason I went back to the house,” he said.
“Which I thought, when I realized what must have happened,” Gus said, “was a very gutsy thing to do.”
“It was a very necessary thing to do,” Dortmunder told him, “given what happened.”
“After I was arrested, the cops asked the guy, did he take anything? And the guy said, he took my ring, he’s wearing my ring. And it was my ring, that May gave me, and the cops made me take it off and give it to the guy.”
Gus’s jaw dropped. “He stole your ring?”
Dortmunder watched him like a hawk. “That’s what happened.”
“Why, that bastard!” Gus cried, and pedestrians made wider detours around them as they stood there. “That son of a bitch, to do a thing like that!”
Dortmunder said, “You think so?”
“They’ve already got you caught,” Gus said, “they’ve got you arrested, you’re facing heavy time, and he has to rub your nose in it? What a crappy guy!”
Dortmunder said, “Let’s walk.”
They started walking, and Gus said, “I can’t get over it. I never heard such a nasty thing to do. Kick a guy when he’s down.”
“That’s why I had to escape,” Dortmunder said. “I had to go back there and try to get my ring back, only the guy was already gone. So I took all that other stuff instead.”
“I get ya,” Gus said.
“But I still want my ring,” Dortmunder said.
“Naturally,” Gus said. “Me, I’d chase the son of a bitch around the world if I had to.”
“It was looking like that was exactly what I was gonna have to do,” Dortmunder told him, “only now it turns out, he’s at another of his places, right here in New York.”
“No kidding,” Gus said.
“Also got a lot of nice stuff in it,” Dortmunder said.
“I bet it does.”
“We’re going in there tonight,” Dortmunder said, “try to get my ring, pick up whatever else’s around.”
“Andy Kelp and a lockman, I don’t know who yet, and me. You wanna make it four?”
Gus thought about that. “You mean, forget the Carrport thing, and come in with you on this one.”
“Deal me in,” said Gus.