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21

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 wasnt 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, theyd 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 isnt a coincidence? I came over to see you.

Thats what I meant. Im 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.

Oh, yeah?

That was us, wasnt 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 didnt know about that place, I did. You didnt 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. Im just asking you to consider the situation and youll see it would be fair I should get a piece of this. Maybe not half, Im 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 didnt happen. You went away

John, dont fault me, Gus said. You wouldve went away, too.

Absolutely, Dortmunder said. And I wouldnt 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 wasnt 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 dont have to shout about it, John, it isnt like hitting the lottery or something.

Patiently, calmly, Dortmunder said, After I was arrested, I escaped. Nobody helped me, and especially you didnt 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 didnt 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 Dortmunders concept, and then he sighed and said, John, we been friends a long time.

I would say, Dortmunder said, weve been associates a long time.

Okay, a little more precise, fine. I understand your position here, Id be a little aggrieved at my partner, too, if the circumstances were reversed, but John Im asking you to put yourself in my position for a minute. Im still the guy that found the score, and I still have this like empty feeling that the score went down and I didnt get bupkis for it.

You shouldve stuck around, Dortmunder said, unsympathetically. We couldve escaped together.

John, youre usually a reasonable kind of a guy.

Im trying to break myself of that.

So thats 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?

Im going to tell him the story, Dortmunder decided, and if he laughs thats it, let him walk away. Its 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.

Something happened?

After I was arrested, the cops asked the guy, did he take anything? And the guy said, he took my ring, hes 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.

Guss jaw dropped. He stole your ring?

Dortmunder watched him like a hawk. Thats 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?

Theyve already got you caught, Gus said, theyve got you arrested, youre facing heavy time, and he has to rub your nose in it? What a crappy guy!

Dortmunder said, Lets walk.

Sure.

They started walking, and Gus said, I cant get over it. I never heard such a nasty thing to do. Kick a guy when hes down.

Thats 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, Id 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, hes 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.

Were going in there tonight, Dortmunder said, try to get my ring, pick up whatever elses around.

We?

Andy Kelp and a lockman, I dont 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.

Thats it.

Deal me in, said Gus.


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