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23

Dont look now, May said, but thats Andy.

So of course Dortmunder did look, and it was Andy all right, across the restaurant, having dinner and a nice bottle of red wine with an attractive woman with a nice smile. The woman caught Dortmunder looking at her, so Dortmunder faced his own meal again, and said, Youre right.

I told you not to look, May said. Now shes staring at us.

Shell stop after a while, Dortmunder said, and concentrated on his lamb chop.

May said, Andy doesnt want to know us at the moment, or hed come over, or wave, or something.

Dortmunder shifted lamb to his cheek: Ive had moments, I felt the same way about him.

I wonder who she is, May said.

Dortmunder didnt wonder who she was, or have anything else to add on the topic, so conversation lapsed, and they both continued to eat the pretty good food.

It was just after eight oclock in the evening, and the restaurant in the N-Joy Broadway Hotel was thinning out, most tourists eating early because they ate early at home, or because they were going to a show afterward, or because they were exhausted and wanted to go to bed. May was having wine with dinner but Dortmunder was not, partly because he generally didnt drink before going to work and partly because May would be going home after dinner and it would be up to Dortmunder to keep himself awake until midnight.

Theyd talked it over this evening, upstairs, before coming down to dinner. There was a possibility there would be complications tonight, since it was impossible to know ahead of time just what they would meet when the maid service elevator doors opened down below at the apartment level. If they met trouble of some kind, and if the law got involved, and if the law came to understand that the interlopers had descended from the hotel, it would probably not be a good idea for May to be asleep somewhere in that same hotel under a false name, riding on a false credit card. So after dinner she would pack up a small amount of her stuff, leaving her large suitcase for Dortmunder with any luck to fill later with items once belonging to Max Fairbanks, and she would take a taxi home, hoping to hear from Dortmunder in person in the morning rather than via the morning news.

Dortmunder hadnt known Andy Kelp intended to be in the hotel this early in the evening, nor that hed be with a woman. Was she the lockman? There were some very good female lockmen, with slender and agile fingers, but in taking that one look over his shoulder Dortmunder didnt think hed recognized her as anybody hed ever seen before. And if she were the lockman, wouldnt Andy bring her over and introduce her, so maybe they could all have dinner together? So she was probably a civilian, which made it less than brilliant for Andy to have brought her here, but who knew why Andy did what he did?

Probably, Dortmunder said, finishing his lamb chop and dabbing his mouth with his napkin, shes an undercover cop and he doesnt know it.

May looked over that way, past Dortmunders shoulder. She could look, but he wasnt supposed to. I doubt it, she said. Are we going to have dessert?

I always did before, Dortmunder said.

The waiter came over, at his signal, and it turned out there wasnt an actual dessert menu, nor even one of those dessert carts they wheel around so you can point at what you want. Instead, what the waiter had was all the desserts memorized, and he was so proud of this accomplishment he was happy to reel them off as many times as the customer wanted. Unfortunately, he had them memorized in order, so if you said, for instance, The third one, with the butterscotch on top. Was that chocolate or vanilla underneath? he didnt know. All he could do was reel off all the desserts again, and go more slowly when he got to the third one.

But eventually Dortmunder got them all memorized in his own mind as well, and then he could choose, the pecan swirl vanilla cake with the raspberry sauce, and May could have the rocky road ice cream, and they could both have coffee, and the waiter went away, and Dortmunder wondered how long it would be before he could clear his head of all those desserts. It was worse than the Anadarko family of Carrport, Long Island.

He wondered if the Anadarkos were related to Max Fairbanks. Probably not.

Dont look now, May said, but theyre leaving.

So naturally Dortmunder looked, and when he turned around of course the woman was facing in this direction anyway, standing beside the table, and she noticed his movement, and she looked him straight in the eye for the second time in one meal. Dortmunder blinked like a fish and faced front, and May said, I told you dont look.

If you dont want me to look, he pointed out, dont tell me what theyre doing.

May looked past his shoulder again. Theyre walking away now, she said. He has his arm around her waist.

I dont even care, Dortmunder said.

It took his entire dessert to get him back in a good mood.


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