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26

The maids cart. Its original cargo of linen and cleaning supplies having been left in a heap on the apartment hallway floor, it was loaded with paintings, jewelry, and other nice tchotchkas, then rolled back into the elevator, and ridden up to the hotel.

Floor seventeen. Gus and Andy went off to snag a regular public elevator, while Dortmunder and Wally waited with the loot. Andy then held that elevator while Gus went back to the turning in the hall to signal that the coast was clear. Then Dortmunder and Wally pushed the very heavy cart down the hall, around the corner and to Andy in the elevator. Then they all went up to twenty-six, where once again Gus stood chickee while the others trundled the cart down to Dortmunders room. He unlocked them in, Gus joined them, and they emptied the cart onto the bed. Then they reversed the route, took the cart back down to the apartment and loaded it up a second time.

If anybody in the public halls had noticed them on any of their several journeys, things might have gotten somewhat sticky, since none of them actually looked very much like a hotel maid, despite the cart they were pushing, nor were they even in hotel maid uniform, but the N-Joy Broadway Hotel was not a lively place at two and three in the morning, so they remained undisturbed.

Once everything was transferred to Dortmunders room, they were all quite pleased by their harvest; except Dortmunder, of course. But the other three had stars in their eyes as they looked around at all this treasure, or possibly dollar signs in their eyes. Sparkly, anyway.

The plan now was, Andy and Gus and Wally would leave, one at a time, each carrying a single small bag plus as much extra little stuff as their pockets would hold. Dortmunder had already put in a wake-up call for 6:00 A . M ., at which time he would rise and check out, with these four large suitcases here. Kennedy Airport, he would loudly tell the cabdriver who took him away from the N-Joy, but a few blocks later he would change the destination to the address of Stoon the fence, about twenty blocks north of the N-Joy on the West Side, where the other three would meet up with him, and where the nights takings would be swapped for cash.

They did their packing, made their preparations, and then Wally left first, fumbling with the rooms doorknob as he grinned around at them, saying, Call me any time, fellas.

Leave the door alone, Dortmunder said.

Sorry, Wally said, and left.

Gus was next. Its true what they say, he announced. You do good for somebody, it comes right back atcha.

Mm, said Dortmunder.

See you around, Gus said, and left, jingling.

Then Andy. Hefting his little bag, he said, John, dont be so downhearted. Look at all the stuff we got.

Not the ring, Dortmunder said. The point was to get the ring back. As far as Im concerned, the son of a bitch can have all this other stuff right now, as long as I get my ring.

The rest of us dont feel that way, John.

The rest of you didnt get your ring stolen.

Thats true.

So you know what this means, Dortmunder said.

No, Andy admitted. What does it mean?

Washington, Dortmunder said, as gloomy as a man can be in a room full of treasure. I gotta go to Washington, DC. What do I know about Washington, DC?

Andy considered, then nodded. Use your phone?

Dortmunder shrugged, but couldnt help saying, Local call?

Very local. In the hotel. Andy nodded again and said, Its time you met Anne Marie.


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