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32

The Saab not only had MD plates, they were Connecticut MD plates, the very best MD plates of all. Here, said these plates, we have a doctor with a stream on his property, running water. A tennis court? You bet. Walk-in closets. Music in every room. When you traveled in this forest-green Saab with the sunroof and the readout on the dashboard that told you the temperature outside the car, you werent just traveling in an automobile, you were traveling in a lifestyle, and a damn good one at that.

Andy Kelp explained all this to Anne Marie Sunday morning, as they drove across town to pick up Dortmunder and May. Anne Marie nodded and listened and learned and, following Mays advice, spent most of her time looking out the Saabs window at the scenery.

She was in it now, and not just in the Saab, either. In the Rubicon, maybe. She hadnt so much crossed the Rubicon as dived straight into that turbulent stream fully dressed. Her stay at the N-Joyenlivened toward the end by a massively intrusive but amusing police investigationwas over now, her room occupied by some other transient. Her return ticket to KC was dead; having been a special fare, it was nontransferable, and had ceased to exist when shed missed that Saturday plane. Nobody she knew could have any idea where she was. Friends and family back in Kansas, even Howard, should Howard decide to change his mind about their marriage, none of them could find her now. On the other hand, and this was a bit unsettling to realize, there was nobody she could think of who would try really really hard to track her down.

So maybe this wasnt such an insane mistake, after all, sitting here in a freshly stolen mint-condition Saab. Maybe this was a good time to start over, start fresh. These might not be the most rational people in the world with whom to begin this new life, but you cant have everything. And, for the moment at least, hanging out with these strangers was rather fun.

Since last night, she was living in Andys apartment in the West Thirties, though who knew for how long. Also, she wasnt the first woman whod ever lived there, as various evidences had made clear. When shed asked him about those previous occupants hed looked vague and said, Well, some of them were wives, which wasnt an answer that would tend to prolong the conversation.

Play it as it comes, she thought. Dont worry about it. Watch the scenery.

Be right down, Andy said, when hed double-parked in front of the building where Dortmunder and May lived.

Right, Anne Marie said.

The scenery wasnt moving at the moment, but she went on watching it, the scenery here being mostly sloppily dressed people in a hurry, a lot of battered and dirty parked cars, and grimy stone or brick buildings put up a hundred years ago.

Am I going to like New York? she asked herself. Am I even going to stay in New York? Am I actually going to become involved in a crime, and probably get caught, and wind up on Court TV? What would I wear on Court TV? None of the stuff I brought with me.

That was a strange thought. Most of her clothing, most of her possessions, were still at home at 127 Sycamore Street, Lancaster, Kansas, a modest two-story postwar wooden clapboard home on its own modest lot, with detached one-car garage and weedy lawns front and back and not much by way of plantings. Anne Marie and Howard had bought the house four years agoanother of their flailing attempts to unify the marriagewith a minimum down payment and a balloon mortgage, which meant that at this point the house belonged about 97 percent to the bank, and as far as Anne Marie was concerned the bank was welcome to it. And everything in it, too, especially the VCR that never did work right. All except the dark-blue dress with the white collar; it would be nice if the bank were to send her that. It would be perfect for Court TV.


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