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44

Ah, the open road, Andy Kelp said, at the wheel of the Regal. (The license plates did say MD, as Dortmunder had expected, and were from New Mexico.)

Interstate 93/95, between Las Vegas and Henderson, was a wide road, all right, but with all the commercial traffic highballing along it Dortmunder wouldnt exactly call it open. Still, they were making good time, and the Regals air-conditioning was smooth as a diaper, so Dortmunder relaxed partly into all this comfort and said, Lemme tell you whats been happening here.

Kelp glanced away from the semis and vans and potato chip trucks long enough to say, Happening? You just got here.

And everybody, Dortmunder told him, makes me for a wrong guy. Like that. Like that. The second time he tried to snap his fingers, he hurt something in a joint. Right away, he explained.

Again Kelp gave him the double-o, then looked back at the highway in time not to run into the back of that big slat-sided truck full of live cows. Steering around the beef, which looked reproachfully at them as they went by, Kelp said, I see what your problem is, John. You dont have a sense of what we call protective coloration.

Dortmunder frowned at him, and massaged his finger joint. Whats that?

Youll find out, Kelp promised him, which sounded ominous. When we get back from seeing this fella Vogel. But lets get this part squared away first. Shaking his head, weaving through the traffic in all this sunlight, Kelp said, I hope hes got what we want.

It would help, Dortmunder agreed.


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