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50

Sunday morning, across America. Rolling over the tabletop of Kansas, now on Interstate 70, here came the silver Invidia, containing Stan and Tiny and the ten other guys. Stan was now asleep in the back bedroom while Jim OHara drove, with Ralph Winslow clinking ice cubes in his glass beside Jim in the passenger seat. Tiny had sat in on the poker game, and was winning. He usually did win, but guys didnt like to refuse to play with him, because they knew it made him testy. So this bunch in the Invidia, alternating drivers and traveling day and night, expected to reach Las Vegas some time before dark tomorrow.

But right now, Sunday morning, in the sky over Kansas and the Invidia, a commercial airliner was sailing by, also headed west. It contained among its passengers Fred and Thelma Lartz, Gus Brock, Wally Whistler, and another lockman, who used to be called Herman X, back when he was an activist. Then, while briefly vice president of an African nation called Talabwo, his name had changed to Herman Makanene Stulumbnick, but when the rest of his government was hanged by the new government he came back to the States, and now he was called Herman Jones. He and the other four were on their way to Los Angeles, where Herman would select for them a nice automobile from long-term parking and Fred (that is, Thelma) would drive them tomorrow to Vegas.

Counting Dortmunder and Kelp and Anne Marie already established in Las Vegas, this meant a crew of twenty, four times Dortmunders maximum. The result was, Dortmunder kept changing the plan this way and that way. His problem was, he didnt have enough for all these people to do, but he knew they all wanted to be part of the action. And, of course, they would all want part of the profit, as well.

As would Lester Vogel. Out there in Henderson, at General Manufacturing, on this Sunday morning, some of Lester Vogels employees were at work on an unusual special order, preparing a consignment and loading a truck, to give A.K.A.s pal John just exactly what hed asked for. I dont know, man, the workers told each other, shaking their heads. I wouldnt do this. But then again, they didnt know how this special order was going to be used.

Sunday in Las Vegas. The wedding chapels and slot machines were busy. The sun was shining. Everything was calm.


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