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53

Just around the time the mixture of cooled air and laughing gas began to fill the public areas of the Gaiety Hotel, Battle-Lake and Casino, the last airplane for the day from the east was coming in to a landing out at McCarran International Airport. A pair of Las Vegas policemen, in uniform, had driven out especially to meet that flight, and they stood patiently to one side until they saw their man. Theyd never seen him before, and he hadnt waved at them or done anything else to identify himself, and he was dressed in ordinary civilian clothes, and he was in a crowd of two hundred deplaning passengers, but there was no doubt in their minds. He was their man, all right. A cop can always tell a cop.

They approached him, where he was walking along with that stiff-legged weariness that follows long plane rides, carrying his battered black soft suitcase, and one of them said, Detective Klematsky?

Bernard Klematsky, he told them. Nice of you to come out to pick me up.

Our pleasure, one of the cops said. Im Pete Rogers, and this is Fred Bannerman.

There was a round of handshakes, and Bannerman said, So hows New York?

Not much worse, Klematsky said, and they all chuckled.

Rogers said, You wanna go pick him up?

Nah, Klematsky said. He isnt going anywhere. My flight back isnt till nine-thirty in the morning. Let him have a good nights sleep, and let me have a good nights sleep, too. We can go over, oh, I dont know, say about seven in the morning.

Youll have a different escort, in that case, Rogers said. Me and Bannerman will be sound asleep in each others arms at seven in the morning.

Klematsky blinked, but then he nodded and said, Uh huh.

Bannerman said, Well drive you to your hotel.

Thanks, Klematsky said.


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