TINY DIDN’T LIKE TO DRIVE. He didn’t so much sit in an automobile as wear it, and that made it difficult to do things like turn the steering wheel and switch the high beams on and off. Fortunately, there are taxi companies everywhere, so when he got back to the motel after being hired by Monroe Hall, he used the local phone book to make contact with Keystone Kab. “I want a taxi,” he told the dispatcher, “and I need legroom.”
“We got a station wagon, you want that?”
“I don’t wanna lie in the back, I want legroom where I’m gonna sit.”
“Oh, it’s got legroom.”
“Run it over, then.”
They did, and it was a huge old relic, manufactured long long ago in a previous century, and driven by a wizened old cracker even older. But it had legroom. And in the back, there was also room for Tiny’s suitcase.
It wasn’t a long drive to Hall’s compound, but when they got there some confusion and delay developed, because the guards on duty didn’t know what to do about the unauthorized person at the wheel of the cab. Phone calls were made to the main house, and finally it was decided one of the guards would ride along for the round-trip. He thought at first he might get into the back with Tiny, but when he saw how much seat was left he decided to ride with the driver instead.
The road split when it got past the gate, one part going straight up to the main house while the second spur went off to the right. The guard directed the cabby to take that turn, then twisted around to say, “You been hired for security, right?”
The guard, a rangy man with a sour weather-beaten face, stuck his hand out toward Tiny: “Mort Pessle.”
They shook hands, and Pessle took his back quickly, nestling it in his armpit as he said, “When you get settled in, come on back to the gate, we can work out your schedule, arrange for your uniform.”
The guard’s uniform was brown. Tiny nodded at it. “I like how I look in brown.”
The house, when they got to it, was green and rather small, though not as small as where Chester lived now, off there in Shickshinny. It was about half a mile from the gate, with a lot of untended lawn around it, then other small houses. To the right, past the electric fence, the county road and its traffic could be seen but not heard.
“See you later,” Pessle said, and Tiny agreed that’s what would happen, then carried his bag into the house.
He was the first arrival, so he had his choice of rooms, though in fact he would have had his choice of rooms anyway. There were three bedrooms and one bathroom upstairs, one bedroom with its own bathroom downstairs, so Tiny took the one downstairs. The whole place was furnished sparely but neatly. He sat on the bed, which complained loudly, but it was comfortable enough. Comfortable enough for as long as he figured to use it.
He had unpacked and was inspecting the food that had been put into the kitchen for them—not enough, but not bad—when Dortmunder and Kelp arrived, lugging their luggage. “We found a place for the cars,” Kelp said. “Just came from there, it’s perfect.”
“Good,” Tiny said. “And you got wheels of your own.”
“You can drive me back to the gate,” Tiny told him, “and I’m in the downstairs bedroom.”
“Right.” Kelp still hefted his suitcase. “I’ll just pick a room, then take you—”
“Why not take me now,” Tiny suggested. “Get it over with.”
“Oh, yeah, okay.”
So Kelp put his suitcase down while Dortmunder went up to choose the best of the upstairs bedrooms. He and Tiny went out, and here in front of the house was parked a silver Yukon XL, one of the larger General Motors SUVs, approximately the size of a sperm whale.
“I can always count on you, Kelp,” Tiny said, as he climbed into the roomy rear seat.
“And I always count on doctors.”
Back at the gate, Mort Pessle introduced Tiny to the other guard on duty, a heavy-browed sullen-looking guy named Heck Fiedler, then said, “Come on over and meet the boss.”
The boss, in his own office in the building to one side of the entrance, was an older man, big and bulky, with a completely bald head and a stiff white beard like a clothesbrush. His name was Chuck Yancey, and his handshake was almost as good as Tiny’s. Mort Pessle went away after the introductions, and Yancey said, “You done any policin?”
“No,” Tiny said, “mostly I bust heads.”
Yancey chuckled, approving of that. “You may get an opportunity along those lines,” he said. “I’m not promising. Now, in that room through the door there you’ve got a whole rack of uniforms. Somethin oughta fit you. I know you’re a big fellow, but we’ve had a lot of big fellows here. If you don’t find anything good enough, pick out whatever’s the nearest and you’ll take it to our tailor in town.”
“Good,” Tiny said. “I like to be neat.”
“I know the feelin. One other thing.”
Tiny looked alert.
“The new man,” Yancey said, “which is you, gets the graveyard duty.”
“Graveyard? You got a graveyard here?”
“No,” Yancey said, with another chuckle, “I mean the late shift on the gate, midnight to eight in the morning. If you’re a reader, you can bring a book, or listen to the radio. We’d rather you didn’t watch TV.”
“That’s okay,” Tiny said.
“There’s nothing ever happens at night,” Yancey told him, “so it’s just you on the gate. You’ll have that the first two weeks, then we’ll switch you into the regular rotation. It’s boring there all night on your own, but you’ll get through it.”
He would be on duty all by himself at the entrance every night for two weeks, from midnight till eight in the morning. Nobody was ever around, and nothing ever happened. “I’ll make it work for me,” Tiny said, and went off to find a uniform.