THE MUFFLED SOUNDS in the penthouse, as load after load of valuables was carried through to the rear of the place and sent down in the elevator, snagged at the sleepers but didn't quite waken them. Yesterday had been so long and tiring, and had ended so late, that as the morning progressed and the sounds neither stopped nor got louder, both Preston and Alan merely adapted their slumber to this addition to their environment, and slept on.
Meanwhile, in the living room and the formal dining room, the red dots blossomed like a bad case of measles. Dortmunder and Tiny carried the designated goods back to the elevator, loaded it aboard, and sent it down to the garage, where Kelp and Stan unloaded everything, directed the elevator upward again, and stowed the goods in the capacious sixteen-foot-deep interior of the truck.
Arnie was in heaven. After his first rapturous flurry of red-dot dispensing, he slowed down, took his time, studied the wares on offer, and even rejected some as being, while first quality, not quite at the level he was growing used to here. He also refreshed his vision sometimes by standing at the windows to gaze down on Central Park or at the pork chop of Manhattan narrowing away to the south. All in all, he felt he was enriched by having known Preston Fareweather.
Around noon, Dortmunder and Tiny, carrying a marble athlete, lost their grip for a second, and a marble elbow thudded into the wall beside them. "Watch it," Tiny said, though he was just as much to blame.
"It's okay," Dortmunder said, and they moved on while, the other side of that wall, Preston frowned in his sleep, and his mouth moved with small moist sounds, tasting itself. Like a bubble in a soda can, he was rising toward consciousness.
As Dortmunder and Tiny set the marble man on the floor in front of the elevator, its door opened, and Kelp stepped out, saying, "Stan says the truck's about full."
"We'll make this guy the last of it, then," Dortmunder said. "Help us load him."
"I'll ride down with him," Tiny said.
Dortmunder said, "Then send it back up. I'll collect Arnie. We don't want to leave him behind."
"For once," Kelp said, and the elevator door shut on the trio.
Dortmunder went back to the living room, and Arnie was over at the window again, gazing dreamily out. Looking at Dortmunder, he said, "I run outa dots."
"And the truck's run outa space. Time to go."
"I'll take a quick look around at the other rooms," Arnie said, "see is there any must-haves."
Arnie went off, and Dortmunder looked around for pocket-size stuff, of which there was a bunch. A Faberge egg, for example, a couple of gold medallions, a Mont Blanc pen, a nice piece of scrimshaw. Pockets bulging, he left the living room, and in the hall he met Arnie coming out of a side room.
Arnie grinned at him and said, "We got the cream, but just lemme look."
Dortmunder walked on, and Arnie opened the next door.
The click of the doorknob popped Preston's eyes open. Bleary, somewhere between awake and asleep, he lifted his head and looked at Arnie Albright, frozen in the open doorway.
Preston blinked, there was a slam, and when his eyelids sluggishly lifted again, there was no Arnie Albright, only a closed door. Preston tried to frame a question, but was too befuddled to speak it, or even very much to think it. A dream? His head dropped back on the pillow.
A dream about Arnie Albright — too awful to think about. Down Preston went into oblivion once more.
Arnie raced down the hall, overtaking Dortmunder, whispering in shrill urgency, "He's here! In bed!"
"Him! We gotta get outa here!"
Arnie scampered on, and Dortmunder followed him, looking over his shoulder, not seeing anyone behind them. Preston Fareweather was here? In bed? All along?
Arnie skittered in place at the elevator door. "We gotta get outa here! Outa here!"
"Arnie, we do have to wait for the elevator."
But then it came, and they boarded, and Arnie pushed Bot so hard, it bent his thumb back, which he barely noticed. "Outa here," he said. "This is no place for a person like me. Outa here."