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11

THE DOME DIDN'T look like gold at night. There were work lights around the construction site, even though no work was being done at the moment, to deter pilferage, which would usually mean boards or Sheetrock panels, not golden domes fifteen feet high, and in those work lights, as far as Andy Kelp was concerned, the dome looked mostly like a giant apricot. Not a peach, not that warmer fuzzy tone, but an apricot, except without that crease that makes apricots look as though they're wearing thong bathing suits.

Andy Kelp, a bony sharp-nosed guy in nonreflecting black, tended to blend in with the shadows at night when he moved from this place to that place. The place he was moving around in at the moment was just beyond the chain-link perimeter fence enclosing the mosque construction site, now temporarily on hold while the recently transplanted community got up to speed on the New York City culture and ethos.

And the reason Andy Kelp was moving around here at night was that, while he still thought the idea of heisting something this size and weight, particularly from people who have been known to be slightly hotheaded in the past, was a terrible notion, the one thing he didn't have was John Dortmunder's opinion. He was pretty sure John would see the scheme the same way everybody else did, but unfortunately John hadn't been at the meeting in the back room of the O.J. to put his stamp of disapproval personally on the idea, having been waylaid by some cop.

So, because of that gap in the chain of evidence, and because he wasn't doing much of anything else at the moment, he'd borrowed a car from East Thirtieth Street in Manhattan and driven out here to Brooklyn to give the golden dome the double-o. He was now coming to the conclusion that his first conclusion had been right all along, as expected, when the phone vibrated against his leg — silence can be more golden than any dome — so he pulled it out and said, "Yar."

"You busy?" The very John Dortmunder whose absence last night had brought him out here.

"Not really," Kelp said. "You?"

"We could maybe talk."

Surprised, Kelp said, "About the job?"

Sounding surprised, John said, "Yeah."

Kelp took a step back to study the dome from a slightly different angle, and it still seemed to him too big and too unwieldy and just downright too unlikely, so he said, "You mean, you want to do it?"

"Well, I got no choice."

So John felt compelled to go after all this gold; think of that. Kelp said, "To tell you the truth, I was thinking, you cut a piece off it, could be," though he hadn't thought of that till this very minute. But if John believed there might be something in this gold mountain, that could get Kelp's creative juices flowing, too. "Is that your idea," he asked, "or what?"

"Cut a piece off what?"

"The dome," Kelp said. "You'll never get the whole dome, John, I'm looking at it and—"

"The dome? You mean, Stan's Islamic dome?"

"Isn't that what you're talking about?"

"And you're out there with it? You're whacking pieces off it?"

"No, I'm just giving it the good lookover, the whadawe see when we see this idea."

"Stan there?"

"No, I just come out by myself, spur of the moment kinda thing. I don't wanna encourage Stan, get his hopes up. John, aren't you talking about the dome?"

"You think I'm a moron?"

"No, John, but you said—"

"You wanna meet? You wanna talk? Or you wanna stay out there and cut filets outa the dome?"

"I'm on my way, John. Where and when?"

"O.J., ten. It's just the two of us, so we won't need the back room."

"So it isn't a solid job yet."

"Oh, it's solid," John told him. "And I'm under it."


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