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57

BECAUSE OF ITS proximity to the Fifty-ninth Street Bridge over to Queens, the easternmost part of East Sixtieth Street is pretty well lined with parking garages, for those members of the bridge and tunnel crowd who prefer to keep their Manhattan driving experience to a minimum; say, seventeen feet. The garages are large, and full, and given to heavy turnover of both customer and employee, so any one of them would make a good place to stash, for just one overnight, an anonymous little van full of chess pieces, if you didn't mind paying the exorbitant fee, just this once.

Dortmunder had not accompanied the van last night — that had been Stan and Judson's duty — but he knew what to look for to find the right garage, and that was Tiny. Yes, there he stood, midblock, looking from a distance like a grand piano about to be hoisted through an upper-floor window.

Approaching, yawning — that had been a late night last night, and this meet was scheduled for 10 a.m. — Dortmunder eventually saw Judson beyond Tiny, and at that moment the kid saw him back and grinned and waved, which caused Tiny to turn around and acknowledge Dortmunder's approach, but did not cause him to grin and wave. He did, however, say, "Kelp's not here yet."

"He's probably waiting for the doctor to get out of the car," Dortmunder said, and to Judson he said, "Stan in there?"

"He should be right out."

"And you got the directions."

Patting his shirt pocket, Judson said, "Andy wrote it all out for me, gave it to me when we met last night."

Tiny said, "What about Kelp calling Eppick to call the guy, make sure the house is open?"

Dortmunder said, "He was gonna do that this morning, before he went for wheels."

"It's a hell of a distance to go," Tiny suggested, "to stash one box."

"Well, its not a stash, Tiny—"

Judson said, "Here comes Andy."

"— it's more of a delivery. The guy that it's his house, he's the customer."

"And we do home deliveries," Tiny commented. "That's real good of us."

Now out of the bowels of the garage came last night's small black van, Stan at the wheel, as simultaneously there came to a halt nearby a bright red Cadillac Colossus with MD plates, an SUV large enough for the rear seat to accommodate a basketball team; or Tiny.

"See you up there," Dortmunder told Judson, waved to Stan at the wheel of the van, and turned to climb into the front passenger seat of the Colossus, as Tiny occupied the rear seat in much the way the Wehrmacht once occupied France.

The van moved off first, Kelp following it down the block to the corner, where the light, for once, was green. The van went straight through the intersection, keeping to the left lane for the bridge approach.

Following, Kelp said, "What's he doing? He's going to Queens."

"Maybe he knows something," Dortmunder said.

"Maybe I do, too," Kelp said, keeping to the right, headed for the northbound entrance to FDR Drive. "We're not going east to Queens, we're going north to New England."

Dortmunder twisted around, to look back past the bulk of Tiny, but the van was already out of sight. "I wonder why he did that," he said.

"We'll ask him up at the compound," Kelp said. "We'll have to wait for them a while, though."


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