they had been driving for sixteen hours straight, and it was dark when they got to the hideout.
duke snd pee wee pulled in just minutes after mickey and hank. the two cars had stayed within sight of each other almost all the way from tennessee.
johnny was in the back seat of the car behind mickey and hank. mickey lit a cigarette.
hank grunted in that way he had and opened the passenger side door. he looked back at johnny as he got out.
“what are you waiting for? help me unload this stuff.”
“maybe you should see if the door is open,” said johnny.
“if the door isn’t open, we’ll break it open,” hank replied. “now, help us unload this stuff.”
johnny crawled out of the car. he could see duke and pee wee getting out of the front seat of the other car and mary and frankie dragging themselves out of the back.
it was a dark night, with not much moon or stars. kind of cold, but at least it wasn’t raining.
johnny watched mickey go up to the door and push it open. like it had not even been locked.
johnny kept his eyes on the house to see if any lights came on.
hank opened the trunk of the car. “i’m not telling you again,” he told johnny . “let’s move this stuff.”
over at the other car, duke and pee wee were watching as mary and frankie began taking bags and boxes up to the house.
a light went on in the house. that’s something, johnny thought.
“make sure you get your kits,” johnny heard duke tell mary and frankie.
it took almost half an hour to get the trunks emptied and the stuff carried into the house. hank and duke mostly watched as johnny, mary, and frankie did the heavy lifting. pee wee helped a little bit, and mickey was roaming around in the house, checking things.
they were going to be in the house for eight days, until mickey, hank, duke and pee wee finally pulled off the job they had been planning for almost a year.
just as the girl calling herself red had told him, ray found the old diner he had known as dave’s, at 17th ave and 34th street, changed into a chipper’s chicken.
snow was piling up in front of the entrance and ray kicked it aside and entered .
ray had never been in a chipper’s chicken before. he was a wendy’s guy, always had been.
there was only one customer in the place, but ray barely glanced at him as he approached the counter.
places like this usually had teenagers behind the counter, but this one had a big mean-looking guy with five o’clock shadow.
a big sign on the wall behind the counter proclaimed “your just like momma used to make all you can eat special - 5 dollars”.
“you want the special?” the big guy asked ray.
“uh - no thank you.”
“then what do you want?”
suddenly ray was ravenously hungry. he glanced over the counterman’s shoulder at the menu.
“um - a chicken sandwich, and a cup of coffee. light cream.”
“cream’s over there. you want anything on the sandwich?”
i should be giving him the message, ray thought. but he just said - “everything.”
the big guy started to turn away and ray said, “one more thing.”
“i’m looking for dwight. foster sent me.”
the big guy stared at ray. “why didn’t you say so?’”
ray didn’t know what to say, but the guy did not wait for an answer and pointed to the lone customer, seated at a table in front of the window. “you want the doc over there.”
“uh… thanks. ”the doc” … red had said something about a doctor.
“you really want that sandwich and coffee?”
“oh yeah, sure.”
“coming right up.”
ray approached the customer, the “doc”.
the “doc” did not look up at ray but continued to stare out at the swirling snow.
the “doc” was very old, maybe the oldest person ray had ever seen. he was wearing an old-fashioned gray hat of a kind ray had never seen, except maybe in an old movie.
ray noticed beside the “doc’s” chair a contraption he never seen before. it was an old-fashioned doctor’s black leather bag, with wooden handles.
“excuse me,” ray said.
“yes?” the “doc” finally looked up at ray. his eyes were barely visible in his old face..
“i’m looking for dwight. foster sent me,”
“yes, i heard you tell blue that. have a seat.”
ray guessed that blue was the counterman’s name. he pulled a chair out and sat down.
“my name is doctor frank,” said the old man.
“pleased to meet you,” ray answered.
the doctor ignored this. “who sent you?”
“uh - like i said, foster.”
“that was the password, young man. you have successfully given the password. who actually sent you?”
“red. a girl named red.”
“red. so she hasn’t come to a bad end yet.”
“no,” said ray, “but - uh - somebody else has.”
“oh?’ the doctor turned away from looking out at the snow and looked at ray.
“cindy. cindy has.”
“and what is the matter with cindy?”
“she’s dead. at least she seems dead. she seemed dead to me.” ray decided to skip telling doctor frank that he, ray, had carried cindy’s dead body through the streets for several miles. “but red seemed to think you could do something.”
“i see.” the old man turned back to looking out the window.
“i can show you the way,” said ray, “if - if - you think - “
“oh, i will go wth you,” the old man said. “but didn’t i hear you order something from blue? do you want to wait for it?”
“well, i can -“
“can you eat and walk at the same time?”
“i think so. i ‘ve done it before.”
“good. then we will wait until blue gives you your order, and then we will depart on our errand of mercy.”
white had big ears and excellent hearing, and she had heard almost the whole conversation between joe b and murphy.
she had heard them talking when murphy had first sat down at joe’s table in the corner.
what they said at first made her curious, and since she was a naturally nosey person and there was nobody else in the place, after she gave murphy the two burgers and the coffee he bought with the money joe gave him, she had gone back to the storeroom that was directly behind the wall their table was up against and listened some more.
white knew who who joe was, although she had never been much impressed by him, and he had never paid any attention to her.
she knew he was a punk with big ideas - that he liked to express freely - about being a master criminal.
when she had heard enough to get the idea of what joe was talking about she went back behind the counter. the place was still empty except for joe and murphy.
white leaned nonchalantly on the counter. the two would be desperadoes had let their guard down a bit and were talking a little louder than before, and she could hear every word.
what joe was saying sounded ridiculous and pathetic to her. in fact she thought he might be dreaming or making the whole thing up. but what did she know?
she knew some people who might be interested in joe’s plans. especially her friend dooley.
white owed dooley a couple of favors, so she would let her know what she had heard.
the door finally opened and another customer came in. a dummy looking old man all wrapped up against the snow with a scarf across his face.
white looked at the old man suspiciously, but he had money, and by the time she had finished serving him joe and murphy were gone.
murphy trudged through the snow, which was starting to fall faster.
he was hungry, and wondered if he should spend his little bit of money at wendy’s before going home to his little room.
as he always did in such cases, he decided to spend the money.
having made his decision, he felt a little better.
but then he started thinking about telling joe b that he had failed in his efforts to recruit kelly or anybody else to joe’s new crew, and he did not feel quite so good.
the snow stated falling a little harder, and he was glad to finally get to wendy’s.
but when he opened the door to wendy’s and walked in, he got a surprise.
there was only one person sitting at a table - and it was joe! in a table in the corner away from any window. with just a cup of coffee in front of him.
but joe looked like he was in a good mood and waved to murphy.
there was no way murphy could not sit down at joe’s table.
suddenly murphy did not feeling like eating, so he just got a cup of coffee from the teenage girl who seemed to be the only employee in the place.
as soon as murphy sat down he told joe that he had had no luck recruiting anybody.
but joe just laughed. “don’t worry about it,” he said. “we don’t need those guys. i got other plans now. better ones.”
“oh?’ murphy did not know what to think.
“i figured i might find you here,” joe went on. “that’s why i’m here.”
murphy just nodded. now he really did not know what to think.
“i got something for you. you don’t have to do it.”
“i want you to be my chauffeur. just for a few days. for a weekend.”
murphy was perplexed. “you want me to drive you somewhere? why can’t you drive yourself?”
“well, i could. but it would look better if i had a chauffeur. i am going out to this rich guy’s place - his mansion - or estate, or whatever. “
“ahh. i get it - you - we - “
murphy looked around but the girl who had been behind the counter was nowhere in sight, and the place was still empty. “are going to rob this place,” he finished in a low voice.
“no, no, nothing like that. nothing like that at all.” keeping his voice down, and looking around from time to time to make sure no one had come in, joe explained the setup with commissioner morton and mr madison - whose estate they would be visiting for the weekend - and sonia’s plan.
“that’s the craziest thing i ever heard of,” said murphy when joe had finished.
“it’s not crazy at all, it is the inevitable endgame of civilization.”
“if you say so.” now that he knew that joe was not mad at him, murphy was hungry again, and wondered if he could get joe to buy him a couple of burgers.
“so you are with me?” joe asked.
“sure, sure,” murphy assured him. “it’s just that - that -“
“well, it doesn’t really seem like crime at all - like a real criminal empire at all, if it is done like this, you know?”
“you are right, it isn’t.” joe took a sip of his coffee. “but this is something even better.”
“conquering the world. forget a criminal empire, this is a chance for empire, period.”
“no, dufus, we will just make a start this weekend.”
“i know, i know, i was just kidding.” murphy laughed. “you know i’m game for whatever. say, I’m a little short, think you could give me a little something to get something to eat?”
“sure. get whatever you want.” joe looked around again. “then we’ll go over to my place, i will give you more details.”