News, Views and Free Reads
by Jim LeMay
Thanks for spending this time with me.
The only negative comments I received for “Tin Cup,” both on Amazon’s Readers’ Reviews and in emails was its length. Readers said things like, “You’re not being fair… You say the protagonist is off on an Odyssey but he barely gets started before the story’s over. I want to more!”
Dear readers, I can only beg for your patience. Watch for the novel, tentatively entitled Making the Most of It, which chronicles the travels of Con and the companions he meets along the way on their odyssey to Tin Cup. It will appear soon after the first of the year.
Thanks to all of you who downloaded “Tin Cup” last Saturday, December 8th , and to canny marketer Chuck Anderson, President of Mad Cow Press. Because of you “Tin Cup” placed #1 in Amazon’s Best Sellers 90-minute Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Reads. That lasted several hours and the story ended the day in fifth place.
“Jack in the Warren” is still available for free until December 25th. Remember that even though it works as a short story it is an excerpt of my novel Shadow Jack, which is also published by Mad Cow Press.
The story takes place in the decadent city of Nelefer where the orphan boy Jack dwells in the notorious slum called the Warren. He will grow up to become the mysterious thief and trickster called the Shadow who lives by his wits and by deftly straddling the law. This tale tells of an incident in his early childhood.
Shadow Jackis set in a long dark age of ignorance and superstition following a worldwide pandemic. It follows the further adventures of the orphan boy Jack who makes his precarious living as the mysterious trickster called the Shadow. He simultaneously serves his city’s aristocrats, its leading gang boss and the least fortunate citizens. Which side of the law his clients favor is often ambiguous.
Thanks again, to all of you.
My first two novels, The Shadow of Armageddonand A Shadow over the Afterworld, take place in the aftermath of a worldwide pandemic caused by an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. What’s this about bacteria? some readers exclaimed. Everybody knows that some virus like Ebola or the so-called “Spanish Flu” presents the greatest danger of pandemic. And of course that’s a valid concern. But even though organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies fight the equally grave threat of resistant bacteria, few of the public seem to be aware of it.
As the author’s note in those two novels says, in part:
“My concern about the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria inspired this novel. I first became aware of it some time in the mid-’90s when I read a newspaper article about a teenager in Mozambique with bubonic plague who, fortunately, recovered. I thought that disease had been wiped out by antibiotics decades before. But perhaps it appeared in third world countries due to inadequate medical care or unhygienic conditions. The article made me curious enough to watch for related ones. By the turn of the new century I saw that the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria, even in developed countries, especially in American hospitals, could no longer be denied. According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), at least 2 million Americans become infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria every year and at least 23,000 of them die. Many others die of conditions complicated by these infections.
“If this continues, bacteria’s victory over antibiotics seems inevitable… We will … return to the way we lived in the pre-antibiotic times of less than a hundred years ago. That will seem horrific enough for a generation or two. The mortality rate among mothers giving birth will rise. Few people will choose to have elective surgery because of the danger of infection. But we’ll adapt. After all, we lived that way for our first couple hundred thousand years as Homo sapiens.”
We see articles concerning infections and deaths from opiate overdoses, automobile accidents and many other causes but infections and fatalities caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria seem to be a well-kept secret. And the crisis grows every year. Especially dangerous are nosocomial (from the Latin for “hospital”) infections that patients contract in hospitals while being treated for unrelated diseases and undergoing surgeries.
And the Free Read…
…as we track the odyssey of Con and his companions on their journey to Tin Cup:
Making the Most of It
Twelve – Christmas Shopping in Las Vegas
The distant breakfast bell woke Con and Doc. Lois had slipped away sometime before. On the way down to the refectory, Doc asked with a conspiratorial grin, “Did you sleep well last night?”
Con shrugged nonchalantly. “Better than usual. And you?”
“Not as well as you. But I got more sleep.”
They joined Lois, already there, Con sat beside her. She placed her hand on his thigh under the table. He placed a hand over hers. She smiled demurely. He returned it with a lascivious one.
Doc said, “We need to decide what to do. I, for one, could use a rest for a while. This looks like a good, safe place. Of course, none of us are bound by the others’ decisions.” He looked at each of them in turn.
Con said, “That doesn’t sound bad since they said we can leave any time.” He looked questioningly at Lois, though the two men knew she could hardly leave alone.
“I’m for that,” she said, then smiled at them. “In fact, this would be a good time for it. December must be half over by now. Christmas is coming up.”
Doc smirked. “Hey, you’re right, and I haven’t ordered your gifts yet.”
After breakfast they found Dante in his so-called “front office” just inside the front gate. With him were Martha and an old man named Earl Hudson with skin the color and wrinkled texture of ancient walnut. Dante introduced him as his “runner.” Con thought that ironic since he barely looked able to walk. Martha, a businesslike, gray-haired middle-aged lady, had searched Lois the day before.
“We’ve decided to take you up on your offer to stay,” Doc told Dante. “Put us to work.”
Dante had been adding a column of numbers. He leaned back in his chair and studied them for a moment. “Good. Doc, the questions you asked yesterday show your technological bent. Joe and Manny are good supervisors and they have competent foremen under them but they need help to keep equipment running. And I could use a hand with the compressed air storage energy batteries. Let’s try you out on stuff like that.”
Doc nodded. “Sounds good.”
“And Con, we need a strong young man like you. We can switch you from one job to the other so you won’t get bored. You can start off pedaling. Okay?”
Con shrugged. “Fine.” But thought, he’s looking for a strong back/weak mind type of guy. Like me.
“And, Lois, you probably don’t know much about making candles but you seem like a quick learner. Our candle business is growing. Claire and her daughters could use some help. How’s that sound?”
“Good. Settle in today and report here in the morning for your assignments. You’ll get a day off every week. Consider yourselves citizens of Dante’s Market from now on. Any questions?”
“Yes,” said Doc. “Can we three have the same day off?”
Dante said, “I don’t see why not.”
Lois asked, “What is today’s date?”
Martha indicated a calendar above her desk. “It’s December twelfth, 2072.”
Lois thanked her.
“Okay,” said Dante. “And I suppose you’ll keep the same dorm rooms…?”
Con cleared his throat. “Lois and I would like a room together, if that’s possible.”
Con heard an intake of breath from Lois and from the corner of his eye he saw Doc grin.
After the briefest pause, Dante said, “Why, of course. Martha will see to it.”
* * *
So the next day Con pedaled. He soon came to hate it. His shift lasted six hours, from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. He pedaled for an hour at a time with fifteen-minute breaks in between. Manny made rounds occasionally to make sure everyone pedaled over the minimum rpms. He frowned as he checked speedometer dials, chastened the laggards but said little to the others. The strength of Con’s legs, thanks to his long trek, surprised him. The exercise would have exhausted the sedentary pre-pandemic Con. He easily maintained the required speed but found the monotony, the exercise and the unrelenting heat excruciating.
Men manned most of the machines but a few stout women also pedaled. Manny harassed a dozen or so workers more than others. He threatened throwing those who couldn’t maintain the minimum speed out of the compound. He especially hassled an undernourished-looking kid named Artie. Once he hollered at him, “How long do you think your skinny ass’ll last out on the streets? Unless you find some sugar-daddy who thinks yours is cute.”
A big guy several stations behind Artie stopped pedaling and approached the two. He hovered over Manny. Though Con couldn’t understand them over the hum of the wheels he saw them argue for a time. When Manny pointed to the big man’s station the man returned to it and went back to work. Though Manny hadn’t backed down in the argument he didn’t harass the kid for the rest of the shift.
Despite his stamina, Con’s legs began to ache toward the end of the shift. And they cramped when he got to their room that evening.
The next day Manny put Con to work at the loading dock where customers waited with their carts and other contrivances. He and the other dock workers helped them unload goods they had scrounged from hotels and deserted homes that they wished to trade and especially batteries from a variety of vehicles that needed recharging. After the customers finished shopping Con and the others helped reload their vehicles with the Market’s products and charged batteries.
Back to pedaling the next day. To keep the singing of the wheels and the enervating heat from driving him crazy Con allowed his mind to wander. He thought of the resurrected technology he had seen in his travels. Surely they proved Doc wrong about the end of civilization. Soon all would return to normal. Dante’s Market seemed the most sustainable attempt he had visited. He also wondered about Tin Cup. What if he reached it to find it abandoned with winter’s snows covering its ruins?
That evening, after their third day of work, the three talked about their jobs over dinner.
Lois asked Con, “Did you have to ride the bike today again?”
“They tell me it’s nothing like a bicycle but it sure feels like riding one. A bicycle to nowhere. And I think I’m stuck on it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Manny told me I’d only have to pedal every other day this first week to keep my legs from cramping, to give them a chance to ‘muscle up.’ That sounds like that’ll be my permanent job.”
“If that’s the case you’ll have to take it up with Dante.”
“I will if Manny means to keep me pedaling. But how’s candle making?”
“It’s interesting for now but I can see it becoming boring pretty soon. We do the same stuff over and over.” She explained how they dipped the wicks into the melted wax again and again until the candles reached the desired diameter.
Con said, “I’m sure your job’s a lot more interesting than ours, Doc.”
He shrugged. “I’m learning a lot about compressed air storage energy batteries and how your pedaling, Con, generates electricity.”
Con grumbled, “I’ve learned all I want to know about ‘pedal power’.”
Later, in their room on the third floor, Lois said, “You’re not yourself, Con. You’re so gloomy. I know it’s because of the pedaling. You need to speak to Dante.”
“I want to talk to Manny first. I’ve learned never to go over my boss’s head.”
“That sounds wise.” And after a time, “What do you think of Dante’s Market? I mean, if you get your job situation straightened out. It seems like a safe, comfortable place. At least, given the rest of the world.”
He brooded for a moment without answering, thinking of Manny’s torment of the pedalers.
She nudged him playfully. “Thinking about Tin Cup aren’tcha? And that nurse you know up there. I’ll bet she has big tits. Not fried eggs like mine.”
He laughed and lunged for her. “Let me show you how much I like fried eggs.”
* * *
In truth, Con enjoyed only the part of his new life that he spent with Lois. He sometimes worried that their relationship would not last. A student of English literature, she had read books he had never heard of. He read little, only the occasional thriller. And she was smart like Doc. They often talked and laughed about subjects he knew nothing about. Awkward silences occurred when they tried to draw him into those conversations. If the pandemic had not depopulated the world, she wouldn’t have had anything to do with him. Hell, they never would have met, her soon to be a college grad and he a small engine tinkerer.
One night, for the first time in a long while, he dreamed of Gloria. She stood a long way from him across a stretch of desert. He walked toward her. Though she didn’t move she stayed the same distance from him. He tried to call out to her but could make no sound. At last she smiled sadly, blew him a kiss and disappeared.
He awoke sweating in the heat, wondering what the dream meant. It took him a long time to get back to sleep.
* * *
On Con’s fifth day of work and third of pedaling, his break and that of the burly guy who had defended Artie occurred at the same time. Wiping sweat from his face with his handkerchief he walked over to where the man drank water from a community pitcher.
Con said, “Hi. I’ve heard you called Kane. I’m Con.”
“Glad to meetcha, Con. But wish it was in a different place.” They shook hands.
“Me too.” Con also took a drink from the pitcher. Then they sat on a nearby bench. “I’ve got a question for you, Kane. But you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”
“Go ahead, shoot.”
“I’ve noticed you and Artie are friends and I’m wondering why Manny bullies him so much and why Artie takes it. He could complain to Dante and get an easier job.”
Kane scoffed. “Artie’s my sister’s kid. Manny bullies him because he can. Dante turned this operation over to him and lets him run it however he wants. He don’t fuck with me though. He knows I’d kick his ass. If you’ve noticed, there’s about twenty here that Manny bullies the worst, though not as bad as Artie. Y’ see, them and me and Artie ain’t citizens here.”
“What? Dante told us anybody who worked could be a citizen.”
“Well, it ain’t quite like that. See, we belong to Carl Abend’s horticulture mall? And it needs lotsa water. Artie and me are mongst the twelve Abend sends over to help pay for the water.”
“But Dante said the horticulture outfit pays for the water in food.”
“The Market don’t have enough workers so they charge warm bodies along with the food. They’s eleven of us pedalin and five from Bennet’s folk. And a few more from other groups.”
“Wait a minute. You said Abend sent over twelve of you. Now you say eleven. And who is Bennet’s folk?”
Kane scoffed again. “No, I said Abend sent twelve and eleven are pedalin. Manny took a fancy to the twelfth one, Lola, and keeps her for himself. And Bennet? He’s a pretend merchant who’s really a crook. His gang raids people passin through town and locals dumb enough to loot the ruins alone. Bandits gotta have water too.”
“How does this Abend decide who works for Dante’s Market?”
“Mainly, he chooses us that fucks up. Me and Barker, that big guy settin over there? Got drunk and had a fight in a bar, wrecked some furniture.”
“You two seem to get along now.”
“Oh, yeah. We’re buddies. We just get fucked up sometimes. Anyhow, he sent us here to pedal these damned wheels for six months. Three to go and then Abend’ll send somebody to replace us. It ain’t so bad for Barker and me, except for the boredom – we’re big guys – but poor Artie…” He shook his head. “He mouthed off to one of the mall’s sub bosses. Thank God he’s only got a month left.”
Con asked, “Manny couldn’t just kick Artie out on the street, could he? Wouldn’t Abend take him back?”
Kane shrugged. “I don’t know. Some that Abend sends here don’t come back home.”
“At least the shift is only six hours. That gives Artie time to rest up.”
“That’s for you residents. We have eight-hour shifts.”
Con wondered if those who didn’t go back to Abend’s mall made a run for it across the desert or joined criminals like Bennet. He wondered how many survived.
* * *
Dante had reserved a hotel bar behind the refectory for his managers, “soldiers” and their spouses and girlfriends, a couple dozen or so. The conference room a few doors down served as a bar for regular workers. The bars’ wine, beer, spirits and mixes came from the hotels and casinos, some brought for trade by the Market’s customers. Managers’ drinks came gratis, without any limit. Workers earned three beers or glasses of wine or two mixed drinks for each shift, recorded by their names on a slate behind the bar; no sense risking the hoi polloi getting so loaded they missed work the next day. Con figured the missing Rick Skinner had managed to “lay drunk” by smuggling his own booze in from the casinos.
After his shift on the fifth day and a couple of beers in the workers’ bar, Con lay in wait for Manny Cuzco outside the managers’ lounge. When he emerged, a little wobbly, Con confronted him.
“Could I have a moment, Manny?”
Manny stopped, surprised. “Who the hell –? Ah, yeah, you’re the new guy, Conner or something.”
“Conrad. I’m wondering about next week. For my every-other-day job can I have some shifts in one of those guardhouse things?” He had noticed six of them. They had no outside access, only entrances from inside the compound.
Manny chuckled and shook his head. “Ah, no, no. Only long-time residents stand guard. They have to be armed. They’re the only ones we trust with guns.”
“I guess loading customers’ carts is okay. Or carpenter work. I heard a couple guys talking about moving a wall to make a bigger apartment. Or maintenance, or –”
“No, no, no.” Manny held up his hand, his grin wavering. “I only gave you a break in the first week to get your legs strong. You’re too good on the pedals. That’s your job.”
“But Dante told me –”
Manny’s grin changed to an angry grimace. “I don’t give a fuck what Dante said. I run the laboring jobs and I say you pedal.”
Though no fighter, Con barely resisted hitting Manny. He turned and stormed away. He would confront Dante soon.
* * *
Finally, their seventh day in the compound, their day off, arrived. At breakfast Lois seemed unusually excited.
“I know this sounds silly and old-fashioned to you men of the road,” she said, “but it’s just a few days till Christmas and I’d like to get you guys a gift.”
“Great,” said Doc. “Just google your order. I’d like a new computer.”
Con said, “How about a drone to check out the hottest new casino.”
“No, I mean it,” she said. “These abandoned hotel shops are full of treasure and it doesn’t belong to anybody. Plus, I think exploring them would be a lot of fun. C’mon.”
Con said, “You mean right now? Today?”
She said, “We won’t have another day off for a week.”
Doc shook his head. “We don’t know what kind of people roam these ruins. They could be full of Speros.”
“And even more dangerous birds,” said Con.
Doc scowled. “Calling them birds seems a bit old-fashioned.”
Con shook his head. “Sparrows are those little birds that peck the ground around your feet. I’m talking about vicious birds like harpy eagles, peregrine falcons, vultures.”
“Oh, I gotcha. We don’t know how many harpy eagles are there.”
She laughed. “You cowards. We’ll only go into the casinos along the mall just outside the compound.”
Doc grimaced. “I’ve gotten too used to feeling safe without looking over my shoulder every minute. That’s what we’d be doing outside the compound. Remember, when you fall into a good thing, make the most of it. There’s too few of ’em.”
“Besides,” said Con, “Dante’s people will have already looted them. Haven’t you seen the jewelry and clothes these people wear?”
“There’s only a hundred and thirty people here. They couldn’t’ve taken everything.”
Doc sighed. “I know you won’t give us any peace until we agree. But Con and I got something to do first.” He stood. “Meet us by the back gate. Won’t take us but a few minutes. C’mon, Con.”
“What’s up?” asked Con as he followed Doc to the washroom.
“We’re going to see Beulah.”
“Is she going shopping with us?”
“My God, I hope not. Shopping with one woman’s enough.”
Another of Doc’s annoying little secrets.
In the washroom Beulah greeted them with a big smile, directed especially at Doc.
Doc said, “I don’t suppose the powers that be would object to me looking at the Feast.”
“They might if they knew,” she said, “But I ain’t gonna tell ’em.” She encircled Doc’s arm with both of hers and pressed it between her breasts. “You ready to take me on that ride, sugar?”
“Sorry, love, not today, but soon.” He grinned wolfishly and took his time freeing his arm. “Then we’ll get to know each other a lot better.”
Still vexed by Doc’s latest secret, their flirtation irritated him further. He went out into the garage and the buggy. Strangely, the tarpaulin over its cart seemed stretched over a larger cargo than before.
Doc made an exasperated sound at having his coquetry interrupted. “Wait a minute, Con. You don’t know what you’re looking for.”
“Well, you won’t find it either until you get your ass out here.” It pleased him to irritate Doc for a change.
Doc shut the door which usually remained open behind him, hurried over to the dune buggy and opened its back door. “I’m sure you remember the hiding place under the battery.” As he talked he unfastened the brackets holding the battery in place.
“Where we kept clothes to keep ’em free of sand.”
“Right. Manny must’ve found it when he searched the buggy.” He pushed the battery aside and took up the flooring. “Well I’ll be damned. They didn’t find it. We’ve still got clean clothes in there.”
“I’m sure glad to know that. Can we go now?”
Doc removed the clothes and set them aside. “So they also didn’t know about the compartment behind this one.”
To Con the wall Doc fiddled with looked like another of the clothing compartment’s sides. Doc pried it off with his pocket knife, which had looked too innocuous for Dante’s men to confiscate. After a glance over his shoulder to make sure the washroom door remained closed he took two cloth-wrapped objects from the compartment. He put them in a pocket and replaced everything he had removed. Then he said, “Now, c’mere,” went behind the buggy and sat on its bumper. No one opening the washroom door could see them there. Con sat beside him.
Doc extracted one of the objects from his pocket, laid it on his lap and unwrapped it. To reveal a small revolver and a box of shells.
He said, “I was lucky enough to find two of these relics in an antique firearm store. A Smith and Wesson 32-caliber pocket pistol, something your great grandmother would have hidden in her bosom. It’ll stop an adversary better than a 22 will but is lighter to carry and has less of a kick than a 45. And it’s small enough to hide in your pocket.” He handed the gun and box of shells to Con.
“And you think we’ll need these out there?”
“I doubt it but I don’t want to find out that we needed them too late.”
They met Lois at the back gate. Doc went up to the guard in the kiosk to tell him why they wanted to go out. As they exited the guard said, “Be careful out there, Mr. Drennan.”
“I certainly will, Charley.”
Once out of Charley’s hearing Lois said, “Wow. “MisterDrennan. I’m impressed.”
Doc shrugged. “People who see me with Dante all the time think I’m part of management.”
They decided to go to the end of the mall to casinos less picked over by compound residents. To Con, walking the vacant, trash-strewn mall, bounded by giant, silent buildings seemed strangely eerie after the noisy, hectic compound.
Doc said, “There’s something I wanted to tell you two that I’m probably not supposed to know. That’s why I waited till we got beyond earshot of the Market.”
“Because,” Lois said, “even the walls have ears.”
“Right,” said Doc. “Yesterday after I finished working on one of those compressed air storage energy batteries I went up to Dante’s hotel office to ask him a question. He has several offices, you know. I heard someone arguing so I stopped outside. I couldn’t hear them very well but recognized Dante’s voice. He called the other guy Carl. I assumed it was Carl Abend. The guy raised his voice a few times so I got the gist of the argument and found out he was indeed Abend. He called Dante’s charges for water outrageous. Finally he hollered, ‘We’re not gonna stand for this much longer,’ and stomped toward the door. I split before they saw me.”
“So there’s trouble in paradise,” said Lois.
“There’s even more trouble,” said Con. “A lot of the pedaling is done by slave labor.” He told them about his conversation with Kane and his confrontation with Manny after work.
Doc said, “From now on let’s keep our eyes and ears open and each other informed.”
Suddenly Lois laughed, pointed and exclaimed, “Look at that sign. That’s the ugliest cowboy I’ve ever seen.”
They looked up to see a large sign resembling a grinning cowboy with a cigarette dangling from one side of his mouth and a hand raised in greeting.
“Careful,” said Doc. “You don’t want to insult Vegas Vic.”
“Oh, he has a name. I’m sorry, Vegas Vic.”
“He used to be a friendly cuss, waved that hand and greeted everybody.”
But now, Con thought, faded and without his neon lights, Vegas Vic looked pretty seedy.
The Fremont Street mall ended in a T at a north-south arterial street named Main Street. On its other side a large building faced the mall. A sign identified it as the Plaza Hotel & Casino.
“Okay,” said Doc. “Let’s pick a casino to do our shopping in.”
Lois said, “But we have to split up.”
Doc said, “No way. Just leaving the compound was risky enough.”
She insisted, “But I don’t want you guys to know what I get you.”
Con said, “It’ll be okay if we go into the same casino and stay within earshot of each other.”
Doc scowled thoughtfully for a moment. “I don’t like it but I’ll agree if we stay close together. Let’s go in here, the Golden Gate.”
So they went into the last casino on their left. It felt marginally cooler inside. Behind the gaming rooms and a snack bar they found a labyrinth of hallways lined with boutique-style shops with glass walls and doors. Luminescent strips near the floor provided the only light. They agreed to meet at the snack bar after they finished “shopping.” They took different hallways that seemed to run roughly parallel to each other so that, hopefully, they could stay in contact in case of trouble. Doc made Lois take the center one. Con had never considered even entering such exclusive shops in his past life. Now he only needed to break through a door or window to get in.
As it turned out he didn’t even need to do that. Without electricity the electronic locks no longer functioned. When he pulled on the door of a jewelry shop it opened so freely he almost fell. Pillagers had ransacked the store, leaving the remaining contents heaped in broken display cases or scattered on the floor. They had left plenty of loot behind so it didn’t take him long, even in the dim light, to find a gold and bejeweled set that included a necklace, bracelet and earrings for Lois and a diamond-encrusted gold watch for Doc. The watch still ran but of course Con had no way to tell if it kept the correct time. He placed his finds in the bag he had brought and returned to the snack bar. He sat at one of the tables. Doc soon joined him.
“No Lois yet, huh?” said Doc worriedly.
“You know how women like to shop. And today the price is right.”
But after roughly a quarter of an hour Con said, “Shopping fun shouldn’t last this long.”
“Yeah, we shoulda heard something if she ran into trouble. Maybe she wandered off too far. Let’s check on her.”
They went down the hallway she had taken. Near its end they found her full bag lying in the middle of the hallway. A faint but brighter light came from around a corner. Recognizing it as daylight, Con ran toward it. Doc followed. They found a door to the outside, a minor door like one for employees. Wedged open with one of Lois’ blue canvas shoes.
Con said, “She left us a sign. She’s in some kind of trouble.”
Con started to open the door farther. Doc grabbed his shoulder. “Remember Main Street out there? And the Plaza Hotel across it? If she was abducted her kidnappers could be watching for us to show ourselves, aiming guns at this door. We gotta be smart about this.”
“How in the hell do we do that? They could be raping her right now. Or worse.” His voice broke.
As he talked, Doc dropped to the floor and edged the door slowly open just a bit farther.
“What do you see, Doc?” Impatiently. “Anything?”
“Yes. I see a door set deep in the Plaza Hotel’s wall just like this one. Almost right across the street. And there’s a blue shoe laying on the sidewalk outside it. Just like this one.”
# # #
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