Major Iko sat at his desk, shuffling dossiers. There was the dossier on Andrew Philip Kelp, the first one he’d had drawn up at the very beginning of this affair, and there was the dossier on John Archibald Dortmunder, drawn up when Kelp first suggested Dortmunder to head the operation. There was also the dossier on Alan George Greenwood, which the Major had requested the instant he’d learned the man’s name in the course of television reports of the robbery. And now there was the fourth dossier to be added to what was becoming a bulging file, the Balabomo File, the dossier on Eugene Andrew Prosker, attorney at law.
Greenwood’s attorney, in fact. The dossier described a fifty-three-year-old lawyer with his own one-man office in a sagging building way downtown near the courts and with a large home on several wooded areas in an extremely expensive and restricted area of Connecticut. E. Andrew Prosker, as he called himself, had all the appurtenances of a rich man, including in a Long Island stable two racing horses of which he was part owner and in an East 63rd Street apartment a blond mistress of whom he thought himself sole owner. He had a reputation for shadiness in the Criminal Courts Building, and his clients tended to be among the more disreputable of society’s anti-bodies, but no public complaint had ever been lodged against him and within certain specific boundaries he did appear to be trustworthy. As one former client reportedly had said of Prosker, “I’d trust Andy alone with my sister all night long, if she didn’t have more than fifteen cents on her.”
The three photos in the dossier showed a paunchy, jowly sort of a man with a loose cheery smile that implied laxness of mind and body. The eyes were too shadowed for their expression to be seen clearly in any of the pictures. It was hard to gibe that happy-go-lucky school’s-out smile with the facts in the dossier.
The dossiers pleased the Major. He liked to touch them, to shuffle them around, reread documents in them, study photos. It gave him a feeling of solidity, of doing the familiar and the known. The dossiers were like a security blanket, in that they were not functional in the normal sense. They didn’t keep the Major physically warm, they just soothed his fear of the unknown by their presence.
The secretary, light reflecting from his glasses, opened the door and said, “Two gentlemen to see you, sir. Mr. Dortmunder and Mr. Kelp.”
The Major tucked the dossiers away in a drawer. “Show them in,” he said.
Kelp seemed unchanged when he came somewhat jauntily in, but Dortmunder seemed thinner and more tired than before, and he’d been both thin and tired to begin with. Kelp said, “Well, I brought him.”
“So I see.” The Major got to his feet. “Good to see you again, Mr. Dortmunder,” he said. He wondered if he should offer to shake hands.
“I hope it’s good,” Dortmunder said. He gave no indication he expected a handshake. He dropped into a chair, put his hands on his knees, and said, “Kelp tells me we get another chance.”
“More than we anticipated,” the Major said. Kelp had also taken a seat now, so the Major sat down again behind the desk. He put his elbows on the desk and said, “Frankly, I had suspected you of perhaps taking the emerald yourself.”
“I don’t want an emerald,” Dortmunder said. “But I’ll take some bourbon.”
The Major was surprised. “Of course,” he said. “Kelp?”
“I don’t like to see a man drink alone,” Kelp said. “We both like it with a little ice.”
The Major reached out to ring for his secretary, but the door opened first and the secretary came in, saying, “Sir, a Mr. Prosker is here.”
“See what he’ll have to drink,” said the Major.
The secretary reflected blank light. “Sir?”
“Bourbon and ice for these two gentlemen,” said the Major, “and a strong Scotch and water for me.”
“Yes, sir,” said the secretary.
“And send Mr. Prosker in.”
The secretary withdrew and the Major heard a voice boom, “Jack Daniels!” He was about to reach for his dossiers when he remembered that Jack Daniels was a kind of American whiskey.
An instant later Prosker came striding in, smiling, carrying a black attache case, saying, “Gentlemen, I’m late. I hope this won’t take long. You’re Major Iko, I take it.”
“Mr. Prosker.” The Major got to his feet and took the lawyer’s outstretched hand. He recognized Prosker from the dossier photos, but now he saw what the photos hadn’t been able to show, the thing that bridged the gulf between Prosker’s easygoing appearance and rough-riding record. It was Prosker’s eyes. The mouth laughed and said words and lulled everybody, but the eyes just hung back and watched and made no comment at all.
The Major made the introductions, and Prosker handed both Dortmunder and Kelp his business card, saying, “In case you’re ever in need, though of course we hope it won’t come to that.” And chuckled, and winked. Then they all sat down again and were about to get to it when the secretary came back in with their drinks on a tray. But that too was finally taken care of, the secretary retired, the door was shut, and Prosker said, “Gentlemen, I rarely give my clients advice that doesn’t come out of the lawbooks, but with our friend Greenwood I made an exception. ‘Alan,’ I said, ‘my advice to you is tie some bedsheets together and get the hell out of here.’ Gentlemen, Alan Greenwood was caught green-handed, as you might say. They didn’t find this emerald of yours on him, but they didn’t need to. He was trotting around the Coliseum in a guard uniform and he was identified by half a dozen guards as being one of the men spotted in the vicinity of the Balabomo Emerald at the time of the robbery. They have Greenwood cold, there isn’t a thing I can do for him, and I told him so. His only hope is to depart the premises.”
Dortmunder said, “What about the emerald?”
Prosker spread his hands. “He says he got away with it. He says your associate Chefwick handed it to him, he says he hid it on his person before being captured, and he says it is now hidden away in a safe place that no one knows about but him.”
Dortmunder said, “And the deal is, we break him out and he hands over the emerald for everybody to split again, same as before.”
“And you’ll be liaison.”
Prosker smiled. “Within limits,” he said. “I do have to protect myself.”
Dortmunder said, “Why?”
“Why? Because I don’t want to be arrested, I don’t want to be disbarred, I don’t want to be occupying the cell next to Greenwood.”
Dortmunder shook his head. “No, I mean why be liaison at all. Why stick your neck out even a little bit?”
“Oh, well.” Prosker’s smile turned modest. “One does what one can for one’s clients. And, of course, if you do rescue young Greenwood he’ll be able to afford a much stiffer legal fee, won’t he?”
“Sort of an illegal fee, this time,” Kelp said and cackled.
Dortmunder turned to the Major. “And we go back on the payroll, is that right?”
The Major nodded reluctantly. “It’s becoming more expensive than I anticipated,” he said, “but I suppose I have to go on with it.”
“Don’t strain yourself, Major,” Dortmunder said.
The Major said, “Perhaps you don’t realize, Dortmunder, but Talabwo is not a rich country. Our gross national product has only recently topped twelve million dollars. We cannot afford to support foreign criminals the way some countries can.”
Dortmunder bristled. “What countries, Major?”
“I name no names.”
“What are you hinting at, Major?”
“Now, now,” Prosker said, being jolly, “let’s not have displays of nationalism. I’m sure we’re all of us patriots in our various ways, but the important thing at the moment is Alan Greenwood and the Balabomo Emerald. I have some things…” He picked up his attache case, put it in his lap, opened the snaps, and lifted the lid. “Shall I give these to you, Dortmunder?”
“What have you got?”
“Some maps that Greenwood made up of the interior of the prison. Some photos of the outside that I took myself. A sheet of suggestions from Greenwood, concerning guard movements and so on.” Prosker took three bulky manila envelopes from his attache case and handed them over to Dortmunder.
There was a little more talk after that, mostly killing time while they killed their drinks, and then everybody stood up and shook hands and they all left, and Major
Iko stayed in his office and chewed the inside of his cheek, which is what he frequently did when he was angry at himself or worried.
At the moment he was angry at himself
worried. That had been a slip, to tell Dortmunder how poor Talabwo was. Dortmunder had been distracted by chauvinism at the time, but would he remember it later and begin to wonder? Begin to put two and two together?
The Major went over to the window and looked down at Fifth Avenue and the park. Usually that view gave him pleasure, knowing just how expensive it was and how many millions of human beings the world over could not possibly afford it, but at the moment he was too troubled to enjoy selfish pleasures. He saw Dortmunder and Kelp and Prosker emerge from the building, saw them stand talking briefly on the sidewalk, saw Prosker laugh, saw them all shake hands, saw Prosker flag a cab and be driven away, saw Dortmunder and Kelp cross the street and enter the park. They walked slowly away along a blacktop path, coveys of children ebbing around them as they talked together, Dortmunder carrying the three bulky manila envelopes in his left hand. Major Iko watched them till they were out of sight.