THE VOICE ON THE TELEPHONE AT JOHN DORTMUNDER’S EAR didn’t so much as ring a distant bell as sound a distant siren. “John,” it rasped, “how ya doin?”
Better before this phone call, Dortmunder thought. Somebody I was in prison with, he figured, but who? He’d been in prison with so many people, back before he had learned how to fade into the shadows at crucial moments, like when the SWAT team arrives. And of all those cellmates, blockmates, tankmates, there hadn’t been one of them who wasn’t there for some very good reason. DNA would never stumble over innocence in that crowd; the best DNA could do for those guys was find their fathers, if that’s what they wanted.
This wasn’t a group that went in for reunions, so why this phone call, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, in the middle of October? “I’m doin’ OK,” Dortmunder answered, meaning, I got enough cash for me but not enough for you.
“That makes two of us,” the voice said. “In case you don’t recognize me, this is Three Finger.”
“Oh,” Dortmunder said.
Three Finger Gillie possessed the usual 10 fingers but got his name because of a certain fighting technique. Fights in prison tend to be up close and personal, and also brief; Three Finger
had a move with three fingers of his right hand guaranteed to make the other guy rethink his point of view in a hurry. Dortmunder had always stayed more than an arm’s reach from Three Finger and saw no reason to change that policy. “I guess you’re out, huh?” he said.
Sounding surprised, Three Finger said, “You didn’t read about me in the paper?”
“Oh, too bad,” Dortmunder said, because in their world the worst thing that could happen was to find your name in the paper. Indictment was bad enough, but to be indicted for something newsworthy was the worst.
But Three Finger said, “Naw, John, this is good. This is what we call ink.”
“You still got last Sunday’s
Astonished, Dortmunder said,
“Sure, what else? ‘Arts and Leisure,’ page 14, check it out, and then we’ll make a meet. How about tomorrow, four o’clock?”
“A meet. You got something on?”
“Believe it. You know Portobello?”
“What is that, a town?”
“Well, it’s a mushroom, but it’s also a terrific little cafe on Mercer Street. You ought to know it, John.”
“OK,” Dortmunder said.
“Four o’clock tomorrow.”
Keeping one’s distance from Three Finger Gillie was always a good idea, but on the other hand he had Dortmunder’s phone number, so he probably had his address as well, and he was known to be a guy who held a grudge. Squeezed it, in fact. “See you there,” Dortmunder promised, and went away to see if he knew anybody who might own a last Sunday’s
* * *
The dry cleaner on Third Avenue had a copy.
Life is very different for Martin Gillie these days. “A big improvement,” he says in his gravelly voice, and laughs as he picks up his mocha cappuccino.
And indeed life is much improved for this longtime state prison inmate with a history of violence. For years, Gillie was considered beyond any hope of rehabilitation, but then the nearly impossible came to pass. “Other guys find religion in the joint,” he explains, “but I found art.”
It was a period of solitary confinement brought about by his assault on a fellow inmate that led Gillie to try his hand at drawing, first with stubs of pencils on magazine pages, then with crayons on typewriter paper, and, finally, when his work drew the appreciative attention of prison authorities, with oil on canvas.
These last artworks, allegorical treatments of imaginary cityscapes, led to Gillie’s appearance in several group shows. They also led to his parole (his having been turned down three previous times), and now his first solo show, in Soho’s Waspail Gallery.
Dortmunder read through to the end, disbelieving but forced to believe.
“Thanks,” he told the dry cleaner, and walked away, shaking his head.
Among the nymphs and ferns of Portobello, Three Finger Gillie looked like the creature that gives fairy tales their tension. A burly man with thick black hair that curled low on his forehead and lapped over his ears and collar, he also featured a single, wide block of black eyebrow like a weight holding his eyes down. These eyes were pale blue and squinty and not warm, and they
peered suspiciously out from both sides of a bumpy nose shaped like a baseball left out in the rain. The mouth, what there was of it, was thin and straight and without color. Dortmunder had never before seen this head above anything but prison denim, so it was a surprise to see it chunked down on top of a black cashmere turtleneck sweater and a maroon vinyl jacket with the zipper open. Dressed like this, Gillie mostly gave the impression he’d stolen his body from an off-duty cop.
Looking at him, seated there, with a fancy coffee cup in front of him-mocha cappuccino?-Dortmunder remembered that other surprise, from the newspaper, that Three Finger had another front name. Martin. Crossing the half-empty restaurant, weighing the alternatives, he came to the conclusion no. Not a Martin. This was still a Three Finger.
He didn’t rise as Dortmunder approached, but patted his palm on the white marble table as if to say siddown. Dortmunder pulled out the delicate black wrought-iron chair, said, “You look the same, Three Finger,” and sat.
“And yet,” Three Finger said, “on the inside I’m all changed. You’re the same as ever outside and in, aren’t you?”
“Probably,” Dortmunder agreed. “I read that thing in the paper.”
“Ink,” Three Finger reminded him, and smiled, showing the same old hard, gray, uneven teeth. “It’s publicity, John,” he said, “that runs the art world. It don’t matter, you could be a genius, you could be Da Vinci, you don’t know how to publicize yourself, forget it.”
“I guess you must know, then,” Dortmunder said.
“Well, not enough,” Three Finger admitted. “The show’s been open since last Thursday, a whole week. I’m only up three weeks, we got two red dots.”
Dortmunder said, “Do that again,” and here came the willowy waitress, wafting over with a menu that turned out to be eight pages of coffee. When Dortmunder found regular American, with cream and sugar-page five-she went away and Three Finger said, “Up, when I say I’m only up three weeks, I mean that’s how long my show is, then they take my stuff down off the walls and put somebody else up. And when I say two red dots, the way they work it, when somebody buys a picture, they don’t get to take it home right away, not till the show’s over, so the gallery puts a red dot next to the name on the wall, everybody knows it’s sold. In a week, I got two red dots.”
“And that’s not so good, huh?”
“I got 43 canvases up there, John,” Three Finger said. “This racket is supposed to keep me out of jewelry stores after hours. I gotta have more than two red dots.”
“Gee, I wish you well,” Dortmunder said.
“Well, you can do better than that,” Three Finger told him. “That’s why I called you.”
Here it comes, Dortmunder thought. He wants me to buy a painting. I never thought anybody I knew in the whole world would ever want me to buy a painting. How do I get out of this?
But what Three Finger said next was another surprise: “What you can do for me, you can rip me off.”
“Ha-ha,” Dortmunder said.
“No, listen to me, John,” Three Finger said. Leaning close over the marble table, dangerously within arm’s reach, lowering his voice and peering intensely out of those icy eyes, he said, “This world we’re in, John, this is a world of irony.”
Dortmunder had been lost since yesterday, when he’d read the piece in the newspaper, and nothing that was happening today was making him any more found. “Oh, yeah?” he said.
Three Finger lifted both hands above his head-Dortmunder flinched, but only a little-and made quotation signs. “Everything’s in quotes,” he said. “Everybody’s taking a step back, looking the situation over, being cool.”
“Uh-huh,” Dortmunder said.
“Now, I got some ink,” Three Finger went on. “I already got
some, but it isn’t enough. The ex-con is an artist, this has some ironic interest in it, but what we got here, we got a situation where everybody’s got some ironic interest in them, everybody’s got some edge, some attitude. I gotta call attention to myself. More ironic than thou, you see what I mean?”
“Sure,” Dortmunder lied.
“So, what if the ex-con artist gets robbed?” Three Finger wanted to know. “The gallery gets burgled, you see what I mean?”
“Not entirely,” Dortmunder admitted.
“A burglary doesn’t get into the papers,” Three Finger pointed out. “A burglary isn’t news. A burglary is just another fact of life, like a fender bender.”
“But if you give it that ironic edge,” Three Finger said, low and passionate, “then it’s the edge that gets in the paper gets on TV That’s what gets me on the talk shows. Not the ex-con turned artist, that isn’t enough. Not some penny-ante burglary, nobody cares. But the ex-con turned artist gets ripped off, his old life returns to bite him on the ass, what he used to be rises up and slaps him on the face. Now you’ve got your irony. Now I can get this sheepish kinda grin on my face, and I can say, ‘Gee, Oprah, I guess in a funny way this is the dues I’m paying,’ and I got
“Maybe,” Dortmunder allowed, but it was hard to think this way. Publicity was to him pretty much what fire was to the Scarecrow in Oz. There was no way that he could possibly look on public exposure as a good thing. But if that’s where Three Finger was right now, reversing a lifetime of ingrained behavior, shifting from a skulk to a strut, fine.
However, that left one question, so Dortmunder asked it: “What’s in it for me?”
Three Finger looked surprised. “The insurance money,” he said.
“What, you get it and you split it with me?”
“No, no, art theft doesn’t work like that.” Three Finger reached into the inside pocket of his jacket-Dortmunder flinched, but barely-and brought out a business card. Sliding it across the marble table, he said, “This is the agent for the gallery’s insurance company. The way it works, you go in, you grab as many as you want-leave the red dot ones alone, that’s all I ask-then you call the agent, you dicker a fee to return the stuff. Somewhere between maybe 10 and 25 percent.”
“And I just walk back in with these paintings,” Dortmunder said, “and nobody arrests me.”
“You don’t walk back in,” Three Finger told him. “Come on, John, you’re a pro, that’s why I called you. It’s like a kidnapping, you do it the same way. You can figure that part out. The insurance company wants to pay you because they’d have to pay the gallery a whole lot more.”
Dortmunder said, “And what’s the split?”
“Nothing, John,” Three Finger said. “The money’s all yours. Don’t worry, I’ll make out. You hit that gallery in the next week, I get ink. Believe me, where I am now, ink is better than money.”
“Then you’re in some funny place,” Dortmunder told him.
“It’s a lot better than where I used to be, John,” Three Finger said.
Dortmunder picked up the business card and looked at it, and the willowy waitress brought him coffee in a round mauve cup the size of Elmira, so he put the card in his pocket. When she went away, he said, “I’ll think about it.” Because what else would he do?
“You could go there today,” Three Finger said. “Not with me, you know.”
“You case the joint, if it looks good, you do it. The place closes at seven, you do it between eight and midnight, any night at all. I’m guaranteed to be with a crowd, so nobody thinks I ripped myself off for the publicity stunt.”
Three Finger reached into his jacket again-Dortmunder did not flinch a bit-and brought out a postcard with a shiny picture
on one side. Sliding it across the table, he said, “This is like my calling card these days. The gallery address is on the other side.”
It was a reproduction of a painting, one of Three Finger’s, had to be. Dortmunder picked it up by the edges because the picture covered the whole area, and looked at a nighttime street scene. A side street, with a bar and some brick tenements and parked cars. It wasn’t dark, but the light was a little weird, streetlights and bar lights and lights in windows, all a little too green or a little too blue. No people showed anywhere along the street or in the windows, but you just had a feeling there were people there, barely out of sight, hiding maybe in a doorway, behind a car. It wasn’t a neighborhood you’d want to stay in.
“Keep it,” Three Finger said. “I got a stack of “em.”
Dortmunder pocketed the card, thinking he’d show it to his faithful companion this evening and she’d tell him what to think about it. “I’ll give the place the double-O,” he promised.
“I can’t ask more,” Three Finger assured him.
The neighborhood had been full of lofts and warehouses and light manufacturing. Then commerce left, went over to New Jersey or out to the Island, and the artists moved in, for the large spaces at low rents. But the artists made it trendy, so the real estate people moved in, changed the name to Soho, which in London does not mean South of Houston Street, and the rents went through the roof. The artists had to move out, but they left their paintings behind, in the new galleries. Parts of Soho still look pretty much like before, but some of it has been touristed up so much it doesn’t look like New York City at all. It looks like Charlotte Amalie, on a dimmer.
The Waspail Gallery was in a little cluster that had been touristed. In the first place, it came with its own parking lot. In New York?
A U of buildings, half a block’s worth, had been taken over for a series of shops and cafes. The most beat-up of the original buildings had been knocked down to make access to the former backyards, which were blacktopped into a parking area, plus selling and eating space. The shops and cafes faced out onto the three streets surrounding the U; and they all also had entrances in back, from the parking lot.
The Waspail Gallery was midway down the left arm of the U. The original of the postcard in Dortmunder’s pocket stood on an easel in the big front window, looking even more menacing at life size. Inside, a stainless-steel girl in black presided at a little cherrywood desk, while three browsers browsed in the background. The girl gave Dortmunder one appraising look, glanced outside to see if it was raining, decided there was no telling and went back to her
All the pictures were early evening or night scenes of city streets, never with any people, always with that sense of hidden menace. Some were bigger, some were smaller, all had weirdness in the lighting. Dortmunder found the two with red dots-
Dortmunder browsed among the browsers, but mostly he was browsing for security. He saw the alarm system over the front door, a make and model he’d amused himself with in the past, and he smiled it a hello. He saw the locks on the doors at front and back, he saw the solid sheet metal-articulated gate that would ratchet down over the front window at night to protect the glass and to keep passersby from seeing any burglar who might happen to be inside, and eventually he saw the thick iron mesh on the small window in the unisex bathroom.
What he didn’t see was the surveillance camera. A joint with this alarm and those locks and that gate would usually have a surveillance camera, either to videotape with a motion sensor or to take still pictures every minute or so. So where was it?
There. Tucked away inside an apparent heating system grid
high on the right wall. Dortmunder caught a glimpse of light reflecting off the lens, and it wasn’t until the next time he browsed by that he could figure out which way it pointed-diagonally toward the front entrance. So a person coming in from the back could avoid it without a problem.
He went out the back way, past the tourists snacking at tables on the asphalt, and home.
He didn’t like it. He wasn’t sure what it was, but something was wrong. He would have gone in and lifted a few pictures that first night, if he’d felt comfortable about it, but he didn’t. Something was wrong.
Was it just that this was connected with Three Finger Gillie, from whom nothing good had ever flowed? Or was there something else that he just couldn’t put his finger on?
It wasn’t the money. Gillie didn’t plan to rip off Dortmunder later on, or he’d have agreed to share the pie from the get-go. It was the publicity he wanted. And Dortmunder didn’t believe Gillie meant to double-cross him, turn him in to get himself some extra publicity, because it would be too easy to show they used to know each other in the old days, and Gillie’s being the inside man in the boost would be obvious.
No, it wasn’t Gillie himself, at least not directly. It was something else that didn’t feel right, something having to do with that gallery.
Of course, he could just forget the whole thing, take a walk. He didn’t owe Three Finger Gillie any favors. But if there was something wrong, was it a smart idea to walk away without at least finding out what was what?
The third day, Dortmunder decided to go back to the gallery one more time, see if he could figure out what was bugging him.
This time, he thought he’d walk in the parking entrance and go into the gallery from that side, to see what it felt like. The first thing he saw, at an outdoor cafe across the half-empty lot from the gallery, was Jim O’Hara, drinking a Diet Pepsi. At least, the cup was a Diet Pepsi cup.
Jim O’Hara. A coincidence?
O’Hara was a guy Dortmunder had worked with here and there, around and about, from time to time. They’d done some things together. However, they didn’t travel in the same circles on a regular basis, so how did it happen that Jim O’Hara was here, and not looking at the rear entrance to the Waspail Gallery?
Dortmunder walked down the left side of the parking area, past the gallery (without looking at it), and when he was sure he’d caught O’Hara’s attention, he stopped, nodded as though he’d just decided on something, turned around and walked back out to the street.
The remaining parts of the original Soho neighborhood included some bars. Dortmunder found one after a three-block walk, purchased a draft beer, took it to a booth and had sipped twice before O’Hara joined him, having traded his Diet Pepsi for a draft of his own. For greeting, he said, “He talked to you, too, huh?”
“Three days ago,” Dortmunder said. “When’d he talk to you?”
“Forty minutes ago. He’ll talk until somebody does it, I guess. How come you didn’t?”
“Smelled wrong,” Dortmunder said.
O’Hara nodded. “Me, too. That’s why I was sitting there, trying to figure it out.”
Dortmunder said, “Who knows how many people he’s telling the story to.”
“So we walk away from it.”
“No, we can’t,” Dortmunder told him. “That’s what I finally realized when I saw you sitting over there.”
O’Hara drank beer, and frowned. “Why can’t we just forget it?”
“The whole thing hangs together,” Dortmunder said. “What got to me, in that gallery there, and now I know it, and it’s the
answer to what’s wrong with this picture, is the security camera.” “What security camera?” O’Hara asked, and then said, “You’re right, there should have been one, and there wasn’t.”
“Well, there was,” Dortmunder told him. “Tucked away in a vent thing on the wall. But the thing about a security camera, it’s always right out there, mounted under the ceiling, out where you can see it. That’s part of the security, that you’re supposed to know it’s there.”
“Why, that son of a bitch,” O’Hara said.
“Oops, wait a minute, I know that fella,” O’Hara said the next night, back in the gallery-facing parking lot. “Be right back.”
“I’ll be here,” Dortmunder said as O’Hara rose to intercept an almost invisible guy approaching the gallery across the way, a skinny slinking guy in dark gray jacket, dark gray pants, black sneakers and black baseball cap worn frontward.
Dortmunder watched the two not quite meet and then leave the parking area not quite together, and then for a while he watched tourists yawn at the tables around him until O’Hara and the other guy walked back together. They came to the table and O’Hara said, “Pete, John. John, Pete.”
“That Three Finger’s something, isn’t he?” Pete said, and sat with them. Then he smiled up at the actor turned waiter who materialized before him like a genie out of a bottle. “Nothing for me, thanks, pal,” Pete said. “I’m up to here in Chicken McNuggets.”
The actor shrugged and vanished, while Dortmunder decided not to ask for a definition of Chicken McNuggets. Instead, he said, “It was today he talked to you?”
“Yeah, and I was gonna do it, that’s how bright I am,” Pete said. “Like the fella says, I get along with a little help from my friends, without whom I’d be asking for my old cell back.”
O’Hara said, “Happy to oblige.” To Dortmunder he said, “Pete agrees with us.”
Pete said, “And it’s tonight, am I right?”
“Before he recruits an entire platoon,” Dortmunder said.
O’Hara said, “Or before somebody actually does it.”
For a second, it looked as though Pete might offer to shake hands all around. But he quelled that impulse, grinned at them instead and said, “Like the fella says, all for one and one for all and a sharp stick in the eye for Three Finger.”
“Hear, hear,” O’Hara said.
Three-fifteen in the morning. While O’Hara and Dortmunder waited in the car they’d borrowed out in Queens earlier this evening, Pete slithered along the storefronts toward the parking area entrance at the far end of the block. Halfway there, he disappeared into the shifting shadows of the night.
“He moves nice,” Dortmunder said in approval.
“Uh-huh,” O’Hara said. “Pete’s never paid to see a movie in his life.”
They waited about five minutes, and then Pete appeared again, having to come almost all the way back to the car before he could catch their attention. In that time, a couple of cruising cabs had gone by on the wider cross-streets ahead and behind, but nothing at all had moved on this block.
“Here’s Pete now,” O’Hara said, and they got out of the car and followed him back down to the parking area’s gates, which were kept locked at night, except for now. Along the way, speaking in a gray murmur, O’Hara asked, “Any trouble?”
“Easy,” Pete murmured back. “Not as easy as if I could bust things up, but easy.”
Pete had not, in fact, busted anything up. The gates looked as solidly locked as ever, completely untampered with, but when Pete gave a small push they swung right out of the way. The trio stepped through, Pete closed the gates again and here they were.
Dortmunder looked around, and at night, with nobody here, this parking area surrounded by shut shops looked just like Three Finger’s paintings. Even the security lights in the stores were a little strange, a little too white or a little too pink. It was spooky.
They’d agreed that Dortmunder, as the one who’d caught on to the scam, had his choice of jobs here tonight, and he’d picked the art gallery. It would be more work than the other stuff, more delicate, but it would also be more personal and therefore more satisfying. So the three split up, and Dortmunder approached the gallery, first putting on a pair of thin rubber gloves, then taking a roll of keys from his pocket. The other two, meantime, who were also now gloved, were taking pry bars and chisels from their pockets as they neared a pair of other shops.
Dortmunder worked slowly and painstakingly. He wasn’t worried about the locks or the alarm system; they were nothing to get into a sweat over. But the point here was to do the job without leaving any traces, the way Pete had done the gate.
The other two didn’t have such problems. Breaking into stores, the only thing they had to be careful about was making too much noise, since there were apartments on the upper floors here, among the chiropractors and psychic readers. But within that limitation, they made no attempt at all to be neat or discreet. Every shop door was mangled. Inside the shops, they peeled the faces off safes, they gouged open cash register tills and they left interior doors sagging from their hinges.
Every shop in the compound was hit, the costume jewelry store and the souvenir shop and the movie memorabilia place and both antique shops and the fine-leather store and both cafes and the other art gallery. They didn’t get a lot from any one of these places, but they got something from each.
Dortmunder meanwhile had gained access to the Waspail Gallery. Taking the stainless-steel girl’s chair from the cherry-wood table, he carried it over to the grid in the wall concealing the security camera, climbed up on the chair and carefully unscrewed the grid, being sure not to leave any scratches. The grid was hinged at the bottom; he lowered it to the wall, looked inside, and the camera looked back at him. A motion sensor machine, it had sensed motion and was now humming quietly to itself as it took Dortmunder’s picture.
That’s OK, Dortmunder thought, enjoy yourself. While you can.
The space was a small oblong box built into the wall, larger than a shoebox but smaller than a liquor store carton. An electric outlet was built into its right side, with the camera plugged into it. Dortmunder reached past the lens, pulled the plug and the camera stopped humming. Then he figured out how to move this widget forward on the right side of the mounting-
He brought the camera down and placed it on the floor, then climbed back up on the chair to put the grid in its original place. Certain he’d left no marks on it, he climbed down, put the chair where it belonged and wiped its seat with his sleeve.
Next, the tapes. There would be tapes from this camera, probably two a day. Where would they be?
The cherrywood table’s drawer was locked, and that took a while, leaving no marks, and then the tapes weren’t there. A closet was also locked and also took a little while, and turned out to be full of brooms and toilet paper and a bunch of things like that. A storeroom was locked, which by now Dortmunder found irritating, and inside it were some folding chairs and a folding table and general party supplies and a ladder, and stuff like that, and a tall metal locker, and that was locked.
All right, all right, it’s all good practice. And inside the metal locker were 12 tapes. At last. Dortmunder brought out from one of his many jacket pockets a plastic bag from the supermarket, into which went the tapes. Then he locked his way back out of the locker and the storeroom, and added the camera to the plastic bag. Then he locked his way out of the gallery, and there were O’Hara and Pete, in a pool of shadow, carrying their own full plastic bags, waiting for him.
“Took you a while,” O’Hara said.
Dortmunder didn’t like to be criticized. “I had to find the tapes,” he said.
“As the fella says, time well spent,” Pete assured him.
Dortmunder’s faithful companion, May, came home from her cashier’s job at the supermarket the next evening to say, “That fellow you told me about, that Martin Gillie, he’s in the newspaper.” By which, of course, she meant the
“That’s called ink,” Dortmunder informed her.
“I don’t think so,” she said, and handed him the paper. “This time, I think it’s called felony arrest.”
Dortmunder smiled at the glowering face of Three Finger Gillie on page five of the
May watched him. “John? Did you have something to do with that?”
“A little,” he said. “See, May, when he told me that all he wanted was publicity, it was the truth. It was a stretch for Three Finger to tell the truth, but he pulled it off. But his idea was, every day he talks another ex-con into walking through that gallery, looking it over for maybe a burglary. He’s going to do that every day until one of those guys actually robs the place. Then he’s going to show what a reformed character he is by volunteering to look at the surveillance tapes. ‘Oh, there’s a guy I used to know!’ he’ll say, feigning surprise. ‘And there’s another one. They must of all been in it together.’ Then the cops roust us all, and one of us actually does have the stolen paintings, so we’re all accomplices, so we all go upstate forever, and there’s steady publicity for Three Finger, all through the trials and the appeals, and he’s this poster boy for rehabilitation, and he’s got ink, he’s on television day and night, he’s famous, he’s successful, and we probably deserved to go upstate anyway.”
“What a rat,” May said.
“You know it,” Dortmunder agreed. “So we couldn’t just walk away, because we’re on those tapes, and we don’t know when somebody else is gonna pull the job. So if we have to go in, get the tapes, we might as well make some profit out of it. And give a little zing to Three Finger while we’re at it.”
“They decided it was him pretty fast,” she said.
“His place was the only one not hit,” Dortmunder pointed out to May. “So it looks like the rehabilitation didn’t take after all, that he just couldn’t resist temptation.”
“I suppose,” she said.
“Also,” he said, “you remember that little postcard with his painting that I showed you but I wouldn’t let you touch?”
“Myself,” Dortmunder said, “I only held it by the edges, just in case. The last thing we did last night, I dropped that postcard on the floor in front of the cash register in the leather store. With his fingerprints all over it. His calling card, he said it was.”