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have some money if you need to split. Anyways, I just thought you oughtta know what they're up to. If I can help in any way, call me, okay? 'N don't worry. I'll let you know right away when there's anything new or I hear about any other developments. Wish I could do more. Talk to you later, man, hear?"

"Yeah. Thanks. Be seeing you."

Candy was already asleep because she had to get up.early for work the next morning, and she'd been out very late the night before at a party at Casey's Restaurant, where many people who're involved in the publication of words for a living hang out and hold casual but classy get-togethers. Casey is, of course, the name of the owner, an affable Chinese man with waist-length black hair whom Emmett had met at the same party with Candy. It had been sort of a lark for him to rub and bend elbows with so many literary notables, as well as making him just as tired as gracious Candy Sand. But the phone call sparked his adrenalin and gave him the type of second-wind surge which always renewed him. He was glad Candy was already in bed, leaving him completely alone with the incredible thought that his death was being purchased the same way housewives pay exterminators to get rid of insects, or farmers put up bounty for hunters to go after varmints.

It was unbelievable, all right, and there was very little if any reason at all for Emmett to disbelieve the person who phoned him with the news. He was in his mid-thirties and was a responsible figure in the New York radical-hip political circle, a respected member of the East Village leadership set and a person who also happened to secretly feel a personal friendship for Emmett and who just didn't cotton to killing or any use of violence, that's all. He was definitely not some scatterbrained kid looking to create a little excitement by making up a nifty story or by crying wolf to scare up some action. No, what his man had told him was for real. Emmett was certain of that.

His problem now was to figure out how to prevent it from becoming "for keeps." It was no good for him to waste time trying to pin down how the contract man would go about hitting him without making it look like what it was--a hired killing. But he did squander some time on the various ways he might be killed. He would either simply disappear which was already part of his myth anyway, known as "doing a Grogan," or get his skull caved in and his pockets rifled, to be found dead in the streets and be labeled just another robbery victim by the cops. But that might cause too much [end page 348]

of a storm in the ever-tenuous relations between the hippies and the Puerto Ricans and blacks, and therefore might prove too risky a method in the long run.

When he'd given enough thought to how he might be done, he turned his attention to various methods by which he could avoid it. Every once in a while, as he thought, Emmett's belief would be staggered for a moment by the simple preposterousness of it all-- by the undeniable probability that he would be dead within the next couple of days.

When he flashed on that, on the downright outrageousness of that pack of scumbags paying somebody to snuff him, of even insinuating they'd do such a thing, Emmett began to shake with rage. Once he actually put on his jacket, laced up his boots, took the Walther PPK automatic which a brother laid on him back in Frisco out of his bag along with several extra clips of g mm. ammunition, and started to go out and get a few of the punk motherfuckers before they could pay somebody else to do him. But he stopped short of the door, holding the Walther loosely in the sweaty palm of his hand, considering it a foolish move, the kind of ploy that should only be left to Mike Hammer's fantasies, and certainly not something for a man alone in the concrete reality of a city like New York to do against impossible odds and with nobody to back him. But he came close, awfully close, and that group of psychedelic asshole suckers who decided to pay to have him taken care of would never know how close they came to having a burp gun jammed up their noses and the trigger pulled until it didn't work anymore.

Emmett finally went to bed around three or four o'clock with his Walther under the pillow and the extra clips in one of his boots. He didn't particularly like automatic pistols, preferring the sturdy reliability of a .38 revolver to the fickleness of an automatic, but even though he would trade it in a minute for a good snubnose Smith & Wesson, he was glad it had been given to him, and he always kept it close and clean to reduce the likelihood of it ever jamming up on him in a spot. He tried to remember the last time he took the Walther apart and gave it a thorough cleaning, but he fell asleep before he could recall.

Candy Sand had just split to her literary secretarial job when Emmett awoke at 10:30 A.M. with a poisoned headache from an unrestful night of bad dreams. He was sipping a cup of light coffee and smoking his first cigarette of what was apparently going to be a very long day when there was a knock on the door, and every [end page 349]


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