What's The Worst That Could Happen

What's The Worst That Could Happen by Donald Westlake Read Free Book Online

Book: What's The Worst That Could Happen by Donald Westlake Read Free Book Online
Authors: Donald Westlake
FedEx Pak and the sentimental value gift ring from the semi–unknown uncle, and about it fitting John’s finger (at least she didn’t make a point about his allegedly needing some extra luck, he was grateful for that much), and about how when he went out to the Island last night a householder stole it from him.

    Dortmunder had been hunched forward, grimly chewing, staring into the bowl of Cheerios, through the whole recital, and when he looked up now, damn if Andy wasn’t grinning. “Mm,” Dortmunder said.

    Andy said, “John, is that what happened? The guy boosted the ring right off your finger?”

    Dortmunder shrugged, and chewed Cheerios.

    Andy laughed. What a rotten thing to do. “I’m sorry, John,” he said, “but you gotta see the humor in it.”

    Wrong. Dortmunder chewed Cheerios.

    “I mean, it’s what you call your biter bit, you see? You’re the biter, and you got bit.”

    Gently, May said, “Andy, I don’t think John’s quite ready to appreciate the humor.”

    “Oh? Oh, okay.” Andy shrugged and said, “Let me know when you’re ready, John, because it’s really pretty funny. I hate to say it, but the guy’s kinda got style.”

    “Nn mm nn,” Dortmunder said, which meant, “And my ring.”

    “But if you don’t want to talk about it yet,” Andy said, “I can understand that. He made you look foolish, humiliated you, made fun of you —”

    “Andy,” May said, “I think John is going to stab you with his spoon.”

    “ But, ” Andy said, shifting gears without losing a bit of momentum, “the reason I came over, there’s a little possibility I heard about you might be interested in, having to do with a shipment of emeralds out of Colombia, smuggled, you know, that this ballet troupe is supposed to have, and they’re coming to bam, and I figure —”

    May said, “Andy? Coming to bam what?”

    “No no,” Andy said, “they’re coming to BAM, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, over in Brooklyn, a lot of shows go there that aren’t quite right for Broadway because they don’t use smoke machines, but they’re too big for off Broadway, so this ballet troupe —”

    Andy went on like that for a while, describing American culture, the history of ballet in the New World, and the prominence of emeralds in the Colombian economy, until at last Dortmunder rinsed down his Cheerio cud with a lot of coffee and said, “No.”

    Andy looked at him. “No what?”

    “No emeralds,” Dortmunder said, “no ballet, no bam, no wham, no thank you, ma’am.”

    Andy spread his hands. “Why not?”

    “Because I’m busy.”

    “Yeah? Doing what?”

    “Getting my ring back.”

    May and Andy both looked at him. May said, “John, the ring is gone.”

    “Until I get it back.”

    Andy said, “John? You’re going after this billionaire, this Max guy?”

    “Fairbanks. Yes.” Dortmunder lifted another mountain of Cheerios toward his mouth.

    “Wait!” Andy said. “Don’t eat yet, John, bear with me.”

    Dortmunder reluctantly returned the mountain to the bowl. “And.”

    “And billionaires got guards, security, all these people, you can’t just waltz in and say hello.”

    “I did last night.”

    “From what May tells me,” Andy said, “that’s because last night the guy was doing a little something off the reservation. Had some kinda girl with him, didn’t he?”

    “I’m just saying.”

    “But most of the time, John, he’ll be on the reservation, you know? I mean, even if you knew where the reservation was. I mean, how do you even find this guy?”

    “I’ll find him.”

    “How?”

    “Somehow.”

    “All right, look,” Andy said. “This emerald business can hold a few days, they’re still coming up out of South America, dancing in Cancún right now, wherever. If you want, I would work with you on this ring thing and —”

    “Never mind.”

    “No, John, I want to help. We’ll take a swipe at the ring, see what happens, then we’ll talk

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