By Richard Stark

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Parker looked at his watch: one twenty-five. " It was almost quiet out there now, the crowd expectant and waiting. The stagehands finished their adjustments and waddled off, going back to the cigar butts they'd left on table edges. The audience noise tapered off even more, till individual coughs could be heard, and suddenly the auditorium lights went out, and they were looking down into darkness. Keegan was the only one who moved, making an abrupt jump to the left, past the edge of the window, the toolkit bumping his knee and the wall.

Here's something," Keegan said. He was still finding things to be disgusted about. "That lousy Berridge has us loused up. " Morris said, "I'll carry two. I've had a nice long rest. " Morris went first, carrying two of the laundry bags. Briley followed, with the bag containing his own clothes, followed by Keegan and Parker, each with a toolkit, Parker carrying the kit that had been left upstairs, the one with the snaps on the outside for carrying the ax. It was strange not to hear the music. Going down the fire escape, they heard the sounds of the city instead; few sounds at this hour, mostly traffic.

Parker said, "Beau, I want to tell you Dan Garrison is lying on his face in RG Stevenson's office, and two men have guns pointed at him. If you do anything hasty or stupid, they'll kill Dan and then rise up and kill you through the glass. You look at RG now, and he'll nod to tell you what I'm saying is true. " Parker looked up, and saw Stevenson's head lower and raise; a mechanical move, as though he were a newly completed robot trying the motion for the first time. " "Get your hand off the mouthpiece, Beau!

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