Bank Shot - Donald E. Westlake - ebook
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Instead of robbing a bank, Dortmunder tries to steal the whole building Encyclopedias are heavy, and John Dortmunder is sick of carrying them. While in between jobs, the persistent heist-planner is working an encyclopedia-selling scam that's about to blow up in his face. The cops are on their way when his friend Kelp pulls up in a stolen Oldsmobile, offering a quick escape from the law and a job that's too insane to turn down. Kelp's nephew is an FBI washout who's addicted to old-time pulp novels and adventure stories. He tried being a cop, and now he wants to be a robber. His target: a Main Street bank that has temporarily relocated to a large mobile home. Breaking in is impossible - there are seven guards and a police station down the street - but mobile homes were meant to be driven. Dortmunder just has to drive the bank away. Review quote: "Westlake's Triumph - hilarious!" - The New York Times "[Westlake's] most durable character. Whatever can go wrong in the man's elaborate attempts at larceny invariably does, and in the most amusing and unexpected ways possible." - Los Angeles Times "Everyone who's read Donald Westlake knows he's the funniest man in the world." - The Washington Post Biographical note: Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008) was one of the most prolific and talented authors of American crime fiction. He began his career in the late 1950s, churning out novels for pulp houses- often writing as many as four novels a year under various pseudonyms- but soon began publishing under his own name. His most well-known characters were John Dortmunder, an unlucky thief, and a ruthless criminal named Parker. His writing earned him three Edgars and a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. Westlake's cinematic prose and brisk dialogue made his novels attractive to Hollywood, and several motion pictures were made from his books, with stars such as Lee Marvin and Mel Gibson. Westlake wrote several screenplays himself, receiving an Academy Award nomination for his adaptation of The Grifters, Jim Thompson's noir classic.

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

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31

32

Looking for more suspense?

Cover

Begin Reading

About the Book

Instead of robbing a bank, Dortmunder tries to steal the whole building

Encyclopedias are heavy, and John Dortmunder is sick of carrying them. While in between jobs, the persistent heist-planner is working an encyclopedia-selling scam that’s about to blow up in his face. The cops are on their way when his friend Kelp pulls up in a stolen Oldsmobile, offering a quick escape from the law and a job that’s too insane to turn down.

Kelp’s nephew is an FBI washout who’s addicted to old-time pulp novels and adventure stories. He tried being a cop, and now he wants to be a robber. His target: a Main Street bank that has temporarily relocated to a large mobile home. Breaking in is impossible - there are seven guards and a police station down the street - but mobile homes were meant to be driven. Dortmunder just has to drive the bank away.

Review quote:

“Westlake’s Triumph - hilarious!” - The New York Times

“[Westlake’s] most durable character. Whatever can go wrong in the man’s elaborate attempts at larceny invariably does, and in the most amusing and unexpected ways possible.” - Los Angeles Times

“Everyone who’s read Donald Westlake knows he’s the funniest man in the world.” - The Washington Post

About the Author

Donald E. Westlake (1933–2008) was one of the most prolific and talented authors of American crime fiction. He began his career in the late 1950s, churning out novels for pulp houses- often writing as many as four novels a year under various pseudonyms- but soon began publishing under his own name. His most well-known characters were John Dortmunder, an unlucky thief, and a ruthless criminal named Parker. His writing earned him three Edgars and a Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

Westlake’s cinematic prose and brisk dialogue made his novels attractive to Hollywood, and several motion pictures were made from his books, with stars such as Lee Marvin and Mel Gibson. Westlake wrote several screenplays himself, receiving an Academy Award nomination for his adaptation of The Grifters, Jim Thompson’s noir classic.

Bank Shot

A Dortmunder Novel

Donald E. Westlake

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2014 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2011 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1972 by Donald E. Westlake

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Mumtaz Mustafa

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-031-1

 

www.luebbe.de

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

For Bill Goldman

Here’s something to think about at the icebox.

1

‘Yes,’ Dortmunder said. ‘You can reserve all this, for yourself and your family, for simply a ten-dollar deposit.’

‘My,’ said the lady. She was a pretty woman in her mid-thirties, small and compact, and from the looks of this living room she kept a tight ship. The room was cool and comfortable and neat, packaged with no individuality but a great passion for cleanliness, like a new mobile home. The draperies flanking the picture window were so straight, each fold so perfectly rounded and smooth, that they didn’t look like cloth at all but a clever plaster forgery. The picture they framed showed a neat treeless lawn that drained away from the house, the neat curving blacktop suburban street in spring sunshine, and a ranch-style house across the way identical in every exterior detail to this one. I bet their drapes aren’t this neat, Dortmunder thought.

‘Yes,’ he said, and gestured at the promo leaflets now scattered all over the coffee table and the near-by floor. ‘You get the encyclopedia and the bookcase and the Junior Wonder Science Library and its bookcase, and the globe, and the five-year free use of research facilities at our gigantic modern research facility at Butte, Montana, and –’

‘We wouldn’t have to go to Butte, Montana, would we?’ She was one of those neat, snug women who can still look pretty with their brows furrowed. Her true role in life would be to operate a U.S.O. canteen, but here she was in this white-collar ghetto in the middle of Long Island.

‘No, no,’ Dortmunder said with an honest smile. Most of the housewives he met in the course of business left him cold, but every once in a while he ran across one like this who hadn’t been lobotomized by life in the suburbs, and the contact always made him cheerful. She’s sprightly, he thought, and smiled some more at the rare chance to use a word like that, even in interior monologue. Then he turned the smile on the customer and said, ‘You write to them in Butte, Montana. You tell them you want to know about, uh …’

‘Anguilla,’ she suggested.

‘Sure,’ Dortmunder said, as though he knew just what she meant. ‘Anything you want. And they send you the whole story.’

‘My,’ she said and looked again at all the promo papers spread around her neat living room.

‘And don’t forget the five annual roundups,’ Dortmunder told her, ‘to keep your encyclopedia right up to date for the next five years.’

‘My,’ she said.

‘And you can reserve the whole thing,’ Dortmunder said, ‘for a simple ten-dollar deposit.’ There had been a time when he had been using the phrase ‘measly ten-dollar deposit,’ but gradually he’d noticed that the prospects who eventually turned the deal down almost always gave a visible wince at the word ‘measly’, so he’d switched to ‘simple’ and the results had been a lot better. Keep it simple, he decided, and you can’t go wrong.

‘Well, that’s certainly something,’ the woman said. ‘Do you mind waiting while I get my purse?’

‘Not at all,’ Dortmunder said.

She left the room, and Dortmunder sat back on the sofa and smiled lazily at the world outside the picture window. A man had to stay alive somehow while waiting for a big score to develop, and there was nothing better for that than an encyclopedia con. In the spring and fall, that is; winter was too cold for house-to-house work and summer was too hot. But given the right time of year, the old encyclopedia scam was unbeatable. It kept you in the fresh air and in nice neighborhoods, it gave you a chance to stretch your legs in comfortable living rooms and chat with mostly pleasant suburban ladies, and it bought the groceries.

Figure ten or fifteen minutes per prospect, though the losers usually didn’t take that long. If only one out of five bit, that was ten bucks an hour. On a six-hour day and a five-day week, that was three hundred a week, which was more than enough for a man of simple tastes to live on, even in New York.

And the ten-dollar bite was just the perfect size. Anything smaller than that, the effort wouldn’t be worth the return. And if you went up above ten dollars, you got into the area where the housewives either wanted to talk it over with their husbands first or wanted to write you checks; and Dortmunder wasn’t about to go cash a check made out to an encyclopedia company. The few checks he got at the ten-dollar level he simply threw away at the end of the day’s business.

It was now nearly four in the afternoon. He figured he’d make this the last customer of the day, go find the nearest Long Island Railroad station, and head on back into the city. May would be home from Bohack’s by the time he got there.

Should he start packing the promo material back in his attaché case? No, there wasn’t any hurry. Besides, it was psychologically good to keep the pretty pictures out where the customer could see what she was buying until she’d actually handed over the ten spot.

Except that what she was really buying with her ten dollars was a receipt. Which he might as well get out, come to think of it. He opened the snaps on the attaché case beside him on the sofa and lifted the lid.

To the left of the sofa was an end table holding a lamp and a cream-colored European-style telephone, not normal Bell issue. Now, as Dortmunder reached into his attaché case for his receipt pad, this telephone said, very softly, ‘dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit-dit.’

Dortmunder glanced at it. His left hand was holding the lid of the case up, his right hand was inside holding the receipt pad, but he didn’t move. Somebody must be dialing an extension somewhere else in the house. Dortmunder frowned at the phone and it said, ‘dit.’ A smaller number that time, probably a 1. Then ‘dit’, said the phone again, which would be another 1. Dortmunder waited, not moving, but the phone didn’t say anything else.

Just a three-digit number? A high digit first, and then two low ones. What kind of phone number was …

911. The police emergency number.

Dortmunder took his hand out of the attaché case without the receipt pad. No time to pick up the promo papers. He methodically snicked shut the attaché case snaps, got to his feet, walked to the door, opened it, and stepped outside. Carefully closing the door behind him, he walked briskly over the curving slate path to the sidewalk, turned right, and kept on walking.

What he needed was a store, a movie theater, a cab, even a church. Someplace to get inside for a little while. Walking along the street like this, he didn’t have a chance. But there was nothing as far as the eye could see, nothing but houses and lawns and tricycles. Like the Arab who fell off his camel in Lawrence of Arabia, Dortmunder just kept walking, even though he was doomed.

A purple Oldsmobile Toronado with M.D. plates roared by, heading in the direction he was coming from. Dortmunder thought nothing of it until he heard the brakes squeal back there, and then his face lit up and he said, ‘Kelp!’

He turned to look, and the Oldsmobile was making a complicated U-turn, backing and filling, making little progress. The driver could be seen spinning the wheel madly, first in one direction and then the other, like a pirate captain in a hurricane, while the Oldsmobile bumped back and forth between the curbs.

‘Come on, Kelp,’ Dortmunder muttered. He shook the attaché case a little, as though to help straighten the car out.

Finally the driver lunged the car up over the curb and in a sweeping arc over the sidewalk and back down, and slammed it to a stop in front of where Dortmunder was standing. Dortmunder, whose enthusiasm had already faded somewhat, opened the passenger door and slid in.

‘So there you are,’ Kelp said.

‘There I am,’ Dortmunder said. ‘Let’s get out of here.’

Kelp was aggrieved. ‘I been looking all over for you.’

‘You aren’t the only one,’ Dortmunder said. He twisted around to look out the rear window; nothing yet. ‘Come on, let’s go,’ he said.

But Kelp was still aggrieved. ‘Last night,’ he said, ‘you told me you were gonna be today in Ranch Cove Estates.’

Dortmunder’s attention had been caught. ‘I’m not?’

Kelp pointed at the windshield. ‘Ranch Cove Estates stops three blocks down there,’ he said. ‘This is Elm Valley Heights.’

Dortmunder looked around at no elms, no valleys and no heights. ‘I must have slipped across the border,’ he said.

‘I been driving up and down and up and down. I just now gave up, I was going back to the city, I figured I never would find you.’

Was that a siren in the distance? ‘Well, now you found me,’ Dortmunder said. ‘So why don’t we go someplace?’

But Kelp didn’t want to distract himself with driving. He had the engine still running, but the gear shift was in Park and he had more to say. ‘Do you know what it’s like, you spend the whole day just driving up and down and up and down, and the guy you’re looking for isn’t even in Ranch Cove Estates?’

It was definitely a siren, and it was coming closer. Dortmunder said, ‘Why don’t we go there now?’

‘Very funny,’ Kelp said. ‘Do you realise I had to put a dollar’s worth of gas of my own money in this car, and it was almost full when I picked it up?’

‘I’ll reimburse you,’ Dortmunder said. ‘If you’ll just use some of it to drive us away from here.’ Far down the street was a tiny winking red light, and it was coming this way.

‘I don’t want your money,’ Kelp said. He was somewhat mollified, but still irritated. ‘All I want is if you say you’re gonna be in Ranch Cove Estates be in Ranch Cove Estates.’

There was a police car under the winking red light, and it was coming like hell. ‘I’m sorry,’ Dortmunder said. ‘From now on I’ll do better.’

Kelp frowned at him. ‘What? That’s not like you, to talk like that. Something wrong?’

The police car was two blocks away and moving fast. Dortmunder put his head in his hands.

Kelp said, ‘Hey, what’s the matter?’ He said something else after that, but the noise of the siren was so loud that his voice was blotted out. The siren shrilled to a peak of noise, and then modulated all at once into minor key and receded.

Dortmunder lifted his head and looked around. The police car was a block behind them and slowing at last as it neared the house Dortmunder had come from.

Kelp was frowning at the rear-view mirror. ‘I wonder who they want,’ he said.

‘Me,’ Dortmunder said. His voice was a little shaky. ‘Now do you mind if we get away from here?’

2

Kelp drove along with one eye on the empty street ahead and one eye on the rear-view mirror showing the empty street behind. He was tense but alert. He said, ‘You should’ve told me sooner.’

‘I tried,’ Dortmunder said. He was being sullen and grumpy in the corner.

‘You could’ve got us both in trouble,’ Kelp said. The memory of the police car’s siren was making him nervous, and nervousness made him talkative.

Dortmunder didn’t say anything. Kelp took a quick glance at him and saw him brooding at the glove compartment, as though wondering if it had an ax in it. Kelp went back to watching the street and the rear-view mirror and said, ‘With that record of yours, you know, you get picked up for anything, you’ll get life.’

‘Is that right?’ Dortmunder said. He was really being very sour, even worse than usual.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!