“My God, Jake!” he said, his eyes going wide.
“Harry, I have to talk fast, so don’t try to interrupt me.”
“But—” he began.
“You don’t have to help if you don’t want to. I am not forcing you to—”
“—do anything you don’t want,” I said, talking louder and drowning him out. “But I need help. Look, they think we’re in that park up at Cantwell. I heard it on the radio. But we’re—”
“Jake, don’t you realize they are—”
“Shut up! We’re really here in Anchorage. I’m at a little self-service recharging place right now. Now what I want—”
“Jake—” he began. It was time to let him tell me what I knew he had been trying to tell me all along. “Jake, this phone is bugged!”
“Damn!” I said, and I slammed the receiver into its cradle, disconnecting myself. Harry blinked off the screen.
I stood there for a moment, content with how well it had gone. I had known, of course, that they would tap Harry’s phone. He was my best friend, my father image. It was logical that I should contact him if anyone. The trick had been not to let Harry tell me the bad news until after I had spilled our false position. But I had held him off, had gotten in the bit about Anchorage before he could tell me. The WA boys in the investigation Bureau offices must be frantic at this moment, slapping each other on the back and congratulating each other profusely. We’ll have that bastard Kennelmen in hours, boys. He can’t get away from us now. We have him cornered in goddamned old Anchorage. Then I remembered that they would have me cornered if I didn’t beat it the hell out of there.
I opened the door of the booth, went out and around the front of the building. Across the lot, a local patrol car had pulled up next to the stolen auto-taxi. The cop, in a state uniform, tending toward plumpness, was looking at the yellow letters on the side: Cantwell Port Auto-Taxi Service.
A WA cop would have pegged it for a hot car as soon as he saw it. This fuzz might be more slow-witted, but he would not require more than another few seconds to reach a similar conclusion.
I thought of turning and getting out of there before he turned and saw me. Run, run, move, my mind told me. Or was it my emotional gut again? I forced myself to be calm, then continued across the lot toward the car. “Officer!” I shouted. “Thank God you’re here!”
He turned around and looked at me. He was a big, heavy-jowled man. His fur hat was brought down around his ears and snapped under his chin. It gave him the look of a small, arctic animal. He made no sign of going for the pin-gun on his hip, but stood with his arms folded across his chest, waiting for me. I realized I must look rather strange, wearing full outdoor gear in a city like this, but the strangeness did not seem to be enough to set him on edge. After all, I had called to him and said I was glad to see him. A criminal never did that sort of thing.
“What’s the matter?” he asked when I reached him.
“Name’s Andrews,” I said. “I work at the Port Building in Cantwell. Passenger service desk. This fellow came through customs from Region One, going into the North American Economic Grid. Of course, we were going to search his luggage like we always do. He thought different. Pulled a gun. I mean a projectile gun, not a narcodart pistol. Made me leave the terminal with him, illegally took this taxi and—Well, anyway, I got a chance to go for him and—but you don’t want the whole story right away. Look here in the back seat and see what you think we ought to do with him.”
He turned back to the car, slightly confused but still not suspecting me of anything illegal.
I grasped one hand in the other, clenched my fists to make a solid club, and brought them down on the back of his neck. He staggered forward, tripping over his own feet, and went down on his knees. Unfortunately, the fur cap had absorbed some of the blow, and he was fumbling for his pistol, still conscious, though evidently whoozy. I slammed my hands on his neck again, then a third time. I tried to remember to keep the blows hard enough—without making them so hard they’d crack his spine or snap the bones in his neck. I could see how a man could get carried away with the thrill of striking an enemy, could so very easily apply just a little too much pressure . . . After the third blow, he pitched forward onto the snow and lay still, snoring.