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seven

The house reminded Harry of Florida forty years ago, a little stucco crackerbox with jalousie windows where a garage door used to be. He said to the girl, Nice place you have, trying to sound like he meant it.

She didnt say anything. Took him past a sign next to the front door that said:

PSYCHIC READINGS

DREAM INTERPRETATIONS

PAST-LIFE REGRESSIONS

and into a room full of dark furniture from some other time and a gray leatherette recliner that seemed out of place. She touched the backrest saying, Id like you to sit here, if you would, please, and try to relax. Close your eyes if you want.

He got in the chair and looked around at all the clutter, knickknacks, dolls, little china and ceramic figures and a few stuffed animals, an old teddy bear, all of it here and there on bookshelves and side tables. On the walls, an Indian rug with a design that looked something like the zodiac, and a framed print of Jesus-that one where hes surrounded by little kids.

Reverend Dawn Navarro said, I was thinking on the way here, I asked if you had any investments over in Italy and you said no, just the villa you leased.

Thats right, Harry said, still looking around. The recliner faced the doorway into the room with the jalousie windows that used to be a garage. He saw more clutter in there-old aluminum lawn chairs, a plastic swan that looked like a planter Reverend Dawn wasnt much of a housekeeper.

Her voice said, You got the villa through a real estate agent. They showed you pictures of different ones

Right again, Harry said.

He felt her hand touch his shoulder and rest there and he looked up, but she was behind him.

You didnt pay cash, though, for the villa.

Harry smiled. No, not that time. I had to transfer enough from a Swiss bank to one in Rapallo, establish myself there to make the deal, you know, and have money for living expenses. I bought a car, too, a Mercedes. He said, That could be the unfinished business. I have to do something about the car.

He heard her say, Maybe, as her hand left his shoulder and he watched the light reflecting on the ceiling dim and heard the rattle of venetian blinds being closed, her voice saying, But I dont think the cars the reason youre drawn to Rapallo. Where is it exactly?

On the coast, not too far from Genoa.

Im trying to picture it. I know Italys shaped like a boot

Thats right, so Rapallod be up there on the shin, just below where the boot spreads out to cover your knee.

In the northern part, her voice said. And you like to travel, dont you?

You bet. Thats one of the advantages of Rapallo, its centrally located. Drive down to Rome, couple of hours to Milan. Anywhere you want to gos fairly close.

Visit other countries, Dawn Navarros voice said. Isnt Switzerland right there?

Not too far.

Youve been there.

Yeah, a number of times; its beautiful.

Harry, use that lever to tilt back; the footrest comes up.

He eased back all the way.

Hows that?

Fine.

Youre comfortable?

I could go to sleep.

Her voice said, Close your eyes, but not too tight, and breathe slowly. Im gonna count backward, Harry, down to one and then start to regress you. Okay? Here we go. Ten. Imagine all of your muscles relaxing, going limp Nine. In your face your shoulders down through your body into your legs Eight. You feel yourself drifting into a deeper state of relaxation Seven. But youre completely aware of everything thats happening Six. Youre drifting deeper and deeper


Bobby came around back to the kitchen door, Louis following with a roll of duct tape. Through the screen they could see Chip on the other side of the kitchen, by the door that opened into the living room, but couldnt see what was going on in there. Chip, standing with his back to them, blocked their view-until Bobby opened the screen and Chip turned, pressing a finger to his mouth. Bobby went in first, moved across the linoleum to the doorway and shouldered Chip over to make room. He didnt like it. He put on a look Bobby caught but ignored, Bobby watching the fortune-teller standing next to Harry in the recliner, the fortune-teller looking this way now, brushing her long hair from her face with the tips of her fingers, looking this way right at Bobby-checking him out-Bobby sure of it, the woman calm, still looking this way as she said, Two. Youre deeply relaxed, Harry, you feel safe, comfortable. Now she was looking at Harry again. And one, youre ready to begin. First, though, Im gonna take your hand in mine and stroke it, okay? You tell me what you feel.

Bobby watched her pinch the skin on the back of Harrys hand, hard, and was surprised Harry didnt jerk his hand away.

She said, Harry?

What?

Did you feel anything unpleasant?

No.

Do you want to look at your hand?

No.

Are you willing to talk to me? Yes or no.

Yes.

And go back in time? Yes or no.

Yes.

Well go back gradually, Harry, regress you to last year when you were in Italy for a short time. You said your money is over there in a Swiss bank? Yes or no.

No.

Bobby could see the fortune-teller, frowning now at Harry, didnt expect him to say that. He watched her use two fingers to slide the mans eyelids back and stare at him before taking her hand away.

She said, Harry, you told me you transferred money from a Swiss bank to a bank in Rapallo. Not all of it, but enough, for expenses. Were you telling the truth, Harry? Yes or no.

Yes.

So you do have money in the bank over there.

Yes.

I dont mean in Italy, I mean Switzerland. Do you have money in Switzerland, Harry? Yes or no.

No.

Bobby watched her expression, the fortune-teller frowning again, something not working here the way it was supposed to, the woman thinking hard now-look at her-wondering what to do next. Bobby turned to Chip staring straight ahead, said, This is bullshit, and Chip, annoyed, put a finger to his mouth the way he did before. Bobby spoke in a whisper with some force to it, saying, Harrys playing with her, man. You dont see that?

Chip turned his head toward Bobby and said without looking right at him, Will you shut the fuck up?

Bobby stared at Chips profile, the man looking straight ahead now, Bobby wanting to shove him against the door frame, hold him there and tell his bony face the show was over, man, forget it But now the fortune-teller was speaking again.

This Dawn Navarro saying, Did you tell me you had money in a Swiss bank? Yes or no.

Yes, Harry said.

You mean a bank in Switzerland?

No.

Where is the bank, Harry?

In Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Freeport, where Louis was from, the Bahamian Arabian. Bobby thought of it right away. But now the fortune-teller was looking over here again, brushing her hair aside. Looking at you, Bobby thought. You see that? Sure of it as he watched her turn her attention again to the man in the recliner, lying there with his eyes closed.

Dawn Navarro saying, How much do you have in the account, Harry?

I dont know the exact amount.

Roughly, how much would you say you have?

Close to three million, Harry said.

Chip made a sound like he was letting his breath out. Bobby heard it, watching the fortune-teller, who was looking over here again, he believed smiling at him now, but he wasnt sure.


Chip was gone before Bobby could stop him-while he and Louis were getting Harry ready to travel, covering his eyes and mouth and tying his hands with that silver duct tape. Bobby took Louis into the kitchen to tell him Chip was in too big a hurry; they should wait for dark to take Harry from the house. Louis said this was the way they planned it; all the trees and shit around the house, there was no way anybody would see them. He held up the keys to Harrys car, saying, You want to get rid of it, or you want me to?

You know how?

In my youth, Louis said, I boosted cars, sent them over to Nassau, Freeport, Eleuthera

Freeport, Bobby said, where the guy has his money. You use to live there.

Thats a fact, Louis said. I been thinking on it. Do I know somebody knows somebody might work in that bank?

You didnt say nothing to Chip?

He knows Im from there.

Yeah, but you didnt say nothing, did you?

Not yet.

You see a way to get the money?

Im starting to have an idea, yeah.

We should talk about it before you tell Chip anything.

You want to cut him out?

I say I think we should talk, Bobby said. He took the car keys. You watch Harry. Im gonna check on the fortune-teller, see how shes doing.

Louis said, You dont have time for that.

For what? Bobby said. What do you think Im gonna do to her?


They had put Reverend Dawn in the bedroom, out of the way. Bobby opened the door and looked in and there she was sitting on the bed twisting a strand of hair between her fingers. Bobby stepped in and closed the door and she stopped fooling with her hair.

He said, How you doing? Giving her a chance to come on to him in some way that women let you know they were interested.

She stared at him, but not with a look he recognized.

You have my money?

Bobby almost told her to see Chip; it was on the tip of his tongue. He changed his mind and said, Im gonna bring it to you, next week. Giving her another chance to show some interest.

She kept staring at him and maybe it meant something, he wasnt sure. He said, Are you scared?

She said, Should I be?

Bobby stared and she stared back at him.

I like your act.

Its real.

He was hypnotize, uh?

I checked his eyes.

What does that tell you?

They were rolled back. You cant fake that.

I thought maybe it was too easy, what you got him to say.

Harry likes to talk about money. He pays cash for everything, even his car.

You like that car?

Its all right.

Better than your little car. You know how much we gonna get from Harry?

She said, Look, I dont want to know anything about what youre doing. I dont even want to talk to you.

You see what we doing.

I saw nothing. Harry was never here.

I was thinking you should get more than fifteen hundred.

I told Chip what I wanted; thats it. And thats all Im doing for you.

Bobby said, You sure?


| Riding the Rap | eight