What's the Worst That Could Happen?

Westlake, Donald E.

The Pak was addressed to May Bellamy and came from a law firm somewhere in Ohio. Dortmunder knew May had family in Ohio, which was why she never went there,

Brenstid père, named Clement for some reason, had found young Basil Rupert far more resistable than his daughter had,

You try to be a burglar, and you’re a robber; then you try to be a robber, and turns out you’re a burglar. God damn it to hell!

Once, when a friend pointed out to him that the removal of such bags was the easiest trick in the plastic surgeon’s playbook, he had said, “Never. Without these bags I’m no longer a lawyer, I’m just a complainer.”

And he was right. The bags gave his every utterance the gravity of one who has seen it all and just barely survived.

“I’m your attorney, Max. Try to tell me the truth.”

Andy smiled in paternal pleasure at the box. “It’s like a pasta machine, isn’t it?” he said. “Yes,” Dortmunder said. It was easier to say yes.

Max Fairbanks had long wanted an obvious presence in New York City, mostly because there were already a few other prominent billionaires with obvious presences in New York City, and one doesn’t become a billionaire in the first place without some certain degree of competitiveness in one’s nature.

“New York!” breathed May, with a dazzled smile. She gazed around at this lobby in the sky, a four-story-tall Greek temple to the goddess of costume jewelry. “So this is New York!” Dortmunder thought she was overdoing it, but the desk clerk seemed pleased.

the other a customer with her elbows on the bar, her lumpy old shoulderbag on the stool next to her, and a tall glass in front of her that, judging by her bleak expression, was definitely half-empty and not half-full.

He looked at her. She was probably in her midthirties, attractive in a way that suggested she didn’t know she was attractive and therefore didn’t try very hard.

What’s that you’re drinking?” “Bourbon.” “And?” “And more bourbon.” “Really? I wonder what that’s like.”

Somehow, Andy Kelly wasn’t like that. Not that he was disinterested or turned off or bored, he just didn’t try too hard. For instance, he’d made it plain in their first meeting that he’d like to go to bed with her, but it had also been plain he wouldn’t kill himself if she turned him down,

most men, in her experience, claimed they would kill themselves if she turned them down, and then reneged.

it was John’s ring, that his best close personal friend, her name is May, you’d like her, she gave him.

Looking dazed, Anne Marie said, “You people are going to take a little getting used to.” “What I do,” May told her, sympathetically, “is pretend I’m in a bus going down a hill and the steering broke. And also the brakes. So there’s nothing to do but just look at the scenery and enjoy the ride.” Anne Marie considered this. She said, “What happens when you get to the bottom of the hill?” “I don’t know,” May said. “We didn’t get there yet.”

none of them could find her now. On the other hand, and this was a bit unsettling to realize, there was nobody she could think of who would try really really hard to track her down.

Play it as it comes, she thought. Don’t worry about it. Watch the scenery.


The lake ranged from four to nine feet deep, and tourists were not encouraged to throw coins into it, but many of them did anyway, which meant a problem with the homeless, three of whom had so far drowned in their efforts to harvest some of the cash stippling the Gunite bottom. Still, the Battle-Lake was a major tourist attraction, at least as popular as that other place’s volcano, and so the occasional loss of a homeless person (who by definition was not a paying customer, after all) was a not unreasonable price to pay.

Kelp knew this wasn’t everybody’s experience. John and May, for instance, and others he could think of. But for himself, up until now, it had always been true that every new pairing started off on a happy high, which gradually ebbed, like the tide. Short relationships, therefore, tended to leave a residue of nostalgia, a semihappy glow in which the rough spots were gauzed over and the highlights highlighted, while longer relationships tended to come to a close with bitterness and recrimination, bruised egos and unresolvable disputes, so that only the wens and warts remained outstanding in the memory.

Every other woman he’d ever met, when she wasn’t being worried about her appearance, was being worried about what was going to happen next. They were all of them fixated on the future, they all wanted assurance and reassurance and something in writing and a plan.

Kelp, who lived his life with the philosophy that every day was another opportunity to triumph over the unexpected—or at least not get steamrollered by the unexpected—this urgency to nail down tomorrow was completely inexplicable. His reaction was: Say, you know, it isn’t even that easy to nail down today.

A nne Marie undertipped the bellman, because she knew women are expected to undertip and she didn’t want to call attention to herself. The bellman, seeing she’d lived down to his expectations, wrote her off as another cheap bitch, and had already forgotten her before he was well out of the room.

conditioning isn’t all. Each night between midnight and 8:00 A . M ., the controlled air delivered from this room to the vast casino area is sweetened with just a little extra oxygen, to make it a richer air than human beings normally breathe on the planet Earth. This richer air makes people feel more awake, happier, more energized. Because of this, they don’t feel like going to bed, not quite yet. They feel like staying up, playing at the tables just a little longer, trying just a little harder. Who knows? Luck might turn.

The guy stared at Tiny, fish-eyed. He didn’t seem to know what he was supposed to say. So Tiny helped: “This is called an option situation,” he explained. “Option one, you cooperate. Option two, you get hit on the head with a hammer. Up to you.”

Talabwo, a nation where your Swiss bank account was almost as important as your Mercedes-Benz and where the only even half-educated person within five hundred miles who was not trying to overthrow the president was the president,

T here are no actual slow times in Las Vegas, not even in August, when the climate in and around the Las Vegas desert is similar to that of the planet Mercury,