Bad Blood
disappearing into a pair of cutoff jeans, from which two legs emerged, both truncated at slightly differing lengths just below the knee, the missing pieces having been left behind in a rice paddy in Vietnam. A wheelchair with the parking brake on put him within easy reach of every knob and switch of the custom-made electronic Frankenstein sitting on the custom-made table that circled the twelve-by-twelve beam running straight up to the ridgepole of the roof. Wire and cable snaked up all four sides of the beam, connecting Frankenstein with the antennas and dishes on the tower out back.
    All to support the NOAA observer in the Park. Allegedly. It was not the done thing to inquire too closely into how Bobby really supported himself and his lifestyle, which included a hefty portion of alcoholic refreshment imported by the case direct from Tennessee, his once and never again home state. Kate could make a good guess, but she didn’t. Dinah probably knew, but she wasn’t talking. Nobody else, if they knew what was good for them, was prepared even to speculate out loud, and Jim didn’t care so long as Bobby was retired. Which he appeared to be.
    Headphones were balanced precariously one ear on and one off, and he was speaking into a microphone dangling from a segmented metal pole. “Yeah, been a long cold one, but the sun’s finally out and so am I, Bobby Clark, your very own silver-tongued Bard of the Big Bump and all we survey, coming to you live from—never mind.”
    Sometimes Bobby broadcast for four hours every night, usually during an election year, and sometimes for fifteen minutes once a week in the morning, usually during fishing season. Park rats had to divine the correct frequency pretty much telepathically because it changed every day and sometimes twice a day. Park Air was, unsurprisingly, FCC-unapproved and certainly unlicensed.
    “Got a couple of screaming deals for you today, fellow rats,” said that basso profundo, which registered on a visceral level with everyone in the Park with an X on both chromosomes, and not a few with XY, too. “A PSA before we get to them. Listen up. Red Run wants their safe back. They know who took it, they know you can’t open it, just bring it back and no questions asked. No reward, either, and no whining about it or they call in Chopper Jim. You know how he gets when he has to fill out all that paperwork. And won’t you just love being on the inside during the first above-sixty days we’ve seen this year. Sober up, morons, and get that safe back in the Red Run city hall offices pronto.”
    Bobby had a tendency to editorialize his public service announcements, but the entertainment value was worth the risk to most Park rats who wanted them broadcast. It certainly ensured that everyone would be listening.
    Bobby adjusted a knob. “Scott Ukatish is dragging up, which is not surprising, considering he’ll probably be the last one left to turn out the lights when he leaves the ghost town of Potlatch, for what I understand is a nice little one-bedroom condo in Sag Harbor, corner unit, top floor, good bar on the ground floor, frequented by a lotta local talent.” A verse from “Looking for Love” rose and fell briefly in the background. “Scott says he’s outta here September first, as he don’t want to hit any snow on the Alcan going south. Between now and then, everything he can’t fit into the back of his pickup is for sale, list price the day you show up or best offer by August fifteenth and it goes without saying you haul it away yourself. There’s a list of the stuff he’s got for sale on parkair-dot-radio, and it also goes without saying that you’ll be bidding against me for the vintage collection of Playboy s, which Scott tells me goes all the way back to the December 1953 first edition, yeah, the one with Marilyn Monroe on the cover, the one every guy my age remembers locking himself in the bathroom with.”
    If possible, his voice dropped even lower. “Just

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