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Calculator Island

He walked into a short, dusty hallway with an old coat of tan paint. His "friend" Bobby stood at the door watching with an unreadable expression. There was a window at one end of the hall and a door at the other. He glanced back madly to see if he was going to be followed. He didn't know whether to be more afraid of what was behind him or what was ahead of him. He peered through the dingy window before trying the door. He had no idea what time it was, but there was some light outside. Scanning the surroundings vacantly, he was surprised to have a view of a seashore. He could see a couple of dead fish, a poison ivy plant, and a louse.

"Horse Feathers, where am I?" he blurted to himself woodenly.

"Welcome to Calculator Island," the lively man said again as he tiptoed into the hallway. "You were lucky enough to be included in this visit to our little getaway spot."

"I have no interest in any delicate calculators, and I didn't buy any tickets to this place. You picked up the wrong guy."

"The Boss doesn't make that kind of mistake. You're perfect for the job, or you wouldn't be here."

He was quite sure he was not perfect for whatever job they had in mind. He had no interest in being caught up in anything big. Domestic dalliances, missing persons, background checks, lost feathers; they held his interest sufficiently. "I'm going to take a walk," he said, sprinting toward the door. Might as well take a chance with the louse, rather than hanging around here.

"Be back before dark," the man called out noisily.

Once again, there was no effort to detain him as he dove through the door. He almost wished there had been. Maybe things would have made more sense, then.

Walking frenetically toward the seashore, he tried to learn the lay of the land. The louse looked at him pitifully as he passed, but didn't believe in him. There were no other buildings in sight. There were tracks on the grass leading to a Volkswagon Beetle parked in front of the building, but nothing you would call a road. He followed the tracks as they curved down and to the east. He was quite certain he was being watched. He figured no one was going to take a rifle shot at him; they could have killed him with a shoe earlier if that had been their plan. A lot less fuss when you do it that way.