How many of what

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"Storybooks were like gold dust-anything you could read was treasured, back before the town had a lending library. When my grampaw got sent a storybook from his brother in Bavaria, all the Germans in town met up in the town hall to hear him read it, and the Finns and the Irish and the rest of them, they'd make the Germans tell them the stories.

"Twenty miles south of here, in Jibway, they found a woman walking mother-naked in the winter with a dead babe at her breast, and she'd not suffer them to take it from her." He shook his head meditatively, closed the fly cabinet with a click. "Bad business. You want a video rental card? Eventually they'll open a Blockbusters here, and then we'll soon be out of business. But for now we got a pretty fair selectionBusiness Broadband."

Shadow reminded Hinzelmann that he had no television, and no VCR. He enjoyed Hinzelmann's company-the reminiscences, the tall tales, the goblin grin of the old man. It could make things awkward between them were Shadow to admit that television had made him uncomfortable ever since it had started to talk to him.

Hinzelmann fished in a drawer, and took out a tin box-by the look of it, it had once been a Christmas box, of the kind that contained chocolates or cookies: a mottled Santa Claus, holding a tray of Coca-Cola bottles, beamed up from its lid. Hinzelmann eased off the metal top of the box, revealing a notebook and books of blank tickets, and said, "How many you want me to put you down for?"

"Klunker tickets. She'll go out onto the ice today, so we've started selling tickets. Each ticket is five dollars, ten for forty, twenty for seventy-five. One ticket buys you five minutes. Of course we can't promise it'll go down in your five minutes, but the person who's closest stands to win five hundred bucks, and if it goes down in your five minutes, you win a thousand dollars. The earlier you buy your tickets, the more times aren't spoken for. You want to see the info sheet kangertech ecig?"

Hinzelmann handed Shadow a photocopied sheet. The klunker was an old car with its engine and fuel tank removed, which would be parked out on the ice for the winter. Sometime in the spring the lake ice would melt, and when it was too thin to bear the car's weight the car would fall into the lake. The earliest the klunker had ever tumbled into the lake was February the twenty-seventh ("That was the winter of 1998. I don't think you could rightly call that a winter at all"), the latest was May the first ("That was 1950. Seemed that year that the only way that winter would end was if somebody hammered a stake through its heart"). The beginning of April appeared to be the most common time for the car to sink-normally in midafternoon.

All of the midafternoons in April had already gone, marked off in Hinzelmann's lined notebook. Shadow bought a thirty-minute period on the morning of March 23, from 9:00 A.M. to 9:30 A.M. He handed Hinzelmann thirty dollars.

"I just wish everybody in town was as easy a sell as you are," said Hinzelmann.

"It's a thank-you for that ride you gave me that first night I was in towntravel and tourism news."

"No, Mike," said Hinzelmann. "It's for the children." For a moment he looked serious, with no trace of impishness on his creased old face. "Come down this afternoon, you can lend a hand pushing the klunker out onto the lake."

He passed Shadow six blue cards, each with a date and time written on it in Hinzelmann's old-fashioned handwriting, then entered the details of each in his notebook.


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