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for his family to remain in the truck as he stepped out and approached the bank where he asked the four brothers, who were still standing in the middle of the river, whether he could oblige them in any way, like by telephoning the local sheriff's office or a garage or something.

There was a pleasant smile on the farmer's face which couldn't help show how amusing the outrageous spectacle seemed to him. Tumble asked the farmer to please use his phone in both the ways he mentioned and told him they would all wait for the police and garageman to show. Tumble closed with a sincere "Thank you," and the farmer headed back toward the cab of his truck, but he didn't climb into it. Instead, he leaned inside for a second and turned back around with what looked like a Brownie Hawkeye camera, complete with flash attachment, in his worn, hard hands.

He returned to the edge of the bank, holding the camera and shyly asked, "'Scuse me, fellas. I know it might seem downright impolite, but I jus' hadda ask you or I'd be kickin' myself for weeks if I didn't. You see, ain't nobody gonna believe it when I tell 'em 'bout you 'n the river 'n the car 'n all, 'n I would be much obliged if you let me take a snapshot of you 'n everything before I git on back to my house 'n make those phone calls you asked me to."

Tumble and the Hun whispered something like "Nothing doing!" to themselves under their breath with the latter going on to the others about how the photo could be used later to identify all of them, if anything happened at the conference or someplace else nearby. Emmett stopped him before he got himself and the others caught up in paranoia, cutting him off with logic. If the four of them didn't oblige the farmer with a snapshot that each of them could simultaneously blur with a bit of slight movement and closed eyes, the guy might become insulted enough not to oblige them with the necessary phone calls, and they'd be spending the whole goddamn night wet and cold.

All this discussion was done in quick whispers while paying unflinching attention to the farmer who was standing above them and returning their shit-eating-grins with an enthusiastic, hopeful smile. Billy Landout delighted the guy by yelling up to him, "Sure, it's all right for you to take a picture. But just make it no more than two, okay? 'Cause we're gettin' kinda cold here in this river, 'n we'd like to get on out and into some warm clothes. Just tell us when you're ready, so we can pose real nice for you, okay?"

The farmer got real happy very fast and clicked off the two photos [end page 391]


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