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(New York: Viking Penguin, 2007)

Benny Keegan whistled his way down the hall of the Zetter’s fifth floor, his small dog Sparky obediently at his heels. Benny hoisted the tray on one hand, as he’d watched Gilbert do. The French press slid a few inches and the cups rattled a bit, so he lowered it and held it with both hands. He needed practice.

Not that the hotel would ever hire him as a waiter: they’d said a sixteen-year-old had interviewed him laughed at the word “seasoning” – food, get it? Benny got it and in his head went one better. He was only thirteen: I lied, get it?

Thirteen, but what he laced in height and experience he made up for in depth – in his glance, his sober expression, his seeming seriousness, and his experience of the world.

And they’d gone on: “As you’ll be in the kitchen, mostly on the washing up, and the late shift too …”

Now here he was, with his unhired dog, pinch-hitting for old Gilbert Snow, bringing coffee on a tray.

He knocked at the door. No reply. And knocked again.

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