Then he'd gone through a period when the full realization of his immunity had hit him.
At this point he turned to Braun, "Hey, Doc, you ever eaten any caviar? You know, that Russian stuff. Supposed to be the most expensive food in the world."
The doctor cleared his throat. "Small amounts in hors d'oeuvres at cocktail parties."
"Well, maybe I'm just a country boy but the stuff tastes like fish eggs to me. Anyway, to get back to the story...."
He'd gone into Tiffany's and into some of the other swank shops. And then into a bank or two, and stared at the treasures of Manhattan.
At this point he looked at Ross. "You know, just being invisible don't mean all that. How you going to pick up a wad of thousand dollar bills and just walk out the front door with them? Everybody'd see the dough just kind of floating through the air."
"I came to the same conclusion myself, when I experimented," Ross said wryly.
He had ridden on the subways ... free. He had eaten various food in various swank restaurants. He had even had drinks in name bars, sampling everything from Metaxa to vintage champagne. He was of the opinion that even though he remained invisible for the rest of his years, he'd still stick to bourbon and beer.
He had gone down to Wall Street and into the offices of the top brokerage firms and into the sanctum sanctorums of the wealthiest of mucky-mucks but had been too impatient to stick around long enough to possibly hear something that might be profitable. He admitted, grudgingly, that he wouldn't have known what to listen for anyway. Frustrated there, he had gone back uptown and finally located the hangout of one of the more renown sports promoters who was rumored to have gangster connections and was currently under bail due to a boxing scandal. He had stayed about that worthy's office for an hour, gleaning nothing more than several dirty jokes he'd never heard before.
All this activity had wearied him so he went to the Waldorf, located an empty suite in the tower and climbed into bed for a nap after coolly phoning room service to give him a call in two hours. That had almost led to disaster. Evidently, someone on room service had found the suite to be supposedly empty and had sent a boy up to investigate. However, when he had heard the door open, Crowley had merely rolled out of the bed and left, leaving a startled bellhop behind staring at rumpled bedclothes which had seemed to stir of their own accord.
The rest of the day was little different from the first hours. He had gone about gawking in places he couldn't have had he been visible. Into the dressing room of the Roxie, into the bars of swank private clubs, into the offices of the F.B.I. He would have liked to have walked in on a poker game with some real high rollers playing, such as Nick the Greek, but he didn't have the time nor know-how to go about finding one.
Crowley wound it all up with a gesture of both hands, palms upward. "I gotta admit, it was fun, but what the devil good is it?"
They looked at him questioningly.
Crowley said, "I mean, how's it practical? How can you make a buck out of it, if you turn it over to the public, like? Everybody'd go around robbing everybody else and you'd all wind up equal."
Dr. Braun chuckled in deprecation. "There would be various profitable uses, Don. One priceless one would be scientific observation of wild life. For that matter there would be valid usage in everyday life. There are often personal reasons for not wishing to be observed. Celebrities, for instance, wishing to avoid crowds."
"Yeah," Crowley laughed, "or a businessman out with his secretary."
Dr. Braun frowned. "Of course, there are many other aspects. It would mean the end of such things as the Iron Curtain. And also the end of such things as American immigration control. There are many, many ramifications, Don, some of which frighten us. The world would be never quite the same."
Crowley leaned forward confidentially. "Well, I'll tell you. I was thinking it all out. What we got to do is turn it over to the Army and soak them plenty for it."
The others ignored his cutting himself a piece of the cake.
Ross Wooley merely grunted bitterly.
Patricia said impatiently, "We've thought most of these things through, Don. However, Dr. Braun happens to be quite a follower of Lord Russell."
Crowley looked at her blankly.
"He's a pacifist," she explained.
Braun pushed his glasses back more firmly on his nose and said, gently, "The military already have enough gadgets to destroy quite literally everything and I trust one set of them no more than the other. If both sides had our discovery, then, very well, each would go about attempting to find some manner of penetrating the invisibility, or taking various measures to protect their top secrets. But to give it to just one would be such an advantage that the other would have to embark immediately upon a desperate attack before the advantage could be fully realized. If we turn this over to the Pentagon, for exclusive use, the Soviets would have to begin a preventative war as soon as they learned of its existence."
"You a red?" Crowley said, scowling.
The doctor shrugged hopelessly. "No," he said.
Crowley turned to the other two. "If you think it's the patriotic thing to do, why don't one of you sell it to the government?"
Patricia said testily, "You don't understand, Don. Even if we were so thoroughly in disagreement that we would act unilaterally, we couldn't. You see, this is a three-way discovery. No one of us knows the complete process."
His face twisted. "Look, maybe some of this egghead stuff doesn't get through to me but I'm not stupid, see? You got the stuff, haven't you? You gave me that shot this morning."
Braun took over, saying reasonably, "Don, this discovery was hit upon by accident. The three of us are employed in the laboratories of a medical research organization. I am the department head. Patricia and Ross were doing some routine work on a minor problem when they separately stumbled upon some rather startling effects, practically at the same time. Each, separately, brought their discoveries to me, and, working you might say intuitively, I added some conclusions of my own, and ... well, I repeat, the discovery was stumbled upon."
Crowley assimilated that. "None of you knows how to do it, make those injections like, by himself?"
"That is correct. Each knows just one phase of the process. Each must combine with the other two."
Patricia said impatiently, "And thus far we wish to keep it that way. Rossie believes the discovery should be simultaneously revealed on a world-wide basis, and let man adapt to it as best he can. I think it should be suppressed until man has grown up a little--if he ever does. The doctor vacillates between the two positions. What he would truly like to see, is the method kept only for the use of qualified scientists, but even our good doctor realizes what a dream that is."
Crowley took them all in, one at a time. "Well, what the devil are you going to do?"
"That's a good question," Ross said unhappily.
"This experiment was a farce," Patricia said irritably. "After all our trouble locating Don, our Common Man, we have found out nothing that we didn't know before. His reactions were evidently largely similar to our own and...." She broke it off and frowned thoughtfully. The other three looked at her questioningly.
Patricia said, "You know, we simply haven't seen this thing through as yet."
"What do you mean, Pat?" Ross growled.
She turned to him. "We haven't given Don the chance to prove which one of us is right. One day is insufficient. Half the things he wished to do, such as sneaking around picking up stock tips in Wall Street and inside information on sporting events...."
"Hey, take it easy," Crowley protested. "I was just, like, curious."
Ross said heatedly, "That's not fair. I'll admit, I, too, thought of exactly the same possibilities. But thinking about them and going through with them are different things. Haven't you ever thought about what you'd do if given the chance to be world-wide supreme dictator? But, truly, if the job was offered, would you take it?"
"Good heavens," Patricia said disgustedly, "remind me to break off our engagement if I haven't already done it. I hate overpowering men. All I'm saying is that we'll have to give Don at least a week. One day isn't enough."
Dr. Braun cocked his head to one side and said uncomfortably, "I'm not sure but that in a week's time our friend Don might be able.... See here, Don, do you mind going on down to the hotel's bar while we three talk this through?"
Crowley obviously took umbrage at that, but there was nothing to be done. Frowning peevishly, he left.
The doctor looked from one to the other of his associates. "By Caesar, do you realize the damage friend Don could accomplish in a week's time?"
Patricia laughed at him. "That's what I keep telling the two of you. Do you realize the damage any person could do with invisibility? Not to speak of giving it to every Tom, Dick and Harry in the world."
Ross said, "We've started this, lets go through with it. I back Pat's suggestion, that we give Don sufficient serum to give him twelve hours of invisibility a day for a full week. However, we will ration it out to him day by day, so that if things get out of hand we can cut his supply."
"That's an idea," Patricia said. "And I suspect that within half the period we'll all be convinced that the process will have to be suppressed."
Ross leaned forward. "Good. I suggest we three keep this suite and get Don a room elsewhere, so he won't be inhibited by our continual presence. Once a day we'll give him enough serum for one shot and he can take it any time he wishes to." He ran his beefy hand back through his red crew cut in a gesture of satisfaction. "If he seems to get out of hand, we'll call it all off."
Dr. Braun cleared his throat unhappily. "I have premonitions of disaster, but I suppose if we've come this far we should see the experiment through."
Patricia said ungraciously, "At least the lout will be limited in his accomplishments by his lack of imagination. Imagine going into that French girl's dressing room."
"Yeah," Ross said ludicrously trying to make his big open face look dreamy.
"You wretch," Patricia laughed. "The wedding is off!"
But Crowley was no lout. He was full of the folk wisdom of his people.
God helps those who help themselves.
It's each man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.
Not to speak of.
Never give a sucker an even break.
If I didn't do it, somebody else would.
Had he been somewhat more of a student he might also have run into that nugget of the ancient Greek. Morals are the invention of the weak to protect themselves from the strong.
Once convinced that the three eggheads were incapable of realizing the potentialities of their discovery, he had little difficulty in arguing himself into the stand that he should. It helped considerably to realize that in all the world only four persons, including himself, were aware of the existence of the invisibility serum.
He spent the first day in what Marx called in "Das Kapital" the "original accumulation of capital," although it would seem unlikely that even in the wildest accusations of the most confirmed Marxist, no great fortune was ever before begun in such wise.
It was not necessary, he found, to walk into a large bank and simply seemingly levitate the money out the front door. In fact, that would have meant disaster. However, large sums of money are to be found elsewhere on Manhattan and for eleven hours Crowley used his native ingenuity and American know-how, most of which had been gleaned from watching TV crime shows. By the end of the day he had managed to accumulate in the neighborhood of a hundred thousand dollars and was reasonably sure that the news would not get back to his sponsors. The fact was, he had cleaned out the treasuries of several numbers rackets and those of two bookies.
It was important, he well realized, that he be well under way before the three eggheads decided to lower the boom.
The second day he spent making his preliminary contacts, an operation that was helped by his activities of the day before. He was beginning already to get the feel of the underworld element with which he had decided he was going to have to work, at least in the early stages of his operations.
Any leader, be he military, political or financial, knows that true greatness lies in the ability to choose assistants. Be you a Napoleon with his marshals, a Roosevelt with his brain trust, a J. P. Morgan with his partners, the truism applies. No great leader has ever stood alone.
But Crowley also knew instinctively that he was going to have to keep the number of his immediate associates small. They were going to have to know his secret, and no man is so naive as not to realize that while one person can keep a secret, it becomes twice as hard for two and from that point on the likelihood fades in a geometric progression.
On the fifth day he knocked on the door of the suite occupied by Dr. Braun and his younger associates and pushed his way in without waiting for response.
The three were sitting around awaiting his appearance and to issue him his usual day's supply of serum. They greeted him variously, Patricia with her usual brisk, almost condescending smile; Dr. Braun with a gentle nod and a speaking of his first name; Ross Wooley sourly. Ross obviously had some misgivings, the exact nature of which he couldn't quite put his finger upon.
Crowley grinned and said, "Hello, everybody."
"Sit down, Don," Braun said gently. "We have been discussing your experiment."
While the newcomer was finding his seat, Patricia said testily, "Actually, we are not quite happy about your reports, Don. We feel an ... if you'll pardon us ... an evasive quality about them. As though you aren't completely frank."
"In short," Ross snapped, "have you been pulling things you haven't told us about?"
Crowley grinned at them. "Now you folks are downright suspicious."
Dr. Braun indicated some notes on the coffee table before him. "It seems hardly possible that your activities would be confined largely to going to the cinema, to the swankier night clubs and eating in the more famed restaurants."
Crowley's grin turned into a half embarrassed smirk. Patricia thought of a small boy who had been caught in a mischief but was still somewhat proud of himself. He said, "Well, I gotta admit that there's been a few things. Come on over to my place and I'll show you." He looked at Braun. "Hey, Doc, about how much is one of them Rembrandt paintings worth?"
Braun rolled his eyes toward the ceiling, "Great Caesar," he murmured. He came to his feet and looked around at the rest of them. "Let us go over there and learn the worst," he said.
At the curb, before the hotel, Ross Wooley looked up and down the street for a cab.
Crowley said, his voice registering self-deprecation, "Over here."
Over here was a several toned, fantastically huge hover-limousine, a nattily dressed, sharp-looking, expressionless-faced young man behind the wheel.
The three looked at Crowley.
He opened the door. "Climb in folks. Nothing too good for you scientists, eh?"
Inside, sitting next to a window with Patricia beside him and Dr. Braun at the far window, and with Ross in a jump seat, Crowley said expansively, "This is Larry. Larry, this is Doc Braun and his friends I was telling you about, Ross Wooley and Pat O'Gara. They're like scientists."
Larry said, "Hi," without inflection, and tooled the heavy car out into the traffic.
Ross spun on Crowley. "Don, where'd you get this car?"
Crowley laughed. "You'll see. Take it easy. You'll see a lot of things."
They were too caught up in their own thoughts and in the barrage of demands they were leveling at Crowley to notice direction. It wasn't until they were already on the George Washington Bridge that Patricia blurted, "Don, this isn't the way to your hotel!"
Crowley said tolerantly, "Take it easy, Pat. We're taking a short detour. Something I have to show you in Jersey."
"I don't like this," Ross snapped. The redhead shifted his heavy shoulders in a reflexive protest against the confining tweed coat he wore.
"Relax," Crowley told him reasonably. "I've been thinking things out quite a bit and I've got a lot to discuss with you folks."
They were across the bridge now and Larry headed into the maze which finally unraveled itself to the point that it was obvious they were heading north. Larry hit the lift lever and they rose ten feet from the surface.
Dr. Braun said evenly, "You had no intention of taking us to your room. You used that as a ruse to get us out of our hotel and, further, across the bridge until we are now in a position where it's quite impossible for us to summon police assistance."
Crowley grinned. "That's right, Doc. Didn't I tell you these three were real eggheads, Larry? Look how quick he figured that out."
Larry grunted in what might have been amusement.
Ross, growling low in his throat, turned suddenly in his jump seat and grabbed Crowley by the coat front. "What's going on here?"