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It turned edge-on, slicing the air like the business end of a guillotine, and shattered on the stoop. Six inches farther left, and I'd own one less private eye.

I jig-sawed the pieces together with my toe. "Eddie Valiant," it said, followed by a single exclamation point the size of a major leaguer's bat and ball.

I looked up. There he stood in the open doorway. Six feet tall and change, counting his eighteen-inch ears. His carroty cowlick flopped forward to the tops of his blue-lagoon eyes. Cotton candy ear canals, marshmallow fur, and lemon-drop mittens put him next in line to replace Shirley Temple as First Mate on the Good Ship Lollipop. His red corduroy overalls fit him the way spider webs drape the Headless Horseman's hat rack.

"P-p-p-please come in," he said out loud, spraying me with enough saliva to irrigate the San Fernando Valley.

I entered the low-ceilinged warren he called a living room.

He'd decorated it on the cheap, with props from his movies. I spotted a sofa from Tummy Trouble, a beach chair from Roller Coaster Rabbit, and dishes from Waiter, There's a Hare in My Stew.

I recognized his Oriental rug from the flying scene in Baby Baba and the Forty Thieves. It still bore the stain where Baby Herman had wet his pantaloons during one of Roger's hare-pin turns.

One whole wall displayed autographed photos of famous celebs. Studio prexy Walt Disney and his adopted nephew Mickey. Roger and Baby Herman flanking publicity agent Large Mouth Bassinger. Benny the Cab out for an evening of engine revving with Fangio, the Spanish race car driver. Baby Herman making goo-goo eyes at Carole Lombard and her making them back. Roger even had one of me and Doris. Together and happy. A collector's item if ever there was one.

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