Lady Killer Ed McBainLady Killer


particular of the field glasses



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particular of the field glasses.
 Magnification: 8 diameters
 Exit pupil: 3 -5 mm.
 Objective lenses: 30 mm. diameter
 Relative brightness: 12-3
 Field at 1,000 yards: 135 yds
 Angular field: 7°44'
 Length closed: 4''
 Pupillary distance: 48 to 72 mm.
 Length extended: 4 5/8
 Weight: 18 oz.
The glasses were central focusing, right ocular adjustable individually. The
price of the glasses when new, sold together with a stiff sole leather casing
and straps, was $92.50.
There were two sets of prints on the glasses. One belonged to Cotton Hawes. The
other, which—because of the very way in which binoculars must be held—consisted
of fairly good thumb and ringer impressions for both hands, had been left on the
glasses by Hawes's assailant. Photos were taken of the prints. One photo was
sent immediately to the Bureau of Criminal Identification. The other was
photo-transmitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington. Each
agency was asked for extreme speed in making a possible identification from the
prints.
Sam Grossman prayed that the man who'd left the prints on the glasses had also
left a record of those prints somewhere in the United States.
 
 
 
It was 1.10 p.m.
Lieutenant Byrnes spread the newspaper on his desk. 'How about this, Hawes?' he
asked.
Hawes looked at the page, his eye running down it until he found the ad. The ad
said:
Appearing now at the Brisson Roof!
Jay 'Lady' Astor
Piano stylings and Songs
in the
Lady Astor manner
There was a picture of a dark-haired girl in a skin-tight evening dress,
smiling.
'I didn't know she was in the city,' Hawes said.
'Ever hear of her?'
'Yes. She's pretty popular. Sophisticated stuff, you know. Cole Porter, like
that. And lots of special material with off-colour lyrics in impeccable taste.'
'How's your wrist?'
'Fine,' Hawes said, feeling it with his left hand.
'Do you want to look her up?'
'Sure,' Hawes said.
The phone on Byrnes's desk mng. He picked it up.
'Byrnes here,' he said. He listened. 'Sure, put him on, Dave.' He covered the
mouthpiece. 'The lab,' he said to Hawes. He uncovered the mouthpiece and waited.
'Hello, Sam,' he said, 'wie geht's?' Hawes listened. Byrnes listened,
interjecting an occasional 'Uh huh' into the phone. He listened for about five
minutes. Then he said, 'Thanks a lot, Sam,' and hung up.
'Anything?'
'A good set of prints on the glasses,' Byrnes said. 'Sam's already sent copies
to the I.B. and to Washington. Keep your toes crossed. He's sending a written
report back with the glasses. They're 1952 vintage, discontinued for the later
models. Once we get them, I'll have Steve and Meyer start checking the
hockshops. How about this Lady Astor? Think she's the target?'
Hawes shrugged. 'I'll check her out.'
'It could be,' Byrnes said, returning the shrug. 'What the hell? Person in the
public eye. Maybe some jerk doesn't like the dirty songs she sings. What do you
say?'
'I say it's worth a try.'
'Make it fast,' Byrnes said. 'Don't stop to listen to any of her songs. We may
have a few other tries to make before eight tonight.' He looked at his watch.
'Jesus, the time flies,' he said.
 
 
 
A call to the Brisson Roof told Hawes that Jay Astor's first show went on at
eight p.m. The roof manager refused to divulge her address even when Hawes told
him he was a detective. He insisted that Hawes give him a number to call back.
Hawes gave him the Frederick 7 number, and the manager called back immediately,
apparently satisfied after talking to the desk sergeant and being transferred to
the Detective Division that he was talking to a bona fide cop and not one of
Miss Astor's great unwashed. He gave Hawes the address, and Hawes left for the
apartment immediately.
It seemed odd that Miss Astor was not staying at the hotel where she was
performing, but perhaps she didn't like to mix business with pleasure. Her
apartment was in uptown Isola, in the swank brown-stone neighbourhood on the
south side, some thirty blocks below the first street in the 87th-Precinct
territory. Hawes made the drive in ten minutes. He left the car at the curb,
climbed the twelve steps to the front door, and entered a small, immaculate
lobby. He scanned the mailboxes. There was no Jay Astor listed on any of the
boxes. He stepped outside, and standing on the front stoop once more, checked
the address again. It was the right address. He went into the lobby again and
rang for the superintendent. He could hear the loud bell sounding somewhere
beyond the curtained inner-lobby door. He heard a door opening and closing,
heard footsteps, and then the curtained door opened.
'Yes?' the man said. He was an old man wearing house-slippers and a faded blue
basque shirt.
'I'd Like to see Miss Jay Astor,' Hawes said.
'There's no Miss Astor here,' the man answered.
'I'm not a fan or a reporter,' Hawes said. 'This is police business.' He took
out his wallet and opened it to his shield.
The man studied it. 'You're a detective?' he asked.
'Yes.'
'She's not in any trouble, is she?'
'She might be,' Hawes said. 'I'd like to talk to her.'
'Just a minute,' the man said. He went inside, leaving the curtained lobby door
open, and also leaving the door to his ground-floor apartment ajar. Hawes could
hear him dialling a phone. Upstairs, Hawes heard a phone ringing. The ringing
stopped abruptly, and Hawes heard the old man talking. In a few minutes the old
man came back.
'She said you should go up. It's Apartment 4A. That's the one she uses for the
entrance. She's got the whole top floor, actually. That's 4A, 4s, and 4c. But
she uses 4A for the entrance, got the other ones blocked off from inside with
furniture. 4A. You can go right on up.'
'Thank you,' Hawes said. He moved past the old man into the hallway. Carpeted
steps led from the inner hallway upstairs. An ornately carved banister was on
one side of the steps. The hallway was suffocatingly hot. Hawes climbed the
steps, thinking of Carella and Meyer hitting the hockshops. Would Byrnes ask for
interprecinct assistance on this one? Or did he expect the 87th to hit every
hockshop in the city? No, he'd ask for other men. He'd have to.
There was a small placard set in a brass rectangle screwed to the doorjamb of
Apartment 4A. The placard simply read,
ASTOR.
Hawes pressed the buzzer.
The door opened so rapidly that Hawes suspected Jay Astor had been standing just
inside it.
'You the detective?' she asked.
'Yes.'
'Come in.'
He walked into the apartment. If anything, Jay Astor was a disappointment. She
had appeared sexy, slinky, and seductive in her newspaper photo, the skin-tight
gown moulding the abundant curves of a naturally endowed body. Her eyes had been
provocative, and her smile had held the flash of promised evil, the tantalizing
challenge of a mysterious woman. Here, in person, there was no challenge and no
promise.
Jay Astor wore shorts and a halter. Her bosom was full and rich, but her legs
were somewhat muscular, the legs of a tennis player. Her eyes were slightly
squinted, but he realized instantly that the squint was a result of myopia and
not sexuality. Her teeth revealed by her smile were rather large, giving her the
appearance of a benevolent horse. Or perhaps he was being too cruel. He
supposed, unprepared by the photo, he would have considered Miss Astor an
attractive woman.
'The living room's air-conditioned,' she said. 'Come on in there, and we'll
close the door.'
He followed her into a room done in extreme modern. She closed the door behind
him and said, 'There. Isn't that better? This heat is the most. I came up from a
South American tour two weeks ago, and believe me it wasn't as hot down there.
What can I do for you?'
'We received a letter this morning,' Hawes said.
'Oh? What about?' Jay Astor went to the bar lining one side of the long room.
'Would you like a drink? A gin rickey? A Tom Collins? You call it.'
'Nothing, thanks.'
Her face expressed mild surprise. Unperturbed, she began mixing herself a gin
and tonic.
'The letter said, "I will kill The Lady tonight at eight. What can you do about
it?" ' Hawes said.
'Nice letter.' She pulled a face and squeezed a lime into the drink.
'You don't seem particularly impressed,' Hawes said.
'Should I be?'
'You are known as The Lady, aren't you?'
'Oh! Oh!' she said. 'Oh, yes. The Lady. I will kill The Lady tonight. I see.
Yes. Yes.'
'Well?'
'A crank,' Jay said.
'Maybe. Have you had any threatening letters or calls?'
'Recently, do you mean?'
'Yes.'
'No, not recently. I get them every now and then. Jack the Ripper types. They
call me smutty. They say they will kill me and cleanse the world in the blood of
the lamb, and like that. Buggos. Cranks.' She turned from the bar, grinning.
'I'm still alive.'
'You seem to take all of it pretty lightly, Miss Astor.'
'Call me Jay,' she said. 'I do. If I had to worry about every buggo who writes
or calls, I'd become a buggo myself. There's no percentage in that.'
'All the same, you may be the person indicated in this letter.'
'So what do we do about it?'
'First of all, if you don't mind, we'd like to give you police protection
tonight.'
'All night?' Jay asked, raising an eyebrow coquettishly, her face expressing for
a fleeting instant the promise and the challenge that was in the newspaper
photo.
'Well from when you leave the apartment until your show is over.'
'My last show is at two,' she said. 'Your cop'll be busy. Or will the cop be
you?'
'No, he won't,' Hawes said.
'Worse luck,' Jay answered, and she pulled at her drink.
'Your first show goes on at eight, is that right?'
'That's right.'
'The letter says—'
'That could be a coincidence.'
'Yes, it could. What time do you generally leave for the Brisson?'
'About seven.'
'I'll have a patrolman stop by for you.'
'A handsome Irish cop, I trust.'
'We have a lot of those,' Hawes said, smiling. 'In the meantime, can you tell me
whether or not anything has happened recently that would—'
'—cause someone to want me dead?' Jay thought for a moment. 'No,' she said.
' Anything at all? An argument? A contract dispute? A disgruntled musician?
Anything?'
'No,' she said pensively. 'I'm easy to get along with. That's my rep in the
trade. An easy lady.' She grinned. 'I didn't mean that to sound the way it did.'
'How about the threatening letters and calls you mentioned? When was the last
time you got one of those?'
'Oh, before I went to South America. That was months ago. I've only been back
two weeks, you know. I doubt if the buggos know I'm around. When they hear my
new album, they'll begin their poison penmanship again. Have you heard it?' She
shook her head. 'But of course you haven't. It hasn't been released yet.'
She went to a hi-fi unit, opened one of the cabinets, and pulled a record album
from the top shelf. On the alburn cover, Lady Astor was riding a white horse,
naked. Her long black hair had been released so that it cascaded over her
breasts, effectively covering her. There was the same malevolent, mischievous,
inviting gleam in her eyes as had been in the newspaper photo. The album was
titled, 'Astor's Pet Horse'.
'It's a collection of cowboy songs,' Jay explained, 'with the lyrics jazzed up a
bit. Would you like to hear a little of it?'
'Well, I—'
'It won't take a minute,' Jay said, moving to the hi-fi and putting the record
on the turntable. 'You'll be getting a sneak preview. What other detective in
the city can make that statement?'
'I wanted to—'
'Sit,' Jay said, and the record began.
It began with the customary corny cowboy guitar, and then Lady Astor's
insinuatingly chic voice came smoothly over the speaker.
'Home, home in the slums,
Full of pushers, and junkies, and bums.
Where seldom is heard
Mating call of the bird,
And the zip guns play music like drums…'
The record went on and on. Hawes thought it only mildly funny. He was too close
to the reality to find the parody amusing. At the end of 'Home on the Range', a
parody of 'Deep in the Heart of Texas' began.
'This one is a little rough,' Jay said, 'full of innuendo. A lot of people won't
like it, but I don't give a damn. Morality is a funny thing, do you know?'
'How do you mean?'
'I came to the conclusion a long time ago that morality is strictly personal.
The hardest thing any artist can attempt is to reconcile his own moral standards
with those of the great unwashed. It can't be done. Morality is morality, and
mine's mine and yours is yours. There are things I accept matter-of-factly, and
these same things shock the hell out of the Kansas City housewife. That's a trap
the artist can fall into.'
'What trap?'
'Most artists—in show business, anyway—live in the big cities. That's where the
business is, you know, so that's where you have to be. Well, urban morality is
pretty different from morality in the sticks. The stuifthat goes with the city
slickers just won't go with the guy mowing a field of wheat—or whatever the hell
you do with wheat. But if you try to please everybody, you go buggo. So I try to
please myself. If I use my own good taste, I figure the morals will take care of
themselves.'
'And do they?'
'Sometimes, yes—sometimes, no. Like I said, things I consider absolutely pure
and simple don't seem quite so pure or quite so simple to the farmhand.'
'Things like what?' Hawes asked innocently.
'Things like—would you like to go to bed with me?'
'Yes, I would,' he answered automatically.
'Then let's,' she said, putting down her drink.
'Right now?' he asked.
'Why not? It's as good a time as any.'
He felt ridiculous answering what he had to answer, but he plunged ahead,
anyway. 'I haven't the time right now,' he said.
'Your letter-sender?'
'My letter-sender.'
'You may have lost your golden opportunity,' she said.
'Those are the breaks,' Hawes said, shrugging.
'Morality is a question of the means and the opportunity,' Jay said.
'Like murder,' Hawes answered.
'If you want to get morbid, okay. All I'm trying to say is that I would like you
to make love to me now. Tomorrow I may not feel the same way. I may not even
feel the same way ten minutes from now.'
'Now you've spoiled it,' Hawes said.
Jay raised an eyebrow inquisitively.
'I thought it was me. Instead, it's just your whim of the moment.'
'What do you want me to do? Undress you and burp you?'
'No,' Hawes said, rising. 'Give me a rain check.'
'It hasn't rained for weeks,' Jay said.
'Maybe it will.'
'And to quote an old sawhorse, lightning never strikes twice in the same place.'
'I'll tell you,' Hawes said, 'I'm just liable to go out and shoot myself.'
Jay smiled. 'You're pretty damned sure of yourself, aren't you?'
'Am I?' he asked.
For a moment they faced each other. There was none of the photographic
sensuality on her face now. Neither was there the fury of a woman scorned. There
was only the somewhat pathetic loneliness of a little girl living in a vast
top-floor apartment with an air-conditioner in the living room.
Lady Astor shrugged.
'What the hell,' she said. 'Give me a call sometime. The whim may return.'
'Expect that cop,' Hawes said.
'I will,' she answered. 'He may beat your time.'
Hawes shrugged philosophically. 'Some guys have all the luck,' he said, and he
left the apartment.
 
 
 
CHAPTER NINE
Some guys, too, have all the misfortune.
Meyer Meyer and Steve Carella had their share that blistering day. By 1.40 p.m.
the sidewalks were baking, the buildings were ready to turn cherry red with
contained heat, the people were wilting, automobile tyres were melting, and it
was obvious even to the neophyte science-fiction fan that the earth had somehow
wandered too close to the sun. It would surely be consumed by fire. This was the
last day, and Richard Matheson had called the tune, and the world would end in
molten fire.
Undramatically speaking, it was damn hot.
Meyer Meyer was a sweater. He sweated even in the wintertime. He didn't know why
he sweated. He supposed it was a nervous reaction. But he was always covered
with perspiration. Today he was drowning in it. As the two detectives wandered
from hockshop to hockshop on sleazy Crichton Avenue, wandered from open door to
open door, passed rapidly from one trio of gold balls to the next, Meyer thought
he would die in a way unbefitting a heroic cop. He would die of heat
prostration, and the obits would simply say COP FLOPS. Or perhaps, if the news
was headlined in Variety, SOPPY COP DROPS.
'How do you like this Variety headline announcing my death by heat prostration?'
he said to Carella as they entered another hockshop. 'Soppy cop drops.'
'That's pretty good,' Carella said. 'How about mine?'
'In Variety?'
'Sure.'
'Let me hear it.'
'SOPPY WOP COP DROPS.'
Meyer burst out laughing. 'You're a prejudiced bastard,' he said.
The owner of the hockshop looked up as they approached his cage.
'Yes, sir, gentlemen,' he said, 'what can I do for you, sirs?'
'We're from the police,' Carella said. He plunked the binoculars down on the
countertop. 'Recognize these?'
The hockshop owner examined them. 'A beautiful pair of glasses,' he said.
'Pieter-Vondiger. Have they figured in a crime, perhaps?'
'They have.'
'Was the perpetrator carrying them?'
'He was.'
'Mmmm,' the owner said.
'Recognize them?'
'We sell a lot of field glasses. That is, when we have them to sell.'
'Did you have these to sell?'
'I don't think so. The last Pieter-Vondigers I had was in January. These are 8 X
30. The pair I had were 6 X 30. These are better glasses.'
'Then, you didn't sell these glasses?'
'No, sirs, I didn't. Are they stolen?'
'Not according to our lists.'
'I'm sorry I can't help you, sirs.'
'That's all right,' Carella said. 'Thanks.'
They walked out onto the blistering sidewalk again.
'How many other cops are on this?' Meyer asked.
'Pete asked for a pair from each precinct. Maybe they'll come up with
something.'
'I'm getting tired. Do you suppose that damn letter is a phony?'
'I don't know. If it is, we ought to lock the bastard up, anyway.'
'Hear, hear,' Meyer said, in a burst of enthusiasm rare for the heat.
'Maybe we'll get a make on the prints,' Carella said.
'Sure, maybe,' Meyer agreed. 'Maybe it'll rain.'
'Maybe,' Carella said.
They walked into the next shop. There were two men behind the counter. Both
grinned as Meyer and Carella crossed the room.
'Good afternoon,' one said, smiling.
'A pleasant day,' the other said, smiling.
'I'm Jason Bloom,' the first said.
'I'm Jacob Bloom,' echoed the other.
'How do you do?' Carella answered. 'We're Detectives Meyer and Carella of the
Eighty-seventh Squad.'
'A pleasure, gentlemen,' Jason said.
'Welcome to our shop,' Jacob said.
'We're trying to trace the owner of these binoculars,' Carella said. He put them
on the counter. 'Do you recognize them?'
'Pieter-Vondiger,' Jason said.
'Excellent glasses,' Jacob said.
'Superb.'
'Magnificent.'
Carella broke into the lavish praise. 'Recognize them?'
'Pieter-Vondiger,' Jason said. 'Didn't we—?'
'Precisely,' Jacob said.
'The man with the—'
And the brothers burst out laughing together. Carella and Meyer waited. The
laughter showed no signs of subsiding. It was reaching heights of hysteria,
unprecedented hurricanes of hilarity, fits of festivity. Still, the detectives
waited. At last the laughter subsided.
'Oh, my God,' Jason said, chuckling.
'Do we remember these glasses?'
'Do we?' Jason said.
'Oh, my God,' Jacob said.
'Do you?' Carella asked. He was hot.
Jason sobered instantly. 'Are these the glasses, Jacob?' he asked.
'Certainly,' Jacob said.
'But are you sure?'
'The scratch on the side, don't you remember? See, there is the scratch. Don't
you remember he complained about the scratch? We reduced the glasses a dollar
and a quarter because of the scratch. And all the while he was—' Jacob burst out
laughing again.
'Oh, my God,' Jason said, laughing with him.
Meyer looked at Carella. Carella looked at Meyer. Apparently the heat in the
shop had grown too intense for the brothers.
Carella cleared his throat. Again the laughter subsided.
'Did you sell these glasses to someone?' he asked.
'Yes,' Jason said.
'Certainly,' Jacob said.
'Who?'
'The man with the lollipop!' Jason said,burstinginto anew gale of hysteria.
'The man with the lollipop!' Jacob repeated, unable to keep his laugh from
booming out of his mouth.
'This man had a lollipop?' Carella asked, deadpanned.
'Yes, yes! Oh, my God!'
'He was sucking on it all the while we haggled over the… the…'
'… the glasses,' Jason concluded. 'Oh, my God. Oh, my good Lord! When he left
the shop, we couldn't stop laughing. Do you remember, Jacob?'
'Yes, yes, how could I forget? A red lollipop! Oh, was he enjoying it? Oh, no
child ever enjoyed a lollipop more! It was wonderful! Wonderful!'
'Magnificent!' Jason said.
'Fantastically—'
'What was his name?' Carella asked.
'Who?' Jason asked, sobering.
'The man with the lollipop.'
'Oh. What was his name, Jacob?'
'I don't know, Jason.'
Carella looked at Meyer. Meyer looked at Carella.
'Isn't there a bill Of sale, Jacob?'
'Certainly, Jason.'
'When was he here?'
'Two weeks ago, wasn't it?'
'A Friday?'
'No, a Saturday. No, you're right, it was a Friday.'
'When was that? What date?'
'I don't know. Where's the calendar?' The brothers busied themselves over a
calendar on the wall.
'There,' Jacob said, pointing.
'Yes,' Jason agreed.
'Friday,' Jacob said.
'July twelfth.'
'Would you check your bills?' Carella asked.
'Certainly.'
'Of course.'
The brothers moved into the back room.
'Nice,' Meyer said.
'What?'
'Brotherly love.'
'Um,' Carella answered.
The brothers returned with a yellow carbon copy of the bill.
'Here it is,' Jason said.
'July twelfth, just as we thought.'
'And the man's name?' Carella asked.
'M. Samalson,' Jason said.
'No first name?'
'Just the initial,' Jason said.
'We only take the initial,' Jacob corroborated.
'Any address?' Meyer asked.
'Can you read this?' Jason asked, indicating the writing on the line printed
Address:
'It's your handwriting.'
'No, no, you wrote it,' Jason said.
'You did,' Jacob told him. 'See how the t is crossed. That is your handwriting.'
'Possibly. But what does it say?'
'That's a t, for sure,' Jacob said.
'Yes. Oh, it's Calm's Point! Of course! That's Calm's Point.'
'But what's the address?'
'31-63 Jefferson Street, Calm's Point,' Jason said, in a deciphering burst.
Meyer copied down the address.
'A lollipop!'Jason said.
'Oh, my God,' Jacob said.
'Thank you very much for…' Carella started, but the brothers were laughing to
beat the band, so the two detectives simply left the shop.
'Calm's Point,' Carella said when they were outside. 'Clear the hell over on the
other end of the city.'
'It would be that way,' Meyer said.
'We'd better get back to the squad. Pete may want to put a Calm's Point precinct
on it.'
'Right,' Meyer said. They walked back to the car. 'You want to drive?'
'I don't care. You tired?'
'No. No. I just thought you might want to drive.'
'Okay,' Carella said.
They got into the car.
'Think those reports on the prints are back yet?'
'I hope so. Might save us a call to Calm's Point.'
'Um,' Meyer said.
They set the car in motion. They were silent for a while. Then Meyer said,
'Steve, it's hot as hell today.'
 
 
 
The reports from the Bureau of Criminal Identification and the F.B.I, were
waiting at the office when Carella and Meyer returned. Both agencies had
reported that they were unable to find fingerprints in thek vast files
corresponding to the ones taken from the binoculars.
Hawes walked into the squad-room as the men were reading the reports.
'Any luck?' he asked.
'No make,' Carella said. 'But we got the name of the guy who bought those
binoculars. That's a break.'
'Pete want to pick him up?'
'I haven't told him yet.'
'What's his name?'
'M. Samalson.'
'You'd better tell Pete quick,' Hawes said. 'I got a good look at the guy who
slugged me. If it was Samalson, I'll know it.'
'And we've also got the prints to compare, in case your memory's faulty,'
Carella said. He paused. 'How'd you make out with Lady Astor?'
Hawes winked and said nothing.
Carella sighed and went into Byrnes's office.
 
 
 
The closest Calm's Point precinct to M. Samalson's home address was the 102nd.
Byrnes put in a call to the detective squad there and asked them to pick up and
deliver Samalson as soon as possible.
At 2.00 p.m. a new batch of kids in dungarees and red-striped tee shirts was
trotted into the precinct squad-room. Dave Murchison was brought up from the
desk. He looked the kids over, stopped before one of them, and said, 'This is
the kid.'
Byrnes walked over to the boy.
'Did you deliver a letter here this morning?' he asked.
'No,' the boy said.
'He's the kid,' Murchison insisted.
'What's your name, son?' Byrnes asked.
'Frankie Annuci.'
'Did you bring a letter here this morning?'
'No,' the kid said.
'Did you come into the building and ask for the desk sergeant?'
'No,' the kid said.
'Did you hand a letter to this man here?' Byrnes said, indicating Murchison,
'No,' the kid said.
'He's lying,' Murchison said. 'This is the kid.'
'Come on, Frankie,' Byrnes said gently. 'You did deliver that letter, didn't
you?'
'No.'
There was fear in the boy's wide blue eyes, fear of the law, a fear deeply
ingrained in the mind of every precinct citizen.
'You're not in any trouble, son,' Byrnes said. 'We're trying to find the man who
gave you that letter. Now, you did deliver it, didn't you?'
'No,' the kid said.
Byrnes turned to the other detectives, his patience beginning to wear thin.
Hawes walked to the boy, joining Byrnes.
'You've got nothing to be afraid of, Frankie. We're trying to find the man who
gave you that letter, do you understand? Now, where did you first meet him?'
'I didn't meet anybody,' the kid said.
'Get rid of the rest of these kids, Meyer,' Byrnes said. Meyer began shuttling
the other boys out of the room. Frankie Annuci watched their departure, his eyes
growing wider.
'How about it, Frankie?' Carella asked. Unconsciously he had drifted into the
circle around the boy. When Meyer had got rid of the other boys, he came back to
stand with Byrnes, Hawes, and Carella. There was something amusing about the
scene. The ridiculousness of it struck each of the detectives at the same
moment. They had automatically assumed the formation for intense interrogation,
but their victim was a boy no older than ten, and they felt somewhat like
bullies as they surrounded him, ready to fire their questions in machine-gun
bursts. And yet, this boy was a possible lead to the man they were seeking, a
lead that might prove more fruitful than the thus far phantom name of M.
Samalson. They waited, as if unwilling to begin the barrage until their
commanding officer gave the signal to fire.
Byrnes opened it.
'Now, we're going to ask some questions, Frankie,' he said gently, 'and we want
you to answer them. All right?'
'All right,' Frankie said.
'Who gave you the letter?'
'Nobody.'
'Was it a man?'
'I don't know.'
'A woman?' Hawes asked.
'I don't know.'
'Do you know what the letter said?' Carella asked.
'No.'
'Did you open it?'Meyer asked.
'No.'
'But there was a letter?'
'No.'
'You did deliver a letter?'
'No.'
'You're lying, aren't you?'
'No.'
'Where'd you meet the man?'
'I didn't meet anybody.'
'Near the park?'
'No.'
'The candy store?'
'No.'
'One of the side streets?'
'No.'
'Was he driving a car?'
'No.'
'There was a man?'
'I don't know.'
'Was he a man or a woman?'
'I don't know.'
'The letter said he was going to kill somebody tonight. Did you know that?'
'No.'
'Would you like this man or this woman to kill somebody?'
'No.'
'Well, he's going to kill somebody. That's what the letter said. He's going to
kill a lady.'
'She may be your mother, Frankie.'
'Would you like this man to kill your mother?'
'No,' Frankie said.
'Then tell us who he is. We want to stop him.'
'I don't know who he is!' Frankie blurted.
'You never saw him before today?'
Frankie began crying. 'No,' he said. 'Never.'
'What happened, Frankie?' Carella asked, handing the boy his handkerchief.
Frankie dabbed at his eyes and then blew his nose. 'He just came over to me,
that's all,' he said. 'I didn't know he was gonna kill anybody. I swear to God!'
'We know you didn't know, Frankie. Was he on foot or in a car?'
'A car.'
'What make?'
'I don't know.'
'What colour?'
'Blue.'
'A convertible?'
'No.'
'A sedan?'
'What's a sedan?'
'Hard-top.'
'Yes.'
'Did you see the licence number?'
'No.'
'What happened, Frankie?'
'He called me over to the car. My mother said I should never get in cars with
strangers, but he didn't want me to get in the car. He asked me if I wanted to
make five bucks.'
'What did you say?'
'I said how?'
'Go ahead, Frankie,' Byrnes said.
'He said I should take this letter to the police station around the corner.'
'What street were you on, Frankie?'
'Seventh. Right around the corner.'
'Okay. Go ahead.'
'He said I should come in and ask for the desk sergeant and then give it to him
and leave.'
'Did he give you the five dollars then or later?'
'Right then,' Frankie said. 'With the letter.'
'Have you still got it?' Byrnes asked.
'I spent some of it.'
'We wouldn't get anything from a bill, anyway,' Meyer said.
'No,' Byrnes said. 'Did you get a good look at this man, Frankie?'
'Pretty good.'
'Can you describe him?'
'Well, he had short hair.'
'Very short?'
'Pretty short.'
'What colour eyes?'
'Blue, I think. They were light, anyway.'
'Any scars you could see?'
'No.'
'Moustache?'
'No.'
'What was he wearing?'
'A yellow sports shirt,' Frankie said.
'That's our man,' Hawes put in. 'That's who I tangled with in the park.'
'I want a police artist up here,' Byrnes said. 'Meyer, get one, will you? If
this Samalson doesn't work out, we may be able to use a picture to show around.'
He turned sharply. The phone in his office was ringing. 'Just a second,
Frankie,' he said, and he went into the office and answered the phone.
When he returned, he said, 'That was the Hundred and Second. They checked
Samalson's home address. He isn't there. His landlady says he works in Isola.'
'Where?' Carella asked.
'A few blocks from here. A supermarket called Beaver Brothers, Inc. Do you know
it?'
'I'm half-way there,' Carella said.
On the telephone, Meyer Meyer said, "This is the Eighty-seventh Squad.
Lieutenant Byrnes wants an artist up here right away. Can you—?'
 
 
 
Cotton Hawes knew the instant Carella brought the man into the squad-room that
he was not the man who'd assaulted him in the park.
Martin Samalson was a tall, thin man wearing the white apron of a supermarket
clerk, the apron somehow emphasizing his gauntness. His hair was blond and wavy
and worn long. His eyes were brown.
'What do you say, Cotton?' Byrnes asked.
'Not him,' Hawes said.
'Is this the man who gave you the letter, Frankie?'
'No,' Frankie said.
'What letter?' Samalson asked, wiping his hands on the apron.
Byrnes picked up the binoculars, which were resting on Carella's desk. 'These
yours?' he asked.
Samalson looked at them in surprise. 'Yeah! Hey, how about that? Where'd you
find them?'
'Where'd you lose them?' Byrnes asked.
Samalson seemed suddenly aware of the situation. 'Hey now, wait a minute, just
wait a minute! I lost those glasses last Sunday. I don't know why you dragged me
in here, but if it's got something to do with those glasses, just forget it!
Boy, get off that kick fast,' He shook the air with one outstretched palm,
wiping the slate clean.
'When did you buy them?' Byrnes asked.
'About two weeks ago. A hockshop on Crichton. You can check it.'
'We already have,' Byrnes said. 'We know all about the lollipop.'
'Huh?'
'You went into the shop sucking a lollipop.'
'Oh.' Samalson looked sheepish. 'I had a sore throat. It's good to keep your
mouth wet when you got a sore throat. That's why I had the lollipop. There's no
law against that.'
'And you had these glasses until last Sunday, is that right? And last Sunday you
claim you lost them.'
'That's right.'
'Sure you didn't loan them to anybody?'
'Positive. Last Sunday I went on a boat ride. Up the Harb. That's when I musta
lost them. I don't know what them damn glasses have been doing since, and I
don't care. You can't tie me up with them after last Sunday. Damn right!'
'Slow down, Samalson,' Hawes said.
'Slow down, my ass! You drag me into a police station and—'
'I said slow down!' Hawes said. Samalson looked at his face. Instantly he shut
up.
'What boat were you on last Sunday?' Hawes asked, the menace still in his voice
and on his face.
'The S.S. Alexander? Samalson said pettishly.
'Where'd it go?'
'Up the River Harb. To Paisley Mountain.'
'When'd you lose the glasses?'
'It must've been on the way back. I had them while we were at the picnic
grounds.'
'You think you lost them on the boat?'
'Maybe. I don't know.'
'Did you go anywhere afterward?'
'How do you mean?'
'After the boat docked.'
'Yeah. I was with a girl. The boat docks right near here, you know. On North
Twenty-fifth. I had my car parked there. So we drove down to a bar near the
supermarket. I stop there every now and then on my way home from work. That's
how come I was familiar with it. I didn't feel like tracking all over the city
looking for a nice place.'
'What's the name of the bar?'
'The Pub.'
'Where is it?'
'It's on North Thirteenth, Pete,' Carella said. 'I know the place. It's pretty
nice for this neighbourhood.'
'Yeah, it's a nice bar,' Samalson agreed. 'I took the girl there, and then we
drove around for a while.'
'Did you park?'
'Yes.'
'Where?'
'Near her house. In Riverhead.'
'Could you have lost the glasses then?'
'I suppose so. I think I lost them on the boat, though.'
'Could you have lost them in this bar?'
'Maybe. But I think it was the boat.'
'Come here, Steve,' Byrnes said, and both men walked towards Byrnes's office. In
a whisper, Byrnes asked, 'What do you think? Should we hold him?'
'What for?'
'Hell, he may be an accomplice in this thing. That lost-glasses story stinks to
high heaven.'
'It doesn't read like a pair, Pete. I think our killer is a single.'
'Still, the killer may know him. May head for this guy's place after the murder.
Put a tail on him. O'Brien's sitting at his desk doing nothing. Use him.' Byrnes
walked back to Samalson. Carella walked over to where Bob O'Brien was typing a
report at the other end of the squad-room. He began talking to him in a whisper.
O'Brien nodded.
'You can go, Samalson,' Byrnes said. 'Don't try to leave the city. We may want
to question you further.'
'Would anyone mind telling me what the hell this is about?' Samalson said.
'Yes, we would,' Byrnes said.
'Boy, some goddamn police department in this city,' Samalson said, fuming. 'Can
I have my glasses back?'
'We're finished with them,' Byrnes said.
'Thanks for nothing,' Samalson said, seizing the glasses. Hawes led him to the
railing and watched as he went down the steps, still fuming. O'Brien left the
squad-room a moment later.
'Can I go, too?' Frankie asked.
'Not yet, son,' Byrnes said. 'We're going to need you in a little while.'
'What for?' Frankie asked.
'We're going to draw a picture,' Byrnes said. 'Miscolo!' he yelled.
From the clerical office outside the railing, Miscolo's head appeared. 'Yo?' he
said.
'You got any milk in there?'
'Sure.'
'Get this kid a glass, will you? And some cookies. You want some cookies,
Frankie?'
Frankie nodded. Byrnes tousled his hair and went back into the corner office.
 
 
 
CHAPTER TEN
At 2.39 p.m. the police artist arrived.
He did not look at all like an artist. He did not wear a smock or a floppy bow
tie, and his fingers were not stained with paint. He wore rimless eyeglasses,
and he looked like a bored salesman for an exterminating service.
'You jokers send for an artist?' he asked at the railing, resting his leather
case on the wood.
Hawes looked up. 'Yes,' he said. 'Come on in.'
The man pushed his way through the gate. 'George Angelo,' he said, extending his
hand. 'No relation to Michel, either family-wise or talent-wise.' He grinned,
exposing large white teeth. 'Who do you want sketched?'
'A ghost,' Hawes said. 'This kid and I both saw him. We'll give you the
description, you make the picture. Deal?'
'Deal,' Angelo said, nodding. 'I hope you both saw the same ghost.'
'We did,' Hawes said.
'And can both describe him the same way. I sometimes get twelve eye-witnesses
who each saw the same guy twelve different ways. You'd be surprised how
cock-eyed the average citizen is.' He shrugged. 'But you're a trained observer,
and kids are innocent and unprejudiced, so who knows? Maybe this'll be a good
one.'
'Where do you want to set up?' Hawes asked.
'Anyplace you got light,' Angelo answered. 'How about that desk near the
window?'
'Fine,' Hawes said. He turned to the boy. 'Frankie, want to come over here?'
They walked to the desk. Angelo opened his case. 'This going into the
newspapers?'
'No.'
'Television?'
'No. We haven't got time for that. We just want copies run off for the men
trying to track down this guy.'
'Okay,' Angelo said. He reached into the case for a sketch pad and pencil. Then
he took out a stack of rectangular cards. He sat at the desk, looked up at the
sunlight once, and then nodded.
'Where do you want us to start?'
'Pick the shape of the face from the shapes on this card,' Angelo said. 'Square,
oval, triangular, they're all there. Look them over.'
Hawes and Frankie studied the card. 'Something like this, don't you think?'
Hawes asked the kid.
'Yeah, something like that,' Frankie agreed.
'The oval?' Angelo asked. 'Okay, we'll start with that.'
Quickly he sketched an egg-shaped outline on the pad. 'How about noses? See
anything here that looks like his nose?' He produced another card. Hawes and
Frankie looked at the profusion of smellers that covered the card.
'None of them look just like his nose,' Frankie said.
'Any of them come close?'
'Well, maybe this one. But not really.'
'The idea in this is simplicity,' Angelo said to Hawes. 'We're not trying for a
portrait that'll hang in the Louvre. We want a likeness that people can
identify. Shade and shadow tend to confuse. I try to stick to line, blacks and
whites, a feeling of the person rather than a photographic representation. So if
you'll try to remember the characteristics that struck you most about this man,
I'll try to get them on paper—simply. We'll refine as we go along. This is just
the beginning; we'll draw and we'll draw until we get something that looks like
him. Now—how about those noses? Which one is the closest to his?'
'This I guess,' the kid said. Hawes agreed.
'Okay,' Angelo began sketching. He produced another card. 'Eyes?'
'He had blue eyes, I remember that,' Hawes said. 'Sort of slanted, downward.'
'Yeah,' the kid said. Angelo kept nodding and drawing.
The first sketch looked like this:
 
'That don't look like him at all,' the kid said when Angelo showed it.
'All right,' Angelo said mildly. 'Tell me what's wrong with it.'
'It just don't look like the guy, that's all.'
'Well, where is it wrong?'
'I don't know,' the kid said, shrugging.
'He's too young, for one thing,' Hawes said. 'The guy we saw is an older man.
Late thirties, maybe early forties.'
'Okay. Start with the top of the picture and work your way down. What's wrong
with it?'
'He's got too much hair,' the kid said.
'Yes,' Hawes agreed. 'Or maybe too much head.'
Angelo began erasing. 'That better?'
'Yeah, but he was going bald a little,' the kid said, 'like up here. On the
forehead.'
Angelo erased two sharp wings into the black hair on the man's forehead. 'What
else?'
'His eyebrows were thicker,' Hawes said.
'What else?'
'His nose was shorter,' the kid said.
'Or maybe the space between his nose and his mouth was longer, either one,'
Hawes said. 'But what you've got doesn't look right.'
'Good, good,' Angelo said. 'Go on.'
'His eyes looked sleepier.'
'More slanted?'
'No. Heavier lids.'
They watched as Angelo sketched. Putting an overlay of tracing paper onto the
erased drawing, he began to move his pencil rapidly, nodding to himself as he
worked, his tongue peeking from one corner of his mouth. At last he looked up.
'This any better?' he asked.
He showed them the second drawing:
 
'It still don't look like him,' Frankie said.
'What's wrong?' Angelo asked.
'He's still too young,' Hawes said.
'Also, he looks like a devil. His hair is too sharp,' Frankie said.
'The hairline, you mean?'
'Yeah. It looks like he got horns. That's wrong.'
'Go ahead.'
'The nose is about the right length now,' Hawes said, 'but it's still not the
right shape. He had more of a—this middle thing, whatever you call it, the thing
between the nostrils.'
'The tip of his nose? Longer?'
'Yes.'
'How are the eyes?' Angelo asked. 'Better?'
'The eyes look right,' Frankie said. 'Don't touch the eyes. Don't them eyes look
right?'
'Yes,' Hawes said. 'The mouth is wrong.'
'What's wrong with it?'
'It's too small. He had a wide mouth.'
'And thin,' the kid said. 'Thin lips.'
'Is the cleft chin right?' Angelo asked.
'Yeah, the chin looks okay. But that hair…' Angelo was beginning to fill in the
hairline with his pencil. 'That's better, yeah, that's better.'
'A widow's peak?' Angelo asked. 'Like this?'
'Not as pronounced,' Hawes said. 'He had very close-cropped hair, receding above
the temples, but not as pronounced as that. Yes, now you're getting it, that's
closer.'
'The mouth longer and thinner, right?' Angelo asked, and his pencil moved
furiously. Working with a new sheet of tracing paper, he began to transpose the
results of the collaboration. It was very hot at the desk where he worked. His
sweating fist stuck to the flimsy tracing paper.
The third version of the suspect looked like this:
 
There was a fourth version, and a fifth version, and a tenth version, and a
twelfth version, and still Angelo worked at the desk in the sunlight. Hawes and
the boy kept correcting him, often changing their minds after they had seen
their verbal description take shape on paper. Angelo was a skilled technician
who transposed their every word into simple line.
Their reversals of opinion did not seem to disturb him.Patiently he listened.
And patiently he corrected.
'It's getting worse,' the kid said. 'It don't look at all like him now. It
looked better in the beginning.'
'Change the nose,' Hawes said. 'It had a hook in it. Right in the middle. As if
it had been broken.'
'More space between the nose and the mouth.'
'Shaggier eyebrows. Heavier.'
'Lines under the eyes.'
'Lines coming from his nose.'
'Older. Make him older.'
'Make his mouth a little crooked.'
'No, straighter.'
'Better, better.'
Angelo worked. There was sweat clinging to his forehead. They tried turning on
the fan once, but it blew Angelo's papers all over the floor. From time to time,
cops from all over the precinct drifted over to where Angelo was working at the
desk. They stopped behind him, looking over his shoulder.
'That's pretty good,' one of them said, never having seen the suspect in
question.
The floor was covered with sheets of rumpled tracing paper now. Still Hawes and
Frankie fired their impressions of the man they had seen, and Angelo faithfully
tried to capture those impressions on paper. And suddenly, after they had lost
count of the number of drawings, Hawes said, 'Hold it! That's it.'
'That's him,' the kid said. 'That's the guy!'
'Don't change a line,' Hawes said. 'You've got him! That's the man.' The kid
grinned from ear to ear and then shook hands with Hawes.
Angelo sighed a heavy sigh of relief.
This was the picture they felt resembled the man they had both seen:
 
Angelo began packing his case.
'That's very neat,' the kid said.
'That's my signature,' Angelo replied. 'Neat. Forget this Angelo stuff. My real
name is Neat, with a capital N.' He grinned. He seemed very happy it was all
over.
'How soon can we get copies?' Hawes asked.
'How soon do you need them?'
Hawes looked at his watch. 'It's 3.15,' he said. 'This guy is going to kill a
woman at eight tonight.'
Angelo nodded seriously, the cop in him momentarily replacing the artist. 'Send
a man with me,' he said. 'I'll run them off the minute I get back.'
 
 
 
At 4.05 p.m., armed with pictures the ink on which was still wet, Carella and
Hawes left the precinct simultaneously. Carella headed for a bar on North
Thirteenth, a bar named The Pub, the bar to which Samalson had taken his girl on
the preceding Sunday. Carella went there solely to show the picture to the
bartender in the hope he might identify the suspect.
Hawes went directly around the corner from the precinct, to Seventh Street,
where Frankie Annuci had said he had met the man who'd given him the letter. It
was Hawes's plan to start with Seventh and work his way east, heading uptown,
going as far as Thirty-third if he had to. He would then double back, working
north and south. If the man lived anywhere in the neighbourhood, Hawes meant to
find him. In the meantime, a copy of the picture had been sent to the l.B. in
the hope of getting a make from the photos in the files in case none of the
investigating cops struck paydirt.
At 4.10 p.m. Meyer and Willis left the squad-room with their copies of the
picture. Starting with Sixth Street, their plan was to work westward from the
precinct, going down past First and into the named streets below First until
they hit Lady Astor's street.
At 4.15 p.m. a squad car was called back to the precinct. Copies of the picture
were dumped into the car, and then distributed to every motorized and foot
patrolman in the precinct. Copies were delivered to the neighbouring 88th and
89th precincts, too. The immediate area adjacent to the precinct, starting with
Grover Avenue and going into Grover Park, was flooded with detectives from the
88th and the 89th (which precincts handled the actual park territory), in the
event the suspect might return in search of his binoculars. It was a big city,
and a big, teeming precinct—but the precinct was fortunately smaller than the
city.
Hawes, stopping at every store, stopping at every tenement, talking to shop
owners and superintendents, talking to the kids in the streets, who were
sometimes the shrewdest observers around, did not connect until he reached
Twelfth Street.
It was late afternoon by this time, but the streets had not cooled down at all.
Hawes was still hot, and he was beginning to feel the first disgruntled
disappointment of defeat. How the hell would they ever stop this guy? How the
hell would they ever find him? Dispiritedly he began working his way up the
street, showing the picture. No, they did not know the man. No, they did not
recognize him. Was he from the neighbourhood?
At the fifth tenement from the corner, he showed the picture to a landlady in a
flowered cotton house dress.
'No,' she said instantly. 'I never—' And then she stopped. She took the picture
from Hawes's hands. 'Yeah, that's him,' she said. 'That's the way he looked this
morning. I saw him when he was coming down. That's the way he looked.'
'Who?' Hawes said. He could feel the sudden surge of energy within him as he
waited for her answer.
'Smith,' she said. 'John Smith. A weird duck. He had this—'
'What apartment?' Hawes said.
'Twenty-two. That's on the second floor. He moved in about two weeks ago. Had
this—'
But Hawes was already moving into the building, his gun drawn. He did not know
that his conversation with the landlady had been viewed from a second-floor
window. He did not know that his red hair had instantly identified him to his
observer. He did not know until he was almost on the second-floor landing, and
then he knew instantly.
The explosion thundered in the small, narrow corridor. Hawes fell to the floor
at once, almost losing his footing on the top step, almost hurtling backward
down the stairwell. He fired a shot into the dimness, not seeing anything, but
wanting John Smith to know he was armed.
'Get out of here, cop!' the voice shouted.
'Throw your gun down here,' Hawes said. 'There are four cops with me downstairs.
You haven't got a chance.'
'You're a liar,' the man shouted. 'I saw you when you got here. You came alone.
I saw you from the window.'
Another shot exploded into the hallway. Hawes ducked below the top step. The
bullet ripped plaster from the already chipped plaster on the wall. He squinted
his eyes, trying to see into the dimness, cursing his position. Wherever Smith
was, he could see Hawes without in turn being seen. Hawes could not move from
his uncomfortable position on the steps. But perhaps Smith couldn't move,
either. Perhaps if he left wherever he was, he would be seen. Hawes waited.
The hall went utterly still.
'Smith?' he called.
A fusillade of shots answered him, angry shots that whined across the hallway
and ripped at the plaster. Chalk cascaded onto Hawes's head. He clung to the
steps, cursing tenement hallways and would-be killers. From the street below, he
could hear excited yells and screams, and then the repeated, shouted word
'Police! Police! Police! Police!'
'Do you hear that, Smith?' he shouted. 'They're calling the cops. The whole damn
precinct'll be here in three minutes. Throw your gun down.'
Smith fired again. The shot was lower. It ripped a splinter of wood from the
landing near the top step. Hawes reared back and then instantly ducked. He heard
a clicking at the other end of the hallway. Smith was reloading. He was about to
sprint down the corridor when he heard a clip being slammed into the butt of an
automatic. Quickly he ducked down behind the top step again.
The hallway was silent again.
'Smith?'
There was no answer.
'Smith?'
From the street below, Hawes heard the high whine of a police siren.
'You hear that, Smith? They're here. They'll be—'
Three shots exploded into the hallway. Hawes ducked and then heard a man
scuffling to his feet, caught a glimpse of a trouser leg as Smith started up the
stairway. Hawes bounded into the hallway, triggering a shot at the retreating
figure. Smith turned and fired, and Hawes dropped to the floor again. The
footsteps were clattering up the steps now, noisily, excitedly, hurriedly. Hawes
got to his feet, ran for the steps, charged up them two at a time. Another shot
spun into the hallway. He did not duck this time. He kept charging up the steps,
wanting to reach Smith before he got to the roof. He heard the roof door being
tried, heard Smith pounding on it, and then heard a shot and the spanging
reverberation of metal exploding. The roof door creaked open and then slammed
shut. Smith was already on the roof.
Hawes rushed up the remaining steps. A skylight threw bright sunshine on the
landing inside the roof door. He opened the door, and then closed it again
rapidly when a bullet ripped into the jamb, splashing wood splinters onto his
face.
Goddamn you! he thought. You goddamn son of a bitch, goddamn you!
He threw open the door, fired a blind fusillade of shots across the roof, and
then followed his own cover out on to the melting tar. He saw a figure dart
behind one of the chimney pots and then rush for the parapet at the roof's edge.
He fired. His shot was high. He was not shooting to warn or to wound now. He was
shooting to kill. Smith rose for an instant, poised on the edge of the roof.
Hawes fired, and Smith leaped the airshaft between the buildings, landing behind
the parapet on the adjoining roof. Hawes started after him, his shoes sticking
in the tar. He reached the edge of the roof. He hesitated just an instant, and
then leaped the airshaft, landing on his hands and knees in the sticky tar.
Smith had already crossed the roof. He looked back, fired at Hawes, and then
rushed for the ledge. Hawes levelled his revolver. Smith climbed onto the ledge,
silhouetted against the painful blue of the sky, and Hawes steadied the revolver
on his left arm, taking careful aim. He knew that if Smith got on to that next
roof, if Smith maintained the lead he now had, he would get away. And so he took
careful aim, knowing that this shot had to count, watching Smith as he raised
his arms in preparation for his jump across the airshaft. He aimed for the
section of trunk that presented the widest target. He did not want to miss.
Smith stood undecided on the ledge for a moment. His body filled the fixed sight
on Hawes's gun.
Hawes squeezed the trigger.
There was a mild click, a click that sounded shockingly loud, a click that
thundered in Hawes's surprised ears like a cannon explosion.
Smith leaped the airshaft.
Hawes got to his feet, cursing his empty pistol, reloading as he ran across the
roof to the airshaft. He looked across it to the next roof. Smith was nowhere in
sight. Smith was gone.
Swearing all the way, he headed back for Smith's apartment. There had been no
tune to reload until it was too late, and once it's too late, there's nothing to
be done about it. Walking with his head down, he crossed the sticky tar.
Two shots rang out into the stillness of the summer rooftops, and Hawes hit the
tar again. He looked up. A uniformed cop was standing on the edge of the
opposite roof ahead, taking careful aim.
'Hold your fire, you dumb bastard!' Hawes yelled. 'I'm on your side.'
'Throw your gun away,' the cop yelled back.
Hawes complied. The cop leaped the airshaft and approached Hawes cautiously.
When he saw his face, he said, 'Oh, it's you, sir.'
'Yes, it's me, sir,' Hawes said disgustedly.
 
 
 
The landlady was having none of Cotton Hawes. The landlady was screaming and
ranting for him to get out of her building. She had never had trouble with the
cops, and now they came around shooting, what was going to happen to her
tenants, they'd all move out, all because of him, all because of that big
red-headed stupid jerk! Hawes told one of the uniformed cops to keep her
downstairs, and then he went into Smith's apartment.
The bed had been slept in the night before. The sheets were still rumpled. Hawes
went to the single closet in the bedroom and opened it. There was nothing in the
closet except the wire hangers on the rod. Hawes shrugged and went into the
bathroom. The sink had been used sometime during that day. Soap was still in the
basin, clotted around the drain. He opened the medicine cabinet. A bottle of
iodine was on the top shelf. Two bars of soap were on the middle shelf. A pair
of scissors, a straight razor, a box of Band-Aids, a tube of shaving cream, a
toothbrush and toothpaste, were all crowded onto the lowest shelf. Hawes closed
the door, and left the bathroom.
In the bedroom again, he checked through Smith's dresser. Smith, he thought,
John Smith. The phoniest name anybody in the world could pick. The dresser was
empty of clothing. In the top drawer, six magazines for an automatic pistol
rested in one corner. Hawes lifted one of them with his handkerchief. Unless he
was mistaken, the magazine would fit a Luger. He collected the magazines and put
them into his pockets.
He went into the kitchen, the sole remaining room in the apartment. A coffee cup
was on the kitchen table. A coffee pot was on the stove. Bread crumbs were
scattered near the toaster. John Smith had apparently eaten here this morning.
Hawes went to the icebox and opened the door.
A loaf of bread and a partially used rectangle of butter were on one of the
shelves. That was all.
He opened the ice compartment. A bottle of milk rested alongside a melting cake
of ice.
The lab boys would have a lot of work to do in Smith's apartment. But Hawes
could do nothing more there at the moment except speculate on the absence of
clothing and food, an absence that seemed to indicate that John Smith—whatever
his real name was—did not actually live in the apartment. Had he rented the
place only to carry out his murder? Had he planned to return here after he'd
done his killing? Was he using this as a base of operations? Because it was
close to the precinct? Or because it was close to his intended victim? Which?
Hawes closed the door to the ice compartment.
It was then that he heard the sound behind him.
Someone was in the apartment with him.
 
 
 
CHAPTER ELEVEN
His gun was in his hand before he whirled.
'Hey!' the woman said. 'What's that for?'
Hawes lowered the gun. 'Who are you, miss?'
'I live across the hall. The cop downstairs said I should come up here and talk
to the detective. Are you the detective?'
'Yes.'
'Well, I live across the hall.'
The girl was unattractive, a brunette with large brown eyes and a very pale
skin. She spoke from the side of her mouth, a mannerism that gave her the
appearance of a Hollywood gun moll. She was wearing only a thin pink slip, and
the one disconcertingly attractive thing about her was the bosom that threatened
the silk.
'Did you know this John Smith character?' Hawes asked.
'The few times he was here, I seen him,' the girl said. 'He only moved in a
couple of weeks ago. You know, you noticed him right away.'
'How often has he been here since he moved in?'
'Only a couple of times. I came in one night he was here—to introduce myself,
you know? Neighbourly. What the hell?' The girl shrugged. Her breasts shrugged
with her. She was not wearing a brassiere, and Hawes found this disconcerting,
too. 'He was sitting right there at the kitchen table, cutting up newspapers. I
asked him what he was doing. He said he kept a scrapbook.'
'When was this?'
'About a week ago.'
'He was cutting up newspapers?'
'Yeah,' the girl said. 'Goofy. Well, he looked goofy, anyway. You know what I
mean.'
Hawes bent to examine the kitchen table. Studying it closely, he could see
traces of paste on the soiled oilcloth covering. Then Smith had composed the
letter here, and it had been only a week ago, and not on the Sunday of June
23rd. He had simply used an old newspaper.
'Was there paste on the table?' Hawes asked her.
'Yeah, I think so. A tube of paste. Well, for his scrapbook, I guess.'
'Sure,' Hawes said. 'Ever talk to him again after that night?'
'Just in the hall.'
'How many times?'
'Well, he was here one night after that. Last week, I mean. And then he was here
last night.'
'Did he sleep here last night?'
'I guess so. How should I know?' The girl seemed suddenly aware that she was
wearing only a slip. She crossed one arm over her abundant bosom.
'What time did he get here last night?'
'Pretty late. After midnight, it must've been. I was listening to the radio. It
was very hot last night, you know. It's almost impossible to get any sleep in
these apartments. They're just like ovens. The door was open, and I heard him
down the hall, so I went out to say hello. He was putting the key in the lock,
looking just like a Russian spy, I swear to God. All he needed was a bomb, and
that would be the picture.'
'Did he have anything with him?'
'Just a bag. Groceries, I guess. Oh, yeah. Glasses. You know. Opera glasses. I
asked him was he just getting back from the opera.'
'What did he say?'
'He laughed. He was a hot sketch. Smith. John Smith. That was funny, don't you
think?'
'What was funny about it?' Hawes asked.
'Well, the cough drops and all, you know. He was a hot sketch. I guess he won't
be coming back after today, huh?'
'I guess not,' Hawes said, trying to keep up with the somewhat vague
conversation.
'Is he a crook or something?'
'We don't know. Did he ever tell you anything about himself?'
'No. Nothing. He didn't talk so much. Anyway, he was only here those few times.
And even then, he always seemed in a hurry. I asked him once if this was his
summer place. You know, like a joke. He said yeah this was his retreat. A hot
sketch. Smith.' She laughed at the name.
'But he never told you where he worked. Or even if he worked?'
'No.' The girl crossed her other arm over her bosom. 'I better go put something
on, huh?' she said. 'I was taking a little nap when all the shooting started. I
got so excited when it was over, I run downstairs in my slip. I'm a real sight,
ain't I?' She giggled. 'I better go put something on. It was nice talking to
you. You don't seem like a bull at all.'
'Thank you,' Hawes said, and then wondered if he was being complimented.
The girl hesitated at the door. 'Well, I hope you get him, anyway. He shouldn't
be too hard to find. How many like him can there be in the city?'
'How many Smiths, do you mean?' Hawes asked, and the girl thought this was
hysterical.
'You're a hot sketch, too,' she answered. He watched her as she went down the
hall. He shrugged, closed the apartment door behind him, and went downstairs to
the street. The landlady was still screaming.
Hawes told one of the patrolmen to keep everybody out of Apartment Twenty-two
until the lab boys had gone over it.
Then he went back to the precinct.
 
 
 
It was 5.00 p.m.
Carella was sitting at one of the desks drinking coffee from a container when
Hawes walked in. Willis and Meyer had not yet returned. The squad-room was
silent.
'Hello, Cotton,' Carella said.
'Steve,' Hawes answered.
'Understand you got into a little fracas on Twelfth?'
'Umm.'
'You all right?'
'I'm fine. Except I keep losing people.'
'Have some coffee. The desk was really jumping downstairs. Must have got fifty
calls about the shooting. He got away again, huh?'
'Umm,' Hawes said.
'Well.' Carella shrugged. 'Cream? Sugar?'
'Little of each.'
Carella fixed the coffee and handed the cup to Hawes. 'Relax. We can use a
rest.'
'I want to make a call first.'
'Where?'
'Pistol permits.' He emptied his pockets on to the desk. 'I picked these up in
his apartment. Do they look like Luger magazines to you?'
'They damn well couldn't be anything else,' Carella said.
'I want to check on permits for Lugers in the precinct. Who knows? We may get a
break.'
'That's the easy way,' Carella said. 'Nothing ever comes the easy way, Cotton.'
'It's worth a try,' he said. He looked up at the wall clock. 'Jesus,' he said.
'Five already. Three hours to go.'
He pulled the phone to him and made his call. When he'd finished, he picked up
the coffee container.
'They'll call me back,' he said to Carella. He put his feet up on the desk.
'Ahhhhhhhhh.'
'Think this damn heat'll ever break?'
'God, I hope so.'
In the silence of the squad-room, the two men sipped at their coffee. There was,
for the moment, no need for communication. They sat with the afternoon sunlight
filtering through the grilled windows, marking the floor with long golden
rectangles. They sat with the hum of the electric fans rotating limpid air. They
sat with the hushed, faraway street noise below them. They sat, and for the
moment they were not policemen working on a difficult case on the hottest day of
the year. They were simply two friends having a cup of coffee together.
'I've got a date tonight,' Hawes said.
'Nice?' Carella asked.
'A widow,' Hawes said. 'Very pretty. I met her this afternoon. Or was it this
morning? Well, before lunch, anyway. A blonde. Very pretty.'
'Teddy's a brunette,' Carella said. 'Black hair. Very black.'
'When do I get to meet her?' Hawes asked.
'I don't know. Name it. I'm supposed to take her to a movie tonight. She's a
remarkable lip-reader. She enjoys the movies as much as anyone who can hear.'
It no longer surprised Hawes to hear Carella talk about the handicap of his
wife, Teddy. She had been born a deaf-mute, but this didn't seem to hinder her
in the pursuit of happiness. From what other detectives on the squad had told
him, Hawes had pieced together the picture of a lively, interesting, vivacious,
and damned beautiful girl, and his mental picture couldn't have been more
correct. Too, because he liked Carella, he was predisposed toward liking Teddy,
and he really did want to meet her.
'You say you're going to a movie tonight?' Hawes asked.
'Mmm,' Carella said.
Hawes balanced the pleasure of meeting Teddy against the pleasure of
entertaining Christine Maxwell alone. Christine Maxwell won out, proving the
age-old adage, Hawes mused, that gentlemen prefer blondes.
'This is a first date,' he said to Carella. 'After I get to know her, we'll make
it a double, okay?'
'Anytime you say,' Carella said.
Again the squad-room fell silent. From the clerical office down the hall, they
could hear the steady rat-tat-tat of Mis-colo's typewriter. They sat drinking
their coffee silently. There was something peaceful about these few minutes of
relaxation, these few minutes of suspended time, this breathing spell in the
race with the clock.
The moments ended.
'What's this? A country club?' Willis called from the railing.
'Look at them, willya?' Meyer said. 'We're shagging ass all over town, and
they're taking their tea and crumpets.'
'Blow it out,' Carella said.
'How do you like this?' Willis went on, refusing to let it go. 'I hear you got
shot, Cotton,' he said. 'The desk sergeant tells me you're a hero.'
'No such luck,' Hawes replied, regretting the sudden rupture of silence. 'He
missed.'
'Too bad, so sad,' Willis said. He was a small detective with the fine-boned
body of a jockey. But Fats Donner had told the truth about him; Willis was not a
man to fool with. He knew judo the way he knew the Penal Code, and he could
practically break your arm just by looking at you.
Meyer pulled a chair up to the desk. 'Hal, go get us some coffee, will you?
Miscolo's probably got a pot going.'
Willis sighed. 'Man, I—'
'Come on, come on,' Meyer said. 'Respect your elders.'
Willis sighed again, and departed for the clerical office.
'How'd you make out at the bar, Steve?' Meyer asked.
'Huh?'
'The Pub. Wasn't that the name of it? Anybody make the picture?'
'No. It's a nice bar, though. Right on Thirteenth. Stop in if you're in the
neighbourhood.'
'Did he set up a few for you?' Meyer asked.
'Naturally,' Carella said.
'You drunken bastard.'
'All I had was two beers.'
'That's more than I've had since breakfast,' Meyer said. 'Where the hell is
Willis with that coffee?'
The telephone rang. Hawes picked it up.
'Eighty-seventh Squad, Hawes,' He listened. 'Oh, hello, Bob. Just a second.' He
handed the phone to Carella. 'It's O'Brien. For you, Steve.'
'Hello, Bob,' Carella said into the phone.
'Steve, I'm still with this Samalson guy. He just left the supermarket. He's in
a bar across the street, tilting one before he heads home, I guess. You still
want me to stick with him?'
'Hold on, Bob.'
Carella pressed the hold button on the phone and buzzed the lieutenant's office.
'Yes?' Byrnes said.
'I've got O'Brien on the wire,' Carella said. 'Do you still want that tail on
Samalson?'
'Is it eight o'clock yet?' Byrnes asked.
'No.'
'Then I still want the tail. Tell Bob to stick with him until he goes to sleep.
In fact, I want him watched all night. If he's in this thing, the goddamn
shooter may come to him.'
'Okay,' Carella said. 'You going to relieve him later, Pete?'
'Oh, hell, tell him to call me as soon as Samalson gets to the apartment. I'll
have a cop from the Hundred and Second relieve him.'
'Right.' Carella clicked off, pressed the extension button, and said, 'Bob,
stick with him until he's in his apartment. Then call Pete, and he'll get
somebody from the Hundred and Second to spell you. He wants this to be an
all-night plant.'
'Suppose he doesn't head home?' O'Brien asked.
'What can I tell you, Bob?'
'Shit! I'm supposed to go to a ball game tonight.'
'I'm supposed to go to a movie. Look, this thing'll be over by eight.'
'It'll be over for the shooter, sure. But Pete figures he may be tied in with
Samalson, doesn't he?'
'He doesn't really believe that, Bob. But he's trying to cover every angle.
Samalson's story was a little thin.'
'You think the killer's going to seek a guy who's already been interrogated by
the cops? That's faulty reasoning, Steve.'
'It's a hot day, Bob. Maybe all of Pete's cylinders aren't clicking.'
'Sure, but where does—Oh-oh, the bastard's on his way. I'll call in a little
later. Listen, do me a favour, will you?'
'What's that?'
'Crack this by eight. I want to see that ball game.'
'We'll try.'
'He's moving. So long, Steve.' O'Brien hung up.
'O'Brien,' Carella said. 'He's beefing about the tail on Samalson. Thinks it's
ridiculous. I think so, too. Samalson didn't have the smell on him.'
'What smell?' Meyer asked.
'You know the smell. Every thief in the city gives it off. Samalson didn't have
it. If he's tied in with this, I'll eat his goddamn field glasses.'
The phone rang again.
'That's probably Samalson,' Hawes said, 'complaining about O'Brien tailing him.'
Smiling, Carella picked up the receiver. 'Eighty-seventh Squad, Detective
Carella,' he said. 'Oh, sure.' He covered the mouthpiece. 'Permits. You want me
to take it down?'
'Go ahead.'
'Shoot,' Carella said to the mouthpiece. He listened for a moment, then turned
to Hawes. 'Forty-seven registered Lugers in the precinct. You want them all?'
'I just thought of something,' Hawes said.
'What?'
'They take your fingerprints for the back of a pistol-licence application. If—'
'Never mind,' Carella said into the phone. 'Forget it. Thanks a lot.' He hung
up. 'If our boy,' he concluded for Hawes, 'had a permit, the fingerprints would
be on file at the I.B. Ergo, our boy ain't got a permit.'
Hawes nodded. 'You ever have a day like that, Steve?'
'Like what?'
'Where you're just plain stupid,' Hawes said despondently.
'I knew you were calling Permits, didn't I?' Carella asked. 'Did I try to stop
you?'
Hawes sighed and stared through the window. Willis came back with the coffee.
'Here you are, sir,' he said to Meyer. 'I hope everything is satisfactory, sir.'
'I'll leave a big tip,' Meyer said, and he picked up the coffee cup and then
cleared his throat.
'I've got a tip for you,' Willis said.
'What's that?'
'Never become a cop. The hours are long and the pay is low, and you have to do
all sorts of menial chores for your colleagues.'
'I'm getting a cold,' Meyer said. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out
a box of cough drops. 'I always get summer colds. They're the worst kind, and I
always get them.' He put a cough drop on his tongue. 'Anybody want one of
these?'
Nobody answered. Meyer returned the box to his back pocket. He picked up his
coffee and began sipping at it.
'Quiet,' Willis said.
'Yeah.'
'You think it really is a specific lady?' Hawes asked.
'I don't know,' Carella said. 'But I think so, yes.'
'He used the name John Smith,' Hawes said. 'When he moved into this apartment.
No clothes there. No food.'
'John Smith. Cherchez la femme,' Meyer said. 'Cherchez Pocahontas.'
'We've been cherchez-ing la femme all day,' Hawes said. 'I'm getting weary.'
'Stick it out, kid,' Carella said. He looked up at the wall clock. 'It's 5.15.
It'll all be over soon.'
And then it started.
 
 
 
CHAPTER TWELVE
It started with the fat woman in the housedress, and her arrival at the slatted
rail divider seemed to trip off a train of events none of which had any
immediate bearing on the case. It was terribly unfortunate that the events
intruded upon the smooth progress of the investigation. None of the 87th's cops
would have had it that way if there had been a choice. They were, after all,
rather intent upon preventing a murder that night. But the men of the 87th were
working stiffs doing a job, and the things that happened within the next fifty
minutes were not things that fit into place like the pieces of a jig-saw puzzle.
They followed no pat line of development. They brought the cops not an iota
closer to finding The Lady or the man who had threatened to kill. The train of
events started at 5.15 in the late afternoon of Wednesday, 24 July. They did not
end until 6.05 p.m. in the evening of that same day.
All they did was consume the most valuable commodity the detectives had: time.
The woman in the housedress puffed up to the slatted rail divider. She was
holding the hand of a ten-year-old blond kid in dungarees and a red-striped tee
shirt. The kid was Frankie Annuci. The woman was controlling a rage that
threatened to burst her seams. Her face was livid, her eyes were sparkling black
coals, her lips were compressed tightly into a narrow line that held back the
flow of her anger. She charged up to the railing as if she would batter it down
by sheer momentum, and then stopped abruptly. The steam building inside her
pushed past the thin retaining line of her lips. Her mouth opened. The words
came out in a roar.
'WHERE'S THE LIEUTENANT HERE?'
Meyer almost spilled his coffee and swallowed his cough drop. He whirled around
in his chair. Willis, Carella, and Hawes stared at the woman as if she were the
ghost of Criminals Past.
'THE LIEUTENANT!' she shouted. 'THE LIEUTENANT! Where is he?'
Carella rose and walked to the railing. He spotted the boy and said, 'Hello,
Frankie. What can I do for you, ma'm? Is there-?'
'Don't say hello to him!' the woman shouted. 'Don't even look at him! Who are
you?'
'Detective Carella.'
'Well, Detective Carella, I want to talk—' She stopped. 'Tu sei'taliano?'
'Si,' Carella said.
'Bene. Dov'è il tenente? Voglio parlare con—'
'I don't understand Italian too well,' Carella said.
'You don't? Why not? Where's the lieutenant?'
'Well, can I help you?'
'Did you have Frankie in here this afternoon?'
'Yes.'
'Why?'
'To ask him some questions.'
'I'm his mother. I'm Mrs Annuci. Mrs Rudolph Annuci. I'm a good woman, and my
husband is a good man. Why did you have my son in here?'
'He delivered a letter for somebody this morning, Mrs Annuci. We're looking for
the man who gave him the letter, that's all. We just asked him some questions.'
'YOU HAD NO RIGHT TO DO THAT!' Mrs Annuci shouted, 'HE IS NOT A CRIMINAL!'
'Nobody said he was,' Carella answered.
'THEN, WHAT WAS HE DOING IN A POLICE STATION!'
'I just told you…'
A phone began ringing somewhere in the squad-room. It synchronized with what Mrs
Annuci screamed next so that all Carella heard was:
'WELL i WAS NEVERRRRRRING so EMBRRRRRRING IN MY LIFE!'
'Now, now, signora,' Carella said.
Meyer picked up the phone. 'Eighty-seventh Squad, Detective Meyer.'
'Don't signora me, I'm not your old grandmother! Humiliated! Humiliated!
Vergogna, vergogna! He was picked up by one of the Snow Whites. Right in the
street! Standing with a bunch of boys, and the Snow White pulls to the curb and
two cops get out and grab him. Like—'
'What?' Meyer said.
Mrs Annuci turned to him. 'I said two cops—' and then she saw he was talking to
the phone.
'Okay, we'll move!' Meyer said. He hung up rapidly. 'Willis, come on! Hold-up in
progress on Tenth and Culver. The guy's shooting it out with the beat cop and
two squad cars!'
'Holy Jesus!' Willis said.
They ran through the gate in the railing, nearly knocking Mrs Annuci down.
'Criminals!' she said as they rushed down the stairs. 'You deal with criminals.
You take my son into the police station, and you mix him with thieves. He's a
good boy, a boy who—' She stopped suddenly. 'Did you beat him? Did you use a
hose on him?'
'No, no, of course not, Mrs Annuci,' Carella said, and then he was distracted by
a sound on the metal steps outside. A man in handcuffs appeared at the top of
the steps, and then another man stumbled in behind him, his face oozing blood.
Mrs Annuci turned, following Carella's gaze, just as the patrolman came into
view behind the pair. The patrolman shoved at the man with the handcuffs. Mrs
Annuci gasped.
'Oh, my God!' she said. 'Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!'
Hawes was already on his feet, walking toward the railing.
'Mrs Annuci,' Carella was saying, 'why don't we sit down here on the bench where
we can—'
'What've you got?' Hawes asked the patrolman.
'His head! Look at his head!' Mrs Annuci said, her face going white. 'Don't
look, Frankie,' she added, contradicting herself.
The man's head was indeed a sorry-looking mess. The hair was matted with blood,
which trickled on to his face and neck, staining his white tee shirt. There was
an open cut on his forehead, too, and the cut streamed blood on to the bridge of
his nose.
'This son of a bitch used a baseball bat on him, sir,' the patrolman said. 'The
guy bleeding is a pusher. Desk lieutenant thought there might be a dope angle to
this, figured you should question him.'
'I ain't no pusher,' the bleeding man said. 'I want him sent to prison! He hit
me with a bat!'
'You'd better get him to a hospital,' Hawes said, looking at the bleeding man.
'No hospital! Not until he's in prison! He hit me with a ball bat! This son of a
bitch—'
'Ohhhh,' Mrs Annuci said.
'Come on outside,' Carella said. 'We'll sit on that bench, all right? I'll
explain everything that happened with your son.'
Hawes pulled the man with the handcuffs into the room.
'Get in there!' he said. 'Take off the cuffs, Alec,' he said to the patrolman.
'You better get to the hospital, mister,' he said to the bleeding man.
'No hospital!' the man insisted. 'Not until he's booked and sent to jail.'
The patrolman took the cuffs off the other man.
'Get some wet rags for this guy's head,' Hawes said, and the patrolman left.
'What's your name, mister?'
'Mendez,' the bleeder said. 'Raoul Mendez.'
'And you're no pusher, huh, Raoul?'
'I never pushed junk in my life. That's a crock, believe me. This guy just came
over—'
Hawes turned to the other man. 'What's your name?'
'—you!' the man said.
Hawes looked at him steadily.
'Empty your pockets on that desk.'
The man did not move.
'I said—'
The man suddenly lunged at Hawes, his fists swinging wildly. Hawes clamped one
hand into the man's shirt collar and rammed the other clenched fist into his
face. The man staggered back several paces, bunched his fists again, and came at
Hawes once more. Hawes chopped a quick right to his gut, and the man doubled
over.
'Empty your pockets, punk,' Hawes said tightly.
The man emptied his pockets.
'Now. What's your name?' Hawes asked, as he went through the accumulation that
had been in the man's trousers.
'John Begley. You hit me again, you son of a bitch, and I'll—'
'Shut your mouth!' Hawes snapped. Begley shut up instantly.
'Why'd you go at him with a ball bat?'
'That's my business,' Begley said.
'It's mine, too,' Hawes answered.
'He tried to kill me,' Mendez said. 'Assault! First-degree assault! That's
Section 240. Assault with intent to kill!'
'I didn't try to kill him,' Begley said. 'If I wanted to kill him, he wouldn't
be walking around right now!'
'You're familiar with the Penal Law, huh, Mendez?' Hawes asked.
'I hear guys talking about it in the neighbourhood,' Mendez said. 'Hell,
everybody knows Section 240. Assault is common.'
'240's first-degree assault, Begley,' Hawes said. 'You can get ten years for
that. 242 is assault in the second degree. No more than five years and a fine,
maybe just the fine. Which are you trying for?'
'I didn't try to kill him.'
'Is he a pusher?'
'Ask him.'
'I'm asking you.'
'I'm no stoolie. I don't know what the hell he is. I didn't try to kill him. I
just wanted to bust a couple of arms and legs. Legs, especially.'
'Why?'
'He's been chasing my wife.'
'What do you mean?'
'What the hell do you think I mean?'
'How about that, Mendez?'
'He's crazy. I don't even know his wife.'
'You lying son of a bitch!' Begley said, and he started for Mendez.
Hawes shoved him away. 'Cool off, Begley, or I'll knock you on your ass!'
'He knows my wife!' Begley shouted. 'He knows her too goddamn good! I'll get
that bastard! If I go to jail, I'll get him when I get out!'
'He's crazy, I told you!' Mendez said. 'Crazy! I was standing on the corner
minding my own business, and he came up with the ball bat and started swinging.'
'All right, all right, keep quiet,' Hawes said.
The patrolman came back with the wet cloths.
'We won't need those, Alec,' Hawes said. 'Get this man to a hospital before he
bleeds to death right here in the squad-room.'
'Not until he goes to prison!' Mendez shouted. 'I ain't leav—'
'You want to go to prison yourself, Mendez?' Hawes said. 'For resisting an
officer?'
'Who's—?'
'Get the hell out of here! Your pusher smell is stinking up the squad-room!'
'I'm no pusher!'
'He's a pusher, sir,' the patrolman said. 'He's been put away twice, already.'
'Get the hell out, Mendez,' Hawes said.
'A pusher? You got me wrong—'
'And if I ever catch you with any junk on you, I'll take a ball bat to you
myself! Now clear out! Get him to the hospital, Alec.'
'Come on,' the patrolman said, taking Mendez's arm.
'A pusher,' Mendez mumbled, as they went through the railing. 'Man, a guy takes
one fall, right away he's labelled.'
'Two falls,' the patrolman corrected.
'Okay, two, two,' Mendez said, as they went down the steps.
Mrs Annuci swallowed.
'So you see,' Carella said to her, 'all we did was ask some questions. Your son
is something of a hero, Mrs Annuci. You can tell that to your neighbours.'
'And have this killer come after him next? No, thank you, no, thank you.'
In the squad-room, Hawes said, 'Were you trying to kill him, Begley?'
'I told you. No. Look—'
'What?'
Begley's voice trailed to a whisper. 'This is only second-degree assault. The
guy was making it with my wife. I mean, what the hel1, suppose it was your
wife?'
'I'm not married.'
'Okay, but suppose. You going to send me to jail for protecting my home?'
'That's up to the judge,' Hawes said.
Begley's voice went even lower. 'Let's judge it ourselves, huh?'
'What?'
'What'll it cost? Three bills? Half a century?'
'You've got the wrong cop,' Hawes said.
'Come on, come on,' Begley said, smiling.
Hawes picked up the phone and buzzed the desk. Artie Rnowles, the sergeant who'd
relieved Murchison at 4.00 p.m., answered.
'Artie, this is Cotton Hawes. You can book this bum. Make it second-degree
assault. Send somebody up for him, will you?'
'Right!' Knowles said.
'You kidding?' Begley asked.
'I'm serious,' Hawes said.
'You're turning down five hundred bucks?'
'Are you offering it? We can add that to the charge.'
'Never mind, never mind,' Begley said hastily. 'I ain't offering nothing. Boy!'
He was still 'Boy'-ing when the patrolman led him downstairs, passing Bert Kling
in the hallway. Kling was a tall and youthful blond detective. He was wearing a
leather jacket and dungarees. His denim shirt under the jacket was stained with
sweat.
'Hi,' he said to Hawes. 'What's up?'
'Assault,' Hawes said. 'You finished for the day?'
'Yeah,' Kling said. 'This waterfront plant is for the birds. I'll never learn
anything. There isn't a guy on the docks who doesn't know I'm a cop.'
'Have they really tipped to you?'
'I guess not, but nobody's talking about heroin, that's for sure. Why the hell
doesn't Pete leave this to the Narcotics Squad?'
'He's trying to get a jump on the precinct pushers. Wants to know where the
stuff's coming in. You know how Pete feels about dope.'
'Whose hand is Steve holding, outside?'
'Hysterical mother,' Hawes said, and then he heard Meyer's voice coming up the
stairway. Kling took off his jacket.
'Brother, I'm hot,' he said. 'You ever try unloading a ship?'
'Nope,' Hawes said.
'Get in there, you rotten hood,' Meyer said, 'and don't give me any back talk.'
He glanced at the woman on the bench only cursorily, and then shoved at his
prisoner. The man he shoved was wearing handcuffs. The cuffs were tight on his
wrists.
A pair of police handcuffs resembles the five-and-dime stuff purchased for kids,
except the police stuff is for real. They are made out of steel, forged into a
slender, narrow, impervious, portable jail. The movable arm is bolted into the
body of the cuff. The movable arm has a saw-tooth edge that, when engaged with
the body, catches and holds there. Like blood travelling through a vein, the
saw-tooth edge cannot reverse its course; it can only move forward. It can, in
fact, move completely through the body of the cuff itself, completing a full
circle, so that a key is not necessary to open the wristlet before it is clamped
on to the wrist. The arresting officer simply squeezes the movable arm into and
through the body of the cuff until the arm emerges on the other side. He then
clamps it on to the wrist and wedges it shut again. The wrist prevents the
movable arm from making the full circle again. To take the cuff off the wrist, a
key is necessary.
A trio of metal links attaches one wrist cuff to the other. The cuffs are not at
all comfortable. If they are placed on the wrists with care, it is possible to
keep them from biting into the flesh. But the average arresting officer squeezes
the cuff to snap the movable arm into its open position, and then hastily clamps
the cuff on to the wrist and squeezes again until the metal collides with flesh
and bone. When a pair of handcuffs is taken off a prisoner, the prisoner's
wrists are usually raw and lacerated—and sometimes bleeding.
Not very much delicacy had been used on the man Meyer led into the squad-room.
He had just been shooting it out with a gang of policemen, and when they had
finally collared him, they'd clamped the cuffs on to his wrists with barely
controlled ferocity. The metal was biting into his flesh and paining him. Meyer
shoved him into the room, and the metal cuffs bit further as he moved his arms
trying to maintain his balance.
'Here's a big man,' Meyer said to Hawes. 'Tried to hold off half the precinct,
didn't you, big man?'
The prisoner did not answer.
'The jewellery store on Tenth and Culver,' Meyer said. 'He was inside with a gun
when the beat patrolman spotted him. Brave man. A daylight hold-up. You're a
brave man, aren't you?'
The prisoner did not answer.
'He started shooting the minute he saw the patrolman. A cruising squad car heard
the shots and joined the battle, and then radioed for another car. The second
car called back here for help. A regular hero's siege, huh, big man?' Meyer
asked.
The prisoner did not answer.
'Sit down, big man,' Meyer said.
The prisoner sat.
'What's your name?'
'Louis Gallagher.'
'You been in trouble before, Gallagher?'
'No.'
'We'll check it, so don't start with a snow job.'
'I've never been in trouble before,' Gallagher said.
'Miscolo got any coffee?' Kling asked, and he started down the corridor. Carella
was just returning from the steps. 'Get rid of her, Steve?'
'Yeah,' Carella said. 'How were the docks?'
'Hot.'
'You plan on going home?'
'Yeah. Soon as I have some coffee.'
'You'd better stick around. We've got a nut loose.'
'What do you mean?'
'A letter. Going to kill a dame at eight tonight. Stick around. Pete may need
you.'
'I'm bushed, Steve.'
'No kidding?' Carella said, and he walked into the squad-room.
'You've got a record, haven't you, Gallagher?' Meyer asked.
'No. I told you once already.'
'Gallagher, we've got a lot of unsolved hold-ups in this neighbourhood.'
'That's your problem. You're the cops.'
'You do them?'
'I held up the store today because I need dough. That's all. This is the first
time I ever did anything like this. How about taking the cuffs off and letting
me go?'
'Oh, brother, you slay me,' Willis said. He turned to Hawes. 'He tries to shoot
us, and then he cops a plea.'
'Who's copping a plea?' Gallagher said. 'I'm asking you to forget the whole
thing.'
Willis stared at the man as if he were a dangerous lunatic ready to begin
slashing passers-by with a razor. 'It must be the heat,' he said unblinkingly.
'Come on,' Gallagher said. 'How about it? How about giving me a break?'
'Look—'
'What the hell did I do? Shoot a little? Did I hurt anybody? Hell, I gave you a
little excitement. Come on, be good guys. Take off these cuffs and send me on my
way.'
Willis mopped his brow. 'He isn't kidding, you know that, don't you, Meyer?'
'Come on, Meyer,' Gallagher said, 'be a sp—' and Meyer slapped him across the
face.
'Don't talk to me, big man. Don't use my name, or I'll ram it down your throat.
This your first hold-up?'
Gallagher looked at Meyer with hooded eyes, nursing his hurt cheek. 'You I
wouldn't give the sweat off my—' he started, and Meyer hit him again.
'How many other hold-ups you pull in this precinct?'
Gallagher was silent.
'Somebody asked you a question,' Willis said.
Gallagher looked up at Willis, including him in his hatred.
Carella walked over to the group. 'Well, well, hello, Louie,' he said.
Gallagher looked at him blankly. 'I don't know you,' he said.
'Why, Louie,' Carella said, 'your memory is getting bad. Don't you remember me?
Steve Carella. Think, Louie.'
'Is this guy a bull?' Gallagher asked. 'I never seen him before in my life.'
'The bakery, Louie? Nineteen forty-nine? South Third? Remember, Louie?'
'I don't eat cake,' Gallagher said.
'You weren't there buying cake, Louie. You were sticking up the joint. I
happened to be walking by. Remember now?'
'Oh,' Gallagher said. 'That.'
'When'd you get out, Louie?' Carella'asked.
'What difference does it make? I'm out.'
'And back at the old pushcart,' Meyer said. 'When'd you get out?'
'You got ten years for armed robbery, Gallagher,' Carella said. 'What happened?
Parole?'
'Yeah.'
'When did you get out?' Meyer repeated.
'About six months ago,' Gallagher said.
'I guess you enjoyed your stay with the state, huh?' Meyer asked. 'You're
itching to get back.'
'Come on, let's forget the whole deal,' Gallagher said. 'Whattya wanna be rotten
guys for, huh?'
'Why do you want to be a rotten guy, Gallagher?'
'Who, me? I don't want to be rotten,' Gallagher said. 'It's a compulsion.'
'Now I've seen everything,' Meyer said. 'Psychiatrist thieves! It's too much,
too much. Come on, bum, the lieutenant's gonna want to talk to you. On your
feet. Come on.'
One of the phones rang. Hawes picked it up.
'Eighty-seventh Squad, Hawes,' he said.
'Cotton, this is Sam Grossman.'
'Hello, Sam, what've you got?'
'Nothing much. Prints that match up with the ones on the glasses, but… Well,
let's face it, Cotton. We haven't got time to give that apartment the going-over
it should get. Not before eight o'clock, anyway.'
'Why? What time is it?' Hawes asked.
'It's past six already,' Grossman said, and Hawes looked up at the wall clock
and saw that it was exactly five minutes past six. Where had the last hour gone?
'Yeah. Well…' he started, and then he couldn't think of anything to say.
'There's just one thing that might help you,' Grossman said. 'Maybe you saw it
already.'
'What's that?'
'We picked it up in the kitchen. On the window sill over the sink. It has the
suspect's prints on it, so maybe he used it. In any case, he handled it.'
'What, Sam?'
'A card. You know, a business card.'
'What's the business?' Hawes asked, picking up a pencil.
'It's a card for the Jo-George Diner. That's two words, hyphenated. No e on the
Jo.'
'Address?'
'336 North Thirteenth.'
'Anything else on the card?'
'Right-hand corner of the card says "Fine Food". That's it.'
'Thanks, Sam. I'll get right over there.'
'Sure. Maybe the suspect eats there, who knows? Or maybe he's one of the
owners.'
'Jo or George, huh?'
'It could be,' Grossman said. 'You don't figure this joker lived in that
apartment, do you?'
'No. Do you?'
'A few signs of habitation, but all recent. Nothing prolonged. My guess is that
he used it as a pied à terre, if you'll pardon the Japanese.'
'That's what I figure, too,' Hawes said quickly. 'Sam, I'd love to throw the
bull with you, but it's getting late. I'd better hit that diner.'
'Go ahead,' Grossman said. 'Good luck.'
 
 
 
CHAPTER THIRTEEN
The Jo-George Diner was on The Stem at Thirteenth Street. Because the diner's
entrance was on the side street rather than the avenue, the address was 336
North Thirteenth. There were no trucks parked outside it, but Hawes formed no
opinions about the quality of the food. Perhaps trucks would have been there
were there not parking regulations against them.
The diner looked like any other diner in the city, or perhaps even every other
diner in the world. Metallically glistening in the sun still lingering in the
sky, it squatted on the corner, a large sign across its top announcing the name
JO-GEORGE DINER.
It was 6.15 p.m. when Hawes climbed the steps and opened the front door. The
diner was packed.
The juke box was blaring, and there was the persistent hum of conversation
bouncing oif the walls and the ceiling. There were several waitresses scurrying
back and forth between the booths and the counter. Two men were behind the
counter, and Hawes could see beyond the pass-through into the kitchen, where
three more men worked. The Jo-George Diner was a thriving little spot, and Hawes
wondered which of the men were the owners.
He looked for a stool at the counter, but they were all occupied. He went to
stand alongside the cash register at one end of the counter. The waitresses
scurried past, ignoring him, picking up their orders. The men behind the counter
dashed from customer to customer.
'Hey!' Hawes said.
One of the men stopped. 'There'll be a short wait, sir,' he said. 'If you'll
just stand over there near the cigarette machine, away from the door,
somebody'll get up and you—'
'Jo around?' Hawes asked.
'It's his day off,' the man said. 'You a friend of—?'
'George here?'
The man looked puzzled. He was a man in his late fifties with iron-grey hair and
blue eyes. He was heavily built, his shirt sleeves rolled up over muscular
biceps. 'I'm George,' he said. 'Who are you?'
'Detective Hawes. Eighty-seventh Squad. Is there anyplace we can talk, Mr…?' He
let the sentence trail.
'Laddona,' George said. 'George Laddona. What's this about?'
'Just a few questions, that's all.'
'What about?'
'Can we talk someplace besides here?'
'You sure picked a hell of a time. I got my big supper crowd here right now.
Can't you come back later?'
'This can't wait,' Hawes said.
'We can talk in the kitchen, I guess.'
Hawes listened to the sounds emanating from the bustling kitchen, the orders
being shouted, the pots and pans being thrown around, the dishes being washed.
'Anyplace quieter?'
'The only other place is the men's room. It's okay with me if it's okay with
you.'
'Fine,' Hawes said.
George came from behind the counter, and they walked to the other end of the
diner. They opened a door that had no lettering on it, just the figure of a man
in a top hat. The ladies' room featured a woman with a parasol. When they were
inside, Hawes locked the door.
'What's your partner's name?' he asked.
'Jo Cort. Why?'
'Is that his full name?'
'Sure.'
'The Jo, I mean.'
'Sure. Jo. J-o. Why?'
Hawes pulled the police drawing out of his pocket. He unfolded it and showed it
to George.
'This your partner?'
George looked at the picture. 'Nope,' he said.
'You sure?'
'Don't I know my own partner?'
'Ever see this man in the diner before?'
George shrugged. 'Who knows? You know how many people I get in here? Take a look
outside. That's how busy it is every night at this time. Who recognizes
individuals?'
'Take another look,' Hawes said. 'He may be a regular.'
George looked at the picture again. 'There's something familiar about the eyes,'
he said. He looked at it more closely. 'Funny, I…' He shrugged. 'No. No, I don't
place him. I'm sorry.'
Disappointedly, Hawes folded the picture and returned it to his pocket. The card
looked like another false lead. The picture was certainly not a drawing of
George, and George had just now said it wasn't his partner, either. Where did he
go now? What did he ask next? What time was it? How long before the bullet from
a Luger crashed into the body of an unsuspecting woman? Was a cop with the
prostitute known as The Lady? Did Jay Astor have her police protection yet? Had
Philip Bannister left to meet his mother at the ballet? Where was John Smith
now? Who was John Smith? What do I ask now?
He pulled the business card from his wallet. 'Recognize this, George?' he asked.
George took the card. 'Sure. That's our card.'
'You carry them?'
'Sure.'
'Jo carry them?'
'Sure. Also, we leave them on the counter. There's a little box for them. People
pick them up all the time. Word-of-mouth advertising. It works, believe me. You
saw how packed it was out there.' He seemed to suddenly remember his customers.
'Look, is this going to take much longer? I got to get back.'
'Tell me about your set-up here,' Hawes said, unwilling to leave just yet,
unwilling to let go of a lead that had taken him here to this diner, a card
found in the apartment of the man who'd called himself John Smith, a man who was
not George Laddona and not Jo Cort, but where had the man got the card? Had he
eaten here? Hadn't George said there was something familiar about the eyes?
Could the man have eaten here? Damnit, where was he? Who was he? I'm losing my
grip, Hawes thought.
'Regular partnership set-up,' George said, shrugging. 'It's the same all over.
Jo and me are partners.'
'How old is Jo?'
'Thirty-four.'
'And you?'
'Fifty-six.'
'That's a big difference. Know him long?'
'About eleven years,' George said.
'You get along with him?'
'Fine.'
'How'd you meet?'
'At the 52-20 Club. You were in the service, weren't you?'
'Sure.'
'Remember when you got out, they had this thing where the state gave you twenty
bucks a week for a maximum of fifty-two weeks. A sort of a rehabilitation thing.
Until you found work.'
'I remember,' Hawes said. 'But you weren't in the service, were you?'
'No, no, I was too old.'
'Was Jo?'
'He was 4-F during the war. Had a punctured eardrum or something.'
'Then how'd you meet at the Fifty-two—'
'We were both working there. For the Welfare Board, you know. Jo and me. That's
how we met.'
'What happened then?'
'Well, you know, we got friendly. I'd trust him with my right arm. Straight from
the beginning. It was just one of those friendships. You know, we hit it off
right away. It started with us stopping for a few brews on the way home from
work. We still do it. Whenever we work together, we stop for a few brews. Place
down the street. Jo and me, the guzzlers.' George smiled. 'The guzzlers,' he
repeated fondly.
'Go ahead,' Hawes said. He looked at his wrist watch. He had the oddest feeling
that he was wasting precious time listening to this fraternal account. 'Go
ahead,' he said again, more impatiently this time.
'Well, we got to discussing our dreams and ambitions. I had a little dough
socked away, and so did Jo. We talked about opening a little business. First we
thought we'd open a bar, but it costs a lot of money to equip one, you know, and
then there's the liquor licence and all. We just didn't have that kind of
dough.'
'So you decided on a diner instead.'
'Yeah. We got a loan from the bank, and together with what we had, that was
enough to start the business. Partners. Me and Jo. Fifty-fifty split. And it
works, believe me. You know why?'
'Why?'
'Because we've got ambition. Both of us. Ambition to get ahead, to make
something of ourselves. In a few years we'll be opening another diner, and then
later on another. Ambition. And trust.' George's voice dropped to a more
confidential tone. 'Listen, I trust that kid… I trust him like he was my own
son.' He began chuckling. 'Hell, you have to, in my position.'
'What do you mean?'
'I'm an orphan, all alone in the world. Jo's the only one I've got. And this is
a partnership. That kid's as good as gold. I wouldn't trade him for the world.'
'Where is he today?' Hawes asked.
'Wednesday. His day off. We both work Saturdays and Sundays, and we each take a
day during the week. We're building, you know. Toward the big string of diners.'
George smiled.
'You think Jo might have given your card to the man whose picture I showed you?'
'He might have. Why don't you show him the picture?'
'Where can I reach him?'
'I'll give you his phone number. You can call him at home. If he's not there,
he's probably with his girl-friend. A nice girl. Her name's Felicia. He'll
probably marry her someday.'
'Where does he live?' Hawes asked.
'In a nice apartment downtown. One of these hotel apartments. Very nice. He
likes to live nice. Me, any hole in the wall'll do. But not Jo. He's… You know,
a smart kid. Likes nice things.'
'Give me the number,' Hawes said.
'You can make the call right here, in the kitchen. There's a phone on the wall.
Listen, can we get out of here? Besides my customers, it's getting hot as hell
in this cubby-hole.'
He opened the door, and they started walking toward the kitchen.
'It's like this every night,' George said. 'Jam-packed. We give them quality,
and it pays off for us. But, boy, it's a lot of work. This won't begin slacking
off until seven thirty, eight o'clock. Busy. Busy all the time. Knock wood,' he
added, rapping on the counter.
Hawes followed him back to the kitchen. The kitchen was very hot, hot with the
heat of the day and the heat of the stoves, and hot with hurried, frantic
speech.
'Phone's over there,' George said. 'The number's Delville 2-4523.'
'Thanks,' Hawes said.
He walked to the phone, and deposited a dime. Then he began dialling. He waited.
'Riverdix Hotel,' the voice said.
'Jo Cort, please,' Hawes said.
'I'll try his apartment, sir. One moment, please.'
Hawes waited. The operator rang.
'I'm sorry, sir. He doesn't seem to be answering.'
'Try it again,' Hawes said.
'Yes, sir.' She tried it again. And again. And again and again. 'I'm sorry,
sir,' she told him. 'There's still no answer.'
'Thank you,' Hawes said, and he hung up.
He went out front and found George.
'He's not home.'
'Oh. Too bad. Try his girl-friend. Felicia Pannet. She's in Isola, too.'
'Where?' Hawes asked.
'I don't know the address. Midtown someplace. Or just above the Square, I think.
Yeah, that's it. On the North side.' George turned to a customer. 'Yes, sir,' he
said, 'would you care to see a menu?'
'Just give me a bacon and tomato on toast,' the man said. 'And a cup of coffee.'
George turned to the pass-through leading to the kitchen. 'BT down,' he shouted.
'Draw one!' He turned back to Hawes. 'Will I be glad when this day is over. Know
what I'm going to do?'
'What?' Hawes said.
'As soon as this crowd thins out, half hour or so from now, I'm going for a
brew. Right down the street. Maybe two brews. Maybe I'll sit there and drink all
night. I'm so thirsty I could drink a keg of the stuff. I can't wait. Half hour
or so, whizzz, I'm out of here.'
He had mentioned time, the enemy, and so Hawes unconsciously looked at his wrist
watch. It was three minutes to seven.
An hour to go.
'Thanks,' he said to George, and he left the diner.
Outside, he wondered what to do. The girl lived in mid-town Isola, above the
Square. Should he go there? Was it worth it? Suppose Jo wasn't there? Or suppose
he was there and couldn't identify the picture? Or suppose he could identify the
picture, would there be time to stop the killer? He looked at his watch again.
Seven o'clock.
Was there time?
Could they stop him now? Could they stop him from killing the woman, whoever she
was?
Well, what else was there to do? Go back to the precinct squad-room and wait for
the hour to pass? Sit there with the boys while a killer took aim at his target,
while a Luger was brought to bear and then fired?
What the hell else was there to do? If he hurried, if he put on the siren and
cleared the streets, he could be there in ten minutes. Another ten to talk to
Jo—if he was there—and then ten to get back to the precinct. He could be in the
squad-room by 7.30, and maybe Jo would identify that picture. Maybe, maybe,
maybe…
Hawes walked into a drugstore and directly to the phone booths. He looked up
Felicia Pannet's address, got it, and then decided to call her first. If Jo Cort
wasn't there, she would tell him so and save him a trip.
He repeated the number to himself, went into the booth, and dialled it.
The busy signal clicked in his ear.
He hung up and waited. Then he dialled again.
Still busy.
Damnit, he was wasting time. If the phone was busy, somebody was home! And he
sure as hell couldn't spend the next precious hour in a phone booth. He left the
drugstore and walked back to the police sedan.
He gunned away from the curb, and turned on the siren.
 
 
 
CHAPTER FOURTEEN
Nathan Hale Square divided the island of Isola almost exactly in two. Dominated
by the huge statue of the patriot, it was the hub of a bigger square of city
commerce. Swank shops, bookshops, drugstores, automobile showrooms, hotels, and
the new giant sports arena surrounded the square with their bustling activity.
The heat had in no way diminished the bustle, or the hustle accompanying it. The
heat very rarely affects pursuit of the long green.
And yet, seeming to typify a more gracious bygone time when the only thing
people had to worry about was revolutions, Nathan Hale complacently looked out
at the commercialism surrounding him, seemed in fact to look above and beyond
it. And like dutiful subjects, a smattering of citizens sat on the benches
circling the statue, feeding the pigeons, or reading newspapers, or just
watching the girls in their thin summer frocks go by. Watching the girls in
their summer frocks was a favourite city pastime, and another thing the heat
could not affect.
Stopped for a moment by the maze of traffic in the square, Hawes watched the
girls in their thin dresses. The traffic broke, the siren erupted, the car
gunned forward, the girls were behind him. He swung around the square, heard a
motorist curse behind him, and then headed east, taking the corner into Felicia
Pannet's block on two wheels. He pulled the sedan to the curb, yanked the keys
from the ignition, slammed out of the car, and took the front-stoop steps two at
a time to the entrance lobby.
Felicia Pannet, the card in the bell panel read. Hawes pushed the button. He
waited, his hand on the knob of the inner door. The door clicked, the lock
sprang. Hawes pushed open the door and stepped into the ground-floor lobby. An
elevator was at the rear of the lobby. He started for it, then remembered he
hadn't looked at Felicia's apartment number. Cursing, muttering proverbs about
haste making waste, he went back to the entrance door, opened it, braced it with
one foot, and leaned into the lobby to read the apartment number in the bell
panel. Sixty-three.
He went back inside to the elevator, pushed the down button, and waited. The
indicator told him the elevator was on the seventh floor. He waited. Either the
indicator was broken, or the elevator was not moving. He pushed the button
again. The elevator stayed on the seventh floor.
He could visualize two fat matrons discussing their arthritis, one of them
holding the elevator door open while the second fumbled for her apartment keys
in her purse. Or perhaps a delivery boy shuttling a month's supply of groceries
from the elevator to some apartment, having wedged the door open with the
shopping cart. He pushed the button again. Adamantly the damned elevator refused
to move. Hawes looked at his watch, and then took the steps.
He was winded and dripping wet when he reached the sixth floor. He looked for
Apartment Sixty-three, found it, and pushed the black buzzer button in the
doorjamb. No one answered. He pushed it again. As he was pushing it, he heard
the hum of the elevator, saw the lighted car pass on its way downward to the
street.
'Who is it?' a voice from within the apartment asked. The voice was low and
cool, a woman's voice.
'Police,' Hawes said.
Footsteps padded toward the door. The peephole flap grated metal against metal
when it swung back. The peephole presented only a mirrored surface to whoever
was standing outside the doorway. The woman inside could see out, but Hawes
could not see in.
'I'm not dressed,' the voice said. 'You'll have to wait.'
'Please hurry,' Hawes said.
'I'll dress as quickly as I know how,' the voice said, and Hawes felt he had
been reprimanded. The peephole flap grated shut again. Hawes leaned against the
wall opposite the doorway, waiting. It was hot in the corridor. The collected
smells of the day had merged with the cooking smells of the evening, and these
in turn had merged with the heat to form an assault wave on the nostrils. He
pulled out his handkerchief and blew his nose. It didn't help.
He realized all at once that he was hungry. He had not eaten since noontime, and
he'd done a lot of chasing around since then, and his stomach was beginning to
growl.
It'll soon be over, he thought, one way or the, other. Then you can go home and
shave and put on a clean white shirt and a tie and the grey tropical, and you
can pick up Christine Maxwell. You didn't promise her dinner, but you'll buy her
dinner, anyway. You'll have some long, tall drinks rammed full with ice. You'll
dance to the air-conditioned rhythms of Felix Iceberg and his Twelve Icicles,
and then you'll escort Miss Maxwell home and discuss Antarctica over a nightcap.
It sounded delightful.
I wish I worked for an advertising agency, Hawes thought. I'd leave the office
at five and by this time I'd be immersed in a tub of marti—
Time.
He looked at his watch.
Good God, what the hell was taking her so long? Impatiently he reached for the
buzzer again. He was about to press it when the door opened.
Felicia Pannet was easily the coolest-looking person he had seen all day. All
week. All year. There was no other word for her. She was cool. She was, as a few
junkies he knew might put it, the coolest, man.
She had straight black hair clipped in what he supposed the coiffure con men
called a Spider Cut or a Bedbug Cut or some sort of an insect cut. Whatever they
called it, it was extremely short except for the tendrils, which, insect-like,
swept over her forehead.
Her eyes were blue. They were not a warm blue. They were the blue you sometimes
find on a very fair-skinned blonde or an Irish redhead. But fair hair softens
the harshness of the blue in those cases; Felicia Pannet's hair had been poured
from an inkwell, and it dropped the temperature of the blue eyes to somewhere
far below zero.
Her nose, like her hair, had been bobbed. The job was an excellent one, but
Hawes could spot a nose bob at a hundred paces. Felicia's nose was a properly
American, properly supper-club, properly martini-glass-in-hand-spouting-latest-
best-seller-talk nose. A cool nose for a cool woman. And her mouth, without
lipstick, was thin and bloodless. For a moment, Hawes thought of Charles Addams.
The moment passed.
'I'm sorry I kept you waiting,' Felicia said. Her voice expressed no regret
whatever.
'That's quite all right,' Hawes said. 'May I come in?'
'Please.'
She did not ask for identification. He followed her into the apartment. She was
wearing an ice-blue sweater and a black skirt. The thongs of pale-blue sandals
passed through the spaces alongside her big toes. Her toe-nails were painted a
bright red, as were her long, carefully manicured finger-nails.
The apartment was as cool as the woman. Hawes was not an expert on modern
furniture, but he knew the stuff in this apartment had not been purchased on
Crichton Avenue. This was nine-months-wait, special-order furniture. It had the
look and the feel of luxury.
Felicia sat.
'What's your name?' she said.
Her voice had the peculiarly aloof nasal twang Hawes had always identified with
Harvard men. He had always assumed that the speech instructor at Harvard was a
man who spoke through his nose and, emulated by his students, produced a
generation of young men whose voices emerged through their nostrils rather than
their mouths. He was surprised to hear the affected speech pattern and tone in a
woman. He was half tempted to ask her if she was a Harvard graduate.
'My name's Hawes,' he said. 'Detective Hawes.'
'Do I call you Detective Hawes or Mr Hawes? Which?'
'Whichever you like. Just don't—'
'Just don't call me late for dinner,' she completed un-smilingly.
'I was just going to say,' Hawes said flatly, annoyed that she thought he'd been
about to use the old saw, 'just don't waste any more of my time.'
The rebuff produced nothing more on the face of Felicia Pannet than a slight
lifting of her left eyebrow. 'I had no idea your time was so valuable,' she
said. 'What do you want here?'
'I've just come from the Jo-George Diner,' Hawes said. 'Do you know George?'
'I've met him, yes.'
'He told me that you're his partner's girl-friend. Is that right?'
'Are you referring to Jo?'
'Yes.'
'I suppose you might say I'm his girl-friend.'
'Do you know where I can locate him, Miss Pannet?'
'Yes. He's out of town.'
'Where?'
'He went upstate to do some fishing.'
'When did he leave?'
'Early this morning.'
'What time this morning?'
'About one o'clock.'
'You mean this afternoon, then, don't you?'
'No, I mean this morning. I rarely say anything I don't mean, Detective Hawes. I
mean this morning. One o'clock this morning. He worked late at the diner last
night. He stopped by here to have a nightcap, and then he left for upstate. It
must have been about one o'clock.' She paused. Emphatically she added, 'In the
morning.'
'I see. Where did he go upstate?'
'I don't know. He didn't say.'
'When will he be back?'
'Either late tonight or early tomorrow morning. He's due back at the diner
tomorrow.'
'Will he call you when he gets back?'
'He said he would.'
'Are you engaged to him, Miss Pannet?'
'In a sense, yes.'
'What does that mean?'
'It means I don't date any other men. But I haven't got his ring. I don't want
it yet.'
'Why not?'
'I'm not ready to marry him yet.'
'Why not?'
'When I get married, I want to stop working. But I want to live the way I live
now. Jo makes a decent amount of money. The diner's a going business, and he
splits everything fifty-fifty with George. But he still doesn't make as much
money as I do.'
'Where do you work, Miss Pannet?'
'For a television packaging outfit. Trio Productions. Have you heard of it?'
'No.'
Felicia Pannet shrugged. 'Three people,' she said. 'A writer, a director, and a
producer. They banded together and formed their own producing company. We
package shows for a good deal of the industry. The "Pennsylvania Coal Hour" is
one of our shows. Surely you've seen that.'
'I don't own a television set,' Hawes said.
'Don't you believe in art?' she asked. 'Or can't you afford one?'
Hawes let the remark pass. 'And what do you do with Trio Productions?' he asked.
'I'm one of the original three, one of the trio. I'm the producer.'
'I see. And this pays well, does it?'
'It pays extremely well.'
'And Jo's cut of the business doesn't pay as well?'
'No.'
'And you're not going to marry him until you can stay home and knit booties and
raise a family on his earnings, is that—?'
'Until I can live the way I'm living now, yes,' Felicia said.
'I see.' Hawes took the folded picture from his pocket. Slowly he unfolded it
and handed it to Felicia. 'Ever see this man before?' he asked.
Felicia took the picture. 'Is this your subtle way of getting my fingerprints?'
she asked.
'Huh?'
'By handing me this picture?'
'Oh.' Hawes smiled, beginning to dislike Miss Pannet intensely now, beginning to
dislike Trio Productions, and beginning to dislike the 'Pennsylvania Coal Hour'
even though he had never seen the damned show. 'No. I'm not trying to get your
fingerprints. Would I have reason to want them?'
'How would I know?' she said. 'I still don't know why you're here.'
'I'm here to identify this man,' Hawes said. 'Do you know him?'
She looked at the picture. 'No,' she said. She handed it back to Hawes.
'Never saw him before?'
'Never.'
'Possibly with Jo? Would he be one of Jo's friends?'
'All of Jo's friends are my friends. I never saw him with that man. Unless it's
a bad likeness.'
'It's a pretty good likeness,' Hawes said. He folded the picture and put it in
his pocket. His last chance seemed to have evaporated. If Jo Cort was on a
fishing trip, there was no way to reach him before eight o'clock tonight. There
was no way to show him the picture. There was no way to identify the potential
killer. Hawes sighed. 'A fishing trip,' he said disgustedly.
'He likes fishing.'
'What else does he like?'
For the first time since he'd been in the apartment, Hawes saw Felicia smile.
'Me,' she said.
'Mmm,' Hawes answered, refusing to comment on the taste that makes horse races
and ball games. 'Where'd you meet him?' he asked.
'He picked me up,' she said.
'Where?'
'On the street. Does that shock you?'
'Not. particularly.'
'Well, that's the way it happened. Are you familiar with The Quarter?'
'Downtown? Yes.'
'I was walking there one Wednesday. Our big show is Tuesday night, the "Coal
Hour". It's our only live show. We sort of relax right after it, generally take
Wednesdays off unless there's a crisis in the office. I went down there that
Wednesday to buy some jewellery. They have these unusual jewellery shops down
there, as you may know.'
'Yes,' Hawes said. He looked at his watch. Why was he wasting time here? Why
didn't he get back to the squad-room, where the company was congenial and
pleasant?
'I was looking in one of the shop windows at a beautiful gold bracelet when I
heard a voice behind me. It said, "Would you like me to buy that for you?" I
turned. A rather pleasant-looking man with a moustache and chin whiskers was
standing behind me.'
'Jo Cort?' Hawes asked.
'Yes. At first, I thought he was a Quarter artist. Because of the moustache and
beard, you know. I said to him, "Can you afford it?" He went into the shop and
bought it for me. It cost three hundred dollars. That was the beginning of our
relationship.'
It figured, Hawes thought, and he began to form his own impressions of Jo Cort,
a bearded jerk who'd spend three hundred dollars to pick up a girl like Felicia
Pannet.
'He always wear this beard?' he asked, thinking of bearded men he had known in
the past. One had grown the chin brush to hide the lack of a jaw. Another—
'Always,' Felicia said. 'He grew it when he was eighteen, and he's kept it ever
since. I imagine he grew it because he was 4-F. A punctured eardrum. The beard
made him feel more manly, I supposed. At a time when all of his friends were
pretending to be men because of their uniforms. It's really quite attractive.'
She paused. 'Have you ever been kissed by a man with a beard?'
'No,' Hawes said. 'I prefer my men with long sideburns instead.' He rose. 'Well,
thanks a lot, Miss Pannet,' he said.
'Is there anything you want me to tell Jo when I see him again?'
'By the time you see him again,' Hawes said, 'it'll be all over.'
'What will be all over?'
'It,' he said. 'You might tell him that he picked an inconvenient time to go
fishing. He might have been able to help us.'
'I'm sorry,' Felicia said, and again her voice indicated no regret.
'Yeah, well, don't lose any sleep over it.'
'I shan't.'
'I didn't think you would.'
'May I ask a personal question?' Felicia said.
'Sure. Go ahead.'
'That white streak in your hair. Where did you get it?'
'Why do you want to know?'
'I'm attracted by oddities.'
'Like Jo Cort's beard and moustache?'
'I'll admit his beard attracted me.'
'That and the three-hundred-dollar bracelet,' Hawes said.
'It was a very unusual approach,' Felicia said. 'I don't usually allow myself to
be picked up on the street.' She paused. 'You still haven't answered me.'
'I got stabbed once,' Hawes said. 'They shaved the hair to get at the wound.
When it grew back, it was white.'
'I wonder why,' she said, expressing real interest.
'It probably turned white from fright,' Hawes said. 'I've got to be going.'
'If you ever want television work -' she started.
'Yes?'
'You'd make a good menace. In a spy story. The streak in your hair is loaded
with intrigue.'
'Thanks,' Hawes said. At the door, he paused. 'I hope you, and Mr Cort, and the
beard are very happy together.'
'I'm sure we will be,' Felicia Pannet said.
From the way she said it, he didn't doubt a word of it.
 
 
 
CHAPTER FIFTEEN
It was 7.35 p.m.
In twenty-five minutes The Lady would become a target. In twenty-five minutes
the threat would become a reality, a potential killer would become a real
killer.
It was 7.36 p.m.
In twenty-four minutes a Luger would spit bullets into the night. A woman would
fall. A phone would ring, and the desk sergeant would say, 'Eighty-seventh
Precinct', and the call would be transferred upstairs, and Homicide North and
Homicide South and police headquarters and lab technicians and assistant medical
examiners would be called in to deal with a fresh homicide.
It was 7.37 p.m.
A pall of gloom had settled over the squad-room. Bert Kling was anxious to get
home. He'd had a trying day at the waterfront, but he waited now with his
leather jacket slung over his arm, waited for something to break, waited for
Byrnes to pop out of his office and shout, 'Bert! I need you!'
It was 7.38 p.m.
They sat around the desk looking at the letter again, Meyer, Carella, and Hawes.
Meyer was sucking cough drops. His throat was worse, and he blamed it on the
heat.
I WILL KILL THE LADY TONIGHT AT 8.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
The answer was in each of the detectives' minds.
NOTHING.
We can do nothing about it.
'Maybe it is a dog,' Meyer said, sucking on his cough drop. 'Maybe it's a dog
called Lady.'
'And maybe it isn't,' Hawes said.
'Or maybe it's that hooker,' Carella said. 'Marcia. The Lady. If it's her, we're
okay. She's covered, isn't she?'
'She's covered,' Hawes said.
'Lady Astor, too?'
'She's covered,' Hawes said again.
'Pete didn't send anybody to the ballet, did he?'
'No,' Hawes said. 'Bannister's clean. He didn't look anything like that damn
picture.'
'And nobody at the diner could identify it, huh?' Meyer asked. He swallowed and
reached for another cough drop.
'I only saw one of the partners,' Hawes said. 'The other one's out of town.' He
paused. 'The first one had the right idea, all right.'
'Anybody want one of these?' Meyer asked, extending the box.
The other men ignored him. 'What idea was that?' Carella asked.
'He was heading for a beer as soon as the eating crowd thinned. A place right
down the street, he said. That's for me, too. As soon as I get out of here. You
fellows join me? I'm buying.'
'Where's the diner?' Carella asked, interested.
'Huh?'
'The diner.'
'Oh. Thirteenth and The Stem.'
'Near that bar, isn't it?'
'What bar?'
'The Pub. The bar where Samalson might have lost the glasses. The Pub. That was
on North Thirteenth and Amberly.'
'You think there's a connexion?' Hawes asked.
'Well,' Carella said, 'if the guy ate at the Jo-George Diner, maybe he stopped
for a drink at The Pub down the street. Maybe that's where he found Samalson's
binoculars.'
'Where does that lead us?'
'Noplace,' Carella admitted. 'But maybe it rounds out the picture.' He shrugged.
'I'm just batting it around.'
'Yeah,' Hawes said.
It was 7.40 p.m.
'This guy at the diner couldn't identify it, though, huh? The picture?' Meyer
asked.
'No. It was a bum lead. All George wanted to talk about was how much he loved
his partner, Jo. A son to him, that kind of kick. George is an orphan, all alone
in the world. He's attached himself to this kid.'
'Kid?' Carella asked.
'Well, he's thirty-four. But that's a kid to George. George is fifty-six.'
'Funny partnership,' Carella said.
'They met a long time ago.'
'The usual partnership set-up?'
'What do you mean?'
'In case of death, where there are no relatives, the surviving partner gets the
business.'
'I suppose so,' Hawes said. 'Yes. George mentioned that it was the usual


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