/ Language: English / Genre:det_crime, / Series: Steve Winslow

The Innocent Woman

Parnell Hall

Parnell Hall

The Innocent Woman


Steve Winslow frowned. “What’s the charge?”

Tracy Garvin pushed the long blonde hair off her forehead. “That’s not the point.”

“It may not be the point, but it’s certainly relevant. What’s the charge?”

“You have to understand,” Tracy said. “This is a respectable young woman. It’s hard to imagine her being accused of anything. I think as soon as you see her, you’ll agree that-”

“What’s the charge?”

Tracy took a breath. “Petty theft.”

Steve smiled. “I’m not surprised.”


“If it were serious, you’d have said so. The more you stalled, the more trivial it had to be.”

“If you’ll just talk to her,” Tracy said.

“About a petty theft?”

“That’s not the point.”

“So you say,” Steve said. He leaned back in his desk chair, cocked his head. “Tracy, one of your chief jobs as my confidential secretary is to keep stuff like this from crossing my desk. I don’t have a normal law practice. I’m not looking for clients. If an offer I can’t refuse comes along, fine. But aside from that I have only one client. I’m administering Sheila Benton’s trust fund. Not a particularly demanding job, but mine own. I am not actively seeking trail work. Particularly a case involving petty theft.”

Tracy Garvin took her large round framed glasses off, folded them up, put her hands on her hips.

“Uh oh,” Steve said. “The glasses off routine? I’m guess I’m in trouble now.”

“Damn right you are,” Tracy said. “I don’t need a lecture on your law practice. I mean, give me a break. It’s me, Tracy. I know what you do and don’t do.”

“Then you know I wouldn’t touch this.”

“You took the Kelly Blaine case.”

“That was different.”

“How was it different?”

“She was naked.”

Tracy’s eyes blazed.

Steve held up his hand. “Sorry. Withdrawn. I don’t want to get into it. The point it, that case was unusual.”

“How do you know this one isn’t?”

“A petty theft?”

“All right, look,” Tracy said. “You say my job’s to listen and weed ’em out. Well, I listened and I’m bringing you this. If you don’t trust my judgment, what’s the point?”

Steve sighed. “All right, what’s the case?”

“I’d rather you heard it from her.”

Steve grinned. “I’m sure you would. If I’m going to see her, I want the background first. What’s the basis of the charge? What is it she supposedly stole?”


“From whom?”

“Her employer.”

“And how was this alleged theft accomplished?

“She’s accused of taking money out of petty cash.”

“The petty theft of petty cash,” Steve said. “Great. And you’d like me to get this woman out of jail?”

“She’s not in jail. She’s in the outer office.”

“She’s not in jail?”

“You know that,” Tracy said impatiently. “I told you she was here to see you.”

“Right,” Steve said. “Sometimes attorneys ask a question to which they know the answer just to make a point. So, I’m not dropping everything to get this young woman out of jail-she’s not in jail. Tell me, when did this crime occur?”

“About a month ago.”

“Is that when she was arrested?”

“That’s right.”

“She’s been arraigned for petty theft?”

“Yes, she has.”

“What was the disposition of the case?”

“She was bound over for trial and released on her own recognizance.”

“Why doesn’t she have a lawyer?”

Tracy hesitated a moment. “She has a lawyer.”

Steve’s eyes widened. “Oh?”

“A court appointed lawyer. She had no money to hire one, so court assigned counsel.”

“Really?” Steve said. “So, at her arraignment the judge bound her over for trial, released her on her own recognizance and assigned her counsel. Am I to assume he also set a court date?”

“Yes, he did.”

“And when might that be?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

Steve’s grin became broader. “So,” he said. “The young woman is charged with petty theft. She’s been arrested, arraigned, given a court date and the trial starts tomorrow. She has a court appointed attorney representing her, and she has no money with which to hire any other. And you would like me to hear her case?”

“That’s right.”

Steve Winslow shook his head. “I can’t beat logic like that, Tracy. This is almost irresistible. By all means, show the young woman in.”


Amy Dearborn was an attractive young woman, with short dark hair, curled under and framing a face that at first glance appeared as innocent as a newborn babe.

All except the eyes, which were calculating and shrewd.

For Steve Winslow, who had grown adept at sizing up prospective jurors, that was his first impression-that Amy Dearborn was a young lady motivated by self-interest, and perfectly capable of taking care of herself.

She wasn’t one to mince words, either. “You don’t look like a lawyer.”

Steve Winslow smiled. Indeed he didn’t. He and Tracy both wore jeans around the office, since they had no clients to impress. Today he was also wearing sneakers, blue T-shirt, and brown corduroy jacket. That, coupled with his shoulder length hair, didn’t really conjure up the image of a lawyer.

“Then we’re even,” Steve said. “You don’t look that much like a thief.”

Amy Dearborn’s chin came up. “If you’re a lawyer, we’re not even,” she said. “Because I’m not a thief.”

“I understand,” Steve said. “Why don’t you tell me about it?”

“Nothing much to tell,” Amy said. “My boss says I took some money and I didn’t.”

“Some details might help,” Steve said. “For starters, who’s your boss?”

“I work for F. L. Jewelry. On 47th Street.” She jerked her thumb. “Just on the next block.”

“What’s F. L. stand for?”

“Fletcher and Lowery.”

“They’re partners?”

“That’s right.”

“Which one is accusing you?”



“Mr. Fletcher.”

“Frank, is it?”

Amy’s eyes narrowed. “No, it isn’t. It’s a small firm. Everyone’s on a first name basis.”

“I see.”

“There’s nothing between me and Frank Fletcher.”

“I never said there was.”

“Don’t give me that. You said, Frank, is it? Implying there was something going on. Well, there isn’t. And I resent the implication.”

“Noted,” Steve said. “May I assume the same is true of Mr. Lowery?”

Her eyes widened. “Marv? Are you kidding? Of course not.”

“I see,” Steve said.

Her face darkened. “Just what the hell’s going on here? I’m accused of a crime. All you can think of is sex.”

“I’m sorry if I gave that impression,” Steve said. “But in any crime, the basis is the relationship of the people involved. So if you don’t mind, could you tell me something about these two men?”

She took a breath. “Marvin Lowery’s in his forties. He has a wife and, I think, three children. He’s always been a perfect gentleman, never made a pass at me, if that’s the way your mind’s running.

“Frank Fletcher’s, a little younger, say in his thirties. He’s unmarried and he’s asked me out a couple of times. I didn’t go.”

“Why not?”

“I happened to be dating someone at the time.” Amy Dearborn took a breath. “Now, if you’re through with my personal life, would you mind if we talked about the case?”

Steve Winslow shot an amused glance at Tracy Garvin. “Not at all,” he said. “Why don’t you tell me about it?”

“There isn’t much to tell. I came to work one day last month. Monday morning. There was a man in the office.”

“A man?”

“A detective.”

“Police or private?”

“Private. I didn’t know it at the time. The man flashed an I.D. at me, asked me if I was Amy Dearborn. When I said I was, he asked me to empty my purse.”

“Did you?”

“I did not. I asked Frank and Marv what the hell was going on. Frank said there’d been a robbery. Marv said he knew I didn’t do it, but would I please cooperate with the detective and help clear it up.”

“Did they tell you what had been stolen?”

“Not then.”

“What did you do?”

“I emptied my purse.”

“What happened then?”

“The detective went through my billfold. I had eighty some dollars in it, mostly twenties. The detective whipped out a notebook, started comparing the twenties to that. He whistled, called Frank over, Frank took a look and called the cops. They came and arrested me.”

“On what grounds?”

“Two of the twenty dollar bills from my purse matched the serial numbers the detective had written in his notebook.”

“And the detective had planted those bills in the petty cash drawer?”

“That’s right?”

“When was that done?”

“Friday afternoon. I’m accused of taking a hundred dollars out of petty cash when I left Friday night. The forty dollars I had Monday was supposedly what I had left.”

“I see,” Steve said. “On the basis of that you’ve been bound over for trial?”

“That’s right.”

“That’s tomorrow morning?”

“Yes, it is.”

“I believe you have counsel? A court appointed lawyer?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Then why do you need me?”

“Because I don’t trust my lawyer.”

Steve Winslow put up his hand. “Just a minute. That’s what I was afraid of. Let me tell you, it’s perfectly natural not to trust a court appointed lawyer. Happens all the time. But just because a lawyer’s doing pro bono work doesn’t mean he isn’t any good. I’ve done it myself. So I could just as easily be that lawyer you don’t trust. You see what I mean?”

Amy shook her head impatiently. “Don’t be dumb. I’m not a prejudiced moron. I was perfectly happy with my lawyer up until this morning.”

“What happened then?”

“He called me up. I thought it was just to prepare me for court tomorrow. But no. Seems he’d had a call from the A.D.A.”


“Yeah,” Amy said. “My lawyer’s all pleased with himself. Said we wouldn’t have to go to trial at all. The prosecution was willing to settle.”

“For what?”

“Plead guilty to a misdemeanor and they let me off with a thirty day suspended sentence, no probation, no fine.”

“I see,” Steve said. “Miss Dearborn, why are you here?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You have a very capable attorney who’s gotten you a very advantageous deal. The attorney isn’t costing you a dime. The deal isn’t costing you a dime. And here you are, trying to hire me. I don’t work for nothing. Even if you had the money to retain me-which you don’t-I’d be hard pressed to come up with a better deal than you already have. All in all, I don’t see why you don’t take it and tell yourself you lucked out.”

Amy’s eyes blazed. “Oh, is that your opinion? Great deal, huh? Gee, I thought you’d be different. Guess not. You know the problem with the deal? I didn’t do it. I didn’t take the money. Now, maybe it would make everybody’s life a lot easier if I just said I did. But why should I? And why should I be grateful that someone’s not gonna fine me and send me to jail? What sort of bullshit is that? If I lie and say I’m guilty, I’ll be forgiven and I won’t be punished? Great. I’ll have a nice blot on my record. Have a hell of a time getting another job. Unless I lie on the application, say I’ve never been convicted. That would be pretty neat, huh? Two lies adding up to the truth. Until they find out about it and I’m out on my ear.”

Amy paused for breath, looked up at Steve Winslow. “Well, how about it,” she said. “Is that what you think I should do.”

Steve sighed. “No, I guess not.” He chuckled, shook his head ruefully. “Oh dear, what a mess. It appears the only stumbling block here is you’re innocent.” He shrugged. “Too bad. Be a hell of a lot easier if you were guilty.”


Judge Dalrymple could feel a headache coming on. He looked down at A.D.A. Pearson and frowned. He had understood this matter was going to be settled. Yet here before him stood the prosecutor. And at the defense table sat the defendant, with not one but two attorneys, her regular court appointed lawyer and a long haired young man in corduroy jacket and jeans.

Judge Dalrymple rubbed his brow. “People vs. Amy Dearborn,” he said. “Mr. Pearson. Do I understand you are ready to proceed?”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

“Is the defense ready?”

Amy Dearborn’s lawyer, a clean cut, earnest-looking young man stood up. “Your Honor, I am as you know the attorney appointed by the court to represent Miss Dearborn. At this time I ask to be relieved of that responsibility.”

“On what grounds?”

“Miss Dearborn no longer wishes my services. She has discharged me and retained another attorney.”

“And who would that be?”

“Mr. Steve Winslow, present here in court.”

“I see,” Judge Dalrymple said. “Miss Dearborn?”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

“Have you heard what your attorney said?”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

“Is what he said substantially true?”

“Yes it is, Your Honor.”

“You no longer wish him to function as your attorney?”

“No, Your Honor.”

“You wish to be represented by Mr. Steve Winslow?”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

“Very well,”,Judge Dalrymple said. “You are excused.”

The attorney nodded his thanks, gathered up his briefcase, and left.

Judge Dalrymple smiled. Maybe this wasn’t so bad/after all. “Mr. Winslow,” he said. “May I ask when the defendant first approached you in this matter?”

“Yesterday afternoon.”

“I see. I would assume you would need time to prepare. Under the circumstances I would be inclined to grant any reasonable continuance you might ask.”

“I don’t want a continuance, Your Honor.”

Judge Dalrymple frowned. “You don’t?”

“The defendant has been accused of a crime. There is no foundation for the charge whatsoever, and I see no reason for her to walk around with a cloud over her head. I want her vindicated now. The defense position is, call the jury and let’s go.”

The dull ache behind Judge Dalrymple’s temple was becoming more pronounced. He turned to the prosecutor. “Mr. Pearson?”

The A.D.A. frowned. “Your Honor, I had anticipated the defense would want a continuance.”

“Well, they don’t,” Judge Dalrymple said shortly. “So let’s get on with it. Bailiff, bring in the jurors and let’s go.”

There was a brief delay while fifty prospective jurors were brought up from the assembly room downstairs, ushered in, and seated on the benches in the back of the courtroom.

At the defense table. Amy Dearborn turned to look. She whispered to Steve Winslow, “So many. Why so many?”

“We need sixteen jurors,” Steve told her. “Twelve regular jurors and four alternates. They expect the prosecutor and me to fight over them, throw most of them out, trying to get people favorable to our side. It’s a long process.” He jerked his thumb. “They don’t even expect to fill the jury from what they’ve got back there.”

Amy frowned. “You mean it could take days?”


“That’s awful.”

“Don’t worry. I won’t let it.”

When the jurors had been seated the bailiff shuffled up their ballots, and drew sixteen at random, filling the jury box. As the jurors took their places, the bailiff attached their ballots to a rectangular board which was numbered according to the seats in the box. When he was finished, A.D.A. Pearson took the board, approached the jury box. Referring to the board, Pearson addressed each juror by name, asking them personal questions about their education, their jobs, their marital status, their hobbies, their likes, their dislikes, and finally their opinions about crime in general and theft in particular.

It was a grueling examination and took most of the morning.

When Pearson had finished, Judge Dalrymple looked at the clock. “Mr. Winslow,” he said. “It is only a half hour before lunch. Would you care to break now and resume at two o’clock? If you begin now, I’m afraid I’ll have to interrupt your examination.”

“No problem, Your Honor,” Steve said. “I wouldn’t want to hold anyone up. I’m sure a half hour will be quite sufficient. Let’s get on with it.”

Judge Dalrymple frowned. Rubbed his head.

A.D.A. Pearson, quite surprised, handed Steve the board with the ballots.

“Thanks,” Steve said. “But I won’t be needing that.” He turned, walked to the juror box and smiled at juror number four. “Mr. Finley,” he said. “How are you?”

Finley, a middle aged man with bifocals who had given his occupation as librarian, smiled back. “Fine, thank you.”

“Mr. Finley,” Steve said. “I don’t want to impose on you with a lot of questions. I have only one real concern. And that is that this defendant gets a fair trial. And I’m sure you feel the same way.”

“Absolutely,” Finley said.

“Fine,” Steve said. “So the way I see it, the only real question is whether you’re prejudiced in this matter.”

Finley frowned. “I beg your pardon?”

“Prejudiced,” Steve said. “The prefix pre- and the word judge. To judge before. Have you judged this case before you heard it?”

“Certainly not,” Finley said.

Steve held up his hand. “Don’t be too sure. I want you to keep an open mind. Be totally honest here. As you sit here now, have you formed any opinion about the guilt or innocence of this defendant?”

“No, I have not,” Finley said.

“You have no presumption whatsoever about her guilt or innocence? She might be innocent or she might be guilty, you simply don’t know?”

“That’s right.”

“Thank you, Mr. Finley,” Steve said. He spread his arms. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Is there any one of you who would answer these questions any differently than Mr. Finley? If so, please raise your hand.”

No hands went up.

“None at all?” Steve said. “Is that right? None of you at the present time have any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of this particular defendant? If you do, please tell me now.”

Steve paused. Waited. “Fine,” he said. “Thank you very much.” He turned back to the bench. “Your Honor,” he said, “the entire jury is unacceptable. I ask that they be dismissed for cause.”

Judge Dalrymple blinked.

A dull murmur broke out in the courtroom, first surprised, then angry. As it grew in volume, Judge Dalrymple banged the gavel. He noted the pain had shifted behind his eyes.

“I beg your pardon?” he said.

“I ask that the jury be dismissed for cause.”

“On what grounds?”

“They have no opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Whereas by law the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Not one of these jurors is willing to grant her that presumption of innocence. They have no opinion whatsoever. Even before they’ve heard a shred of evidence, they think she’s equally likely to be guilty. They’re clearly unacceptable.”

A.D.A. Pearson was on his feet. “Oh, Your Honor,” he said. “I’ve seen stunts like this in law school, but this is the first time I’ve seen one in open court. That’s absurd.”

“That may be,” Judge Dalrymple said. “But it happens to be the law.”

“But, Your Honor,” Pearson said in exasperation. “The jurors don’t believe that. They were tricked into saying it.”

“I beg your pardon, Your Honor,” Steve Winslow said. “But I must object to the prosecutor stating what these jurors do or do not think.”

“Exactly,” Judge Dalrymple said. “Mr. Pearson, you should know better.”

Pearson held up his hand. “I apologize, Your Honor. I retract that. Of course the jurors think for themselves. All I’m saying is counsel has manipulated them into the present position. They were given the information in a manner calculated to confuse. It was intentional. And then to say they’re unacceptable as a result of that-it’s absurd.”

Steve Winslow raised his eyebrows. “Are you saying these jurors are acceptable?”

“Of course they are.”

“Each and every one?”

“Each and every one.”

“Well,” Steve said. “That’s certainly emphatic. In view of that, I think I should reconsider. Your Honor, I withdraw my objection to the jury. Instead, I have a few more questions.”

Steve Winslow turned back to the jury box, where sixteen faces regarded him with suspicion.

Steve smiled. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you have every right to be angry. You were indeed tricked. What I told you about having no opinion as to guilt or innocence sounded good, but it wasn’t. I did that to make a point.”

Steve turned, pointed to Pearson. “During the course of the trial, the prosecutor is going to tell you that my client took money from her employer. And you know what? He’s going to make it sound good. He’s going to make it sound great. You’re going to listen to him and think, that must be true.”

Steve smiled. “But wait a minute. You’re on to us now. You know better. Just because a lawyer says something, doesn’t make it right. Even if it sounds good. It’s a lawyer’s job to make it sound good. That’s what we do.”

Steve pointed. “So, don’t listen to him.” He shrugged, smiled. “And don’t listen to me.” He shook his head. “What we have to say isn’t important.”

Steve held up one finger, then pointed to the witness stand. “But listen to them. Listen to the witnesses. The testimony of the witnesses is all that matters here. The rest of this stuff doesn’t matter.”

Steve stopped, smiled. “Now, I apologize for all this. But one thing is absolutely true.” Steve pointed. “The defendant is innocent until proven guilty. That’s the most important concept of law. It’s one I’m sure you all know. It’s one I’m sure you would have no problem with if I hadn’t confused you.

“Which is why I must ask you-is there anyone of you who is so angry with me that you could not be impartial in this case, that you would let it affect your feelings toward this defendant? If so, please raise your hand.”

No hands went up.

“Good,” Steve said. “And is there anyone now who doesn’t understand the concept of innocent until proven guilty? Is there anyone now who is not able to presume this defendant innocent at the present time? Again, please raise your hand.”

No hands went up.

Steve smiled. “Thank you very much.” He turned back to the bench. “Your Honor, I find I was mistaken. This jury is entirely acceptable. I have no objection whatsoever.”

Judge Dalrymple frowned. “You have no challenges for cause?”

“No, Your Honor. And no preemptory challenges either. The entire jury is acceptable. Let’s swear them in and start the case.”

A.D.A. Pearson rose to his feet. “Your Honor, Your Honor,” he said. “I haven’t passed for cause.”

“Oh?” Steve Winslow. “Just a moment ago you said the entire jury was acceptable, each and every one.”

“I was speaking generally.”

“Generally?” Steve said. “Each and every one isn’t generally. But I beg your pardon.” Steve stepped back and indicated the jury. “If you have challenges, please say so. These jurors have assured me they can all be fair. Would you please tell us which of them you feel aren’t capable of doing so?”

A.D.A. Pearson opened his mouth, then closed it again. He recognized a no win situation when he saw one. A minute ago Steve Winslow was the bad guy who’d tricked the jury. And now those same jurors were looking at him with mistrust. It was hard to take.

Pearson took a breath. “I didn’t say I had objections to anyone on this jury,” he said. “I merely said I hadn’t passed for cause. And I objected to your doing it for me. I said the jury was entirely satisfactory, and it is entirely satisfactory. I have no challenges either.”

He turned to the bench. “Pass for cause, Your Honor. And I have no preemptories either. The jury may be sworn.”

Judge Dalrymple nodded and grimaced. It just wasn’t his day. He swore the jury in, rubbed his aching head and broke for lunch.


For his first witness, A.D.A. Pearson called Frank Fletcher, who testified that he and Marvin Lowery had been partners in F.L. Jewelry for the past seven years.

“And are you acquainted with the defendant, Amy Dearborn?”

“Yes, I am.”

“In what capacity do you know her?”

“She was my employee.”

“When did you hire her?”

“Approximately six months ago.”

“Is she still in your employ?”

“She is not.”

“When did she leave your employ?”

“On May 3rd.”

“What day of the week was that?”

“It was a Monday.”

“And how did she come to leave your employ?”

“I fired her.”

“I see,” Pearson said. “And can you tell us the circumstances surrounding that firing?”

“Certainly,” Fletcher said. He shifted position on the witness stand. “For some time I’d been noticing shortages in the petty cash drawer.”

“One moment,” Pearson said. “For the jurors benefit, could you please tell us briefly about your business and how you operate?”

“Yes, of course. F.L. Jewelry is a wholesale and retail jewelry outlet. We don’t manufacture, we buy and sell. In that regard we’re a very small operation. Just myself and my partner, Marvin Lowery. And one secretary.”

“Miss Dearborn?”

“That’s right.”

“Go on. You mentioned a shortage in the petty cash drawer.”

“Yes. For some time I’d been aware of a discrepancy between what there should have been there and what there was.”

“In what amounts?”

“Anywhere from twenty to a hundred dollars.”

“And just how was petty cash handled?”

“As I say, it’s a small concern. Just the two of us and Miss Dearborn. The petty cash was kept in a cash box in Miss Dearborn’s desk. That’s what I’m referring to when I say the petty cash drawer.”

“How much money was kept in this box?”

“It varied, of course. But in the neighborhood of five hundred dollars.”

“I see. And what did you do when you discovered sums were missing?”

“I told my partner.”

“Mr. Lowery?”

“That’s right.”

“And what did you do.”

“We talked it over-”

Pearson held up his hand. “Fine. Don’t tell us what was said. But after your conversation, what did you do?”

“We hired a private detective.”

“Who actually hired him?”

“I did.”

“And who did you hire?”

“Samuel Macklin. Of the Macklin Detective Agency.”

“How did you hire him? Call him on the phone? Go to his office?”

“I called him on the phone, made an appointment and went to his office.”

“What did you tell him on that occasion?”

“I explained the situation. I told him there’d been shortages in our petty cash drawer and I wanted to get to the bottom of it.”

Pearson held up his hand. “Fine. Now, never mind what Mr. Macklin told you. What did he do?”

“He came to our office.”

“When was that?”

“Friday, April 30th.”

“At what time?”

“Twelve-thirty in the afternoon.”

“Who was in the office at the time?”

“Myself and Mr. Lowery.”

“Where was the defendant, Miss Dearborn?”

“She had gone out to lunch.”

“Was that a coincidence?”

“No, it was not. I asked Mr. Macklin to come while Miss Dearborn was out to lunch.”

“And why was that?”

“So she wouldn’t know what we were doing.”

“I see. And what were you doing? What did Mr. Macklin do when he came to your office?”

“According to his instructions, I’d been to the bank that morning and taken out five hundred dollars in twenty dollar bills. When Mr. Macklin came to the office, he took out a notebook and wrote down the serial numbers of those bills. Then he gave them back to me and I put them in the petty cash drawer.”

“What happened then?”

“Mr. Macklin left the office. Miss Dearborn came back from lunch. We conducted business as usual for the rest of the afternoon.”

“What happened a closing time?”

“Mr. Lowery and I left the office at five o’clock.”

“Was that normal?”

“Yes, it was. We always go home then.”

“What about Miss Dearborn?”

“She stays on the phones till five-thirty.”

“Every night?”

“That’s right.”

“She stays there alone?”

“Yes, she does.”

“What happens at five-thirty?”

“She closes up the office and goes home.”

“And that’s what she did on the night in question, April 30th?”

Frank Fletcher smiled. “I can’t speak for what she did. All I know is Mr. Lowery and I left the office at five o’clock.”

“Leaving her alone in the office?”

“That’s right.”

“And this was Friday night?”


“Is your office open over the weekend?”

“No, it is not.”

“When did it open again?”

“Monday morning.”

“At what time?”

“We normally open at nine. This Monday we were there at eight-thirty.”

“Eight-thirty in the morning.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And why was that?”

“We got there early to meet Mr. Macklin.”

“He came to your office?”

“Yes, he did.”

“And what happened on that occasion?”

“We met him at eight-thirty in the morning outside our office building.”

“And where is that, by the way?”

“West 47th Street. Between Sixth and Seventh Avenue.”

“All right. You met him outside the building. And what did you do then?”

“We went up and unlocked the office?”

“You had not been in before?”

“That morning? No.”

“When was the last time you’d been in the office?”

“When we’d left Friday night.”

“You all went up together and unlocked the door?”

“That’s right.”

“And what did you do then?”

“I took the cash box out of the petty cash drawer.”

“In Miss Dearborn’s desk?”

“That’s right.”

“What did you do then?”

“I examined the contents.”

“And what did you find?”

“There was a hundred dollars missing.”

“A hundred dollars?”

“That’s right. Five of the twenty dollar bills were gone.”

“I see. And what did you do then?”

“We waited for Miss Dearborn to come in to work.”

“What time did she come in?”

“Nine o’clock.”

“What happened then?”

“Mr. Macklin identified himself, showed Miss Dearborn his I.D., and asked her to empty her purse.”

“What did Miss Dearborn do?”

“She seemed somewhat flustered. She-”

“One moment,” Judge Dalrymple said. He looked down at the defense table where Steve Winslow sat, looking unconcerned and somewhat bored, almost as if he weren’t paying attention. Judge Dalrymple cleared his throat. “So far there has been no objection from the defense. Still, if the witness would avoid giving his opinion as to what the defendant thought or felt.”

“Yes. Sorry, Your Honor,” Frank Fletcher said. “Ah…Could you repeat the question?”

“What did the defendant do when Mr. Macklin asked her to empty her purse? Never mind what you thought or felt-just confine yourself to what she said and did.”

“Right. Well, as I recall, she asked me what was going on. Am I allowed to say that? And I told her there’d been a robbery and Mr. Macklin was investigating it, and I asked her if she’d cooperate with him in clearing the matter up.”

“What happened then?”

“She withdrew her objection and allowed him to look in her purse.”

“Did he find anything significant?”

“Yes, he did.”

“What was that?”

“She had some twenty dollar bills in her change purse. Mr. Macklin took them and compared them to the list of serial numbers he had written down.”

“With what result?”

“Two of the bills were on the list.”

“The serial numbers matched?”

“Yes, they did.”

“What did you do then?”

“I called the police. They came and arrested Miss Dearborn.”

A.D.A. Pearson smiled. “Thank you, Mr. Fletcher. That’s all.”

Judge Dalrymple looked over at the defense table where Amy Dearborn’s long haired lawyer sat looking bored as ever. “Does the defense wish to cross-examine?”

Steve Winslow sighed. “I have one or two questions, Your Honor.” He got to his feet, stretched, crossed in to the witness stand. He frowned, rubbed his head. “Mr. Fletcher, correct me if I’m wrong. This happened on May 3rd?”

“Yes, it did.”

“That was the day you called the police and they arrested Miss Dearborn?”

“That’s right.”

“Did you also mention May 3rd as the day Miss Dearborn left your employ?”

“Yes, I did.”

“That was her last day with your firm?”

“Yes, it was.”

“I believe you said you fired her, is that right?”

“Yes, I did.”

Why did you fire her?”

Frank Fletcher was a thin-faced man with a rather arrogant quality when he smiled. He did so now. “You want me to answer that?”

“I certainly do.”

“I fired her for stealing.”

“I see.” Steve Winslow nodded gravely. He turned, walked over to the jury box. Turned back to the witness. “Mr. Fletcher, you weren’t here for jury selection. But we had quite a discussion of the concept of innocent until proven guilty. Are you familiar with that concept?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Then how can you have fired the defendant for theft when she has not been found guilty of theft?”

Frank Fletcher drew himself up. “I consider that a mere formality.”

“Formality?” Steve said. “You consider our judicial system a mere formality?”

“Objection, Your Honor,” Pearson said. “Incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial. Let counsel stick to the facts.”

“Sustained,” Judge Dalrymple snapped. “Mr. Winslow, try to move it along.”

“Yes, Your Honor,” Steve said. As if taking his cue from the judge’s admonition, he picked up the pace. “The fact is, you believe the defendant is guilty of theft?”

“Yes, I do.”

“You base that belief on the fact she had two of the twenty dollar bills in her possession?”

“Yes. And the fact she was alone in the office Friday night and had the opportunity to take them.”

“You consider that conclusive?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Beyond any reasonable doubt?”

“That’s right.”

“Well, let me see if I can change your mind,” Steve said. “You stated that you withdrew the twenty dollar bills from the bank and placed them in the cash drawer?”

“That’s right.”

“Before you did so, you gave the bills to your detective, Mr. Macklin. He wrote down the serial numbers. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Did he put the bills in the cash box.”

“No. I did.”

“After he wrote down the serial numbers, he returned the bills to you and you put them in the cash drawer?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And what was the amount you put in the cash drawer?”

“Five hundred dollars.”

“In twenty dollar bills?”

“That’s right.”

“At five per hundred, that would be twenty-five twenty dollar bills. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Mr. Macklin wrote twenty-five serial numbers in his notebook?”

“Ah…” Frank Fletcher hesitated. “To the best of my knowledge, he did. I didn’t actually count them. Mr. Macklin should speak for himself. But I understand the notebook is here in court. You can count them if you want.”

“I most certainly will,” Steve Winslow said. “But to the best of your knowledge, Mr. Macklin wrote the numbers of all those bills in his notebook?”

“Yes, he did.”

“And the amount you put in the cash box was five hundred dollars?”

“Yes, it was.”

“When was that done?”

“Approximately twelve-thirty on Friday afternoon.”

“And what was the date again?”

“April 30th.”

“That was the same day you withdrew the money from the bank?”

“Yes, it was.”

“How did you withdraw the money?”

Frank Fletcher frowned. “I beg your pardon?”

“I mean, did you write a check? Did you go to a cash machine? How did you get the twenty dollar bills?”

“I wrote a check.”

“On what bank?”

“Chase Manhattan.”

“You wrote it that day?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Was that a company check or a personal check?”

“A company check, of course.”

“An F. L. Jewelry check?”

“That’s right.”

“Well,” Steve said. “If I understand your testimony correctly, if we were to examine your company bank records, we would find a company check for five hundred dollars made out to cash, signed by you, dated and cashed on April 30th. Is that right?”

Frank Fletcher took a breath. “Not exactly,” he said.

“Oh?” Steve said. “And why is that?”

“I didn’t say I wrote a check for five hundred dollars.”

“You didn’t? I’m sorry. I guess I misunderstood you. Didn’t you say you took out five hundred dollars from the bank?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And didn’t you say you wrote a check?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Then please explain yourself. What do you mean when you say you didn’t write a check for five hundred dollars?”

“That wasn’t the amount of the check.”

“Oh? And why is that?”

“Because that wasn’t all the money I needed at the time.”

“Are you saying you wrote a larger check than five hundred dollars?”

“Yes, of course.”

“How large a check did you write?”

“As I recall, I wrote a check for eight hundred dollars.”

“Eight hundred dollars?”

“That’s right.”

“And what was the extra three hundred dollars for?”

“Objection, Your Honor,” Pearson said. “Incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.”

“Overruled,” Judge Dalrymple said. “Witness will answer.”

“It was Friday. Payday. The three hundred dollars was for the payroll.”

“Payroll?” Steve said.

“That’s right.”

Steve smiled. “Mr. Fletcher, as I recall, there are only three people in your company. Yourself, Mr. Lowery and Miss Dearborn. Are those the people on your payroll?”

“Yes, they are.”

“You paid them all with three hundred dollars?”

“Certainly not,” Frank Fletcher said. “Mr. Lowery and I take our salary in the form of checks. Miss Dearborn was paid in cash.”

“The three hundred dollars was for Miss Dearborn?”

“That’s right.”

“That was her salary? Three hundred dollars a week?”

“Yes, it was.”

“And did you pay her her salary that afternoon?”

“Yes, I did.”

“You paid her three hundred dollars in cash?”

“That’s right.”

“And the three hundred dollars you paid her-was that in the form of twenty dollar bills?”

“Yes, it was.”

“So, when you went to the bank you took out eight hundred dollars in twenty dollar bills?”

“That’s right.”

“Of that, five hundred you gave to Mr. Macklin to write the serial numbers down, and three hundred you gave to Miss Dearborn for her weekly salary. Is that right?”

“That’s right.”

“Referring to the money you gave to Mr. Macklin-you didn’t write the serial numbers down from those bills?”

“No, I did not.”

“But you were there when he did, is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“You watched him do it?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And he was the one who wrote the serial numbers down?”

“Yes, he was.”

“Was he the one who put the money in the cash box?”

“No, he wasn’t. I did that.”

“You did so yourself?”

“Yes, I did.”

“You’re speaking now of your own personal knowledge. When you say the money was put in the cash drawer, you’re not taking Mr. Macklin’s word for it. And you’re not testifying to something Mr. Macklin did. You’re saying that you yourself placed that money in the cash box and put the cash box in the cash drawer?”

“That’s right.”

“And when did you do that?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“When did you put the money in the cash box and put the cash box in the cash drawer?”

“Right then.”

“Right when?”

“The time we’re talking about. On the lunch hour. Friday. April 30th. When Mr. Macklin was in our office.”

“I see,” Steve said. “And before the defendant returned from lunch?”

“Yes, of course.”

“And did Mr. Macklin leave before she returned from lunch?”

“Yes, he did.”

“And why was that?”

“Like I said. We didn’t want her to know he was there.”

“Now, when the defendant returned from lunch-you didn’t fire her that afternoon?”

“No. Of course not.”

“You fired her the following Monday. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“She continued to work for the rest of the day? You let her go on working that afternoon just as if nothing had happened?”

“Yes, we did.”

“And you paid her her salary?”

“Yes, I did.”

“When did you pay her?”

“At the end of the day. Same as usual.”

“Just before you left work?”

“That’s right.”

“Well,” Steve said. “If I understand your testimony correctly, on Friday, April 30th, you went to the bank and took out eight hundred dollars in twenty dollar bills. You gave five hundred of that to Mr. Macklin. He wrote down the serial numbers. Mr. Macklin returned the five hundred dollars to you, leaving you once again with eight hundred dollars. Of that eight hundred dollars you put five hundred in the petty cash box in the petty cash drawer and gave three hundred to the defendant for her salary. Is that right?”

“No, it is not right,” A.D.A. Pearson cried angrily, lunging to his feet. “Objection, Your Honor!”

“Let’s have a sidebar,” Judge Dalrymple said. He rubbed his head, got down from his bench and met the lawyers and court reporter off to one side, where they could confer in low tones out of earshot of the jury. When the reporter was set up to take notes, Judge Dalrymple said, “All right, what’s the objection?”

“I object to counsel summarizing the witness’ testimony.”

Judge Dalrymple shook his head. “He’s merely asking him if certain things he’s testified to are true.”

“I further object on the grounds he’s assuming facts not in evidence.”

“What facts?”

Pearson took a breath. “Well,” he said. “Well, the way he’s phrasing it. That Macklin gave him back five hundred dollars, then he had eight hundred dollars of which he put five hundred in the cash drawer and gave three hundred to the defendant.”

“Which is exactly what happened,” Judge Dalrymple said, irritably. “Now you may not like it, but those happen to be the facts. If you don’t like the slant counsel is putting on them, bring it out on redirect. Meanwhile, the objection is overruled.”

Judge Dalrymple returned to his bench and the court reporter to his seat. A.D.A. Pearson reluctantly sat down and Steve Winslow approached the witness.

“The court reporter will read the question,” Judge Dalrymple said.

As the court reporter droned on through his long summation, Pearson realized that all he’d accomplished by his objection was emphasizing the point and allowing the jury to hear it twice. “Do you understand the question?” Steve said.

“Yes, I do.”

“Can you answer it?”

“Yes, I can,” Frank Fletcher said. “That is not what happened. I put the five hundred dollars Mr. Macklin gave me in the petty cash box.”

Steve smiled. “I understand that is your contention. But it’s not really the question I asked you. Let me make it simpler, Mr. Fletcher. How much’ money did you withdraw from the bank that day?”

“Eight hundred dollars.”

“In twenty dollar bills?”

“Objected to. Already asked and answered.”


“Yes. In twenty dollar bills.”

“You gave five hundred dollars of that money to Mr. Macklin?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Did he give you the money back?”

“Yes, he did.”

“Was that before or after you paid the defendant her salary?”

Frank Fletcher glared at Steve Winslow and did not answer.

“I’d like an answer to that, Your Honor,”

“Witness will answer the question,” Judge Dalrymple ruled.

“Was that before or after you paid Miss Dearborn her salary?”


“Later that afternoon you gave the defendant three hundred dollars?”


“In twenty dollar bills?”

“That’s right.”

“Thank you, Mr. Fletcher. No further questions.”

A.D.A. Pearson was on his feet. His exasperation was evident. “Mr. Fletcher. You stated you gave five hundred dollars to Mr. Macklin?”

“That’s right.”

“He wrote down the serial numbers and gave the money back to you?”

“Yes, he did.”

“And it was that five hundred dollars that you put in the petty cash box in the petty cash drawer?”

“Yes, it was.”

“And there’s no chance whatsoever that you gave any of those twenty dollar bills to the defendant as part of her salary?”

“Absolutely not. I put them in the petty cash drawer.”

“Each and every bill?”

“Each and every bill.”

As soon as he said the words, they echoed in A.D.A. Pearson’s brain. Each and every. Each and every bill. Each and every juror. The same phrase Steve Winslow had tripped him up on during jury selection.

And it was the echo of that phrase that triggered the realization of what he’d just done.

Steve Winslow’s cross-examination of Frank Fletcher had raised the inference that Frank Fletcher had made a mistake and paid the defendant’s salary with some of the bills Mr. Macklin had recorded the serial numbers of. But Winslow hadn’t said so. He’d never actually voiced the thought. Never put it in words.

But Pearson had. He was the one making the suggestion. Granted in a negative context, but even so. He was the one bringing it up.

It took only a split second for all of that to register in A.D.A Pearson’s mind. But in that split second he had time to glance over at the defense table to see a totally demoralizing sight.

Opposing counsel Steve Winslow, grinning broadly.


Pearson fired back with Samuel Macklin. This was a change in plans. He’d intended follow Frank Fletcher with Marvin Lowery and save the detective for last. But after Fletcher’s poor showing, Pearson felt he needed to do something right away to win the jurors back.

In this regard, Macklin was a good bet. Solid, stocky, muscular, confident and self-assured, Macklin looked exactly like what he was-an ex-cop. He took the stand and testified to his twelve years on the force and seven years as a P.I.

Pearson’s smile let the jurors see how happy he was with Samuel Macklin’s qualifications.

“Now then, Mr. Macklin,” Pearson said. “Have you ever been employed by F. L. Jewelry?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Please tell us the specifics of that employment.”

“Certainly.” Macklin reached into his jacket pocket and took out a notebook. “If I could refer to my notes?”

“Please do.”

Macklin flipped the pages. “Here we are. I was approached on April 29th by Frank Fletcher of F. L. Jewelry to investigate the disappearance of money from his company’s petty cash drawer.”

“You agreed to that?”

“I agreed to the employment in as much as he and his partner were willing to follow my instructions in the matter.”

Pearson frowned. “Just what do you mean by that, Mr. Macklin?”

Macklin drew himself up. “There were many ways to proceed in the matter. I am not merely a functionary. If Mr. Fletcher wanted me to follow some prearranged plan of his own, he was in the wrong place. The way I work, if someone has a problem, I like to analyze it and present them with a solution. If I can’t do that, I don’t want the job. I know from experience that trying to implement someone else’s plan of action is never advisable Something always comes up they didn’t plan for. Better to start from scratch and devise your own plan that covers all eventualities.”

“Which is what you did in this case?”


“And Mr. Fletcher agreed to your terms?”

“Yes, he did.”

“And what did you instruct Mr. Fletcher to do?”

“I told him to withdraw five hundred dollars from the bank in twenty dollar bills. I ascertained from him when his secretary would be out to lunch and arranged to come to his office then.”

“Which you did?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And when was that?”

“The next day. Friday, April 30th at 12:30 P.M.”

“And what happened at that time?”

“I met with Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Lowery. Mr. Fletcher gave me the five hundred dollars in twenty dollar bills. I sat at his desk and copied the serial numbers from the twenty dollar bills into my notebook.”

“Is that the same notebook that you have there?”

“Yes, it is.”

“And are the serial numbers still written in your notebook?”

“Yes, they are.”

“How many serial numbers have you written down?”

“Do you want me to count them?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Very well. One moment.” There was a pause while Macklin counted up the numbers. “There are twenty-five.”

“Twenty-five serial numbers?”

“That’s right.”

“All from twenty dollar bills?”

“Yes, of course. Five hundred dollars in twenty dollar bills.”

“Thank you. Let me have the notebook, Mr. Macklin. Your Honor, I ask that this be marked for Identification as People’s Exhibit Number One.”

“So ordered.”

There was a pause while the court reporter marked the notebook.

“Now then, Mr. Macklin,” Pearson said. “After you had written down the serial numbers, what did you do with the twenty dollar bills?”

“I gave them back to Mr. Fletcher.”

“And what did he do with them?”

“He put them in the petty cash box, and put the petty cash box in the petty cash drawer.”

“In your presence?”

“In my presence.”

“Was anyone else present at the time?”

“Yes, sir. Mr. Lowery.”

“Mr. Lowery was present when you gave the money back to Mr. Fletcher?”

“Yes, he was.”

“Mr. Lowery was present when Mr. Fletcher put the money in the petty cash box.”

“Yes, he was.”

“And the money Mr. Fletcher put in the petty cash box-was that the same money you gave back to him?”

“Yes, it was.”

“The same twenty dollar bills?”

“That is correct.”

“Mr. Fletcher didn’t put some of those twenty dollar bills aside and substitute some twenty dollar bills of his own?”

“No, he did not.”

“You’re certain on that?”


“How can you be so sure?”

“I’m a trained observer. That’s my job.”

“You saw Mr. Fletcher put the twenty dollar bills that you had given him in the petty cash drawer?”

“Yes, I did.”

Pearson smiled. “Thank you very much, Mr. Macklin. And was that the only time you were in the office of F. L. Jewelry?”

“No. I was there the next Monday.”

“Can you tell us what happened on that occasion?”

“Certainly. I met Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Lowery on the street in front of their office building at eight-thirty that morning.”

“And what happened then?”

“They went up and unlocked the office.”

“Who unlocked the office?”

“Mr. Fletcher.”

“What happened then?”

“We went in and Mr. Fletcher took the petty cash box out of the petty cash drawer. He opened it and examined the contents. I’m not allowed to tell you what he said, am I?”

“No. Only what you personally observed or did. So, never mind what Mr. Fletcher told you. But after he counted the money in the petty cash drawer, what did you do then?”

“We waited in the office till Miss Dearborn arrived.”

“And when was that?”

“Approximately nine o’clock.”

“And what happened when Miss Dearborn arrived?”

“I identified myself as a private detective and-”

“One moment. Am I to assume you had never seen her before?”

“That’s right.”

“I’m sorry. Please continue.”

“Well, like I say, I identified myself as a private detective and I asked her to empty her purse.”

“Did she do so?”

“Not at first.”

“Why was that?”

“As to why, I couldn’t tell you. The fact is, she didn’t want to open her purse. She wanted to know what was going on. Mr. Fletcher explained the situation to her-again, I understand I’m not allowed to say what he said. But he talked to her, and afterwards she agreed to let me look in her purse. I examined the money in her wallet and found she had four twenty dollar bills. I compared them to the serial numbers in my notebook.”

“With what result?”

“Two of the serial numbers matched.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“Because I have the bills right here.” Macklin reached in his jacket pocket again, took out an envelope. He pulled two bills from the envelope. “I have one bill, serial number K30914335A and another bill, serial number B80632833D.”

“Your Honor, I ask that these bills be marked for identification as Peoples’ Exhibits Two-A and Two-B.”

“So ordered.”

When the bills had been marked for identification, Pearson smiled and said, “These are the bills that you took from the wallet of the defendant on the morning of Monday, May 3rd?”

“Yes, they are.”

“And they match two of the serial numbers that you had written down in your notebook in the office on April 30th, the notebook that has been marked for identification as People’s Exhibit One?”

“Yes, they do.”

Pearson smiled. “Thank you, Mr. Macklin. That’s all.”

Steve Winslow got to his feet. “Mr. Macklin, you testified to being a trained observer, is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“I think you also testified that you saw Mr. Fletcher put the twenty dollar bills in the petty cash box, is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“He gave you the twenty dollar bills?”

“Yes, he did.”

“You wrote the serial numbers down and gave them back to him?”

“Yes, I did.”

“He took those twenty dollar bills and put them in the petty cash drawer?”

“That’s right.”

“Twenty-five twenty dollar bills?”

“That is correct.”

“You counted them?”

“He counted them and I counted them.”

“And there were twenty-five?”

“Yes, there were.”

“So when you said earlier in response to Mr. Pearson’s question that you didn’t know how many serial numbers you had written down, you would have to count them, that was incorrect?”

Macklin’s smile was somewhat superior. “Not at all,” he said. “I meant exactly what I said. I had not counted the serial numbers. Nor had I numbered them. I had counted the bills, and knew them to be twenty-five. And I had written down the serial numbers for those bills, so I could assume I had written down twenty-five numbers. But I’m not allowed to testify to what I assume. Only what I know.”

At the prosecution table, A.D.A. Pearson let the jurors see his broad grin.

“I’m glad to hear it,” Steve said. “But you know now from counting that you wrote twenty-five serial numbers in your notebook?”

“That’s right.”

“And you knew then from counting that Mr. Fletcher gave you twenty-five twenty dollar bills?”

“That’s right.”

“And it was those same bills that you wrote the serial numbers of down in your notebook?”

“That’s right.”

“And those same bills that you returned to Mr. Fletcher?”

“That’s right.”

“And those same bills that Mr. Fletcher put in the cash box and put in the desk?”

Macklin nodded. “Absolutely. The same ones.”

“And you know that because you are a trained observer, and if Mr. Fletcher had substituted any bills for the ones you’d given him, you’d have seen him do it. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

Steve Winslow nodded. “I see. Mr. Macklin, do you have x-ray vision?”

Macklin blinked. “I beg your pardon?”

“X-ray vision. You know. Like Superman. Can you see through walls?”

“Objection, Your Honor,” Pearson said. “Of all the ridiculous-”

Judge Dalrymple banged the gavel. “That will do. If you have an objection, state it in legal terms.”

“Incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.”

“It goes to his qualifications, Your Honor.”

“Nonsense,” Pearson said. “That’s a facetious question. It-”

The gavel cut him off again. “You will argue objections at the sidebar, counselor,” Judge Dalrymple snapped. “Only in this case no argument is necessary. The objection is sustained.”

“I’ll withdraw the question and ask another. Mr. Macklin, are you clairvoyant?”

“Same objection.”

“Same ruling. Mr. Winslow, if you have a point to make, please lay the groundwork first.”

“Yes, Your Honor. Mr. Macklin, I believe you stated Mr. Fletcher could not have substituted any twenty dollar bills for the ones you gave him because you’re a trained observer and you would have seen him do it. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“You also stated that when the defendant arrived for work Monday morning you identified yourself as a private detective and removed two bills from her possession. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“I believe you stated that you had to identify yourself to Miss Dearborn because she had never seen you before?”

“That’s right.”

“She didn’t see you on Friday when you wrote down the serial numbers from the bills?”

“No, of course not. She wasn’t there.”

“She wasn’t?”

“No. That was the whole point. I came while she was out to lunch.”

“And left before she returned from lunch?”

“Yes, of course.”

“And did Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Lowery leave with you?”

“No. Why would they do that?”

“So you left alone?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Well, Mr. Macklin,” Steve said. “So, when you testify that Mr. Fletcher could not have substituted any bills, because as a trained observer you would have seen him do it, is it not a fact that unless you’re clairvoyant or have x-ray vision, you would have no way of knowing whether he made such a substitution after you had left his office and before the defendant returned from lunch?”

Pearson lunged to his feet to object, but Judge Dalrymple’s banged the gavel and cut him off. Gesturing with it, Dalrymple said, “Sidebar.”

A.D.A. Pearson could hardly contain himself waiting for the court reporter to get set up. When he was finally allowed to speak, it was like opening the flood gates.

“Your Honor, Your Honor,” he said. “This is totally outrageous. It is beyond all bounds. X-ray vision. Clairvoyant. Your Honor has already ruled on those questions. And here is counsel raising them again. It’s misconduct. It constitutes contempt of court.”

Judge Dalrymple shook his head. “My ruling at the time was that no proper foundation had been laid. That no longer applies.”

“Then I object on the grounds that it’s incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial, assumes facts not in evidence, calls for a conclusion on the part of the witness and is leading and suggestive.”

“It is a hypothetical question only, Your Honor,” Steve said, “for the purpose of impeachment.”

“It is an adroitly framed question,” Judge Dalrymple said dryly, “conveying an entire argument by inference.” He took a breath. “But it happens to be legal. So the objection is overruled. Let’s get on with it.”

The attorneys resumed their positions and the court reporter read the question to the witness.

Macklin shrugged. “Obviously, I can’t answer for what happened after I left the office.”

Steve Winslow smiled. “Thank you, Mr. Macklin. That’s all.”


As Marvin Lowery took the witness stand, A.D.A. Pearson was actually rather pleased with how things had worked out..

Frank Fletcher had not made a good impression on the stand. He was too sharp and angular. Too cunning and conniving. He simply did not inspire trust.

Macklin would have been good, until he stubbed his toe by boasting about his detective prowess, laying himself wide open for the X-ray vision fiasco.

But Marvin Lowery was perfect. Middle-aged, roly-poly fat, with graying curly hair and kindly, almost twinkling eyes, the man inspired confidence. This was someone the jurors could relate to. This was someone they could trust. All in all, a good man to close with. A good anchor for the case.

Marvin Lowery was sworn in and testified with easy assurance to his position in the firm and his partnership with Mr. Fletcher.

“And were you present on Friday, April 30th, when detective Samuel Macklin came to the office?”

“Yes, I was.”

“Can you tell us what happened on that occasion?”

“Certainly. There had been shortages in petty cash. Frank and I had decided to hire a private detective.”

“When you say Frank, you mean Mr. Fletcher?”

“Yes, of course.”

“I’m sorry to interrupt. Go on.”

“Anyway, we’d decided to hire a private detective, and Frank-Mr. Fletcher-hired Samuel Macklin. Mr. Macklin came to our office.”

“On April 30th?”

“That’s right.”

“Around what time?”


“What happened then?”

“Well, Frank-Mr. Fletcher-”

“You can say Frank.”

“Thank you. Frank counted out twenty-five twenty dollar bills and handed them to Mr. Macklin. Mr. Macklin wrote down the serial numbers in his notebook.”

“What happened then?”

“Mr. Macklin gave them back, and Frank took the bills and put them in the petty cash box, and put the petty cash box in the petty cash drawer.”

“Did you see him do this?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Can you testify that it was the same bills Mr. Macklin gave him that he put in the petty cash drawer?”


“How can you be so sure?”

“Because I was paying attention. You have to understand, it was an upsetting thing. The thought that someone was stealing from us. I didn’t know if it was true, so I was particularly concerned with what was happening. I paid attention because it was important.”

Pearson nodded gravely. “I see,” he said. “Were you there when Mr. Macklin left that afternoon?”

“Yes, I was.”

“Was that before or after the defendant returned from lunch?”

“It was before.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. We didn’t want her to see him. We didn’t want her to know what was going on.”

“How long was it between the time Mr. Macklin left and the time the defendant returned from lunch?”

“I can’t be sure. I would say fifteen to twenty minutes, but that’s an approximation.”

“How do you base it?”

“Mr. Macklin got to our office around twelve-thirty. He had to write down the serial numbers on the bills. That took between five and ten minutes. When he was finished, Frank put the bills in the petty cash drawer and Mr. Macklin left. That was somewhere in the neighborhood of a quarter to one. And the defendant would have returned to the office somewhere in the neighborhood of one, when the lunch hour was over.”

“I see,” Pearson said. “And in that fifteen minute interval before the defendant returned from lunch-what were you doing then?”

“Talking to Frank.”

“The whole time?”

“Yes. The whole time.”

“Why was that?” Pearson held up his hand. “Let me rephrase that. Without telling us what Mr. Fletcher said, which would be hearsay, can you tell us in general what you were talking about.”

“Of course. About Mr. Macklin and the money and the shortage in the petty cash drawer.”

“I see. So you were with Mr. Fletcher the entire time from when Mr. Macklin left until the defendant returned from lunch?”

“That’s right.”

“During that time, did he have occasion to go near the petty cash drawer?”

“No, he did not.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. We were in his inner office. The cash drawer is in the outer office, in Miss Dearborn’s desk.”

“You were with him in his office when Miss Dearborn returned from lunch?”

“That’s right.”

“And what time did you leave the office that day?”

“Around five o’clock.”

“Was anyone with you when you left?”

“Yes. Mr. Fletcher.”

“The two of you left together?”

“That’s right.”

“Was there anyone in the office when you left?”

“Yes. Miss Dearborn. She closes up at five-thirty.”

Pearson nodded in satisfaction. “And when is the next time you returned to the office?”

“Monday morning.”

“That would be May 3rd?”

“That’s right.”

“What happened then?”

“I met Mr. Fletcher outside the office.”

“What time was that?”

“Approximately eight-thirty.”

“What did you do?”

“We waited for Mr. Macklin. He arrived about five minutes later and the three of us went up and opened the office.”

“What did you do then?”

“Looked in Miss Dearborn’s desk, took out the cash box and inspected the petty cash.”

“Who actually took out the cash box?”

“Frank. Mr. Fletcher.”

“And what did he do then?”

“He counted the money. He told us-”

Pearson held up his hand. “Huh uh, Mr. Lowery. I’m sorry, but you’re not allowed to say what he told you. But after he counted the money, what did you do?”

“I counted the money.”

“You counted it yourself?”

“Yes, I did.”

“What did you discover?”

“There was a hundred dollars missing.”

“A hundred dollars?”

“That’s right.”

“Let me be very clear about this. You determined there was a hundred dollars missing? From you own personal observation? You’re not basing that on something that Mr. Fletcher said?”

“Not at all. I counted it myself.”

“Fine. And after you counted it, what did you do then?”

“Well, I told Mr. Macklin- But I guess I’m not allowed to say that.”

“No, no,” Pearson said. “Whatever you said is fine.”

“I see. Well, I told Mr. Macklin there was a hundred dollars missing.”

“Fine,” Pearson said. “And were you there when the defendant arrived for work that morning?”

“Yes, I was.”

“Without going into any conversations that may have transpired, did there come a time when Mr. Macklin identified himself to the defendant?”

“Yes, there did. He took out and showed her his I.D.”

“And did there come a time when Mr. Macklin inspected the contents of the defendant’s purse?”

“Yes, there did.”

“And what did he find?”

“He found four twenty dollar bills in her wallet.”

“And what, if anything, did he do with those bills?”

“He compared them to the list of serial numbers in his notebook.”

“With what result?”

“Two of the bills from the defendant’s wallet matched the serial numbers on his list.”

“Mr. Lowery, I have cautioned you about hearsay testimony. Do you know that because of something Mr. Macklin told you?”

“No, sir. I know that because after Mr. Macklin pointed it out, I compared the serial numbers myself.”

“You personally compared the serial numbers on those twenty dollar bills to the serial numbers on Mr. Macklin’s list?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And two of the serial numbers matched?”

“That’s correct.”

“Thank you, Mr. Lowery. That’s all.”


In the back of the courtroom, Tracy Garvin frowned. Frank Fletcher and Samuel Macklin had been duck soup for Steve Winslow. He had no problem making them look bad.

Marvin Lowery was something else. He had an open, honest quality about him. The jurors liked him. And they weren’t going to like it if Steve tore into him. That sort of strategy simply wasn’t going to fly.

Making him look foolish wouldn’t work either-Steve couldn’t pull an x-ray vision bit like he had with Macklin. Ridiculing Lowery would only alienate the jury.

So what could he do?

Steve Winslow rose slowly, crossed to Marvin Lowery and smiled. “Mr. Lowery, correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe you testified that on the morning of May 3rd you met Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Macklin outside your office building at approximately eight-thirty. Is that correct?”

“Yes, it is.”

“The three of you went up and unlocked the office?”

“That’s right.”

“Who was it who actually unlocked the office at that time?”

“Frank did. Mr. Fletcher.”

“Mr. Fletcher has keys to the office?”

“Yes, of course.”

“As his partner, do you also have keys to the office?”

“Of course I do.”

“And I believe you testified that Miss Dearborn was in the habit of closing up the office at five-thirty. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Then am I to assume she also had keys to the office?”

“Yes, of course.”

“So over the weekend-from Friday, April 30th, till Monday, May 3rd-the defendant was in possession to keys to the office. She could have gone there at any time, unlocked the door and taken money from the petty cash drawer. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“And the same is true of you and Mr. Fletcher?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You had keys to the office. And Frank Fletcher had keys to the office. Over the weekend, either one of you could have gone to the office and removed money from the petty cash drawer. Is that right?”

A.D.A. Pearson was about to object, when he saw the smile on Marvin Lowery’s face. He shut up. Lowery was a good witness. The jurors liked him. Let him take care of himself.

“Sure,” Lowery said. “Frank could have done that. Or I could have done that. We have the keys to the office, so there was nothing to stop us from going there and taking money from the petty cash drawer.” He chuckled. “The only thing we couldn’t have done would have been put those bills in Miss Dearborn’s wallet. We had the keys to our place, but we didn’t have the keys to hers, you see.”

“I see,” Steve said. He nodded gravely. “That’s a very good point, Mr. Lowery. If you or Mr. Fletcher had taken any money from the petty cash drawer over the weekend, there was no way it could have wound up in Miss Dearborn’s purse. So those twenty dollar bills must have got there some other way. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“We know they got there, because you were present when Mr. Macklin discovered them in Miss Dearborn’s wallet. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“And that was when Miss Dearborn arrived at the office at approximately nine o’clock on the morning of Monday, May 3rd?”

“That’s right.”

“Prior to that, you, Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Macklin had gone up to the office, examined the cash in the petty cash drawer and discovered a hundred dollars was missing?”

“That’s right.”

“I believe you stated that you were not testifying to hearsay, that you personally counted the money and determined the hundred dollars was gone. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Mr. Fletcher put five hundred dollars in the petty cash box? You personally saw him do it?”

“Yes, I did.”

“You personally counted the money and determined a hundred dollars was missing?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Am I to assume that on Monday morning when you counted the money, there was four hundred dollars in the petty cash box?”

For the first time Lowery frowned. “No, that’s not right.”

“Oh? And why is that?”

“To begin with, that five hundred dollars wasn’t the only money in the petty cash box.”

“I see,” Steve said. “You mean there was already money in the petty cash box when Mr. Fletcher put the five hundred dollars in?”

“That’s right.”

“He didn’t remove that money and replace it with the five hundred dollars. He added the five hundred dollars to it. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“I see. And how much money was there in the petty cash box before Frank Fletcher put the five hundred dollars in?”

Again, Pearson thought to object, but, as Lowery looked totally unconcerned, he kept quiet.

“There was two hundred and seventy-five dollars,” Lowery said.

“You know that for a fact?”

“Yes, I do.”

“How do you know?”

“I counted it.”

“You personally counted it, or you watched Frank Fletcher count it?”

“Both. I watched Frank count it, then I counted it myself.”

“And there was two hundred and seventy-five dollars?”

“That’s right.”

“And Fletcher added five hundred dollars, making a total of seven hundred and seventy-five dollars?”

“That’s right.”

“He put the five hundred in after you had counted the two hundred and seventy-five?”

“That’s right.”

“Did you count the money after he put the five hundred dollars in. That is, after he added the five hundred dollars, did you count the money again and get seven hundred and seventy-five?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Before that, you had counted the two hundred and seventy-five dollars that was originally in the box?”

“That’s right.”

“Any chance you were mistaken in the amount?”

“Absolutely not?”

“And why is that?”

“Because I concentrated on what I was doing.”

“I see,” Steve said. “And if you were concentrating on counting the money, how can you be sure while you counted the two hundred and seventy-five dollars, Frank Fletcher didn’t substitute some of the bills of the five hundred dollars before he added it to the box?”

Lowery smiled. “That couldn’t have happened.”

“Why not?”

“Because that five hundred dollars was sitting in plain sight right in front of me on the desk?”

“You’re sure of that?”


A.D.A. Pearson made sure the jurors could see his broad grin.

Steve Winslow frowned. He looked mighty displeased with the answers he’d been getting. He rubbed his head. “Mr. Lowery, let me make sure I understand this. Is it your testimony that you personally counted the money in the petty cash box before and after Frank Fletcher put the five hundred dollars in; that you saw him put the five hundred dollars in; that you are certain that it was the same five hundred dollars Mr. Macklin wrote the serial numbers of; that there was no chance Mr. Fletcher substituted any of those bills before he put them in the box; that after he put the bills in, you counted the money in the petty cash box and came up with a total of seven hundred and seventy-five dollars? Is that right?”

“Absolutely. That’s exactly what happened.”

“Is it also your testimony that on Monday morning, May 3rd you personally counted the money in the petty cash box and determined a hundred dollars was gone?”

“That’s right.”

“I see,” Steve said. “Is it then your testimony that when you counted the money on Monday, May 3rd, there was six hundred and seventy-five dollars in the petty cash box?”

Lowery frowned.

“Is that right?” Steve said.

Lowery shifted position on the witness stand. “No, that is not right,” he said.

“Oh?” Steve said. “I thought you counted the money on Friday and determined there was seven hundred and seventy-five dollars in the box. Then you counted the money on Monday and determined a hundred dollars was missing. Granted math was never my strong suit, but even I would expect six hundred and seventy-five dollars would be left. Are you saying this was not the case?”

“No, it wasn’t.”

“And why is that?”

Lowery shifted position on the stand again. He cleared his throat. “You have to understand. We are an active firm. In the process of doing business. It wasn’t as if we could close our doors just because this incident occurred.”

Steve Winslow raised his eyebrows. “Oh, I see. Are you trying to say the petty cash drawer was in use?”


Steve smiled. “So. Are you telling me money was removed from the petty cash drawer-”

“Objection, Your Honor!”


“Are you telling me money was removed from the drawer between the time you counted the money on Friday, April 30th and the time you counted the money again on Monday, May 3rd?”

Marvin Lowery looked peeved. His eyes were narrowed, and his lips were set in a firm line. “I’m not sure what my rights are,” he said, “but I would like to object to the word removed. You make it sound as if money had been taken surreptitiously, irresponsibly, or for some illicit purpose. Which is not the case. Any money used in the course of business was duly noted and accounted for.”

“Accounted for? Are you talking about a written accounting?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Well, that’s mighty interesting,” Steve said. “That record itself may well be evidence. What sort of record was it?”

“A ledger.”

“A ledger? I see. And by that are you referring to the company’s books, or a separate ledger kept for petty cash?”

“A separate ledger just for petty cash.”

“I see. And was it kept in the petty cash box?”

“It was too large for that. It was kept in the drawer underneath it.”

“The same drawer?”

“Yes, of course. Right underneath the box.”

“I see. So on Monday morning when you counted the money in the petty cash box, you referred to the ledger to see if any money had been withdrawn?”

Lowery shifted position again. “Actually, no.”

“Oh? And why is that?”

Lowery rubbed his head. “As I say, the ledger was under the box. It was a nuisance to constantly drag it out just to make a single entry. It was common practice when taking petty cash to simply leave a chit in the box stating the date and the amount.”

“I see. And that’s what had been done on this occasion?”

“That’s correct.”

“Are you saying petty cash had been taken out on Friday for use over the weekend?”

“That was standard practice,”

“I’m not saying it wasn’t. I’m merely asking if it was done on this occasion.”

“Yes, it was.”

“Money had been taken from the petty cash box and a chit left in its place?”


“And who had done this, Mr. Lowery? Who took the money from the petty cash box for use over the weekend?”

Lowery cleared his throat. “As if happened, I had a business appointment on Saturday, and-”

Steve Winslow’s grin broadened. “Are you saying you took money from the petty cash box for use over the weekend?”

“That’s right.”

“How much did you take?”

“A hundred dollars.”

“A hundred dollars?”

Lowery’s face reddened. “Which was duly accounted for,” he said.

“By that you mean you left a chit?”

“That’s right.”

“On the afternoon of Friday, April 30th, you took a hundred dollars from the petty cash box and left a chit in its place?’

“That’s right.”

“I see,” Steve said. “So you’re now testifying that when you counted the money on Monday, May 3rd, there was five hundred and seventy-five dollars in the petty cash box?”

Lowery exhaled. “No, sir.”

“No?” Steve said. “I thought there was seven hundred and seventy-five dollars in the box. You took out a hundred and left a chit, leaving six hundred and seventy-five. If a hundred was missing, wouldn’t that make five hundred and seventy-five?”

“Of course,” Lowery said. “You’re assuming that was the only chit in the box.”

“You mean it wasn’t?”

“No, it wasn’t.”

“You mean someone else took money from the petty cash box and left a chit in its place?”

“That’s right.”

“And who would that be?”

“Mr. Fletcher.”

Steve Winslow’s grin was enormous. “Frank Fletcher?” he said. He raised his voice. “Your business partner? The same Mr. Fletcher who testified so vehemently he could not possibly have paid the defendant with bills from the petty cash box because he had witnesses to the fact he had put them all in? That Mr. Fletcher?”

“Objection, Your Honor!”


“Mr. Lowery,” Steve said. “Are you telling me when you opened the petty cash box on Monday, May 3rd, you found in it two chits for money that had been withdrawn, one signed by you and one by Mr. Fletcher?”

“That’s right.”

“Both dated April 30th?”

“I believe so.”

“You’re not sure?”

“No. That was the date.”

“Yours was for a hundred dollars. How much was his?”

“It was also for a hundred.”

“So,” Steve said. “Some time on the afternoon of April 30th Frank Fletcher withdrew a hundred dollars from the petty cash box?”

“Objection. Calls for a conclusion on the part of the witness.”


“Mr. Lowery, did you see Mr. Fletcher take any money from the petty cash box on the afternoon of April 30th?”

“No, I did not.”

“Would you have seen him if he had?”



“Not necessarily. We were both in and out of our respective offices.”

“So it’s entirely possible Mr. Fletcher took a hundred dollars out of the cash box that afternoon?”



“Mr. Lowery, isn’t it true while you don’t know for a fact if Mr. Fletcher actually took any money from the petty cash box, you do know for a fact when you opened the box on Monday morning you found a chit signed by him in the amount of hundred dollars dated April 30th? Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“There was also a chit signed by you dated April 30th for a hundred dollars?”

“That’s right.”

“Were those the only two chits in the box?”

“Yes, they were.”

“Just two chits, accounting for a total of two hundred dollars?”

“That’s right.”

“If there was seven hundred and seventy-five dollars to begin with, those two chits would reduce the amount to five hundred and seventy-five. You claim there was a hundred dollars missing. Is it your testimony that the amount of money left in the box was four hundred and seventy-five?”

“That’s right.”

“So,” Steve said. “We come to the final accounting. Seven hundred and seventy-five dollars was in the petty cash drawer on Friday afternoon. Four hundred and seventy-five dollars was in the petty cash drawer on Monday morning. A total of three hundred dollars was removed. Of that, two hundred is accounted for in chits and one hundred is not. Is that right?”

“That’s right.”

“By your own testimony, you went to that petty cash box, took out a hundred dollars and left a chit. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“But we’ve only your own word for that, isn’t that right? I mean, aside from your own testimony, there’s nothing to prove you didn’t go to that cash box and take out two hundred dollars, and leave a chit saying you took out only one. Is that right?”

By now Marvin Lowery’s composure was gone. He glowered at Steve Winslow.

“I’d like an answer to that,” Steve said.

“Witness will answer.”

“Is that right?” Steve said.

“Is what right?” Lowery said. Then added irritably, “No, don’t read the question again. Yes, I have no way to prove I didn’t take out more money than that. I know I didn’t and you know I didn’t, and I think the jury knows I didn’t. But I can’t prove it, no.”

“Similarly, you don’t know whether Frank Fletcher took out two hundred dollars and left a chit saying he’d only taken one?”



“Do you know of your own knowledge how much money Frank Fletcher took from the petty cash box?”

“No, I do not.”

“You do know he left a chit in the box saying he took a hundred dollars?”

“Objected to as already asked and answered.”


“Yes. He left a chit.”

“The money you took out-tell me, did you spend it all?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“The hundred dollars you took out-for business expenses- did you have a hundred dollars’ worth of business expenses over the weekend?”

“No, I did not.”

“Did you have any?”

“Yes, of course. I took a customer out to lunch. A business lunch. A valued customer. Absolutely legitimate and above board.”

“You didn’t use a credit card?”

“No, I did not. I wouldn’t have been appropriate at this diner. For one thing, the amount wasn’t that much. I used petty cash. For lunch and for cab fare.”

“If it wasn’t that much, I assume you didn’t spend the whole hundred dollars?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“You had money left over?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And Mr. Fletcher-if he didn’t spend the hundred dollars he took out of petty cash, he’d have had money left over too, wouldn’t he?”



“So,” Steve said. “That brings us to Monday morning. You, in the company of Mr. Macklin and Mr. Fletcher, counted the money in the petty cash drawer. You found two chits indicating you and Mr. Fletcher had taken a hundred dollars each. You found another hundred dollars missing. The defendant arrived for work, Mr. Macklin inspected her twenty dollar bills to see if she had any that matched the serial numbers on his list. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Tell me, did Mr. Macklin inspect any of your twenty dollar bills to see if you had any that matched the serial numbers on the list?”

“No, he did not.”

“But if you had taken money out of the petty cash drawer and hadn’t spent it all, presumably you had some of those bills in your possession.”

“Objection. Argumentative.”


“Did Mr. Macklin compare any of Mr. Fletcher’s bills to the serial numbers on the list?”

“No, he did not?”

“He didn’t? Even though there was a chit stating Mr. Fletcher had taken money from the petty cash drawer?”



“Is it correct that the only bills that Mr. Macklin compared to the serial numbers on his list were those of the defendant?”

“That’s right.”

“And immediately upon finding that she had two of those bills, you called the police?”

“I didn’t personally call the police.”

“Who did?”

“Frank. Mr. Fletcher.”

“Mr. Fletcher called the police. They came to your office. They found you, Frank Fletcher, Mr. Macklin and Miss Dearborn. Miss Dearborn was arrested for petty theft. The basis for the charge was that she had in her possession two twenty dollar bills containing the serial numbers on Mr. Macklin’s list. Is that, right?”

“That is substantially correct.”

“When the officers arrested Miss Dearborn for having those twenty dollar bills in her possession, did you stand up and say, Excuse me, officer, but I also happen to have some of those twenty dollar bills in my possession, why don’t you arrest me too?”



“At the time of the defendant’s arrest, did the police make any inspection of the money on your person?”

“No, they did not.”

“Or any of the money on Frank Fletcher’s person?”

“No, they did not.”

“So, is it or is it not a fact that Mr. Macklin was employed solely to catch Miss Dearborn?”

“Absolutely not. He was hired to find out why cash was missing from the petty cash drawer.”

“How much was he paid?”

“Objection. Incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.”


“His rate was two hundred dollars a day, with two days guaranteed. He was paid four hundred dollars in advance for the two days, Friday, April 30th, and Monday, May 3rd.”

“Since the defendant was arrested on the third, am I to assume he received no further compensation? Aside from his appearance here in court, I mean.”

“Actually, he was paid more.”


“Yes. There was provision for additional compensation in the event the case was solved.”

“Solved?” Steve said. “What an interesting term. And just what would constitute that? Are you telling me if Mr. Macklin’s testimony results in the defendant being convicted, he will get more money?”

“Not at all,” Lowery said indignantly. “As a matter of fact, he’s already been paid.”


“Frankly, we considered the case solved upon the defendant’s arrest.”

“You paid Mr. Macklin then?”

“That is correct.”

“How much additional did you pay him?”

“Two hundred dollars.”

“Did you pay him by check?”

“No, we paid him in cash.”

“Really?” Steve raised his eyebrows. “Would that be from petty cash?”

It took only one look at Lowery’s face to see that shot had scored.

“So,” Steve said. “Would it be safe to say that on Monday, May 3rd, you, Frank Fletcher, Mr. Macklin and the defendant Miss Dearborn were all in possession of twenty dollar bills matching the serial numbers on Mr. Macklin’s list?”

A. D. A. Pearson’s vehement objection was sustained, but Steve, having made his point, merely smiled and said, “No further questions.”

And when Pearson announced that he was resting his case, Steve Winslow promptly rested his.


Steve Winslow’s closing argument was brief.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury,” he said. “I’d like to begin by explaining why I put on no defense. The reason is, I don’t have to. I don’t have to prove the defendant innocent. The prosecution has to prove her guilty. She is presumed innocent before we even begin.”

Steve smiled. “As I’m sure you will all recall. Hard to believe that was only this morning. This trial has moved very quickly.

“And for a good reason.

“The prosecution has no case.

“Search through all the testimony of all of their witnesses and what have they got? Two twenty dollar bills.

“That’s it. Out of everything you’ve heard today, the only evidence whatsoever liking the defendant to the crime is those two twenty dollar bills. The ones Mr. Macklin has testified that he found in her purse. On the basis of those two twenty dollar bills, the prosecutor would like you to find the defendant guilty.”

Steve smiled and shook his head. “Well, I can understand why he feels that way. And I can understand why he brought this prosecution. At first glance, it certainly appears damning.” Steve assumed a mock dramatic voice. “Here are the twenty dollar bills, the serial numbers carefully recorded, placed in the box, two of which subsequently turn up in the possession of the defendant.” Steve raised his eyes in wonderment. “Damning? Hell, it’s a wonder a trial is needed. Why not send her straight to jail?

“Until you look a little closer at the evidence.

“Frank Fletcher took a hundred dollars from the petty cash box.

“Marvin Lowery took a hundred dollars from the petty cash box.

“Samuel Macklin was paid two hundred dollars from the petty cash box.

“Now, the police didn’t inspect any of their bills, only those of the defendant. But if the police had looked at their bills, there is every reason to believe several of those in question would have been found on each and every one of them.

“So, if the only criterion for guilt was possessing those twenty dollar bills, could we say that since Marvin Lowery had some in his possession, he must be the thief?

“Or the same of Frank Fletcher?

“Or Mr. Macklin?”

Steve smiled, pointed to Pearson. “Now, I know what the prosecutor will argue. He’ll say that they had a right to have possession of those bills. That their possession of those bills is accounted for. And the defendant’s isn’t.”

Steve shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not.

“Which brings us to the doctrine of reasonable doubt.

“To find the defendant guilty, you must find her guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. If there is any doubt in your mind that she is guilty, you must find her innocent. Well, I would think that all four people in that office having possession of those bills would be enough to do it right there.

“But I’m willing to go a little further to help you out, to make your job a little easier.

“The other part of the doctrine of reasonable doubt is, if the evidence of prosecution can be explained by any other reasonable hypothesis other than the guilt of the defendant, then you must find the defendant not guilty.

“The only evidence presented is the fact she had those two bills. The prosecutor says she must have stolen them. We say she didn’t.

“Okay, how else could those bills have come into her possession?

“Perfectly easy. Frank Fletcher took a hundred dollars out of petty cash on April 30th. We know because he left a chit in the petty cash box. And he paid the defendant her salary in cash. That very afternoon. And that was after he took the money out of the petty cash box, because by his own admission, he paid her her salary just before he went home.

“Is it reasonable to assume he paid her salary with some of the recorded bills? Well, I can’t prove it, but I don’t have to. All I have to do is show it’s possible. If it’s possible, reasonable, logical, that such a thing could have happened, then you must give the defendant the benefit of that reasonable doubt and assume that it did.”

Steve Winslow raised his hand. “Now, the prosecutor may say that’s all well and good, but what about the hundred dollars missing from the petty cash drawer? What happened to that?”

Steve shrugged. “Well, a lot of things. For one thing, the defendant might have stolen it.” He smiled, shrugged again. “Hey, it’s possible. Didn’t happen. But it’s possible. And if you were allowed to bring in a conviction on the grounds that something was possible, well then this defendant would be going to jail.

“But that’s not the way the law works. If any other solution is possible, the defendant goes free.

“In this case, the possibilities are practically endless.

“For one thing, Marvin Lowery could have done it. By his own admission he went to the cash box and took out a hundred dollars. What was to stop him from taking two?

“The same hold true of Frank Fletcher. What if he took two hundred dollars from the box? And paid the defendant’s salary with some of those bills?

“And why, you might ask, would he do that? Well, suppose he was the one who’d been stealing from the petty cash drawer. And hiring Mr. Macklin was an elaborate double-bluff on his part to cover up the fact that he himself was actually guilty. Well, it wouldn’t be enough just to hire Mr. Macklin and set the trap. He’d have to have somebody to frame. Surely not his partner Mr. Lowery-that would never fly. But here’s the defendant. Perfect patsy. Slip her some of the bills as part of her salary and let nature take its course.

“You might ask, why would he want to do that? I haven’t the faintest idea. It’s not my job to know. I don’t have to prove anything.” Steve Winslow pointed at A. D. A. Pearson. “He does. He has to prove everything.”

Steve smiled. “You can see now why I made such a big deal during jury selection over your willingness to consider this defendant innocent.

“Because she is innocent.”

Steve ticked them off on his fingers.

“She’s presumed innocent.

“She is innocent.

“And it’s your duty to find her innocent.

“I thank you.”


Amy Dearborn could hardly contain herself.

“I can’t believe it’s over,” she said.

Tracy Garvin patted her arm. “I know.”

“And so quickly. My god, the jurors weren’t gone twenty minutes.”

“I’m surprised they took that long.”

“I don’t know how I can ever repay him.”

“You don’t have to.”

“I know. I heard what he said, but-”

“Then don’t worry about it.”

Amy and Tracy were standing on the steps outside the courthouse. The verdict had been announced minutes before, disposing of the entire case in one day, a consummation not only devoutly to be wished, but beyond Judge Dalrymple’s wildest dreams. Steve Winslow had turned Amy Dearborn over to Tracy Garvin and asked her to wait, saying there were a few details he wanted to take care of.

Amy Dearborn looked at her watch. “It’s getting late,” she said. “I do want to thank him, but maybe I should come by the office.”

Tracy Garvin frowned. “He said to wait.”

“I know that. It’s just…I don’t know. It’s hard to hold still. I want to keep moving.”

“I’m sure he won’t be long,” Tracy said with a slight edge in her voice. After all Steve had done, it was a little much, this woman not being willing to wait. She was about to say something to that effect when Steve came out the door.

Amy Dearborn’s eyes lit up. “Mr. Winslow, I just can’t thank you enough. I’ve been going crazy out here waiting to tell you. Where did you go?”

“I told you, I had some business to take care of.” Steve reached into his pants pocket and, with a bit of a flourish, pulled out some money. “I believe this belongs to you.”

Amy Dearborn blinked. “What?”

“It’s not much, I’m afraid, but forty dollars is forty dollars.”

“Forty dollars?”

“Yes. Two twenty dollar bills. With quite a history. If you don’t need to spend them, you might want to frame them.”

“You got them to release the court exhibit?” Tracy said.

“Of course I did. This money was removed from her person. If she didn’t steal it, it’s rightfully hers.” Steve held it out to Amy. “Here you go.”

Amy put up her hand. “Please. You should keep it.. After all you’ve done.”

Steve smiled. “Thanks all the same, but I’d rather not. If it got out I was charging forty bucks for a day in court, it would be hard to explain. I’d rather leave things just as they are.”

“But you have to be paid.”

Steve shook his head, “Not for this. You gave me a dollar. Provisional retainer just to make it legal. Well, that’s all the money I expected to see from this case.” Steve held up one finger. “On the other hand, F. L. Jewelry fired you without cause, had you arrested and charged you with theft. That charge was without foundation, has been proven so in a court of law. I would expect a jeweler to have both assets and insurance.”

Amy looked at him. “Do you mean…?”

“I think you’re entitled to some compensation for what you went through. If you agree, I’d be happy to file suit in your behalf. In which case, I would feel justified in taking a fee.” Steve held up his hand. “But that’s beside the point, and I wouldn’t want you to file suit just for that reason. But the way I see it, yes, we’re happy you got off. You did nothing wrong, so you should have got off.

“On the other hand, Fletcher and Lowery did something wrong, so why should they get off? Macklin too.”

Amy frowned. “Mr. Macklin? Why him?”

“Why not. He’s the one who came up with the stupid plan in the first place. Planting the twenty dollar bills, and then letting everyone get a hold of them. Some plan.

“But the point is, in a case like this you file suit against everyone. Because Fletcher and Lowery will try to shift the blame to him anyway, and he’ll try to dump it back on them. You don’t worry about that. You name everyone, and let the jury award damages and apportion blame.”

“Just what does that mean?”

“Well, say the jury finds in your favor and awards you a hundred thousand dollars. Then they might decide the fault was ninety percent F. L. Jewelry and ten percent Macklin’s. Then the jewelry company’d give you ninety thousand, he’d give you ten.”

Amy’s eyes were wide. “A hundred thousand dollars?”

Steve smiled. “That’s just a for instance. And I would take a third, as my fee. That’s the way these things work. On a contingency basis. I only get paid if there’s a settlement, and then I get a third.”

Amy frowned. “I see.”

“So would you like me to go ahead and file suit?”

Amy exhaled. Shook her head. “Let me call you tomorrow about that. Everything’s happened so fast. I haven’t really had time to think. I’m very grateful, but I just don’t know.” She looked at her watch. “Listen, it’s late, I’ve got to go. I just want to thank you again. For everything. You don’t know what it means. Anyway, I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Can I give you a lift somewhere?” Steve said.

Amy put up her hand. “No, no. That’s fine. Thanks. You’ve done so much already. I’ll be just fine.”

With that she turned and hurried away down Centre Street.

“Well,” Steve said, “what do you make of that?”

“What do you make of it?”

“Well, as a wild guess, I’d say she were going to meet her boyfriend.”

“I knew you were going to say that.”

“Oh? Well, where do you think she’d going?”

“I don’t know. But do you have to put a sexist connotation on it?”

“I wasn’t aware I was,” Steve said. “Would you prefer some generalization like, Women, who can understand ’em?”

“What a prince,” Tracy said. “That’s much better. If I’d known you were so sensitive, I’d have asked you out to dinner.”

“I happen to have an engagement,” Steve said. “But can I drop you somewhere?”

Tracy looked at him a minute. “No,” she said. “I think I’ll walk off to the subway, so you can speculate on where I’m going.”

Steve watched her go.

He shrugged.

Under his breath he muttered, “Women, who can understand ’em?”


STEVE WINSLOW’S ANSWERING MACHINE was blinking. He saw it the minute he came in the door. Which was not surprising. In his small, Greenwich village studio apartment, he saw everything the minute he walked in the door. There were three blinks, meaning three messages. Steve sighed. He hated messages.

Steve clicked the machine on, flopped down on the couch.


“Steve, Tracy. Amy Dearborn called. Wants to see you at once. She was very upset, but she wouldn’t tell me why. Call me at home.”


“Mr. Winslow, it’s Amy Dearborn. You gotta help me. Please. Meet me at F. L Jewelry. No, that won’t do. Call me at 555-0372. Oh, I can’t stay here. Shit. Oh, I don’t know. Oh, damn it to hell.”

Steve Winslow leaned back on the couch. He rubbed his head.


“Steve, Tracy. I’m at the office. Call me right away.”

Steve switched off the machine, snatched up the phone, punched in the number.

Two rings, then Tracy’s voice, “You have reached the office of attorney Steve Winslow. Please leave a message after the beep.”

Steve cursed, slammed down the phone. He jerked it up again, went to dial the number Amy Dearborn had left. Realized he didn’t know it.

Steve lunged, hit the answering machine again. He waited impatiently through Tracy’s first message. Then Amy’s message. Then the number.

Steve suddenly realized he didn’t have a pencil. He switched the machine off, kept saying the number over and over again, then punched it in.

One ring. Two rings. Three rings. Four rings. Five rings.

No answer.


Had he gotten it right?

Steve stood for a minute, staring at the phone and the answering machine. Then turned and ran out the door.


Steve came out of the subway at Broadway and 50th Street. There was a pay phone on the corner. There was no sense going up to the office if Tracy wasn’t there yet. He stopped, called. The answering machine was still on.

Steve dropped the quarter in again, called 555-0372.

Still no answer.

All right, what the hell to do?

Not that big a problem with F. L Jewelry just blocks away. It was a four story building in the middle of the block. F. L. Jewelry was a second floor walkup over a music store.

The music store was just closing. The owner was out on the sidewalk, pulling down the metal cover over the window display of electric and acoustic guitars.

The door to upstairs was just to the right of the storefront. Steve went in and found himself in a small foyer. There was an inner door and a row of mailboxes with push buttons. Steve hesitated a moment, then pushed the button for F. L. Jewelry. He was not at all surprised when no one buzzed the door open. He considered trying the other buttons to see if anyone in the building would buzz him in. First he tried the door itself. To his surprise it clicked open.

Steve went in and took the stairs to the second floor. The door straight ahead said F. L. Jewelry. Steve walked up and was about to knock when he noticed the door was open a crack. There was a light coming from under it.

Steve took a breath. He paused, pushed open the door.

Whatever he had expected to find wasn’t there. It was just your typical small business office, furnished with a desk, file cabinets and stacks of packing cases.

Steve walked over to the desk. It was clearly secretarial, with a switchboard, intercom, rolodex and typewriter on a stand. Just in case there was any doubt, the top drawer was open slightly, displaying a movie magazine.

Steve walked around the desk and stopped.

The middle drawer on the right hand side was open. So was the cash box inside it, which was empty.

Steve leaned forward to look. Sure enough, underneath the cash box was some sort of bound book, obviously the petty cash ledger.

Steve sighed. Oh boy. Bad news all around.

He checked the inner offices. The first one was neat as a pin. The large oak desk held a telephone, an intercom and nothing else. Aside from that was a desk chair, two straight backed chairs and a file cabinet. Either Mr. Lowery or Mr. Fletcher’s office.

Steve tried the last office. The light was off. He fumbled on the wall, switched it on.

The body of Frank Fletcher lay face down on the floor. His head was twisted to one side, and his eye was open, staring. He was lying in a pool of blood, which seemed to have begun at his chest and spread out almost to his outstretched arms.

He was clearly dead.

There came the squeak of floorboards from the outer office.

Steve wheeled, tiptoed to the door.

Peered out.

It was Tracy Garvin.

Steve stepped out, said, “Tracy.”

She started, then recognized him. Relief flooded her features. “Steve!” she said. She ran to him, fell into his arms.

“Hey, hey.” he said. “Take it easy.” He grabbed her shoulders, held her up till she looked at him. “Get a hold of yourself. Are you okay?”


“You see Amy?”


“You know what’s in the next room?”

Tracy looked at him, wide-eyed. The answer was all over her face.

Steve exhaled. “We gotta get out of here.”


“All right, where is she?”

Tracy Garvin looked up at him. Steve Winslow had whisked her out of F. L. Jewelry and had not stopped until they were safely around the corner on Sixth Avenue.

“In the office.”

“No, she’s not. I just called there.”


“Just now. Before I went in there. I got the answering machine.”

“The office machine?”

“Yes, of course. Why do you say that?”

“It must have been while we were down the hall.”


“Amy thought she was going to be sick. She went to the ladies room.”

“There’s a bathroom in the office.”

Tracy gave him a look. “You wanna argue with me about it? I’m leading her up to the office, she says she’s gonna be sick and runs down the hall. I followed her, got her together and brought her back. You must have called then.”

“Then what did you do?”

“Went out to look for you.”

Steve’s eyes narrowed. “Oh?”

“Amy said she left a message for you to meet her at the jewelers.”

“Then she said not to.”

“Right. But I figured you would anyway. And you did.”

“I see,” Steve said. “So this all just happened. I mean, you were just a few steps ahead of me. You got here, met her, took her to the jewelers. You got her out of there, took her up to the office. You were down the hall when I called. You parked her in the office and came out to get me?”

“That’s right.”

“How long ago did you find the body?”

“I don’t know. A half hour. Twenty minutes. Why?”

“I’m trying to figure out what to do. Did you touch anything up there? Leave your fingerprints?”

“I don’t think so.”

“What about her?”

“She may have. But she worked there. Her prints would be there anyway.”

“Yeah, but not for some time. She’s up in the office now?”


“Let’s go.”


Amy Dearborn looked the worse for wear. Her eyes were red, her face was pale. She was so nervous she couldn’t sit still.

Steve Winslow was not feeling sympathetic. “Get a grip on yourself,” he said. “I need answers, and I need ’em fast. Now, to begin with, you knew the body was there before you called?”

Amy Dearborn said nothing. She looked down at her lap, where her hands were fiddling with her handkerchief.

“Hey, wake up,” Steve said. “You’re going to be charged with murder. What happens in the next ten minutes may determine whether you beat the rap.”

Amy looked up then. Her eyes were wide. “Murder?” she said.

“Yeah, murder. That’s what they call it when someone dies. Little more serious than petty theft. Little harder to get off. So snap out of it and clue me in.”

“Oh, my god.”

“How did you find the body?”

“I just did.”

“No, there’s no just about it. You got fired from your job, you haven’t been in the office in over a month and you go there tonight. Why?”

“To clean out my desk.”


“I had stuff in my desk. I’d been afraid to go back and get it. What with being fired and being charged with a crime. I figured now that I was found innocent, it didn’t matter.”

Steve frowned. “You went up there tonight to clean out your desk?”

“That’s right.”

“What time?”


“What time did you go?”


“Thought of an answer?”

Amy stuck out her chin. “I don’t like your attitude.”

“I don’t like yours,” Steve said. “We’ve got a situation here where minutes count. I gotta decide if I’m going to report this thing, and how. And you’re playing games with me. Now listen. I’m your attorney. Anything you tell me is privileged. It can’t hurt you. So just tell me what you did, and stop trying to figure out what you want me to know. I’m not here to judge you, I’m here to help you. But you’re not making it easy.”

Amy’s lip trembled. “I’m doing the best I can.”

“Steve, take it easy,” Tracy said.

“Easy, hell,” Steve said. “This is murder. She’s got you involved, and now she’s involving me. So let’s see what we can do to get out from under.”

“I’m not involving you,” Amy said.

“I’m glad to hear it,” Steve said. “I bow to your superior legal knowledge. When they disbar me, I’ll tell the judge, no, no, it’s all right, Amy told me I wasn’t involved.”

“Steve,” Tracy said.

As Amy glared at him defiantly, Steve said, “I have your attention? Good. I wasn’t kidding about there being no time. I want you to stop stalling and answer questions, or I’m putting in a call to the cops. Got it? Good. Now, what time did you find the body?”

Amy took a breath. “I’m not sure. But it was just before I called her.”

“That would be just before eight o’clock,” Tracy said.

“Is that right?” Steve said.

“I guess so. I called right away.”

“From the office?”

“No, no. When I found the body I was scared, I got the hell out of there. I called from the street.”

“You mean from a pay phone?”


“Well, that’s a break. So, as soon as you found the body you went out in the street and called?”

“That’s right.”

“And how long were you in the office before you found the body?”


“Weren’t prepared for that one?”

“No. I’m just trying to think.”

“If the cops ask you questions you have to think before you answer, that makes them suspicious. Gives them the idea you’re not telling them the truth.”

“I’m telling the truth.”

“Maybe so. I’m just telling you how it looks. If we call the cops and report this, you gotta do a better job with them than you’re doing with me. So, let’s try it again. How long were you in the office before you found the body?”

“Not long. Five or ten minutes.”

“You went there to clean out your desk?”


“So Where’s your stuff?”


“The stuff from your desk. Where is it?”


“You don’t have it with you?”


“You mean you left it there?”

“I …”

“Did you pack it up and then leave it? When the cops show up, will they find a shopping bag of your stuff in the middle of the floor?”


“You didn’t pack up, then?”

“No. I didn’t.”

“You didn’t clean out your drawers?”


“Why not? If you were there for five or ten minutes, what were you doing?”

“Looking around.”

“For what?”

“I don’t know. Just looking around.”


“What do you mean, why? I worked there. It was a place I spent time.”

Steve made a loud buzzing sound, imitated a game show host. “Sorry, wrong answer. This is a job you were fired from over a month ago. Then you go to clean out your desk. But you don’t clean out your desk. You spend five to ten minutes just looking around. In an office where there just happens to be a dead body in the other room. Then, after five or ten minutes that you can’t account for, you go into an inner office where you have no business going and find the dead body.”

Steve shook his head. “I’m afraid that’s not right. So, Miss Dearborn, I’m sorry you didn’t win more, but we do have these lovely parting gifts for you.”

Half a dozen expressions struggled over Amy Dearborn’s face. Anger finally won out. “How could you,” she said.

“You don’t like what I’m saying?” Steve said. “Well, that’s too bad. I don’t happen to like what you’re saying. Which makes us even. Except for one thing. I’m not about to be charged with murder.” He shrugged. “Though I don’t know. The way you play this game, I wouldn’t count it out.”

When Amy said nothing, Steve added, “What about the petty cash drawer.”


“The petty cash drawer. The famous petty cash drawer. The one you didn’t rob. In the five to ten minutes before you found the body, did you happen to notice it?”

Amy glared at him a moment, then said, “Yes.”

“You did? How interesting. And what was the condition of the petty cash drawer?”

“It was open and the money was gone.”

“You didn’t open it?”


“You didn’t take the money?”

“Of course not.”

“There’s no of course not about it. You say you went up there to clean out your desk. The only thing that got cleaned out of your desk is the petty cash.”

“I didn’t do it.”

“Yes, I know,” Steve said. “You’re innocent.”

“Steve,” Tracy said again.

Steve ignored her. His eyes never left Amy Dearborn’s. “So,” he said, “you manage to figure out what you were doing in the five to ten minutes before you found the body?”

“I tell you, I was just looking around.”

“Not pilfering the petty cash drawer?”

“Do I have to answer that?”

Steve took a breath. “All right, look,” he said. “You’re in bad. I can’t tell how bad, because you won’t talk straight. And right now I haven’t time to twist the truth out of you. What I need to know now is if you’re going to play ball.”

Amy looked at him. “Huh?”

“I got two choices here.” Steve pointed to the phone. “I pick up the phone, call the cops, hand you over to ’em and tell ’em exactly what I know-which is going to look like shit.” He shrugged. “Or I don’t.”

Amy’s eyes were wide. “What if you don’t?”

“That depends on you. Whether you got the nerve to pull it off.”

“Pull what off?”

“Where do you live?”


“Where’s your apartment? Where do you live.”

“Oh. A hundred and seventh and Broadway.”

“Fine. You leave here, you take the subway home. But you don’t go home. You go to the corner of Broadway and a hundred and seventh, hail a cab. Take the cab straight to F. L. Jewelry. Go in, find the body. Call the cops. Use the phone on your desk. Stay right there and wait for them to arrive.”

“What do I tell them?”

“That’s the thing. You don’t lie. Everything you tell ’em’s gotta be the truth. You went there to clean out your desk. You let yourself in with a key from when you worked there before. You came in, found the body and called the cops.”

“Then what?” Amy said.

Steve held up one finger. “Here’s the hard part. The cops aren’t going to let it go at that. They’re going to start asking questions. The first one you hear that sounds like they didn’t believe something you said, the first one that sounds like they’re cross-examining you, you take offense. Say, Just a minute here, if it’s going to be like that, I want to call my lawyer.”

Steve slowed down for emphasis. “Then,” he said, “you clam up and you…don’t…say…another…word. Anything they ask you, you either don’t answer, or you say I want to call my lawyer. Just make sure you got that in. The reason you’re not answering questions is you want to talk to your lawyer first.”

Steve looked her in the eye. “Can you do that?”

“Sure,” Amy said.

“Glad you think so,” Steve said. “Nine people out of ten would have a tough time doing that.”

“I can do it.”

“Good. Now, when you came here tonight, how did you come?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Did you take a taxi?”

“No. I came on the subway.”

“That’s a break. Did anyone see you go in?”

“I don’t know.”

“The music store downstairs was open. Did you walk by the window?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Well, you came from Seventh Avenue, didn’t you?”


“Then you had to walk by to get to the door.”

“Then I guess I did. I just don’t recall.”

“Okay. Anyway, this time you take a cab. From the upper West Side right to the door. Make sure the cabbie remembers you. Let him get a good look at you. And make sure you give him the exact address-not just the street, give him the number too. If it’s the kind of cab gives receipts, get one, shove it in your purse.”

“I understand.”

“Do you? Good. You got the number here?”

“Of course.”

“Good. That’s where you’re gonna call. You got it now? You find the body, call the cops. Start talking, take offense, clam up and say you want to call your lawyer. I’ll be here waiting for your call. You got all that?”


“Good. Then get the hell out of here.”


The moment Amy was out the door, Steve wheeled on Tracy Garvin. “Okay,” he said. “What about you?”

Startled, Tracy said, “What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean. It’s one thing to have Amy Dearborn holding out on me. I expect that. But you’re something else.”

“I’m not holding out on you.”

“Oh no? What were you doing in that office?”

“I told you-”

“Right. You were looking for me. Tracy, don’t make me cross-examine you, but that story won’t hold up.”

“Why not?”

“Are you kidding me? You went up there because Amy told you she left a message on my machine asking me to meet her there. Even though in the same message she told me to forget it. Even though you left a message on my machine telling me to go to the office. So if I picked up my messages at all, my last instruction would be to come here. There’d be no reason to think I’d go anywhere else.”

“Yeah, but you did.”

“Yeah, but only because I happened to call while Amy was throwing up in the bathroom down the hall. Now, would you like to tell me how you deduced that might have happened, and decided to protect against that eventuality?”

“That’s not fair.”

“Fair?” Steve grabbed her by the shoulders. “Tracy, wake up. This is not a game. I think you went to that office for a reason. For something you forgot, or something you needed to do. Trouble is, you didn’t do it because you ran into me. I need to know what it was and I need to know now, because this is our last chance to fix it. While Amy’s on her way uptown. So forget the fact you think I’m going to be pissed, and just blurt out whatever the hell it is.”

“It’s not like that,” Tracy said.

Steve exhaled. “Aw, fuck. Then what is it?”

“I don’t know.”

“That’s helpful.”

Tracy took off her glasses, pushed the hair out of her eyes, put them back on again. She held up her hand. “Okay,” she said. “The fact is, I don’t know.”

“You mind explaining that?”

“After Amy had hysterics, I got her into the office, I got her calmed down. But I had the feeling I forgot something. You ever have that? Nothing specific, just the feeling?”

“Can you cut to the chase?” Steve said. “If we’re going to take any action, it’s gotta be now.”

“Like what?” Tracy said. “That’s the whole thing. All I had was a general feeling I fucked up. That there was something I didn’t do that I should have done.”

“You mean like clean up?”

“No, I did that.”

“Oh yeah?” Steve said.

Tracy waved her hands. “No, no. It was nothing major. It’s just I didn’t know how you were going to play it, and I didn’t want to leave my fingerprints. That was one of the first things you asked me.”

“Yeah. And you said you didn’t.”

“Right. Because I cleaned them up.”

“From where?”

“The doorknob.”

“The outer doorknob?”

Tracy made a face. “No. The one to Fletcher’s office.”

“Oh, shit.”

“Yeah, but what was I going to do? We’re up there in the office, Amy’s too upset to talk, but she keeps pointing to the door. So I opened it.”

“You polished that doorknob?”

“Well, I wasn’t going to leave my prints.”

“Or anyone else’s.”

“I can’t help that,” Tracy said. “I couldn’t reach you. It was either call the police or get her out of there. Until you heard her story, I wasn’t going to turn her in.”

“Great,” Steve said. “Was that the only surface you polished?”

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“The only evidence you destroyed?”

“Hey, give me a break.”

“I’m on your side. It’s the cops who take a dim view. Now, this feeling you have-you didn’t happen to lose your purse? Drop your keys on the floor? Perhaps leave a business card on the top of Fletcher’s desk?”

“Look,” Tracy said. “This may surprise you, but I’m not enjoying this much.”

“I’m not either,” Steve said. “I’m trying to jog your memory.”

“Well, it’s isn’t working. I’m just getting rattled.”

“So take your mind off it. Do something else.”

“Like what?”

“Call Mark Taylor. Get him down here.”

“What should I tell him?”

“Nothing specific. Just it’s an emergency and get his ass over here.”

“What if he asks me why?”

“You don’t have time to explain.”

“He’s not gonna buy that.”

“Well, it happens to be true.”

Tracy went into the outer office, returned a few minutes later. “He’s on his way.”

“What about you? You thought of anything yet?”


“We are rapidly passing the point of no return, where it will be too late to do anything.”

“I know that.”

“Okay,” Steve said. He tipped back in his chair, rubbed his head. “Let’s try it the other way around. Forget the time pressure, let’s take it slow and easy, talk it out. Start from the beginning. You’re at home and you get the call.”

Tracy took a breath. “Okay. She called. Right around eight, like I said. I was reading a book. The phone rang. It was Amy. Hysterical. She had to see you.”

“This was the first time you called me?”

“Right. She gave me a number to call back. I called it, told her I couldn’t reach you. She didn’t want to hear it. She wanted your number. I told her I just called your number. She didn’t care, she wanted it anyway, she was gonna call you.”

Tracy pushed the hair out of her eyes. “So, there was no reasoning with her. I gave her your number.” She put up her hands. “I know I shouldn’t have.”

“It’s okay,” Steve said. “The least of our worries. You gave her the number, she called up my machine, left a message. What next?”

“She called back. Hysterical. You weren’t home. Well, she knew that. I’d just told her that. But she wasn’t rational. It was like she had to hear the answering machine herself to believe it. And when she couldn’t get you, she wanted to come to the office.”

“She wanted you to go to the office?”

“She thought I was at the office.”

“Why would she think that?”

“Because that’s where she called.”


“Because of the trial,” Tracy said impatiently. “I had call-forwarding on. Because I wasn’t going to be here. I was gonna be in court. And there was no reason to come here after. I had the calls forwarded to my own phone and the answering machine on so I could pick ’em up when I got home.”

“You don’t have to do that.”


“You can pick up the calls from the office machine from your own phone.”

“Yeah, I know. But sometimes it fucks up, and-”

Steve held up his hand. “Hey. Sorry. I’m upset, and I’m not rational. Who gives a damn about the answering machine? Anyway, she wanted to meet you here.”

“Right. I ran out the door and hopped in a cab.”


“She was waiting right outside. When the cab pulled up, she actually ran up and opened the door. She said, ‘Did you reach him?’”


“Yeah, right. Like I’d phoned you from inside the cab. I said, ‘No.’ She looked like I’d kicked her in the stomach. She said, ‘Oh god, what am I going to do?’”

“Did the cab driver hear all this?”

“I don’t think so. I had the money out and was paying him off when she opened the door.”

“Then you got out and the cab drove off?”


“Before or after she said, ‘Oh god, what am I going to do?’”

“Before. At least I closed the door before that. She asked me about you, I hopped out, slammed the door, said, ‘No.’”

“And she said, ‘Did you reach him?’”


“Is that exactly what she said?”

“What do you mean?”

“Are you sure she said him? Or did she use my name?”


“What about yours?”


“Did she say ‘Tracy’? Or ‘Miss Garvin’?”

“No. All she said was, ‘Did you reach him?’”

“That’s a break. What happened then?”

“I was going to bring her up here, but she didn’t want to come. I said, ‘Why?’, but she wouldn’t say. She was acting real funny. They she says she wants me to come with her. I say, ‘Where?’, but she’s so upset that she can’t talk. She’s practically shaking. She just kind of gestures to me, says, ‘Come on.’”

“She took you to the office?”


“Showed you the body?”

“Uh huh.”

“She led you right to it? She knew it was there?”

“Oh yes. She didn’t say anything, but she knew.”

“Were the doors unlocked?”

“The downstairs door was unlocked. The upstairs door was ajar.”

“Just the way I found it?”


“Because that’s how you left it?”


“Okay, give me the rest of it.”

Tracy took a breath. “Okay, we’re in there, we’re in the room, and I’ve seen it and I’m not really feeling great. But I pull myself together and I ask her what happened.”


“She can’t talk. She starts blubbering, grabs my arm, drags me out of the room. I had to grab her, slap her, try to get her to calm down. All she says is, ‘I, I-’ And she’s gone again.”

“You ask her if she did it?”


“She answer?”

“Not so you could notice.”

“So when she wouldn’t answer your questions, you got her out of there?”


“After cleaning up first?”

“Just the doorknob.”

“Nowhere else?”

“That’s the only place I touched.”

“Are you sure?”

“That’s all I remember.”

“What about the petty cash drawer?”

“What about it?”

“Did you see it?”


“Amy didn’t point it out?”

“She never mentioned it. First I heard about it was when you asked her.”

“So you were never around that part of the desk. Good. The worst case scenario was somehow or other you left a fingerprint there.”

“Well, I didn’t. Of course, Amy probably did.”

“It doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty of sending her back. It accounts for her fingerprints.”


Steve looked at his watch. “Okay,” he said. “It’s been long enough.”

“For what?”

“To kiss it off. Going back there, I mean. We’re at the point where the risks outweigh the advantages. It’s probably more dangerous now to try to cover something up than just let it be. Unless it was really major. Like you suddenly remember leaving the murder weapon next to the body with your fingerprints on it.”

“What murder weapon?”

“Exactly. You didn’t happen to roll the body over, did you?”

“Not that I recall.”

“Well, neither did I. He’s lying face down, the wound’s in the chest. I didn’t see it, but most likely it’s a gunshot wound. In which case, where’s the gun?”

“The murderer took it.”


“Why not?”

“Are you kidding? The gun can hang him. The smart move is to drop the gun.”

“Some killers aren’t smart.”

Steve shook his head. “Bad premise. You start with the idea the killer’s stupid, your theories all collapse. You start using it to explain away everything: maybe he just didn’t think of it; maybe he’s stupid; maybe he had a reason we don’t know about; maybe it made sense to him. Bullshit. You want to figure it out, it’s gotta make sense to you.”

Tracy stuck out her chin. “Hey, I’m not a first year law student. Spare me the lecture.”

“Then help me think it out. Why does the killer take the gun?”

“Because he’s not wearing gloves, so his fingerprints would be on it.”

“Why doesn’t he just wipe it off?”

“He doesn’t want to take the time. He’s fired the gun, he’s afraid the sound of the shot will attract someone, he gets the hell out of there.”

Steve nodded. “Much better. Or, he did ditch the gun, and it’s lying under the body.”

“There’s a thought. You like that?”

“Actually, not really. I mean, you shoot a guy, he starts to fall, you realize you killed him, so you throw down the gun under the body before it hits the floor.”

“That is a bit of a stretch,” Tracy said.

“What about Amy?”

“What about her.”

“I know she’s hysterical most of the time. But was there anything she said that she used the word shot? You know, like, ‘Someone shot Frank.’”

Tracy shook her head.

“Did you use it? In your questions. Like, Did she shoot him? Does she know who shot him?”

“I didn’t say shot.”

“You sure?”

“I didn’t say it. I certainly assumed he was shot, just like you did, but I never said so.”

“That’s a break.”


“When Amy tells her story to the cops, it’s better if she lets them determine the cause of death.”

“I see your point.”

“She didn’t say anything? Even when she was hysterical and you had to roughhouse with her-she didn’t blurt out something then?”

“No. She’d lost it. She wasn’t at all coherent.”

“Even when you wrestled her out the door?”

“No. I was talking. Telling her to shut up. She was just making sounds.”


“Yeah. Half sob, half scream. Loud. I was afraid she’d attract someone. I kept telling her to shut up.”

“She didn’t say anything then?”

“No, she just pushed me. I fell back against the desk. I had to lunge for her, grab her, and-”


“Jesus Christ!”

“You pushed off the desk?”


“Amy Dearborn’s desk?”

Tracy nodded wordlessly.

“Oh shit.” Steve shook his head. “No wonder it was bugging you. You left your fingerprints on the desk with the rifled petty cash drawer.”


Mark Taylor flopped his two hundred and twenty pounds into Steve Winslow’s overstuffed clients’ chair, cocked his head at the attorney and said, “This better be important. I happen to have a date.”

“Oh?” Steve said.

“The young lady in question was not pleased. If this terminates the relationship, it will be reflected in your bill.”

“You’re already on time and a half for after hours, Mark.”

Mark Taylor ran his hand through his curly red hair and rubbed the back of his neck. “Small consolation,” he said. “I’ve been trying to get a date with this girl for a month.”

“Girl?” Tracy said.

Mark Taylor looked at her. “Huh?”

“Mind if I jump in here?” Steve said. “Tracy is about to take exception to your calling a grown woman a girl. Fascinating as that might be, we do happen to have this murder on our hands.”

“Murder?” Taylor said.

“That’s why you’re here,” Steve said. “So let me give you a rundown of the facts. This evening, at approximately ten P.M., the body of Frank Fletcher was discovered in his office at F. L. Jewelry on West 47th Street by a Miss Amy Dearborn.”

Mark Taylor frowned, held up his hand. “Whoa. Just a minute. Reality check. Did you say this evening?”


“Did you say the body was discovered at ten P.M.?”

“Yes, I did. You got a problem with that?”

“A small one,” Taylor said.

“And what is that?”

“Unless my watch is stopped, it happens to be nine forty five.”

“Yes, I believe it is.”

Mark Taylor shook his head. “I don’t want anything to do with this.”

“I can’t believe your attitude,” Steve said.

“Oh no?” Taylor said. “You didn’t just tell me about a murder that hasn’t been reported yet?”

“Did I say that?”

“You said it was discovered at ten o’clock.”

“That’s an approximation, Mark.”

“I don’t give a shit what it is. If you know about a murder the cops don’t, you’re in bad. Now you’ve told me, and I’m in bad.”

“No, you’re not, Mark. What I say isn’t binding, it’s hearsay. You don’t know about a murder. And even if you do, it’s your own damn fault.”


“For getting here so fast. If you’d taken another half hour to get here, you’d be feeling fine. If you got here at ten-fifteen and I told you a murder was discovered at ten o’clock, you wouldn’t give it a second thought.”

Taylor stood up, put up his hand. “Steve,” he said. “You can kid around with the happy horseshit all you want. But this is where I draw the line. You’ve come close to costing me my license before. With your smooth talk and your there, there, everything will be all right. If you know about a murder before the cops do, and you’re not tellin’ them you know, you’re an accessory. You say, ‘Don’t I like your business?’ I like my business. I wanna keep my business. So if you don’t mind, I’m going in the outer office, I’m calling this girl, or woman, or whatever, and if she’s still talking to me I’m taking her out on a date and forgetting this whole thing ever happened. Which, considering what you told me, is a concession in itself.”

“Okay, Mark,” Steve said. “But I should tell you what you’re turning down.”

“I know what I’m turning down. A chance to get an ulcer or have a heart attack. Not to mention lose my license and go to jail. Thanks all the same.”

Mark Taylor started for the door.

“It’s Tracy this time,” Steve said.

Taylor stopped. Turned back. “What?”

“Just thought you should know. Tracy saw the body. She’s the one on the hook.”

Taylor sighed. “Aw, hell.” He rubbed his forehead, walked over and flopped back down in the chair. “All right,” he said. “Let’s have it.”


Amy Dearborn couldn’t believe how well it was going. She’d told her story and gotten through it without a hitch. The cop seemed to be buying it. He hadn’t interrupted her once. The cop was a stolid, impassive man, didn’t seem particularly bright. Even when she was finished he just sat there, said nothing. As if his mind couldn’t process the information that fast and he was waiting for it all to sink in.

The interrogation, if one could call it that, was taking place in Marvin Lowery’s office. After she’d shown them the body, the cop had taken her in there and offered her a chair. He’d sat at the desk and said, “Tell me about it.” Since then he had not said a single word.

Nor did he comment on her statement now. After a few moments he said, “Excuse me,” and got up and walked out the door.

Amy heaved a sigh of relief. Maybe she was going to get through this after all.

She’d no sooner thought that, then the cop came back in. Amy involuntarily recoiled at his entrance, but he took no notice, merely sat down and looked at her with the same vacant stare.

“Miss Dearborn,” he said. “Let me be sure I understand this.”

Coming from him, the concept struck Amy funny. She almost smiled. “I beg your pardon?”

“You say you came here tonight to clean out your desk?”

“That’s right.”

“You used to work here?”


“But you don’t work here anymore?”


“When did you leave?”

“About a month ago.”

“A month ago? You mean a whole month?”

“A little over a month.”

“Really? And you didn’t clean out your desk before now?”


“That would seem a rather long time. Was there any particular reason for that?”

“Actually, yes.”

“And what would that be?”

“I don’t think it’s really important.”

“Miss, Dearborn, we’ll be the judge of what’s important. Why don’t you just go ahead and explain.”

Amy took a breath. “Well, to begin with, I was fired.”

“Fired?” The cop said. He pointed in the direction of Fletcher’s office. “By the man in there?”

“Yes. Well, not him specifically. But by the company.”

“But he was one of the partners in the company?”


“And therefore one of the men who fired you?”

Amy shifted in her chair. “You don’t understand,” she said. “It’s not like that.”

“Not like what?”

“Not like I resented him for firing me, so I killed him.”

“I never suggested such a thing.”

“Maybe not,” Amy said. “I just wanted to tell you that’s all wrong.”

The cop put up his hand. “Please don’t trouble yourself, Miss Dearborn. That’s not what I mean at all. The point is, you were fired, and that’s why you didn’t come back to clean out your desk until tonight. Is that right?”

“That’s right.”

“Then why tonight? Why after one month would you come back to clean out your desk now?”

“That’s really beside the point,” Amy said. “Which is why I didn’t want to get into it.” She took a breath. “You see, I was fired for stealing.”


“Yes, but I didn’t do it. I know that’s what they all say, but the fact is, I didn’t.”

“Uh huh,” the cop said. “And what were you accused of stealing?”



“Petty cash. From the petty cash drawer.”

Amy wasn’t sure, but she thought a flicker of expression crossed the cop’s face. It was momentary, however, and he continued his methodical, toneless questioning.

“The petty cash drawer-would that be the one in your desk? The one you told me about? The one you found open before you went in and found the body?”

“That’s right.”

“How much were you accused of taking?”

“One hundred dollars.”

“Mr. Fletcher complained to the police?”

“It wasn’t just Mr. Fletcher. The partners made the complaint.”

“But the fact is, this was reported to the police.”


“A month ago when you were fired?”

“That’s right.”

“What’s this have to do with why you happened to come here tonight?”

“I’d been arrested and charged with the crime. I didn’t think I should come here till the matter was resolved.”

“I take it the matter was resolved?”

“That’s right.”

“When did that happen?”

“Just this afternoon.”


“That’s the whole point I was making. This afternoon a jury found me innocent of all charges. So I figured it didn’t matter anymore.”

“You were tried for theft?”

“That’s right.”

“The charge brought up by the dead man there?”

“You keep saying that. It was him and his partner. Not him in particular.”

“I understand. But he was one of the parties to the charge?”


“The case went to the jury and they found you innocent?”

“That’s right.”

“Who was your attorney in this matter?”

“A Mr. Steve Winslow.”

Once again it seemed to Amy as if there were some expression behind the cop’s eyes. But he merely said, “And he got you off?”


“How long was the trial?”

“Just today.”

“Including jury selection?”

“That’s right.”

“That’s a long day. It must have been quite late in the afternoon when you got the verdict.”

“Yes. It was close to five.”

“And where did you go then?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You were downtown at the courthouse at five o’clock. I’d like to trace your movements from then until now.”


“Just routine.”

“I walked down to subway, took the subway home to my apartment.”

“Which is where?”

“A hundred and seventh and Broadway.”

“What did you do then?”

“I had a dinner engagement. I changed my clothes and went out.”


“A restaurant in the neighborhood.”

“Who were you dining with?”

“Does that matter?”

“Anything that confirms your story helps.”

“It’s not a story.”

The cop held up his hand. “That’s a figure of speech. In a murder case, we always ask the witness for corroboration. It’s standard procedure for me to ask. Is there any reason you wouldn’t want to answer?”


“Then do yourself a favor. We’ll get through this a lot faster if you just answer my questions instead of trying to figure out why I’m asking. Now, who’d you have dinner with?”

“Larry Cunningham.”

“And who is Larry Cunningham?”

“A friend.”


Amy straightened slightly, cocked her head. “Is that one of those questions I shouldn’t try to figure out why you’re asking?”

“Anyway, you went out to dinner with Mr. Cunningham?”

“That’s right.”

“What time was that?”

“Around six-thirty.”

“Isn’t that rather early?”

“For a weekday night? No. We often went out that early.”


“We’ve had dinner before. Is that what you’re investigating?”

“No. And how long were you at dinner?”

“Until about seven-thirty.”

“Where did you go then?”

“I went home.”

“Did Mr. Cunningham take you home?”

“Actually, he didn’t. He had work to do and took a cab home from the restaurant.”

“A cab?”

“Yes. He lives on the east side. I live two blocks away.”

“I see. So he left you at seven-thirty and you walked home?”

“That’s right.”

“And what did you do then?”

“Well, I had nothing planned. He and I had talked of going to the movies, but it turned out he had to work.”

“What does he do?”

“He’s an investment counselor.”

“Is that like a stock broker?”

“Somewhat. Only more complicated.”

“Uh huh. Anyway, the fact is you didn’t go to the movies?”

“No. So I had nothing to do. And I’d been wanting to clean out my desk for some time. So it occurred to me now I could.”

“I see. So you did?”



“I beg your pardon?”

“Well, this was around seven-thirty. But you didn’t get here till around ten. What did you do in the meantime?”

Amy hesitated. This seemed like the cop’s first attempt to trip her up. She wondered if she should call Steve Winslow.

“Oh, nothing much. Just puttered around the apartment. I thought about going to the movies myself, but I hate going alone.” She shrugged. “I watched TV for a while.”

“What did you watch?”

“Nothing in particular. I was just switching channels, looking for something. But there was nothing on. I got bored, and that’s when I thought about cleaning out my desk.”

“How did you get here?”

“By cab.”

“You took a cab from a hundred and seventh street?”

“That’s right.”

“Isn’t that expensive?”

“A little. But I don’t like taking the subway at night.”

“So you took a cab right to the door?”

“That’s right.” Amy unsnapped her purse. “In fact, I think I have the receipt.”

“You got a receipt?”



“The driver gave me one, I shoved it in my purse. Oh, here it is.”

Amy pulled out the receipt, extended it to the cop. He took it, looked at it. If it meant anything to him, she couldn’t tell.

“So,” he said, “according to this, you got here at nine fifty-five.”

“That sounds about right.”

“How’d you get in?”


“How’d you get in the door?”

“Oh. The downstairs door was unlocked. I turned the knob and it opened. The upstairs door was ajar.”

“You mean open?”

“Just a crack. But it was open. And the lights were on. I pushed it open and went in.”

“I see,” the cop said. He shifted forward in his chair, leaned on the desk. There was something intimidating in the gesture. “That’s how you got in. Because the door was open. But you didn’t know that. You didn’t know it was going to be open. So how were you going to get in?”

“I had a key.”


“From when I worked here before. When they fired me, they forgot to ask me for the keys.”

“You had the keys all the time?”

“Yes, I did.”

“They never asked for them back?”

“When? It’s not like we parted friends. After they fired me, I never saw them again. I guess they just forgot about it.”

“That seems strange,” the cop said. “If you fire an employee for stealing, you don’t let them walk off with your keys.”

“They were partners. Maybe each partner thought the other one had them.”

“Maybe,” the cop said. He didn’t sound convinced, but he pushed on. “Anyway, you went into the office to clean out your desk?”


“But you didn’t clean out your desk.”


“Why not?”

“I could tell at once something was wrong.”

“How was that?”

“Like I said. The door was open and the lights were on. That didn’t make any sense. Why would anyone be there at that hour?”

“Why indeed? So what did you do?”

“Stuck my head in and listened. But I couldn’t hear anything. So I called out, Hey, anybody here?”

“You did?”


“Why did you do that?”

Amy frowned. “What do you mean, why? To see if anybody was here.”

“Yes, but you didn’t want to see those people. After all, they fired you.”

“Yes, but I’d beaten them in court. There was nothing more they could do to me. If one of them was there, I was going to announce my presence and clean out my desk.”

“I see. But no one answered?”


“What did you do then?”

“I went to clean out my desk.”

“Did you do that?”


“And why was that?”

“I told you why?”

“Tell me again.”

“Because it had been robbed.”


Amy held up her hand. “All right. That’s a conclusion on part. The petty cash drawer was open and the petty cash box inside it was open and the money was gone.”

“You saw that then?”

“That’s right.”

“Before you found the body?”

“Yes. That’s what made me look around.”

“So you looked around, you went in Mr. Fletcher’s office, found him lying there?”

“That’s right.”

“Did you touch the body?”


“Or anything else in the office?”

“Not that I recall.”

“What did you do?”

“I went back in the outer office and called the cops.”

“From where?”

“The phone on my desk.”

“I see. Did you sit down at your desk to call?”

“Of course not. I was too upset. I snatched up the phone and called nine one one.”

“Standing there in front of your desk?”


“You called the cops, you hung up the phone and then what did you do?”

“Nothing. I was so nervous I didn’t know what to do. I knew I shouldn’t touch anything. I didn’t want to be here, but I knew I couldn’t leave. I just kind of waited by the front door, kind of pacing up and down till the cops came. I guess it was just a few minutes. It seemed like forever.”

The cop nodded. “Okay,” he said. “Let me be sure I got this straight. You came here in a taxi, nine fifty-five. You paid off the taxi, stuck the receipt in your purse. You went inside. The downstairs door was unlocked. You came upstairs. The upstairs door was ajar and lights were on. You stuck your head in, called out, but no one answered. You came in to clean out your desk. You discovered the petty cash drawer open, the petty cash box open, and the petty cash gone. Is that right?”

“Yes. That’s right.”

“Did you touch the petty cash box?”


“Or the petty cash drawer?”


“So your fingerprints should not be on them?”

Amy raised her chin. “Just a minute here. If this is some sort of trick, I don’t like it. I used to work in this office. I worked at that desk. I was in charge of petty cash. I’ve handled the petty cash box many times and opened and closed that drawer. It’s entirely possible my fingerprints could be there.”

“But that would be over a month ago?”


“You’re saying your fingerprints might be on that cash box or that drawer from over a month ago?”

“Yes, they might. I don’t know if fingerprints last that long, but if they do, it would be possible.”

“But it’s not possible that you left any fingerprints there tonight?”


“Because you didn’t touch the petty cash box or the petty cash drawer?”


“You left them just the way you found them?”

“That’s right.”

“You didn’t point them out to us when we arrived.”

“What’s that?”

“The petty cash box and the petty cash drawer-you didn’t point them out.”

“No. Of course not.”

“Why not?”

“They weren’t important. The important thing was a man was dead.”

“And the petty cash drawer was only important because it was the thing that led you to discover that man was dead?”

“Yes. Of course.”

“But it was still important-in itself, I mean-because it indicated the office had been robbed.”

“Well, sure.”

“But you didn’t point it out to us.”

Amy took a breath. “I don’t see what you’re making such a fuss about. I certainly told you about it as soon as I started making my statement. It’s not like it was something I was trying to hide.”

“No, of course not,” the cop said. “I didn’t mean to imply that at all. I’m merely going over what happened. We arrived here, you met us at the door. Told us a man was dead. Took us in Mr. Fletcher’s office and showed us the body. Following that, I took you in here for questioning. Which is the first time you mentioned about the missing money and the petty cash drawer.”

“Yes, of course,” Amy said. “What’s the point?”

“The point is, I only have your word for that. The fact you discovered the drawer open, the cash box open and the money gone. And the fact you left them exactly as they were and didn’t touch a thing.”

“Well, it happens to be the truth,” Amy said.

“That may well be,” the cop said. “The fact is, you still haven’t pointed them out to us. That’s what I mean when I say I only have your word for it. So, just to keep the record straight, would you mind pointing out what it is you’re referring to in your statement as the petty cash box and the petty cash drawer?”

“I’d be glad to,” Amy said.


The cop got up, opened the door.

Amy got up, started out.

The cop stopped her. “I should tell you that, just as we have your assurance that you left everything exactly as you found it and didn’t touch the drawer, I want you to know that you have my assurance that we left everything exactly as we found it, and have not touched the petty cash box or the petty cash drawer.”

Amy frowned. “Why do you say that?”

“No reason,” the cop said. “I just want to be absolutely fair. Now please,” he said, “if you’d point them out to me, I think we can wrap this up.”

“Certainly,” Amy said. She heaved a sigh of relief. Wrap this up-hot damn. She couldn’t believe how well she’d gotten through this. She stepped by the cop and walked into the room. “This is my desk here,” she said. “This is the petty cash drawer.”

Amy walked around behind the desk to point out the drawer and stopped dead.

All the desk drawers were shut.


Mark Taylor hung up the phone. “You’re not going to like this.”

“Oh?” Steve said.

“Yeah. The cop assigned to the case is Sergeant Stams.”


“Yeah. Couldn’t be worse, could it? On the one hand, the guy’s not that swift. On the other, he’d like nothing better than to nail you.”

“I know. With him it’s personal. Jesus Christ, this is all I need in this situation.”

“In one way it could be good.”

“How’s that?”

“Tracy’s fingerprint. He’s the one cop who might be too dumb to find it.”

“Fine,” Steve said impatiently. “What else did you get?”

“That’s it. That’s all I know.”

“You must have something.”

“Give me a break,” Taylor said. “This is hot off the wire. If I didn’t have a pipeline into headquarters, I wouldn’t have this. The only word so far is Sergeant Stams was sent out to investigate a reported homicide at a jewelers on West 47th Street.”

“No word on who phoned it in?”

“None so far. You gotta understand. My man’s getting this information as it becomes available. He can’t show that much interest.”

“Well, could he show some?” Steve said irritably.

“Take it easy, Steve,” Tracy said. “This is my fault. There’s no need to take it out on Mark.”

“I’m not taking it out on Mark. I just want to know what the hell’s going on.”

“Don’t we all,” Taylor said. “Well, all we know now is your client’s gotten back to the jewelry store, phoned it in, and Sergeant Stams has responded. By rights he’s there now. Your client’s already told her story. And her instructions were to call as soon as the cops got cute, right?”


“She hasn’t called yet, so things must be fine.”

“Yeah,” Steve said. He turned to Tracy. “You sure you hooked it up right?”

Tracy gave him a look. “Steve, I do this all the time. Call-forwarding’s on. If she calls the office, it will ring up here.”

“Are you sure?”


“Why don’t you run downstairs and check.”

“Check what?”

“The answering machine.”

Tracy looked at him. Shook her head. “Men,” she said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I bet you can’t program your VCR either.”

“I don’t have a VCR,” Steve said. “What’s your point?”

“For a bright man, you’re a moron when it comes to anything mechanical. How could the answering machine be on if I’m using call-forwarding? That’s the whole point. The call doesn’t go to the office, it’s transferred up here.”

“Yeah, but if that wasn’t working, wouldn’t the answering machine pick up?”

“The answering machine isn’t on. You don’t leave it on when you set call-forwarding.”

“Why not?”

Mark Taylor, who’d been looking back and forth, held up his hands. “Kids,” he said. “Let’s not quarrel. The fact is, if she gets her one phone call, I’ll get the news almost as quick as you will.”

“Yeah, I suppose,” Steve said. “Still-”

The phone on Mark Taylor’s desk rang. He scooped it up. “Yeah?… What you got?” He listened a moment, said, “Get back to me,” and hung up the phone. “You’re not going to like this.”

“You keep saying that.”

“I gotta call ’em as I see ’em. Word is, Stams made an arrest.”

“Shit. They say who?”

“No, but who else? All I got is a report Stams is on his way downtown with a suspect in tow.”

“Damn it,” Steve said. “I told her the minute things got sticky to clam up and call.”

“Maybe he wouldn’t let her.”

“Let her, hell. If he took her in, he’s gotta Mirandize her.”

“Yeah, but we’re talkin’ Stams.”

“Right. If he didn’t, it’s a hell of a break.” Steve shrugged. “Except with Stams, I wouldn’t put it past him to lie and say he did.”

“Think he could get away with it?”

“I don’t know,” Steve said impatiently. “But that’s beside the point. If. Amy followed instructions, the minute Stams looked at her funny she should have started screaming she wanted to call her lawyer. If she’s on her way downtown, things are not going as planned.”

“No kidding,” Taylor said. “So whaddya want to do?”

“Till she lights, there’s nothing I can do. I would like some better reports.”

“Hey, don’t shoot the messenger,” Taylor said. “Can you suggest anything practical that I’m not doing?”

“No. Yes. There’s a man runs a music store on the ground floor. Find out who that is, whether he’s the guy was working there earlier tonight.”

“What’s the name of the store?”

“I didn’t notice.”

“Makes it a bit harder,” Taylor said dryly. He snatched up the phone, punched in a number. “Mickey, it’s Mark. Consider yourself on the clock. There’s a music store on West 47th Street.” He cupped the receiver, turned to Steve. “What’s the address?”

“Damned if I know. Tracy?”

“Got it,” Tracy said. She whipped open her notebook, read the address to Mark Taylor, who relayed it over the phone.

“Got that?” Taylor said. “I want to know the name of the shop, the name of the owner, and who was working there tonight.” He turned to Steve. “Anything else?”

“Yeah. Find out where the guy is now.”

“Can he know why we’re askin’?”

“The less he knows the better. Just line him up.”

“You got it,” Taylor said. He relayed the instructions and hung up the phone. “Okay,” he said. “Anything else?”

“Yeah. Fletcher’s partner. Marvin Lowery. Get a line on him, find out where he was this evening. You don’t have to go back any further than five o’clock, because up till then he was in court.

“Same thing with the detective-that’s Samuel Macklin. Only in his case, after he testified I don’t think he stuck around-he had no reason to. So you have to trace his movements from mid-afternoon. Find out if he went back to his agency, or home, or whatever.”

“Will do,” Taylor said. He picked up the phone and started to dial. Another line on his phone rang. He pushed the button, took the call. “Yeah?” he snapped. Then, “No, no, wait a minute. Who are you calling?… Yeah, hang on.”

Taylor looked up from the phone. “It’s her.”


Amy Dearborn had been crying.

Steve Winslow didn’t need her red eyes to tell him that- he’d been able to tell on the phone. As he looked at her through the wire-mesh screen in the lockup, he felt sorry for her, sure. But he also felt angry and impatient. So it was all he could do to appear sympathetic and calm.

“Tell me about it,” he said.

Amy snuffled once. “It’s a mess.”

“So I gather,” Steve said. “But you’d better define this mess, so I can start doing something about it.”

“It’s not my fault,” Amy said.

“I didn’t say it was.”

“I can tell. From your tone.”

“Forget my tone,” Steve said. “It’s been a long day. I need your story. I don’t want to drag it out of you. Pull yourself together and tell me the score.”

He lip trembled. “They tricked me.”

“Who tricked you?”

“That cop.”

“Sergeant Stams?”

“I don’t know his name. He sat there with a blank look. He seemed so stupid.”

“Yeah, that’s Stams. What happened?”

“I told your story. Just like you said.”

“Yeah. So?”

“He seemed to be buying it. I had no idea anything was wrong.”

“What was wrong?”

“The drawer.”

“What drawer?”

“What drawer do you think? The petty cash drawer.”

“What about it?”

“It was shut.”


“It was shut. The damn drawer was shut.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Me either. But that’s what happened.”

“Wait a minute. Wait a minute,” Steve said. “Are you telling me that you told Stams you found the petty cash drawer open, and when you went to look at it, it was shut?”

“That’s right.”

“The cops didn’t close it?”

“He said they didn’t.”

“He said they didn’t?”


Steve groaned. “Don’t tell me. You told Stams the drawer had been robbed. He showed you the drawer was shut and asked you what the hell you were talking about?”


“Did you try to tell him?”

“Well, I-”


“Well, it was your bright idea,” Amy said. “Going back there. Pretending it was the first time. How was I to know someone had been there after me?”

“You could have checked the desk.”

“Why would I check the desk? Why would it even occur to me that drawer wouldn’t be open?”

“Hell,” Steve said.

“I’m sorry you’re taking it so hard,” Amy said, sarcastically. “I’m the one in jail.”

“Right,” Steve said. “But you don’t have to do anything about it. I’m the one who has to get you out. So try to pull yourself together and give me the facts.”

“I don’t know the facts.”

“You know what you told the police, don’t you?”

Amy said nothing.

“Come on, give me a break,” Steve said. “What did you tell the cops?”

“Nothing much.”

“You must have said something. Stams drags you out there, shows you the drawer. It’s a big shock. You must have said something then.”

“I didn’t.”

“You didn’t say, That can’t be right?”

“Maybe I did.”

“You didn’t say, The cops must have closed it?”

“I may have said that.”

“And then Stams starts working on you: I thought you called us from here; I thought you called us right away; I thought no one was in here between the time you called us and the time we got here. So if you found the drawer open, who closed the drawer?”

Amy said nothing. Looked down.

“Didn’t he say something like that?” Steve said.


“So what did you say then?”

“I said, I want to call my lawyer.”

“That’s all.”

“Yeah, that’s all.”

Steve exhaled. “Well, thank goodness for small favors. Okay, you called your lawyer and I’m here. What can I do for you?”

Amy looked at him. “Get me out of here.”

“That may not be so easy. First let’s have your story. What did you tell the cops?”

“I told them everything.”

Steve grimaced. “You don’t know how bad that sounds. What do you mean, everything?”

“I mean about being arrested and the trial.”

“That’s okay. What about tonight?”

“I went out to dinner with a friend.”


“At a restaurant near my apartment.”


“From six-thirty to seven-thirty.”

“What happened then?”

“He had to work, and I went home.”

“At seven-thirty?”


“Who’s the friend?”

“Larry Cunningham.”

“Known him long?”


“For one thing, it tells me how good a witness he’ll be. Anyway, he left you at the restaurant?”

“That’s right.”

“That’s what you told the cops?”


“Is that what really happened?”


“He left and you went home?”


“What happened then?”

“I told the cops I watched TV for a while, then I got the idea about cleaning out my desk.”

“That’s what you told them?”


“But that’s not what happened?”

Amy looked at him. “You know what happened. I didn’t watch TV. I went right down.”


Amy blinked. “What?”

“Why did you go down then? That’s the one thing that makes no sense. The trial’s over, you’re found innocent. What was so important about cleaning out your desk?”

“Nothing really, but…”

“But what?”

“I don’t know. I just wanted to do it because I could.”

“Because it’s there?” Steve said. “The mountain climbing defense. I’m sorry, but that’s hard to swallow.”

“Well, it happens to be the truth.”

“That’s fine,” Steve said. “So, you went there to clean out your desk. Tell me, did you take any bags with you? Or cartons? Anything to put your stuff in?”


“No? Why not? How were you going to carry your stuff?”

“There were plenty of bags and cartons in the office.”

“Good answer,” Steve said. “You were obviously prepared for that one-you came right in with it. Did the cops ask you that too?”

“Yes, of course.”

Steve nodded. “Which is why you’re prepared. Now. But tell me-when the cops asked you-were you prepared then? Did you come right back with the answer, or did you have to think about it?”

Amy stuck out her chin. “You know, I really resent this.”


“You’re acting like you don’t believe a word I say.”

“No, I’m acting like a lawyer. Your story has to stand up, have no holes in it whatsoever. If I can pick it apart, the D.A. can pick it apart. If that happens, you’re through. Which is why I had you clam up and stop talking. I can’t take the risk till your story’s air-tight.” Steve exhaled. “Try and understand the concept. Right now you’re keeping quiet, but at some point I’ve got to decide do you tell your story or not. The way things stand right now, you don’t. But if you ever do, it’s going to depend on your being able to answer questions without blowing your cool. So if my questions piss you off, try to think of them as a dress rehearsal.” He smiled grimly. “And if you think I’m skeptical and sarcastic, wait’ll you hear the D.A.”

Amy glared at him defiantly for a moment. Then her eyes faltered. She shivered slightly. “Okay,” she said. “Okay.” Then her face hardened. She looked back up at him. “No, it’s not okay. Where do you get off making a pompous speech like that? You have to decide if you’re going to let me tell my story. I told my story. I came to the office to clean out my desk, found the petty cash drawer robbed and the body on the floor. That’s what I told the cops, and that’s why I’m on the hook. So you tell me, what the hell can I tell ’em now that’s gonna account for that petty cash drawer being shut?”

Steve exhaled. Shook his head.

“Damned if I know.”


STEVE WINSLOW CALLED MARK Taylor from a pay phone on the corner. “Mark, Steve. Listen, besides Lowery and Macklin, I want you to get a line on Larry Cunningham.”


“Larry Cunningham. That’s the guy Amy Dearborn had dinner with before she went down there. Find him and get his story sewn up before the cops do.”

“You got it.”

“You got anything for me?”

“Nothing new from the cops. But I pegged the store owner.”

“Store owner?”

“Guy from the music store. The one who closed up the shop.”

“That was him?”

“Sure was. I got his name and address and Tracy’s there now.”

“You sent Tracy to talk to him?”

“What do you mean, sent? Like I had a choice in the matter? My man calls in the info, and while I’m still taking it down, Tracy’s on the other phone calling him up. I told her to wait for you, but she said there might not be time and she’s gone.”

“Shit. Where’s the guy live?”

“A loft in SoHo. You want the address?”

“Sure do.”

Steve copied down the address, hung up the phone and flagged a cab. He didn’t go to SoHo, however, he had the cab take him to his apartment in Greenwich Village.

He had his corduroy jacket off on the way up the stairs. He went in, hurled it on the couch and tore off his T-shirt. Cursing his cluttered studio apartment, he detoured around a pile of paperbacks he’d never managed to find shelf space for, and flung open his closet. It was crammed with junk, but at least nothing fell out like in a cartoon. He riffled through the hanging clothes, managed to find a white shirt. He tore it off the hanger, pulled it on, buttoned it up.

Next a tie. He found a brown one hanging on a hook, pulled it on and tied it. The result was sloppy at best-the knot was twisted and the narrow end of the tie hung down below the wide one, but at least it was on.

Steve plowed through the hangers again. Aha. A gray sports coat that had seen better days. He pulled that on.

What about the pants? Screw the pants. Fix the hair. Steve rushed to a desk in the corner, jerked open a drawer. Victory. A rubber band, first rattle out of the box. He rushed into the bathroom combed his hair back into a ponytail, fastened it with the rubber band and tucked it under the collar of the white shirt.

And noticed how badly he’d tied the tie. Hell. Should he do it again?“ Who gives a shit?” Steve said out loud. He turned and ran out the door.


It was a second floor loft on Spring street. The man who opened the door was indeed the man Steve had seen closing up the music shop.

“Mr. Branstein?” Steve said.

Branstein was a middle-aged man with a round face, wire-rimmed glasses, and curly hair. “Yes?” he said.

“Steve Winslow,” Steve said, pumping his hand up and down. “And I understand Miss Garvin is already here.”

Steve didn’t wait for an invitation, just pushed right by Mr. Branstein and found himself in a large open loft with guitars and banjos hanging on the walls.

Tracy Garvin sprang up from the couch. “Mr. Winslow. So glad you’re here. Mr. Branstein was just telling me all about it.”

“All about what?” Steve said.

Oliver Branstein had a slightly bewildered look on his face. “Well, now I don’t exactly know,” he said. “Miss Garvin has been asking me questions. And she hasn’t really told me what it’s all about.”

“Then I’m glad I’m here,” Steve said, “because I can explain. I’m an attorney at law. Miss Garvin is my confidential secretary. She’s been asking you questions with regard to a case I’m handling.”

“What case?”

Steve frowned. “May I be absolutely truthful, Mr. Branstein?”

“Yes, of course.”

“You have to understand that as an attorney at law, my client’s matters are confidential and I cannot divulge them. I know that’s not a very satisfactory answer, so without betraying my client’s interests, I’d like to tell you everything I possibly can.”

“I see,” Branstein said. He looked somewhat confused. He blinked twice. “Ah, won’t you sit down?”

Steve sat on the couch next to Tracy. Branstein sat in a chair opposite. “Now what is it you want to tell me?”

“Okay,” Steve said. “Now, you are the owner of the music store on West 47th Street, is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Are you familiar with the jewelry store in your building- the one on the second floor?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Do you ever notice people going in and out of the jewelry store?”

Branstein frowned. “Now, that’s just what this young lady was asking me. I thought you were going to tell me something.”

“I am,” Steve said. “I’m trying to tell you why I’m asking these questions. It happens that I’m interested in anyone you may have seen going in or out of there tonight.”


Steve frowned, rubbed his head. “Well now, there I’m not sure how much the police would want me to tell you.”

“The police?”

“Yes. I wouldn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, but it seems to me you have a right to know. It appears there has been a robbery.”

“A robbery?”


“At the jewelers?”


“You mean jewelry was stolen?”

“As to that, I’m not sure. But I believe a sum of money was taken.”

“You mean tonight?”

“Now there,” Steve said, “We just don’t know. But there’s every indication it could have been tonight. In which case, what you saw might or might not be important. Which is why I’m here. To find out what you saw. To evaluate it. And if you did see anything important, to advise you whether or not you should report it to the police.”

“The police?” Branstein said again.

“Absolutely. You may well be a witness. If you are, as an attorney, I would advise you to report what you’ve seen to the police at once.”

“Good lord.”

Steve smiled. “There’s no reason to be concerned. The police can be annoying at times, but in your case I think they’d be grateful for your cooperation. I know it’s a hassle, but if you saw something, it is your duty to come forward. Unless, of course, it has no bearing on the case.”

“How could it have no bearing on the case?”

Steve said, “Tell you what. I’m an attorney. If you tell me, I’m willing to take the responsibility.”

“What responsibility?”

“Of advising you whether or not you have to report to the police. If I advise you not to, you’re off the hook. Even if the police were to decide you should have reported to them, you could simply pass the buck.”

Branstein frowned. “Why would you do that?”

“I told you. I’m interested in the case. I’m willing to put myself in that position in order to hear what you know.” When Branstein hesitated, Steve said, “But that’s entirely up to you. If you don’t want to tell me, I suggest that you call the police now.”

“Wait a minute,” Branstein said. “Now you’re putting me in the position where you’re telling me to call the police, and if I don’t do it, it’s my fault.”

“I’m not trying to put you in any position,” Steve said. “I’m only trying to be fair.”

Steve stood up. “I’m sorry we bothered you. Please feel free to act on your information any way you see fit.”

Branstein sprang from his chair. “Hold on, hold on,” he said. “Let’s not be hasty. I didn’t say I wouldn’t talk to you. I just want to know the score.”

“Of course you do,” Steve said. “The problem is, I can’t tell you the score because I don’t know what your information is.”

Branstein exhaled. Came to a decision. “Sit down,” he said. “Let’s talk this over.”

Steve gave Tracy a look, then glanced at his watch. He sat back down and said, “Very well, but we do have to be going.”

“Fine,” Branstein said. “This should only take a minute. Now then, the only question was, did I see anybody going into the jewelers tonight?”


“The answer is yes. In fact, I saw two people.”

Steve kept a straight face, tried to keep from looking at Tracy. “Two?” he said.

“That’s right.”

“Men or women?”

“Both. A man and a woman.”


“No. At two separate times.”

“I see,” Steve said. “And when would that be?”

“The woman was first. That was early in the evening, say, eight o’clock.”


“Yes. I’d just finished up with a customer. A guy’d brought in a guitar to be repaired and was picking it up. Particularly fussy. Took it out. Played it. Kept cocking his head and listening to the tone and frowning. Saying it wasn’t exactly what it was like before it was broken.” Branstein grimaced. Shook his head. “No kidding. Thing was cracked in three places. I did a hell of a job on that instrument, if I do say so myself. But the guy was going on like it’s my fault that thing’s not good as new.”

“And that’s when you saw this woman?” Steve prompted.

“That’s right. I’d walked the guy to the door. Good riddance, you know. And there was no one else in the shop. Otherwise I’d have been waiting on another customer. But there was no one there, so I walked him right to the door.

“Which is when I saw her.”


“The woman.”

“What woman.”

Branstein frowned. “That’s the thing. I didn’t really get a good look, you know. I was showing the guy out and I see someone go in. It’s not important. I wouldn’t even remember if you didn’t ask.”

Steve mentally shot himself. “Right,” he said. “This woman- you saw enough to recognize she was a woman?”

“Oh, sure,” Branstein said. “I could tell that. But I only saw her from the back.”

“You’re saying you only had a quick glimpse of her going in the door?”

“Right. Not well enough to recognize her at all.”

“Recognize?” Tracy said.

Steve shot her a look, but Branstein frowned and said, “Maybe recognize is the wrong word. Maybe I should say describe.”

“Can you describe her?” Steve said.

“No. Like I say, I only saw her from the back. I have the impression of short black hair. But I could be wrong.”

“Oh?” Steve said. “And where did you get that impression?”

“That’s the thing,” Branstein said. “I could be making it up. Like I say, I didn’t have a good look. But she reminded me of someone.” He frowned. “I think that’s it, really. The only reason I remember it at all.”

“And what is that?” Steve said.

“What I said. She reminded me of someone.”


“The woman who works there.”

Steve carefully avoided looking at Tracy Garvin. “Oh? he said.

“Yeah,” he said. “That was my first impression. But I’m probably wrong. Because I don’t think she works there anymore. At least, I haven’t seen her around for a while.”

“I see,” Steve said. “And you’re not sure if it really was this woman?”

“Sure?” Branstein said. “I’m not sure at all. It’s not like I saw her face.”

“What about her clothes? Could you describe what she was wearing?”

He shook his head. “No. How should I know it was going to be important?”

“You couldn’t, of course,” Steve said. “Now, this woman that you saw go in-did you happen to see her go out?”


“Did you see her again tonight?”

“No, I told you. Just that one time.”

“Did you happen to see any other woman going in or out?”

“Not that I recall.”

“But you did see a man?”

“Yes, I did.”

“When was that?”

“That was at nine.”

“How can you be so sure.”

“It was closing time. I was out on the sidewalk, locking up. A man walked by and went in.”

“Can you describe him?” Steve said, casually.

“Sure. He was a hippie. You know. With long hair. I thought he was a customer. I mean, he looked like he should be playing a guitar, you know.”

“Did you notice anything besides the long hair?” Steve said.

“Not really. Like I said, I was locking up. I didn’t really notice the guy until he was going past me. Then I thought he was going to stop, but he didn’t. He kept going, went in the door.”

“So you really only saw him from the back?”

“Yeah, well maybe three quarters. Like I say, I expected him to turn, but he didn’t.”

“Did you notice his clothes?”

Branstein frowned. “Not particularly. The impression I got was nondescript hippie clothing. But the specifics?” He shrugged. “Hey, I could be just going by the hair.”

Steve nodded. “You think you’d know this man if you saw him again?”

“If I saw him again I might. Even though I can’t describe him, I got that impression, you know.”

“I see,” Steve said. “What about the woman?”

He spread his arms. “How could I possibly recognize her? I didn’t see her at all.”

“Right,” Steve said. He stood up. “Well, thanks for your help.”

“Well,” Branstein said. “What do you think?”

“What do you mean?”

“About the cops. You said you were going to advise me about the cops.”

“Yes, of course.”

“So whaddya think? Do I have tell the cops?”

Steve exhaled. He nodded grimly. “Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, I’m afraid you do.”


“Let me tell you the facts of life.”

“You’re really pissed, aren’t you?”

“What gave you your first clue?”

Tracy blinked up at him, tried to see his eyes in the glow from the street light. They were on the corner just outside Branstein’s building.

“Steve,” she said.

“Come on. Let’s get out of here before the cops come.”

“You think they will?”

“Are you kidding? He’s calling them now. If he mentions my name, it’s jackpot time, and Stams himself may show up. I sure don’t want to be standing here if he does.”

He took Tracy by the arm and pulled her down the street. The action was rough, the grip tight, hurting her arm.

“Hey, hey,” Tracy said. “Take it easy. I’m coming.”

Steve released her arm and they walked along rapidly, not talking, till they reached Canal.

Steve stopped, turned around. “Okay,” he said. “I’m putting you in a cab. Before I do, I got something to say.”

“You’re upset I went over there?”

“No kidding.”

“It’s a judgment call. You weren’t there and it seemed the thing to do.”

“It wasn’t.”

“So I gather. You wanna beat me up, or you wanna tell me why?”

“You know why. You’re overboard on this one from the word go. You take the client up to the murder scene, leave a convenient fingerprint behind and whisk her out of there. Then when I’m running around trying to patch that one up, you rush out and call on a witness.”

“Because you weren’t available and I wanted to get to him before the cops did.”

“The cops weren’t getting to him,” Steve said. “And he wasn’t getting to them. There was absolutely nothing to connect him to the case.”

“Maybe so, but-”

“And look what you did,” Steve said. “Will you stop to consider what you did?”

“I know it’s a mess.”

“Do you?” Steve said. “Well, let me define it for you. This guy had no idea anything had gone on, and still wouldn’t if we hadn’t told him. He only remembers Amy going in there because we reminded him of it.”

“He can’t identify her.”

“So what,” Steve said. “Don’t you see the big bummer here? Don’t you see what we’ve done?” Steve paused, exhaled. “The guy closed his shop at nine. If Amy got there and called the cops at ten, why is this guy a witness at all? Obviously he isn’t. He’s peripheral. Clearly irrelevant and one of the last people in the world you’d ever think of.

“So what happens? We think of him first. Rush out there and interview him the night of the crime. Before the police even know he exists. What does that do? That elevates him from peripheral witness to prime witness. If the guy’s important to us, there must be something we know. I don’t care how dumb Stams is, he can still figure that.

“So what’s the upshot? The store owner’s not the witness anymore. Our client’s the witness. She had to have seen him earlier for us to have even known about him.”

“She didn’t see him earlier,” Tracy said.

“Right. I did. Big fucking deal. Same difference. If I saw him, by extension I saw him because of something my client told me.”

“At least he didn’t recognize you.”

“Yeah, and look how I had to dress up to make sure he didn’t.”

“Even so, doesn’t that count for something if he tries to identify you later on?”

“Small victory and beside the point,” Steve said. “The point is, our client’s dead. We took a non-witness and made him a star. We don’t go there, even if the guy tells his story, it barely implicates Amy at all. Because there’s no connection. But now there is. Her attorney rushed out there to try to break down the identification. Before the cops even knew there was one. Conclusion? There must have been an identification to break down.”

Tracy’s eyes glistened. He lip trembled. “I was only trying to help.”

“No, you weren’t,” Steve said. “You know what you were doing? You were trying to play Della Street. It’s the books you read. Your head’s so full of murder mysteries, you think life is like that. You can’t run around contaminating murder scenes and holding out on the cops, pulling a fast one with the witnesses and all that. I got bad news for you. I’m not Perry Mason, and there doesn’t have to be a happy ending.

“And our client? For all we know she’s guilty, she’s going to take a fall, and she’s going to pull us down with her. I, for one, don’t really want to go.”

“That’s not fair,” Tracy said.

“Oh, isn’t it? I’ve done a lot of things tonight that I wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t your ass on the line. Sending her back there to find the body again. You think I’d have done that if you hadn’t whisked her out of there the first time?” Steve stopped, shook his head. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be so hard on you. But it makes me crazy-thinking if I don’t cover this up, the cops are going to nail you.”

“They’re not gonna nail me.”

“Oh no? You left your fingerprints at the scene of the crime, and you rushed out to tamper with a witness. You think Branstein isn’t going to remember you showed up even before I did?”

Tracy took a long breath, then blew it out again. “I’m sorry,” she said.

“Yeah,” Steve said. He stepped out in the street, raised his hand.

“What you doing?”

“I’m putting you in a cab. I want you to go home and get some sleep while you still can.” Steve grimaced. Shook his head. “Because tomorrow, all hell’s gonna break loose.”


Steve Winslow was dreaming.

He’d finally gotten the lead in the Broadway play he’d always wanted. It wasn’t just any Broadway play, it was Hamlet. With him in the title role. There he was, out on stage doing the famous soliloquy. “To be or not to be.” The audience was hushed, quiet, listening to his words. But still, there were whispers. Faint but audible whispers, echoing around the theater. Better than Olivier. Better than Olivier. Better than Olivier.

It was hard to concentrate, hearing that. Still, Steve was doing a great job. Not better than Olivier, but a damn good Hamlet.

But no one was watching him.


That sea of faces in the audience, the same ones that had been whispering, “Better than Olivier,” weren’t even looking.

Not possible. How fickle is the attention span. But sure enough, they were all looking stage left. What the hell was stage left?

Who cares? Gotta concentrate on the part. Can’t be distracted by-

By what?

In spite of himself, Steve turned, looked, saw-

Amy Dearborn and Tracy Garvin, dressed in identical sunsuits, arms linked, tap-dancing across the stage singing a Double-Mint commercial.

Damn, that pissed Steve off. What were those girls doing? Ruining his concentration on the one hand, and stealing his audience on the other. There they were, dancing to a Double-Mint jingle.

Only it wasn’t a jingle. It was a ring. A whirring ring.

Like the ring of a telephone.

On the fold-out couch, Steve snaked his arm out from under the blanket, groped, found the phone.


“Steve, it’s Tracy.”


“Steve. Wake up. It’s Tracy.”



“Tracy. Jesus Christ. What the hell time is it?”

“I know, I know. I’m sorry, but-”

“You don’t have to call to say you’re sorry. We’ll talk about it tomorrow.”

“No, don’t hang up!” Tracy shouted.

Steve shook his head to clear it. “Tracy, what the hell’s going on?”

“What’s going on is I’m in jail,” Tracy said. “I only get one phone call. It was between you and pizza. I opted for you. Don’t make me think I made a bad choice.”

“What the hell?”

“Got your attention now?” Tracy said. “Good. Here’s the picture. It happens to be two A.M. I’m in the D.A.’s office. He’s here, and so is Sergeant Stams. They’re both trying to ask me questions. I don’t want to answer. I told them I wanted to call my attorney. They weren’t happy, but they had to let me. I called you. Now did I make a good choice, or should I call someone else?”

“Oh, hell.”

“Assuming they let me call someone else. I don’t know how this one phone call bit works. Do you? I mean, if the first attorney you call is a dud, do they let you keep calling until you score?”

“All right, all right, I’m awake,” Steve said. “Just hang on, I’ll be right there.”


Harry Dirkson looked smug. Steve Winslow could tell. He’d seen that look before. It was the look the D.A. wore when he felt he had every ace in the deck. To Winslow that look was a challenge. The phrase, wipe that smug smile off your face, came to mind. Steve wondered just how the hell to do it.

“Well, Winslow,” Dirkson said. “Nice of you to join us.”

“Cut the comedy, Dirkson. What’s going on here?”

“I was hoping you could tell me.”

“Great,” Steve said. He looked at his watch. “It’s two-thirty in the morning. A half hour ago I was sound asleep. You want to play guessing games, or you want to fill me in?”

Dirkson turned, indicated Tracy Garvin, who was seated next to Sergeant Stams. “You have this young lady to thank for it. She saw fit to visit a crime scene. But she can’t seem to see fit to tell us why.”

“Excuse me,” Tracy said. “It just so happens I was arrested. I was perfectly willing to cooperate until then.”

“You arrested my secretary?” Steve said.

“I didn’t arrest her.”

Steve turned to Sergeant Stams. “Sergeant, I know you don’t particularly like me, but don’t you think this is going a little far?”

“Don’t look at me,” Stams said. “I wasn’t even there. She was picked up snooping around a crime scene. You wanna tell us why?”

“I don’t think you get the picture, Sergeant. I told you, I was asleep in bed.”

“Don’t be silly,” Dirkson said. “This woman is your confidential secretary. As such, she’s considered to be your agent, and her actions reflect upon you.”

“Is that so?” Steve said. “Does that mean I’m also under arrest?”

“Don’t be silly. You’re not under arrest.”

“No, but she is. Tell me, what’s the charge?”

“So far she hasn’t been charged.”

“Then you have no right to hold her. Come on, Tracy. Let’s go.”

“Not so fast,” Dirkson said. “I’ll charge her if I have to.”

“You’ll charge her or release her.”

“I’d much prefer to release her. If she’ll answer some questions, I’m sure that can be arranged.”

“Nice try, Dirkson. You can’t hang some nebulous threat of a charge over someone’s head to get them to talk. Now, do you have any grounds for this arrest, or not?”

“I believe there’s plenty of grounds,” Dirkson said.

“Then what’s the charge?”

“Let’s see. Obstruction of justice, compounding a felony, conspiring to conceal a crime.” He shrugged. “This is the type of thing where the charges pile up. Aiding and abetting. Accessory to murder. Of course, it’s hard to tell when the principal won’t talk.”

“Gee, Dirkson, that sounds pretty scary. You wanna tell me what happened?”

“As if you didn’t know.”

“I assure you I don’t. But if it makes you feel better, pretend I don’t know.”

“Like I said, this woman was apprehended sneaking around a crime scene.”

“Sneaking, hell,” Tracy said. “I asked for Sergeant Stams.”

“Is that right, sergeant?” Steve said.

“I wasn’t there,” Stams snapped.

“No, he wasn’t,” Dirkson said. “Nor could one reasonably expect he would be. It was one in the morning. The crime scene unit had long since packed it in for the night. They left a guard at the scene. As it happened, that was a wise move.”

“Oh?” Steve said.

“Yeah,” Dirkson said. “One o’clock in the morning there was a knock on the door.” Dirkson gave Tracy Garvin a look. “Not the downstairs door, the upstairs door. Somehow Miss Garvin had managed to get in the downstairs door.”

Tracy said nothing, just glared at him defiantly.

“Go on,” Steve said. “You going to get hung up on that point, or you want to tell me more?”

“There was a knock on the door,” Dirkson said. “The cop on guard duty opens it. It’s Miss Garvin, here. He asks her what she wants, she says she’s looking for Sergeant Stams. The cop says Stams left hours ago. And Miss Garvin says-now get this-she says, that’s all right, she’ll wait. She pushes right by him into the office.”

Steve shot a glance at Tracy, did his best to keep a straight face. “Is that so?” he said.

“Yeah, that’s so,” Dirkson said. “Now, I must admit the cop they left on guard duty was a rookie. He’s a bit green, he’s not used to dealing with a situation like this. He follows her into the office, telling her she can’t be there, she’s gotta stay out, and the whole nine yards. Meanwhile, she’s in there contaminating a crime scene.”

“Oh, I don’t think she’d do that,” Steve said. “So what happened then?”

“Then she tried to leave. But by then our rookie cop had had enough. He told her she wasn’t going anywhere until he got in touch with Sergeant Stams.”

“That must have been confusing,” Steve said. “First he’s telling her she can’t come in, then he’s telling her she can’t go out.”

“Oh, I don’t think she was that confused,” Dirkson said. “Anyway, that’s when she tried to leave, and that’s when he made the arrest. A radio patrol car brought her in, and she’s had nothing to say ever since.”

“Can you really blame her?” Steve said. “A private citizen comes to the cops of her own accord, to give them some information regarding a crime. In return for her good citizenship, she’s bullied and interrogated and placed under arrest.”

“Save it for the jury, Winslow. I’m sure you can sway some of them, but, personally, you’re breaking my heart.”

Dirkson held up his hand. “Now then, let me assure you everything’s been done according to Hoyle. Miss Garvin’s had a full Miranda warning, and been given an opportunity to contact her attorney. Witness the fact that you are here.” He shrugged. “So, we have a situation that can be either adversarial or friendly. It’s entirely up to you. If Miss Garvin would like to explain what she was doing, I have no desire to charge her. If she doesn’t want to explain what she was doing, I have no choice. So what do you think? Would you like to let her talk, or should we go ahead with formal proceedings?”

Steve smiled. “Frankly, gentlemen, Miss Garvin knows more about this than I do. Tracy, what do you want to do?”

Tracy smiled. “I would like to cooperate with the police in their investigation in every way. That is why I came to see Sergeant Stams at the crime scene in the first place.”

“And just why were you looking for Sergeant Stams?” Dirkson said.

Tracy looked at Steve. “You mind if I answer that?”

“Not unless you feel it might tend to incriminate you.”

“Don’t be silly,” Tracy said. She turned to Dirkson. “I was looking to Sergeant Stams to tell him we had located a witness who had seen people going in and out of the jewelers earlier in the evening prior to the murder.”

Dirkson frowned. He picked up a paper on his desk. “Would that be Mr. Oliver Branstein, the proprietor of the music store at that address?”

“Oh, then he did contact you,” Tracy said. “He said he was going to, but you can never tell with these witnesses. They start out with the best of intentions, and then they start thinking what a hassle it will be, dealing with the police.”

Stams narrowed his eyes, cocked his head. “Wait a minute. You’re telling me you went to the crime scene at one in the morning to tell me about this guy, Branstein?”

Harry Dirkson put up his hand. “Ah, Sergeant. I’ll ask the questions, if you don’t mind. Miss Garvin, was that the only reason you were looking for Sergeant Stams?”

“Yes, it was.”

“That was the information you wished him to have?”

“Yes, it was.”

“That is why you went to the crime scene at one o’clock in the morning?”

“That’s right.”

“And when you were informed Sergeant Stams wasn’t there…?”

Tracy smiled. “I wanted to see for myself. So very often, they tell you the officer you want isn’t available just so they won’t be disturbed.”

Dirkson frowned.

“Will that be all?” Steve said. “It is a little late, and I for one would like to get some sleep.”

“That’s not quite all,” Dirkson said. “This witness Branstein-the one you were so eager to tell us about-just why did you call on him this evening?”

“Don’t be silly,” Tracy said. She jerked her thumb at Steve Winslow. “He’s Amy Dearborn’s attorney. As you well know. We are therefore investigating all aspects of the crime.”

“That’s not what I asked you,” Dirkson said. “What made this particular witness important. More to the point, what made you think this man might even be a witness.”

“Well,” Tracy said, “without betraying any professional confidences, I think I can assure you that since Amy Dearborn’s arrest we have been doing everything possible to investigate the crime. Since there was a music store on the ground floor of the building, one of the first things we looked into was whether the store was open earlier that evening, and if so, who was working there at the time. The answer was Mr. Branstein. We interviewed him, it turned out he had seen something, and I thought Sergeant Stams should know.”

“At one in the morning?” Stams said sarcastically.

“Hey, cut us a break,” Steve said. “If she’d gone home and gone to sleep, you’d be griping at us for withholding evidence.”

“Let’s not go off on a tangent,” Dirkson said. “Right now, I’m concerned with the witness, Branstein. As I understand, Miss Garvin, while the two of you interviewed him, you actually called on him first.”

“Right,” Tracy said. “Mr. Winslow was conferring with his client, it was late, and I didn’t know when he’d be back. I didn’t want to let the witness get away.”

“How did you know he was a witness before you talked to him?”

“Do you prefer the words potential witness? No one’s taking this down, are they? Do I have say alleged before every statement for fear of being misquoted?”

“There’s no reason to take that tone,” Dirkson said.

“Oh, come on, Dirkson,” Steve said. “Have you ever been arrested?”

“No, I have not,” Dirkson said. “Nor do I intend to be. I’m a law abiding citizen.”

“May I quote you on that come next election?” Steve said. He held up his hand, pretended to read newspaper headline. “D.A. scoffs at doctrine of innocent until proven guilty-statements imply stigma of guilt attaches from moment of arrest.”

Dirkson exhaled. “As you said, it’s late and we’d all like to get home. The witness Branstein-when you interviewed him, I understand he described two people. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is,” Tracy said. “That’s the information I thought Sergeant Stams should have.”

“Uh huh,” Dirkson said. “Tell me, did you recognize either of those two people?”

“It’s so hard to recognize someone from a description.”

“I’m sure it is. He described a woman and a man, did he not?”

“That’s right.”

“The woman came first?”

“Yes, she did.”

“And then the man?”

“That’s right.”

“Do you recall the description of the man?”

Tracy frowned. “It was more of an impression than a description. I think he said he looked like a hippie and his first thought was he was a customer for the shop. I’m afraid he didn’t see him that well.”

“Uh huh,” Dirkson said. He picked up the phone from his desk, said, “Is he here yet?” He listened a moment and said, “Bring him in.”

Minutes later the door opened and a cop ushered in Oliver Branstein.

“Are these the two you told me about?” Dirkson said.

Branstein looked back and forth from Tracy Garvin to Steve Winslow. “Yeah, that’s them.”

“They’re the ones who came and interviewed you tonight?”

“That’s right.”

“Asked you if you’d seen anyone going into the jewelers upstairs while you were working in your music store?”

“Yes, sir.”

“There’s no doubt in your mind that these are the ones?”

“None at all. That’s her, all right. In fact, she looks exactly the same. He’s dressed differently, but I still recognize him.”

“Dressed differently how?”

“Well, he’s sloppy and his hair’s uncombed. He looks like he just got out of bed. I suppose I look that way myself, because I just got out of bed. I don’t see what was so important you had to drag me down here this time of the morning. I mean, I already told you everything I know.”

“I’m very sorry about that,” Dirkson said. “But if you’d just bear with me a few minutes longer. You say Mr. Winslow was dressed differently when he called on you-could you tell me exactly how?”

“Well, he was wearing a jacket and tie and his hair was combed.” Branstein shrugged. “In fact, I had no idea his hair was long. He does look different now, but it was definitely him.” Branstein cocked his head and looked at Steve Winslow accusingly. “You didn’t tell me there’d been a murder.”

Dirkson held up his hand. “Thank you, Mr. Branstein, I think that will be all for the time being. Officer, if you’d take Mr. Branstein out. I’m sorry, Mr. Branstein, but you’re just going to have to hang in here a little longer.”

The cop led Branstein out. When the door closed behind them, Dirkson said, “Well, well, what an interesting situation.”

“It may be interesting to you,” Steve said, “but frankly I’ve heard it all before.”

“I’m sorry if I’ve bored you,” Dirkson said. “Perhaps we can liven things up later on. For the time being, do you have any comment on Branstein’s statement?”

“I think you might thank us for bringing it to your attention.”

“I was referring to the content of his statement.”

“I’m afraid the man’s not that observant. Too bad. Might have been helpful.”

“I don’t know. It still might,” Dirkson said. He yawned, stretched. “Well, I see no reason to hold Miss Garvin at the present time. That’s not to say I wouldn’t charge her later if it turns out she’s broken some law. But as you say, it’s late, we’re all tired, and I for one have work to do. So why don’t the two of you just run along.”

“You mean you’re letting them go?” Stams said.

“Oh, yes,” Dirkson said. “They’re free to go.”

But his smile was still smug.


“Still mad at me?” Tracy said, as they came out the front door.

Steve Winslow glanced over his shoulder, spotted cops hanging out by the entrance. “Let’s get away from here before we talk.”

They found an all night diner on Chambers Street, ordered coffee and took a booth in the back.

“So,” Steve said, “you went back there to leave your fingerprints?”

“Why not?” Tracy said. “You sent Amy back. I figured if it could work for her, it could work for me.”

“It may not work for her,” Steve said. “Dirkson’s already sold on the idea that was her second visit.”

“How come?”

“A small petty cash drawer problem.”

“What do you mean?”

“It was shut.”


“Amy goes up there, calls the cops. They come, she tells Stams she went up there and found the office robbed and Fletcher dead. One small problem-she never looks at the desk, and somewhere between the time we were there and she came back, someone got into the office and shut the fucking drawer.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Not at all. Which brands her whole story false. In the worst possible way. There’s no chance that she is mistaken. She’s lying. Plain and simple.

“And it doesn’t take a genius to figure that one out. The only reason she would tell such a stupid, obvious lie is because she thinks it’s the truth. Which means when she saw the drawer it was open. Which means she was there at another time.”

“Good lord,” Tracy said. “When did you find this out?”

“When I talked to her in jail.”

“How come you didn’t tell me?”

“I was pissed at you. About Branstein.”

“Even so.”

“It never entered my mind,” Steve said. “When it occurred to me just now, I was surprised to realize you didn’t know.”

“Uh huh,” Tracy said. “So what’s the verdict? Did I make up some for the Branstein mess?”

Steve exhaled. “Look. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be hard on you. Yeah, this was a good move. Under the circumstances, probably the best you could do. The Branstein mess is a mess, and don’t think it’s over. It’s just beginning. Why do you think Dirkson wanted us out of there? So he could go to work on Branstein. The guy may not be much of a witness now, but what do you want to bet by the time he gets on the stand it turns out he can positively identify Amy Dearborn as the woman and me as the guy?”

“Which was the whole point of my calling on him,” Tracy said. “The guy saw a woman go in. He didn’t see her very well, and from his description it could have been Amy or it could have been me. He sat there looking me right in the face and didn’t bat an eye. We’re not sure if it was me, but still. But we know it was you. He didn’t recognize you either.”

“Yeah, because of the way I was dressed. Of course, he remembers the way I was dressed, and he just described it to Dirkson. Because it’s different from the way I’m usually dressed, it makes an impression. Dirkson’s got it already, and you can bet he’s working that angle now. He knows it was me. He knows it was you. He knows what we’ve done. The only real concern, is whether he can prove it. Right now, the chance of that is relatively slim.” Steve frowned. “Which is what bothers me.”

“Why does that bother you?”

“Because Dirkson’s smug. He’s the cat that ate the canary. He can’t prove I was the guy, but he acts like he could. So either he can and I just don’t know it yet, or it’s something else entirely. Is there a pay phone here?”

Tracy looked around. “Yeah. There’s one by the door.”

“Do me a favor. Call Mark, see what’s up.”

Tracy went and made the call. Steve sat, sipped his coffee, tried to think.

She was back in a minute.

“Nothing doing?” Steve said.

“Machine’s on. Mark went home. Message says if it’s an emergency call him at home, otherwise leave a message after the beep.”

“Shit. Any way to pick up his messages?”

“Not from here. I mean, there would be if I knew it-I know how to pick up mine-but it’s different for each machine. With Mark’s, it’s never come up before, so I don’t know it. I could find out, but I’d have to call him and ask him.”

Steve waved it away. “Let’s not go nuts over this. It will be morning soon enough. What time is it now? Jesus Christ, three o’clock.” Steve stretched. “Okay, let’s try this again. Tracy, I’m putting you in a cab. This time, I strongly advise you go home and get some sleep.”


“Search warrant?” Steve said.

Taylor nodded. “Yeah. That’s the word.”

“When did this happen?”

“Sometime last night.”

“And you didn’t get it till now?”

“It was on the machine when I got in. I hung out till one in the morning, Steve. The place was dead. Absolutely nothing happening. I packed it in and went home.”

“I should have had this report.”

“If I’d got it, you’d have got it.”

“I understand. I’m saying you should have got it.”

“How the hell could I?”

“I’m not blaming you, Mark. I’m just saying the report should have come in.”

“Maybe it just happened.”

Steve shook his head. “No way. Dirkson was smug.”


“Last night when I talked to him Dirkson was smug. I wondered why. This has to be it.”

“You spoke to Dirkson last night?”

“You didn’t get that either?”

“Hey, give me a break.”

“What about the fact the cops picked up a suspect?”

“What, are you nuts? I was here when you got the call.”

“Not Amy. Tracy.”

Taylor’s mouth dropped open. “The cops picked up Tracy? What, just for seeing that witness?”

“No, for contaminating a crime scene.”

“What the hell?”

Steve brought Mark Taylor up to date on the meeting with Dirkson.

“Holy shit,” Taylor said. “You mean Tracy went back there to account for her fingerprints?”

“Certainly not,” Steve said. “She went there to give information to Sergeant Stams.”

Taylor winced. “Steve, why do you have to tell me this? It’s bad enough I’m doing this at all. You’re feeding me information I could lose my license for.”

“You keep asking for it.”

“That’s my job. Collecting information. But why’s it got to be so bad?”

“There’s a saving grace, Mark.”

“What’s that?”

“When Dirkson comes after us, he’ll nail me and Tracy first. At best, you’d be an afterthought.”

“You’ve made my day.”

“Face it, Mark. When you heard it was Tracy, you bought in. Now, I’ll protect you all I can. But take it for granted it’s a bad situation all around.”

“No kidding.”

“So what you got on the warrant?”

“Just that, and the fact it was served.”

“You don’t know what they got?”

“I don’t even know if they got anything.”

“Oh, they got something all right. Son of a bitch.”


“Yeah. The bastard was playing with me.”

“Any idea what it is?”

Steve shook his head. “Not a clue. But the thing is, I sent Amy home. She wasn’t supposed to go home, just go to her neighborhood and take a cab back. Before she quote “found the body” unquote.”


“So, what if she didn’t? What if, before she grabbed the cab, she ran up and ditched something she found at the murder scene.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. How about the murder weapon?”

Taylor’s eyes widened. “Are you kidding me?”

“No, Mark, I’m playing what-if.”

“Jesus Christ,” Taylor said. “But you saw her. Talked to her. Wouldn’t you have known if she was carrying a gun?”

“I didn’t strip-search her, Mark. I didn’t even look in her purse.”

“But you don’t really think that’s it?” Taylor persisted.

“I’m guessing, Mark,” Steve said. He added pointedly, “Because I can’t seem to get any concrete information to go on.”

Taylor put up his hands. “Hey, I’ve been on the phone with my source, he’s doing the best he can. He’ll get back to me as soon as, but if the cops wanna play it close to the vest, there’s not a hell of a lot I can do.”

Steve sighed, exhaled. “You got any coffee, Mark? I’ve had about three hours sleep.”

“I got a coffee maker in the outer office.”

“It any good?”

“It sucks. But it ain’t decaffeinated.”

“That’s for me,” Steve said.

He stood up just as Tracy Garvin came in the door with a paper bag.

“Hey, gang, coffee and doughnuts,” she said.

“Saved by the bell,” Taylor said.

“What about the phones?” Steve said.

“Relax. Call-forwarding’s on. And the only message was to call here.” Tracy pulled a cup of coffee out of the bag, handed it to Steve. “Here. Drink this. Make you much less grouchy.”

“I’ve got a right to be grouchy,” Steve said. “Dirkson served a search warrant.”


“That’s right.,” Taylor said. “They searched Amy Dearborn’s apartment last night. We have no idea why or what they found, and we’re waiting to hear.”

“Would Amy know?” Tracy said.

“Yeah,” Steve said. “That’s one way to go. I could rush down to the lockup, ask her what is there in her apartment she wouldn’t want the cops to find that would absolutely clinch the case against her. Interesting as hell to hear what she says to that.”

“You really think it’s that bad?” Tracy said.

“Dirkson was smug. At the time I thought it meant he could nail us. Now, I hear this, I figure he must have got the goods on her.”

“So what’s the word, Mark?” Tracy said. “What’s your source giving out?”

Taylor shook his head. “Lid’s on tight. I didn’t even get the report they picked you up.”

Steve fished a doughnut out of the paper bag, dunked it in the coffee, took a bite. “So what have you got, Mark? How we doing on the other fronts?”

Taylor shrugged. “I got a lot of information coming in. But it’s not that helpful. The partner, Marvin Lowery, lives in Great Neck. He was home last night. At least from eight-thirty on. Which isn’t good enough. So far there’s no word from the medical examiner, so we don’t have a time of death. But there’s no way eight-thirty’s going to do it. Let him out, I mean.”

“How long’s the drive to Great Neck?”

“Under an hour. Say, forty-five minutes.” Taylor flipped a page of his notebook. “And I can do better than that, actually. Lowery’s car’s in a garage on 48th Street. According to the attendant, he picked it up somewhere around seven-thirty, quarter to eight.”

“Wait a minute,” Steve said. “Why’s his car on 48th Street?”

“It’s near his office.”

“Yeah, but he wasn’t at his office. He was in court. He spent the whole day downtown on Centre Street. So why would he park there?”

“I have the answer,” Taylor said. “Because it’s paid for. He has a monthly rental. The way I see it, he drives in from the island, parks near the office, goes up, checks the answering machine and the mail. Though, probably the mail’s not there that early, but still. According to the garage he parked between eight-thirty and nine yesterday morning, same as usual. When’s court, ten? So I figure he went up to the office, took care of business, then took the subway downtown to court.”

“Interesting,” Steve said. “No matter how you slice it, if his car’s in that garage, that puts him in the neighborhood when the crime took place.”

“Right,” Taylor said.

“And, as you say, the mail probably hadn’t arrived when he was there in the morning, so what would be more natural than that he would go there and check it after court?”

“Sound’s good to me,” Taylor said. “I haven’t made a pass at him directly because he’s on the other side. But if you want me to try it, just say the word.”

Steve shook his head. “No, he’ll just clam up on you. That’s the type of thing, I’d rather spring it on him in court.”

“Okay,” Taylor said. “Anyway, that’s Lowery. Now the detective-what’s his name? — Macklin-he’s another story. He’s a bachelor, lives alone, claims he was home last night.”


“Yeah, my man spoke to him directly.” Taylor shrugged. “Only way to do it, really. The guy lives in a brownstone, no doorman to verify it with. And his agency’s a one man show. So who you gonna ask? He happens to be the only source of information on his whereabouts. Which cuts both ways. He’s got no alibi on the one hand. On the other, it’s hard to prove he doesn’t.”

“Was he cooperative?” Steve asked.

“Yes and no,” Taylor said.

“What does that mean?”

“Well, it’s not like he was cooperative, but he gave a lot of information.”

“How is that?”

“Well, my man played it smart. Calls him up, asks him if he’s the Samuel Macklin just did a job for F.L. Jewelry. Macklin’s suspicious, wants to know why, my man says he heard he’d just got a raw deal in court. Macklin falls all over himself agreeing with that. Before you know it, he’s spilled his guts.”

“Good work, Mark.”

“Yeah, but what have you got? According to Macklin, he left right after court, didn’t go uptown with Fletcher and Lowery. Don’t jump to conclusions-he doesn’t know if they went uptown. He’s just saying he split from the court, doesn’t know where they went and doesn’t care. According to him, he went home, hot, tired and pissed off, changed, showered, put on sloppy clothes, then got some Chinese takeout and rented some video tapes.”

“Any help there?”

“Not a lot. The clerk in the video store knows him, thinks he was in around eight o’clock. Chinese restaurant doesn’t know him and doesn’t remember. Not that it would do any good, since it was right around the same time. Giving him plenty of time to have bumped Fletcher off for making him look like a fool in court. Though if that’s the motive, I don’t see why he’s not killing you.”

“Thanks a lot.”

“Then we got the boyfriend.”

“Boyfriend or friend?”

“He says he’s the boyfriend. I don’t know what she says, but according to him they’re an item. Anyway, he’d like to help but can’t. He had dinner with her, was supposed to go to the movies with her, something came up and he had to work. He left her at the restaurant, took a cab and went home.”

“I thought he had to work.”

“He works at home. An apartment on East 84th Street. Set up like an office. He had a client with a problem, so he agreed to meet him there. He left her right around seven-thirty, which will probably screw us when we get the autopsy report. For what it’s worth, he’s willing to shade the time.”

Steve Winslow looked at him sharply. “Oh?”

Taylor held up his hand. “Hey, don’t blame me. He volunteered it. Apparently, the guy’s really sold on her, willing to do anything to get her out of a jam.”

“Did you encourage him in this manner?”

“I didn’t do squat. In fact, I haven’t even talked to him, it was one of my men. But he’s home now, in case you want to talk to him.”

“Sure do.”


Larry Cunningham was on the phone when Steve and Tracy got there. He was a bookish looking young man with short brown hair and horn-rimmed glasses. He met them at the door with a phone glued to his ear. He ushered them into the living room at the same time he was advising a client on a stock transaction.

It was actually more office than living room, dominated by a huge computer setup, boasting a printer, a modem, a fax machine, and other electronic equipment the purpose of which Steve and Tracy could only guess at.

While they stood gawking, Larry Cunningham moved papers to unclutter chairs, and gestured to them to sit, never once missing a beat in his phone conversation. He finished his call, sat on the couch, and said, “Isn’t this awful.”

“It is,” Steve said. “But it’s not the end of the world. An arrest is not a conviction. I’m sure Amy is innocent, and we’ll find a way to prove it.”

“But in the meantime she’s in jail.”

“It shouldn’t be long,” Steve said.

“Oh? What are you doing about bail?”

“I’m considering my options.”

Cunningham frowned. “You are going to push for bail?”

“Frankly, I’m not sure.”

“Why wouldn’t you?”

“In a case like this, there’s two ways to go. Either get the defendant out on bail and stall like crazy, or leave her in and push for a speedy trial.”

“I want her out,” Cunningham said.

“Of course you do. We all do. The question now is how best to achieve that.”

Cunningham put up his hand. “No, no,” he said. “Don’t give me that. I don’t want to hear any theories. The point is, get her out, then figure out what to do. Don’t give me this I’m-not-going-to-make-any-move-until-I-know-what’s-best bullshit.”

Steve took a breath. “All right, look,” he said. “Maybe I’m not your type. Maybe you’d like some guy in a three piece suit who’d make a big fight about a bail reduction. Well, it ain’t me, babe. It’s not how I operate. I assume Amy told you about the petty theft?”

“Yes, of course.”

“There you are. We disposed of that in one day.”

“She wasn’t in jail.”

“No, she wasn’t. Murder is a little more serious than petty theft. Bail is not easily granted. But that’s my job.”


Steve took a breath. Forced a smile. “So, help me do my job. Help me get her out.”


“Tell me what I need to know.”

“But I don’t know anything,” Cunningham said. “That’s the problem. I had dinner with her and I went home. I don’t know anything that’s going to help.”

“I understand you’re willing to help in other ways.”

Cunningham looked at him. “What do you mean?”

“With regard to the time you left the restaurant.”

“Exactly,” Cunningham said. “The only ones who know that are Amy and me. If I say it was eight o’clock, who’s gonna say it wasn’t?”

“What about the waiter, the cashier and maitre d’?”

“It’s a small restaurant. They don’t have a maitre d’.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Steve said. “I shouldn’t have even said that. It’s totally beside the point.”

“What’s the point?”

“I don’t build cases on perjured testimony.”

“Perjured?” Cunningham said. “What do you mean, perjured? How accurate can you be? You think we left the restaurant at seven-thirty on the dot? Of course not. No more than we left it at eight. The truth is somewhere between the two. Who’s to say which is more accurate?”

“I am,” Steve said.

Cunningham looked at him. “What?”

“Seven-thirty’s more accurate than eight. You know it and I know it. You left the restaurant around seven-thirty. That’s a fact. If you wanna say it was around eight, you can equivocate all you want, but it happens to be a lie. You ever been cross-examined?”

“No. Of course not.”

“There you are. Ask me who’s gonna say different, well, the D.A. is. He’s gonna say you’re lying, and then he’s gonna ask questions to try to prove it. If you’ve never been cross-examined before, you’re gonna be duck soup. He may not get you to admit you’re lying, true. But everyone on the jury’s gonna know you are. You know what that’ll do for Amy’s case?”

Cunningham shoved his glasses back on his nose, thrust out his chin defiantly. “I don’t believe it.”

“Don’t believe what?”

“I don’t believe he could rattle me.”

“Oh, no?” Steve said. “You wanna bet?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’ll be the D.A. You give me the eight o’clock bullshit. I’ll cross-examine.”

“Fine,” Cunningham said. “Fire away.”

“You have dinner with Amy Dearborn?”

“Yes, I did.”

“What time was it when you left the restaurant?”

“Eight o’clock.”

“Are you aware that Amy Dearborn, in her initial statement to the police, put the time at closer to seven-thirty?”

“Yes, I am.” Cunningham smiled. “Amy’s a nice girl, but she’s rather poor with time.”

“Is that so?” Steve said. “Are you saying she got the time wrong?”

“Yes, she did. I know when we left the restaurant, and it was right around eight o’clock.”

“When you left the restaurant, where did you go?”

“I went home.”


“I had a business appointment.”

“At that time of night?”

“I’m an investment counselor. Client’s get tips. Things that have to be acted on immediately. I often have business appointments late at night.”

“If you knew you had a business appointment, why did you take Miss Dearborn out to dinner?”

“I didn’t know I had a business appointment. After dinner, I called my answering machine and got a message. That’s when I found out I had to have a meeting.”

“With who?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Who was the person you met with?”

“Oh? Philip Eckstein. He’s a client of mine. He got a tip a particular stock was going to crash. He panicked, he wanted to act on it right away.”

“So you met him in your apartment?”

“That’s right.”

“Which is also your office?”

“Of course.”

“And what time did you meet him?”


“Eight-thirty?” Steve said.

“That’s right.”

“You left the restaurant at eight o’clock, took a cab home to meet your client at eight-thirty?”

“Yes, I did.”

“It’s a half hour cab ride over to the east side?”

“No. More like ten or fifteen minutes.”

“What time was it when you got home?”

“Between eight-fifteen and eight-thirty.”

“Why so late?”

Cunningham shrugged. “Well, by the time I paid the bill and Amy and I left the restaurant and I flagged a cab, it was after eight o’clock.”

“What time did your client get there?”

“Right away. He was actually waiting out front when I drove up.”

“This was between eight-fifteen and eight-thirty.”

“That’s right.”

“And what time did you tell him to get there?”


Steve shook his head. “You see, it’s no go. You’re relying on the testimony of a third party. This Philip Eckstein will know what time your appointment was for.”

“Sure, he will. He’ll say it was for eight-thirty. He’ll say he was standing on the sidewalk when I drove up.”

“That doesn’t happen to be true,” Steve said.

Cunningham looked at him. “Whoa. Is that your ferocious cross-examination? Or have you stopped playing D.A.? Anyway, the point is, who gives a shit? Eckstein will say anything I want him to. You have no idea how much money I’ve made for that man. He’d swear the earth was flat if I told him to.”

“That’s nice,” Steve said dryly. “You gonna let me finish my cross-examination?”

“I thought we were done.”

“No,” Steve said. “Things got sticky for you, so you came out of character and admitted you and Eckstein were lying. Assuming that doesn’t happen when you’re actually on the stand, let’s press on.”

“Hey,” Cunningham said. “I didn’t do that cause you got me rattled. You’re the one who dropped out of character, claiming the witness wouldn’t back me up.”

Tracy Garvin held up her hand. “Time out, guys. You’ll pardon me, but this is becoming slightly high-schoolish. Whaddya say you get on with it?”

Larry Cunningham looked at her a moment. His smile was somewhat tight-lipped. “Fine,” he said. “Go on. What else you got?”

“You now say it was after eight o’clock when you left the restaurant?”

“Yes, I do.”

“I thought you previously stated it was a little before eight o’clock?”

“When I called,” Cunningham said. “It was a little bit before eight when I called. I came back, told Amy I had to work, settled up the check and we left. It took a little time, so it was after eight when we actually got out on the street.”

“I see,” Steve said. “And you had no idea you were going to have this business appointment when you took her out to dinner?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“You only learned of it when you made this phone call?”

“That’s right.”

“Which was a little before eight?”

“Yes, it was.”

“Prior to that, you had intended to spend the evening with Miss Dearborn.”

“Yes, I was.”

“I believe she stated you were going to the movies. Correct me if I’m wrong.”

“No, that’s right. We were going to the movies.”

“What movie?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“What movie were you going to see?”

“Oh. I don’t recall the title. It’s a movie at the Olympia Theater. That’s at Broadway and a hundred and sixth.”

“Uh huh,” Steve said. “And when did it start?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“When did the movie start?”

“I don’t recall.”

“Well, let’s check.”


“Let’s check the times. There are two pictures playing at the Olympia. One is a rap music picture. The other is a light romantic comedy. The rap movie was playing at seven and nine, and the romantic comedy, eight and ten. I’m wondering which one you were planning on going to.”

Larry Cunningham opened his mouth. He blinked twice.

“Come, come. That’s a simple question, Mr. Cunningham. Which movie were you and the defendant planning on seeing?” When Cunningham didn’t answer, Steve smiled and said, “See, it’s tough question. You have to take the position that you were way early for a rap movie starting at nine o’clock, or late for the comedy starting at eight. A jury’s not going to buy the fact you were still in a restaurant on the phone picking up your messages at eight o’clock, if you were going to a movie starting at eight. But that’s the best you can argue. No, what they’re going to buy the minute the D.A. flops the New York Post with the movie start time at eight o’clock in front of your face, is that you were planning to go to an eight o’clock show all along, and you’re lying about the time to help your girlfriend out. What makes it so much easier for the jury to believe that,” Steve said, “is the fact it happens to be the truth.”

Cunningham frowned. “Shit.”

“See how easy it was to trip you up?” Steve said.

“No fair,” Cunningham said. “You only got me because you happened to know the times of those movies.”

“Are you kidding?” Steve said. “I have no idea what’s playing at the Olympia. Or when. But, obviously, neither do you. From which I gather going to the movies is not a big priority in your life. I would say more than likely, after dinner you were planning on maneuvering Amy back to her apartment and trying to get her in the sack.”

Cunningham came up from the couch, fists raised. “Son of a bitch!” he said.

Steve never blinked. “Oh, spare me,” he said. “I’m just giving you a taste of what you’re in for on the stand. If the D.A. starts making insinuations, you’d better work on keeping your cool.

“Anyway, I hope I made my point. You can get a paper and find out when those movies started and patch up your story and the whole bit. But it doesn’t matter. Because if you’re telling a lie, you’re telling a lie. And there’s gonna be holes. Just because you patch that one, doesn’t mean the D.A. isn’t going to find another. So get it out of your head.”

The phone rang. Cunningham stood glaring at Steve Winslow for a moment, then walked over and picked it up. “Hello.” He listen for a moment, then turned, said, “It’s for you.”

Steve walked over, took the phone. “What’s up, Mark?”

“How did you know it was me?”

“Some detective. You’re the only one knows I’m here. What’s up?”

“My source finally called. Got the word on the warrant.”

“You find out what they got?”



“Tape recording.”

“Tape recording?”

“Yeah. The micro-cassette from her answering machine.”

“You mean her messages?”


“Oh, shit. How bad is it?”

“The worst,” Taylor said. “It’s a message from Frank Fletcher, asking her to meet him at the office.”


“We have a small communication problem.”

Amy Dearborn looked at Steve Winslow through the wire mesh screen. “Oh?”

“I’ve been talking to your boyfriend. Larry Cunningham.”

“He’s not my boyfriend.”

“He seems to think he is.”

“Larry takes a lot for granted.”

“Yeah, he does,” Steve said. “Can’t seem to talk him out of lying for you.”


“You left the restaurant right around seven-thirty, right?”


“That’s what you told the cops?”

“Yes, it was.”

“Larry’d like to say it was eight. That’s a lie. I know it’s a lie. You know it’s a lie. Larry knows it’s a lie. Everyone in the whole fucking courtroom will know it’s a lie. In case he should come to visit, you might point out that’s a poor idea.”

“I see.”

“Anyway, the guy’s so eager to lie it’s kind of hard to find out what really happened. I was hoping you could fill me in.”

“About what?”

“My Dinner With Larry. I’d appreciate any details you’ve got.”

“Like what? Just ask questions, will you, I’m too upset to think.”

“Okay. What restaurant were you at?”

“The Abbey Pub. It’s on a hundred and fifth near Broadway. It’s a bar and restaurant. I eat there now and then.”

“And you went there with Larry Cunningham?”

“That’s right.”

“Pick you up at your apartment?”

“Yes. Why?”

“I’m trying to get the facts straight. What time did he pick you up?”

“Around six-thirty.”

“Take you long to get to the Abbey Pub?”

“No. It’s only a couple of blocks.”

“You went in and ate dinner?”

“That’s right.”

“You have cocktails first?”

“He had a martini. I had a glass of wine.”

“At the bar?”

“No. We sat in a booth, got menus and ordered a drink. It a fairly simple menu. Good burgers, a few basic dinner entrees and then they have specials.”

“What did you have?”

“Salmon. That was one of the specials. Salmon steak.”

“What about Mr. Cunningham?”

“He had the shepherd’s pie. That’s a special too.”

“Did you have appetizers?”


“Salad and bread?”


“Before the main course?”

“Of course.”

“What about dessert?”

She shook her head. “No dessert. We had coffee, though.”

“You were going to the movies?”

“That’s right.”

“What movie were you going to see?”

“Some romantic comedy. I don’t remember which.”

“That’s not good.”

“Well, they all sound alike.”

“It was playing at the Olympia?”

“That’s right.”

“Uh huh. What time did it start?”

“Eight o’clock.”

“No kidding,” Steve said. He chuckled. “Tell me, do you know what else was playing at the theater? It wouldn’t he a rap music picture, would it?”

She frowned. “I don’t think so. Why?”

“It’s not important,” Steve said. “Anyway, you were going to an eight o’clock show?”

“That’s right.”

“And the only reason you didn’t was because Mr. Cunningham had to work?”

“That’s right.”

“When did he find that out?”

“After dinner. He called his answering machine.”

“And what time was that?”

“Around seven-thirty.”

“Before or after?”

“Probably before.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because we got out of there around seven-thirty. So he must have called earlier. Seven-twenty. Seven twenty-five.”

“So you were in the restaurant no more than an hour?”

“I would say so.”

“And you were out of there by seven-thirty?”

“That’s right.”

“Larry Cunningham took a cab home?”

“Yes, he did.”

“He walk you home first?”

“No. He said the client was very upset and he had to go. He went right out on Broadway and hailed a cab.”

“And you walked home?”


“Did you go straight home?”

“Actually, I think I stopped at the store.”

“What for?”

She gave him a look. “Tampons.”

“Uh huh. And after you bought them, you went right home?”

“That’s right.”

“What was the first thing you did when you got home?”

“I don’t recall.”

“Listen to the messages on your answering machine?”

“I may have.”

“And,” Steve said casually, “would one of those messages have been from Frank Fletcher, asking you to come down and meet him at the office?”

Amy’s face drained of color. “Oh, my god.”


“You got a message from Frank Fletcher?”


“On your answering machine?”

“Uh huh.”

“That’s why you went down there?”


Steve took a breath, looked at Amy Dearborn. The one word answers were irritating. On the other hand, it had taken her several minutes to be able to talk at all. “Was this right when you got home?”


“What time was that?”

“I don’t know.”

“Take a guess.”

Amy looked up sharply. “Hey.”

“Come on, give me some help here. You held out on me, you held out on the cops. They tumbled first and now I’m trying to catch up. I know you’re upset and you feel like shit, but for the moment stay focused and zero in. The answers to these questions count. Now what time was it when you got home?”

“I don’t know. Seven thirty-five, seven-forty. Somewhere in there.”

“You played the answering machine as soon as you got home?”


“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. I could see it blinking when I came in the door.”

“You went over and switched it on?”

“That’s right.”

“And there was a message from Fletcher?”


“What did it say?”

“What you said. To meet him at the office.”

“I’d like the exact words.”

“I don’t remember the exact words.”

“Give it to me as close as you can. The cops have that tape. I’d like to know what they know.”

“He said…Oh, gee…He said, ‘It’s Frank. We need to talk. I’m at the office, come on down.’”

“Frank, is it?”

“Yeah, Frank. What, he’s going to call himself Mr. Fletcher just because he had me fired?”

“That’s all there was to the message?”

“Isn’t that enough?”

“It sure is,” Steve said. “Jesus Christ, what a mess.”

“It’s not my fault.”

Steve cocked his head, looked at her. “Fault? What are you, in high school? I didn’t do the homework, but it’s not my fault? I got news for you. In a murder, no one gives a shit. They send you to jail, the fact it’s not your fault is gonna be small consolation.”

“Stop it!”

“I’m sorry, I’m sure,” Steve said. “I take it back. When you go to jail, you can tell everyone it’s my fault.”

Amy stared at him. “How could you?”

“Oh, it’s easy,” Steve said. “My job is to defend you on a murder rap. I spent twenty-four hours doing everything wrong because you held out on me. I got myself in bad, I got Tracy in bad, and I damn near convicted you. I took a chance on you, sending you home and letting you come back and find the body again, and it’s blown up in my face. And you know why? Because you lied to me to begin with. I’m way behind and playing catch up ball. So snap out of it and stop talking about what’s fair and whose fault it is and just answer the damn questions.”

Amy stuck out her chin. “Fine,” she said. “What was the damn question?”

“About Frank Fletcher’s message. I was trying to pin down exactly what he said.”

“I’ve given it to you the best I can.”

“All he said was he needed to talk, he was at the office and come on down?”

“That’s right.”

“Did he say why he was at the office, how long he’d be there, anything of the kind? Perhaps the time he left the message?”

“He didn’t say the time he left the message. I think he said he was working there tonight. Catching up on work, I think, is what he said.”

“Uh huh,” Steve said. “Is that all there was to the message?”

“Sure. What else would there be?”

“I don’t know. But you just remembered one thing you hadn’t before. I’m wondering if you remember anything else.”

“No, that’s all.”

“Uh huh,” Steve said. “And you say you got this message around seven thirty-five, seven-forty, as soon as you got home?”

“That’s right.”

“You went right down to the office?”

“Pretty much.”

“What do you mean, pretty much?”

Amy stuck out her chin again. “I think I went to the bathroom first. Is that all right with you?”

“Fine,” Steve said. “I only care what time you went out the door.”

“It was right away. Say a quarter to eight.”

“You got the message, went to the bathroom and went out?”

“That’s right.”

“You didn’t call him first?”


“Why not?”

“What do you mean, why not? I just didn’t.”

“Yes, but you have to have a reason.”


“Because it’s a murder case.”

Amy looked at him. “What the hell has that got to do with it?”

“It’s got everything to do with it,” Steve said. “Don’t you understand? Every action you took is going to be scrutinized. Particularly in this case.”


“Because you’ve already lied to the police and they know it. Now your story-the one we’re going over now.”

“It’s no story. It’s the truth.”

“It damn well better be the truth. Now, I don’t know if anyone’s ever going to get to hear it, but if they do, it’s going to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing else but the truth, and it’s going to be a hundred percent airtight. Because if you do tell it, the D.A.’s going to pick through it with a fine tooth comb. So every single stinking detail is important. If he can trip you up on the brand of dental floss you used after dinner, you could go to jail. Do you understand me?”

“Jesus Christ.”

“Now, why didn’t you phone Frank Fletcher before you went down?”

“I don’t know. He said he’d be there. I knew he’d be there. I wanted to just walk in and see him. I didn’t want to give him a chance to work on me on the phone.”

“Work on you? How?”

“I haven’t spoken to him since I was fired. I had no idea what he’d say.”

“That doesn’t answer the question.”

“What question?”

“How would he work on you?”

“Oh, he had a way about him.”

“Really? Did you two have a relationship?”

She bristled. “That’s what you asked me the first time I was in your office.”

“Yeah, and it didn’t matter that much then.”

“I wouldn’t call it a relationship. We went out a few times.”


“Why is it so important?”

“I don’t know if it is. On the other hand, I don’t know if it isn’t. But it’s the type of thing the cops can dig up and make you look bad.”


“They’ll smear you with it. Like it or not, there are some jury members who would just as soon convict you for going to bed with him as for killing him. So, anyway, you didn’t call?”


“What did you do?”

“I went out, got a cab and went down.”

Steve grimaced. “A cab?”

“I was upset. I didn’t want to take the subway.”

“Why were you upset?”

“Because he called.”

“Why would that upset you?”

“I don’t know. It just did.”

“There’s nothing about this message you’re not telling me?”

“No, it was just the fact that he called.”

“Anyway, you took a cab?”


“Cab driver get a good look at you?”

“I don’t know.”

“How did you pay him?”

“What do you mean, how did I pay him?”

“I mean what size bill.”

“A ten, I think.”

“You think?”

“No, it was a ten.”

“What was the fare?”

“Six something.”

“Six what?”

“I don’t remember. Yes, I do. It was six twenty-five.”

“Then you must have got change.”

“Yes, I did.”

“How much?”

“Let me see. I told him to keep seven-fifty.”

“So you got two fifty back?”

“That’s right.”

“You tipped him a buck twenty-five?”


“You remember him handing the two fifty back?”

“Not really. I remember taking it, shoving it in my purse.”

“But you don’t recall his face, him looking at you when he handed you the money?”

“No, I don’t. I really wasn’t paying attention.”

“But you do remember taking the money and putting it in your purse?”


“He didn’t hand you a receipt, did he?”

Her eyes widened.

Steve groaned. “Oh, don’t tell me.”

She put up her hand. “No, no. He didn’t. I’m sure he didn’t.”

“How do you know?”

“Because you asked me to get a receipt. For the other taxi ride. I got it, put it in my purse. I’d have remembered if there was another receipt already there.”

“So,” Steve said. “The receipt you got for the second ride-how much was that for?”

“Six seventy-five.”

“Oh yeah? Faster meter?”

“Yeah, I guess. No, I remember now. The cab had the fifty cent surcharge-for after dark. That was the difference.”

“Is that right?” Steve said.

“Yeah. That’s right.”

Steve leaned back, cocked his head. “You recall last night in my office? I asked you about finding the body, you told me you took the subway down.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Oh yes you did,” Steve said. “I remember because I was particularly relieved.”

“Maybe so, but I didn’t say that.”

“Oh no? Don’t you remember how we talked about you walked from Seventh Avenue so you must have passed by the window of the music store?”

Amy frowned.

“Beginning to refresh your recollection?” Steve said sarcastically. “Or was that a lie too?”

“It’s not a lie,” Amy said. “I walked from Seventh Avenue.”


“Because 47th Street’s one-way west. I wasn’t going to have him go all the way around the block. So I paid him off at 47th and Seventh. And walked from Seventh Avenue, just like I said.”

“So the only lie you told was about taking the subway.”

“I never said I took the subway. I may have said I walked from Seventh Avenue, but I’m sure I never mentioned the subway.”

“Fine,” Steve said. “The second cab you took-the one you got the receipt for-he let you out at 47th and Seventh too?”

“No, of course not. You told me to give him the address and go right to the door.”


“Well, didn’t you? Wasn’t that the whole point?”

“Yes, it was.”

“There you are.”

“Did that cab have to take you around the block?”

“Of course.”

“That’s why there was fifty cents more on the meter?”


“What about the fifty cent surcharge?”


“I thought the cab was more because there was a fifty cent surcharge for driving at night.”

“Oh. Well, maybe it was.”

“You can’t even keep your lies straight, can you?”

“They’re not lies.”

“Uh huh,” Steve said without enthusiasm. “Anyway, you paid off the cab and went inside. What time was that?”

“Just about eight.”

“You went in and used your key?”

“I didn’t have to. The door was open.”

“But you were going to use your key?”


“The door was open and the lights were on?”

“That’s right.”

“You expected Frank Fletcher to be there?”

“Yes, of course.”

“So, what did you do?”

“I went in, looked around, listened.”

“Surprised when you didn’t hear him?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Call his name?”


“What did you do when you got no answer?”

“I went over and looked at my desk. That’s when I saw the petty cash drawer was open.”

“What did you do then?”

“I was scared. The place had been robbed, and Frank was gone. I looked around and found him.”

“Right away?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Last night you said it was five or ten minutes.”

She frowned. “Why do you keep doing that? Telling me what I said last night? I was upset. I’d had a huge shock. I’m telling this the best I can.”

“No, you’re not,” Steve said. “You’re telling me what you think I want to hear. You’re such a liar you pick and choose what you want to say.”

“I do not.”

“Sure you do. I can even tell you why. Last night you weren’t letting on you got a call from Frank. You were telling the other lie-that you went to clean out your desk. There was no reason to be looking for him. So when I ask you what you did, you say you looked around a bit and eventually you went in his office and found him dead. So when I ask you how long it took, you say five or ten minutes. Of course, you can’t say what you were doing during that five or ten minutes, because they didn’t exist. The fact is, the minute you saw the petty cash drawer open, you said, Oh shit, Frank, and went in his office and found him dead. You just made up the five or ten minute bullshit because you weren’t admitting you knew Frank was there in the first place.”

Amy said nothing, just glowered at him.

“But that’s the way it’s gotta be,” Steve said. “At least the way you tell it now. You were on the phone with Tracy Garvin at eight o’clock. You’d already found the body by then. If you left your apartment at seven forty-five, took a taxi straight downtown, you ain’t got time to blow your nose. Five or ten minutes, hell. I don’t know where you found the time to get out and call her from a pay phone on the street.”

Amy’s eyes faltered.

“Oh, shit,” Steve said. “You called her from the office phone?”

“What difference would that make?”

“They’ll trace the fucking calls!” Steve exhaled, shook his head. “Jesus Christ, is it a compulsion with you to lie? We’re at the point, I can’t believe a single word you say.”

“That’s not fair.”

“Again with fair?” Steve said. “I don’t think it’s fair I’m in a position where I could get disbarred. But it’s getting to look damn likely. Look, do me a big favor. Stop trying to make your actions sound better. And stop trying to figure out what I’d like to hear. Just tell me what really happened.”

“I’ve told you what really happened.”

“You’ve given me three or four versions. What about the petty cash?”

“What about it?”

“Did you take it?”

“No, I tell you, I found the drawer open and the money gone.”

“Not last night,” Steve said. “I’m not talking about last night. I mean the trial. The famous petty cash trial. You happen to take any of that?”

Amy glared at him defiantly. Then her eyes faltered.

“Oh, whoopdedo,” Steve said. “I might have known. You care to tell me about it?”

“There’s nothing to tell. I didn’t take the money.”

“Then why the guilty reaction?”

“I don’t know.”

“I do. You’ve told so many lies, you can’t tell which story you’re on anymore.” Steve exhaled, shook his head. “Look, I’m tired of the small lies. Let’s go for the biggie. Tell me. Did you kill him?”

“No, I didn’t.”


“I swear I didn’t.”

“Cross your heart and hope to die?”

“Damn it-”

Steve held up his hand. “When you looked at the body, what did you think?”

That startled her. She blinked. “What?”

“When you first found the body-what was your reaction?”

“I couldn’t believe it.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know. I guess I’d never seen a violent death. I couldn’t believe he was really dead. Or, rather, I couldn’t believe someone had killed him.”

“Ever fire a gun?”


“Never in your life?”

“Not that I remember?”

“Your memory’s not that good. You happen to fire a gun in the last forty-eight hours?”


“There’s a test called the paraffin test.”

“I know. They gave it to me.”

Steve looked at her. “What?”

“Last night. They gave me the test.”

“You let them do it?”

“Did I have a choice?”

“Did they give you a choice?”

“I don’t know. The cop came, asked me if I’d take the test.”

“What did you say?”

“I asked him what it was for. He explained it was to see if I’d fired a gun.”

“What did you say?”

“I said maybe I’d better talk to my lawyer.”

“Why didn’t you.”

“I don’t know.”

“He explain the test to you?”

“Yes, he did.”

“He tell you that if you fired a gun, there’d be traces of nitrate powder on your hands?”

“That’s right.”

“Did he point out that if you were wearing gloves at the time, the test was worthless and wouldn’t show anything?”

“I think he mentioned that.”

“And it was after that that you decided that you didn’t need to call your lawyer and agreed to take the test?”

“You make it sound so bad,” Amy said.

“Oh yeah?” Steve said. “Just wait till you hear how Dirkson makes it sound. You ever own a gun?”


“Ever have one in your possession?”


“Did you take anything out of the office?”


“You claim you didn’t touch the petty cash, right? Well, did you touch anything else? Was there anything else, however trivial, that you took from the office?”


“Did you leave anything in the office?”

“Like what?”

“I have no idea.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“What about the body?”

“What about it?”

“Did you touch it?”


“You went in the office, he’s lying on the floor dead. You didn’t bend down, touch him, make sure he was dead?”


“What did you do?”

“I was horrified. I backed away.”

“But after you calmed down you went closer to look. Didn’t you?”

“Well, sure.”

“You didn’t touch the body then?”


“Didn’t look in his pockets, perhaps?”

“No. Why would I do that?”

“I have no idea. I’m asking if you did.”

“You’ve asked the same questions several times.”

“And gotten several different answers.”

“Now look here-”

“No, you look here. You have a very low credibility rating right now. Just answer the questions, and try to get ’em right. Tell me this. When you went back there and called the cops-while you were waiting for them you didn’t by any chance close the petty cash box and the petty cash drawer?”

“Why would I do that?”

“You keep asking me that. Frankly, I have no idea why you do what you do. I’m asking if you closed the drawer.”

“No, of course not.” Amy took a breath. She leaned forward, blinked her eyes, looked close to tears. “Now look,” she said. “You gotta help me. You’re sitting there, firing questions at me like this was all my fault. I got the call, came to the office, found him dead.”

“Right,” Steve said. “You’re innocent. Just like the first time you came to my office.” He shook his head. “I should trust my first instincts more.” He snorted. “Innocent, hell.”


“Robbery and revenge.”

Harry Dirkson stood before the jury and held up his left hand with two fingers raised. “Two separate but interconnected motives.” Dirkson smiled. “It’s nice when you’re able to prove one motive. It’s a rare thing when you’re able to prove two. But that what we have in this case.”

Dirkson turned, pointed to the defense table, where Amy Dearborn sat beside Steve Winslow. “Amy Dearborn killed Frank Fletcher to rob him and to exact revenge. Revenge for what? For accusing her of a crime. Frank Fletcher was her employer, and he had fired her for stealing. More than that, he had actually had her arrested for the crime. She had been tried and acquitted that very afternoon.”

Dirkson paused, let that sink in. Then he shifted gears, became crisp and businesslike. “We expect to show, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that that night, following the conclusion of the trial, the defendant went out to dinner, returned home to her apartment and found a message from Frank Fletcher on her answering machine. And what was the gist of that message? Telling her that he was working at the office and suggesting that she stop by and work things out.

“Well, Amy worked things out all right. She went down to the office, shot him and killed him.

“Why? Revenge.

“First motive.

“And what did she do then? She robbed the place. She cleaned out the petty cash drawer.

“Second motive.

“Just like that. In one fell swoop.

“Robbery and revenge.

“And what was the crime Frank Fletcher had accused her of? The crime she was arrested for? The charge for which she enacted her revenge?”

Dirkson paused, shrugged, smiled.

“Stealing the company’s petty cash.”

Dirkson nodded in agreement with himself, inviting the jury to agree too. “When you hear the evidence, ladies and gentlemen, you will see how well it all fits. We expect to show that in addition to the business relationship, Amy Dearborn had dated Frank Fletcher at one time. Until he dropped her. So it wasn’t just the accusation of theft. You also have to factor in the concept of a woman scorned. Imagine the defendant carrying all that around inside her. And then going through the emotional turmoil of a jury trial. Consider the relief she must have felt when that trial ended favorably. She goes home, she makes a date, she goes out to dinner. For once, she hasn’t a care in the world.

“And what happens then? She returns home, and on her answering machine is the voice of the man who used her, abused her, and accused her.”

Dirkson paused, smiled at his own rhyme. Was gratified when some of the jurors smiled back.

“Yes,” Dirkson said, “it’s not hard to see how that would be the last straw, pushing this woman over the edge.” He paused, raised his finger. “Though that is no excuse for what she did. What she did was a cold-blooded, premeditated murder. She went out, she hailed a taxi and went down to the office. She let herself in with a key she retained from when she worked there, a key she had never surrendered. She let herself in, closing the door quietly behind her. She tiptoed across the floor, surprised Frank Fletcher in his office, pulled out a gun and shot him.

“When did she do this, ladies and gentlemen? Right around eight o’clock. The report of the medical examiner will show that the decedent met his death sometime between the hours of seven-thirty and eight-thirty that night. We can place Amy Dearborn’s arrival at the office at approximately eight o’clock.

“All these facts are entirely consistent with her guilt. She arrived at eight o’clock, let herself in, and killed him.

“And what did she do then? She robbed the petty cash drawer. Why? Well, the obvious reason is to get the money. The other reason is to cover up the crime. To make Frank Fletcher’s death look like a robbery and murder.

“Well, it was. But the other way around.” Dirkson frowned. “What I mean is, Frank Fletcher was not murdered for the money. That was the way the defendant wanted it to appear. No, she murdered him, and, as an afterthought, she stole the money. First, because she wanted the money, and, second, to make it look like that was the reason for the crime.”

Dirkson held up one finger. “Can we prove Amy Dearborn took the money?” He nodded. “Yes, we can. By her very own actions and her very own words.”

Dirkson smiled. “But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you what Amy Dearborn did then. She’d killed Frank Fletcher and taken the petty cash, leaving the petty cash box and the petty cash drawer open to make it look like robbery was the motive for the crime. What did she do then? She left the office. Why? For several reasons. One, to get rid of the money. Two, to get rid of the gun.”

Dirkson stopped, held up his hand. “Now, I have to warn you. The defense attorney is going to make a big deal over the fact we haven’t recovered the gun. You’ll see him up here, striding up and down, saying, Where’s the murder weapon? How can they prove their case when they haven’t got the means?” Dirkson shook his head. “Well, if you fall for that, ladies and gentlemen, it’s because you’ve been seduced by television. The shows on TV, they always have the gun.

“Real life is different. In a large percentage of murder cases, the weapon is never recovered. Why? Because the murderer gets rid of it. Why? Well, sometimes because it can link the murderer to the crime. But not always. Sometimes the murderer will kill someone, and then take the gun with them when they try to escape. Hang onto it in case they encounter resistance, perhaps have to shoot their way out. They dispose of it later, as soon as they feel safe, as soon as they’re away from the scene of the crime.

“Which is what happened in this case. The defendant took the murder weapon away with her and disposed of it. And why haven’t we found it? Because she didn’t want it found. It’s a big city. She drops it down a sewer, throws it in a dumpster, in the East River for all we know. Chances are that gun will never be found.

“I don’t want you to get hung up on that point. If the rest of the circumstantial evidence indicates the defendant committed the crime, we don’t need the murder weapon to establish her guilt.

“Anyway, the defendant left the office to dispose of the money and the gun. But she had a third reason for doing so. To build up an alibi for herself. She went back to her own neighborhood, hailed a taxi and had it take her to the office. She went in, pretended to find the body, and called the police. They arrived minutes later and she told them her story.”

Dirkson held up one finger. “That story is false. We can prove that by her own words.” He smiled. “Because the defendant was very unlucky. Something happened which she could not have foreseen. Between the time she left the office to dispose of the money and the gun and the time she returned to pretend to find the body and call the cops, a chambermaid came by to clean the office. She found the petty cash box and the petty cash drawer open.

“And she closed them.”

Dirkson smiled. “But the defendant didn’t notice. She came back to the office, called the cops, and when they arrived, told them she’d just gotten there and found Frank Fletcher dead and the office robbed. According to her, she’d found the petty cash drawer and the petty cash box open and the petty cash gone.”

Dirkson shrugged. “Well, the money was gone all right. But the petty cash box and the petty cash drawer were shut.”

Dirkson shook his head, chuckled. “How damning is that? Well, I ask you to consider the defendant’s own evaluation. When confronted with that fact, the defendant offered no explanation whatsoever. On the contrary, she refused to answer questions, and from that point on she has not said another word.”

On the bench Judge Wylie glanced over at the defense table. A seasoned jurist, Wylie would have expected an objection-Dirkson’s comment was clearly improper. But Amy Dearborn’s longhaired, casually dressed, young lawyer just sat there calmly looking slightly bored.

Judge Wylie frowned. He looked over at Dirkson to find the prosecutor had paused, either in anticipation of an objection, or merely to let the significance of his statements sink in.

Whichever, Judge Wylie felt somewhat irritated. “Does that conclude your opening statement, Mr. Dirkson?”

“No, Your Honor,” Dirkson said. “Though there isn’t much more to tell. This is a very simple, straightforward case.”

Dirkson turned back to the jury. “We expect to prove that Amy Dearborn first arrived at the office of F. L. Jewelry, not at ten o’clock as she would have us believe, but much earlier, at eight o’clock. We shall prove this both by circumstantial evidence and by eyewitness testimony. You will hear two separate eyewitness accounts placing her at the scene of the crime. You will hear the actual tape recorded message from Frank Fletcher, the message he left on her answering machine asking her to come meet him. You will hear the testimony of the medical examiner to the fact that the decedent, Frank Fletcher, was killed at exactly the time the eyewitnesses place her on the scene.”

Dirkson held up one finger again. “No one saw her fire the shot. Which is not unusual. Most murderers don’t commit their crimes with someone watching. It simply isn’t done.

“That is why this case, like most murder cases, is a case of circumstantial evidence. That, as I say, is not unusual. It is only unusual in that it happens to be a particularly strong one. The facts will show that the defendant, and only the defendant, could have committed this crime. We will lay these facts before you and we will expect a verdict of guilty at your hands.”


Steve Winslow stood before the jury in his corduroy jacket and jeans. He shook his head, chuckled. His long brown hair fell over his face. He pushed it back, raised his head, looked at the jury.

A particularly strong one?” he said. “Did you hear what the District Attorney said? A particularly strong one.” Steve smiled at the jury. “I have to tell you, I was worried going into this case. Just this morning, I was sitting here at the defense table, thinking, what’s the District Attorney got? Then I heard that, and suddenly I’m not worried anymore.

A particularly strong one?” Without taking his eyes off the jury, Steve pointed in the direction of the District Attorney. “If his case were a particularly strong one, he wouldn’t have to say it. It would be obvious. The fact he has to say it, indicates that it’s not.

“Oh boy, is it not. From what I see, the man has no case at all.”

Steve smiled. “Now Mr. Dirkson told you I’m going to make a big deal about the gun. I’m not. So they didn’t find the gun? Big deal. Some gun shot him. Some person shot him. They haven’t found the person, what’s the big deal if they haven’t found the gun? The medical examiner will say he was shot with a gun. We concede he was shot with a gun. There’s no problem proving the corpus delicti here. We’ve got a dead man who was shot with a gun.”

Steve spread his hands. “What we don’t have, is one shred of evidence connecting this particular defendant to the crime. The District Attorney says he has eyewitnesses who will place the defendant at the scene of the crime, well, I say bring ’em on. Let’s hear what they have to say. Just between you on me, I don’t think they can prove a thing.

“But it’s not up to me. That’s up to you. You listen to their testimony and you listen to the cross-examination, and then you make a determination how much these people actually know. I think you’ll find it adds up to nothing at all.

“No, when you come right down to it, I think you’ll find the District Attorney’s whole case turns on the fact Amy Dearborn said the petty cash drawer was open and the cops found it shut.”

Steve spread his arms. “That’s all he’s got. I know that’s all his got, because I saw what lengths he went through to make sure you understood he had it. You will recall he emphasized that when confronted with the shut drawer, Amy Dearborn did not say a thing. I could have objected there, and that objection would have been sustained. Because, under law, a District Attorney has no right to infer guilt from a defendant’s refusal to explain.

“What happened was simple. Amy Dearborn was telling her story to the police. Cooperating fully. She had phoned them, reported a crime, waited for them to arrive, and was in the process of telling them all she knew. At which point she was suddenly confronted with a closed drawer.”

Steve paused, raised one finger in the air. “The fact is, the defendant had no idea how that drawer came to be closed. And yet, the officer was asking her to explain.

“And by asking her to explain, he was doing something else.

“He was suspecting her of a crime.

“He showed her that closed drawer in an attempt to contradict her story. In an attempt to get her to make an admission. He was, at that point in time, suspecting her of a crime. Not only was the defendant under no obligation to explain, but at that point in time, the officer was under obligation to inform her of her constitutional rights, to inform her that she was under no obligation to explain.”

Steve stopped, spread his hands wide. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, that is all the defendant in this case is actually guilty of. Of exercising her constitutional rights. Confronted with this accusation by this police officer, all the defendant said was, I would like to consult a lawyer.”

Winslow pointed again. “The District Attorney would like you to take that as an admission of guilt. It isn’t. It cannot be used in that manner. That’s the law.

“That’s the law, and he knows it. He’s the District Attorney. He knows it, yet he tried to do it anyway. When I heard that, that’s when I realized the man hasn’t got a case.

“Even so, Dirkson’s going to argue, she said the drawer was open, it was closed, she can’t explain it, she must be guilty. If that’s his whole case, let’s dispose of it now.

“The District Attorney has pointed out that this is a case of circumstantial evidence. The judge will inform you that in any case involving circumstantial evidence, if the circumstances can be explained by any reasonable hypothesis other than the guilt of the defendant, than you must find the defendant not guilty. That is the doctrine of reasonable doubt.

“The circumstantial evidence in this case is that the defendant said that drawer was open when it was actually shut. Can we come up with any reasonable hypothesis other than the fact that she’s guilty? I should think so. How about this? She arrives at the office, finds the cash drawer robbed. Goes into Fletcher’s office, finds him dead. She runs back into the outer office and calls the police. And where is the phone she calls the cops from? On the same desk where the drawer was robbed. The defendant’s hysterical, she’s just had a huge emotional shock. And while she’s calling the cops, she unconsciously and automatically closes the drawer and doesn’t remember doing that.

“You think that’s farfetched? Remember, this was the defendant’s own desk. The one she used to work at. When making a phone call from her own desk, you think setting that desk in order wouldn’t be automatic, practically a reflex action?

“If you don’t like that, try this. While she’s being questioned in the other room, cops are searching the office. A rookie who doesn’t know any better happens to close the drawer.”

Steve Winslow shrugged, shook his head, pointed again. “Now I’m sure the D. A. will argue, oh no, the cops are pros, they’d never do that. Maybe not. But impossible? I don’t think so. I think it’s entirely possible.

“And if it’s possible, we have to assume it happened. Any reasonable hypothesis other than guilt.”

Steve stopped, waved his hand. “I could go on, but I don’t want to take up your time. I have a feeling this is going to be a very long case. You know why? Because it’s so weak. If the prosecutor had a strong, convicting case, he’d put it on bang, bang, bang, and be done with it. If it’s weak they drag it out, try to make the points seem more important by making them take more time.

“Don’t fall for it.

“One more point before I go. The D. A. also sought to emphasize the fact that Amy Dearborn had previously been accused of petty theft. He slipped that in by making it part of the motive, her desire for revenge. Well, that’s well and good. But he also sought to emphasize the fact that the crime was stealing petty cash from this very petty cash drawer. Damning as the District Attorney would like to make that seem, the simple fact is, Amy Dearborn didn’t take that money. For the record, it took a jury of her peers less than fifteen minutes to determine that fact.

“She was innocent of that crime, just as she is innocent of this one.”

Steve smiled. “And I expect to hear you say so.”


For his first witness, Dirkson called Marvin Lowery, who gave his name and stated that he was a partner in F. L. Jewelry.

“Now then, Mr. Lowery,” Dirkson said. “Directing your attention to the evening of June tenth, did you have occasion to go to your office at that time?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Was that at someone’s request?”

“Yes. At the request of the police.”

“And for what purpose did they ask you to your office?”

“To identify a body.”

“And were you able to identify this body?”

“Yes, I was.”

“And who was it whose body you identified?”

“The body of my partner, Frank Fletcher.”

“That is your partner in F. L. Jewelry?”

“That’s right.”

“Are you certain of your identification?”

“Absolutely. We’ve been partners for eight years.”

“Thank you. No further questions.”

As Marvin Lowery started to leave the stand, Steve Winslow stood up. “One moment, Mr. Lowery. I have a few questions.”

“Your Honor,” Dirkson said. “I called this witness for a limited purpose. Merely to identify the body. I intend to recall him later on.”

“That may well be,” Judge Wylie said, “but the defense certainly has the right to cross-examine.”

“Thank you, Your Honor,” Steve Winslow said. “Mr. Lowery, I believe you said you and the decedent had been business partners for several years?”

“That’s right.”

“Were you partners with him in having the defendant arrested and charged with petty theft?”

“Objection,” Dirkson said. “Not proper cross-examination.”

“Oh no?” Steve said. “I can’t imagine a clearer indication of bias.”

“On that ground it’s allowed,” Judge Wylie said. “The objection is overruled.” He turned to the jury. “I should explain, you are to consider the answer to this question, not as establishing fact, but merely as an indication of this witness’s attitude toward the defendant. You are to take his feelings for the defendant into consideration when evaluating his testimony. The court reporter will please read the question.”

The court reporter pawed through his notes, read back, “Were you partners with him in having the defendant arrested and charged with petty theft?”

“Answer the question,” Judge Wylie said.

“Ah, yes, I was.”

“You were instrumental in having Miss Dearborn arrested for a crime?”

Lowery shifted position on the stand. “I wouldn’t say instrumental. I suppose I was a party to it. But Frank Fletcher was the driving force.”

Dirkson, who had been looking irritated, smiled at that.

“Is that so?” Steve said. “But is it not a fact that you went along? That you joined with him in pressing the complaint? That as a result the defendant was arrested and tried for the crime of petty theft. And that at the time of the trial you appeared in court and gave testimony for the prosecution?”

“Yes, that’s true.”

“Then let me ask you this-do you have any animosity toward the defendant over the fact she was found innocent of that charge?”

“None at all.”

“It doesn’t make you angry to be proved wrong?”

“I don’t consider myself proved wrong.”

“Oh? Then you also thought the defendant was innocent?”

“Objection, Your Honor.”

“Overruled. Witness may answer.”

“No, I did not.”

“You didn’t think the defendant was innocent at the time?”

“No, I did not.”

“And you still don’t?”

“No, I do not.”

“Then what do you mean when you say you don’t feel you were proved wrong?”

“The jury brought back a verdict of innocent. That doesn’t mean the defendant was.”

Dirkson turned to the jury, let them see his broad smile.

“Do you disagree with the verdict?” Steve said.

“I certainly do.”

“You feel it was incorrect?”

“Yes, I do.”

“In your opinion the jury made a mistake?”

“Yes, they did.”

“How clear was it in your own mind the defendant was guilty?”

“Perfectly clear.”

“On what do you base that evaluation?”

“On the evidence.”

“The same evidence the jury heard?”

“That’s right.”

“How do you account for the fact the jury brought back a verdict of not guilty?”

“I don’t know. It’s hard to get twelve people to agree.”

“Wasn’t the verdict for acquittal unanimous?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t? Didn’t the prosecutor poll the jury after the verdict?”

“I believe he did.”

“Did any of the jurors say guilty?”

“I don’t believe so.”

“You don’t believe so?”

“No, they didn’t.”

“Do you understand the meaning of the word unanimous?”



“Was the vote to acquit the defendant unanimous?”

Marvin Lowery didn’t answer, glared at Steve Winslow.

“I’d like an answer to that, Your Honor.”

“Objection,” Dirkson put in.

“Overruled. Witness will answer.”

“Was the verdict unanimous?”

Lowery took a breath. “Yes, it was.”

“Thank you, Mr. Lowery,” Steve said. “So when you said earlier that you didn’t know if it was unanimous, that wasn’t right, now was it?”

“Yes, it was.”

“Oh? But you’re saying now you did know.”

“I said I didn’t know, and I didn’t. Then you refreshed my recollection by talking about polling the jury. And I realized I did know.”

“You’re saying you just didn’t remember?”

“That’s right.”

“You didn’t say you didn’t remember, you said you didn’t know.”

“If I didn’t remember, I didn’t know.”

“Very good, Mr. Lowery. But the fact is, the verdict was unanimous. And my question to you was, how was it possible the jury acquitted the defendant, when the evidence against her was so clear. Your explanation was that it’s hard to get twelve people to agree. On the one hand, that’s a generalization. And on the other hand, it makes no sense in this case. So I ask you again, if the evidence was so clear that you were certain of the guilt of the defendant, how is it that a jury that heard that same evidence would set her free?”

“They made a mistake. Juries often do. They’re dealing with complicated points of law that are difficult to understand. Of course, they’re going to make mistakes.”

Dirkson was no longer smiling.

But Steve Winslow was. “Thank you, Mr. Lowery,” he said. “As I understand it, you have a certain contempt for the American judicial system?”

“Objection!” Dirkson cried. “The witness never said anything of the kind.”

“He certainly did,” Steve Winslow said.

Judge Wylie banged the gavel. “That will do. We will argue the objection at the sidebar.”

“There’s no need, Your Honor,” Steve said. “I’ll withdraw the question and ask another. Mr. Lowery, whatever you may feel about juries in general, in that particular case you felt the jury was wrong, is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“You felt Miss Dearborn was guilty of the crime?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Wasn’t that rather frustrating?”

“Yes, it was.”

“Make you angry?”

“I wouldn’t say angry.”

“Would you say annoyed?”

“I suppose you could say annoyed.”

“You resented the verdict?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Mr. Lowery, you recall at the beginning I asked if you resented the defendant for being found innocent of the crime. Is that right?”

“Yes, it is.”

“What answer did you give me.”

“I told you I didn’t.”

“You didn’t resent her for being found innocent?”

“No, I did not.”

“Was that answer true?”

“Yes, it was.”

“But you say you resented the verdict? The verdict of innocent. So if you didn’t resent the defendant for being found innocent, you must have resented the jury for finding her so. Is that right?”

Lowery blinked twice. Did not answer.

“Objection, Your Honor,” Dirkson said.


Lowery took a breath. “No, I did not resent the jury. I resented the situation. The fact that she had been found innocent.”

“What about me?” Steve said.

Lowery looked at him. “I beg your pardon?”

“Did you resent me?”

“Objection?” Dirkson said.

Steve smiled. “Surely the bias of the witness towards the defense is relevant.”


“Do you resent me?” Steve said.

Lowery glared at him. “Yes, I resent you,” he blurted.

“There we have it,” Steve said with a smile. “Finally, we come to the root of the problem. And why do you resent me?”

“For what you’re doing now,” Lowery said, angrily. “Mixing things up, twisting what I say.”

“Is that what I did in the petty cash trial?”

“You certainly did.”

“Is that what I’m doing now?”

“Yes, it is.”

“And you resent that?”

“Of course, I do.”

“What exactly is it that I’m doing that you resent?”

“I told you. You’re misquoting me. Misinterpreting everything I say. Mixing everything up so it comes out backwards.” Lowery paused, took a breath. Said angrily, “You’re making me look like a total jackass.”

“Is that so?” Steve said. He smiled broadly at the jury. “Thank you. No further questions.”


Next up, Dirkson called Dr. Andrew Stanton, a crisp, efficient looking young man with a no nonsense air about him. He took the stand and recited his qualifications as medical examiner, which included twelve years’ experience in that position, a rather surprising and impressive statistic in one so young.

“Now, then,” Dirkson said, “directing your attention to the evening of Thursday, June tenth, were you called upon to examine a body at that time?”

“Yes, I was.”

“Can you tell us when and where that was?”

“Yes. I was summoned to the office of F. L. Jewelry on West 47th. I arrived there at approximately ten twenty-five.”


Stanton smiled. “That was approximately when I arrived. I began my examination at ten twenty-nine.”

Dirkson smiled back. “Thank you, doctor. And what can you tell us about the body you examined?”

“He was a young man, say in his mid-thirties, of medium height and build. He was lying face down in the middle of the floor, with a pool of blood emanating from his chest.”

“You examined the body at that time?”

“Yes, I did.”

“What did you do?”

“First I determined that the man was dead. Of this, there was little doubt. Still, I verified the fact. I then conducted a preliminary examination of the body to determine the apparent cause of death.”

“And what was that?”

“Blood had come from a wound where something had penetrated the chest. From the location of the wound and the extent of the blood, it was likely this object had also penetrated the heart.”

“Could you tell what this object was?”

“It was apparently a bullet, though I did not make that determination then.”

“But you did make it later?”

“Yes. In the lab. When I conducted my autopsy.”

“And what did that object prove to be?”

“A bullet, which had penetrated the chest and lodged in the heart.”

“You recovered the bullet from the heart of the victim?”

“That is correct.”

“Tell me, doctor, did you take any steps so that it would be possible for you to identify this bullet?”

“Yes, I did. I scratched my initials, A. S. for Andrew Stanton, on the base of the bullet.”

Dirkson nodded his approval. “Thank you, doctor.” He strode to the prosecution table, picked up a small plastic bag. “Your Honor, I ask that this be marked for identification as People’s Exhibit One.”

“So ordered.”

When the court reporter had marked the exhibit, Dirkson took it and returned to the witness stand. “Doctor, I hand you a plastic bag marked for identification People’s Exhibit One and ask you what it contains.”

Doctor Stanton took the bag and examined the contents. “This is the bullet that I removed from the body of the decedent.”

“How do you recognize it?”

“As I said, by my initials, A. S., which I scratched on the base.”

Dirkson nodded approvingly. “Thank you, doctor. You say you removed this bullet from the body during your autopsy?”

“That’s right.”

“Did your autopsy determine the cause of death?”

“Yes, of course. The bullet was the cause of death. The man had been shot in the heart.”

“The bullet that you have identified, the one with your initials on it, the one marked for identification People’s Exhibit One?”

“That’s right.”

“That bullet was the cause of death?”

“Yes, it was.”

“Did you find any other cause of death? Any contributing factors?”

“No, I did not.”

“The bullet was, in your opinion, the sole and sufficient cause of death?”

“Absolutely. There is no doubt in my mind.”

“I see. Tell me, doctor. Did you determine the time of death?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And what did you determine that to be?”

“The decedent met his death on Thursday evening, June tenth, between the hours of seven-thirty and eight-thirty P.M.”

“Can you tell us how you made that determination, doctor?”

“Certainly. The decedent met his death approximately two and a half hours before my preliminary examination. You’ll recall I began my examination by ten twenty-nine. I had taken the body temperature by ten thirty-two. The body temperature was ninety-four point nine.” Dr. Stanton smiled. “The rest is simply mathematics. Normal body temperature is, as you know, ninety-eight point six. After death, the body cools. The rate of cooling is approximately one and one half degrees Fahrenheit per hour. The body I examined was ninety-four point nine, which is three point seven degrees cooler than normal. If the body cools one and one half degrees per hour, three degrees would be two hours, and point seven degrees would be approximately a half an hour. So the three point seven degrees of cooling indicated the body had been dead approximately two and a half hours. Since the temperature was taken at ten thirty-two, that put the time of death at approximately eight o’clock. The reasonable parameters when death might have occurred would be seven-thirty to eight-thirty.”

“You say death could have occurred from seven-thirty to eight-thirty?”

“That’s right.”

“When was death most likely to have occurred?”

“In my opinion, right around eight o’clock.”

“Thank you, doctor. That’s all.”

In the back of the courtroom, Tracy Garvin shifted in her seat. Steve Winslow loved to go after doctors. He explained it once that many doctors come across as self-assured and arrogant, and jurors just naturally love to see them torn down. So Steve always did his best to trip them up.

The problem was, he usually concentrated on the time of death. Usually, it was Steve who brought up the rate of cooling, made the doctor do the math. He used the math to contradict something the doctor had previously said.

But Dirkson had walked the doctor through the time of death, and in Tracy’s opinion, he had nailed it pretty well. If Tracy thought so, it was a cinch the jurors thought so too. So she wondered just what Steve was going to do.

It appeared Steve Winslow didn’t know either. He got up, frowned, looked at the doctor, frowned again, and looked around as if trying to think of something to ask. After a moment he walked over to the court reporter’s table, where Dirkson had returned the plastic bag containing the bullet. He picked it up and approached the witness.

This bullet, doctor?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“You have testified that it was this bullet that was the sole and sufficient cause of death of the decedent, Frank Fletcher?”

“That is correct.”

“Are you certain of that?”

“Yes, I am.”

“No secondary cause of death? No contributing factors?”

Stanton shook his head. “None that was apparent in my autopsy.”

“And I assume your autopsy was quite thorough?”


“Did you test for poisons?”

“Yes, of course.”


“Yes, of course.”

“Did you find any?”

“Nothing significant.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Exactly what I say. I found nothing that would be significant.”

Steve smiled. “Did you find anything that was insignificant?”

“I got a faint positive for cocaine.”

“A faint positive?”

“That’s right.:”

“Is that like a little bit pregnant?”

“No, it is not. I got a borderline reading that might have been a trace residual effect of recreational cocaine use. But it was too faint to be conclusive. To put it one way, if this were a baseball player undergoing mandatory drug testing, the reading would not have been sufficient to determine he had flunked the test.”

“But the test did indicate a trace of cocaine?”

“Possibly. It could also have been a false positive. The only significance of the test would be to indicate that at a future time, it might be wise to test again.” Stanton smiled. “In the present case, that is not applicable.”

“Be that as it may, doctor, no matter how hard you try to minimalize this finding, the fact is this test revealed a trace residue of cocaine.”

“Which could not in any way have contributed to the cause of death,” Dr. Stanton said. “I want to make that perfectly clear. When I stated I found no contributing causes of death, that was entirely accurate. There are no contributing causes of death, no matter how much you may want to make out of this one particular test.”

“I’m not trying to make anything out of it, doctor, other than to bring out the fact it exists. Now then was there anything else revealed by your autopsy that you failed to tell us about?”

Dr. Stanton’s eyes narrowed. “I did not fail to tell you about it,” he snapped. “I was asked for the cause of death. I’ve given you the cause of death, and everything significant relating to the cause of death. I have not given you every extraneous and unrelated matter that had nothing to do with the cause of death. My autopsy also revealed the man suffered from hemorrhoids. Would you like to take me to task for failing to mention that?”

Judge Wylie banged the gavel. “That will do. Doctor, I can understand the provocation, but please try to avoid sparring with counsel.”

“Sorry, Your Honor.”


Steve Winslow held up the plastic bag. “Now then, doctor, getting back to this bullet. The one you told us about. The one that is the sole and sufficient cause of death. The one that this trace residue of cocaine was not a contributing factor to.”

“Objection, Your Honor.”

“Sustained. Mr. Winslow, if you could likewise avoid baiting the witness?”

“Yes, Your Honor. Dr. Stanton, regarding this bullet-is it then your testimony that this bullet is the sole and sufficient cause of death of the decedent, Frank Fletcher?”

“Yes, it is.”

“This particular bullet?”

“Yes. If that’s Exhibit One,” Stanton said, “that’s the bullet.”

“Oh, it’s Exhibit One,” Steve said. “I wouldn’t switch bullets on you, doctor. Here. See for yourself.”

He handed Dr. Stanton the plastic bag. Stanton took it, looked at it, started to hand it back.

“No, hang on to it for a minute, doctor,” Steve said. “I’d like to ask you some questions about the bullet. To begin with, tell us again how you recognize it as the bullet you took from the body of the decedent?”

“As I said, I scratched my initials on the base.”

“And your initials are?”

“A.S. For Andrew Stanton.”

“I see. And can you find your initials on the base of the bullet now?”

“Yes, of course. They’re right here.”

“The court reporter will please note that he is indicating the flat part of the bullet on which he scratched the initials A and S.”

Steve left the doctor holding the plastic bag, stepped back and said, “And that is how you identify this as the bullet you recovered from the body of Frank Fletcher?”

“That’s right.”

“Tell me, doctor. What caliber is that bullet?”

Stanton smiled. “I’m not a ballistics expert.”

“You’re telling me you don’t know?”

“Only by hearsay.”

“You’ve been told the caliber of the bullet?”

“That is correct.”

“You can’t tell yourself?”

“I can make a good guess. But I’m not up here to testify to guesswork.”

“So when you identify this bullet as the one you took from the body of the decedent, you’re not going by the caliber, are you?”

“No, I’m not. As I said, I marked the bullet.”

“You marked it A.S.?”

“That’s right.”

“Because those are your initials?”


“Doctor, you stated that you’ve been a medical examiner for twelve years?”

“That’s right.”

“Tell me. Is this the first fatal bullet you’ve ever recovered?”

“No, of course not.”

“How many fatal bullets have you recovered in your career?”

“I really couldn’t say.”

“Would it be hundreds?”

“Perhaps a hundred. Perhaps more. I’ve never counted, but I’ve certainly seen my share of bullets.”

“Fatal bullets?”

“Yes, fatal bullets.”

“We’re talking about fatal bullets that you recovered during the course of an autopsy?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Are you saying that you’ve recovered as many as a hundred fatal bullets during the course of your autopsies?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Did you mark them, doctor?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“The fatal bullets you recovered-did you mark them?”

“Yes, of course.”

“How did you mark them?”

“With my initials.”

“And your initials are A.S.?”

“That’s right.”

“And always have been A.S.? You haven’t changed your name, have you doctor?”



“You say you have marked fatal bullets with your initials. Have those initials always been A.S.?”

“Yes, of course.”

“To the best of your recollection, you have marked every fatal bullet you ever recovered?”

“I believe so, yes.”

“You have recovered by your own estimation perhaps a hundred fatal bullets?”


“Well, doctor, what is there about the bullet in your hand, the bullet marked for identification as People’s Exhibit One, the bullet you have marked with your initials A.S., that enables you to distinguish it from any of the other fatal bullets you have recovered in your career, which you testified that you also marked A.S.?”

Dr. Stanton opened his mouth to say something. Closed it again.

“Can you answer that, doctor?”

“Objection. Badgering the witness,” Dirkson said.


“You want to answer that, doctor?” Steve said.

Stanton took a breath. “I can only say the question has no relevance. There is only one bullet involved in this particular case. There is no other bullet for it to be confused with.”

“Then why mark it at all?”

“To show it was the bullet that was recovered in my autopsy.”

“But if I understand your testimony correctly, all that it shows is that it is one of the bullets that you recovered in one of your many autopsies.”

“Nonsense,” Stanton said. “That’s the bullet that I took from the body of the decedent, Frank Fletcher.”

“How do you know?”

“How do I know anything?” Dr. Stanton said angrily. “I removed the bullet myself. I marked it. I delivered it to the police.”

“Exactly,” Steve said. “You let the bullet out of your custody. What is there about the bullet you hold in your hand that indicates it is the same bullet that you marked and delivered to the police?”

“I would think my initials should be sufficient.”

“Then let me ask you this, doctor. If I were to introduce ballistics evidence that the bullet that you hold in your hand had been fired by a gun that was proved to have killed a man on whom you had performed an autopsy last year, is there anything in your testimony or would you have any way whatsoever to prove that this was not the bullet that you recovered in that autopsy?”

“Objection. Incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.”

“It is a hypothetical question only, Your Honor, for the purpose of impeachment.”

“It is an impeaching question. The objection is overruled.”

“Would you have any way of proving this was not that bullet, doctor?”

Stanton took a breath. “No, I would not.”

“Thank you, doctor.” Steve Winslow turned to Judge Wylie. “Your Honor, at this time I would like to move that the doctor’s testimony regarding the bullet, People’s Exhibit One, being the fatal bullet, be stricken from the record and the jurors instructed to disregard it.”

Dirkson was immediately on his feet, but Judge Wylie cut him off. “I will not hear arguments at the present time. Let’s take a brief recess. Show the jury out. We can reconvene and discuss this motion. Jurors are advised not to talk among themselves. Court stands in recess for half an hour.


“Nice work,” Mark Taylor said. “You got ’em on the run.”

“Yeah,” Tracy said. “What you did with the doctor was great.”

“Yeah, but what’s it prove?” Steve said. “That’s the fatal bullet and everybody knows it.”

“You think the judge will strike the testimony?” Taylor said.

“Not a prayer.”

“Then why bother?”

“Are you kidding?” Tracy said. “The jury ate it up. Who cares what it proves?”

“You got anything, Mark?” Steve said. “The cross-examination may look good, but I happen to be firing blanks.”

“What I got ain’t good,” Taylor said.


“Yeah. Dirkson’s trying to prove a relationship, right? Between her and the stiff? There’s witnesses they went out together. To some of these trendy clubs. They’ll testify they were pretty close.”

“We knew that, Mark. What about drugs?”

“What about ’em?”

“The doctor gave me a kick in the chops, with the test positive for cocaine. I bore down on him like I caught him trying to snatch the royal jewels, but at the same time I’m kicking myself in the head.”


“What you just said. The cops can link Amy Dearborn and Frank Fletcher, prove they were running around these trendy clubs. Now throw in cocaine. Throw in the idea Amy was fired for pilfering petty cash, and the fact money was taken in this case, and you start to paint a picture in the mind of the jurors.”

“Oh, shit,” Taylor said.

“So, you’re right. Your info’s a kick in the head. You got anything else?”

“No. I’m working on Macklin, but he’s a tough nut to crack. I can’t go at him directly, and the guy has few friends. All I’m getting is gossip.”

“Nothing wrong with gossip. What’s the word?”

“Man likes to play the ponies.”


“Goes to the track whenever he can, and when he can’t, OTB.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. I don’t know what it’s worth. But with a compulsive gambler it’s sort of like drugs. When there’s a case where there’s money missing, it’s worthy of note.”

“It certainly is.”

“Only problem,” Taylor said, “is the info I get is the guy usually wins.”

“Uh huh,” Steve said. “What about Lowery?”

“Even worse,” Taylor said. “Respectable family man. Quiet home life. Only vices appear to be fishing and golf.”

“Hard to smear a man with that,” Steve said. “Okay, keep digging. The man must have some faults.”

“Fine,” Taylor said, without enthusiasm. “Anything else?”

“Yeah. The boyfriend. Larry Cunningham.”

“What about him?”

“Frankly, I wish he’d get hit by a truck. The guy’s so eager to give her an alibi, his story isn’t worth shit. Worse than that, he’ll prejudice the jury against her, because he’s so clearly lying.”

“I’ll buy that,” Taylor said. “What do you expect me to do about it?”

“Check him out. Bad as he is, see if he’s worse. Anything about him the prosecution’s going to hit me with, I want to know about it before they do. Get his story up and down and get it nailed. Check with the guy he had the meeting with. Find out when he got there. Check with the waiters in the restaurant, find out when he left. Give me enough to show this guy what he’s up against before he gets on the stand and says something he can’t prove. Or rather, something Dirkson can disprove. Anyway, run a check on him and find out what makes him tick.

“While you’re at it, check out Oliver Branstein.”


“The guy from the music store.”

“Why?” Taylor said. “We know the story on him. He’s a highly uncredible witness. Dirkson’s gonna try to build him up. We know that for sure, ’cause the guy’s in his hip pocket and won’t give us the time of day. There’s nothing much I can do.”

“I know, Mark. But check the guy out.”


“Let’s not overlook the obvious. The guy runs the music store downstairs. He and Frank Fletcher were neighbors. How well did they know each other? Did they get along?”

Mark Taylor’s eyes widened. “You mean check him out as a suspect?”

“Just check him out, Mark. If he knew Fletcher, I want to know.”


When court reconvened, Judge Wylie said, “With regard to the defense counsel’s motion-upon reviewing the testimony I find no further arguments are necessary. I find the objection goes to the weight of the testimony rather than to its admissibility. The motion to strike is therefore denied.”

“However,” Judge Wylie continued, turning to Dirkson, “I would suggest the prosecution make some effort to establish the chain of custody before offering the exhibit into evidence.”

“Yes, Your Honor.”

“Return the witness to the stand and bring in the jury.”

When the jurors had been brought in and seated, Judge Wylie said, “When we left off, Dr. Stanton was on the stand and Mr. Winslow was in the middle of his cross-examination. The motion to strike portions of the testimony has been denied. The doctor’s testimony will stand. Mr. Winslow, you may resume your cross-examination.”

“I have no further questions, Your Honor.”

“Any redirect, Mr. Dirkson?”

“None, Your Honor.”

“Very well. The witness is excused.”

“Call Sergeant Stams.”

Stams took the stand, testified to responding to a reported homicide at F. L. Jewelry on West 47th Street.

“And what did you find when you got there?”

“The defendant, Amy Dearborn, was already in the office.”

“She met you at the door?”

“That’s right.”

“Can you tell us what happened then?”

“Yes. I asked her if she was the one who reported the homicide. She said she was. I asked her where the body was, and she showed me.”

“And where was that?”

“An inner office, which I understand was the office of the deceased.”

“And where was the body when she showed it to you?”

“Lying face down on the floor.”

“I see. And what did you do then?”

“I instructed the crime scene unit to process the office and notify the medical examiner. Then I questioned the defendant.”

“Where did you conduct this questioning?”

“In another inner office, which I understand was the office of the other partner, Marvin Lowery.”

“You took the defendant there to question her?”

“That’s right.”

“Why did you do that?”

“I wanted to get her away from the body. So it wouldn’t upset her and distract her. And to get her out of the way of the crime scene unit.”

“You chose this office because it was out of the way?”

“That’s right.”

“When you questioned the defendant, what did she tell you?”

“She said she was a former employee. That she’d been employed at the office up until a month ago, when she’d been fired for stealing. That she’d been tried for the crime and acquitted. That she had therefore come to the office that evening to clean out her desk.”

“Did she tell you how she intended to get in?”

“Yes. She said she had a key from when she had previously worked there.”

“She retained this key when she fired?”

“That’s right.”

“Did she show you this key?”

“Yes, she did.”

Dirkson took another plastic bag from the prosecution table. “I ask that this be marked for identification as People’s Exhibit Two.” When that had been done, Dirkson handed it to the witness, said, “Sergeant, I hand you a plastic evidence bag marked for identification as People’s Exhibit Two, and ask you if you recognize it.”

“Yes, I do. It is a plastic bag containing the key I referred to. The one the defendant showed me at that time.”

“How do you recognize it?”

“I have written my name on the bag. As well as the date, and a description of the contents.”

“The bag is sealed?”

“That is correct.”

“You say this is the key the defendant showed you at that time?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Did you do anything to verify this is indeed the key to the office?”

“Yes. As a matter of fact, I tried it myself.”

“It opened the outer door?”

“Yes, it did.”

“Thank you, Sergeant,” Dirkson said. He took the plastic bag, returned it to the court reporter’s desk.

“Now then, Sergeant. Going back to your interrogation of the defendant on the night in question-”

“Objection to the word interrogation. As I understand it, the police were there at Miss Dearborn’s request.”

“Sustained. Rephrase the question.”

“Going back to the time you questioned the defendant at the scene of the crime-I believe you stated she intended to get into the office with her key, is that right?”

“That’s right.”

“Did she in fact use a key to get in?”

“She says she didn’t. According to her, she arrived and found the door open.”

“The front door to the office?”

“That’s right.”

“The door the key People’s Exhibit Two fits?”

“Yes, sir. That door was open.”

“That’s what she told you at the time?”

“That’s right.”

“This is when you questioned her in the office of the partner, Marvin Lowery, on the night you were summoned to the crime scene?”

“That’s right.”

“She said the door was open?”


“Wide open?”

“No. Not wide open. But enough that she could tell it was open. In other words, she didn’t have to try the key. According to her statement, the door was ajar, that was readily apparent, so she didn’t use her key, she just pushed her way in.”

“When did this happen? According to her?”

“She said she arrived at the office at approximately ten o’clock.”

“Ten o’clock?”

“That’s right.”

“Did she give you any explanation for why she would have come by the offices at that time?”

“Yes, she did.”

“Please tell us, Sergeant, what the defendant told you. With regard to her movements on the day in question.”

“Yes, sir,” Stams said. “As I say, she’d been in court. On the charge of petty theft. The jury brought back a verdict in the late afternoon. After that, the defendant left court and went uptown to her apartment on West 107th Street to change for dinner. She went out to a restaurant in the neighborhood with a man by the name of Larry Cunningham. According to her, they had intended to go to the movies, but it turned out he had to work. She went home around seven-thirty. According to her, she watched TV, puttered around the apartment for a while, then got the idea of cleaning out her desk. She went out to Broadway, hailed a taxi, took it the office, and went upstairs, arriving at approximately ten o’clock.”

“And what happened then? According to the defendant’s statement?”

“She found the door unlocked and the lights on. She pushed the door open and went inside.”

“What did she find?”

“The office was apparently empty. She looked around, then she went over to her desk and discovered the office had been robbed.”

“Robbed?” Dirkson said. “What did she mean by robbed?”

“According to her,” Stams said, “the petty cash drawer of her desk was open, the petty cash box was open, and the money was gone.”

“Let me be sure I understand this,” Dirkson said. “This was the defendant’s desk?”


“The one she said she went to the office to clean out?”

“That’s right.”

“She went over to the desk to clean it out and found one of the drawers open?”

“That’s right.”

“The petty cash drawer?”


“And what about the petty cash box?”

“According to her, the petty cash box was in the petty cash drawer, but it was open.”

“What do you mean, open?”

“I mean the top was up. The petty cash box was a simple metal cash box with a hinged top. That top was up. And the box was empty.”

“This box was sitting in the petty cash drawer, which was also open.”

“That’s right.”

“According to the defendant’s statement?”

“Yes. According to the defendant’s statement.”

“This was the statement that she made to you at the time on the night in question?”

“That’s right.”

“She claimed she discovered this when she came to the office?”

“That’s right.”

“She discovered this before or after she discovered the decedent’s body?”


“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. She claimed that was the reason she found the body. She went to clean out her desk and discovered the office had been robbed. She looked around to see if anything else had been taken, and found the body.”

“According to her statement?”

“According to her statement.”

“And this statement was made in the office of Marvin Lowery?”

“That’s right.”

“Tell me, Sergeant. After the defendant made that statement to you-about finding the petty cash drawer open and the petty cash gone-what, if anything, did you do?”

“I left the defendant in Mr. Lowery’s office and went out to verify her statement.”

“Did you tell her you were doing this?”

“No. I just excused myself, told her to wait there. Then I went to see if her story was true.”

“And was it?”


“Sustained. Rephrase the question.”

“You went to look at the defendant’s desk?”

“That’s right.”

“Had it been previously pointed out to you?”

“No. But it was the only desk in the outer office.”

“Did she subsequently identify it as her desk?”

“Yes, she did.”

“Anyway, you went to look at that desk?”

“Yes, I did.”

“What did you find?”

“All the drawers were shut.”

“All of them?”

“Yes. All of them.”

“Including the petty cash drawer?”

“Well, I didn’t know which was the petty cash drawer at the time. But the drawer I subsequently learned was the petty cash drawer was shut, yes.”

“What did you do after observing this?”

“Went back in and questioned the defendant some more.”

“Did you tell her you found the petty cash drawer shut?”

“No, I did not.”

“Why not?”

“I wanted to see what she would say about it.”

“What did she say?”

“She continued to lie. She-”


“Sustained. Sergeant, please don’t testify to conclusions.”

“That’s no conclusion, Your Honor. I saw the drawer and it was shut.”

“Which is all you can testify to,” Judge Wylie said. “Don’t draw the conclusion that someone was lying. That statement will go out. Jurors will disregard. Proceed, Mr. Dirkson.”

“Yes, Your Honor. I believe the question was what did the defendant say? After you had observed that the drawer was shut.”

“She continued to maintain that she had found it open.”

“And when was this that she had found it open?”

“At ten o’clock, when she arrived.”

“You pinned that down?”

“I certainly did. According to her, she arrived at ten, found the drawer open, the cash box open, and the money gone. That was the first thing she found, and that was what led her to find the body.”

“After she found the body, what did she do?”

“She called the police.”

“From what phone?”

“The one on her desk.”

“The same desk where the petty cash drawer was?”

“That’s right.

“I see,” Dirkson said. “Tell me, sergeant, did you make any attempt to learn how she could have made a phone call from that desk without noticing that the drawer was shut?”

“Yes, I did. I questioned her about the phone call. According to her, she didn’t sit at her desk when she made the phone call. She didn’t even go behind it. She was too upset. According to her, she came out of the decedent’s office, went straight to her desk, picked up the phone, and dialed nine one one standing there in front of her desk.”

“In front of her desk?”

“That’s right.”

“Tell me, Sergeant. After she made that statement, did you subsequently make the experiment of standing where the defendant said she stood in front of her desk, to see if you could see the petty cash drawer from that angle?”

“Yes, I did.”

“With what result?”

“I couldn’t see it.”

“You couldn’t tell whether it was open or not?”

“No, I couldn’t.”

“Did you try the experiment with the drawer open?”

“I tried it with the drawer open and with the drawer closed.”

“With what result?”

“I couldn’t tell. Standing in that position, I couldn’t see the drawer at all.”

“Getting back to your conversation with the defendant, after you pinned down the fact that that was where she was standing when she made the phone call, what did you do?”

“I asked her to show me the desk that had been robbed.”

“What did she do?”

“She took me in the outer office and showed me her desk.”

“What happened then?”

“I asked her to point out the petty cash drawer.”

“Did she?”

“She started to. She walked around her desk. Started to point. Stopped. Stared at it.”

“Did she say anything?”

“No, she did not.”

“She made no comment on the fact the drawer was shut?”

“No, she just stood there, looking at it.”

“What did you do then?”

“I asked her again to show me the drawer.”

“Did she do so?”

“No. She said she wanted to call her lawyer.”

“What did you do then.”

“I arrested her on suspicion of murder.”

“Thank you, sergeant. No further questions.”

Steve Winslow stood up, smiled. “A rather neat sequence, sergeant. She asked to call her lawyer. You arrested her on suspicion of murder.”

“That’s not unusual,” Stams said. “When they’re arrested, most criminals call their lawyer.”

“I was referring to the sequence,” Steve said. “Which was the other way around. She asked to call her lawyer, so you made the arrest.”

Stams shrugged. Said nothing.

“I’m somewhat interested in the basis for the arrest, sergeant. What was it that led you to believe you had probable cause?”

Though Sergeant Stam’s face remained impassive, there was a shrewd gleam in his eye. “In my opinion?” he said.

“Yes, sergeant. In your opinion.”

“She was lying,” Stams said. “She stated flat out that she had arrived at ten and found that drawer open. That drawer was shut. An out and out lie. Obviously the defendant was not telling the truth, she was there in the office specifically for the purpose of building up an alibi for herself. In my opinion, if she thought the drawer was open, the only way she could have seen that it was open was if she was there earlier when she was committing the murder.”

“One moment,” Judge Wylie said. He exhaled. “Attorneys, to the sidebar.”

When they had gathered at the sidebar, Judge Wylie said, “All of that is pure speculation. The witness is testifying to a mass of surmises and conclusions.”

“He asked for it,” Dirkson said.

“Indeed he did. Mr. Winslow, you are cluttering up the record with testimony that is inadmissible on the one hand, and detrimental to your client on the other.”

“I’d like to cross-examine on it, Your Honor.” Steve Winslow said. “And I’d like to point out, there’s been no objection from the prosecution.”

“Which doesn’t make it any more admissible,” Judge Wylie said.

“I beg to differ,” Steve said. “We have a veteran police officer called upon to explain why he made an arrest. His thought process is entirely relevant.”

“To an extent,” Judge Wylie said. “Let’s not get involved in metaphysical speculation. You want to speculate, save it for your closing argument. On cross-examination, please bring out the facts.”

When they had all resumed their places, Steve Winslow said, “Now, sergeant, your opinion that the defendant was lying about her account of coming to the office, was based entirely on the fact that she said that drawer was open when it in fact was shut? Referring to the time in question, when you made the arrest.”

“Referring only to that time?”

“That’s right.”

“Because I have subsequently learned-”

“Never mind what you have subsequently learned, sergeant. I’m talking about the time of the arrest. I’m talking about the evidence you just commented on. The evidence you just gave us your evaluation of. The evidence on which you arrested the defendant for this crime. At the time, was the key evidence that led you to make that arrest the fact that the petty cash drawer which she had told you was open was actually shut?”

Stams took a breath, considered. “That’s right,” he said.

“Fine, sergeant. Then let me ask you this. If you were basing a murder arrest on the fact that drawer was shut, why didn’t you first make sure that drawer could not have been shut by any other means?”

Stams frowned. “I beg your pardon?”

“If that was the basis for the arrest, it was pretty important whether that drawer was open or shut. Wasn’t it?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Was there any chance that drawer was shut by one of the officers of the crime scene unit-”


“Let me finish, sergeant-by one of the officers of the crime scene unit, while you were in Marvin Lowery’s office interrogating the defendant for the first time, before she told you about that drawer and you went out to check on it?”

“Absolutely not.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“You’re talking about the officers of a crime scene unit. These are highly trained individuals. They know their job. They would never make that mistake.”


“No, never.”

“Each and every one of them?”

“Each and every one.”

“Sergeant, you are stating that it is impossible for an officer of a crime scene unit to make a mistake?”

“No, I am stating that it is impossible for them to make that mistake, to contaminate the crime scene by closing an open drawer. It is the type of mistake they’re trained against. It simply isn’t done.”

“You’re saying they might make other mistakes?”

“Don’t put words in my mouth,” Stams said irritably. “You challenged me to say a crime scene unit never made a mistake. Now you want to crucify me for refusing to say that?”

“Not at all, sergeant. But I’d certainly like you to clarify what you mean.”

“I mean what I say. No one’s infallible. A crime scene officer might make a mistake, but it would be a mistake along the line of overlooking a fingerprint because it was on the underside of a table.” Sergeant Stams was somewhat red in the face. “Now, I’m not saying I suspect a crime scene unit would make such a mistake. I’m saying that’s the type of mistake it would be possible for them to make. The type you were referring to- contaminating the crime scene by closing an open drawer-that’s the type of mistake they would not make. That’s what I mean when I say it would be impossible.”

“You say such a thing would be impossible?”

“Yes, I do.”

“You base this statement solely on your opinion that no crime scene officer would be liable to make such a mistake?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“In other words, you have no personal knowledge. You merely assume that mistake was not made.”

“That’s not true.”

“Oh, you do have personal knowledge?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Are you telling me you conducted your own investigation into this matter?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Then I beg your pardon, sergeant, and I stand corrected. Would you mind telling me exactly what you did?”

“Before I brought the defendant out and confronted her with the closed drawer, I personally conferred with each and every member of the crime scene unit and ascertained that that drawer was indeed shut when we arrived.”

Steve Winslow smiled. “You did this personally, sergeant?”

That’s right.”

“You personally asked each member of the crime scene unit about the drawer?”

“That’s right.”

“You asked them if the drawer was shut when they first saw it?”

“That’s right.”

“With what result?”

“All of them said the drawer was shut.”

“None of them said they shut the drawer?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Are you just assuming that, or did you ask specifically if they had shut the drawer?”

“I asked specifically.”

Steve Winslow smiled. “Yes, I was sure you had. Correct me if I’m wrong, sergeant, but didn’t you testify that it was absolutely impossible for any member of the crime scene unit to have shut that drawer, because they are trained individuals who would never do that?”

“Yes, I did. That’s absolutely right.”

“Then why did you ask them if they had?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“If it was impossible for them to have shut the drawer, then why did you have to ask them if they had?”

Sergeant Stams opened his mouth. Closed it again. Glared at Winslow.

“You want to answer that, sergeant?”

“You can twist my words around any way you like, but the fact is the crime scene unit wouldn’t have done that. You know it and I know it.”

“You know it?”

“I certainly do.”

“But your actions belie your words, sergeant. If you know they couldn’t have done it, why ask them if they did?”

And when Stams didn’t answer, Steve Winslow said, “No further questions.”


Mark Taylor leaned back in his desk chair and referred to his notebook. “Okay, here’s the dope. The boyfriend’s a washout. This Larry Cunningham. He’s just like you said. There’s no problem getting him to talk-the guy’s so eager to help, he’s falling’ all over himself. Has all the credibility of a wet sponge. Determined to say he left the restaurant at eight. More so now the doctor’s set it as the probable time of death. My man tried to knock his story down, but it’s no go. The waiters and the cashier in the restaurant don’t remember well enough. As far as they know, they could have left at eight o’clock. They don’t know they did, they don’t know they didn’t. They just don’t remember.

“Philip Eckstein’s another story.”


“The guy he had the meeting with. The corroborating witness.” Taylor shook his head. “Now, there’s a winner. He’s a nerdy little twerp, shifty eyed, defensive. Might as well have I’m lying tattooed on his forehead.”

“What’s he lying about?”

“The time of the meeting. Cunningham told him he got there at eight-thirty, and damn it, that’s what he’s going to say. According to Eckstein, Cunningham called him around eight o’clock, said he’d meet him in half an hour. We all know that’s not true. He called him at seven-thirty, made the meeting for eight. You know it, I know it, the D.A. knows it, the jury’s, gonna know it. He’s the type of guy on cross-examination Dirkson can get him to say that the earth was flat.” Taylor shrugged. “Not that he needs to. Your client already told the cops she left the restaurant seven-thirty. So when these guys pull the number, they’re gonna look like they’re auditioning for the Amateur Hour.”

“I know it, Mark. I wouldn’t put them on the stand if you paid me. What else you got?”

Taylor leaned back, laced his fingers behind his head and smiled. “I got you a present.”

Steve frowned. “What?”

“You told me to check out the music store guy. Oliver Branstein.”

“You got something?”

“I’ll say. This goes back about a year ago. F.L. Jewelry, in the back room, got a sink for washing gold plate.”

“Gold plate?”

Taylor put up his hands. “Don’t look at me. I don’t know the mechanics. Anyway, that’s how I got the story. They got an industrial type sink in the back room. Big mother. Holds a shitload of water.”

“Don’t tell me.”

“That’s right. It overflowed, leaked into the music store downstairs. Ruined some valuable guitars.”

“Branstein sued?”

“Sure did.”

“What happened to the suit?”

“Still pending.”

Tracy, who’d been sitting in the corner taking notes, put up her hand. “Whoa. Time out. You’re saying Oliver Branstein had a reason to kill Frank Fletcher?”

“I’m not saying anything. I’m just reporting the facts.”

“What about it, Steve?” Tracy persisted. “How does that add up?”

Steve shrugged. “I don’t know. But it’s interesting as all hell. Branstein and Fletcher had an adversarial relationship. It may mean something, then again, it may not. But there’s one nice thing about it.”

“What’s that?” Tracy said.

“It’s something I can bring out in court.”


When court reconvened, Judge Wylie said, “When we left off yesterday, Sergeant Stams was on the stand and Mr. Winslow had just completed his cross-examination. Do you have any redirect, Mr. Dirkson?”

“As a matter of fact, I do,” Dirkson said. He got up and crossed to the witness stand. “Sergeant, going back to when you questioned the defendant in Mr. Lowery’s office. Could you refresh our recollection as to what the defendant told you was her reason for coming to the office on that night?”

“Yes. She said she came to clean out her desk.”

“That’s the only reason that she came? According to her statement?”

“That’s right.”

“Just briefly, could you explain the time schedule once more. According to her statement. With regard to when she left the restaurant, went home and went to the office.”

“Yes,” Sergeant Stams said. “According to her, she left the restaurant at seven-thirty and went directly home to her apartment, which was two blocks away. She remained home until sometime later in the evening, when she got the idea to clean out her desk. She took a taxi down to the office for that purpose, arriving there at approximately ten o’clock. Whereupon she found the body and called the police.”

“Let me be sure I’ve got this straight,” Dirkson said. “According to her, she left the restaurant at seven-thirty and arrived at the office at ten o’clock.”

“That’s right.”

“At seven-thirty she went directly home and remained home until she left for the office?”

“That’s right.”

“And the reason she went to the office was because she had decided to clean out her desk?”

“That’s right.”

“Thank you, sergeant. No further questions.”

“Any recross?”

“No questions, Your Honor,” Steve said.

“The witness is excused.”

“Call Officer Hanson.”

Officer Hanson took the stand and testified to obtaining a warrant and searching the defendant’s apartment.

“And what, if anything, did you find?”

“I found a message on her answering machine.”

“A message?”

“That’s right.”

“Could you tell if this message had been picked up?”



“Officer Hanson, could you describe the answering machine in question with regard to its function?”

“Yes. It was the type of machine with a small red light. When the light is on, the machine is on, ready to receive calls. When the light is blinking, it means there’s been a call. One blink for one call, two blinks for two calls, and so on. If the light is steady, it means there have been no calls since the last time the answering machine was set.”

“What was the condition of the light when you discovered the answering machine?”

“It was on, but not blinking. It was steady.”

“What did that indicate?”

“That no one had called and left a message since the last time the answering machine was set.”

“What, if anything, did you do with the answering machine?”

“I pushed the play button to play back the messages.”

“Despite the fact the light indicated there were none?”


“And why was that?”

“Because unless they had been deliberately erased, the last series of messages would be there. The way the machine works, when it’s reset, a new call will erase the old messages. Since no new call had come in, this hadn’t happened. So, unless someone had taken the time to erase the messages before resetting the machine-which people rarely do-the old messages would be there.”

“And was that true in this case?”

“Yes, it was. When I pushed play, there was a message on the machine.”

“One message?”

“That’s right. Only one.”

“After you listened to this message, what did you do?”

“I took possession of the micro-cassette.”

“The micro-cassette?”

“Yes. The one in the answering machine with the message recorded on it. I removed it from the machine at that time.”

“Why did you do that?”

“To preserve it as evidence. If another call had come in, it would have recorded over it.”

“You took possession of the micro-cassette?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Your Honor, I ask that this micro-cassette be marked for identification as People’s Exhibit Three.”

“So ordered.”

When the cassette had been marked, Dirkson approached the witness. “Officer Hanson, I hand you a micro-cassette marked for identification People’s Exhibit Three and ask you if it is the one you are referring to, the one you took possession of on that night.”

Hanson took it, looked it over. “Yes, it is.”

“And how do you recognize it?”

“By my initials, which I marked on it in pen.” After a pause, Hanson said dryly, “I might add, this is the only micro-cassette I have ever marked my initials on.”

That comment drew a roar from the spectators in the courtroom.

Dirkson smiled. “I’m certainly glad to hear that,” he said. “Your Honor, at this time I’m going to ask that this micro-cassette be played for the jury.”

“How long will it take you to set up?” Judge Wylie asked.

“I’m ready now,” Dirkson said. He indicated the prosecution table, where his trial deputies had set up a tape deck and speaker and were in the process of plugging it in to an extension cord run from the wall.

“Very well,” Judge Wylie said.

Dirkson strode to the prosecution table, and, with a bit of a flourish, inserted the micro-cassette into the machine and switched it on.

For a moment there was no sound at all, and Dirkson had a panic attack that he’d hit the wrong button and was erasing the damn thing. Then the tape crackled on, and there came the “beep” before the recorded message.

Then the voice. Cocky, jaunty, playful. Chillingly so, coming from a dead man.

“Amy, Frank. Hey, babe, you really socked it to us. Gotta hand it to you, that was pretty neat. Listen, I’m down at the office catching up on some work. I’m all alone and feeling lonely. Whaddya say we patch things up? I bet we could, without your lawyer sticking his nose in. Whaddya say? Just you and me, babe. Just like old times.”


Amy Dearborn couldn’t meet Steve Winslow’s eyes. “It’s not like that,” she said.

“Not like what?”

“What he said on the tape. Wanting’ to see me without you. That had nothing to do with it.”


“Yeah, really.”

“Then look at me.”


“Look at me.”

Reluctantly, Amy raised her eyes.

“Good,” Steve said. “Tell me something. This whole time you’ve been holding back, not telling me the truth and the whole bit-was it because of this?”


“Was that the deal? Fletcher tells you to cut your lawyer out. You went to see him, it’s like you’re trying to cut me out of the settlement. That’s how it feels to you, that’s how you think I see it, and that’s why you wouldn’t talk.”

“No, it isn’t.”

“Then what is it?”

“Oh, I don’t know.”

“Great.” Steve sighed. “The problem is, once you start lying, it gets to be a habit. In this case, everything looks so bad, you think all you can do is lie. Well, wake up. I’m your lawyer. I’m the one person you don’t have to lie too. You tried to ace me out of a settlement, well frankly I don’t care.”