W. E. B. Griffin
Officer Jerry Kellog, who was on the Five Squad of the Narcotics Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department, had heard somewhere that if something went wrong, and you found yourself looking down the barrel of a gun, the best thing to do was smile. Smiling was supposed to make the guy holding the gun on you less nervous, less likely to use the gun just because he was scared.
He had never had the chance to put the theory to the test before-the last goddamned place in the world he expected to find some scumbag holding a gun on him was in his own kitchen-but he raised his hands to shoulder level, palms out, and smiled.
“No problem,” Jerry said. “Whatever you want, you got it.”
“You got a ankle holster, motherfucker?” the man with the gun demanded.
Jerry’s brain went on automatic, and filed away, White male, 25–30, 165 pounds, five feet eight, medium build, light brown hair, no significant scars or distinguishing marks, blue. 38 Special, five-inch barrel, Smith amp; Wesson, dark blue turtleneck, dark blue zipper jacket, blue jeans, high-topped work shoes.
“No. I mean, I got one. But I don’t wear it. It rubs my ankle.”
That was true.
Christ, that’s my gun! I hung it on the hall rack when I came in. This scumbag grabbed it. And that’s why he wants to know if I have another one!
“Pull your pants up,” the scumbag said.
“Right. You got it,” Jerry said, and reached down and pulled up his left trousers leg, and then the right.
Jerry remembered to smile, and said, “Look, we got what could be a bad situation here. So far, it’s not as bad as it could-”
“Shut your fucking mouth!”
“Who else is here?”
“Nobody,” Jerry answered, and when he thought he saw suspicion or disbelief in the scumbag’s eyes, quickly added, “No shit. My wife moved out on me. I live here alone.”
“I seen the dishes in the sink,” the scumbag said, accepting the three or four days’ accumulation of unwashed dishes as proof.
“Ran off with another cop, would you believe it?”
The scumbag looked at him, shrugged, and then said, “Turn around.”
He’s going to hit me in the back of the head. Jesus Christ, that’s dangerous. It’s not like in the fucking movies. You hit somebody in the head, you’re liable to fracture his skull, kill him.
Jerry turned around, his hands still held at shoulder level.
Maybe I should have tried to kick the gun out of his hands. But if I had done that, he’d have tried to kill me.
Jerry felt his shoulders tense in anticipation of the blow.
The scumbag raised the Smith amp; Wesson to arm’s length and fired it into the back of Jerry’s head, and then, when Jerry had slumped to the floor, fired it again, leaning slightly over to make sure the second bullet would also enter the brain.
Then he lowered the Smith amp; Wesson and let it slip from his fingers onto the linoleum of Jerry Kellog’s kitchen floor.
“Where the hell,” Sergeant Patrick J. Dolan of the Narcotics Unit demanded in a loud voice, paused long enough to make sure he had the attention of the seven men in the crowded squad room of Five Squad, and then finished the question, “is Kellog?”
There was no reply beyond a couple of shrugs.
“I told that sonofabitch I wanted to see him at quarter after eight,” Sergeant Dolan announced. “I’ll have his ass!”
He glowered indignantly around the squad room, turned around, and left the room.
Sergeant Patrick J. Dolan was not regarded by the officers of the Five Squad of the Narcotics Unit-or, for that matter, by anyone else in the entire Narcotics Unit, with the possible exception of Lieutenant Michael J. “Mick” Mikkles-as an all-around splendid fellow and fine police officer with whom it was a pleasure to serve. The reverse was true. If a poll of the officers in Narcotics were to be conducted, asking each officer to come up with one word to describe Sergeant Dolan, the most common choice would be “prick,” with “sonofabitch” running a close second.
This is not to say that he was not a good police officer. He had been on the job more than twenty years, a sergeant for ten, and in Narcotics for seven. He was a skilled investigator, reasonably intelligent, and a hard worker. He seldom made mistakes or errors of judgment. Dolan’s problem, Officer Tom Coogan had once proclaimed, to general agreement, in the Allgood Bar, across the street from Five Squad’s office at Twenty-second and Hunting Park Avenue, where Narcotics officers frequently went after they had finished for the day, was that Dolan devoutly believed that not only did he never make mistakes or errors of judgment but that he was incapable of doing so.
Tom Coogan had been on the job eight years, five of them in plain clothes in Narcotics. For reasons neither he nor his peers understood, he had been unable to make a high enough grade on either of the two detective’s examinations he had taken to make a promotion list. Sometimes this bothered him, as he was convinced that he was at least as smart and just as good an investigator as, say, half the detectives he knew. On the other hand, he consoled himself, he would much rather be doing what he was doing than, for example, investigating burglaries in Northeast Detectives, and with the overtime he had in Narcotics he was making as much money as a sergeant or a lieutenant in one of the districts, so what the hell difference did it make?
Coogan had absolutely no idea why Dolan had summoned Jerry Kellog to an early-morning meeting, or why Kellog hadn’t shown up when he was supposed to, but a number of possibilities occurred to him, the most likely of which being that Kellog had simply forgotten about it. Another, slightly less likely possibility was that Kellog had overslept. Since his wife had moved out on him, he had been at the sauce more heavily and more often than was good for him.
It wasn’t just that his wife had moved out on him-broken marriages are not uncommon in the police community-but that she had moved in with another cop. A police officer whose wife leaves the nuptial couch because she has decided that the life of a cop’s wife is not for her can expect the understanding commiseration of his peers. Kellog’s wife, however, had moved out of a plainclothes narc’s bed into the bed of a Homicide detective. That was different. There was an unspoken suggestion that maybe she had reasons-ranging from bad behavior on Kellog’s part to the possibility that the Homicide detective was giving her something in the sack that Kellog hadn’t been able to deliver.
The one thing Jerry Kellog didn’t need right now was trouble from Sergeant Patrick J. Dolan, which could range from a simple ass-chewing to telling the Lieutenant he wasn’t where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be, to something official, bringing him up on charges.
Tom Coogan wasn’t a special pal of Jerry Kellog, but they worked together, and Kellog had covered Coogan’s ass more than once, so he owed him. He picked up his telephone, pulled out the little shelf with the celluloid-covered list of phone numbers on it, found Kellog’s, and dialed it.
The line was busy.
Two minutes later, Coogan tried it again. Still busy.
Who the hell is he talking to? His wife, maybe? Some other broad? His mother? Something connected with the job?
Fuck it! The important thing is to get him over here and get Dolan off his back.
He tried it one more time, and when he got the busy signal broke the connection with his finger and dialed the operator.
“This is Police Officer Thomas Coogan, badge number 3621. I have been trying to reach 555-2330. This is an emergency. Will you break in, please?”
“There’s no one on the line, sir,” the operator reported thirty seconds later. “The phone is probably off the hook.”
“Thank you,” Coogan said.
The fact that the phone is off the hook doesn’t mean he’s not there. He could have come home shitfaced, knocked it off falling into bed, or on purpose so that he wouldn’t be disturbed. He’s probably lying there in bed, sleeping it off.
That posed the problem of what to do next. He realized he didn’t want to drive all the way over to Kellog’s house to wake him up, for a number of reasons, including the big one, that Sergeant Dolan was liable to ask him where the fuck he was going.
He thought a moment, then reached for his telephone.
“Twenty-fifth District, Officer Greene.”
“Tom Coogan, Narcotics. Who’s the supervisor?”
“Let me talk to him, will you?”
He knew Corporal Eddie Young.
“Tom Coogan, Eddie. How are you?”
“Can’t complain, Tom. What’s up?”
“Need a favor.”
“Try me. All I can say is ‘no.’”
“One of our guys, Jerry Kellog, you know him?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“He lives at 300 West Luray Street. He’s supposed to be here. Our Sergeant is shitting a brick. Could you send somebody over to his house and see if he’s there and wake him up and tell him to get his ass over here? I’ve been trying to call him. His phone is off the hook. I think he’s probably sleeping one off.”
“Give me the address again and it’s done, and you owe me one.”
A nearly new Buick turned off Seventh Street and into the parking lot at the rear of the Police Administration Building of the City of Philadelphia. The driver, Mr. Michael J. O’Hara, a wiry, curly-haired man in his late thirties, made a quick sweep through the parking lot, found no parking spot he considered convenient enough, pulled to the curb directly in front of the rear entrance to the building, and got out.
A young police officer who had been on the job just over a year, and assigned to duty at the PAB three days before, intercepted Mr. O’Hara as he headed toward the door.
“Excuse me, sir,” he said. “You can’t leave your car there.”
Mr. O’Hara smiled at what he considered the young officer’s rather charming naivete.
“It’s OK, son,” he said. “I’m Commissioner Czernich’s bookie.”
“Excuse me?” the young officer said, not quite believing what he heard.
“The Commissioner,” Mr. O’Hara went on, now enjoying himself, “put two bucks on a long shot. It paid a hundred ninety-eight eighty. When I come here to pay him off, he says I can park anywhere I want.”
The young officer’s uneasiness was made worse by the appearance of Chief Inspector Heinrich “Heine” Matdorf, Chief of Training for the Philadelphia Police Department, whom the young officer remembered very clearly from his days at the Police Academy. It was the first time the young officer had ever seen him smile.
“What did you tell him?” Chief Matdorf asked.
“I told him I was Czernich’s bookie.”
“Jesus Christ, Mickey!” Matdorf laughed, patting him on the back as he did so.
As the young police officer had begun to suspect, the driver of the Buick was not a bookmaker. Mr. Michael J. “Mickey” O’Hara was in fact a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter employed by the Philadelphia Bulletin. There was little question in the minds of his peers-and absolutely none in his own mind-that he was the best police reporter between Boston and Washington, and possibly in an even larger geographical area.
Mickey O’Hara extended his hand to Matdorf’s driver, a sergeant.
“How are you, Mr. O’Hara?” the Sergeant asked, a respectful tone in his voice.
“Heine,” O’Hara asked, “have you got enough pull around here to tell this fine young officer I can park here?”
“The minute he goes inside,” Chief Matdorf instructed the young officer, “let the air out of his tires.”
“Thanks a lot, Heine.”
“What’s going on, Mickey?”
“I hoped maybe you could tell me,” O’Hara said.
“So far as I know, not much. There was nothing on the radio.”
“I know,” O’Hara said.
“Going in, Mickey?” Matdorf asked.
“I got to pay off the Commissioner,” O’Hara said. “And I thought I might take a look at the Overnights.”
The Overnights were reports from the various districts and other bureaucratic divisions of the Philadelphia Police Department of out-of-the-ordinary police activity overnight furnished to senior police officials for their general information.
They were internal Police Department correspondence not made available to the public or the press. Mr. Michael J. O’Hara, as a civilian, and especially as a journalist, was not entitled to be privy to them.
But Mickey O’Hara enjoyed a special relationship with the Police Department. He was not in their pocket, devoting his journalistic skills to puff pieces, but on the other hand, neither did he spend all of his time looking for stories that made the Department or its officers look bad. Most important, he could be trusted. If he was told something off the record, it stayed off the record.
“Come on in, then,” Chief Matdorf said. “I’ll even buy you a cup of coffee.”
He touched O’Hara’s arm and they started toward the rear door of the building. There is a front entrance, overlooking Metropolitan Hospital, but it is normally locked. The rear door opens onto a small foyer. Just inside is a uniformed police officer sitting behind a heavy plate-glass window controlling access to the building’s lobby with a solenoid switch.
To the right is a corridor leading past the Bail Clerk’s Office and the Arraignment Room to the Holding Room. The Municipal Judge’s Court is a small, somewhat narrow room separated from the corridor by heavy glass. There are seats for spectators in the corridor. Farther to the right is the entrance to the Holding Room, in effect a holding prison, to which prisoners brought from the various police districts and initially locked up in cells in the basement are brought to be booked and to face a Municipal Court Judge, who sets bail. Those prisoners for whom bail is denied, or who can’t make it, are moved, males to the Detention Center, females to the House of Correction.
When the corporal on duty behind the plate-glass window saw Chief Matdorf, he activated the solenoid, the lock buzzed, and Matdorf pushed the door open and waved O’Hara through it ahead of him into the lobby of the PAB, where the general civilian populace is not allowed.
They walked toward the elevators, past the wall display of photographs of police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. As they approached the elevator, the door opened and discharged a half-dozen people, among them Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin and Inspector Peter Wohl.
“Hey, whaddaya say, Mickey?” Chief Coughlin greeted him with a smile, and offered his hand.
“Hello, Mick,” Wohl said, as he offered his hand first to O’Hara and then to Chief Matdorf.
Mickey O’Hara had not earned the admiration of his peers, or the Pulitzer Prize, by being wholly immune to the significance of body language.
Despite that warm greeting, neither of these two is at all happy to see me. That means that something is going on that they would rather not tell me about just now. And what are the two of them doing together this early in the morning?
“What’s up, Mickey?” Chief Coughlin asked.
“I hoped maybe you would tell me.”
Chief Coughlin shrugged, indicating nothing.
“I thought I’d take a look at the Overnights,” O’Hara said.
“They’re on my desk, Mick. Tell Veronica I said you could have a look,” Coughlin said.
Veronica Casey was Coughlin’s secretary.
“Thanks, Denny,” O’Hara said. “Good to see you. And you too, Peter.”
They shook hands again. Chief Coughlin and Inspector Wohl walked out the rear entrance. Mickey got on the elevator with Chief Matdorf and his driver.
“Jesus, I forgot something in the car,” O’Hara said, and got off the elevator.
He went through the rear door in time to see Coughlin and Wohl walking with what he judged to be unusual speed toward their cars. He stayed just inside the door until they were both in their cars and moving, then went out and quickly got behind the wheel of his Buick and followed them out of the parking lot.
Those two are going somewhere interesting together, somewhere they hope I won’t show up.
He turned on all three of the shortwave receivers mounted under the dashboard. The receivers in Mickey O’Hara’s car were the best the Bulletin ’s money could buy. They were each capable of being switched to receive any of the ten different frequencies utilized by the Police Department.
One of these was the universal band (called the J-Band) to which every police vehicle had access. Each of Philadelphia’s seven police divisions had its own radio frequency. An eighth frequency (the H-Band) was assigned for the exclusive use of investigative units (detectives’ cars, and those assigned to Narcotics, Intelligence, Organized Crime, etcetera). And since Mayor Jerry Carlucci had gotten all that lovely ACT Grant money from Congress, there was a new special band (the W-Band) for the exclusive use of Special Operations (including the Highway Patrol).
Ordinary police cars were limited to the use of two bands, the Universal J Band, and either one of the division frequencies, or the H (Detective) Band.
Mickey switched one of his radios to the J (Universal) Band, the second to the H (Detective) Band, and the third to the W (Special Operations) Band, a little smugly deciding that if anything interesting was happening, or if Wohl and Coughlin wanted to talk to each other, the odds were that it would come over one of the three.
It quickly became clear that wherever the two of them were going, they were going together and in a hurry. Wohl stayed on Coughlin’s bumper as they drove through Center City and then out the Parkway and along the Schuylkill.
Nothing of interest came over the radio, however, as they left Center City behind them, and an interesting thought destroyed some of Mickey’s good feeling that he had outwitted Denny Coughlin and Peter Wohl.
It is entirely possible that those two bastards have decided to pull my chain. They saw me watch them leave the Roundhouse, and before I got into my car one or the other of them got on his radio and said, “If Mickey follows us, let’s take him on a tour of Greater Philadelphia.” They’re probably headed nowhere special at all, and after I follow them to hell and gone, they will pull into a diner someplace for a cup of coffee, and wait for me with a broad smile.
He had just about decided this was a very good possibility when there was activity on the radio.
“William One,” Peter Wohl’s voice responded.
“William Two requests a location.”
Mickey knew that William Two was the call sign of Captain Mike Sabara, Wohl’s second-in-command.
“Inform William Two I’m on my way to Chestnut Hill and I’ll phone him from there.”
Damn, they got me! The two of them are headed for Dave Pekach’s girlfriend’s house. She’s having an engagement party the day after tomorrow. It has to be that. Why else would the two of them be going to Chestnut Hill at this time of the morning?
Mickey turned off the Schuylkill Expressway onto the Roosevelt Boulevard extension.
I’ll go get some breakfast at the Franklin Diner and then I’ll go home.
He reached down and moved the switch on the third of his radio receivers from the Special Operations frequency so that it would receive the police communications of the East Division. He did this without thinking, in what was really a Pavlovian reflex, whenever he drove out of one police division into another.
And there was something going on in the Twenty-fifth District.
“Twenty-five Seventeen,” a voice said.
“Twenty-five Seventeen,” a male police-radio operator responded immediately.
“Give me a supervisor at this location. This is a Five Two Nine Two, an off-duty Three Six Nine.”
Mickey knew police-radio shorthand as well as any police officer. A Five Two Nine Two, an off-duty Three Six Nine, meant the officer was reporting the discovery of a body, that of an off-duty cop.
A “dead body,” even of a cop, was not necessarily front-page news, but Mickey’s ears perked up.
“Twenty-five A,” the police radio operator called.
“Twenty-five A,” the Twenty-fifth District sergeant on patrol responded. “What’s that location?”
“300 West Luray Street.”
“I got it,” Twenty-five A announced. “En route.”
And then Mickey’s memory turned on.
Mickey glanced in his rearview mirror, hit the brakes, made a tire-squealing U-turn, and headed for 300 West Luray Street.
One of the unofficial perquisites of being the Commanding Officer of Highway Patrol was that of being picked up at your home and driven to work, normally a privilege accorded only to Chief Inspectors. A Highway car just seemed to be coincidentally in the neighborhood of the Commanding Officer every day at the time the Commanding Officer would be leaving for work. Captain David Pekach, however, normally chose to forgo this courtesy. He said that it would be inappropriate, especially since Inspector Peter Wohl, his superior, usually drove himself.
While this was of course true, Captain Pekach had another reason for waiving the privilege of being picked up at home and driven to work, and then being driven home again when the day’s work was over. This was because it had been a rare night indeed, since he had met Miss Martha Peebles, that he had laid his weary head to rest on his own pillow in his small apartment.
He believed that any police supervisor-and he was Commanding Officer of Highway, which made him a special sort of supervisor-should set an example in both his professional and personal life for his subordinates. The officers of Highway would not understand that his relationship with Martha was love of the most pure sort, and a relationship which he intended to dignify before God and man in holy matrimony in the very near future.
He was painfully sensitive to the thoughts of his peers-the most cruel “joke” he had heard was that “the way to get rich was to have a dong like a mule and find yourself a thirty-five-year-old rich-as-hell virgin”-and if they, his friends, his fellow captains, were unable to understand what he and Martha shared, certainly he could not expect more from rank-and-file officers.
Obviously, if he was picked up and dropped off every day at Martha’s house, there would be talk. So he drove himself. And it was nobody’s business but his own that he had arranged with the telephone company to have the number assigned to his apartment transferred to Martha’s house, so that if anyone called his apartment, he would get the call in Chestnut Hill.
In just five weeks, he thought as he got into his assigned Highway Patrol car and backed it out of the five-car garage behind Martha’s house, the problem would be solved, and the deception no longer necessary. They would be married.
They would already be married if they were both Catholic or, for that matter, both Episcopal. Both Martha and his mother had climbed up on a high horse about what was the one true faith. His mother said she would witness her son getting married in a heathen ceremony over her dead body, and Martha had said that she was sorry, she had promised her late father she would be married where he had married, and his father before him, in St. Mark’s Church in Center City Philadelphia.
Her father would, she said, tears in her eyes, which really hurt Dave Pekach, turn over in his grave if she broke her word to him, and worse, were married according to the rules of the Church of Rome, which would have required her to promise any children of their union to be raised in the Roman Catholic faith.
Extensive appeals through the channels of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, lasting months, had resulted in a compromise. After extensive negotiations, with the prospective groom being represented by Father Kaminski, his family’s parish priest, and the prospective bride by Brewster Cortland Payne II, Esq., the compromise had been reached in a ninety-second, first-person conversation between the Cardinal of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and his good friend the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Philadelphia, with enough time left over to schedule eighteen holes at Merion Golf Course and a steak supper the following Wednesday.
It had been mutually agreed that the wedding would be an ecumenical service jointly conducted by the Episcopal Bishop and a Roman Catholic Monsignor, and the prospective bride would be required only to promise that she would raise any fruit of their union as “Christians.”
Mother Pekach had been, not without difficulty, won over to the compromise by Father Kaminski, who reminded her what St. Paul had said about it being better to marry than to burn, and argued that if the Cardinal himself was going to send Monsignor O’Hallohan, the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, himself, to St. Mark’s Church for the wedding, it really couldn’t be called a heathen ceremony in a heathen church.
There would be a formal announcement of their engagement the day after tomorrow, at a party, with the wedding to follow a month later.
Captain Pekach drove out the gates of the Peebles’ estate at 606 Glengarry Lane in Chestnut Hill, and tried to decide the best way to get from there to Frankford and Castor avenues at this time of the morning. He decided he would have a shot at going down North Broad, and then cutting over to Frankford. There was no good way to get from here to there.
He reached under the dashboard without really thinking about it and turned on both of the radios with which his car, and those of half a dozen other Special Operations/Highway Patrol cars, were equipped.
As he approached North Broad and Roosevelt Boulevard, the part of his brain which was subconsciously listening to the normal early-morning radio traffic was suddenly wide awake.
“Give me a supervisor at this location. This is a Five Two Nine Two, an off-duty Three Six Nine.”
“Twenty-five A,” the police radio operator called.
“Twenty-five A,” the Twenty-fifth District sergeant on patrol responded. “What’s that location?”
“300 West Luray Street.”
300 West Luray Street? My God, that’s Jerry Kellog’s address. Jerry Kellog? Dead? Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
“I got it,” Twenty-five A announced. “En route.”
Without really being aware of what he was doing, Captain Pekach reached down and turned on the lights and siren and pushed the accelerator to the floor.
It took him less than three minutes to reach 300 West Luray Street, but that was enough time for him to have second thoughts about his rushing to the scene.
For one thing, it’s none of my business.
But on the other hand, anything that happens anywhere in the City of Philadelphia is Highway’s business, and I’m the Highway Commander.
That’s bullshit and you know it.
But Jerry Kellog is one of my guys.
Not anymore he’s not. You’re no longer a Narcotics Lieutenant, but the Highway Captain.
Yeah, but somebody has to notify Helene, and who better than me?
Jesus, I heard there was bad trouble between them. You don’t think…
There was a Twenty-fifth District RPC at the curb, and as Pekach got out of his car, a Twenty-fifth District sergeant’s car pulled up beside him.
“Good morning, sir,” the Sergeant said, saluting him. He was obviously surprised to see Pekach. “Sergeant Manning, Twenty-fifth District.”
“I heard this on the radio,” Pekach said. “Jerry Kellog used to work for me in Narcotics. What’s going on?”
“I seen him around,” Sergeant Manning said. “I didn’t know he was working Narcotics.”
The front door of the house opened and a District uniform came out and walked up to them. And he too saluted and looked at Pekach curiously.
“He’s in the kitchen, Sergeant,” he said.
“No. When I got here-”
“What brought you here?” Pekach interrupted.
“He wasn’t answering his phone, sir. Somebody from Narcotics asked us to check on him.” Pekach nodded. “When I got here, the back door was open, and I looked in and saw him.”
“You check the premises?” the Sergeant asked.
“Yeah. Nobody was inside.”
“You should have asked for backup,” the Sergeant said, in mild reprimand.
“I’m going to have a look,” Pekach announced.
Pekach went through the open front door. He found the body, lying on its face, between the kitchen and the “dining area,” which was the rear portion of the living room.
Kellog was on his stomach, sprawled out. His head was in a large pool of blood, now dried nearly black. Pekach recognized him from his chin and mustache. The rest of his head was pretty well shattered.
Somebody shot him, maybe more than once, in the back of his head. Probably more than once.
What the hell happened here? Was Narcotics involved? Christ, it has to be.
“Well,” Sergeant Manning said, coming up behind Pekach, “he didn’t do that to himself. I’m going to call it in to Homicide.”
“I’ve got to get to a phone myself,” Pekach said, thinking out loud.
No, I don’t. You’re not going to call Bob Talley and volunteer to go with him to tell Helene that Jerry’s dead.
“I’m going to get out of everybody’s way. If Homicide wants a statement from me, they know where to find me.”
“Yes, sir,” Sergeant Manning said.
Dave Pekach turned and walked out of the house and got back in his car.
When the call came into the Homicide Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department from Police Radio that Officer Jerome H. Kellog had been found shot to death in his home in the Twenty-fifth District, Detective Joseph P. D’Amata was holding down the desk.
D’Amata took down the information quickly, hung up, and then called, “We’ve got a job.”
When there was no response, D’Amata looked around the room, which is on the second floor of the Roundhouse, its windows opening to the south and overlooking the parking lot behind the building. It was just about empty.
“Where the hell is everybody?” D’Amata, a slightly built, natty, olive-skinned thirty-eight-year-old, wondered aloud.
D’Amata walked across the room and stuck his head in the open door of Lieutenant Louis Natali’s office. Natali, who was also olive-skinned, dapper, and in his mid-thirties, looked something like D’Amata. He was with Sergeant Zachary Hobbs, a stocky, ruddy-faced forty-four-year-old. Both looked up from whatever they were doing on Natali’s desk.
“We’ve got a job. In the Twenty-fifth. A cop. A plainclothes narc by the name of Kellog.”
“What happened to him?”
“Shot in the back of his head in his kitchen.”
“And?” Natali asked, a hint of impatience in his voice.
“Joe said his name was Kellog, Lieutenant,” Hobbs said delicately.
“Kellog?” Natali asked. And then his memory made the connection. “Jesus Christ! Is there more?”
D’Amata shook his head.
There was a just-perceptible hesitation.
“Lieutenant, there’s nobody out there but me,” D’Amata said.
“Is Captain Quaire in his office?”
“Yes, sir,” D’Amata said.
“Hobbs, see if you can find out where Milham is,” Natali ordered. “You get out to the scene, Joe. Right now. We’ll get you some help.”
Natali walked to Captain Henry C. Quaire’s office, where he found him at his desk, visibly deep in concentration.
“Boss,” Natali said. It took a moment to get Quaire’s attention, but he finally looked up.
“Sorry. What’s up, Lou?”
“Radio just called in a homicide. In the Twenty-fifth. The victim is a police officer. Jerome H. Kellog. The name mean anything to you?”
“He worked plainclothes in Narcotics?”
Natali nodded. “He was found with at least one bullet wound to the head in his house.”
“You don’t think…?”
“I don’t know, Boss.”
“We better do this one by the book, Lou.”
“Yes, sir. D’Amata was holding down the desk. He’s on his way.” He gestured across the room to where D’Amata was taking his service revolver from a cabinet in a small file room. “And so am I.”
“Give me a call when you get there,” Quaire ordered.
There were two Twenty-fifth District RPCs, a District van, a Twenty-fifth District sergeant’s, and a battered unmarked car D’Amata correctly guessed belonged to East Detectives in front of Kellog’s house when D’Amata turned onto West Luray Street.
A Twenty-fifth District uniform waved him into a parking spot at the curb.
Joe got out of his car and walked to the front door, where a detective D’Amata knew, Arnold Zigler from East Detectives, was talking to the District uniform guarding the door. Joe knew the uniform’s face but couldn’t recall his name. Zigler smiled in recognition.
“Well, I see that East Detectives is already here, walking all over my evidence,” D’Amata said.
“Screw you, Joe,” Zigler said.
“What I hear is that when he didn’t show up at work, somebody in Narcotics called the Twenty-fifth, and they sent an RPC-Officer Hastings here-over to see if he overslept or something. The back door was open, so Hastings went in. He found him on the floor, and called it in.”
“Hastings, you found the back door was open?”
Kellog’s row house was about in the middle of the block. D’Amata decided he could look at the back door from the inside, rather than walk to the end of the block and come in that way.
D’Amata smiled at Officer Hastings, touched his arm, and went into the house.
“Hey, Joe,” Sergeant Manning said. “How are you?”
Again D’Amata recognized the face of the Sergeant but could not recall his name.
“Underpaid and overworked,” D’Amata said with a smile. “How are you, pal?”
“Underpaid, my ass!” the Sergeant snorted.
D’Amata squatted by Kellog’s body long enough to determine that there were two entrance wounds in the back of his skull, then carefully stepped over it and the pool of blood around the head, and went into the kitchen.
The kitchen door was open. There were signs of forced entry.
Which might mean that someone had forced the door. Or might mean that someone who had a key to the house-an estranged wife, for example-wanted the police to think that someone had broken in.
Without consciously doing so, he put We Know For Sure Fact #1 into his mental case file: Officer Jerome H. Kellog was intentionally killed, by someone who fired two shots into his skull at close range.
He looked around the kitchen. The telephone, mounted on the wall, caught his eye. There were extra wires coming from the wall plate. He walked over for a closer look.
The wires led to a cabinet above the sink.
D’Amata took a pencil from his pocket and used it to pull on the cabinet latch. Inside the cabinet was a cassette tape recorder. He stood on his toes to get a better look. The door of the machine was open. There was no cassette inside. There was another machine beside the tape recorder, and a small carton that had once held an Economy-Pak of a half-dozen Radio Shack ninety-minute cassette tapes. It was empty.
He couldn’t be sure, of course, and he didn’t want to touch it to get a better look until the Mobile Crime Lab guys went over it for prints, but he had a pretty good idea that the second machine was one of those clever gadgets you saw in Radio Shack and places like that that would turn the recorder on whenever the telephone was picked up.
There were no tapes in the cabinet, nor, when he carefully opened the drawers of the lower cabinets, in any of them, either. He noticed that, instead of being plugged into a wall outlet, the tape recorder had been wired to it.
Probably to make sure nobody knocked the plug out of the wall.
But where the hell are the tapes?
What the hell was on the tapes?
“Joe?” a male voice called. “You in here?”
“In the kitchen,” D’Amata replied.
“Jesus, who did this?” the voice asked. There were hints of repugnance in the voice, which D’Amata now recognized as that of a civilian police photographer from the Mobile Crime Lab.
“Somebody who didn’t like him,” D’Amata said.
“What is that supposed to be, humor?”
“There’s a tape recorder in the kitchen cabinet. I want some shots of that, and the cabinets,” D’Amata said. “And make sure they dust it for prints.”
“Any other instructions, Detective?” the photographer, a very tall, very thin man, asked sarcastically.
“What have I done, hurt your delicate feelings again?”
“I do this for a living. Sometimes you forget that.”
“And you wanted to be a concert pianist, right?”
“Oh, fuck you, Joe,” the photographer said with a smile. “Get out of my way.”
“Narcotics, Sergeant Dolan,” Dolan, a stocky, ruddy-faced man in his late forties, answered the telephone.
“This is Captain Samuels, of the Twenty-fifth District. Is Captain Talley around? He doesn’t answer his phone.”
“I think he’s probably in the can,” Sergeant Dolan said. “Just a second, here he comes.”
Samuels heard Dolan call, “Captain, Captain Samuels for you on Three Six,” and then Captain Robert F. Talley, the Commanding Officer of the Narcotics Bureau, came on the line.
“Hello, Fred. What can I do for you?”
“I’ve got some bad news, and a problem, Bob,” Samuels said. “They just found Officer Jerome Kellog’s body in his house. He was shot in the head.”
“Jesus Christ!” Talley said. “Self-inflicted?”
Talley, like most good supervisors, knew a good deal about the personal lives of his men, often more than he would have preferred to know. He knew in the case of Officer Jerome Kellog that he was having trouble, serious trouble, with his wife. And his experience had taught him the unpleasant truth that policemen with problems they could not deal with often ate their revolvers.
“No. Somebody shot him. Twice, from what I hear.”
“Do we know who?”
“No,” Samuels said. “Bob, you know the routine. He lived in my district.”
Talley knew the routine. In the case of an officer killed on the job, the body was taken to a hospital. The Commanding Officer of the District where the dead officer lived drove to his home, informed his wife, or next of kin, that he had been injured, and drove her to the hospital.
By the time they got there, the Commissioner, if he was in the City, or the senior of the Deputy Commissioners, and the Chief Inspector of his branch of the Police Department-and more often than not, the Mayor-would be there. And so would be, if it was at all possible to arrange it, the dead officer’s parish priest, or minister, or rabbi, and if not one of these, then the Departmental Chaplain of the appropriate faith. They would break the news to the widow or next of kin.
“And you can’t find his wife?” Talley asked.
“No. Bob, there’s some unpleasant gossip-”
“All of it probably true,” Talley interrupted.
“You’ve heard it?”
“Yeah. Fred, where are you? In your office?”
“Yeah. Bob, I know that you and Henry Quaire are pretty close-”
Captain Henry Quaire was Commanding Officer of the Homicide Unit.
“I’ll call him, Fred, and get back to you,” Talley said. He broke the connection with his finger, and started to dial a number. Then, sensing Sergeant Dolan’s eyes on him, quickly decided that telling him something of what he knew made more sense than keeping it to himself, and letting Dolan guess. Dolan had a big mouth and a wild imagination.
“They just found Jerry Kellog shot to death in his house,” he said.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” Dolan said. “They know who did it?”
“All I know is what I told you,” Talley said. “I’m going to call Captain Quaire and see what I can find out.”
“You heard the talk?” Dolan asked.
“Talk is cheap, Dolan,” Talley said shortly. He walked across the room to his office, closed the door, and dialed a number from memory.
“Homicide, Sergeant Hobbs.”
“Captain Talley, Sergeant. Let me talk to Captain Quaire. His private line is always busy.”
“Sir, the Captain’s tied up at the moment. Maybe I could help you?”
“I know what he’s tied up with, Hobbs. Tell him I need to talk to him.”
“Captain, Chief Lowenstein’s in there with him.”
“Tell him I’d like to talk to him,” Talley repeated.
“Yes, sir. Hang on a minute, please.”
Sergeant Hobbs walked through the outer office to the office of the Commanding Officer and knocked at it.
The three men inside-Captain Henry Quaire, a stocky, balding man in his late forties; Chief Inspector of Detectives Matt Lowenstein, a stocky, barrel-chested man of fifty-five; and Lieutenant Louis Natali-all looked at him with annoyance.
“It’s Captain Talley,” Sergeant Hobbs called, loud enough to be heard through the door.
“I thought we might be hearing from him,” Chief Lowenstein said, then raised his voice loud enough to be heard by Hobbs. “On what, Hobbs?”
“One Seven Seven, Chief,” Hobbs replied.
Lowenstein turned one of the telephones on Quaire’s desk around so that he could read the extension numbers and pushed the button marked 177.
“Chief Lowenstein, Talley. I guess you heard about Officer Kellog?”
“Yes, sir. Captain Samuels of the Twenty-fifth called. He’s-”
“Having trouble finding the Widow Kellog?”
“Detective Milham, who’s working a job, has been asked to come in to see Captain Quaire and myself to see if he might be able to shed light on that question. If he can, I will call Captain Samuels. And for your general fund of information, Detective Milham was not up for the Kellog job. Does that answer all the questions you might have?”
Sergeant Harry McElroy, a wiry, sandy-haired thirty-eight-year-old, had been “temporarily” assigned as driver to Chief Matt Lowenstein three years before. He had then been a detective, assigned to East Detectives, and didn’t want the job. Like most detectives, he viewed the Chief of Detectives with a little fear. Lowenstein had a well-earned reputation for a quick temper, going strictly by the book, and an inability to suffer fools.
The term “driver” wasn’t an accurate description of what a driver did. In military parlance, a driver was somewhere between an aide-de-camp and a chief of staff. His function was to relieve his chief of details, sparing him for more important things.
During Harry’s thirty-day temporary assignment, Lowenstein had done nothing to make Harry think he had made a favorable impression on him. He had been genuinely surprised when Lowenstein asked him how he felt about “sticking around, and not going back to East.”
Since that possibility had never entered Harry’s mind, he could not-although he himself had a well-earned reputation for being able to think on his feet-think of any excuse he could offer Lowenstein to turn down the offer.
Over the next eleven months, as he waited for his name to appear on the promotion list to sergeant-he had placed sixteenth on the exam, and was fairly sure the promotion would come through-he told himself that all he had to do was keep his nose clean and all would be well. He had come to believe that Lowenstein wasn’t really as much of a sonofabitch as most people thought, and when his promotion came through, he would be reassigned.
He would, so to speak, while greatly feeling the threat of evil, have safely passed through the Valley of Death. And he knew that he had learned a hell of a lot from his close association with Lowenstein that he could have learned nowhere else.
McElroy learned that his name had come up on a promotion list from Chief Lowenstein himself, the morning of the day the list would become public.
“There’s a vacancy for sergeant in Major Crimes,” Lowenstein had added. “And they want you. But what I’ve been thinking is that you could learn more staying right where you are. Your decision.”
That, too, had been totally unexpected, and by then he had come to know Lowenstein well enough to know that when he asked for a decision, Lowenstein wanted it right then, that moment.
“Thank you, Chief,” Harry had said. “I’d like that.”
McElroy now had his own reputation, not only as Lowenstein’s shadow, but for knowing how Chief Lowenstein thought, and what he was likely to do in any given situation.
His telephone often rang with conversations that began, “Harry, how do you think the Chief would feel about…”
He did, he came to understand, really have an insight into how Lowenstein thought, and what Lowenstein wanted.
Usually, Harry went wherever Lowenstein went. This morning, however, he sensed without a hint of any kind from Lowenstein that he would not be welcome in Captain Henry Quaire’s office when the Chief went in there to discuss the murder of Officer Jerome H. Kellog with Quaire and Lieutenant Natali.
He got himself a cup of coffee and stationed himself near the entrance to the Homicide Unit, where he could both keep an eye on Quaire’s office and intercept anybody who thought they had to see the Chief.
Chief Lowenstein came suddenly out of Quaire’s office and marched out of Homicide. As he passed Harry, he said, “I’ve got to go see the Dago.”
The Dago was the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia, the Honorable Jerry Carlucci.
They rode down to the lobby in the elevator, and out the door to where Harry had parked the Chief’s official Oldsmobile, by the CHIEF INSPECTOR DETECTIVE BUREAU sign at the door.
The police band radios came to life with the starting of the engine, and there was traffic on the command band:
“Mary One, William Five, at the Zoo parking lot,” one metallic voice announced.
“A couple of minutes,” a second metallic voice replied.
“Mary One” was the call sign of the limousine used by the Mayor of Philadelphia, “William” the identification code assigned to Special Operations.
“Who’s William Five?” Sergeant McElroy asked thoughtfully.
“Probably Tony Harris,” Lowenstein said. “Washington is William Four. But what I’d really like to know is why Special Operations is meeting the Mayor, or vice versa, in the Zoo parking lot. I wonder what wouldn’t wait until the Mayor got to his office.”
“Yeah,” McElroy grunted thoughtfully.
“Well, at least we know where to wait for the Mayor. City Hall, Harry.”
“Did Weisbach call in this morning?”
“When we get to City Hall, you find a phone, get a location on Weisbach, call him, and tell him to stay wherever he is until I get back to him.”
When the mayoral Cadillac limousine rolled onto the sidewalk on the northeast corner of Philadelphia City Hall, which sits in the middle of the junction of Broad and Market streets in what is known as Center City, Chief Lowenstein was leaning against the right front fender of his Oldsmobile waiting for him.
He knew that Police Commissioner Taddeus Czernich habitually began his day by waiting in Mayor Carlucci’s office for his daily orders, and he wanted to see Mayor Carlucci alone.
Lowenstein walked quickly to the side of the long black Cadillac, reaching it just as Lieutenant Jack Fellows pulled the door open. He saw that his presence surprised Fellows, and a moment later, as he came out of the car, Mayor Carlucci as well.
“’Morning, Matt,” Carlucci said. He was a tall, large-boned, heavyset man, wearing a well-tailored, dark blue suit, a stiffly starched, bright-white shirt, a dark, finely figured necktie, and highly polished black wing-tip shoes.
He did not seem at all pleased to see Lowenstein.
“I need a minute of your time, Mr. Mayor.”
“Here, you mean,” Carlucci said, on the edge of unpleasantness, gesturing around at the traffic circling City Hall.
A citizen recognized His Honor and blew his horn. Carlucci smiled warmly and waved.
“Yes, sir,” Lowenstein said.
Carlucci hesitated a moment, then got back in the limousine and waved at Lowenstein to join him. Fellows, after hesitating a moment, got back in the front seat. The Mayor activated the switch that raised the divider glass.
“OK, Matt,” Carlucci said.
“A police officer has been shot,” Lowenstein began.
“Dead?” the Mayor interrupted. There was concern and indignation in the one word.
“Yes, sir. Shot in the back of his head.”
“Line of duty?”
“His name is Kellog, Mr. Mayor. He was an undercover officer assigned to the Narcotics Unit. He was found in his home about an hour ago.”
“When he didn’t show up for work, they sent a Twenty-fifth District car to check on him.”
“He wasn’t married?”
“Has she been notified?”
“They are trying to locate her.”
“Get to the goddamned point, Matt.”
“The story is that she’s moved in with another detective.”
“Oh, Jesus! Do you know who?”
“Detective Wallace J. Milham, of Homicide.”
“Isn’t he the sonofabitch whose wife left him because she caught him screwing around with her sister?”
Mayor Carlucci’s intimate knowledge of the personal lives of police officers was legendary, but this display of instant recall surprised Lowenstein.
“Is what you’re trying to tell me that this guy, or the wife, is involved?”
“We don’t know, sir. That is, of course, possible.”
“You realize the goddamned spot this puts me in?” the Mayor asked rhetorically. “I show up, or Czernich shows up, to console the widow, and there is a story in the goddamned newspapers, and the day after that it comes out-and wouldn’t the Ledger have a ball with that? — that she’s really a tramp, shacked up with a Homicide detective, and they’re the doers?”
“Yes, sir. That’s why I thought I’d better get to you right away with this.”
“And if I don’t show up, or Czernich doesn’t, then what?” the Mayor went on. He turned to Lowenstein. “So what are you doing, Matt?”
“Detective Milham is on the street somewhere. They’re looking for him. A good man, Joe D’Amata, is the assigned detective. Lou Natali’s already on his way to the scene, and probably Henry Quaire, too.”
“You ever hear the story of the fox protecting the chicken coop?” Carlucci asked nastily. “If you haven’t, you can bet that the Ledger has.”
“Henry Quaire is a straight arrow,” Lowenstein said.
“I didn’t say he wasn’t. I’m talking about appearances. I’m talking about what the Ledger’s going to write.”
“I don’t think Wally Milham has had anything to do with this. I think we’re going to find it’s Narcotics-related.”
“A man who would slip the salami to his wife’s sister is capable of anything,” the Mayor said. “I have to think that maybe he did. Or the wife did, and if he’s shacked up with her…”
“So what do you want me to do, give it to Peter Wohl?”
“Wohl’s got enough on his back right now,” the Mayor said.
You mean running an investigation of corruption that I’m not even supposed to know about, even though I’m the guy charged with precisely that responsibility?
“What’s the name of that mousy-looking staff inspector? Weis-something?”
“Him. He’s good, and he’s a straight arrow.”
You used to think I was a straight arrow, Jerry. What the hell happened to change your mind?
“What are you going to do? Have him take over the investigation?”
“The Commissioner’s going to tell him to observe the investigation, to tell you every day what’s going on, and then you tell me every day what’s going on.”
The Mayor pushed himself off the cushions and started to crawl out of the car, over Lowenstein. He stopped, halfway out, and looked at Lowenstein, whose face was no more than six inches from his.
“I hope, for everybody’s sake, Matt, that your Homicide detective who can’t keep his pecker in his pocket isn’t involved in this.”
The Mayor got out of the limousine and walked briskly toward the entrance to City Hall. Lieutenant Fellows got quickly out of the front seat and ran after him.
Lowenstein waited until the two of them disappeared from sight, then got out of the limousine, walked to his Oldsmobile, and got in the front seat beside Harry McElroy.
“You get a location on Weisbach?”
“He’s in his car, at the Federal Courthouse, waiting to hear from you.”
Lowenstein picked a microphone up from the seat.
“Isaac Fourteen, Isaac One.”
“Meet me at Broad and Hunting Park,” Lowenstein said.
Staff Inspector Michael Weisbach’s unmarked year-old Plymouth was parked on Hunting Park, pointing east toward Roosevelt Boulevard, when Chief Inspector Lowenstein’s Oldsmobile pulled up behind it.
“We’ll follow you to the scene,” Lowenstein said to Harry McElroy as he opened the door. “You know where it is?”
“I’ll find out,” McElroy said.
Lowenstein walked to Weisbach’s car and got in beside him.
“Good morning, Chief,” Weisbach said.
He was a slight man of thirty-eight, who had started losing his never-very-luxuriant light brown hair in his late twenties. He wore glasses in mock tortoise frames, and had a slightly rumpled appearance. His wife, Natalie, with whom he had two children, Sharon (now eleven) and Milton (six), said that thirty minutes after putting on a fresh shirt, he looked as if he had been wearing it for three days.
“Mike,” Lowenstein replied, offering his hand. “Follow Harry.”
“Where are we going?”
“A police officer named Kellog was found an hour or so ago shot in the back of his head.”
“I heard it on the radio,” Weisbach said as he pulled into the line of traffic.
“You are going to- observe the investigation. You are going to report to me once a day, more often if necessary, if anything interesting develops.” He looked at Weisbach and continued. “And I will report to the Mayor.”
“What’s this all about?”
“It seems that Officer Kellog’s wife-he’s been working plainclothes in Narcotics, by the way-moved out of his bed into Detective Milham’s.”
“Wally Milham’s a suspect?” Weisbach asked disbelievingly.
“He’s out on the street somewhere. Quaire is looking for him. I want you to sit in on the interview.”
“Then he is a suspect?”
“He’s going to be interviewed. The Mayor doesn’t want to be embarrassed by this. He wants to be one step ahead of the Ledger. If a staff inspector is involved, he thinks it won’t be as easy for the Ledger to accuse Homicide, the Department-him-of a cover-up.”
“Why me?” Weisbach asked.
“What the Mayor said was, ‘He’s good and he’s a straight arrow,’” Lowenstein replied, and then he met Weisbach’s eyes and smiled. “He knows that about you, but he doesn’t know your name. He referred to you as ‘that mousy-looking staff inspector, Weis-something.’”
“He knows your name, Mike,” Lowenstein said. “What we both have to keep in mind is that the real name of the game is getting Jerry Carlucci reelected.”
“Yeah,” Weisbach said, a tone that could have been either resignation or disgust in his voice.
Staff Inspector Michael Weisbach, who was one of the sixteen staff inspectors in the Philadelphia Police Department, had never really wanted to be a cop until he had almost five years on the job.
His father operated a small, mostly wholesale, findings store, Weisbach’s Buttons and Zipper World, on South Ninth Street in Center City Philadelphia, and the family lived in a row house on Higbee Street, near Oxford Circle. By the time he had finished high school, Mike had decided, with his parents’ approval, that he wanted to be a lawyer.
He had obtained, on a partial scholarship, in just over three years, a bachelor of arts degree from Temple University, by going to school year round and supporting himself primarily by working the graveyard shift managing a White Tower hamburger emporium on the northwest corner of Broad and Olney. The job paid just a little more than his father’s business could afford to pay, and there was time in the early-morning hours, when business was practically nonexistent, to study.
Sometime during this period, Natalie had changed from being the Little Abramowitz Girl Down the Block into the woman with whom Michael knew he wanted to share his life. And starting right then-when he saw her in her bathing suit, he thought of the Song of Solomon-not after he finished law school and took the bar exams and managed to build a practice that would support them.
The thing for them to do, he and Natalie decided, was for him to get a job. Maybe a day job with the City, or the Gas Company, that would pay more than he was making at White Tower, not require a hell of a lot of work from him, and permit him to go to law school at night. With what she could earn working in her new job as a clerical assistant at the Bursar’s Office of the University of Pennsylvania, there would be enough money for an apartment. That was important, because they didn’t want to live with his family or hers.
He filed employment applications with just about every branch of city government, and because there didn’t seem to be a reason not to, took both the Police and Fire Department entrance examinations.
When the postcard came in the mail saying that he had been selected for appointment to the Police Academy, they really hadn’t known what to do. He had never seriously considered becoming a cop, and his mother said he was out of his mind, as big as he was, what was going to happen if he became a cop was that some six foot four Schwartzer was going to cut his throat with a razor; or some guy on drugs would shoot him; or some gangster from the Mafia in South Philly would stand him in a bucket full of concrete until it hardened and then drop him into the Delaware River.
Michael graduated from the Philadelphia Police Academy and was assigned to the Seventh District, in the Far Northeast region of Philadelphia. For the first year, he was assigned as the Recorder in a two-man van, transporting prisoners from the District to Central Lockup in the Roundhouse, and carrying people and bodies to various hospitals.
The second year he spent operating an RPC, turning off fire hydrants in the summer and working school crossings. He took the examination for promotion to detective primarily because it was announced two weeks after he had become eligible to take it. At the time, he would have been much happier to take the corporal’s exam, because corporals, as a rule of thumb, handled administration inside districts. But there had been no announcement of a corporal’s exam, so he took the detective’s examination.
If he passed it, he reasoned, there would be the two years of increased pay while he finished law school.
Detective Michael Weisbach was assigned first to the Central Detective District, which covers Center City. There, almost to his surprise, he not only proved adept at his unchosen profession, but was actually happy to go to work, which had not been the case when he’d been working the van or walking his beat in the Seventh District.
His performance of duty attracted the attention of Lieutenant Harry Abraham, whose rabbi, it was said, was then Inspector Matt Lowenstein of Internal Affairs. When Abraham was promoted to captain and assigned to the Major Crimes Unit, he arranged for Weisbach to be transferred with him.
Detective Weisbach was promoted to sergeant three weeks before he passed the bar examination. With it came a transfer to the office of just-promoted Chief Inspector Matt Lowenstein, who had become Chief of the Detective Division.
It just made sense, he told Natalie, to stick around the Department for a little longer. If he was going to go into private practice, they would need a nest egg to furnish an office, pay the rent, and to keep afloat until his practice reached the point where it would support them.
By then, although he was really afraid to tell even Natalie, much less his mother, he was honest enough to admit to himself that the idea of practicing law, handling people’s messy divorces, trying to keep some scumbag from going to prison, that sort of thing, did not have half the appeal for him that being a cop did.
When he passed the lieutenant’s examination, Chief Lowenstein actually took him out and bought him lunch and told him that if he kept up the good work, there was no telling how high he could rise in the Department. Natalie said that Chief Lowenstein was probably just being polite. But when the promotion list came out, and he was assigned to the Intelligence Unit, instead of in uniform in one of the districts, he told Natalie he knew Lowenstein had arranged it, and that he had meant what he said.
There had been a shake-up in the Department, massive retirements in connection with a scandal, and he had made captain much sooner than he had expected to. With that promotion came an assignment in uniform, to the Nineteenth District, as commanding officer. The truth was that he rather liked the reflection he saw in the mirror of Captain Mike Weisbach in a crisp white shirt, and captain’s bars glistening on his shoulders, but Natalie said she liked him better in plain clothes.
More vacancies were created two years later in the upper echelons of the Department, as sort of an aftershock to the scandal and the retirements the original upheaval had caused. Three staff inspectors, two of whom told Mike they had never planned to leave the Internal Affairs Division, were encouraged to take the inspector’s examination. That of course meant there were now three vacancies for staff inspectors, and Mike had already decided to take the exam even before Chief Lowenstein called him up and said that it would be a good idea for him to do so.
And like the men he had replaced, Mike Weisbach thought he had found his final home in the Department. He had some vague notion that, a couple of years before his retirement rolled around, if there was an inspector’s exam, he would take it. There would be a larger retirement check if he went out as an inspector, but he preferred to do what he was doing now to doing what the Department might have him do-he didn’t want to wind up in some office in the Roundhouse, for example-if he became an inspector now.
Staff inspectors, who were sometimes called-not pejoratively-“supercops,” or “superdetectives,” had, Weisbach believed, the most interesting, most satisfying jobs in the Department. They handled complicated investigations, often involving prominent government officials. It was the sort of work Mike Weisbach liked to do, and which he knew he was good at.
He still went to work in the morning looking forward to what the day would bring. It was only rarely that he was handed a job he would rather not do.
This “observation” of a Homicide investigation fell into that category. It was the worst kind of job. The moment he showed up on the scene, whichever Homicide detective had the job-for that matter, the whole Homicide Unit-would immediately and correctly deduce that they were not being trusted to do their job the way it should be done.
And he would feel their justified resentment, not Lowenstein or Mayor Carlucci.
As he followed Harry McElroy, crossing over Old York Road and onto Hunting Park Avenue, then onto Ninth Street, he tried to be philosophical about it. There was no sense moaning over something he couldn’t control.
The street in front of Officer Kellog’s home was now crowded with police vehicles of all descriptions, and Mike was not surprised to see Mickey O’Hara’s antenna-festooned Buick among them.
“I don’t have to tell you what to do,” Chief Lowenstein said as he got out of the car. “Call me after the Milham interview.”
“Yes, sir,” Mike said, and walked toward the District cop standing at the door of the row house.
The cop looked uncomfortable. He recognized the unmarked Plymouth as a police vehicle, and was wise enough in the ways of the Department to know that a nearly new unmarked car was almost certain to have been assigned to a senior white-shirt, but this rumpled little man was a stranger to him.
“I’m Staff Inspector Weisbach. I know your orders are to keep everybody out, but Chief Lowenstein wants me to go in.”
Captain Henry Quaire and Lieutenant Lou Natali were in the kitchen, trying to stand out of the way of the crew of laboratory technicians.
They don’t have any more business here than I do. You don’t get to be a Homicide detective unless you know just about everything there is to know about working a crime scene. Homicide detectives don’t need to be supervised.
“Good morning, Henry, Lou.”
“Hello, Mike,” Quaire replied. His face registered his surprise, and a moment later his annoyance, at seeing Weisbach.
“Inspector,” Natali said.
Weisbach looked at the body and the pool of blood and quickly turned away. He was beyond the point of becoming nauseous at the sight of a violated body, but it was very unpleasant for him. His brief glance would stay a painfully clear memory for a long time.
“Shot twice, it looks, at close range,” Quaire offered.
“I don’t suppose you know who did it?” a voice behind Mike asked.
Mike turned to face Mr. Michael J. O’Hara of the Bulletin.
“Not yet, Mickey,” Quaire said. “The uniform was told to keep people out of here.”
“I have friends in high places, Henry,” O’Hara said. “Not only do I know Staff Inspector Weisbach here well enough to ask him what the hell he’s doing here, but I know the legendary Chief Lowenstein himself. Lowenstein told the uniform to let me in, Henry. He wouldn’t have, otherwise.”
“He’s out there?” Quaire asked.
“Talking to Captain Talley.”
“I want to talk to Talley too,” Quaire said, and walked toward the front door.
“So what are you doing here, Mike?” O’Hara asked.
“‘Observing,’” Weisbach said. He saw the displeased reaction on Lieutenant Lou Natali’s face.
“Is that between you and me, or for public consumption?” O’Hara asked.
“Spell my name right, please.”
“‘Observing’? Or ‘supervising’?”
“Exactly what does that mean?”
“Why don’t you ask Chief Lowenstein? I’m not sure, myself.”
“OK. I get the picture. But-this is for both of you, off the record, if you want-do you have any idea who shot Kellog?”
“No,” Natali said quickly.
“I just got here, Mike.”
“Is there anything to the story that the Widow Kellog is-how do I phrase this delicately? — personally involved with Wally Milham?”
“I don’t know how to answer that delicately,” Natali said.
“I heard that gossip for the first time about fifteen minutes ago,” Weisbach said. “I don’t know if it’s true or not.”
His eye fell on something in the open cabinet behind Natali’s head.
“What’s that?” he asked, and pushed by Natali for a closer look.
“It’s a tape recorder. With a gadget that turns it on whenever the phone is used,” Weisbach said. “Has that been dusted for prints, Lou?”
Weisbach pulled the recorder out of the cabinet and saw that there was no cassette inside.
“Anything on the tape?” he asked.
“There was no tape in it when D’Amata found it,” Natali said. “And no tape anywhere around it. There was an empty box for tapes, but no tapes.”
“That’s strange,” Weisbach thought out loud. “The thing is turned on.” He held it up to show the red On light. “Did the lab guys turn it on?”
“D’Amata said you can’t turn it off, it’s wired to the light socket.”
“Strange,” Weisbach said.
“Yeah,” Mickey O’Hara agreed. “Very strange.”
A uniformed officer came into the kitchen.
“Lieutenant, the Captain said that Detective Milham is on his way to the Roundhouse.”
“Thank you,” Natali said.
“I want to sit in on the interview,” Weisbach said.
“You’re going to question Milham?” Mickey O’Hara asked.
“Yes, sir,” Natali said, not quite succeeding in concealing his displeasure.
“Routinely, Mick,” Weisbach said. “If there’s anything, I’ll call you. All right?”
O’Hara thought that over for a second.
“You have an honest face, Mike, and I am a trusting soul. OK. And in the meantime, I will write that at this point the police have no idea who shot Kellog.”
“We don’t,” Weisbach said.
Detective Wallace J. Milham, a dapper thirty-five-year-old, who was five feet eleven inches tall, weighed 160 pounds, and adorned his upper lip with a carefully manicured pencil-line mustache, reached over the waist-high wooden barrier to the Homicide Unit’s office and tripped the lock of the door with his fingers.
He turned to the left and walked toward the office of Captain Henry C. Quaire, the Homicide commander. When he had come out of the First Philadelphia Building, Police Radio had been calling him. When he answered the call, the message had been to see Captain Quaire as soon as possible.
Quaire wasn’t in his office. But Lieutenant Louis Natali was, and when he saw Milham, waved at him to come in.
Milham regarded Natali, one of five lieutenants assigned to Homicide, as the one closest to Captain Quaire, and in effect, if not officially, his deputy. He liked him.
“I got the word the Captain wanted to see me,” Milham said as he pushed open the door.
“Where were you, Wally? We’ve been looking for you for an hour.”
“At the insurance bureau in the First Philadelphia Building,” Milham replied, then when he sensed Natali wanted more information, went on: “On the Grover job.”
A week before, Mrs. Katherine Grover had hysterically reported to Police Radio that there had been a terrible accident at her home in Mt. Airy. When a radio patrol car of the Fourteenth District had responded, Officer John Sarabello had found Mr. Arthur Grover, her husband, dead against the wall of their garage. Mrs. Grover told Officer Sarabello that her foot had slipped off the brake onto the accelerator, causing their Plymouth station wagon to jump forward.
Neither Officer Sarabello, his sergeant, or the Northwest Detective Division detective who further investigated the incident were completely satisfied with Mrs. Grover’s explanation of what had transpired, and the job was referred to the Homicide Unit. Detective Milham got the job, as he was next up on the wheel.
“I know she did it,” Detective Milham went on. “And she knows I know she did it. But she is one tough little cookie.”
“The insurance turn up anything?”
“Nothing here in the last eighteen months. They’re going to check Hartford for me.”
While it might be argued that the interest of the insurance industry in a homicide involving someone whose life they have insured may be more financial than moral-if it turned out, for example, that Mrs. Grover had feloniously taken the life of her husband, they would be relieved of paying her off as the beneficiary of his life insurance policy-the industry for whatever reasons cooperates wholeheartedly with police conducting a homicide investigation.
“You weren’t listening to the radio?”
Milham shook his head.
“You know a cop named Kellog?”
“They found him, this morning, in the kitchen of his house,” Natali said. “Somebody shot him, twice, in the back of his head.”
“He’d probably been dead about six hours.”
“Who did it?”
“They had trouble finding his wife. She apparently didn’t live with him. So the neighbors say. They just found her a half an hour ago.”
“She works for the City,” Milham said. “The neighbors should have known that.”
“I think that’s where they finally got it, from the neighbors,” Natali said. “Where were you last night, Wally, from, say, midnight to six in the morning?”
“So that’s what this is all about.”
“Where were you, Wally?”
“He was an asshole, Lieutenant. I think he was also dirty. But I didn’t shoot the sonofabitch.”
“So tell me where you were last night from midnight on.”
“Jesus Christ, Lieutenant! I was home.”
“Were you alone?”
“Was she with you?”
Milham looked at Natali for a moment before replying.
“Yeah, she was.”
“She wouldn’t make a very credible alibi, Wally.”
“I told you I didn’t do it.”
“I didn’t think you did,” Natali said.
“She was with me, I told you that.”
“You wouldn’t make a very credible witness either, Wally, under the circumstances.”
“So we’re both suspects? Is that what you’re telling me?”
“Of course you are,” Natali said. “Think about it, Wally.”
“So what are you telling me?”
“You’re going to have to give a formal statement. Joe D’Amata was up on the wheel for the job. I’ll do the interview. You know Mike Weisbach?”
“He’ll sit in on it. Chief Lowenstein has assigned him to ‘observe’ the investigation. He’s upstairs with the Captain and Chief Coughlin. They ought to be here in a minute.”
“Unless you want to claim the Fifth.”
“If I do?”
“You know how it works, Wally.”
“I’m not claiming the Fifth. I didn’t do it.”
“I don’t think you did, either.”
“What’s with Weisbach?”
“I guess they want to make sure we do our job. I don’t like that any more than you like being interviewed. You want a little advice?”
“Go through the motions. Don’t lose your temper in there. And then go back to work and forget about it.”
Milham met Natali’s eyes.
“I start midnights tonight,” he said absently.
“I don’t think that anybody thinks you had anything to do with it. We’re just doing this strictly by the book.”
“A staff inspector ‘observing’ is by the book?”
STATEMENT OF: Detective Wallace J. Milham Badge 626
DATE AND TIME: 1105 AM May 19, 1975
PLACE: Homicide Unit, Police Admin. Bldg. Room A.
CONCERNING: Death by Shooting of Police Officer Jerome H. Kellog
IN PRESENCE OF:
Det. Joseph P. D’Amata, Badge 769
Staff Inspector Michael Weisbach
INTERROGATED BY: Lieutenant Louis Natali Badge 233
RECORDED BY: Mrs. Jo-Ellen Garcia-Romez, Clerk/Typist
I AM Lieutenant Natali and this is Inspector Weisbach, Detective D’Amata and Mrs. Garcia-Romez, who will be recording everything we say on the typewriter.
We are questioning you concerning your involvement in the fatal shooting of Police Officer Jerome H. Kellog.
We have a duty to explain to you and to warn you that you have the following legal rights:
A. You have the right to remain silent and do not have to say anything at all.
B. Anything you say can and will be used against you in Court.
75-331D (Rev. 7/70) Page 1
C. You have a right to talk to a lawyer of your own choice before we ask you any questions, and also to have a lawyer here with you while we ask questions.
D. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, and you want one, we will see that you have a lawyer provided to you, free of charge, before we ask you any questions.
E. If you are willing to give us a statement, you have a right to stop anytime you wish.
1. Q. Do you understand that you have a right to keep quiet and do not have to say anything at all?
A. Yes, of course.
2. Q. Do you understand that anything you say can and will be used against you?
3. Q. Do you want to remain silent?
4. Q. Do you understand you have a right to talk to a lawyer before we ask you any questions?
A. Yes, I do.
5. Q. Do you understand that if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, and you want one, we will not ask you any questions until a lawyer is appointed for you free of charge?
A. Yes, I do.
6. Q. Do you want to talk to a lawyer at this time, or to have a lawyer with you while we ask you questions?
A. I don’t want a lawyer, thank you.
7. Q. Are you willing to answer questions of your own free will, without force or fear, and without any threats and promises having been made to you?
A. Yes, I am.
75-331D (Rev. 7/70) Page 2
8. Q. State your name, city of residence, and employment?
A. Wallace J. Milham, Philadelphia. I am a detective.
9. Q. State your badge number and duty assignment?
A. Badge Number 626. Homicide Unit.
10. Q. Did you know Police Officer Jerome H. Kellog?
11. Q. Was he a friend of yours?
12. Q. What was the nature of your relationship to him?
A. He was married to a friend of mine.
13. Q. Who is that?
A. Mrs. Helene Kellog.
14. Q. What is the nature of your relationship to Mrs. Helene Kellog?
A. We’re very good friends. She is estranged from her husband.
(Captain Henry C. Quaire entered the room and became an additional witness to the interrogation at this point.)
15. Q. (Captain Quaire) Wally, you have any problem with me sitting in on this?
A. No, Sir. I’d rather have you in here than looking through the mirror.
16. Q. Would it be fair to categorize your relationship with Mrs. Kellog as romantic in nature?
17. Q. You seemed to hesitate. Why was that?
A. I was deciding whether or not to answer it.
75-331D (Rev. 7/70) Page 3
18. Q. Was Officer Kellog aware of your relationship with his wife?
A. I suppose so. I never had a fight with him about it or anything. But I think, sure, he knew. She moved out on him.
19. Q. How long have you had this relationship with Mrs. Kellog?
A. About a year. A little less.
20. Q. You are aware that Officer Kellog was found shot to death in his home this morning?
A. I am.
21. Q. How did you first learn of his death?
A. Lieutenant Natali informed me of it a few minutes ago.
22. Q. That is Lieutenant Louis Natali of the Homicide Unit?
23. Q. Did you shoot Officer Kellog?
24. Q. Do you have any knowledge whatsoever of the shooting of Officer Kellog?
A. No. None whatsoever.
25. Q. How would you categorize the relationship of Officer Kellog and his wife?
A. They were estranged.
26. Q. Do you know where Mrs. Kellog went to live when she left the home of her husband?
A. With me.
27. Q. Do you have a department-issued firearm, and if so, what kind?
A. Yes, a. 38 Special Caliber Colt snub nose.
28. Q. Where is this firearm now?
A. In the gun locker.
75-331D (Rev. 7/70) Page 4
29. Q. Would you be willing to turn this firearm over to me now for ballistics and other testing in connection with this investigation?
A. Captain, I go on at midnight. When would I get it back?
(Captain Quaire) I’ve got a Cobra in my desk. You can use that.
30. Q. Do you own, or have access to, any other firearms?
A. Yes, I have several guns at my house.
31. Q. You have stated that Mrs. Kellog resides in your home. That being the case, would Mrs. Kellog have access to the firearms you have stated you have in your home?
32. Q. Precisely what firearms do you have in your home?
A. I’ve got a. 45. An Army Model 1911A1 automatic. And an S amp; W Chief’s Special. And a Savage. 32 automatic. And there’s a. 22, a rifle. A Winchester Model 12 shotgun, 12 gauge. And a Remington Model 70. 30–06 deer rifle.
33. Q. And Mrs. Kellog has had access to these firearms?
34. Q. Do you believe Mrs. Kellog had anything whatsoever to do with the shooting of her husband?
A. I do not.
35. Q. Would you be willing to turn over any or all of the firearms in your home to me for ballistic, and other testing in connection with this investigation?
36. Q. Would you be willing to do so immediately after this interview is completed? Go there with myself or another detective and turn them over?
75-331D (Rev. 7/70) Page 5
37. Q. Where were you between the hours of six pm last evening and ten o’clock this morning?
A. I don’t remember where I was at six, but from seven to about eight-thirty, I was interviewing people in connection with the Grover job.
38. Q. You were on duty, conducting an official investigation?
39. Q. And then what happened? When you went off duty at half past eight?
A. I went home, had some dinner, watched TV, and went to bed.
40. Q. Were you alone?
A. No. Helene, Mrs. Kellog was with me. She was home when I got there.
41. Q. Mrs. Kellog was with you all the time?
A. Yes. From the time I got home, a little before nine, until we went to work this morning.
42. Q. You were not out of each other’s company from say nine pm until say 8 am this morning?
43. Q. Did you see anyone else during that period, 9 pm last night until 8 am today?
44. Q. Is there anything at all that you could tell me that might shed light on the shooting death of Officer Kellog?
45. Q. You have no opinion at all?
A. He was working Narcotics. If you find who did this, I’d bet it’ll have something to do with that.
46. Q. Can you expand on that?
A. I don’t know anything, if that’s what you mean. But I’ve heard the same talk you have.
47. Q. Captain Quaire?
A. (Captain Quaire) I can’t think of anything. Anybody else?
(There was no reply.)
75-331D (Rev. 7/70) Page 6
48. Q. Thank you, Detective Milham.
A. Captain, I’m going to probably need some vacation time off.
A. (Capt. Quaire) Sure, Wally. Just check in.
A. (Det. Milham) I don’t like sitting in here like this.
A. (Capt. Quaire) None of us like it, Wally.
75-331D (Rev. 7/70) Page 7
“Thanks, Henry,” Staff Inspector Mike Weisbach said, taking a cup of coffee from Captain Henry Quaire in Quaire’s office.
Quaire made a “It’s nothing, you’re welcome” shrug, and then met Weisbach’s eyes. “Is there anything else we can do for you, Inspector?”
“Tell me how you call this, Henry,” Weisbach said. “Out of school.”
“I don’t think Wally Milham’s involved.”
“And the Widow Kellog?”
Quaire shrugged. “I don’t know her.”
“Would it be all right with you if I went with D’Amata when he interviews her?”
“What if I said no, Mike?” Quaire asked, smiling.
“Then I would go anyway, and you could go back to calling me ‘Inspector,’” Weisbach said, smiling back. “Can I presume that you have finally figured out that I don’t want to be here any more than you want me to?”
“Sometimes I’m a little slow. It made me mad. My guys would throw the Pope in Central Lockup if they thought he was a doer, and Lowenstein knows it, and he still sends you in here to look over our shoulder.”
“That came from the Mayor.”
“The Mayor knows that my people are straight arrows.”
“I think he’s trying to make sure the Ledger has no grounds to use the word ‘cover-up.’”
“That means he thinks it’s possible that we would.”
“I don’t think so, Henry. I think he’s just covering his behind.”
“I know you didn’t ask for the job,” he said.
Weisbach guessed the Widow Kellog was twenty-eight, twenty-nine, something like that, which would make her three years younger than the late Officer Kellog. She was a slender, not-unattractive woman with very pale skin-her lipstick was a red slash across her face, and her rouge did little to simulate the healthy blush of nature.
She was wearing a black suit with a white blouse, silk stockings, high heels, a hat with a veil, and sunglasses. No gloves, which gave Weisbach the opportunity to notice that she was wearing both a wedding and an engagement ring. They had obviously gotten here, to her apartment, just in time. She was on her way out.
“Mrs. Kellog,” Joe D’Amata said, showing her his badge, “I’m Detective D’Amata and this is Inspector Weisbach.”
She looked at both of them but didn’t reply.
“We’re very sorry about what happened to your husband,” D’Amata said. “And we hate to intrude at a time like this, but I’m sure you understand that the sooner we find out who did this to Jerry, the better.”
“Did you know him?” she asked.
“Not well,” D’Amata said. “Let me ask the hard question. Do you have any idea who might have done this to him?”
“Not even a suspicion?”
“It had something to do with drugs, I’m pretty sure of that.”
“When was the last time you saw your husband?”
“A couple of weeks ago.”
“You didn’t see him at all yesterday?”
“Just for the record, would you mind telling me where you were last night? Say, from six o’clock last night.”
“I was with a friend.”
“All that time? I mean, all night?”
“Would you be willing to give me that friend’s name?”
“I was with Wally Milham. I think you probably already knew that.”
“I hope you understand we have to ask these questions. What, exactly, is your relationship with Detective Milham?”
“Jerry and I were having trouble, serious trouble. Can we leave it at that?”
“Mrs. Kellog,” Weisbach said. “When we were in your house, where we found Officer Kellog, we noticed a tape recorder.”
D’Amata doesn’t like me putting my two cents in. But the last thing we want to do is make her angry. And she would have been angry if he had kept pressing her. And for what purpose? Milham told us they’re sleeping together.
“What about it?” Mrs. Kellog asked.
“I just wondered about it. It turned on whenever the phone was picked up, right?”
“He recorded every phone call,” she said. “It was his, not mine.”
“You mean, he used it in his work?”
“Yes. You know that he did.”
“Do you happen to know where he kept the tapes?”
“There was a box of them in the cabinet. They’re gone?”
“We’re trying to make sure we have all of them,” Weisbach said.
“All the ones I know about, he kept right there with the recorder.”
“Did your husband ever talk to you about what he did?” Weisbach asked. “I mean, can you think of anything he ever said that might help us find whoever did this to him?”
“He never brought the job home,” she said. “He didn’t want to tell me about what he was doing, and I didn’t want to know.”
“My wife’s the same way,” Weisbach said.
“And you don’t work Narcotics,” she said. “Listen, how long is this going to last? I’ve got to go to the funeral home and pick out a casket.”
“I think we’re about finished,” Weisbach said. “Can we offer you a lift? Is there anything else we can do for you?”
“I’ve got a car, thank you.”
“Thank you for your time, Mrs. Kellog,” Weisbach said. “And again, we’re very sorry that this happened.”
“We had our problems,” she said. “But he didn’t deserve to have this happen to him.”
Detective Anthony C. “Tony” Harris, after thinking about it, decided that discretion dictated that he park the car in the parking garage at South Broad and Locust streets and walk to the Bellvue-Stratford Hotel, even though that meant he would have to get a receipt from the garage to get his money back, and that he would almost certainly lose the damned receipt, or forget to turn it in, and have to pay for parking the car himself.
Things were getting pretty close to the end, and he didn’t want to blow the whole damned thing because one of the Vice scumbags-they were, after all, cops-spotted the unmarked Ford on the street, or in the alley behind the Bellvue-Stratford, where he had planned to leave it, and started wondering what it was doing around the hotel at that hour of the night.
Tony Harris was not a very impressive man physically. He was a slight and wiry man of thirty-six, already starting to bald, his face already starting to crease and line. His shirt collar and the cuffs of his sports jacket were frayed, his tie showed evidence of frequent trips to the dry cleaners, his trousers needed to be pressed, and his shoes needed both a shine and new heels.
He enjoyed, however, the reputation among his peers of being one of the best detectives in the Philadelphia Police Department, where for nine of his fifteen years on the job he had been assigned to the Homicide Unit. It had taken him five years on the job to make it to Homicide-an unusually short time-and he would have been perfectly satisfied to spend the rest of his time there. Eighteen months ago, over his angry objections, he had been transferred to the Special Operations Division.
He had mixed emotions about what he was doing now. Bad guys are supposed to be bad guys, not fellow cops, not guys you knew for a fact were-or at least had been-good cops.
On one hand, now that he had been forced to think about it, he was and always had been a straight arrow. And just about all of his friends were straight arrows. He personally had never taken a dime. Even when he was fresh out of the Academy, walking a beat in the Twenty-third District, he had been made uncomfortable when merchants had given him hams and turkeys and whiskey at Christmas.
Taking a ham or a turkey or a bottle of booze at Christmas wasn’t really being on the take, but even then, when he was walking a beat, he had drawn the line at taking cash, refusing with a smile the offer of a folded twenty-dollar bill or an envelope with money in it.
There was something wrong, he thought, in a cop taking money for doing his job.
What these sleazeballs were doing was taking money, big-time money, for not doing their jobs. Worse, for doing crap behind their badges they knew goddamned well was dirty.
That was one side-they were dirty, and they deserved whatever was going to happen to them.
The other side was, they were cops, brother officers, and doing what he was doing made him uncomfortable.
When Tony had been on the sauce, brother officers had turned him loose a half-dozen times when they would have locked up a civilian for drunken driving, or belting some guy in a bar and making a general asshole of himself.
It wasn’t, in other words, like he was Mr. Pure himself.
Washington, Sergeant Jason Washington, his longtime partner in Homicide, and now his supervisor, was Mr. Pure. And so was Inspector Wohl, who was running this job. About the only thing they had ever taken because they were wearing a badge was the professional courtesy they got from a brother officer who stopped them for speeding.
And the kids he was supervising now were pure too. Payne would never take money because he didn’t have to, he was rich, and Lewis was pure because he’d got that from his father. Lieutenant Foster H. Lewis, Jr., was so pure and such a straight arrow that they made jokes about it; said that he would turn himself in if he got a goober stuck in his throat and had to spit on the sidewalk.
Tony knew that what he was doing was right, and that it had to be done. He just wished somebody else was doing it.
He entered the Bellvue-Stratford Hotel by the side entrance on Walnut Street, into the cocktail lounge. He stood just inside the door long enough to check for a familiar face at the bar, and then, after walking through it, checked the lobby before walking quickly across to the bank of elevators. He told the operator to take him to twelve.
He tried the key he had to 1204, but it was latched-as it should have been-from inside, and he had to wait until Officer Foster H. Lewis, Jr., who was an enormous black kid, six three, two hundred twenty, two hundred thirty even, came to it and peered through the cracked door and then closed it to take the latch off and let him in.
When he opened the door, Lewis was walking quickly across the room to the window, a set of earphones on his head still connected by a long coiled cord to one of the two reel-to-reel tape recorders set up on the chest of drawers.
“What’s going on, Tiny?” Harris asked, and then before Lewis could reply, “Where’s Payne?”
Tiny replied by pointing, out the window and up.
Harris crossed the room, noticing as he did a room-service cart with a silver pot of coffee and what looked like the leftovers from a room-service steak dinner.
Payne, of course. It wouldn’t occur to him to take a quick trip to McDonald’s or some other fast-food joint and bring a couple of hamburgers and some paper cups full of coffee to the room. He’s in a hotel room, call room service and order up a couple of steaks, medium rare. Fuck what it costs.
Detective Tony Harris looked out the window and saw Detective Matthew M. Payne.
“Jesus H. Christ!” he exclaimed. “What the fuck does he think he’s doing?”
“The lady opened the window,” Officer Lewis replied, “which dislodged the suction cup.”
“Did she see the wire?” Harris wondered out loud, and was immediately sorry he had.
Dumb question. If she had seen the wire, Payne would not be standing on a twelve-inch ledge thirteen floors up, trying to put the suction cup back on the window.
“I don’t think so,” Tiny said.
“Did we get anything?”
“If we had a movie camera instead of just a microphone, we would have a really blue movie,” Tiny Lewis said.
“Is he crazy or what, to try that?”
“I told him he was. He said he could do it.”
“How did he get out there?”
“There have been no lights in Twelve Sixteen all night. Two doors down from Twelve Eighteen. He said he thought he could get in.”
“You mean pick the lock?” Harris asked, and again without giving Officer Lewis a chance to reply, went on. “What if someone had seen him in the corridor?”
“For one thing, from what was coming over the wire before the lady knocked the mike off, we didn’t think the Lieutenant was quite ready to go home to his wife and kiddies, and for another, Matt’s wearing a hotel-maintenance uniform, and says he doesn’t think the Lieutenant knows him anyway.”
“Yeah, but what if he had?”
“He’s got it!” Lewis said.
He took the earphones from his head and held them out to Tony Harris.
Harris took them and put them on.
The sounds of sexual activity made Harris uncomfortable.
“I’ve been wondering if the fact that I find some of that rather exciting makes me a pervert,” Tiny said.
“We’re trying to catch him with one of the mobsters, not with his cock in some hooker’s mouth.”
“Unfortunately, at the moment, all we have is him and the lady. Maybe Martinez and Whatsisname will get lucky when they relieve us,” Tiny said, and then added: “He’s back inside. I agree with you, that was crazy.”
“Your pal is crazy,” Harris said.
“I think he prefers to think of it as devotion to duty,” Tiny said. “You know, ‘Neither heat, nor rain, nor thirteen stories off the ground will deter this courier…’”
“Oh, shit,” Harris said, chuckling. “I’d never try something like that.”
“Neither would I. But I don’t want to be Police Commissioner before I’m forty.”
Harris looked at him and smiled.
“You think that’s what he wants? Really?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes I think he’s just playing cop…”
“Other times, I think he takes the job as seriously as my old man. You know, the thin blue line, protecting the citizens from the savages. We know he’s not doing it for the money.”
There was a knock at the door.
“What did he do? Run back?” Harris asked.
“Hay-zus, more likely,” Tiny said, and went to the door.
It was in fact Detective Jesus Martinez, a small-barely above departmental minimums for height and weight-olive-skinned man with a penchant for gold jewelry and sharply tailored suits from Krass Brothers.
“What’s up?” he said by way of greeting.
“X-rated audiotapes,” Tiny said.
“And your buddy’s been playing Supercop.”
There was no love lost between Detectives Payne and Martinez, and Tony Harris knew it.
“Where is he?”
“The last we saw him, he was on a ledge outside the love-nest,” Tony said.
“Putting the mike back. The hooker opened the window and knocked the suction cup off.”
Martinez went to the window and looked out.
“No shit? Is it working now?”
“Yeah. The Lieutenant’s having a really good time,” Tiny said, offering Martinez the headset.
Martinez took the headset and held one of the phones to his ear. He listened for nearly a minute, then handed it back.
“Payne really went out on that ledge to put it back?”
“‘Neither heat nor rain…’” Tiny began to recite, stopping when there was another knock at the door.
Martinez opened it.
Detective Matthew M. Payne stood there. He was a tall, lithe twenty-five-year-old with dark, thick hair and intelligent eyes, wearing the gray cotton shirt and trousers work uniform of the hotel-maintenance staff.
“What do you say, Hay-zus?” Payne said. “Strangely enough, I’m delighted to see you.”
Martinez didn’t respond.
“Is it working?” Payne asked Tiny Lewis. Lewis nodded.
“Tony, now that Detective Martinez is here,” Payne said, “and the goddamned microphone is back where it’s supposed to be, can I take off?”
Harris did not respond directly. He looked at Tiny Lewis.
“Anything on what you have so far?”
“You mean in addition to the grunts, wheezes, and other sighs of passion? No. No names were mentioned, and the subject of money never came up.”
“Washington will want to hear them anyway,” Harris said, and turned to Payne. “You take the tapes to Washington, and you can take off. Let Martinez know where you are.”
“OK, it’s a deal.”
“Going out on that ledge was dumb,” Harris said.
“The Lieutenant’s inamorata knocked the microphone off,” Payne replied. “No ledge, no tape.”
“The Lieutenant’s what?” Tiny asked.
“I believe the word is defined as ‘doxy, paramour, lover,’” Payne said.
“In other words, ‘hooker’?”
“A hooker, by definition, does it for money,” Payne said. “We can’t even bust this one for that. No money has changed hands. The last I heard, accepting free samples of available merchandise is not against the law. When you think about it, for all we know, it was true love at first sight between the Lieutenant and the inamorata.”
“Get out of here, Payne,” Harris said. “You want to take off, Tiny, I’ll stick around until the other guy-what the hell is his name? — gets here.”
“Pederson,” Martinez furnished. “Pederson with a d.”
“I’ll wait. I find this all fascinating.”
“You’re a dirty young man, Tiny,” Payne said. “I’m off.”
At just about the same time-9:35 P.M. -Detective Matthew M. Payne left the Bellvue-Stratford Hotel by the rear service entrance and walked quickly, almost trotted, up Walnut Street toward his apartment on Rittenhouse Square, Mr. John Francis “Frankie” Foley walked, almost swaggered, into the Reading Terminal Market four blocks away at Twelfth and Market streets.
Mr. Foley was also twenty-five years of age, but at six feet one inch tall and 189 pounds, was perceptibly larger than Detective Payne. Mr. Foley was wearing a two-toned jacket (reddish plaid body, dark blue sleeves and collar) and a blue sports shirt with the collar open and neatly arranged over the collar of his jacket.
Mr. Foley walked purposefully through the Market, appreciatively sniffing the smells from the various food counters, until he reached the counter of Max’s Cheese Steaks. Waiting for him there, sitting on a high, backless stool, facing a draft beer, a plate of french-fried potatoes, and one of Max’s almost-famous cheese steak sandwiches, was Mr. Gerald North “Gerry” Atchison, who was forty-two, five feet eight inches tall, and weighed 187 pounds.
Mr. Atchison, who thought of himself as a businessman and restaurateur-he owned and operated the Inferno Lounge in the 1900 block of Market Street-and believed that appearances were important, was wearing a dark blue double-breasted suit, a crisp white shirt, a finely figured silk necktie, and well-polished black wing-tip shoes.
Both gentlemen were armed, Mr. Atchison with a Colt Cobra. 38 Special caliber revolver, carried in a belt holster, and Mr. Foley with a. 45 ACP caliber Colt Model 1911A1 semiautomatic pistol that he carried in the waistband of his trousers at the small of his back. Mr. Atchison was legally armed, having obtained from the Sheriff of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, where he maintained his home, a license to carry a concealed weapon for the purpose of personal protection.
Mr. Atchison had told the Chief of Police that he often left his place of business late at night carrying large sums of cash and was concerned with the possibility of being robbed. The Chief of Police knew that the 1900 block of Market Street was an unsavory neighborhood and that Mr. Atchison was not only a law-abiding citizen, but a captain in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, in which he was himself an officer, and granted the license to carry.
It is extremely difficult in Philadelphia for any private citizen to get a license to carry a concealed weapon, but Philadelphia honors concealed-weapons permits issued by other police jurisdictions. Mr. Atchison, therefore, was in violation of no law for having his pistol.
Mr. Foley, on the other hand, did not have a license to carry a concealed weapon. He had applied for one, with the notion that all the cops could say was “no,” in which case he would be no worse off than he already was. And for a while, it looked as if he might actually get the detective to give him one. The detective he had talked to when he went to fill out the application forms had a USMC Semper Fi! decalcomania affixed to his desk and Frankie had told him he’d been in the Crotch himself, and they talked about Parris Island and Quantico and 29 Palms, and the detective said he wasn’t promising anything because permits were goddamned hard to get approved-but maybe something could be worked out. He told Frankie to bring in his DD-214, showing his weapons qualifications, so a copy of that could be attached to the application; that might help.
Frankie explained that while he would be happy to bring in his Form DD-214, which showed that he had qualified as Expert with the. 45, there was a small problem. A fag had come on to him in a slop chute at 29 Palms, and he had kicked the shit out of him, and what his Form DD-214 said about the character of his release from service was “Bad Conduct,” which was not as bad as “Dishonorable,” but wasn’t like “Honorable” either.
Frankie could tell from the way the detective’s attitude had changed when he told him he’d gotten a “Bad Conduct” discharge from the Crotch that bringing in his DD-214 would be a waste of fucking time, so he never went back.
He was, therefore, by the act of carrying a concealed firearm, in violation of Section 6106 of the Crimes Code of Pennsylvania, and Sections 907 (Possession of Instrument of Crime), and 908 (Possession of Offensive Weapon) of the Uniform Firearms Act, each of which is a misdemeanor of the first degree punishable by imprisonment of not more than five years and/or a fine of not more than $10,000.
Mr. Foley was not concerned with the possible ramifications of being arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. Primarily, he accepted the folklore of the streets of Philadelphia that on your first bust you got a walk, unless your first bust was for something like raping a nun. The prisons were crowded, and judges commonly gave first offenders a talking-to and a second chance, rather than put them behind bars. Frankie had never been arrested for anything more serious than several traffic violations, once for shoplifting, and once for drunk and disorderly.
And even if that were not the case, he trusted Mr. Atchison, who did carry a gun, about as far as he could throw the sonofabitch- what kind of a shitheel would hire somebody to kill his own wife? — and he was not going to be around him anywhere at night without something to protect himself.
More important, the purpose of their meeting was to finalize the details of the verbal contract they had made between themselves, the very planning of which, not to mention the execution, was a far more serious violation of the Crimes Code of Pennsylvania than carrying a gun without a permit.
In exchange for five thousand dollars, half to be paid now at Max’s, and the other half when the job was done, Mr. Foley had agreed to “eliminate” Mrs. Alicia Atchison, Mr. Atchison’s twenty-five-year-old wife, who Mr. Atchison said had been unfaithful to him, and Mr. Anthony J. Marcuzzi, fifty-two, Mr. Atchison’s business partner, who, Mr. Atchison said, had been stealing from him.
Frankie wasn’t sure whether Marcuzzi had really been stealing from the Inferno-it was more likely that Atchison just wanted him out of the way. Maybe he was stealing from Marcuzzi, and was afraid Marcuzzi was catching on-but he was sure that his wife’s fucking around on him wasn’t the reason Atchison wanted her taken care of. Atchison had another broad Frankie knew about, another young one, and probably he figured that since he was having Marcuzzi taken care of, he might as well get rid of them both at once. Or maybe he thought it would look more convincing if she got knocked off when Marcuzzi got it. Or maybe there was insurance on her or something.
But whatever his reasons, it wasn’t because he was really pissed off that she had let somebody get into her pants. Two weeks after Frankie had met Gerry Atchison, before Atchison had talked to him about taking care of his wife and Marcuzzi, he had just about come right out and said that if Frankie wanted to fuck Alicia, that was all right with him.
Frankie had been tempted-Alicia wasn’t at all bad-looking, nice boobs and legs-but had decided against it, as it wasn’t professional. He didn’t want to get involved with somebody he was going to take out.
On his part, Mr. Foley had not been entirely truthful with Mr. Atchison, either. He was not, as he had led Mr. Atchison, and others, to believe, an experienced hit man who accepted contracts from the mob in Philadelphia (and elsewhere, like New York and Las Vegas) that for one reason or another they would rather not handle themselves.
This job, in fact, would be his first.
It was, as he thought of it, putting his foot on the ladder to a successful criminal career. He’d given it a lot of thought when they’d thrown him out of the Crotch. There was a lot of money to be made as a professional criminal. The trouble was, you had to start out doing stupid things like breaking in someplace, or stealing a truck. If you got caught, you spent a long time in jail. And even if you didn’t get caught, unless you had the right connections, you didn’t get shit-a dime on the dollar, if you were lucky-for what you stole.
You had to get on the inside, and to do that, you needed a reputation. The most prestigious member of the professional criminal community, Frankie had concluded, was the guy who everybody knew took people out. Nobody fucked with a hit man. So clearly the thing to do was become a hit man, and the way to do that was obviously to hit somebody.
The problem there was to find somebody who wanted somebody hit and was willing to give you the job. Frankie was proud of the way he had handled that. He knew a guy, Sonny Boyle, from the neighborhood, since they were kids. Sonny was now running numbers; only on the edges of doing something important, but he knew the important people.
Frankie picked up their friendship again, hanging out in bars with him, and not telling Sonny what he was doing to pay the rent, which was working in the John Wanamaker’s warehouse, loading furniture on trucks. He let it out to Sonny that he had been kicked out of the Crotch for killing a guy-actually it had been because they caught him stealing from wall lockers-and when Sonny asked what he was doing told him he was in business, and nothing else.
And then the next time he had seen in the newspapers that the mob had popped somebody-the cops found a body out by the airport with. 22 holes in his temples-he went to Sonny Boyle and told him he needed a big favor, and when Sonny asked him what, he told Sonny that if the cops or anybody else asked, they had been together from ten at night until at least three o’clock in the morning, and that they hadn’t gone anywhere near the airport during that time.
And when Sonny had asked what he’d been doing, he told Sonny he didn’t want to know, and that if he would give him an alibi, he would owe him a big one.
That got the word spreading-Sonny had diarrhea of the mouth, and always had, which is what Frankie had counted on-and then he did exactly the same thing the next time the mob shot somebody, and there was one of them “police report they believe the murder had a connection to organized crime” crime stories by Mickey O’Hara in the Bulletin; he went to Sonny and told him he needed an alibi.
Three weeks after that happened, Sonny took him to the Inferno Lounge and said there was somebody there, the guy who owned it, Gerry Atchison, that he wanted him to meet.
He’d known right off, from the way Atchison charmed him and bought him drinks, shit, even as much as told him he could have a shot at fucking his wife, that Sonny had been telling Atchison about his pal the hit man and that Atchison had swallowed it whole.
There were to be other compensations for taking the contract in addition to the agreed-upon five thousand dollars. Frankie would become sort of a mixture of headwaiter and bouncer at the Inferno Lounge. The money wasn’t great, not much more than he was getting from Wanamaker’s, but he told Atchison that he was looking for a job like that, not for the money, but so he could tell the cops, when they asked, that he had an honest job.
That would be nice too. He could quit the fucking Wanamaker’s warehouse job and be available, where people could find him. Frankie Foley was sure that when the word spread around, as he knew it would, that he’d done a contract on Atchison’s wife and Marcuzzi, his professional services would be in demand.
Mr. Foley slid onto the backless high stool next to Mr. Atchison. Atchison seemed slightly startled to see him.
“You got something that belongs to me, Gerry?” Frankie Foley asked Gerry Atchison, whereupon Mr. Atchison handed Mr. Foley a sealed, white, business-size envelope, which Mr. Foley then put into the lower left of the four pockets on his two-tone jacket.
“We got everything straight, right?” Mr. Atchison inquired, somewhat nervously.
Mr. Foley nodded.
Mr. Atchison did not regard the nod as entirely satisfactory. He looked around to see that the counterman was wholly occupied trying to look down the dress of a peroxide blonde, and then leaned close to Frankie.
“You will come in for a drink just before eleven,” he said softly. “I’ll show you where you can find the ordnance. Then you will leave. Then, just after midnight, you will walk down Market, and look in the little window in the door, like you’re wondering why the Inferno’s closed. If all you see is me, then you’ll know I sent Marcuzzi downstairs to count the cash, and her down to watch him, and that I left the back door open.”
“We been over this twenty times,” Mr. Foley said, getting off the stool. “What you should be worried about is whether you can count to twenty-five hundred. Twice.”
“Jesus, Frankie!” Mr. Atchison indignantly protested the insinuation that he might try to shortchange someone in a business transaction.
“And you lay off the booze from right now. Not so much as another beer, understand?” Mr. Foley said, and walked away from Max’s Cheese Steaks.
Mr. Paulo Cassandro, who was thirty-six years of age, six feet one inches tall, and weighed 185 pounds, and was President of Classic Livery, Inc., had dined at the Ristorante Alfredo, one of the better restaurants in Center City Philadelphia, with Mr. Vincenzo Savarese, a well-known Philadelphia businessman, who was sixty-four, five feet eight inches tall and weighed 152 pounds.
Mr. Savarese had a number of business interests, including participation in both Ristorante Alfredo and Classic Livery, Inc. His name, however, did not appear anywhere in the corporate documents of either, or for that matter in perhaps ninety percent of his other participations. Rather, almost all of Mr. Savarese’s business participations were understandings between men of honor.
Over a very nice veal Marsala, Mr. Cassandro told Mr. Savarese that he had a small problem, one that he thought he should bring to Mr. Savarese for his counsel. Mr. Cassandro said that he had just learned from a business associate, Mrs. Harriet Osadchy, that an agreement that had been made between Mrs. Osadchy and a certain police officer and his associates was no longer considered by the police officer to be adequate.
“As I recall that agreement,” Mr. Savarese said, thoughtfully, “it was more than generous.”
“Yes, it was,” Mr. Cassandro said, and went on: “He said that his expenses have risen, and he needs more money.”
Mr. Savarese shook his head, took a sip of Asti Fumante from a very nice crystal glass, and waited for Mr. Cassandro to continue.
“Mrs. Osadchy feels, and I agree with her, that not only is a deal a deal, but if we increase the amount agreed upon, it will only feed the bastard’s appetite.”
Mr. Cassandro was immediately sorry. Mr. Savarese was a refined gentleman of the old school and was offended by profanity and vulgarity.
“Excuse me,” Mr. Cassandro said.
Mr. Savarese waved his hand in acceptance of the apology for the breach of good manners.
“It would be, so to speak, the nose of the camel under the flap of the tent?” Mr. Savarese asked with a chuckle.
Mr. Cassandro smiled at Mr. Savarese to register his appreciation of Mr. Savarese’s wit.
“How would you like me to handle this, Mr. S?”
“If at all possible,” Mr. Savarese replied, “I don’t want to terminate the arrangement. I think of it as an annuity. If it is not disturbed, it will continue to be reasonably profitable for all concerned. I will leave how to deal with this problem to your judgment.”
“I’ll have a word with him,” Mr. Cassandro said. “And reason with him.”
“Soon,” Mr. Savarese said.
“Tonight, if possible. If not tonight, then tomorrow.”
“Good,” Mr. Savarese said.
Mr. Cassandro was fully conversant not only with the terms of the arrangement but with its history.
Mrs. Harriet Osadchy, a statuesque thirty-four-year-old blonde of Estonian heritage, had come to Philadelphia from Hazleton, in the Pennsylvania coal region, four years before, in the correct belief that the practice of her profession would be more lucrative in Philadelphia. Both a decrease in the demand for anthracite coal and increasing mechanization of what mines were still in operation had substantially reduced the work force and consequently the disposable income available in the region.
She had first practiced her profession as a freelance entrepreneur, until, inevitably, her nightly presence in the lounges of the better Center City hotels had come to the attention of the plainclothes vice officers assigned to the Inspector of Central Police Division.
Following her third conviction, which resulted in a thirty-day sentence at the House of Correction for violation of Sections 5902 (Prostitution) and 5503 (Disorderly Conduct) of the Crimes Code of Pennsylvania, she realized that she would either have to go out of business or change her method of doing business. By then, she had come to know both many of her fellow freelance practitioners of the world’s oldest profession, and several gentlemen who she correctly believed had a certain influence in certain areas in Philadelphia.
With a high degree of tact, she managed to get to meet Mr. Cassandro, and to outline her plan for the future. If it would not interfere in any way with any similar arrangement in which any of Mr. Cassandro’s friends and his associates had an interest, she believed the establishment of a very high-class escort service would fill a genuine need in Philadelphia.
Since she was unaware of how things were done in Philadelphia, and was a woman alone, she would require both advice, in such things as finding suitable legal and medical services, and protection from unsavory characters who might wish to prey upon her. She said she believed that ten percent of gross receipts would be a fair price to pay for such advice and protection.
Mr. Cassandro had told Mrs. Osadchy that he would consider the question, make certain inquiries, and get back to her.
He then sought an audience with Mr. Savarese and reported the proposal to him. After thinking it over for several days Mr. Savarese told Mr. Cassandro that he believed Mrs. Osadchy’s proposal had some merit, and that he should encourage her to cautiously proceed with it.
It was agreed between them as men of honor that Mr. Savarese would receive twenty-five percent of the ten percent of gross proceeds Mrs. Osadchy would pay to Mr. Cassandro, in payment for his counsel.
The business prospered from the start. Mrs. Osadchy chose both her work force and her clientele with great care. She also understood the absolute necessity of maintaining good relations with the administrative personnel of the hotels-not limited to security personnel-where her work force practiced their profession.
For example, if she anticipated a large volume of business from, say, a convention of attorneys, or vascular surgeons, or a like group of affluent professionals, she would engage a room (or even, for a large convention, a small suite) in the hotel for the duration of the convention. No business was conducted in the room. But between professional engagements, her work force would use it as a base of operations. This both increased efficiency and eliminated what would otherwise have been a parade of unaccompanied attractive young women marching back and forth through the hotel lobby.
And Mrs. Osadchy was of course wise enough to be scrupulously honest when it came to making the weekly payments of ten percent of gross income to Mr. Cassandro.
For his part, Mr. Cassandro introduced Mrs. Osadchy to several attorneys and physicians who could be relied upon to meet the needs of Mrs. Osadchy and her work force with both efficacy and confidentiality. And, more important, he let the word get out that Mrs. Osadchy was a very good friend of his, and thus entitled to a certain degree of respect. An insult to her would be considered an insult to him.
It was a smooth-running operation, and everybody had been happy with it.
And now this fucking cop was getting greedy, which could fuck everything up, and was moreover a personal embarrassment to Mr. Cassandro, who had not liked having to go to Mr. Savarese with the problem.
I should have known, when he started wanting to help himself to the hookers, Mr. Cassandro thought angrily, that this sonofabitch was going to cause me trouble.
He’s a real sleazeball, and now it’s starting to show. And cause me trouble.
What I have to remember, because I keep forgetting it, is that Lieutenant Seymour Meyer is a cop, a cop on the take, and not a businessman, and consequently can be expected to act like an asshole.
When Mr. Cassandro left Mr. Savarese in the Ristorante Alfredo, instead of getting into the car that was waiting for him outside, he walked to the Benjamin Franklin Hotel on Chestnut Street and entered a pay telephone booth in the lobby.
He telephoned to Mrs. Harriet Osadchy and told her that he was working on their problem, that he had been given permission to deal with it.
“I’m really glad to hear that,” Mrs. Osadchy replied. “He’s really getting obnoxious.”
“Financially speaking, you mean?” Mr. Cassandro asked, laughing. “Or generally speaking?”
“He called up about an hour ago, and asked what the room number was at the Bellvue. So I told him. And then he said the reason he wanted to know was because it was a slow night, and he was a little bored, so why didn’t I send Marianne over there, so they could have a little party.”
“He’s a real shit, Harriet,” Mr. Cassandro sympathized.
“It’s not just the money that he don’t pay the girls and I have to. He’s a sicko with the girls. I had a hard time making Marianne go.”
“He’s a real shit,” Mr. Cassandro repeated, and then he had a pleasant thought. “Harriet, why don’t you call over there?”
“Tell her to keep him there. I want to talk to him. That’s as good a place as any.”
“I’ll call her,” Harriet said dubiously. “But I don’t want her involved in anything, Paulo.”
“Trust me, Harriet,” Mr. Cassandro said, and hung up.
Detective Matt Payne turned off the Parkway into the curved drive of a luxury apartment building and stopped with a squeal of tires right in front of the door. The uniformed doorman standing inside looked at him in annoyance.
The car was a silver Porsche 911. It had been Matt’s graduation present, three years before, when he had finished his undergraduate studies, cum laude, at the University of Pennsylvania.
Miss Penelope Detweiler, who was his fiancee in everything but formal announcement and ring-on-her-finger, frequently accused him, with some justification, of showering far more attention on it than he did on her.
He was still wearing the gray cotton uniform of the Bellvue-Stratford Hotel Maintenance Staff. By the time he had gone from the hotel to his apartment on Rittenhouse Square, which is five blocks west of the Bellvue-Stratford Hotel, to get the car, he had concluded (a) the smart thing for him to have done was to have prevailed yet again on Tiny Lewis’s good nature and asked him to take the damned tapes to Washington, and (b) that since he had failed to do so he was going to be so late that changing his clothing was out of the question. He had gone directly to the basement garage and taken his car.
“I’ll just be a minute,” he said to the doorman, who, accustomed to Payne’s frequent, brief, nocturnal visits, simply grunted and picked up his telephone to inform Ten Oh Six that a visitor was on his way up.
Mrs. Martha Washington, a very tall, lithe, sharply featured woman, who looked, Matt often thought, like one of the women portrayed on the Egyptian bas-reliefs in the museum, opened the door to him. She was wearing a loose, ankle-length silver lame gown.
“He’s not here, Matt,” she said, giving him her cheek to kiss. “I just opened a nice bottle of California red, if you’d like to come in and wait. He was supposed to be here by now.”
“I’m already late for dinner, thank you,” he said. “Would you give him this, please?”
He handed her a large, sealed manila envelope.
“Dinner, dressed like that?” she said, indicating his maintenance department uniform. “It looks like you’ve been fixing stopped-up sinks. What in the world have you been up to?”
She saw the uncomfortable look on his face, and quickly added: “Sorry, forget I asked.”
“I’ll take a rain check on the California red,” Matt said. “I don’t know where we’re going for dinner, but I’ll be home early if he wants me.”
“I’ll tell him.”
Ten minutes later, Matt pulled the Porsche to a stop at the black painted aluminum pole, hinged at one end, which barred access to a narrow cobblestone street in Society Hill, not far from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. A neatly lettered sign reading “Stockton Place-Private Property-No Thoroughfare” hung on short lengths of chain from the pole. A Wachenhut Private Security officer came out of a Colonial-style redbrick guard shack and walked to the Porsche.
“May I help you, sir?”
“Matthew Payne, to see Mr. Nesbitt.”
“One moment, sir, I’ll check,” the Wachenhut Security officer said, and went back into his shack.
It was said that, before renovation, the area known as Society Hill, not far from the Delaware River, had been going downhill since Benjamin Franklin-whose grave was nearby in the Christ Church Cemetery at Fifth and Arch streets-had walked its narrow streets. Before renovation had begun, it was an unpleasant slum.
Now it was an upscale neighborhood, with again some of the highest real estate values in Philadelphia. The Revolutionary-era buildings had been completely renovated-often the renovations consisted of discarding just about everything but the building’s facades-and turned into luxury apartments and town houses.
One of the developers, while doing title research, had been pleasantly surprised to learn that a narrow alley between two blocks of buildings had never been deeded to the City. That provided the legal right for them to bar the public from it, something they correctly suspected would have an appeal to the sort of people they hoped to interest in their property.
They promptly dubbed the alley “Stockton Place,” closed one end of it, and put a Colonial-style guard shack at the other.
Having been informed that Mr. Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt IV, who with his wife occupied Number Nine B Stockton Place-an apartment stretching across what had been the second floor of three Revolutionary-era buildings-did in fact expect a Mr. Payne to call, the Wachenhut Security officer pressed a switch on his control console which caused the barrier pole to rise.
Matt drove nearly to the end of Stockton Place, carefully eased the right wheels of the Porsche onto the sidewalk, walked quickly into the lobby of Number Nine, and then quickly up a wide carpeted stairway to the second floor.
The door to Nine B opened as he reached the landing. Standing in it, looking more than a little annoyed, was Miss Penelope Detweiler, who was twenty-four, blond, and just this side of beautiful. She was wearing a simple black dress, adorned with a string of pearls and a golden pin, a representation of a parrot.
“Where the hell have you been?” Miss Detweiler asked, and then, seeing how Detective Payne was attired, went on: “Matt, for Christ’s sake, we’re going to dinner!”
“Hi!” Detective Payne said.
“Don’t ‘Hi’ me, you bastard! We had reservations for nine-thirty, you’re not even here at nine-thirty, and when you finally show up, you’re dressed like that!”
He tried to kiss her cheek; she evaded him, then turned and walked ahead of him into the living room of the apartment. Wide glass windows offered a view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, the Delaware River, and an enormous sign atop a huge brick warehouse on the far-New Jersey-side of the river showing a representation of a can of chicken soup and the words N ESFOODS I NTERNATIONAL.
“I would hazard to guess, old buddy, that you are on the lady’s shitlist,” said Mr. Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt IV, who was sprawled on a green leather couch. Sitting somewhat awkwardly beside him was his wife, the former Daphne Elizabeth Browne, who was visibly in the terminal stages of pregnancy.
A thick plate-glass coffee table in front of the couch held a bottle of champagne in a glass cooler.
“What are we celebrating?” Matt asked.
“Look at how he’s dressed!” Penny Detweiler snapped.
“Never fear, Chadwick is here, the problem will be solved,” Chad Nesbitt said, waving his champagne glass as he rose from the couch. “Will you have a little of this, Matthew?”
“What are we celebrating?” Matt asked again.
“I am no longer peddling soup store by store,” Nesbitt said. “I will tell you all about it as you change out of your costume.”
Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt IV and Matthew Mark Payne had been best friends since they had met, at age seven, at Episcopal Academy. They had been classmates and fraternity brothers at the University of Pennsylvania, and Matt had been Chad’s best man when he married.
Nesbitt grabbed the champagne bottle from its cooler by its neck, snatched up a glass, handed it to Matt, then led him down a corridor to his bedroom. There he gestured toward a walk-in closet and arranged himself against the headboard of his king-sized bed.
“What the hell are you dressed up for?” he asked. “Or as?”
“I was on the job.”
“That’s not original. I was asked the same question just fifteen minutes ago,” Matt said as he selected a shirt and tie from Chad Nesbitt’s closet.
“In other words, it’s secret police business, right? Not to be shared with the public?”
“I wouldn’t count on dipping your wick tonight, Matthew. Penny’s really pissed.”
“I told her I didn’t know when I could get here,” Matt said.
“Your tardy appearance is a symptom of what she’s pissed about, not the root cause.”
“So what else is new?”
“How long are you going to go on playing cop?”
“I am not playing cop, goddamn it! And you. This is what I do. I’m good at it. I like it. Don’t you start, too.”
“I’m afraid I have contributed to the lady’s discontent,” Nesbitt said. “The champagne is because you are looking at the newest Assistant Vice President of Nesfoods International.”
“Yeah. I hate to admit it, but the old man was right. The whole goddamned business does ride on the shoulders of the guys who are out there every day fighting for shelf space. And the only way to really understand that is to go out on the streets and do it yourself.”
The business to which Mr. Nesbitt referred was Philadelphia’s largest single employer, Nesfoods International. Four generations before, George Detweiler had gone into partnership with Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt to found what was then called The Nesbitt Potted Meats amp; Preserved Vegetables Company. It was now Nesfoods International, listed just above the middle of the Fortune 500 companies and still tightly held. C. T. Nesbitt III was Chairman of the Executive Committee and H. Richard Detweiler, Penny’s father, was President and Chief Executive Officer.
“Newest Assistant Vice President of what?” Matt asked.
“Congratulations,” Matt said.
“A little more enthusiasm would not be out of order,” Chad said. “Vice President, even Assistant Vice President, has a certain ring to it.”
Matt threw a pair of Nesbitt’s trousers and a tweed sports coat on the bed, then started to take his gray uniform trousers off. He had trouble with the right leg, which he finally solved by sitting on the bed, pulling the trousers leg up, and unstrapping an ankle holster.
“Doesn’t that thing bother your leg?” Chad asked.
“Only when I’m taking my pants off. I meant it, Chad. Congratulations.”
“Penny was already here when I got home,” Chad said. “When I made the grand announcement, her response was, ‘And Matt is still childishly playing policeman,’ or words to that effect.”
“If I had gone into the Marine Corps with you, I would just be finishing my first year in law school,” Matt replied. “I wonder what she would call that.”
“Sensible,” Chad said. “Your first foot on the first rung of your ladder to legal and/or corporate success. Anyway, if she is bitchy tonight, you know who to blame.”
“I don’t want to be a lawyer, and I don’t-especially don’t-want to work for Nesfoods International.”
“‘ Especially don’t ’? What are you going to do when you marry Penny? It’s a family business, for Christ’s sake.”
“Your family. Her family. Not mine.”
“That’s bullshit and you know it,” Chad said. “She’s an only child. I don’t know how much stock she owns now, but…”
“Let it go, Chad!”
“…eventually, she’ll inherit…”
“Goddamn it, quit!”
“Your old man sits on the board,” Chad went on. “Mawson, Payne, Stockton, McAdoo and Lester’s biggest client is Nesfoods.”
“Just for the record, it is not,” Matt said. “Now, are you going to quit, or do you want to celebrate your vice presidency all by yourself?”
Nesbitt sensed the threat wasn’t idle.
“One final comment,” he said. “And then I’ll shut up. Please?”
After a moment, as he closed the zipper of Chad’s gray flannel slacks, Matt nodded.
“I liked the Marine Corps. I was, I thought, a damned good officer. I really wanted to stay. But I couldn’t, Matt. For the same reasons you can’t ignore who you are, and who Penny is. I think they call that maturity.”
“You’re now finished, I hope?”
“Good. Now we’ll go out and celebrate your vice-presidency. I can handle you alone, or Penny, but not the both of you together.”
“Where are we going?”
“There’s a new Italian place down by the river. Northern Italian. I think that means without tomato sauce.”
Matt pulled up his trousers leg and strapped his ankle holster in place.
“You really have to carry that with you all the time?” Chad asked.
“I’m a cop,” Matt said. “Write that on the palm of your hand.”
Mr. John Francis “Frankie” Foley checked his watch as he circled City Hall and headed west on Kennedy Boulevard. It was ten forty-five. He had told Mr. Gerald North “Gerry” Atchison “between quarter of eleven and eleven,” so he was right on time.
Mr. Foley considered that a good omen. It was his experience that if things went right from the start, whatever you were doing would usually go right. If little things went wrong, like for example you busted a shoelace or spilled spaghetti sauce on your shirt, or the car wouldn’t start, whatever, so that you were a little late, you could almost count on the big things being fucked up, too.
And he felt good about what he was going to do, too, calm, professional. He’d spent a good long time thinking the whole thing through, trying to figure out what, or who, could fuck up. His old man used to say, “No chain is stronger than its weakest link,” and say what you want to say about that nasty sonofabitch, he was right about that.
And the weak link in this chain, Mr. Foley knew, was Mr. Gerry Atchison. For one thing, Frankie was pretty well convinced that he could trust Atchison about half as far as he could throw the slimy sonofabitch. I mean, what kind of a shitheel would offer somebody you just met a chance to fuck his wife, even if you were planning to get rid of her for business purposes?
The first thing that Frankie thought of was that maybe what Atchison was planning on doing was letting him do the wife and the business partner, and then he would shoot Frankie. That would be the smart thing for him to do. He would have his wife and partner out of the way, and if the shooter was dead, too, with the fucking gun in his hand, Atchison could tell the cops that when he heard the shots in the basement office he went to investigate and shot the dirty sonofabitch who had shot his wife and his best friend and business partner. And with Frankie dead, not only couldn’t he-not that he would, of course-tell the cops what had really happened, but Atchison wouldn’t have to come up with the twenty-five hundred Frankie was due when he did the wife and the business partner.
Frankie didn’t think Atchison would have the balls to do that, but the sonofabitch was certainly smart enough to figure out that he could do something like that. So he’d covered those angles, too. For one thing, the first thing he was going to do when he saw Atchison now was make sure that sonofabitch had the other twenty-five hundred ready, and the way he had asked for it, in used bills, nothing bigger than a twenty.
If he didn’t have the dough ready, then he would know the fucker was trying to screw him. He really hoped that wouldn’t happen, he wanted this whole thing to happen, and if Atchison didn’t have the dough ready, he didn’t know what he’d do about it, except maybe smack the sonofabitch alongside his head with the. 45.
But Atchison could have the dough ready, Frankie reasoned, and still be planning to do him after he had done the wife and the partner. He had figured out the way to deal with the whole thing: first, make sure that he had the dough, and second, when he came back to do the contract, either make sure that Atchison didn’t have a gun, or, which is what most likely would happen, make sure that he always had the drop on Atchison.
All he had to be was calm and professional.
Frankie steered his five-year-old Buick convertible into the left lane, turned left off Kennedy Boulevard onto South Nineteenth Street, crossed Market Street, and then made another left turn into the parking lot at South Nineteenth and Ludlow Street. During the day, you had to pay to park there, but not at this time of night. There were only half a dozen cars in the place. He got out of the car, walked back to Market Street, and turned right.
He caught a glimpse of himself reflected in a storefront window. He was pleased with what he saw. There was nothing about the way he was dressed (in a brown sports coat with an open-collared maroon sports shirt and light brown slacks) that made him look any different from anyone else walking up Market Street to have a couple of drinks and maybe try to get laid. No one would remember him because he was dressed flashy or anything like that.
He pushed open the door to the Inferno Lounge and walked in. There were a couple of people at the bar, and in the back of the place he saw Atchison glad-handing a tableful of people.
“Scotch, rocks,” Frankie said to the bartender as he slid onto a bar stool.
The bartender served the drink, and when Frankie didn’t decorate the mahogany with a bill, said, “Would you mind settling the bill now, sir? I go off at eleven.”
“You mean you’re closing at eleven?”
“The guy who works eleven ’til closing isn’t coming in tonight. The boss, that’s him in the back, will fill in for him,” the bartender said.
“Hell, you had me worried. The night’s just beginning,” Frankie said, and took a twenty-his last-from his wallet and laid it on the bar.
So far, so good. Atchison said tonight was the late-night bartender’s night off.
Frankie pushed a buck from his stack of change toward the bartender and then picked up his drink. There was a mirror behind the bar, but he couldn’t see Atchison in it, and he didn’t want to turn around and make it evident that he was looking for him.
Frankie wondered where whatsername, the wife- Alicia — was, and the partner.
I wonder if I should have fucked her. She’s not bad-looking.
Goddamn it, you know better than that. That would have really been dumb.
“What do you say, Frankie?” Gerry Atchison said, laying a hand on his shoulder. Frankie was a little startled; he hadn’t heard or sensed him coming up.
“Gerry, how are you?”
“I got something for you.”
“I hoped you would. How’s the wife, Gerry?”
Atchison gave him a funny look before replying, “Just fine, thanks. She’ll be here in a little while. She went somewhere with Tony.”
Tony is the partner, Anthony J. Marcuzzi. What did he do, send her off to fuck the partner?
“Tommy,” Gerry Atchison called to the bartender. “Stick around a couple of minutes, will you? I got a little business with Mr. Foley here.”
There was nothing Tommy could do but fake a smile and say sure.
Atchison started walking to the rear of the Inferno. Frankie followed him. They went down a narrow flight of stairs to the basement and then down a corridor to the office.
Atchison closed and bolted the office door behind them, then went to a battered wooden desk, and unlocked the right-side lower drawer. He took from it a small corrugated paper box and laid it on the desk.
He unwrapped dark red mechanic’s wiping towels, exposing three guns. One was a Colt. 38 Special caliber revolver with a five-inch barrel. The second was what Frankie thought of as a cowboy gun. In this case it was a Spanish copy of a Colt Peacemaker, six-shot, single-action. 44 Russian caliber revolver. The third was a Savage Model 1911. 32 ACP caliber semiautomatic.
“There they are,” he announced.
“Where’s the money?” Frankie asked.
“In the desk. Same drawer.”
“Let’s see it.”
“You don’t trust me?” Atchison asked with a smile, to make like it was a joke.
“Let’s see the money, Gerry,” Frankie said.
He picked up the Colt and opened the cylinder and dumped the cartridges in his hand. Then he closed the cylinder and dry-snapped the revolver. The cylinder revolved the way it was supposed to.
The noise of the dry snapping upset Gerry Atchison.
“What are you doing?”
“Making sure these things work.”
“You didn’t have to do that. I checked them out.”
Yeah, but you don’t know diddly-shit about guns. You just think you do.
The Colt was to be the primary weapon. He would do both the wife and the partner with the Colt. The cowboy gun was the backup, in case something went wrong. Better safe than sorry, like they say. The Savage was to wound Atchison in the leg. Frankie would have rather shot him with the. 38 Special Colt, but Atchison insisted on the smaller. 32 ACP Savage.
Atchison held out an envelope to Frankie.
“You get this on delivery, you understand?”
Frankie took the envelope and thumbed through the thick stack of bills.
“You leave it in the desk,” Frankie ordered, handing the envelope back to Atchison. “If it’s there when I come back, I do it.”
Frankie next checked the functioning of the. 44 Russian cowboy six-shooter, and finally the. 32 Savage automatic.
He put them back in the corrugated paper box and folded the mechanic’s rags back over them.
“I sort of wish you’d take those with you,” Atchison said. “What if somebody comes down here and maybe finds them?”
“You see that don’t happen. I’m not going to wander around Center City with three guns.”
Atchison looked like he was going to say something, but changed his mind.
“I’ll show you the door,” he said.
Frankie followed him out of the office and farther down the corridor to the rear of the building. There a shallow flight of stairs rose toward a steel double door.
With Frankie watching carefully, Atchison removed a chain-and-padlock from the steel doors, then opened the left double door far enough to insert the padlock so that there would be room for Frankie’s fingers when he opened the door from the outside.
“Be careful when you do that. You let the door slip, you’ll never get it open.”
“I’m always careful, Gerry,” Frankie said.
Atchison took the corrugated paper box with the pistols from Frankie and put it on the top stair, just below the steel door.
He turned and sighed audibly. Then he smiled and put out his hand to Frankie.
“Jesus!” Frankie said with contempt. “Make sure that envelope is where it’s supposed to be,” he said, then turned and walked purposefully down the narrow corridor toward the stairs.
Detective Wallace H. Milham reported for duty in the Homicide Unit in the Roundhouse at midnight as his duty schedule called for. The alternative, he knew, was sitting around his apartment alone with a bottle of bourbon. Or sitting around in a bar somewhere, alone, which he thought would be an even dumber thing to do than getting plastered all by himself in his apartment.
It had been a really lousy day.
Wally told himself that he should have expected something lousy to happen-not something as lousy as this, but something-the other shoe to drop, so to speak, because things lately had been going so damned well. For eighteen months, things had really been lousy.
In what he was perfectly willing to admit was about the dumbest thing Wally had ever done in his life, he had gotten involved with his wife Adelaide’s sister, Monica. Monica lived in Jersey, in Ocean City. Her husband was a short fat guy who sold insurance. Adelaide’s and Monica’s mother and dad owned a cottage close to the beach in Wildwood.
Everybody in the family-Adelaide’s family; Wally was an only child-got to use the cottage. Adelaide had one other sister besides Monica, and two brothers. The Old Man-Adelaide’s father-wouldn’t take any money when anybody used it, which sort of bothered Wally, who liked to pay his own way and not be indebted to anybody. So when the place needed a paint job, he volunteered to do that. He told the Old Man that the way his schedule worked, there were often two or three days he had off in the middle of the week, when Adelaide was working in the library, and he would rather do something useful with that time than sit around the house watching the TV.
Which was true. When he offered to paint the cottage in Wildwood, that was all he had in mind, pay his way. Monica didn’t come into his thinking at all.
But Charles, Monica’s husband, got in the act. He said that if Wally was going to drive all the way over from Philly to do the labor, the least he could do was provide the materials. So he did. And Monica drove the paint down in their station wagon because Charles of course was at work.
And he didn’t think about that either. The first two days he spent painting the cottage, he used up most of the paint that Charles had Monica drive down to give him, so he told Adelaide to call Monica to ask Charles if he wanted to provide more paint, or have Wally get it, in which case he would have to know where he’d gotten the first three gallons, so they could mix up some more that would match.
Adelaide told him that Charles said that the paint would be there waiting for him the next time he went to Wildwood. It wasn’t, so he started painting with what was left, and just before noon Monica showed up with the paint, and said that Charles had told her to take him out to lunch, and not to take no for an answer, it was the least they could do for him.
So they went out for lunch, and he was surprised when Monica tossed down three martinis, one after the other. He had never seen her take more than one drink at a time. And she started talking-women with a couple of drinks in them tend to do that-and she started out by saying that she was a little jealous of Adelaide because Adelaide was married to a man who had an exciting career, catching murderers, and Charles was a bore.
In more ways than one, she said, if Wally took her meaning.
And he told her that being a Homicide detective wasn’t as exciting as people who didn’t know thought it was, that most of it was pretty ordinary stuff, just asking questions until somebody came up with the answer.
She said, yeah, but he got to meet interesting, exciting people, and she asked him if he ever met any exciting women, and he told her no, but she said he was just saying that, and she’d bet that if he told her the truth, he got to meet a lot of exciting women.
That’s when he realized what was going on, and if he had had half the sense he was born with, he would have stopped it right there, but he’d had three martinis too.
In her car on the way back to the Old Man’s cottage, she kept letting her hand fall on his leg, and ten minutes after they got back to the cottage, they were having at it in the Old Man’s and Grandma’s bed.
Afterward, Monica told him she didn’t know what had come over her, it must have been the martinis, and they could never let anything like that happen again. But the way she stuck her tongue down his throat when she kissed him good-bye, he knew that was what she was saying, not what she meant.
So far as he was concerned, that was it, the one time. It would be a long time before he ever let himself be alone with her again.
Two weeks after that, at eleven o’clock in the morning, he had just gotten out of bed and made himself a cup of coffee when the doorbell at the house rang and there was Monica.
She was in Philly to do some shopping, she said, and she thought she would take a chance and see if maybe Adelaide hadn’t gone to work at the library and they could go together.
He told her no, Adelaide had gone to work, and wouldn’t be home until five, five-thirty.
And she asked what about the kids, and he told her they were both at school and wouldn’t be home until quarter to four.
And then she said that she just couldn’t get him out of her mind, and since he hadn’t called her or anything, she had come to see him.
Three weeks after that, Adelaide walked in on them and caught them in her bed, right in the middle of doing it.
The way Adelaide saw it, it was all his fault, and maybe, he thought, in a way it was. He had known what was going on.
Adelaide said she hoped that he would at least have the decency to get a civilized divorce, so that nobody in her family knew that it was Monica he was taking advantage of, and ruin her life too. She said that she would hate to tell the children what an unmitigated immoral sonofabitch their father was, and hoped he wouldn’t make her.
There was a clause in the divorce that said he had to pay a certain amount to her, in addition to child support, so that she could learn a trade or a profession. She decided she would go back to college and get a degree in library science, and get a better job than the one she had, which was “clerical assistant,” which meant that he would be giving her money for two years, maybe three. Or more. She was going only part time.
And then she met Greg. Greg was a great big good-looking guy who sold trucks for a living, and who made a hell of a lot more money doing that than Wally had ever made, even in Homicide.
Adelaide started to spend nights in Greg’s apartment whenever Wally had the kids over the weekend or she could get the Old Man and Grandma to take them. Wally knew that, because he sometimes drove by Greg’s apartment at midnight and saw her car, and then drove past again at three in the morning, and again at seven, and it was still there.
But she wasn’t going to marry Greg, because the minute she married him, that was the end of her training for a new career at his expense. She as much as told him that, and let him know if he made any trouble for her about how she conducted her private affairs, she would have to tell the kids what a sonofabitch he was, seducing her own sister, caring only for himself and not for his family.
And then Adelaide had really surprised him two and a half months before by calling him up-she sounded like she was half in the bag on the phone-and telling him she had just come back from Elkton, Maryland, where she and Greg had tied the knot.
Which meant that he could stop paying for her career education and move out of the one-room apartment, which was all he could afford on what was left of his pay, into something at least decent.
And then he went to Lieutenant Sackerman’s funeral, and met Helene. Jack Sackerman was an old-time Homicide detective, a good one. When Wally had first gone to Homicide, he had taken him under his wing and showed him how to operate. Wally thought that if it hadn’t been for Jack Sackerman, he probably never would have gotten to stay in Homicide.
When Jack had started thinking about retirement, he knew he had to leave Homicide. Homicide detectives make good money, damned good money, because of all the overtime, but when they retire, they get the same retirement pay as any other detective, and that’s not much. So Jack had taken the examination for sergeant, and passed that, and they assigned him to Narcotics. Then he took the lieutenant’s examination, and passed that, and they kept him in Narcotics. He was getting ready for the captain’s examination when they discovered the cancer. And that, of course, was that.
Everybody from Narcotics was at Jack’s viewing, of course, and that’s when he met Helene and her husband. Captain Talley, the Narcotics Commander, introduced them. Her husband, Officer Kellog, had on a suit and a tie, but he still looked like a bum. Anybody who worked Plainclothes Narcotics had to dress like he was part of the drug business, so it was understandable-when Lieutenant Pekach, who was now a Captain in Special Operations, was running Undercover Narcotics, he actually had a pigtail-but he still looked like a bum.
He met Helene first at the viewing, and then the next day at the reception at Sackerman’s house after the funeral, and a third time at Emmett’s Place bar, where a bunch of the mourners went after they left Sackerman’s house. Jack had had a lot of friends.
Her husband wasn’t with her at Emmett’s Place, but they seemed to wind up together and started talking. Wally was attracted to her, but didn’t come on to her. Only a stupid bird dirties his own nest, and she was married to a cop.
After that, they kept bumping into each other. She worked for the City in the Municipal Services Building in Center City, and he was always around the City Hall courtrooms or the DA’s Office, in the same area, so that was understandable. Wally ran into Helene one time on his way to the Reading Terminal Market for lunch and asked her if she wanted a cheese steak or something, and she said yes and went with him.
After that, they started meeting once or twice a week for lunch, or sometimes dinner, and she let him understand that things weren’t perfect with her husband, but she never told him-and he didn’t ask-what specifically was wrong between them. He told her about Adelaide, what had happened. And absolutely nothing happened between them, he didn’t so much as try to hold her hand, until the night she called him, three days after he’d moved into the new apartment, and sounded as if she was crying.
Wally asked her what the matter was, and she said she was calling from the Roosevelt Motor Inn, on Roosevelt Boulevard, that what had happened was that she had finally left the sonofabitch-he remembered that she had used that word, because it was the first time she had ever said anything nasty about him-and needed to talk to somebody.
He said sure, and did she want him to come out there and pick her up and they could go somewhere for a drink, and she said it wouldn’t look right, in case somebody saw them, for him to pick her up at a motel. And as far as that went, it wouldn’t look right if somebody saw them having a drink someplace the very night she moved out on her husband.
So Wally had asked her, did she maybe want to come to his apartment, and Helene said she didn’t know, what did he think, and she didn’t want to impose or anything.
So he told her to get in a taxi and come down. And she did. And before she got there, he went to a Chinese restaurant and got some takeout to go with the bottle of wine he knew he had somewhere at home. He didn’t want to offer her a drink of whiskey, to keep her from getting the wrong idea. All he wanted to be was a friend, offering her something to eat and wine, and a sympathetic ear.
She didn’t even take the wine when he offered it to her, but she wolfed down the Chinese, and he was glad he thought of that, and while he watched her eat, he decided that if she wanted to talk about her husband, fine, and if she didn’t, fine, too.
When she finished, she smiled at him and asked him if he thought she would be terrible if she asked for a drink. She really needed a drink.
So he made her one and handed it to her, and she started to take a sip and then started crying and he put his arm around her, and one thing led to another, and that was the way they started.
Whatever was wrong between her and her husband wasn’t that she was frigid, or anything like that.
And she told him, afterward, that the truth of the matter was that she had been thinking about him and her like that from the very first time she saw him, at Lieutenant Sackerman’s viewing; that he was really an attractive man.
So at five o’clock in the morning, he took her back to the Roosevelt Motor Inn on Roosevelt Boulevard, and met her in City Hall at noon, after she’d talked to a lawyer, and they went to his apartment so they could talk without worrying about people at the next table in a restaurant listening in. They didn’t do much talking about what the lawyer said, except that it was going to be harder getting a divorce than she thought it would be.
She took a tiny apartment so that her family wouldn’t ask questions, but from the first they lived together, and they got along just fine, and without coming right out and talking about it, they understood that as soon as she got him to agree to the divorce, they would get married. With what they made between them, they could live pretty well. They talked about getting a larger apartment, maybe even a house, so there would be room for his kids when he had them on weekends or whenever.
They never talked much about what bad had happened between her and Kellog, but he got the feeling it had something to do with Kellog being dirty on the job. She knew something, and Wally knew if he pressed her, he could get it out of her.
But then what? For one thing, she might not know what she was talking about, and for another, dirty cops are Internal Affairs’ business, not his. If he learned something he felt he had to tell somebody about, it would come out that he and Helene were living together, and it would look as if he was trying to frame the sonofabitch.
And then the sonofabitch gets himself shot. And guess who they think had something to with it?
Kellog was in Narcotics. If they ever found out who the doer, or doers, were, it was ten-to-one it would have something to do with Narcotics. But they might not ever find the doers, and until they did, Helene was going to be a suspect, and so was he.
The interview in Homicide was the most humiliating thing that Wally could remember ever having to go through. Except maybe being driven to his apartment by Ken Summers to pick up his guns, and having Ken look around “professionally” to see what he could see that might connect him with the Kellog shooting.
And when he finally got to see Helene, he could see that she had been crying, and she told him that D’Amata and Staff Inspector Weisbach had been to see her, and that she thought it would be better for everybody concerned if they didn’t see each other until things settled down, at least until after the funeral, and that she was going to the apartment right then to pick up her things and take them to her apartment. And that she thought it would be better if he didn’t try to see her, or even telephone, until she thought it would be all right, and when she thought it would be she would telephone him.
She didn’t even kiss him before she walked away.
Wally did the only thing he could think of doing. He worked on the Grover job. And nothing. Not from interviewing neighbors or friends, or what he learned from New Haven. She did not have an insurance policy on her husband, except for the ones she told him about. And neither did anyone else.
But she did him. Wally was sure about that. Somehow, he was going to get her.
He went to the apartment about six and had a beer and made himself a hamburger, and it was pretty goddamned lonely. Then he tried to sleep, setting the alarm for eleven. With nothing else to do, he might as well go to work.
He woke up at nine-thirty, alone in their bed, and couldn’t get back to sleep, and got up and drank a beer, and then he thought about going to a bar and having a couple of drinks, and fuck going to work. Captain Quaire had told him to take off what time he needed.
But he knew that would be dumb, so he just had the one beer, and took a shower and a shave and left the apartment at half past eleven for the Roundhouse.
A new Plymouth sedan slowed to a near stop in front of the Delaware Valley Cancer Society Building on Rittenhouse Square, and then slowly and carefully put the right-side wheels on the curb, finally stopping equidistant between two signs announcing that this was a No Parking At Any Time Tow Away Zone.
The door opened and a very large, black, impeccably dressed gentleman got out. He was Sergeant Jason Washington of the Special Operations Division of the Philadelphia Police Department, known-behind his back, of course-to his peers as “the Black Buddha.”
He believed himself to be the best investigator in the Philadelphia Police Department. This opinion was shared by a number of others, including the Honorable Jerome H. “Jerry” Carlucci, Mayor of the City of Brotherly Love, by Inspector Peter Wohl, Commanding Officer of the Special Operations Division, for whom Washington worked, and by Detective Matthew M. Payne, who worked for Sergeant Washington.
Sergeant Washington was wearing a light gray pin-striped suit. His Countess Mara necktie was fixed precisely in place at the collar of a custom-made crisply starched white Egyptian cotton shirt, and gold cuff links bearing his initials gleamed at the shirt’s cuffs.
For most of their married life, Jason Washington and his wife had lived frugally, although their combined income had been above average. He had spent most of his career in Homicide, where overtime routinely meant a paycheck at least as large as an inspector’s, and Martha had a very decent salary as an artist for a Center City advertising agency.
They had put money away faithfully for the education of their only child, a daughter, and they had invested what they could carefully, and, it turned out, wisely.
In the last three or four years, they had become affluent. Their daughter had married (much too young, they agreed) an electrical engineer, at whom (they also agreed) RCA in Cherry Hill seemed to throw money. Her marriage had, of course, relieved them of the expense of her college education, and at about the same time, what had begun as Martha’s dabbling in the art market had suddenly blossomed into the amazingly profitable Washington Galleries on Chestnut Street.
They could afford to live well, and did.
Sergeant Washington walked to the plate-glass door of the Cancer Society Building and waited until it was opened to him by the rent-a-cop on duty.
“Is Supercop at home?” Sergeant Washington greeted him. The rent-a-cop was a retired police officer whom Washington had known for years.
“Came in about ten minutes ago. What’s he done now?”
“Since he works for me, I’m embarrassed to tell you,” Washington said, and then had a sudden thought: “Did he come home alone?”
“For once,” the rent-a-cop said.
“Good. I would not like to redden the ears of his girlfriend with what I have to say to him,” Washington said, smiling, as he got into the elevator.
He rode to the third floor, then pushed a doorbell beside a closed door.
“Yes?” A voice came over an intercom.
“Would you please let me in, Matthew?”
“Hey, Jason, sure.”
The door’s solenoid buzzed and Washington opened the door. He climbed a steep, narrow flight of stairs. Matt Payne waited for him, smiling.
“Don’t smile,” Washington said. “I just had a call from Tony Harris vis-a-vis your human-fly stunt, you goddamned fool! What the hell is the matter with you?”
“The Lieutenant’s lady friend opened the window and knocked the mike suction cup loose. We weren’t getting anything at all.”
“These people are not plotting the overthrow of Christian society as we know it, you damned fool! We have some dirty cops, that’s all. Not one of them, not this whole investigation, is worth risking your life over.”
“Good God, Matt! What were you thinking?”
Matt didn’t reply.
“I would hate to think that you were trying to prove your all-around manhood,” Washington said.
It was a reference to one of the reasons offered for a nice young man from the Main Line electing to follow a police career instead of a legal one. He had failed, at the last minute before entering upon active duty, the Marine Corps’ Pre-Commissioning Physical Exam. He had then, the theory went, joined the Police Department as a means to prove his masculinity.
“I was thinking I could put the mike back without getting hurt,” Matt said coldly. “And I did.”
Washington saw in his eyes that he had gotten through to him. He fixed him with an icy glance for another thirty seconds, which seemed much longer.
Then he smiled, just a little.
“It would seem to me, considering the sacrifice it has meant for me to come here at this late hour to offer you my wise counsel, that the least you could do would be to offer me a small libation. Perhaps some of the Famous Grouse scotch?”
“Sure, sorry,” Matt said, smiling. He went into his kitchen. As he opened first one, and then another over-the-sink cabinet, he called, “What are you doing out this late?”
“Our beloved Mayor has been gracious enough to find time to offer me his wise counsel.”
“Specifically, he is of the opinion that we should go to Officers Crater and Palmerston and offer them immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony against Captain Cazerra and Lieutenant Meyer.”
“Jason,” Matt said, “I can’t find a bottle of any kind of scotch. Not even Irish.”
“I am not surprised,” Washington said. “It’s been one of those days. Get your coat. We will pub crawl for a brief period.”
“There’s some rum and gin. And vermouth. I could make you a martini.”
“Get your coat, Matthew,” Washington said. “I accept your kind offer of a drink at the Rittenhouse Club bar.”
“Oh, thank you, kind sir,” Matt said, mockingly, and started shrugging into Chad Nesbitt’s tweed jacket. “I think the Mayor’s idea stinks.”
“Because any lawyer six weeks out of law school could tear them up on the stand, and we know Cazerra and Meyer’s lawyers will be good.”
“Armando C. Giacomo, Esquire,” Washington agreed, citing the name of Philadelphia’s most competent criminal lawyer. “Or someone of his ilk. Perhaps even the legendary Colonel J. Dunlop Mawson, Esquire.”
Matt laughed. “No way. My father would go ballistic. I’m ready.”
“I made that point to His Honor,” Washington said as he pushed himself out of one of Matt’s small armchairs.
“And as usual got nowhere. Or almost nowhere. We have two weeks to get something on Cazerra and Meyer that will stand up in court. He wants those two in jail.”
“We work Crater and Palmerston over, figuratively speaking of course, with a rubber hose.”
“What does Wohl say?” Matt asked as he waved Washington ahead of him down the stairs.
“I haven’t told him yet. I figured I would ruin tomorrow for him by doing that first thing in the morning.”
The Rittenhouse Club was closed when they got there.
“What do we do now?” Matt asked.
“Why don’t we take a stroll down Market Street?” Washington replied. “It will both give us a chance to see how the other half lives, and trigger memories of those happy days when Officer Washington was walking his first beat.”
“You walked a beat on Market Street?” Matt asked. It was difficult for him to imagine Washington in a police officer’s uniform, patrolling Market Street.
Officer Friendly Black Buddha, he thought, impeccably tailored and shined, smiling somewhat menacingly as he slapped his palm with his nightstick.
“Indeed I did. Under the able leadership of Lieutenant Dennis V. Coughlin. And on our watch,” Washington announced sonorously, “the thieves and mountebanks plied their trade in someone else’s district.”
“Police Emergency,” David Meach said into his headset.
“This is the Inferno Lounge,” his caller announced. “1908 Market. There’s been a shooting, and somebody may be dead.”
“Your name, sir, please?”
“Shit!” the caller responded and hung up.
David Meach had been on the job six years, long enough to be able to unconsciously make judgments regarding the validity of a call, based on not only what was said, but how it was said. Whether, for example, the caller sounded mature (as opposed to an excited kid wanting to give the cops a little exercise) and whether or not there was excitement or tension or a certain numbness in his voice. This call sounded legitimate; he didn’t think he’d be sending police cars racing through downtown Philadelphia for no purpose.
He checked to see what was available.
RPC Nine Ten seemed closest to the scene. Meach pressed a key to send two short attention beeps across the airways, then activated his microphone:
“All cars stand by. 1908 Market Street, the Inferno Lounge, report of a shooting and a hospital case. Nine Ten, you have the assignment.”
The response was immediate.
“Nine Ten, got it,” Officer Edward Schirmer called into the microphone of Radio Patrol Car Number Ten of the Ninth District, as Officer Lewis Roberts, who was driving the car down Walnut Street, reached down to the dashboard and activated the siren and flashing lights.
“Nine Seven in on that,” another voice reported, that of Officer Frederick E. Rogers, in RPC Nine Seven.
“Highway Thirteen, in on the 1908 Market,” responded Officer David Fowler.
“Nine Oh One, got it,” responded Officer Adolphus Hart, who was riding in one of the two vans assigned to the Ninth District.
Nine Oh One had five minutes before left the Police Administration Building at Eighth and Race streets, after having transferred two prisoners from the holding cells at the Ninth District to Central Lockup.
Officer Thomas Daniels, who was driving Nine Oh One, had for no good reason at all elected to drive up Market Street and was by happenstance able to be the first police vehicle responding to the “Shooting and Hospital Case” call to reach the scene.
There was nothing at all unusual about the location when they pulled to the curb. The Inferno Lounge’s neon-flames sign was not illuminated, and the establishment seemed to be closed for the night.
He stopped just long enough to permit Officer Hart to jump out of the van and walk quickly to the door of the Inferno, and to see if Hart could open the door. He couldn’t. Then he turned left on Ludlow Street, so that he could block the rear entrance.
Two civilians, a very large black man and a tall young white man, both very well dressed, were walking down Nineteenth Street, toward Market. They could have, Officer Daniels reasoned, just come out of the alley behind the Inferno.
Officer Daniels, sounding his horn, drove the van into the alley, blocking it, and jumped out of the van.
“Hold it right there, please!” he called out.
His order proved to be unnecessary. The two civilians had stopped, turned, and were looking at him with curiosity.
While a Pedestrian Stop was of course necessary, Officer Daniels made the snap judgment that it was unlikely that these two had anything to do with whatever-if anything-had happened at the Inferno. They hadn’t run, for one thing, and they didn’t look uncomfortable.
Officer Daniels had an unkind thought: This area was an unusual place to take a stroll after midnight, unless, of course, the two were cruising for women. Or men. Maybe they had just found each other.
“Excuse me, sir,” Daniels said. “May I please see some identification?”
The younger man laughed. Daniels glowered at him.
“We’re police officers,” the black man said. “What have you got?”
The younger one exhibited a detective’s badge.
“What’s going on here, Officer?” the black man asked.
Officer Daniels hesitated just perceptibly before replying: “Shooting and hospital case inside the Inferno.”
“Was the front door open?” the black man asked.
“I’ll go block the front,” the black man said. “The rear door to this place is halfway down the alley. There’s usually a garbage can full of beer bottles, and so on.” He turned to the young white man. “You go with him, Matt.”
The young man sort of stooped, and when he stood erect again, there was a snub-nose revolver in his hand.
Officer Daniels looked dubiously at the black man.
“I told you to go with him,” the black man said to Officer Daniels, a tone of command in his voice. Then he started to trot toward Market Street.
Officer Daniels ran after the young white man and caught up with him.
“Who is that guy?” he asked.
“That is Sergeant Jason Washington. He just told me he used to walk this beat.”
“He doesn’t have any authority here.”
“You tell him that,” Matt said, chuckling as he continued down the alley.
The sound of dying sirens and the squeal of tires announced the arrival of other police vehicles.
The alley between the buildings was pitch dark, and twice Matt stumbled over something he hadn’t seen. There was more light when he reached the end of the alley, coming down what had been in Colonial times a cobblestone street but was now not much more than a garbage-littered alley.
He found the Inferno Lounge’s garbage cans. As Jason had said they would be, they were filled to overflowing with kitchen scraps and beer bottles.
He went to a metal door and tried it. It opened.
If there was somebody in here, they’re probably gone. The door would ordinarily be locked.
He stepped to one side, hiding, so to speak, behind the bricks of the building, and then pulled the door fully open.
“Police officers!” he called.
There was no response.
He looked very carefully around the bricks. There was no one in sight, but he could see a corridor dimly illuminated by the lights burning in the kitchen, and beyond that, in the public areas of the bar, or restaurant, or whatever the hell this place was.
“Stay here,” he ordered Officer Daniels, and then entered the building and started down the corridor. Halfway down it, he saw a flight of stairs leading to the basement, and saw lights down there. It was possible that someone was down in the basement; he was pleased with himself for having told the wagon uniform to stay at the back door.
He went carefully through the kitchen, and then into the public area of the restaurant. There was banging on the closed front door of the place, and someone-not Jason, but to judge by the depth of his voice, not the young guy in the wagon, either-was calling, not quite shouting, “Police, open up.”
The door was closed with a keyed dead bolt. There were keys in it. It was hard to unlock. Matt had shoved his pistol in his hip pocket and used both hands to get it open.
There was a uniformed sergeant standing there, and two Highway Patrolmen. Behind them Matt could see Jason Washington looking for all the world like a curious civilian.
“What have you got, Payne?” one of the Highway Patrolmen said. Matt recalled having met him somewhere. He couldn’t recall his name.
“Nothing yet. I figured I’d better let you guys in.”
“How’d you get in?”
“Back door was unlocked. The wagon guy’s covering it.”
“Who are you?” the uniformed sergeant asked.
“He’s Detective Payne of Special Operations,” Jason answered for him. “And I am Sergeant Washington. Nothing, Matt?”
“Nothing on the floor. There’s a basement, I didn’t get down there.”
“I think we should have a look,” Washington said, and moving with a quick grace, suddenly appeared in front of the two Highway Patrolmen and the uniformed sergeant. “Lead on, Matthew!”
Matt turned and walked quickly back through the bar, the restaurant, and the kitchen to the corridor, then started down the stairs. Washington stopped him with a massive hand on his shoulder.
“Announce your arrival,” he said softly. “You don’t know what you’re going to find down there, and if the proprietor, for example, is down there, you want to be sure he knows the man coming down the stairs is a police officer.”
“Police!” Matt called.
“Down here!” a male voice called.
The stairs led to a narrow corridor, and the corridor to a small office.
The first thing Matt saw was a somewhat stocky man in his forties sitting behind a battered desk, in the act of taking a pull from the neck of a bottle of Seagram’s VO. There was a Colt Cobra revolver lying on the desk.
The next thing Matt saw, as he entered the office, was a young female, white, sitting in a chair. Her head was hanging limply back. Her eyes were open and her head, neck, and chest were covered with blood. She was obviously dead. On the floor, lying on his side in a thick pool of blood, was the body of a heavy man. His arm was stretched out, nearly touching the desk.
Matt looked at the man behind the desk.
“What happened here?”
“I was held up,” the man said.
Matt looked at the office door and saw that Jason Washington and one of the Highway Patrolmen had stepped inside the office.
“Two white guys.”
“Are you all right?”
“I was shot in the leg,” the man said.
Matt crossed to him and saw that he had his right leg extended, and that the trouser leg between the knee and the groin was soaked in blood.
“Can you describe the men?” Matt asked.
“There was two of them,” the man said. “One was a short, stocky sonofabitch, and the other was about as big as I am.”
“How were they dressed?”
“The little fucker was in a suit; the other one was wearing a zipper jacket.”
“Mustaches, beards, anything like that?”
The man shook his head.
Jason Washington turned to the Highway Patrolman standing beside him.
“Get out a flash on that,” he said softly. “And tell Police Radio that Sergeant Washington and Detective Payne of Special Operations are at the scene of what appears to be an armed robbery and double homicide.”
“That was interesting,” Sergeant Edward McCarthy of the Homicide Unit said to Detective Wallace J. Milham as he walked up to a desk where Milham was trying to catch up with his paperwork. Milham looked at McCarthy with mingled curiosity and annoyance at having been disturbed.
“Radio just told me we have a double homicide at the Inferno Lounge,” McCarthy said. “No names on the victims yet, but the report came from Police by radio. A Ninth District van, relaying a message from none other than Sergeant Jason Washington of Special Operations, who is apparently on the scene.”
“I wonder what that’s all about.” Milham chuckled. “That neighborhood, and especially that joint, is not the Black Buddha’s style. Who’s got the job?”
“You’re the assigned detective, Detective Milham,” McCarthy said.
“Give me thirty seconds,” Milham said. “Let me finish this page.”
“Take your time. The victims aren’t going anywhere,” McCarthy said, and added, “I’m going to see if I can find the Captain.”
Captain Henry C. Quaire, Commanding Officer of the Homicide Unit, was located attending a social function-the annual dinner of the vestry of St. John’s Lutheran Church-in the Bellvue-Stratford Hotel with his wife when Sergeant McCarthy reached him.
“Where are you, Mac?”
“In the Roundhouse.”
“Pick me up outside. I’ll be waiting for you.”
Preoccupied with his concern about what his wife would say when he told her she would have to drive herself home-a dire prediction of tight lips and a back turned coldly toward him in their bed when he finally got home, a prediction that was to come true-Captain Quaire neglected to inquire of Sergeant McCarthy whether or not he had gotten in touch with Chief Inspector Matthew Lowenstein. The Chief liked to be notified of all interesting jobs, no matter what the hour, and a double willful killing would qualify by itself. With Washington somehow involved, he would be even more interested.
He would, he decided, try to get on a phone while waiting for McCarthy to pick him up. That idea went out the window when he stepped off the elevator and saw Mac’s car waiting for him outside on South Broad Street.
“I don’t suppose you got in touch with the Chief?” he asked as he got in the car.
McCarthy turned on the flashing lights and the siren and made a U-turn on Broad Street.
“I didn’t have to,” McCarthy replied. “I got a call from Radio, saying the Chief was going in on this, and would somebody call his wife and tell her he was delayed.”
“Who are the victims? Do we know yet?”
“I’m praying that it was a family dispute,” McCarthy said.
Quaire chuckled. Sergeant McCarthy was not referring to a disagreement between husband and wife, but to one between members of Philadelphia’s often violent Mafia.
“Who’s assigned?” Quaire asked.
“Wally Milham. You didn’t say anything…”
“Sure. He was up, he got the job. I don’t think he had anything to do with Kellog.”
“I wonder who did that.”
“Nothing’s turned up?”
“Not a thing.”
By the time Detective Milham pulled up in front of the Inferno Lounge, there were nine police vehicles, including three unmarked cars, parked on Market Street. Without consciously doing so, he picked out the anomaly. The three unmarked cars were battered and worn. Therefore, none of them belonged to Sergeant Jason Washington, whose brand-new unmarked car had been the subject of much conversation in the Homicide Unit.
Wally wondered if McCarthy had been pulling his chain about Washington being in on this; or if someone had been pulling McCarthy’s chain.
There was a uniformed cop standing at the door who recognized Milham and let him in. Inside the Inferno, Milham saw three detectives whom he knew: David Rocco of the Central Detective Division; John Hanson of the Major Theft Unit; and Wilfred “Wee Willy” Malone, a six-foot-four-inch giant of a man assigned to the Intelligence Unit. That explained the three unmarked cars.
Rocco and Hanson gave him a wave. Wee Willy looked at him strangely. Wally wondered if he had heard about Kellog; that he had been interviewed and that they were checking his guns at Ballistics.
“We’re glad you’re here,” Rocco said. “ Sergeant Washington is with the victims, protecting the scene until the arrival of the hotshots-one of which presumably is you, Wally-of Homicide.”
“If you less important people would learn not to walk all over our evidence, that wouldn’t be necessary,” Wally replied, and then, not seeing Washington: “Where’s the Black Buddha?”
“Oh, shit,” Hanson said, and laughed and then pointed. “There’s a stairway off the corridor in back. There’s an office downstairs.”
Wally found the stairs and went down them. Washington heard him coming, and turned with an impatient look on his face until he recognized him.
“Good morning, Detective Milham,” Washington said.
“Hello, Jason. What have we got?”
“Have you the acquaintance of Detective Payne?”
“Only by reputation,” Milham said, and offered the young detective his hand.
“Detective Payne and myself, by pure coincidence,” Washington went on, “were taking the air on Nineteenth Street when the first police vehicle to respond to the call-Officers Adolphus Hart and Thomas Daniels, in Wagon Nine Oh One, they are upstairs-arrived. In the absence of anyone more senior, I took charge of the scene, and being aware that the front door of the premises was steel and locked, ordered Detective Payne to attempt to enter the building from the rear, and sent Officer Daniels with him. Detective Payne was able to gain entrance. He left Officer Daniels to guard the rear door, proceeded through the building, and opened the front door, which was locked from the inside, and admitted me. With Detective Payne leading the way, we searched the building, and came upon the scene of the crime.
“We found Mr. Gerald Atchison, one of the proprietors of this establishment, sitting behind the desk. Mr. Atchison told us he was in the bar upstairs when he heard the sound, a popping noise, of what he now presumes was gunfire. When he went to investigate, he encountered in the corridor upstairs two white males, armed-a flash has gone out with their descriptions-who fired upon him, striking him in the leg. He drew his own pistol…”
“Matthew, give Detective Milham the pistol, please.”
Matt turned to a filing cabinet. Carefully placing his fingers on the checkered wooden handles, he picked up a Colt Cobra revolver and extended it to Milham. Wally took a plastic bag from his jacket pocket and held it open until Matt dropped the revolver into it.
“…which Mr. Atchison is licensed by the Sheriff of Delaware County to carry,” Washington went on, “and a gun battle during which Mr. Atchison suffered the wound to his leg ensued. Mr. Atchison fell to the floor. He lay there he doesn’t know how long.”
“It’s starting to hurt,” Atchison said.
“A police wagon is outside, Mr. Atchison,” Washington said. “In just a moment, you will be transported to a hospital. Have I reported the essence of your discussion with Detective Payne accurately?”
“A short fucker and big one did this,” Atchison replied.
“After he knows not how long he laid on the floor, Mr. Atchison reports that he recovered sufficiently to become aware that his assailants were no longer present. He then descended the stairs to the office, where he found the bodies of his wife and his business partner. He thereupon sat down at his desk, called Police Emergency to report what had happened, and then took a drink of whiskey against the pain of his wound. Am I still correct, Mr. Atchison?”
“I knew they were dead,” Mr. Atchison said.
“Yes, of course, you could see that,” Washington said, and then continued: “I then instructed a Highway officer to report to Police Radio that I had come upon evidence of a double homicide. I then secured the scene of the crime, pending the arrival of someone from the Homicide Unit. No one but Detective Payne and myself have entered the scene. And unless there is some other question you would like to ask of either of us, Detective Payne and myself will now be on our way. Barring stringent objections, we will prepare statements regarding our involvement in this incident, and have them at Homicide Unit before noon tomorrow. Do you have any questions, Wally?”
“No, Jason,” Milham said, smiling. “That covers everything neatly.”
The day Wally had reported for duty as a Homicide detective, during his “welcome aboard” interview with then Lieutenant Quaire, Quaire had pulled a Homicide Investigation binder from the file and handed it to him.
“Don’t let him know I showed you this, Milham, his ego is bad enough as it is, but this is what you should try for.”
“What is it, sir?”
“It’s a real Homicide report, Detective Jason Washington’s, of a homicide in the course of an armed robbery, but it’s also a textbook example of what a completed Homicide binder should be. Everything is in it, in the right sequence, there’s no ambivalence, there’s no duplication, there’s no procedural errors, no spelling or grammatical mistakes, and if there are any type-overs, I can’t find one.”
“That being the case, Wally, I leave this matter in your capable hands. Shall we be on our way, Matt?”
“I got to get medical attention,” Mr. Atchison said. “My goddamned leg is starting to hurt.”
“We regret the delay, Mr. Atchison,” Washington said. “But I am sure that you are even more interested than we are in apprehending the people who murdered your wife and business associate, and it was necessary for me to put what information I have regarding this tragic incident in the hands of the police officer who will be in charge of the investigation.”
“Yeah. I want those bastards caught. And fried.”
“Good night, sir,” Washington said. “Thank you for your patience.”
He turned, and met Wally Milham’s eyes. Then he wrinkled his nose, as if smelling something rotten.
“Good night, Detective Milham,” he said, and took Matt’s arm and propelled him out of the room.
There were well over a dozen police vehicles of all kinds, among them Chief Inspector Matthew Lowenstein’s Oldsmobile sedan, parked on the street and on the sidewalk in front of the Inferno Lounge, when Captain Quaire and Sergeant McCarthy arrived.
Captain Thomas Curran of the Central Detective Division was standing on the sidewalk with Staff Inspector Michael Weisbach and Captain Alexander Smith of the Ninth District, but neither Chief Lowenstein nor his driver was anywhere in sight.
“The Chief is inside,” Curran explained. “Enter at your own risk. He told us to wait out here, and Weisbach was with him when he drove up. He is not in a good mood.”
“Washington’s in there?” Quaire asked.
“Which may explain his mood.” Curran nodded. “Washington, and that kid, Payne, who shot the rapist. And Milham. Milham just got here.”
“You better wait, too, Mac,” Quaire said, and walked to the entrance of the Inferno Lounge, where a uniform pulled the door open for him.
Quaire found Chief Lowenstein not where he expected to find him, wherever the bodies were, but in the restaurant area of the Inferno, sitting at a table with Sergeant Jason Washington and Detective Matthew M. Payne.
“Good evening, sir,” Quaire said.
“Sergeant Washington’s sole function in this has been to keep Highway from walking all over the evidence,” Lowenstein said. “The bodies are downstairs. Milham’s down there.”
“Who are the victims?” Quaire asked.
“One white female, Alicia Atchison,” Washington answered. “The wife of the proprietor, one Gerry Atchison. And Mr. Atchison’s business partner, one Anthony J. Marcuzzi. Mr. Atchison contends that two white males shot them in the course of a robbery, during which he was himself shot, as he bravely attempted to defend his wife, his property, and his friend and business associate.”
He pinched his nose with his thumb and his index finger, which might have been a simple, innocent gesture, or might have been an indication that he believed Mr. Atchison’s version of what had transpired smelled like rotten fish.
“I’ll go have a look,” Quaire said.
“Take Detective Payne with you,” Lowenstein said. “He might be useful-he was first on the scene-and he might learn something.”
Matt Payne, looking a little surprised, stood up.
Chief Lowenstein waited until Quaire and Payne were out of earshot, then turned to Washington.
“Jason, we’ve been friends for a long time.”
“‘Uh-oh,’ the Apache warrior said, aware that he was about to be schmoozed by the Big Chief,’” Washington said.
Lowenstein smiled, and then the smile vanished.
“I know what you’re doing, Jason.”
“And for what it’s worth, if I had to pick somebody to do it, it would be you. Or Peter Wohl. Or the both of you, which is the way I hear it is.”
“Chief, we have been friends a long time, and what you’re doing is putting me on a hell of a spot.”
“Yeah, and I know it. But goddamn it…”
Washington looked at him, met his eyes, but said nothing.
“I’m going to ask you some questions. If you feel you can answer them, answer them. If you feel you can’t, don’t.”
Washington didn’t reply, but after a moment, nodded his head.
“How bad is it?”
Washington, after ten seconds, which seemed like much longer, said, “Bad.”
“How high does it go?”
“There’s a captain involved.”
“Suspicion, or something that can be proved?”
Washington thought that question over before replying.
“There will be indictments.”
Lowenstein met his eyes and exhaled audibly.
“Anybody I know?”
“Chief, you know a lot of people.”
“If I ran some names by you, would you nod your head?”
“Mike Weisbach heard some talk abut Vito Cazerra.”
Washington didn’t reply.
“He’s working on it. Weisbach’s a damned good investigator.”
Washington remained silent, his face fixed.
“The name of Seymour Meyer also came up.”
“Chief, we’re not having this conversation,” Washington said. “If we were, I’d have to report it.”
Lowenstein met Washington’s eyes.
“How much time do I have?”
Washington shrugged, then said, “Very little.”
“Are you going to tell the Mayor I cornered you and we had this little chat?”
“What little chat?”
“OK, Jason,” Lowenstein said. “Thanks.”
Washington made a deprecating gesture.
Lowenstein stood up and looked down at Washington.
“Does Denny Coughlin know what’s going on?” he asked.
It was a moment before Washington, just perceptibly, shook his head no.
Lowenstein considered that, nodded his head, and turned and walked out of the Inferno Lounge.
Wally Milham was not surprised to see Captain Henry Quaire come into the basement office of the Inferno Lounge. Quaire routinely showed up at the scene of an interesting murder, and this double murder qualified. Wally was surprised and annoyed, however, to see Detective Payne with him.
“What have we got, Wally?” Quaire asked.
Wally told him, ending his synopsis with the announcement that he was about to have Mr. Atchison transported to Hahnemann Hospital for treatment of his leg wound.
“You’re ready for the technicians?” Quaire asked. “They’re here.”
“I’ll go get them,” Quaire said. “We want to do this by the book. Chief Lowenstein’s here, too. Keep me posted on this one, Wally.”
Since Detective Payne had arrived with Captain Quaire, Detective Milham reasonably presumed that he would leave with him. He didn’t.
What the hell is he hanging around for?
“I’ve been thinking that maybe I better talk to my lawyer,” Mr. Atchison said. “With something like this happening, I’m not thinking too clear.”
“Certainly,” Wally said. “I understand.”
“How long do you think it will take at the hospital?” Mr. Atchison asked.
“No telling,” Wally replied. “An hour, anyway. There’d be time for him to meet you there, if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“And I’m going to need a ride home,” Mr. Atchison said. “I can’t drive with my leg like this.”
“Have you got his number? Would you like me to call him for you?” Wally asked solicitously.
“I’ll call him,” Atchison said, and, grunting, sat up and moved toward the desk.
“It would be better if you didn’t use that phone, sir,” Matt said, and when Atchison looked at him, continued: “We’d like our technicians to see if there are any fingerprints on it. That would be helpful, when we find the men who did this to you, to prove that they were here in this room.”
What’s this “we” shit? This is my job, pal, not yours. Butt the hell out.
“There will be a telephone in the hospital, I’m sure,” Matt went on. “Or, if you would like us to, we can get word to him to meet you at Hahnemann Hospital.”
More of this “we” shit! Just who the hell do you think you are, Payne?
“That’s very nice of you,” Atchison said. “His name is Sidney Margolis. I got his number here in the card file.”
He started to reach for it, and Matt stopped him.
“It would be better, Mr. Atchison, if you didn’t touch that, either, until the technicians have done their thing. Is he in the phone book? Or is his number unlisted?”
“I remember it,” Atchison said, triumphantly calling it forth from his memory.
“If you give that to me again,” Matt said, “I’d be happy to call him for you.”
“Would you, please? Tell him what happened here, and ask him to meet me at Hahnemann.”
Matt took a small notebook from his pocket and wrote the number down.
“Can I see you a minute, Payne?” Wally said, and took Matt’s arm and led him out of the office. “Be right with you, Mr. Atchison.”
He led Matt a dozen steps down the corridor, then stopped.
“I don’t know who the hell you think you are, Payne,” he snapped. “But shut your fucking mouth. This is my job. When I want some help, I’ll ask for it.”
“Sorry,” Matt said. “I was just trying to help.”
“Do me a favor. Don’t.”
Wally’s anger had not subsided.
“I’ll tell you what I do want you to do,” he said. “First, give me that lawyer’s phone number, and then get your ass down to the Roundhouse and wait for me there. I want your statement. I may have to put up with that ‘I’ll get my statement to you in the morning’ shit from Washington, but I don’t have to put up with it from you.”
Matt, his face red, tore the page with the phone number from his notebook and handed it to Wally. Wally took it and went back down the corridor.
Matt watched him a moment, then went up the stairs, as two uniformed officers, one carrying a stretcher, came down them.
Chief Lowenstein was gone. Jason Washington, alone at the table where they had been sitting, stood up when he saw Matt.
“Well, did you learn anything?”
“A,” Matt replied, “Detective Milham has all the charm of a constipated alligator, and B, he wants my statement tonight, not tomorrow.”
Washington’s right eyebrow rose in surprise.
“Shall I have a word with him?”
“No. No, thanks. Now that I think of it, I’d just as soon get it over with now. I’ve got a busy day tomorrow.”
“All right. Walk me back to your place, and I’ll drop you off at the Roundhouse on my way home. Or you can get your car.”
“I’ll take the ride, thanks. And catch a cab home later.”
Jason Washington was surprised and just a little alarmed when he quietly let himself into his apartment to see that there were lights on in the living room.
Not only is the love of my life angry, but angry to the point where she has decided that marital justice demands that she wait up for me to express her displeasure personally, immediately, and in some detail.
As he walked down the corridor, he heard Martha say, somewhat formally, “I think that’s him.”
Someone’s with her. Someone she doesn’t know well. Who? And who else would it be at this hour of the morning?
He walked into the living room. Martha, in a dressing gown, was sitting on the couch. There was a coffee service on the coffee table. And a somewhat distraught-looking woman sitting in one of the armchairs, holding a coffee cup in her hands.
“Martha, I’m sorry to be so late. I was tied up.”
“That happens, doesn’t it?” Martha replied, the tone of her voice making it clear she thought he had been tied up by a slow-moving bartender.
“Good evening,” Jason said to the distraught-looking woman.
“More accurately, ‘good morning,’” Martha said. “Jason, this is Mrs. Kellog.”
“How do you do?” Jason said.
Kellog? As in Officer Kellog?
“I’m sorry to have come here like this,” Mrs. Kellog said. “But I just had to.”
“How may I help you, Mrs. Kellog?”
“Jerry Kellog was my husband,” she said.
That’s precisely what I feared. And what are you doing here, in my home?
“May I offer my condolences on your loss, Mrs. Kellog?”
“I didn’t have anything to do with him being killed,” she said. “And neither did Wally.”
Washington nodded sympathetically.
“Martha, I’m sure you’re tired,” he said.
“No. Not at all,” Martha said, smiling sweetly, letting Jason know that even if this was business he wasn’t going to dismiss her so lightly in her own home.
“Wally told me, not only Wally, but Lieutenant Sackerman, too, especially him, that you’re not only the best Homicide detective…”
“That was very gracious of Jack Sackerman,” Washington said, “we were friends for a long time.”
“…but the only cop you know is honest.”
“That’s very kind, but I cannot accept the blanket indictment of the rest of the Police Department,” Washington said. “I like to think we’re something like Ivory Soap: ninety-nine and forty-four one hundredths pure.”
Helene Kellog ignored him.
“That’s why I came to you,” she said. “I didn’t know where else to go.” She looked at him, took a deep breath, and went on: “Jerry was dirty. I know that. And-what happened to him-had something to do with that. They’re all dirty, the whole Five Squad is dirty.”
“Mrs. Kellog, when you were interviewed by detectives investigating the death of your husband, did you tell any of them what you just told me?”
“Of course not. They all acted like they think that I had something to do with it. Or that Wally did. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they were in on it.”
“In on what?”
“Covering up. Maybe trying to pin it on Wally or me. Wally and me.”
“Does Detective Milham know that you’ve come to see me?”
“Of course not!”
“Why do you think anyone would want to ‘pin’ what happened to your husband on you? Or Detective Milham?”
“I just told you! To cover up. To protect themselves. They’re all dirty. The whole damned Five Squad is dirty! That’s probably why Jerry was killed. He never really wanted to get involved with that. They made him! And maybe he was going to tell somebody or do something.”
“By dirty, you mean you believe your husband was taking money from someone?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Did he tell you he was?”
“No. He wouldn’t talk about it at all.”
“Then how do you know?”
“He was getting the money from someplace.”
“All of the money. All of a sudden we’ve got lots of money. You’re a cop. You know how much a cop, even with overtime, makes.”
“And Jerry had large sums of money?”
“We- he — bought a condo at the shore, and there’s a boat. And he paid cash. He didn’t get that kind of money from the Police Department.”
“Did you ask him where the money came from?”
“He wouldn’t tell me. That’s when we started to have trouble, when he wouldn’t tell me.”
“Have you told anything about this to Detective Milham?”
“May I ask why not?”
“Because if I did, he would have done something about it. He’s an honest cop.”
“Then wouldn’t he logically be the person to tell?”
“I didn’t want Jerry to go to jail,” she said. “And besides, what would it look like, coming from me? Me living with Wally. I’d look like a bitch of a wife trying to make trouble.”
“Did you come to me for advice, Mrs. Kellog?” Washington asked.
“For help. For advice.”
“If what you told me is true…”
“Of course it’s true!” she interrupted.
“…then the information you have should be placed in the hands of the people who can do something about it. I’m sure you know that we have an Internal Affairs Division…”
“If I thought I could trust Internal Affairs, I wouldn’t be here,” she said. “They’re all in on it.”
“Mrs. Kellog, I can understand why you’re upset, but believe me, you can trust Internal Affairs.”
At this moment, unfortunately, I’m not absolutely sure that’s true. And neither am I sure that what I so glibly said before, that the Department is ninety-nine and forty-four one hundredths percent pure is true, either.
“If I gave you the name of a staff inspector in Internal Affairs whom I can personally vouch for…”
Helene Kellog stood up.
“I guess I should have known better than to come here,” she said, on the edge of tears. “I’m sorry to have wasted your time.” She turned to Martha Washington. “Thank you.”
“Mrs. Kellog, there’s really nothing I can do to help you. I have nothing to do with either Homicide or Narcotics or Internal Affairs.”
“Like I said, I’m sorry I wasted your time,” she said. “That’s the way out, right?”
“I’ll see you to the door,” Washington said, and went with her.
At the door, she turned to him.
“Do me one favor, all right? Don’t tell Wally that I came to see you.”
“If you wish, Mrs. Kellog.”
She turned her back on him and walked down the corridor to the elevator.
Martha was waiting for him in the living room.
“I’m sorry about that, honey,” he said.
“I think she was telling the truth.”
“She believed what she was saying,” Jason said after a moment. “That is not always the same thing as the whole truth.”
“I felt sorry for her.”
“So did I.”
“But you’re not going to do anything about what she said?”
“I’ll do something about it,” he said.
“I haven’t decided that yet. I don’t happen to think that Wally Milham had anything to do with her husband’s murder; he’s not the type. I saw him tonight, by the way. That’s where I was.”
“I went to see Matt. We tried to go to the Rittenhouse Club for a drink, but it was closed, so we took a walk, and walked up on a double homicide. On Market Street. And we got involved in that. Wally Milham had the job.”
“You mean, you were involved in a shooting?”
“No. We got there after the fact.”
“What was so important that you had to see Matt at midnight?” Martha asked. “And be warned that ‘police business’ will not be an acceptable reply.”
He met her eyes, smiled, and shook his head.
“We’re conducting a surveillance. Earlier tonight, the microphone we had in place on a hotel window was dislodged. I learned from Tony Harris that Matt climbed out on a ledge thirteen floors up to replace the damned thing.”
“My God! At the Bellvue? When he was here, he was wearing a Bellvue maintenance uniform.”
Jason ignored the question.
“I wanted to bawl him out for that. And alone.”
“So you went to the bar at the Rittenhouse Club?”
“That was after I bawled him out.”
“After you bawled him out, you felt sorry for him?”
“I felt sorry for myself. I wanted a drink, and he didn’t have anything.”
“I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt,” Martha said, “and accept that story.”
“Do want something to eat? Coffee? Another drink?”
“If I told you what I really want, you’d accuse me of…”
“Oddly enough, I was thinking along those lines myself,” Martha said. “Why don’t you get one of those champagne splits from the fridge, while I turn off the lights.”
When Detective Wallace J. Milham walked into the Homicide Division, he saw Detective Matthew M. Payne sitting at an unoccupied desk reading the Daily News. When Payne saw him, he closed the newspaper and stood up.
Wally beckoned to him with his finger and led him into one of the interview rooms, remembering as he passed through the door that he had the previous morning given a statement of his own in the same goddamn room.
Milham sat down in the interviewee’s chair, a steel version of a captain’s chair, firmly bolted to the floor, with a pair of handcuffs locked to it through a hole in the seat.
He motioned for Payne to close the door.
Payne handed him two sheets of typewriter paper.
“I didn’t know how you wanted to handle this,” Payne said. “But I went ahead and typed out this.”
Milham read Matt’s synopsis of what had happened at the Inferno Lounge. It wasn’t up to Washington’s standards, but he was impressed with the clarity, organization, and completeness. And with the typing. There were no strike-overs.
Why the hell am I surprised? He works for Washington.
“What do you do for Washington?” he wondered aloud.
Payne looked uncomfortable.
“Whatever he tells me to do,” he said. “That wasn’t intended to be a flip answer.”
He doesn’t want to talk about what he does for Washington. That shouldn’t surprise me either. I don’t know what they’ve got Jason doing, but whatever it is, somebody thinks it’s more valuable to the Department than his working Homicide. And this guy works for him.
“Payne, I’m sorry I jumped on your ass at the Inferno. I had a really bad day yesterday, but I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.”
“No. I was out of line. You were right.”
There was a knock at the door. Wally pushed himself out of the steel captain’s chair and went to it and opened it.
A portly detective Matt recognized stood there.
“Mr. Atchison and his attorney, Mr. Sidney Margolis, are here,” he said formally, and then he recognized Matt. “Whaddayasay, Payne?”
Summers shrugged, a gesture Milham interpreted to mean Fuck you, too, and went out of the interview room.
“You know Summers?”
“The sonofabitch and another one named Kramer had me in here when I shot Stevens. The way they acted, I thought they were his big brothers.”
“When you did what? ‘Shot Stevens’?”
“Charles D. Stevens, a.k.a. Abu Ben Mohammed. He was one of the, quote, Arabs, unquote, on the Goldblatt Furniture job.”
“I remember that,” Wally said. “He tried to shoot his way out of an alley in North Philly when they went to pick him up?”
“And shot a cop, who then put three rounds in him? That was you?”
Matt nodded. “I took a ricochet off a wall.”
“I didn’t make the connection with you,” Wally said. And then, surprising himself, he added, “You hear about the plainclothes Narcotics guy getting shot?”
“Washington said something about it.”
“Summers had me in here earlier today. ‘What did you know about the death of Officer Jerome H. Kellog?’”
“Kellog’s wife-they were separated-and I are pretty close. They had me in here. Sitting in that chair is a real bitch.”
“Yeah,” Matt agreed.
“And you took out the North Philly Serial Rapist, too, didn’t you?” Wally said, remembering.
Jesus, Wally thought, as long as I’ve been on the job, I’ve never once had to use my gun. And this kid has twice saved the City the price of a trial.
“If I give you Boy Scout’s Honor to keep my runaway mouth shut, could I hang around here?” Matt asked.
“Why would you want to do that?”
“Washington said you’re a damned good investigator. I’d like to see you work.”
Washington said that about me? I’ll be damned!
“Sure. Be my guest.”
“Where has, quote, the victim, unquote, been up to now?”
“Probably in the Hahnemann Hospital parking lot being told what not to say by his lawyer. Or deciding if it would be smarter to take the Fifth.”
“Wouldn’t he be? I had the feeling Jason Washington didn’t believe what he had to say.”
“Oh, this guy did it,” Milham responded matter-of-factly. “Or had it done. There’s not much question about that. Proving it is not going to be easy. He’s smart, and tough, and he’s got a good lawyer. But I think I’ll nail the sonofabitch.”
“Is that intuition on your part? Or Jason’s? Or did I miss something?”
“I don’t know about Washington. He sees things, senses things, that the rest of us miss. But what I saw was first of all a guy who didn’t seem all that upset to be sitting around across a desk from his wife, who had just had her brains blown out. And there’s his business partner on the floor, with bullet holes in him, too. I didn’t hear one word about ‘poor whatsisname.’ Did you?”
“Marcuzzi, Anthony J.” Matt furnished, shaking his head, no.
“‘Poor Tony, he was more than a business partner. We were very close friends. I loved him,’” Milham said mockingly.
“On the way to Hahnemann Hospital,” Milham went on, “I guess he thought about that: ‘Jesus, I should remember that I’m supposed to be sorry as hell about this!’ He started crying in the wagon. He wasn’t all that bad, either. I almost felt sorry for him.”
“Do you think he knows that you suspect him?”
“I don’t know,” Milham replied thoughtfully. “Probably about now, yeah, I think he’s realized we haven’t swallowed his bullshit. There’s always something you forget when you set up something like this. I don’t know what the hell he forgot, not yet, but he knows. I’d say right about now, he’s getting worried.”
“What I wondered about…” Matt said. “When I got hit, it hurt like hell. He didn’t seem to be hurting much.”
“I was not surprised when the bullet they took out of him at Hahnemann,” Wally said, and dug in his pocket and came out with a plastic bag, handed it to Matt, then continued, “turned out to be a. 32. Or that he had been shot only once. Whoever shot the wife and the partner made damned sure they were dead.”
Matt examined the bullet and handed the plastic envelope back.
“And I won’t be surprised, judging by the damage they caused, when we get the bullets in the bodies from the Medical Examiner, if they are not. 32s. At least. 38s, maybe even. 45s, which do more damage. If I were a suspicious person, which is what the City pays me to be, I would wonder about that. How come the survivor has one small wound in the leg, and…”
“Yeah,” Matt said thoughtfully.
“I think it’s about time we ask them to come in,” Wally said. “You want to stick around, stick around.”
Milham got out of the captain’s chair and went to the door and opened it.
“Would you please come in, Mr. Atchison?” he asked politely.
A moment later, Atchison, his arm around the shoulder of a short, portly, balding man, appeared in the interview-room door.
“Feeling a little better, Mr. Atchison?” Wally asked.
“How the fuck do you think I feel?” Atchison said.
Margolis looked coldly, but without much curiosity, at Matt.
“Howareya?” he said.
Matt noticed that despite the hour-it was reasonable to presume that when Milham called him, he had been in bed-Margolis was freshly shaven and his hair carefully arranged in a manner he apparently thought best concealed his deeply receded hairline. His trousers were mussed, however, and did not match his jacket, and his white shirt was not fresh. He was not wearing a tie.
Margolis led Atchison to the captain’s chair and eased him down into it.
Matt saw that Atchison was wearing a fresh shirt and other-if not fresh-trousers. There were no bloodstains on the ones he was wearing.
“I object to having my client have to sit in that goddamned chair like you think he’s guilty of something. He just suffered a gunshot wound, for Christ’s sake!” Margolis said.
“We really don’t have anything more comfortable, Mr. Atchison,” Wally said. “But I’ll ask Detective Payne to get another chair in here so you can rest your leg on it. Would that be satisfactory?”
“It wouldn’t hurt. Let’s get this over, for God’s sake,” Atchison said. “My leg is starting to throb.”
“We’ll get through this as quickly as we can,” Matt heard Wally say as he went in search of another chair. “We appreciate your coming in here, Mr. Atchison.”
Matt found a straight-back chair and carried it into the interview room. He arranged it in front of the captain’s chair, and with a groan, Atchison lifted his leg up and rested it on it.
Matt glanced at Atchison. Atchison was examining him carefully, and Matt remembered what Wally had just said about “I think he’s realized we haven’t swallowed his bullshit.”
When Matt looked at Milham, Milham, with a nod of his head, told him to stand against the wall, behind Atchison in the captain’s chair.
A slight, gray-haired woman, carrying a stenographer’s notebook in one hand and a metal folding chair in the other, came into the room.
“This is Mrs. Carnelli,” Milham said. “A police stenographer. She’ll record this interview. Unless, of course, Mr. Atchison, you have an objection to that?”
Atchison looked at Margolis.
“Let’s get on with it,” Margolis said.
“Thank you,” Milham said. He waited to see that Mrs. Carnelli was ready for him, and then spoke, slightly raising his voice. “This is an interview conducted in the Homicide Unit May 20, at 2:30 A.M. of Mr. Gerald N. Atchison, by Detective Wallace J. Milham, badge 626, concerning the willfully caused deaths of Mrs. Alicia Atchison and Mr. Anthony Marcuzzi. Present are Mr. Sidney Margolis, Mr. Atchison’s attorney, and Detective Payne…first name and badge number, Payne?”
“Matthew M. Payne, badge number 701,” Matt furnished.
“Mr. Atchison, I am Detective Milham of the Homicide Unit,” Milham began. “We are questioning you concerning the willful deaths of Mrs. Alicia Atchison and Mr. Anthony Marcuzzi.”
Mrs. Martha Washington was not surprised, when she woke up, that her husband was not in bed beside her. They had been married for more than a quarter century and she was as accustomed to finding herself alone in bed-even after a romantic interlude-as she was to the witticisms regarding her married name. She didn’t like either worth a damn, but since there was nothing she could do about it, there was no sense in feeling sorry for herself.
She was surprised, when she looked at her bedside clock, to see how early it was: twenty minutes past seven. She rarely woke that early. And then she had the explanation: the sound of a typewriter clattering in the living room. Her typewriter, an IBM Electric, brought home from the Washington Galleries, Inc., when IBM wouldn’t give her a decent trade-in when she’d bought new Selectrics.
“Damn him!” she said.
She pushed herself out of bed and, with a languorous, unintentionally somewhat erotic movement, pulled her nightgown over her head and tossed it onto the bed. Naked, showing a trim, firm figure that gave her, at forty-seven, nothing whatever to be unhappy about, she walked into the marble-walled bathroom and turned on the faucets in the glass-walled shower.
When she came out of the shower, she toweled her short hair vigorously in front of the partially steamed-over mirror. She had large dark eyes, a sharp, somewhat hooked nose, and smooth, light brown skin. After Matt had made the crack that she looked like the women in the Egyptian bas-reliefs in the collection of the Philadelphia Art Museum, she had begun to consider that there might actually be something to it, if the blood of an Egyptian queen-or at least an Egyptian courtesan; some of the women in those bas-reliefs looked as though they knew the way to a man’s heart wasn’t really through his stomach-might really flow in her veins.
She wrapped herself in a silk robe and went through the bedroom into the living room. Her red IBM Electric and a tiny tape recorder were on the plate-glass coffee table before the couch. Her husband, a thin earplug cord dangling from his ear, was sitting-somewhat uncomfortably, she thought-on the edge of the leather couch before it, his face showing deep concentration.
She went to the ceiling-to-floor windows overlooking the Art Museum, the Schuylkill River, and the Parkway and threw a switch. With a muted hum, electric motors opened the curtains.
“How many times have I asked you not to put things on the coffee table? Heavy things?”
“How many times have I told you that I called and asked how much weight this will safely support?” her husband replied, completely unabashed.
He was nearly dressed to go to work. All he would have to do to be prepared to face the world would be to put on his shoulder holster (on the coffee table beside the IBM Selectric) and his jacket (on the couch).
“Am I allowed to ask what you’re doing?”
“Ask? Yes. Am I going to tell you? No.”
“You can make your own coffee.”
“I already have, and if you are a good girl, you may have a cup.”
“You wouldn’t like me if I was a good girl.”
“That would depend on what you were good at,” he said. “And there are some things, my dear, at which you are very good indeed.”
The typewriter continued to clatter during the exchange. She was fascinated with his ability to do two things, several things, at once. He was, she realized, listening to whatever was on the tapes, selecting what he wanted to type out, and talking to her, all at the same time.
“I really hate to see you put the typewriter there,” Martha said.
“Then don’t look,” he said, and leaving one hand to tap steadily at the keyboard, removed the earplug, took the telephone receiver from its cradle, and dialed a number from memory with the other. “Stay in bed.”
She went into the kitchen and poured coffee.
“Good morning, Inspector,” she heard him say. “I hope I didn’t wake you.”
The Inspector, Martha felt, was probably Peter Wohl. Whatever Wohl replied, it caused her husband to chuckle, which came out a deep rumble.
“I have something I think you ought to see and hear, and as soon as possible,” she heard her husband say. “What would be most convenient for you?”
I wonder what that’s all about? What wouldn’t wait until he saw Wohl in his office?
“This won’t take long, Peter,” Washington said.
And then Martha intuited what this was all about. She walked to the kitchen door and looked at him.
“I’ll be outside waiting for you,” Jason said. Then he dropped the telephone in its cradle.
He looked up at her.
“Did you tape-record that pathetic woman last night?”
Jason didn’t reply.
“You did,” Martha said, shock and disgust in her voice. “Jason, she came to you in confidence.”
“She came to me looking for help. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
“That’s not only illegal-and you’re an officer of the law-it’s disgusting! She wouldn’t have told you what she did if she knew you were recording it!”
He looked at her a long moment.
“I wanted to make sure I really understood what she said,” he said. “Watch!”
He pushed the Erase button on the machine.
“No tape, Martha,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure I had it all.”
He stood up and started to put on his shoulder holster.
She turned angrily and went back to the stove.
He appeared in the kitchen door, now fully dressed. She recognized his jacket as a new one, a woolen tweed from Uruguay, of all places.
“You ever hear about the ancient custom of killing the messenger who bears the bad news?” Jason replied. “Be kind to me, Martha.”
“Don’t try to be clever. Whatever it is, Peter Wohl won’t blame you.”
“I’m talking about the Mayor.”
She met his eyes for a moment, turned away from him, and then back again, this time offering a mug of coffee.
“Do you have time for this?” she asked. “Or is the drawing and quartering scheduled in the next five minutes?”
“It’s not a hearty meal, but the condemned man is grateful nonetheless.”
He took the coffee, took a sip, and then set it down.
“What’s all this about?” Martha asked. “What that woman said last night? Dirty cops in Narcotics?”
“We’re working on dirty cops elsewhere in the Department.”
“I thought Internal Affairs was supposed to police the Police Department.”
She considered that a moment.
“Oh, which explains why you and Peter are involved.”
“And now this. I think Mrs. Kellog was telling the truth. It will not make the Mayor’s day.”
Martha shook her head.
“Am I going to be honored with your company later today?” Martha asked. “At any time later today? Or maybe sometime this week?”
“I know what you should do. You should go back to bed and try this again. This time, get up with a smile, and with nothing in your heart but compassion for your overworked and underappreciated husband.”
“We haven’t had any time together for weeks. And even when you’re here, you’re not. You’re working.”
“I know. This will be over soon, Martha. And we’ll go to the shore for a couple of days.”
“I’ve heard that before,” she said, but she went to him and kissed his cheek. “Get that stuff off my table. Put the damned typewriter back where you found it.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Jason said. He put the typewriter back where he had found it, in a small closet in the kitchen, and then, carrying the tape recorder, left the apartment, pausing only long enough to pat his wife on her rump.
“Good morning, Jason,” Wohl said as Washington got into the front seat of Wohl’s car.
“I’m sorry about this, but I really thought I should get this to you as soon as I could.”
“About midnight last night, Matt and I walked up on a double homicide on Market Street.”
“Really? What in the world were you two doing walking on Market Street at midnight?”
“For a quick answer, the bar at the Rittenhouse Club was closed.”
“Tell me about the homicide.”
“Two victims. What looks like large-caliber-bullet wounds to the cranium. One victim was the wife of one of the owners of the Inferno Lounge…”
“I know where it is.”
“And the other the partner. It was called in by the other partner, who suffered a small-caliber-bullet wound in what he says was an encounter with the doers, two vaguely described white males.”
He didn’t call me here to tell me this. Why? Because he thinks that it wasn’t an armed robbery, that the husband was the doer? And the Homicide detective is accepting the husband’s story?
“We got there right after a Ninth District wagon responded to the call. Chief Lowenstein also came to the scene, and then got me alone. He knows what’s going on.”
I knew that he wouldn’t have bothered me if it wasn’t important!
“His finding out was inevitable. How much did you have to tell him?”
“Not much. He knows the names. Most of them. I told him I couldn’t talk about it. The only time he really leaned on me was to ask how much time he had.”
“What did you tell him?”
“Quote, not much, unquote.”
“That’s true, isn’t it?”
“Yes, sir. Peter, I told him that we didn’t have the conversation, that if we had it, I would have to report it.”
“Is that what you’re doing?”
“That’s up to you, Peter. I’ll play it any way you want me to.”
“I like Matt Lowenstein. There has been absolutely nothing to suggest he’s done anything wrong. What purpose would it serve to go to Carlucci with this?”
“You heard what the Mayor said, Peter. If anyone came to you or me asking-asking anything — about the investigation, he wanted to know about it.”
“The call is yours, Jason. Was Chief Lowenstein-what word am I looking for? — pissed that you wouldn’t tell him anything?”
“No. He seemed to understand he was putting me on a spot.”
“My gut reaction, repeating the call is yours, is that you didn’t talk to Chief Lowenstein about anything but the double homicide.”
“OK. That’s it. We didn’t have this conversation, either.”
“What conversation?” Wohl asked, with exaggerated innocence.
“I’m not through, I’m afraid,” Washington said.
“What else?” Wohl asked tiredly as he pulled the door shut again.
“Chief Lowenstein got rid of Matt, so that he could talk to me, by sending him to the crime scene-the victims were in a downstairs office-with Henry Quaire when Quaire came to the scene. I don’t know what happened between Matt and Milham, but Milham pulled the rule book on him and insisted on getting Matt’s statement that night-God, that’s something else I have to do this morning, get my statement to Homicide-so Matt went to the Roundhouse, and I went home, and when I got there the Widow Kellog was there.”
“The widow of the undercover Narcotics guy?”
“Who was found with two bullets in his head in his house. Detective Milham’s close friend’s estranged husband.”
“She was at your place?” Wohl asked, surprised.
“Right. And she is convicted that her husband’s death is connected with drugs…”
“You don’t think Milham had anything to do with it, do you?”
“No. I don’t think so. But the Widow Kellog thinks it was done by somebody in Narcotics, because they-they being the Five Squad-are all dirty.”
“The Narcotics Five Squad, according to Dave Pekach, are knights in shining armor, waging the good war against controlled substances. A lot of esprit de corps, which I gather means they think they’re better than other cops, including the other four Narcotics squads. In other words, a bunch of hotshots who do big buys, make raids, take doors, that sort of thing. They’re supposed to be pretty effective. It’s hard to believe that any of them would be dirty, much less kill one of their own.”
“That’s what the lady is saying.”
“You believe her?”
“She said there’s all kinds of money floating around. She said she, she and her husband, bought a house at the shore and paid cash for it.”
“That could be checked out, it would seem to me, without much trouble. Did she tell Homicide about this? Or anybody else?”
“No. She thinks everybody’s dirty.”
“What did you tell her?”
“I told her I knew a staff inspector I knew was honest, and she should go to him; that I would set it up.”
“And she doesn’t want to go to him?”
“No,” Washington said. “Absolutely out of the question.”
“You believe her?”
“I think she’s telling the truth. My question is, what do we do with this?”
“If you take it to Internal Affairs…” Wohl said.
“Let me read this,” Wohl said, opening the envelope.
Wohl grunted twice while reading the three sheets of paper the envelope contained, then stuffed them back into the envelope.
“This has to go to the Mayor,” he said. “As soon as you can get it to him. And then I think you had better have a long talk with Captain Pekach about the Narcotics Five Squad.”
“Can I tell him I’m doing so at your orders?”
“Everything you do is at my orders. Dave Pekach knows that. Are you getting paranoid, Jason?”
“Simply because one is paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t really saying terrible things about one behind one’s back,” Washington said sonorously.
“No cop likes the guy who asks the wrong questions about other cops. Me included. I especially hate being the guy who asks the questions,” Washington said.
“I know,” Wohl said sympathetically. “Please don’t tell me there’s more, Jason.”
“That’s enough for one morning, wouldn’t you say?”
At five minutes to eight, Sergeant Jason Washington drove into the parking lot of what had been built in 1892 at Frankford and Castor avenues as the Frankford Grammar School, and was now the headquarters of the Special Operations Division of the Philadelphia Police Department.
He pulled into a parking spot near the front entrance of the building marked with a sign reading INSPECTORS. He regarded this as his personal parking space. While he was sure that there were a number of sergeants and lieutenants annoyed that he parked his car where it should not be, and who almost certainly had complained, officially or unofficially about it, nothing had been said to him.
There was a certain military-chain-of-command-like structure in the Special Operations Division. Only one’s immediate superior was privileged to point out to one the errors of one’s ways. In Jason Washington’s case, his immediate superior was the head man, Inspector Peter Wohl, the Commanding Officer of Special Operations. Peter Wohl knew where he parked his car and had said nothing to him. That was, Jason had decided, permission to park by inference.
Sergeant Jason Washington and Inspector Peter Wohl had a unique relationship, which went back to the time Detective Wohl had been assigned to Homicide and been placed under the mentorship of Detective Washington. At that time, Jason Washington-who was not burdened, as his wife often said, with crippling modesty-had decided that Wohl possessed not only an intelligence almost equal to his, but also an innate skill to find the anomalies in a given situation-which was really what investigation was all about, finding what didn’t fit-that came astonishingly close to his own extraordinary abilities in that regard.
Washington had predicted that not only would Detective Wohl remain in Homicide (many detectives assigned to Homicide did not quite cut the mustard and were reassigned to other duties) but he would have a long and distinguished career there.
Homicide detectives were the elite members of the Detective Bureau. For many people, Jason Washington among them, service as a Homicide detective represented the most challenging and satisfying career in the Police Department, and the thought of going elsewhere was absurd.
Detective Wohl had not remained in Homicide. He had taken the sergeant’s examination, and then, with astonishing rapidity, became the youngest sergeant ever to serve in the Highway Patrol; a lieutenant; the youngest captain ever; and then the youngest staff inspector ever.
And then Special Operations had come along.
It had been formed several years before, it was generally, and essentially correctly, believed as a response to criticism of the Police Department-and by implication, of the Mayor-by the Philadelphia Ledger, one of the city’s four major newspapers.
Mr. Arthur J. Nelson, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Daye-Nelson Corporation, which owned the Ledger and twelve other newspapers, had never been an admirer of the Hon. Jerry Carlucci, and both the Ledger and the Daye-Nelson Corporation’s Philadelphia television and radio stations (WGHA-TV, Channel Seven; WGHA-FM 100.2 MHz; and WGHA-AM, 770 KC) had opposed him in the mayoral election.
The dislike by Mr. Nelson of Mayor Carlucci had been considerably exacerbated when Mr. Nelson’s only son, Jerome Stanley Nelson, had been found murdered-literally butchered-in his luxurious apartment in a renovated Revolutionary War-era building on Society Hill.
Considering the political ramifications of the case, no one had been at all surprised when the job had been given to Detective Jason Washington, who had quickly determined the prime suspect in the case to be Mr. Jerome Nelson’s live-in companion, a twenty-five-year-old black homosexual who called himself “Pierre St. Maury.”
When this information had been released to the press by Homicide Unit Lieutenant Edward M. DelRaye-who shortly afterward was transferred out of Homicide, for what his superiors regarded as monumentally bad judgment-it had been published in the Inquirer, the Bulletin, and the Daily News, Philadelphia’s other major newspapers, and elsewhere.
Mrs. Arthur J. Nelson suffered a nervous breakdown, which Mr. Nelson attributed as much to the shame and humiliation caused her by the publication of their son’s lifestyle as by his death. And if the police had only had the common decency to keep the sordid facts to themselves, rather than feed them to the competition in vindictive retribution for his support of the Mayor’s opponent in the mayoral election, of course this would not have happened.
Almost immediately, the Ledger ’s reporters had begun to examine every aspect of the operation of the Philadelphia Police Department with a very critical eye, and on its editorial page there began a series of editorials-many of them, it was suspected, written by Mr. Nelson himself-that called the public’s attention to the Department’s many failings.
The Highway Patrol, a special unit within the Department, were often referred to as “Carlucci’s Commandos,” for example, and in one memorable editorial, making reference to the leather puttees worn by Highway Patrolmen since its inception, when the unit was equipped with motorcycles, they became “Philadelphia’s Jackbooted Gestapo.”
A splendid opportunity for journalistic criticism of the Police Department presented itself to Mr. Nelson and his employees at this time with the appearance of a sexual psychopath whose practice it was to abduct single young women, transport them to remote areas in his van, and there perform various imaginatively obscene sexual acts on their bodies. The Department experienced some difficulty in apprehending this gentleman, who had been quickly dubbed “the Northwest Philadelphia Serial Rapist.”
The Ledger, sparing no expense in their efforts to keep the public informed, turned up a rather well-known psychiatrist who said that there was no question in his mind that inevitably the Northwest Philadelphia Serial Rapist would go beyond humiliation of his victims, moving into murder and perhaps even dismemberment.
A lengthy interview with this distinguished practitioner of the healing arts was published in the Ledger ’s Sunday supplement magazine, under a large banner headline asking, “Why Are Our Police Doing Nothing?”
The Monday after the Sunday supplement article appeared, Police Commissioner Taddeus Czernich summoned to the Commissioner’s Conference Room in the Police Administration Building the three deputy commissioners and six of the dozen chief inspectors. There he announced a reorganization of certain units within the Police Department. There would be a new unit, called Special Operations Division. It would report directly to the Deputy Commissioner for Operations. It would deal, as the name suggested, with special situations. Its first task would be to apprehend the Northwest Philadelphia Serial Rapist. Special Operations would be commanded by Staff Inspector Peter Wohl, who would be transferred from the Staff Investigation Bureau of the Internal Affairs Division.
That was the first anomaly. Staff inspectors, who ranked between captains and inspectors in the departmental hierarchy, were regarded as sort of super-detectives whose superior investigative skills qualified them to investigate the most complex, most delicate situations that came up, but they did not serve in positions of command.
Staff Inspector Peter Wohl had recently received some very flattering press attention-except, of course, in the Ledger — following his investigation of (and the subsequent conviction of) Superior Court Judge Moses Findermann for various offenses against both the law and judicial ethics.
And Highway Patrol, Commissioner Czernich announced, would be transferred from the bureaucratic command of the Traffic Division and placed under Special Operations. As would other elements and individuals from within the Department as needed to accomplish the mission of the Special Operations Division.
Among those to be immediately transferred, Commissioner Czernich announced, would be newly promoted Captain David Pekach of the Narcotics Bureau. He would replace Captain Michael J. Sabara, the present Highway Patrol Commander, who would become Staff Inspector Wohl’s deputy.
In response to the question “What the hell is that all about?” posed by Chief Inspector Matt Lowenstein of the Detective Division, Commissioner Czernich replied:
“Because the Mayor says he thinks Mike Sabara looks like a concentration camp guard and Pekach looks like a Polish altar boy. He’s thinking public image, OK?”
There were chuckles. Captain Sabara, a gentle, kindly man who taught Sunday school, did indeed have a menacing appearance. Captain Pekach, who until his recent promotion had spent a good deal of time working the streets in filthy clothing, a scraggly beard, and pigtail, would, indeed, shaved, bathed, and shorn, resemble the Polish altar boy he had once been.
Chief Lowenstein had laughed.
“Don’t laugh too quick, Matt,” Commissioner Czernich said. “Peter Wohl can have any of your people he thinks he needs for as long as he thinks he needs them. And I know he thinks Jason Washington is the one guy who can catch the rapist.”
Lowenstein’s smile had vanished.
The assignment of any detective outside the Detective Bureau was another anomaly, just as extraordinary as the assignment of a staff inspector as a commanding officer. Lowenstein looked as if he was going to complain over the loss to Special Operations of Detective Jason Washington, whom he-and just about everyone else-considered to be the best Homicide detective, but he said nothing. There was no use in complaining to Commissioner Czernich. This whole business was not Czernich’s brainstorm, but the Mayor’s, and Lowenstein had known the Mayor long enough to know that complaining to him would be pissing in the wind.
The next day, Detective Washington and his partner, Detective Tony Harris, over their bluntly expressed objections, had been “temporarily” transferred to Special Operations for the express purpose of stopping the Northwest Serial Rapist.
They had never been returned to Homicide.
Peter Wohl had treated both of them well. There was as much overtime, without question, as they had in Homicide. They were now actually, if not officially, on a five-day-a-week day shift, from whenever they wanted to come in the morning to whenever they decided to take off in the afternoon.
They were each provided with a new unmarked car for their sole use. New unmarked cars usually went to inspectors and up, and were passed down to lesser ranks. Wohl had implied-and Washington knew at the time he had done so that he believed-that the investigations they would be assigned to perform would be important, interesting, and challenging.
That hadn’t come to pass. It could be argued, of course, that bringing down police officers who were taking money from the Mafia in exchange for not enforcing the law was important. And certainly, if challenging meant difficult, this was a challenging investigation. But there was something about investigating brother police officers-vastly compounded when it revealed the hands of at least a captain and a lieutenant were indeed covered with filth-that Washington found distasteful.
The hackneyed phrase “It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it!” no longer brought a smile to Washington’s face.
Washington got out of his car and entered the building. He first stopped at the office of the Commanding Officer, which looked very much as it had when it had been the Principal’s Office of the Frankford Grammar School.
Officer Paul Thomas O’Mara, Inspector Wohl’s administrative assistant, attired in a shiny, light blue suit Washington suspected had been acquired from the Bargain Basement at J. C. Penney’s, told him that Captain Mike Sabara, Wohl’s deputy, had not yet come in.
“Give me a call when he does come in, will you, Tommy?” Washington asked, left the Principal’s Office, and climbed stone stairs worn deeply by seventy-odd years of children’s shoes to the second floor, where he entered what had been a classroom, over the door of which hung a sign: INVESTIGATION SECTION.
There he found Detective Matthew M. Payne on duty. Payne was attired in a sports coat Jason knew that Detective Payne had acquired at a Preferred Customer 30 % Off Sale at Brooks Brothers, a button-down-collar light blue shirt, the necktie of the Goodwill Rowing Club, and well-shined loafers.
He looked like an advertisement for Brooks Brothers, Jason thought. It was a compliment.
“Good morning, Detective Payne,” Jason said. “You need a shave.”
“I woke late,” Payne said, touching his chin. “And took a chance you wouldn’t get here until I could shave.”
“What happened? Did Milham keep you at Homicide?”
“I was there. But he didn’t keep me. He let me sit in on interviewing Atchison.”
Washington’s face showed that he found that interesting, but he didn’t reply.
“We can’t have you disgracing yourself and our unit with a slovenly appearance when you meet the Mayor,” Washington said.
“Am I going to meet the Mayor?” Payne asked.
“I think so,” Jason replied, already dialing a number.
There was a brief conversation with someone named Jack, whom Detective Payne correctly guessed to be Lieutenant J. K. Fellows, the Mayor’s bodyguard and confidante, and then Washington hung up.
“Get in your car,” he ordered, handing Matt Payne the large envelope. “Head for the Schuylkill Expressway. When you get there, call M-Mary One and get a location. Then either wait for them or catch up with them, and give Lieutenant Fellows this.”
“What is it?”
“When I got home last night, Officer Kellog’s widow was waiting for me. There is no question in her mind that her husband’s death has something to do with Narcotics. She also made a blanket indictment of Five Squad Narcotics. She says they’re all dirty. That’s a transcript, almost a verbatim one, of what she said.”
“You believe her?”
Washington shrugged. “I believe she believes what she told me. Wohl said to get it to the Mayor as soon as we can.”
Washington dialed the unlisted private number of the Commanding Officer, Highway Patrol from memory. It was answered on the second ring.
“Sergeant Washington, sir.”
“Honest to God, Jason, I was just thinking about you.”
“I was hoping you could spare a few minutes for me, sir.”
“That sounds somehow official.”
“Yes, sir. Inspector Wohl asked me to talk to you.”
“You’re in the building?”
“Come on, then. You’ve got me worried.”
When Washington walked into Captain Pekach’s office, Pekach was in the special uniform worn only by the Highway Patrol, breeches and boots and a Sam Browne belt going back to the days when the Highway Patrol’s primary function had been to patrol major thoroughfares on motorcycles.
Washington thought about that as he walked to Pekach’s desk to somewhat formally shake Pekach’s offered hand: They used to be called “the bandit chasers”; now they call them “Carlucci’s Commandos.” Worse, “The Gestapo.”
“Thank you for seeing me, sir.”
“Curiosity overwhelms me, Sergeant,” Pekach said. “Coffee, Jason’?”
“Thank you,” Washington said.
Pekach walked around his desk to a small table holding a coffee machine, poured two mugs, handed one to Washington, and then, waving Washington into one of the two upholstered armchairs, sat down in the other and stretched his booted legs out in front of him.
“OK, what’s on your mind?”
“Officer Kellog. The Narcotics Five Squad,” Washington said. “The boss suggested I talk to you about both.”
“What’s our interest in that?”
“This is all out of school,” Washington said.
Pekach held up the hand holding his mug in a gesture that meant, understood.
“The Widow Kellog came to my apartment last night,” Washington said. “She is convinced that her husband’s death is Narcotics-related.”
“She came to your apartment?” Pekach asked, visibly surprised, and without waiting for a reply, went on: “I think that’s a good possibility. Actually, when I said I was thinking about you just before you called, I was going to ask you if Homicide had come up with something along that line. I figured you would know if they had come up with something.”
“She is also convinced that Officer Kellog was, and the entire Narcotics Five Squad is, dirty,” Washington went on.
This produced, as Washington feared it would, an indignant reaction. Pekach’s face tightened, and his eyes turned cold.
“Bullshit,” he said. “Jerry Kellog worked for me before he went on the Five Squad. A good, smart, hardworking, honest cop. Which is how he got onto the Five Squad. I recommended him.”
“How much do you know about the Five Squad?”
“Enough. Before I got promoted, I was the senior lieutenant in Narcotics…no I wasn’t, Lieutenant Mikkles was. But I filled in for Captain Talley enough to know all about the Five Squad. Same thing-good, smart, hardworking, honest cops.”
Washington didn’t reply.
“Christ, Jason, the Narcotics Five Squad is-” He looked for a comparison, and found one: “-the Highway Patrol of Narcotics. The best, most experienced, hardworking people. A lot of pride, esprit de corps. They’re the ones who make the raids, take the doors, stick their necks out. Where did Wohl get the idea they’re dirty?”
“From me, I’m afraid,” Washington said.
Pekach looked at him in first surprise and then anger.
“I’m not saying they’re dirty,” Washington said. “I don’t know-”
“Take my word for it, Jason,” Pekach interrupted.
“What I told the Boss was that I believed Mrs. Kellog believed what she was saying.”
“She’s got an accusation to make, tell her to take it to Internal Affairs.”
“She’s not willing to do that. She doesn’t trust Internal Affairs.”
“I suppose both you and Wohl have considered that she might be trying to take the heat off her boyfriend?” Pekach challenged. “What’s his name? Milham?”
“That, of course, is a possibility.”
“What I think you should do-and if you don’t want to tell Wohl, by God, I will-is turn this over to Internal Affairs and mind our own business.”
Washington didn’t reply.
Pekach’s temper was now aroused.
“You know what Internal Affairs would find? Presuming that they didn’t see these wild accusations for what they are-a desperate woman trying to turn the heat off her boyfriend-and conducted an investigation, they’d find a record of good busts, busts that stood up in court, put people away, took God only knows how much drugs off the street.”
“We can’t go to Internal Affairs with this right now,” Washington said.
“Why not?” Pekach demanded, looking at him sharply. “Oh, is that what you’ve all been up to, that nobody’s talking about? Investigating Internal Affairs? Is that why you can’t take this to them?”
“You’re putting me on a spot, Captain,” Washington said. “I can’t answer that.”
“No, of course you can’t,” Pekach said sarcastically. “But let me tell you this, Jason: If anybody just happened to be investigating Internal Affairs, say, for example, the Mayor’s personal detective bureau, I’d say they have a much better chance of finding dirty cops there than anyone investigating the Narcotics Five Squad would find there.”
Washington was aware that his own temper was beginning to flare. He waited a moment.
“Captain, I do what the Boss tells me. He told me to have a long talk with you about the Narcotics Five Squad. That’s what I’m doing.”
“Oh, Christ, Jason, I know that. It just burns me up, is all, that the questions would be asked. I know those guys. I didn’t, I really didn’t, mean to jump on you.”
Washington didn’t reply.
“And I’ll tell you something else, just between us,” Pekach said. “I guess my nose is already a little out of joint. I’m supposed to be the Number Three man in Special Operations, and I don’t like not knowing what you and your people are up to. I know that’s not your doing, but…”
“Just between you and me, Captain Sabara doesn’t know either,” Washington said. “And also, just between you and me, I know that the decision to keep you and Sahara in the dark wasn’t made by Inspector Wohl, and he doesn’t like it any more than you do.”
“I figured it was probably something like that,” Pekach said. “But thank you for telling me.”
“What else can I do for you, Jason?”
“I’m a little afraid to ask.”
“I don’t know the first thing about how the Narcotics Five Squad operates. You do. Would you give some thought to how they could be dirty, and tell me?”
“Jesus Christ!” Pekach said bitterly, and then: “OK, Jason, I will.”
“I’d appreciate it,” Washington said, and stood up.
“Jason, I hope you understand why I’m sore. And that I’m not sore at you.”
“I hope you understand, Captain, that I don’t like asking the questions.”
“Yeah, I do,” Pekach said. “We’re still friends, right? Despite my nasty Polish temper?”
“I really hope you still think of me as a friend,” Washington said.
When Matt Payne went out the rear door into the parking lot, he saw that it was shift-change time. The lot was jammed with antenna-festooned Highway Patrol cars, somewhat less spectacularly marked Anti-Crime Team (ACT) cars, and a row of unmarked cars. Almost all of the cars were new.
There was more than a little resentment throughout the Department about Special Operations’ fleet of new cars. In the districts, radio patrol car odometers were commonly on their second hundred thousand miles, seat cushions sagged, windows were cracked, heaters worked intermittently, and breakdowns of one kind or another were the rule, not the exception.
The general belief held by most District police officers was that Inspector Wohl was the fair-haired boy of the Department, and thus was able to get new cars at the expense of others who did not enjoy his status. Others felt that Special Operations had acquired so many new vehicles because it was the pet of Mayor Carlucci, and was given a more or less blank check on the Department’s assets.
The truth, to which Matt Payne was privy-he had been then Staff Inspector Wohl’s administrative assistant before becoming a detective-had nothing to do with Inspector Wohl or the fact that Special Operations had been dreamed up by the Mayor, but rather with the Congress of the United States.
Doing something about crime-in-the-streets had, about the time the Mayor had come up with his idea for Special Operations, been a popular subject in Congress. It was a legitimate-that is to say, one the voters were getting noisily concerned about-problem, and Congress had reacted in its usual way by throwing the taxpayers’ money at it.
Cash grants were made available to local police departments to experiment with a new concept of law enforcement, This was called the Anti-Crime Team concept, which carried with it the acronym ACT. It meant the flooding of high-crime areas with well-trained policemen, equipped with the very latest equipment and technology, and teamed with special assigned prosecutors within the District Attorney’s Office who would push the arrested quickly through the criminal justice system.
The grants were based on need. Philadelphia qualified on a need basis on two accounts. Crime was indeed a major problem in Philadelphia, and Philadelphia needed help. Equally important, the Hon. Jerry Carlucci was a political force whose influence extended far beyond the Mayor’s office. Two Senators and a dozen or more Congressmen seeking continued employment needed Jerry Carlucci’s influence.
Some of the very first, and most generous, grants were given to the City of Philadelphia. There was a small caveat. Grant money was to be used solely for new, innovative, experimental police operations, not for routine police expenditures. So far as Mayor Carlucci was concerned, the Special Operations Division was new, innovative and experimental. The federal grants could thus legally be, and were, expended on the pay of police officers transferred to Special Operations for duty as Anti-Crime Team police, and for their new and innovative equipment, which of course included new, specially equipped police cars. Since it was, of course, necessary to incorporate the new and innovative ACT personnel and equipment into the old and non-innovative Police Department, federal grant funds could be used for this purpose.
Until investigators from the General Accounting Office had put a stop to it, providing the Highway Patrol, in its new, innovative, and experimental role as a subordinate unit of the new, innovative, and experimental Special Operations Division, with new cars had been, in Mayor Carlucci’s opinion, a justifiable expenditure of federal grant funds.
More senior police officers, lieutenants and above, usually, the “white shirts,” who understood that money was money, and that if extra money from outside bought Special Operations and Highway cars, then the money which would ordinarily have to eventually be spent for that purpose could be spent elsewhere in the Department, were not as resentful. But this rationale was not very satisfying to a cop in a district whose battered radio patrol car wouldn’t start at three o’clock in the morning.
Detective Payne went to a row of eight new, unmarked Ford sedans, which so far as the federal government was concerned were involved in new, innovative, and experimental activities under the ACT concept, and got in one of them. It was one of four such cars assigned to the Investigation Section. Sergeant Jason Washington had one, and Detective Tony Harris the second, on an around the-clock basis. The two other cars were shared by the others of the Investigation Section.
He drove out of the parking lot and headed up Castor Avenue toward Hunting Park Avenue. He turned off Hunting Park Avenue onto Ninth Street and off Ninth Street onto the ramp for the Roosevelt extension of the Schuylkill Express way, and then turned south toward the Schuylkill River.
At the first traffic light, he took one of the two microphones mounted just about out of sight under the dash.
“Mary One, William Fourteen.”
“You have something for me, Fourteen?” Lieutenant Jack Fellows’s voice came back immediately.
“Where are you now?”
“Just left Special Operations.”
There was a moment’s hesitation as Lieutenant Fellows searched his memory for time-and distance.
“Meet us at the Zoo parking lot,” he said.
“On the way,” Matt said, and dropped the microphone onto the seat.
Then he reached down and threw a switch which caused both the brake lights and the blue and white lights concealed behind the grille of the Ford to flash, and stepped hard on the accelerator.
The Mayor is a busy man. He doesn’t have the time to waste sitting at the Zoo parking lot waiting for a lowly detective. This situation clearly complies with the provisions of paragraph whatever the hell it is of Police Administrative Regulations restricting the use of warning lights and sirens to those clearly necessary situations.
There were a number of small pleasures involved with being a policeman, and one of them, Matt Payne had learned, was being able to turn on warning lights and the siren when you had to get somewhere in a hurry.
He had thought of this during dinner the previous evening, during a somewhat acrimonious discussion of his-their-future with Miss Penelope Detweiler.
It was her position (and that of Mr. and Mrs. Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt IV, who allied themselves with Miss Detweiler in the Noble Cause of Talking Common Sense to Matt) that it was childish and selfish of him, with his education, potential, and background, to remain a policeman, working for peanuts, when he should be thinking of their future.
He had known that it would not have been wise to have offered the argument “Yeah, but if I’m not a cop, I won’t be able to race down Roosevelt Boulevard with the lights on.” She would have correctly decided that he was simply being childish again.
There were other satisfactions in being a policeman, but for some reason, he seemed to become instantly inarticulate whenever he tried to explain them to her. In his own mind, he knew that he had been a policeman long enough so that it was in his blood, and he would never be happy at a routine job.
He reached the Schuylkill River, crossed it, and turned east toward Center City. Then he reached down and turned off the flashing lights. The traffic wasn’t that heavy, and if Mary One, the mayoral limousine, beat him to the Zoo parking lot, he wasn’t entirely sure if the Mayor would agree with his decision that turning on the lights was justified.
From what he’d heard of the Mayor’s career as a police man, he’d been a really by-the-book cop.
When he got to the Zoo parking lot, he stopped and picked up his microphone.
“Mary One, William Fourteen, at the Zoo.”
“A couple of minutes,” Lieutenant Fellows’s voice came back.
Matt picked the envelope off the floor, and got out of the car and waited for the Mayor.
Two minutes later the limousine pulled up beside him. Matt walked to the front-seat passenger door as the window whooshed down and Lieutenant Fellows came into view.
“Good morning, sir,” Matt said, and handed him the envelope.
“Thank you, Payne,” Fellows said, and the window started back up. Then the rear window rolled down and he heard the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia order:
“Hold it a minute, Charley,” and then the rear door opened and the Mayor got out.
“Long time no see,” the Mayor said, offering his hand. “How are you, Matt?”
“Just fine, Mr. Mayor. Thank you.”
“Good to see you, Matt,” the Mayor said. “And say hello to your mother and dad for me.”
“Yes, sir. I will. Thank you.”
The Mayor patted his shoulder and got back in the limousine, and in a moment it rolled out of the parking lot.
Matt got back in the unmarked Ford and drove out of the Zoo parking lot, wondering where the hell he was going to find a drugstore and buy the razor he had been ordered to buy.
It had been nice of the Mayor, he thought, to get out of his car to say hello. It was easy to accuse the Mayor of being perfectly willing to wrap his arm around an orangutan and inquire as to the well-being of his parents if that would get him one more vote, but the truth, Matt realized, was that after he had wrapped his arm around your shoulder, it made you feel good, and you were not at all inclined to question his motives.
While it was said, and mostly believed, that the Mayor knew the name of every cop in the Department, this was not true. There were eight thousand policemen in the Department, and the Mayor did not know the name or even the face of each of them. But he did know the faces and sometimes the names of every cop who was someone, or who had ever done something, out of the ordinary.
Matt qualified on several counts. One of them was that the Mayor knew his parents, but the most significant way Matt Payne had come to the Mayor’s attention was as a cop.
Shortly after the formation of Special Operations, as Detective Washington was getting close enough to the Northwest Serial Rapist to have a cast of his tire tracks and a good description of his van, Mr. Warren K. Fletcher, thirty-one, of Germantown, had attempted to run down Matt with his van when he approached it.
That gave Matt (although he was so terrified at the time that this legal consideration had not entered his mind) the justification to use equal-deadly-force in the apprehension of a suspect. He had drawn his service revolver and fired five times at the van. One of the bullets found and exploded Mr. Fletcher’s brain all over the windshield of his van.
It didn’t matter that finding what looked like it could possibly be the van could be described only as blind luck, or that when Matt had fired his revolver he had been so terrified that hitting Mr. Fletcher had been pure coincidence. What mattered was that Mr. Fletcher, at the time of his death, had Mrs. Naomi Schneider, thirty-four, of Germantown, in the back of his van, stripped naked, trussed neatly with telephone wire, and covered with a tarpaulin, and shortly before their trip was interrupted had been regaling her with a description of what he had planned for them as soon as they got somewhere private.
What also mattered a good deal was that Matt Payne was assigned to Special Operations. Even the imaginatively agile minds on the editorial floor of the Ledger building had trouble finding Police Department incompetence in the end of Mr. Fletcher’s career. The Ledger just about ignored the story. The other papers gave it a good deal of play, most of them running a front-page picture of the Mayor at the shooting scene with his arm wrapped cordially around the shoulder of Special Operations Division plainclothes officer Matthew M. Payne.
Several months after that, following a robbery, brutal assault, and senseless murder at Goldblatt’s Furniture Store in South Philadelphia, the Special Operations Division was asked by the Detective Bureau to assist them in the simultaneous arrest of eight individuals identified as participants in the robbery murder.
The eight, who identified themselves as members of something called the Islamic Liberation Army, were at various locations in Philadelphia. Seven of them, in what the press-save again the Ledger — generally agreed was a well-planned, perfectly carried out maneuver, were placed in custody without incident. The eighth suspect, in trying to escape, drew a. 45 Colt pistol and attempted to shoot his way through officers in an alley. In the process, he wounded a police officer, who drew and fired his service revolver in self-defense, inflicting upon Abu Ben Mohammed (also known as Charles D. Stevens) several wounds which proved to be fatal.
And again there were photographs of Officer Matthew M. Payne on the front pages of the Daily News, the Inquirer, and the Bulletin (but not in the Ledger), this time showing him with his face bandaged in a hospital bed and Mayor Carlucci’s approving arm around his shoulders.
It was said at the time by senior white shirts that, considering the favorable publicity he had engendered for the Special Operations Division, and thus the Mayor, the young police officer had found a home in Special Operations. The only way he was going to get out of Special Operations was when he either retired or was carried to his grave. Or resigned, when he tired of playing cop.
Matt had heard the stories at the time, but had not been particularly concerned. He planned to take, as soon as he was eligible, the examination leading to promotion to detective. He was reasonably confident that he would pass it, and be promoted. And since the only places that detectives could be assigned within the Police Department were in one of the subordinate units of the Detective Division, that’s where they would have to assign him. In the meantime, he liked working for Staff Inspector Wohl as his administrative assistant.
And that came to pass. Police Officer Matthew M. Payne took the Examination for Promotion to Detective, passed it, and with a high enough score (he placed third) so as to earn promotion very soon after the results were published.
He was duly transferred to the East Detective Division, which is on the second floor of the building housing the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Districts at Front and Westmoreland streets, and there began his career as a detective under the tutelage of Sergeant Aloysius J. Sutton.
His initial war of detection against crime wherever found had consisted almost entirely of investigating recovered stolen vehicles. This, in turn, consisted of going to where the stolen vehicle had been located, and then filling out a half-dozen forms in quadruplicate. None of these forms, he had quickly come to understand, would-once they had passed Sergeant Sutton’s examination of them for bureaucratic perfection-ever be seen by human eyes again.
Almost all stolen and then recovered vehicles had been taken either by kids who wished to take a joyride and had no vehicle of their own in which to do so or by kids who wished to remove the tires, wheels, radios from said vehicles with the notion of selling them for a little pocket money. Or a combination of the foregoing.
Stolen and never-recovered vehicles were almost always stolen by professional thieves who either stripped the car to its frame or got it on the boat to Asuncion, Paraguay, before the owner realized it was gone.
Theft of an automobile is a felony, however, and investigation of felonies, including the return of recovered stolen property, is a police responsibility. Detective Payne learned in EDD that this responsibility, when the recovered property was an automobile, is normally placed in the hands of the member of the detective squad whose time is least valuable.
There was a sort of sense to this, and he told himself that investigating recovered vehicles was both sort of on-the-job training for more important investigations, and a rite-of-passage. Every new detective went through it.
And he was prepared to do whatever was asked of him.
But then his assignment to EDD came to an abrupt end. He was reassigned to Special Operations. In theory it was a simple personnel matter, the reassignment of a detective from a unit where his services weren’t really required to a unit which had need of his services. Matt quickly learned that he had been reassigned to Special Operations because the Mayor had suggested to Commissioner Czernich that this might be a wise thing to do.
There he found that the table of organization now provided for an investigation section. The supervisor of the investigation section was newly promoted Sergeant Jason Washington. Under him were personnel spaces for five detectives, three of whom had been assigned: Tony Harris, Jesus Martinez, and Matthew M. Payne.
Tony Harris was an experienced homicide detective recruited (Harris and Washington both used the term “shanghaied”) from Homicide when they were trying to catch up with Warren K. Fletcher, and kept over their objections because Peter Wohl felt his extraordinary investigative skills would almost certainly be needed in the future.
Jesus Martinez was another young police officer, although far more experienced than Matt. He had begun his police career working undercover in the Narcotics Unit, under then Lieutenant David Pekach. He and another young plainclothes officer named Charles McFadden had-“displaying professional skill and extraordinary initiative far beyond that expected of officers of their rank and experience” according to their departmental citations-located and run to earth “with complete disregard of their personal safety” one Gerald Vincent Gallagher, who had shot to death Captain Richard C. “Dutch” Moffitt during an armed robbery.
The resultant publicity had destroyed their ability to function as undercover Narcotics officers, and for that reason, and as a reward for their effective closing of the case of Captain Moffitt’s murder (Mr. Gallagher had been cut into several pieces when run over by a subway train as Officers McFadden and Martinez chased him down the subway tracks), they had been transferred to Highway Patrol.
Highway Patrol was considered a very desirable assignment, and officers were normally not considered for Highway Patrol duty until they had from five to seven years of exemplary service. Inasmuch as Captain Moffitt had been Commanding Officer of Highway at the time of his murder, it was generally agreed that the assignment of Officers McFadden and Martinez to Highway was entirely appropriate, their semi-rookie status notwithstanding.
Officer Martinez had ranked seventh on the Examination for Promotion to Detective when he and several hundred other ambitious police officers had taken it, and had been on the same promotion list which elevated Officer Payne to detective. Officer McFadden had not done nearly as well on the examination, and had been pleasantly surprised to find his the last name on the promotion list when it came out.
Detective Payne and Detective McFadden were friends, as were, of course, Detectives Martinez and McFadden. Detective Payne and Detective Martinez were not friends. Privately, Detective Payne thought of Detective Martinez as a mean little man with a chip on his shoulder, and Detective Martinez thought of Detective Payne as a rich kid with a lot of pull from the Main Line who was playing cop.
Usually-but by no means all the time-Detectives Payne and Martinez kept their dislike for one another under control.
The fourth Detective Personnel space was filled “temporarily” by Police Officer Foster H. Lewis, Jr., twenty-three, who had been on the job even less time than Detective Payne. Officer Lewis, who stood well over six feet tall and weighed approximately 230 pounds and was thus inevitably known as “Tiny,” knew more about the workings of the Police Department than either Detective Payne or Detective Martinez. Not only was his father a policeman, but Tiny had, from the time he was eighteen. worked nights and weekends as a police radio operator in the Police Administration Building. He had been in his first year at Temple University Medical School when he decided that what he really wanted to be was a cop, and not a doctor. This decision had pained and greatly annoyed his father, Lieutenant Foster H. Lewis, Sr.
Lieutenant Lewis was also displeased, for several reasons, with Officer Lewis’s assignment to the investigations section of the Special Operations Division. He suspected, for one thing, that because of the growing attention being paid to racial discrimination, his son was the token nigger in Special Operations. Jason Washington might have-indeed, almost certainly had-been selected for his professional ability and not because of the color of his skin, but Lieutenant Lewis could think of no reason but his African heritage that had seen his son assigned to Special Operations practically right out of the Police Academy.
And in plain clothes, with an assigned unmarked car, and what looked like unlimited overtime, which caused his take-home pay (Tiny had somewhat smugly announced) to almost equal that of his father.
Lieutenant Lewis believed that officers should rise within the Department, both with regard to rank and desirable assignment, only after having touched all the bases. Rookies went to work in a district, most often starting out in a van, and gained experience on the street dealing with routine police matters, before being given greater responsibilities. He himself had done so.
The fifth personnel space for a detective with the investigations sections of the Special Operations Division was unfilled.
Detective Payne found a drugstore, purchased a Remington battery-powered electric razor and bottles of Old Spice pre-shave and after-shave lotion, and went back to his car.
This was, he thought, the fifth electric razor he had bought in so many months. While certainly his fellow law-enforcement officers were not thieves, it was apparently true that when they found an unaccompanied electric razor in the men’s room at the schoolhouse and it was still there two hours later, they those to believe that the Beard Fairy had intended it as a present for them.
The black Cadillac limousine provided by the taxpayers of Philadelphia to transport their mayor, the Honorable Jerry Carlucci, about in the execution of his official duties came north on South Broad Street, circled City Hall, which sits in the middle of the intersection of Broad and Market streets in the center of America’s fourth-largest city, and turned onto the Parkway, which leads past the Philadelphia Museum of Art to, and then along, the Schuylkill River.
The Mayor was wearing a dark blue suit, a stiffly starched, bright-white shirt, a dark, finely figured necktie, highly polished black shoes, and a Smith amp; Wesson “Chief’s Special”. 38 Special caliber revolver in a cutaway leather holster attached to his alligator belt.
He shared the backseat of the limousine with his wife, Angeline, who was wearing a simple black dress with a single strand of pearls and a pillbox hat which she had chosen with great care, knowing that what she chose had to be appropriate for both the events on tonight’s social calendar.
The evening had begun with the limousine taking them from their home in Chestnut Hill, in the northwest corner of Philadelphia, to the Carto Funeral Home at 2212 South Broad Street in South Philadelphia.
City Councilman the Hon. Anthony J. Cannatello, a longtime friend and political ally of Mayor Carlucci, had been called to his heavenly home after a long and painful battle with prostate cancer, and an appearance at both the viewing and at the funeral tomorrow was considered a necessary expenditure of the Mayor’s valuable and limited time. He had planned to be at Carto’s for no more than thirty minutes, but it had been well over an hour before he could break free from those who would have felt slighted if there had not been a chance to at least shake his hand.
Councilman Cannatello’s many mourners, the Mayor was fully aware, all voted, and all had relatives who voted, and the way things looked-especially considering what was going to be a front-page story in the Monday editions of Philadelphia’s four newspapers-the Bulletin, the Ledger, the Inquirer, and the Daily News — he was going to need every last one of their votes.
They were now headed back to Chestnut Hill for an entirely different kind of social gathering, this one a festive occasion at which, the Mayor had been informed, the engagement of Miss Martha Peebles to Mr. David R. Pekach would be announced.
It was going from one end of Philadelphia to the other in both geographical and social terms. The invitations, engraved by Bailey, Banks amp; Biddle, the city’s most prominent jewelers and social printers, requesting “The Pleasure of the Company of The Honorable The Mayor of Philadelphia and Mrs. Jerome H. Carlucci at dinner at 606 Glengarry Lane at half past eight o’clock” had been issued in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Brewster Cortland Payne II.
Mr. Payne, a founding partner of Mawson, Payne, Stockton, McAdoo amp; Lester, arguably Philadelphia’s most prestigious law firm, had been a lifelong friend of Miss Peebles’s father, the late Alexander F. Peebles. He had been Alex Peebles’s personal attorney, and Mawson, Payne, Stockton, McAdoo amp; Lester served as corporate counsel to Tamaqua Mining, Inc. In Mr. Peebles’s obituary in the Wall Street Journal, it was said Mr. Peebles’s wholly-owned Tamaqua Mining, Inc., not only owned approximately 11.5 percent of the known anthracite coal reserves in the United States, but had other substantial holdings in petrochemical assets and real estate.
A year after Mr. Peebles’s death, it was reported by the Wall Street Journal that a suit filed by Mr. Peebles’s only son, Stephen, challenging his father’s last will and testament, in which he had left his entire estate to his daughter, had been discharged with prejudice by the Third United States Court of Appeals, sitting en banc.
As was the case in the Mayor’s visit to the viewing of the late City Councilman Cannatello at Carto’s, the Mayor had both a personal and a political purpose in attending Martha Peebles’s dinner. There would certainly be a larger than ordinary gathering of Philadelphia’s social and financial elite there, who not only voted, and had friends and relatives who voted, but who were also in a position to contribute to the Mayor’s reelection campaign.
Considering what was going to be in Monday’s newspapers, it was important that he appear to Martha Peebles’s friends to be aware of the situation, and prepared-more important, competent-to deal with it.
Personally, while he did not have the privilege of a close personal friendship with Miss Peebles, he was acquainted with the groom-to-be, Dave Pekach, and privately accorded him about the highest compliment in his repertoire: Dave Pekach was a hell of a good cop.
The Mayor had a thought.
I think Mickey O’Hara’s going to be at the Peebles place, but I don’t know. And Mickey’s just about as good as I am, getting his hands on things he’s not supposed to have. I want him to get this straight from me, not from somebody else, and then have him call me and ask about it. And the time to get it to him is now.
He pushed the switch that lowered the sliding glass partition between the passenger’s and chauffeur’s sections of the limousine, and slid forward off the seat to get close to the opening.
There was a passenger-to-chauffeur telephone in the limousine, but after trying it once to see if it worked, the Mayor had never used it again. He believed that when you can face somebody when you’re talking to them, that’s the best way.
The very large black man on the passenger side in the chauffeur’s compartment, who carried a photo-identification card and badge in a leather folder stating he was Lieutenant J. K. Fellows of the Philadelphia Police Department, had turned when he heard the dividing glass whoosh downward.
“Get on the radio and see if you can get a location on Mickey O’Hara,” the Mayor ordered.
Lieutenant Fellows nodded, and reached for one of the two microphones mounted just under the dashboard.
As the Mayor slid back against the cushions, his jacket caught on the butt of his revolver. With an easy gesture, as automatic as checking to see that his tie was in place, he knocked the offending garment out of the way.
Jerry Carlucci rarely went anywhere without his pistol.
There were several theories why he did so. One held that he carried it for self-protection; there was always some nut running loose who wanted to get in the history books by shooting some public servant. The Department had just sent off to Byberry State Hospital a looney-tune who thought God had ordered him to blow up the Vice President of the United States. A perfectly ordinary-looking guy who was a Swarthmore graduate and a financial analyst for a bank, for God’s sake, who had a couple of hundred pounds of high explosive in his basement and thought God talked to him!
The Mayor did not like to think how much it had cost the Department in just overtime to put that fruitcake in the bag.
A second theory held that he carried it primarily for public relations purposes. This theory was generally advanced by the Mayor’s critics, of whom he had a substantial number. “He’s never without at least one cop-bodyguard with-a-gun, so what does he need a gun for? Except to get his picture in the papers, ‘protecting us,’ waving his gun around as if he thinks he’s Wyatt Earp or somebody.”
The only person who knew the real reason the Mayor elected to go about armed was his wife.
“Do you need that thing?” Angeline Carlucci had asked several years before, in their bedroom, as she watched him deal with the problem, Where does one wear one’s revolver when wearing a cummerbund?
“Honey,” the Mayor had replied, “I carried a gun for twenty-six years. I feel kind of funny, sort of half-naked, when I don’t have it with me.”
Mayor Carlucci had begun his career of public service as a police officer, and had held every rank in the Philadelphia Police Department except policewoman before seeking elective office.
Mrs. Carlucci accepted his explanation. So far as she knew, her husband had never lied to her. If she thought that there were perhaps other reasons-she knew it did not hurt him with the voters when his picture, with pistol visible, at some crime site, was published in the papers-she kept her opinion to herself.
“Mary One,” Lieutenant Fellows said into the microphone of the Command Band radio.
The response from Police Radio was immediate.
“Mary One,” a pleasant, female-sounding voice replied.
“We need a location on Mickey O’Hara,” Lieutenant Fellows said.
“Stand by,” Police Radio said, and Lieutenant Fellows hung the microphone up as the dividing glass whooshed back into place.
Police Radio, in the person of thirty-seven-year-old Janet Grosse, a civilian with thirteen years on the job, was very familiar with Mr. O’Hara, as well as with what the Mayor’s bodyguard-she had recognized Lieutenant Fellows’s voice-wanted. He wanted a location on Mickey O’Hara, that and nothing more. He expected her to be smart enough not to go on the air and inquire of every radio-equipped police vehicle in Philadelphia if they had seen Mickey, and if so, where.
Janet had the capability of doing just that, and if it got down to that, she would have to, the result of which would be that the police frequencies would be full with at least a dozen reports of the last time anyone had seen Mickey’s antenna-festooned Buick. While he didn’t know every cop in Philadelphia, every cop knew him.
And Mickey would be monitoring his police band radios and would learn that they were looking for him. Fellows had said the Mayor wanted a location on him, not that he wanted Mickey to know he wanted to know where he was.
Janet thought a moment and then threw a switch on her console which caused her voice to be transmitted over the Highway Band. Only those vehicles assigned to Highway Patrol, plus a very few in the vehicles of the most senior white shirts, were equipped with Highway Band radios.
“William One,” she said.
William One was the call sign of Inspector Peter Wohl. Janet knew that his official vehicle-an unmarked new Ford, which he customarily drove himself-was equipped with an H-Band radio.
There was no answer, which did not surprise Janet, as she had a good hunch where he was, and what he was doing, and consequently that he would not be listening to his radio. Neither was she surprised when a voice came over the H-Band:
“Radio, this is Highway One. William One is out of service. I can get a message to him.”
Highway One was the call sign of the vehicle assigned to the Commanding Officer of the Highway Patrol, which was a subordinate unit of the Special Operations Division.
I thought that would happen. William One, Highway One, and just about every senior white-shirt not on duty is in Chestnut Hill tonight. Wohl is having Highway One take his calls.
“Highway One, are you in Chestnut Hill?”
“Is Mickey O’Hara there, too?”
Bingo! I am a clever girl. Look for a gathering of white-shirts where the free booze is flowing, and there will be Mickey O’Hara.
“That will be all, Highway One. Thank you,” Janet said. She switched to the Command Band.
“The gentleman is in Chestnut Hill at a party,” Janet reported. “Do you need an address?”
“That was quick,” Fellows said, laughter in his voice. “No, thanks, I’m sure we can find him with that. Thank you.”
“Have a good time,” Janet said, and sat back and waited for another call.
“Mayor, Mickey’s already at the party.”
Mayor Carlucci nodded.
“When we get there, find him. Give me a couple of minutes to circulate, and then ask Mickey if he has a moment for me,” the Mayor said, “and bring him over.”
There were uniforms-white hats from the Traffic Division, not policemen from the Fourteenth District, which included Chestnut Hill-directing traffic on Glengarry Lane in Chestnut Hill. The mayoral limousine was quickly waved to the head of the line of cars waiting to pass through the ornate gates of the five-acre estate. As the Cadillac rolled past, each uniform saluted and got a wave from the Mayor in return.
The long, curving drive to the turn-of-the-century Peebles mansion was lined with parked cars, and there a cluster of chauffeurs gathered around a dozen limousines-including three Rolls Royces, Jerry Carlucci noticed-parked near the mansion itself.
If is wasn’t for what’s going to be on the front page of every newspaper in town tomorrow, the Mayor thought, tonight would be a real opportunity. Now all I can hope for is to minimize the damage, keep these people from wondering whether they’re betting on the wrong horse.
There was a man in a dinner jacket collecting invitations just outside the door. He didn’t ask for the Mayor’s, confirming the Mayor’s suspicion that he looked familiar, and was probably a retired police officer, now working as a rent-a-cop for Wachenhut Security, or something like that.
The reception line consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Brewster Cortland Payne II, Miss Martha Peebles, and Mr.-Captain-David Pekach.
“Mrs. Carlucci, Mr. Mayor,” Payne said. “How nice to see you.”
Payne and Pekach were wearing dinner jackets.
Probably most everybody here will be wearing a monkey suit but me, the Mayor thought. But it couldn’t be helped. I couldn’t have shown up at Tony Cannatello’s viewing wearing a monkey suit and looking like I was headed right from the funeral home to a fancy party.
“We’re happy to be here, Mr. Payne.”
“You know my wife, don’t you? And Miss Peebles?”
“How are you, Angeline?” Mrs. Patricia Payne said. “I like your dress.”
Patricia Payne and Martha Peebles were dressed similarly, in black, off-the-shoulder cocktail dresses. The Peebles woman had a double string of large pearls reaching to the valley of her breasts, and Mrs. Payne a single strand of pearls.
Nice chest, the Mayor thought, vis-a-vis Miss Peebles. Nice-looking woman. She’d be a real catch for Dave Pekach even without all that money.
And then, slightly piqued: Yeah, of course I know your wife. I’ve known her longer than you have. I carried her first husband’s casket out of St. Dominic’s when we buried him. And as long as we’ve known each other, isn’t it about time you started calling me “Jerry”?
“How is it, Patricia,” Angeline Carlucci spoke truthfully, “that you still look like a girl?”
The Mayor had a sudden clear mental image of the white, grief-stricken face of the young widow of Sergeant John X. Moffitt, blown away by a scumbag when answering a silent alarm at a gas station, as they lowered his casket into the ground in St. Dominic’s cemetery.
A long time ago. Twenty-five years ago. I was Captain of Highway when Jack Moffitt got killed.
Angie’s right. She does look good. Real good. She’s a Main Line lady now, a long way from being a cop’s widow living with her family off Roosevelt Boulevard.
“I’m so glad you could come,” Martha Peebles said to Angeline Carlucci.
“Oh, Jerry wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” Angeline said.
“No, I wouldn’t,” the Mayor agreed. “Thank you for having us, Miss Peebles.”
“Oh, Martha, please,” she said as she took his hand.
Then the Mayor put his hand out to Captain Pekach.
“Don’t you look spiffy, Dave,” he said.
“There’s a rumor going around that some unfortunate girl who doesn’t know what she’s getting into has agreed to marry you. Anything to it?”
Martha Peebles giggled. Dave Pekach looked at her and smiled uneasily at the Mayor but didn’t reply.
A waiter in a white jacket stood at the end of the reception line holding a tray of champagne glasses. Angeline took one. The waiter, seeing the indecision on the Mayor’s face, said, “There is a bar in the sitting room to your left, Mr. Mayor.”
“A little champagne will do just fine,” the Mayor said, and took a glass. “But thank you.”
It took the Mayor five minutes to work his way through the entrance foyer to the bar in the sitting room, and another five to find somebody he could leave Angie with and then to reach his destination.
In descending order of importance, he wished to have a word with Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin, Chief Inspector Matthew Lowenstein, and Inspector Peter Wohl. It would have been his intention to first find Denny or Matt and then send Fellows to fetch the others, but luck was with him. The three were standing together in a corner of the sitting room- not surprising, birds of a feather, et cetera — and there was a bonus. With them were Chief Inspector (Retired) August Wohl, Detective Matthew M. Payne, and Mr. Michael J. O’Hara of the Bulletin.
Chiefs Coughlin, Lowenstein, and Wohl were in business suits. Inspector Wohl and Detective Payne were in monkey suits. Mr. O’Hara was wearing a plaid sports coat of the type worn by the gentlemen who offer suggestions on the wagers one should make at a racetrack.
Not surprising, the Mayor thought. Dave Pekach works for Peter Wohl, and Peter would have probably rented a monkey suit for this if he didn’t have one, and he probably has his own, because he’s a bachelor, and doesn’t have a family to support and can afford a monkey suit. And Detective Payne not only is also a bachelor with no family to support, but doesn’t have to worry about living on a detective’s pay anyway. His father-what was the way they put it? His adoptive father, he adopted him when he married Patty Moffitt-is Brewster Cortland Payne II.
The Mayor handed Inspector Wohl his champagne glass.
“Get rid of this for me, will you, Mac?” he asked, as if he thought anybody in a monkey suit had to be a waiter. “Get me a weak scotch, and get my friends another round of whatever they’re drinking.”
“Good evening, Mr. Mayor,” Peter Wohl said, as the others laughed.
“My God, my mistake!” the Mayor said in mock horror. “What we have here is a cop in a monkey suit. I would never have recognized him.”
“Two, Jerry,” Chief Wohl said. “Three counting Dave Pekach. The Department’s getting some class.”
As Mayor Carlucci had risen through the ranks of the Police Department he had had Chief Inspector Wohl as his mentor and protector. The phrase used was that “Wohl was Carlucci’s rabbi.” It was said, quietly of course, but quite accurately, that Chief Wohl had not only helped Carlucci’s career prosper, but had on at least two occasions kept it from being terminated.
And Inspector, and then Chief Inspector, and then Deputy Commissioner and ultimately Commissioner Carlucci had been rabbi to Chiefs Coughlin and Lowenstein as they had worked their way up in the hierarchy. Detective Payne, it was universally recognized, had two rabbis, Chief Coughlin and Inspector Wohl.
Payne’s relationship with Wohl was the traditional one. Wohl saw in him a good cop, one who, with guidance and experience, could become a good senior police official. His relationship with Chief Dennis V. Coughlin was something different. Coughlin had been John Francis Xavier Moffitt’s best friend since they had been at the Police Academy. He had been the best man at his wedding, and he had gone to tell Patricia Moffitt, pregnant with Matt, that her husband had been killed. Just about everyone-including Jerry Carlucci-had thought it certain that after a suitable period, the Widow Moffitt would marry her late husband’s best friend. You didn’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to tell from the way he looked at her, and talked about her, how he felt about her.
Patty Moffitt had instead met Brewster Cortland Payne II, an archetypical Main Line WASP, in whose father’s law firm she had found work as a typist. He had been widowed four months previously when his wife had died in a traffic accident returning from their summer cottage in the Poconos.
Their marriage had enraged both families. Having lost a mate was not considered sufficient cause to marry hastily, and across a vast chasm of social and religious differences. It was generally agreed that the marriage would not, could not, last, and that was the reason many offered for Denny Coughlin never having married: he was still waiting for Patty Moffitt.
The marriage endured. Payne adopted Matthew Mark Moffitt and gave him his name and his love. Denny Coughlin never married. He and Brewster Payne became friends, and he was Uncle Denny to all the Payne children.
The Mayor shook everybody’s hand. A waiter appeared. The Mayor gave him his champagne glass and asked for a weak scotch. Inspector Wohl and Detective Payne both took champagne from the waiter’s tray.
“How ya doing, Mayor?” Mickey O’Hara asked.
“Take a look at this,” the Mayor said as he took a newspaper clipping from his pocket and handed it to O’Hara, “and make a guess.”
O’Hara read the story, then handed it back to the Mayor, who handed it to Chief Wohl.
“You all better read it,” the Mayor said.
MORE UNSOLVED MURDERS; NO ARRESTS AND ‘NO COMMENT’ BY CHARLES E. WHALEY PHILADELPHIA LEDGER STAFF WRITER
Capt. Henry O. Quaire, commanding officer of the Homicide Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department, refused to comment on rumors circulating through the police department that a homicide detective is under investigation for the brutal murder of Police Officer Jerome H. Kellog. Chief Inspector Matthew Lowenstein, who heads the Detective Bureau of the Police Department, was “out of town on official business” when this reporter attempted to contact him.
Kellog, 33, who was assigned to the Narcotics Unit, was found Friday morning in his home at 300 West Luray Street in the Feltonville section, dead of multiple gunshot wounds to the head. His death has been classified as “a willful death,” which is police parlance for murder.
Rumors began almost immediately to circulate that an unnamed Homicide Unit detective, who is allegedly involved with Officer Kellog’s estranged wife, is a prime suspect in the killing.
Although a large number of his fellow police officers called to pay their last respects to Officer Kellog at the John F. Fluehr amp; Sons Funeral Home this afternoon, including more than a dozen middle-ranking police supervisors, none of the police department’s most senior officers were present.
Their absence fueled another rumor, that Officer Kellog was not to be accorded the elaborate funeral rites, sometimes called an “Inspector’s Funeral,” normally given to a police officer killed in the line of duty.
Capt. Robert F. Talley, Commanding Officer of the Narcotics Unit, who made a brief appearance at the funeral home visitation, accompanying Officer Kellog’s widow, refused comment.
Captain Quaire, when asked if the denial to Officer Kellog of an “Inspector’s Funeral” suggested that his death was not in the line of duty, said that as far as he knew, no decision had been made in the matter. He stated that Police Commissioner Taddeus Czernich was the official who authorized, or denied, an official police funeral, and that all questions on the subject should be referred to him.
Commissioner Czernich’s office, when contacted, said the Commissioner was out of the office, and they had no idea when he would be available to answer questions from the press.
Kellog will be buried tomorrow in Lawnview Cemetery, in Rockledge, following funeral services at the Memorial Presbyterian Church of Fox Chase.
Quaire also said that the Homicide Unit was “actively involved” in the investigation of the murders of Mrs. Alicia Atchison and Anthony J. Marcuzzi in a downtown restaurant shortly after midnight last night, but the police as yet have been unable to identify, much less arrest, the two men who were identified by Gerald N. Atchison, Mrs. Atchison’s husband, and the proprietor of the restaurant, as the murderers.
“Why are you surprised?” O’Hara asked. “You know the Ledger ’s after you.”
“I don’t care if they go after me,” the Mayor said, “but putting in the paper that his widow has been messing around, that’s pretty goddamned low. Did you hear those rumors?”
“Did you write about them?” the Mayor asked. “Or feel your readers had the right to know that the widow was carrying on with some cop?”
O’Hara shook his head.
“There you go, Mick,” the Mayor said with satisfaction. “In that one goddamn story, that sonofabitch writes that the widow is a tramp…”
“That’s a little strong, Jerry,” Chief Wohl protested.
“What do you call a married woman who sleeps with another man?” the Mayor asked sarcastically. “And while we’re on that subject, Lowenstein, how is it that neither you nor Quaire told Detective Milham to keep his pecker in his pocket?”
Chief Lowenstein’s face colored.
“Jerry, I don’t consider that sort of thing any of my business,” he said.
“Maybe you should,” the Mayor snapped. “I don’t know if I’d want a detective around me whose wife divorced him for carrying on with her sister, and the next thing you know is playing hide-the-salami with a brother officer’s wife. It says something about his character, wouldn’t you say?”
Lowenstein’s face was now red.
Chief Wohl touched Lowenstein’s arm to stop any response. The worst possible course of action when dealing with an angry Jerry Carlucci was to argue with him.
“Take it easy, Jerry,” Chief Wohl said.
Matt Payne glanced at Chief Coughlin. Coughlin made a movement with his head that could have been a signal for him to leave the group. He was considering this possibility when his attention was diverted by the Mayor’s angry voice:
“Who the hell are you to tell me to take it easy?”
“Well, for one thing, I’m bigger than you are,” Chief Wohl said with a smile, “and for another, smarter. And better-looking.”
Carlucci glowered at him.
“Matty,” Chief Coughlin said. “Your girlfriend’s looking daggers at you. Maybe you better go pay some attention to her.”
Matt looked around but could not find Penny Detweiler. He wasn’t surprised. Coughlin was telling him a lowly detective should not be here, where he would be privy to what looked like a major confrontation between senior white-shirts and the Mayor of Philadelphia.
“Excuse me,” he said.
“You’ve been doing some good work, Payne,” the Mayor said. “It hasn’t gone unnoticed.”
Carlucci waited until Matt was out of earshot.
“You know what that young man did? Not for publication, Mickey?”
“No,” O’Hara replied with a chuckle. “What did that young man do, not for publication?”
“Peter here’s been running a surveillance operation,” Carlucci began.
“Surveilling who?” O’Hara interrupted.
“I’ll get to that in a minute. Anyway, they had a microphone mounted on a window, and it got knocked off. The window was on the thirteenth floor, I forgot to say. So what does Payne do? He goes to the room next door to the one where the mike fell off, goes out on a ledge, and puts it back in place. How’s that for balls, Mickey?”
“I hadn’t heard about that,” Chief Coughlin said, looking at Peter Wohl.
“Neither had I,” Peter said.
“He knew what had to be done, and he did it,” the Mayor said approvingly. “That’s the mark of a good cop.”
“Or a damned fool,” O’Hara said. “It was that important?”
“What the hell could be that important? He could have killed himself,” Coughlin said.
“The way it turned out, it was that important,” Carlucci said. “If he hadn’t put the mike back, we wouldn’t have got what we got after he put it back. Tony Harris told me that when he gave me the tapes this morning.”
“Which is what?” Coughlin asked.
“Enough, Tony Callis tells me, to just about guarantee a true bill from the grand jury and an indictment.”
The Hon. Thomas J. “Tony” Callis was the District Attorney for Philadelphia County.
“Of who?” O’Hara asked.
“Not yet, Mickey, but you will be the first to know, trust me. The warrants are being drawn up. Peter, I think you should let Payne go with you when you and Weisbach serve them; he’s entitled.”
When I and Weisbach serve them? Wohl thought. What the hell is that all about?
“Serve them on who?” O’Hara asked.
“I told you, Mickey, you’ll be the first to know, but not right now. For right now, you can have this.” The Mayor reached in his pocket and handed O’Hara a folded sheet of paper. “I understand the first of these will be given out first thing in the morning. You don’t know where you got that,” he said.
O’Hara unfolded the sheet of paper. It was a press release.
POLICE DEPARTMENT CITY OF PHILADELPHIA FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Police Commissioner Taddeus Czernich today announced a major reorganization of the self-policing functions of the Police Department, to take effect with the retirement of Chief Inspector Harry Allgood, presently the Commanding Officer of the Internal Affairs Division. Chief Allgood’s retirement will become effective tomorrow.
“The public’s faith in the absolute integrity of its police department is our most important weapon in the war against crime,” Commissioner Czernich declared.
“A new unit, the Ethical Affairs Unit (EAU), has been formed. It will be commanded by Staff Inspector Michael Weisbach, who will report directly to me on matters concerning any violation of the high ethical standards of behavior demanded of our police officers by the public, myself and Mayor Carlucci,” Commissioner Czernich went on.
“I have directed Inspector Peter Wohl, Commanding Officer of the Special Operations Division, to make available to Staff Inspector Weisbach whatever he requires to accomplish his new mission from the assets of Special Operations, which includes the Highway Patrol, the Anti-Crime Teams, and the Special Operations Investigation Section.
“Internal Affairs will continue to deal with complaints from the public regarding inappropriate actions on the part of police officers,” Commissioner Czernich concluded.
“What is that, Jerry?” Chief Wohl asked.
“Show it to him, Mickey,” the Mayor replied. O’Hara handed it to him.
“I can use this now, or am I supposed to sit on it until everybody else gets it?” O’Hara asked.
“You can use what? I didn’t give you anything,” Carlucci said.
“OK,” O’Hara replied. “I would like to be there, Peter, when you and Weisbach serve your warrants.”
“I’m sure Peter can arrange that, Mickey,” the Mayor said. “Can’t you, Peter?”
“Yes, sir,” Wohl said as he took the press release from his father and started to read it.
“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you could find Staff Inspector Weisbach at Peter’s office in the morning,” the Mayor said.
“I got to go find a phone,” O’Hara said.
“Matt,” Carlucci said to Chief Lowenstein, “are you having problems with Commissioner Czernich’s reorganization plan?”
“‘ Commissioner Czernich’s reorganization plan’?” Lowenstein quoted mockingly. “Hell no, Jerry. I know where the Commissioner gets his ideas, and I wouldn’t dream of questioning his little inspirations.”
Chief Wohl chuckled.
“But I would like to know what the hell’s going on,” Lowenstein added.
“Well, apparently the Commissioner thought that since Allgood decided to retire, Internal Affairs needed some reorganization.”
“Why?” Lowenstein pursued.
“To put a point on it, Matt, because it wasn’t doing the job it’s supposed to do.”
“You got something specific?”
“Yeah, I got something specific,” Carlucci said unpleasantly. “That surveillance Peter has been running, that tape I got this morning, because Payne climbed out on a ledge and put the microphone back? It recorded a conversation between Lieutenant Seymour Meyer of Central Police Division’s Vice Squad-your friend, Matt-and Paulo Cassandro. You know who Paulo Cassandro is, right?”
“Take it easy, Jerry,” Chief Wohl said.
“I know who Paulo Cassandro is,” Lowenstein said softly.
“What they were talking about, Matt, was that Meyer and his good buddy, Captain Vito Cazerra-you know Cazerra, don’t you, Matt? He commands the Sixth District?”
Lowenstein didn’t reply.
“I asked you if you know Captain Cazerra,” the Mayor said nastily.
“Yeah. I know him,” Lowenstein said.
“As I was saying, we now have a tape of Meyer telling Cassandro that he and Cazerra don’t think they’re getting a big enough payoff from the mob for letting a Polack whore from Hazleton named Harriet Osadchy run a call-girl operation in our better hotels. You know Harriet Osadchy, Matt?”
“No, I don’t know her,” Lowenstein said.
“We also have what must be a couple of miles of tape of your friend Meyer in the sack with a half-dozen of Harriet Osadchy’s whores.”
“Jesus!” Lowenstein said.
“Now, I know and you know and Commissioner Czernich knows how hard it is to catch somebody actually taking money. But the Commissioner was very disappointed to learn that Internal Affairs didn’t take a close look at Meyer even after they got an anonymous call about the sonofabitch screwing Osadchy’s whores in every hotel in Center City.”
“They get all kinds of anonymous-”
“Goddamn it, Matt,” Carlucci flared, “don’t you start to make excuses.”
“-calls,” Lowenstein went on, undaunted. “A lot of them from disgruntled people just trying to make trouble.”
“Yeah, well, this disgruntled person-Peter thinks he’s a retired cop working as hotel security-was so disgruntled that after he called Internal Affairs twice and nothing happened, he wrote me a letter.”
“And you put your own private detective bureau to work on it,” Lowenstein said bitterly.
“My own detective bureau?” Carlucci replied icily. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Lowenstein. But if you have a problem with Commissioner Czernich asking Special Operations to look into something I gave him that neither your detective bureau nor Internal Affairs seem to even have heard about, why don’t you ask for an appointment with the Commissioner and discuss it with him?”
There was a tense moment when it looked as if Chief Lowenstein, who had locked eyes with the Mayor, was going to reply.
“Jerry, what’s the relationship between EAU and Special Operations-I guess I mean between Peter and Weisbach-going to be under this reorganization?” Chief Wohl asked.
Did he ask that to change the subject to something safer? Peter Wohl wondered. Or does he see it as a threat to my career?
The question clearly distracted Mayor Carlucci. He glanced at Chief Wohl in confusion.
“Just a minute, Augie,” Carlucci said, turning back to lock eyes with Lowenstein again.
“Lowenstein and I were talking about the Commissioner,” he went on. “The Commissioner and I were discussing the Overnights this morning. When he can find the time, he brings them by my office, to keep me abreast of things.”
It was common knowledge that at whatever time in the morning the Mayor of Philadelphia arrived at his office, he could expect to find the Police Commissioner of Philadelphia waiting for him in his outer office. The Police Commissioner’s own day began when the Mayor was through with him.
“And the Commissioner had an idea. You saw the Overnights this morning, Chief Lowenstein?”
“Excuse me? I didn’t hear you, Chief.”
“Yes, sir, I saw the Overnights,” Lowenstein said.
“The double murder in the Inferno Lounge on Market Street? Did that catch your eye?”
“I was at the scene.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right. Then you know that Detective Payne was the first police officer on the scene?”
“I saw that.”
“Well, the Commissioner saw it too, and he asked me, what did I think of asking Peter, when he could spare him, of course, to send Payne over to Homicide to help Detective Milham on the investigation. Milham has the job, right? Your detective who can’t keep his pecker in his pocket?”
“Detective Milham has the job,” Lowenstein said, flat-voiced.
“Yeah, right. Well, the Commissioner said that maybe if Peter sent Payne over there, Payne might learn something about how a Homicide investigation is conducted. And he’s a bright kid, he might learn some other things, too. About other investigations Homicide is running, for example. Things that would be of interest to Peter and Weisbach in carrying out their new responsibilities.”
“You realize the hell of a spot you’d be putting the kid in, Jerry, sending him into Homicide that way? There’d be a lot of resentment,” Chief Wohl said.
“Augie, I’m sure the Commissioner has considered that,” the Mayor replied. “So anyway, I told the Commissioner that he’s the Police Commissioner, he can run the Department any way he pleases, do what he wants. If the Commissioner does decide to ask Inspector Wohl to send Detective Payne over there, are you going to have any problem with that, Chief Lowenstein?”
Lowenstein now had his temper and voice under control.
“I have no problem, Mr. Mayor, with any decision of Commissioner Czernich,” he said.
“Good,” the Mayor said. “What do they call that? ‘Cheerful, willing obedience’?” He turned to Chief Wohl. “You were asking, Augie, what Peter’s relationship with the Ethical Affairs Unit is going to be?”
“That press release wasn’t very clear about that.”
“I thought it was perfectly clear. Peter and Weisbach have worked together before, and I can’t imagine they’ll have any problems.”
Oh, shit! Peter thought. What that means is that I’ll be in the worst possible position. I’ll have the responsibility, but no authority.
“I thought I taught you years ago, Jerry,” Chief Wohl said, as if he had been reading his son’s mind, “that the worst thing you can do to a supervisor is give him responsibility without the necessary authority.”
The Mayor’s face suggested he didn’t like to be reminded that anyone had ever taught him anything.
“Maybe you’re right, Augie,” Carlucci said. “Maybe that wasn’t clear. I thought it was. Ethical Affairs Unit is under Special Operations. Weisbach reports directly to me, but he works for Peter. You understand that, Peter?”
Carlucci looked around the room.
“Ah, there’s Angie,” he said. “I better go join her. She doesn’t like it when I stay away too long.”
He walked away from them.
“Jesus Christ!” Chief Lowenstein said when he was out of earshot.
“My sentiments exactly, Chief,” Peter Wohl said.
“That crap about sending Payne to Homicide was a last-minute inspiration of his,” Lowenstein said.
“That was to remind you who runs the Department,” Chief Wohl said. “He thought maybe you’d forgotten.”
“I know who runs the Department,” Lowenstein said.
“You shouldn’t have argued with him,” Chief Wohl said. “First about Seymour Meyer, and then about Wally Milham. He knows that Meyer is dirty, and thinks Milham is. And he’s never wrong, especially when he’s hot under the collar. You know that, Matt.”
“Christ,” Lowenstein said.
“That’s what the whole business of sending Payne to Homicide is all about,” Chief Wohl went on. “He couldn’t think of anything, right then, that would piss you off more, and remind you who runs the Department.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” the stocky man in a dinner jacket said with a smile, as he saw two young formally dressed couples coming down the second-floor corridor of the Peebles mansion, “this part of the house has been closed off for the evening.”
“It’s all right,” Matt Payne replied, “I’m a police officer, checking on the firearms collection.”
The reply was clearly not expected by the stocky man.
“I’ll have to see some identification, please,” he said.
“Certainly,” Matt said, showing his badge. “You’re Wachenhut?”
Daffy (Mrs. Chadwick T.) Nesbitt IV giggled.
“Pinkerton,” the stocky man said, stepping out of the way.
“Thank you,” Matt said, putting his badge holder away and reclaiming the hand of Miss Penelope Detweiler. He led her and the Nesbitts almost to the end of the long corridor, and then opened a door to the right.
“You could fight a war with the guns in here,” Matt said as he switched on the lights and signaled for Penny to walk in.
“Jesus,” Chad said. “Look at them!”
“That was disgusting,” Penny said.
“What was disgusting, love of my life?” Matt asked. There was a strain in his voice.
“We’re not supposed to be in here,” Penny said.
“Look,” he said. “Chad wanted to see the guns. If we had gone to Martha-if we had been able to find Martha in that mob downstairs-and asked her if we could look at the guns, she would have said ‘sure,’ and we would have come up here, and the Pinkerton guy wouldn’t have let us in without written authorization, whereupon I would have showed him my badge. OK?”
“You think that damned badge makes you something special,” Penny said.
“Penny, sometimes you’re a pain in the ass,” Matt said.
“Hey!” Daffy said. “Stop it, you two!”
“The cabinets are locked,” Chad said in disappointment.
“They lock up the crown jewels of England, too,” Matt said. “Something about them being valuable.”
“Are these things valuable?” Penny asked.
“Some of the antiques are really worth money,” Matt said. “Museum stuff.”
“But what did he do with all of them?” Penny asked.
“Looked at them,” Matt said. “Just…took pleasure in having them.”
“What the hell is this?” Chad asked, looking down into a glass-topped, felt-lined display case. “It looks like a sniper rifle, without a scope.”
Matt went and looked.
“That one I know,” he said. “The Great White Hunter showed me that one himself. It’s a. 30 caliber-note that I did not say. 30-06-Springfield, Model of 1900. When Roosevelt, the first Roosevelt, came back from Cuba and got himself elected President-”
“What in the world are you talking about?” Penny demanded.
“Turn your mouth off automatic, all right? I’m talking to Chad.”
“Before I was so rudely interrupted, Chad: When Roosevelt made the Ordnance Corps pay Mauser for a license to manufacture bolt actions based on the Spanish 7mm they used in Cuba, the Springfield Arsenal made a trial run. Twenty rifles, I think he said. One of them they gave to Roosevelt, who was then President. That’s it. Christ only knows how much it’s worth. Martha’s father told me it took him three years to talk Roosevelt’s daughter into selling it to him once he found out she had it.”
“Are we finished here?” Penny asked.
“Penny!” Daffy said.
“We are not finished here, love of my life,” Matt said, not at all pleasantly. “You may be, but I have just begun to give Chad the tour.”
“I want to go back downstairs. I’m bored up here.”
“And I’m bored down there.”
“You didn’t seem to be bored when you were sucking up to the Mayor.”
“Have a nice time downstairs, Penelope,” Matt said. “Don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass on your way out.”
Penny extended her right hand, with the center finger in an extended upward position, the others folded, and walked out of the arms room.
“You’re right, Matthew my boy,” Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt IV said. “On occasion, and this is obviously one of them, our beloved Penny can be a flaming pain in the ass.”
“I suspect it may be that time of the month,” Matt said.
“The both of you are disgusting!” Daffy said. “I’m going with Penny.”
“Mind what Matt said about the doorknob, darling,” Chad said.
“You bastard!” Mrs. Nesbitt said, and marched out.
“I am tempted,” Matt said, “to repeat the old saw that there would be a bounty on them, if they didn’t have-”
“Don’t!” Chad interrupted, laughing. “I’m too tired to have to fight to defend the honor of the mother-to-be of my children.”
Ten minutes later, as Matt, having successfully gotten through the lock on one of the pistol cabinets, was showing Chad a mint-condition, low-serial-numbered Colt Model 1911 self-loader, Inspector Peter Wohl came into the gun room, trailed by Mrs. C. T. Nesbitt IV and Miss Penelope Detweiler.
“My God, she called the cops!” Matt said, the wit of which remark getting through only to Mr. Nesbitt.
“I asked Penny if she knew where you were,” Wohl said. “Got a minute, Matt?”
“Yes, sir. Sure. You know Chad, don’t you?”
“Hello, Nesbitt. How are you?”
“Could you give us a minute?”
“Certainly,” Chad said. “I’ll be outside.”
Wohl waited until they had gone and had closed the door behind them.
“You ever see one of these?” Matt asked, holding the Model 1911 out to Wohl.
“I just heard about you climbing out on the ledge at the Bellvue, you damned fool,” Wohl said.
After a just-perceptible hesitation, Matt asked, “Who told you? Harris?”
“Actually, it was the Mayor. Harris told the Mayor and the Mayor told me.”
“The Mayor thinks it makes you a cop with great big balls,” Wohl said. “I wanted to make sure you understand that in my book it makes you a goddamned fool.”
Matt didn’t reply for a moment.
“Just when I start to think that maybe you’ve started to grow up, you do something like that. Jesus H. Christ, Matt!”
“Are you willing to listen to me telling you that ledge was eighteen inches wide?”
“Be in my office at quarter to seven in the morning,” Wohl said.
“You and Staff Inspector Mike Weisbach are going to serve a warrant of arrest on Lieutenant Seymour Meyer.”
“We are? All of a sudden? What happened? Who’s Weisbach?”
“This is in the nature of a reward,” Wohl said. “I have been ordered by the Mayor to let you in on the arrest. He thinks your goddamned fool stunt on the ledge entitles you, because at two A.M., Paulo Cassandro and Meyer had an angry discussion, during which they mentioned names and specific sums and Meyer’s oral sexual proclivities, all of which were recorded by the microphone you put back in place.”
“No crap? We got ’em?”
“If it was up to me, tomorrow morning you’d be back on recovered stolen automobiles.”
“Ah, come on, Inspector!”
“If you had fallen off that ledge, Supercop, or if you had been seen up there, all the time and money and effort we spent trying to get Meyer would have gone down the toilet. The conversation we got, or one just as incriminating, would have been repeated in a day or two. Don’t you start patting yourself on the back. You acted like a goddamned fool, not like a detective with enough sense to find his ass with both hands.”
He locked eyes with Matt until Matt gave in and shrugged his shoulders in chagrin.
“Quarter to seven, Detective Payne,” Wohl said. “Have a nice night.”
He walked out of the gun room.
Matt replaced the Colt Model 1911 in its cabinet, and was trying to put the cabinet lock back in place when Chad, Penny, and Daffy came back in the room.
“You are forgiven, Penelope,” Matt said. “Out of the goodness of my heart. It will not be necessary for you to grovel in tears at my feet.”
“What was that business about a ledge at the Bellvue?” Penny asked.
“Does he often call you a goddamned fool?” Chad inquired.
“No comment,” Matt said, chuckling, trying desperately but not quite succeeding in making a joke of it.
“What was that all about?”
“He wants to see me at quarter to seven in his office, that’s all.”
“That’s not what it sounded like, buddy.” Chad chuckled.
“Tomorrow we’re going to play golf!” Penny said. “Tomorrow’s your day off. With Tom and Ginny.”
“Tomorrow, like the man said, I will be in Wohl’s office at quarter to seven. We’ll just have to make our excuses to Tom and Ginny. Are they here?”
“We are going to be at Merion at nine,” Penny said flatly.
“Chad, how do you feel about an early round?” Matt asked.
“Matt, I mean it!” Penny said.
“Or what, Penny? This is out of my control. I’m sorry, but I’m a cop.”
“ You’re sorry? Your precious Inspector Wohl is not the only one who thinks you’re a goddamned fool!” Penny said.
“Would you like the goddamned fool to take you home, Penny? I’ve had about all of you I can stand for one night.”
“I’ll get home by myself, thank you very much,” Penny said.
“Oh, come on, you two,” Daffy said.
“Come on, hell!” Penny said, and walked out of the gun room.
“You better go after her, Matt,” Daffy said.
“Why? To get more of the same crap she’s been giving me all night?”
“She’s really angry with you, Matt.”
“Frankly, my dear,” Matt said, in decent mimicry of Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind, “I don’t give a damn.”
Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin looked at Chief Inspector August Wohl (Retired) and then at Inspector Peter Wohl, shrugged, and said, “OK. I’ll call him.”
He leaned forward on Peter Wohl’s white leather couch for the telephone. He stopped.
“I don’t have his home phone,” he said.
“I’ve got it,” Peter Wohl said. “In my bedroom.”
He pushed himself out of one of the two matching white leather armchairs and walked into his bedroom.
“I don’t like this, Augie,” Denny Coughlin said.
“It took place on his watch,” Chief Wohl said. “He was getting the big bucks to make sure things like this didn’t happen.”
“Big bucks!” Coughlin snorted. “I wonder what’s going to happen to him?”
“By one o’clock tomorrow afternoon, he will be transferred to Night Command. Unless the Mayor has one of his Italian tantrums again, in which case I don’t know.”
Peter Wohl came back in his living room with a sheet of paper and handed it to Coughlin.
“How did I wind up having to do this?” Coughlin asked.
“Peter’s not senior enough, and the Mayor likes you,” Chief Wohl said.
“Jesus,” Coughlin said. He ran his finger down the list of private, official, home telephone numbers of the upper hierarchy of the Philadelphia Police Department, found what he was looking for, and dialed the number of Inspector Gregory F. Sawyer, Jr.
Inspector Sawyer was the Commanding Officer of the Central Police Division, which geographically encompasses Center City Philadelphia south of the City Hall. It supervises the Sixth and Ninth police districts, each of which is commanded by a captain. The Sixth District covers the area between Poplar Street on the north and South Street on the south from Broad Street east to the Delaware River, and the Ninth covers the area west of Broad Street between South and Poplar to the Schuylkill River. Its command is generally regarded as a stepping-stone to higher rank; both Chief Wohl and Chief Coughlin had in the past commanded the Central District.
“Barbara, this is Denny Coughlin,” Chief Coughlin said into the telephone. “I hate to bother you at home, but I have to speak to Greg.”
Chief Wohl leaned forward from his white leather armchair, picked up a bottle of Bushmills Irish whiskey, and generously replenished the glass in front of Denny Coughlin.
“Greg? Denny. Sorry to bother you at home with this, but I didn’t want to take the chance of missing you in the morning. We need you, the Commanding Officer of the Sixth, Sy Meyer, a plainclothesman of his named Palmerston, and a Sixth District uniform named Crater at Peter Wohl’s office at eight tomorrow morning.”
“What’s going on, Denny?” Inspector Sawyer inquired, loudly enough so that Chief Wohl and his son could hear.
“There was an incident,” Coughlin began, visibly uncomfortable with having to lie, “involving somebody who had Jerry Carlucci’s unlisted number. He wants a report from me by noon tomorrow. I figured Wohl’s office was the best place to get everybody together as quietly as possible.”
“An incident? What kind of an incident?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t hear about it myself until I saw the Mayor tonight. I guess we’ll all find out tomorrow.” He paused. “Greg, I probably don’t have to tell you this, but don’t start your own investigation tonight, OK?”
“Jesus Christ! I haven’t heard a goddamned thing.”
“Don’t feel bad, neither did I. Eight o’clock, Greg.”
“I’ll be there,” Inspector Sawyer said.
“Good night, Greg.”
“Good night, Denny.”
Coughlin put the telephone back in its cradle and picked up his drink.
“Why the hell is my conscience bothering me?” he asked.
“It shouldn’t,” Chief Wohl said. “Not your conscience.”
Officer Charles F. Crater, who lived with his wife Joanne and their two children (Angela, three, and Charles, Jr., eighteen months) in a row house at the 6200 block of Crafton Street in the Mayfair section of Philadelphia, was asleep at 7:15 a.m. when Corporal George T. Peterson of the Sixth District telephoned his home and asked to speak to him.
Mrs. Crater told Corporal Peterson that her husband had worked the four-to-twelve tour and it had been after two when he got home.
“I know, but something has come up, and I have to talk to him,” Corporal Peterson replied. “It’s important, Mrs. Crater.”
Two minutes later, sleepy-eyed, dressed in a cotton bathrobe under which it could be seen that he had been sleeping in his underwear, Officer Crater picked up the telephone.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“Charley, do you know where Special Operations Headquarters is?”
“Frankford and Castor?”
“Right. Be there at eight o’clock. See the Sergeant.”
“Jesus,” Crater said, looking at his watch. “It’s quarter after seven. What’s going on?”
“Wait a minute,” Corporal Peterson said. “Charley, the Sergeant says to send a car for you. Be waiting when it gets there.”
“What’s going on?”
“Hold it a minute, Charley,” Corporal Peterson said.
Sergeant Mario Delacroce came on the line.
“Crater, you didn’t get this from me,” he said. “All I know is that we got a call from Central Division saying to have you at Special Operations at eight this morning. What I hear is that Special Operations has got some operation coming off on your beat, and they want to talk to you.”
“What kind of an operation?”
“Charley, Central Division don’t confide in me, they just tell me what they want done. There’ll be a car at your house in fifteen minutes. Be waiting for it. You want a little advice, put on a clean uniform and have a fresh shave.”
“Right,” Charley Crater said.
He put the telephone back in its cradle.
“What was that all about?” Joanne Crater asked, concern in her voice.
“Ah, those goddamned Special Operations hotshots are running some kind of operation on my beat, and they want to talk to me,” Charley said.
“Talk to you about what?”
“Who knows?” Charley said. “They think their shit don’t stink.”
“I really wish you’d clean up your language, Charley.”
“Sorry,” he said. “Honey, I got to catch a quick shave and get dressed. Have I got a fresh uniform?”
“Yeah, there’s one I picked up yesterday.”
As he went up the stairs to his bedroom, Officer Crater had a very unpleasant thought: Maybe it has something to do with…Nah, if it was something like that, I’d have been told, before I went off last night, to report to Internal Affairs.
But what the hell does Special Operations want to ask me about?
Nine months before, a building contractor from McKeesport, Pennsylvania, had telephoned the Eastern Pennsylvania Executive Escort Service, saying the service had been recommended to him by a client of the service. After first ascertaining that the building contractor did indeed know the client, and that he understood the price structure, Mrs. Osadchy dispatched to Room 517 of the Benjamin Franklin Hotel one of her associates, who happened to be an employee of the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society, whose husband had deserted her and their two children, and who worked on an irregular basis for the Eastern Pennsylvania Executive Escort Service to augment her income.
When she reached the building contractor’s room, it was evident to her that he was very drunk, and when his behavior was unacceptably crude, she attempted to leave. The building contractor thereupon punched her in the face. She screamed, attracting the attention of the occupants of the adjacent room, who called hotel security.
The on-duty hotel security officer, a former police officer, was contacted as he stood on the sidewalk, chatting with Officer Charles F. Crater, of the Sixth District, who was walking his beat.
Officer Crater, ignoring the hotel security officer’s argument that he could deal with the situation alone, accompanied him to the building contractor’s room, where they found the building contractor somewhat aghast at the damage he had done to the face of the lady from the Eastern Pennsylvania Executive Escort Service, and the lady herself in the bathroom, trying to stanch the flow of blood from her mouth and nose, so that she could leave the premises without attracting horrified attention to herself.
The lady did not look like what Officer Crater believed hookers should look like. She was weeping. She told Officer Crater that her name was Marianne Connelly, and that her husband had deserted her and their two children, and that she had to do this to put food in their mouths. He believed her. She told him that if anyone at the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society heard about this, she would be fired, and then she didn’t know what she would do. He believed her.
The building contractor said that he didn’t know what had come over him, that he was a family man with children, and if this ever got back to McKeesport, he would lose his family and probably his business.
The hotel security officer suggested to Officer Crater that no real good would come from arresting the building contractor, since there were no witnesses to the assault, and the lady from the Eastern Pennsylvania Executive Escort Service wouldn’t humiliate herself, and set herself up to surely get fired, by going to court to testify against him.
What harm would there be, the hotel security officer argued, if they settled this bad situation right here and now? The building contractor would give the lady from the Eastern Pennsylvania Executive Escort Service money, enough not only to pay for her medical bills and the damage to her clothing, but to compensate her for what the sonofabitch had done to her.
The sonofabitch produced a wallet stuffed with large-denomination bills to demonstrate his willingness to go along with this solution to the problem.
“Give it all to her,” Officer Crater ordered.
“I got to keep out a few bucks, for Christ’s sake!”
“Give it all to her, you sonofabitch!” Officer Crater ordered angrily, and watched as the building contractor gave the lady from the Eastern Pennsylvania Executive Escort Service all the money in his wallet. Then he turned to the hotel security officer. “You’ll see that she gets out of here and home all right, right?”
Officer Crater then turned and left the room.
The lady from the Eastern Pennsylvania Executive Escort Service went home and telephoned Mrs. Osadchy to report what had happened.
“How much did he give you, Marianne?”
“Six hundred bucks.”
“You keep it, and I promise you, this will never happen again.”
Mrs. Osadchy also reported the incident to Mr. Cassandro, who considered the situation a moment and then said, “I think, since the cop was so nice, that we ought to show our appreciation. Give the broad a couple of hundred and tell her to give it to the cop.”
“I already told Marianne she could keep the dough she got from the john.”
“Then you give her the money for the cop, Harriet. Consider it an investment. Trust me. Do it.”
Two days later, while Officer Crater was walking his beat, the lady from the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society who moonlighted at the Eastern Pennsylvania Executive Escort Service approached him.
“I want to thank you for the other night,” she said. “I really appreciate it.”
“Aaaaaah,” Officer Crater said, somewhat embarrassed.
“No, I really mean it,” she said. “I really appreciate what you did for me.”
“Forget it,” Officer Crater said.
The lady handed him what looked like a greeting card.
“What’s this?” Officer Crater asked.
“It’s a thank-you card. I got it at Hallmark.”
“You didn’t have to do that,” Officer Crater said. “All I was trying to do was make the best of a bad situation.”
“You’re sweet,” the lady said. “What did you say your name was?”
“I mean your first name.”
“Charley,” Officer Crater replied.
“Mine’s Marianne,” she said. “Thanks again, Charley.” She kissed Officer Crater on the cheek and walked away.
Officer Crater stuffed the Hallmark thank-you card in his pocket and resumed walking his beat. When he got home, he took another look at it. Inside the card were four crisp fifty-dollar bills.
“Jesus Christ!” Officer Crater said. He went to the bathroom and tore the thank-you card in little pieces and flushed the pieces down the toilet. His wife, he knew, would never understand. The two hundred he folded up and put in the little pocket in his wallet which, before he got married, he had used to hold a condom.
The next time he saw her, he told himself, he would give the money back to her. There was no point in making a big deal of the money; telling his sergeant about it would mean having to tell him what he had done in the first place.
A week after that, before he saw the lady again, he had a couple of drinks too many after work in Dave’s Bar, at Third Street and Fairmount Avenue, with Officer William C. Palmerston, whom he had worked with in the Sixth District before Palmerston had been transferred to Vice.
He told him, out of school, about the thank-you card with the two hundred bucks in it, and that he intended to return it to the hooker the next time he saw her.
“Don’t be a goddamned fool,” Palmerston said. “Keep it.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“It’s not like she bribed you, is it? All you did was what you thought was the right thing to do in that situation, right? I mean, you didn’t catch her doing something wrong, right? You didn’t say, ‘For two hundred bucks, I’ll let you go,’ did you?”
“No, of course not.”
“You did her a favor, she appreciated it. Keep the money.”
“You’d keep it?”
Officer Palmerston, in reply, extended his hand, palm upward, to Officer Crater.
“All right, goddamn you, Bill, I will,” Officer Crater said, and took two of the fifties from the condom pocket in his wallet and laid them in Officer Palmerston’s palm. Officer Palmerston stuffed the bills in his shirt pocket, then called for another round.
“I’ll pay,” Officer Palmerston said, and laid one of the fifties on the bar.
The next time, several days later, Officer Crater saw the lady from the Eastern Pennsylvania Executive Escort Service he could not, of course, give her the two hundred back, since he’d given half of it to Officer Palmerston.
She came up to him right after he started walking his beat, where he was standing on the corner of Ninth and Chestnut streets.
“Hi, Charley,” she said. “How are you?”
“Hi,” he replied, thinking again that Marianne didn’t really look like a hooker.
“You ever get a break?” she asked. “For a cup of coffee or something?”
“I was about to have a cup of coffee. I’ll buy,” the lady said.
He seemed hesitant, and she saw this.
“Charley, all I’m offering is a cup of coffee,” she said. “Come on.”
Why not? Officer Crater reasoned. I mean, what the hell is wrong with drinking a cup of coffee with her?
They had coffee and a couple of doughnuts in a luncheonette. He never could remember afterward what they had talked about until Marianne suddenly looked at her watch and said she had to go. And offered her hand for him to shake, and he took it, and there was something in her hand.
“The lady I work for says thank you, too,” Marianne said, and was gone before he could say anything else, or even look at what she had left in his hand.
When he finally looked, it was a neatly folded, crisp one-hundred-dollar bill.
“Jesus Christ!” he said aloud, before quickly putting the bill in his trousers pocket.
When he got off work that night, he went to Dave’s Bar before going home, in the hope that he would run into Bill Palmerston.
Palmerston was already in Dave’s Bar when he got there, and when he bought Palmerston a drink, he paid for it with the hundred-dollar bill.
Palmerston looked at the bill and then at Crater.
“Where’d you get that?”
“The same place I got the fifties,” Crater said.
Palmerston watched as the bartender made change, and when he had gone, looked at Crater and asked, “Don’t tell me your conscience is bothering you again?”
“A little,” Officer Crater confessed.
Officer Palmerston reached toward the stack of bills on the bar and carefully pulled two twenties and a ten from it.
“Feel better?” he asked.
“Jesus, Bill, I don’t like this.”
“Don’t be a damned fool,” Palmerston said. “It’s not like you’re doing something wrong.” Then Palmerston had a second thought. “Anybody see her give this to you?”
Crater shook his head.
“Then don’t worry about it,” Palmerston said. “Nobody’s getting hurt. But I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to ask around.”
“Ask around about what?”
“I wonder why this lady is being so nice to you. It sure isn’t because of the size of your cock. If I come up with something, I’ll let you know.”
Two weeks later, as Officer Crater was walking his beat, an unmarked car pulled to the curb beside him.
“Get in the back, Charley,” Officer Palmerston, who was in the front passenger seat beside the driver, said.
Charley got in the backseat.
“This is Lieutenant Meyer,” Palmerston said.
“How are you, Crater?”
“How do you do, sir?”
“I work for the Lieutenant, Charley,” Palmerston said.
“Bill tells me you’re an all-right guy, Crater. Not too smart, but the kind of a guy you can trust.”
“He also told me about your lady friend, the one you helped out, the one who’s been showing her gratitude to you.”
For a fleeting moment, Charley was very afraid that Bill Palmerston had turned him in for taking the hundred dollars from Marianne every week. But that passed. The Lieutenant wouldn’t be talking the way he was if he was going to arrest him or anything like that.
“That’s what I meant about you not being too smart, Charley,” Lieutenant Meyer said.
“You really don’t know much about your lady friend’s business, do you?”
“Well, let me tell you what I found out after Bill came to me. What Bill and I found out. Your friend works for a woman named Harriet Osadchy. Her sheet shows three busts for prostitution here, and she has a sheet in Hazleton-you know where Hazleton is, Charley?”
“Out west someplace, in the coal regions.”
“Right. Anyway, this Osadchy woman has a sheet as long as you are tall in Hazleton, mostly prostitution, some controlled-substance busts, all nol-prossed, even a couple of drunk and disorderlies. But she’s smart. You got to give her that, right, Bill?”
“Yes, sir,” Officer Palmerston said.
“We didn’t even have a line on this Eastern Pennsylvania Executive Escort Service until you brought it to Bill’s attention.”
“The Eastern Pennsylvania Executive Escort Service. That’s what she calls her operation.”
“But like I was saying, now we have a line on her. She’s got maybe twenty, twenty-five, maybe more hookers working for her. It’s a high-class operation. The minimum price is a hundred dollars. That’s for one hour.”
“Bill had a talk with your friend Marianne. She said the split is sixty-forty. For her forty percent, Harriet makes the appointments for the girls, and takes care of what has to be taken care of.”
“Her girls know that when they knock on some hotel door, they’re not going to find some weirdo inside, or a cop, and that they’ll get their money. They even take one of those credit card machines with them, in case-and you’d be surprised how often this happens-the john can put the girl on his expense account as secretarial services, or a rental car, or something like that.”
“I didn’t know they could use credit cards,” Officer Crater confessed.
“There’s a lot you don’t know,” Lieutenant Meyer said. “You got any idea how much money is involved here?”
“Not really. You said a hundred an hour.”
“Right. Sometimes they stay more than an hour. Sometimes the john wants something more than a straight fuck. That costs more, of course. But the low side would be that a girl would work three johns a night. Let’s say Harriet has twenty girls working. That’s three times a hundred bucks times twenty girls.”
“Six thousand dollars,” Officer Crater said wonderingly.
“Right. Times seven nights a week. That’s forty-two thousand gross. Harriet’s share of that would come to almost seventeen thousand a week. It’s a money machine. Now out of that, she has to pay her expenses. Three, four telephones. The rent on a little apartment she has on Cherry Street where the phones are. She has a couple of lawyers on retainer, and a couple of doctors who make sure the girls are clean, and she takes care of the people in the hotels who could make trouble for her. And then I’m sure she has some arrangement with the mob. Usually that’s ten percent.”
“With the mob? What for?”
“To be left alone. Years ago, the mob ran whorehouses. The Chinese still have a couple running. We keep shutting them down and they keep opening them up, but the mob found out that whorehouses are really more trouble than they’re worth, so they went out of that business. Why the hell not, if they can take, like I said, ten percent of Harriet’s forty-two thousand a week for doing nothing more than putting the word out on the street that Harriet is a friend of theirs? A freelance hooker can almost expect to get robbed, but even a really dumb sleazeball thug knows better than to mess with anyone who is a friend of the mob.”
Officer Crater grunted.
“OK. So let’s talk about where we fit in here,” Meyer said. “The first thing you have to understand is that prostitution has been around a long time-they don’t call it ‘the oldest profession’ for nothing-and there’s absolutely no way to stop it. All we can do is control it. What the citizens don’t want is hookers approaching people on the street, or in a bar. The citizens don’t want disease. They don’t want to see young girls-or, for that matter, young boys-involved. For the obvious reasons. And I think we do a pretty job of giving the citizens what they want.
“What the citizens also want, and I don’t think most people understand this, or if they do, don’t want to admit it, is somebody like Harriet Osadchy. The johns pay their money, they get what they want, they don’t get a disease, they don’t get robbed, nobody gets hurt, and nobody finds out that they’re not getting what they should be getting at home.”
“Yeah,” Officer Crater said. “I see what you mean.”
“And the Harriet Osadchys of this world don’t give the police any trouble, either. They do their thing, and they do it clean, and we have the time to do what we’re hired to do, protect the people. We close down the whorehouses, we keep the hookers from working the streets and the bars, we keep the people from getting a disease or robbed, or black-mailed, all those things.”
“I see what you mean.”
“So now we get back to you, and your friend Marianne. You did the right thing by her and the guy who beat her up. I mean, what good would it have done if you had run him in? Your friend Marianne would not have testified against him anyway, and he made it right by her by giving her a lot of money, right?”
“I think she would have really lost her job if the PSFS heard about that,” Officer Crater said.
“Sure she would have,” Lieutenant Meyer agreed. “And her john would have gotten in trouble with his wife, a lot of people would have been hurt, and you solved the problem all around. I would have done exactly the same thing myself.”
“I thought it was the right thing to do,” Officer Crater said.
“OK. So what happened next? Marianne told Harriet what happened, and Harriet knew that it would have been a real pain in the ass, really hurt her business, if you had gone strictly by the book and hauled either one of them in. So she was grateful, right, and she told Marianne to slip you a couple of hundred bucks right off, and a hundred a week regular after that. A little two-hundred-dollar present to say thank you for not running Marianne in, and a regular little hundred-dollar-a-week present just to remind you that being a good guy, doing what’s right, sometimes gets you a little extra money. Nothing wrong with that, right?”
“Not the way you put it,” Officer Crater said. “It bothered-”
“Wrong, you stupid shit!” Lieutenant Meyer snarled.
“I explained to you, Crater, that Harriet Osadchy is personally pocketing at least seventeen thousand, seventeen thousand tax-free, by the way, each and every week, and you really pull her fucking chestnuts out of the fire, really save her ass, really save her big bucks, and she throws a lousy two hundred bucks at you? And figures she’s buying you for a hundred a week? That’s fucking insulting, Crater, can’t you see that?”
Officer Crater did not reply.
“She’s paying, as her cost of doing business, and happy to do it, some lawyer maybe a thousand a week, and some doctor another thousand, and slipping the mob probably ten percent of however the fuck much she takes in, and she slips you a lousy, what, a total of maybe five hundred, and you’re not insulted?”
“I guess I never really thought about it,” Officer Crater confessed.
“Right. You’re goddamned right you didn’t think about it,” Meyer said.
“I don’t know what you want me to say, Lieutenant,” Crater said.
“You don’t say anything, that’s what I want you to say. We’ll all be better off if you never open your mouth again. I will tell you what’s going to happen, Crater. Your friend Marianne, the next time you see her, is going to give you another envelope. This one will have a thousand dollars in it. You will take two hundred for your trouble and give the rest to Bill. And every week the same goddamned thing. Am I getting through to you?”
“What do I have to do?”
“I already told you. Keep your mouth shut. That’s all. And remember, if you’re as stupid as I’m beginning to think you are, that if you start thinking about maybe going to Internal Affairs or something, it’d be your word against mine and Bill’s. Not only would we deny this conversation ever took place, but Internal Affairs would have your ass for not coming to them the first time your friend Marianne gave you money.”
Lieutenant Meyer took his arm off the back of the seat and faced forward and turned the ignition.
“Tell whatsisname he’d better get out of the car now, Bill,” he said. “Unless he wants to go with us.”
Staff Inspector Mike Weisbach turned off Frankford Avenue onto Castor and then drove into the parking lot of the Special Operations Division. He saw a parking slot against the wall of the turn-of-the-century school building marked RESERVED FOR INSPECTORS and steered his unmarked Plymouth into it.
I usually go on the job looking forward to what the day will bring, he thought as he got out of the car, but today is different; today, I suspect, I am not going to like at all what the day will bring, and I don’t mean because I’m not used to getting up before seven o’clock to go to work.
He entered the building through the nearest door, above which “BOYS” had been carved in the granite, and found himself in what had been, and was now, a locker room. The difference was that the boys were now all uniformed officers, mostly Highway Patrolmen, and the room was liberally decorated with photographs of young women torn from Playboy, Hustler, and other literary magazines.
“How do I find Inspector Wohl’s office?” Mike addressed a burly Highway Patrolman sitting on a wooden bench in his undershirt, scrubbing at a spot on his uniform shirt.
“I don’t think you’re supposed to be in here, sir,” the Highway Patrolman said, using the word as he would use it to a civilian he had just stopped for driving twenty-five miles over the speed limit the wrong way down a one-way street. “Visitors is supposed to use the front door.”
The Highway Patrolman examined him carefully.
“I know you?”
“I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure. My name is Mike Weisbach.”
The Highway Patrolman stood up.
“Sorry, Inspector,” he said. “I didn’t recognize you. There’s stairs over there. First floor. Used to be the principal’s office.”
“Thank you,” Mike said, and then smiled and said, “Your face is familiar, too. What did you say your name was?”
“Lomax, sir. Charley Lomax.”
“Yeah, sure,” Mike said, and put out his hand. “Good to see you, Charley. It’s been a while.”
“Yes, sir. It has,” Lomax said.
When he reached the outer office of the Commanding Officer of the Special Operations Division, Weisbach identified himself as Staff Inspector Weisbach to the young officer in plain clothes behind the desk.
“I know he’s expecting you, Inspector. I’ll see if he’s free,” the young officer said, and got up and walked to a door marked INSPECTOR WOHL, knocked, and went inside.
Mike’s memory, which had drawn a blank vis-a-vis Officer Lomax, now kicked in about Wohl’s administrative assistant.
His name is O’Mara, Paul Thomas. His father is Captain Aloysious O’Mara, who commands the Seventeenth District. His brother is Sergeant John F. O’Mara of Civil Affairs. His grandfather had retired from the Philadelphia Police Department. His transfer to Special Operations had been arranged because Special Operations was considered a desirable assignment for a young officer with the proper nepotistic connections.
That’s not why I’m here. Lowenstein didn’t arrange this transfer for me to enhance my career. I’m here to help Jerry Carlucci get reelected.
Peter Wohl, without a jacket, his sleeves rolled up and his tie pulled down, appeared at the door.
“Come on in, Mike,” he said. “Can I have Paul get you a cup of coffee?”
“Please,” Mike said.
“Three, Paul, please,” Wohl ordered, and held the door open for Weisbach.
“Morning, Mike,” Mickey O’Hara called as Weisbach entered the office.
He was sitting on a couch. On the coffee table in front of him was a tape recorder and a heavy manila paper envelope.
“What’s good about it, Mick?” Weisbach asked.
“Peter’s been telling me that the forces of virtue are about to triumph over the forces of evil,” O’Hara replied. “I get an exclusive showing a dirty district captain and a dirty lieutenant on their way to the Central Cellroom. I like that, professionally and personally. So far as I’m concerned, that’s not a bad way to start my day.”
“Mick,” Wohl asked, “how would you feel about going with Mike Sabara when he picks up Paulo Cassandro?”
“Instead of staying here, you mean?” O’Hara replied, and then went on without giving Wohl a chance to reply. “For one thing, Peter, the arrest of second- or third-level gangsters is not what gets on the front page. The arrest of a police captain, a district commander, is. And please don’t tell him I said so, but Mike Sabara is not what you could call photogenic.”
“It’s your call, Mickey.”
“I know what you’re trying to do, Peter,” Mickey said. “Keep a picture of a dirty captain getting arrested out of the papers. But it won’t work. That’s news, Peter.”
“And you’re here with Carlucci’s blessing, right?”
“Yeah, I am, Peter. Sorry.”
“OK. Let’s talk about what’s going to happen. Chief Coughlin will be here any minute. Inspector Sawyer and the others no later than eight. Sawyer comes in here. Coughlin plays the tape of Meyer and Cassandro for him-”
Wohl pointed to the tape machine.
“Coughlin’s going to play the tape for him?” Mickey interrupted, sounding surprised.
“That was my father’s idea. He and Coughlin choreographed this for me last night. The tape is damned incriminating. That should, I was told, keep Sawyer from loyally defending his men. And, Mickey, Carlucci’s blessing or not, you are not going to be here when that happens.”
“OK. Do I get to hear the tape?”
“Can you live with taking my word that it’s incriminating?”
“Can I listen to it out of school?”
“OK. Why not?”
O’Hara shrugged his acceptance.
“Then we go to the Investigation Section, upstairs, where Cazerra, Meyer, and the two officers will be waiting. Inspector Sawyer will arrest Captain Cazerra. I will arrest Lieutenant Meyer. Their badges, IDs, and guns will be taken from them. Staff Inspector Weisbach, assisted by Detectives Payne and Martinez, will arrest the two officers, and take their guns and badges.”
“Am I going to get to be there?” O’Hara asked.
“When Inspector Sawyer comes in here, you leave,” Wohl said. “Wait outside. When we come out, we will be on our way upstairs. You can come with us.”
“The Fraternal Order of Police will be notified immediately after the arrests,” Wohl went on. “It will probably take thirty minutes for them to get an attorney, attorneys, here. When that is over, I will take Captain Cazerra to the Police Administration Building in my car, which will be driven by Sergeant Washington. He will not be placed in a cell. Chief Coughlin has arranged for him to be immediately booked, photographed, fingerprinted, and arraigned. He will almost certainly be released on his own recognizance.”
“Nice, smooth operation,” O’Hara said.
“The same thing will happen with the others. Weisbach will take Lieutenant Meyer to the Roundhouse in his car, with Officer Lewis driving. Detectives Payne and Martinez will take the two officers in a Special Operations car.”
“It would be nice if I could get a shot of Cazerra and Meyer in handcuffs,” O’Hara said.
Wohl ignored him.
“It would be a good public relations shot, either one of them in cuffs,” O’Hara pursued.
Wohl looked at him and shook his head.
“Mick,” he said. “I am aware that there are certain public relations aspects to this, otherwise the Prince of the Fourth Estate would not be sitting in my office with egg spots on his tie and his fly open.”
Mickey O’Hara glanced in alarm toward his crotch. His zipper was fastened.
“Screw you, Peter.” He laughed. “Question: Don’t you think the Mayor would be happier if Captain Cazerra were arrested by the new Chief of the Ethical Affairs Unit?”
“Why would that make the Mayor happier?”
“Maybe assisted by Detective Payne?” Mickey went on, not directly answering the question. “Handsome Matthew is always good copy. That picture, I’m almost sure, would make page one. Isn’t that what Carlucci wants? More to the point, why he fixed it for me to be here?”
“I suggested last night that Mike make all the arrests.”
“Thanks a lot, Peter,” Mike Weisbach said sarcastically.
“Coughlin shot me down,” Wohl went on. “There’s apparently a sacred protocol here, and Coughlin wants it followed.”
“Just trying to be helpful,” Mickey said. “For purely selfish reasons. I want to get invited back the next time. I guess the Mayor will have to be happy with a picture of the Black Buddha standing behind Cazerra going into the Roundhouse. That should produce a favorable reaction from the voting segment of the black population, right?”
“Even if it does humiliate every policeman in Philadelphia,” Wohl said bitterly. “Mike, you’ve heard it. See anything wrong with it?”
Weisbach shook his head.
“OK,” Wohl said. “Then that’s the way we’ll do it.”
“OK,” Weisbach parroted.
“Afterward, Mike, you and I are going to have a long talk about the Ethical Affairs Unit.”
“Right,” Weisbach said.
Wohl’s door opened and Chief Inspector Coughlin walked in.
“Morning,” he said.
“Good morning, Chief,” Wohl and Weisbach said, almost in unison.
“How are you, Mickey?” Coughlin said cordially, offering his hand.
“No problems,” O’Hara said.
“Peter fill you in on what’s going to happen?”
“Mick, just now, as I was driving over here, I wondered if you might not want to go with Captain Sabara when he arrests Cassandro.”
“Nice try, Denny,” O’Hara said. “But like I told Peter, a picture of a third-rate gangster in cuffs isn’t news. A District captain getting arrested is.”
Officer O’Mara put his head in the door.
“Inspector Sawyer is here, sir.”
Wohl looked at Coughlin, who nodded.
“Ask him to come in,” Peter said.
Inspector Gregory Sawyer, a somewhat portly, gray-haired man in his early fifties, came in the room.
He was visibly surprised at seeing Mickey O’Hara.
“I’ll see you guys later,” Mickey said. “How are you, Greg?”
He walked out of the room.
“Greg,” Coughlin said. “I wasn’t exactly truthful with you last night.”
“Excuse me, Chief?”
“That thing ready?” Coughlin asked, pointing at the tape recorder.
“Yes, sir,” Wohl said.
“Sit down, Greg,” Coughlin said.
“At the orders of the Commissioner, Inspector Wohl has been conducting an investigation of certain allegations involving Captain Cazerra, Lieutenant Meyer, and others in your division. A court order was obtained authorizing electronic surveillance of a room in the Bellvue-Stratford Hotel. What you are about to hear is one of the recordings made,” Coughlin said formally. “Turn it on, please,” he said, and then walked to Wohl’s window and looked out at the lawn in front of the building.
At 7:40 A.M. Miss Penelope Detweiler was sitting up in her canopied four-poster bed in her three-room apartment on the second floor of the Detweiler mansion when Mrs. Violet Rogers, who had been employed as a domestic servant by the Detweilers since Miss Detweiler was in diapers, entered carrying a tray with coffee, toast, and orange juice.
Miss Detweiler was wearing a thin, pale blue, sleeveless nightgown. Her eyes were open, and there was a look of surprise on her face.
There was a length of rubber medical tubing tied around Miss Detweiler’s left arm between the elbow and the shoulder. A plastic, throwaway hypodermic injection syringe hung from Miss Detweiler’s lower left arm.
“Oh, Penny!” Mrs. Rogers moaned. “Oh, Penny!”
She put the tray on the dully gleaming cherrywood hope chest at the foot of the bed, then stood erect, her arms folded disapprovingly against her rather massive breast, her full, very black face showing mingled compassion, sorrow, and anger.
And then she met Miss Detweiler’s eyes.
“Oh, sweet Jesus!” Mrs. Rogers said, moaned, and walked quickly to the bed.
She waved a large, plump hand before Miss Detweiler’s eyes. There was no reaction.
She put her hand to Miss Detweiler’s forehead, then withdrew it as if the contact had burned.
She put her hands on Miss Detweiler’s shoulders and shook her.
“Penny! Penny, honey!”
There was no response.
When Mrs. Rogers removed her hands from Miss Detweiler’s shoulders and let her rest again on the pillows against the headboard, Miss Detweiler started to slowly slide to the right.
Mrs. Rogers tried to stop the movement but could not. She watched in horror as Miss Detweiler came to rest on her side. Her head tilted back, and she seemed to be staring at the canopy of her bed.
Mrs. Rogers turned from the bed and walked to the door. In the corridor, the walk became a trot, and then she was running to the end of the corridor, past an oil portrait of Miss Detweiler in her pink debutante gown, past the wide stairway leading down to the entrance foyer of the mansion, into the corridor of the other wing of the mansion, to the door of the apartment of Miss Detweiler’s parents.
She opened and went through the door leading to the apartment sitting room without knocking, and through it to the closed double doors of the bedroom. She knocked at the left of the double doors, then went through it without waiting for a response.
H. Richard Detweiler, a tall, thin man in his late forties, was sleeping in the oversize bed, on his side, his back to his wife Grace, who was curled up in the bed, one lower leg outside the sheets and blankets, facing away from her husband.
Mr. Detweiler, who slept lightly, opened his eyes as Mrs. Rogers approached the bed.
“Mr. D,” Violet said. “You better come.”
“What is it, Violet?” Mr. Detweiler asked in mingled concern and annoyance.
“It’s Miss Penny.”
H. Richard Detweiler sat up abruptly. He was wearing only pajama bottoms.
“Jesus, now what?”
“You’d better come,” Mrs. Rogers repeated.
He swung his feet out of the bed and reached for the dressing gown he had discarded on the floor before turning out the lights. As he put it on, his feet found a pair of slippers.
Mrs. Detweiler, a finely featured, rather thin woman of forty-six, who looked younger, woke, raised her head, and looked around and then sat up. Her breasts were exposed; she had been sleeping wearing only her underpants.
“What is it, Violet?” she asked as she pulled the sheet over her breasts.
“What about Miss Penny?”
H. Richard Detweiler was headed for the door, followed by Violet.
“Dick?” Mrs. Detweiler asked, and then, angrily, “Dick!”
He did not reply.
Grace Detweiler got out of bed and retrieved a thick terry-cloth bathrobe from the floor. It was too large for her, it was her husband’s, but she often wore it between the shower and the bed. She put it on, and fumbling with the belt, followed her husband and Violet out of her bedroom.
H. Richard Detweiler entered his daughter’s bedroom.
He saw her lying on her side and muttered something unintelligible, then walked toward the canopied bed.
“I think she’s gone, Mr. D,” Violet said softly.
He flashed her an almost violently angry glare, then bent over the bed and, grunting, pushed his daughter erect. Her head now lolled to one side.
Detweiler sat on the bed and exhaled audibly.
“Call Jensen,” he ordered. “Tell him we have a medical emergency, and to bring the Cadillac to the front door.”
Violet went to the bedside and punched the button that would ring the telephone in the chauffeur’s apartment over the five-car garage.
H. Richard Detweiler stood up, then squatted and grunted as he picked his daughter up in his arms.
“Call Chestnut Hill Hospital, tell them we’re on the way, and then call Dr. Dotson and tell him to meet us there,” Detweiler said as he started to carry his daughter across the room.
Mrs. Arne-Beatrice-Jensen answered the telephone on the second ring and told Mrs. Rogers her husband had just left in the Cadillac to take it to Merion Cadillac-Olds for service.
“Mr. D,” Mrs. Rogers said, “Jensen took the limousine in for service.”
“Go get the Rolls, please, Violet,” Detweiler said, as calmly as he could manage.
“Oh, my God!” Mrs. Grace Detweiler wailed as she came into the room and saw her husband with their daughter in his arms. “What’s happened?”
“Goddamn it, Grace, don’t go to pieces on me,” Detweiler said. He turned to Violet.
“Not the Rolls, the station wagon,” he said, remembering.
There wasn’t enough room in the goddamned Rolls Royce Corniche for two people and a large-sized cat, but Grace had to have a goddamned convertible.
“What’s the matter with her?” Grace Detweiler asked.
“God only knows what she took this time,” Detweiler said, as much to himself as in reply to his wife.
“Beatrice,” Violet said, “get the keys to the station wagon. I’ll meet you by the door.”
“Oh, my God!” Grace Detweiler said, putting her balled fist to her mouth. “She’s unconscious!”
“Baxley has the station wagon,” Mrs. Jensen reported. “He’s gone shopping.”
Baxley was the Detweiler butler. He prided himself that not one bite of food entered the house that he had not personally selected. H. Richard Detweiler suspected that Baxley had a cozy arrangement with the grocer’s and the butcher’s and so on, but he didn’t press the issue. The food was a good deal better than he had expected it would be when Grace had hired the Englishman.
“Baxley’s gone with the station wagon,” Violet reported.
Goddamn it all to hell! Both of them gone at the same time! And no car, of five, large enough to hold him with Penny in his arms. And nobody to drive the car if there was one.
“Call the police,” H. Richard Detweiler ordered. “Tell them we have a medical emergency, and to send an ambulance immediately.”
He left the bedroom carrying his daughter in his arms, and went down the corridor, past the oil portrait of his daughter in her pink debutante gown and then down the wide staircase to the entrance foyer.
“Police Radio,” Mrs. Leander-Harriet-Polk, a somewhat more than pleasingly plump black lady, said into the microphone of her headset.
“We need an ambulance,” Violet said.
Harriet Polk had worked in the Radio Room in the Police Administration Building for nineteen years. Her long experience had told her from the tone of the caller’s voice that this was a genuine call, not some lunatic with a sick sense of humor.
“Ma’am, what’s the nature of the problem?”
“She’s unconscious, not breathing.”
“Where are you, Ma’am?”
“928 West Chestnut Hill Avenue,” Violet said. “It’s the Detweiler estate.”
Harriet threw a switch on her console which connected her with the Fire Department dispatcher. Fire Department Rescue Squads are equipped with oxygen and resuscitation equipment, and manned by firemen with special Emergency Medical Treatment training.
“Unconscious female at 928 West Chestnut Hill Avenue,” she said.
Then she spoke to her caller.
“A rescue squad is on the way, Ma’am,” she said.
“Thank you,” Violet said politely.
Nineteen years on the job had also embedded in Harriet Polk’s memory a map of the City of Philadelphia, overlaid by Police District boundaries. She knew, without thinking about it, that 928 West Chestnut Hill Avenue was in the Fourteenth Police District. Her board showed her that Radio Patrol Car Twenty-three of the Fourteenth District was in service.
Harriet moved another switch.
“Fourteen Twenty-three,” she said. “928 West Chestnut Hill Avenue. A hospital case. Rescue en route.”
Police Officer John D. Wells, who also had nineteen years on the job, was sitting in his three-year-old Chevrolet, whose odometer was halfway through its second hundred thousand miles, outside a delicatessen on Germantown Avenue.
He had just failed to have the moral courage to refuse stuffing his face before going off shift and home. He had a wax-paper-wrapped Taylor-ham-and-egg sandwich in his hand, and a large bite from same in his mouth.
He picked up his microphone and, with some difficulty, answered his call: “Fourteen Twenty-three, OK.”
He took off the emergency brake and dropped the gearshift into drive.
He had spent most of his police career in North Philadelphia, and had been transferred to “The Hill” only six months before. He thought of it as being “retired before retiring.” There was far less activity in affluent Chestnut Hill than in North Philly.
He didn’t, in other words, know his district well, but he knew it well enough to instantly recall that West Chestnut Hill Avenue was lined with large houses, mansions, on large plots of ground, very few of which had numbers to identify them.
Where the hell is 928 West Chestnut Hill Avenue?
Officer Wells did not turn on either his flashing lights or siren. There was not much traffic in this area at this time of the morning, and he didn’t think it was necessary. But he pressed heavily on the accelerator pedal.
H. Richard Detweiler, now staggering under the hundred-and-nine-pound weight of his daughter, reached the massive oak door of the foyer. He stopped and looked angrily over his shoulder and found his wife.
“Grace, open the goddamned door!”
She did so, and he walked through it, onto the slate-paved area before the door.
Penny was really getting heavy. He looked around, and walked to a wrought-iron couch and sat down in it.
“Mr. D,” she said, “the police, the ambulance, is coming,” she said.
“Thank you,” he said.
He looked down at his daughter’s face. Penny was looking at him, but she wasn’t seeing him.
Oh, my God!
“Violet, please call Mr. Payne and tell him what’s happened, and that I’m probably going to need him.”
Violet nodded and went back in the house.
Brewster Cortland Payne II, Esq., a tall, well-built-he had played tackle at Princeton in that memorable year when Princeton had lost sixteen of seventeen games played-man in his early fifties, was having breakfast with his wife, Patricia, on the patio outside the breakfast room of his rambling house on a four-acre plot on Providence Road in Wallingford when Mrs. Elizabeth Newman, the Payne housekeeper, appeared carrying a telephone on a long cord.
“It’s the Detweilers’s Violet,” she said.
Mrs. Payne, an attractive forty-four-year-old blonde, who was wearing a pleated skirt and a sweater, put her coffee cup down as she watched her husband take the telephone.
“For you?” she asked, not really expecting a reply.
“Good morning, Violet,” Brewster C. Payne said. “How are you?”
“Mr. Detweiler asked me to call,” Violet said. “He said he will probably need you.”
“What seems to be the problem?”
Payne, who was a founding partner of Mawson, Payne, Stockton, McAdoo amp; Lester, arguably Philadelphia’s most prestigious law firm, was both Mr. H. Richard Detweiler’s personal attorney and his most intimate friend. They had been classmates at both Episcopal Academy and Princeton.
Violet told him what the problem was, ending her recitation of what had transpired by almost sobbing, “I think Penny is gone, Mr. Payne. He’s sitting outside holding her in his lap, waiting for the ambulance, but I think she’s gone.”
“Violet, when the ambulance gets there, find out where they’re taking Penny. Call here and tell Elizabeth. I’m leaving right away. When I get into Philadelphia, I’ll call here and Elizabeth can tell me where to go. Tell Mr. Detweiler I’m on my way.”
He broke the connection with his finger, lifted it and waited for a dial tone, and then started dialing again.
“Well, what is it?” Patricia Payne asked.
“Violet went into Penny’s room and found her sitting up in bed with a needle hanging out of her arm,” Payne replied, evenly. “They’re waiting for an ambulance. Violet thinks it’s too late.”
“Oh, my God!”
A metallic female voice came on the telephone: “Dr. Payne is not available at this time. If you will leave your name and number, she will return your call as soon as possible. Please wait for the tone. Thank you.”
He waited for the tone and then said, “Amy, if you’re there, please pick up.”
“Penny was found by the maid ten minutes ago with a needle in her arm. Violet thinks she’s gone.”
“I think you had better go out there and deal with Grace,” Brewster Payne said.
“Goddamn!” Dr. Amelia Payne said.
“Tell her I’m coming,” Patricia said.
“Your mother said she’s coming to Chestnut Hill,” Payne said.
“All right,” Amy said, and the connection went dead.
Payne waited for another dial tone and dialed again.
“More than likely by mistake,” Matt’s voice said metallically, “you have dialed my number. If you’re trying to sell me something, you will self-destruct in ten seconds. Otherwise, you may leave a message when the machine goes bleep.”
“Matt, pick up.”
There was no human voice.
He’s probably at work, Payne decided, and replaced the handset in its cradle.
“Elizabeth, please call Mrs. Craig-you’d better try her at home first-and tell her that something has come up and I don’t know when I’ll be able to come to the office. And ask her to ask Colonel Mawson to let her know where he’ll be this morning.”
Mrs. Newman nodded.
“Poor Matt,” Mrs. Newman said.
“Good God!” Brewster Payne said, and then stood up. His old-fashioned, well-worn briefcase was sitting on the low fieldstone wall surrounding the patio. He picked it up and then jumped over the wall and headed toward the garage. His wife started to follow him, then stopped and called after him: “I’ve got to get my purse. And I’ll try to get Matt at work.”
She waited until she saw his head nod, then turned and went into the house.
Officer John D. Wells, in RPC Fourteen Twenty-three, slowed down when he reached the 900 block of West Chestnut Hill Avenue, a little angry that his memory had been correct.
There are no goddamned numbers. Just tall fences that look like rows of spears and fancy gates, all closed. You can’t even see the houses from the street.
Then, as he moved past one set of gates, it began to open, slowly and majestically. He slammed on the brakes and backed up, and drove through the gates, up a curving drive lined with hundred-year-old oak trees.
If this isn’t the place, I can ask.
It was the place.
There was a man on a patio outside an enormous house sitting on an iron couch holding a girl in her nightgown in his arms.
Wells got quickly out of the car.
“Thank God!” the man said, and then, quickly, angrily: “Where the hell is the ambulance? We called for an ambulance!”
“A rescue squad’s on the way, sir,” Wells said.
He looked down at the girl. Her eyes were open. Wells had seen enough open lifeless eyes to know this girl was dead. But he leaned over and touched the carotid artery at the rear of her ear, feeling for a pulse, to make sure.
“Can you tell me what happened, sir?” he asked.
“We found her this way, Violet found her this way.”
There came the faint wailing of a siren.
“There was a needle in her arm,” a large black woman said softly, earning a look of pained betrayal from the man holding the body.
Wells looked. There was no needle, but there was a purple puncture wound in the girl’s arm.
“Where did you find her?” Wells asked the black woman.
“Sitting up in her bed,” Violet said.
The sound of the ambulance siren had grown much louder. Then it shut off. A moment later the ambulance appeared in the driveway.
Two firemen got quickly out, pulled a stretcher from the back of the van, and, carrying an oxygen bottle and an equipment bag, ran up to the patio.
The taller of them, a very thin man, did exactly what Officer Wells had done, took a quick look at Miss Penelope Detweiler’s lifeless eyes and concluded she was dead, and then checked her carotid artery to make sure.
He met Wells’s eyes and, just perceptibly, shook his head.
“Sir,” he said, very kindly, to H. Richard Detweiler, “I think we’d better get her onto the stretcher.”
“There was, the lady said, a needle in her arm,” Wells said.
H. Richard Detweiler now gave Officer Wells a very dirty look.
The very thin fireman nodded. The announcement did not surprise him. The Fire Department Rescue Squads of the City of Philadelphia see a good many deaths caused by narcotics overdose.
Officer Wells went to his car and picked up the microphone.
“Fourteen Twenty-three,” he said.
“Fourteen Twenty-three,” Harriet Polk’s voice came back immediately.
“Give me a supervisor at this location. This is a Five Two Nine Two.”
Five Two Nine Two was a code that went back to the time before shortwave radio and telephones, when police communications were by telegraph key in police boxes on street corners. It meant “dead body.”
“Fourteen B,” Harriet called.
Fourteen B was the call sign of one of two sergeants assigned to patrol the Fourteenth Police District.
“Fourteen B,” Sergeant John Aloysius Monahan said into his microphone. “I have it. En route.”
Officer Wells picked up a clipboard from the floor of the passenger side of his car and then went back onto the patio. The firemen were just finishing lowering Miss Detweiler onto the stretcher.
The tall thin fireman picked up a worn and spotted gray blanket, held it up so that it unfolded of its own weight, and then very gently laid it over the body of Miss Detweiler.
“What are you doing that for?” H. Richard Detweiler demanded angrily.
“Sir,” the thin fireman said, “I’m sorry. She’s gone.”
“I’m really sorry, sir.”
“Oh, Jesus H. fucking Christ!” H. Richard Detweiler wailed.
Mrs. H. Richard Detweiler, who had been standing just inside the door, now began to scream.
Violet went to her and, tears running down her face, wrapped her arms around her.
“What happens now?” H. Richard Detweiler asked.
“I’m afraid I’ve got to ask you some questions,” Officer Wells said. “You’re Mr. Detweiler? The girl’s father?”
“I mean what happens to…my daughter? I suppose I’ll have to call the funeral home-”
“Mr. Detweiler,” Wells said, “what happens now is that someone from the Medical Examiner’s Office will come here and officially pronounce her dead and remove her body to the morgue. Under the circumstances, the detectives will have to conduct an investigation. There will have to be an examination of the remains.”
“An autopsy, you mean? Like hell there will be.”
“Mr. Detweiler, that’s the way it is,” Wells said. “It’s the law.”
“We’ll see about that!” Detweiler said. “That’s my daughter!”
“Yes, sir. And, sir, a sergeant is on the way here. And there will be a detective. There are some questions we have to ask. And we’ll have to see where you found her.”
“The hell you will!” Detweiler fumed. “Have you got a search warrant?”
“No, sir,” Wells said. There was no requirement for a search warrant. But he did not want to argue with this grief-stricken man. The Sergeant was on the way. Let the Sergeant deal with it.
He searched his memory. John Aloysius Monahan was on the job. Nice guy. Good cop. The sort of a man who could reason with somebody like this girl’s father.
Sergeant John Aloysius Monahan got out of his car and started to walk up the wide flight of stairs to the patio. Officer Wells walked down to him. Monahan saw a tall man in a dressing robe sitting on a wrought-iron couch, staring at a blanket-covered body on a stretcher.
“Looks like an overdose,” Wells said softly. “The maid found her, the daughter, in her bed with a needle in her arm.”
“In her bed? How did she get down here?”
“The father carried her,” Wells said. “He was sitting on that couch holding her in his arms when I got here. He’s pretty upset. I told him about the M.E., the autopsy, and he said ‘no way.’”
“You know who this guy is?” Monahan asked.
Wells shook his head, then gestured toward the mansion. “Somebody important.”
“He runs Nesfoods,” Monahan said.
Monahan walked up the shallow stairs to the patio.
“Mr. Detweiler,” he said.
It took a long moment before Detweiler raised his eyes to him.
“I’m Sergeant Monahan from the Fourteenth District, Mr. Detweiler,” he said. “I’m very sorry about this.”
“I’m here to help in any way I can, Mr. Detweiler.”
“It’s a little late for that now, isn’t it?”
“It looks that way, Mr. Detweiler,” Monahan agreed. “I’m really sorry.” He paused. “Mr. Detweiler, I have to see the room where she was found. Maybe we’ll find something there that will help us. Could you bring yourself to take me there?”
“Why not?” H. Richard Detweiler replied. “I’m not doing anybody any good here, am I?”
“That’s very good of you, Mr. Detweiler,” Sergeant Monahan said. “I appreciate it very much.”
He waited until Detweiler had stood up and started into the house, then motioned for Wells to follow them.
“What’s your daughter’s name, Mr. Detweiler?” Monahan asked gently. “We have to have that for the report.”
“Penelope,” Mr. Detweiler said. “Penelope Alice.”
Behind them, as they crossed the foyer to the stairs, Officer Wells began to write the information down on Police Department Form
They walked up the stairs and turned left.
“And who besides yourself and Mrs. Detweiler,” Sergeant Monahan asked, “was in the house, sir?”
“Well, Violet, of course,” Detweiler replied. “I don’t know if the cook is here yet.”
“Wells,” Sergeant Monahan interrupted.
“I got it, Sergeant,” Officer Wells said.
“Excuse me, Mr. Detweiler,” Sergeant Monahan said.
Officer Wells let them get a little ahead of them, then, one at a time, he picked two of the half-dozen Louis XIV chairs that were neatly arranged against the walls of the corridor. He placed one over the plastic hypodermic syringe that both he and Sergeant Monahan had spotted, and the second over a length of rubber surgical tubing, to protect them.
Then he walked quickly after Sergeant Monahan and Mr. Detweiler.
Sergeant John Aloysius Monahan was impressed with the size of Miss Penelope Alice Detweiler’s apartment. It was as large as the entire upstairs of his row house off Roosevelt Boulevard. The bathroom was as large as his bedroom. He was a little surprised to find that the faucets were stainless steel. He would not have been surprised if they had been gold.
And he was not at all surprised to find, on one of Miss Detweiler’s bedside tables, an empty glassine packet, a spoon, a candle, and a small cotton ball.
He touched nothing.
“Is there a telephone I can use, Mr. Detweiler?” he asked.
Detweiler pointed to the telephone on the other bedside table.
“The detectives like it better if we don’t touch anything,” Monahan said. “Until they’ve had a look.”
“There’s one downstairs,” Detweiler said. “Sergeant, may I now call my funeral director? I want to get…her off the patio. For her mother’s sake.”
“I think you’d better ask the Medical Examiner about that, Mr. Detweiler,” Monahan said. “Can I ask you to show me the telephone?”
“All right,” Detweiler said. “I was thinking of Penny’s mother.”
“Yes, of course,” Monahan said. “This is a terrible thing, Mr. Detweiler.”
He waited until Detweiler started out of the room, then followed him back downstairs. Officer Wells followed both of them. Detweiler led him to a living room and pointed at a telephone on a table beside a red leather chair.
“Officer Wells here,” Monahan said, “has some forms that have to be filled out. I hate to ask you, but could you give him a minute or two?”
“Let’s get it over with,” Detweiler said.
“Officer Wells, why don’t you go with Mr. Detweiler?” Monahan said, waited until they had left the living room, closed the door after them, went to the telephone, and dialed a number from memory.
“Northwest Detectives, Detective McFadden.”
Detective Charles McFadden, a very large, pleasant-faced young man, was sitting at a desk at the entrance to the offices of the Northwest Detective Division, on the second floor of the Thirty-fifth Police District building at North Broad and Champlost streets.
“This is Sergeant Monahan, Fourteenth District. Is Captain O’Connor around?”
“He’s around here someplace,” Detective McFadden said, then raised his voice: “Captain, Sergeant Monahan on Three Four for you.”
“What can I do for you, Jack?” Captain Thomas O’Connor said.
“Sir, I’m out on a Five Two Nine Two in Chestnut Hill. The Detweiler estate. It’s the Detweiler girl.”
“What happened to her?”
“Looks like a drug overdose.”
“I’ll call Chief Lowenstein,” Captain O’Connor said, thinking aloud.
Lowenstein would want to know about this as soon as possible. For one thing, the Detweiler family was among the most influential in the city. The Mayor would want to know about this, and Lowenstein could get the word to him.
Captain O’Connor thought of another political ramification to the case: the Detweiler girl’s boyfriend was Detective Matthew Payne. Detective Payne had for a rabbi Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin. It was a toss-up between Coughlin and Lowenstein for the unofficial title of most important chief inspector. O’Connor understood that he would have to tell Coughlin what had happened to the Detweiler girl. And then he realized there was a third police officer who had a personal interest and would have to be told.
“You’re just calling it in?” O’Connor asked.
“I thought I’d better report it directly to you.”
“Yeah. Right. Good thinking. Consider it reported. I’ll get somebody out there right away. A couple of guys just had their court appearances canceled. I don’t know who’s up on the wheel, but I’ll see the right people go out on this job. And I’ll go myself.”
“The body’s still on a Fire Department stretcher,” Monahan said. “The father carried it downstairs to wait for the ambulance. I haven’t called the M.E. yet.”
“You go ahead and call the M.E.,” O’Connor said. “Do this strictly by the book. Give me a number where I can get you.”
Monahan read it off the telephone cradle and O’Connor recited it back to him.
“Right,” Monahan said.
“Thanks for the call, Jack,” O’Connor said, and hung up.
He looked down at Detective McFadden.
“Who’s next up on the wheel?”
“I am. I’m holding down the desk for Taylor.”
“When are Hemmings and Shapiro due in?”
Detective McFadden looked at his watch.
“Any minute. They called in twenty minutes ago.”
“Have Taylor take this job when he gets here. I don’t think you should.”
McFadden’s face asked why.
“That was a Five Two Nine Two, Charley. It looks like your friend Payne’s girlfriend put a needle in herself one time too many.”
“Holy Mother of God!”
“At her house. That’s all I have. But I don’t think you should take the job.”
“Captain, I’m going to need some personal time off.”
“Yeah, sure. As soon as Hemmings comes in. Take what you need.”
“I’ve seen pictures of her,” Captain O’Connor said. “What a fucking waste!”
“Chief Coughlin’s office. Sergeant Holloran.”
“Captain O’Connor, Northwest Detectives. Is the Chief available?”
“He’s here, but the door is closed. Inspector Wohl is with him, Captain.”
“I think this is important.”
“Hold on, Captain.”
“Chief, this is Tom O’Connor.”
“I hope this is important, Tom.”
“Sergeant Monahan of the Fourteenth just called in a Five Two Nine Two from the Detweiler estate. The girl. The daughter. Drug overdose.”
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” Chief Coughlin responded with even more emotion than O’Connor expected. Then, as if he had not quite covered the mouthpiece with his hand, O’Connor heard him say, “Penny Detweiler overdosed. At her house. She’s dead.”
“I’ll be a sonofabitch!” O’Connor heard Inspector Peter Wohl say.
“Chief, I’ve been trying to get Chief Lowenstein. You don’t happen to know where he is, do you?”
“Haven’t a clue, Tom. It’s ten past eight. He should be in his office by now.”
“I’ll try him there again,” O’Connor said.
“Thanks for the call, Tom.”
At 7:55 A.M., Police Commissioner Taddeus Czernich, a tall, heavyset, fifty-seven-year-old with a thick head of silver hair, had been waiting in the inner reception room of the office of the Mayor in the City Hall Building when one of the telephones on the receptionist’s desk had rung.
“Mayor Carlucci’s office,” the receptionist, a thirty-odd-year-old, somewhat plump woman of obvious Italian extraction, had said into the telephone, and then hung up without saying anything else. Czernich thought he knew what the call was. Confirmation came when the receptionist got up and walked to the door of the Mayor’s private secretary and announced, “He’s entering the building.”
The Mayor’s secretary, another thirty-odd-year-old woman, also of obvious Italian extraction, who wore her obviously chemically assisted blond hair in an upswing, had arranged for the sergeant in charge of the squad of police assigned to City Hall to telephone the moment the mayoral limousine rolled into the inner courtyard of the City Hall Building.
Czernich stood up and checked the position of the finely printed necktie at his neck. He was wearing a banker’s gray double-breasted suit and highly polished black wing-tip shoes. He was an impressive-looking man.
Three minutes later, the door to the inner reception room was pushed open by Lieutenant Jack Fellows. The Mayor marched purposefully into the room.
“Good morning, Mr. Mayor,” the Police Commissioner and the receptionist said in chorus.
“Morning,” the Mayor said to the receptionist and then turned to the Police Commissioner, whom he did not seem especially overjoyed to see. “Is it important?”
“Yes, Mr. Mayor, I think so,” Czernich replied.
“Well, then, come on in. Let’s get it over with,” the Mayor said, and marched into the inner office, the door to which was now held open by Lieutenant Fellows.
“Good morning,” the Mayor said to his personal secretary as he marched past her desk toward the door of his office. By moving very quickly, Lieutenant Fellows reached it just in time to open it for him.
Commissioner Czernich followed the Mayor into his office and took up a position three feet in front of the Mayor’s huge, ornately carved antique desk. The Mayor’s secretary appeared carrying a steaming mug of coffee bearing the logotype of the Sons of Italy.
The Mayor sat down in his dark green high-backed leather chair, leaned forward to glance at the documents waiting for his attention on the green pad on his desk, lifted several of them to see what was underneath, and then raised his eyes to Czernich.
“What’s so important?”
Commissioner Czernich laid a single sheet of paper on the Mayor’s desk, carefully placing it so that the Mayor could read it without turning it around.
“Sergeant McElroy brought that to my house while I was having my breakfast,” Commissioner Czernich said, a touch of indignation in his voice.
The Mayor took the document and read it.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA MEMORANDUM TO: POLICE COMMISSIONER FROM: COMMANDING OFFICER, DETECTIVE BUREAU SUBJECT: COMPENSATORY TIME/RETIREMENT
1. The undersigned has this date placed himself on leave (compensatory time) for a period of fourteen days.
2. The undersigned has this date applied for retirement effective immediately.
3. Inasmuch as the undersigned does not anticipate returning to duty before entering retirement status, the undersigned’s identification card and police shield are turned in herewith.
Matthew L. Lowenstein
82-S-1AE (Rev. 3/59) R ESPONSE TO THIS MEMORANDUM MAY BE MADE HEREON IN LONGHAND
“Damn!” the Mayor said.
Czernich took a step forward and laid a chief inspector’s badge and a leather photo identification folder on the Mayor’s desk.
“You did not see fit to let me know Chief Lowenstein was involved in your investigation,” Czernich said.
“Damn!” the Mayor repeated, this time with utter contempt in his voice, and then raised it. “Jack!”
Lieutenant Fellows pushed the door to the Mayor’s office open.
“Yes, Mr. Mayor?”
“Get Chief Lowenstein on the phone,” the Mayor ordered. “He’s probably at home.”
“Yes, sir,” Fellows said, and started to withdraw.
“Use this phone,” the Mayor said.
Fellows walked to the Mayor’s desk and picked up the handset of one of the three telephones on it.
“This makes the situation worse, I take it?” Commissioner Czernich asked.
“Tad, just close your mouth, all right?”
“Mrs. Lowenstein,” Fellows said into the telephone. “This is Lieutenant Jack Fellows. I’m calling for the Mayor. He’d like to speak to Chief Lowenstein.”
There was a reply, and then Fellows covered the microphone with his hand.
“She says he’s not available,” he reported.
“Tell her thank you,” the Mayor ordered.
“Thank you, Ma’am,” Lieutenant Fellows said, and replaced the handset in its cradle and looked to the Mayor for further orders.
“Take a look at this, Jack,” the Mayor ordered, and pushed the memorandum toward Fellows.
“My God!” Fellows said.
“I had no idea this mess we’re in went that high,” Commissioner Czernich said.
“I thought I told you to close your mouth,” the Mayor said, then looked at Fellows. “Jack, call down to the courtyard and see if there’s an unmarked car down there. If there is, I want it. You drive. If there isn’t, call Special Operations and have them meet us with one at Broad and Roosevelt Boulevard.”
“Yes, sir,” Fellows reported, and picked up the telephone again.
The Mayor watched, his face expressionless, as Fellows called the sergeant in charge of the City Hall detail.
“Inspector Taylor’s car is down there, Mr. Mayor,” Fellows reported.
“Go get it. I’ll be down in a minute,” the Mayor ordered.
The Mayor watched Fellows hurry out of his office and then turned to Commissioner Czernich.
“How many people know about that memo?”
“Just yourself and me, Mr. Mayor. And now Jack Fellows.”
“Keep-” the Mayor began.
“And Harry McElroy,” Czernich interrupted him. “It wasn’t even sealed. The envelope, I mean.”
“Keep it that way, Tad. You understand me?”
“Yes, of course, Mr. Mayor.”
The Mayor stood up and walked out of his office.
“Sarah,” the Mayor of the City of Philadelphia said gently to the gray-haired, soft-faced woman standing behind the barely opened door of a row house on Tyson Street, off Roosevelt Boulevard, “I know he’s in there.”
She just looked at him.
She looks close to tears, the Mayor thought. Hell, she has been crying. Goddamnitalltohell!
“What do you want me to do, Sarah?” the Mayor asked very gently. “Take the door?”
The door closed in his face. There was the sound of a door chain rattling, and then the door opened. Sarah Lowenstein stood behind it.
“In the kitchen,” she said softly.
“Thank you,” the Mayor said, and walked into the house and down the corridor beside the stairs and pushed open the swinging door to the kitchen.
Chief Matthew L. Lowenstein, in a sleeveless undershirt, was sitting at the kitchen table, hunched over a cup of coffee. He looked up when he heard the door open, and then, when he saw the Mayor, quickly averted his gaze.
The Mayor laid Lowenstein’s badge and photo ID on the table.
“What is this shit, Matt?”
“I’m trying to remember,” Lowenstein said. “I think if you just walked in, that’s simple trespassing. If you took the door, that’s forcible entry.”
“Sarah let me in.”
“I told her not to. What’s on your mind, Mr. Mayor?”
“I want to know what the hell this is all about.”
Lowenstein raised his eyes to look at the Mayor.
“OK,” he said. “What it’s all about is that you don’t need a chief of detectives you don’t trust.”
“Who said I don’t trust you? For God’s sake, we go back a long way together, twenty-five years, at least. Of course I trust you.”
“That’s why you’re running your own detective squad, right? And you didn’t tell me about it because you trust me? Bullshit, Jerry, you don’t trust me. My character or my professional competence.”
“And I don’t have to take your bullshit, either. I’m not Taddeus Czernich. I’ve got my time on the job. I don’t need it, in other words.”
“What are you pissed off about? What happened at that goddamned party? Matt, for Christ’s sake, I was upset.”
“You were a pretty good cop, Jerry. Not as good as you think you were, but good. But that doesn’t mean that nobody else in the Department is as smart as you, or as honest. I’m as good a cop, probably better- I never nearly got thrown out of the Department or indicted-than you ever were. So let me put it another way. I’m sick of your bullshit, I don’t have to put up with it, and I don’t intend to. I’m out.”
“Come on, Matt!”
“I’m out,” Lowenstein repeated flatly. “Find somebody else to push around. Make Peter Wohl Chief of Detectives. You really already have.”
“So that’s it. You’re pissed because I gave Wohl Ethical Affairs?”
“That whole Ethical Affairs idea stinks. Internal Affairs, a part of the Detective Bureau, is supposed to find dirty cops. And by and large, they do a pretty good job of it.”
“Not this time, they didn’t,” the Mayor said.
“I was working on it. I was getting close.”
“There are political considerations,” the Mayor said.
“Yeah, political considerations,” Lowenstein said bitterly.
“Yeah, political considerations,” Carlucci said. “And don’t raise your nose at them. You better hope I get reelected, or you’re liable to have a mayor and a police commissioner you’d really have trouble with.”
“We don’t have a police commissioner now. We have a parrot.”
“That’s true,” the Mayor said. “But he takes a good picture, and he doesn’t give you any trouble. Admit it.”
“An original thought and a cold drink of water would kill the Polack,” Lowenstein said.
“But he doesn’t give you any trouble, does he, Matt?” the Mayor persisted.
“You give me the goddamned trouble. Gave me. Past tense. I’m out.”
“You can’t quit now.”
“The Department’s in trouble. Deep trouble. It needs you. I need you.”
“You mean you’re in trouble about getting yourself reelected.”
“If I don’t get reelected, then the Department will be in even worse trouble.”
“Has it ever occurred to you that maybe the Department wouldn’t be in trouble if you let the people who are supposed to run it actually run it?”
“You know I love the Department, Matt,” the Mayor said. “Everything I try to do is for the good of the Department.”
“Like I said, make Peter Wohl chief of detectives. He’s already investigating everything but recovered stolen vehicles. Jesus, you even sent the Payne kid in to spy on Homicide.”
“I sent the Payne kid over there to piss you off. I was already upset about these goddamned scumbags Cazerra and Meyer, and then you give me an argument about your detective who got caught screwing his wife’s sister, and whose current girlfriend is probably involved in shooting her husband.”
“That’s bullshit and you know it.”
“I wish I did know it.”
Lowenstein looked at the Mayor and then shook his head.
“That’s what Augie Wohl said. And Sarah said it, too. That you did that just to piss me off.”
“And it worked, didn’t it?” the Mayor said, pleased. “Better than I hoped.”
“You sonofabitch, Jerry,” Lowenstein said.
“Augie and Sarah are only partly right. Pissing you off wasn’t the only thing I had in mind.”
“I gave Ethical Affairs to Peter Wohl for political considerations, and even if you don’t like the phrase, I have to worry about it. Peter’s Mr. Clean in the public eye, the guy who put Judge Moses Findermann away. I needed something for the newspapers besides ‘Internal Affairs is conducting an investigation of these allegations.’ Christ, can’t you see that? The papers, especially the Ledger, are always crying ‘Police cover-up!’ If I said that Internal Affairs was now investigating something they should have found out themselves, what would that look like?”
Chief Lowenstein granted the point, somewhat unwillingly, with a shrug.
“What’s that got to do with Payne, sending him in to spy on Homicide?”
“Same principle. His picture has been all over the papers. Payne is the kind of cop the public wants. It’s like TV and the movies. A good-looking young cop kills the bad guys and doesn’t steal money.”
There was a faint suggestion of a smile on Lowenstein’s lips.
“So I figured if I send Payne to spend some time at Homicide (a) he can’t really do any harm over there and (b) if it turns out your man who can’t keep his dick in his pocket and/or the widow-and get pissed if you want, Matt, but that wouldn’t surprise me a bit if that’s the way it turns out-had something to do with Kellog getting himself shot, then what the papers have is another example of one of Mr. Clean’s hotshots cleaning up the Police Department.”
“I talked to Wally Milham, Jerry. I’ve seen enough killers and been around enough cops to know a killer and/or a lying cop when I see one. He didn’t do it.”
“Maybe he didn’t, but if she had something to do with it, and he’s been fucking her, which is now common knowledge, it’s the same thing. You talk to her?”
“No,” Lowenstein said.
“Maybe you should,” the Mayor said.
“You’re not listening to me. I’m going out. I’m going to move to some goddamned place at the shore and walk up and down the beach.”
“We haven’t even got around to talking about that.”
“There’s nothing to talk about.”
“You haven’t even heard my offer.”
“I don’t want to hear your goddamned offer.”
“How do you know until you hear it?”
“Jesus Christ, can’t you take no for an answer?”
“No. Not with you. Not when the Department needs you.”
The kitchen door swung open.
“I thought maybe you’d need some more coffee,” Sarah Lowenstein said a little nervously.
“You still got that stuff you bought to get rid of the rats?” Chief Lowenstein said. “Put two heaping tablespoons, three, in Jerry’s cup.”
“You two have been friends so long,” Sarah said. “It’s not right that you should fight.”
“Tell him, Sarah,” the Mayor said. “I am the spirit of reasonableness and conciliation.”
“Four tablespoons, honey,” Chief Lowenstein said.
Brewster Cortland Payne II had stopped in a service station on City Line Avenue and called his home. Mrs. Newman had told him there had been no call from Violet, the Detweiler maid, telling him to which hospital Penny had been taken.
If she hadn’t been taken to a hospital, he reasoned, there was a chance that the situation wasn’t as bad as initially reported; that Penny might have been unconscious-that sometimes happened when drugs were involved-rather than, as Violet had reported, “gone,” and had regained consciousness.
If that had happened, Dick Detweiler would have been reluctant to have her taken to a hospital; she could be cared for at home by Dr. Dotson, the family physician, or Amy Payne, M.D., and the incident could be kept quiet.
He got back behind the wheel of the Buick station wagon and drove to West Chestnut Hill Avenue.
He realized the moment he drove through the open gates of the estate that the hope that things weren’t as bad as reported had been wishful thinking. There was an ambulance and two police cars parked in front of the house, and a third car, unmarked, but from its black-walled tires and battered appearance almost certainly a police car, pulled in behind him as he was getting out of the station wagon.
The driver got out. Payne saw that he was a police captain.
“Excuse me, sir,” the Captain called to him as Payne started up the stairs to the patio.
Payne stopped and turned.
“I’m Captain O’Connor. Northwest Detectives. May I ask who you are, sir?”
“My name is Payne. I am Mr. Detweiler’s attorney.”
“We’ve got a pretty unpleasant situation here, Mr. Payne,” O’Connor said, offering Payne his hand.
“Just how bad is it?”
“About as bad as it can get, I’m afraid,” O’Connor said, and tilted his head toward the patio.
Payne looked and for the first time saw the blanket-covered body on the stretcher.
“Mr. Payne, Chief Inspector Coughlin is on his way here. Do you happen to know…?”
“I know the Chief,” Payne said softly.
“I don’t have any of the details myself,” O’Connor said. “But I’d like to suggest that you…”
“I’m going to see my client, Captain,” Payne said, softly but firmly. “Unless there is some reason…?”
“I’d guess he’s in the house, sir,” O’Connor said.
“Thank you,” Payne said, and turned and walked onto the patio. The door was closed but unlocked. Payne walked through it and started to cross the foyer. Then he stopped and picked up a telephone mounted in a small alcove beside the door.
He dialed a number from memory.
“Nesfoods International. Good morning.”
“Let me have the Chief of Security, please,” he said.
“Mr. Schraeder’s office.”
“My name is Brewster C. Payne. I’m calling for Mr. Richard Detweiler. Mr. Schraeder, please.”
“Good morning, Mr. Payne. How can I help you?”
“Mr. Schraeder, just as soon as you can, will you please send some security officers to Mr. Detweiler’s home? Six, or eight. I think their services will be required, day and night, for the next four or five days, so I suggest you plan for that.”
“I’ll have someone there in half an hour, Mr. Payne,” Schraeder said. “Would you care to tell me the nature of the problem? Or should I come out there myself?”
“I think it would be helpful if you came here, Mr. Schraeder,” Payne said.
“I’m on my way, sir,” Schraeder said.
Payne put the telephone back in its cradle and turned from the alcove in the wall.
Captain O’Connor was standing there.
“Dr. Amelia Payne is on her way here,” Payne said. “As is my wife. They will wish to be with the Detweilers.”
“I understand, sir. No problem.”
“Thank you, Captain,” Payne said.
“Mr. Detweiler is in there,” O’Connor said, pointing toward the downstairs sitting room. “I believe Mrs. Detweiler is upstairs.”
“Thank you,” Payne said, and walked to the downstairs sitting room and pushed the door open.
H. Richard Detweiler was sitting in a red leather chair-his chair-with his hands folded in his lap, looking at the floor. He raised his eyes.
“Brew,” he said, and smiled.
“Everything was going just fine, Brew. The night before last, Penny and Matt had dinner with Chad and Daffy to celebrate Chad’s promotion. And last night, they were at Martha Peebles’s. And one day, three, four days ago, Matt came out and the two of them made cheese dogs for us. You know, you slit the hot dog and put cheese inside and then wrap it in bacon. They made them for us on the charcoal thing. And then they went to the movies. She seemed so happy, Brew. And now this.”
“I’m very sorry, Dick.”
“Oh, goddamn it all to hell, Brew,” H. Richard Detweiler said. He started to sob. “When I went in there, her eyes were open, but I knew.”
He started to weep.
Brewster Cortland Payne went to him and put his arms around him.
“Steady, lad,” he said, somewhat brokenly as tears ran down his own cheeks. “Steady.”
The Buick station wagon in which Amelia Payne, M.D., drove through the gates of the Detweiler estate was identical in model, color, and even the Rose Tree Hunt and Merion Cricket Club parking decalcomanias on the rear window to the one her father had driven through the gates five minutes before, except that it was two years older, had a large number of dings and dents on the body, a badly damaged right front fender, and was sorely in need of a passage through a car wash.
The car had, in fact, been Dr. Payne’s father’s car. He had made it available to his daughter at a very good price because, he said, the trade-in allowance on his new car had been grossly inadequate. That was not the whole truth. While Brewster Payne had been quietly incensed at the trade-in price offered for a two-year-old car with less that 15,000 miles on the odometer and in showroom condition, the real reason was that the skillful chauffeuring of an automobile was not among his daughter’s many skills and accomplishments.
“She needs something substantial, like the Buick, something that will survive a crash,” he confided to his wife. “If I could, I’d get her a tank or an armored car. When Amy gets behind the wheel, she reminds me of that comic-strip character with the black cloud of inevitable disaster floating over his head.”
It was not that she was reckless, or had a heavy foot on the accelerator, but rather that she simply didn’t seem to care. Her father had decided that this was because Amy had-always had had-things on her mind far more important than the possibility of a dented fender, hers or someone else’s.
In the third grade when Amy had been sent to see a psychiatrist for her behavior in class (when she wasn’t causing all sorts of trouble, she was in the habit of taking a nap) the psychiatrist quickly determined the cause. She was, according to the three different tests to which he subjected her, a genius. She was bored with the third grade.
At ten, she was admitted to a high school for the intellectually gifted operated by the University of Pennsylvania, and matriculated at the University of Pennsylvania at the age of thirteen, because of her extraordinary mathematical ability.
“Theoretical mathematics, of course,” her father joked to intimate friends. “Double Doctor Payne is absolutely unable to balance a checkbook.”
That was a reference to her two doctoral degrees, the first a Ph. D. earned at twenty with a dissertation on probability, the second an M.D. earned at twenty-three after she had gone through what her father thought of as a dangerous dalliance with a handsome Jesuit priest nearly twice her age. She emerged from this (so far as he knew platonic) relationship with a need to serve God by serving mankind. Her original intention was to become a surgeon, specializing in trauma injuries, but during her internship at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, she decided to become a psychiatrist. She trained at the Menninger Clinic, then returned to Philadelphia, where she had a private practice and taught at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
She was now twenty-nine and had never married, although a steady stream of young men had passed through her life. Her father privately thought she scared them off with her brainpower. He could think of no other reason she was still single. She was attractive, he thought, and charming, and had a sense of humor much like his own.
Amelia Payne, Ph. D., M.D., stopped the Buick in front of the Detweiler mansion, effectively denying the use of the drive to anyone else who wished to use it, and got out. She was wearing a pleated tweed skirt and a sweater, and looked like a typical Main Line Young Matron.
The EMT firemen standing near the blanket-covered body were therefore surprised when she knelt beside the stretcher and started to remove the blanket.
“I’m Dr. Payne,” Amy said, and examined the body very quickly. Then she pulled the blanket back in place and stood up.
“Let’s get this into the house,” she said. “Out of sight.”
“We’re waiting for the M.E.”
“And while we’re waiting, we’re going to move the body into the house,” Dr. Payne said. “That wasn’t a suggestion.”
The EMT firemen picked up the stretcher and followed her into the house.
She crossed the foyer and opened the door to the sitting room and saw her father and H. Richard Detweiler talking softly.
“Are you all right, Uncle Dick?” she asked.
“Ginger-peachy, honey,” Detweiler replied.
“Grace is upstairs, Amy,” her father said.
“I’ll look in on her,” Amy said, and pulled the door closed. She turned to the firemen. “Over there,” she said. “In the dining room.”
She crossed the foyer, opened the door to the dining room, and waited inside until the firemen had carried the stretcher inside. Then she issued other orders:
“One of you stay here, the other wait outside for the M.E. When he gets here, send for me. I’ll be upstairs with Mrs. Detweiler, the mother.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” the larger of the two EMTs-whose body weight was approximately twice that of Amy’s-said docilely.
Amy went quickly up the stairs to the second floor.
A black Ford Falcon with the seal of the City of Philadelphia and those words in small white letters on its doors passed through the gates of the Detweiler estate and drove to the door of the mansion.
Bernard C. Potter, a middle-aged, balding black man, tie-less, wearing a sports coat and carrying a 35mm camera and a small black bag, got out and walked toward the door. Bernie Potter was an investigator for the Office of the Medical Examiner, City of Philadelphia.
This job, Potter thought, judging from the number of police cars-and especially the Fire Department rescue vehicle that normally would have been long gone from the scene-parked in front of the house, is going to be a little unusual.
And then Captain O’Connor, who Bernie Potter knew was Commanding Officer of Northwest Detectives, came out the door. This was another indication that something special was going on. Captains of Detectives did not normally go out on routine Five Two Nine Two jobs.
“What do you say, Bernie?”
“What have we got?” Bernie asked as they shook hands.
“Looks like a simple OD, Bernie. Caucasian female, early twenties, whose father happens to own Nesfoods.”
“Nice house,” Bernie said. “I didn’t think these people were on public assistance. Where the body?”
“In the dining room.”
“What are you guys still doing here?” Bernie asked the Fire Department EMT on the patio. It was simple curiosity, not a reprimand.
The EMT looked uncomfortable.
“Like I told you,” Captain O’Connor answered for him, “the father owns Nesfoods International.” And then he looked down the drive at a new Ford coming up. “And here comes, I think, Chief Coughlin.”
“Equal justice under the law, right?” Bernie asked.
“There’s a doctor, a lady doctor, in there,” the EMT said, “said she wanted to be called when you came.”
“What does she want?” Bernie asked.
The EMT shrugged.
Chief Coughlin got out of his car and walked up.
“Good morning, Chief,” Tom O’Connor said.
Coughlin shook his hand and then Bernie Potter’s.
“Long time no see, Bernie,” he said. “You pronounce yet?”
“Haven’t seen the body.”
“The quicker we can get this over, the better. You call for a wagon, Tom?”
“I didn’t. I don’t like to get in the way of my people.”
“Check and see. If he hasn’t called for one, get one here.”
“Where’s the body?”
“In the dining room,” the EMT said.
“I heard it was on the patio here.”
“The lady doctor made us move it,” the EMT said.
“Let’s go have a look at it,” Coughlin said. “I know where the dining room is. Tom, you make sure about the wagon.”
Coughlin led the way to the dining room.
“How did it get on the stretcher?” Bernie asked.
“What I hear is that the father carried it downstairs,” the EMT said. “When we got here, he was sitting outside on one of them metal chairs, couches, holding it in his arms. We took it from him.”
A look of pain, or compassion, flashed briefly over Chief Coughlin’s face.
“Where did they find it?” Bernie asked.
Dr. Amelia Payne entered the dining room.
“In her bedroom,” she answered the question. “In an erect position, with a syringe in her left arm.”
“Dr. Payne, this is Mr. Potter, an investigator of the Medical Examiner’s Office.”
“How do you do?” Amy said. “Death was apparently instantaneous, or nearly so,” she went on. “There is a frothy liquid in the nostrils, often encountered in cases of heroin poisoning. The decedent was a known narcotic-substance abuser. In my opinion-”
“Doctor,” Bernie interrupted her uncomfortably, “I don’t mean to sound hard-nosed, but you don’t have any status here. This is the M.E.’s business.”
“I am a licensed physician, Mr. Potter,” Amy said. “The decedent was my patient, and she died in her home in not-unexpected circumstances. Under those circumstances, I am authorized to pronounce, and to conduct, if in my judgment it is necessary, any postmortem examination.”
“Amy, honey,” Chief Coughlin said gently.
“Yes?” She turned to him.
“I know where you’re coming from, Amy. But let me tell you how it is. You may be right. You probably are. But while you’re fighting the M.E. taking Penny’s body, think what’s going to happen: It’s going to take time, maybe a couple of days, before even your father can get an injunction. Until he gets a judge to issue an order to release it to you, the M.E.’ll hold the body. Let’s get it over with, as quickly and painlessly as possible. I already talked to the M.E. He’s going to do the autopsy himself, as soon as the body gets there. It can be in the hands of the funeral home in two, three hours.”
She didn’t respond.
“Grace Detweiler’s going to need you,” Coughlin went on. “And Matt. That’s what’s important.”
Amy looked at Bernie.
“There’s no need for a postmortem,” she said. “Everybody in this room knows how this girl killed herself.”
“It’s the law, Doctor,” Bernie said sympathetically.
Amy turned to Dennis Coughlin.
“What about Matt? Does he know?”
“Peter Wohl’s waiting for him on North Broad Street. He’ll tell him. Unless…”
“No,” Amy said. “I think Peter’s the best one. They have a sibling relationship. And Peter obviously has more experience than my father. You think Matt will come here?”
“I would suppose so.”
She turned to Bernie Potter.
“OK, Mr. Potter,” she said. “She is pronounced at nine twenty-five A.M. ” She turned back to Chief Coughlin. “Thank you, Uncle Denny.”
She walked out of the dining room.
Chief Coughlin turned to the EMT.
“The wagon’s on the way. Wait in here until it gets here.”
The EMT nodded.
“I’m going to have to see the bedroom, Chief,” Bernie Potter said.
“I’ll show you where it is,” Chief Coughlin said. “You through here?”
“I haven’t seen the body,” Potter said.
He squatted beside the stretcher and pulled the blanket off. He looked closely at the eyes and then closed them. He examined the nostrils.
“Yeah,” he said, as if to himself. Then, “Give me a hand rolling her over.”
The EMT helped him turn the body on its stomach. Bernie Potter tugged and pulled at Penelope Alice Detweiler’s nightdress until it was up around her neck.
There was evidence of livor. The lower back and buttocks and the back of her legs were a dark purple color. Gravity drains blood in a corpse to the body’s lowest point.
“OK,” he said. “No signs of trauma on the back. Now let’s turn her the other way.”
There was more evidence of livor when the body was again on its back. The abdominal area and groin were a deep purple color.
“No trauma here, either,” Bernie Potter said. He picked up the left arm.
“It looks like a needle could have been in here,” he said. “It’s discolored.”
“The maid said there was a syringe in her arm,” Captain O’Connor said. “And the district sergeant saw one, and some rubber tubing, on the floor in the corridor upstairs. He put chairs over them.”
Bernie Potter nodded. Then he put Penelope’s arm back beside her body, tugged at the nightgown so that it covered the body again, replaced the blanket, and stood up.
“OK,” he said. “Now let’s go see the bedroom. And the needle.”
Chief Coughlin led the procession upstairs.
“There it is,” Tom O’Connor said when they came to the chairs in the middle of the upstairs corridor. He carefully picked up the chairs Officer Wells had placed over the plastic hypodermic syringe and the surgical rubber tubing and put them against the wall.
Bernie Potter went into his bag and took two plastic bags from it. Then, using a forceps, he picked up the syringe and the tubing from the carpet and carefully placed them into the plastic bags.
Coughlin then led him to Penelope’s bedroom. Potter first took several photographs of the bed and the bedside tables, then took another, larger plastic bag from his bag and, using the forceps, moved the spoon, the candle, the cotton ball, and the glassine bag containing a white crystalline substance from Penelope’s bedside table into it.
“OK,” he said. “I’ve got everything I need. Let me use a telephone and I’m on my way.”
“I’ll show you, Bernie,” Chief Coughlin said. “There’s one by the door downstairs.”
As they went down the stairs, the door to the dining room opened and two uniformed police officers came through it, carrying Penelope’s body on a stretcher. It was covered with a blanket, but her arm hung down from the side.
“The arm!” Chief Coughlin said.
One of the Fire Department EMTs, who was holding the door open, went quickly and put the arm onto the stretcher.
The policemen carried the stretcher outside and down the stairs from the patio and slid it through the already open doors of a Police Department wagon.
Chief Coughlin pointed to the telephone, then walked out onto the patio.
“Just don’t give it to anybody,” he called. “It’s for Dr. Greene. He expects it.”
“Yes, sir,” one of the police officers said.
Coughlin went back into the foyer.
Bernie Potter was just hanging up the telephone.
“Thanks, Bernie,” Coughlin said, and put out his hand.
“Christ, what a way to begin a day,” Bernie said.
“Yeah,” Coughlin said.
It would have been reasonable for anyone seeing Inspector Peter Wohl leaning on the trunk of his car, its right wheels off the pavement on the sidewalk, his arms folded on his chest, a look of annoyance on his face, to assume that he was an up-and-coming stockbroker, or lawyer, about to be late for an early-morning appointment because his new car had broken down and the Keystone Automobile Club was taking their own damned sweet time coming to his rescue.
The look of displeasure on his face was in fact not even because he was going to have to tell Matt Payne, of whom he was extraordinarily fond-his mother had once said that Matt was like the little brother she had never been able to give him, and she was, he had realized, right-that the love of his life was dead, but rather because it had just occurred to him that he was really a cold-blooded sonofabitch.
He would, he had realized, be as sympathetic as he could possibly be when Matt showed up, expressing his own personal sense of loss. But the truth of the matter was, he had just been honest enough with himself to admit that he felt Matt was going to be a hell of a lot better off with Penelope Detweiler dead.
It had been his experience, and as a cop, there had been a lot of experience, that a junkie is a junkie is a junkie. And in the case of Penelope Detweiler, if after the best medical and psychiatric treatment that money could, quite literally, buy, she was still sticking needles in herself, for whatever reason, that seemed to be absolutely true.
There would have been no decent future for them. If she hadn’t OD’d this morning, she would have OD’d next week, or next month, or next year, or two years from now. There would have been other incidents, sordid beyond the comprehension of people who didn’t know the horrors of narcotics addiction firsthand, and each of them would have killed Matt a little.
It was better for Matt that this had happened now, rather than after they had married, after they had children.
The fact that he felt sorry for Penelope Detweiler did not alter the fact that he was glad she had died before she could cause Matt more pain.
But by definition, Peter Wohl thought, anyone who is glad a twenty-three-year-old woman is dead is a cold-blooded sonofabitch.
He looked up as a car nearly identical to his flashed its headlights at him and then bounced up on the curb. Detective Jesus Martinez was driving. Detective Matt Payne, smiling, opened the passenger door and got out.
Martinez, annoyance on his face, hurried to follow him.
Why do those two hate each other?
The answer, obviously, is that opposites do not attract.
What do I say to Matt?
When all else fails, try the unvarnished truth.
“Don’t tell me, you’re broken down again?” Matt Payne said.
Gremlins-or the effects of John Barleycorn over the weekend affecting Monday-morning Ford assembly lines-had been at work on Inspector Wohl’s automobiles. His generators failed, the radiators leaked their coolant, the transmissions ground themselves into pieces, usually leaving him stranded in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. Most of his subordinates were highly amused. He was now on his third brand-new car in six months.
“Let’s get in the car,” Wohl said. “Jesus, give us a minute, please?”
Matt looked curious but obeyed the order wordlessly. He closed the door after him and looked at Wohl.
Wohl met Matt’s eyes.
“Matt, Penny OD’d,” he said.
Matt’s face tightened. His eyebrows rose in question, as if seeking a denial of what he had just heard.
Wohl shrugged, and threw his hands up in a gesture of helplessness.
“Oh, shit!” Matt said.
“The maid found her in her bed with a needle in her arm. Death was apparently instantaneous.”
“Tom O’Connor-he commands Northwest Detectives-called Denny Coughlin when they called it in. I happened to be in Denny’s office when he got the call. He went out to the house to see how he could help. By now the M.E. has the body.”
Wohl nodded. “So I’m told.”
“Oh, shit, Peter!”
“I’m sorry, Matt,” Wohl said, and put his arm around Matt’s shoulder. “I’m really sorry.”
“We had a goddamned fight last night.”
“This is not your fault, Matt. Don’t start thinking that.”
“Same goddamned subject. Our future. Me being a cop.”
“If it hadn’t been that, it would have been something else. They find an excuse.”
“Addicts, you mean?”
“Has Amy been notified?” Matt asked. “This is going to wipe out Mrs. Detweiler.”
His reaction is not what I expected. But what did I expect?
“I don’t know,” Wohl said, and then had a thought. He reached under the dash for a microphone.
“Isaac Three, William One.”
“Isaac Three.” It was the voice of Sergeant Francis Holloran, Chief Inspector Coughlin’s driver.
“Tom, check with the Chief and see if Dr. Payne has been notified.”
“She’s here, Inspector.”
“Thank you,” Wohl said, and replaced the microphone. He looked over at Matt.
“I guess I’d better go out there,” Matt said.
“Take the car and as much time as you need,” Wohl said. “I’ll take Martinez with me. Or why don’t you give me the keys to your car, and I’ll have Martinez or somebody bring it out there and swap.”
“I’ll go to the schoolhouse and get my car,” Matt said. “I’m a coward, Peter. I don’t want to go out there at all. With a little bit of luck, maybe I can get myself run over by a bus on my way.”
“Matt, this isn’t your fault.”
“I think I will take the car out there,” he said. “Get it over with. I’ll have it back at the schoolhouse in an hour or so.”
“Take what time you need,” Wohl said. “Is there anything else I can do, Matt?”
“No. But thank you.”
“See me when you come to the schoolhouse.”
“I’m really sorry, Matt.”
“Yeah. Thank you.”
They got out of the car and walked to Martinez.
“Are the keys in that?” Matt asked.
Without replying, Matt walked to the car, got behind the wheel, and started the engine.
Martinez looked at Wohl.
Matt bounced off the curb and, tires chirping, entered the stream of traffic.
“I should have sent you with him,” Wohl thought aloud.
“Penelope Detweiler overdosed about an hour ago.”
“ Madre de Dios! ” Martinez said, and crossed himself.
“Yeah,” Wohl said bitterly, then walked back to his car.
Martinez walked to the car but didn’t get in.
“Get in, for Christ’s sake,” Wohl snapped, and was immediately sorry. “Sorry, Jesus. I didn’t mean to snap at you.”
Martinez shrugged, signaling that he understood.
“That poor sonofabitch,” he said.
“Yeah,” Wohl agreed.
“Sorry to have kept you waiting,” Inspector Peter Wohl said to Staff Inspector Michael Weisbach as he walked in his office. “Something came up.”
“The Detweiler girl?” Weisbach asked, and when Wohl nodded, added: “Sabara told me. Awful. For her-what was she, twenty-three, her whole life ahead of her-and for Payne. He was really up when you put out the call for him.”
“Up? What for, for having put the cuffs on a crooked cop? He liked that?”
“No. I think he felt sorry for Captain Cazerra. I think he felt vindicated. He told me that you, and Washington and Denny Coughlin, had really eaten his ass out for going out on that ledge.”
“I wasn’t going to let it drop, either-it was damned stupid-until this…this goddamned overdose came along.”
“I imagine he’s pretty broken up?”
“I don’t know. No outward emotion, which may mean he really has one of those well-bred stiff upper lips we hear about, or that he’s in shock.”
“Where is he?”
“Out at the estate. He’s coming here. I’m going to see that he’s not alone.”
“There was a kid in here, McFadden, from Northwest Detectives, looking for him.”
“Good. I was going to put the arm out for him. They’re pals. You think he knows what happened?”
“I’m sure he does. When O’Mara told him Payne wasn’t here, he said something about him probably being in Chestnut Hill, and that he would go there.”
Wohl picked up his telephone and was eventually connected with O’Connor.
“Captain O’Connor. Inspector Wohl calling,” he said, and then: “Peter Wohl, Tom. Need a favor.”
Weisbach faintly heard O’Connor say, “Name it.”
“If you could see your way clear to give your Detective McFadden a little time off, I’d appreciate it. He and my Detective Payne are friends, and for the next couple of days, Payne, I’m sure you know why, is going to need all the friends he has.”
Weisbach heard O’Connor say, “I already told him to take whatever time he needed, Inspector.”
“I owe you one, Tom.”
“I owe you a lot more than one, Inspector. Glad to help. Christ, what a terrible waste!”
“Isn’t it?” Wohl said, added, “Thanks, Tom,” and hung up.
He had a second thought, and pushed a button on the telephone that connected him with Officer O’Mara, his administrative assistant.
“Two things, Paul. Inspector Weisbach and I need some coffee, and while that’s brewing, I want you to call Special Agent Jack Matthews at the FBI. Tell him I asked you to tell him what happened in Chestnut Hill this morning, and politely suggest that Detective Payne would probably be grateful for some company. That latter applies to you, too. Why don’t you stop by Payne’s apartment on your way home?”
Weisbach heard O’Mara say, “Yes, sir.”
Wohl looked at Weisbach as he hung up.
“Busy morning. I feel like it’s two in the afternoon, and it’s only ten to eleven.”
“Busier even than I think you know. Did you hear about Lowenstein turning in his papers?”
“Jesus, no! Are you sure?”
The door opened and Paul O’Mara walked in with a tray holding two somewhat battered mugs of coffee, a can of condensed milk, and a saucer holding a dozen paper packets of sugar bearing advertisements suggesting they were souvenirs from McDonald’s and Roy Rogers and other fast-food emporiums.
“That was quick,” Wohl said. “Thank you, Paul.” He waited until O’Mara had left, and then said, “Tell me about Lowenstein.”
“The first thing this morning, Harry McElroy delivered Lowenstein’s badge and a memorandum announcing his intention to retire to the Commissioner. I got that from McElroy, so that much I know for sure.”
“God knows I’m sorry to hear that. But I’m not surprised that he’s going out-”
Weisbach held up his hand, interrupting him.
“Just before I came out here,” he said, “Lowenstein put out the arm for me. I met him at the Philadelphia Athletic Club on Broad Street. And not only did he not mention going out, but he didn’t act like it, either.”
“Interesting,” Wohl said. “What did he want?”
“I got sort of a pep talk. He told me this Ethical Affairs Unit was a good thing for me, could help my career, and that all I had to do to get anything I wanted from the Detective Division was to ask.”
“Lowenstein and the Mayor got into it at David Pekach’s engagement party. Got into it bad. Did you hear about that?”
“The Mayor had just seen that Charley Whaley story in the Ledger. The ‘more unsolved murders, no arrests, no comment’ story. You see that?”
“For some reason, it displeased our mayor,” Wohl said, dryly. “The Mayor then announced he wouldn’t be surprised if Wally Milham was involved in the Kellog murder, primarily because he thinks that Milham’s morals are questionable. You’ve heard that gossip, I suppose?”
“Milham and Kellog’s wife? Yeah, sure.”
“The Mayor asked Lowenstein why he hadn’t spoken to him about his love life. Lowenstein told the Mayor he didn’t think it was any of his business. Then, warming to the subject, defended Milham. And then, really getting sore, Lowenstein made impolitic remarks about, quote, the Mayor’s own private detective squad, unquote.”
“Whereupon the Mayor told him if he didn’t like the way things were being run, he should talk it over with the Commissioner. And then-he was really in a lousy mood-to make the point to the Chief who was running the Department, he told him ‘the Commissioner’ was going to send Matt Payne, who knows zilch about Homicide, over to Homicide to (a) help with the double murder at that gin mill on Market Street-”
“Right. And (b) to see what he could learn about other Homicide investigations, meaning, of course, how Homicide is handling the Kellog job.”
“I thought Lowenstein was going to have a heart attack. Or punch out the Mayor. It was that bad. I’m not surprised, now that I hear it, that he turned in his papers.”
“I got it from Harry McElroy that he did. But then he didn’t act like it when he sent for me.”
“OK. How’s this for a scenario? Czernich ran to the Mayor with Lowenstein’s retirement memorandum. The Mayor hadn’t wanted to go that far with Chief Lowenstein. Christ, they’ve been friends for years. He didn’t want him to quit. So they struck a deal. Lowenstein would stay on the job if certain conditions were met. They apparently were. And since they almost certainly involve you and me, we’ll probably hear about them sometime next month.”
Weisbach considered what Wohl had said, then nodded his head, accepting the scenario.
“So what do I do this month? Peter, you can’t be happy with me-the Ethical Affairs Unit-being suddenly dumped on you.”
“I don’t have any problems with it,” Wohl said. “First of all, it, and/or you, haven’t been dumped on me. All I have to do is support you, and I have no problem with that. I think the EAU is a good idea, that you are just the guy to run it, and I think your work is already cut out for you.”
“You really think it’s a good idea?” Weisbach asked, surprised. Wohl nodded. “And what do you mean my work is already cut out for me?”
“The Widow Kellog showed up at Jason Washington’s apartment the night her husband was killed with the announcement that everybody in Five Squad in Narcotics-you know about Five Squad?”
“Not much. I’ve heard they’re very effective.” He chuckled, and added: “Sort of an unshaven Highway Patrol, in dirty clothes, beards, and T-shirts-concealing unauthorized weapons-reading ‘Legalize Marijuana,’ who cast fear into the drug culture by making middle-of-the-night raids.”
“Everybody in Five Squad, according to the Widow Kellog, is dirty, and she implied that they did her husband.”
“Washington believes her, at least about the whole Five Squad being dirty. Before all this crap happened, I was going to bring you in on it.”
“That was nice of you.”
“Practically speaking, our priorities are the Mayor’s priorities. I don’t think he wants to be surprised again by dirty Narcotics people the way he was with Cazerra and company. Internal Affairs dropped the ball on that one, and I don’t think we can give them the benefit of the doubt on this one. Yeah, it looks to me that you’ve got your work cut out for you.”
“What kind of help can I have?”
“Anything you want. Washington and Harris, after getting their hands dirty on the Cazerra job, would love to work on a nice clean Homicide, especially of a police officer. And if there is a tie to Narcotics…Jesus!”
“I forgot about the Mayor ordering Payne into Homicide,” Wohl said. He reached for his telephone, pushed a button, and a moment later ordered, “Paul, would you get Chief Lowenstein for me, please?”
He put the telephone down.
“Drink your coffee, Mike,” he said. “The first thing you’re going to have to do is face the fact that your innocent, happy days as a staff inspector are over. You have just moved into the world of police politics, and you’re probably not going to like it at all.”
“That thought had already run through my mind,” Weisbach said. He picked up his mug and, shaking his head, put it to his mouth.
The telephone rang. Wohl picked it up.
“Good morning, Chief,” he said. “I wanted to check with you about sending Detective Payne to Homicide. Is that still on?”
He took the headset from his ear so that Weisbach could hear the Chief’s reply.
“Denny Coughlin just told me what happened to the Detweiler girl,” Lowenstein said. “I presume you’re giving Matt some time off?”
“Well, when he comes back, send him over whenever you can spare him. I’ve spoken to Captain Quaire. They’re waiting for him.”
“And please tell him I’m sorry about what happened. That’s really a goddamn shame.”
“I’ll tell him that, sir. Thank you.”
“Nice talking to you, Peter,” Chief Lowenstein said, and hung up.
“He didn’t sound like someone about to retire, did he?” Weisbach said.
“No, he didn’t.”
One of the telephones on Wohl’s desk rang.
“This is what happens when I forget to tell Paul to hold my calls,” he said as he reached for it. “Inspector Wohl.”
“Ah, Peter,” Weisbach overheard. “How is the Beau Brummell of Philadelphia law enforcement this morning?”
“Why is it, Armando, that whenever I hear your voice, I think of King Henry the Sixth?”
“Peter, you are, as you well know, quoting that infamous Shakespearean ‘kill all the lawyers’ line out of context.”
“Well, he had the right idea, anyhow. What can I do for you, Armando?”
“Actually, I was led to believe that Inspector Weisbach could be reached at your office.”
“I’d love to know who told you that,” Wohl said, and then handed the telephone to Weisbach. “Armando C. Giacomo, Esquire, for you, Inspector.”
Giacomo, a slight, lithe, dapper man who wore what was left of his hair plastered to the sides of his tanned skull, was one of the best criminal lawyers in Philadelphia.
Wohl got up from his desk and walked to his window and looked out. He could therefore hear only Weisbach’s side of the brief conversation.
“I’ll call you back in five minutes,” Weisbach concluded, and hung up.
Wohl walked back to his desk.
“Don’t tell me,” he said. “Giacomo has been asked to represent Mr. Paulo Cassandro.”
“I’ll bet that he has,” Weisbach said. “But he didn’t say so. What he said was that it would give him great pleasure if I would have lunch with him today at the Rittenhouse Club, during which he would like to discuss something which would be to our mutual benefit.”
“I’d go, if I were you,” Wohl said. “They set a very nice table at the Rittenhouse Club.”
“Why don’t you come with me?”
“I’m not in the mood for lunch, really, even at the Rittenhouse Club.”
“He’s looking for something, which means he’s desperate. I’d like to have you there.”
“Yeah,” Wohl said, thoughtfully. “If he’s looking for a deal, he would have gone to the District Attorney. It might be interesting.”
He pushed the button for Paul O’Mara.
“Paul, call Armando C. Giacomo. Tell him that Inspector Weisbach accepts his kind invitation to lunch at the Rittenhouse Club at one, and that he’s bringing me with him.”
Peter Wohl pushed open the heavy door of the Rittenhouse Club and motioned for Mike Weisbach to go in ahead of him. They climbed a wide, shallow flight of carpeted marble stairs to the lobby, where they were intercepted by the club porter, a dignified black man in his sixties.
“May I help you, gentlemen?”
“Mr. Weisbach and myself as the guests of Mr. Giacomo,” Peter said.
“It’s nice to see you, Mr. Wohl,” the porter said, and glanced at what Peter thought of as the Who’s Here Board behind his polished mahogany stand. “I believe Mr. Giacomo is in the club. Would you please have a seat?”
He gestured toward a row of chairs against the wall, then walked into the club.
The Who’s Here Board behind the porter’s stand listed, alphabetically, the names of the three-hundred-odd members of the Rittenhouse Club. Beside each name was an inch-long piece of brass, which could be slid back and forth in a track. When the marker was next to the member’s name, this indicated he was on the premises; when away from it that he was not.
Peter saw Weisbach looking at the board with interest. The list of names represented the power structure, social and business, of Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s upper crust belonged to either the Rittenhouse Club or the Union League, or both.
Peter saw that Carlucci, J., an ex officio member, was not in the club. Giacomo, A., was. So was Mawson, J., of Mawson, Payne, Stockton, McAdoo amp; Lester, who competed with Giacomo, A., for being the best (which translated to mean most expensive) criminal lawyer in the city. Payne, B., Mawson, J.’s, law partner, was not.
And neither, Wohl noticed with interest, was Payne, M.
I didn’t know Matt was a member. That’s new.
Possibly, he thought, Detweiler, H., had suggested to Payne, B., that they have a word with the Membership Committee. Since their offspring were about to be married, it was time that Payne, M., should be put up for membership. Young Nesbitt, C. IV, had become a member shortly before his marriage to the daughter of Browne, S.
Wohl had heard that the Rittenhouse Club initiation fee was something like the old saw about how much a yacht cost: If you had to ask what it cost, you couldn’t afford it.
The porter returned.
“Mr. Giacomo is in the bar, Mr. Wohl. You know the way?”
“Yes, thank you,” Peter said, and led Weisbach into the club bar, a quiet, deeply carpeted, wood-paneled room, furnished with twenty or so small tables, at each of which were rather small leather-upholstered armchairs. The tables were spaced so that a soft conversation could not be heard at the tables adjacent to it.
Armando C. Giacomo rose, smiling, from one of the chairs when he saw Wohl and Weisbach, and waved them over.
Wohl thought Giacomo was an interesting man. His family had been in Philadelphia from the time of the Revolution. He was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Yale School of Law. He had flown Corsairs as a Naval Aviator in the Korean War. He could have had a law practice much like Brewster Cortland Payne’s, with clientele drawn from banks and insurance companies and familial connections.
He had elected, instead, to become a criminal lawyer, and was known (somewhat unfairly, Wohl thought) as the Mob’s Lawyer, which suggested that he himself was involved in criminal activity. So far as Wohl knew, Giacomo’s personal ethics were impeccable. He represented those criminals who could afford his services when they were hauled before the bar of justice, and more often than not defended them successfully.
Wohl had come to believe that Giacomo held the mob in just about as much contempt as he did, and that he represented them both because they had the financial resources to pay him, and also because he really believed that an accused was entitled to good legal representation, not so much for himself personally, but as a reinforcement of the Constitution.
Giacomo was also held in high regard by most police officers, primarily because he represented, pro bono publico, police officers charged with police brutality and other infractions of the law. He would not, in other words, represent Captain Vito Cazerra, because Cazerra could not afford him. But he would represent an ordinary police officer charged with the use of excessive force or otherwise violating the civil rights of a citizen, and do so without charge.
“Peter,” Giacomo said. “I’m delighted that you could join us.”
“I didn’t want Mike to walk out of here barefoot, Armando, but thank you for your hospitality.”
“I only talk other people out of their shoes, Peter, not my friends.”
“And the check is in the mail, right?” Weisbach said, laughing as they shook hands.
A waiter appeared.
“I’m drinking a very nice California cabernet sauvignon,” Giacomo said. “But don’t let that influence you.”
“A little wine would be very nice,” Wohl said.
“Me, too, thank you,” Weisbach said.
“The word has reached these hallowed precincts of the tragic event in Chestnut Hill this morning,” Giacomo said. “What a pity.”
“Yes, it was,” Wohl agreed.
“If I don’t have the opportunity before you see him, Peter, would you extend my sympathies to young Payne?”
“Yes, of course.”
“He must be devastated.”
“He is,” Wohl said.
“And her mother and father…” Giacomo said, shaking his head sadly.
A waiter in a gray cotton jacket served the wine.
“I think we’ll need another bottle of that over lunch, please,” Giacomo said. He waited for the waiter to leave, and then said, “I hope you like that. What shall we drink to?”
“How about good friends?” Giacomo suggested.
“All right,” Peter said, raising his glass. “Good friends.”
“Better yet, Mike’s new job.”
“Better yet, Mike’s new job,” Wohl parroted. He sipped the wine. “Very nice.”
“I’d send you a case, if I didn’t know you would think I was trying to bribe you,” Giacomo said.
“All gifts between friends are not bribes,” Wohl said. “Send me a case, and I’ll give Mike half. You can’t bribe him, either.”
“I’ll send the both of you a case,” Giacomo said, and then added: “Would you prefer to hear what I’d like to say now, or over lunch?”
“Now, please, Armando,” Wohl said. “I would really hate to have my lunch in these hallowed precincts ruined.”
“I suspected you’d feel that way. They do a very nice mixed grill here, did you know that?”
“Yes, I do. And also a very nice rack of lamb.”
“I represent a gentleman named Paulo Cassandro.”
“Why am I not surprised?” Weisbach asked.
“Because you are both astute and perceptive, Michael. May I go on?”
“By all means.”
“Mr. Cassandro was arrested this morning. I have assured Mr. Cassandro that once I bring the circumstances surrounding his arrest…Constitutionally illegal wiretaps head a long list of irregularities…”
“Come on, Armando,” Weisbach said, laughing.
“…to the attention of the proper judicial authorities,” Giacomo went on, undaunted, “it is highly unlikely that he will ever be brought to trial. And I have further assured him that, in the highly unlikely event he is brought to trial, I have little doubt in my mind that no fair-minded jury would ever convict him.”
“He’s going away, Armando,” Wohl said. “You know that and I know that.”
“You tend to underestimate me, Peter. I don’t hold it against you; most people do.”
“I never underestimate you, Counselor. But that clanging noise you hear in the background is the sound of a jail door slamming,” Peter said. “The choir you hear is singing, ‘Bye, Bye, Paulo.’”
“If I may continue?”
“However, this unfortunate business, this travesty of justice, comes at a very awkward time for Mr. Cassandro. It will force him to devote a certain amount of time to it, time he feels he must devote to his business interests.”
“Freely translated, Peter,” Weisbach said, “what Armando is telling us is that Paulo doesn’t want to go to jail.”
“I wondered what he was trying to say,” Wohl said.
“What he wants to do is get this unfortunate business behind him as soon as possible.”
“Tell him probably ten to fifteen years, depending on the judge. If he gets Hanging Harriet, probably fifteen to twenty,” Weisbach said.
The Hon. Harriet M. McCandless, a black jurist who passionately believed that civilized society was based on a civil service whose honesty was above question, was famous for her severe sentences.
“You’re not listening to me, Michael,” Giacomo said. “I am quite confident that, upon hearing how the police department has so outrageously violated the rights of Mr. Cassandro, Judge McCandless, or any other judge, will throw this case out of court.”
“God, you’re wonderful,” Peter said.
“As I was saying, with an eye to putting this unfortunate business behind him as soon as possible, my client would be…”
“Armando,” Weisbach said, “even if I wanted to, we couldn’t deal on this. You want to deal, try the District Attorney. But I’ll bet you he’ll tell you Cassandro has nothing to deal with. We have him cold and he’s going to jail.”
“I will, of course, discuss this matter with Mr. Callis. But frankly, it will be a good deal easier for me, when I do speak with him, if I could tell him that I had spoken to you and Peter, and that you share my belief that what I propose would serve the ends of justice.”
“Armando,” Wohl said, laughing, “not only do I like you, but you are about to not only send me a case of wine, but also buy me a very expensive lunch. What that entitles you to is this: If you will tell me what you want, and how Paulo Cassandro wishes to pay for it, I will give you my honest opinion of how hard Mr. Callis is going to laugh at you before he throws you out of his office.”
“Mr. Cassandro, as a public-spirited citizen, is willing to testify against Captain Cazerra, Lieutenant Meyer, and the two police officers. All he asks in exchange is immunity from prosecution.”
“Loudly,” Weisbach said. “Mr. Callis is going to laugh very loudly when you go to him with that.”
“He may even become hysterical,” Wohl said.
“ And against the lady,” Giacomo went on. “The madam, what the hell is her name?”
I will be damned, Wohl thought. He’s flustered. Have we really gotten through to Armando C. Giacomo, shattered his famous rocklike confidence?
“Her name is Osadchy, Armando,” Wohl said. “If you have trouble remembering her last name, why don’t you associate it with Hanging Harriet? Same Christian name.”
“Very funny, Peter.”
“By now, Armando, with the egg they have on their face about Mrs. Osadchy,” Weisbach said, “I’ll bet Vice is paying her a lot of attention. They’ll find something, I’m sure, that they can take to the DA.”
“Let’s talk about that,” Giacomo said. “The egg on the face.”
“OK,” Peter said. “The egg on whose face?”
“The Police Department’s.”
“Because we had a couple of dirty cops? There might be some egg on our face because of that, but I think we wiped off most of it this morning,” Weisbach said.
“Not in a public relations sense, maybe. Let me put that another way. The egg you wiped off this morning is going to reappear when you try Captain Cazerra. The trial will last at least two weeks, and there will be a story in every newspaper in Philadelphia every day of the trial. People will forget that he was arrested by good cops; what they’ll remember is that the Department had a dirty captain. And when his trial is over, we will have the trial of Lieutenant Meyer.”
“I reluctantly grant the point,” Peter said.
“On the other hand, for the sake of friendly argument, if Captain Cazerra were to plead guilty and throw himself upon the mercy of the court because he became aware that Mr. Cassandro’s public-spirited testimony was going to see him convicted…”
Or if the mob struck a deal with him, Peter thought. “ Take the fall and we’ll take care of your family.” Which is not such an unlikely idea. I wonder why it’s so important that they keep Paulo out of jail. Has he moved up in the mob hierarchy? I’ll pass this on to Intelligence and Organized Crime, anyway.
“…there would only be, on one day only,” Giacomo went on, “a short story, buried in the back pages, that a dishonest policeman had admitted his guilt and had been sentenced. There are people who are wise in public relations, and I would include our beloved mayor among them, who would think that alternative would be preferable to a long and sordid public trial.”
I’m agreeing with him again, which means that I am getting in over my head. I am now going to swim for shore before I drown.
“Before we go in for lunch, Armando, and apropos of nothing whatever, I would suggest that if Mr. Cassandro wants any kind of consideration at all from anybody you know, he’s going to have to come up with more than a possible solution to a public relations problem.”
“I understand, Peter,” Armando said smoothly. “Such as what?”
“You’ve heard about the murder of Officer Jerry Kellog?” Wohl asked.
Giacomo nodded. “Tragic. Shot down in cold blood in his own house, according to the Ledger.”
“The Ledger also implied that a Homicide detective was involved,” Wohl said. “My bet is that it’s related to Narcotics. I would be grateful for any information that would lead the Department down that path.”
“And then there’s the double murder at the Inferno Lounge,” Weisbach said. “Some people think that looks like a contract hit. I think the Department might be grateful for information that would help them there.”
From the look on his face, Peter Wohl thought, he thinks there is a mob connection.
Confirmation came immediately.
“Those people, and you two know this as well as I do, have a code of honor…”
“Call it a code, if you like, but the word ‘honor’ is inappropriate,” Peter said.
“Whatever you want to call it, turning in one of their own violates it,” Giacomo said.
“They also don’t fool around with each other’s wives, either, do they?” Weisbach said. “And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they give a percentage of their earnings from prostitution and drugs to worthy causes and the church. Despite what you may have heard, they’re really not bad people, are they, Armando?”
Giacomo looked very uncomfortable.
“A top-level decision would have to be made,” Peter interrupted. “Who goes to jail? Who is more valuable? Paulo Cassandro or a hit man? Who goes directly to jail without passing ‘go’?”
What the hell am I doing? Bargaining with the mob? Making a deal to have the mob do something the Police Department should be doing itself? Cassandro bribed some dirty cops. We caught them. They should all go to jail, not just the cops. Paulo Cassandro should not walk because it will increase Jerry Carlucci’s chances of getting re-elected.
Wohl stood up.
“Is something wrong?” Giacomo asked.
“I’m not sure I want to eat lunch,” he said. “And I know I have enough of this conversation.”
Weisbach stood up. Giacomo looked up at them, and then stood up himself.
“I thank you for your indulgence,” he said. “I would be deeply pained if this conversation affected our friendship.”
Oddly enough, I believe him. Which probably proves I was right about getting in over my head.
“Please, let’s not let this ruin a lunch with friends. Come and break bread with me, please,” Giacomo said.
Wohl didn’t reply for a moment.
“I was about to say, only if I can pay. But I can’t pay in here, can I?”
“No. And it is an expulsable offense for a member to let a guest reimburse him. If that’s important to you, Peter, would you like to go somewhere else?”
Wohl met his eyes for a moment.
“No,” he said finally. “I think we understand each other, Armando. We can eat here.”
South Rittenhouse Square-on the south side of Rittenhouse Square in Center City Philadelphia-is no wider than it was when it was laid out at the time of the American Revolution. There are a half-dozen NO PARKING AT ANY TIME-TOW AWAY ZONE signs, warning citizens that if they park there at any time, it is virtually certain that to reclaim their car, it will be necessary for them to somehow make their way halfway across Philadelphia to the Parking Authority impoundment lot at Delaware Avenue and Spring Garden Street and there both pay a hefty fine for illegal parking and generously compensate the City of Brotherly Love for the services of the Parking Authority tow truck that hauled their car away.
Despite this, when Amelia Payne, M.D., drove past the building housing the Delaware Valley Cancer Society, there were seven automobiles parked in front of it, all of them with their right-side wheels on the sidewalk. There was a new Oldsmobile sedan, a battered Volkswagen, a ten-year-old, gleaming Jaguar XK 120, a new Mercedes convertible, a new Buick sedan, and two new sedans, a Ford and a Chevrolet.
There’s not even room enough for me, Dr. Payne thought somewhat indignantly. Like most of her fellow practitioners of the healing arts, she was in the habit of interpreting rather loosely the privilege granted to physicians of ignoring NO PARKING AT ANY TIME signs when making emergency calls.
And she had intended to do so now, by placing her official PHYSICIAN MAKING CALL card on the dashboard of the Buick station wagon, because the basement garage of the Cancer Society Building, to which she had access, had a very narrow entrance passage that she had difficulty negotiating.
She continued past the Delaware Valley Cancer Society Building, noticing with annoyance the beat cop on the corner, his arms folded on his chest, calmly surveying his domain and oblivious to the multiple violations of parking laws.
Professional courtesy, she thought. Damn the cops!
She had recognized four of the cars-the Oldsmobile, the Volkswagen, the Jaguar, and the Mercedes-as belonging respectively to Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin, Detective Charles McFadden, Inspector Peter Wohl, and Captain David Pekach, and had drawn, as the cop obviously had, the natural and correct conclusion that the rest of the cars were also the official or personal automobiles of other policemen (or in the case of Pekach, belonged to his fiancee, Miss Martha Peebles, which was just about the same thing) who regarded parking regulations as applying only to civilians.
She drove to South Nineteenth Street, where she turned right, and then made the next right, and ultimately reached the entrance of the underground garage, which, surprising her not at all, she failed to maneuver through unscathed. This time she scraped the right fender against a wall.
This served to further lower her morale. In addition to the early-morning horror at the Detweilers’, she had just come from University Hospital, where a patient of hers, an attractive young woman whom she had originally diagnosed as suffering from routine postpartum depression, was manifesting symptoms of more serious mental illness that Amy simply could not fathom, nor could anyone else she had consulted.
She was not surprised, either, to find both of the reserved parking places she intended to use already occupied. One of them held a silver Porsche 911, and the other a Buick wagon identical to hers, save it was two years younger and unscratched and undented.
The Buick belonged to her father, who could be expected to offer some clever witticism about the dents in her Buick, and the Porsche to her brother. The Delaware Valley Cancer Society Building was owned by her father, and her brother occupied a tiny apartment in what had been the garret before the 1850s building had been gutted and converted into offices behind the original facade.
She parked the Buick-neatly straddling a marking line between spaces-and got out of the car. The elevator did not respond to her summons, and only after a while did she remember that it was late-she consulted her watch and saw that it was well after midnight-and remembered that at this hour, the elevator was locked. It would be necessary to call Matt’s apartment by telephone, whereupon he could push a button activating the elevator.
And he took his damned sweet time answering the telephone, and when he did, it wasn’t him, but a clipped, metallic voice she did not at first recognize.
“This is Dr. Payne. Would you please push the elevator button?”
There was the sound of male laughter in the background.
“Just a moment, darlin’,” the voice said. “I’ll ask Matty how to work it.”
She now recognized the voice to be that of Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin. Normally, she did not mind his addressing her as “darlin’,” but now it annoyed her.
The line went dead, and she stood there for a full minute, waiting for the sound of a buzzer, or whatever, which would bring the elevator to life. It gave her time to consider that what was going on upstairs was really an Irish wake, the males of the clan gathering to console one of their number who had suffered a loss.
She reached for the telephone again, then changed her mind and pushed the elevator button again. This time she was rewarded with the sound of the elevator moving.
It took her to the third floor. A closed door led to the narrow flight of stairs to Matt’s apartment. She pushed the button, and in a moment, a solenoid buzzed and she was able to push the door open.
She was greeted again with the sound of male laughter, which for some reason annoyed her, although another part of her mind said that it was probably therapeutic.
She walked up the stairs.
The tiny apartment was jammed. In the living room, she saw Martha Peebles sitting on a small couch with Mary-Margaret McCarthy-Detective Charley McFadden’s girlfriend-and a tall young man she recognized as Matt’s friend Jack Matthews, an FBI agent. The small table in front of the couch was covered with jackets. It was hot in the apartment, and most of the men had taken off their jackets and pulled down their ties and rolled up their sleeves.
Which also served to reveal that most of them were armed. There were shoulder holsters and waist holsters, most of them carrying snub-nosed. 38-caliber revolvers.
The tribal insignia, Amy thought, like that little purse or whatever Scots wear hanging down over their kilts.
Matt’s two small armchairs held Captain David Pekach and Lieutenant Jack Malone, having what seemed to be a serious conversation; they didn’t look at her.
Martha Peebles smiled and stood up when she saw her, and stepped over Mary-Margaret McCarthy and the FBI agent to come to her. Mary-Margaret and the FBI agent smiled at her.
“How’s Grace?” Martha Peebles asked softly as she put her cheek next to Amy’s.
“I stopped off earlier and gave her something to help her sleep,” Amy said.
“How terrible for her!”
A large arm gently draped itself around Amy’s shoulders. She looked up into the face of Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin.
“I checked with the Medical Examiner,” he said softly. “He released the body at noon. Kirk and Nice picked it up at half past twelve.”
“I know, Uncle Denny,” she said. “Thank you.”
She looked around for Matt. He was in the kitchen, leaning against the refrigerator, holding a can of beer. He didn’t seem drunk, which could or could not be a good thing. There was no sign that he was armed, but Amy knew better. Matt carried his. 38 snub-nose in an ankle holster.
“It was the right way to go, darlin’,” Coughlin said. “Thank you for trusting me.”
“I always trust you, Uncle Denny,” she said sincerely, and with a smile.
He squeezed her shoulder.
“Uncle Denny, I think it might be a good idea to get all these people out of here.”
“I was thinking the same thing, darlin’.”
“Getting him to take it might be a problem, but I’ll try to give him something to help him sleep.”
“I’ll see to it,” Coughlin said, and raised his voice. “David? See you a minute?”
Amy walked into the kitchen. Sitting at the small table, which was covered with whiskey bottles, empty cans, and the remnants of a take-out Chinese buffet were Inspector Peter Wohl, his father, Chief Inspector August Wohl (Retired), Captain Mike Sabara, Detective Charley McFadden, and her father.
“I agree with McFadden,” Amy heard Chief Wohl say. “If he’d been hit in the head with a two-by-four, or something, I’d say he walked in on a burglar, but two bullets in the back of the head? That makes it a hit.”
Detective McFadden beamed to have the Chief agree with him.
Amy walked up to her brother, and resisted the temptation to kiss him. He looked desolate.
“How’re you doing, Sherlock?”
He nodded and raised his beer can.
“OK. You want a beer?”
“Yes,” she said after a moment’s hesitation. “I think I would. Thank you.”
“The beer’s been gone for an hour,” Peter Wohl said. “We can call and get some. Or would you like something stronger?”
“Hello, Peter,” Amy said. “How are you?”
“Long time no see,” he said evenly.
“There’s scotch, bourbon, and gin, honey,” Brewster C. Payne said. “And Irish.”
“Yes, of course, Irish,” Amy said. “An Irish, please. A short one, over the rocks. And then I think we should call off the wake.”
Her father nodded and stood up to make the drink.
“Have you been out to Chestnut Hill?” he asked.
“Not since I saw you there. I gave Grace something to help her sleep, and I called a while ago and Violet said she’d gone to bed. I was tied up at the hospital.”
“I left when Dick went to sleep,” her father said.
In other words, passed out, Amy thought. He was three-quarters drunk when I left there.
“I’ll go out there first thing in the morning,” Amy said, and then turned to her brother. “I asked you how you’re doing?”
“What a goddamned waste,” he said.
“I want a minute with you alone when everybody’s gone,” she said.
“None of your goddamned pills, Amy.”
“I’m trying to help,” she said.
“Yeah, I know.”
“Your beer must be warm.”
“Is that a prescription? Booze in lieu of happy pills?”
“It might help you sleep.”
He met her eyes for a moment.
“Dad, could you make two of those, please?” he called.
Their father turned to look over his shoulder at her. She nodded, just perceptibly, and he reached for another glass.
“Charley,” Mary-Margaret McCarthy called, “we’re going.”
There was a tone of command in her voice. She was a nurse, an R.N. who had gone back to school to get a degree, and was, she had once confided in Amy, thinking about going for an M.D.
McFadden immediately stood up.
Matt needs somebody like that, Amy thought. A strong-willed young woman as smart as he is. He didn’t need Penny.
God, what a terrible thing to even think!
“We’re going too,” Martha Peebles announced. She already had her David-whom she usually called, to his intense embarrassment, “Precious”-in tow.
One by one, the men filed into the kitchen and shook Matt’s hand.
“Circumstances aside, it was good to see you, Amy,” Peter Wohl said, and offered her his hand.
“Thank you,” she said.
He was almost at the top of the stairs when she went quickly after him.
“Peter, wait a moment,” she called, and he stopped. “I’d like to talk to you,” Amy said.
“Sure. When? Will it wait until morning?”
“I won’t be with Matt more than a minute,” she said.
“OK,” he said with what she interpreted as reluctance, and then went down the stairs.
Her father touched her shoulder.
“You’re the doctor. Is there anything I should be doing for Matt?”
“Just what you are doing,” she said.
“Should I go out to Chestnut Hill in the morning, or is it better…”
“He’s your friend, Dad,” Amy said. “You’ll have to decide.”
“Yes, of course.”
Finally, after a final hug from Denny Coughlin, Amy was alone with Matt.
He met her eyes, waiting for whatever she had to say.
“This was not your fault, Matt. She had a chemical addiction-”
“She was a junkie.”
“-which she was unable to manage.”
“And I wasn’t a hell of a lot of help, was I?”
“What happened is not your fault, Matt.”
“So everyone keeps telling me.”
“The best thing you can do-an emotional trauma like this is exhausting-is to get a good night’s sleep.”
“And things will seem better in the morning, right?”
“I’ve got something to give you…”
“No, thank you.”
“…a mild sedative.”
“In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not climbing the walls, or hysterical, or…”
“It’s inside, Matt, it’s a pain. It will have to come out. The better shape you’re in when it does, the better. That’s why you need to sleep.”
“You are your father’s daughter, aren’t you? You never know when to take no for an answer.”
“OK. But people, even tough guys like you, have been known to change their minds. I’ll leave the pills.”
“Take two and call me in the morning?” Matt asked, now smiling.
“If you take two, you won’t be able to use a telephone in the morning. One, Matt, with water, preferably not on an empty stomach.”
“My stomach is full of Chinese.”
“I’ll be at home until half past seven or so,” Amy said. “If you want to talk.”
“Amy, believe it or not, I’m touched by your concern,” Matt said. “But all I need is to finish this”-he held up his whiskey glass-“and get in bed.”
And then he surprised her by putting his arms around her.
“Who holds your hand when you need it, Doc?” he asked softly. “Don’t you ever get it up to here with other people’s problems?”
“Yeah,” she said, surprised at her emotional reaction. “Just between thee, me, and the lamp pole, I do. But not with your problems, Matt. You’re my little brother.”
“Chronologically speaking only, of course.”
She hugged him, and then broke away.
“Go to bed,” she said. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
She went down the narrow flight of stairs and turned at the bottom and looked up.
“Try to stay on the black stuff between parked cars, Amy,” Matt called down to her with a wave.
“Wiseass,” she called back, and closed the door to the stairs. She had just enough time to be surprised to find the landing empty when she heard the whine of the elevator.
That has to be Peter, she thought. If he said he would wait for me, he will.
And then she just had time to recognize the depth of her original disappointment when the elevator door opened. It was not Peter, it was Jason Washington.
Where the hell is Peter? Did he decide, “Screw her, I’m going home”?
“Good evening, Doctor,” Washington said in his sonorous voice. “Or, more accurately, good morning.”
“Do I correctly surmise from the look of disapproval on your face that now is not a good time to call on Matt?”
“No. As a matter of fact,” Amy said with a nervous laugh-Jason Washington was a formidable male-“I think you’d be good for him. He said he was going to bed, but I don’t believe him.”