/ Language: English / Genre:det_police / Series: Badge of Honor

The investigators

W Griffith


W. E. B. Griffith

The investigators

ONE

A nearly new, but quite dirty, antenna-festooned Buick pulled into the employee parking lot of the Philadelphia Bulletin and into a parking space bearing a sign reading RESERVED MR. O'HARA.

Mr. Michael J. O'Hara, a wiry, curly haired man in his late thirties, wearing gray flannel trousers, loafers, a white shirt with the collar unbuttoned and the tie pulled down, and a plaid sports coat that only with great kindness could be called "a little loud," got quickly out of the car, slammed the door, and entered the building.

He took the elevator to the third floor, where it deposited him in the city room. He walked quickly across the room crowded with desks holding computer terminals, filing cabinets, and the other impedimenta of the journalist's profession to a glass-walled office, the door of which also bore his name. He went inside, opened a small refrigerator, and took out a bottle of Coca-Cola.

Then he sat down at his desk, punched the computer keys that would inform him of messages received in his absence, found nothing that could not wait, and took a swallow of his Coke.

An assistant city editor-Seymour Schwartz, a skinny, bespectacled forty-year-old whom Mickey regarded as about second among equals of the assistant city editors-appeared at his door.

"You got anything for me, Mickey?" Sy asked.

"Genius cannot be rushed," Mickey said. "I thought I already told you that."

"We go to bed in about fifteen minutes."

"Hold me a large chunk of page one," Mickey said. "Journalistic history will be made in the next five minutes. Presuming, of course, that you leave me alone."

Sy Schwartz threw up both hands in a gesture of surrender and walked away.

He both liked and admired Mickey O'Hara, who had not only won the Pulitzer Prize for his crime reporting, but was regarded-by his peers, including Sy Schwartz, not only by the sometimes politically motivated Pulitzer Prize committee-as just about the best police reporter between Boston and Washington. But as long as he had known O'Hara and worked with him, as many elbows as they had rubbed together, he never knew when Mickey was being serious or pulling his chain.

He did know him well enough, however, to know that when Mickey said he wanted to be left alone, the thing to do was leave him alone. He went back to his desk to wait for whatever Mickey was about to send him.

O'Hara looked at the blank computer screen, wiggled his fingers, reached for the Coke bottle, and took another swallow. Then he locked his fingers together, wiggled them, and, without looking, reached into a desk drawer and came out with a long thin cigar. He bit the end off, spit the end out, and then very thoughtfully and carefully lit it.

He put it in one corner of his mouth, flexed his fingers a final time, and began to tap the keys. Very rapidly. And once he had begun to write, he did not stop. The words appeared on the computer screen.

Slug: (O'Hara) "Really Ugly" Woman Robs

Bucks County Bank by Michael J. O'Hara

Bulletin Staff Writer

Riegelsville, Bucks County-A bandit described as "a really ugly white woman with hairy legs" robbed the Riegelsville branch of Philadelphia's Girard Savings Bank of more than $25,000 shortly after the bank opened this morning.

FBI agents and State Police swarmed over this small village on the banks of the Delaware to assist Riegelsville's one-man police force-part-time Constable Karl Werner-in solving the crime.

According to P. Stanley Dailey, 28, of Riegelsville, assistant manager of the bank and the only witness, the bandit, wielding a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun, took him by surprise as he was entering the bank by the rear entrance shortly after 8 a.m.

"She waited until I had unlocked the door, and had turned off the alarm, and then put her shotgun in my ear," Dailey, still visibly shaken hours after the robbery, told this reporter.

The bandit then took him, Dailey said, into the rear of the bank, where she ordered him to lie on his stomach on the floor of the employees' rest room, and then bound and gagged him with air-conditioning duct tape.

It was while he was being bound, Dailey reported, that he noticed that beneath her black patterned stockings, the robber's legs were unshaven. She was dressed, he said, in a blue and white polka-dot dress, over which she wore a tan raincoat. Her hair was covered with a scarf, and she was wearing heart-shaped glasses, decorated with sequins.

The robber then proceeded to the public area of the small bank, Dailey believes, and waited for the automatic timing device of the bank's vault, set to open at 8:15, to function.

She then helped herself to "the loose cash"-that is, currency involved in the previous day's business, which had been placed in the vault in cash drawers at the close of the previous day. She apparently made no attempt to force her way into any of the vault's locked interior compartments.

The robber then left the bank building by the rear door, locking it after herself. Mr. Dailey's keys were later found by the FBI in the parking lot.

At 8:25 a.m. the branch bank's manager, Mrs. Jean-Ellen Dowd, 42, of Upper Black Eddy, arrived at the bank.

"I knew something was wrong the minute I found the door locked," Mrs. Dowd told authorities and this reporter, "because Stanley [Mr. Dailey] is as reliable as a Swiss watch. But I thought he had a flat tire or something. I never dreamed it was something like this."

She entered the building and found Mr. Dailey in the rest room. Once she had taken the duct tape from his mouth, and he told her what had happened, she activated the alarm. The sound of the alarm was heard by Constable Werner at his full-time place of employment, the Riegelsville plant of the Corrugated Paper Corporation of Pennsylvania, where he is a pulper technician.

He rushed from the plant in his personal vehicle, a pickup truck, which is equipped with a siren and a red flashing light. En route to the scene of the crime, he collided with a Ford sedan driven by Mr. James J. Penter, manager of the Corrugated Paper Corporation's Riegelsville facility, who was on his way to work.

Neither Constable Werner nor Mr. Penter was injured in the collision, but Constable Werner's pickup truck was rendered hors de combat. Mr. Penter then drove Constable Werner to the scene of the crime, where, after questioning Mr. Dailey, he notified the State Police, who in turn notified the FBI.

State Trooper Daniel M. Tobias of the Bethlehem Barracks was first to arrive at the scene. After obtaining from Mr. Dailey a more complete description of the robber as a female approximately five feet eight inches tall, approximately thirty years of age, with large, dangling earrings and an unusually thick application of lipstick and cheek rouge, Trooper Tobias put out a radio bulletin calling for the apprehension of anyone meeting that description and then secured the crime scene pending the arrival of other law enforcement officials.

The Philadelphia office of the FBI dispatched a team of four special agents under the command of Assistant Special Agent in Charge (Criminal Affairs) Frank F. Young.

After questioning Mr. Dailey and Constable Werner, Mr. Young spoke with the press regarding the crime.

"The FBI regards bank robberies as a very serious matter," Young said, "and can point with pride to its record of bringing the perpetrators to justice. I have no doubt that when the FBI has had time to fully apply its assets, this crime will be solved."

Mr. Young, when asked by this reporter if a shotgun-wielding female with unshaven legs, dangling earrings, and an unusually thick application of lipstick and cheek rouge had been involved in other bank robberies, declined to answer.

He also declined to offer an opinion about when an arrest could be expected, and when asked by a reporter from the Easton Express to identify the FBI agents with him, stated that it was FBI policy not to do so.

The FBI agents with Mr. Young were known to this reporter as John D. Matthews, Lamar F. Greene, and Paul C. Lomar.

END

He stopped typing, pushed the Page Up key, and read what he had written. He tapped his fingertips together for a moment, then pushed the Send key on his keyboard. This caused as much of the slug of the story as would fit-it came out as (O'Hara) "Really Ugly" Woman Robs B-to appear on the computer monitor on Mr. Schwartz's desk.

Schwartz immediately called the whole story up on his monitor screen.

He read it, chuckling several times, and then pushed a key that caused a printed version of the story to emerge from a printer on a credenza behind him. He snatched it from the printer and walked across the city room to O'Hara's office.

"Very funny," he said. "A bank robber dressed up like a woman."

"It was a Chinese fire drill, from start to finish," Mickey said. "I was going up Route 611 when the FBI, two cars, goes around me, lights flashing, sirens screaming, as if I was standing still. Then they got lost, I guess, because I got to the bank ten minutes before they did."

Schwartz smiled.

"The first thing Young did, when he finally showed up, was to order one of his underlings to throw me out of the bank," O'Hara went on.

"I noticed you had your knife out for him," Schwartz said. "This is what is known as Time For Second Thoughts."

"Fuck him," Mickey said. "Let it run."

"Your call."

"Sy, that constable was really something," O'Hara said, laughing at the memory. "He told me the reason he ran into his boss's car was because he had just remembered he had left his gun home, and was wondering if he should go get it before going to the bank."

"You really want to say his truck was 'rendered hors de combat'?"

"Why not? I love that phrase. It calls up pictures of horny naked women in foxholes."

Schwartz laughed.

"Who do you think did it?"

"That state cop was pretty clever. I had a chance to talk to him before Young showed up and threw me out of the bank. The state cop thinks it was probably some guy from the coal regions, out of work for a long time, maybe in deep to some loan shark. You know, really desperate. If he is an amateur, and gets smart and quits now, he's probably home free. Despite what that pompous asshole from the FBI declared, they catch damned few bank robbers."

"Maybe this one will be easy to find. Hairy legs. Too much lipstick."

"I think that description-the 'really ugly' part, too-may not be all that reliable."

"Tell me?" Schwartz asked, smiling.

"I had the feeling after talking to Dailey that he was more than a little disappointed that once the broad had him all tied up she didn't do all sorts of wicked sexual things to him. Hell hath no fury, et cetera."

"Jesus, Mickey!"

"There's probably going to be surveillance-camera pictures of him-or, for all we really know, her-you can judge for yourself."

"There's pictures? When do we get them?"

"So far as Young is concerned, after I told him off, I'll get them the day after hell freezes over," O'Hara said. "But the state cop said he'd send me a copy when he gets his."

"We can lean on the FBI, if you think we should."

"I don't think it would be worth the effort. They're generally pretty lousy pictures, even if the camera was working, and I wouldn't bet on that. I asked the state cop for a copy just to satisfy my curiosity."

"Okay, Mickey. Nice little yarn. Would you be heart-broken if I ran it on the first page of the second section?"

"I'm surprised that you're going to run it at all," O'Hara said. "It's not much of a story."

"I like it," Schwartz said, meaning it. "A little droll humor to brighten people's dull days."

Without taking her eyes from the inch-thick, bound-together — with-metal-fastener sheaf of papers lying open on her cluttered desk, Susan Reynolds reached for the ringing telephone and put it to her ear.

"Appeals, Reynolds," she announced.

"Miss Susan Reynolds?" an operator's voice asked.

"Right," Susan said.

"Deposit fifty-five cents, please," the operator ordered.

Susan could hear the melodic bonging of two quarters and a nickel.

She felt sure she knew who was calling. She seldom got long-distance calls made from a pay phone in the office.

Confirmation came immediately.

"Susie?" Jennie asked.

Jennie was Jennifer Ollwood.

"Hi," Susan said.

"Could you call me back?" Jennie asked. "I'm in a phone booth and I don't have any change."

"Give me the number," Susan said, reaching for a pencil, then adding, "It'll be a minute or two. They don't let me make personal toll calls."

Jennie gave her the number. Susan repeated it back to her.

"I have to go down to the lobby," Susan said. "There's no pay phone on this floor."

"Thank you," Jennie said in her soft voice.

Susan hung up and then stood.

Susan Reynolds was listed on the manning chart of the Department of Social Services of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as an "Appeals Officer, Grade III." She was single, twenty-six years old, naturally blond, blue-eyed, with a fair complexion, and, at five feet five and 130 pounds, was five pounds heavier than she wanted to be.

She occupied a third-floor office in the Department of Social Services Building in Harrisburg. Through its one window, she had a view of the golden dome of the state-house. Her office was just barely large enough to hold her desk and chair, her bookcase, her three filing cabinets, and the three straight-backed chairs intended for use by visitors.

On half of one shelf of her bookcase, Susan kept a small vase, sometimes holding a fresh flower; a photograph of her parents, and a photograph of herself standing in the snow with half a dozen other young women taken while they were all students at Bennington College in Vermont.

The other five shelves of the ceiling-high bookcase were filled with books, notebooks, binders, and manila folders all containing laws, regulations, interpretations, and court decisions having to do with providing social services to those entitled to it.

Just who was entitled to what social services under what conditions was frequently a subject of bitter disagreement between those who believed in their entitlement to one social service or another, and those employees of one governmental agency or another who didn't think so.

It was often difficult, for example, for someone who had been a recipient of a monthly check from Harrisburg intended for the support of his or her minor children to understand why, simply because one of the children had turned nineteen, the amount of the check had been reduced.

The laws-and there were several hundred of them-generally provided that support-and there were forty or fifty different types of support-for dependent children terminated when the child reached his or her nineteenth birthday. Or was no longer resident in the home. Or had been incarcerated or become resident in a mental institution. Or joined the Army.

Ordinarily, the situation could be explained to the recipient at the local Social Services office. But not always. If he or she wanted to appeal, the initial appeal was handled locally. If the local social services functionary upheld the decision of the social worker, the recipient could appeal yet again.

At that point, the case moved to Harrisburg, where it was adjudicated by one of twelve appeals officers, one of whom was Miss Susan Reynolds.

When she had first come on the job three years before, Miss Reynolds had been deeply moved by the poverty and hopeless situations of those whose appeals reached her desk.

Emotionally, she had wanted to grant every one of them, feeling that there was simply no justification in wealthy America to deny anyone whose needs were so evident. And, in fact, for the first three weeks on the job she had granted relief to ninety percent of the appellants.

But her decisions were subject to review by her superiors, and more than ninety percent of her decisions granting relief had been overturned.

She had then been called before a review board that had the authority to terminate her probationary appointment as an Appeals Officer, Grade I.

It had been pointed out to her, politely but firmly, that she had been employed by the Department of Social Services to adjudicate appeals fairly, and not to effect a redistribution of the wealth of the Commonwealth without regard to the applicable laws and regulations.

She had seriously considered resigning her appointment-an act she knew would please her parents, who were mystified by her choice of employment-but in the end had not, for several reasons.

First, she knew that many, perhaps even most, of the decisions she had made had not been fair, but rather based on her emotional reaction to the pitiful lives of the people who had made the appeals. And second, she decided that she could make adjudications in the future that, while paying attention to the letter of the law, could be tempered with compassion.

Most important in her decision not to resign was her belief that if she stayed on the job, she would be able to make some input into the system that would make it better. It was such a god-awful mess the way it was now, she had thought, that improvement had to be possible.

She hadn't been able to make any improvements to the system in her three years on the job-she now realized that thinking she could have had been really naive-and she had been forced to accept that a substantial number of the appeals she was called upon to adjudicate had been made by people who believed there was nothing morally wrong in trying to swindle the state out of anything they could get away with.

But on the other hand, she thought, she had been able to overturn the adverse decisions of a large number of social workers that would really have hurt people with a legitimate entitlement to the small amounts of money provided by the state.

And she had been promoted twice, ultimately to "Appeals Officer, Grade III." And both times she had wondered if she had been promoted because she was doing a good job, or whether someone higher up had examined her record and found it satisfactory using the percentage of appeals rejected as the criterion.

Susan looked at the photograph of the Bennington girls on her shelf-Jennifer Ollwood was standing next to her in the picture-then shifted the frame slightly.

She picked up her purse and left her office, stopping at the adjacent office, of Appeals Officer, Grade IV, Veronica Haynes, a black woman who, Susan had decided, believed that the only people who should receive aid from the state were the aged in the last few weeks of their terminal illness.

"If anybody asks, Veronica, I'll be back in a couple of minutes."

Veronica smiled at her. "Couple, as in two? Or several, as if you're going out for coffee?"

"Several, wiseass," Susan said, smiling, and walked to the elevators.

On the way down, she looked in her coin purse and found that it held two nickels and a dime.

Somewhat reluctantly, the proprietress of the lobby newsstand, an obese harridan with orange hair, changed two dollars into silver for her. Susan found an empty telephone booth and went in.

Jennifer answered on the second ring. Her voice seemed hesitant.

"Hello?"

"It's me."

"That didn't take long."

"I hurried. What's up?"

"Are you planning to come this way anytime soon?"

"I hadn't planned on it," Susan said.

But I could. Daffy asked me please, please come to her husband's birthday party.

"I'd really like to see you," Jennie said.

"And I'd like to see the baby," Susan said.

"Bryan has something he wants you to keep for him. For us," Jennie said.

So that's what this is all about. Damn him!

Bryan was Bryan Chenowith.

If I had a file on him, he would be categorized as "Father of (illegitimate) child, residing with mother. Employable, but not employed."

"How's the baby?" Susan asked.

"Wonderful!" Jennie said, her voice reflecting the pride of the new mother.

"I can't wait to see him," Susan said.

"Then you can come?"

"Daffy's having a birthday party for Chad," Susan said. "On Saturday. She's called me twice, begging me to come. You know what I think of him."

"Is it too late to change your mind?" Jennie asked, a hint of desperation in her voice. "Philadelphia's not far from here."

"I could call her," Susan said.

"In for a penny. In for a pound," as they say.

"That's a 'yes'?"

"I want to see the baby," Susan said, as much to herself as to Jennie.

"Will you stay with Daffy?"

"No," Susan said. "Probably the Bellvue."

"You'll drive down Saturday morning?"

"Right."

"I'll call the hotel and tell you when and where to meet me," Jennie said.

"You don't want to tell me now?"

"I'd better come up with a plan," Jennie said, giggling.

"Okay. I'll be at the hotel after twelve, I guess. Why don't you call me about one?"

"I will."

"Is there anything I can bring you?"

"No. Thank you, but no. We're doing fine."

Said the noble bride from the deck of the sinking ship.

"Well, then, I'll see you over the weekend," Susan said.

"I really love you, you know that," Jennie said, and the phone went dead.

Susan made two more telephone calls before going back to her office. The first was to Daphne Elizabeth Browne Nesbitt, who was also in the photograph of the Bennington girls on Susan's bookshelf. She told Daffy that her plans had changed and that she now could come to Chad's party, if that would be all right.

Daffy said she would have the crиme de la crиme of Philadelphia's bachelors lined up for her selection.

I was afraid of that. It was another reason I didn't want to come to your asshole of a husband's birthday party.

"I would rather snag my men on my own hook, Daffy. Thank you just the same."

"Don't be silly," Daffy said. "Advertising pays. Ask Chad about that. And besides, we have to stick together, don't we? Help each other out?"

Oh, do we ever!

"Right," Susan said. "See you Saturday."

Then Susan called her mother and told her that she had changed her mind about going to Chad Nesbitt's birthday party in Philadelphia over the weekend.

"Well, baby, I'm very glad to hear that," Susan's mother replied.

"Mother, would you call the Bellvue and see about a room? It's so close to the weekend that I'm afraid-"

"No, I won't," her mother replied. "But I will call Mrs. Samuelson. She's very good at that sort of thing."

Mrs. Dorothy Samuelson was her father's executive assistant, and she was, indeed, very good at things like that. It was what Susan had hoped her mother would do, pass the buck to Mrs. Samuelson.

Now that she had committed herself to Jennie, she would need to have a room in the Bellvue-Stratford Hotel.

TWO

From where Officer Herbert Prasko of the Five Squad of the Narcotics Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department had stationed himself on the second-floor balcony of the Howard Johnson motel on Roosevelt Boulevard, he had an extraordinarily good view of the vehicle he was surveilling.

The new four-door Chevrolet sedan was parked, nose out, in front of a row of rooms in the rear of the motel. It was a Hertz rental, picked up at the Philadelphia International Airport four hours before by Ronald R. Ketcham, white male, twenty-five, five-ten, brown hair, 165 pounds, no previous arrests, who resided in a luxury apartment on Overbrook Avenue not far from the Episcopal Academy, of which he was a graduate.

Mr. Ketcham, who was not quite as smart as he believed himself to be, was laboring under the misimpression that the use of a rental automobile rather than his Buick coupe was one more clever thing he had done to conceal both his illegal activity and identity from both the police and other criminals.

Officer Prasko didn't know if the other criminals involved knew Mr. Ketcham's identity-the scumbags probably couldn't care less-but his identity had been known to Five Squad for five weeks, from the time they had first followed Amos J. Williams, black male, thirty-two, six-three, 180 pounds, twenty-eight previous arrests, and four of his goons to a delivery rendezvous with Mr. Ketcham, who seemed to be one of his better customers.

For a number of reasons, it had been decided not to make an arrest at that time, but it had not been hard at all to trace the customer's rental car back through the Hertz main office to their airport rental operation, and from the rental agreement to identify Mr. Ketcham in some detail.

Hertz had been very cooperative. They had promised to notify Five Squad the next time Mr. Ketcham rented a car, and had done so today. Officer Prasko thought that was pretty dumb on Mr. Ketcham's part, to go back to Hertz; he should have changed to Avis, or somebody else. And it was also dumb for him to go back to the Howard Johnson motel. There were a lot of other motels. If he had set up this meet someplace else, he would not be about to find his ass in a very deep crack.

Five Squad had come up with a plan after the first time they had followed Mr. Williams to his rendezvous with Mr. Ketcham. On being notified by Hertz that Mr. Ketcham had again rented an automobile, a Five Squad plainclothes officer-who turned out to be Officer Prasko-would proceed to the Howard Johnson motel, and there await the possible arrival of Mr. Ketcham.

Herb Prasko, en route to the motel in an undercover car-a two-year-old Mercury, formerly the property of another drug dealer scumbag-had thought the odds were that he would be pissing in the wind. But you never could really tell. Sometimes people were really stupid, as Mr. Ketcham had turned out to be by returning to the same Howard Johnson motel instead of going someplace else to do his business.

But he had waited, parked just inside the motel, slumped down on the front seat of the Mercury, watching the entrance to the motel, for nearly three hours, before Ketcham had shown up.

He had a dame with him, white female, early twenties, 120 pounds, blonde, nice figure, who sat in the car while Mr. Ketcham went in the motel office for the key. Officer Prasko slipped down all the way on the seat of the Mercury as they drove past him, and then watched where they were going in the rearview mirror.

Then, when the Chevy had gone around the first row of rooms to the back, he got out of the car, trotted quickly after them, and got to the corner of the building in time to see Mr. Ketcham enter 138, a ground-floor room in about the middle of the back row of rooms.

He then went to the pay phone outside the motel office and called Sergeant Patrick J. Dolan at Narcotics and told him what he had. Dolan-who could be a prick-made him repeat everything he said, and then told him not to let the door to 138 out of his sight, as if he thought Prasko had come on the job last Tuesday and had to be told shit like that.

Five Squad would be there as soon as they could get there, Dolan said, and said to meet them on the H Band. That was the special radio frequency assigned for the use of detectives, but available for other purposes as well.

Officer Prasko then took a pair of binoculars and a walkie-talkie from the floor of the backseat of the Mercury and went up the stairs to the second-floor balcony of the first building. He stationed himself between a Coke machine and an ice machine in an alcove, from where he could see the rental Chevy and the door to 138.

He had a good view of both the door and the car, especially the car and the girl in it.

She was a looker. And she was nervous. She lit a cigarette and took only a couple of puffs before putting it out and turning to look at the door, which made her breasts stretch the thin material of her blouse. Then she lit another cigarette.

A little after that, she put her hand in her blouse and adjusted her bra, which Prasko found exciting.

What the hell was Ketcham thinking, bringing a girl like that along on a meet like this? Amos Williams was a mean son of a bitch, and the first thing he was likely to do if something went wrong was grab the girl. By the time Ketcham fixed whatever Williams didn't like, Christ only knew what Williams and his goons would do with a white girl like that, a real looker.

"Six?" the radio went off. Too loud.

He recognized the voice. It was that of Officer Joe Grider. More important, it wasn't Dolan's, which was a good thing, meaning they could put Plan B into operation.

Officer Prasko adjusted the volume and the squelch before putting the microphone to his lips.

"Six," he said.

"He still there?"

"Yeah."

"Where's the room?"

"Around in the back. Middle. Ground floor."

"Any sign of his friends?"

"No."

"We're about there. I'm going to park up the street and see who shows up."

"What are you in?"

"The van."

The van was not standard, but a 1971 Dodge panel truck, also formerly the property of someone who had been apprehended while illegally trafficking in controlled substances. After the forfeited vehicle had been turned over to Five Squad for undercover work, they had chipped in and had it painted in the color scheme used by-and with the logotype of-Philadelphia Gas Works.

"Who's the super?"

"I am. Plan B," Officer Grider replied.

"Just the van?"

"One car."

"One of you block the Chevy."

"You got it."

Officer Prasko picked up his binoculars again. The curtains were drawn across the picture window of 138-Why the fuck do you suppose they put in picture windows? Nobody ever looks out of a motel room, and if you did, all you would see is the other part of the motel-and there was no sign of activity. The blonde in the front seat of the Hertz Chevy was lighting a fresh cigarette from the butt of the old one.

Three minutes later, the radio went off again. He couldn't hear what was being said.

"Repeat," he ordered.

"Turn the goddamn volume up!"

"I just did."

"Bingo, here comes our friends. Light blue new Olds 98. Tell me when he gets inside, and we'll come in halfway. "

Officer Prasko scurried across the balcony, keeping low so that he wouldn't be seen.

He saw the Blue Olds 98-well enough to recognize Amos Williams sitting beside the driver-enter the motel area and drive toward the rear. And stop.

"He stopped halfway to the back," Prasko reported.

"Being careful," Officer Grider replied.

Mr. Williams was careful for three minutes, which seemed like much longer, and then the driver's-side rear door of the Olds 98 opened and Marcus C. aka "Baby" Brownlee, black male, thirty-six, six-one, 240 pounds, thirty-two previous arrests, got out, looked around, and walked very quickly toward room 138.

"Baby Brownlee going to the room," Officer Prasko reported.

He dropped his binoculars to the Chevy. The blonde was not in sight.

Probably dropped onto the seat. I would if I was a good-looking piece like that and saw that mean-looking dinge walking my way.

"Knocking on the door," Officer Prasko reported, and added a moment later, "He's in."

"Wait," Officer Grider replied.

Baby Brownlee was in room 138 for two minutes forty seconds, which seemed like much longer.

"Door opening," Officer Prasko reported. "Baby's coming out. Moving toward car."

"Five?"

"Ready."

Five was officer Timothy J. Calhoun, and he was apparently driving the unmarked police car.

"At the car," Officer Prasko reported. "Getting in."

Baby Brownlee was in the Olds 98 for fifty seconds, which seemed like much longer.

The blonde's head appeared in the Chevy. She took a look around and then dropped from sight again.

Christ, I'd like to jump the bones of something like that.

"Car's moving," Officer Prasko reported.

"Five?"

"Car's turning around," Officer Prasko reported.

"Just say when," Officer Calhoun replied.

"Car's stopped. Now facing toward exit," Officer Prasko reported.

"What are they doing?" Officer Grider inquired.

"Getting out of the car. Baby's out. Amos is out. Opening trunk."

"And? And?"

"Baby's got a beach bag."

"Go! Go! Go!" Officer Grider ordered.

Officer Prasko stood up and walked as far as he could toward the stairs without losing sight of the Olds 98, the Hertz Chevy, and the door to room 138.

The van came in first, tires squealing, the rear door already open and stopped in front of the Olds 98. Half a dozen plainclothes police officers, weapons-four pistols, two pump-action 12-gauge shotguns-at the ready, jumped out.

Officer Calhoun's unmarked car skidded to a stop in a position blocking the Hertz Chevy. Calhoun and another plainclothes officer, revolvers drawn, jumped out of the car.

Prasko descended the stairs as rapidly as he could, considering the fucking binoculars were banging on his chest, and he had to be careful holding the walkie-talkie, otherwise he'd drop the son of a bitch and have to pay for the fucker.

As he reached the ground floor, Prasko stooped and drew his snub-nosed. 38 Special-caliber revolver from its ankle holster.

This act coincided with the appearance, at a full run, of an individual black male, twenty-five to thirty, five-ten, 150 pounds, noticeable scar tissue left cheek, who had not obeyed the orders of the other police officers to subject himself to arrest.

Just in fucking time!

"Freeze, motherfucker!" Prasko ordered.

The individual almost visibly debated his chances to evade Prasko and then apparently decided attempting to do so would not be in his best interests.

He stopped running and raised his hands above his head.

"Up against the wall!" Prasko ordered, spinning the man around, then pushing him toward the wall.

"Oh, shit, man!" the individual responded.

"Spread your legs!" Prasko ordered, as Calhoun appeared around the corner.

"I got the bastard, Timmy," Prasko said.

"Put your left hand behind your back," Prasko ordered, then looked at Calhoun.

"You want to cuff him, please, Timmy?"

Calhoun placed handcuffs on the man's left wrist, then grabbed the other wrist, which caused the man's face to fall against the wall.

"Shit!" he exclaimed.

Calhoun finished cuffing him, then performed a perfunctory search of his person to determine if he was armed.

"Clean," Calhoun informed Prasko.

"Do him," Prasko requested.

Calhoun emptied the man's pockets onto the ground beside him, but no controlled substances or any other illegal matter were discovered.

"Nothing," Calhoun reported.

"I'll bring him. You want to take my walkie-talkie?"

Calhoun took Prasko's walkie-talkie, and then, at a half-trot, ran back around the building.

Prasko dropped to his knees beside the pile of items and picked up the man's wallet. It contained his driver's license and other documents, a color photograph of a white female performing fellatio on a black male (not the individual), and seven hundred and sixty-three dollars in currency, five hundred of it in one-hundred-dollar bills.

Officer Prasko became aware that his heart was beating rapidly, and that he had to take a piss.

Prasko put two of the one-hundred-dollar bills in his pocket, replaced the rest of the currency into the wallet, and then placed the wallet and other material back into the man's pockets.

"Turn around," he ordered.

The man turned around with some difficulty, being cuffed, and looked at Prasko with what Prasko believed was mingled loathing and contempt. Prasko believed he understood why. It had to do with the criminal justice system and their relative compensation. The guy was almost certainly aware that since he had been apprehended without being found in possession of controlled substances, or a firearm or other deadly weapon, he could reasonably expect to be released from custody on bail within a matter of hours.

He was also aware that he made more money in a day than a policeman made in a week. Or ten days. Or two weeks. Or maybe even a month, depending on how valuable he was to Amos Williams.

Prasko gestured for him to start walking back the way he had come. When they got there, they found Amos Williams, Baby Brownlee, and two other men under arrest, their arms handcuffed behind them.

"Wagon's on the way," Officer Grider said. "And the tow truck."

"You," Prasko ordered the individual, "with them."

He placed his hand on the man's cuffed hands and guided him to the end of the line of handcuffed figures. Then he walked to Officer Grider.

"What did we get?" Prasko asked.

"Baby had in his possession two packages, approximately one kilo in weight, of a white crystalline substance which appears to be cocaine," Grider said.

"Plan B?" Prasko asked.

Grider nodded.

"I want you to stay here with Calhoun until the tow truck removes the Olds," he said.

"Right," Prasko said.

Two minutes or so later, a police van assigned to the 7th District rolled into the motel in response to Grider's radio request for prisoner transport.

One by one, the individuals arrested were hauled to their feet and placed in the van. Then the van started to leave. It had to stop and back up when, warning lights flashing, a police tow truck came into the motel area.

Officer Grider and the other members of Five Squad got into the Dodge panel truck with the PGW color scheme and logotype and pulled up behind the 7th District van.

Calhoun directed the tow truck toward the Olds 98. When the passage was clear, the van and the PGW Dodge drove out of the parking lot.

"Timmy, take my Mercury," Prasko called to Calhoun. "Keys in that?" he asked, pointing to the unmarked police car that blocked the Hertz Chevy.

Calhoun threw Prasko the keys to the unmarked car. Prasko caught them in midair and dropped them into his pocket, then walked toward room 138.

The blonde was not in sight, but after a moment, looking through the Chevy's window, he saw her on the floor of the front seat. She was on her side, and he was sure that she hadn't seen him. She had had to wiggle around to find room for herself on the floor, and in the process her skirt had been pushed up so that he could see her underpants.

Nice legs, too!

Officer Prasko felt sure that she wasn't going to try to leave the car until either Mr. Ketcham came for her or a long time had passed.

He looked at the tow truck. It already had the wheels of the Olds 98 off the ground. Calhoun started walking toward where Prasko had parked his Mercury, so that he would be able to follow the tow truck and testify in court that the vehicle had not been out of his sight from the place of arrest until it had been taken to the Narcotics Unit at 22nd and Hunting Park Avenue where it would be searched.

Prasko waited until the tow truck had disappeared around the corner of the front row of rooms, and then he walked to the door of room 138. There he took his pistol and knocked three times on the door with the butt.

It took Mr. Ketcham a long time to respond.

Come on, Ketcham. I know you're in there, and I know you can't get out.

"Who is it?" Ketcham finally inquired.

"Police, open up," Prasko called.

The door opened.

"Is something wrong, Officer?" Ketcham asked.

"You know fucking well what's wrong, Ketcham," Prasko said, somewhat nastily.

He spun Ketcham around, then twisted his left hand and arm around his back and upward and propelled him into the room, where he pushed him facedown on the bed and quickly handcuffed him.

"May I say something?" Ketcham inquired.

"Don't open your mouth. Don't turn over, don't even move," Prasko said, and holstered his pistol.

Then he searched the room methodically until he found what he was looking for under the cushion in the room's one armchair: two business-size envelopes held closed with rubber bands. Each was stuffed with ten rubber-band-bound sheafs of one-hundred-dollar bills, ten bills to a sheaf, for a total of $20,000.

Prasko put the envelopes on the table beside the armchair, then went to the bed and rolled Ketcham over.

"You got something to say?" he asked.

"I really have no idea what all this is-"

Prasko interrupted Ketcham by striking him with the back of his open hand.

"Bullshit time is over," Prasko said.

"Am I under arrest?" Ketcham asked after a moment.

"Not yet."

"Why don't you take that money and leave?" Ketcham asked, reasonably.

Prasko considered the suggestion.

"Your father would be very embarrassed if you had to call him and tell him you had been arrested for dealing in drugs," Prasko said. "It would probably cause him trouble at the bank."

"Oh, Jesus!" Ketcham said.

"Who's the girl?" Prasko asked.

"What girl?"

Prasko struck him again with the back of his hand.

"I already told you, bullshit time is over."

"My girlfriend," Ketcham said. "She doesn't know anything about this. You could let her go."

"What did you do," Prasko inquired sarcastically, "tell her that tonight you were going to do something new? You were going to rent a motel room and go in, and she was going to sit outside in the car?"

"Take the money. Who'd ever know?" Ketcham said.

Prasko considered that again, then reached down and unlocked one of the handcuffs. He then motioned Ketcham to get to his feet.

"This is really the mature way to deal with this situation, " Ketcham said, extending the wrist that still had a handcuff attached, obviously expecting Prasko to free him of that cuff, too.

Instead, Prasko firmly took Ketcham's arm and led him into the bathroom, where he ordered him to sit on the floor beside the toilet. Then he attached the free end of his handcuff to the pipes running to the flushing mechanism of the toilet.

"What are you doing?" Ketcham asked.

Prasko ignored him, went out of room 138 to the car, and tried the passenger-side door. It was locked.

"Come out of there, honey," he ordered.

He saw the blonde looking up from the floor with horror in her eyes.

"Open up," Prasko ordered.

The blonde tried to move away as far as she could.

Prasko unholstered his revolver and used the butt as a hammer to shatter the window. Then he reached inside and unlocked the door.

"You can come out," he said, "or I can drag you out."

She scurried across the floor to the open door, which caused her skirt to rise even higher.

Peggene had legs like that when I first met her. Now her legs look like shit.

He took the girl's arm and led her into room 138 and closed and locked the door without letting go of her arm.

When she saw Ketcham handcuffed to the crapper, she sucked in her breath.

"What you are, honey," Prasko said, "is an accessory to a felony, possession of controlled substances with the intent to distribute."

"Ronny?" the girl asked, looking into the bathroom.

"We're working something out, Cynthia," Ketcham said. "Just take it easy."

The girl looked at Prasko defiantly.

Prasko walked to the bathroom door and closed it.

"He had some money," he said to the girl. "I may let him go. What have you got to trade?"

"I've got a little money," she said.

"He had twenty thousand. You got that much?"

"No!"

"Then I guess you're both going to jail."

"I could probably get you some money," the girl said.

"Twenty thousand? That kind of money?"

She shook her head, no.

"How about five minutes of your time?" Prasko asked.

"Five minutes of my time? I don't understand."

"Yeah, you understand," Prasko said.

"Oh, my God!"

"That's probably what your mother'll say when you call her from Central Lockup and tell her you need bailing out, and for what."

The girl started to whimper.

"You gonna start taking your clothes off, or not?" Prasko said. "I don't have all night."

Sobbing now, the girl unbuttoned her blouse and shrugged out of it, then unfastened her skirt and let it fall to the floor.

"All of it, all of it," Prasko said.

The girl unfastened her brassiere and then, now moving quickly, pushed her white underpants down off her hips. Then she backed up to the bed and lay down on it, her legs spread, her face to one side, so she didn't have to look at Prasko.

Officer Prasko dropped his trousers and then his shorts and moved to the bed.

When he was done, he went into the bathroom and struck Ketcham in the face with his revolver, hard enough to draw blood and daze him. Then he unlocked the handcuffs.

"Stay where you are for five minutes or I'll come back and blow your fucking brains out," Prasko said.

Then he went into the bedroom, glanced quickly at the naked, whimpering girl on the bed, took the twenty thousand dollars from the table, and left room 138.

As soon as Ketcham heard the sound of the car starting, and then driving away, he got off the bathroom floor and went into the bedroom and tried to put his arms around the girl.

She pushed him away and shrieked.

"Cynthia," he said, trying to sound comforting, and again tried to put his arms around her.

Cynthia shrieked again.

THREE

The District Attorney of Philadelphia, the Hon. Thomas J. "Tony" Callis-a large, silver-haired, ruddy-faced, well-tailored man in his early fifties-looked up from his desk, and saw Harrison J. Hormel, Esq.-a somewhat rumpled-looking forty-six-year-old-standing in the door, waiting to be noticed.

Harry Hormel was arguably the most competent of all the assistant district attorneys Callis supervised. And he had another characteristic Callis liked. Hormel was apolitical. He had no political ambitions of his own, and owed no allegiance to any politician, except the current incumbent of the Office of the District Attorney.

"Come in, Harry," Mr. Callis called.

Hormel slipped into one of the two comfortable green leather armchairs facing Callis's desk.

"What do you want to happen to James Howard Leslie? " Hormel asked, without any preliminaries.

"Boiling in oil would be nice," Tony Callis said. "Or perhaps drawing and quartering."

Mr. James Howard Leslie, by profession a burglar, had been recently indicted for murder in the first degree. It was alleged that one Jerome H. Kellog, on returning to his home at 300 West Luray Street in Northwest Philadelphia, had come across Mr. Leslie in his kitchen. It was further alleged that Leslie had thereupon brandished a blue. 38 Special five-inch-barrel Smith amp; Wesson revolver; had then ordered Kellog to raise his hands and turn around; and when Kellog had done so, had shot Kellog in the back of the head, causing his death. It was further alleged that after Kellog had fallen to the floor of his kitchen, Leslie had then shot him again in the head, for the purpose of making sure he was dead.

When Leslie had discussed the incident with Sergeant Jason Washington of the Special Operations Division of the Philadelphia Police Department, Leslie had explained that he had felt it necessary to take Kellog's life because Kellog had seen his face, and as a policeman, would probably be able to find him and arrest him for burglary.

The question Hormel was really asking, Callis understood, was whether the City of Philadelphia wanted to go through the expense of a trial, seeking a sentence that would incarcerate Leslie for the rest of his natural life, or whether Leslie should be permitted to cop a plea, which would see him removed from society for, say, twenty years, which was, in practical terms, about as long behind bars as a life sentence would mean.

Ordinarily, there would be no question of that. The full wrath and fury of the law would suddenly descend on the shoulders of anyone who had in cold blood taken the life of a police officer. Or even someone who had shot a cop by mistake, while in the act of doing anything illegal.

Ordinarily, Callis himself would have personally prosecuted Leslie. For one thing, he really believed that letting a scumbag get away with shooting a cop really would undermine the very foundations of civilized society. For another, press reports of the vigorous prosecution of such a villain by the district attorney himself would be remembered at election time.

It was not much of a secret that District Attorney Callis would be willing to serve the people of Philadelphia as their mayor if called upon to do so. And neither was it lost upon him that one of the reasons the incumbent mayor of Philadelphia, the Hon. Jerome H. "Jerry" Carlucci, had been elected and reelected with such comfortable margins was his reputation of being personally tough on criminals.

But the case of Leslie was not like, for example, that of some scumbag shooting a cop during a bank robbery. For one thing, Officer Kellog had not been on duty at the time of his tragic demise. Perhaps more important, Leslie was going to be represented at his trial by the Office of the Public Defender, specifically by a lawyer whom Callis most commonly thought of-not for publication, of course-as "The Goddamned Nun."

Ms. Imogene McCarthy-who had been known as Sister Luke during her ten years as a cloistered nun-had two characteristics that annoyed Callis, sometimes greatly. She devoutly believed that there were always extenuating circumstances-poverty, lack of education, parental abuse, drug addiction-which caused people like James Howard Leslie to do what they did, and which tragic circumstances should trigger not punishment but compassion and mercy on the part of society; and she was a very skillful attorney, both in the courtroom and in the appeals processes.

Tony Callis was determined that The Goddamned Nun, as good as she was, was not going to get her client off on this one. Indeed, in her heart of hearts, she probably didn't want to see him walk. What she didn't want was for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to put James Howard Leslie into handcuffs and march him off to Rockview Prison in State College for what the judge had just told him would be incarceration for the rest of his natural life, thereby destroying all of his hopes to be educated, rehabilitated, and returned to society as a productive, law-abiding member thereof.

What, Callis believed, McCarthy saw from her perspective as a reasonable solution to the case of James Howard Leslie was that he be allowed to plead guilty to Murder Three (voluntary manslaughter), a lesser offense that, she would be prepared to argue, would not only punish him and remove him from society for a very long period-say, seven to ten years-so that he could cause others no harm, but save both the Office of the District Attorney and the Office of the Public Defender the considerable cost in time and money of a trial and the following appeals processes.

There was a certain logic to her position. If Kellog had not been a police officer, Callis might have entertained her plea-bargain offer. But Kellog had been a cop, and Leslie had killed him in cold blood, and deserved to be locked up permanently. Strapping the murdering son of a bitch into the electric chair was unfortunately-thanks to bleeding hearts and the Supreme Court-no longer possible. The only way to get him locked up for life was to bring him to trial.

After some thought-it would do his political ambitions little good, he had reasoned, if he personally prosecuted Leslie only to have The Goddamned Nun get him off with something like seven to ten-Callis had decided to delegate the responsibility for prosecuting Leslie to Assistant District Attorney Hormel.

"Phebus wants to prosecute," Harry Hormel said. "He asked me."

Anton C. Phebus, Esq., was another of the assistant district attorneys under Callis's supervision.

Callis was not surprised that Tony Phebus wanted to prosecute Leslie, or even that Phebus had asked Hormel for the job. Phebus was an ex-cop, and thus felt a personal interest in seeing to it that Leslie, after a fair trial, would be locked up permanently. And Harry Hormel was de facto if not de jure, like one of Mr. Orwell's pigs, the most equal of all the assistant district attorneys.

"You don't want to prosecute?" Callis asked.

"I will," Hormel said. "But if Phebus does, it will give him the experience."

Phebus was a relative newcomer both to the practice of law and the District Attorney's Office. He had served twelve years as a police officer, rising to sergeant, and attending law school at Temple University whenever he could fit the hours into a policeman's always changing schedule. He had joined the Office of the District Attorney fourteen months before, shortly after being admitted to the bar.

Callis suddenly remembered-he had a very good memory, which had served him well-that Phebus had been a sergeant in the Narcotics Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department when he had been a cop, and that Jerome H. Kellog had also been assigned to the Narcotics Unit.

"He and Kellog were buddies in Narcotics?" Callis asked. "Partners?"

It would be unwise to have a man with a really personal interest in sending the accused away for life serve as his prosecutor.

"No. I checked that out. They never worked together, and they weren't friends," Hormel said.

Callis was not surprised that Hormel had checked out that possible problem area before coming to see him.

"What are you suggesting, Harry? That maybe Phebus couldn't get around McCarthy?"

"We have everything we need to get a conviction," Hormel said. "A statement, everything. Phebus stands as good a chance of getting a conviction as I do. Miss Mc-Carthy 'll give him her best shot, which would be a good learning experience for him both at the trial and during the appeals."

Obviously, Callis thought, Phebus has got himself a rabbi. Harry wants him to try this case. Probably because he figures Phebus will not resign to go into private practice anytime soon.

Only a few assistant district attorneys make a career of it. Most leave to enter private practice after a few years on the job. Harry's obviously interested in keeping Phebus. Nothing wrong in that. And Phebus is the kind of guy-he's no mental giant, and he has a civil service mentality-who will want to stay on here.

So what's the downside?

The Goddamned Nun makes a fool of him, and Leslie walks. Unlikely, but possible. But-even if it's that bad-the public perception will be that I made an understandable mistake in assigning an ex-cop to prosecute a cop-killer. That's better than McCarthy making a fool of me or Harry.

More likely-we've got a strong case-Phebus will be able to get a conviction. The District Attorney's Office will get the credit for the conviction, and I may even get a little credit for assigning an ex-cop to prosecute a cop-killer. The cops, at least, will appreciate that.

The Goddamned Nun will appeal, of course, all the way to the Supreme Court, to get that scumbag out of jail. She may even be able to get away with it. Fighting the appeals will be both a pain in the ass and time-consuming. Right now, Phebus's time isn't all that valuable, and like Harry says, it will be a good learning experience for him.

"Let Phebus prosecute, Harry," Callis ordered. "But keep an eye on him. If there are problems, let me know."

Thirty-five-year-old Peter Frederick Wohl looked like-and was often mistaken for-an up-and-coming young stockbroker, or an attorney. He was fair-skinned, with even features, and carried 165 pounds on a lithe body just under six feet tall. He wore his light brown hair clipped short, and favored well-tailored, conservatively styled clothing, almost always worn with a crisply starched white button-down-collar shirt, regimentally striped neckties, and well-shined loafers. He drove a perfectly restored, immaculately maintained Jaguar XK-120 roadster, in the back of which could usually be found his golf clubs or his tennis racquet, or both.

He was in fact a police officer, specifically the youngest inspector-and in the Philadelphia Police Department inspector is the second senior rank, after chief inspector. On those very rare occasions when he wore his uniform, it carried a silver oak leaf, like those worn by lieutenant colonels in the Army or Marines.

Wohl was the commanding officer of the Special Operations Division, which was housed in a building at Frankford and Castor avenues that had been built in 1892 as the Frankford Grammar School. Wohl's small, ground floor office had been the office of the principal.

He glanced up from a thick stack of paper demanding his administrative attention at the clock on the wall and saw that it was quarter past four. He shook his head in resignation and shoved all the paperwork in the side drawer of his desk, locking it.

He took the jacket to a light brown glen plaid suit from a hanger on a clothes rack by the door and walked out of his office.

Officer Paul Thomas "Tommy" O'Mara, a tall, fair-skinned, twenty-six-year-old in a suit Wohl suspected he had bought from the Final Clearance Rack at Sears Roe-buck, got to his feet. Tommy O'Mara was Wohl's administrative assistant, and Wohl liked him despite the fact that his assignment had more to do with the fact that his father was Captain Aloysius O'Mara, commanding officer of the 17th District and an old friend of Peter's father-Chief Inspector Augustus Wohl, Retired-than any administrative talent.

"I'll be with Chief Lowenstein in the Roundhouse, Tommy," Wohl said.

Chief Inspector Matthew Lowenstein was Chief of the Philadelphia Police Department Detective Division, and maintained his office in the Police Administration Building-universally called the Roundhouse because of its curved walls-at 8th and Race streets.

"Yes, sir."

"If he calls, I left five minutes ago," Wohl said.

"Yes, sir."

Tommy reminded Wohl of a friendly puppy. He tried very hard to please. He had five years on the job, all of it in Traffic, and had failed the examination for detective twice. Chief Wohl had asked his son to give him a job-working for Wohl meant an eight-to-five shift, five days a week-where he would have time to study for a third shot at the detectives' exam.

Wohl's previous administrative assistant had been a graduate, summa cum laude, of the University of Pennsylvania, who had ranked second on the list the first time he had taken the detectives' examination.

Wohl thought of him now, as he started out of the building. He glanced at his watch, shrugged, and started up the stairs to the second floor of the building, taking them two at a time. At the top of the stairs, he walked down a corridor until he came to what had been a classroom but was now identified by a sign hanging over the door as the "Investigations Section."

He pulled the door outward without knocking and went inside.

A very large (six feet three, 225 pounds) man sitting behind a desk quickly rose to his feet with a look of almost alarm on his very black face, holding his right hand out, signaling stop, and putting the index finger of his left hands to his lips, signaling silence.

Wohl stopped, smiling, his eyebrow raised quizzically.

The black man, who was Sergeant Jason Washington, chief of the Investigations Section, and Inspector Wohl were old friends, going back to the time Detective Washington, even then regarded as the best homicide investigator in the Philadelphia Police Department, had taken rookie homicide detective Wohl under his wing.

If Sergeant Washington had had his way, he would still be, as he put it, a simple homicide detective. And he would have cheerfully and with some eloquence explained why: A good homicide detective-and there was no question in anyone's mind, including his own, that Jason Washington had been the best of that elite breed-earned, because of overtime, as much money as a chief inspector. And for another, he had liked being the best homicide detective. It was intellectually challenging, stimulating work. He had routinely been given the most difficult cases.

Washington's friendship with Peter Wohl had been seriously strained when Wohl had had him transferred to the newly formed Special Operations Division eighteen months before. There had been no harsh words-Jason Washington was not only genuinely fond of Wohl, but regarded him as the second-smartest man in the Philadelphia Police Department-and by rationalizing that if he intended to retire from the department as at least an Inspector, now was the time to start taking the promotion exams, Washington had accepted his new duties.

Washington pointed to a full-length mirror mounted on the wall. In it was reflected the image of a good-looking young man with earphones on his head, seated before a typewriter. His face was contorted with deep frustration and resignation. His eyebrows rose in disbelief. He shook his head, then typed very quickly and very briefly.

It was comical. Wohl was tempted to laugh. And did.

"The tapes," Sergeant Washington said.

"Ah, the tapes," Wohl said.

The young man, whose name was Matthew M. Payne, and who had been Wohl's administrative assistant before his promotion to detective, sensed that he was the subject of their attention, and tore the earphones from his head.

"It is not kind to mock a young detective doing his best," he said.

"Chagrin overwhelms me," Sergeant Washington said.

Wohl walked to Payne's desk.

"How's it going?" he asked.

Payne pointed at the sheet of paper in the typewriter.

"Slowly and painfully," he said.

"Get anything?" Wohl asked.

"They speaketh in tongues," Payne said. "I have learned that they have a 'Plan B' and a 'Plan C,' but I have no idea what the hell that means."

"It's a dirty job," Wohl said, gently mocking, "but someone has to do it."

"Why me, dear Lord, why me?"

"Because you can type," Wohl said. "Where did you get that?" he asked, pointing to the dictating apparatus Payne was using.

"There's a place on Market Street, across from Reading Terminal," Payne said.

"You bought it?"

"It was either buy it or suffer terminal index finger using that thing," Payne said, pointing to a tape recorder, and miming-jabbing his index finger-as he added, "ahead three seconds, rewind three seconds, ahead three seconds. I was wearing out my finger."

"What did it cost?"

"Don't ask."

Wohl chuckled.

"How's it coming?"

"There are thirteen tapes. I am on number three."

"We still on for tomorrow?"

"Yes, indeed, sir. I wish to play for ten dollars a stroke, plus side bets. It would please me greatly to have you pay for this electronic marvel."

"Merion at twelve, right?"

"Bring your checkbook."

The relationship between Inspector Wohl and Detective Payne was unusual. Generally, it was believed that Wohl had elected to become Payne's rabbi, which was to say he had seen in the younger man the intelligence and character traits that would, down the pike, make him a fine senior police officer, and had chosen to be his mentor. That was true, but the best explanation of their relationship Peter had ever heard had come from his mother, who had said Matt was the little brother he had never had.

Wohl turned and walked out of the room, pausing before Washington's desk.

"If he shows any signs of slowing up-much less trying to leave-use your whip," he said.

"Yes, sir," Washington said.

Detective Payne replaced the headset, then held his hand, middle finger extended, in a very disrespectful gesture, over his head.

Wohl went down the corridor, got into his official unmarked car, and headed downtown for his meeting with Chief Inspector Lowenstein.

Five minutes later, the telephone in the Investigations Section rang. Sergeant Washington answered it, called out "Matt!" and when there was no answer, got up and walked to Payne's desk, tapped him on the shoulder, and then pointed to the telephone.

Payne took his earphones off, punched an illuminated button on the telephone on the desk, and picked it up.

"Payne," he said.

"Would you hold please for Mr. Nesbitt?" a female voice said.

"No," Payne said.

"Excuse me?"

"You tell Mr. Nesbitt when he finally learns how to dial a telephone himself, I'll be glad to talk to him," Payne said, and hung up.

He looked over at Washington.

"That pisses me off," he announced.

"What, specifically, causes you to have an uncontrollable impulse to pass water?" Washington asked.

"Would you hold please for Mr. More Important Than You Are?" Matt said in a high soprano.

Washington chuckled.

Less than a minute later, the telephone rang again.

Washington let it ring until it penetrated Matt's concentration and he reached for it.

"Detective Payne," he said.

"What the hell is the matter with you?" Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt IV demanded.

"If you want to talk to me, Chad, you call me."

"That's what secretaries are for," Nesbitt said.

"Now that you have me, what's on your mind?"

"Tonight."

"As a matter of fact, I was just about to call you, myself, about tonight."

"You are coming?"

"That's what I was going to call about. I will not be coming."

"Why the hell not?"

"I seem to have come down with a virus."

"What kind of a virus?"

"Some kind of Asiatic flu. Not to worry, it will only last twenty-four hours. They call it, 'The Don't Go To Chad's Birthday Party Virus.' "

"You want to tell me why not?"

"You really want to know?"

"I really want to know."

"Okay. Daffy will try to fix me up with one of her airheaded friends."

"I promise that won't happen."

"Reason number two: At least one of our friends will ask me to fix a little ticket he got for running through a red light into a busload of nuns while under the influence. "

"If that happens, tell him to go fuck himself. You're very good at that."

"Reason three: Daffy, carried away with her notions of having become a wife, mother, and homemaker, will probably try to cook."

"It's being catered, of course. So you will be there, right?"

"Chad, I don't want to."

"Do it for me, buddy. We've been going to each other's birthday parties since we were in diapers. And hell, we never see each other anymore. Penelope Alice is your goddaughter. "

That was all true. Chad Nesbitt had been Matt Payne's best friend since they had worn short pants. And they rarely got together anymore. And Penelope Alice Nesbitt, Chad and Daffy's firstborn, named after the late Penelope Alice Detweiler, with whom, before she inserted too much-or bad-heroin into her veins, Matt had fancied himself in love, was indeed his goddaughter.

He sighed.

"I'll be there," Matt said. "Against my better judgment. "

He hung up before Chad could reply and went back to work.

The festivities that would commemorate the birth twenty- five years before of Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt IV were, in the opinions of his mother and his mother-in-law (Mrs. Soames T. Browne), far more important than a simple birthday party.

It would, so to speak, if not introduce, then reintroduce the young couple to Philadelphia society. There had been a number of problems. For one thing, Chad had gone off into the Marines three days after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania.

A suitable wedding, given that, would have been difficult under any circumstances, but it had been further complicated by the unfortunate business of Daffy's best friend-Penny Detweiler, who was to have been her maid of honor-getting herself involved with drugs and gangsters.

Their hearts went out, of course, to Grace and Dick Detweiler, who were old and dear friends, but that didn't change the fact that Penny not being Daphne's maid of honor because she was in Hahnemann Hospital recuperating from being shot did cast a pall upon a wedding.

And then the Marines had sent Chad off to Okinawa, without Daffy, for more than two years. She had waited for him in her parents' home in Merion-married woman or not, her taking an apartment alone didn't make any sense-and then Chad had come home, and the second thing he'd done after taking off his hat was to get her in the family way.

And while she was pregnant, Chad had gone to work for Nesfoods, starting at the bottom, of course, as a retail salesman. His father-now chairman of the Executive Committee of Nesfoods International-had started out that way. And, for that matter, so had his grandfather. And Dick Detweiler, Nesfood's chief executive officer. And his father.

But you can't really have much of a social life when you're working as a retail salesman at the bottom of the corporate ladder, and with a pregnant wife.

Things were a good deal better now. Chad had proved his worth, and shortly before the baby was born, had been promoted. He was now an assistant vice president, Sales.

And the baby was healthy and adorable. Chad and Daffy had named her Penelope Alice, after Penny Detweiler, who had broken everyone's heart, not just her parents', by taking one illegal drug too many and killing herself.

Both Grandmother Nesbitt and Grandmother Browne believed that naming the baby after poor Penny wasn't the wise thing to do, but there's no talking to young people.

Look to the good, look to the future.

At least they had their own place now. Number 9 Stockton Place, in Society Hill. Large enough, and nice enough, to have their first real party.

Society Hill-around Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in central Philadelphia-was where the social elite of pre-Revolutionary Philadelphia made their homes. It was said, with some accuracy, that Society Hill had gone downhill from the moment the loyal subjects of His Majesty King George III, alarmed at the presence in nearby Valley Forge of a rebel named George Washington and his ragtag revolutionary army, had begun to leave town.

Society Hill had continued its slow but steady decline to a slum for the next century and a half. Then a real estate developer had decided there was probably a good deal of money to be made by gutting the old houses and converting them into upscale accommodations for the affluent.

In the process of gaining clear title to the blocks of property involved, it was discovered that an alley called Stockton Place had never been deeded to the City of Philadelphia. That being the case, it was the prerogative of the owner to declare it private property and keep the riffraff out. Exclusiveness sells, as they say in the real estate trade.

At considerable expense, a sufficient quantity of cobblestones had been acquired, and Stockton Place was re-paved with them. As soon as that was done, one end of the alley was permanently closed with a brick wall, and at the other end, a Colonial-style guard shack was erected. A striped pole, controlled by a Wachenhut Corporation rent-a-cop, ensured that no one but the residents or their authorized guests was permitted to tread, or drive upon, the newly laid cobblestones.

Number 9 Stockton Place, which had been purchased by NB Properties, Inc., was arguably the most desirable of all the residences. It was a triplex constructed behind the facades of four of the twelve pre-Revolutionary brownstone buildings on that block of Stockton Place. The entrance was at Number 9. Cleverly concealed behind the facade of Number 11 was the entrance to the underground garage, with space for three vehicles.

The property was leased by NB Properties, Inc., to Mr. and Mrs. Nesbitt IV at a rate a good deal lower than it would have brought on the open market. At the time they had moved in, young Chad was being paid no more and no less than any other retail salesman employed by Nesfoods International, and it seemed the least his father-who was the sole stockholder of NB Properties, Inc.-could do for him. Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt III well remembered when he had been starting out with the company, on the bottom rung of the ladder.

There would be more than two hundred guests. A buffet, of course. Chad and Daffy's apartment was large, but not large enough to have that many people seated for dinner. Mrs. Nesbitt III had toyed with the idea of giving the party at the Merion Country Club, and Mrs. Browne had offered the Brownes' home-a forty-two-room copy of an English manor house, circa 1600, in Merion-for the occasion, but in the end she decided the thing to do was have Daffy give the party at her own home-with, of course, the help of her mother and her mother-in-law.

Daffy didn't really have the experience to do it, and she was busy with Penelope-both grandmothers were determined that the child never be called "Penny"-and it just had to be right.

The guest list had been difficult. Chad and Daffy's friends had to be invited, of course, but after Daffy had presented her list, that criterion was changed to "Chad and Daffy's oldest and dearest friends," which cut it down to less than a hundred, and left about that number of spaces for people who were important to the young couple, socially and business-wise. All six vice presidents of Nesfoods International and their wives were invited, of course, and some other businessmen connected to the company. And the Episcopal bishop of Philadelphia, of course, and the cardinal archbishop of Philadelphia. And the mayor. And the senator. And then the friends, most of whom had known Daffy and Chad all their lives.

Bailey, Banks amp; Biddle did the invitations, and the Rittenhouse Club was engaged to cater the affair.

There was a reception line, the birthday couple (a privileged few would be taken upstairs, later, to view Penelope Alice) and both sets of grandparents.

Matthew M. Payne entered the line at seven-fifty, a moment after Mrs. Nesbitt III had given Mrs. Browne a signi ficant look, indicating that she believed they should abandon the line to mingle with the children's guests.

"Hello, Matt," Mr. Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt III said.

"Good evening, sir," Matt said.

"You look so nice in black tie, Matt," Mrs. Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt III said.

"Please tell my mother," Matt said.

"Your mother and dad are here," Mr. Soames Browne said.

"Daphne was afraid you wouldn't be coming, Matt," Mrs. Soames Browne said.

"That was when I thought Daffy was going to do the cooking."

"Matt, must I ask you yet again not to call her that?" Mrs. Soames Browne said.

Matt snapped his fingers in mock chagrin, indicating he had forgotten.

"Well, the birthday boy himself," he said, extending his hand to Mr. Nesbitt IV. "Congratulations!"

"Thank you for coming, buddy."

"And the mother of my goddaughter! About to spill out of her dress!"

"Oh, fuck you, Matt," Mrs. Nesbitt IV said.

The grandparents pretended not to hear.

Mrs. Soames Browne remembered again, as she usually did on such occasions, that at age five Matt Payne had talked Daphne into playing doctor and that she had concluded at that time that there was something wrong with him.

Over the years, he had done nothing to disabuse her of that notion.

There is a screw loose in him somewhere, she thought. The policeman business was another proof of that. The very idea of someone with a background like his being an ordinary cop is absurd.

If the truth were known, he probably had more to do with Penny getting on dope than anyone knows. When you roll around in the mud with pigs, you're going to get dirty.

FOUR

Matt Payne took a look at the buffet laid out in the game room, then at the line waiting to get at the food, and walked to the bar.

"A glass of your very best ginger ale, if you please, my good man," he said, but then changed his mind. "Oh, to hell with it, give me a scotch, no ice, and soda."

The barman smiled at him.

"My mother's here. What I was going to do, was wait for the question, phrased accusingly, 'What are you drinking? ' to which I would have truthfully responded, 'Ginger ale.' Just to get her reaction."

"What changed your mind?" the barman asked as he made the drink.

Matt gestured around the crowded room.

"I need a little liquid courage to face all these merry-makers. "

The barman chuckled.

And then Matt spotted a familiar face.

"I'll be damned," he said. "There is someone human here, after all."

He crossed the room to a small, wiry, blond-headed man standing beside a somewhat taller female. There was a thick rope of pearls around the woman's neck, reaching down to the valley between her breasts, and on the third finger of her left hand was an engagement ring with a four-carat emerald-cut stone in it.

"Hello, Matt," the woman said, smiling at him. "How are you?"

"Feeling sorry for myself," Matt said.

"How's that?" she asked.

"My superiors are cruel to me. You wouldn't believe what they've had me doing all day. And all day yesterday. "

The man smiled.

"The tapes?"

"The obscenity-deleted tapes," Matt agreed.

"Getting anything?" the man asked.

"Stop right there, the two of you," the woman ordered firmly. "No shop talk! Really, precious!"

Precious was also known as Captain David R. Pekach. He was commanding officer of the Highway Patrol, and one of the two captains in Special Operations. The lady was his fiancйe, Miss Martha Peebles.

In the obituary of Alexander F. Peebles in the Wall Street Journal, it was reported that he had died possessed of approximately 11.5 percent of the known anthracite coal reserves of the United States. Six months later, the same newspaper reported that Miss Martha Peebles's lawyers had successfully resisted efforts by her brother to break her father's will, in which he had bequeathed to his beloved daughter all of his worldly goods of whatever kind and wherever located.

One night six months before, Captain Pekach had twice gone, at the "suggestion" of Mayor Carlucci, to 606 Glengarry Lane in Chestnut Hill to personally assure the citizen resident therein that the Philadelphia Police Department generally and the Highway Patrol in particular was going to do everything possible to apprehend the thief, or thieves, who had been burglarizing the twenty-eight-room turn-of-the-century mansion set on fourteen acres.

On his first visit that night, Captain Pekach had assured Miss Peebles that he would take a personal interest in her problem, to include driving past her home himself that very night when he was relieved as Special Operations duty officer at midnight. Miss Peebles inquired if his work schedule, quitting at midnight, wasn't hard on his wife. Captain Pekach informed her he was not, and never had been, married.

"In that case, Captain, if you can find the time to pass by, why don't you come in for a cup of coffee? I rarely go to bed before two."

During Captain Pekach's second visit to 606 Glengarry Lane that night, Miss Peebles had gone to bed earlier than was her custom, and for the first time in her thirty-five years not alone. Their engagement to be married had been announced three weeks before by her attorney, and her father's lifelong friend, Brewster Cortland Payne, Esq., of Mawson, Payne, Stockton, McAdoo amp; Lester, at a dinner party at 606 Glengarry Lane.

"There's something there, captain," Detective Payne answered, ignoring her.

"Matt, please!" Miss Peebles said.

"Matt, I worked Narcotics for four years," Captain Pekach said. "If there was something, I would know!"

"Matt, go away," Miss Peebles said.

"Well, I hope you're right," Matt said. "But…"

"Precious!" Miss Peebles said firmly.

"Nice to see you, Matt," Captain Pekach said.

"If you'll excuse me," Matt said, smiling, "I think I'll mingle."

"Why don't you?" Miss Peebles said, smiling.

Matt looked around the room for his parents, and when he didn't find them, climbed the stairs from the game room to the dining room on the floor above. There he saw them, at the far end of the room. Talking with Penny's parents.

Christ, I can't handle that!

Penny's mother pities me, and her father thinks I'm responsible.

He turned so that they wouldn't see him.

And found himself looking at the rear end of a good-looking blonde and then the reflection of her face in the huge sheet of plate glass that offered a view of the Delaware River and the Camden works of Nesfoods International.

He walked to her.

She looked at him, and then away.

"Hi!" he said.

"Hello," she said.

"You may safely talk to me," he said.

"How's that?"

"I'm the godfather of the new rug rat," Matt said.

That got a smile.

"Have you got a name, godfather?"

"Matt Payne."

She gave him her hand.

"Susan Reynolds," she said. "I was Daffy's big sister at Bennington."

"That must have been a job."

That got him another smile.

"Can I get you a drink?" Matt asked.

"Why not?" Susan Reynolds said.

"What?"

"They have Chablis."

"Don't go away."

"We'll see."

He went to the upstairs bar and ordered a Chablis and a scotch and soda, no ice, for himself, and returned to Susan Reynolds.

"Thank you," she said.

"You're not from here, are you?" Matt said.

"Now you sound like Chad."

"How's that?"

"A pillar of Philadelphia society, surprised at meeting a barbarian within the gates."

"I didn't mean it that way. But I've never seen you around before. I would have noticed."

"Harrisburg," she said. "Outside Camp Hill."

"Hello," a female voice said behind him.

"Miss Reynolds, may I introduce my mother and father? " Matt said. "Mother, Dad, this is Susan Reynolds."

Matt's mother did not look her forty-five years. She had a smooth, tanned, unwrinkled complexion and a trim body. It was often said that she looked at least fifteen years younger than her husband, a tall, well-built, dignified, silver-haired man in his early fifties.

"How do you do?" Patricia Moffitt Payne said. "Daffy's told me about you."

"You're not supposed to call her Daffy," Matt said.

"I've known her since she was in diapers," Patricia Payne said. "I'll call her whatever I please."

"And it does fit, doesn't it?" Susan Reynolds said.

"I didn't say that," Patricia Payne said.

"I think you're a friend of Mr. Emmons, aren't you, Mr. Payne?" Susan Reynolds asked.

"Charles Emmons?" Brewster Payne asked.

She nodded. "He's a good friend of my father."

"Does that make you Thomas Reynolds's daughter, by chance?"

"Guilty."

"Charley and I went to law school together," Brewster C. Payne said. "I don't know your father. But Charley often mentions him."

"Matt," Patricia Payne said. "You're going to have to say hello to the Detweilers. They know you're here."

"Oh, God!"

"Matt!"

"Yes, ma'am," Matt said.

"Now would be a good time," Patricia Payne said.

"Will you excuse me, please?" Matt said to Susan Reynolds. "I will return."

Making his manners with Penny's parents was as painful as he thought it would be. And it took five minutes, which seemed like much longer.

When he returned to Susan Reynolds, his parents were gone, replaced by two young men who had also discovered the good-looking blonde without visible escort.

"What do you say, Payne?" one of them said. His name was T. Winslow Hayes, and they had been classmates at Episcopal Academy. Matt hadn't liked him then, and didn't like him now. The other one was vaguely familiar, but Matt couldn't put a name to him.

"What do I say about what?"

"Can I get you another drink, Susan?" the other one asked.

"Thank you, but I have appointed Matt booze-bearer for the evening," Susan said, and, raising her glass, added, "And I already have one."

Am I getting lucky?

T. Winslow Hayes and the other left shortly thereafter.

Their hostess appeared.

"I feel duty-bound to warn you about him, Susan," Daffy said.

"Daffy has never forgiven me for refusing to marry her," Matt said. "Don't pay any attention to her."

"You shit!" Daffy said.

Susan Reynolds chuckled.

"He doesn't look very threatening to me," Susan said.

"There are some very nice boys here I could introduce you to," Daffy said.

"Thank you, but no thank you."

I am getting lucky.

"Well, don't say I didn't warn you," Daffy said, and left them.

"Oddly enough, I think Daffy likes you," Susan said.

"In her own perverted way, perhaps," Matt said.

"Are you a lawyer, like your father?" Susan asked.

"No."

"You look like a lawyer."

"How does a lawyer look?"

"Like you."

"Sorry."

"What do you do?"

"Would you believe policeman?"

"No."

"Cross my heart and hope to die. Boy Scout's honor."

"How interesting. Really?"

"Detective Matthew Payne at your service, ma'am."

He saw that she now believed him-and in her eyes that he was no longer going to be lucky.

Let's cut to the chase.

"Do you like jazz, Susan?"

"What kind of jazz?"

"Dixieland."

She nodded.

"There's a club, in Center City, where there's a real live, imported-directly-from-Bourbon-Street-in-New-Orleans — Louisiana Dixieland band," Matt made his pitch. "Could I interest you in leaving these sordid surroundings and all these charming people to go there? They serve gen-u — ine southern barbecue ribs and oysters and beer."

Susan Reynolds met his eyes.

"Sorry," she said. "Try somebody else."

"Daffy scared you off?"

"Look, I'm sure you're a very nice fellow, but I'm just not interested. Okay?"

"Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free," Matt said. "May I get you another drink before I leave?"

She held up her glass.

"I have one. Thank you just the same."

"Have a nice night, Susan."

"You, too," Susan Reynolds said.

Although she had hoped to be able to get away from the party without being seen, Susan Reynolds ran into her hostess as she was going down the stairway to the first floor.

"You're not leaving so soon?" Daffy asked, pro forma.

"Thank you for having me, Daffy," Susan said. "I had a lovely time."

"Even if you're leaving alone?" Daffy challenged. "You didn't find anyone interesting?"

"I don't recall saying I didn't find anybody interesting, " Susan said, "just that I was leaving here alone. A policeman offered to take me someplace where the jazz is supposed to be good."

She winked at Daffy, who smiled with pleasure.

"Have a good time," Daffy said.

"I will try," Susan said, and kissed Daffy on the cheek.

"He's really not as bad as I said," Daffy said.

"Now you tell me?" Susan said. "After I get my hopes up?"

Daffy laughed appreciatively.

Susan walked to the end of Stockton Place and handed the claim check to her car to the man in charge of the valet parking. It was delivered much sooner than she expected, but with what she had come to regard as the ritual expression of admiration.

"Nice wheels," the valet parking driver said.

Susan had come into a trust fund established for her by her paternal grandfather when she had turned twenty-five. The Porsche 911 had been her present to herself on that occasion.

"Nice engine, too," Susan said, and slipped him two dollar bills.

He looked like a nice kid, and he smiled warmly at her.

"Thanks a lot," he said.

Susan got behind the wheel, smiled up at the kid, and drove away.

She drove to City Hall, then turned left onto North Broad Street. There was probably a better way to get out of town-there was a superhighway close to the Delaware River-but she was reluctant to try something new, and wind up in New Jersey.

Near Temple University, she spotted the first sign identifying the road as Pennsylvania Route 611, and that made her feel more comfortable. Now she was sure she knew where she was.

She thought of the cop.

The truth of the matter is, I really would rather be sitting in some smoke-filled dive listening to Dixieland with him than coming up here.

As a matter of fact, there are probably two hundred things I would rather be doing than coming up here.

But at least I will get to see Jennifer and the baby.

Not, of course, the father of the baby. If I never saw that son of a bitch again, it would be too soon.

The Chinese had it wrong. Boy babies should be drowned at birth, not girl babies. Just keep enough of them for purposes of impregnation, and get rid of the surplus before they grow up and start doing terrible things.

Girl babies don't grow up to do the awful things that grown-up boy babies do-is there such a thing? I have seen very little proof that boy babies ever really grow up, even after they have beards-and if grown-up girl babies were running things, the world would be a better place.

No wars, for one thing.

They are such bastards, really. That cop was barely out of sight before his pals started telling me what a mixed-up screwball he was. That he had become a cop to prove his manhood in the first place, and that he wasn't really a cop, just playing at being one.

Was that a put-down of him, per se? Or were they putting him down to increase their chances-their nonexistent chances; I would really have to be desperate to let either of them close to me-of getting into my pants?

What about the cop?

Under other circumstances, would I have…

There are no other circumstances, and I know it, largely because of the male bastard I'm going to see tonight.

When they cause trouble, they don't cause trouble just for themselves, but for everybody around them. In this case, Sweet Jennie and now a baby. And, of course, me.

And they just don't care!

Maybe I would be better off if I were a lesbian.

But I'm not.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

It's a good thing. The truth is that I would kill…

That's a lousy choice of words. There's enough killing.

The truth is that I would give a good deal to be in Daffy Nesbitt's position. To have a husband, and a baby, and not to have to worry about anything more important than changing diapers.

Not to have to worry about-try to deal with-other people's problems. Most of which, I have learned, they bring on themselves.

I would really like that.

What does that make me, a selfish bitch?

And since I do worry about the problems other people have caused for themselves, what does that make me, St. Susan the Martyr?

Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You got yourself in this, and now you're going to have to pay the price, whatever the hell that price ultimately turns out to be.

And anyway, the Dixieland band would probably have been terrible, and the worst possible man for me to get involved with would be a cop. And despite how his good buddies tried to put him down, I think whatsisname-Payne, Matt-is probably a pretty good cop. His eyes-I noticed that about him-were intelligent. I don't think much gets by him.

She drove through the suburbs of Jenkintown and Abington and Willow Grove, and shortly after 10:30 reached the outskirts of Doylestown. She drove through town, past the courthouse with the Civil War cannon on the lawn, and spotted the Crossroads Diner just where Jennie had told her it would be.

The parking lot was jammed, also as Jennie had told her, when she had called the Bellvue, it would be. The diner, Jennie had said, was more than a diner. It had started out as a diner, but had grown into both a truck stop and a restaurant with a bar and a motel.

Jennie said that I should drive around to the rear of the diner, to the part of the parking lot between the restaurant and the motel. That there would be the best place to leave the car.

Susan glanced at her watch. It was twenty minutes to eleven.

I'm ten minutes late. Or twenty minutes early. Jennie said between half ten and eleven, and that if she didn't show up by eleven, that would mean something had come up and that we would have to try it again later.

By something coming up she meant that Bryan, or whatever he's calling himself this week, got drunk, again, or wrecked the car. Again. Or is off robbing a bank somewhere.

I'll have to watch myself to make sure that Jennie doesn't see how much I loathe and detest that son of a bitch. She has enough on her back without my adding to her burden.

As she drove behind the lines of parked cars between the restaurant and the motel, looking for a place to park, the lights came on in one of them-she couldn't see which one, but there was no question that someone, almost certainly Jennie, was signaling to her.

Or maybe it's just another admirer of Porsche 911s.

She found a spot to park between two large cars, an Oldsmobile and a Buick, and backed in.

Both were large enough so that the Porsche was hardly visible, which was nice.

With a little luck, too, the drivers of both are the little old ladies of fame and legend, who will open their doors carefully and not put large dings in mine.

Susan found her purse where it had slipped off the seat into the passenger-side footwell, then got out of the car, carefully locking it.

Then she started to walk back between the rows of parked vehicles, the way she had driven in.

Halfway, she heard the sound of a door opening, and her name being softly called: "Susie!"

It was Jennie's voice.

The vehicle was a four- or five-year-old Ford station wagon, a different car than the last time, but equally nondescript.

As she walked to the station wagon, the passenger door opened, but there was no light from the inside.

"Jennie?"

"Hi, Susie!"

Susan got in.

The car stank, a musty smell, as if it had been left out in the rain with the windows down, but there was an aroma, too, of baby powder.

Jennie was wearing a white blouse and blue jeans. She leaned across the seat to kiss Susan, and then immediately started the engine, turned on the headlights, and started off.

"You're not running from anybody, are you?" Susan asked.

God, why did I let that get away?

"No. Of course not," Jennie said.

"You took off like a shot," Susan said.

Jennie didn't reply, which made Susan uncomfortable.

"How's the baby?" Susan asked.

"Take a look for yourself," Jennie said, and pressed something into Susan's hand. After a moment, Susan realized it was a flashlight.

"There's something wrong with the switch," Jennie said. "Switches. The one that turns on the inside light, and the one in the door."

And I'll just bet Bryan's been fixing them, hasn't he?

"Try not to shine it in his eyes," Jennie said. "That wakes him."

Susan understood from that that the baby was in the back. She turned and leaned over the seat. She could make out blankets, and the smell of baby powder was stronger.

I'd really like to have a look, but if I shine the light, he'll wake up for sure.

She turned around.

"I'll wait 'til we get where we're going," she said. "And have a good look at him."

Jennie grunted.

"Where are we going?" Susan asked.

"Not far. Just the other side of New Hope," Jennie said.

"Bryan found a house on a hill. You can see the Delaware. "

"Where is he?"

"Working," Jennie said. "He plays from nine to one."

"Plays?"

"The piano. In a bar outside New Hope."

"How long has he been doing that?"

"Couple of weeks. He used to go there at night and play for the fun of it. So the owner asked him if he would play for money. Off the books."

"He doesn't need money," Susan said. It was a question.

"I think he likes to get out of the house," Jennie said. "The baby makes him nervous."

And I wouldn't be a bit surprised if there were single women around this place where he plays the piano.

Matt Payne was lying on his back, sound asleep, his arms and legs spread, his mouth open, and wearing only a T-SHIRT, when the telephone rang. He was snoring quietly.

The second ring of the telephone brought him from sound asleep to fully awake, but except to open his eyes and tilt his head so that he could see the telephone half-hidden behind his snub-nosed revolver in its ankle holster on his bedside table, he did not move at all.

The telephone rang twice more, and then there was a click as the answering machine switched on, and then his prerecorded voice filled the tiny bedroom.

"If this is an attempt to sell me something, your telephone will explode in your ear in three seconds. Otherwise you may wait for the beep, and leave your name and number, and I will return your call."

There was a beep.

And then a rather pleasant, if somewhat exasperated in tone, male voice came over the small loudspeaker.

"Cute, very cute! Pick up the damned telephone, Matt."

Matt Payne recognized Peter Wohl's voice. His arm shot out and grabbed the telephone.

"Good morning," he said.

"Is it too much to hope that I'm interrupting something lewd, immoral, and probably illegal?"

"Unfortunately, you have found me lying here in a state of involuntary celibacy."

"Mighty Matthew has struck out? How did that happen? "

"I strongly suspect the lady doesn't like policemen. I was doing pretty well, I thought, before what I do for a living came up."

"Sometimes that happens." Wohl chuckled.

"What's up, boss?"

"Golf is off, Matt. Sorry."

"Okay," Matt said. "I'm sorry, too."

"Carlucci called my father last night and 'suggested' everybody get together for a little pasta at my father's house this afternoon, and then 'suggested' who else should be there. You weren't on the list. I wish I wasn't."

The mayor's habit of issuing orders in the form of suggestions was almost infamous. Chief Inspector Augustus Wohl, Retired, had been Carlucci's rabbi as Carlucci had worked his way up through the police ranks. Carlucci had once, emotionally, blurted to Peter that Chief Wohl was the only man in the world he completely trusted.

"What's it about?"

"Lowenstein and Coughlin will be there. And Mike Weisbach. And Sabara. You're a detective. You figure it out."

It wasn't hard to make a good guess. Matthew Lowenstein and Dennis V. Coughlin were generally regarded as the most influential of all the chief inspectors of the Philadelphia Police Department. Michael Weisbach was a staff inspector, generally regarded as one of the best of that group of senior investigators. Captain Michael J. Sabara was deputy commander of Special Operations.

"Not Captain Pekach?" Matt asked.

"Not Captain Pekach. I think the mayor heard him say 'if there was anything dirty in Narcotics, I would know about it' once too often."

"That makes it official? We're going to get stuck with that Five Squad business?" Matt asked.

"This makes it, I'd guess, a sure thing. Official will probably come down on Monday."

"Damn!"

"Sorry about golf, Matt. I was really looking forward to it."

"Yeah, me, too."

"I'll call you when I know how bad it is," Wohl said.

"Damn," Matt repeated.

The phone went dead in his ear.

He held it a moment in his hand, as his mind ran through all the ramifications-none of them pleasant-of the mayor "suggesting" to Police Commissioner Taddeus Czernich that Special Operations-not Internal Affairs-conduct an investigation of alleged corruption in the Five Squad of the Narcotics Unit.

He looked up at the ceiling, where a clock on the bedside table projected the time of day. It was 9:15 A.M. He had gone to bed after two. He had planned to sleep until noon, by which time he presumed he would be rested, clear-eyed, and capable of parting Peter Wohl-who was a pretty good golfer-from, say, a hundred dollars at Merion.

Now he was awake, and once awake, he stayed awake. What was he going to do now? And, for that matter, for the rest of the day?

A call of nature answered that question for the immediate future. Matt put the telephone in its cradle, got out of bed, and went into his tiny bathroom. He was subjecting a rather nasty-looking bug who had fallen into the water closet to a strafing attack when the telephone rang again.

He cocked his head toward the open door so that he could hear what Caller Number Two had on his or her mind.

The prerecorded message played, and there came the beep.

"Matt, damn you, I know she's there, and I absolutely have to talk to her this instant! Pick up the telephone!"

The voice was that of Mrs. Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt IV.

Without taking his eyes from the bug he had under relentless aerial attack, Matt raised his left hand, center finger extended, the others bent, over his head and in the general direction of the loudspeaker on the telephone answering device.

Dear Daffy, Matt reasoned, is almost certainly referring to good ol' blue-eyed, blond-haired, splendidly knockered, Whatsername-Susan Reynolds-with whom I struck out last night.

Daffy thinks she came here with me.

Can it be that the Sweet Susan-Daffy knows her well-has been known to do with others what she would not do last night with me?

Damn!

He flushed the toilet by depressing the lever with his foot, pulled his T-shirt over his head, and stepped into his tiny shower stall. He had just finished what he thought of as Phase One (rinse) of his shower and reached for the soap to commence Phase Two (soap) when the telephone rang again.

He slid the shower door open to listen.

This time it was Mr. Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt IV himself.

"Matt, if you're there, for Christ's sake, answer the phone! Daffy's climbing the walls!"

Matt walked naked and dripping to the telephone and picked it up.

"She's not here, whoever she is," he said.

"Then where the hell is she?" Chad Nesbitt challenged.

"Since I'm not even sure who you're talking about, pal-"

"Susan Reynolds, of course," Chad said shortly.

"Not here. The last time I saw the lady, she was in your dining room."

"She's not with you?" Chad asked, obviously surprised, and went on before Matt could reply. "But she was, right?"

"Listen carefully. She is not here. She has never been here. Let your imagination soar," Matt said. "Consider the possibility that she left your place with someone else."

"You were putting the make on her, Matt," Chad challenged.

"Indeed I was. But the lady proved to be monumentally uninterested."

"She didn't call home," Chad said.

"Thank you for sharing that with me."

"She always calls her mother before she goes to sleep," Chad said.

"How touching!"

Daffy Browne Nesbitt came on the line. "Don't be such a sarcastic son of a bitch, Matt. Honestly, you're a real shit!"

"I would appreciate it if you would attempt to control your foul tongue when under the same roof as my goddaughter, " Matt said solemnly.

"She didn't call her mother last night," Chad said. "So her mother called her. At the Bellvue. And then she called here."

"Why did she call there?"

"I just told you," Chad said, somewhat impatiently. "There was no answer at the Bellvue. Then she called here, at half past two. Daffy told her that she had gone with you to listen to jazz."

"Daffy told her what? Why?"

"I certainly didn't want to tell her mother that she was in your apartment," Daffy said.

"Have you been eavesdropping all along, Daffy, or did you just come on the line? The reason I ask is because I have already told Chad that your pal is not now, and never has been, in my apartment."

"Then where is she?" Daffy challenged indignantly.

"This is where I came in. I haven't the foggiest idea where she might be, Daffy, and"-he shifted into a Clark Gable accent-"frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

Chad chuckled.

"The both of you are shits," Daffy said, and hung up.

"You might try washing her mouth out with soap," Matt said.

"She's upset. She lied to Susan's mother, and now she's been caught at it."

"I'm the one who should be pissed about that, old buddy. She told Mommy that the family virgin was out with me."

"You're close," Chad said. "Be a good chap, won't you, and go by the Bellvue?"

"You're as close as I am, Chad," Matt protested.

The Bellvue-Stratford Hotel, on South Broad Street, was nowhere near equidistant between Matt Payne's apartment-which consisted of a bedroom, a bath not large enough for a bathtub, a kitchen separated from the dining area by a no longer functioning sliding partition, and a living room from which one could, if one stood on one's toes, catch a glimpse of a small area of Rittenhouse Square, four floors below, through one of two eighteen-inch wide dormer windows-and the Nesbitt triplex on Stockton Place.

"No, it's not," Chad replied. "And you know it. Besides, I can't leave Daffy and the baby alone!"

"Perish the thought! That nanny you just imported is to impress the neighbors, right? You certainly couldn't trust her to watch the kid, could you?"

"Daffy's right. Sometimes you are a sarcastic ass," Chad said.

"What am I supposed to do at the Bellvue?"

"See what you can find out. See if her car's there, for example. And call me."

"What kind of a car?"

"Daffy, what kind of a car does Susan drive?" Matt heard Chad call, and then he came back on the line. "Oddly enough, one like yours. Only red."

"A 911? A red 911?"

"That's what Daffy says."

"That's why I asked."

"Thanks, pal," Chad said, and the line went dead.

Matt put the phone back in its cradle, but didn't take his hand from it.

"Matthew, my boy," he said aloud. "You have just been had. Again."

Then he dialed a number from memory.

On the second ring, the phone was picked up.

"Hello," his mother said.

"This is the son who never seems to find time to even drop by for a cup of coffee," Matt said.

"Is it really?"

"Do you think you could throw in a doughnut?"

"If I thought the offer was genuine, I would be willing to go so far as a couple of scrambled eggs and a slice of Taylor ham. Whatever it takes. Sometime this year, I would dare to hope?"

"How about in an hour?"

"I will believe my extraordinary good fortune only when you physically appear. But I will light a candle and leave it in the window."

"Good-bye, Mother."

Matt returned and finished his shower and toilette, shaving while under the shower.

He dressed quickly, in a single-breasted tweed jacket; gray flannel trousers; a white, button-down-collar shirt and slipped his feet into tasseled loafers. Just before he left his bedroom, he took his Smith amp; Wesson Undercover Model. 38 Special-caliber revolver from the bedside table, pulled up his left trouser leg, and strapped it on his ankle.

He started down the steep, narrow flight of stairs that led to the third-floor landing, then stopped and went back into his living room. He pulled open a drawer in a cabinet, took from it a key, and slipped it into his pocket.

"Be prepared," he said aloud, quoting the motto of the Boy Scouts of America. An almost astonishing number of things he had learned as a Boy Scout had been of real use to him as a police officer. The key, so far as he knew, would open the lock of every guest room in the Bellvue-Stratford Hotel. That might come in handy.

By the time he had gone quickly down the stairs to the third-floor landing and pushed the button to summon the elevator, however, he had had second thoughts about the passkey.

For one thing, the very fact that he had it constituted at least two violations of the law. For one thing, it was stolen. For another, it could be construed to be a "burglar's tool." To actually use it would constitute breaking and entering.

He had come into possession of the key while he had been-for four very long weeks-a member of an around-the — clock surveillance detail in the Bellvue-Stratford Hotel. The Investigation Section of the Special Operations Division of the Philadelphia Police Department had been engaged in developing evidence that a Central Division captain and a Vice Squad lieutenant were accepting cash payments from the proprietress of a call girl ring in exchange for permitting her to conduct her business.

During the surveillance, his good friend, Detective Charles Thomas "Charley" McFadden, had arrived to relieve him, not only an hour and five minutes late but wearing a proud and happy smile.

"We won't have to ask that asshole to let us in anywhere anymore," Charley had announced, and handed him a freshly cut key. "We now have passkeys of our very own."

The asshole to whom Detective McFadden referred was the assistant manager assigned by the Bellvue-Stratford management to deal with the police during their investigation, and who had made it clear that he would rather be dealing with lepers.

"Where did you get them?" Matt had asked.

"I lifted one off the maintenance guy's key rings while he was taking a crap," Charley announced triumphantly. "I had four copies made-"

"I thought it was illegal to duplicate a passkey," Matt had interrupted.

"— and dropped the key just where the guy thought he must have dropped it," Charley had gone on, his face suggesting that Matt's concern for the legality of the situation was amusing but not worthy of a response. "One for me, one for you, one for Jesus, and one for Tony Harris. "

Matt had decided at that time that what Jesus thought of the purloined passkey was wholly irrelevant. He and Detective Jesus Martinez were not mutual admirers. Detective Martinez often made it clear that he regarded Detective Payne as a Main Line rich kid who was playing at being a cop, and whose promotion to detective, and assignment to Special Operations, had been political and not based on merit.

On his part, Detective Payne thought olive-skinned Detective Martinez-who was barely above departmental minimums for height and weight and had a penchant for gold jewelry and sharply tailored suits from Krass Brothers-was a mean little man who suffered from a monumental Napoleonic complex.

What Tony Harris thought of Charley's boosting a passkey from a hotel maintenance man-and more important, how he reacted-would, Matt had realized, instantly decide the matter once and for all.

Tony Harris, de jure, just one of the four detectives assigned to the Investigations Section, was de facto far more than just the detective in charge of the surveillance by virtue of his eighteen years' seniority. He had spent thirteen of those eighteen years as a homicide detective, and earned a department-wide reputation as being among the best of them.

He was consequently regarded with something approaching awe by Detectives Payne, McFadden, and Martinez, who had less than a year's service as detectives.

Tony's response when handed the key had surprised Detective Payne.

"Maybe you're not as dumb as you look, McFadden," he had said, dropping the key in his pocket.

And they had used the keys during the rest of the surveillance.

The difference, it occurred to Matt as he waited for the elevator, was that they had done so under cover of law. Believing in probable cause, a judge had issued a search warrant authorizing search and electronic surveillance of "appropriate areas within the Bellvue-Stratford Hotel."

The search warrant had obviously expired when those being surveilled had been arrested and arraigned.

Matt was about to unlock his door, and leave the key inside his door, when the elevator appeared. He shrugged and got on, and it began its slow descent to the basement garage.

The turn-of-the-century brownstone mansion had been gutted several years before by Rittenhouse Properties, Inc., and converted into office space, now wholly occupied by the Delaware Valley Cancer Society. The idea of turning the garret into an apartment had been a last-minute idea of the principal stockholder of Rittenhouse Properties, Inc. He thought there might be, providing a suitable tenant-a widow living on a small pension, for example-could be found, a small additional amount of revenue from the apartment, and failing finding a suitable resident, that it would be useful-as much for parking space in the basement as for the apartment itself-to himself and his family.

At the time, it had never entered the mind of the principal stockholder of Rittenhouse Properties, Inc., Brewster Cortland Payne II, that his son would move into the apartment to comply with the requirement of the City of Philadelphia that its police officers live within the city limits.

There were two cars in the parking spots closest to the elevator in the basement of the building set aside for the occupant of the garret apartment. A new Plymouth four-door sedan sat in one, and a silver Porsche 911 in the other. The Plymouth was an unmarked police car assigned to Detective Matthew M. Payne. The Porsche had been a present from his father and mother, on the occasion of his graduation-summa cum laude-from the University of Pennsylvania.

After a moment's indecision, Matt unlocked the door of the Porsche and got behind the wheel. He was off-duty. He was going to the Bellvue-Stratford to see about Daffy's missing friend-and afterward to have breakfast with his father-as a private citizen. The taxpayers should not be asked to pay for his gas and wear and tear on the car when he was off-duty. And besides, he liked to drive the Porsche.

Five minutes later, after inching through early-morning inner-city traffic, he pulled to the curb on South Broad Street in an area marked "Tow Away Zone." He took from under the seat a cardboard sign on which was stamped the gold seal of the City of Philadelphia and the words "POLICE DEPARTMENT-Official Business" and placed it on the dash of the Porsche.

He entered the hotel, went directly to the house phones, and asked the operator to connect him with Miss Susan Reynolds.

There was no answer.

He put the telephone down and started to leave, then picked it up again.

"Operator," he said. "I've been trying to get Miss Susan Reynolds in 802. I'm sure she's there, but there's no-"

"Miss Reynolds is in 706, sir," the operator said after a moment, and more than a little scornfully. "I'll ring."

Matt felt just a little pleased with himself. He was now possessed of good ol' Susan's room number. He knew if he had asked for it-unless he had identified himself as a cop, which he didn't want to do, running down one of Daffy's friends not being legitimate police business-the hotel would not have provided it to him, as a security measure.

He had learned a good deal about the security measures practiced by the Bellvue-Stratford Hotel while on the surveillance detail.

He paused thoughtfully for a moment by the house phones, then decided that one possibility was that Susan might have been willing to show the etchings in her hotel room to another of the young gentlemen who had been at Daffy and Chad's.

And conceivably, at this very moment, Saint Susan might be doing with someone else-even that horse's ass T. Winslow Hayes was a possibility-what she had been unwilling to do with him, and, if this was true, be absolutely uninterested in talking to her mother or Daffy or anyone else while so engaged.

If she was so engaged, her car would be in the hotel garage. If that was so, he could call Daffy and tell her so. It would be a confession of failure on his part to seduce the lady, but on the other hand it would get Daffy off his back.

He went out the side door of the hotel and walked the half block to the public parking garage that also provided parking services for guests of the Bellvue-Stratford.

En route, without really thinking about it, he made the choice among his options. He could ask the attendant if there was a red Porsche 911 in the garage, which the attendant might not know; if at that point he tried to have a look for himself, that might require that he produce his badge, which he didn't want to do. Or he could just march purposefully past the attendant-the garage was self-park-as if he were going to reclaim his car and have a look.

He chose the latter option. The attendant in his little cubicle didn't even raise his head from the Philadelphia Daily News when he walked past him.

There was no Porsche on the ground, or first and second floors, but there were two, both 911s, on the third. Neither was red, but he thought Daffy might be wrong about the color.

The blue Porsche 911 had Maryland tags, so that obviously wasn't it. The second, black, Porsche had Pennsylvania plates. Half a bingo. There weren't that many Porsche 911s around, so the odds were that a black Porsche 911 with Pennsylvania plates belonged to Saint Susan. But on the other hand, one should not jump to premature conclusions.

He peered through the rear window for some kind of connection with Saint Susan, and found none. Quite the opposite. He didn't think Saint Susan would have left a battered briefcase and a somewhat raunchy male golf hat on the seat of her car.

"Can I help you, buddy?" a male voice demanded.

He looked up and found himself being regarded with more than a little suspicion by a Wachenhut Security Service rent-a-cop.

Matt immediately understood that it was less an offer of assistance than a pointed inquiry.

"No, thanks," he said with a smile.

"What are you doing?" the rent-a-cop demanded.

Matt produced his detective's identification, a badge and a photo identification card in a leather folder.

"Police business," he said.

"Lemme see that," the rent-a-cop said, holding his hand out for the folder.

Matt was not surprised. He was aware that he looked like a nice young well-dressed man from the suburbs-someone just starting to climb the corporate ladder at the First Philadelphia Bank amp; Trust, for example-and had grown used to people being surprised to learn that he was a detective.

The rent-a-cop carefully compared Matt's photograph with his face, then changed his attitude as he handed the ID back.

"Anything I can help you with?"

"I was looking for a Porsche 911 like this," Matt said. "But red. This isn't the one."

"I don't think we got one," the rent-a-cop said, searching his memory, and then added, "We had one yesterday. With a really good-looking blonde in it. She went out about half past five, just as I was going off duty."

"That's probably what I was looking for," Matt said. "Thanks for the help."

"Anytime," the rent-a-cop said.

Matt left the garage and walked back toward Broad Street.

There's a pay phone just inside the lobby of the Bellvue. I'll call Chad from there, and tell him that wherever Susan is doing whatever she is doing, she's not doing it at the Bellvue.

He got as far as the bank of pay phones before he had second thoughts about that. He realized he had a growing feeling-cop's intuition-that something was not entirely kosher here.

It wouldn't hurt to have a look at her room.

He walked across the lobby and got on one of the elevators.

He stopped before room 706 and knocked at the door. When there was no answer, he called, "Susan, it's Matt Payne. If you're in there, please open the door."

When there was still no answer, he took the passkey from his pocket and unlocked the door and walked in.

There was no one in the room.

The bed had not been slept in. The cover had not been pulled down, and it was not mussed, as if Susan had not lain down on it.

A matching brassiere and scanty underpants, a slip, and a sweater and skirt were on the bed.

The bathroom was a mess. Tidiness was apparently not among Susan's many virtues. She had apparently showered before going to Daffy and Chad's. Discarded towels were on the floor. And she had shaved her legs and/or armpits. Her lady's-model razor was in the sink.

And it was apparently that time of the month, for there was an open carton of Tampax on the shelf, beside a bottle of perfume, a stick of deodorant, and other feminine beauty supplies and tools.

He first decided that when Susan had left her room, she had had absolutely no intention of bringing anyone male with her when she returned, otherwise she wouldn't have left all the junk out in the open, and then he had the somewhat ungallant and immodest thought that the reason she had put him down so firmly was that, under the circumstances, there was no way they could have done anything about it.

And then he was suddenly very uncomfortable, to the point of shame, with the sense of being an intruder on her very personal life.

I've got absolutely no right to be in here. What the hell was I thinking about? Jesus Christ, what would I have done if she suddenly had walked in here?

He walked quickly out of the bathroom, and through the bedroom to the corridor, carefully closing the door behind him. As he turned toward the elevator, he saw two women of the housekeeping staff examining him carefully.

Shit!

He rode down to the lobby, walked quickly through the lobby and out onto South Broad, and got into his car.

On the way to Wallingford, he pulled into a gas station and called Chad from a pay phone. He didn't want his parents to overhear him, as they probably would if he called from what he thought of as home.

He told Chad what he knew, that when he called from the lobby of the Bellvue-Stratford, she didn't answer her telephone, and that the rent-a-cop at the parking garage told him he remembered seeing a blonde in a red Porsche 911 leaving early the previous evening.

He did not mention to Chad that she had apparently not spent the night in her room-the unmade bed suggested that-because that would have meant letting Chad know he'd gone into her room.

He now recognized that going into her room was another item on his long list of Dumb Things I Have Done Without Thinking First.

The whole incident should be finished and done with, but once again he had that feeling that something wasn't kosher and that the incident was not closed.

FIVE

Patricia Payne found her husband on the flagstone patio outside the kitchen, comfortably sprawled on a cast-aluminum lounge, and, surprising her not at all, with a thick legal brief in his hands.

"Guess who's coming to breakfast?" she asked.

Mr. and Mrs. Brewster Cortland Payne lived in a large, rambling house on four acres on Providence Road, in Wallingford, on Pennsylvania Route 252. It was a museum, Payne often thought gratefully, that Patricia had turned, with love, into a home.

What was now the kitchen and the sewing room had been the whole house when it had been built of fieldstone before the Revolution. Additions and modifications over two centuries had turned it into a large rambling structure that fit no specific architectural category, although a real estate saleswoman had once remarked in the hearing of Patricia that "the Payne place just looked like old, old money."

The house was comfortable, even luxurious, but not ostentatious. There was neither swimming pool nor tennis court, but there was, in what a century before had been a stable, a four-car garage. The Payne family swam, as well as rode, at the Rose Tree Hunt Club. They had a summer house in Cape May, New Jersey, which did have a tennis court, as well as a berth for their boat, a thirty-eight-foot Hatteras, called Final Tort IV.

The only thing wrong with it, Brewster Payne now thought, was that the children were now gone.

"Not Amy," he said. "I just talked to her."

Amelia Alice Payne, M.D., was the eldest of the Payne children.

"Matt."

"I'll be damned."

"He called here," she said. "And he said he would be here in an hour."

"I wonder what the probability factor of that actually happening is?"

"Maybe he's got something on his mind," Patricia said. "He seemed a little strange last night."

"He didn't seem strange to me," he said.

The telephone, sitting on the fieldstone wall that bordered the patio, rang.

Patricia answered it, then handed it to her husband.

"Brewster Payne," he said.

"Charley Emmons, Brew. How the hell are you?"

Charles M. Emmons, Esq., was a law-school classmate and a frequent golf partner of Brewster Payne, and the senior member of a Wall Street law firm that specialized in corporate mergers.

"Charley, my boy! How the hell are you?"

"At the moment, a little embarrassed, frankly."

"I can't believe you want to borrow money, but I will listen with compassion."

"I don't have to borrow money from you; I can take all I need from you on the links."

"Do I detect a challenge?"

"Unfortunately, no. I wish it was something like that."

"What's up, Charley? What can I do for you?"

"You don't know Tom Reynolds, do you?"

Thomas J. Reynolds, if that's who he's talking about, Brewster Payne recalled, is chairman of the board, president, and chief executive officer of-what the hell is the name? — a Fortune 500 company that has been gobbling up independent food manufacturers at what looks like a rate of one a week.

"Only by reputation. But if we're talking about the same fellow, Pat and I met his daughter last night."

"Susan?"

"Yes."

"Tom knows we're friends," Charley Emmons said.

"And how might Mawson, Payne, Stockton, McAdoo and Lester be of service to-what's the name of his company? "

"Tomar, Inc.," Charley furnished.

"Yes, of course, Tomar, Incorporated. You know our motto, Charley: 'No case too small, no cause so apparently harebrained, so long as there is an adequate retainer up front.' "

Charley Emmons laughed dutifully.

"The thing is, Brew-the firm is in pretty deep with Tomar; otherwise, believe me, I wouldn't be making this call-about Tom's daughter."

"Oh?"

"You were at young Nesbitt's last night?"

"Yes, we were. I rather thought we'd see you there."

"The story as I get it, Brew, is that Susan left the party with Matt and hasn't been seen since."

There was a perceptible pause before Payne replied.

"Charley, Matt is no longer a child. And neither is that young woman. Matt, you know, has an apartment in the city…"

"I understand, I understand," Charley said. "But the thing is, the girl always telephones her mother when she's out of town, just before she goes to bed, and she didn't call last night."

"How old is the girl? Twenty-two, twenty-three, something like that?"

"Actually, a little older. Twenty-six or twenty-seven."

"So when it comes to defending my son, I won't have to worry about statutory rape, will I?"

"Now, take it easy, Brew. No one is suggesting…"

"What exactly are you suggesting, Charley?"

"I'm suggesting that I have a very important client-and a friend, too-who is worried about his daughter. You can understand that."

"All right. What is it you want me to do?"

"Find Matt, and have him have the girl call home. Do you have any idea where he is?"

"What makes Mr. Reynolds so sure his daughter is with Matt?" Payne asked.

"When her mother, in the wee hours, called her hotel-the Bellvue-and there was no answer, she called young Nesbitt's wife-the girls were at Bennington together-and she told her Matt had taken the girl somewhere to listen to jazz."

"Charley, I'm more than a little reluctant to intrude in Matt's personal life."

"I understand that, Brew. But under the circumstances…"

"Does the phrase 'consenting adults' ever come up in your practice, Charley?"

"Brew, the girl's an only child. A Presbyterian Jewish Princess, if you like."

"That doesn't sound like Matt's type," Payne said, thinking aloud. "As a matter of fact, Charley, Matt's on his way out here. I will, with great discretion, ask him if he is acquainted with this young woman, and if there is any way he can suggest to her that she should telephone her mother."

"And you'll call me, right?"

There was a perceptible pause before Brewster Cortland Payne II replied.

"All right, Charley, I'll call you."

He replaced the telephone in its cradle.

"The phrase 'consenting adults' caught my attention, darling," Patricia said.

"You remember the girl we met last night? Talking to Matt?"

"What about her?"

"No one seems to know where she is," Payne said. "When last seen, she was in the company of one Matthew Payne, headed for some jazz place."

"No," Patricia said.

"No?"

"I went looking for Matt last night. I couldn't find him, but that girl was still there."

"Maybe he was there and you couldn't find him."

"No. I asked Martha Peebles if she had seen Matt, and she said she had seen him leaving. And that was before I saw the girl. Her name is Susan Reynolds, by the way."

"Apparently, no one knows where Susan Reynolds is. She apparently calls home when she's away. She didn't do that last night, and she didn't answer the telephone at the Bellvue."

"But someone thinks Matt knows? Is there a problem of some sort?"

"I don't think so," Payne said. "Do you think it would be too much to hope that Matt has the whole day free? That he might have time for nine holes?"

"What you could do is ask him," Patricia said.

Peter Wohl had more than once told his mother, who kept raising the question, that the reason he had not married was that with the Jaguar to support, he obviously could not also afford to support a wife. His mother was not entirely sure that he was pulling her leg.

The Jaguar, on which he had spent a good deal of time and a great deal of money restoring, was an XK-120 Drop Head Coupe. It was now in better mechanical and cosmetic condition than when it had left the Jaguar factory in Coventry, England.

While he had never entered the Jaguar in any of the Concours d'Elegance competitions frequently held in Philadelphia and its suburbs, he attended many of them whenever he could find the time. He had disqualified his car from competition-very reluctantly-by adding to it what classic-car buffs call somewhat scornfully "an aftermarket accessory."

The accessory was not noticed by most people, even those pausing to take long and admiring looks at the pristine, always gleaming roadster, but the antenna, approximately ten inches in height, mounted precisely in the center of the trunk lid, would not for long have escaped the eagle eyes of Concours d'Elegance judges. And once they had noticed that desecration of form and style, it wouldn't take them long to start snooping around the passenger compartment, where they would have found, carefully concealed beneath the dash, the police-band shortwave transceiver to which the antenna was connected.

When Peter Wohl carefully turned the Jaguar into Jeanes Street in Northwest Philadelphia, the gleaming black Cadillac limousine provided by the City of Philadelphia to transport its mayor, the Hon. Jerome H. "Jerry" Carlucci, was parked before the comfortable row house in which Wohl had grown up.

Two police officers in plainclothes were in the process of removing insulated food containers from the trunk of the mayoral limousine and carrying them into the house. He recognized the police officers. One was Sergeant Charles Monahan, who was the mayor's chauffeur, and the other was Lieutenant Jack Fellows, a tall, muscular black man who was officially the mayor's bodyguard. It was also said of Jack Fellows that he was the police officer closest to the mayor, except, of course for Chief Inspector Augustus Wohl, Retired.

When Lieutenant Fellows saw the Jaguar, he smiled and mimed staggering under the weight of the insulated food container. Peter Wohl waved and smiled, and then, when he had pulled up behind the limousine, reached under the dashboard of the Jaguar and came up with a microphone.

"William One," he said into it.

Regulations of the Philadelphia Police Department required, among thousands of other things, that senior police supervisors-such as the inspector who was the commanding officer of the Special Operations Division-be in contact with the police department twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, year round.

Inasmuch as senior police supervisors required to be in constant contact are also furnished around-the-clock, radio-equipped police cars, most often unmarked, so that they may quickly respond to any call of duty, this usually poses no problems for the individuals concerned. Peter Wohl, however, was quite fond of his Jaguar, and determined to drive it when he thought of himself as off-duty.

So, with some pain, he found himself purchasing with his own funds the very expensive police radio, and with even greater pain, drilling a hole in the center of the Jaguar 's trunk lid to mount its antenna.

He justified the expense to himself by rationalizing that he had just been promoted to Inspector, and didn't have a wife and children to support, and he tried hard not to think about the hole he had had to drill in the trunk lid.

"William One," a female voice responded to his call.

"Until further notice, at Chief Wohl's home," Wohl said. "You have the number."

"You and everybody else," the female voice responded, with a chuckle.

The reference was not only to the mayor's limousine (radio call sign "Mary One") but also to the four other identical-except for color-new Plymouth sedans parked along Jeanes Street, the occupants of which were also required to make their whereabouts known around-the-clock to either Police Radio or Special Operations Radio and had done so.

Two of the cars were assigned to Chief Inspector of Detectives Matt Lowenstein and Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin, who were widely acknowledged to be the most influential of the eight chief inspectors of the Philadelphia Police Department. The other two were assigned to Staff Inspector Mike Weisbach and Captain Michael Sabara.

Staff inspectors-the rank between captain and inspector-and captains are not normally provided with new automobiles. There is a sort of hand-me-down system in vehicle assignment. Deputy commissioners and chief inspectors get new unmarked vehicles every six months to a year. Their "used" vehicles are passed down to inspectors, who in turn pass their used cars down the line to staff inspectors and captains, who in turn pass their cars down to lieutenants and detectives. At this point, the cars have reached the end of their useful lives, and are disposed of.

Mayor Carlucci, who was a political power far beyond Philadelphia, had managed to obtain substantial grants of money from the federal government for the ACT Program.

ACT was the acronym for Anti-Crime Teams. It was a test, more or less, to see what effect saturating a high-crime area with extra police, the latest technology, and special assistance from the district attorney in the form of having assistant district attorneys with nothing to do but push ACT-arrested criminals through the criminal justice system would have, short and long term, on crime statistics.

Mayor Carlucci was believed to be-and believed himself to be-the best-qualified mayor of all the mayors of major American cities to determine how the federal government 's money could be most effectively spent to provide "new and innovative means of law enforcement."

On Jerry Carlucci's part, this belief was based on the fact that before he ran for public office, he had held every rank-except policewoman-in the Philadelphia Police Department from patrolman to commissioner of police. The federal officials charged with dispensing the taxpayers ' largesse in the ACT Program, moreover, became aware that both of Pennsylvania's U.S. senators and a substantial majority of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation shared the mayor's opinion, and not only because most of them owed their jobs to him.

As soon as the money started flowing, Police Commissioner Taddeus Czernich-at Mayor Carlucci's suggestion-announced the formation of the Special Operations Division. The new unit to test new and innovative crime fighting ideas took under its wing the existing Highway Patrol, which had evolved from a highway-patrolling-often on motorcycles-police unit into an elite unit, two police officers per radio patrol car, with citywide authority, and a number of other police officers were transferred to it as ACT personnel.

Staff Inspector Peter Wohl had been appointed commanding officer of Special Operations. There was some grumbling about this, both within police ranks and in the press, especially in the Philadelphia Ledger, which usually found something wrong with whatever the police department did.

The charges made in this case said Wohl's appointment was another example of cronyism within the department. The Ledger's readers were told that Peter Wohl was the son of retired Chief Inspector Augustus Wohl, who was generally acknowledged to be Mayor Carlucci's best friend.

On the other hand, there was approval of Peter's Wohl's appointment by many members of the police department, especially from those who knew him and were regarded as straight arrows. They pointed out that he had been the youngest-ever sergeant in Highway Patrol, the youngest-ever captain, and the youngest-ever staff inspector. In the latter capacity, from which he had been promoted to command of Special Operations, he had conducted the investigation that had sent-following a lengthy and well-publicized trial-Judge Moses Finderman off to pass an extended period behind bars.

Mayor Carlucci had been as deaf to the grumbling about the appointment of Peter Wohl to command Special Operations as he was to the grumbling within the department and howls of indignation from the federal government about how he elected to spend the ACT grants.

Since mobility of forces was essential to the idea of quickly saturating high-crime areas with police, one of the first expenditures of the federal funds available made by Commissioner Czernich-at Mayor Carlucci's suggestion-was to purchase for Special Operations a fleet of new cars, some unmarked and all equipped with the very latest and most expensive shortwave radio equipment.

Commissioner Czernich also went along with Mayor Carlucci's suggestion that a large part of the federal grant be expended to make "emergency" repairs to Special Operations ' new headquarters, which had begun life in 1892 as the Frankford Grammar School and had been abandoned three years before by the Board of Education as uninhabitable and beyond repair.

In cases that drew a good deal of attention from the press, Peter Wohl's Special Operations Division had quickly proved its worth, and was thus also to prove Wohl to be the extraordinary cop that Mayor Carlucci and his friends knew him to be.

The commissioner, at Mayor Carlucci's suggestion-it was said that the commissioner rarely did anything more innovative than blowing his nose without a friendly suggestion from the mayor-gave to the newly formed Special Operations Division the responsibility for running to earth a gentleman referred to by the press as the "Northwest Serial Rapist."

This gentleman had been shot to death by Wohl's administrative assistant after trying to run over the law of ficer with his van. At the time, he had neatly trussed up in the back of his van another naked young woman whom he had been regaling with specific details of what he planned to do to her just as soon as they reached some quiet spot in the country.

A massive Special Operations operation had run to earth another gentleman-a bank employee without any previous brushes with the law-who believed that God had told him to blow up the Vice President of the United States and was found at the time of his arrest to be in possession of the Vice President's Philadelphia visit itinerary as well as several hundred pounds of the latest high explosive, together with state-of-the-art detonating devices.

A Special Operations/ACT Task Force had, in a precisely timed operation, simultaneously arrested a dozen armed and dangerous individuals scattered all over Philadelphia on warrants charging them with murder in connection with the robbery of a South Philadelphia furniture store. With one exception, the arrests had been made without the firing of a shot. In the one exception, the individual had tried to gun down a Special Operations officer, who, although wounded, had saved the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania the cost of a lengthy trial with a well-placed fatal pistol shot.

More recently, Special Operations investigators had uncovered an operation smuggling heroin through Philadelphia 's International Airport. The operation had escaped the attention of the Narcotics Unit, and also-a police officer had been involved-that of the Internal Affairs Division, which had the responsibility for uncovering dishonest cops.

On the heels of that, Special Operations investigators had uncovered a call girl ring operating in Center City Philadelphia with the blessing of both the Mafia and the district commander-what are called "precincts" in most large cities are called "districts" in Philadelphia-and a lieutenant of the Vice Squad, who were being paid a percentage of the profits.

Commissioner Czernich's response to that-at, of course, Mayor Carlucci's suggestion-was to form another organization, to work very closely with, and be supported by, Special Operations. It was called the Ethical Affairs Unit (EAU). Staff Inspector Michael Weisbach, whose reputation-smart as a whip, straight as an arrow-was much like Peter Wohl's, was named to head EAU and charged with making sure that never again was the Philadelphia Police Department-and thus Mayor Jerry Carlucci-going to be embarrassed by a senior police official getting caught selling his badge.

Mike Weisbach had barely had time to find a desk in the Schoolhouse and turn in his battered unmarked Ford for one of Special Operations' brand-new Plymouths when another case caught Mayor Jerry Carlucci's personal attention.

Officer Jerome H. Kellog, who worked as a plainclothes officer in the Narcotics Unit, had been found brutally murdered in his own kitchen. Among the initial suspects in the homicide had been Officer Kellog's estranged wife, Helene, and Mrs. Kellog's close friend, Mr. Wallace J. Milham, into whose apartment she had moved when she left Officer Kellog's bed and board. Mr. Milham fell under suspicion not only because of possible motive, but also because it was known that Mr. Milham habitually carried on his person a pistol of the type and caliber that had killed Mr. Kellog.

Mr. Milham was a detective in the homicide division of the Philadelphia Police Department.

Shortly after her husband's death, Officer Kellog's widow had appeared at the apartment of Sergeant Jason Washington of Special Operations. Mrs. Kellog told him that she had come to him because he was the only cop besides Wally Milham of whose honesty she was sure. She then went on to say that if they really wanted to catch whoever had shot her late husband, they need look no further than the Five Squad of the Narcotics Unit, all of whom, she stated flatly, were dirty.

Jerry, she suggested, had been killed because he knew too much, or was about to blow the whistle on the others, or, probably, both.

Sergeant Washington had of course considered it possible that Mrs. Kellog was making these accusations to divert attention from herself and Detective Milham, but he didn't think so. He believed himself to be-and in fact was-an usually skilled judge of humankind, especially in the areas of veracity and obfuscation.

Washington reported to Inspector Wohl his encounter with Mrs. Kellog and his belief that she, at least, believed what she was saying. Wohl, knowing that Mayor Carlucci would want to know immediately of even a hint that a police officer had been murdered by other policemen, had passed what he knew on to the mayor.

At that point, the murder of Officer Kellog had been solved by a longtime ordinary uniformed beat patrolman, Woodrow Wilson Bailey, Sr., of the 39th District. Bailey, who had been keeping a more or less routine eye on one James Howard Leslie, whom he knew to be a burglar, had found in Leslie's burned trash pile a wedding photograph of Officer and Mrs. Jerome H. Kellog.

Correctly suspecting that Mr. Leslie had not been a close enough friend of Officer Kellog to have been given a wedding photograph, Officer Bailey investigated further, and sought assistance from other police officers. Soon after that, Mr. Leslie explained to Sergeant Washington why he had felt it necessary to shoot Officer Kellog.

That cleared Officer Kellog's widow and Detective Milham of any suspicion in the matter, of course. But it did not address the Widow Kellog's allegations that the entire Five Squad of the Narcotics Unit was dirty, and at least in her opinion, capable of murdering one of their own to ensure his silence.

Three months before, investigation of such allegations would have been routinely handled by the Internal Affairs Division, which was charged with uncovering police corruption. But three months before, Internal Affairs hadn't dropped the ball on that dirty cop passing heroin through the airport, or on the dirty Center City captain and Vice Squad lieutenant taking money from a call girl madam.

Three months before, Mayor Carlucci hadn't felt it necessary to suggest the formation of the Ethical Affairs Unit.

Inspector Peter Wohl, as he walked up to the front door of his childhood home, knew that while there would be lots of beer and whiskey and wine, and lots of tasty Jewish, Italian, German, and southern barbecue food served in the basement recreation room of his father's house this afternoon, as well as lots of laughs, and almost certainly a long trip down memory lane, that was not the reason Jerry Carlucci had suggested that everybody get together.

When the mayor decided the time had come, what they were going to do in good ol' Augie Wohl's recreation room this afternoon was decide how they were going to clean up the Narcotics Unit, and how to do it right, so that nobody dirty would get to walk because some goddamned defense lawyer caught them with an i they hadn't dotted, or a t they'd forgotten to cross.

He went in without knocking, and walked to the kitchen to kiss his mother.

There were six wives in the kitchen, dealing with the food: Chief Lowenstein's comfortably plump wife, Sarah; Angeline "Angie" Carlucci, the slight, almost delicate woman who was said to be the only human being of whom Mayor Carlucci lived in fear; Mike Weisbach's Natalie, a younger version of Sarah Lowenstein; Mike Sabara's Helen, a striking woman with luxuriant red hair; Jack Fellows 's Beverly, a tall, slim woman who was an operating-room nurse at Temple Hospital; and Peter's mother.

Peter wondered tangentially how Martha Peebles-once she became Mrs. Captain David Pekach-was going to fit in with her fellow officer's wives. She would try, of course-she was absolutely bananas about her "Precious "-but her experience with feeding people was limited to telling her butler how many people would be coming to dinner, when, and what she would like to have them fed.

For that matter, he absolutely could not imagine Amy Payne in a kitchen, stirring spaghetti sauce, either.

Mrs. Carlucci and Mrs. Lowenstein insisted on their right, as women who had known him since he wore diapers, to kiss him.

"Your father and everybody's downstairs," his mother said.

"Really?" Peter replied, as if that was surprising.

"He's always been a smarty-pants," his mother said.

"Yes, he has," Sarah Lowenstein agreed. "But his time is coming."

"How's that?" Peter asked.

"There's a young lady out there-you just haven't bumped into each other yet-who will change you."

"And any change would be an improvement, right?"

"You took the words out of my mouth."

Peter smiled at her and went down the narrow steps into the basement.

He made his manners first with Mayor Carlucci, a tall, large-boned, heavyset fifty-three-year-old with dark intelligent eyes and a full head of brown hair brushed close to his scalp.

"Mr. Mayor," he said.

"I like your suit, Peter," Carlucci said, and tried to crush Peter's hand with his.

He failed.

"You're stronger than you look," the mayor said.

"Thank you, sir."

"Smarter, too," Peter's father said, draping an arm around his shoulders.

Peter shook hands with the others, then made himself a drink.

The trip down memory lane started. Peter didn't pay much attention. He had heard all the stories at least twice before. He sensed that both Mikes, Weisbach and Sabara, were slightly ill at ease.

Sabara's uncomfortable, probably, Peter thought, because he's here and Dave Pekach isn't. And Weisbach is legitimately worried about how much of this Five Squad investigation is going to be placed on his shoulders.

The conference vis-fnbsp;-vis the investigation of allegations of corruption within the Narcotics Unit began when everyone declined another piece of cake, whereupon Mrs. Wohl announced that she would put another pot of coffee on and leave them alone.

"Peter, you help carry the heavy things upstairs," she ordered.

In three minutes, the Ping-Pong table pressed into service as a buffet table and all the folding tables were cleared and put away.

"I always like a second cup of coffee to settle my stomach, " Mayor Carlucci announced.

Lieutenant Fellows quickly served him one.

"Don't mind me," the mayor said. "If anyone wants something harder than coffee, help yourselves."

Chiefs Coughlin and Lowenstein went to the refrigerator and helped themselves to bottles of Neuweiler's ale. The others poured coffee. The pot ran dry.

Lieutenant Fellows went upstairs to see how the fresh pot was coming.

"I talked to Jason Washington about this," the mayor began. "Maybe I should have asked Augie to have him here for this. Anyway, Washington told me he believes Officer Kellog's widow believes what she told him about the whole Five Squad being dirty. No disrespect to Captain Pekach intended-he's a fine officer-but despite what he says about if there was something dirty going in Narcotics he would have known about it, I don't think we can ignore what the widow said. Now, what else have we got?"

"The threatening telephone call," Peter Wohl said. "I believe that Mrs. Milham-"

"Mrs. Milham?" Mayor Carlucci interrupted.

"She and Wally Milham went to Maryland and got married, Mr. Mayor," Peter said. "I thought you knew."

"Now that you mention it… go ahead, Peter."

"I believe there was such a call," Peter said. "And so does Wally Milham."

"He would have to believe it, wouldn't you say, Peter? I mean, after all, he was slipping the salami to her before her husband was murdered."

"Wally Milham is a good cop, Mr. Mayor," Peter said.

The mayor looked at him for a long moment without expression.

"Tell me about the tapes," the mayor said finally.

"They're in the process of being transcribed," Peter said.

"Still? Christ, you've had them for a week."

"The tapes were damaged by fire, Mr. Mayor," Peter said. "They're very hard to transcribe."

"Get somebody good to do it. Somebody smart and fast."

"Detective Payne is transcribing them," Wohl said.

"And working hard at it, sir. Like last night at midnight, " Mike Sabara interjected. "I listened to a little of them…"

"Did you?" the mayor asked, not pleasantly.

"I was surprised he's able to get anything off them at all," Sabara said.

"So they're useless?" the mayor said.

"No, sir," Peter Wohl said. "Both Payne and Sergeant Washington, who has read what Payne has transcribed so far, believe there will be something useful in them when we're finished. "

"The point I'm trying to make, Peter, and I'm not just trying to give you a hard time, is that we really don't have anything, except accusations made by a Five Squad wife who wasn't sleeping with her own husband," Carlucci said. "Against which, we have the opinion of a damned good cop who used to work Narcotics and says if there was anything wrong, he would have known about it."

No one replied.

The mayor looked at Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin.

"You think we'd be spinning our wheels on this one, Denny?"

"It may turn out that way, but I think we have to do it," Chief Coughlin said.

"Matt?" the mayor asked, turning his head to Chief Inspector Matthew Lowenstein.

"I agree with Denny," Lowenstein said, looking at the butt of his cigar.

"You think we should go ahead, in other words?"

"Yeah, Jerry, I do."

"You don't seem very happy about it."

"No, I'm not. For one thing, if we find dirty cops in Five Squad, the whole department looks bad. Internally, so does Internal Affairs because we dug it out, not them. Let's say you give this to Peter-"

"I'm thinking of suggesting to the commissioner that it be given to Ethical Affairs."

"Same thing. Nothing personal, Mike," Lowenstein said, looking at Staff Inspector Weisbach, "but you can't do it without Peter's help, which, the way I see it, puts Peter in charge."

"And since Peter-nothing personal, Peter-" the mayor said, "can't do it without the help of the chief inspector of detectives, the way you see it, does that put you in charge?"

"Come on, Jerry."

"Or without the help of Chief Coughlin, does that put Denny in charge?"

"What are you driving at, Jerry?" Coughlin asked "That you want me, or Matt, to take this?"

"Nobody pays attention to what I say is what I'm driving at. I'll try again. I'm going to suggest to Commissioner Czernich than an investigation of certain allegations concerning the Narcotics Unit is in order, and that it should be conducted by the Ethical Affairs Unit. Therefore, Mike Weisbach will be in charge. I am also going to suggest to the Commissioner that he direct Peter, Denny, and you, Matt, to provide Mike with whatever he thinks he needs to get the job done. Now, is that clear in everybody's mind?"

There was a chorus of "Yes, sir."

"And since everybody involved is an experienced police officer, it will not be necessary for me to tell you that the best way to blow this investigation is to let those scumbags even suspect somebody's taking a close look at them, right? Do I make that point? I want them. I want them bad. If there's anything worse than a drug dealer, it's a police officer either hiding drug dealers behind his badge, or, God forbid, dealing drugs himself."

He looked around at all of them.

"Peter, since you'll be working closer with Mike than anybody else, once a day, either Fellows or myself will telephone you and you'll tell us what's happened in the past twenty-four hours. You'll also keep Matt and Denny up to speed. As little as possible in writing. Papers have a way of turning up in the wrong hands."

"Yes, sir," Peter Wohl said.

SIX

When Matt Payne glanced into the lobby as he drove past the Delaware Valley Cancer Society Building, he saw two men in business suits sitting on the leather-and — chrome seats facing the receptionist's desk.

Except for the Wachenhut rent-a-cop the Cancer Society installed behind the receptionist's desk, they closed down tight at night and on weekends. It was therefore possible-even likely-that anyone in the lobby was waiting for him, not for someone connected with the Cancer Society.

He slowed and took a closer look. He recognized neither man. He shrugged and drove around the block, to the rear of the building, where he had to get out of the Porsche and use a difficult key to open the steel door lowered on weekends over the entrance to the basement garage. He entered the garage, then got out of the Porsche again to reclose the door.

He rode to the fourth-floor landing on the elevator, unlocked his door, and climbed the narrow stairway to his apartment.

Which seemed to be in even a greater mess than he remembered. An unpleasant sweetish odor told him that he had again forgotten to get rid of the goddamned garbage under the sink. He would, he realized, have to deal with both problems tonight.

Just as soon as he dealt with his answering machine, the red light of which was blinking.

"Matt," the recorded voice said. "Mike Weisbach. Sorry to bother you on your day off. If you get in before, say, half past ten, give me a ring at home, will you? 774- 4923."

He slumped onto the couch and reached for the telephone.

A woman answered.

"Inspector Weisbach, please. Detective Payne returning his call."

"Hi, Matt. This is Natalie. I'll get him."

"Thank you."

Why the hell can't I remember her name?

"Hey, Matt. Glad I caught you."

"What's up, Inspector?"

"Peter Wohl asked me to call you. We'll be working together on the Five Squad mess."

"Yes, sir. I spoke with the inspector earlier. He said he thought we'd get stuck with that."

"I'm going to get together with everybody in the morning, nine o'clock, your office. But what I'm calling about now is the tapes."

"Yes, sir."

"It seems to me the first thing we need is the tapes. How are they coming?"

"Slowly and painfully."

Weisbach chuckled.

"Captain Sabara said you were working on them late last night."

"Yes, sir."

"How would you like some more overtime, Detective Payne?"

"I'm very much afraid the inspector means tonight," Matt said.

"Other plans, Matt? Unbreakable?"

"No, sir. I can go out there. But, Inspector, I can't finish them tonight."

"Maybe we can come up with something tomorrow. Get you some help. But the more I could have before the meeting tomorrow, the better."

"Yes, sir. I'll go out there and do what I can."

"I appreciate it, Matt. Maybe I can make it up to you."

"I'll do what I can, sir."

"Thank you, Matt. See you in the morning."

"Yes, sir."

Matt put the telephone back in its cradle.

"Shit!" he said.

His doorbell sounded.

"Now what?"

He had an intercom, but it was less trouble to go down the stairs and open the door than to use it, and he did so.

The two men he had seen in the lobby were standing there.

"Matthew Payne?" the taller one said.

Matt nodded.

"I'm Special Agent Jernigan of the FBI, and this is Special Agent Leibowitz." He showed Matt his identification, then went on: "We'd like to talk to you. May we come in?"

"Talk to me about what?"

"May we come in?"

"Talk to me about what?" Matt repeated.

"If you don't mind, Mr. Payne, we'll ask the questions, " Special Agent Jernigan said.

"What is this, some sort of a joke?" Matt asked, aware that his temper was simmering just below the surface.

"I assure you, this is not a joke."

"Ask your questions," Matt said.

"Is Miss Susan Reynolds in your apartment?"

"I don't see how that's any of your business, but no, she's not."

"We'll decide what's our business, if you don't mind."

"And I will decide whether or not I'll answer your questions, if you don't mind."

"You understand, of course, Mr. Payne, that interfering with a federal investigation is a crime?"

"I heard that somewhere. But I also heard that declining to answer questions is not considered interfering with an investigation. I think they call that the Fifth Amendment."

"We understand, Mr. Payne," Agent Leibowitz said, "that you were with Miss Reynolds last night?"

Matt understood when Leibowitz spoke that Leibowitz was the senior agent of the two, and that Leibowitz had opened his mouth only because he understood that Agent Jernigan and the interviewee had developed a personality conflict that would interfere with the interview.

"Yes, I was," Matt said.

"Would you mind telling us where you went with her when you left the Nesbitt residence together?"

"I did not leave the Nesbitt residence with anyone," Matt said.

Christ, have these guys been talking to Daffy? What the hell is this all about?

"We believe you did," Agent Leibowitz said.

"Frankly, I don't care if you believe in the Easter Bunny," Matt said. "I'm telling you I left the Nesbitt residence alone, and that's absolutely the last thing I'm going to tell you until you tell me what this is all about."

"I don't understand your hostility, frankly, Mr. Payne," Leibowitz said. "You have something against the FBI?"

"Some of my best friends are FBI agents, but I don't think I would want my sister to marry one," Matt said.

Matt saw that Agent Jernigan's face had grown red. And that pleased him.

"Where are you employed, Mr. Payne?" Jernigan asked, somewhat menacingly.

"I don't think you're supposed to be asking any more questions, are you? Didn't Agent Leibowitz take over the interview?"

"Thank you for your time, Mr. Payne," Agent Leibowitz said, and walked toward the elevator.

"'Bye, now," Matt said. "Have a nice night!"

He started back up the stairs to his apartment.

I wonder what the hell that was all about?

Jesus! Kidnapping?

Did somebody kidnap Susan Reynolds? That would involve the FBI.

And they must have talked to Daffy.

And she told them Susan had left with me, because that's what she told Susan's parents.

Goddamn her!

Wait a minute. Don't leap to conclusions.

Daffy told Susan's mother that Susan was off somewhere with me.

Susan's mother, or father, told Dad's pal, Lawyer Emmons, that Susan had gone off with me.

One of them, probably Lawyer Emmons, went to the FBI, and told the FBI the same thing.

The FBI is investigating the kidnapping, or at least the disappearance and possible kidnapping of Susan Reynolds.

So soon? She only turned up missing at two A.M. this morning.

The victim is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Reynolds. Reynolds, a multimillionaire, is president of Tomar, Inc.

And important enough to get the FBI working on a weekend.

Goddamn Daffy!

I am, if not a suspect, then the last person known to have seen the victim.

Those FBI clowns were just doing their job. I probably shouldn't have given them such a hard time. But they are such an arrogant bunch of bastards! "I am Special Agent Jernigan of the FBI, Mr. Payne. We'd like to talk to you. May we come in?" and then that "Where are you employed, Mr. Payne?" bullshit. Translation: "We're going to get you in trouble with your boss, wise guy."

Fuck them! All they had to do was tell me they were looking for Susan Reynolds, that they thought she might have been kidnapped. Even if I was the kidnapper, that wouldn't have hurt their investigation. And I would have told them everything I know… except, of course, that I don't think she spent the night in her room, because I went into her room and the bed hadn't been slept in.

Goddamn it, going into her room was really stupid!

He reached the top of the stairs, crossed to his couch, slumped into it, and put the telephone in his lap.

"Hello?"

"Daffy, curiosity overwhelms me. Where did your pal Susan finally turn up?"

"Matt," Daphne Browne Nesbitt said solemnly, "I am so sorry."

"So sorry about what?"

"Can you keep your mouth shut?"

"Of course."

"She was there all the time," Daffy said.

"She was where all the time?"

"In her room. She didn't want to answer the telephone. "

"How do you know that?"

"Because she told me."

"When was this?"

"About an hour ago. She called just before she checked out of the hotel."

"You're sure it was her?"

"Of course I'm sure."

"Did she tell you why she didn't want to answer the telephone?"

"No, but I can guess, can't you?"

"You're suggesting she was in the sack with some guy all the time?"

"I suggested nothing of the kind. Susan isn't that kind of girl."

"Where is she now?"

"Probably, about now, about halfway to Harrisburg. Matt, I feel like such a shit for getting you involved."

"Involved in what?"

"I know about her father's lawyer calling your father."

"No major problem, Daffy."

"You want to come to supper? There's all kinds of leftovers."

"I'll take a rain check."

"You want Susan's telephone number? If at first you don't succeed, et cetera, et cetera…"

He stopped himself just in time from saying "no." He wrote the number down, then said good-bye to Daphne.

Do I want to take another shot at that dame? No, I do not. Then why did I take down her phone number?

He crumpled the sheet of notepaper up and threw it at an overflowing wastebasket. He missed.

He spent the next thirty minutes in an only partially successful attempt to clean up the apartment, then started carrying bags of garbage down the stairs to the elevator. On his third trip, emptying the wastebasket in brown kraft paper bags from Acme Supermarkets, he saw the crumpled ball of paper with Susan Reynolds's telephone number on it. He picked it up and after a moment's hesitation stuffed it into his pocket.

Then he went down in the elevator with the half-dozen bags of garbage, set them where they would be collected in the morning, and walked back to the Porsche. He debated a moment about taking the unmarked car, then decided not to. He was going on duty, sure, extra duty, and therefore the taxpayers of Philadelphia should be happy to pay for his transportation.

But on the other hand, driving the Porsche was fun. And there was probably going to be little chance to drive it during the next week or ten days. With His Honor the mayor paying personal attention to the investigation of dirty cops in Narcotics, there was almost certainly going to be a lot of overtime.

He drove out of the garage, closed it after him, and then started for Special Operations, via Broad Street. As he passed Hahnemann Hospital, he glanced in the rearview mirror to change lanes and saw Special Agent Leibowitz of the FBI at the wheel of a green Chevrolet, with Special Agent Jernigan sitting beside him.

I'll be goddamned! Those clowns are surveilling me!

They were still behind him after twenty minutes and a lengthy trip up and down the back alleys off Frankford Avenue when he pulled into the Special Operations Division parking lot and into the parking spot reserved for the unmarked car he had left in the Cancer Society Building garage.

First of all, he thought, not without a certain pleasure, they'll be wondering what I'm doing here. After a while-a long while, it is to be hoped-they may actually interrupt their dedicated surveillance of the kidnap suspect long enough to enter the building, identify themselves to the sergeant or the duty officer, and inquire of him if they happen to know what the occupant of the silver Porsche is doing in here.

At that point, they may actually get in touch with their supervisor, who will tell them that there is no kidnapping after all, and they will be denied the great pleasure of hauling the uncooperative wiseass off in handcuffs.

He went up the stairs to the Investigation Section, turned on the lights, worked the combination lock on "his" filing cabinet, took the tapes from the cabinet, seated himself at his desk, and turned on the dictating machine.

Staff Inspector Michael Weisbach looked around the Investigations Section office at the people he had summoned-in the case of Sergeant Jason Washington, politely asked-to participate.

Among them was the only man in uniform, Sergeant Elliot Sandow, a slight, sickly-looking former Traffic of ficer who had been struck on the job by a Strawbridge amp; Clothier delivery truck, spent four months in the hospital, and personally petitioned Mayor Carlucci to stay on the job rather than go out on disability.

He had proved to be an unusually skilled administrator, whom Weisbach had found working in Personnel and arranged to have transferred first to the Staff Inspection Unit, and then, when he had been named to command the Ethical Affairs Unit, to EAU. At the moment, Weisbach and Sandow were the EAU.

Also present were Detectives Anthony C. Harris, Jesus Martinez, Charles McFadden, Matthew M. Payne, and Of ficer Foster H. Lewis, Jr., a very black twenty-four-year-old who stood six feet three inches tall, weighed 230 pounds, and was known, perhaps inevitably, as "Tiny."

Foster H. Lewis, Sr., a lieutenant in the 9th District, was very unhappy that his son was a police officer at all, and working plainclothes in the Investigations Section of Special Operations in particular. As a parent, he would have much preferred that his son had remained a medical student rather than join the police department. As a policeman, he would have much preferred that his son learn the police profession as he had, working his way up from walking a beat, rather than going almost directly from the Academy to a plainclothes Special Operations assignment that carried with it so much overtime that he was bringing home almost as much money as his father and was usually provided with an unmarked car.

Lieutenant Foster was truly ambivalent about his son having recently taken-just as soon as he was eligible-the examination for promotion to detective. If he passed it and was promoted, Lieutenant Foster knew that he would really be proud of his son-despite his genuine belief that his son hadn't been on the job long enough to be a good beat patrolman, much less a detective.

"I'm sure," Staff Inspector Weisbach began, "that everyone was as thrilled as I was to learn that this morning Commissioner Czernich, by classified communication, charged the Ethical Affairs Unit with investigating certain allegations of misbehavior in the Five Squad of the Narcotics Unit, and further directed Inspector Wohl to make available to EAU whatever Special Operations resources are needed, which includes the services of everybody in this room."

"Shit," Detective Harris said, but smiled.

"Thank you, Detective Harris," Weisbach said, "for so succinctly summing up the feelings of so many of us."

There were general chuckles.

"But we're cops, gentlemen, all of us. And we do what we're ordered to do, so let's get on with it," Weisbach said. "My first order-I don't give many orders, so pay attention when I do-is that this is one job that nobody talks about. Not to your wives, not at the FOP bar, not to your buddies. Not to anyone. If there's something dirty going on in Narcotics Five Squad, and they even suspect we're looking close at them, they'll just shut down whatever they're doing and wait until the storm blows over. Which obviously means our job would be much harder. Everybody got that clear in their minds?"

He looked at Matt Payne so long that Matt nodded. And then he kept looking. Finally, Matt understood what was expected of him. He stood up and said, "Yes, sir."

Weisbach looked at everybody but Sergeants Washington and Sandow in turn, and waited until each of them stood up and said, "Yes, sir."

"For all practical purposes, Sergeants Washington and Sandow will not be taking a very active role in this," Weisbach said. "Sergeant Sandow for the obvious reasons, he'll be handling the paperwork, and Sergeant Washington because he really is a legend in his own time, and the first time he started asking questions, looking around Five Squad, they would wonder why. To only a slightly lesser degree-he is not nearly as visible as Sergeant Washington-this also applies to Detective Harris.

"This does not mean," Weisbach went on, to be interrupted by a chorus of chuckles, and then went on, "that Sergeant Washington and Harris will not be involved in this-quite the opposite-just that they won't be out ringing doorbells. The flow of reports will be through Washington to me, and I expect Washington to bring Harris in on everything. Okay?"

There was a chorus of "Yes, sirs," and Washington nodded his understanding.

"Is there anybody here who doesn't know how and where the interest in Five Squad began?" Weisbach asked. "I mean the accusations made to Sergeant Washington by Officer Kellog's wife at the time of the murder? Hands, please."

No hands went up.

"I'm not surprised. My wife says cops gossip more than women," Weisbach went on. "Okay, let me bring everybody up-to-date on what's happened since. If you've heard this before, bear with me.

"When these allegations first came up, I spoke with Captain Pekach. He was surprised to hear them. He felt, I suppose still feels, that if anything was going on in Narcotics, he would have heard about it, or at least had suspicions. Now, since Captain Pekach is both not naive, and an experienced police supervisor, what that means is-let's go on the presumption that there are dirty cops in the Five Squad-that they're smart and doing what they're doing skillfully enough to keep a smart supervisor like Captain Pekach from even suspecting that something's going on."

He looked at Detective Jesus Martinez.

"Jesus, when you worked Narcotics, did you hear anything about the Five Squad? Suspect anything?"

Martinez shook his head, "no."

"Charley?" Weisbach asked, looking at Detective McFadden.

"No, sir," McFadden said. "Five Squad were the hotshots. They hung together. They didn't even talk to the peasants."

Weisbach nodded.

"More proof that they know how to keep their mouths shut," Weisbach said. "I asked Captain Pekach to let his imagination run free, and come up with how Five Squad could illegally profit from the performance, or nonperformance, of their official duties.

"Captain Pekach said he doesn't think Five Squad is taking payments from drug dealers or others to ignore their criminal activities. He made the point that the statistics-the number of 'good' arrests resulting in court convictions made by Five Squad-are extraordinary.

"That, he said-and I think he's right-left one possibility: if there is something dirty going on, it's taking place during raids and arrests. I looked into this idea, and found out that the number of times Five Squad conducted raids and arrests without support from other police units, the districts, Highway Patrol, and ACT teams is unusual.

"In other words, with no one present during a raid or arrest but fellow members of the Narcotics Five Squad, it's possible that Five Squad is illegally diverting to their own use part of the cash and other valuables that would be subject to seizure before it was entered upon a property receipt."

"Yeah," Detective McFadden thought out loud.

"McFadden?" Weisbach asked.

"They run a bust. The bad guy has, say, ten thousand in cash. They turn in say, eight or nine thousand. What's the bad guy going to do? 'Hey, I got ripped off of a thousand '? Who's going to believe him?"

"I think it will probably turn out to be something like that," Weisbach said.

"Or controlled substances," Jesus Martinez said. "They bust the guy, he's got fifty bags of crap. They turn in forty. Same story."

"If Martinez is right about that-and I'm afraid he might be-that would mean that Five Squad is putting drugs back onto the street," Weisbach said.

"Are we talking out of school here?" McFadden asked.

"Yes, we are."

"I done a little of that myself," McFadden said, "Took a couple of bags here and there to feed my snitches."

"You never sold any, Charley," Jesus said.

"What I'm saying is that's how it could have started," McFadden said. "You need to make a car payment or something, you got five, ten bags you took away from some scumbag to feed your snitches. Fuck your snitches, sell the shit, make your car payment."

Staff Inspector Weisbach had spoken to Captain Pekach about Detectives Martinez and McFadden, who had worked for him when he'd been a lieutenant in Narcotics.

They both had been assigned to Narcotics right out of the Academy, solely because Narcotics needed a steady stream of undercover officers whose faces were not known on the street. Until they were "burned"-that is, became known-rookie cops were very valuable in making buys, and thus causing arrests. Many rookies were psychologically unable to work undercover, and many other rookies, because of inexperience or just plain bad luck, were quickly burned. Once burned, rookie cops working undercover Narcotics then resumed a rookie's normal police career. Most of them wound up in districts, walking a beat, until such time as their superiors felt they could be trusted working district wagons.

McFadden and Martinez had been the exception to the general rule. They liked what they were doing, and had been extraordinarily good at it. They had come to be known as "Mutt and Jeff," after the comic book characters, because of their sizes. They made a large number of good arrests, and they had been on the job over a year before they had been burned.

And the way they were burned had set them aside from their peers, too.

The commanding officer of Highway Patrol, Captain "Dutch" Moffitt, a very colorful and popular officer, had been shot to death when, off-duty and in civilian clothing, he had tried to stop an armed robbery of a diner on Roosevelt Boulevard.

The identity of the shooter, a drug addict, was known, and the entire Philadelphia Police Department was looking for him. Mutt and Jeff had run him down on their own time, at the Bridge Street elevated train station. McFadden had literally run the shooter down, chasing him down the elevated train tracks at considerable risk to his own life, until a train had come along, and the shooter had fallen under its wheels.

The two had received their commendations from Mayor Carlucci himself, which had caused their photographs to be plastered all over the front pages of all the newspapers in Philadelphia except the Ledger, and thus effectively burning them from further duty as undercover narcs.

It wouldn't have been fair, under those circumstances, to send the two of them out to a district to turn off fire hydrants in the summer, transport prisoners, and do the other things that other rookies with an out-of-the-Academy undercover narcotics assignment usually did after they were burned.

Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin had arranged for their assignment to Highway Patrol, considered the elite of the uniformed force. Normally, police officers couldn't even apply for transfer to Highway unless they had at least five very good years on the job elsewhere.

They'd taken the examination for detective as soon as they were eligible. Martinez had placed two spots below Matt Payne, and McFadden two spots above the cutoff point at the bottom on the rankings.

They had to be considered outstanding young police of ficers, Staff Inspector Weisbach thought. And while there was no question in his mind that they were both straight arrows, there was something very disturbing to him in their matter-of-fact acceptance that it was perfectly acceptable-if admittedly illegal-police procedure to take drugs from evidence with the intention of using them to pay informers. That the end, so to speak, justified the means.

He was not morally outraged-he had been a policeman too long for that-but it bothered him.

"You think something like that happened, McFadden?" he asked.

"I don't think anybody, any dirty cop, starts out by saying, 'Fuck it, today I start being dirty.' They have to have some reason, something that makes it all right. Tell themselves, for example, 'Just this one time, when I make this car payment, that'll be the end of it. I'll never do it again.' "

"If you're right, and I think you may be, that doesn't explain how the whole Five Squad went bad," Weisbach said.

"Are we sure they're all dirty?" Martinez asked.

"If they're not all actually involved," Washington said, "I find it difficult to accept that anyone on Five Squad is not fully aware of what the others are doing."

"Cops don't snitch on other cops?" McFadden replied.

Washington nodded.

"Not unless their option is, their own innocence aside, going down with the others," Tony Harris said. "Maybe the way to get into this is to find the one guy-if there is one-who is not dirty."

"How do we find him, Tony?" Weisbach asked.

"Easy. He's the one who doesn't have money he shouldn't have," Harris said.

"Well, that's where we're going to begin. With money," Weisbach said. "We're going to see if anybody on the Five Squad has been spending-or saving-more money than seems reasonable on what the department is paying him. Frankly, I would be surprised if we can quickly, or easily, come up with something. If, on the first go-around, we can find anything suspicious at all."

"I don't understand, Inspector," Matt Payne said.

"I think one of the things we all have to keep in mind, Payne, is that although Internal Affairs hasn't been given this job specifically, that doesn't mean they're incompetent, or stupid. They're always looking for signs of unusual affluence, and I would suspect they look closest at cops in jobs where taking bribes, or doing something else illegal, would be more likely. I'm sure they routinely check Narcotics people, is what I'm saying. And they didn't find anything suspicious, or else they would have started their own investigation. Chief Coughlin tells me Internal Affairs was not conducting any kind of a specific investigation of anybody in Narcotics before we got this job.

"What I think that could mean is-presuming some members of Five Squad are dirty-that they are also too smart to go out and buy a new Buick in their own name, or a condo at the shore, or put money in their own bank account. You still with me?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, we-and by 'we' I mean McFadden and Jesus and Tiny-are going to go through the motions of looking for unexplained amounts of money. I expect a thorough job. I would be delighted if they don't find unexplainable money and prove me wrong. Call that the first go-around. And while they're doing that, Payne, you're going to come up with a database of names of people in whose names Buicks and condos, et cetera, could be bought. Still with me?"

"No, sir. Sorry."

"Relatives. Friends. A brother-in-law. You want to buy a condo at the shore and you don't want to attract Internal Affairs attention, so you give your brother-in-law or your uncle Charley the money, and he buys the condo at the shore. Or you put the money in his bank account. Got it?"

"Where do I start?"

"Start with personnel records. Sergeant Sandow can set that up for you. At night, Elliot. I don't want it to get out that somebody from Special Operations or Ethical Affairs is checking personnel records."

"Yes, sir," Sergeant Sandow said.

"That'll give us some names to start with," Weisbach went on. "I don't want to start ringing doorbells until we have to. We can't afford to have somebody say, 'Hey, Charley, there was a cop here asking questions about you.' "

"Yes, sir," Payne said.

"Your first job, though, Payne, is the tapes. We need them transcribed, the sooner the better. Sandow will see that everybody gets a copy. Then I want everybody, individually, to try to make sense of them. Then we'll get together and brainstorm them. I want a brainstorm session every day or so. We all have to know what everybody else is doing, and maybe somebody will be able to make sense out of something the other guy doesn't understand."

He looked around the room.

"Any questions?"

No one had any questions.

SEVEN

When, accompanied by a discreet ping, one of the buttons on his telephone lit up, a look of mingled annoyance and resignation flickered on and off the face of Brewster Cortland Payne II.

The telephone would not have, as he thought of it, pinged, had not Mrs. Irene Craig, his silver-haired, stylish, fiftyish secretary, been quite sure he would want to take the call. Irene had been his secretary-and confidante and friend-from the moment he had joined his father's law firm fresh from law school. She had been the first employee of B. C. Payne, Lawyer, when he had started out on his own, and their law offices had been two small and dark rooms in a run-down building on South Tenth Street.

The law offices of Mawson, Payne, Stockton, McAdoo amp; Lester now occupied all of the eleventh floor and most of the twelfth floor of the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society Building on Market Street, east of Broad, and as befitted the executive secretary to the managing partner of what had arguably become Philadelphia's most prestigious law firm, Mrs. Craig's annual compensation exceeded that of seventy percent of the lawyers in Philadelphia.

She had other duties, of course, but she-quite correctly-regarded her primary function as the management of her employer's time, which included putting only those telephone calls through to him that she believed he not only would want to, but should, deal with himself.

A half hour before, she had been asked to bring him a pot of coffee and then to see that he wasn't disturbed. Under that circumstance, Mr. Payne knew Mrs. Craig would normally put through only a call from the president of the United States offering to nominate him for the position of chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, or from his wife. Everybody else would be asked if he could return their call.

He picked up the telephone.

"Brewster Payne," he said.

"Sorry to bother you," Mrs. Craig said, "but Armando C. Giacomo, Esquire, is on the line, begging for a brief moment of your time."

"The Colonel's not here?"

"I tried that. Manny wants to speak with you."

The Colonel was J. Dunlop Mawson, Esq., the other founding partner of Mawson, Payne, Stockton, McAdoo amp; Lester, who had served as a lieutenant colonel, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Army, and loved the sound of that rank.

It was arguable whether the Colonel or Manny Giacomo was the most successful criminal lawyer in Philadelphia. Giacomo amp; Giacomo-the second Giacomo was his son, Armando C. Giacomo III-was a thirty-plus-attorney law firm with its own building on South 9th Street that did little else but criminal law.

The elder Giacomo-a slight, lithe, dapper, fifty-year-old who wore what little was left of his hair plastered to the sides of his tanned skull-was very good, and consequently, very expensive. Like Colonel J. Dunlop Mawson, he had a well-earned reputation for defending, most often successfully and invariably with great skill, people charged with violation of the whole gamut of criminal offenses. His clients in criminal proceedings were seldom ordinary criminals, however, for the very good reason that ordinary criminals seldom had any money.

The difference between them was that from the beginning it had been understood between the Colonel and Brewster Payne that their firm would not represent the mob-as often called the Mafia-under any circumstances, and Giacomo often did.

Giacomo, himself the son of a lawyer and whose family had been in Philadelphia from the time of the Revolution, 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 that of Mawson, Payne, Stockton, McAdoo amp; Lester's, which drew most of its clientele from the upper echelons of industry, banks, insurance companies, and from familial connections.

Manny Giacomo had elected, instead, to become a criminal lawyer, and had become known (unfairly, Payne thought, since mobsters were only a small fraction of his clients) as the mob's lawyer. Payne had come to believe-he knew Giacomo's personal ethics were impeccable-that Giacomo represented the mob primarily because they had the financial resources to pay him, but also because he really believed that an accused was entitled to the best legal representation he could get.

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.

Payne reached for one of the telephones on his desk and pushed a flashing button, aware that he was doing so for the same reason Mrs. Craig had put the call through: curiosity why Manny Giacomo wanted to speak to him, rather than the Colonel.

"Armando, how are you?" Payne said.

"Thank you for taking my call, Brewster."

"Don't I always take your calls?"

"No, I don't think you do. Sometimes, frankly, when Mrs. Craig tells me you just stepped out of the office, I suspect that you're at your desk and just don't want to talk to me."

"You don't really believe that, do you, Armando? Isn't that the tactic of putting someone on the defensive?"

Giacomo laughed. "Did it work?"

"To a degree. But it also heightened my instincts of self-preservation. What are you about to try to talk me into, Armando, that you already know I would rather not do?"

"I need a personal favor, Brewster."

"Personal? Or professional?"

"Truth to tell, a little of each."

"My curiosity is piqued. Go on."

"I represent a gentleman named Vincenzo Savarese."

"A 'gentleman' named Vincenzo Savarese? If that's the case, your Mr. Savarese is not the same chap who immediately came to my mind."

Silver-haired, sixty-four-year-old Vincenzo Savarese was the head of the Philadelphia mob.

"Mr. Savarese, my Mr. Savarese," Giacomo said, "has never been convicted, in any court, of any offense against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or any of the other United States of America."

"Possibly he has a very good lawyer."

"I've heard that suggested," Giacomo said.

Payne chuckled.

"What do you want, Armando?"

"Mr. Savarese would be very grateful if you could spare him a few minutes, no more than five, of your time."

"He wants to talk to me?" Payne asked, incredulously. "What about?"

"What Mr. Savarese hopes is that you will give him five minutes of your time, in person."

"He wants to come here?"

"He would be grateful if you would permit him to do so."

"What does he want?"

"He would prefer to discuss that with you in person."

"What the hell is going on, Armando?"

"Mr. Savarese would like to ask a personal favor of you."

"What kind of a personal favor?" Payne asked, just a little sharply.

There was a perceptible pause before Giacomo replied.

"It has to do with your daughter," Giacomo said.

"My daughter?" Payne asked, genuinely surprised, and then, without giving Giacomo time to reply, asked another question. "Is he there with you?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact, he is."

"I presume your client is aware that I do not accept criminal cases?"

There was another pause before Giacomo replied.

"Mr. Savarese has asked me to say that this is a personal matter and has nothing to do with the law."

"But it has something to do with my daughter?" Payne asked, rhetorically. "And when would he like to come see me?"

"Right now, if that would be convenient," Giacomo replied immediately. "For no more than five minutes."

Now there was a pause before Payne replied.

"I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt, Armando, based on our past dealings."

"But you will see Mr. Savarese?" Giacomo asked.

"You want to come right now? You are coming with him, Armando?"

"Yes. And yes."

"Come ahead," Payne said.

Payne replaced the telephone in its cradle, shrugged, and then pushed the button that would cause Mrs. Craig's telephone to tinkle.

She didn't answer.

She put her head in the door.

"You want me to find the Colonel?"

"I don't care what he's doing, I want him in here with me."

"Very curious," she said.

"She said, in massive understatement," Payne said.

When Mrs. Irene Craig pushed open the door to Brewster Cortland Payne's office to admit Armando C. Giacomo, Esq., and Mr. Vincenzo Savarese, Mr. Payne, who was behind his desk, stood up. So did Colonel J. Dunlop Mawson, a slim, dignified fifty-six-year-old, who had been seated in a green leather armchair to one side of a carved English (circa 1790) coffee table.

"Good morning, Counselor," Giacomo said, walking to Payne with his hand extended. "Thank you for receiving us on such short notice."

"Hello, Armando," Payne said, and took the hand.

Giacomo crossed to Mawson. He did not seem surprised to find him in Payne's office.

"It's always a pleasure to see you, Colonel," he said. "How nice to bump into you, so to speak, like this."

"It's always a pleasure to see you, Armando," Mawson said.

"Gentlemen, may I introduce Mr. Vincenzo Savarese?" Giacomo said.

Savarese was slight, and had very pale, almost translucent skin. His eyes were prominent and intelligent, and he was dressed in a conservative, nearly black single-breasted, vested suit.

This man is a thug, Payne thought, and if the stories are true, a murderer by his own hand when he was younger-and in many other ways a criminal. I don't want to forget that.

Savarese crossed first to Payne.

"I am in your debt, Mr. Payne, for receiving me under these circumstances."

He put out his hand. Payne took it and was surprised at how fragile and soft it was.

Didn't I hear someplace that he is an accomplished violinist?

"Colonel Mawson and I were having a cup of coffee," Payne said, gesturing toward the coffee table and the green leather furniture. "May I offer you a cup?"

"Thank you, no," Savarese said. "I don't want to take any more of your and Colonel Mawson's time than I have to."

"How may I be of service, Mr. Savarese?" Payne asked after Savarese had lowered himself gingerly onto the couch.

"I hope you will believe me that I would not have troubled you if it was not absolutely necessary," Savarese said. "May I get directly to the point?"

"Please do," Payne said.

"I come to you as a father and grandfather who needs help he cannot get elsewhere for his daughter and granddaughter. "

"Go on," Payne said.

"My daughter is grown, a married woman, married to… Her husband is Randolph Longwood, of Bala Cynwyd. Perhaps you are familiar with the name?"

"The builder?" Colonel Mawson asked.

"Yes, the builder. I think I should say that I have no business relationship of any kind with my son-in-law."

"You know Randy Longwood, Brew," Mawson said. "He belongs to Rose Tree Hunt."

"Of course," Payne said, a little uncomfortably, and more than a little surprised that the identity of Longwood's father-in-law had escaped the Rose Tree Hunt Club Membership Committee. He had had trouble getting Colonel J. Dunlop Mawson past it, as they had had questions about the suitability for membership of a lawyer practicing criminal law.

"My daughter has a daughter," Savarese went on, "who has recently suffered some sort of emotional shock."

Payne looked at him but said nothing.

"The nature of which we really don't know," Savarese continued. "Except that, whatever it was, it was quite severe. She is currently hospitalized at University Hospital. Her family physician had her admitted, and arranged for her to be attended by Dr. Aaron Stein."

"Stein is a fine…"-Payne stopped himself just in time from saying "psychiatrist"-"physician."

"So I understand," Savarese said. "He has recommended that my granddaughter be seen by Dr. Payne."

"Stein and my daughter are friends," Payne offered. "That's how I came to meet him."

They are friends, Payne thought. But that's now. It used to be Humble Student sitting at the feet of the Master.

Stein was as old as he was. Amy had originally gone to University Hospital thrilled at the chance to work with him, to learn from him. They had-surprising the psychiatric fraternity; Stein had a reputation for holding most fellow psychiatrists as fools-become friends and ultimately colleagues, and Payne knew that Stein had even proposed a joint private practice to Amy, which she had declined, for reasons Payne had not understood.

"So he told my daughter," Savarese said. "But apparently, that friendship hasn't been enough to convince Dr. Payne to see my granddaughter."

Stein sends Amy a patient and she turns her-which means Dr. Stein, her guru-down? That sounds a bit odd.

"I don't really see, Mr. Savarese, what this has to do with me," Payne said.

I know damned well what it has to do with me. He wants me to go to Amy, who certainly had her reasons to refuse to see the granddaughter, and ask her to reconsider.

It's absolutely none of my business. Amy would first be amazed, and then, justifiably, more than a little annoyed that I was putting my nose into her practice. Particularly in a case like this.

Or is it my fault? Amelia Payne, M.D., Fellow of the American College of Psychiatry, is also Amy Payne, loving daughter of Brewster C. Payne, and has heard, time and time again, his opinions of organized crime and its practitioners. It is unlikely, but not impossible, that Amy turned down this girl either because of me, or because she doesn't want to get involved with anyone involved with the mob.

"My granddaughter is very ill, Mr. Payne," Savarese said. "Otherwise, I would not involve myself in this. Neither Dr. Seaburg, her family physician, nor Dr. Stein, is aware of our relationship. But I love her, and my daughter, and so, as one father to another, I am willing to beg for help for her."

"You want me to speak to my daughter, is that it?"

"I am begging you to do so," Savarese said simply.

Where are we? Amy has declined to see this girl for reasons that have nothing to do with me-he let me off the hook on that, when he said neither the family physician nor Dr. Stein knows he's the girl's grandfather-or with Savarese.

And the girl, obviously, should not be punished for the sins of the grandfather in any event. And in this case, he is the grandfather, not the Mafia don.

"Will you excuse me for a moment, please?" Payne said, and walked out of his office, past Mrs. Craig's desk, across the corridor and into Colonel J. Dunlop Mawson's office.

"I need the Colonel's office a moment, Janet," he said to Mawson's secretary.

He went into Mawson's office, sat on his red leather couch, and pulled the telephone to him.

It took him nearly five minutes to get Amy on the line, and when she came on the line, there was worry and concern in her voice.

"Daddy? They said it was important?"

"Indulge me for a moment, Amy," he said.

"I'm always afraid you're calling to tell me Matt got himself shot again," she said, her relief evident in her voice.

"As far as I know, the only danger Matt faces at the moment is from the understandably irate father of the girl he took from Chad Nesbitt's birthday party and who has not called home since," Payne said.

There was a short chuckle, and then-now with a tone of impatience in her voice-she asked: "What's important, then, Daddy? I'm really up to my ass in work."

"Did Dr. Stein send you a patient, a young woman, by the name of Longwood?"

"Aaron sends me a lot of patients, or tries to, but that name doesn't ring a bell. Why do you ask?"

"Aaron"? It wasn't that long ago when she reverentially called him "Doctor Stein."

And: We are no longer Daddy Dear and Daughter Darling. That was The Doctor putting A Nosy Lawyer in his place.

"Her grandfather is in my office," Payne said.

"Wait a minute," Amy said. "Now I remember the name. Cynthia Longwood. A Bala Cynwyd maiden who had a traumatic experience with her boyfriend. I told Aaron, sorry, no, I have a lapful of really sick people. How did you get involved in this? Is her grandfather a client?"

"No. He's not. Her grandfather is Vincenzo Savarese."

"The gangster?"

"That has been alleged."

"Is this important to you, Daddy?"

"I don't really know how to answer that. He came here-Armando Giacomo brought him-which must have been difficult for both of them, and appealed to me as a father. I thought the decent thing to do was call you."

"Where is she?"

"University Hospital."

"Okay, I'll see her," Amy said simply.

"Thank you."

"It would be dishonest of me to say 'you're welcome, ' " Amy said. "What this is is pure curiosity. I wonder why Aaron didn't tell me who she was?"

"I don't think Dr. Stein knows who her grandfather is."

"Got to run, Daddy," Amy said, and the line went dead.

Payne returned to his office.

"I've just spoken to my daughter, Mr. Savarese," he said. "She will see your granddaughter."

Vincenzo Savarese rose slowly from the couch and walked to Payne. He put out his hand, and when Payne put out his, held it with both hands.

There are tears in his eyes!

"I am very much in your debt, Mr. Payne," Savarese said.

"Not at all."

"I am very much in your debt, Mr. Payne," Savarese repeated. "And now I will not take any more of your valuable time."

Savarese walked to Colonel J. Dunlop Mawson, politely shook his hand, and then walked out of the office.

"I owe you a big one, Brewster," Armando C. Giacomo said softly, winked at Payne, and followed Savarese out.

Walter Davis, a tall, well-built, nearly handsome man in his middle forties, had, while taking luncheon at the Rittenhouse Club, what he considered to be a splendid idea. Actually, it was the second time he had the same idea, and now he wondered why he hadn't followed up on it before.

Davis, who was the Special Agent in Charge of the Philadelphia Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was not a voting member of the Rittenhouse Club. By virtue of his office, however, he enjoyed all the privileges of membership. Similar ex officio memberships were made available to certain other public servants-the mayor; the admiral commanding the Philadelphia Navy Yard; the police commissioner; the president of the University of Pennsylvania, et cetera-highly successful practitioners of their professions whom the membership felt would, had they been in the private sector, not only have been put up for membership but would have been able to afford it.

It was said that full membership in the Rittenhouse Club was something like Commodore Vanderbilt's yacht: if you had to ask how much it cost, you couldn't afford it.

Davis did not often use the Rittenhouse Club's facilities, which included an Olympic-size swimming pool, a fully equipped gymnasium in addition to its bar, lounge, and dining facilities. For one thing, it was expensive. For another, Davis was a shade uneasy about taking anything for nothing.

He tried to limit his visits to those that, at least, had a connection with the FBI. A monthly luncheon with Police Commissioner Taddeus Czernich, for example, was usually on his schedule. There were exceptions, of course. When Mrs. Davis was climbing the walls about something, dinner in the elegance of the Rittenhouse Dining Room-the only room in the building where the gentle sex was welcome-did wonders to calm her down.

And today was another exception. Andrew C. Tellman, Esq.-known in their days at the University of Michigan Law School as "Randy Andy"-was in town from Detroit and had called suggesting they get together.

Randy Andy was now a senior partner-he had sent Davis the engraved announcement-of the enormous Detroit law firm he had joined right out of law school, when Davis had gone to Quantico to the FBI Academy.

The stiff price of taking Randy Andy to lunch at the Rittenhouse seemed justified, as sort of a statement that he hadn't done so badly himself, and the proof of that seemed to have come immediately.

"Oh, you belong to the Rittenhouse, do you?" Randy Andy had asked when Davis had suggested "one-ish at the Rittenhouse."

Davis had taken this further, arriving at the club on Rittenhouse Square a few minutes after 12:30. He wanted Randy Andy to have to ask the porter-a master of snobbery-to ask for him, and then be led into the oak-paneled lounge where he would be sitting at one of the small tables.

"I'm expecting a guest," he said to the porter, a digni fied black man in his sixties.

"Yes, sir. And who are you, sir?"

"Walter Davis."

"Ah, yes, Mr. Davis. And your guest's name, Mr. Davis? "

"Tellman. Andrew C. Tellman."

"You'll be in the lounge, Mr. Davis?"

"Yes."

"I'll take care of it, sir," the porter said.

He then went to a large board behind his porter's stand. On it were 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.

He moved the piece of brass to indicate that Davis, W. was now on the premises.

Davis examined the board. The names listed represented the power structure of Philadelphia. And their children. Both Nesbitt, C. III and Nesbitt, C. IV had small brass plates. As did Payne, B. and Payne, M.

Davis knew Payne, B. only by reputation, that of a founding partner of the most prestigious law firm in Philadelphia, Mawson, Payne, Stockton, McAdoo amp; Lester.

Payne, M. he had met. Payne, M. was a policeman. Davis had once taken Inspector Peter Wohl to lunch. They had gone in Wohl's car, which had been driven by a Philadelphia police officer-Payne-in plainclothes. Officer Payne had played straight man to Wohl, while Wohl vented his annoyance at being kept waiting for Davis with "witty" remarks, and by taking him to a closet-size Italian greasy spoon in South Philadelphia for lunch, instead of to the elegant Ristorante Alfredo in Center City.

Davis had subsequently learned, from Isaiah J. Towne, his ASAC (Assistant Special Agent in Charge) for counterintelligence, just who Payne was. Not only that he was Brewster Cortland Payne's son, or that he was the policeman who had, in Towne's somewhat admiring description, "blown the brains of the Northeast Serial Rapist all over the inside of his van with his service revolver," but why he had become a policeman instead of following in his father's prestigious footsteps in the practice of law.

Towne, a tall, hawk-featured, thirty-nine-year-old balding Mormon, who took his religion seriously and who had once told Davis, dead serious, that he regarded the Communists as the Antichrist, was in charge of what were called, somewhat confusingly, FBIs. The acronym stood for Full Background Investigation. FBIs were run before the issuance of federal security clearances, and before young men were commissioned into one of the Armed Forces.

An FBI had been run on Matthew Mark Payne during his last year at the University of Pennsylvania. He had then been enrolled in the USMC Platoon Leaders' Program, which would see him commissioned a second lieutenant on his graduation.

At the last minute, young Payne had failed the precommissioning physical, and had not gone into the Marine Corps.

Towne's FBI on him, however, had already been run, and it had provided some very interesting details about Payne, Matthew Mark. For one thing, he was a very wealthy young man, largely because of an investment program established for him at age three and administered-and generously contributed to-by his father thereafter.

It also revealed that he was not Brewster Cortland Payne II's biological son. He was the biological son of Sergeant John Francis Xavier Moffitt, of the Philadelphia Police Department, who had been shot to death answering a silent burglar alarm call months before his only child was born.

The Widow Moffitt had gone to secretarial school and found employment with Lowerie, Tant, Foster, Pedigill and Payne, a top Philadelphia legal firm, as a typist.

Shortly thereafter, she had met the just-widowered Brewster Cortland Payne II, the son of the founding partner-and heir apparent to the Payne real estate fortune. Mrs. Brewster Cortland Payne II had been killed in an automobile accident returning from their summer home in the Pocono Mountains, leaving her husband and two infant children.

Brewster Cortland Payne II's reaction to his father's description of Patricia Moffitt as a gold-digging Irish trollop and his absence from their wedding had been to resign from Lowerie, Tant, Foster, Pedigill and Payne and strike out on his own.

Shortly after the birth of their first child-which coincided with the death of Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt, Jr., the chairman of the board of Nesfoods International; the assumption by Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt III, Brewster Payne's best friend, to that position; and the retention of what was then Payne amp; Mawson as Nesfood International 's Counsel-Brewster Cortland Payne went to his wife and announced that since he loved Matt as well as his other children, it seemed only logical that he adopt him, and requested her permission to do so.

Matthew Mark Payne's rejection by the Marine Corps had been shortly followed by the death of his uncle, his biological father's brother, another policeman, Captain Richard C. "Dutch" Moffitt. Moffitt, a colorful character, who had been the commanding officer of the Highway Patrol, had, off-duty, walked in on a holdup of the Waikiki Diner on Roosevelt Boulevard, and been shot to death trying to talk the robber, a drug addict, into handing over his. 22-caliber pistol.

When Matthew Mark Payne had applied for appointment as a Philadelphia police officer immediately thereafter-the only graduate, summa cum laude, of the University of Pennsylvania to do so in anyone's memory-it was generally agreed both that it was understandable-Matt's masculinity, challenged by rejection by the Marines, would be restored by his becoming a policeman; and he probably had some childish idea about getting revenge for both his biological father and his uncle-and that his police career would end just as soon as he came to his senses.

When he surprised everyone by lasting through the rigors of the Police Academy, Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin, who had graduated from the Police Academy with his best friend, John Francis Xavier Moffitt-who had knocked at Patty Moffitt's door to tell her, "Honey, Jack just had some real bad luck," and who had no intention of knocking on her door again to tell her Jack's boy had been shot-arranged to have him assigned as administrative assistant to Inspector Peter Wohl.

He had been on that job less than six months when, off-duty, he spotted the van used by the Northwest Serial Rapist, attempted to question the driver, nearly lost his life when the driver attempted to run him down with the van, and then shot him in the head.

Not quite a year after that, the Philadelphia Police Department planned and executed a massive operation intended to cause the arrest without firing a shot of a gang of a dozen armed robbers on warrants charging them with murder in connection with the robbery of Goldblatt's Department Store in South Philadelphia.

Officer Payne's role in this meticulously planned, theoretically foolproof operation was to "escort"-keep him (and incidentally himself) out of any possible danger-Michael J. "Mickey" O'Hara, the Pulitzer prize-winning Philadelphia Bulletin police reporter. They were to wait in an alley a safe distance from the building in which the robbers were known to be until the arrests had been successfully accomplished.

One of the robbers, wielding a. 45 Colt automatic pistol, appeared where he wasn't supposed to be, in the "safe alley," and let off a volley of shots. One of them ricocheted, grazing Payne in the forehead. He was able to draw his revolver and return fire.

That evening's Philadelphia Bulletin carried an "Exclusive Photo By Michael J. O'Hara" that showed Officer Payne, blood streaming down his face-from a wound that looked a great deal worse than it was-standing, pistol in hand, over the felon he had fatally wounded in a shoot-out.

Ninety percent of police officers reach retirement without once having been forced to use their pistols. A cop who, in less than two years on the job, finds himself involved in two good shootings is obviously something out of the ordinary.

No one was surprised when Officer Payne passed the examination for Detective on the first attempt. He was, of course, a summa cum laude university graduate who had little trouble with the examination. He ranked second when the examination results were posted, and was promoted shortly thereafter.

It was said, however, that Mayor Carlucci would have had him promoted if it had been necessary to send two chief inspectors into the examination room with him to show him which end of the pencil to use, and otherwise be helpful.

Neither were many people in the Philadelphia Police Department surprised to hear that Mayor Carlucci had "suggested" that Detective Payne be reassigned to Special Operations after a very short assignment to one of the detective divisions.

Mayor Carlucci was aware of the value of good public relations.

What Walter Davis thought when he saw Payne, M. on the membership board of the Rittenhouse Club was first that Payne was almost certainly a regular rather than non-voting, ex officio member, and second that the FBI was always looking for outstanding young men to join its ranks.

He had, he realized, had that thought before.

Why didn't I follow through with it then?

His lunch with Randy Andy Tellman (turtle soup, London broil, and asparagus) went well until he called for the check to sign. Tellman snatched it from his hand and scrawled his initials on it.

"I didn't know you belonged," Davis blurted.

"Out-of-town member," Randy Andy told him. "The firm picks it up."

As soon as he returned to his office, Davis told his secretary to ask ASAC Towne if he could spare him a minute.

Towne answered the summons immediately.

"Correct me when I'm wrong, Isaiah," Davis told him. "The subject is Detective Matthew Payne of the Philadelphia Police Department."

"Yes, sir?"

"To the best of your recollection, nothing came up in your FBI that would disqualify him for the Bureau?"

"No, sir."

"Including his physical condition? What caused the Marines to reject him?"

"It was some minor eye problem, as I recall, sir. I don't think the Bureau even looks at that sort of thing."

"And I think we have an agent to whom it was suggested that getting close to Detective Payne might be a good thing to do?"

"Yes, sir. Special Agent Jack-John D.-Matthews."

"Refresh me. How did Matthews come to meet Detective Payne?"

"I believe it was in connection with the vice presidential threat," Towne said. "We sent Matthews over to liaise with the Secret Service. The Special Operations Division of the Philadelphia Police Department was providing the Secret Service with bodies to help find that lunatic. I believe they became friendly while that was going on."

"And, if memory serves, despite Agent Matthews's best efforts, we have learned virtually nothing, via Detective Payne, of interesting things going on within the Philadelphia Police Department that we would not have learned of through other channels?"

"I'm afraid that's true, sir."

"That speaks well for Detective Payne, wouldn't you say, Isaiah?"

"From the viewpoint of the Philadelphia Police Department, yes, sir, I would say it does."

"It has occurred to me, Isaiah, that Detective Payne might very well have the makings of an outstanding FBI agent. How does that strike you?"

"Absolutely," Isaiah Towne said. "He would bring to the Bureau a level of practical experience-"

Davis cut him off.

"See if Matthews is in the office, please," he said. "If he is, why don't you and I have a little chat with him about recruiting Detective Payne?"

Towne picked up one of the telephones on Davis's desk, pushed the button marked "Duty Officer," learned that Special Agent Matthews was in the office, and told the duty officer to send him to the office of the SAC.

EIGHT

Detective Matt Payne's concentration was finally broken by the ringing telephone. He muttered a routine obscenity; pulled the dictating machine's headset out of his ears; turned from the typewriter; looked around the office and saw that it was deserted and that it was dark outside; muttered another routine obscenity; glanced at his wristwatch, saw that it was half past seven; muttered a third routine obscenity; and picked up the telephone.

It had been a long, tiring, and not very productive day.

He had been working without interruption on the obscenity-deleted tapes since Weisbach's meeting in the morning.

All he had had to eat all day was a hamburger and a small fries. Jason Washington, who had felt sorry for him, had brought that to him in the middle of the afternoon.

He was nowhere near finished, and at half past four, Sergeant Sandow had informed him he was expected in Personnel in the Roundhouse anytime after half past nine, to go through the records of the men on Five Squad.

"Special Investigation, Detective Payne," Matt said, as courteously as he could manage.

"As an act of Christian charity, your friendly local FBI agent is prepared to spring for supper," his caller said.

"Jack, I'm really up to my ass in work."

"You have to eat," Special Agent Jack Matthews said, reasonably.

"Where are you?"

"At the FOP."

The Fraternal Order of Police Building was on Spring Garden Street, just off North Broad Street. The well-patronized bar was in the basement. Matt could hear bar sounds; Matthews was using the phone on the bar.

"This is social, then, rather than official?"

"A little of each, actually," Matthews said, surprised at the question. "Why did you ask?"

"You're going to deliver a friendly lecture on the criminal penalties provided for interfering with FBI agents, right?"

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"You're right. I have to eat. You said you're paying?"

"Right."

"In that case, since I really deserve it, something expensive. A lobster comes immediately to mind. Does Bookbinder's, the Old Original, on Second Street, make you want to regret your kind offer?"

"Not at all. This feast goes on the expense account."

"So those assholes did report me? I thought they'd be too embarrassed."

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Of course you don't. You want to meet me there? Or should I pick you up?"

"I'll meet you there. When can you leave?"

"As soon as I can turn out the lights. I'm starved."

He hung up, looked out the window and saw that it was not only dark but raining, and went to what had been the classroom's cloakroom for his trench coat. When he picked it up, there was something heavy in the pocket. He fished it out. It was the small tape recorder that had come with the dictation system he had bought to transcribe the Kellog tapes, still in its box with compartments for the device, batteries, and three tape cassettes.

He started to put it on his desk, but changed his mind when he thought it might be useful to transcribe information at the Roundhouse. He put it back in the trenchcoat 's pocket, turned off the lights, and left.

"If you had a decent paying job, you wouldn't have to put in so much overtime," Special Agent Matthews, a tall, muscular, fair-skinned man in his late twenties, said to Detective Payne when Matt slid onto a stool beside him in the bar.

"Why do I suspect there is something significant in that remark?" Matt said. "What are you drinking?"

"Johnny Walker Black," Matthews said. "Would you like one?"

"You're paying?"

"The Bureau is paying."

"In that case, yes, thank you, I will," Matt said. He caught the bartender's eye and signaled for the same thing. "I will ask why the Bureau is paying later. I would have thought they would be just a little annoyed with me."

"Whatever for? The purpose of this little rendezvous is to point out to you all the nice things that would happen if you joined us."

"You're kidding."

"Not at all. Davis called me into his office and ordered me to wine and dine you with that noble purpose in mind."

Matt chuckled.

"You can tell Mr. Davis what I told the two assholes. One of my best friends is an FBI agent, but I wouldn't want my sister to marry one of them."

"Which two assholes would that be?"

"The two I led on a wild-goose chase up and down the alleys of North Philadelphia."

"FBI agents?" Matthews asked. Matt nodded. "Did they have names?"

Matt called the names from his memory.

"Jernigan and Leibowitz," he said. "Leibowitz seemed to be the brighter of the two."

"Never heard of them," Jack Matthews said. "Why did you lead them on a wild-goose chase?"

"They annoyed me," Matt said.

"Why did they annoy you?"

"They thought I had kidnapped an innocent maiden."

"You don't know any innocent maidens. There may not be an innocent maiden over the age of eleven in Philadelphia. Kidnapped? What the hell are you talking about, Matt? Try starting at the beginning."

"This is really the first time you're hearing this?" Matt asked.

Matthews held up his hands in a gesture of innocence.

"Somewhat reluctantly, I will take you at your word," Matt said, and told him of his encounter with Special Agents Leibowitz and Jernigan.

"We don't have any agents by those names in our of fice, Matt," Matthews said when Matt had finished. "Are you sure they were FBI agents? Not Treasury, or Secret Ser-"

"They had FBI credentials," Matt shut him off. "Which they shoved close enough under my nose for me to take a good look."

"I don't understand this at all," Matthews said. "And your lady friend was not kidnapped at all?"

"How do you get 'kidnapped at all'? Wouldn't that be like being a little pregnant?"

Matthews chuckled.

"Have you told anyone else about this?" he asked. "Wohl, for example?"

"Not a soul. And especially not Wohl. That would have triggered his 'we must be kind to the FBI' speech."

"I have no idea-"

"Let's get a table and eat," Matt said. "I'm starved. And when I'm finished, I have another couple of hours' work at the Roundhouse, which means I better not have another drink, even if the FBI is paying for it."

"What are you doing?"

"Is that you or the FBI asking?"

"Me."

"Checking some personnel records. It doesn't make me feel like Sherlock Holmes, but it's a dirty job that someone has to do."

Matthews chuckled.

"May I tell Mr. Davis that you have taken his kind offer of employment under consideration?"

"I don't give a damn what you tell him," Matt said. "Let's eat."

Cynthia Longwood took a long time to wake up, and when she did, she had no idea at all where she was. The room was dark.

She became aware first that she was wearing one of those awful hospital gowns that tie down the back and let your fanny hang out. And then, quickly, she realized that she was in a narrow hospital bed with chrome rails to keep you from falling out; and put that together to understand that she was in a hospital room.

She sat up-her muscles seemed stiff and she didn't seem to have much strength-and saw the glow of a cigarette. Someone was in the room with her.

Who? A nurse?

Cynthia let herself fall back on the bed.

The last thing she remembered clearly was being in her own room in Bala Cynwyd. Dr. Seaburg had been there.

Mother called him when I couldn't stop crying.

And he gave me something, a pill. A pill. A pill and then a shot. And told me it would let me sleep.

And then I was in a car, and going downtown…

They must have brought me here.

Dr. Seaburg was here, too. He had some other doctor with him. A nice old man.

My God, what did he give me? I can't seem to think, and I feel like I just swam across the Atlantic Ocean!

"Are you supposed to be doing that?" Cynthia challenged.

"Doing what?" a female voice near the cigarette glow asked.

"Smoking in here?"

"I didn't think anyone would notice. I'll put it out."

"No!" Cynthia said. "I don't mind. I could use one myself."

A body appeared at the bedside. A female body. Extending a lit cigarette.

"Will you settle for a puff on this?" she asked. "I don't want you falling asleep again with a lit cigarette."

Cynthia had trouble finding the hand holding the cigarette. But finally she got the cigarette to her lips and took a puff.

"You're right," the woman said. "I shouldn't be smoking in here. But it's been a long day, and I'm a nice girl, and I figured, what the hell?"

Cynthia chuckled and took another puff on the cigarette, and in its glow saw that the woman was young, and wore a simple cotton blouse and a skirt, with a sweater over her shoulders.

"Would you like something to drink?" the young woman asked. "There's water and 7-Up."

"Oh, yes, please, 7-Up," Cynthia said.

"Would it bother you if I put the lights on?" the young woman said. "I don't want to spill 7-Up all over you."

"Go ahead," Cynthia said. "Who are you?"

"My name is Amy Payne."

"You're a nurse?"

"No."

"I was wondering where your uniform was," Cynthia said.

The lights came on, painfully bright. It took what seemed to be a long time for her eyes to adjust to them.

When she finally had everything in focus, she saw that Amy-attractive, but no real beauty-was extending a paper cup to her.

Cynthia quickly drank it all, and held out the cup for a refill.

"If you promise not to gulp it down the way you did that one," Amy Payne said. "I don't want you to toss your cookies."

Cynthia chuckled. She liked this woman.

"Funny, that sounded like a nurse talking," she said. "But okay. I promise."

"Not to gulp? Girl Scout's honor?"

"I said I promised," Cynthia said, and added: "Actually, I was a Girl Scout."

"So was I. I hated it."

"Me, too," Cynthia said.

Amy gave her another glass of 7-Up. Cynthia took a sip.

"If you're not a nurse, what are you doing in here?" she asked.

"Actually, I'm a doctor."

"You're putting me on."

"Girl Scout's honor," Amy said.

"I'll be damned."

"Your doctor, if you'd like. Both Dr. Seaburg and Dr. Stein think that might be a good idea."

"Dr. Stein?"

"Little fat fellow. Looks like Santa Claus with a shave. Talks funny."

Cynthia giggled when the description called up the mental image of the doctor who had been with Dr. Seaburg.

"Why do Drs. Seaburg and Stein think it would be a good idea if you were my doctor?"

"I don't know about you, but I always have trouble talking about some things-the female reproductive apparatus, for example, or sex, generally-with a man. With another woman, provided she's not old enough to be my grandmother, it's much easier."

"What makes you think I would want to talk to you? About sex or anything else?"

"I don't know if you would want to or not," Amy said.

"You're a shrink, right?"

"Right. A pretty good one, as a matter of fact."

"You don't look like a shrink."

"Dr. Stein looks like what most people think of when they hear the word 'shrink,' " Amy said. "Wise and kind, et cetera. Would you rather talk to him?"

"I don't really want to talk to anybody."

"You're going to have to talk to somebody, and I think you know that," Amy said. "Maybe I could help. Your call."

"I really don't want to talk to Dr. Seaburg, or the other one."

"Can I take that as a 'yes'? Do you want to give it a shot, see if I can help?"

"God, I don't know. I'm so damned confused."

"When you're damned confused is usually a pretty good time to talk to a shrink," Amy said.

"Let me think about it," Cynthia said.

"Counteroffer," Amy said. "Give me a temporary appointment as your physician until, say, half past eight in the morning."

"Why?"

"Under those circumstances, I can prescribe medicine and offer advice."

"If you were my physician, what medicine would you prescribe?"

"None. No more sedatives. I don't like the side effects-what they gave you really makes you feel like a medicine ball at the end of a long game-and I don't think it's indicated."

"You just have been appointed my temporary physician, " Cynthia said. "What's the advice?"

"Two things. First, when they come in here in the morning and ask you how you want your eggs, say 'poached' or 'soft-boiled.' What they do to fried and scrambled eggs around here is obscene."

Cynthia giggled.

"And second?"

"Try to trust me. Whatever's wrong, whatever happened, we can deal with it."

"Oh, shit," Cynthia said. "I really don't…"

"That bad, huh?" Amy said.

"Yeah, that bad."

"Okay, we'll talk about it. Now, after a word with the nurse, I'm going home."

"What kind of a word with the nurse?"

"Orders. One, no more sedatives. Two, you have my medical permission to smoke. Not now, in the morning, after that sedative wears off."

"You'll be back in the morning?"

"After you've had your breakfast."

"Okay," Cynthia said, and then said, "What do I call you, 'Doctor'?"

"If you can remember that I'm your doctor, you can call me 'Amy.' I'd like that."

"I don't think I understand that," Cynthia said.

"I don't know about you, Cynthia, but every time I've told one of my friends something I really didn't want anybody else to know, it was all over town by the next day. What you tell me as your doctor goes no further."

"Not even to another doctor? Or my parents?"

"What you tell me goes no further, period."

"I may not tell you anything."

"That's up to you, what you tell me or don't. Okay?"

"Okay," Cynthia said.

Dr. Payne touched Cynthia Longwood's shoulder and walked to the door. She turned off the lights, smiled at Cynthia, and walked out of the room.

When Matt went into Personnel Records at the Roundhouse a few minutes before ten, Sergeant Sandow's contact, a heavyset civilian, led him into a closet-size office where he had laid out the personnel jackets of the Narcotics Unit's Five Squad.

"I'll stick around until you're finished," the civilian told him, "in case somebody wonders what the lights are doing on in here. But make it quick, will you?"

"Right now, that is the guiding principle of my life," Matt said, and took off his trench coat. He fished the pocket recorder out again, looked at it, shrugged, put batteries and a tape in it, and tested it.

It worked. The question was whether or not it would be quicker to use the machine and the transcribing device, or whether he should just use pencil and a notebook.

He decided in favor of modern technology, sat down at the desk, and started to work his way through the foot-high stack of records in front of him.

It took him more than two hours. Dictating names and addresses into the recorder proved, he thought, much quicker than writing them down would have been; the question remained how long it would take him to transcribe them in the morning.

None of the names and addresses of relatives and references rang any bells, except tangentially. Officer Timothy J. Calhoun of the Five Squad had uncles and aunts and cousins in both Harrisburg and Camp Hill, and was a graduate of Camp Hill High.

It was unlikely that they knew each other, but Miss Susan Reynolds, who had not been kidnapped at all, was from Camp Hill.

What was that bullshit she told Daffy all about, that she was in her room all the time? Her bed had not been slept in. Period. Wherever she was when everybody was looking for her, she wasn't in the Bellvue-Stratford. At least not in her room.

When he left the tiny office, Sandow's civilian was asleep in his chair, and when wakened, not in what could be called a charming frame of mind.

Matt rode the curved elevator down to the lobby and left the building. As he walked up to his car, a scruffy-looking character got out of a beat-up car, took a good look, without smiling, at Matt, then walked toward the Roundhouse.

I know that face, Matt thought. From where?

He unlocked the unmarked car and got in.

I've seen that face somewhere, recently.

Like an hour ago!

Officer Timothy J. Calhoun's photograph in his records was a mug shot of a freshly scrubbed, cleanly shaven, crew-cutted inmate of the Police Academy.

He looks like a bum, because undercover guys in Narcotics have to look like bums. When Captain Pekach was a lieutenant in Narcotics, he wore his hair in a pigtail.

I wonder what Calhoun's doing at the Roundhouse at midnight?

Matt pulled the key from the ignition switch and got out of the car in time to see Officer Calhoun enter the Roundhouse.

He walked quickly after him, and had his identification folder in his hand when he entered the building.

He showed it to the corporal on duty.

"The guy who just came in here?" Matt asked.

The corporal jerked his thumb to Matt's right, to the door leading to Central Lockup.

Matt went through the door. It led into sort of a corridor. To his left, on the other side of a glass wall, was the magistrate's court. Here, after being transported to Central Lockup and being booked, prisoners were brought before the magistrate to determine if they could be freed on their own recognizance, on bail, or at all. To his right were several rows of chairs where the prisoner's family, friends, or, for that matter, the general public could watch the magistrate in action.

At the end of the corridor was a locked door with a glass panel leading to the Central Lockup and the booking sergeant's desk.

Matt went and looked through the panel.

A uniform came to the window and indicated with a jerked thumb that he would prefer that Matt go away. Matt showed him his detective's identification, which visibly surprised the uniform, who then moved to open the door.

Matt shook his head, "no."

The uniform shrugged and walked away.

Matt looked into the booking area. Officer Timothy J. Calhoun of the Narcotics Five Squad, now in the company of another scruffy-looking character, whom Matt recognized from the photograph on his records but could not put a name to, was watching the process by which two district uniforms were relieved of responsibility for four prisoners.

Two of the latter were black, and dressed in flashy clothing. The other two were white, and dressed in a manner that suggested to Matt that they had white-collar jobs of some sort; had been out on the town; had decided that acquiring and ingesting one controlled substance or another would add a little excitement to the evening; had been in the process of acquiring same from the black gentlemen, whereupon all four had been busted by members of the Five Squad.

There was nothing else to see.

Matt turned and walked back out of the corridor, then changed direction. He motioned for the corporal behind the plate glass to open the door to the lobby of the Roundhouse. Once inside, he availed himself of the facilities of the gentlemen's rest room, and then finally left the building.

He got back in the unmarked car and backed it out of its parking slot.

As he drove out of the parking lot, Officer Timothy J. Calhoun and the other male Caucasian suspected of also being a police officer attached to the Five Squad of the Narcotics Unit, walked toward him.

He didn't have the headlights on, so there was no blinding light to interfere with Officer Calhoun's view of the driver of the unmarked car. Confirmation that Officer Calhoun recognized him as the man who had been in the parking lot a few minutes earlier seemed to come when Matt glanced in his rearview mirror and saw that Officer Calhoun had stopped en route to his car, turned, and was looking curiously at Matt's car.

On what is that curiosity based? Simply that he remembered seeing me before, and a policeman's mind picks up on things like that? Or because his sensitivity to things like that has been increased because he's a dirty cop?

He almost certainly made this thing as an unmarked car. So what is a young guy doing driving a new unmarked car? Is he going to put that together and decide it's a Special Operations unmarked car? And come up with a suspicion that Special Operations is watching him?

That would be illogical. There are a hundred other reasons why somebody from Special Operations would be at the Roundhouse at this hour having nothing to do with the Five Squad.

But if I were a dirty cop, I would be a little paranoid.

Did I do something stupid, following him into the Roundhouse? Did he see me looking through the window?

Well, to hell with it. It's done.

Matt turned the headlights on as he left the parking lot, and headed for Rittenhouse Square.

"Who was that in the unmarked car?" Officer Tom Coogan inquired of Officer Timothy Calhoun as soon as they were inside the well-worn Buick Special.

"I just made him," Calhoun said. "Remember the guy that popped the sicko, the serial rapist? Blew his brains out?"

"John Wayne, something like that?"

"Payne. His name is Payne."

"That was him?"

"That was him, I'm sure. That fucking new unmarked car makes me sure. He's one of them hotshots in Special Operations. Every one of them fuckers gets a new car, did you know that?"

"I heard it," Coogan said. "I ran into Charley Mc-Fadden-remember him? — at the FOP."

"I remember him, sure. He made detective, didn't he?"

"Him and the spic. Martinez. Mutt and Jeff both made detective, and both of them are in Special Operations, and both run around in brand-new unmarked cars."

"There's a moral in there, Coogan. Shoot a bad guy, and get yourself promoted."

"Mutt and Jeff didn't shoot a bad guy, they tossed him under an elevated train," Coogan replied.

Calhoun laughed.

"What the fuck do they do out there in Special Operations? " he asked.

"Who the fuck knows? They're Carlucci's fair-haired boys. They caught that loony tune who wanted to blow up the vice president. Shit like that."

"How do you get in Special Operations?"

"Shoot a bad guy, I told you. Get your picture on TV."

"If we shoot one of our bad guys, we'd wind up on charges for violating the fucker's civil rights," Calhoun said.

"Speaking of our bad guys, what did we get?"

"Nothing. Zip," Calhoun said.

"Nothing?"

"The two johns had eighty-five bucks between them," Calhoun explained. "The dinges had a half-dozen bags and three hundred bucks and change. I figured it wasn't worth the risk to take any of it."

"Three hundred bucks is three hundred bucks. A little bit here, a little bit there…" Coogan made a little joke.

It went over Calhoun's head.

"Somebody might have thought it strange that the dinges had only a hundred or so," he replied seriously. "And we don't take it all, remember? Don't be so fucking greedy, Coogan."

"Up yours, Calhoun!"

They drove to the Narcotics Unit's office at 22nd Street and Hunting Park Avenue, decided finishing the paperwork could wait until they had a beer, and walked across the street to the Allgood Bar.

It was late, and not shift-change time, and there was hardly anybody in the place. Except, sitting at a table in the rear, a stocky, swarthy man in his late thirties, who raised his bottle of Ortlieb's beer in greeting when he saw them.

Coogan and Calhoun stopped at the bar only long enough to get beers of their own and then walked to his table carrying them.

"What did you do to your face, Calhoun?" Assistant District Attorney Anton C. Phebus asked.

Calhoun touched his face gingerly. Under three days' growth of beard on his right cheek was an angry red bruise.

"There was this guy, six feet six, one of them Zulus," Calhoun said. "Skinny as a rail. I don't think he weighed 130 pounds," Officer Calhoun explained. "I started to put cuffs on him, got one on him, and then he decided he didn't want to be arrested…"

He mimed the action, spilling a little beer in the process, of someone suddenly spreading his arms to avoid being handcuffed.

"… and the loose cuff got me," he finished.

"And what did you do to him?" Phebus asked, chuckling.

"He's gonna sing soprano for a while. You wouldn't believe how strong that skinny fucker was!"

"Maybe he was on something," Phebus suggested.

"Maybe," Calhoun said, considering this. "But I don't think so. He was just strong, is all. And he took me by surprise."

"Aside from that," Phebus chuckled, "how was the arrest?"

"Zip," Coogan offered.

"Zip?" Phebus asked, surprised, and then looked at Calhoun. "Zip, like in zero?"

"You told me to think, I thought," Calhoun said. "What they had wasn't worth the risk."

"Good boy," Phebus said. "There's always another day."

"So you keep saying," Calhoun said.

Phebus looked as if he intended to reply, but changed his mind.

"Two things," he said. "They're going to let me prosecute Leslie, which means I can get-"

"Who's Leslie?" Coogan interrupted.

"The junkie shit who popped Kellog," Calhoun furnished, contemptuously.

"Sorry," Coogan said, flushing, aware he had just said something stupid.

"Which means," Phebus went on, "that I can finally get to listen to what's on Kellog's fucking tapes."

"There's probably nothing on them," Calhoun said. "Kellog wasn't stupid."

"He was covering his ass," Phebus said. "Which means he was scared. People who are scared do stupid things."

"Where are the tapes now?" Coogan asked.

"We have them," Phebus said. "But I just couldn't go to the evidence room and ask for them. Before. Now that I'm prosecuting Leslie, I'll be expected to look at them, listen to them."

Coogan nodded, then said, "You said 'two things.' "

Phebus did not reply directly. He looked at Calhoun and asked, "Calhoun, you planning to go to Harrisburg anytime soon?"

"Should I?"

"Get the wife and kid out of the city, why don't you? Get them a little fresh air out in the country. See your wife's family."

"Right."

"What's going to happen to Leslie?" Coogan asked.

"Probably, I can get him convicted of first-degree murder. He's going away for a while."

"Christ, we ought to give him a medal. He done us a favor," Coogan said.

"Like what?" Phebus asked sarcastically. "Calling all the attention he did to the Five Squad? Letting people listen to those tapes?"

"Kellog won't be making any more tapes," Coogan said. "Will he?"

"Who else is going to listen to those tapes?" Calhoun asked.

"Nobody now, I don't think. Special Operations made copies of them when they were looking for Kellog's shooter."

"You don't think they got anything off them, do you?" Calhoun asked.

"Good question. I don't know."

"We just saw one of those hotshots," Calhoun said. "At the Roundhouse. The one that shot the serial rapist."

"Payne?"

"Yeah."

"What was he doing?"

"Beats the shit out of me. He was in the Roundhouse parking lot. I seen him twice, once when I went into Central Lockup and when I come out."

"He's Inspector Wohl's errand boy," Phebus said. "There's no telling what he could have been doing."

"Maybe he's listening to Kellog's tapes. Maybe he's already listened to Kellog's tapes. Maybe that son of a bitch Kellog said my name on those tapes. Maybe he was watching me," Calhoun said.

"Jesus Christ, just when I think you're getting some smarts," Phebus said, "you start bouncing off the walls. If Special Operations was taking a close look at Five Squad, the word would be out."

"And what if we do hear some word like that?"

"Then we shut down. As simple as that. If we don't do something stupid here, or something stupid in Harrisburg, there's nothing for Special Operations, Internal Affairs, this new thing-what the fuck do they call it? 'Ethical Affairs'-or anybody else to find."

Calhoun didn't reply.

"If Prasko hadn't made that stupid telephone call to Kellog's widow, Calhoun," Phebus went on, "Special Operations wouldn't have been in on this at all. That beat cop would have caught Leslie the way he did, and that would have been the end of it. Nobody would have given a shit what might be on those tapes. Frankly, you and Prasko worry me more than Kellog ever did."

"It's a shame they wasn't both at home when that asshole picked the wrong house to rob," Calhoun said. "Then Prasko wouldn't have had to call to protect all our asses."

"What Prasko did was threaten her life," Phebus said coldly. "He didn't-"

"He told her to keep her mouth shut about what she knew, or thought she knew, about us. What's so wrong about that?"

"Prasko knew Kellog's wife was shacked up with a homicide detective. And he should have known the minute he made a threatening call, she was going to tell her boyfriend, the homicide detective, about it. That was fucking stupid!"

Calhoun looked at him a moment and then shrugged, granting the point.

"Let me worry about protecting our asses," Phebus said. "You stay off the fucking telephone!"

"Watch it," Calhoun said, nodding his head toward the door.

Sergeant Patrick J. Dolan of the Narcotics Unit had entered Allgood's Bar.

He walked directly to their table.

"What do you know good, Tony?" he said to Phebus. "What are you doing in here? Homesick for Narcotics?"

"How are you, Pat?" Phebus said, offering him his hand.

"Say hello to Gladys for me," Dolan said.

"I'll do that."

Dolan turned to Coogan and Calhoun.

"You two are supposed to do the paper before you start bending your elbows," Dolan said.

"Give us a break, Sergeant," Calhoun said.

"Break, my ass. Finish your beer and come across the street."

"Right," Calhoun said.

"See you around, Tony," Calhoun said as he got to his feet.

Sergeant Dolan walked to the door, waited there until Coogan had finished his beer, then led Coogan and Calhoun across Hunting Park Avenue and into the Narcotics Unit.

NINE

Special Agent Jack Matthews, who had been sitting in one of the two armchairs in the outer office of SAC Walter Davis, got to his feet when Davis walked in, in the process of taking off his topcoat.

Davis believed that an important key to leadership was to have one's subordinates believe that you were concerned about them, and that a splendid way to do this was, under certain circumstances, to address them by their Christian and/or nicknames.

Yesterday, he could not have told you this nice young man's first name if his life depended on it. He remembered it now, most likely because of his late-afternoon conversation with him vis-fnbsp;-vis the recruitment of Detective Payne of the Philadelphia Police Department.

"Good morning, Jack," Davis said with a smile.

"Good morning, sir."

"You're waiting to see me, Jack?" Davis asked, now just a shade annoyed. He had told Matthews to let him know what happened, but he hadn't really requested a first-thing-in-the-morning report, before he'd even had a chance to have a cup of coffee.

"If you can spare me a few minutes, sir."

"A few, Jack," Davis said, waving at him to indicate he had his permission to follow him into his office.

Davis went behind his desk, took a quick glance at his In basket to see if anything interesting had come in overnight, then glanced up at Matthews.

"Have a seat, Jack," he said. "Tell me, how did it go?"

"Well, sir, Payne doesn't seem to be very interested in joining the Bureau. But…"

"If at first you don't succeed, et cetera. What exactly did he say?"

Matthews smiled uneasily.

"I don't think you want to know, sir," he said.

"Of course I want to know. What exactly did he say, Jack?"

"He said that some of his best friends are FBI agents, but he wouldn't want his sister to marry one."

My God, what an insulting, outrageous thing to say! With obvious racial overtones!

"That remark, Matthews, was in particularly poor taste, wouldn't you say?"

"Sir, the way he said it… sort of took the bite out of it. But…"

"Well, perhaps it's a good thing this attitude of his came out so soon. There is no room in the Bureau for racial prejudice, Matthews, no room for a racist."

"Sir, Payne isn't a racist. I know that."

"How do you know that?"

"Well, I know him, sir. And he's very close to a sergeant named Jason Washington…"

"I know Washington. Unless I'm wrong, he's Payne's supervisor."

"Yes, sir, he is. But Payne is also very close to Officer Lewis, who is also black."

"I believe the preferred term is 'African American,' Matthews," Davis said. "And I am personally acquainted with an African American lieutenant named Lewis, who told me his son is also a policeman. Would that, do you think, be the Officer Lewis with whom Payne is so friendly?"

"Yes, sir. Lewis's father is a lieutenant."

"Well, there, under those circumstances, I don't think we can be assured that Detective Payne is color-blind, can we?" Davis said.

Matt, you really pissed the old fart off with that crack.

"Sir, with respect, I cannot agree that Payne is any way a bigot," Matthews said.

Davis glowered at him for a moment.

"Did he offer any explanation for his contempt for the FBI?"

"I don't think he holds us in contempt, sir-"

"That's what it sounds like to me!"

"Sir, that's really why I came to see you first thing."

"What is?"

"Sir, Payne told me he had had an unpleasant encounter with two special agents. Two days ago."

"An 'unpleasant encounter'? What sort of an 'unpleasant encounter'? Who were the agents?"

"Payne told me their names were Leibowitz and Jernigan. "

"I don't have anybody with those names."

"Yes, sir, I know."

"Payne must be mistaken. We don't have agents by those names, and if any of our people were going to be dealing with a Philadelphia police department officer, I would know about it. That's standard operating procedure. "

"Yes, sir."

"Possibly, your friend Payne had this 'unpleasant encounter ' with some other federal officer. A postal inspector, a Secret Service agent."

"Sir, Payne insists he saw FBI credentials."

"What was the nature of this 'unpleasant encounter'? Did he say?"

"Yes, sir. He said the agents were investigating a kidnapping that didn't happen."

"A kidnapping?"

"Yes, sir. Payne said that there was no kidnapping."

"Was there or wasn't there?"

"Payne said the FBI agents believed there was a kidnapping; he knew for sure there was not."

"Do you think your friend Payne was pulling your leg, Matthews? He has a strange sense of humor."

"No, sir. I feel sure he wasn't."

"But there are no agents with those names."

"Not here, sir. I was going to ask for permission to check with the Bureau-"

"Do that right now," Davis ordered, pointing to one of his telephones. "Call the Bureau, tell them you're calling for me, and see if there are agents with those names."

"Yes, sir," Matthews said, and picked up the handset.

"There are several possibilities," Davis went on. "One, that your friend is pulling your leg. Two, that someone is in possession of fraudulent credentials, which is a felony, you know. Three, that these people are legitimate FBI agents of another jurisdiction, operating in our area of responsibility-"

"Sir," Matthews interrupted him. "I checked that with ASAC Williamson. Neither of those names is familiar to him."

Glenn Williamson, a well-dressed man of forty-two, who took especial pains with his full head of silver-gray hair, was the Philadelphia FBI office's assistant special agent in charge for administration. As such, he would be aware not only of the names of every FBI agent assigned to Philadelphia, but of the names of FBI agents assigned to other offices who might be working temporarily in Philadelphia 's area.

"— without checking in with Williamson. I won't have that, Matthews. That's a clear violation of standard operating procedure, having other people's agents running around like loose cannons in your area of responsibility."

"Yes, sir."

Two minutes later, Special Agent Matthews was informed that the FBI agents he was asking about were more than likely Howard C. Jernigan and Raymond Leibowitz.

"They're with the Anti-Terrorist Group, working out of the Bureau. But they go all over, of course," he was told.

"Thank you very much," Matthews said. "We may have to get back to you."

"Well?" Davis asked.

"According to the Bureau, sir, there are agents named Jernigan and Leibowitz. They're assigned to the Anti-Terrorist Group working out of headquarters."

"What?" Davis exclaimed, but before Matthews could repeat what he had told him, he picked up his telephone and issued an order to his secretary: "Helen, would you please ask Mr. Towne, Mr. Williamson, and Mr. Young to come in here immediately?"

He put the telephone back in its cradle and looked at Matthews.

"There is very probably a very reasonable explanation for all of this, Matthews," he said. "Which we shall probably soon have."

"Yes, sir."

"When this meeting is over, I want an official report of your meeting with Detective Payne. If what I suspect has happened is what has happened, I'm going to the assistant director with this, and I want everything in writing."

"Yes, sir."

"Good morning," Amelia Payne, M.D., said as she entered Cynthia Longwood's room.

"What's good about it?" Cynthia replied, tempering it with a smile.

"I've been wondering the same thing. It's still raining and I didn't get enough sleep. When I was in medical school, and an intern, they told us when we entered practice, we could expect to get some sleep. They lied."

"When were you an intern? Last year?"

"I will take that as a compliment. I don't look old enough to have been a doctor very long?"

"Not even in your doctor suit," Cynthia said, making reference to the stethoscope hanging around Amy's neck and her crisp white smock, onto which was pinned a plastic badge reading, "A. A. Payne, M.D."

"When I finish here, I'm going to make what they call rounds. We take medical students with us. I wear my doctor suit so that the visiting firemen don't mistake me for one of them."

"Visiting firemen?"

"Visiting distinguished practitioners of the healing arts," Amy said. "Who, when I offer an opinion, take one look at me and decide I couldn't possibly be an adjunct professor of psychiatry, and therefore are dealing with an uppity young female who doesn't know her place."

Cynthia giggled.

"You don't look old enough to be a doctor, much less a professor."

"I'm getting perilously close to thirty," Amy said. "I got my M.D. at twenty-two."

"Twenty-two?" Cynthia asked incredulously. "I thought it took six years after you got out of college to be a doctor."

"When I got my M.D., I already had a Ph. D.," Amy said. "I was what you could call precocious."

"You're a genius?"

"So they tell me."

"I'm impressed," Cynthia said.

"On one hand, that's good," Amy said. "I'm smart and I am a good doctor. Statement of fact. Keep that in mind when you get annoyed with me."

"Am I going to be annoyed with you?"

"If you extend my temporary appointment as your physician, if you want me to try to help you, we can count on that happening sooner or later."

"Why's that?"

"Because what we're going to have to do is get your problem out in the open, and you're not going to like that."

Cynthia considered that.

"No, I wouldn't."

"It's your call, Cynthia. First, you're going to have to face the fact that something happened in your life that's made you ill. Next, that you can't deal with it yourself and need help. And finally, whether or not you really believe that Amy Payne-Dr. Amy Payne-can help you."

"When do I have to decide?"

"First answer that will annoy you: right now. Putting off decisions is something you can't do. That sort of thing feeds on itself."

Cynthia considered that for fifteen seconds.

"Okay," she said. "Okay."

"Okay," Amy said. "Your mother and father are outside. "

"Oh, God!"

"I called her last night and asked her to bring you some clothes, your makeup, et cetera. You're going to have to deal with them. You don't have to tell them anything that makes you uncomfortable-tell them I said that, if you like-but I think it would help them, and you, if you told them you think I can help."

"You must have been pretty sure I'd… make you my doctor last night," Cynthia challenged.

"No, I wasn't. Last night, when I called your mother, that was one young female taking care of another. I hate those damned hospital gowns myself."

"Thank you."

"I'm going to keep you in here for at least of couple of days," Amy said. "But that doesn't mean in bed. If you'd like, put some clothes on, and we can have lunch in the cafeteria. The food isn't any better, but it's not on a tray."

"Thank you," Cynthia said.

Amy smiled at her and walked out of the room.

When Inspector Peter Wohl walked into the Investigations Section of Special Operations, he found just about the entire staff, plus Staff Inspector Mike Weisbach and Captain Dave Pekach, in the former classroom. Pekach, in the unique uniform-breeches and boots-of the Highway Patrol, was the only one in uniform.

"Am I interrupting anything important?" Wohl asked.

"A suitable description of our present labors," Sergeant Jason Washington announced in his deep, sonorous voice, "would be 'spinning our wheels.' "

"What are you doing?" Wohl asked.

"Trying to make sense of Matt's transcriptions of the Kellog tapes," Pekach explained. "And getting nowhere. "

"They're useless?"

"They've made me change my mind about nothing dirty going on in Five Squad," Pekach said. "But what, nobody seems to be able to figure out, at least from the tapes. And as far as using them as evidence-"

"Is Payne essential?" Wohl asked.

Matt picked up on Wohl calling him by his last name; he suspected it might suggest he was in disfavor.

What did I do?

Shit, those FBI clowns did report me!

"I fear that all those hours our Matthew put in transcribing the tapes were a waste of time and effort," Washington said.

"Not a waste, Jason," Weisbach said. "Finding nothing we can use, so to speak, has taught us they are (a) up to something and (b) rather clever about whatever it is."

"I stand corrected, sir," Jason said.

"I can have Payne?" Wohl asked.

"He's all yours," Weisbach said. "See me later, Matt."

"Yes, sir," Matt said.

Matt stood up and followed Wohl out of the room. Wohl walked quickly, and Matt almost had to trot to catch up with him.

"What's up?" Matt asked.

Wohl ignored him.

They went down the stairs and then up the corridor to Wohl's office. Matt followed him inside.

Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin-a tall, heavyset, large-boned, ruddy-faced man with good teeth and curly silver hair-was sitting on the couch before Wohl's coffee table in the act of dunking a doughnut in a coffee mug.

For all of Matt's life, Coughlin had been "Uncle Denny" to him. He had been his father's best friend, and Matt had come to suspect that Denny Coughlin, who had never married, had been in love-secretly, of course-with Patricia Stevens Moffitt Payne, Matt's mother, for a very long time.

He also suspected that this was not an occasion on which Chief Inspector Coughlin should be addressed as "Uncle Denny."

"Good morning, Chief," he said.

Coughlin looked at him for a long moment, expressionless, before he replied.

"Matty, what's with you and the FBI?"

"Is that what this is about?"

"I asked you a question," Coughlin said evenly.

"I suppose I shouldn't have taken them on the wild-goose chase like that, but they're-"

"Start at the beginning," Wohl shut him off. "And right now, neither the Chief or I are interested in what you think of the FBI."

Matt related, in detail, his entire encounter with Special Agents Jernigan and Leibowitz. When he came to the part of leading them up and down the narrow alleys of North Philadelphia before finally parking in the Special Operations parking lot, Chief Inspector Coughlin had a very dif ficult time keeping a straight face.

"Okay," he said finally. "Now let me tell you what's happened this morning. I had a telephone call from Walter Davis. You know who he is?"

"Yes, sir."

"Davis said that he would consider it a personal favor if I would set up a meeting, as soon as possible, between himself, the two agents you got into it with, Peter, and me. And that he would be grateful if I kept the meeting, until after we'd talked, under my hat. Do you have any idea what that's all about, Matty?"

"No, sir."

"Somehow, I think there's more to this than you being a wiseass with his agents," Coughlin said. "I think if that's all there was to this, the Polack would have gotten a formal letter complaining about the uncooperative behavior of one of his detectives."

The Polack was Police Commissioner Taddeus Czernich.

"Yeah," Inspector Wohl said thoughtfully.

"And he wants me to keep this under my hat until after we have a meeting," Coughlin went on. "Which makes me think of something else. Did either of the FBI guys do anything they shouldn't have done, Matty?"

"Well, they should have been sure there was a kidnapping before they started asking a lot of questions," Matt said.

"That's not what I mean. Did they violate any of your civil rights? Push you around? Brandish a pistol? Anything like that?"

"No, sir."

"Maybe Matt's onto it with what he said," Wohl said. "Maybe Davis is embarrassed that he had people running around investigating a nonkidnapping. And doesn't want Matt to tell the story to an appreciative audience at the FOP Bar. The FBI is very image conscious."

Detective Payne was enormously relieved that he had become "Matt" again.

"Could be," Chief Coughlin said. "But I have a gut feeling there's more to this than that. I have been wrong before."

Coughlin heaved himself off the couch with a grunt, walked to Wohl's desk, consulted a slip of paper he took from his pocket, and dialed a number.

"Chief Inspector Coughlin for Mr. Davis, please," he said to whoever answered, and then, a moment later: "Dennis Coughlin, Walter. Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I've had a chance to speak with Peter Wohl. The best I have been able to set up is half past four at the Rittenhouse Club. Would that be convenient?"

Davis's reply could not be heard.

"Look forward to seeing you, too, Walter," Coughlin said, and hung up. He looked at Wohl and Payne. "Pay attention, you two," he said, smiling. "Write this down. When dealing with the enemy, never meet him on his own turf-Davis wanted us to come to the FBI office-and, if possible, keep him waiting."

Walter Davis, trailed by Special Agents Howard C. Jernigan and Raymond Leibowitz, walked up to the porter's desk in the Rittenhouse Club at 4:15 and announced, "I'm Mr. Davis. I'm expecting a gentleman named Coughlin."

The porter turned and examined the membership board.

I'll be damned. Coughlin is a member. Of course. He would have to be. He suggested this place to meet. Why didn't I think of that?

"Chief Coughlin is in the bar, sir," the porter said, his tone suggesting that life would be much easier if stupid members took a look at the membership board themselves.

Coughlin, Peter Wohl, and Matt Payne were sitting at a large table-with room for six chairs-and had been there, Davis saw, at least long enough to get bar service.

The three of them stood up as Davis approached.

"You're looking well, Walter," Coughlin said, offering his large hand.

"As you do, Dennis," Davis said, and offered his hand first to Wohl-"Thank you for making time for me, Peter "-and then to Matt. "How are you, Payne?"

"Very well, thank you, sir," Payne said.

"You've met these fellows," Davis said. "But let me introduce them to Peter and Dennis. Raymond Leibowitz and Howard Jernigan."

The men shook hands.

A waiter appeared. Davis ordered a Jack Daniel's on the rocks, Leibowitz the same, and Jernigan ginger ale.

"I'd really like to be somewhere where we won't be overheard," Davis said. "Is there somewhere…"

"Matty's father told me they spent a lot of money designing this room," Coughlin said, gesturing at the high, paneled ceiling, "as someplace where people could have discreet conversations. But if you're uncomfortable, Walter, there are private rooms."

"No. I'm sure this will be fine," Davis said.

"You're the commanding officer of Special Operations, I understand, Inspector," Jernigan said, oozing charm.

"Yes, I am," Peter said, and added mischievously, "I understand you've seen our headquarters."

Jernigan colored.

Coughlin laughed, and after a second, somewhat artificially, Davis joined in.

"Let's clear the air," Coughlin said. "Detective Payne should have told your people he was a police officer, and he should not have taken them on-what should we call it? — a tour of the scenic attractions of North Philadelphia, and he is prepared to apologize, isn't that so, Matty?"

"Yes, sir. We just got off on the wrong foot. I'm sorry."

The waiter appeared with the drinks.

"I propose a toast to peace, friendship, and cooperation between the Philadelphia Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation," Coughlin said, and raised his glass.

"A very appropriate toast, one I quickly agree to, under the circumstances," Davis said.

"What circumstances would those be, Walter?" Coughlin asked.

"I think I'll let Raymond get into that," Davis said. "But first let me tell you that Raymond and Howard aren't in my office. They operate out of FBI Headquarters in Washington; they're members of the Anti-Terrorism Group."

"Anti-Terrorism?" Matt blurted.

Coughlin and Wohl frowned at him.

"Before we came to see you, Detective Payne," Leibowitz said, "there just wasn't time to check in with the Philadelphia office. If there was, we would have known who you were. Are."

"I thought you were investigating the kidnapping of Susan Reynolds," Matt said. "Actually, the nonkidnapping. "

" 'Kidnapping'?" Leibowitz said, visibly surprised. "Where'd you get that?"

"Well, then, what the hell were you investigating? She's rich; rich people get kidnapped; she was missing-the FBI knew she was missing. Her father is a very important man; I figured that was why the FBI was working on a weekend."

"Jesus Christ!" Leibowitz said. "You really thought we were investigating her kidnapping?"

"I had the feeling you thought I had done it," Matt said. "Understandably, I was a little annoyed."

"Well, I'll tell you what we were investigating, what we are investigating," Leibowitz said. "But it can't go any further than this room."

"I'm sure, Leibowitz," Davis said pointedly, "that we can trust the discretion of Chief Coughlin, Inspector Wohl, and Detective Payne."

Special Agent Leibowitz's face showed that he was more than a little uncomfortable trusting the discretion of Detective Payne.

"Does the name Bryan C. Chenowith mean anything to you, Detective Payne?"

Matt searched his memory, then shook his head, "no."

"Eloise Anne Fitzgerald?"

Matt shook his head again.

"Jennifer Ollwood?"

Matt shook his head.

"Edgar L. Cole?"

Matt held up both hands in a gesture of helplessness.

"Never heard of any of them," he said.

"They're all wanted by both the federal government and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on a number of charges-"

"University of Pittsburgh?" Chief Coughlin interrupted.

"Right," Leibowitz said.

Matt looked at Coughlin curiously

"So far as we're concerned," Leibowitz went on, "we want them, and some others, on-among other federal charges-unlawful flight to avoid prosecution."

"Prosecution for what?" Wohl asked.

"Murder."

"Correct me if I'm wrong," Coughlin said. "They're the people who blew up the Biological Sciences building at the University of Pittsburgh?"

"Thereby causing the unlawful deaths of eleven persons, according to the indictments handed down by the grand jury in Allegheny County-Pittsburgh."

"As a gesture of their displeasure with the use of monkeys in medical research, right?" Coughlin said, now bitterly. "Eleven innocent people were blown up!"

"Yes, sir," Leibowitz said.

"What's this got to do with Susan Reynolds?" Matt asked, unable to easily accept the accusation that Daffy's friend had been involved in blowing anything up.

"We have reason to believe Miss Reynolds has in the past, and is now, aiding and abetting these fugitives in their unlawful flight," Leibowitz said. "Sufficient reason for us to have obtained permission in federal court for a wiretap on her parents' residence and, for that matter, wherever she happens to be."

"I'm more than a little confused," Wohl said. "How did you guys get to Matt?"

"Well, we'd like to have enough people to surveille her around the clock, but we don't," Leibowitz said. "But we listen to her phone calls, and when something interesting comes up-her mother getting excited that Susan didn't make the usual 'Good night, Mommy dear' phone call and calling Mrs. Nesbitt to find out where Susan was, for example-we act on it."

"She disappeared in the company of a guy named Matt Payne," Jernigan amplified. "Was she really off somewhere passing money, or whatever, to Bryan Chenowith, and his murderous band of animal activists? And who is Matt Payne? Is he part of the animal-activist underground railroad? Just as soon as we got the word from the wire-tappers-and checked the phone book and found only one Payne, Matthew M. in Philadelphia-we drove up from Washington to find out. "

"She told Daffy-Mrs. Nesbitt," Matt said, "that she was in her room at the Bellvue-Stratford all night, and just hadn't answered the telephone. She wasn't in her room all night."

"How do you know that?" Jernigan asked.

"I know."

"She was with you, you mean?" Jernigan pursued.

"No. The last time I saw her-I told you guys this-she was in the Nesbitts' house in Society Hill. I don't know where she was, but she did not sleep in her hotel room that night."

"How do you know that?" Jernigan demanded.

"Forget I said it."

"How do you know that she wasn't in her room?"

"She didn't use the bed. She strikes me as the kind of a girl who would not sleep on the floor."

"I keep asking you how you know all this."

"I decline to answer the question on the grounds that my answer might tend to incriminate me," Matt said.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean, Matty?" Chief Coughlin asked angrily.

"Chief," Matt said after a perceptible pause, "if, hypothetically, someone gained access to premises under conditions that might be considered breaking and entering, wouldn't he be foolish to admit that to the FBI?"

"Jesus, Matty, what the hell were you doing?" Coughlin said.

"Why would this hypothetical person we're talking about, Payne," Davis asked, "break into this hypothetical other person's hotel room?"

"We're out of school, Davis, right?" Denny Coughlin came to Matt's defense.

"Absolutely. You have my word," Davis said.

"Watch yourself, Matt," Wohl said, which earned him a look of gratitude from Chief Coughlin and looks of annoyance from Davis, Jernigan, and Leibowitz.

"The morning after the party, I got a call from Chad Nesbitt, who, like his wife, was under the impression that Susan Reynolds had left the party with me. They thought she had spent the night with me. I told them she hadn't-"

"Who is this guy Nesbitt?" Jernigan asked. "This is the first time that name came up."

"He's in the grocery business," Matt said.

"Matty!" Coughlin warned, and then turned to Jernigan and explained: "Nesbitt's father is chairman of the board of Nesfoods International."

"We have noticed that a number of these people who like to blow things up in the name of love for animals come from the, quote, better families, unquote," Jernigan said. "Is there any chance Mr. Nesbitt might be connected with Chenowith and Company?"

"I think that's very unlikely," Matt said, coldly angry.

"Why?"

"Well, he's an ex-Marine, for one thing."

"So am I," Leibowitz said. "But on the other hand, so was Lee Harvey Oswald."

"I think we can safely proceed on the assumption that Mr. Nesbitt-or his wife-is not in sympathy with these people you're looking for," Wohl said. "Payne was telling us about his telephone call."

"Right. So Nesbitt asked me, since I live only a couple of blocks away from the Bellvue, to go there and see what I could find out."

"As a police officer, you mean?" Leibowitz asked. "Your friend was now concerned with the welfare of the Reynolds woman? Because she was missing?"

"He was concerned because his wife was on his back about her friend," Matt said. "And I went to the Bellvue as a civilian. Not as a police officer."

"And while you were there, you somehow found yourself in her hotel room?" Leibowitz asked.

"I didn't say that," Matt said.

"Payne, we're all on the same side here," Davis said.

"Hypothetically, Matt, how could someone gain access to her hotel room?" Wohl asked.

"Hypothetically, with a master key."

"Apropos of nothing whatever," Wohl said, "Detective Payne recently participated in a surveillance operation at the Hotel Bellvue-Stratford."

Leibowitz and Jernigan exchanged glances suggesting they fully understood the usefulness to a surveillance crew of a master key that might not have been acquired under innocent circumstances.

"The Reynolds girl's bed had not been slept in?" Leibowitz asked.

Matt shook his head, "no."

"You find out anything else that might be useful?"

"The rent-a-cop in the hotel garage said he remembered a red Porsche with a good-looking blonde in it leaving the garage about half past five the previous afternoon. Where-presuming this was in fact, Susan Reynolds; there really aren't that many good-looking blondes in red Porsches-she was from five-thirty until she went to the Nesbitts' at half past seven or so is anyone's guess. I don't know, but I'll bet she did not put the car into the hotel garage again until a couple of hours after I was there."

"Why did Mrs. Nesbitt tell the suspect's mother the suspect had left with you?" Jernigan asked.

"I think she thought at the time that she had."

"You were friendly with her at the party?"

"I tried to be. She was not interested."

"Pity," Jernigan said.

"Do you think you could change that situation?" Davis asked.

"What do you mean by that?" Matt asked.

"I mean get close to her," Davis said.

"What's the opposite of her being 'overwhelmed' by my charms?" Matt asked.

"What are you driving at, Walter?" Chief Coughlin asked.

"Off the top of my head," Davis said. "And I'm hearing a lot of this for the first time myself, which sometimes cuts through the fog. What I'm hearing is that the Reynolds girl is not all that close to the Nesbitts. But she goes to the Nesbitts' party. And disappears overnight. That suggests she may have had a rendezvous with the fugitives. That suggests they may be here, or near here. Since it worked this time, they may try it again. If Detective Payne could get close…"

"You're suggesting that he work with you on this?" Coughlin asked.

"You would have problems with that?"

"Frankly, Walter, I have a lot of problems with it," Coughlin said. "For one thing, he's up to his neck right now in an important investigation."

"These people have been indicted by the Allegheny County Grand Jury for murder, Chief Coughlin," Leibowitz said. "They're fugitives from a Pennsylvania jurisdiction. They're not just a federal problem."

"Still," Coughlin said, somewhat lamely.

"I see a lot of practical problems," Wohl said, coming to Coughlin's aid. "Presuming Chief Coughlin would go along with this. For one thing, Payne says the Reynolds girl was not… at all receptive to his charms. Even if she was, this is a long way from Harrisburg. Does she know you're a cop, Matt?"

"Yes, sir. Her eyes just sort of glazed over when she heard that."

"You didn't think that was a little odd?" Jernigan asked.

"Unfortunately, it happens to me all the time," Matt said.

"On the other hand," Davis said. "She might decide what better cover could she have when making frequent trips to Philadelphia than a cop boyfriend?"

Wohl thought: He's right. Why am I surprised? You don't get to be the FBI Philadelphia SAC if you're stupid.

Then he saw something on Matt's face.

"What, Matt?" he asked.

"You know why I went to the Roundhouse last night?" Matt asked.

Wohl had to think a moment before recalling that Matt had been sent to Personnel by Staff Inspector Weisbach.

"There was some sort of a Harrisburg connection?" Wohl asked.

Coughlin's face indicated that he was having a hard time holding his questions about that until later.

Matt nodded.

"Something that would justify you being in Harrisburg on police business?" Davis asked.

"What Matt is working on is sensitive," Coughlin said. "There are people we don't want to know he'll be going to Harrisburg."

Walter Davis confirmed Wohl's realization that stupid people do not get to be senior FBI officers:

"An internal matter, eh?" Davis said. "Well, I can probably help you there a little, if you like. The chief of police there is not only an old friend, but he owes me a couple of favors. You tell me what sort of a cover story you'd like for Payne to have, and I'll see that it's leaked from the chief's office."

"That could be very useful," Wohl said, thinking out loud.

"There is something else," Davis said. "Payne can move easily in the same social circles as the Reynolds woman; that could be very useful, I would suspect."

"I'd have to clear Matt working with you on this with the commissioner," Coughlin said. It was his last line of defense.

"I don't think that will pose a problem, Denny," Davis said. "The last time I had lunch with the mayor-here, as a matter of fact-he gave me quite a speech about these people who blow up medical-research facilities because they use animals. He called them something I wouldn't repeat in mixed company. He said they were more dangerous to the country than most people realized. I have the feeling that if he knew about this, he would 'suggest' to Commissioner Czernich that it was a splendid idea."

You may be an ass, Walter Davis, Peter Wohl thought, but you are not a stupid ass.

TEN

When the telephone rang in the elegantly furnished study of his South Philadelphia residence, Mr. Vincenzo Savarese, his jacket removed, his stiffly starched cuffs turned up, his eyes closed, was playing along from memory with a tape recording of the Philharmonica Slavonica 's recording of Max Bruch's Violin Concerto in G Minor, Opus 26, on a circa 1790 G. Strenelli violin for which he had paid nearly fifty thousand dollars.

Mr. Pietro Cassandro, a very large, well-tailored forty-year — old who faithfully paid federal and state taxes on his income as vice president of Classic Livery, Inc., where his duties were primarily driving the Lincolns and Cadillacs in which Mr. Savarese moved about town, frowned when the telephone rang. Mr. S. did not like to be disturbed when he was playing the violin.

Cassandro looked at Mr. Savarese to see his reaction to the ringing telephone. Only a very few people had the number of Mr. Savarese's study.

Mr. S. stopped playing and looked at Cassandro. Then he pointed with the bow at the telephone.

Cassandro picked it up. "Yeah?" he said, listened a moment, then spoke to Mr. S.: "It's the lawyer."

"Mr. Giacomo?" Cassandro nodded. "Tell him I will be with him directly."

Mr. Savarese walked to the reel-to-reel tape recorder and turned it off, and then to a Steinway grand piano on which he had placed the Strenelli violin's case, carefully placed the violin, and the bow, in the case, and then closed it. He then pulled a crisp white handkerchief from his shirt collar and laid that upon the violin case.

Then he walked to Cassandro and took the telephone from him.

"Thank you for returning my call, Mr. Giacomo," Savarese said.

"I'm sorry it took me so long," Armando Giacomo said. "I was in court."

"So your secretary said."

"How may I be of service?"

"I thought you might be interested in hearing that I have had a report from my daughter about my granddaughter. "

"Yes, I would."

"Dr. Payne has seen her three times so far," Savarese said. "Late last night. The first thing this morning, and at lunch. My granddaughter is apparently very taken with her."

"I'm glad to hear that."

"I am grateful to you, Mr. Giacomo, for arranging for me to meet with Mr. Payne."

"I was happy to have been of service."

"And, of course, I am very grateful to Mr. Payne for speaking to his daughter on behalf of Cynthia. That is one of the reasons I asked you to call."

"Brewster Payne was sympathetic to your problem. He is a very nice man."

"What I wanted to do was ask your advice about making some small gesture of my appreciation to Mr. Payne," Savarese said.

"I don't think that's necessary, Mr. Savarese."

"I have several bottles of some really fine cognac I thought would be appropriate."

"May I speak freely, Mr. Savarese?"

"Of course."

"You went to Mr. Payne as a father and grandfather asking help from another father. He understood your problem and did what he could to help, one father helping another, so to speak. Under those circumstances, I don't really think that a gift is in order."

Savarese didn't reply for a long moment.

"You think it would be inappropriate? Is that what you're saying?"

"Yes, both unnecessary and inappropriate."

"You're suggesting he would be offended?"

"Let me put it this way, Mr. Savarese," Giacomo said. "If I had gone to Brewster Payne as you did, and he had responded as he did, I would not send him a gift. I would think that in his mind he had done only what a decent human should have done, and therefore, no attempt to repay-"

"I take your meaning, Mr. Giacomo," Savarese interrupted him. "And I respect your wisdom and trust your judgment in matters of this nature."

"Thank you," Giacomo said.

He hoped that his relief at being able to talk Savarese out of sending Brewster Payne a couple-he said "several bottles," so maybe six, maybe a dozen-$500 bottles of French booze was not evident in his voice. There would be no telling how Payne would react. Payne regarded Vincenzo Savarese-loving grandfather or not-as a murdering gangster, and he didn't want-worse, almost certainly would not accept-a present from him. Payne was entirely capable of sending the booze back, which would insult Savarese, and there's no telling what trouble that would cause.

"I would be grateful, Mr. Giacomo, if Mr. Payne could somehow be made aware that I consider myself deeply in his debt."

"I don't think that's necessary, Mr. Savarese. As I said before, Mr. Payne believes, in his mind, that he only did what a decent man was obligated to do."

"When the opportunity presents itself, Mr. Giacomo, as I'm sure it soon will, I would consider it a personal favor for you to tell Mr. Payne that I consider myself deeply in his debt. Would you do that for me, Mr. Giacomo?"

"Of course."

You need anybody shot, Brewster? Somebody stiffing you on a fee, needs to have his legs broken? Just say the word. Vincenzo Savarese told me to tell you he owes you a big one.

"Thank you. And there is one other thing about which I would be grateful for your advice, Mr. Giacomo."

"I'm at your service."

"Could you recommend a good, and by good I mean both highly competent and very discreet, private investigator? "

A private investigator? Now what?

"I don't think I quite understand," Giacomo said.

"I need someone to make some discreet inquiries for me."

"Well, there's a lot of people in that business, Mr. Savarese. I use half a dozen different ones myself. Good people. It depends, of course, on the nature of the information you want."

There was a perceptible pause, long enough for Armando C. Giacomo to decide Savarese was carefully deciding how much, if anything, he was going to tell him.

"What I had in mind, Mr. Giacomo, was to look around my granddaughter's environment, so to speak, and see if I couldn't come up with some hint about what has so greatly disturbed her."

"I don't think I would do anything like that until I'd spoken with Dr. Payne," Giacomo said quickly.

"All this information would be for Dr. Payne, of course."

Unless it turns out that the girl was raped or something-which might damned well be the case-in which case the cops would have an unlawful death by castration to deal with.

"I just don't see where any of the people who work for me would be any good at that sort of investigation. I could ask-"

"That won't be necessary, thank you just the same, Mr. Giacomo. And thank you for returning my call. I'm grateful to you."

"I'm glad things seem to be working out for your granddaughter," Giacomo said.

"Thank you. I very much appreciate your interest," Vincenzo Savarese said, and hung up.

He looked at Pietro Cassandro.

"Mr. Giacomo does not seem to feel that any of the investigators with whom he has experience would be useful, " he said.

Cassandro did not know how to interpret the remark. He responded as he usually did in similar circumstances. He held up both hands, palms upward, and shrugged.

When Vincenzo Savarese's daughter had told him how kind Dr. Payne was, even calling to tell her to bring Cynthia 's makeup and decent nightclothes to her in the hospital, she also said that Cynthia had told her that Dr. Payne had told her she was not to tell her mother, or her father, for that matter, anything that made her uncomfortable to relate.

Savarese hadn't said anything to his daughter, but he'd thought that while that might be-and probably was-good medical practice, it also suggested that there was something that Cynthia would be uncomfortable telling her mother about. He was naturally curious about what that might be.

There was something else Savarese thought odd. The young man Cynthia had been seeing a lot of-his name was Ronald Ketcham, and all Savarese knew about him was that he was neither Italian nor Catholic, and Cynthia's mother hoped their relationship wasn't getting too serious-had not been around since Cynthia had started having her emotional trouble.

"Tell Paulo to put the retired cop to work," Mr. Savarese ordered.

Paulo Cassandro, Pietro's older and even larger brother, was president of Classic Livery, Inc., in which Mr. Savarese had the controlling-if off the books-interest.

"Right, Mr. S.," Pietro Cassandro said. "What do you want me to do with the cognac?"

"Send it back to the restaurant," Mr. Savarese said, making reference to Ristorante Alfredo, one of Philadelphia 's most elegant establishments, and in which he also had the controlling-if off the books-interest.

"Right, Mr. S. I'll do that on my way home."

Mr. Savarese changed his mind.

"Keep out two bottles," he said. "No. Three bottles. Drop them off at Giacomo's office."

"Got it, Mr. S."

Mr. Savarese looked as if he was searching his mind for something else that had to be done, and then, that he had found nothing.

He walked to the Steinway grand piano, took the handkerchief from the top of the violin case, and tucked it into his collar. Then he opened the violin case, took out the bow, tested the horsehair for proper tension, took out the Strenelli, and, holding it by the neck, walked to the reel-to — reel tape recorder and turned it back on.

Then he tucked the Strenelli under his chin, raised the bow to its strings, and began to play along with the Philharmonica Slavonica's rendition of Max Bruch's Violin Concerto in G Minor, Opus 26.

During the briefings given to Detective Matt Payne by the Philadelphia Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to prepare him for his role in the apprehension of the fugitives Bryan C. Chenowith, Jennifer Ollwood, Edgar L. Cole, and Eloise Anne Fitzgerald (known to the FBI as "The Chenowith Group"), Matt had a number of thoughts he was aware would annoy or confound (probably both) both the FBI and his fellow officers of the Philadelphia Police Department.

The first of these was his realization that Sir Walter Scott had been right on the money when he proclaimed, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!"

Chief Inspector Coughlin, Inspector Wohl, Staff Inspector Weisbach, and Sergeant Jason Washington were responsible for bringing this conclusion to Payne's mind.

They had spent the better part of an hour, starting at 8: 15 A.M. in Denny Coughlin's Roundhouse office, conducting a discussion of the cover story Matt would use in Harrisburg. Detective Payne had been present, but it had been made immediately clear to him that his participation had not been solicited and was not desired.

The three senior police supervisors decided that so far as the members of the Special Operations Division Investigation Section were concerned, they would be told that Matt would be in Harrisburg attempting to uncover suspicious financial activity on the part of any member of the Narcotics Unit Five Squad, with special attention being paid to Officer Timothy J. Calhoun, who had relatives in Harrisburg and Camp Hill.

Only those with the need to know were to be made privy to the fact that Matt would also be "cooperating" with the FBI in their investigation of the Chenowith Group while he was in Harrisburg. Weisbach decided those with a need to know were those present, plus Sergeant Sandow.

The Intelligence Division of the Philadelphia Police Department was to be made privy to Matt's role vis-fnbsp;-vis the FBI, but not to the fact that he would be in Harrisburg investigating the Narcotics Five Squad. The Intelligence Division, to prevent any possible leaks that might come to the attention of the Five Squad, was to be told a second cover story. This one had Matt looking into possible connections between vice operations in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

Chief Coughlin felt this second cover story would have a certain credibility, inasmuch as Lieutenant Seymour Meyer, who had commanded the Central District's Vice Squad, had been relieved of his command and his badge and was presently awaiting trial on charges that he had sold his protection to the madam of a call girl ring.

His replacement-and the new commanding officer of the Central District (Inspector Gregory F. Sawyer, Jr., the former commander, had been relieved of his command at the time of Meyer's arrest)-would be told that the Special Operations investigation of Center City prostitution had not been completed, and that Detective Payne, specifically, was in Harrisburg working on it.

Chief Coughlin also felt, and Inspectors Wohl and Weisbach agreed, that because of the close working relationship between the Central District generally, and the Central District's Vice Squad and the Narcotics Unit, the word would quickly reach the Five Squad that Special Operations had sent Detective Payne to Harrisburg hoping that he would there find the final nails to drive in Lieutenant Meyer's coffin.

This second cover story was the one Mr. Walter Davis would be asked to have the chief of police in Harrisburg-who he said was both an old friend and owed him several favors-spread around the Harrisburg Police Department. The chief of police would be told in confidence that Detective Payne's investigations involved the Chenowith Group, but not that he was looking into the financial affairs of certain members of the Five Squad.

This meant, Matt understood, that Chief Coughlin would prefer that neither the FBI nor the Harrisburg Police Department be aware what specific rotten apples Matt was looking for in the Philadelphia Police Department's barrel.

The FBI Briefing on the Chenowith Group began at 9:45 in the Conference Room of the FBI's Philadelphia office. Present were Chief Coughlin, Inspector Wohl, and Detectives Payne and Wilfred G. "Wee Willy" Malone, a six-foot-four-inch giant of a man who was assigned to the Philadelphia Police Department's Intelligence Unit. The FBI was represented by SAC Walter Davis; ASAC (Administration) Glenn Williamson; ASAC (Criminal Affairs) Frank F. Young; and FBI Special Agents Raymond Leibowitz and Howard C. Jernigan of the Anti-Terrorist Group, and Special Agent John D. Matthews of the FBI's Philadelphia office.

Everyone was seated in comfortable upholstered chairs around a long, glistening conference table. Before each participant had been laid out a lined pad, four sharpened pencils, a coffee mug, a water glass, and an ashtray. Two water thermos bottles, two coffee thermos bottles, and cream and sugar accessories were in the center of the table. On a shelf mounted on the wall were both a slide projector and a 16-millimeter motion picture projector. At the opposite end of the room was a lectern, complete to microphone, and, Matt supposed, controls to operate the lights and the slide and motion picture projectors. A roll-down beaded projection screen was mounted on the wall behind the lectern.

This caused Matt to think, first, This is a hell of a lot fancier than Czernich's conference room in the Roundhouse, and next, Well, what the hell, they're spending federal tax dollars, which no bureaucrat considers real money, so why not?

SAC Walter Davis stepped to the lectern, thanked everyone for coming, and turned the meeting over to ASAC Frank Young, a redheaded, pale-faced man in his forties on the edge between muscular and plump.

Young went to the lectern, thanked everyone for coming, and asked if everybody knew everybody else. Everyone did, except for Wee Willy Malone and Jack Matthews, and Detective Payne and ASAC Williamson, who leaned across the table to shake hands.

"SAC Davis has assigned Special Agent Matthews to liaise with Detective Payne while we're doing this," Young announced. "Presuming that meets with your approval, Chief Coughlin?"

"Certainly," Coughlin said.

What the hell does "liaise with" mean? Detective Payne wondered.

"I thought that the best way to get this show on the road," Young said, "was to run a film we put together showing why we're all looking for the Chenowith Group."

The room lights dimmed and the film projector started.

The seal of the United States Department of Justice appeared on the screen, then the seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, then a notice announcing the film was classified "Official Use Only" and was not to be shown to unauthorized persons.

"The Biological Sciences building of the Medical School of the University of Pittsburgh," a voice announced.

The screen now showed still photographs, obviously taken during different seasons of the year, of a three-story brick building of vaguely Colonial design.

"At 5:25 P.M., 1 April," the voice intoned without emotion, "an explosion occurred, causing extensive damage to the building and the deaths of eleven individuals. More than fifty other individuals were injured, some of them seriously. The death count of eleven reflects both immediate deaths and deaths which occurred later."

The screen now showed the building immediately after the explosion.

Looks like they got this from TV news film, Matt thought.

Fire hoses were still playing their streams on the shattered and smoking building, and firemen and police were shown entering and leaving the building. Ambulance crews were treating and transporting injured people, some of them badly injured.

Jesus, they didn't show something like that on the six-thirty news! Matt thought.

The film-now not of "broadcast quality," and including some still photographs and thus probably shot by the police-showed some of the victims who had been killed immediately, where their bodies had been found.

"Holy Mother of God!" someone said, and after a moment Matt recognized Denny Coughlin's voice.

The exclamation was understandable. Legless bodies and heads smashed by tons of steel and concrete are not pretty sights.

"Investigation by the FBI and local agencies," the narrator went on dispassionately, as the screen showed the interior of the building sometime later-the bodies were gone-"indicates that the explosives used were Composition C-4 and Primacord. Composition C-4 is not available on the civilian market, and chemical analysis indicated the composition of the Primacord used to be identical to that procured for the military services.

"This makes it probable that the explosives used were stolen from U.S. military stocks, most probably from the explosives depository of the 173rd Light Engineer Company, Pennsylvania Army National Guard, located on the Indiantown Gap Military Reservation near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

"This depository was robbed, at gunpoint, on 13 February. Three hundred pounds of Composition C-4; fifty pounds of Primacord; forty-eight electrical and twenty-five fire-actuated detonating devices; six U.S. carbines, caliber. 30 M2-the M2 is the fully automatic version of the carbine-six. 45-caliber pistols, model 1911A1; and a substantial quantity of ammunition of these calibers was stolen.

"The perpetrators were two white males and at least one white female who drove a Ford panel truck, later determined to be stolen. The perpetrators wore ski masks over their faces, but during the robbery the civilian guard, who was bound, gagged, and blindfolded, was nevertheless able to obtain sufficient vision around his blindfold to make a positive identification of one of the robbers, who had pulled his ski mask off his face. Bryan C. Chenowith, twenty-six, white male, five feet eight, 160 pounds, light brown hair, hazel eyes, no distinguishing markings or features. "

A mug shot of Bryan C. Chenowith appeared on the screen.

"At the time of the Indiantown Gap robbery, Mr. Chenowith was a fugitive from justice on charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in connection with the hijacking at gunpoint of a truck engaged in interstate commerce. The truck contained orangutans being transported from Kennedy International Airport, New York, to the Medical School of the University of Pittsburgh. The animals were freed from their cages near Allentown, Pennsylvania.

"Mr. Chenowith at the time was a student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. While at the University of Pittsburgh, Mr. Chenowith was active in the Fair Play for Animals and Stop the Slaughter programs."

Another still photograph of Chenowith appeared on the screen. It showed him carrying a sign showing an orangutan tied, Christ-like, to a cross.

"Mr. Chenowith and two of his known associates, Jennifer Downs Ollwood, white female, twenty-five years of age, five feet four inches, 130 pounds, black hair, brown eyes, no distinguishing marks and/or features, and Edgar Leonard Cole, white male, twenty-five years old, five feet ten inches, 170 pounds, dark blond hair, four-inch scar left calf, have been positively identified as having been in and around the Biological Sciences building the day before and the day of the explosion."

Several still photographs first of Jennifer Ollwood and then of Edgar Cole appeared on the screen, as the narrator furnished details of their backgrounds.

Jennifer Ollwood was a rather pretty young woman who wore her black hair in bangs. In one photograph she was wearing a fringed leather jacket. In another, she was pictured holding a sign reading, "Stop the Torture!" and in a third, a sign reading "Save the Animals!"

"Miss Ollwood," the narrator announced, "was an undergraduate student at the University of Pittsburgh at the time of the bombing. She had previously been a student at Bennington College, from which she had been expelled as a result of her participation in antivivisectionist activities, and her arrest for having assaulted a campus police officer. She was active in the animal-activist movement at the University of Pittsburgh."

Edgar Cole had acne so bad that it was visible beneath his scraggly beard.

"Mr. Cole is also a former University of Pittsburgh student, where he was also active in animal-activist activities. At the time of the Indiantown Gap robbery, he was also being sought on unlawful-flight-to-avoid-prosecution warrants in connection with the truck hijacking, and by the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, police department to answer charges of being in possession of more than one pound of marijuana with intentions of distributing same."

"A trio of outstanding American youth," Wohl offered. "Your lady friend, Matt, has some interesting friends."

"On 3 April," the narrator interrupted, "Pittsburgh police conducted a raid on premises known to have been occupied by Mr. Chenowith and Miss Ollwood and Miss Eloise Anne Fitzgerald, white female, twenty-four years of age, five feet two, 110 pounds, light red hair, pale complexion, green eyes, no distinguishing marks or features, at 1101 West Hendricks Street in Pittsburgh."

A picture of Eloise Anne Fitzgerald appeared on the screen. It showed a demure-looking, short-haired redhead, wearing glasses, and looking about as menacing, Matt thought, as a librarian's assistant.

"This photo of Miss Fitzgerald," the narrator went on, "was acquired from the publisher of the Bennington College yearbook, and portrays Miss Fitzgerald as a sophomore. She was expelled from Bennington at the same time Miss Ollwood was expelled, and for approximately the same reasons, although there is no record of her arrest on any charges anywhere. She subsequently enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, seeking a degree in social work. She was active there in the animal-activist movement."

The screen next showed first a photograph of the exterior of the house, a large, run-down, Victorian-era building, and then of two rooms inside the house.

"The occupants had recently vacated the premises, apparently in some haste, and leaving behind five pounds of Composition C-4, one point five pounds of Primacord, three electrical detonators, and two M2 carbines and several bandoliers of carbine ammunition.

"It was quickly determined, by their serial numbers, that the recovered firearms were among those stolen from Indiantown Gap. Labeling of the C-4 uncovered at the West Hendricks location indicates it is from the same manufacturing lot as the C-4 stolen from Indiantown Gap; laboratory analysis of the Primacord indicates that it is from the same manufacturing lot as the Primacord stolen from Indiantown Gap; and other tests indicate the detonators are of the same type and age as those taken from the National Guard depository."

The screen now went back to shots of the sparsely furnished apartment in the old house on West Hendricks Street.

"In addition to statements made by other residents of the building at 1101 West Hendricks that Mr. Cole was a frequent visitor to the premises, physical evidence, including fingerprints and personal property, indicates this is the case.

"On 16 April, the Grand Jury of Allegheny County returned indictments against Mr. Chenowith, Mr. Cole, Miss Ollwood, and Miss Fitzgerald, charging them with causing the unlawful deaths by explosive device of eleven individuals. "

The screen now showed-in most cases snapshots, in one case a standard high-school graduation portrait, and in two others police photographs taken in an autopsy room-photographs of the eleven individuals who had lost their lives as a result of the explosives detonated by the Chenowith Group on the University of Pittsburgh campus.

"Mr. Chenowith's and Mr. Cole's difficulties brought them under FBI attention, and after Miss Fitzgerald and Miss Ollwood were positively identified as having been at Bennington College, Vermont, subsequent to their indictment in Pennsylvania, federal indictments were sought and obtained charging both females with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

"Because of the nature of the offenses alleged, FBI supervision of the cases involved, collectively referred to as 'the Chenowith Group,' has been assigned to the Anti-Terrorist Group at FBI Headquarters.

"The fugitives sought are known to be armed, and should be considered highly dangerous."

Abruptly the screen went white, and the room lights brightened.

"Nice friends you have, Payne," Wee Willy Malone said.

"I think that we should keep that in mind, Detective Malone," SAC Davis said.

"Excuse me?" Malone asked.

"If I had to offer one reason that the FBI has so far been unable to apprehend these fugitives, the so-called Chenowith Group, it would be that they are 'nice.' They all come from upper-middle-class backgrounds-in the case of the Ollwood woman, an upper-class background. Not only are they highly intelligent, but they can move, with relative ease, from one socioeconomic environment to another. We don't really know where to look for them at any given time."

"Okay," Wee Willy said after considering that.

"Should we go on, sir?" Williamson asked.

"Please do," Davis said.

Special Agent Leibowitz got up from the table and took Williamson's place at the lectern.

The lights dimmed again and the slide projector began, with a thunk, to show a color slide of what Matt recognized as the Bennington College campus in the spring.

"We wondered why Ollwood and Fitzgerald went to Bennington, which is way to hell and gone from Pittsburgh in Vermont," Leibowitz began. "I mean, they both got the boot from the college, and there was still a local warrant outstanding against Ollwood for socking the campus cop, so why go back? Unless, of course, they had a good reason. We found it. There's a little white box around a blonde's face in the next couple of slides. Take a good look at her."

The slide machine thunked, and a black-and-white slide of a group of young women sitting on the wide steps of a large brick house appeared on the screen. There were circles around the faces of Misses Ollwood and Fitzgerald and a white box around the face of Susan Reynolds. And he recognized two other faces in the photo.

"I know a couple of other faces in that picture," Matt said. "Is that important?"

The slide was replaced by another snapshot.

"It could be," Davis said. "Who?"

Leibowitz, with some difficulty, managed to get the group shot back on the screen.

"The blonde, second from the left in the second row, is the former Daphne Elizabeth Browne," Matt said. "Now Mrs. Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt the Fourth."

"Interesting," Davis said. "The hostess of the party, right? We should have picked up on that."

"I don't think Daffy is the type to blow things up, and/ or help fugitives," Matt said.

"Take my word for it, Detective," Jernigan said. "Assuming that 'nice' people can't be involved in some pretty nasty business isn't smart."

"Which is rather what I had in mind when I mentioned to Detective Malone that 'nice' is something we should all keep in mind."

Matt didn't reply.

"You said you knew a couple of faces?" Davis went on.

"Sitting beside Daffy is a female named Penelope Alice Detweiler," Matt said, "who I know is not aiding and abetting our fugitives."

"How do you know that?" Jernigan challenged,

"She's dead," Matt said.

"Penny Detweiler died of a narcotics overdose," Chief Coughlin said.

"I see. Well, that would seem to buttress my observation about the meaning of the word 'nice,' wouldn't it?" Davis said.

The group shot disappeared from the screen and was replaced by a series of other snapshots of Bennington girls, each showing Susan Reynolds with a square box around her face and a circle around the face of either (or both) Eloise Anne Fitzgerald or Jennifer Ollwood-in some shots, of both.

"The blonde is Miss Susan Reynolds, of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, white female now twenty-six years of age, five feet five, 130 pounds, blond hair, pale complexion, blue eyes, who has puncture wounds, entrance and exit, on her inside upper thigh caused by her having taken an arrow during archery practice at summer camp when she was sixteen. "

There were chuckles around the table.

Somebody-Matt could not tell for sure, but it sounded like Jack Matthews-asked incredulously, "Archery practice? Some girl didn't know the bow was loaded?"

There were more chuckles.

Another photo of Susan appeared, a more recent photograph. In it she was wearing a dress.

"This was taken three months or so ago, outside the Department of Social Services Building in Harrisburg, where Miss Reynolds is employed as an appeals officer," Leibowitz said. "She resides with her parents in Camp Hill and drives a red Porsche 911-which she obviously didn't buy with what they pay her at Social Services-and in which she frequently drove to her family's summer home in the Pocono Mountains on weekends."

"When this came to our attention," Leibowitz continued, "we sought and received assistance from the local authorities."

"What 'local authorities'?" Chief Coughlin asked.

"The county sheriff, Chief," Leibowitz said. "We gave him a camera with a tripod and a telephoto lens-"

"You gave him a camera?" Peter Wohl asked.

"I asked about that myself, Peter," Walter Davis said. "It was cost-effective, Agent Leibowitz told me. I suppose a good camera like that is worth five hundred dollars…"

"I think that particular camera outfit cost us $412.50," Leibowitz said.

"How do I get on your gift list?" Wohl asked.

"Anytime you're willing to place a premises such as the Reynolds summer home under at least part-time surveillance and save the FBI the man-hours of keeping it under surveillance ourselves."

"Clever," Wohl said appreciatively.

"And it has a certain public-relations aspect, too, Peter, " Davis said. "Getting a camera from the FBI makes the local authorities look on us as their friends. As hard as you may find this to believe, not all police officers look on us fondly."

"But on the other hand, Walter," Wohl said, "some of my officers like FBI agents so much that they take them on sight-seeing tours, absolutely free of charge."

"Actually, now that my temper has had time to cool down," Leibowitz said, "I have to admit that was sort of funny. But let me show you what our $412.50 bought."

A somewhat grainy photograph of a Ford sedan came on the screen.

"We ran the plate. The plate was stolen. There were no recent reports of a Ford like that having been stolen in a four-state area."

"They switched plates," Denny Coughlin thought out loud.

"We think that's probable. And there are just too many two-year-old Fords like that to make it cost-efficient to run every one of them down."

"Yeah," Wohl agreed.

"This is, in case anyone can't guess, the Reynolds summer house," Leibowitz said. "And this gentleman is Mr. Bryan C. Chenowith," he said, as a picture of a young man in sports clothing and wearing horn-rimmed glasses getting out of the Ford appeared on the screen.

"Bingo!" Chief Coughlin said.

"On this occasion," Leibowitz said, "Mr. Chenowith was accompanied by Miss Ollwood."

The screen now showed Jennifer Ollwood, wearing a tweed skirt and a sweater, standing on the porch of the Reynolds cabin. She was being embraced by Susan Reynolds.

Jesus Christ! Matt thought. There's no question about it now. Susan is in with these lunatics up to her cute little ass.

"Obviously," Chief Coughlin said, "you didn't get this in time to do anything about it, and the sheriff's deputy?"

"We asked the local authorities to locate and identify, not apprehend," Leibowitz said. "We want the Chenowith Group alive, taken into custody without the firing of a shot. The last thing we want to do is kill one of them and make a martyr out of him," Leibowitz said, "or, especially, one of the females."

"But aren't these photographs enough to pick up the Reynolds girl?" Denny Coughlin asked. "Charge her with aiding and abetting? Accessory after the fact? Lean on her hard?"

"After we get the Chenowith Group, Chief," Leibowitz said, "I'm sure the U.S. Attorney will go after her. But the priority is the apprehension of the Chenowith Group."

"I understand," Coughlin said.

"Once we had these pictures, and identified Chenowith and Ollwood, we put the premises under surveillance, of course," Leibowitz said. "And the to-be-expected result of that, of course, was that they never went back to the Poconos."

"They spotted the surveillance?" Peter Wohl asked,

"That's possible, of course," Leibowitz replied. "But we think it's equally possible that they simply suspected they had been using that rendezvous point too often. Whatever the reason, they never went back to the Reynolds summer house."

"What's the purpose of the rendezvous?" Matt asked.

"I was about to get to that," Leibowitz said. "First of all, we think it has to do with money. We believe that since we have been looking for them, the Chenowith Group has been involved in as many as four bank robberies. We have surveillance-camera proof that Chenowith and Ollwood have been involved in two bank robberies. A total of $140,000, in round figures, has been taken. One of them was a very recent case."

The lights went out and several surveillance-camera images of a female with a kerchief on her head wearing a raincoat and large dangling earrings appeared on the screen.

"That's Ollwood?" Detective Wee Willy Malone asked doubtfully.

Leibowitz chuckled. "That's Mr. Chenowith," he said.

"My God, the very ugly white woman with hairy legs," Wohl said, laughing. "The Girard Bank job in-where was it?"

"Bucks County. Riegelsville," Leibowitz furnished.

"I'm missing the point of the humor here," Chief Coughlin said.

"Mickey O'Hara wrote a hilarious story about it," Matt said. "The guy in the bank described the bandit as a very ugly white woman with hairy legs."

"That woman is Chenowith?" Coughlin asked.

"The lab did some interesting stuff, comparing the nose, hands, ears, and so on, of the 'woman' with Chenowith 's features. That's him, Chief."

The news did not seem to please Coughlin.

"So they're wanted on bank-robbery charges, too?" he asked.

"In a sense, Chief," Leibowitz said. "We have not charged any of them with bank robbery. We don't want them to know we know they're involved. Our thinking here-the thinking of the attorney general-is that once we apprehend them, we can quickly bring them to trial in Federal Court and get a conviction, using the surveillance-camera footage as proof. There is very little sympathy for bank robbers, and the evidence for the two bank jobs where we have surveillance-camera footage is not circumstantial. Their defense cannot bring up the morality of using animals in medical research, et cetera. And once they are convicted, then we can try them on the University of Pittsburgh bombing charges."

"Public relations, huh?" Coughlin said in disgust.

"Unfortunately, that has to be considered," Davis said.

"Now, our thinking is that they are thinking that since we are not searching for them on the bank-robbery charges we may not know about the bank robberies. Consequently, if we should get lucky and get them into custody, they don't want to be found in possession of a large sum of money that even the none-too-bright FBI might decide came from unsolved bank robberies."

"You mean you think Reynolds is holding the bank loot for them?" Matt asked.

"Yeah," Leibowitz said. "And dispensing it as needed to pay their expenses. Being a fugitive is expensive."

"I thought she might be getting money to them," Matt said. "Not the other way around."

"In a sense, she is, Payne," Davis said. "But I see what you mean."

"And even if you could get a search warrant," Wohl said, "the question would be where would you search?"

"Precisely, Inspector," Leibowitz said. "If we'd tumbled onto the Reynolds woman's connection to the Chenowith Group earlier, maybe we could have done something. And, of course, the minute we would serve a search warrant on her, that would be the end of any meetings with any of them."

"Yeah," Wohl said thoughtfully.

"So what we have to do is find out where the Reynolds woman is going to meet with the Chenowith Group, or Chenowith individually, in sufficient time to set up an arrest that can't possibly go sour. We don't, to repeat, want to have to shoot any of these individuals and turn them into martyrs."

"If we winged one of them in the arm," Jernigan said. "Their defense counsel would wheel them into the courtroom in a wheelchair, in a body cast, with intravenous tubes feeding him blood, an innocent college student showing his-even worse, her-grievous injuries suffered at the hands of the American Gestapo."

"That bad?" Coughlin asked.

"We think that's exactly what would happen. We want to take these people without giving them a bruise," Davis said. "So that, Payne, is where you come in. Get close to the Reynolds woman; make that happen."

"When I call 'the Reynolds woman,' " Matt said, "she's liable to tell me the same thing she told me when I tried to get her out of the Nesbitt party. 'I told you once, fuck off!' "

"Did she really say that?" Davis asked.

"What she said was, 'I'm sure you're a very nice fellow, but I'm just not interested.' "

"I still think it's worth a try," Davis said. "Two or three tries. She's our best shot at the Chenowith Group."

"Okay," Matt said. "I'll give it a shot."

"We don't expect her to lead you to the rendezvous, Payne," Leibowitz said. "We don't even expect you to find out where she's meeting these people. All we want from you is to call us-which means Special Agent Matthews-when you have reason to believe she is going to meet them. Just tell us where she is at that moment. We'll take it from there."

Matt's mouth ran away with him.

"Tail her, you mean? The way you tailed me? If she spots you as quickly as I did-and I suspect she'd be looking for a tail, and I wasn't-this is all going to be an exercise in futility."

Davis glowered at him. Wohl looked amused.

"We will have assets in place, Detective Payne," Leibowitz said, "that will permit us-providing you give us enough time to deploy those assets-to keep the Reynolds woman under surveillance without being detected."

"I hope so," Matt said.

"Matty," Chief Coughlin said. "I hope you heard what Mr. Davis and Leibowitz said about how they want to arrest these people?"

"Yes, sir."

"They don't want to run any risk of these people being injured, or their resisting arrest," Coughlin went on. "You understand that?"

"Yes, sir."

"Consider that an order from me," Coughlin said. "If you should run into this Chenowith fellow and the other man and the two women skipping down North Broad Street at high noon, all you are to do about it is tell the FBI. You take my meaning?"

"Yes, sir."

If I see any of these scumbags, Detective Payne thought, his mind full of the faces of the eleven innocent people who had been killed, and I think I can put the arm on one of them-or all of them-without getting myself hurt, I will, and no one will ever remember that I got that order.

ELEVEN

When Matt rang the bell at Number 9 Stockton Place, it was opened by a muscular man in his late thirties. Matt was startled, not so much by the man opening the door instead of Daffy herself, or one of the ever-changing parade of maids, but because the man smelled of cop. That instant reaction was immediately confirmed when Matt saw the unmistakable bulge of a pistol in a shoulder holster.

"Who are you?" Matt blurted.

"Who are you, sir?" the man said with exaggerated courtesy that rubbed Matt the wrong way.

"Are you on the job?" Matt demanded.

"Who was that at the door?" Chad Nesbitt called down from the second floor.

"The gentleman was just about to give me his name, sir," the man said, offering Matt a patently insincere smile. That was enough to tell Matt that he was facing a rent-a-cop.

"Household Finance, Mr. Nesbitt," Matt called, raising his voice. "We want our money or the television."

"Shit." Chad chuckled. "Let him in."

"Yes, sir," the rent-a-cop said, and stood back to let Matt pass.

"Let him in anytime," Chad added. "He's safe. As a matter of fact, he's a cop. Forgive me, a detective. Which probably means, come to think of it, that we'll have to count the silver after he leaves."

"You can go up, sir."

"Wachenhut?" Matt asked the man.

The Wachenhut Security Corporation provided the rent-a — cops for the Stockton Place complex.

"Nesfoods Security, sir," the man said.

"You've got a permit to carry, concealed?"

"Of course, sir."

Matt started up the stairs.

"Your name, sir?" the security man asked, and before Matt could reply, explained, "For your next visit, sir."

"Payne," Matt said. "Matt Payne."

"Did I understand Mr. Nesbitt to say you are a police officer, sir?"

"Yes, he did, and yes, I am," Matt said.

"Thank you, sir."

Matt went up the stairs.

Chadwick Thomas Nesbitt IV, in a sweat suit, was holding Penelope Alice Nesbitt in his arms.

"I have trouble believing you are responsible for that," Matt said.

"For what?"

"That beautiful child," Matt said. He leaned close to the baby and touched her cheek with his finger. "Fear not, sweet child, your godfather will protect you from these terrible people."

"Fuck you," Chad said. "To what do we owe the honor?"

"I thought I would take you out and buy you dinner," Matt said. "I had La Bochabella in mind."

La Bochabella was an upscale Italian restaurant in the 1100 block of South Front Street, not far from Stockton Place.

"What did you do, get into it with Daffy again?" Chad asked suspiciously.

"Her, too, if she wants to go," Matt said.

Chad laughed.

"If she wants to go where?" Daffy said, walking into the room. She was also wearing a gray sweat suit.

"He wants to take us to La Bochabella," Chad said.

"By way of making up for what?" Daffy said, taking the baby from her husband.

"Actually, I hoped that by the time they came around with the check, your husband would figure, after what you did to me, Daffy, with the virgin's mother, that the least he could do was buy me dinner."

"For all you know, wiseass, Susan may be a virgin," Daffy said. "Why not? I'll need to shower first, of course."

"I can't imagine why," Matt said. "What's with the sweat suits?"

"She's trying to get her figure back," Chad said.

"Where did it go?" Matt asked, innocently.

"… so we put in a little exercise room," Daffy said.

"You know, to keep in shape," Chad said. "You want to see it?"

"No. Not really. But while you're sharing all the sordid secrets of your married life with me, what's with the rent-a — cop?"

"He's not a rent-a-cop. He's from the company."

"What's he doing?"

"The Old Broads got together," Chad said. "The grandmothers. They went to the Old Man."

"I don't understand."

"They're worried about Penny's safety," Daffy said. "And mine, too."

"Did something happen?" Matt asked, now concerned.

"You ever hear, 'an ounce of prevention,' et cetera?" Chad said.

"You're really worried?" Matt asked. "In here?"

"Daffy's alone a lot," Chad said, a bit defensively. "With the baby."

"And a nanny, and at least one maid," Matt said. "Not to mention the rent-a-cop at the gate keeping the riffraff out."

"And now a security guy from the company," Chad said. "All right? It makes the Old Broads feel better and it makes me feel better, too, okay?"

"That guy's going to be here around the clock?" Matt asked.

"Not that guy," Chad said. "He's a supervisor. He's a retired Jersey state trooper. He used to bodyguard the governor. What he's doing is seeing what has to be done. But yeah, there will be security people here around the clock."

"You should know better than most people, Matt," Daffy said, "what goes on in the city. And that the police can't stop things from happening."

"There's only so many cops, Daffy," Matt said, now defensively. "They can't be everywhere at once."

"My point exactly," Chad said.

"I like the idea of La Bochabella," Daffy said. "Exercise makes me hungry."

She handed the baby back to her husband.

"I'll shower first," she said.

"Give me the urchin," Matt said mischievously, "and you can shower together."

Chad took him seriously.

"Yeah," Chad said, and handed him the baby. "Good thinking. One of the perks of married life. You should try it, buddy."

"Don't drop her, Matt!" Daffy said.

"She will be a good deal safer with me, madam, than she would be in her mother's arms," Matt said solemnly.

"You're up to something, Matt," Daffy said. "I don't trust you."

"I have no idea, madam, of what you're accusing me."

"Fix yourself a drink," Chad said. "You know where it is."

"Yeah."

Fixing himself a drink proved more difficult than he thought it would be. When he went to the bar, holding the baby, it became immediately apparent that he could not easily, one-handed, either open a scotch bottle or get ice from the refrigerator.

He walked to the couch and, with infinite tenderness, laid his goddaughter down on it, far enough away from the edge so there was no chance of her falling off.

He was halfway back to the bar when Penelope Alice Nesbitt expressed her displeasure at being laid down by howling with surprising volume for someone her size.

She stopped howling the moment she was picked up again, and he carried her back to the bar, where, with great difficulty, he made himself a drink. Then he carried the baby back to the couch and sat down.

After a moment, he propped the baby up at the junction of the back and arm of the chair, and watched to see if she would start to howl again. She didn't. She liked that. She smiled and made a gurgling noise.

"Would Penny and I have made something like you, sweetheart?" Matt asked softly as he extended his finger to the baby. She took his finger in her hand.

Matt became aware that his eyes were tearing and his throat was very tight.

"Shit!" he said, and took a deep swallow of his scotch on the rocks. The emotional moment passed.

Surprising him, Daffy returned first, dressed to go out.

"You should have gotten yourself a date," she said. "It would be like old times."

"You mean, you and Chad in the backseat of the car, making elephants-in-rut-type noises?"

"Screw you, you know what I mean," Daffy said. "Are you seeing much of Amanda these days?"

He shook his head, "no."

"Why not? She's a really nice girl."

"We never seem to be free at the same time," Matt said.

"Yeah," Daffy said, and changed the subject: "Well, since we all can't fit in your car, I'd better see about ours."

"Either this child has terminal B.O., or it needs a diaper change," Matt said.

Daffy picked up her baby and walked out of the room with her. Chad appeared a moment later, walked to the bar, poured whiskey in a glass and tossed it down, then held his finger in front of his lips in a signal that Daffy was not to know he had a little predinner drink.

Daffy reappeared, and they went down the stairs. The rent-a-cop was not in sight, and Matt wondered where he was.

When they went outside, the rent-a-cop was standing beside an Oldsmobile 98 sedan, the doors of which were open.

Daffy and Chad got in the backseat, the rent-a-cop got behind the wheel, and Matt got in the front passenger seat beside him.

"You know the La Bochabella restaurant?" Chad asked.

"Yes, sir."

"Where'd you get this?" Matt asked when they were inside. "It's new, isn't it?"

"Yeah," Chad said. "Tell him, Mr. Frazier."

"The statistics show," Frazier announced, very seriously, "that there are far fewer incidents involving Oldsmobiles and Buicks than there are involving Cadillacs and Lincolns. Presumably, they don't attract the same kind of attention from the wrong kind of people."

"You're telling me your old man is going to turn in his Rolls Royce on an Olds?" Matt asked. "To avoid an incident?"

"No." Chad laughed. "But he's stopped going anywhere in it alone."

"You seem to feel this is funny, Matt," Daffy said. "I don't. We don't."

"Straight answer, Daffy?"

"If you can come up with one."

"As a cop, I'm a little embarrassed that Chad's father, and your mothers, and you really feel it's necessary."

"That brings us back to my ounce of prevention," Chad said.

Matt confessed to the maоtre d' of La Bochabella that he didn't have a reservation, and asked how much of a problem that was going to be.

The maоtre d' consulted his reservations list at length, frowning, and shaking his head.

If this son of a bitch is waiting for me to slip him money, we'll be here all night.

"I'm afraid, sir…" the maиtre d' began.

A chubby, splendidly tailored man in his late twenties walked up to the maоtre d's stand.

"Ricardo," he announced, "Mr. Brewer just phoned and canceled his reservation." He looked at Matt. "If you're willing to wait just a few minutes, sir, we'll be happy to accommodate you."

"Thank you," Matt said.

"And your name, sir?"

"Payne," Matt said. The maоtre d' wrote that at the head of his list of reservations.

"Initial?" the splendidly tailored chubby fellow said.

"M," Matt said.

"Perhaps you'd like to wait at the bar," the splendidly tailored chubby fellow suggested. "It will be a few minutes."

"Thank you," Matt said, and led the way to the bar, which occupied most of the left side of the corridor leading from the door to the dining room. When he had slid onto a stool, he saw Frazier sitting at the end of the bar, near the door.

He wondered, idly, what Frazier was drinking.

Can you sit at the bar of an expensive place like this and drink soda? Or does a rent-a-cop on duty order a scotch straight up with soda on the side, and not drink the scotch? Or pour it on the floor, when no one's looking?

The bartender appeared.

"I'll have what that gentlemen is drinking," Matt said, indicating Frazier.

"The gentleman is drinking soda with a lemon slice, sir," the bartender said.

"In that case, I think I'd better take a look at the wine list," Matt said. "We can take a bottle to the table later, right?"

"Of course, sir."

"What are we celebrating, Matt?" Daffy asked.

"Nothing, so far as I know. Why?"

"I don't trust you when you are charming. You asking for the wine list?"

"Then screw you, baby! You don't get no wine."

She smiled.

"Better. That's the old Matt, the one I have always loathed and despised."

Chad chuckled.

The chubby, splendidly tailored man in his late twenties, whose name was Anthony Joseph Desidiro, waited until he saw that Mr. Payne and party had taken seats at the bar, and then he walked to the rear of the dining room. Against the rear wall was a table shielded by a light green silk screen. The screen's weave was such that people seated at the table could see the dining room but people in the dining room could not see who was sitting at the table.

There were two men at the table. One was Mr. Desidiro 's cousin, a large, well-muscled, equally splendidly tailored gentleman whose name appeared on the liquor and restaurant licenses of La Bochabella as the owner. His name was Paulo Cassandro. His mother and Mr. Desidiro 's mother were sisters. Mr. Cassandro had provided his cousin Tony with both his tuition at the Cornell School of Hotel amp; Restaurant Administration, and a generous allowance while he was there so he would be able to devote his full time to learning the hotel and restaurant administration profession.

On his graduation, Mr. Desidiro spent two years working-he thought of it as an internship-at the Ristorante Alfredo, another of Philadelphia's more elegant Italian restaurants, on whose liquor and restaurant licenses Mr. Cassandro was also listed as owner.

Two months before, Mr. Desidiro had been named manager of La Bochabella. He had told his cousin Paulo that it was his plan that La Bochabella would become known as the best Northern Italian restaurant in Philadelphia, catering to the social and economic upper crust of Philadelphia.

He wanted to raise prices sufficiently to discourage the patronage of those who thought Italian cuisine was primarily sausage and peppers and spaghetti and meatballs, and that fine Italian wine began and ended with Chianti in raffia-wrapped bottles.

"You got eighteen months, Tony," Cousin Paulo had told him. "Mr. S. thinks maybe you got a good idea. You got eighteen months to make it work."

Mr. S. was what his intimates called Mr. Vincenzo Savarese, and Mr. Desidiro was aware that Cousin Paulo's name on the licenses notwithstanding, Mr. Savarese had the controlling interest in both La Bochabella and Ristorante Alfredo.

Mr. Desidiro thought it was fortuitous that Mr. Savarese had chosen tonight to have dinner in La Bochabella with Cousin Paulo-he came in only every couple of weeks, and then mostly for lunch, not dinner-and he would thus have the opportunity to prove to Mr. Savarese that his philosophy for the successful operation of the restaurant was bearing fruit.

He stepped behind the curtain. Both Cousin Paulo and Mr. Savarese interrupted their meal to look at him.

"Is everything all right?" Mr. Desidiro asked. "Do you like the lamb, Mr. Savarese?"

"Very much," Mr. Savarese said. "The garlic-how do I say this? — is delicate."

"We throw garlic buds, crushed but in their skins, directly on the coals when the leg is still raw," Mr. Desidiro said. "It delicately infuses the meat with the flavor, I think. I'm pleased that you like it."

"Very nice," Mr. Savarese said.

"Yeah, Tony," Cassandro said.

"You know who we have outside, waiting for a table?" Mr. Desidiro said, and went on before a reply could be made. "Mr. and Mrs. Nesbitt the Fourth, of Nesfoods International. "

"Yes," Mr. Savarese said. "I saw them. I was going to have a word with you about them."

Mr. Desidiro tried not to show his surprise that Mr. Savarese recognized the heir to Nesfoods International and his wife.

"Yes, Mr. Savarese."

"They have a friend with them," Mr. Savarese said.

"A Mr. Payne," Mr. Desidiro said.

"Yes, I know," Mr. Savarese said. "You should be very careful around him, Tony."

"Yes, sir?"

"He is not only a policeman, but he shoots people in the head," Mr. Savarese said. "Isn't that so, Paulo?"

"That's right, Mr. S.," Paulo agreed.

"You remember that crazy man, Tony, who was kidnapping and then doing sexual things to women in Northwest Philadelphia?" Mr. Savarese asked.

"Yes, I do. A policeman shot him?"

"That policeman," Mr. Savarese said.

"Right in the head, Tony," Cassandro said, miming someone shooting a pistol. "Ka-pow! Ka-pow!"

"Very interesting," Mr. Desidiro said, wondering what a cop was doing having dinner-Mr. S. had said "a friend"-with the guy whose father owned Nesfoods International.

"If Mr. Payne should ask for the check, Tony," Mr. Savarese said, "please tell him that it has been taken care of by a friend-make that 'an admirer.' "

"Right, Mr. Savarese. 'An admirer.' "

"Please have the courtesy to let me finish, Tony," Mr. Savarese said.

"Excuse me, Mr. Savarese," Mr. Desidiro said. "I beg your pardon."

"You should learn to listen, Tony," Mr. Savarese said.

"Jesus Christ, Tony!" Cassandro snapped.

"If young Mr. Payne asks for the check, please tell him that it has been taken care of by an admirer of his father," Mr. Savarese said.

"Of his father," Mr. Desidiro said. "Right, Mr. Savarese. "

And then he had a question, which, after a moment, he spoke aloud.

"And if Mr. Nesbitt should ask for the check, Mr. Savarese? "

"Then give it to him," Mr. Savarese said. "I am not indebted to his father."

"Right, Mr. Savarese."

"You understand, Tony," Cassandro said. "You don't mention Mr. S.'s name?"

"Right. Of course not."

"I'm going to Harrisburg," Matt Payne announced after they had all ordered, at the suggestion of the waiter, roast lamb with roasted potatoes, a spinach salad, and were waiting for the shrimp cocktail they had ordered for an appetizer.

"I didn't know anyone went there on purpose," Chad said.

"I am being sent to Harrisburg," Matt corrected himself.

"Susan lives outside Harrisburg," Daffy said.

"You do something wrong?" Chad said, reaching for the bottle of Merlot.

"Of course not," Matt said. "I am known in the department as Detective Perfect. Yeah, that's right, isn't it? She told me that."

"Shit!" Chad said. "Who told you what?"

"Susan Whatsername told me she lived in Harrisburg."

"Camp Hill," Daffy corrected him. "Outside Harrisburg. "

"What are you being sent to Harrisburg for?" Chad asked.

"They are having a crime wave, and require the services of a big-city detective to solve it."

"Bullshit."

"You remember reading about the lieutenant the Department threw in the slammer for protecting the call girl ring?"

"Yeah."

"Not for publication, I'm tying up some loose ends on that," Matt said.

"A call girl ring?" Daffy said. "Right down your alley. You should love that."

"I'm looking forward to it."

"You really should call her," Daffy said.

"Call who? Any call girl? Or do you have a specific one in mind?"

"Susan, you ass."

"Your pal Susan shot me down in flames, you will recall. "

"If at first you don't succeed," Daffy said.

"I have her phone number," Matt said. "You gave it to me."

"Call her. If nothing else, it'll keep you out of trouble with the call girls," Daffy said.

"I don't know," Matt said doubtfully.

"Call her, damn you. She's a very nice girl."

A very nice girl, Matt thought, who is aiding and abetting four murdering lunatics.

"Are you going to be talking to her?" Matt asked.

"I don't know," Daffy replied. "I can. Why?"

"I don't suppose you would be willing to tell her you were only kidding when you told her what an all-around son of a bitch I am?"

"I wasn't kidding. But, okay, I'll call her and put in a good word for you. If you promise to call her when you're there."

"If I can find the time," Matt said.

"Find the time," Chad said.

"She's really a very nice girl," Daffy said.

Now, if you call our Susan and tell her, or let surmise, that my calling her was your and Chad's idea, and I'm not thrilled about it, that just may allay her suspicions that I might have a professional interest in her activities, and this charade will not have been in vain.

"Ah," Matt said. "Here comes the shrimp. Can we change the subject, please?"

"Take her to the Hotel Hershey," Daffy said. "That's romantic as hell."

"All I want to do with her, Daffy," Matt said, sounding serious, "is get her in bed. I didn't say a word about…"

"You bastard!" Daffy said, smiling at him. "Now I will call her. Susan may be just the girl to bring you under control."

Philip Chason, a slightly built fifty-five-year-old who walked with a limp, turned his three-year-old Ford sedan off Essington Avenue-sometimes called "Automobile Row"-and onto the lot of Fiorello's Fine Cars.

It was one of the larger lots; Chason figured there must be 150 cars on display, ranging from year-old Cadillacs and Buicks down to junkers one step away from the crusher.

Chason was not in the market for a car. And if he was going shopping for one, he wouldn't have come here. Joe Fiorello was somehow tied to the mob. Chason didn't know exactly what the connection was, but he knew there was one. And Chason had a thing about the mob; he didn't like the idea of them getting any of his money.

Chason had spent twenty-six years of his life as a Philadelphia policeman, and eighteen of the twenty-six years as a detective, before a drunk had run a red light and slammed into the side of his unmarked car. That had put him in the hospital for six weeks, given him a gimp leg that hurt whenever it rained, and gotten him a line-of-duty-injury pension.

After sitting around for four months watching the grass grow, Phil Chason had got himself a private investigator's license, made a little office in the basement of his house, put in another telephone and an answering machine, and took out an ad in the phone book's yellow pages: "Philip Chason, Confidential Investigations. (Retired Detective, Philadelphia P.D.)."

It was not a quick way to get rich in any case, and it had been tough getting started at all. But gradually jobs started coming his way. Too many of them were sleaze, like following some guy whose wife suspected he was getting a little on the side, or some dame whose husband figured she was.

He got some seasonal work, like at Christmas at John Wanamaker's Department Store, helping their security people keep an eye on shoplifters and seasonal employees. And Wachenhut called him every once in a while to work, for example, ritzy parties at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, or a big reception at one of the hotels, keeping scumbags from ripping people off.

Both Wanamaker's and Wachenhut had offered him a full-time job, but the money was anything but great, and he didn't want to get tied down to having to go to work every day, especially when the leg was giving him trouble.

He got some work from the sleazebags who hung around the courts and called themselves "The Criminal Bar," but there were two things wrong with that: he didn't like helping some scumbag lawyer keep some scumbag from going to jail, and they paid slow.

And he'd done a couple of jobs for Joe Fiorello before this one. Fiorello had called him out of the blue about a year ago, said he'd seen the ad in the yellow pages, and needed a job done.

Chason had told Joey his "initial consultation fee" was fifty bucks, whether or not he took the job. He knew who Fiorello was and he had no intention of doing something illegal. Joey had told him no problem, that he should come by the used-car lot and he'd tell him what he wanted done, and Chason could decide whether or not he wanted to do it.

What Joey wanted the first time was for Chason to check out a guy he was thinking of hiring as a salesman. The guy had a great reputation as a salesman, Joey said, but there was something about him that didn't smell kosher, and before he took him on, he wanted to be sure about him, and how much would that cost?

Chason had told him it would probably take about ten hours of his time, at twenty-five dollars an hour, plus expenses, like getting a credit report, and mileage, at a dime a mile, and Joey thought it over a minute and then said go ahead, how long will it take, the sooner the better.

That time, Chason had found out the guy was what he said he was, what his reputation said he was, a hard-working guy with a family, who paid his bills, didn't drink a hell of a lot, went to church, and even, as far as Chason could find out, slept with his own wife.

Chason couldn't figure why a guy like that, who already had a good job as sales manager for the used-car department of the Pontiac dealer in Willow Grove, would want to work in the city for Fiorello. The answer to that was that he didn't. The second time Joey Fiorello called Chason, to do the same kind of a job on another guy Joey was thinking of hiring, Chason asked him what happened to the first guy, and Joey told him he'd made the guy an offer that wasn't good enough-the guy wanted an arm and a leg, Joey said-and that hadn't worked out.

The second time had been like the first job. Only this time the guy was selling furniture on Market Street, and thought he might like selling cars. Another Mr. Straight Citizen. Wife, kids, church, the whole nine yards. And he either came to his senses about what a good job he already had, or somebody whispered in his ear that Joey Fiorello wasn't the absolutely respectable businessman he wanted everybody to think he was. Anyway, he didn't go to work for Fiorello Fine Cars, either.

This last job was something else. This one was a young guy, from Bala Cynwyd, who was a stockbroker. Chason thought there was something fishy about a stockbroker wanting to be a used-car salesman right from the start. Usually, it would be a used-car salesman trying to get into something more classy, like being a stockbroker, not the other way around.

Once he started nosing around, Chason thought he understood why. This guy was a real sleaze, too sleazy even to work for a sleazy greaseball like Joey Fiorello.

One of Joey's salesmen, a young guy wearing an open-collared yellow sport shirt with a gold chain around his neck and a phony Rolex on his wrist, came out of the office with a toothy 'Hello, sucker!' smile on his face.

"Can I be of some assistance, sir?"

"Mr. Fiorello around?"

"Yes, sir," the salesman said. "But I believe he may be tied up at the moment. Is there something I can do for you?"

"No, thanks," Chason said, and walked around the guy and into the office.

Joey's secretary, a peroxide blonde with great breasts who Chason had learned wasn't as dumb as she looked, smiled at him, then picked up her telephone.

"Mr. Chason is here, Mr. Fiorello," she announced, listened a minute, and then hung up.

"Mr. Fiorello said he'll be right with you, Mr. Chason, " she said. "How have you been?"

"Can't complain," Chason said. "How about yourself? "

"Well, you know," the blonde said. "A little of this, a little of that."

A moment later, the door to Joey's office opened and a guy who looked like another salesman came out. Then Joey appeared in the door.

"Hey, Phil, how's the boy? Come on in. You want a cup of coffee, or a Coke or something?"

"I could take some coffee," Chason said.

"Helene, how about getting Mr. Chason and me some coffee. How do you take yours, Phil?"

"Black would be fine," Chason said as he shook Joey's extended hand and walked into the office.

He had to admit it, Joey had a classy office. Nice furniture, all red leather, and a great big desk that must have cost a fortune. The walls were just about covered with pictures of classy cars and of Joey and his family on his sailboat. There was a model of the sailboat, sails and everything, in a glass case.

The blonde delivered two mugs of coffee. The mugs said, "Fiorello Fine Cars. We sell to sell again!"

Joey waited until the blonde had closed the door behind her, then asked, "You got something for me, Phil?"

"I don't think you're going to like it, Joey."

"I pay you to find things out. Who said anything about me having to like it?"

"Mr. Ronald R. Ketcham is a sleazeball, Joey," Chason said.

"How is he a sleazeball?"

"You understand I can't prove anything, Joey. I mean, if I was still a cop, I don't have anything I could take to the district attorney."

"Tell me what you found out," Joey Fiorello said. "That's good enough for me."

"Okay. The truth is, he is a stockbroker. For Wendell, Wilson and Company, in Bala Cynwyd. Before that, he was a stockbroker with Merrill Lynch, here in the city. He told Wendell, Wilson he wanted to leave Merrill Lynch so he wouldn't have to come into the city every day. The truth is, he resigned from Merrill Lynch about five minutes before they were going to fire him."

"Fire him for what?"

"For one thing, he didn't go to work very often, and for another, there was talk that when he did show up for work, he did a lot of business his customers didn't know about. You know what I mean?"

Joey shook his head, "no."

"Stockbrokers work on commission. The more stocks and bonds and stuff they buy and sell, the more money they make. So, if they aren't too ethical, they call their customers up and suggest they sell something he hears is going to go down, and buy something else he hears is going to go up, and maybe his information isn't so kosher. He did a lot of that at Merrill Lynch, but that isn't all. If they have customers that are buying and selling a lot, so their monthly statements are pretty complicated, what some of those guys do-what Ketcham got caught doing-is making trades their customers didn't order."

"Explain that to me," Joey said.

"Like you own five thousand shares of, say, General Motors. Ketcham would sell, say, a thousand shares one day, and buy it back the next. And get a commission selling it, and another commission buying it back."

"The customers don't notice?"

"A lot of the customers don't keep good records," Chason explained. "They get their statement, it says they sold a thousand shares at fifty bucks, and then, a day later, they bought a thousand shares at forty-seven-fifty, which means they picked up twenty-five hundred bucks less the commissions, why ask questions?"

"What if they sold the stock at forty-seven-fifty, and then bought it back at fifty, and they lost twenty-five hundred? Don't that ring bells that something ain't kosher?"

"From what I hear, believe it or not, most people don't catch on right away. The company itself catches more salesmen doing stuff like that than the customers do. And that's what happened to Mr. Ketcham at Merrill Lynch. The company-they call the people who do it 'internal auditors'-caught him."

"But they didn't fire him?" Joey asked. "You said he resigned, right?"

"Like I said, I can't prove this happened to him at Merrill Lynch, but this is the way something like this works, all right? The internal auditors catch a guy doing something like this, what can they do? If they fire the guy because he's been making unauthorized trades for his customer, and they tell the customer, the customer is going to be pissed, right? And take his business some other place, and tell all his friends what Merrill Lynch, or whoever, has done to him. "

"Yeah," Joey said, considering that. "So what do they do?"

"They call the guy in, tell him that they have enough on him to get him kicked out of the stockbroker business for life, and that the smart thing for him to do is have his desk cleaned out by five o'clock, keep his mouth shut, and if he gets another job, to straighten up and fly right. You get the picture."

"Jesus, you just can't trust anybody these days, can you?" Joey said.

"There's more crooks out of jail than in," Chason said.

"So he went to this company in Bala Cynwyd, you're telling me, and started this shit all over?"

"No. Not exactly. He's about to get canned from Wendell, Wilson for not producing. That means not selling or buying enough for his customers. The reason he's not producing enough is that he comes to work late, leaves early, or doesn't come to work at all. You can only get away with telling the boss you were 'developing business' on the golf course, which is why you weren't at work, if you actually produce the business."

"If he's not 'producing business,' what's he living on, if he's working on commission?"

"That's what I wondered," Chason said. "He lives good. He pays a lot of money for his apartment, drives a fancy car, dresses good, and he's got a girlfriend who probably costs him a lot of money."

"You mean a hooker?"

"No, I mean one of those Main Line beauties, who expect to be taken to expensive restaurants, and weekends at the shore. Like that."

"How do you know about the girlfriend?" Tony asked.

Chason took a small notebook from his pocket.

"Her name is Cynthia Longwood," he said. "Her father is Randolph Longwood, the builder."

"I heard the name," Joey said.

"Anyway, they have been running around for some time. So I wondered how he was paying for all this, and started asking some questions around. I got to tell you again, Joey, that I can't prove any of this, it's just…"

Joey Fiorello indicated with his hands that he understood the caveat.

"If I was a betting man, Joey, which I don't happen to be, I'd give odds that this sleazeball is into drugs. Maybe not big time, but not small time, either."

"No shit?"

"It all fits, if you think about it."

"You tell me."

"If somebody has an armful of that shit, everything is rosy. You don't give a shit about anything. You don't feel like going to work, you don't go to work. Everything will be all right. And if you do go to work, you put some shit up your nose, it turns you into a fucking genius. You're too smart to get caught buying and selling stocks and bonds nobody told you to. You understand?"

"I'm getting the picture."

"You get your hands on, say, twenty thousand dollars' worth of heroin, or cocaine, any of the high-class stuff, if you know where to get it and where to sell it, you keep out what you need to shove in your own arm, or up your own, and your girlfriend's, nose-"

"You think his girlfriend is a junkie?"

"I didn't hear anything like that. But I would be surprised if she didn't do some 'recreational drugs.' That's pretty common among people like that. You heard what happened to the Detweiler girl, her father owns half of Nesfoods?"

Joey Fiorello shook his head, "no."

"I know who they are," Joey said. "What about the girl?"

"She stuck a needle in her arm in Chestnut Hill and was dead before she could take it out."

"No shit?"

"Killed her like that," Chason said, snapping his fingers. "Anyway, after you put aside whatever shit you need for yourself and your girlfriend, you sell the rest. You put away enough money to buy another twenty thousand worth later on, and you live good on what's left over."

"And you think Ketcham is doing this?"

"Like I said, I can't prove it, but yeah, Joey, I'd bet on it."

"Can I ask you a personal question, Phil?"

"You can ask," Chason said. "But I won't promise to answer."

"You're a retired police officer," Joey said. "You get this feeling about somebody like this, dealing drugs, doing what you think he's doing with the stockbroker business, you feel you got to tell the cops?"

"No," Chason said. "For one thing, like I said, I can't prove any of this. And for another, if I did, they'd probably tell me to mind my own business."

"What do you think his chances are of getting caught dealing drugs?"

"He'll get caught eventually," Chason said. "If he don't get killed first, in some drug deal gone bad, or kill himself, the way that Detweiler girl did."

"Well, one thing for sure," Joey said. "We don't want this son of a bitch walking around the lot, do we?"

"I wouldn't if I was you, Joey," Chason said.

"Phil, I don't want anybody to know I was even thinking of giving this son of a bitch a job. It would be embarrassing, if you know what I mean."

"What I do, Joey, like it says in the phone book, is confidential investigations. What I told you, you paid for. It's yours. I just forgot everything I told you."

"I appreciate that, Phil," Joey said.

Chason nodded his head.

"How long did it take you to come up with all this, Phil?"

"No longer than usual. I'm going to bill you for ten hours, plus, I think, about sixty bucks in expenses."

"Two things, Phil. First of all, I think it took you like twenty hours," Joey said. "And I figure you had maybe two hundred in expenses."

"You don't have to do that, Joey."

"Don't tell me what I have to do, Phil, please, as a favor to me. Second thing, how would you feel about being paid in cash, instead of with a check? Are you in love with the IRS?"

"I don't have a thing in the world against cash, Joey."

"That's good, because I just happen to have some cash the IRS don't know about, either," Joey said.

He got up from his desk and went into what looked to Phil Chason like a closet. He returned in a minute with an envelope.

"You want to check it, to make sure it's all right?" Joey asked.

"I'm sure it is, Joey," Chason said, and put the envelope in his suit jacket pocket.

Joey offered him his hand.

"We'll be in touch," Joey said.

Chason started out of the office.

"Phil, you want to get out of that piece of shit you're driving, I'll make you a deal on something better."

"Not right now, Joey, but I'll consider that an open offer."

"It's an open offer," Joey said.

Chason left the office. Joey went to the venetian blinds and watched through them until Chason had left the lot.

Then he left his office.

"I've got to see a man about a dog, Helene," he said.

He went out and got into a red Cadillac Eldorado convertible and drove off the lot. Six blocks away, he pulled into an Amoco station and stopped the car by an outside pay phone.

He dropped a coin in the slot and dialed a number from memory.

"This is Joey. I need to talk to him," he said.

"Yes?" a new voice responded a minute later.

"This is Joey, Mr. S.," Joey said. "I just left the retired cop. I think we had better talk, if you have time."

"Come right now, Joey," Vincenzo Savarese said.

TWELVE

Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin looked up from the mountain of paper on his desk and saw Michael J. O'Hara sitting on his secretary's desk.

"How long have you been out there, Mickey?" Coughlin called.

"You looked like you were busy," O'Hara said.

"I told him I'd let you know he was out here," Veronica Casey, Coughlin's secretary, said.

"Never too busy for you, Mickey," Coughlin said, motioning for O'Hara to come into his office.

"Oh, you silver-tongued Irishman, you," O'Hara said, and slumped into one of the two armchairs in the room. "What's going around here you don't want me to know about?"

"There's a long list of things like that," Coughlin said. "You have something specific in mind?"

"Actually, what I had in mind was that you and I should go somewhere and have a little sip of something. Maybe two sips. Maybe even, if you don't have something on, dinner. You got plans?"

"No," Coughlin said. He looked at his watch. "I didn't realize it was so late." He raised his voice. "Go home, Veronica!"

"You sure?"

"I'm sure. Put this stuff away, and we'll start again in the morning."

"Okay," she said, coming into the office and gathering up the papers on Coughlin's desk. "He skipped lunch," she said to O'Hara, "so eat first before you do a lot of sipping."

"Okay," O'Hara said. He waited until she had left the office, and then said, "She's in love with you. Why don't you marry her?"

"She has a husband, as you damned well know."

"What's that got to do with anything?"

"Go to hell, Mickey," Coughlin said, laughing. "But she's right. I didn't have any lunch. I need to put something in my stomach."

"Fish, fowl, or good red meat?"

"Clams and a lobster comes to mind," Coughlin said.

"Bookbinder's?"

"That's close," Mickey said.

"Too far to walk," Coughlin said. "Where's your car?"

"In the No Parking zone by the door," Mickey said. "I'll bring you back here, if you like."

Michael J. O'Hara's Buick was indeed parked in the area immediately outside the rear door of the police administration building, in an area bounded by signs reading "No Parking At Any Time."

The joke went that there were only two people in the City of Philadelphia who would not get a parking ticket no matter where they left their cars, one being the Hon. Jerome H. Carlucci, the mayor, and the other being Mickey O'Hara.

That wasn't exactly true, Coughlin thought as he got into O'Hara's car. But on the other hand, it was close. He himself didn't dare leave his car parked where Mickey had parked the Buick, confident he would not find a parking ticket stuck under his wiper blade when he returned for it.

Mickey enjoyed a special relationship with the Police Department of the City of Philadelphia shared by no other member of the press. Coughlin had often wondered why this was so, and had decided, finally, that while some of it was because he was a familiar sight at funerals, weddings, promotion parties, and meetings of the Emerald Society (and, for that matter, at gatherings of the German, black, and Jewish police social organizations as well), it was basically because he was trusted by everybody from the guy walking a beat to Jerry Carlucci.

He never broke a confidence, and he never published anything bad about a cop until he gave the cop a chance to tell his side of the story.

And while he did not fill his columns with puff pieces about the Philadelphia Police Department, he very often found space to make sure the public learned of some unusual act of kindness, or heroism, or dedication to duty of ordinary cops walking beats.

And that was probably, Denny Coughlin thought, because Mickey O'Hara, in his heart, thought of himself as a cop.

Not that Mickey ever forgot he was a journalist. Denny Coughlin had thought of Mickey as a personal friend for years, and he was sure the reverse was true. But he also understood that the reason Mickey had appeared at his office to offer to take him to dinner was less that they were friends than that Mickey had questions he hoped he could get Coughlin to answer.

The door chimes sounded, playing "Be It Ever So Humble, There's No Place Like Home."

"Who the fuck is that?" Inspector Peter Wohl wondered aloud, in annoyance that approached rage.

Amelia Alice Payne, M.D., who had been lying with her head on his chest, raised her head and looked down at him.

"Oh, my goodness! Are we going to have to wash our naughty little mouth out with soap?" she inquired.

"Sorry," Wohl said, genuinely contrite. "I was just thinking how nice it is to go to sleep with you like this. And then that goddamned chime!"

Amy was not sure whether he meant naked in each other's arms, or sexually sated, but in either case she agreed.

She kissed his cheek, tenderly, and then, eyes mischievous, said innocently, "I wonder who the fuck it could possibly be?"

"What am I doing? Teaching you bad habits?" Peter asked, chuckling.

"Oh, yes," she said.

She pushed herself off him and got out of bed, then walked on tiptoes to peer out through the venetian blinds on the bedroom window.

There was enough light, somehow, for him to be able to see her clearly.

"My God, it's Uncle Denny!" Amy said.

What the hell does Denny Coughlin want this time of night?

"We had the foresight, you will recall," Peter said, chuckling, "to hide your car in my garage."

"You think he wants to come in?" Amy asked, very nervously.

On the one hand, Amy, you march in front of the feminist parade, waving the banner of modern womanhood and gender equality, and on the other, you act like a seventeen-year-old terrified at the idea Uncle Denny will suspect that you and I are engaged in carnal activity not sanctioned for the unmarried.

"No," Peter said. "I'm sure all he wants to do is stand outside the door."

He got out of bed.

"You just get back in bed and try not to sneeze," Peter said. "And I will try to get rid of him as quickly as I can."

"I'll have to get dressed," Amy said.

"Why bother?" Peter said as he put on his bathrobe. "If he comes in the bedroom, I don't think he'll believe you were in here helping me wash the windows. Maybe you could say you were making a house call, Doctor."

"Screw you, Peter," Amy said. "This is not funny!"

But she did get back into the bed and pulled the sheet up over her.

Peter turned the lights off, then left the bedroom, closing the door.

Then he turned and knocked on it.

"Morals squad!" he announced. "Open up!"

"You bastard!" Amy called, but she was chuckling.

Peter turned the lights on in the living room, walked to the door, and opened it.

Chief Inspector Dennis V. Coughlin-who, in the process of maintaining his friendly relationship with the widow of his pal Sergeant John F. X. Moffitt, had become so close to the Payne family that all the Payne kids had grown up thinking of him as Uncle Denny-stood at the door.

In a cloud of Old Bushmills fumes, Peter's nose immediately told him.

"I was in the neighborhood, Peter," Coughlin said, "and thought I would take a chance and see if you were still up."

Peter had just enough time to decide, Bullshit, twice. I don't think you were in the neighborhood, and even if you were, you got on the radio to get my location, and if you did that, you would have asked the operator to call me on the phone to see if I was up, when Coughlin added:

"That's bullshit. I wanted to see you. Radio said you were home. I'm sorry if I got you up. You got something going in there, I'll just go."

Does he suspect Amy is in here with me?

"Come on in. I was about to go to bed. We'll have a nightcap."

"You're sure?" Coughlin asked.

"Come on in," Peter repeated.

Coughlin followed him into the living room, sat down on Peter's white leather couch-a remnant, like several other pieces of very modern furniture in the apartment, of a long-dead and almost forgotten affair with an interior decorator-and reached for the telephone.

As Peter took ice, glasses, and a bottle of James Jamison Irish whiskey from the kitchen, he heard Coughlin on the telephone.

"Chief Coughlin," he announced, "at Inspector Wohl's house," and then hung up.

Peter set the whiskey, ice, and glasses on the coffee table in front of the couch and sat down in one of the matching white leather armchairs.

Coughlin reached for the whiskey, poured an inch into a glass, and took a sip.

"This is not the first I've had of these," he said, holding up the glass. "Mickey O'Hara came by the Roundhouse at six, and we went out and drank our dinner."

"There's an extra bed here," Peter said, "if you don't feel up to driving home."

And then he remembered that not only was Amy in his bed, where she could hear the conversation, but that the moment she heard what he had just said she would decide he was crazy or incredibly stupid. Or, probably, both.

If Denny Coughlin accepted the offer, there was no way he would not find out that Amy was here.

Coughlin ignored the offer.

"The trouble with Mickey is that he has a nose like a bird dog, and people tell him things they think he would like to know," Coughlin said. "And he thinks like a cop."

"He would have made a good cop," Peter agreed.

He poured whiskey in a glass and added ice.

"After he fed me about four of these," Coughlin said, "he asked me whose birthday party it was we were all at at the Rittenhouse Club."

"We meaning you, me, Matt, and the FBI?"

Coughlin nodded.

"What did you tell him?"

"I told him that Matty had had a little run-in with a couple of FBI agents, and you and I were pouring oil on some troubled waters."

"Did he buy it?"

"He said he was naturally curious why a couple of FBI agents who don't even work in Philadelphia were following Matty around in the first place."

"He knew they had been following him? God, he does find things out, doesn't he?" Wohl said.

"Including some things that you and I didn't know," Coughlin said. "Like when those two FBI agents were waiting in the Special Operations parking lot to see if Matty was coming out, a Highway Patrol sergeant-Nick DeBenedito-thought they looked suspicious and went and tapped on their car window and asked them who they were."

Coughlin smiled, and Wohl laughed.

"It's not funny, Peter," Coughlin said. "And it gets worse. The FBI guys showed Nick their identification, and told him they were on the job, surveilling the guy driving the Porsche, and did Nick know what he was doing inside. Nick asked why did they want to know, and they told him it was none of his business. So Nick goes inside, tells the duty officer, who calls the FBI duty officer and asks him what a couple of FBI agents, one of them named Jernigan, are doing parked in the Special Operations parking lot, and the FBI duty officer says he doesn't have an agent named Jernigan. So Nick and the duty officer go back to the parking lot, and the FBI guys are gone. Then they go see Matt, who's working upstairs, and ask him what's going on, and Matt tells them not to worry about it, the FBI thinks he's a kidnapper they're looking for."

"Oh, God!" Wohl said, laughing. "So within thirty minutes, it's all over Special Operations. The FBI with egg on its face again."

"That's funny, I admit. But what's not funny is, of course, that somebody couldn't wait to tell Mickey, and he put that and us being in the Rittenhouse Club together and came up with the idea that something's going on he doesn't know about, and the way to find out is to ask me."

"What did you tell him?"

"I told him I didn't feel free to tell him until I'd first checked with you."

What do you call that? Passing the buck?

"So he's going to come see me?" Wohl asked. "First thing in the morning, no doubt?"

"Probably, since he didn't beat me here," Coughlin said, smiling. He held up his whiskey glass. "I told you, we mostly drank our dinner. I don't like to make decisions when I do that. I figured telling Mickey he'd have to ask you would give us time to think how much we're going to tell him. We're going to have to tell him something."

Wohl didn't reply.

"So I decided to come here," Coughlin said. "And on the way I had a couple of other unpleasant thoughts."

"Oh?"

"Do me a favor, Peter, and don't decide before you think it over that this is the whiskey talking."

"I wouldn't do that, Chief," Peter said.

"Yes, you would. I would too, if you showed up at my place at this hour of the night with half a bag on."

Their eyes met for a moment, and then Coughlin went on.

"I'm worried about Matty," he said. "I'm sorry I went along with this 'cooperation' with the FBI business."

"I don't think you had much choice."

"I could have said no, and then gotten to Jerry Carlucci before Walter Davis did and told him why I said no."

"What would you have told him?"

"That these animal activists are really dangerous people, and that Matt's not experienced enough to deal with them."

"As I understood it, he isn't going to deal with them. Just see if he can, by getting close to the Reynolds woman, positively locate them for the FBI. And the FBI will deal with them."

"Did you see what was in his eyes when I gave him that order?" Coughlin asked. "And I made that order as clear as I could."

"I remember. What about his eyes?"

"There was a little moving sign in them. Like that sign in Times Square. You know what it said?"

Wohl shook his head again.

"Yeah, right. Say what you want, old man, but give me half a chance, and I'm going to put the arm on these people, make the FBI look stupid, and get to be the youngest sergeant in the Philadelphia Police Department. Just like Peter Wohl."

Wohl was torn between wanting to smile at the image, and a sick feeling that Coughlin was right.

"Chief, for one thing, Matt knows an order when he hears one."

"Ha!" Coughlin snorted.

"And he's both smart and getting to be a pretty good cop. He won't do anything stupid."

"He's too smart for his own good, he thinks he's a much better cop than he really is, and what would you call crawling around on that ledge on the Bellvue-Stratford twelve stories above South Broad Street? That wasn't stupid? "

"That was stupid," Wohl admitted.

"And how would you categorize his using a boosted passkey to go into the Reynolds girl's room in the hotel? The behavior of a seasoned, responsible police officer?"

Wohl didn't reply.

"Not to mention taking the FBI on a wild-goose chase in North Philly?"

"Well, under the circumstances, I might have done that myself," Wohl said. "But I see your point."

"There's a lot of his father in Matty," Coughlin said. It took Wohl a moment to understand Coughlin was not talking about Brewster Cortland Payne. "Jack Moffitt would still be walking around if he had called for the backup he knew he was supposed to have before he answered that silent alarm and got himself shot. And Dutch Moffitt would still be alive, too, if he hadn't tried to live up to his reputation as supercop."

"Chief," Wohl said, "I'm sure Matt has thought about what happened to his uncle Dutch and his father. And learned from it."

"You don't believe that for a second, Peter," Coughlin said. "When did he think about it? Before or after he climbed out on that twelfth-floor ledge? And if Chenowith or any of the other lunatics show up in Harrisburg, you think he's going to think about what happened to Dutch and his father? Or try to put the arm on him-or all of them?"

Wohl shrugged and didn't reply for a moment.

"Well, what do you think we should do?" he asked finally.

"How's he going to check in?"

"Twice a day. With either Mike Weisbach or Jason Washington, or Weisbach's sergeant, Sandow. Or whenever-if-he finds something."

"Take the call yourself. Have a word with him. He just might listen to you. He thinks you walk on water."

"I'd already planned to do that," Peter said.

Coughlin met Wohl's eyes. He looked for a moment as if he was going to say something else, but changed his mind. He picked up his glass and drained it.

"I'll let you go to bed," he said. "Thanks for the drink."

"Anytime, Chief. You know that," Wohl said.

"If I interrupted anything," Coughlin said, nodding toward the closed door of Peter's bedroom, "I'm sorry."

Jesus Christ, is he psychic? Or did Amy cough or something and I didn't hear her and he did? Or did he take one look at my face and read on it the symptoms of the just-well-laid man?

"You didn't interrupt anything, Chief," Wohl replied.

"Good," Coughlin said.

He reached for the telephone and dialed a number.

"Chief Coughlin en route from Inspector Wohl's house to my place," he said, and hung up.

Then he walked to the door. He put out his hand to Wohl.

"A strong word when you talk to our Matty, Peter."

"As strong as I can make it," Wohl said.

Coughlin nodded, then opened the door. Peter watched to make sure he made it safely down the stairway, then went inside the apartment, locked the door, and went into his bedroom.

"I gather he's gone?" Amy said. "He didn't accept your gracious invitation to spend the night?"

"Sorry about that," Peter said. "He's gone. How much did you hear?"

"Everything," she said.

"He's very fond of Matt," Wohl said. "And he had a couple of drinks."

"I hardly know where to ask you to start," Amy said. "Why don't we start with the twelfth-floor ledge of the Bellvue-Stratford? That sounds very interesting."

"It wasn't as bad as it sounds, Amy. That ledge was two feet wide. And I really read the riot act to him when I heard about it."

"Two feet wide and twelve stories off the ground, right? Let's have it, Peter."

"You read in the papers where a Vice Squad lieutenant was taking money from a call girl madam?"

Amy nodded.

"A lot of it took place in the Bellvue. Matt was on the surveillance detail. They put a microphone on a hotel-room window with a suction cup. The cup fell off. Matt went out on the ledge and put it back in place."

"He risked his life so you could arrest a call girl madam?"

"We were really after the police officers involved. And don't get mad at me, Amy. I didn't tell him to do it. And I ate his ass out when I found out about it."

Amy snorted.

Peter started to take his bathrobe off.

"Just hold it right there," Amy said. "This isn't pick-it — up-where-we-left-it-when-we-were-so-rudely-interrupted time. Who are these people Denny Coughlin is afraid Matt will try to arrest by himself?"

"I can't get into that," Wohl said. "I'm sorry."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Amy flared, parroting, " 'I can't get into that'?"

"It's a highly confidential underway investigation."

"And you never talk about highly confidential underway investigations to the bimbo you're banging, right?"

"Is that what you think you are to me? Some bimbo I'm banging?"

"Don't try to change the subject, Peter," Amy said.

"And what am I to you, Amy?" Wohl heard himself asking, wondering where the sudden rage had come from. "A convenient stud? Once or twice a month, when the hormones get active, call the stud and ask if you can come over?"

"How did we get on this subject?" she asked uncomfortably. "Is that what you really think?"

"I don't know what to think," he said.

Amy exhaled audibly.

She met his eyes.

"What do you want me to say? That I think I'm in love with you?"

"If that were the truth, that would be a nice start."

"My patients, I am forced to conclude, are not the only ones who try to avoid facing the truth."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"In this case, the truth I seem to have been avoiding facing is that I am in love with you."

Peter didn't reply.

"No response to that?" Amy asked after a long moment.

"You're so matter-of-fact about it," he said.

"There's something wrong with that?" Amy asked.

Peter shook his head, "no."

"I'll tell you what happens now," Amy said. "If it's the truth, it would be a nice start if you said, 'I love you, too, Amy.' "

"I love you, too, Amy."

"Okay, step two. Now you can take off your robe and come to bed, and after we do what people in love do, step three, you tell me all about this highly confidential underway investigation you've got my little brother involved in."

"Can I suggest step one-A?"

"Suggest."

"I have a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator I've been saving for a suitable occasion."

"Very good. Go get it. Perhaps this love affair of ours isn't going to be as hopeless as logic tells me it's going to be."

"You think it's hopeless?"

"We'll have to wait and find out, won't we, Peter?"

He left the bedroom to fetch the champagne. As he was standing by the sink, unwrapping the wire around the cork, Amy came out of the bedroom and went to him and wrapped her arms around him from the back.

"It's true," she said, almost whispering. "When I saw you walking out of the bedroom, I suddenly realized, My God, I really do love that man."

It took Matt Payne ten minutes to get through the system set in place to protect Harrisburg's chief of police from unnecessary intrusions on his time by the public and to his second-floor office in the police headquarters building, but once he got that far, he found that his passage had been greased.

"The chief's on the phone, Detective Payne," his pleasant secretary greeted him with a smile, "but he's been expecting you. Can I get you a Coke or a cup of coffee?"

"Coffee would be nice. Thank you."

She was pouring the coffee when the red light indicating the chief's line was busy went out, and she stopped pouring the coffee and picked up one of the phones on her desk.

"Detective Payne just came in," she announced.

A moment later the door to the chief's office opened and a stocky, ruddy-faced man in uniform came through it, his hand extended, and a smile on his face.

"Sorry to keep you waiting," the chief said. "The damned phone. You know how it is. Agnes take care of you all right?"

"Yes, sir," Matt said, as he took the Chief's hand and nodded toward the coffee machine.

"Pour one of those for me and bring them in, will you, Agnes?"

"Yes, sir."

"Come on in, Payne, and we'll see what we can do to make things a little easier for you."

"Thank you, sir," Matt said.

A highly polished nameplate on the chief's desk identi fied him as A. J. Mueller. At each end of the plate was a deer's foot, and there were two deer's heads hanging from the walls. One wall was covered with photographs, about half of them showing the chief shaking hands with other policemen and what looked like politicians-one showed the chief shaking hands with the governor and another with the Hon. Jerome H. Carlucci-and the rest showing the chief, in hunting clothes, beaming, holding up the heads of deer he'd apparently shot.

A glass-doored cabinet held an array of marksmanship-mostly pistol-trophies and four different target pistols with which he had presumably won the trophies.

"I hope you didn't check into a hotel yet?" Chief Mueller asked, motioning for Matt to sit in one of the armchairs facing his highly polished desk.

"No, sir. I came directly here."

"Good. I called the Penn-Harris-that's the best in town-and got you a special rate."

"That was very kind of you, sir," Matt said.

"Well, not only does Walter Davis speak highly of you, but-maybe I shouldn't tell you this-an old friend of mine, Chief Augie Wohl, called and said he heard you were coming out here, that you were not only a pretty good cop but a friend of his, and he'd be grateful if I'd do what I could for you."

"That was very nice of Chief Wohl, sir."

"I'm a little curious how come you know Chief Wohl. To look at you, I'd guess-no offense-Augie retired when you were in grammar school."

"I work for Chief Wohl's son, sir. Inspector Peter Wohl."

"Peter's an inspector? God, I remember him in short pants. Really. We had a convention of the National Association of Chiefs of Police in Atlantic City. I'd just made chief, and it was my first convention. Anyway, Augie brought Peter along. In a cop suit. He was a cute little kid, serious as all get-out."

Matt was unable to restrain a smile at a mental image of a cute little kid named Peter Wohl dressed up in a cop suit.

"Yes, sir. He commands the Special Operations Division. "

Agnes delivered the coffee and left, leaving the door ajar. Chief Mueller got up from his desk, walked to the door, and closed it.

"Does Chief Wohl know about this-what do we call it? — 'cooperative effort' you're doing with Walter Davis? "

"I don't know, sir. I don't think so, but Inspector Wohl may have told him."

"He didn't mention it on the phone, so we'll presume he doesn't know. Okay?"

"Yes, sir."

"That means on this police force I'll be the only one to know. It's been my experience, generally, that when more than one person knows something, you can forget about it being a secret."

"Yes, sir."

Mueller walked back to his desk, opened the drawer, took out a business card, wrote something on it, and handed it to Matt.

"In case you have to get in touch with me in a hurry," he said. "The first number is my unlisted number at home, and the second is the number of the officer in charge of the radio room. They always know where I am."

"Thank you, sir."

"It might be a good idea if you called in here at least once a day. The third number on there is Agnes's private line. If I have any messages for you-you get the idea."

"Yes, sir. I'll check in with Agnes at least once a day."

"Now, before I call Deitrich in here, let's make sure we have all our balls lined up in a straight line. Officially, what you're doing here is looking for dirty money the Vice Squad lieutenant may have stashed up here. Is that about it?"

"Yes, sir."

"Are you really going to do that, or is that just for public consumption?"

"I'm going to be doing that, sir."

"I guess I don't have to tell you that if he does have money, or anything else, hidden up here it doesn't have his name on it?"

"No, sir. I have a list of names of people who might be cooperating with him."

Chief Mueller nodded.

"I hope you find something," Mueller said. "It rubs me the wrong way when crime pays. Especially when the bad guy used to wear a badge."

"I'm sure that's the reason Inspector Wohl sent me up here, sir," Matt said.

"And then this cooperation with Walter and the FBI just came along?"

"That's about it, sir."

"Well, I hope that works, too. For the same reason. It also rubs me the wrong way when people who've killed people just thumb their noses at the rest of us. And get away with it."

"Yes, sir."

"If you need anything, Payne, to help you along, all you have to do is ask."

"Thank you very much, sir."

Mueller went back to his office door and opened it.

"See if Lieutenant Deitrich's got a minute, will you, please, Agnes?" he ordered, and then turned to Matt. "Deitrich, a good man, heads up our White Collar Crime Division. He can get you into the banks."

Deitrich, a very large, nearly bald man in his forties, came into Mueller's office two minutes later.

"Paul, say hello to Detective Matt Payne of the Philadelphia Police Department," Chief Mueller said.

Deitrich examined Matt carefully before putting out his enormous hand.

"How are you?" he said.

His handshake was surprisingly gentle.

"You remember reading in the papers about that dirty Vice lieutenant-what was his name, Payne?"

"Meyer, sir," Matt furnished.

Deitrich nodded his head, confirming Matt's snap decision that Lieutenant Deitrich was a man who didn't say very much.

"The Philadelphia Police Department thinks that ex-Lieutenant Meyer may have some money and/or some property hidden up here," Mueller went on. "And sent Payne up to see if he can find it."

Deitrich nodded again.

"That's a righteous job so far as I'm concerned, so I have offered him our full support."

Deitrich nodded again.

"And Detective Payne comes with a first-class recommendation from a mutual friend of ours. You getting the picture, Paul?"

Again the massive head bobbed once.

"And, for the obvious reasons, he wants to do this as quietly as possible," Mueller said.

"I told him, for openers, that you can get him into the banks," Mueller went on, "and-I just thought of this-you have friends in the county courthouse if he wants to check property transfers."

"When do you want to start?" Deitrich asked.

"How about tomorrow morning?" Chief Mueller answered for him. "Get him a chance to get settled in his hotel. The Penn-Harris."

The massive head bobbed.

"I'll make some calls this afternoon," Deitrich said.

"Thank you."

"You'll be moving around," Mueller said. "What kind of a car are you driving?"

"A Plymouth."

"Yours, or the department's?"

"An unmarked car."

"What year? Does it have official plates?"

"A new one," Matt said. "Blue. Regular civilian plates."

"They must like you in Philadelphia," Deitrich said. "Before you leave, get me the plate numbers. I'll have the word put out that a suspicious, not-one-of-ours unmarked car is to be left alone."

"Thank you."

Deitrich wordlessly took a business card from his wallet and handed it to Matt.

"Thank you," Matt repeated.

"Nine o'clock?" Deitrich asked.

"Nine's fine with me."

Deitrich looked at Mueller to see if there was anything else.

"Thank you, Paul," Mueller said.

Deitrich nodded first at Mueller and then at Matt and then sort of shuffled out of the room.

Mueller waited until he was out of earshot, then said, "Paul doesn't say much. When he does, listen."

"Yes, sir."

"Why don't you let me welcome you to Harrisburg with a home-cooked dinner?" Mueller asked.

"That's very kind, sir. But could I take a rain check?"

Mueller looked at Matt, his bushy eyebrows raised. Then he nodded.

"I hope she's pretty," Mueller said.

"She is," Matt said.

Mueller put out his hand. The meeting was over.

"I meant what I said about if you need anything, anytime, you have my numbers."

"Thank you, sir," Matt said, "for everything."

The Penn-Harris hotel provided Detective Payne with a small suite on the sixth floor at what Matt guessed was half the regular price. There was a bedroom with three windows-through which he could see the state capitol building-furnished with a double bed, a small desk, a television set, and two armchairs. The sitting room held a couch, a coffee table, two armchairs, and another television set.

While he was unpacking, he opened what he thought was a closet door and found that it was a kitchenette complete to a small refrigerator. To his pleased surprise, the refrigerator held a half-dozen bottles of beer, a large bottle of Coke, and a bottle of soda water.

He decided this was probably due more to Chief Mueller's wish to do something nice for a friend of Chief Inspector (Retired) Augustus Wohl than to routine hotel hospitality, particularly for someone in a cut-rate room.

Matt finished unpacking, then took a bottle of beer from the refrigerator, settled himself on the sitting-room couch with his feet up on the coffee table, and reached for the telephone.

Jason Washington's deep, vibrant voice came over the line.

"Special Operations Investigations. Sergeant Washington. "

"Detective Payne, Sergeant Washington, and how are you on this warm and pleasant afternoon?"

"How good of you to call. We were all wondering when you were going to find the time."

"I just got here," Matt protested, and then asked, "Did something come up?"

"I have had three telephone calls from Special Agent Matthews asking if we had heard from you. Weren't you supposed to liaise with him, Matthew?"

"I'm not sure I know what that means," Matt said. "Anyway, I don't have anything to tell him. I just got here."

"So you said. And how were you received by our brothers of the Harrisburg police?"

"By the chief. Nice guy. He said Chief Wohl had called him."

"That's interesting."

"Yeah, I thought so. Anyway, Chief Mueller set me up with their White Collar Crimes guy, a lieutenant named Deitrich, who's going to get me into both the banks and the hall of records in the courthouse."

"Where are you, Matthew?"

"Six twelve in the Penn-Harris," Matt said. He took a close look at the telephone and read the number to Washington.

"I will share that with Special Agent Matthews," Washington said. "Is there anything else, in particular anything concerning your-what shall I say, 'social life in romantic Harrisburg'-that you would like me to tell him?"

"I haven't called her. I will when I get off the phone with you. And that one telephone call may be, probably will be, the end of that."

"And how is that?"

"You were there when I told Davis that her eyes glazed over when I told her I was a cop."

"If at first you don't succeed, to coin a phrase. You might try inflaming her natural maternal instincts, and get her to take pity on a lonely boy banished to the provinces far from home and loved ones."

Matt chuckled.

"If you were she, would you be eager to establish a close relationship with a cop?"

"That might well depend on the cop," Washington said. "Think positively, Matthew."

"I'll let you know what happens."

"Would a report at, say, eight-thirty in the morning be too much to ask? I would so hate to disappoint Agent Matthews should he call about then, as I'm sure he will."

"I'll call you in the morning," Matt said.

"I will wait in breathless anticipation," Washington said, and hung up.

Matt took the telephone number for the Reynolds home Daffy had given him from his wallet, read it aloud three times in an attempt to memorize it, and then dialed it. As the phone was ringing, he looked at the scrap of paper in his hand, decided this was not the time to rely on memory tricks-even one provided by Jason Washington-and put it back in his wallet.

"The Reynolds residence," a male voice announced.

Jesus, they have a butler!

Why does that surprise me? Dad said her father was an "extraordinarily successful" businessman, and that's Dad-speak for really loaded/stinking rich.

"Miss Reynolds, please. Miss Susan Reynolds. My name is Matthew Payne."

"One moment, please, sir."

It was a long moment, long enough to give Matt time to form a mental image of Susan being told that a Mr. Matthew Payne was on the line, taking a moment to wonder who Matt Payne was, to remember, Oh, that cop at Daffy's! and then to tell the butler she was not at home and would never be home to Mr. Payne.

"Hello?" a female voice chirped.

"Susan?"

That doesn't sound like her.

"No," the female voice said, coyly. "This is not Susan. This is Susan's mother. And who is this, please?"

"My name is Payne, Mrs. Reynolds. Matthew Payne. I met Susan at Daffy… Daphne Nesbitt's-"

"I thought that's what Wilson said!" Mrs. Reynolds cried happily. "You're that wicked young man who kept Susan out all night!"

Christ, she's an airhead. In the mold of Daffy's mother, Chad's mother, Penny's mother. What is that, the curse of the moneyed class? Or maybe it's the Bennington Curse. The pretty young girls grow up and turn into airheads. Or otherwise go mad. Like those who believe in being kind to dumb animals by blowing buildings up. Or at least aid and abet those who think that way.

"I think you have the wrong man, Mrs. Reynolds."

"Oh, no, I don't, Matthew Payne. Daphne Browne-now she's Daphne Nesbitt, isn't she? — told me all about you! You're a wicked boy! Didn't you even think that we would be worried sick about her! Shame on you!"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Well, she's not at home. I mean, she's really not at home. She's at work."

"I'd like to call her there, at work, if that would be possible."

"That's not possible, I'm afraid. They don't like her to take personal calls at work. Could I give her a message?"

"What I was hoping to do was ask her to have dinner with me."

"When?"

"I thought perhaps tonight, if she didn't have previous plans."

"In Philadelphia?" she asked incredulously.

"No. Not in Philadelphia. Here. Harrisburg."

"You're in Harrisburg?"

"Yes, ma'am. On business."

"I really thought for a minute that you wanted to have dinner tonight with Susan in Philadelphia."

"No, ma'am. I'm here. And I thought she might be willing to have dinner with me."

"Well, I'll tell you what," Mrs. Reynolds said, and there was a long pause. "You come here and you can have dinner with Susan's daddy and me. And, of course, Susan. "

"I wouldn't want to impose," Matt said.

"Not at all," she said. "And I want to get a look at you, and give you a piece of my mind. You will come to supper, and that's that."

"In that case, thank you."

"You may change your mind about that after Susan's daddy lets you know what he thinks about you keeping Susan out all night."

"Yes, ma'am."

"We eat at seven-thirty sharp when we're at home. Is that convenient?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Do you know where we are?"

"No, ma'am. Just that you're in Camp Hill."

"I'll give you directions. They're not as complicated as they sound. Have you a pencil?"

"Yes, ma'am."

THIRTEEN

If he saw it at all, Mr. Ronald R. Ketcham paid little attention to the black GMC Suburban truck parked near the elevator in the basement garage of his garden apartment building on Overbrook Avenue.

The truck was inconspicuous, and intended to be that way. It was painted black, and all but the windshield and front-seat windows had been painted over. There were no signs on its doors or sides indicating its ownership or purpose; it was classified as a "Not For Hire" vehicle, and none were required by law.

The inconspicuous Suburban was normally used to carry the remains of the recently deceased from their place of death-usually a hospital, but sometimes from the Medical Examiner's office, if the deceased had died at home, or for some other reason was subject to an official autopsy-to a funeral home.

Larger undertaking establishments often had their own discreet vehicles for the purpose of collecting bodies and bringing them to their places of business, as they had their own fleets of hearses, flower cars, and limousines to carry the dear departed, his/her floral tributes, and his/her mourners to his/her final resting place. But many-perhaps most-of Philadelphia's smaller funeral homes had found it good business to take advantage of the corpse pickup service and delivery service offered by Classic Livery, Inc., which owned the Suburban Mr. Ketcham did not notice as he drove his Buick into his garage.

Even the larger undertaking establishments, when business was good, often used one of the four black Suburbans Classic Livery had made available to the trade, as they similarly availed themselves of hearses, flower cars, and limousines from Classic Livery's fleet when their own equipment was not sufficient to meet the demands of that particular day's service to the deceased and bereaved.

Classic Livery, Inc., also owned the black Lincoln sedan parked among the rows of cars in the basement garage of Ketcham's garden apartment, and the four men in it-who had been waiting for Ketcham for two hours before the shit-ass finally showed up-were longtime employees of Classic Livery.

Ketcham parked his Buick coupe in the place reserved for it, got out, reached in and took his briefcase from the rear seat, and walked toward the elevator.

As Ketcham did so, everyone in the Lincoln sedan except the driver got out, and the driver of the remains-transporting Suburban started his engine.

The three men from the Lincoln reached the door to the elevator at about the time Ketcham reached it. One of them, a well-dressed thirty-five-year-old of Sicilian ancestry, smiled at Ketcham and waved him into the open elevator door. When Ketcham had entered the elevator, the three men got into it with him.

The elevator door closed.

The driver of the black Suburban drove to the door of the elevator and backed up to it. The doors were opened from the inside.

The elevator door opened again not quite a full minute later. Ketcham, the upper part of his body now concealed in an overcoat, and staggering, as if he had been subjected to some sort of blow to the head, emerged from the elevator, supported by two of the three men who had entered the elevator with him.

Ketcham was assisted into the Suburban, and one of the three men from the Lincoln got in with him. Ketcham was dragged toward the front of the Suburban-all but the front seat, of course, had been removed, so there would be room for a cadaver-where he lay upon his stomach. The doors were closed.

The other two men walked unhurriedly back to the Lincoln and got in. When the black Suburban drove away from the elevator door toward the entrance of the garage, the Lincoln followed it.

"What the hell's going on here?" Ketcham asked, his voice somewhat muffled by the overcoat over his head and shoulders.

The man who had opened the doors from the inside, and was now half sitting on a small ledge in the side of the Suburban, kicked him in the face.

"Shut your fucking face," he said.

He then proceeded to wrap two-inch-wide white surgical-or perhaps "morticians and embalmers"-white gauze around Ketcham's neck, in such a manner that the overcoat would not become dislodged.

Next, he used the tape to bind Ketcham's wrists together, and then his ankles.

Approximately five minutes later, Ketcham, who sounded close to tears, said one word: "Please…"

This earned him two sharp kicks, one in the ear from the man in the front, and a second in the buttocks, delivered by the man who had smiled at him as he had entered the elevator and who had gotten into the Suburban with him.

Ketcham said nothing else during the rest of the journey, which took approximately forty minutes, and neither did either of the two men with him in the rear of the remains-transporting Suburban.

Ketcham tried to recognize, and make sense of, the sounds and noises he heard during the trip. From the frequent stops and starts, and the sounds of automobiles accelerating and shifting gears, Ketcham deduced they were in traffic somewhere.

He searched his memory, very hard, in an attempt to guess who was doing this to him and why, but to no avail. The first thing that occurred to him, perhaps naturally, was that it had something to do with Mr. Amos J. Williams.

At first-Ketcham was understandably upset and not thinking too clearly, although the two lines of cocaine he had nasally ingested in the men's room of the Blue Rock Tavern on his way home gave him a feeling of euphoria about all things, including a sense that his mind was really firing on all twelve cylinders-that seemed the most logical inference to draw.

Williams-and his thugs-had been arrested at the Howard Johnson motel on Roosevelt Boulevard, and I wasn't. That damned well might have made him suspicious, maybe made him think I had set him up with the police. And his getting arrested had also caused him to lose the cocaine he had intended to sell me. Even if he had paid only half of what he was going to sell it to me for, that's still ten thousand dollars, and he would be very unhappy about losing that much money.

And if he has decided-he's not intelligent, obviously, so he's liable to decide anything-that I had something to do with his arrest, then this may be my punishment for that.

Unlikely. The first thing he would do-intelligent or not, he has a certain criminal cunning-would be to recoup his losses. At least the ten thousand he had invested, and possibly the entire twenty I had agreed to pay him. Once he had done that, he might well kill me. But what would be the purpose?

If it's money he wants, I'll promise to get it for him. Under these circumstances, I will be certainly motivated to find it somewhere.

But wait a minute! If this, whatever this is, has something to do with Amos Williams amp; Company, he would have sent his man Baby Brownlee. The people who are doing this to me are white men!

Could this be a case of mistaken identity?

For that matter, could I be hallucinating? This does feel like a bad dream. Am I going to wake up in just a minute?

Or could I really be hallucinating? I did a couple of lines… what, forty minutes ago? Was it bad stuff?

No. That was from my next-to-last packet of emergency supplies. I've been into it twenty, perhaps thirty, times without anything unpleasant happening.

Ketcham became aware that the sound of the vehicle's passageway over the roadway had changed. For one thing, he sensed that they were moving more slowly than they had been.

The vehicle stopped.

Ketcham heard the sound of the vehicle's door opening, and then it moved as if someone had gotten out.

He heard a metallic screech and decided, after a moment, that it was the sound of a door opening, and then changed that to suspect strongly that it was the sound a gate in a Cyclone fence-as those surrounding a tennis court-makes when being opened.

The vehicle moved a short distance forward. Ketcham heard the sound of the squeaking gate again. The vehicle tilted as if someone had gotten in the front seat. The door slammed shut and the vehicle drove off.

Ketcham sensed that they were no longer on a paved road, and confirmation of this came when the vehicle, moving slowly, encountered one hole in the road after another.

What are they doing? Taking me out in the woods someplace to kill me?

But if they wanted to kill me, they had ample opportunity in my garage.

If they're not going to kill me, then what? They must want something from me. What?

If this is a case of mistaken identity, which seems as likely an answer as anything else I've been able to come up with, then there will be the opportunity to clear things up, to let them know I'm not who they are looking for.

Or, even if it's not a case of mistaken identity, if they want something from me-maybe they know I'm a stockbroker, and think we keep large amounts of cash around the office. They're Italian, they could be the Mafia. That sounds like something the Mafia would do. And they might not know the only cash around the office is in the petty-cash box, and I don't even know of any negotiable instruments at all. Anyway, if they do want something from me, there will certainly be an opportunity to talk, to negotiate.

Those thoughts made Ketcham feel better.

After two or three minutes of lurching down what Ketcham was now convinced was an unpaved road, the vehicle moved onto a solid, flat, and thus presumably paved surface and stopped.

There was the sound of two doors being opened, the sense of shifting as if two persons had left the vehicle, and the doors slammed shut.

Then Ketcham heard the rear doors of the vehicle being opened.

"Cut that shit off his legs," a voice ordered.

There was a clicking sound, which Ketcham decided just might be the sound of a switchblade, and a sensation of sawing around his ankles. He felt the pressure that had been holding his ankles together go away.

Ketcham was dragged out of the Suburban and set on his feet. He felt a hand on each arm, as if there was a man on each side of him.

He was pushed into motion. Without quite knowing why, he sensed that he had entered some kind of a building. The sense grew stronger as he was guided down what he now believed to be a corridor, and confirmation came when he was stopped, and heard the sound of a door-a heavy metal door, he deduced. Where am I? In a factory? Or a garage? — being opened.

Ketcham was pushed through the door, led fifteen feet inside, and stopped.

"Cut his hands loose," the same voice ordered, and again there was the sort of slick clicking sound a switchblade knife made, and again the sawing sensation, this time at his wrists.

And then they were free.

"Without taking the coat off your head, take off your clothes," the same voice ordered.

"What?" Ketcham asked incredulously.

This earned him a blow in the face.

That wasn't a fist. That was something hard. A stick perhaps. Or perhaps a gun.

"Without taking the coat off your head, take off your clothes," the same voice repeated.

The one thing I cannot afford to do, Ketcham told himself, is lose control of myself. They want me to take off my clothes, very well, I will take off my clothes-meanwhile, waiting patiently, and carefully, for my opportunity.

With some difficulty, Ketcham removed the jacket of his dark blue, faintly striped blue suit. Without thinking what he was doing, he held the suit jacket out, as if waiting for someone to take it from him and hang it up.

A snicker made Ketcham realize that no one was going to take the jacket from him. He let it slip from his fingers.

Ketcham next removed his necktie, and tried to drop that on top of his suit jacket. Then he pushed his braces off his shoulders, loosened the snap and opened the fly of his trousers, and somewhat awkwardly removed his trousers, which he then attempted to drop atop his jacket, tie, and shirt.

"I won't be able to remove my undershirt," he began, trying to sound as polite and reasonable as possible.

Ketcham was then struck upon the face again, which caused him to lose his balance and fall backward onto the floor.

"What he means," a new voice said, "is that he can't get his undershirt off without taking the overcoat off his head."

"Fuck the undershirt, then," the first, now familiar voice replied. "Take off your shorts and your shoes and socks."

Ketcham complied. He was now naked save for the overcoat over his head and upper body, and his undershirt, sitting on the floor. The floor was cold.

From its consistency, Ketcham decided the cold floor was concrete, which tended to buttress his suspicion that he was in a garage, or a factory of some sort.

"Get up," the familiar voice ordered.

Ketcham complied.

"Hold your hands out in front of you, together," the familiar voice added.

Ketcham complied, and almost immediately felt his wrists again being tied together.

There was a short burst of derisive laughter.

"Christ, look at his cock," a third voice, previously unheard, said. "Angelina's Chihuahua's got a bigger cock."

There were chuckles of agreement.

"Shut your fucking mouth!" the familiar voice said.

I will remember that when this is over and I'm out of here, Ketcham decided with some satisfaction. One of these thugs has a wife, or girlfriend, named Angelina, who has a Chihuahua.

Then nothing happened, except for what Ketcham believed to be the sound of shuffling feet, and what could have been the sound of the door being closed.

It was cold wherever he was, and Ketcham felt himself start to shiver.

That should really please the thug who thinks my penis is funny, when he sees me standing here naked and shivering.

I will not lose control. I will wait until whatever is going to happen happens.

Five minutes later, very carefully, Ketcham uttered one word.

"Hello?"

There was no reply.

Thirty seconds after that, Ketcham spoke again:

"Hello? Is anyone there?"

There was no reply.

Obviously, there is no one here. If there was, and I was not supposed to have spoken, they would have hit me again.

Will someone be coming back?

What would they do to me if they came back and found that I had somehow been able to remove the overcoat over my head?

Two minutes after that, after having debated the question with himself carefully, Ketcham decided to attempt to remove the overcoat that covered his head and upper body.

Doing so was easier than he thought it would be. By maneuvering his shoulders while holding one side of the coat with his bound-together hands, he was able to get the coat off first one shoulder and then the other, and when that was done, he was able to untie the tape holding the coat around his neck.

But when Ketcham had removed the coat, he could see absolutely nothing. There was no light of any kind whatever in the room. He suddenly felt faint and dizzy, and dropped to his knees, and then moved to a sitting position. The floor under his buttocks was rough and cold.

Ketcham raised his wrists to his mouth, and with some difficulty, using his teeth, he managed to untie the tape binding his wrists together. That done, he groped for the overcoat, found it, and put it on. It was too small for him; he could button only a few of the buttons, and the cuffs were six inches off his wrists.

Ketcham then went back on his hands and knees and began looking for the clothing he had been forced to remove and had dropped onto the floor.

It was not where he remembered having dropped it, and Ketcham decided that he had become disoriented when he had felt faint and dizzy, and decided he would have to search for it methodically.

Ketcham crawled on his hands and knees until he encountered a wall. Then he moved along the wall hoping the find a door, or something else. He didn't, but eventually he found a corner. He moved from the corner to the next, and estimated that the room was about fifteen feet in that dimension. Then he followed that wall until the next corner, and the next. Along that wall, to one end of it, he encountered a door.

He stood up then and ran his hands over the door. He found a hole, which presumably had at one time held a doorknob. Ketcham put his index finger in the hole and felt around, but encountered nothing. Next Ketcham ran his hands over the concrete on both sides of the door. His fingers encountered a square box, a shielded cable running to it, and then, on the box itself, two toggle switches.

Ketcham closed his eyes so that he would not be blinded by any sudden light. He threw both switches several times, but there was no light.

Walking erect now, Ketcham proceeded along the wall until he came to the corner from which he had started. Then he made another circumnavigation of the room, walking erect and rubbing his hands in slow wide arcs over the cold rough concrete. Midway down one wall, he encountered another shielded cable, and followed it to a plug box near the floor. There was a similar arrangement on the next wall.

Ketcham realized that while he was, literally speaking, still totally in the dark, he was no longer in complete ignorance of his surroundings. He was in a room he estimated to be probably fifteen feet by twelve. There was one door, no handle, and electrical circuits that were dead-or alive. Someone could have removed the bulbs from the light fixture-fixtures; there were two switches-they controlled.

There were no windows, which meant that he was more than likely in some kind of basement.

But they didn't lead me down any stairs, and the truck or station wagon, or whatever that was, didn't descend an incline; I would have sensed that if it had.

So where the hell am I?

Where are the people who brought me here?

Why did they bring me here?

What happens next?

Ketcham began to shiver again.

Where the hell are my clothes?

Ketcham dropped to his knees and began a methodical search of the room, rubbing his hand over the concrete in wide arcs. His confidence that it would be just a matter of time until he found his clothing took a long time dying, but eventually, after twenty passes, he gave up.

Ketcham rested his back against the wall.

His fingertips, and the palms of his hands, and his knees were raw from the concrete.

And I have to take a leak!

Jesus, what do I do about that?

Ketcham got to his feet and moved along the wall until he came to a corner.

I will piss here. This corner will be the toilet.

What the hell am I going to have to do when I have to take a crap?

Ketcham held the too-small overcoat out of the way and voided his bladder. Moments after he had begun to do so, he felt warm urine on his bare feet. He spread his legs as far apart as he could until he finished.

Fuck it, I'd rather get beaten up than put up with any more of this shit!

Ketcham made his way to the door and shouted "Help" and "Hello" and beat on the door with his fists, which caused the door to resound like a bell.

No one responded.

Ketcham made his way to the corner opposite from the toilet, and rested his back against the wall, and started to weep in the darkness.

The parking lot of the country club was nearly full, and Matt lost sight of Susan's Porsche while finding a place to park the Plymouth. After three minutes of wandering around the parking lot, he found the car, but not Susan.

"Thank you ever so much for waiting for me," he muttered, and headed for the brightly lit entrance to the club-house.

He found Susan in the center of the large entrance foyer, talking to a man whose dress and manner made Matt guess-correctly, it turned out-that he was the steward, or manager.

"Good evening," Matt said, smiling.

"Matt, this is Mr. Witherington, the manager."

"Claude Witherington," the man said as he put out his hand to Matt. Then he was unable to resist making the correction: "Executive Manager, actually. Welcome to River View, Mr. Payne. We hope you'll enjoy our facilities. "

"Thank you very much," Matt said.

"After Mr. Reynolds called," Witherington said, "I had your guest card made out." He handed it to Matt.

"Thank you," Matt said.

"This is a no-cash club," Witherington said. "I thought I should mention that."

"How am I going to pay?"

"Have you a home club?"

"I belong to Merion, in Philadelphia, if that's what you mean."

"Splendid. Merion, of course, is on our reciprocal list. Actually, had I known that, I wouldn't have had to issue a guest card at all. In any event, all you will have to do is sign the chit, and if you think of it, add 'Merion, Philadelphia. ' "

"Actually, I think it's in Merion," Matt said. "What should I do, write 'Merion, Merion'?"

Susan Reynolds shook her head, but there was the flicker of a smile on her lips. Mr. Witherington looked distressed, but after a moment smiled happily.

"You just sign your name, Mr. Payne, and I'll handle it from there. You'll be billed through your club."

"You're very kind, thank you very much."

"Not at all," Witherington said. "Enjoy, enjoy!"

He walked off.

Susan put out her hand.

"Good night, Matt."

"Good night?"

"Good night."

"That wasn't our deal, fair maiden. Our deal was that I help you deceive your parents-and that was difficult for me; they're nice people-and in return you keep me from being overwhelmed by loneliness here in the provinces. I kept up my end of the deal, and I expect the same from you."

"Matt, if you go into the bar, and hold your left hand up so that people can see you don't have a wedding ring, a half dozen-what did you say, 'fair maidens'?-will fall over themselves to get at you."

"I know, that happens to me all the time. But I'm not that sort of boy. I don't let myself get picked up by strange young ladies. And I don't kiss on the first date. Besides, if you went home now, so soon, your daddy and mommy might get the idea our romance is on the rocks."

"We don't have a romance."

"You wouldn't want to break your mommy's heart, would you? From the way she was looking at me, she's already making up the guest list for our marriage."

"That's not true!"

" 'The truth is a shattered mirror strewn in myriad bits, and each believes his little bit the whole to own,' " Matt quoted, and when Susan gave him an incredulous look, added, "That's from the Kasidah of Haji Abu el Yezdi-in my judgment, one of the wiser Persian philosophers."

"You're unbelievable!"

"So my mother tells me," Matt said.

"What do you want to do?"

"Let's go in the bar and have a couple of quick stiff ones," Matt said. " 'Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.' I believe Mr. Ogden Nash said that."

Susan shook her head again. "One drink," she said.

"Three. We can then compromise on two."

Without replying, she walked toward what turned out to be the bar. It was a large, dark, and comfortable room, with a bar along one paneled wall, and tables with red leather-cushioned captain's chairs scattered around the room.

Matt did not miss the eight or ten attractive young women in the room, sitting in groups of two or three at tables and at the bar.

Maybe I should have let her get away. I think the odds to make out in here look pretty good. My chances with Susie range from lousy to zip.

Not that I would, anyway. Could, anyway. Peter was right about that.

I will not, Boy Scout's honor, make that mistake.

A waiter appeared as soon as they sat down.

"Good evening, Miss Reynolds," he said.

"What do you drink, Matt?" Susan asked. "Let your imagination run loose. Da-my father will expect me to make this my treat."

"Daddy's going to pay?" Matt asked.

"That's what I said."

"Would you bring us the wine list, please?" Matt said.

"The wine list?" Susan asked incredulously.

"It's a list of the available fermented grape juices," Matt said seriously, "generally stapled into some kind of artificial leather folder."

"Miss Reynolds?" the waiter asked in confusion.

"Go get the wine list," Matt ordered. "If the lady's going to welsh on her offer to spring for the booze, I'll pay for it myself."

"Get the wine list, please," Susan said.

"Yes, ma'am."

Susan looked at him.

"I don't think your insanity comes naturally," she said. "I suspect you actually think you're amusing, and really work on your crazy-man routine."

"I'm disappointed that you can see through me so easily, " Matt said. "But now that you know my darkest secrets, are you going to tell me yours, to even the playing field?"

"Would it crush you even more if I told you I wouldn't give you my phone number, much less tell you my darkest secrets?"

"I already have your phone number," Matt said.

"Unfortunately," she said.

"When did you first realize you were falling in love with me? At Daffy's?"

"Oh, how I wish I had never seen you at Daffy's!"

"Then it must have been when some primeval force, stronger than both of us, brought you to my hotel-room door."

"Do you ever stop?"

"Not when I'm on a roll."

The waiter laid a wine list in front of Matt.

Matt looked at Susan.

"You never saw one of these before?" he asked innocently. "They're quite common in Philadelphia."

"Jesus Christ!"

"What's your pleasure, Susan?" Matt asked.

"Whatever you like," she replied.

Matt looked at the waiter.

"Have they got any Camembert in the kitchen? Or Roquefort?"

"I'm sure there's Roquefort, sir. I'm not sure about the other."

"Okay. Well, ask, and bring us one or the other, preferably both. And some crackers, and of course a cheese knife, and a bottle of this Turgeson Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon. And a couple of glasses, of course."

"Yes, sir."

"We just had dinner," Susan said when the waiter had gone.

"But-you were so anxious to be alone with me-no dessert."

"I was anxious to get you out of the house as soon as possible."

"Isn't that what I just said?"

"Before you said something you shouldn't have."

"Not fair, fair maiden. I held up my side of the bargain. "

After a moment, she said, "You're right. You did. Thank you."

"You're welcome," Matt said. "That brings me to the other 'thank-you' you owe me."

"For what?"

"For talking that Harrisburg uniform out of giving you a ticket for going sixty-five in a forty-mile-per-hour zone, thereby offending the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania."

"Is that what you call them, 'uniforms'?"

Matt cupped his hand behind his ear, signaling he was waiting to hear 'thank you.' "

She smiled.

"Okay, thank you. Now answer the question."

"Yes."

"Isn't that a little condescending?"

"Not at all. It's simply an identifying term."

"I have trouble picturing you in a policeman's uniform. "

"I'm dashing. Within a two-mile circle, girlish hearts flutter," Matt said, and then added, "Actually, I've hardly worn my uniform."

"How's that?"

"I went, right out of the Academy, to a plainclothes job."

"How did you arrange that?"

"It was arranged for me. My father has friends in high places, one of whom believed-with my father-at the time that I would quickly come to my senses, resign from the cops, and go to law school. My father's friend, he's a chief inspector, arranged for me to be assigned as the administrative assistant-sort of a secretary in pants-to Inspector Peter Wohl. The idea was that in this manner, until I came to my senses, I would not get myself hurt."

"But you didn't resign. Why not? Why are you a cop in the first place?"

"Why are you a social worker? That doesn't look like much fun to me, and I would be surprised if the pay's any better."

"I'm doing something important."

"The police are important. Try to imagine life without us."

"I don't have to shoot people," Susan said.

Shooting people is a no-no, right? But blowing them up-or at least aiding and abetting those who do-is OK, right?

"I only shoot people who are trying to shoot me," Matt said. "Or run me over with a truck."

"Is that what happened?"

"That's what happened."

"Did it bother you to have taken someone's life?"

Be careful what you say here, Matthew. Think before you open your mouth. I think the answer here is going to be important.

"Well, did it?" Susan asked, somewhat impatiently.

"I got psychiatric advice," Matt said.

"You went to a shrink?"

"My big sister is a shrink. She came to me."

"And?"

The waiter appeared with the wine and a plate holding crackers and a triangular lump of Roquefort cheese. While the waiter opened the bottle, Matt put cheese on half a dozen crackers.

He sipped the wine, nodded his approval, waited for the waiter to pour into first Susan's glass and then his own, then popped one of the crackers into his mouth and immediately took a sip of wine.

"What are you doing?" she asked in clear disapproval.

She had to wait until he had finished chewing for his reply.

"Don't tell me you never saw anyone do that before?"

"I never saw anyone do that before," she said. "It's gross!"

"But it tastes so good," he said. "Don't knock it until you've tried it."

"No, thank you."

"Oh, go on, take a chance. Live dangerously. Escape your mundane social worker's life."

She looked very dubious and did not reply. Matt popped another Roquefort-on-cracker into his mouth, added some of the wine, chewed, and smiled with pleasure.

Curiosity got the better of her. She shrugged and reached for one of the crackers and then the wine. She took a tentative chew, then smiled. When she had finished, she confessed, "That's good."

"And you didn't want to have a couple of snorts with me. You would never have learned that-something you can use for the rest of your days-from good ol' Whatsisname. "

Her eyes showed she didn't like that.

"You were telling me what your sister the shrink told you," she said.

"You really want to know?"

"Yeah," Susan said thoughtfully. "I suppose I do."

"She said that I should remember that what I did was an act of self-preservation, rather than an act of willful violence. And that self-preservation is one of the basic subconscious urges, right up there with sexual desire, over which man has very little control."

I just made that up. I must be getting to be a pretty good liar. Or, more kindly, actor. When Amy came to me in her Sigmund Freud role after I shot the late Mr. Warren K. Fletcher in the back of his head, I told her to butt out.

And Susie seems to be swallowing it whole.

"And, of course, in that case, the act of homicide had an undeniably desirable social by-product."

"And what does that mean?"

"When he tried to run me over he had a naked housewife tied up with lamp cord under a tarpaulin in the back of his truck."

"Come on!" Susan said, almost scornfully.

Matt held up his right hand, pinky and thumb touching, the others extended. "Boy Scout's honor," he said. "And there was no moral question in that woman's mind whether or not I should have shot him. He had been telling her all the interesting things he was going to do to her just as soon as they got out of town."

"In other words, so far as you're concerned, it's morally permissible to take human life under certain circumstances-for a greater good?"

Matt bit off the answer that started to form on his lips, and instead said, "Have another cracker, Susan."

"We're changing the subject, are we? What happened, did you run out of sardonic witticisms?"

Yeah, for some reason I sensed that it was time to change the subject. I have no idea how, but I knew that line of conversation was dangerous.

"I guess so. You can go home to Mommy and Daddy, Susan. I don't like the conversation anymore."

Her face colored, and for a moment Matt thought she was about to push herself out of her chair and march out of the room.

But she didn't.

"Sorry, I–I just never had a chance to ask…"

" 'How does it feel to kill somebody?' " Matt furnished, not very pleasantly.

She nodded.

"I'm sorry, Matt."

Why don't you ask your pal Chenowith? Wouldn't you say that blowing up eleven innocent people would make him more of an expert?

Jesus, she didn't! She has never talked to Chenowith about what he did! How do I know that? I don't know how I know, but I know.

"What was it? Feminine curiosity?" Matt asked.

"I said I was sorry."

"Like I said, have another cracker," Matt said, and made her another one.

She took it, put it in her mouth and added wine, and chewed. And smiled.

"That is good."

"I'm surprised your father doesn't do it. He takes his food seriously."

"What you really said was 'Go home, Susan,' " she said.

"I can't believe I said something like that," Matt said. "Not when we still have half a bottle of wine and two pounds of cheese."

She smiled.

"I'm sorry I said that," Matt said. "I apologize. I really don't want you to go home."

"I'm going to have to. I have to go to work tomorrow. And so do you."

"Have another cracker," he said, and made her another one.

She took it.

"I learned something about you tonight I didn't know," she said. "That may have had something to do with my uncontrolled curiosity."

"Like what?"

Susan looked into his eyes. "I never connected you with Penny before," she said.

"I don't recall mentioning Penny," Matt said. "Oh, that's right. You're another product of Bennington, aren't you?"

"We were friends," Susan said.

"How did you come to connect me with Penny?"

"This is awkward," Susan said.

"Go ahead. If we're going to spend the rest of our lives together, we should have no secrets from each other."

She smiled at him again.

"Oddly enough, I seem to like you better when you're playing the fool," she said.

"Thank you very much," Matt said.

"When I went to get my car from the garage? And my mother came to the garage?"

Matt nodded.

"Mommy told you?"

"Mommy said I should be especially nice to you because of your tragic loss," Susan said. "So I naturally asked, 'What tragic loss?' "

"Okay. So are you going to be nice to me?"

"What happened to her?"

"You don't know?" Matt asked. "She got some bad shit, stuck it in her vein, and 'So Long, Penelope Detweiler. ' "

"You sounded like a policeman just then."

"I am a policeman."

"I mean instead of her fiancй."

"We never got quite that far," Matt said. "Close, but not that far."

"But it hurt, right?"

"It was a tragedy. She had everything going for her-"

"Including you?" Susan interrupted.

"That was a possibility. But she couldn't leave it alone. The drugs, I mean. Her parents sent her to a place in Nevada, but it didn't work."

"How did she get started on it?"

"She started running around with a gangster named Anthony J. DeZego, also known as Tony the Zee. I have no idea how that happened-she was probably looking for a thrill. But I'm sure he's the bastard that got her hooked."

"And he's still around?"

"No, he's not. The mob, for reasons still unknown, blew him away. That's why Penny wasn't Daffy's maid of honor when she married Chad. Penny was with Tony the Zee when they hit him. Shotgun. When Chad and Daffy were married, Penny was in Hahnemann Hospital, full of number eight shot, wrapped up like a mummy. Mummy with a U; as in Egyptian."

"My God!"

"You didn't go to the wedding? It gave everybody something to talk about."

"I couldn't get away," Susan said.

"No, of course you weren't at the wedding. If you had been, I would have remembered."

She looked at him uncomfortably.

"This is all new to me."

"Daffy didn't tell you?"

"Daffy told me drugs were involved in Penny's death. I didn't pry."

They lapsed into silence. Finally, Susan stood up.

"I really have to go," she said.

Matt scrawled his name on the check.

"I'll walk you to your car."

"That's not necessary," Susan said. "Stick around. The hunting looks good."

"Not to me," Matt said.

"I told you, Matt, I'm just not interested."

"I remember," he said.

She shrugged.

They walked out of the club and to her Porsche.

She unlocked the car and stood by the open door and held her hand out. He took it.

"Drive slow. That uniform may have a quota of tickets to pass out."

"I will," she said. "And thank you for being a good guy at the house tonight."

"Good ol' Whatsisname would never know," Matt said.

"Know what?"

"If you gave me the briefest, most platonic possible kiss good night."

"I don't want to," Susan said. "Can't you get that into your head?"

"A teeny-weeny, absolutely innocent kiss that not even the Pope could object to, much less Mommy and Daddy."

"Oh, Jesus," she said, and moved her head very quickly and brushed his lips.

Then she stood back and they looked at each other in something close to amazement.

Jesus H. Christ! Matt wondered. What the hell was that? Lust at first touch?

Susan quickly crawled into the Porsche, slammed the door closed, started the engine, and drove quickly out of the parking lot without looking at Matt again.

Matt watched until the car disappeared from sight, exhaled audibly, and went looking for the unmarked Plymouth.

Mrs. Reynolds came into Susan's room as she was undressing.

"Did you have a good time?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact, we did. He taught me to put Roquefort on a cracker and then take a swallow of wine."

"Daddy used to do that," Mommy said.

"Did he really?"

"He seems to be a very nice young man," Mommy said.

"For a cop," Susan said.

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing."

"At least he's working, and according to Mr. Emmons, very highly regarded in his chosen profession."

"And what else did Mr. Emmons have to report?"

"He's very comfortable. I mean, personally, now. And the Paynes are more than comfortable."

"Where do you think we should be married, Mommy?" Susan said.

"Don't be like that, Susie, you asked!"

"Sorry."

"Are you going to see more of him?"

"I'm afraid so."

"I think you like him."

"Good night, Mommy."

Mrs. Reynolds turned as she passed through Susan's door.

"Mary-Ellen Porter called," she said.

"Who?"

"Mary-Ellen Porter. She said you were together at Bennington. "

Since I never heard the name Mary-Ellen Porter until this moment, then it has to be either Jennie or Eloise.

"Oh, of course. Mary-Ellen. What did she want?"

"She said she would call you at work tomorrow. I told her they didn't like that, but she said she had to talk to you in the morning."

"I wonder what she wants?" Susan asked, more or less rhetorically.

FOURTEEN

"Good morning, Lieutenant," James C. Chase said. "It's always a pleasure to see you. How can we be of assistance this morning?"

The brass sign on Chase's large, highly polished desk in his glass-walled office off the main room of the First Harrisburg Bank amp; Trust Company identified him as "Vice President."

Matt had instantly decided that Chase was the exception to the general rule that most banks had as many vice presidents as they did tellers, and that the title had come in lieu of a pay raise and carried with it very little authority.

This man-fifty-something, gray-haired, very well-tailored-had the look and bearing of someone in authority, used to making decisions.

"This is Detective Payne, of the Philadelphia Police Department, " Lieutenant Deitrich said.

The announcement visibly surprised Chase, but he quickly recovered and offered Matt his hand.

"How do you do?" he asked.

"How do you do, sir?" Matt replied.

"Payne, you said?"

"Yes, sir."

"I was in school with a chap from Philadelphia named Payne," Chase said. "Brewster C. Payne. I don't suppose there's any chance-"

"He's my father, Mr. Chase," Matt said.

"Then I really am delighted to meet you. How is your father? I haven't seen him in several years, I'm afraid."

"Very well, thank you, sir."

Well, I just got handed the keys to the bank didn't I?

"You make sure to give him my very best regards."

"Yes, sir, I will."

Wait a minute!

If this guy is really an old pal, why didn't Dad at least mention him when I told him I was coming to Harrisburg?

If Chase really is a good friend-and I think he thinks he is, which doesn't mean Dad reciprocates, of course-not mentioning him wasn't an inadvertent oversight. Because Dad doesn't think of him the same way? No. He would have warned me about something like that.

Maybe because Dad didn't want to lean on his old school chum on behalf of the cops? Or because he knew that it would quickly come to Chase's attention that a Philadelphia detective named Payne wanted to nose around his bank? And that Chase would either ask-as indeed, he just did-or call Dad and ask.

In the latter instance, that got Chase off the hook. If he wants to be nice to the son of his old buddy, fine and dandy. If he doesn't, he doesn't have to, and since Dad didn't ask Chase didn't have to say "no." No hard feelings.

You are a smart one, Dad! Clever. Subtle. A real class act.

It's amazing, as the saying goes, that the older I get, how much smarter you get.

And what was it you told me about banks? "Most bank presidents are figureheads, who spend their time talking to the Kiwanis and the Rotary and drumming up business on the golf course. Banks are run by their boards of directors, through the secretary or treasurer of the corporation, or sometimes a vice president."

Why do I suspect that I have just met that "sometimes vice president"? And that Lieutenant Deitrich damned well knows where Mr. Chase fits into the power structure around here?

"Now, how may I be of assistance?" Chase asked.

"We have reason to believe that someone engaged in criminal activity in Philadelphia has moved money to Harrisburg, " Matt said. "Concealing it."

"And you're here to see if you can find it? And obviously with the blessing of Chief Mueller, or Lieutenant Deitrich wouldn't be with you."

Deitrich nodded.

"Yes, sir," Matt said.

"Are you at liberty to tell me the source of the funds?"

"One of our officers has been suspended, and indicted for taking money from a madam who was operating a call girl ring in Center City," Matt said.

"That's one of the more lucrative 'occupations,' I understand. Do you have a search warrant?"

"For the property of the officer concerned. His name is Seymour Meyer. He was a lieutenant."

"I suppose it would be too much to hope he would have an account, or a safe-deposit box, in his own name, wouldn't it?"

"Yes, sir," Matt said. "I have a list of names of relatives, friends-"

"Well, we'll look first-we might get lucky-for any accounts in this man's name. Or a safe-deposit box in his name. Your warrant-you have it with you?"

Matt reached into his jacket and came out with the warrant. Chase read it.

" 'Wherever located,' " he read aloud. "Good. That will give you access to either the details of his account or the box. If we find either. But as far as boxes in another name, or the details of someone else's account…"

"Yes, sir. I understand. If, however, there is an account-are accounts-matching the names on my list, I understand the courts have held that it is not a violation of the client's confidentiality if a bank were to review the account and tell me if there were unusual deposits, or unusual activity. Without divulging the amounts involved, of course. With that, something out of the ordinary, I'm sure we can go back to the judge and get additional search authorization."

"You know your business, don't you?" Chase asked, and went on without giving Matt a chance to reply. "What I'll do, Mr. Pay-Would you mind if I called you by your first name?"

"Not at all, sir. 'Matt.' "

"What I'll do, Matt, is get you a desk, and then I'll get a list of our account holders and box holders, and you can start your search."

"That's very kind of you, sir."

"May I see your list of names?"

"Yes, sir, of course," Matt said, reached in his pocket for it, and handed it to him.

"I'll have my girl make a Xerox of this, and start the process rolling."

"I think you're set up here, Payne," Deitrich said. "When you finish here, give me a ring, and I'll take you around to First National."

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Matt said.

"Mr. Chase," Deitrich said, nodded at the banker, and left the room.

When he was out of earshot, Chase looked at Matt and smiled.

"He doesn't talk very much, does he?"

"No, sir."

"But he's a good man. We've had some-what do I say, 'business'?-together, and I must confess I was very impressed with him."

"He gives me that impression, too, sir."

"Ordinarily, Matt, I'd install you in a small room off the lobby, but I think I can, for my old friend's son, do a little bit better than that."

He walked to the glass door of his office and waved Matt through. Then he walked ahead of Matt across the lobby to another glass-walled office like his own, but somewhat smaller.

A middle-aged woman sat at a desk outside it.

"Dolores," Mr. Chase said, "I can't believe you'll find anything, but would you have a quick look for anything of a confidential nature in Mr. Hausmann's desk? This is Mr. Payne, who will be using it for a while while Mr. Hausmann is in Boston."

"I'll check," she said, getting up and smiling at Matt. "You're from First Chicago, Mr. Payne?"

"No, ma'am."

"What Mr. Payne is doing here is confidential, Dolores. "

"I see," she said. "Well, this won't take me a moment. Mr. Hausmann is very careful about things of a confidential nature."

She went into the office and came out in less than a minute.

"Nothing on top, and everything else is locked."

"Thank you," Chase said. "Now, I'm sure that you would have done everything you could to make Mr. Payne welcome, even if I didn't tell you his father and I are old friends. Classmates, as a matter of fact."

"Of course."

"In that case, I'll leave him with you, and try to make the bank some money."

She laughed dutifully.

"Matt," Chase said, as if he had just thought of this. "How long do you think you'll be here?"

Matt smiled.

"Until I either get what I came for, or know that it was never here in the first place."

"Where are you staying?"

"At the Penn-Harris."

"That's the best place. Room all right?"

"Very nice, sir."

"Good. Do you play golf?"

"Yes, sir."

"Would you like me to call out to River View and get you a guest card?"

"That's very kind, sir. But a friend's father, Mr. Reynolds, already did that for me."

"Tom Reynolds?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, in that case, I won't have to ask what was going to be my next question."

"Sir?"

"Which was going to be, 'Would you like me to see if I couldn't find a nice girl to introduce you to?' "

Matt chuckled.

"That won't be necessary, sir. But thank you very much."

Chase touched Matt's shoulder and walked back to his office.

"Can I get you a cup of coffee, Mr. Payne?" Dolores asked.

"That would be very nice," Matt said. "And may I use the phone?"

"Of course. Just make yourself comfortable."

She waved in the direction of Hausmann's desk. Matt walked into the office, settled himself in the comfortable green leather high-backed chair, took a look at a silver-framed photograph presumably of Mr. and Mrs. Hausmann and the four little Hausmanns, and then reached into the credenza behind the desk for the Harrisburg telephone book.

He found what he was looking for and dialed the number. He had to go through a switchboard, but in less than a minute, he heard:

"Appeals, Reynolds."

"My, don't we sound businesslike? I'm sure, hearing that no-nonsense voice, that the taxpayers of Pennsylvania are getting a good day's work for a fair day's pay out of you."

"Oh, God! What do you want?"

"There are several things on my mind, actually."

"Make it quick. They don't like personal calls around here."

"Okay. First and foremost, I wanted to assure you that I haven't washed my face."

"What?"

"I may never wash it again, as a matter of fact."

"Oh," Susan said, finally taking his meaning. "Jesus! Grow up, Matt!"

"You mean you washed your face?" he asked incredulously.

"Of course… What's on your mind, Matt?"

"I think you already know."

"God!" she responded in what she hoped was an expression of disgust and disbelief.

"If you have a pencil, Susie, I'll give you the telephone number of my new office. Very classy. It gives me a splendid view of the polished marble floors and ornate bronze fixtures of the lobby of the First Harrisburg Bank and Trust Company. In case you want to call me in the next couple of hours."

"I don't think that's likely."

"You never know when you're going to need a cop, and in case you do, you'll have my number right at your fingertips."

"Next?"

"Where are we going for lunch?"

"Nowhere."

"Then where are we going for dinner?"

"Nowhere."

"I thought maybe we could drive out to Hershey and have dinner in the Hotel Hershey."

"No."

"Well, any place you like is fine with me. What time shall I pick you up?"

"You don't know how to take 'no' for an answer, do you?"

"We have a deal, fair maiden."

"I don't know what you've got in your mind, Matt-"

"Really? No feminine intuition at all? I find that difficult to believe."

"Damn you!"

"I seem to have offended you. Since-my intentions being so pure and noble-I can't imagine how, what I am obviously going to have to do is call your mommy, tell her how sorry I am, and ask her if she can't try to fix things up between us."

There was a chuckle. Not a very pleasant chuckle, more one ringing of resignation.

"And you really would, wouldn't you, you son of a bitch?"

"You can take that to the bank. The First Harrisburg Bank and Trust."

"I'll pick you up in front of the Penn-Harris at half past six. We'll have a quick and early dinner."

"To start," Matt said. "You won't have any trouble spotting me. I'll be the handsome devil with the look of joyous anticipation in his eyes."

"Oh, God," Susan said, and hung up.

Matt put the phone in its cradle and only then noticed a mousy-looking female in her thirties standing in the of fice door. She held a deep metal tray full of strange-looking forms-bank records, probably, he decided-in both hands.

"Mr. Payne?" she asked.

Matt nodded. She came into the office and, with a grunt, laid the gray metal tray on the glass-topped desk.

"These are the safe-deposit box access records," she said. "When you're through with them, would you please tell Dolores, and I'll come and get them."

"Thank you," Matt said, and smiled at her.

He ran his fingers down the forms. Each form was metal-topped, and designed to hang from the reinforced side of the tray. Each form was for one box, and listed not only the names and addresses and social security numbers of every person authorized access to that particular box, but at what time, on what date, someone had the box, and for how long.

What I thought Chase was going to get for me was a list of names of box holders matching-at least the last name-the names on my list. This tray obviously holds a card for every safe-deposit box in the bank.

Is giving me more information than I even asked for, crossing over the confidentiality line, the way they always "cooperate" with the police in a situation like this?

Or only when they trust the cop doing the looking?

Or because of my father's relationship with Chase?

What difference does it make? Never stick your finger in a gift horse's mouth.

He had finger-walked his way through perhaps half a dozen of the records when the skinny woman came back, this time carrying a tray in which another kind of bank records lay flat.

"These are the accounts in which you may be interested, Mr. Payne," the skinny woman said. "Through 'D.' The sooner I can have them back, the better. So if you would just ask Dolores to Xerox the ones you're interested in, then you could send them back. I'd really like it better not to bring you 'E' through 'H' until you're through with these. Would that be all right?"

"That would be fine," Matt said. "Thank you very much."

Matt picked up the top record in the tray. It was a complete record, going back four years, of the banking activity-the dates and times of deposits; withdrawals; interest payments; and service charges-in a savings account of an individual whose last name-only-matched one of the names on the list Matt had prepared in the Personnel Of fice in the Roundhouse.

The form (actually three forms, stapled together) under the first was a record of the same activity in the individual 's checking account.

If I get one of these-two of these-for every account holder in this bank with the same last name as the names on the list I gave Mr. Chase, I'll be in Harrisburg for a month.

Which, considering the rockets that went off when I kissed Susie last night, might not be entirely a bad thing.

For Christ's sake! What the hell's the matter with you? Get that stupid idea out of your mind, once and for all!

He reached for the telephone, dialed the operator, and placed a collect call to Sergeant Jason Washington.

"Matthew, my boy! How are things in the capital of our great Commonwealth?"

"Well, I am into the bank."

"So, apparently, is the opposing side," Washington replied.

"Excuse me?"

"You first. You seemed surprised."

"The… level of cooperation is much more than I expected. "

"Perhaps it's your charm," Washington said. "I understand you were to take someone to dinner last night. Did that happen?"

"Yeah."

"Was the evening fruitful? In a professional sense?"

Was that a dig? Or was he just being clever?

"I think so."

"But nothing specific to report?"

"No."

"Are you somewhere where you can conveniently and confidentially telephone? There's someone else you really should talk to."

"Wohl?"

"Matthews."

"I'm in a glass-walled office off the lobby of the Harrisburg Bank and Trust Company," Matt said. "It's private enough, but I would have to call him collect."

"Give me the number-I should have thought of that anyway-and I'll suggest he call you. The unattractive lady bandito has apparently struck again."

"Really? Where?"

"I have only the most rudimentary facts. But I suspect Jack Matthews is happily anticipating providing you with every last detail."

Matt read the telephone number and the extension off the phone to Washington.

"I am sure that you will be hearing from Matthews within minutes," Washington said. "And there is one more thing, Matt."

"What?"

"Peter Wohl is concerned that you might do something foolish. So am I. Allow Mr. Matthews's associates to deal with this beyond the limitations of what you were ordered to do."

"Okay."

"If you were to disobey your orders, and Wohl, so to speak, threw the book at you, he would have my complete support."

"You have made your point."

"I devoutly hope so," Washington said, and hung up.

Three minutes later, Dolores, after first knocking, put her head into the door of the office.

"There is a Mr. Rogers of the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society on line three for you, Mr. Payne. Do you want to take it?"

"Thank you," Matt said, and picked up the telephone. "Payne."

"Can you talk?"

"Didn't you just hear me talking?"

"Christ, Matt!"

"What can I do for you, Mr. Rogers? Don't tell me I'm overdrawn again?"

He could hear Matthews sigh.

"The Farmers and Merchants Bank of Clinton, New Jersey, was held up yesterday morning. We just heard about it, and I just talked to our Newark office-they have jurisdiction. Same modus operandi as the Riegelsville job. Same description of the perpetrator. This time, the haul was nearly sixty thousand dollars."

"Hairy legs and all?"

"That wasn't mentioned. But the unattractive, heavy makeup, earrings, et cetera, et cetera. For reasons I can't understand, Newark sent the surveillance-camera film to Washington-to the Anti-Terrorist Group; I suppose they issued a 'Report Similar Events' notice-before they processed it. I called Special Agent Jernigan, and he's promised to send me whatever the camera shows by wire as soon as it's processed. I'll be very surprised if it turns out to be someone else."

"Sawed-off shotgun, too?"

"No. That's the one thing that doesn't fit the modus. This time it was a sawed-off carbine."

"Explain that to me, please?"

"One of the witnesses-the bank guard-got a good look at it. The stock had been cut off behind the pistol grip, and then rounded with a file. And the barrel was cut off back to where the forearm whatchamacallit holds it. You understand?"

"What's the purpose?"

"Concealability, obviously. And presumably our friend thinks he now has the latest thing in terrorist machine-pistols. Those were M2-fully automatic carbines-they stole from Indiantown Gap."

" 'Presumably our friend thinks'?" Matt quoted.

"I fired a carbine modified very much like this one on the FBI range at Quantico. They look great, very menacing, but-"

"I've fired one, too," Matt interrupted. "And also at Quantico. But on the Marine Corps' known-distance range."

"Okay. Then, knowing that there's a good deal of recoil in a carbine, you'll understand how hard this 'modification ' would be to control, even single shot, without the stock. If he tries to fire it full automatic, he just couldn't control it. The danger here is-"

"If he should try to take a shot at a cop, or one of you guys, he'd be more likely to hit a civilian," Matt finished for him.

"Right."

"What is this clown doing, acting out a fantasy?"

"That bombed building was no fantasy, Matt."

"No," Matt agreed. "Anything else?"

"How did your dinner with the girlfriend go?"

"What do you mean, 'girlfriend'?"

"Chenowith's, not yours, of course."

"I must have missed something. I thought the Ollwood woman was his girlfriend."

"Right. So what?"

"Yes or no?"

"No. I have carefully gone through everything. I have had plenty of time, you see, waiting patiently by my telephone to hear from you-"

"Screw you, Jack," Matt said amiably.

"— and there is nothing to suggest that the Reynolds woman is, or has been, romantically involved with either male."

" 'Either male?"

"I didn't mean to suggest that. But who knows? These people don't consider themselves bound by the usual conventions of society. If it feels good, do it."

Christ, is that a possibility? There is no boyfriend. Has been no boyfriend…

"How did dinner go?" Matthews asked.

Well, pal, we had dinner with Mommy and Daddy, and Daddy taught me how to cook a London broil, and then we went to the country club. En route, the female suspect got pinched for speeding, and I talked a local uniform out of writing the ticket. At the country club, I taught the female suspect to eat Roquefort on crackers with a sip of cabernet sauvignon, and we talked about mutual friends, and then the female suspect kissed me for approximately one-tenth of second, whereupon my heart nearly jumped out of my chest. Moments later, my wang tried very hard to break through my zipper. And then I tossed and turned most of the night, thinking about it.

"All right," Matt said,

"Are you gaining her confidence? Do you think she suspects you're in Harrisburg for any reason but the cover story?"

"Yes and no. That was two questions."

"Are you sure she's not suspicious? That's a clever female, Matt. She might be able to conceal her suspicions from you, to see what you're really up to."

"Hey, I was told to liaise-whatever the hell that means-with you, not have you question my conclusions. "

"What's the matter with you?" Matthews asked, sounding shocked.

"Nothing. Why should there be?"

There was a pause, then Matthews asked, "What happens next? Are you going to see her again?"

"Dinner, tonight."

"You haven't picked up on anything?"

"Our relationship is not yet at the point where I can ask, 'Hey, Susie, by the way, what do you hear from your friend, the bomber and bank robber?' But I'm working on it."

"You will, of course, call me if you do pick up on anything? I mean, presuming you got out of the right side of bed that morning?"

"Yeah. Of course I will. But for Christ's sake, don't expect miracles."

"Be careful, buddy."

"I will."

Matthews hung up.

Ten minutes after her conversation with Matt Payne-while part of her mind was still occupied with wondering why she somehow just hadn't been able to tell him that not only would she not have dinner with him tonight, but that the fun and games was over, period, don't call me anymore, period-Susan Reynolds received a telephone call from Jennifer Ollwood.

"Hi," Jennie began.

Susan gave her a telephone number and hung up. She rose from her desk and put her head in the door of Appeals Officer, Grade IV, Veronica Haynes.

"Cover for me, will you, Veronica? I'll be back in fifteen minutes."

"Make it half an hour," Veronica replied. "Fifteen minutes isn't really long enough for an early-morning quickie, is it?"

"Is that all you ever have on your mind?"

"Yeah," Veronica said, after appearing to have given the question serious thought. "What's more important?"

"I can think of some things."

"Some things that are as much fun?"

"Yeah," Susan said, after appearing to give Veronica's question as much serious thought as Veronica had given hers.

"Have fun," Veronica said. "Keeping one eye on the clock, of course."

Susan rode the elevator to the lobby and left the Department of Social Services Building. She walked to a car wash three blocks away. That morning, on her way to work, knowing Jennie-or less likely, Eloise Anne Fitzgerald-was going to call, she had had her Porsche washed.

While it had been going through-she hadn't liked to think what the brushes and felt washing pads were going to do to the Porsche's paint job, but doing this seemed necessary-she had walked to the corner, where there was a pay telephone booth, and written down-and later memorized-the number.

She entered the phone booth, took the handset off its hook, held the hook down with her finger, and pretended to be having a conversation until the phone rang.

"Hi," Jennie said again.

"Hi, yourself. How are you?"

"Well, you know. Fine. Why shouldn't I be?"

Being a fugitive from justice, wanted for murder, an