“You all right, Fletch?” Betsy Ginsberg asked. She was standing in the hotel lobby outside the coffee shop.


“You look white.”

“Just saw Paul Szep’s editorial cartoon.” In fact, he had. Roy Filby had showed it to him at the coffee shop’s cash register. “So how do you like Walsh,” Fletch tried to ask easily, “now that you know him?”

Michael J. Hanrahan went by into the coffee shop. He grinned/grimaced at Fletch and held up three fingers.

Fletch ignored him.

Betsy returned the question. “What do you really think of Walsh?”

“He’s a cool guy,” Fletch answered. “Forgiving, reassuring, absolutely competent. Totally in control.”

“I don’t know,” Betsy said.

“So he didn’t fall all over you,” Fletch said. “Think of the position he’s in.”

The Man Who was getting off the elevator. The eyes of everyone in the lobby were attracted to him. He was smiling.

People intercepted him as he crossed the lobby. Several had children by the hands. A few snapped pictures of The Man Who, as if the world were not being nearly saturated with pictures of him. The Man Who was shaking hands, listening briefly, speaking briefly, as he came across the lobby. He patted some of the children on their heads. He did not take coins from their ears.

Fletch walked close beside him. Quietly he said, “We’ve got to talk. Privately. Soon.”

“Sure,” the governor said. “What’s up?”

Into the governor’s ear, Fletch said, “Ira Lapin tells me another young woman has been murdered.”

The governor reached through the mob, went out of his way to shake a bellman’s hand.

With his public grin on his face, the governor spoke almost through his teeth. “Two people in the United States are murdered every hour, Fletch. Didn’t you know that?”

“Talk,” Fletch said.

“Sure, sure.”