Had a full day of running around. Mary wanted some massage supplies and a fan for her cubicle at the clinic, and we stopped at Borders. I bought two albums by Grant Green and one by Freddie Green.
Nothing says lovin'
I was really nervous as I rode the bus out to Kate's house. Excited, but nervous. I was really happy to be seeing her, but, honestly, I was a little scared of her father. I knew that he could be violent, and that he still held me responsible for Kate's broken hip. On the other hand, he had given me a ride home from the hospital the day that she came home, which was nice of him. And Mrs. Molloy was a very nice woman, and seemed to be able to hold him in check.
I got to her house and rang the bell. One of her sisters came to the door and answered it. "Hi, you must be Kate's boyfriend. I'm Marie. It's nice to meet you." She led me into the foyer, where I took off my coat. She took it from me, and said, "Kate's waiting for you in the living room."
Kate was sitting in what was apparently her father's easy chair, her broken leg propped up on an ottoman. "Hi, Tony! I'm sorry I can't get up..." She laughed, showing her perfect white teeth. She reached out with both hands; I took them in mine, bent down and kissed her on the cheek.
"It's really good to see you," I said.
"I know. It's so good to see you, too. How's everything going at school?"
We talked for a while about school. She told me that she had been keeping up with her assignments, and that she had arranged with her teachers to take whatever exams she would miss after she got out of her cast. I filled her in on how things were going with my schoolwork.
Mrs. Molloy came into the room, and I stood for her. "It's nice to see you again, Tony. Cold day today, isn't it?"
"Yes, ma'am. They said we're in for a really cold winter."
"How about a cup of tea, or some coffee?"
I wasn't much of a tea drinker, but I said, "Tea would be fine, thanks, ma'am."
"You're most welcome. Kate, how about you?"
"Tea for me, too, Mother," she said.
She left the room, and I sat back down. The doorbell rang when I did.
"That's pretty neat! You made the doorbell ring when you sat down!" Kate laughed. "That's really funny!"
I laughed along with her. Kate's sister ran to answer the door. A second later, I heard a familiar voice. "Hello, miss, I'm Detective Isaac Johnson, Chicago Police Department. I'm looking for Tony Reardon?"
Kate looked at me, her bright green eyes wide. "Tony! Why are the police here? You're not in trouble, are you?"
"No, that's the guy who's been investigating our case," I said.
"Why's he here?"
I shrugged as Marie led him into the room. "Tony? This is Detective Johnson, from the police?"
He loomed large inside the doorframe. "Miss Molloy! It's nice to see you again, out of the hospital this time." He crossed the room and shook her hand.
"It's good to see you, too, Detective. What's going on?"
"Well, that's why I'm here. Tony, I called your room, and must have just missed you. Your roommate said that you'd be here. We were able to catch two of the men you identified the other day, and we want you to take a look at them in a lineup."
Kate looked at me. "What's going on, Tony?"
"Um," I started. I hadn't told her about the guys abducting me outside of the L station and taking me off to talk to me. I knew she'd be pissed.
"Miss Molloy, Tony had an incident when he came back from Thanksgiving break. Several men confronted him and asked him about something that we believe might be related to your case. I asked him specifically not to talk to anyone about it, even yourself." He smiled. "I can see by the expression on your face that he kept his end of the bargain. Anyway, I'm afraid I'm going to have to interrupt this date and have Tony come with me briefly. Perhaps I could bring him back after we're done, if it's not too late?"
"Sure! That would be great," Kate said.
Just then, Mrs. Molloy came into the room, carrying a tray with a teapot, some cookies and soda bread, two cups, and a sugar and cream set on it. "OK, I've brought...oh, I'm sorry," she said, setting the tray down on the coffee table. "I remember you were the detective who was working on Kathleen's case, but I can't remember your name."
"Isaac Johnson, Mrs. Molloy. I'm afraid that I'm going to have to take Tony with me for some business..."
"He's not in trouble, is he?"
"Oh, no, not at all, ma'am. Tony's been quite helpful and cooperative, and we think we might have some leads on who might be responsible for Kate's injuries. We need him to make some identifications for us, if he can."
"Well, then, that's a good thing. Anything that anyone can do to find the people who did this to our daughter is most appreciated. Tony, if it's not too late when you're done, feel free to come back. In fact, come back anytime, dear."
"Thanks, Mrs. Molloy." Marie brought my coat, and helped me with it. "Kate, I'm sorry I have to run off like this..."
"That's all right, Tony. I hope you'll be back soon." I kissed her on the cheek, then extended my hand to Mrs. Molloy, who pecked me on the cheek in response.
"Your timing is impeccable," I said to the detective when he joined me in the car.
"I'm sorry, Tony. You two seem to be hitting it off really well, and I could swear that her mother was measuring you up for a tuxedo."
"I'm really not ready for that yet, Detective."
He laughed. "Anyway, we've got to get this lineup done. These guys are all lawyered up, and their lawyers are making all kinds of noise. When we get to the office, I need you to look at something else, as well. So, we'll do the lineup, then we'll take care of the other business."
We drove to the police station in relative silence, then he led me into a small room with several other men sitting inside. There was a large window in front of me, facing a wall that had lines on it. One of the men in the room was dressed in an expensive suit, a starched white shirt and a silk tie. His hair was slicked back and curled at the ends. He smelled of cigar smoke. "Is this the witness?" he said, pointing at me.
"That's correct, Mr. Altobelli," Johnson said.
"He's just a kid!"
"I'm nineteen," I protested.
"Yeah, whatever, kid. Look, detective, let's get this over with. My client's been here all afternoon, waiting for this. We don't get this out of the way soon, I'm filing harassment charges."
Johnson flicked on a microphone. "Send in the first group," he said. His words echoed in the other room. At his signal, five men, dressed in dark trenchcoats and fedoras, walked into the room and stood in front of the wall. "Now, Tony, you're going to be doing two of these. This first group would be the man that spoke to you outside the L station."
I looked at all of the men. They looked similar, but I was almost positive that the fourth man was the one who had confronted me. "Can I hear number four say something?"
"Yes. What do you want him to say?"
"Have him say, 'we need to talk.'"
"Number Four, step forward," Johnson said through his microphone. "Please say, 'we need to talk.'"
"We need to talk," the man behind the glass said. It was him.
"It's number four," I said to Johnson.
"Aw, geez, kid, are you sure?" Altobelli bellowed from the corner.
"No doubt in my mind, sir," I said.
"Christ on a crutch," he said, storming out of the room.
Johnson leaned over the microphone and turned it on. "Thank you, gentlemen, that will be all." They were led from the room. "Send the next group in, please," he said. Another set of men, dressed in dark coats and hats, were led into the room. "OK, Tony, one of these is the man who you identified as the man who showed you the picture and asked if you knew who it was."
I looked up and recognized him immediately. "Number two," I said, without hesitating.
"You absolutely positive, kid?" One of the other men in the room, dressed not quite as expensively as the other man, said from the corner.
"Absolutely. That was him."
"How can you be sure? It was dark out..."
"That's enough, Mr. Stephens," Johnson said. "You're sure, Tony?"
"Yes. I remember that scar on his face. The light was shining on it."
The man in the corner muttered something and left the room. Johnson went through the same routine with this group. "OK, thanks, Tony. We'll see what we can get out of these guys and we can talk more then. Come on with me, I've got something to show you."
He led me back to his desk and pointed at the chair beside it. "Can I get you some coffee?"
"Uh, yeah, thanks." I lit a cigarette and sat back in the chair. He came back a few minutes later and handed me a cup of black coffee. "I wasn't sure how you took your coffee."
"This is fine," I said. I took a big gulp. It was very bitter, as if it had been sitting on the burner all day.
He picked up a folder and handed it to me. "Take a look at this person and tell me if you know her."
I took the folder from him and opened it. I took a look at the picture, and knew right away. "It's Rosalie."