John Holton (john_holton) wrote,
John Holton
john_holton

Nothing Story, parts 26-30

Hope you're still enjoying this, those of you who are reading it. Tomorrow's the last repost of what's already been written. Comments are, as ever, appreciated.


Nothing But The Truth, 1

We drove north on Sheridan for a few blocks, then made a quick right turn and headed toward the lake, which was at the end of the street. None of the guys in the car with me said anything, and I was in no position to say anything, either. I figured that I would find out what was going on soon enough.

When we got to the cul-de-sac at the end of the block, two men got out of a dark sedan. One of them was carrying a folder under his arm. When they came closer, the guy on my right opened the door on his side and helped me out.

"This is Tony Reardon," he told the two men from the other car.

"Tony, it's nice to make your acquaintance," the man with the folder under his arm said. "I"m going to show you a picture, and I want you to tell me if you recognize the person in it." He opened the folder and handed me an 8x10 portrait of a blonde, blue eyed woman.

"I'm sorry, sir, but I don't recognize her." I was being honest. She could have been anyone.

"Take a closer look, Tony, and answer the question again. Do you recognize the woman in this picture?"

When I took a closer look at her face, I realized that the woman was Rosalie. A blonde, blue-eyed Rosalie, but Rosalie nonetheless. "Um...she kind of looks like someone I know, but I can't be sure. The woman I know has brown hair and eyes, and this woman is a blonde with blue eyes."

"OK, then." The man smiled innocently. "Say, just for shits and giggles here, that this woman had brown hair and brown eyes. Would you then say that you know her?"

"Well, then, yeah, I'd have to say that I did. What's this all about?"

"What's the woman's name?" he asked, ignoring me.

"You tell me why you want to know it, and I'll tell you."

The other guy who had gotten out of the car stepped forward. "The lake's gotta be pretty cold this time of the year, if you catch my drift," he said.

I sucked in some air, afraid that I was going to be thrown into Lake Michigan. I was ready to tell them anything that they wanted to know at this point, but before I could open my mouth, the first man turned to his friend and said, "I don't think that'll be necessary." He turned back to me. "The name she used wouldn't happen to be Rosalie, would it?"

"Uh, yeah. How did you know that?"

"Did she send you this?" The man pulled Rosalie's letter to me out of his folder and held it up.

"Hey! That's mine!" I tried to reach for it, but the two guys guarding me held me back. "You're the guys that tossed my room, aren't you?"

"Well, you got us there, Tony," the man said. "You can have this back. Sorry about making a mess of your room." He gave me the letter back, then pulled a roll of bills out of his pocket, peeled off two hundreds, and handed them to me. "This ought to help you and your roommate get your room back together."

I snatched the money from him and put it in my pocket. "You know, the cops are back there dusting my room for fingerprints," I snorted.

"I'm glad to hear that they're doing their job," he said. "Now, understand, if anyone asks about this, you know nothing, right?"

I looked at the four guys surrounding me and the two guys back in the car, and sighed. "I guess so. But I want to know why you're so interested in her."

"That's really none of your business, Tony, and you'd probably be better off not knowing. That's the kind of information that gets people killed." He and his bodyguard went back to their car, and the guys who had taken me to him got into theirs. "Listen kid, if you see her again, tell her to call me," the man shouted to me before climbing in. The two cars sped away, leaving me there, freezing my ass off, to walk home by myself.


When I got back to my room, Eddie was sitting in the middle of what appeared to be the aftermath of a tornado. There was stuff all over the room, mostly his porno magazines.

"So, now you show up," he complained.

"I was unavoidably detained," I said in reply.

"By what?"

"By the guys who tossed the room on us." I pulled the hundreds out of my pocket and handed him one. "They said that they were sorry about what happened."

Eddie's eyes sparkled when he saw the money. He grabbed the bill from me and stuffed it into his shirt pocket. "Apology accepted. So what were they looking for?"

"This," I said, pulling Rosalie's letter out of my pocket. "They found it and then wanted to know where she was and when was the last time I saw her."

"Who were they? Mafia? FBI?"

"I don't konw. They didn't show me any badges, if that's what you're asking. They met me as I was getting off the L and took me down by the lake. They showed me this picture of Rosalie, or someone who looked like her except with blonde hair and blue eyes, and asked if I knew her, and where was she and all that. Then they got in their cars and left me there to walk home."

"Must have been the government. The Mafia would have brought you home," Eddie said. "Well, guess we should get this shit cleaned up."

I looked around and felt exhausted. "At least get the beds back together. I'm whipped just looking at this stuff."

"Yeah, you're right. The cops left you something to fill out, though. Said to give it to the RA when you're done with it."

"I'll deal with it in the morning." I hefted my mattress back onto the bed frame, adjusted the sheets and tossed the blanket over it. I set the alarm for six, got undressed and climbed into bed. I was asleep before Eddie could turn out the light.



I Told You, I Didn't Do Nothing!

Tuesday morning, when I was getting ready for school, there was a knock on my door. It was Detective Johnson.

"Had a little trouble here the other day, didn't you?" he said.

"Good morning to you, too, Detective," I answered, leading him into the room. "I'd offer you coffee, but I don't have any."

"That's all right, my doctor says I should cut back." He sat in the comfortable chair and leaned back. "I didn't hear about your problems until this morning, when I got into the office." He pulled out his notebook. "Want to tell me about it?"

I told him what I had heard from Eddie about coming back to the room and finding all of our stuff on the floor.

"What did he do? Did he call you?"

"Yes, and I came home as soon as I could."

"So, he called you at 8 PM, you came back from where?"

"Home. Mom's house. 95th and Cicero."

"So, you got back here when? 9:30 or so?"

"It was more like 11, 11:15."

He sat up in the chair. "Tony, I'm trying to find out about this. Now, I know that it doesn't take three hours to get from all the way south to here, even on a bad night, even on a Sunday at 8 in the evening."

"The train was delayed."

"You know that I can check on that. You're not telling me something."

I sighed. Might as well tell him the truth. "OK. I had some, uh, visitors."

"Here in the dorm?"

"No, more like outside the L station. They came up to me when I got off the train, and asked me to go with them."

"Where did they take you?"

"Up a few blocks, then down by the lake. We met up with a couple of other guys. They asked me questions about Rosalie."

"The mysterious, gorgeous older woman in your life. What did they want to know?"

"Well, they had a picture of her, but with blue eyes and blonde hair. They asked if I knew her, they practically insisted that I say yes..."

"Was it your Rosalie?"

"You know, I don't know for sure, it looked like her, but like I said, the woman in the picture had blue eyes and blonde hair."

"What else did these guys ask?"

"What her name was. Of course, they already knew."

"They already knew how, Tony?"

"Well, they found this." I pulled the letter from her out of my pocket.

He took the letter and looked it over. "Where did they find it?"

"In my drawer. They were the ones that tossed my room."

He snapped his notebook shut. "Tony, you said that they hadn't taken anything on your police report." He sounded pissed off.

"Well, they gave it back..."

"That's not the point!" He stood up and stalked around the room. "There are fingerprints all over this note. From your Rosalie as well as from the guys that took it from you. When did you get this?"

My mouth was dry. "After I got out of the hospital," I squeaked. I cleared my throat and repeated myself.

"And why didn't you tell me about it? I thought we had a deal here!" He stopped, leaned over and came face-to-face with me. "Tony, if I had this three weeks ago, when all this shit started coming down, we might have been able to track this woman down and make all of this shit stop happening. Why didn't you tell me about it?"

"It was personal." I was starting to get really scared. My eyes were filling up with tears.

"Yeah, well, so's the fact that there are people after you looking for this dame. So's the fact that you damn near got run over and your girlfriend is spending her Christmas in a hip cast." He waved the envelope in my face. "This broad is not worth it, Tony. You got a girlfriend. A real pretty Irish girl with big tits. Why are you protecting this Rosalie? She is going to get you killed, my brother!"

That's when I lost it. I started to cry. Detective Johnson pulled up a chair, sat beside me, and put his huge arm around my shoulders. "It's OK, man. You're not the first kid who fell in love and did stupid things for the woman. This is going to be all right. You just take it easy. You're not going to be in any trouble, as long as you cooperate with us. All right?"

I calmed down, blew my nose, and took a deep breath. "OK, so now what?" I asked.

"Tell me more about this meeting you had. Did you recognize any of the guys who accosted you on Sunday?"

"No."

"Never seen them before at all?"

"I'm positive, I haven't seen them before."

"Do you think you could recognize any of them if you saw pictures of them?"

"Uh, I guess so. It was kind of dark outside, but the lights were bright enough."

"OK. Here's what we're going to do. I'm going to take you to the police station. We're going to take your fingerprints, just so we know which ones on this letter are yours. I'm going to have you give a full statement of exactly what happened, and I want you to tell me everything. How many guys, what they looked like, how they smelled, what kind of cars they drove, the whole nine yards. Then, we're going to sit you down in a room with a book of pictures. I want you to look at each one of them, and anybody that looks like the guys that picked you up on Sunday night, even vaguely, I want you to pull them aside. Got that?"

"I got it," I said. I reached into my pocket and pulled the hundred dollar bill out and handed it to him.

He took it and looked at it, then looked at me. "You tryin' to bribe me, boy?"

"No! The guy that did all of the talking on Sunday night gave me two of those. I gave the other to my roommate. You might be able to get some fingerprints off of it."

He grinned. "OK. I won't ask you to give up your buddy on this one. He's taken enough shit in this matter. Come on, let's go."

"Can't we go later? I have class this morning."

"I'll write you a note. Let's go."



Nothing But The Truth

So, I spent my Tuesday in the interrogation room of the Rogers Park precinct of the Chicago Police Department. I spent about an hour writing out my statement about my abduction on Sunday, then spent the rest of the morning looking at photos of guys who fit the general description of the guys who had taken me and the guys I had talked to. Every time I found a guy who looked familiar, I pulled his picture out of the book and put it into a pile in front of me.

By lunchtime, when Detective Johnson came into the room, I had a pretty good-sized pile in front of me. "Whoa, there weren't that many guys, were there?" he asked when he saw it.

"No, it's just that it was dark and a lot of these guys look pretty much the same to me. And there are a couple of them who look like they might have been there, but since they were all wearing hats, I can't tell which one might have been there. I'm trying to imagine some of them with hats on." I shrugged.

He grinned. "OK, so who we got here?"

I pulled a couple of pictures out of the pile. "These are the only two guys that I'm somewhat sure of. The guy on the left looks like the guy who talked to me. The guy on the right might have been one of the guys in the car with me. I'm not sure."

"You're doing fine. See, what we'll do when we get these pictures together is bring the guys in and let you look at them in the flesh, hear their voices, whatnot."

"You're kidding. I'm going to have to talk to these guys?" That scared me. I tried to light a cigarette, but I couldn't hold my hand steady.

Johnson took the matches from me and lit my cigarette. "You'll be fine. You'll never have to go face-to-face with them. You'll be behind a one-way mirror. You'll be able to see them, but they won't be able to see you. If you need them to say something, you'll tell me, and I'll ask them to step forward and say whatever it is that you want him to say." He picked up the remaining cards and flipped through them. He stopped and held one up. "The guy who looked like this guy, was he a flashy dresser?"

I shrugged. "He might have been. He was wearing a black overcoat and a hat. His tie looked pretty expensive, but I didn't see any of his other clothes."

"OK. What we'll do now is bring these guys in and put them in a lineup for you to look at. Probably won't be today. I think what we're going to do is to wait for the fingerprints to come back on that letter and that C-note you gave me. Used to be they'd have to go through them by hand, now they're using computers to do some of the job. Amazing what they can do nowadays." He sat across the table from me and lit a cigarette. "Tony, you gotta know that you're in deep shit right now."

"Uh, yeah, I'm sorry about the original statement." Mom would be furious with me if she knew that I hadn't told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

"That's not what I'm talking about, kid. What you did there was understandable. You were scared to death of those guys. And, in a city like this one, you should be scared of those guys. Where'd you go to high school?"

"Ignatius."

"So did most of them. I went to De La Salle. Anyway, don't sweat the original thing. We looked it over, and we think you probably told us more than you think you did. Now that we have a pretty good idea of who the guys might have been, we can start narrowing our search."

"What was the thing with the guy who was a flashy dresser?"

"Oh, we have a few local wise guys we deal with all the time. That was one of them. Anyway, as I was saying, you're going to have to watch your back for a while. There are some guys out there who are looking to hurt you, or to try and pump you for information for whatever reason. And, I would hazard a guess that it has something to do with this Rosalie, or whatever her name is."

"I'm starting to think that's probably not her name," I offered lamely.

The detective threw his head back and laughed. "You wastin' your time with business school, brother! You should be in the police academy!"

I laughed along with him. "No, I don't think Mom would like the idea of me carrying a gun, and my sister and her girlfriend would probably call me some kind of fascist pig or something."

He laughed even louder. "You got one of them in your family too, huh?" We talked for a few minutes about family dynamics, then he pushed his chair back. "Come on. Let's get some lunch, then I'll take you back to the dorm."


We stopped at a local hot dog stand for lunch. He ordered two hot dogs with the works and a bag of chips. I had an Italian combo sandwich and a Dr. Pepper. We sat at one of the plastic tables and started eating.

"OK, we need to discuss personal safety here," Johnson said.

"Sure," I said, and took a bite of my sandwich.

"First of all, I know this is going to be hard here, but I want you to quit taking the subway for a while."

"What? How'm I supposed to get to school?"

"You can take the bus to and from school."

"Yeah, but, man, it takes forever to get there on the bus," I protested.

"I understand that, but I have a good reason for it. Someone decides to shove you on the tracks, you could get really badly hurt."

"Someone could shove me in front of a bus, too, couldn't they?"

"That's true, but the chances that you could be killed if you fall in front of a bus are a lot less than if you fall on the tracks and hit the third rail. I know it's a pain in the ass to take the bus, but it's just for a while. OK?"

I shook my head.

"Tony, we're talking about your safety here. It's a lot safer for you to take the bus, especially this time of the year when there are so many people on them. It's just until we figure out who's aiming for you. OK?"

I sighed. "OK," I agreed. "What else?"

"Number two, I don't want you traveling by yourself if you can help it. It's another reason that I'm asking you to stay out of the subway. Do what you can to travel with someone. I know it's not always possible, but do the best you can.

"Number three is kind of like that. I don't want you getting impaired."

"Impaired?"

"Drunk. Stay out of the bars for a while. You need to be alert here and aware of your surroundings. If you're like most guys your age, you have a few drinks, you lose track of where you are. I don't want that happening to you. Is that clear?"

"Can I drink in my dorm room?"

"Yeah, if you're not going out afterwards. I mean it. No hanging out at Huey's for a while, until we get this figured out. OK?"

"All right. What's next, you want me to wear a chastity belt?"

He laughed. "No. Nothing quite that severe." He pulled a roll of dimes out of his pocket. "You don't go anywhere without change to make a phone call. Anything happens, you are to call me immediately, as soon as you can. That means anything that looks bad or doesn't jibe with normal, you drop a dime. Clear on that?"

"I'm clear." I took another bite of my sandwich and washed it down with some pop. "Can I ask you a question?"

"I think you just did," he said, and laughed. "Just kidding. Sure. What's up?"

"Why is this happening to me? I haven't done anything."

He leaned back and thought for a minute. "I think you're just in a bad place at the wrong time. I think we can both agree that this started shortly after you started your relationship with this gal Rosalie." He leaned across the table. "Just between you and me, is she the woman that took your cherry?"

I could feel the heat rise in my face. "I...I never heard it put that way. At least not for a guy."

He smiled. "It's OK, man. It explains a lot. I'm just letting you know, there are some women in this world that work that way. Don't let that interfere with your safety. She comes back, don't let your little head do the thinking. I want to know about it as soon as you can tell me. Dig?"

I nodded. "I dig."



I'm Doing Nothing

Since I had to wait for the bus in front of the store anyway, I decided to stop in on Friday afternoon to check the schedule. THe boss whas nowhere to be found, nor was the guy who usually worked in the Wine Shop. Charlie was, as always, over in the Antique Book department, so I stopped and talked to him.

Charlie was in the midst of a massive tome when I walked into his department. "Did they ever figure out what was wrong," I asked.

He sat, immobile, his nose still in his book. I wasn't sure if he had heard me. "Charlie?"

"Yes, I'm here," he said, putting a business card in the book to mark his place. "I was just reading a selection by Poe. That's where I'm lucky. I can consume my product and it's still around for someone else to enjoy." He smiled and chuckled at his own joke. "In answer to your question, the Board of Health has cleared us as of Wednesday, and we were back in business yesterday morning." He smiled again. "Have you enjoyed your time off?"

"Not really. I'm running dangerously low on funds. I was just on my way to check the schedule."

"It's been quite busy. I'm sure you're scheduled for tomorrow." He went back to his book, signaling the end of the conversation as far as he was concerned. Charlie was like that. I don't think that he was necessarily unfriendly, I think he just didn't know sometimes how to be friendly, or at least how to make idle chit-chat.

I went back to the office and checked the schedule, and was surprised to see that I wasn't on it for Saturday, just for Sunday. This would be a killer for me. I had Christmas shopping to do, on top of needing money for carfare, cigarettes and coffee. I went off in search of the boss.

He was in the wine stockroom with Joe, and they were busy unloading several large cases with strange markings on the side onto the shelves. He had taken off his jacket, tie and shirt, and was working in his undershirt. I could smell him from across the room.

"Mr. Schwartz, I need to talk to you," I said.

He didn't even stop. "Mr. Reardon, you're not assigned today. You shouldn't be back here." He set a box down and faced me. "If you want to discuss the matter of your lack of hours, then I would suggest that we do so on Sunday, or that you call and make and appointment with me. Now, as you can see, Joe and I have a lot to do here. Please remove yourself."

I wanted to run over and bust him in the mouth. It wasn't as though I was making that much money, but I had no money now, and it would only be coming in slowly from now until at least Christmas. I decided not to argue with him there, but I wasn't going to leave until I had some sort of satisfaction.

I went down to Personnel and asked to speak to someone. The young woman behind the desk told me that no one was available, but if I left my name and number, someone would get back to me. I told her not to bother and left.

All the way home on the bus, I was kicking myself for not keeping the hundred dollars that the gangster had given me. It sure would have come in handy. For the first time I began to entertain the notion of looking for another job, either in addition to or instead of the job I had with the store. Kate had told me that she was starting to lean in that direction, why shouldn't I? I began to ask myself what it was about my job that I liked. I decided that I liked the people that I wokred with, but not the people that I worked for. The pay sucked, and I had to wear a suit to work, which then meant that I had to get it cleaned. Plus, all of this bullshit with my boss was starting to really suck. By the time I got off the bus at the dorm, I was ready to start looking for another job.


A week later, I was getting frustrated with my job search. Everywhere I went was either only hiring Christmas help, or told me that they had hired everyone that they were going to hire for the year, or that they weren't hiring until after the first of the year. The one or two places that were hiring gave me a bad feeling when I was there. It was as though something inside of me was telling me to get out and not bother with them. Usually, by the end of the application process, I understood what it was.

I resigned myself to starting my search for a new job until after the holidays. I knew, being a business student, that most company ended their year in December, and that there would be a crush of work in January for people to count inventory, so I started scouring the want ads for people to do that. There weren't many ads there, either, which frustrated me that much more.

Kate called me that evening to say hello. I hadn't talked to her in a couple of days, which I felt badly about.

"How are you, Tony?" she said. She didn't sound like herself. Kate usually had a happiness in her voice.

"I'm doing fine," I said.

"You don't sound like you're doing fine. What's going on with you?"

I explained the situation with work, and told her that I was looking for another job, either to replace the one that I had or to supplement my income, and started sharing my frustrations with her. I stopped myself before I got too involved with myself. "You don't need to hear me complain about this," I said.

"I don't mind listening, Tony. I feel badly for you. Mr. Schwartz picks on you constantly, like he wants to get rid of you or something. Now he's cutting your hours when he should be happy that you're willing to come in whenever you can. He should be begging you to work more, not cutting your hours. I think, if I ever get out of this cast, that I'm going to find another job and tell him to go to hell."

"How are you doing, Kate?" I asked, changing the subject.

"Lousy. I'm in this damn cast, and now they're saying that they may have to replace my hip. Of course, that's put Daddy into a state. He's not getting violent, thank God, just loud and abusive. I swear, I'm going to move out as soon as I can. Have you ever thought of getting an apartment?"

"I can't afford it, I don't think."

"Hey, you're the business student. You'll be making the big bucks." She laughed a little. It cheered me up to hear her laugh.

"Can I come see you tomorrow?" I asked.

"Aren't you...no, that's right. He cut your Saturdays out. Yeah, if you'd like to come over, that would be great. I'd really like to see you, especially since you're going to be going home next week."

"You know, I forgot about that. You're right, next Friday is the last day before the break."

"How about after lunch tomorrow, say, one o'clock?"

"Sure. That sounds great. Let me get your address and how to get there."

"We live right down the street from church, so you know how to get here." She gave me her address. "So, I'll see you tomorrow, then?"

"You got it."

"Great! I'll see you tomorrow. Kiss kiss."

"Kiss kiss back," I said, and listened as she hung up the phone. I set the phone back on the cradle and looked at it for a minute. She was sounding a lot better now, and I had something to do with it. What an accomplishment.



Nothing Says Loving

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."
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