Finch smiled in spite of himself. "I'd heard you were the slipperiest sheriff in this slippery one-horse town. Seems my sources weren't embellishing."

Thomas Coughlin cocked his head, his face narrowed in confusion. "I think you have been misinformed, Agent Finch. Sure, we've more than one horse in this town. Dozens actually." He tipped his hat. "Safe travels."

Finch stood by the car and watched the captain walk back up the street. He decided he was one of those men whose greatest gift lay in the inability of others to ever guess what he was truly thinking. That made him a dangerous man, to be sure, but valuable, too, pricelessly so.

We'll meet again, Captain. Finch entered the building and climbed the stairs toward his last box in an otherwise empty office. No doubt in my mind, we will definitely meet again.

Danny, Mark Denton, and Kevin McRae were called into the po lice commissioner's office in the middle of April. They were led into the office, which was empty, by Stuart Nichols, the commissioner's secretary, who promptly left them alone.

They sat in stiff chairs in front of Commissioner Curtis's vast desk and waited. It was nine o'clock at night. A raw night of occasional hail.

After ten minutes, they left their chairs. McRae walked over to a window. Mark stretched with a soft yawn. Danny paced from one end of the office to the other.

By nine-twenty, Danny and Mark stood at the window while Kevin paced. Every now and then the three of them exchanged a look of suppressed exasperation, but no one said anything.

At nine-twenty-five, they took their seats again. As they did, the door to their left opened and Edwin Upton Curtis entered, followed by Herbert Parker, his chief counsel. As the commissioner took up a post behind his desk, Herbert Parker briskly passed in front of the three officers and placed a sheet of paper on each of their laps.

Danny looked down at it.

"Sign it," Curtis said.

"What is it?" Kevin McRae said.

"That should be evident," Herbert Parker said and came around the desk behind Curtis and folded his arms across his chest.

"It's your raise," Curtis said and took his seat. "As you wished." Danny scanned the page. "Two hundred a year?"

Curtis nodded. "As to your other wishes, we'll take them into consideration, but I wouldn't hold out hope. Most were for luxuries, not necessities."

Mark Denton seemed stricken of the power of speech for a moment. He raised the paper up by his ear, then slowly lowered it back to his knee. "It's not enough anymore."

"Excuse me, Patrolman?"

"It's not enough," Mark said. "You know that. Two hundred a year was a 1913 fi gure."

"It's what you asked for," Parker said.

Danny shook his head. "It's what the BSC coppers in the 1916 negotiations asked for. Cost of living has gone up--"

"Oh cost of living, my eye!" Curtis said.

"--seventy-three percent," Danny said. "In seven months, sir. So two hundred a year? Without health benefits? Without sanitary conditions changing at the station houses?"

"As you well know, I've created committees to look into those issues. Now--"

"Those committees," Danny said, "are made up of precinct captains, sir."

"So?"

"So they have a vested interest in not fi nding anything wrong with the station houses they command."

"Are you questioning the honor of your superiors?"

"No."

"Are you questioning the honor of this department's chain of command?"

Mark Denton spoke before Danny could. "This offer is not going to do, sir."

"It very well will do," Curtis said.

"No," Mark Denton said. "I think we need to look into--"

"Tonight," Herbert Parker said, "is the only night this offer will be on the table. If you don't take it, you'll be back out in the cold where you'll find the doors locked and the knobs removed."

"We can't agree to this." Danny flapped the page in the air. "It's far too little and far too late."

Curtis shook his head. "I say it's not. Mr. Parker says it's not. So it's not."

"Because you say?" Kevin McRae said.

"Precisely," Herbert Parker said.

Curtis ran his palms over his desktop. "We'll kill you in the press." Parker nodded. "We gave you what you asked for and you turned it down."

"That's not how it is," Danny said.

"But that's how it'll play, son."

Now it was Danny, Kevin, and Mark's turn to trade glances. Eventually, Mark turned back to Commissioner Curtis. "No fucking deal."

Curtis leaned back in his chair. "Good evening, gentlemen."

Luther came down the Coughlins' steps on his way to the streetcar when he noticed Eddie McKenna about ten yards up the sidewalk, leaning against the hood of his Hudson.

"And how's that fine building restoration going? Coming along, she is?" McKenna came off the car and walked toward him.

Luther forced a smile. "Coming along right well, Lieutenant, sir. Right well."

That was, in fact, the truth. He and Clayton had been on a tear lately. Aided on several occasions by men in NAACP chapters all over New England, men Mrs. Giddreaux found a way to get up or down to Boston on weekends and occasional weeknights, they fi nished the demo weeks ago, ran the electrical through the open walls and throughout the house, and were working on the water pipes that branched off the kitchen and the bathrooms to the main water pipe, a clay beauty they'd run from the basement to the roof a month back.

"When do you suppose she'll open?"

Luther'd been wondering that himself lately. He still had plenty of pipe to run and was waiting on a shipment of horsehair plaster before he could start sealing the walls. "Hard to say, sir."

"Not 'suh'? Usually you get a bit more southern for my benefi t, Luther, something I noticed back in the early days of winter."

"I guess it's 'sir,' tonight," Luther said, feeling a different edge in the man than he'd felt before.

McKenna shrugged. "So how long you think?"

"Till I'm done? A few months. Depends on a lot of things, sir." "I'm sure. But the Giddreauxs must be planning a ribbon cutting, that sort of thing, a gathering of their ilk."

"Again, sir, I'm hoping to be done summer's end, somewhere thereabouts."

McKenna placed his arm on the wrought-iron railing that curved out from the Coughlin stoop. "I need you to dig a hole."

"A hole?"

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