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“I’m your gigolo?”

She shook her head. “They going to think you’re the law, escorting the nigger who got caught doing something. Again.”

I nodded. “All right.”

She said, “I didn’t go through all this just so I could run on you now, Kenzie. I could have climbed out a window last night, that was the case. So, whyn’t you wait across the street?”

Sometimes you got to trust people.

She went in alone, and I crossed Tremont and stood near Park Street Station, in the middle of the mall, the shadow of Park Street Church’s white spire falling on my face.

She wasn’t in there long.

She came out, saw me, and waved. She waited for a break in the traffic then came across the street. Her stride was full, her purse held tightly in her hand as she came across the mall. Her eyes had brightened, brown marble with flames glowing in the center, and she looked much younger than the picture I’d been given.

She came up close to me and said, “What I got here is a little part of it.”

I said, “Jenna ”

“No, no,” she said. “It’s something, believe me. You’ll see.” She glanced up at the State House, then looked back at me. “You prove you’re ready to help me on this, show what side you’re on, and I give you the rest. I give you...” Her eyes lost their fire and filled; her voice stuck like a worn clutch. “I give you... the rest,” she managed. I hadn’t known her for more than twelve hours, but I had the feeling that whatever “the rest” was, it was bad. Tearing her apart from the inside out.

She smiled then, a nice soft one, and touched her hand to my face. She said, “I think we’re going to turn out all right, Kenzie. Maybe the two of us get some justice while we’re at it.” The word “justice” came off her tongue as if she were trying to taste it.

I said, “We’ll see, Jenna.”

She reached into her purse and handed me a manila envelope. I opened it and extracted an eight-by-eleven black-and-white photograph. It was slightly grainy, as if it had been transferred from another type of film, but it was clear. There were two men in the photograph, standing by a cheap chest and mirror, drinks in their hands. One of them was black, the other, white. The black guy I didn’t know. The white guy was wearing a pair of boxer shorts and black socks. His hair was brown, the gray that would consume it in a tin sheath, still a few years off. He was smiling tiredly, and the picture seemed old enough that possibly he’d only been Congressman Paulson at that point.

I said, “Who’s the black guy?”

She looked at me and I could tell she was sizing me up. The wet ass hour, as it were, deciding if she could trust me. I felt like we were in a pocket the crowds of people hurrying past us, not really there but existing on a matte screen behind us, like in an old movie.

Jenna said, “What’re you in this for?”

I was considering my answer when something familiar moved out of the screen to our right, heading for our pocket, and I recognized it as if I was underwater a blue baseball cap with yellow stitching.

I said, “Get down,” and had my hand on Jenna’s shoulder when Blue Cap set himself into his stance and a hammering metallic chatter drilled the morning air. The first burst of bullets slammed through the front of Jenna’s chest as if it wasn’t there, and I ducked as they blew past my head, still trying to pull her down as her chest jerked forward at all sorts of angles. Blue Cap had his finger pulled back on the trigger and the gun at full auto, the metal stitching slicing from Jenna’s body to the cement, coming around in an arc for me. The crowd in the mall had turned into a stampede, and as I cleared my gun from its holster, someone trampled my ankle. Jenna’s body crashed down on top of mine, and cement chips shot off the ground into my face. He was firing more methodically now, trying to get around Jenna’s body to hit mine. In a moment, he’d just begin firing into her body again, and the bullets would pass through it as if it were paper and punch their way into mine.

Through the blood in my eyes, I could see him raising the Uzi up over his head, then bending it in at an angle, the muzzle a white flame. The line of bullets jackhammered toward my forehead and stopped suddenly in a white cloud of cement dust. The slim clip dropped from the gun toward the pavement and he had another one slammed home before it hit the ground. He pulled back on the bolt and I leaned out from under Jenna’s body and fired.

The magnum went off with a harsh whoomp and he flipped into the air sideways as if he’d been broadsided by a truck. He came back down onto the pavement and bounced, the gun skittering out of his hand. I rolled Jenna off me, wiped her blood from my eyes, and watched him try to crawl to his Uzi. It was eight feet away and he was having a hard time covering the distance because his left ankle was almost completely obliterated.

I walked over and kicked him in the face. Hard. He groaned and I kicked him again, and he went out.

I crossed back to Jenna and sat on the cement in a growing puddle of her blood. I lifted her off the pavement and held her in my arms. Her chest was gone and so was she. No last words, just death, splayed out like a broken doll at the edge of the Boston Common at the beginning of a new day. Her legs were askew, and the curious vultures were coming back for a second look now that the shooting was over.

I pulled her legs together and tucked them under her. I looked at her face. It told me nothing. Another death. The more I see, the less I know.

No one needed Jenna Angeline anymore.

ELEVEN

Like the Hero, I made the front page of both newspapers. Some rookie photographer was in the crowd when the shooting started, and once he’d cleaned the mess out of his underpants, he came back.

I’d walked back to Blue Cap by this time and picked up his Uzi by the sling. I slid it over my shoulder and squatted down beside him, my head down, magnum in my hand. That’s when the photographer took his shots. I never noticed him. One shot showed me squatting by Blue Cap, a strip of green and the State House beyond us. In the extreme right foreground, almost out of focus, was Jenna’s corpse. You could barely notice her.

The Trib carried it in the bottom left corner of page one, but the News plastered it completely over the front page with a hysterical black headline across the Statehouse  HERO P.I. IN MORNING GUNFIGHT!!! How they could print “hero” with Jenna’s corpse lying in plain view was just beyond me. I guess LOSER P.I. IN MORNING GUNFIGHT didn’t have the same ring.

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