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Page 21 of A Drink Before the War (Kenzie & Gennaro 1)

The police showed up around that time and hustled the photographer behind a hastily set up sawhorse. They took my gun and the Uzi and gave me a cup of coffee and we went over it. And over it.

An hour later I was at headquarters on Berkeley Street and they were deciding whether to book me or not. They read me my rights in English and Spanish while they figured out what to do.

I know quite a few cops, but none I recognized seemed to be taking part in this investigation. The two guys who had been assigned to me looked like Simon and Garfunkel on a bad day. Simon’s name was Detective Geilston, and he was short, neatly dressed in dark burgundy pleated trousers, a light blue oxford with a roll in the collar and cream crisscross stripes. He wore a burgundy tie with a subtle blue diamond pattern. He looked like he had a wife and kids and CD accounts. He was Good Cop.

Bad Cop was Garfunkel, or Detective Ferry as they called him around the station. He was tall and lanky and wore a drab brown two-piece suit that was too short in the arms and legs. Underneath he wore a wrinkled white shirt and a dark brown knit tie. Mr. Fashion. His hair was strawberry blond, but a wide bare patch ran up the middle now and the bushy remains shot out from the sides of his head like a cleaved afro.

They’d both been friendly enough at the crime scene  giving me cups of coffee and telling me to take my time, take it slow, relax but Ferry started getting more and more pissed off the more I kept answering his questions with, “I don’t know.” He got downright nasty when I refused to tell him who had hired me or exactly what I was doing with the deceased. Since I hadn’t been booked yet, the photograph was folded and tucked into the ankle of one of my high-tops. I had a feeling what would happen if I gave it up a formal inquiry, maybe a few nasty details about Senator Paulson’s lifestyle, maybe nothing at all. But definitely no arrests, no justice, no public acknowledgment of a dead cleaning lady who’d only wanted to be needed.

If you’re a private detective, it helps to be nice to cops. They help you out from time to time and vice versa and that’s how you build contacts and keep business thriving. But I don’t tolerate animosity very well, especially when my clothes are saturated, with someone else’s blood and I haven’t eaten or slept in twenty-four hours. Ferry was standing with one foot on the chair beside me in the interrogation room, telling me what was going to happen to my license if I didn’t start “playing ball.”

I said, ‘“Playing ball’? What, do you guys have a police cliché manual or something? Which one of you says, ‘Book him, Danno’?”

For the thirtieth time that morning Ferry sighed deeply through his nostrils and said, “What were you doing with Jenna Angeline?”

For the fiftieth time that morning, I said, “No comment,” and turned my head as Cheswick Hartman walked through the door.

Cheswick is everything you could want in an attorney. He’s staggeringly handsome, with rich chestnut hair combed straight back off his forehead. He wears eighteen-hundred-dollar custom-made suits from Louis and he rarely wears the same one twice. His voice is deep and smooth like twelve-year-old malt and he has this annoyed look that he gets just before he buries an opponent with a barrage of Latin phrases and flawless elocution. Plus, he has a really nifty name.

Under normal circumstances, I’d have to have won the lottery to afford Cheswick’s retainer, but a few years ago, just when he was being considered for partnership in his firm, his sister, Elise a sophomore at Yale developed a cocaine problem. Cheswick controlled her trust fund, and by the time Elise’s addiction had blossomed into an eight-ball-a-day habit, she’d depleted her yearly allowance and still owed several thousand more to some men in Connecticut. Rather than tell Cheswick and risk his disappointment, she made an arrangement with the men in Connecticut, and some pictures were taken.

One day Cheswick got a phone call. The caller described the photos and promised they’d be on the desk of the firm’s senior partner by the following Monday if Cheswick didn’t come up with a high five-figure sum by the end of the week. Cheswick was livid. It wasn’t the money that bothered him his family fortune was huge it was the advantage they’d taken of both his sister’s problem and his love for her. So concerned was he for his sister that not once during our first meeting did I get the feeling it was the jeopardy to his job that angered him, and I admired that.

Cheswick got my name from a guy he knew in legal aid, and gave me the money to deliver with the express demand that I bring back all photos and negatives, and an absolute assurance that this would stop here and now. Elise’s debt, I was to tell these men, was paid in full.

For reasons I can’t even remember anymore, I brought Bubba along for the ride when I went down to Connecticut. After finding out that the blackmailers were a rogue group with no connections, no real muscle, and absolutely no juice with any politicians, we met two of them in a Hartford high-rise. Bubba held one guy by his ankles out a twelfth floor window while I negotiated with the guy’s partner. By the time Bubba’s victim had voided himself, his partner had decided that yes, one dollar was a very fair settlement price. I paid him in pennies.

Cheswick has been returning the favor to me by representing me gratis ever since.

He raised his eyebrows at the blood on my clothes. Very quietly he said, “I’d like a moment alone with my client, please.”

Ferry crossed his arms and leaned in toward me. “So fucking what,” he said.

Cheswick yanked the seat out from under Ferry’s foot. “So fucking get out of the room now, Detective, or I’ll slap this department with enough false arrest, harassment, and unlawful detainment citations to keep you in court until long after you’ve reached your twenty.” He looked at me. “Have you been Mirandized?”

“Yes.”

“Of course he’s been fucking Mirandized,” Ferry said.

“You’re still here?” Cheswick said, reaching into his briefcase.

Geilston said, “Come on, partner.”

Ferry said, “Hell no. Just because ”

Cheswick was looking at the both of them flatly, and Geilston had his hand on Ferry’s arm. He said, “We don’t mess with this, Ferry.”

Cheswick said, “Listen to your partner, Detective.”

Ferry said, “We’ll meet again.” Professor Moriarty to Sherlock Holmes.

Cheswick said, “At your inquest, no doubt. Start saving now, Detective. I’m expensive.”

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