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Page 45 of A Drink Before the War (Kenzie & Gennaro 1)

Three members of the Raven Saints met their blaze of glory next. Coming back from a late game at Fenway Park and a little subway wilding for a nightcap, they stepped out of Ruggles Station and had a one-sided conversation with an AK-47 pointed from a car. One of them, a sixteen-year-old named Gerard Mullins, took a burst to his upper thighs and abdomen, but didn’t die. He played possum in the shadows until the car drove away, and then he started crawling toward Columbus Avenue. He was halfway between the subway station and the corner when they came back and stitched a line from just below his ear to just above his ankle.

Socia was stepping out of a bar on South Huntington, two soldiers a few feet behind him, when James Tyrone, a fifteen-year-old member of the Angel Avengers, stepped from behind a van with a .45 aimed at Socia’s nose. He pulled the trigger and the gun jammed, and by the time Socia’s bodyguards stopped firing, he was in the middle of South Huntington turning the yellow divider line a dark red.

Three Avengers went down in Franklin Park next. Then, two more Saints caught it while sitting on a stoop in Intervale. Another cycle of retaliation followed that one, and by the time the sun came up, the worst night in Boston gang history leveled out at twenty-six wounded, twelve dead.

***

My phone started ringing at eight. I grabbed it somewhere around the fourth ring. I said, “What?”

Devin said, “You heard?”

I said, “No,” and tried to go back to bed.

“Boston’s favorite father-and-son team just went to war.”

My head dropped off the side of the cot. “Oh, no.”

“Oh, yes.” He gave me the rundown.

“Twelve dead?” I said. “Jesus.” Maybe par for the course in New York, but here it was astronomical.

“Twelve at the moment,” he said. “Probably five or six on the critical list who won’t make Independence Day. It’s a wonderful life, isn’t it?”

“Why’re you calling me at eight in the morning with this, Dev?”

“Because I want you down here in an hour.” “Me? Why?”

“Because you were the last person to talk to Jenna Ange-line, and someone just happened to drill her initials onto Curtis Moore’s head. Because you met with Socia yesterday and didn’t tell me. Because word around town is you got something both Socia and Roland are willing to kill for, and I’m tired of waiting for you to tell me what that is out of the goodness of your heart. You, Kenzie, because lying is second nature to you, but it’s harder to do in an interrogation room. So, get your ass down here and bring your partner with you.”

“I think I’ll bring Cheswick Hartman with me too.”

“Go right ahead, Patrick. And that’ll please me so much, I’ll press obstruction charges against you and toss you in jail for a night. By the time Cheswick gets you out, all the fuckers we arrested last night from the Saints and Avengers ought to know your ass real intimately.”

“I’ll be there in an hour,” I said.

“Fifty minutes,” he said. “The clock started ticking when you picked up the phone.” He hung up.

I called Angie, told her I’d be ready in twenty minutes.

I didn’t call Cheswick.

I called Richie at home but he was already at work. I tried him there.

“How much you know?” he asked.

“Nothing more than you guys.”

“Bullshit. Your name keeps coming up in this one, Patrick. And weird shit’s going down at the State House.”

I was working my way into a shirt, but I stopped, my right arm sticking out, frozen, like it was in a cast. I said, “What weird shit?”

“The street terrorism bill.”

“What about it?”

“It was supposed to go to floor today. Early. So everyone could beat the traffic up to the Cape for the Fourth.”

“And?”

“And no one is there. The State House is empty. Twelve kids died last night in gang violence and the next morning, when a bill that’s allegedly going to start curbing all that shit is supposed to go to floor, suddenly no one’s interested anymore.”

“I got to go,” I said.

I could have airmailed the phone to Rhode Island and still heard his voice. “What the fuck do you know?”

“No more favors, Patrick. No more.” “Love it when you scold me.” I hung up.

***

I was waiting in front of the church when Angie pulled up in that brown thing she calls a car. On weekends and holidays, Phil has no need for it; he stocks up on Budweiser and settles into the Barcalounger and watches whatever’s on TV. Who needs a car when Gilligan still hasn’t gotten off the island? Angie drives it whenever she can so she can listen to her tapes; she also claims I’m a lousy driver behind the wheel of the Vobeast because I don’t care what happens to it. This isn’t entirely true; I would care if something happened to it and I’d like some money from the insurance company if it ever did.

The ride from Angie’s to Berkeley Street took less than ten minutes. The city was empty. Those who had gone to the Cape had left Thursday or Friday. Those who were going to the Esplanade for tomorrow’s concert and fireworks hadn’t started camping out yet. Everyone had taken the day off. During the ride, we saw something few Bostonians ever see empty parking spaces. I kept asking her to stop at each one and back in and out again, just to see what it felt like.

Upper Berkeley, by Police Headquarters, was different. The block was cordoned off with sawhorses. A beefy patrolman waved us around the block. We could see vans with satellite dishes on top, cables running like overweight pythons across the street, white TV trucks parked on the sidewalk, and the black Crown Victorias of the upper police brass parked three-deep by the curb.

We swung over to St. James and parked easily enough, then walked back to the rear door of the building. A young black cop stood in front of the door, hands crossed behind his back, legs spread in military stance. He glanced at us. “Press goes through the front door.”

“We’re not press.” We identified ourselves. “We have an appointment with Detective Amronklin.”

The cop nodded. “Go up these stairs. Fifth floor, take a right. You’ll see him.”

We did. He was sitting on a table at the end of a long corridor with his partner, Oscar Lee. Oscar is big and black and just as mean as Devin. He talks a little less but drinks just as much. They’ve been partners so long they even got their respective divorces on the same day. Each has taken a bullet for the other, and penetrating just the surface of their relationship would be as easy as digging through cinder block with a plastic spoon. They noticed us at the same time, looked up, and held their tired eyes on us as we walked down the corridor toward them. They both looked like shit, tired and cranky, ready to stomp on anyone who didn’t give them what they wanted. They both had splotches of blood on their shirts and coffee cups in their hands.

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