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Page 47 of A Drink Before the War (Kenzie & Gennaro 1)

“I don’t know where the others are, and I have the original,” I said. “And I’m not giving it up. Throw me in jail. Toss me in a cell with a couple of Saints. Whatever. I don’t care. Because I got a lot better chance staying alive in that hole with that picture hidden somewhere than I do out on the street without it.”

“You don’t think we can protect you?” Devin said.

“No, guys, I don’t think you can protect me. I don’t have anything on Socia, but he thinks I do. As long as he thinks that, I breathe. Soon as he realizes I’m bluffing, he plays catch-up for Curtis Moore and I end up like Anton.” I thought of Anton and felt nauseous.

Oscar said, “Soda’s got too much on his slate right now to worry about you.”

“That’s supposed to make me feel better? What, I got a week or so of happiness before he cleans his slate and remembers me? No way. You want to hear what I think about this, or you want to keep chasing your tails around this point?”

They looked at each other, communicating the way only guys like them can. Devin said, “All right. Tell us what you think’s going on.”

“Between Socia and Roland I don’t have a clue. Honestly.” I picked the photocopy off the table, held it up so they could see it. I said, “But I do know the street terrorism bill was supposed to go before the state senate this morning.”

“So?”

“So it didn’t. Today of all days, and they’re all acting like suddenly the problem’s disappeared.”

Devin looked at the photocopy, raised an eyebrow. He picked up the phone in front of him, punched a few numbers, waited. “Patch me through to Commander Willis, State House Police.” He drummed his fingers on the table, looked at the photocopy. He reached out, took it out of my hands, placed it in front of him, looked at it some more. The rest of us had nothing better to do, so we watched him. “John? This is Devin Amronklin....Yeah, I got my hands full....

Huh?.. .Yeah, I think there’ll be more. Plenty more.... Look, John...I need to ask you something. Any pols come in today?” He listened. “Well, the Guv, of course. What else is he going to do? And... yeah, yeah. But what about that bill they were sup Uh-huh... And who was that?... Sure, take your time.” He let the phone drop to his neck and drummed his fingers some more. He brought it up to his ear. “Yeah, I’m here.... OK, John. Thanks a lot.... No, nothing, really. Just curious. Thanks again.” He looked at the three of us. “On Friday, someone moved that they all enjoy the long weekend like everyone else.”

“Who was that someone?” Angie asked.

Devin tapped the photocopy. “A Senator Brian Paulson,” he said. “Mean anything to you?”

I stared back at him.

“No cameras or tape recorders in the walls,” he said.

I glanced at the photocopy. “I can’t reveal the names of my clients.”

Devin nodded. Oscar smiled. They liked that. I’d just told them exactly what they wanted to know. Devin said, “This is big, isn’t it?”

I shrugged. Another confirmation.

Devin looked at Oscar. “You got anything else?”

Oscar shook his head. His eyes were bright.

Devin said, “Let’s walk them down. Sound good to you, Detective Lee?”

When we stepped out the back door, Oscar told the young cop to go get a cup of coffee. He shook Angie’s hand, then mine. He said, “Depending how far this goes, we could lose our badges on this one.”

I said, “I know.”

Devin looked around the back of the building. “Bucking city hall’s one thing, the State House is something else entirely.”

I nodded.

Oscar said, “Vine,” and looked at Devin.

Devin sighed. “No shit.”

Angie said, “Vine?”

Oscar said, “Chris Vine. Vice cop a few years back. Swore he had evidence on a senator, hinted about it going higher than that.”

I said, “What happened?”

Devin said, “Someone found two kilos of heroin in his locker.”

“Box of hypodermics too,” Oscar said.

Devin nodded. “Couple weeks later, Vine ate his gun.”

Oscar gave Devin another look. There was something alien in both their eyes. It might have been fear. Oscar said, “You be careful, the both of you. We’ll contact you.”

“Agreed.”

Devin said, “If you’re still tight with Richie Colgan, I’d say now might be a good time to use him.” “Not quite yet.”

Oscar and Devin looked at each other again, let out big bursts of breath. Oscar looked up at the sky. “Going to be a serious shitstorm any day now.”

Angie said, “And the four of us without umbrellas.”

We all got a chuckle out of that. A short one though. Laughter at a wake.

TWENTY-FOUR

We took Boylston down to Arlington and came back around the block to the Greyhound Station. We waded through a listless sea of hookers, pimps, grifters, and assorted terminal cases before we found the dark green metal checkerboard of lockers. Number 506 was at the top of its row and I had to reach up a bit to try the key.

It didn’t fit. One down.

We tried a couple of smaller places. Nothing.

We drove out to the airport. Logan Airport has five terminals, lettered A through E. A had no 506. B terminal had no lockers. C had no 506 in Arrivals. We walked down to Departures. Like the rest of the city, it was a ghost town, the waxed floor still slick and unscuffed, reflecting the bright fluorescents overhead. We found 506, took a deep breath, let it out when the key didn’t fit.

Same thing in D and E.

We tried some places in East Boston, Chelsea, Revere  nada.

We stopped at a sandwich shop in Everett and took a seat by the window. The morning had died and the sky had hardened to a damp newspaper gray. It didn’t seem particularly cloudy, just resolutely sunless. A red Mustang pulled in across the street and the driver looked in the record store in front of him, probably waiting on a friend.

Angie said, “You think he’s the only one?”

I shook my head, swallowed a bite of roast beef. “He’s the point man.”

We both looked across at him. He was parked a good forty yards back, a thin black head shaven till it gleamed. No sunglasses this time. Probably didn’t want anything obstructing his vision when he took a shot at me.

“Where do you think Bubba is?” I said.

“If we could see him, he wouldn’t be doing his job.”

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