Note: End: Dan in church. Linda dose not go with him. He recites speach. Just words.

He tells Larry maybe he should stay there. He is a warror priest who has no place in socity. Dan just shakes his head and leads me out. For Begining: Shit happens. I am so on and so on. End with dream and Marcie. Then Begin with

CHAPTER FOUR Daniel Logan lay aside the poem he'd been working on for six hours today, eighteen yesterday, twelve the day before and sixteen before that. He listened for a second, placing the voices in Fairy Bill, three hundred pounds and

their order of appearance:

still growing; Black Sam, four weeks removed from doing a ten year bit at Attica; Hot Dick-the name said it all-and Fred the Smed, Little Tim and Mickey Mouse . . . three of the worst pigeon drop artists in Manhattan. Oh yes, let's not forget Shaun McFarland,

the intellectual kumquat of the United News Service. If he lived to be a hundred and a million, he wouldn't forget, but he really didn't feel like nostalgia day tiptoeing into his life; not now. He had a poem to write, or rewrite since He picked up the pencil, then lay

he had written it in college. it back down again. decided. Shaun.

He couldn't write with all that noise, he

So he would wait a few minutes and let Fairy Bill have

The last time the boys had played their little game was two weeks ago. A social worker from City Welfare had come looking for

Hot Dick, but it had gotten out of hand--a little bit, anyway. Fairy Bill had decided that panting behind closed doors wasn't as fun as dragging the mark inside. By the time he, Black Sam and

Hot Dick had realized what was going down. Fairy Bill had the man into his bed, both their pants down around their ankles and he was humping for all he was worth, screaming 'I'm going to come in a minute.' He and Sam pulled Fairy Bill away, his pecker spraying

semen over the comatosed social worker.

The spiel, afterward, was

that the social worker had come looking to play god and had left with a more enlightened outlook. He again picked up the pencil, then decided Shaun belonged to him, not Fairy Bill and yelled, "I'm at the last green door by the left fire escape." He answered the door on the first knock and shook his head at Shaun's three-piece suit and briefcase, "Youv'e got to be crazy coming here like that. Pure crazy."

Shaun's stomach sucked in and out as he forced a smile, "Had I known, I would have worn my slumming clothes." Daniel fought an urge to slam the door. would have done, and more. the Governor. Oh, That's what Chris

It would also be a fitting revenge for big time, like pulling Shaun's

maybe not

fingernails out, but good enough for a fond memory, but he had to admit to himself he was curious what it was Shaun wanted bad enough to risk coming into the ghetto for it. Gov would have to wait--a few minutes, anyway. buy you a drink before you leave," he offered. "Thanks," Shaun said, going directly to a metal folding chair next to a window. He moved the chair closer to the bed, sat and So, Chris and the "Come in. I'll

looked curiously at the papers scattered on the floor as Daniel removed a fifth of Southern Comfort from the dresser, plucked two styrofoam cups along with it, filled one halfway, the other to the rim and handed the lesser over. "That little charade in the hall was nothing," he said, smiling for the first time. "Had there been more people home, you

would have had thirty or forty voices going at one time.

If you

don't know they're just playing, it can get rather frightening." "I'm sure that's true," Shaun answered, "especially when you're in the hall." Daniel nodded and both men sipped their drinks as they stared at each other for a few seconds, occasionally dropping their eyes to the floor, Shaun trying to make out the writing on the papers while thinking his fears about Daniel being a half-washed drunk were misplaced. His wavy hair, high cheek bones and patented

strut, not unlike a cowboy in a B movie, were the same as seven years ago. But somewhere behind his eyes, he was sure Daniel was He would

thinking about the Gov and there was no help for that.

have to take the conversation as it came, playing it by ear, in the hope of drawing him in. Daniel shook his head and decided Shaun would be great at playing the role of Silent Man Come A'Calling, but this had

already gone too far.

Besides, he had already seen that movie and "You still making lousy decisions as

didn't want to see it again. Senior Editor, or has

your arrogance finally caught up with you?"

he asked, breaking the silence. "Not after today," Shaun replied, startled. Daniel looked up quickly, thinking it was his turn to be startled. Shaun stared back innocently. "Gee, and here I thought

you were here to offer me a job." "I am," Shaun stated. "Not interested," he replied flatly.

"Somehow I didn't think so," Shaun replied as he opened the briecase, taking out Lucy's photo and the files on The Velvet, "but could you spare me a few minutes and tell me how to handle this?" Daniel took the file from Shaun's outstretched hand, kicking himself for letting Shaun into the room. cockroaches: Senior editors were like

first you let them in, listen to their pitch, browse

over their wares and then they stay forever, sticking to you like super glue. But he would look at the folder, then squash him and a warning to other senior editors. Lucy stared at him for a

leave him in the wall as

He sighed and lifted the top page.

second, one measured by a far away galaxy clock that ticked off in his mind. It was a standard black and white--those things never

change--but the jagged contusions and bits and pieces of flesh and intestines and blood that lay on the carpet might as well have been in technicolor. His gut twitched and he spun on his heels,

then stopped suddenly and punched out at the dresser muttering "Shit!" before turning his attention on the soft Irish freckles, the dimple tickling the chin and the smile lines that offered you what didn't need but couldn't live without, not unlike the sad grin of a Leprechaun on a travel poster. himself liking. It was a face he found It was also

A face that reminded him of Marcie.

a face that said she was Shaun's sister. sill and stared out until he saw darkness.

He leaned on the window

The sky was cloudy, barely making way for the moon and stars to play hide and seek, which were hiding right now which meant their pursuers couldn't see them. Chris nodded at him, smiled at

Marcie and took the lead, taking care to let the wind mask their footfalls that crunched the autumn leaves. He could feel Marcie A crow cawed,

clutch at him as her head bounced on his shoulder. the moon silhouetting its wings in the sky.

He pulled a tuft of She rolled her

hair from her mouth and tucked it behind her ear. eyes and smiled.

A crow cawed again and a whistling followed, The rifle spoke again, and again again.

crumbling Marcie forward.

He closed his eyes, blocking out everything but Shaun's words. "She was my only sister," he whispered. "Except for an

occasional Christmas card, I hadn't seen her for twelve years. Funny, I thought she was happily married. put on the cards. husband. That's what she always

Even enclosed a picture of her children and

Turns out her husband had divorced her six years ago I keep asking myself why the hell she my cloud long

because she was into drugs. didn't call me.

And I answer why didn't I step off

enough to call her.

Now she's dead, killed in a seedy hotel by If there's a good part to

some maniac wielding a straight razor. this story, that's it."

He stared at Shaun, then started to turn away when something in Shaun's eyes caught his attention. was it fear. Hurt, pain, cinfusion, or

The kind of cold terror that Jews felt when the But that was ridiculous, guilt. That, he could

knock came at the door in Nazi Germany. he told himself. It was probably

understand.

Hell, he carried enough himself to feed the world.

"There's more, isn't there," he stated, opening the file on The Velvet. "I mean, you're just not suddenly feeling guilty

after all these years." "Sometimes it happens like that," he replied, "but yes, there's more. talk to you? I'm having nightmares. Have windows chase you? You ever have a blackboard No, probably not. Marcie

doesn't do those things, does she?" Daniel raised his eyes in acknowledgement, then returned them to the file, listening to Shaun talk as he read: This file was

prepared by Karen Moss, Staff Researcher, United News Service. The Velvet has an interesting history, a history that started before it was built. It begins . . . Peter Frost (a blood descendant from medieval German royalty) had been working the east end of the demolished Sun High School for ten sweaty hours, patiently chipping and airbrushing limestone brick into an eight by five foot high and four foot deep stack. He wiped the sweat from his eyes and quickly looped the heavy metal band through a green inspection tag, inserted the bands through the crimp gun and, like the dung-eaten foreman had

instructed, pressee, shouting, "Zat's good. bands came together with a tang.

Zat's good," as the

He looped the second band in the

same manner, raised the crimp gun and grunted a hurried "Zat's right." The last thing he heard was the whipping of the broken

band as it ricocheted backward, then forward, implanting four inches of blue metal through his hazel wyw sockets and into the

soft tissue of his brain. washing the yellow bricks red. And continued . . .

His body fell forward, his blood

The Velvet was named for its deceased financier Alfred Stephen Velvet. A day before the grand opening celebration, a Mr. Velvet choked to death while eating

strange event occurred. Oyster Rockefellar. hated each other

Ironically, Mr. Velvet and Mr. Rockafellar with a passion, but the party went on as

scheduled and loud noises and dancing did occur. Paul Malone breezed out The Velvet's door, grinning to himself, and thinking that Big Al would be proud of him (throat cut from ear to ear, Joey the Fish lay in Room 316, blood pouring from hvs mouth. job well done. He, too, thought it was a job well done) for a He started up Belmont, waving at a black cadillac.

The car slowed and Pual danced to the tune of the machine gun, the bullets spitting until the song was over. stayed locked on his face, forever. Without reason . . . It was 1936, the Depression was in full swing and the little girl lay amongst mother's Sunday best and only dress, which is to say that blossoming four year old Sadie Twinkelnickle slept The self-serving grin

peacefully in the steamer trunk that her mother had placed by the black and white porcelain stove in Room 316. Brother Melvin,

seven going on seventeen, was curled in a ball amongst the hair and dust balls under the wrought iron bed and Mr. and Mrs.

Twinkelnickle slept on the bed as six month old Abraham suckled his mother's breast. All had goine to bed on an empty stomach,

including one member of the room who had not paid the night's fare. Mr. King Rat and his whiskers that twitched at every sound He had been through the The

were working, you understand, the graveyard shift. working for forty minutes before finally gnawing

stove's brass piping.

Two minutes later, the rat died.

Twinkelnickles followed the rat into the abyss called death . . . Little Abraham's mouth still locked on his mother's dead breast. Or rhyme . . . The woman doesn't have a name (it wasn't included in the file copies at U.N.S.), but I believe it was her birthday. Her arthritic fingers didn't cut ribbons wrapped about Bloomingdale boxes. The few friends she had didn't shout

surprise, but Cathy Spense would have been happy to sing a happy birthday greeting. to let Cathy sing. That is, if the woman had paused long enough She didn't. She just slashed and slashed and

slashed, singing as she worked, "Happy Birthday to you." It went on and on, Daniel mused. then and now: Forty-five people between

overdoses, murders, rapes, heart attacks and one

unlucky guy who bled to death after snagging his finger on the garbage chute. He wondered how a person could bleed to death

snagging a finger, but supposed it was possoble. Finally, he tossed the report and the photo on the bed, thinking Karen Moss certainly had a flare for dramatics. No

doubt, very soon she would be in Hollywood and she could take the blackboard and windows Shaun was talking about with her.

Together, they'd make a hell of a movie.

"So after the third dream," Shaun continued talking, "I had Karen Moss research Sun High School. As you can see by the file,

the school is real, or was until it was demolished and the bricks used to build the Velvet." "So that's why you came here. "Well, the rumors. Your dreams," Daniel glared.

You know . . . I figured."

"After all these years, you still believe the shit other journalists spew out?" "With you, I figured it could be true." "Shaun, they are just dreams; yours and mine both." "Maybe," he answered, standing with a sigh, "but there's a couple of things not in those reports. victim, she was the second. Lucy wasn't the first

I spoke with a Lieutenant Sanders of He told me the other woman was

the Chicago Police Department. killed in the same manner. going berserk.

I think the word he used was a madman

Also, I found out that a reporter for the defunct

Chicago Sun disappeared while investigating the slayings in 1945. His name was James Watts. "People vanish He just vanished." all the time, especially reporters.

Journalists and cops have the highest suicide rate in the country. You know that." "Not Watts." "Why?" "I had Lieutenant Sanders check him out. is still an open case. Watt's diappearance

My guess is this woman who killed the

girls in 1945 killed him because he knew too much."

"Did you ask him what happened to this woman?" Daniel asked. "For all you know, she could be dead." "No," Shaun answered, hesitating for several seconds. "If I

asked about her, I'd probably wind up spilling the rest and he would think I was crazy, and since I have to go to Chicago and pick up Lucy's belongings, I can check that out easily enough. The police file room should have those records. If she was caught If But

and tried, then the court records should still be on file. she's dead, then I'll chalk it up to a bad dream and go home. she's not, I just know it." "How can you know that?" "I don't know how, I just do. Call it evil.

Maybe the hotel

is evil, drawing me there through Lucy." "Shaun, go back to your Brownstone," Daniel said, shaking his head. "Have Sanders mail your sister's personal belongings.

Forget about this." "Da--" "No, Shaun. You listen," he replied softly. "I believe in Not hotels,

the evil men do to other men and themselves. not blackboards, not windows--people." "What about Marcie?"

Period.

"She's . . ." he paused, feeling, believing he was about to die for what he was thinking. "But, your dreams . . ." "That's true," he said gently. "Every time I drink too "She's dead."

much, I dream about Marcie." "Then why do you stay here?"

"Because," he said, turning away, "just because." "So you won't help?" Shaun asked slumping in the chair. Daniel shook his head, knowing that every man has his nightmare. As much as he didn't like Shaun, he wouldn't hurt him, When you bought took a bite.

but neither would he help, even if he wanted to. a candy bar, you unwrapped the wrapper and

Hopefully, it tasted good to the last drop. preordained by any sretch of the imagination. find this out for himself.

Hopefully, but not Shaun would have to

He would have to pay his debt, however And the mind was a

large or small his mind deemed that to be. mean bill collector. He knew.

"Sorry," he replied. "Are you serious?" Shaun asked incredulously. "As a heart attack." "Is that what Chris and Marcie would do?" "Don't play that game unless you want to end up in a body cast." "Is this your revenge for the Governor?" "No," he replied. "That's what you're looking for, revenge."

"But she was my sister." "I know," he answered sadly. "The plane leaves at nine, terminal six, United at Kennedy," Shaun whispered. "I won't be there, Shaun." "Yes, you will." "Shaun, save the editor-to-reporter psychology." "Oh, you'll be there."

"Why?" Shaun stooped and picked up a copy of Daniel's poem. It was

single spaced and Daniel read it from memory as Shaun held it out, reading aloud, daddy, where have all the heroes gone? Well, son, Bugs Bunny has the right line, the Road Runner fast feet, and Scooby-Doo the face, and . . . BUT daddy, where have all the heroes gone? As I was saying son, Schwartzenaegger blows the bad guys away by the ton, Rambo uses a gun, laying 'em down one by one, and Norris flicks a thumb, getting everyone, and . . . BUT DADDY, where have all the heroes gone? LIKE I WAS SAYING son. Magnum has the right name, Farwell god's game, and while governing the whole country, regan Gods mane, and . . . . . BUT DADDY, DADDY, DADDY, WHERE HAVE ALL THE HEROES GONE?

SON, IF YOU WOULD JUST LISTEN, Lt NORth will tell you, Nixon will cast a spell on you, and Haig will sell you, and . . . . . . . but, daddy, where have all the heroes gone? JUST GO TO SLEEP SON. daddy. I'm sorry son. If you'll close your eyes, I'll DAMMIT, JUST GO TO SLEEP!

tell you of a time long, long ago, in a far away land. It began,

with the horizon, a blanket of gloom, and out of it came three horsemen, one named John, another Marten, and a last, but not least, called Bobby. Were they Heroes, daddy? Yes, and hush. They,

covered the land and all the people danced and sang they were glad and merry, but then the gloom returned, taking the horsemen one by one. Where did they go, daddy? Dust, son. They went to dust.

Daddy, what became of the people who sang and danced? They became security analysts, son.

Now, go to sleep. "You'll be there because you bleed," Shaun said, releasing the poem, and left. Daniel stared at the door, willing it to open and slam so his frustrations would feel better, but there was no such luck, he knew. So he carried his drink to the window and watched Shaun Didn't Shaun know he was too old to be chasing

flag a taxi.

dragons; and even if he wanted to, it had been three years since he had worked. That was a long, long. long time, especially when As the cab

the years were spent running away from yourself.

merged into traffic on Second Avenue, he turned away, catching sight of the folders on the bed. reminding him of Marcie. dying had freed her. Lucy stared at him, once again

She lookedd so peaceful almost as if

He wondered if dying had freed Marcie and, Chris, also. Hell, maybe dying

if so, if she was truly happy. was the only way to find peace.

He sat on the bed, lit a cigarette and stared at the photo, muttering,"Damn, damn, damn."

CHAPTER FIVE. Arthur Dozier stared at his swollen penis in the twenty foot mirror that covered the west wall of his living room and thought, from the moment the tramp had closed 312's door, the room had watched them, yet lay still. His mother had told him the room had

been watching Lucy Philpps for a long time--since the first day the hooker had moved in, in fact. "Why do I?" he murmured. left ear to his right. me that!" "I'm sorry, Sir. What did you say?" Lou Elder's high pitched He knew this, because . . . ?

He changed the phone receiver from his

"Because, she - yes, she - she - she told

voice, squeezed tight by the miles of phone cable, asked. "Not your worry," Arthur stated, wondering what it was he had been thinking. "Have you officiated the matter I asked about?" If you don't mind

"No, Sir, the boy hasn't returned yet.

holding a moment longer, I'll personally see what's taking so long." "Fine," he said. He trailed the phone cord behind him as he followed the individual sections of ottoman and sectionals that formed a

diagnal "L", and stopped at a picture window.

A golden sun

reflected from Lake Michigan's waters, bathing his body copper. He turned away, his eyes sweeping over the Chegall opposite the couch, then on the Dega Bronze that adorned a Louis IV threequarter wall table. "This is all mine?" he asked doubtfully.

He blinked rapidly and squeezed his hands together, as if they were dish towels. He eyes fell on the pearl overlaid tiles that

made up the stairs on the spiral staircase leading to his bedroom. "Yes, yes. Exquisite--"

His teeth banged together so abruptly that the meeting set bells ringing in his head. He squinted at a spot of orange that

lingered on the tiles and suddenly knew what it was he was trying to remember. "Yes, that was when it all started." He had been sitting in bed,

Eighteen days ago, he thought.

hummiong "Happy Birthday to Me" and looking at the stairway when the phone had rung. He picked up the receiver. His broker at

Merrill Lynch wished him Happy Birthday, congratulated him on his choice of stocks, his portfolio of hotels and apartment buildings and informed him, as he had done every year on his birthday, that he was worth a smidgen over sixteen million dollars. He replaced

the receiver and picked up the frosted English muffin with the candle in the shape of a pretzeled forty-seven that his

housekeeper had served during breakfast, and laughed out loud. Yes sir, he had done it again. The swindle had netted him one

million six and lay safely in a high yield money market account, unbeknown to his broker or anyone else. He dabbed at his lips, brushing away a crumb, then spread the morning edition of the Chicago Tribune on the tray, wondering if his ex-partner had discovered that the bank account was now empty, or that the commodity seat they once shared, bankrupt. He turned

pages randomly, until a two paragraph story in the bottom righthand corner of page six caught his attention. It was about his

ex-partner, Richard Mayer. off a subway platform.

The poor man had taken a short jump

The reporter noted that the moving train

had not jumped a bit and the pieces that were left would not fill an urn. He lay the paper aside, picked up the television remote and flicked the Sony from channel to channel, not really listening or watching. In between "As the World Turns", the "Six O'Clock

News", the "Rockford Files" and the "Midnight Report", he thought about his mother, how she lived and how she died. turned off the TV and drifted asleep. As he'd always done every night for the past forty odd years, he expected to dream about money. his mother. He didn't. He dreamed about She He finally

He saw her standing at the foot of his waterbed.

told him she still loved him. listen to everything she said. once again.

She said that from now on, he must She said they would be together

Then she told him of her dream.

It turned into a nightmare. He tore his gaze away from the tiles, wondering if Mayer would approve of them, then wondered and not for the first time, if he was losing the borderline sanity "Psychology Today"

maintained the human mind balanced on.

After all the shady deals,

all the lies, was the tightly wrapped mental wire, strung tautly from end to end, finally coming unravelled? Could a dream about a

horrid old woman really undo a lifetime, or was she really alive? Was she inside his mind? "God help me, I must fight this

tiredness, must grab hold of my thoughts," he murmured, going to the sofa.

He sat and looked at the drawstring pouch that lay on the cushion. His hands suddenly felt warm and the razor inside seemed "Jesus. God. Help me. Please

to hum, smile and call to him. help me."

He murmured again and rose, catching his reflection in His body was hairless and he vaguely remembered

the mirror.

shaving, but didn't know why; only that she said it had to be done. She said it would make his body smooth like a woman's. His legs felt like sticks as he walked to the picture window. The day had fallen in the lake and the shadows cast a sooty darkness over him. dead, dead." "You should be ashamed of yourself," a tiny voice, he recognized as being himself when he was little, said. mamma." "She's dead," he yelled. "Yes, Sir. "No. I'm back," Lou Elder said. He turned again, once His face seemed "She's your He laughed loudly, "But she's dead. Dead,

You can't be," he screamed.

again catching his reflection in the window. almost feminine.

His ribs had sunk in and his breasts seemed--he

blinked his eyes rapidly at the phone for several seconds, then said "Yes," in a high clear voice. "Sir, it's Mr. Elder. Remember, you wanted assurance that They are. Let me see.

Rooms 320 and 322 were in tiptop shape.

They're for a Daniel Logan, a reporter from U.N.S., and a Shaun McFarland, also a reporter from U.N.S. some time around ten. Sir, do I They'll be checking in the names and times

have

correct?"

"Yes," Arthur answered securely. of my instructions?" "Understood, Sir." "Fine.

"Are you clear on the rest

Then, have a nice day," he replied and hung up.

He tugged at the strings of the pouch, spilling the razor onto his palm. He flicked it open and the steel glittered and Suddenly, he was sure he

grinned in the increasing shadows. didn't need God's help. god?

After all, didn't the whore Lucy call him

Didn't he know the plane carrying Daniel Logan and Shaun And, didn't he know

McFarland would be landing very shortly?

before the night withered away, the nightmare would continue? "He was god," he said to the darkness engulfing him. god." "He was

CHAPTER SIX Daniel marveled at the fact that the plane had arrived only eighteen minutes late as he absorbed the life that throbbed

throughout O'Hare Airport.

Some angry, some in a hurry, some His ears heard the Hertz

lost, but all tired and frustrated.

lady's rejection for the third time, "No, no and no," as his eyes fell on a bumper sticker pasted on the terminal news box. goes, when you travel.' Especially when you flew the friendly skies of blackboard express, he thought. Hold your ears, scratch, scratch and a Let the friendly eraser 'So it

screech, screeech and you're airborne. serve you some chalk. popular vanilla.

Pick your flavor, orange, blue or the ever got instant

Add some nuts and, presto, you've

insanity, guaranteed to short circuit the wires that do your thinking for you. Jesus! He could still hear Shaun's words.

Sure, Shaun himself hadn't been listening, "I know Lucy's file said she was raped," Shaun said angrily. "So what?" "So what?" he responded, his mouth hanging open. "Yeah," Shaun replied. their victims flowers?" "Shaun," he said very slowly, almost as if drawing it out, "if your sister was raped, then it couldn't be this woman from 1945." "Sure it could." "Shaun, in case you haven't looked lately, you're equipped differently than a woman." "What do you think crazies do, serve

"What are you saying?" Shaun shouted. "I'm saying," he yelled, then lowered his voice as the stewardess shot him an angry glance, "that you got a dick and a woman a pussy." "I know that," Shaun yelled back, then turned Daniel off and started reading his magazine. Daniel sighed, thinking the conversation had dragged since then and now Shaun had forgotten to reserve a car. Governor were probably laughing their wings off. Chris and the Chris doubly so

because he knew how much he hated Chicago and that was a drag, because here he was, in Chicago with a man who believed in a dream. He should get on the return flight and leave. The only

reason he didn't was because he was a sucker.

That had to be it,

otherwise why was he standing here, about to do battle with a blackboard, his only comfort a man who believed the latter was out to get him. He supposed when the shock wore off in, say, a thousand years, he would touch base and come up with something mundane. 'Because it seemed like a good idea, Duke.' And Duke would reply,

'Yeah, partner, so does jumping off the Empire State Building, but I wouldn't try it.' Well, the man who shot Liberty Valance was probably right, but he couldn't deal with all that intellectual crap right now. "Let's see" he chided, "you forget about reserving a rental car? Didn't know about the Taxi Boycott and neglected having a Tell me, Shaun, what are Senior Editors

U.N.S. staff car meet us.

good for, if not the little things."

"Growling," Shaun shot back, giving the Hertz lady a good example of one. Daniel hitched up his shoulder bag and sought out the airport to the city bus, without checking to see if Shaun was following. He choked out the stale air that was trapped under causeway that quarter mooned the airport and approached the bus driver standing at the foot of the bus, exhaust fumes spewing out black smoke. "What's the closest stop to The Velvet Hotel?" he asked the bus driver, handing over a twenty dollar bill. "New Town, Sir," the driver responded, handing him fourteen dollars change. He nodded his thanks, boarded the bus and sat in the rear, lighting a Camel. "What was that all about?" Shaun asked, taking the seat next to him. "This is your driver, Harold Greenspan," the speaker above him crackled. minutes. forties. "We should arrive in Chicago Proper in about twenty

The weather is chilly with temps in the low to middling Rain is forecast." That is, when

Harold likes to pretend he was flying a 747.

he wasn't pretending he was doing the weather from the Channel 7 weather 'copter. "The way I see it," Daniel answered, closing his eyes, "when you go see this Lieutenant Sanders to pick up Lucy's belongings, get a report on what the Police have. I'll check the police file If you go, you might

room for information on the murders in '45. start seeing blackboards."

Shaun shook his head angrily, thinking this was the third time Daniel had baited hm about the blackboards since leaving New York and he was getting fed up. He started to snap out a retort

when the speaker above him once again crackled, roping him around the neck. "This bus will be making three stops. in the New Town section. The first stop will be

New Town borders the lake on the east North and south are Diversey Avenue

and Clark Street to the west. and Belmont Avenue.

The main thoroughfares are Broadway, running

north and south, Clark, running north and south, Belmont, east and west, and Diversey, east and west. There are many fine boutiques

and restaurants for you to enjoy and, of course, New Town's famous red light district." During coffee breaks, Harold dreamed he was a tour guide. "If you don't believe it's this woman doing the murders, then why bother checking the files?" Shaun finally snapped out. "Because it's a starting point," Daniel replied, keeping his thoughts to himself. He started to reply, but Harold once again cut him off. "It is also advisable that whenever touring New Town, the female passengers should accompany a male. watch out for the pickpockets." During the long cold nights, snuggled next to his long breasted wife, Harold dreamed he was a vice officer, rescuing grateful women from deranged rapists. ultimate perk. "What the fuck is with this driver?" Shaun bitched. The handcuffs were the For the men passengers, well,

Daniel wedged two fingers through the speaker's plastic enclosure and yanked. thing. Harold droned on down the line. "One more

We're staying at The Velvet.

"What?" Shaun answered, not sure he had heard right. "We're staying at The Velvet." "You're crazy." "Probably." "Definitely," he retorted. The nights had grown long enough

and he had no intention of them growing longer by staying in the house his nightmares helped build. "And the answer is no."

"Shaun," he replied without opening his eyes, "you yourself said the police have tabbed the killer as a repeater." "So?" "So, that's where we'll find him," Daniel replied. "I'm not staying--" Shaun said, but saw that Daniel was asleep. His stomach tightened and he curled up in the seat,

replacing all thought with Sue, a dog, a deserted island and a Beta Max. And a long extension cord. 2

As the bus sped along the Kennedy Expressway, it passed a mile high red neon sign with the words 'MAGIC KISS RUGS' blinking once, then the time 10:40. fine mist began to fall. As promised by Harold Greenspan, a

He so informed the passengers.

Almost a rain, but not quite, at least not enough to do more than friz her hair, Linda Feilds thought, the moisture of the sand

she had carried from the beach seeping through her fingers.

She

leaned against the rusty railing circulating Belmont Harbor and breathed in the damp air stinging her lungs and the wind splaying her hazel hair, jingling the miniscule parakeets locked in

miniature bird cages hanging from her ears.

The sound reminded

her of freedom and she whispered, softly at first, then with a firm clench of her teeth and heaved the sand out into the darkness that whistled through the moorings that made up Lake Michigan's dancing shadows. "Let this summer be the end of it -- for Davie." She slipped her hand through the slit in her skirt and rubbed her thigh, enjoying the warmth as she walked west up Belmont. paused on Belmont and Broadway, ignored a wink from She a

conventioneer and smiled at Old Joe as he tossed a racing form into a car before jumping back into the lean-to that, despite peeling paint, sagging crossbeams and the harassment of the city, had uprooted on the corner for as long ass she could remember. "That shack's going to fall on you, some day," she said. "Hey, Linny," he yelled, slapping at the rain before him with four fingers that protruded from a cotton glove. She smiled. "What's to it?"

No, she sparkled, she thought, thinking she Before she could

liked Joe because he was . . . neighborhood. answer, "Linda" came from behind her. turned anyway.

She knew who it was, but

Rob, the six-to-ten bag boy was holding the door

of the market basket open for Kim, the four-to-ten register girl. "Hello, ohboyohboyohboy," she said and winked, anticipating the

game they would play, which was the reason she had paused in the first place. "Linda, Linda, Linda, Linda," he repeated in youthful exuberance, the sum total of which was sixteen years. "Well," she replied, lips parted, tip of tongue showing, "if it isn't the well-hung bag boy of New Town. You bagged enough old

ditties so you can pay for bagging a young thing like me?" "The second I make enough bagging," he said, doing a short dance step that landed him on one knee. "I'm going to buff you,

fluff you and crease you like you've never been loved before. Then, I'll be lost in a whirlpool of passion, useless to one and all." She giggled and Old Joe spread lips across a toothless mouth. A group of tourists (little green and white name tags stuck to their breast pockets--Hi. My name is Fred, Harvey and whatnot) A black man cat-called,

turned as if they were one and applauded.

"Hot mamma, hot mamma," as his partner relieved several tourists of the burden of their wallets. then shrugged as they moved She gave the man a scornful look, on. She thought about saying

something but decided against it. after all.

The streets were the streete

"Foolish boy," she said, instead, as her hand covered her giggle. "Go home before Lieutenant Sanders' storm troopers come

by and toss is in the clink." "Aye, my fair lady," Rob called as he back-pedaled past several people. "But before I depart, a word to the wise. The

night, the everlastingly glorious night has eyes for thee and

thine of a kind."

A chill ran down her spine, and she started to

think about the two girls who had been killed, but decided against it. The night was cold enough without adding fright. "Foolish

boy," she yelled. "And besides that," he added as he disappeared down a side street, "it's raining. So go home."

"I kind of like that kid," Old Joe replied. "Me, too," she answered. The airport-to-city bus pulled to the curb, splashing the lean-to. Joe jerked his thumb at the driver. Shithead!" "Shithead bus

driver does that every time it rains.

She smiled and stared at the bus, but the tinted windows were blinds, blocking out the dreams she would never, never see: New

York, London, Paris--Gay Paris, but that wasn't to be, she thought as she blinked at a man staring at her. He didn't look like the He looked nice,

average tourist out for a twenty-five dollar lay. interesting and . . .

"Go to work, foolish girl," she murmured. hooking, not lovesick dreams, pays the bills."

"Remember,

She could barely make out St. Mary's steeple and The Velvet's sign as she walked west up Belmont, thinking the rain was picking up and maybe she would go home after all. 3

So was Arthur. He held his hat to his head, hunching his shoulders as he ducked in the walkway opposite St. Mary's Church. The Velvet's

sign blinked as rain beat in the sidewalk before him. heavily, but maybe he should go home. supposed to play in the rain. rain.

He breathed

After all, he wasn't

Little boys didn't play in the If they did play in the

That's what Mamma always said.

rain, their clothes shrank, choking the breath from their body. "Rain, rain, go away," Mamma always sang. He peered out the walkway and saw a woman walking rapidly his way. Maybe she would play with him, he thought. Together, they

would play in the rain. Mamma wouldn't mind.

As long as he had somebody to play with, He jumped back in the recesses of the

shadows, watching as she walked. 4

So was Daniel. He flicked the rain from his eyes and thought, Pretty lady, as beyond her, The Velvet's sign flashed in red. He nudged Shaun.

"The hotel's about a block and a half up," he said, then saw Shaun staring at the sign. "She was pretty, huh?" he stated loudly.

"What . . .?" he answered vaguely. "Shaun, it's only a sign. "I know that," he snapped. "You two gents looking for a good time?" a woman asked. Shaun and Daniel turned simultaneously, both their hearts jumping. Daniel wondered if Shaun's neurosis was becoming It's not going to bite you."

contagious as he smiled at the patchwork rabbit coat, a figure that resembled a two year term at Auschwitz and teeth that a shark would be proud of.

"No," Shaun said harshly. "Well, you's don't . . ." "Wooo, Babe," Daniel soothed, seeing that she was getting angry. "Wooo, shit!" she retorted. "Here, Babe," he said, taking five dollars from his pocket and tucking it in her coat. okay?" "Sure 'nuf," she said, running a hand across his crotch. "The girls call me Low Ellen. running." "If you expect any help from these people, you better start loosening Belmont. "You just stick to your job and I'll stick to mine," he replied angrily. "And what would that be?" "You stick to speaking to people like that and I'll work out the blackboard, without any help from armchair shrinks--got it?" He gave Shaun a hard look, started to say 'Fuck you, Jack,' then shook his head and smiled, "Right." He waklked up Belmont thinkng about the woman he had seen from the bus window. 5 up," he sighed at Shaun as Low Ellen bandied up Just ask any of 'em and I'll come "Catch you when we get some z's,

So was Linda.

As she checked out the shadows that flickered in the hallways and walkways, skirted puddles and shivered at the heavy mist that shrouded St. Mary's steeple, making it seem sinister in a gothic way, she thought about the man on the bus. But then, she knew she

fantasized about every man who didn't look like he was out to lay her down while laying money on her. She dismissed her thoughts, telling herself she would never see him again, and searched through the rain, hoping to catch sight of Julie or Tina. empty. But the night was quiet and the streets

Rob's warning tickled the hairs in her arms and she There was

mentally counted the money in her checking account.

enough for a week's rent and groceries, so why not take the weekend off, starting with right now. That would be the ticket

for the heebee jeebees and also put a sunshine smile on Davie's face. That and the zoo. Maybe a movie, even.

She broadened her smile and fiddled with the buttons on her skirt until the last one was closed. The action (as always) The then

reminded her of a proprietor hanging out a closed sign. thought (as always) made her laugh. The smile froze,

crinkled, then shattered as a shadowy figure from the enclosed walkway next to St. Mary's asked, "Are you for hire, Babe?" She closed her mouth so quickly, she gnashed her teeth on her tongue, pain numbing her as blood filled her mouth. I . . . I. "I . . .

No!" she stammered, then leaned in the walkway,

searching, "Maybe." "Are you, or aren't you?" Arthur asked.

She ran her tongue around her mouth, started to spit, then swallowed, "You come out where I can see you in the street light and we'll talk about it." "We cannot very well party on Belmont Avenue, now can we?" he said. "So, why don't you come into the walkway and we'll talk.

I'll pay and we'll party." She thought about the navy blue jogging suit she had put on layaway. Five dollars down and five dollars a week, the salesman Another

at Margie's Shoppe for Tots on West Barry had said. twenty-five and David could wear it this weekend. would put sunshine on his face.

Now that really

She opened her mouth, the word yes already formed in her mind, when a high-pitched voice ground out a greeting. Girl! What's up?" She waved at Low Ellen as she walked across the combination basketball-parking lot of St. Mary's Church. She had been working "Hey,

these mean streets for the better part of fourteen years, which was probably why her body was in such sad shape. Still, Low

Ellen's biggest and best boast was that she had survived those fourteen years of vicious pimps, heroin hotshots and kinky sex to being born mean and lean, often ending with "These mean streets will never lay this old hooker down." probably true. "How's it going, Low Ellen?" she said and turned toward the walkway. "Are you still there?" Linda reasoned that was

"Girl, are you talkin' to yourself?" Low Ellen asked.

"No - o - o, I'm debating in whether I should service the john in the walkway, or go home." "Hey, Mister, how's about me?" Low Ellen quickly injected. "I give a good party. you." "All I'm looking for is a quick head job--either will do," Arthur patiently replied. For a second, sadness pumped Linda's heart. Ellen ten years from now? Was she Low That's if'n Linda's not going to service

She pushed the thought away and the "Who's on

whole scene seemed less frightening, almost comical. first?" she said, imitating Costello. is going home." "Not me.

This little whore

She flipped a wave and dodged across Belmont, pausing under the awning to look back. mouth of the walkway. A car passed, its headlights hitting the

Except for the rain coming down, there was It waas as if the walkway had

neither shadow nor Low Ellen. swallowed her up.

She started to go into the Velvet when a hand touched her shoulder. She jumped, sure she had left her skin behind as she

screamed, "What?" "Bogan," Daniel said, failing at his imitating of James Bond. "Danny Logan." "Linda Feilds," she said automatically. He brushed his wet hair off his face, then glanced at the walkway, then back to Linda Feilds. a prettiness he'd noticed on the bus. The rain seemed to highlight A prettiness that was, but Her angry eyes

wasn't quite, yet was something more than that.

told him she didn't want to hear any more bullshit James Bond crap, so he said, "Haven't I seen you someplace before; in my dreams, perhaps?" "No," she retorted, "and you shouldn't go around scaring people." Woo, daddy, she was more than angry. thought as Shaun approached. She was furious, he

He had seen Low Ellen and Linda

talking and he had quickened his pace, leaving Shaun behind. Again, his gaze wandered back to the walkway and he considered asking her what had happened, then rejected it. At best, he was

probably prying into some jack getting his rocks off and off the cuff questions asked before he had a chance to butter up the residents would arouse her suspicion. Once that happened, his She

chances of obtaining information about the killer were slim.

would also pass the word throughout the hotel and the hierarchy that controlled the residents would stamp him as a cop or, worse, a mark. After that, the residents would still tolerate him, even

share a cup of coffe or offer palatable street wisdom, but they would never trust him so he dismissed the black hooker, returning his attention to Linda. "Ah, I finally used that line once too often," he saaid sadly. "'Tis a shame, because it's true this time." Her eyes filled in recognition and for several seconds he enjoyed all of her--the fullness of lips that stretched across pearl white teeth, the sparkle in her green eyes and the slight movement of her ears--then he smiled back. "Ah, I see you

recognize me."

"You were on the bus." "Guilty." "And you're staying at The Velvet?" "I wasn't until now." "Mouse shit," she said and went through the door. Try, try, try again, he thought, as he saw Shaun staring at him. "Shall we?" he said and followed her into The Velet.

CHAPTER SEVEN

Shaun stood on a black runner that ran to the front desk and stared at the people in the lobby as he absently brushed at the rain that had beaded in his coat. It seemed like the noise was

tremendous and for a second he thought he was in Grand Central Station. Four or five women, tits straining their halter tops sat Larry Hageman was

in a blue divan facing a black and white TV.

speaking, but with all the noise, it was just lips moving to him. Seven or eight black men lounged in a refreshment center chipped between a wall and a stairwell. Each one could have been an Ditto for the eight or nine

extra for super fly of the month.

white men talking by the elevator, toothpicks dancing in their mouths. hung by Male and females (of which was which, he wasn't sure) and onto four pillars that led to the front desk.

Everything but the face of Larry Hageman was bathed in candle darkness, almost masking the screaming red letters on the sign hanging from the front desk: Poppers Crisco grease, $2 a 1/2 pound tin. Channel 3 on

$14 a 6-pack and blue porn $18 a night.

your room TV. So this was where Lucy had spent her last days, in room 312 to be exact and these were her friends. No blackboards or

windows, just the dredges of society, so to speak.

She had loved

them, laughed with them, cried and broken bread, even made love to some of them and told a few about her brother, the big time editor from New York. Had they believed her? Probably not. The sisters

of big time editors didn't live in such places.

Oh, they visited

them, like the Kennedy kids visited Harlem, staying only for a cheap thrill or to see how the other side lived before returning to the safety of 56th Street Condos or Connecticut farmhouses, but they never stayed; except Lucy, that was. was here to find out why. She had stayed and he

Separate his fantasy from reality.

Doc, how do I cure my craziness? By facing it, of course. He walked down the runner, feeling the heat of the people's eyes as he stopped at the front desk. "Staying here wasn't such a

bad idea," he said begrudgingly to Daniel. "I have my moments," Daniel answered, noticing that except for Larry Hageman on the TV, the noise had droned to a whisper. Shaun and him were the new kids in school and he expected no less. They would examine him as he had them while walking in. "You're modest, too," Shaun replied. "I should have

remembered that about you." "Just a bundle of it," Daniel replied, nodding at the desk clerk. "What can I do for you honeys?" the desk clerk said. he held

up a pausing finger, went to the switchboard and yelled,"Grow up, you screaming queens," then returned to the desk. "Hello again." Daniel responded. three days. "Sure. the counter "Hi again."

"We need two rooms, say

The guy in the suit is paying." Call me Big Bill," he said, winking. and touched Shaun's shoulder. He reached over "In case you're

interested, I'm the only gay person in the hotel who doesn't have Herpes . . . or AIDS." "No," Shaun replied, blushing while he filled out the registration card. "Well, if you change your mind, I work nights." "I won't," Shaun muttered. "Oh, Mr. McFarland. We were expecting you," Bill said, Bill smiled.

studying the registration card. "You were?" he answered a little too quickly. "Sure, Toots," Bill replied. "Already assigned rooms 320 and 322. I'll give Mr. Logan 320 and you 322. "fine," he nodded, his heart racing. was expecting us?" "I don't know," he muttered as he made notations on the registration forms. "Then how did you know to expect us?" Shaun sought out. "It was probably somebody at U.N.S. playing a practical joke," Daniel responded. "No, my secretary made reservations for me at the Hilton." "All I know is the call came in about two hours ago for Daniel Logan. Your reservations have been on file for about four Okay?" "Could you tell me who

or five days now." "And she only made reservations for one at the Hilton," Shaun continued. "She didn't know you were coming. Nobody knew you

were coming." Daniel knew Shaun had a point there and he found himself searching the lobby for anybody paying undoe attention to them.

Except for an

old wino eyeing him

while slugging on Mad Dog

20/20, nobody was.

"You're just being paranoid, Shaun." to hold back his

Shaun's shoulders bulged, as if unable anger.

Finally he snapped out a retort, "You never quit, do you?"

He took the key from Bill's outstretched hand and headed up the stairs. Daniel followed, passing Shaun on the second floor hall as Shaun stared at Room 312. 316. He noticed Linda standing outside Room

She was talking to a black girl, a blond haired woman and an

older woman with gray hair and tits about the size of water melons. He paused and smiled, "Since there isn't a room 318, it Must be fate, huh?" a bland stare, her eyes working

would appear I'm your neighbor. The blond woman gave him

over his jeans and his shoulder bag before resting on his eyes, "At least he don't look gay," she cooed. "I'm not," he replied as Linda giggled and the black girl stared at her shoes. "No, you're not gay," the older woman said sadly. She

paused, matching his eyes, "But, the dolly's kind of long in the mouth and short in the height department, don't you think, girls?" "My mother's fault," he smiled. "And short people make poor heroes," the older woman sallied back. He started to reply when the blond girl grabbed Shaun's shoulder, shaking his gaze away from room 312. "You're . . .

you're . . . why, you're Lucy's brother," she gushed.

Daniel took the moment to study the women, going first to the older woman and taking in the faint mustache over her lips, the caked makeup and the tits that water meloned from her blouse and he realized she was a he . . . pardon him to hell--a drag queen. Her gaze and tone said she knew him, but if so it was news to him. The blond was beautiful. good she looked. No-o-o-o, there wasn't a word for how One

Yes there was . . .she was Love or Sex.

could easily imagine those long legs, sleek and graceful like a pony, leading to a rose garden, her blond hair gracing the helm of a Viking schooner and those blue eyes eating you up while you enjoyed the last crunch. The black girl was about sixteen, shy

and had a look of innocence about her. "I'm with him," he said, finally growing tired of everybody paying attention to Shaun. "Oh yes. offered. I'm sorry. This . . . this is Danny Logan," Linda Think he's

"He says he's staying here because of me.

pulling my leg, or is he after some higher up?" "All I can get," he replied. "I'm Julie," Julie said as she traced a finger across Shaun's sport jacket. "I was Lucy's room mate before she died."

"I'm charmed," Shaun replied. "I'm Tina," Tina said, looking at Daniel, but talking to Shaun, "and you'd be dead if you weren't charmed." "The bashful girl is Sophie," Linda offered, smiling. black girl raised her head, smiled, then lowered it. "Do we know each other?" he said to Tina. She shook her head, "No, Dolly, I just love short men." The

"I thought . . .," he said. "Yes, Dolly?" she answered, running her fingers over his knuckles. "And sometimes I don't," he finished. "Did you know Lucy well?" Shaun asked Julie. "She was my best," Julie cooed. "Could we possibly take in dinner tomorrow and talk?" he requested. "I'd like to know how she spent her last days."

"It would be heaven," Julie breathed. Shaun slid his eyes past Julie and rested them on 312. gave a half smile, then headed for his room. He

Daniel wanted to say

more to Linda, but like a boy, he shrugged and grinned, then followed Shaun. "Sure. "Nice seeing you again," he said.

Sure, Danny," she replied, watching him go.

"Dolly, do not go gently into that good night," Tina offered. "I never do," he said at Shaun's door, then spoke to Shaun, "Do you want to run downstairs and talk to the other residents or wash up first?" "Remember that's your job," he answered evenly. midnight and I'm going to bed." Before he could reply, Shaun disappeared into his room. He "It's almost

waved at Linda and kicked his door shut, feeling a last glance from Tina burn his back. He flicked a light switch and saw the

room was slightly larger than his room in New York, but better furnished, and had a bathroom. He pushed the bed by the window

and sat, staring out at a mist that filled an enclosed courtyard. He could still feel Tina's eyes on him, almost as if she was

looking through the door and into his soul, which was what she had been doing when making reference to his poem. Shaun's neurosis once again bleeding through? He pulled out a bottle of Southern from his bag, thinking Tina wasn't the only thing a bit queer: no pun intended. As much Or was that just

as he hated to admit it, Shaun was right about the reservations. He hadn't known himself he was coming with Shaun and the clerk had said the reservations had been made a few hours ago. But to

consider a blackboard had made the reservations was ridiculous. More than likely, it had been somebody from U.N.S., probably somebody who hated Shaun's guts, of which there were many to be sure. But, to be safe, he would check it out in the morning.

That's what Chris would do, always turning over small stones, adding one and one, then two and two, then three and three before multiplying; or, as he often said, start small, end up big; start big, end up small. He rose and went to the bathroom, then walked back to the bed, then back again to the bathroom. start? The problem was, where to

He continued pacing before deciding that soon he would

wear a hole in the carpet and with his luck, fall ass first into the room below and probably on top a gay man lying there naked with a hard on the size of a mack truck. would be a penetrating experience. He went back to the bathroom, splashed water on his face, then took a pencil and a notepad out of his shoulder bag, grabbed the Southern Comfort and slammed the door behind him. he started, the sooner he could return to New York. The sooner One thing was sure, it

2 Room 316. Linda couldn't help hearing the door slam on the next room nor the rummaging or grumbling that came through the paper-thin walls. It was kind of late for that racket, but seeing as Davie

slept like a log and an Excedrin headache, that long ago had left the numbers on the Richter scale, was making the lumps in the mattress less bearable than she ever remembered, she told herself it didn't matter. Tapping her fingers on the window, she stared

at the shadows that flickered around the shade, listening to the street noises below and the familiar sounds of the hall. She counted out thirty-five taps, then realized with a start that escalated the pain in her head she hadn't heard the

boisterous song "This Mamma's Made It Through Another Night On Those Mean Streets" that Low Ellen bellowed on her way to Room 314. her She threw the covers to the floor and peered on a slant out bedroom window. Except for a hunched figure carrying a

shopping bag (who she recognized s Mrs. Triberius in Room 207), the walkway and the street were quiet. "Must have picked up a late trick," she murmured. She leaned over Davie and saw that his Cabbage Patch doll was wedged under his chin, his pajamas bunched up around his ankles and his thumb corked in his mouth. She moved the doll, rolled the

pajamas down, kissed him on the forehead, took three Bayer and climbed into bed with him. she quickly fell asleep. Keeping one ear cocked for the hall,

3 The Street. Mrs. Triberius had seen the girl watching her. Yes, she had. She

She had seen them all watching her, at one time or another. knew what they wanted, too. what. Yes, she did.

Her treasures, that's

Not just the bag she carried, no, no,no, but the hundred "But they won't get

that filled her room, like--good friends. that.

Na, na," she spit out, along with a stream of Copenhagen. She ducked in the walkway and came out the other end, and

stood on the cobblestones of the alley.

Glass, scattered like

raindrops in the pebbles of the church's carport, shone brightly under a moon that hung halfway to heaven. "Diamonds, emaralds, jewels; mine, all mine!" she exclaimed. She fell to her knees and crawled across the carport, snatching up larger pieces and quickly squirreling them away in her bag until she bumped into the limestone wall of the church. Above her, the Madonna with three children twined around laced sandals smiled a benevolent sigh. Tufts of moonlight snaked

through the gaping holes of her white dress and darkness escaped from the broken grins of the children. "Naw, they're mine now," she pouted. She lurched along the side of the church, almost falling into the stairwell that led to the basement before jumping back. She

stared at Low Ellen, crumpled and broken on several stairs, then

snatched her clothing that was draped over the railing and stuffed them in her bag. "Mine, now," she said firmly.

She quickly scurried away, searching behind her as she went. The Madonna continued sighing.

4

Room 323. As he listened to the music on the radio, Al Mitchell watched a hunched figure on an otherwise deserted street drag a shopping bag into The Velvet Hotel. "Hurry up, you witch," he cried.

"It's my wife, it's my life," the Velvet Underground sang on the radio, "Heroin." He backed away from the window, tears He

streaming down his face.

He laughed, and wasn't that a laugh?

hadn't cried since his father had beaten him within an inch if his life for . . . crying. "Big boys don't cry," his father would scream and then punch him. again. But his father wasn't here now, he thought. There was only If his father felt extra mean, he'd punch him again and

the pounding of the shower in the bathroom and he had a sneaking hunch(Oh, come, on Al, John would say if he could) it was pouring down sorrow instead of rain. drowned. He should turn it off before Adrian Then he could explain

That's exactly what he should do.

to Adrian that the spoon of heroin was only--supposed to be--five percent pure. Of course, Adrian would be angry at first because

ha had sold the smack as ten percent, but Adrian would understand

and realize a person couldn't possibly overdose on a five percent solution. That's exactly what he should do, go into the bathroom

and explain all that, but the bathroom stank like cow patties. "Fuck me," he moaned, staring at the bathroom. If only John hadn't shit those cow patties before . . . Oh God, they're both dead, he thought and his throat tightened and the Kentucky fried chicken, strawberry tart and coke he had for supper spilled from his mouth. He ran his sleeve across his

mouth, rushed to the window and then ran out the door, mumbling, "Fuck me. Fuck me."

"Heroin," the Velvet Underground sang, "it's my life."

5

The Lobby. The lobby had thinned out. Perhaps the lateness of the hour,

3:37 a.m., had something to do with it, or that the rain had stopped, promising a dry morning, or maybe it was his questions that had sent the residents upstairs in twos and threes. Daniel

didn't know as he shuffled toward a man leaning against the Coke machine. "What's to it, guy?" he smiled, holding out his hand. "Nothing at all, man," the guy grinned and moved on up the stairs, following many of the others he had spoken to. He shook his head and held the Southern Comfort up the light coming from the Coke machine. There was about a quarter left. He

lowered the bottle and his eyes drooped, not so much from the

Southern he had drunk, but from talking to everybody and their grandmother. He had never seen so many closed mouth hookers and Usually, they gabbed about everything under

pimps in his life.

the sun, if only to impress you with their importance or to make a few dollars lying. these people. He closed his note pad and shoved it into his pocket, wondering if it was him. Did he have B.O. or bad breath, or maybe But not these people. No sirree, bob. Not

he was brooding too much over Shaun's blackboard and had asked the wrong questions. But he didn't think so. He had made all the

right moves, bouncing his room key in his hand as he spoke to each person, letting them know right off he was a resident, then

offering them a slug from his bottle, letting them know right off he was like them. He scratched his head as he walked to the blue divan and squeezed between two sleepy-eyed ladies of the evening. On the

TV, Jim Rockford stepped from his Camero, grocery bags in hand, talking to somebody or other. He tuned out Jim Rockford, thinking

that whatever the reason was, he had struck out one, two, three and you're gone, which was fine with him. He was tired. He

returned to the TV in time to see Jim Rockford drop his grocery bags and dive under his Camero. "Chicken," several girls yelled good-naturedly. "When I was in the Big One, WWII, we never puked out like that," the man he had met as Pop Breezernose snorted. "Hey, Babe," he said to the girl on his right, "What's up?"

"Hey, snickered.

girls,

the

man

asking

questions

is

back,"

she

"you know what they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," he said, offering the Southern Comfort to Pop Breezernose. nose on him that wouldn't quit. Thus, the nickname. Pop had a He had

talked to him about an hour ago, discovering Pop was the hotel's swab and bucket man, but only between pints of Mad Dog 20/20 or whatever he could find and though Pop didn't have much to say about the killings, he had liked him. shared a common bond. "Why, thank you, son," Pop replied, wiping his mouth on his sleeve. "No more questions, huh?" the girl to his right asked, putting a hand on his leg. "Eh, we could talk about the first thing that pops up," he said, grinning. "Whooee, shit. That's old," the girl said, cracking a smile. Maybe it was because they

"Tell me," he said, rubbing her thigh, "why won't anybody talk to me about the killing? I mean, every time I bring the

subject up, it's as if their feet had wings and their mouths stuck with super glue." "I'm talkin' to ya." "But you said earlier you didn't know Lucy or see the killer." "Man, I tell you, I see the killer and I'm running, carrying my lungs in my arms for support." "And picking your feet up to help them along," he said.

"You's okay," she said, rubbing his crotch back and forth, then leaned close, brushing his ear with her lips, "Did you ever think the girls have orders not to talk to anybody . . . anybody?" He took the bottle from Pop's hand and considered hitting himself in the head with it. He should have guessed that the

pimps who ran the stables had shut the place down; not because they cared about their women. No, money was the motivating factor Dammit. Dammit, he

and, dammit, he should have guessed it. should have.

He gritted his teeth, patted the girl's hand and rose. turn on the heat and I'll never get to sleep."

"You

"Ha, ha, ha," she mimicked, "If I turn on the heat, you won't need to sleep." He smiled, still kicking himself for his stupidity as he rounded the stairs on two. He headed down the hall, noticing a

black man pounding his fist on Room 324, gold chains bouncing against his open shirt. As he approached the man, he realized he

had seen the man in the lobby but had not spoken to him and dedcided to give it one more shot before retiring. "Hey, Slick," he said. "Sophie, dis here's Vincent," the man yelled, ignoring him. "Open dis here door. Yous hear me? Open dis here door and giv's

me my money from t'night's tricks." "Hey, Slick." Yous hear me?"

"Sophie, open dis here fuckin' door.

"Hey, Slick," Daniel tried once more, this time touching the man's shoulder.

"Fuck off, Honky," the black man said and resumed pounding on the door. "Hey, man. I just wanted to ask you a few questions . . ."

Vincent lowered his hand to his boot and brought out a knife, pressing it against Daniel's stomach, "Told yous ta fuck off, Honkey." Daniel quickly sucked in, putting an inch between him and the blade as his eyes glazed and anger scorched his throat. He

narrowed his eyes and started to speak when the door swung open. The black girl he had met in the hall earlier looked shyly at her feet. voice. Vincent nodded at her and replaced the knife into his boot. Daniel breathed as Vincent shut the door. A crack followed if "I'm sorry, Vincent. I was asleep," she said in a low

somebody had slapped the table or a girl and he stood staring at the door for several seconds contemplating whether he should

bother knocking on the door or just go to bed.

He nodded, telling

himself it wasn't his business, and went to his room and shut the door, shutting out the hall light. He quickly undressed,

stretched out on the bed, and went through the pages on his note pad. there wasn't much written and he kept thinking if Lucy was

murdered in the twenty second and the other girl murdered on --, but the thought slipped away and he fell asleep.

CHAPTER EIGHT Note: Put in logan and he has been retired, living in so and so. Expand the ranch. The invastager believes Logan stole the money, and is running drugs out of the men's club....show

evadence...investager checks with logans bank; a lot of money there. expand on all inviolgin logan.

Arthur Dozier stared at the ceiling, blinking his eyes every time the fly buzzed overhead, sometimes coming so close it seemed like it was playing with death, almost daring him to kill. . . like that bitch last night. Like .

Oh, she was cool, taking his

money while unzipping his pants, but oh, her mouth felt so good around his dick, so good. she was such a bad girl. So good. Almost like warm honey, but Yes, yes. Good

Bad girl, bad girl. No, no.

girls didn't do these things.

Bad girl, bad girl.

He blinked at the ceiling and his hand came up automatically, crapping the fly. He let it buzz in his hand and sang, "Bad girl,

bad girl," before crushing it within his fist. He dropped the carcass beside his bed, then rose and slipped in his slippers. he tied his robe, then picked up the manilla

envelope he had put on the dresser two hours earlier and carried it down the spiral staircase to the couch. Sunlight sparkled off

Lake Michigan, but beyond the water's edge, dark clouds loomed and he smiled. He pried off the clasp, from the manilla envelope.

Farns & Farns, Confidential Investigators caught his eyes first

and his heart jumped.

They had done a thorough job on Lucy

Philpps and he hoped they were just as thorough on Daniel Logan, even though it had been a rush job, overnight service, Federal Express, so to speak. he leaned back and spilled out papers form

the envelope and began reading. PROSECUTOR: after seeing Mr. Logan, you expect the Court to believe that best friend killed and fiance killed, you

your

crawled twenty miles through the cattle dung and rotting corn, checked into a transient hotel and stayed there for almost three months because you feared for your life, and only came forward after Mr. Rochman's demise? Who, I may add, was a friend and

respectable member of our community." MR. LOGAN: No, I don't expect a man of your intelligence to

believe anything." PROSECUTOR, raising his voice: Sir, your tone implies that

this court and its members are stupid . . . LOGAN: If the shoe fits . . . Mr. Logan, you're out of order, ah . . . . And I, for one, resent it and maintain

JUDGE, smiling:

PROSECUTOR, yelling:

you killed Mr. McKinney and Miss Van-Order in cold blood, because they were maintaining a sexual liason behind your back. I further

maintain you concocted this story involving Mr. Rochman and Amstar International. MR. LOGAN: I further maintain . . . I'm going to chuck you out the window and let the

court see if you can maintain a healthy scream for twenty-five floors.

JUDGE:

It's about time someone told that cockroach off. I will have order . . . Oh, screw it!

(yelling) Order! He

laid the file down and laughed, thinking his mother was

right, Mr. Logan was an interesting person, far more interesting than Mr. McFarland. Suddenly, his laugh died in his throat as if His mother didn't tell him about Mr. Nor about Shaun McFarland. But that was

someone had stolen it. Logan. She was dead.

ridiculous, he said and his lip twitched and he smiled, slowly at first, then spreading it across his face. lifted and he looked at the file. and continued reading. According to rumors (unsubstantiated, but believed by this operative to be true), while working for Uniterd News Service, The fear in his heart

"Yes, she did," he said aloud

Mr. Logan and Mr. McKinna (Mr, McFarland was Senior Editor at the time) acquired sexually explicit pictures of the Governor of New York in a compromising position involving a twelve year old girl. Thes two reporters (again unsubstantiated) sold the pictures to the Governor for seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Mr.

McFarland fired them, in effect blackmailing them from journalism (or they quit because United News Service published duplicates, causing the Governor to take a swan dive from forty-four floors. This operative believes the former). purchase a ranch in Wyoming. . . He tugged in his bottom lip, thinking where there was a dollar to be made, it was apparent that Mr. Logan was like him. Yes, sir, Senator, even the most principled of men could be They used the money to

Mr. Logan still owns said property .

corrupted; everybody had their price, which was good because in the end, he would either kill Mr. Logan or buy him, and either way, it didn't matter to him. when the prize was immortality? He rose and laughed in his way to the bathroom. He spread What was one death, more or less,

out a makeup case, lipstick, a gray wig and an Evening in Paris perfume bottle on the changing table next to the sink. He picked

up the makeup case first and began working on his face, singing as he went, "I put a dab here. tinker there. mouth here. I put a dab there. I tinker here, I I touch my

I put a drop here.

I put a drop there.

I touch my mouth there.

And then I pat the sides and

look in the mirror and tell myself all is done and I look great. All is done. Yes, yes, yes."

He checked in the mirror one more time, patted the wig, then muttered, "Perfect, perfect." He flowed out of the bathroom and

went up the spiral staircase and stared at the steamer trunk that was next to the bed. He nodded and dragged it away form the wall,

then blew dust off the clasps, untied them and smiled at the contents. Yes, yes, yes, he thought. Exquisite. Still exquisite

after all these years. He gingerly picked up the blue velvet dress and placed it against his body. Oh, yes, yes. So nice. So nice. He laid it

out on the bed, then added a tea set, plaemats, undergarments and a toothbrush. trunk. Suddenly he stopped, his hand frozen over the as

"She didn't tell you about McFarland," his mind said

he looked at the contents on the bed.

He straightened, looking for who had spoken, but it was nobody, he thought, just nobody. He squeezed his eyes, blocking

out the voice, just nobody, and he wouldn't listen to nobodies any more. After all, weren't nobodies like money? The more you had That's what

of the latter, the less you needed of the former. Mommy always said before the bad times. streak, Mommy and Daddy holding hands. Cotton candy, ice cream. times. "Just nobody," he sang, "just nobody."

Riverview, the bobs, the Before the bad times.

Before the bad times, before the bad

2

"There's nobody laying there," Shaun said. He tightened his stomach and this time thought to himself, there's nobody laying there, hoping to keep down the Eggs Benedict he had eaten for breakfast. wakened Daniel. He closed his eyes, wishing he had

Right now, he could use company, the warmth of Daniel

somebody's hand on his shoulder, and he found that funny.

would probably have some sick comment to make, something like 'that's not Lucy behind the glass, laying on that piece of

stainless steel. call it Alpo.

That's just meat.

Feed it to a dog and you can

Woof, woof.'

He shivered, glad he had left without waking Daniel, then opened his eyes and blinked rapidly at the thing that was

stretched out on the sainless steel slab, almost as if he expected Lucy to blink back, saying she was okay, that it was all just a

dream after all.

But she just lay there, staring at the ceiling

and he gagged out a breath, his hands slipping on the glass, unable to face the truth of what lay there. He turned away and wiped his hands on his pants, then again, but they felt spongy so he dropped them to his side, "I . . . I . . ." "It's never nice," the coroner said, drawing the curtain and cutting Lucy off. He wanted to ask this stranger how he knew it was never nice. Had he ever faced a dead one, a sister, a mother, a father? this man all alone in the world, like him? held nothing but kindness. in the movies: Was

But the coroner's face

Certainly not the stereotype portrayed

a coroner screwing a dead woman while singing

"I've been told Eskimo pussy is mighty cold, but you should try me girl." "Especially when it's yours," he murmured, choking back a tear. The coroner raised his hands helplessly. He had been working

in the morgue for twenty years and still didn't know what to say in moments like this. Sorry was too thin, a nod too impersonal "Lieutenant

and everything in between should be said by family. Sanders has her personal belongings. avoiding Shaun's eyes. "There wouldn't be much," he replied. can't put that in an envelope." "I suppose."

There wasn't much," he said,

"Just heart and you

"The undertaker will be . . ." he said and turned away, once again wiping his hands on his pants. "Interring the body for transport?" the coroner finished. "Yes." He turned around and stared at the curtain, then reached for the door he had come in, thankful to be leaving, yet sorry to leave, yet not knowing what else to say. last words everybody said. dies in blood. "Go with God" were the

A baby is born in blood and an adult

It's the in betweens that count, not the slap on

the fanny or the pitiful speeches given at the bang or whimper moments, more to appease the way. The sun hit his face and he mumbled, "Goodbye," as he shuffled past people, their empty eye sockets going this way and that. He shoved his hands in his pockets, wishing the sun would He was in a land filled with Beginnings and endings. living than send the dead on their

warm him, but he was beyond warmth.

blackboards and windows and Lucy and Sue. And dreams, old ones and new ones.

Blackboards and windows were an old dream. Sue and Vermont lay ahead. Dreams. He looked up, surprised to see the gold leaf on the revolving doors, Chicago Police Department Headquarters. It occurred to him

that his feet had carried haim exactly where he wanted to go . . . . . yesterday. But now, he wasn't so sure. Did it really matter

if he got Lucy's belongings?

He gritted his teeth and went in, He paused to buy a

telling himself it was just another moment.

newspaper, then stopped at the Information Desk and coughed at the officer who sat there. "Help you?" the officer asked, studying a racing form. "I have an appointment to see Lieutentant Sanders," he said. The officer checked his appointment list, then scratched his head, "You McFarland?" "Yes." "Well, the Louie was called out about twenty minutes ago," he said, underlining Gatebuster in ninth at Hawthorne. back shortly. You can wait in Room 125." "He'll be

"Will he be long?" "I don't know," the officer said, peering around at him over the racing form. "Is there a pay phone around?" "Right past the elevators," the officer pointed. He shuffled over and allowed his hand to hesitate on the phone buttons, then he sighed and punched out his calling card number, following that with his home number. After several rings,

Sue's voice filled the receiver, warming his heart. "Hello?" she said. "Hi," he said uneasily. "Shaun," she replied. but . . ." "I'm staying at The Velvet." "Oh," she said rather warmly. "And I you. . . . her. It wasn't pretty. "I miss you." "You all right? I called the Hilton,

Sue, I just saw Lucy, or what was left of She wasn't pretty. She wasn't what I

remembered."

He paused, choking back the tears, then continued, I don't know what I expected,

"She wasn't what I expected. maybe . . . I just don't know."

"Shaun?" "I hoped it would be somebody else. You know, one of them

other people you see on the five o'clock news." "Shaun," she soothed, "don't do this to yourself." "You know, the very same people who I've written about all these years," he said, ignoring her plea and wiping away a tear. "You know something else?" "No," she said in a low voice. "I don't hate the killer. Does that make sense?"

"Yes, it makes all the sense in the world." "It's . . . it's like I'm dead inside. anything, one way or the other." "What about the dreams?" she asked, holding her breath. "The dreams?" he answered slowly. For the first time since I just don't feel

yesterday, he allowed himself to think about the dreams and was surprised, "The dreams? I don't know. Ever since last night, I Too busy, I guess. Or,

really haven't thought about them. maybe . . ." "Seeing Lucy?" she offered. "Maybe," he answered hopefully. "Shaun. "Soon>" Come home. Please?"

"Tell me when and I'll meet you at the airport."

"I would like that," he said.

"Let me talk to Lieutentant

Sanders and this woman, a friend of Lucy's and then we'll see." "Shaun, I love you." "Likewise," he said and replaced the receiver. He searched out Lieutenant Sanders' office, gave the

receptionist his name and took a seat, opened the newspaper and began reading. The words and stories didn't make any sense and he He shook his It

found himself checking his watch every few minutes.

head and lay the paper aside, wishing he had taken up smoking.

would be something to do besides sitting there and thinking. There was no end to thinking. Lucy. Sue. Home. Dreams. His home. His hedge against a The shit would bigger things grow than

Sue was his family, now. lonely end. up, down

Mary really would begin anew. around the middle, killing

and

gerbils, hating him or not. it out . . . or not. first, a sad one.

If so, he could see a shrink and work Well, she'd remain a memory. At

Lucy?

Then time would golden the edges, encasing old The police would A nightmare A spring, a

man Warson's barn and the joy along with it.

catch the killer and the blackboard would fade. ended. Maybe that's how life was supposed to be.

fall, a winter and a summer.

The final sentence, a warm breeze.

He crossed his legs and stared at the paper, telling himself there was really no end to thinking. 3

"Stop thinking, mind, and let me sleep."

But Daniel knew hismind was in overload and had no intentions of letting him sleep, so he climbed out of bed, then rallied his strength and fell back, thinking "There must be fifty feminists knocking down a phallic symbol in his head." He reached up and grabbed the Southern Comfort bottle off the window sill. His throat tickled down the last drop, dying a quick He shook his head to clear away the

death in his stomach.

cobwebs, then slipped the curtains aside and peered out at a long line of battle ship gray porches, a few garages and some

overflowing garbage cans--throw away dreams, so to speak-- but no Second Avenue, no store fronts, and no lonely men walking at two o'clock in the morning. Chris. And, worst of all, no dreams of Marcie or

Just a longing in his heart crying out at a job he didn't

want, chasing a killer that may only exist in Shaun's mind, that, in itself, was filled with guilt. A longing that fed on the

throbbing beat around him, a beat that tried to fool him into thinking he was home. But it wasn't so. To be sure, the sounds

in the hall were the same as the Second Avenue Men's Club, people coming and going all night, voices filtering through the thin walls as if it was the walls themselves talking. But 'home' was more than just familiar sounds. There was the

creak in the floorboards when Fairy Bill trudged to the bathroom at five a.m., the smell of coffee perking in the rooms, Sid brewing Folgers and Black Sam brewing Hills Brothers. All that

was as familiar to him as all the feet pattering in all the Scarsdales in th world. You put those same feet in Chicago and

the pattering just wasn't the same.

Maybe that was why he had blown interviewing the resident's last night. Or maybe it was just him. Maybe the years spent in

seclusion had destroyed his capacity for functioning in the real world. A world of Shaun's where ice cream and cotton candy were

used as barter, be it in the White House, a board room or the bedroom. Or maybe he was just afraid if the reality.

Marcie. Chris. New York. He sniffled and reminded himself that thinking was a waste of time, then rose and dressed quickly. Running his fingers through

his hair, he slung his shoulder bag over his shoulders, telling himself in reality, reality was just a Coke sign on Times Square. He stepped in the hall, closed his door and danced around the bend in the stairwell and stumbled into the lobby. Police

officers, lab technicians and reporters exploded in movement over the desk clerk. It occurred to him that if the if the clerk had had a nickel for every question that was being tossed his way, he'd be a millionaire inside five seconds. He took his expired press card fom his shoulder bag, instinctively clipping it to his shirt pocket and pushed out to the streets. cars and Both sides of Belmont were blocked off by police sawhorses. Fifty or sixty people, some he

wooden

recognized from the hotel, pressed against the barricades, moving the sawhorses forward as they uttered, "It's Low Ellen. Oh, my. Would you look at that?" Ooh. Ah.

They seemed like the same

voices he had heard in a thousand cities at a thousand crimes.

He wrapped his hand around his shoulder bag and, choosing his steps, skirted the crowd until there was a break, then ducked under a barricade. "Get the fuck back where you belong before I lay this upside your head," an officer yelled angrily, waving a flashlight at him. He jabbed at his chest and yelled, "Press." As he watched

two men in lab coats carried a vinyl body bag from the walkway. He folund himself fascinated by the blood leaking from the zipper and gathering in the gutter. For a second, it seemed like the

blood was waving at him, but it was only the rippling effects of the wind. He shook his head and heard himself ask, "Is there a

Lieutenant Sanders here?" "I'm Lieutenant Sanders," a voice behind him groaned. do you want?" He spun on his heels and thought that in the morning the man filled his uniform with importance, then as an afterthought added his body. "Press," he said. "I'd like to view the murder scene "What

and interview whoever found the body." "Get the fuck out of here," Sanders growled. "But," he protested. "Now, asshole," Sanders ordered, "before I lock you up." He blew out a quick breath, telling himself to be calm, then saw Linda Feilds staring at him inquisitively. a half-smile and ducked back under the He flashed Sanders As he

barricades.

approached her, he saw her hands hung lifelessly at her side and her eyes were ragged and swollen.

"You're crying, Precious," he said, thinking that was about as stupid a line as he had ever uttered. "Perhaps I can help."

"Thank you, but I'll be okay," she said and brushed at her eyes. "May I assume by your tears that . . . ?" "The dead woman," she murmured. "Is, was she a friend of yours?" "Yes, she was," she whispered. Ellen was a friend. She liked her. She didn't really know if Low Low Ellen had baby sat for She quivered and her

David and Low Ellen did live next door.

chest felt heavy, almost as if all the lonliness in the world had taken refuge there. It was the same feeling she had when Dr.

Pritzer had informed her that her mother had expired (a parking meter expires, but a mother?) from the insulin coma she had lain in for six months. "Why do you want to know? Are you a private

cop hired by Lucy's brother--what's his name--Shaun?" "No," he said, then paused, wondering how she knew Shaun was Lucy's brother. Shaun and Tina. also. Then the previous night came back to him. Julie,

Chances were she knew about him asking questions,

So, what she was really asking was whether he could be

trusted and he couldn't think of any reason why. "No!" he answered, choosing his words, "I'm just a reporter, but most importantly, I'm somebody who's here when nobody else is. Somebody who is willingto listen, if that's what it takes." They stared at each other for several seconds and both saw in the other's eyes a need for companionship: searching. one wary, the other

"I would like that," Linda said at last. "So would I," he answered. They turned and went into The Velvet, Linda saying a silent goodbye.

CHAPTER NINE "I wanted to cry out, 'No, you can't be dead. Low Ellen. Stop playing,

This isn't a children's game,'"Linda croaked out as

she swiped at her tears, catching several but missing the storm, "but most of all, I wanted it to me." They were sitting at Linda's kitchen table. Daniel warmed

his hands on his coffee cup while Linda stared at her Red Zinger tear. at the A bowl of oatmeal steamed alone, almost as if it was angry BINK, BINK of the Pac Man game in the living room.

Finally, he got up and tore a sheet of Bounty from the holder above the sink and handed it to her. He had written a list of

questions on his note pad, putting why she hadn't gone to the police on top. As she wiped her face, he decided her occupation Chances were, the police would

and the boy were reason enough.

put the boy in a home, believing he would be better off there than living with a hooker. The word social seldom worked in

cooperation with the heart. "That's understandable," he said, watching her toss the Bounty on the table. She nodded and he stared at his coffee, clean and homey. A yell brought

thinking the apartment was nice,

his eyes up in time to see Linda's boy, Davie, waving his hands above his head as he screeched across the linoleum."Pac Man got eaten, Mommy," he screamed. She brushed her face, replacing the tears with a weak smile, then ruffled his hair, "Okay, Pumpkin. Try again."

"I'm sorry about Low Ellen," he said as the boy raced by him. "I met her last night and she seemed like a nice person." "She really was," she replied easily, "and I can't help thinking about all the things I didn't say to stop her from taking the john. "I'm sorry. I just keep think. . . ." She wiped at her face again,

I don't mean to keep raining on your rainbow." "I'm sure you have questions.

"Well, whatever," she replied.

If you don't mind a few tears and some self-indulgence, I think I'm okay now." "Well, actually," he said tossing the pencil over his shoulder, "this is stuff I wrote yesterday. impress you. work?" "I'm impressed, Danny. Really impressed," she said but the I took it out to Did it

You know, professional tactics and all that.

smile remained a ghost on her face. "Linda, a couple of things," he offered. "Please," she urged. He was sprinkling salt on the table, then removed his shoe. He saw she stering at the salt like she wanted to clean it up, and at him like he was crazy. "Before you send for the men in the

white coats," he winked, "I want you to listen very closely, because this is a very important experiment. I'm going to make

three distinctly separate sounds and I want you to tell me which one the killer made while pacing in the walkway. "Sure." He placed the heel over the salt and ground it back and forth. the crunch, pop, crunch broke the ensuing silence and he Okay?"

noticed dimples hollow her cheeks.

He brushed the salt into his

palm, then scraped the shoe on the table producing a scratching sound akin to a high C note. Her face broke into a smile. he

walked the shoe across the table, bumping the pepper shaker. "Damn women drivers." She put her fingers to her mouth and laughed loudly. "Stop,

stop, stop," she said as she pitched from her chair on the way to the sink. She clutched at the Bounty, trailing it behind her as "If I was a contestant of a TV game

she returned to the chair.

show and this was the jackpot question, I would say the last sound was the most similiar, only because I didn't hear any sound. that important?" "Not unless you're Sherlock Holmes," he dead-panned. "You hick. You hick, you tricked me," she laughed, then "Oh-h-h-h, would you look at that." Is

caught sight of the Bounty.

She laughed, then wrapped both hands around her waist and bellowed and if not for Davie screeching across the floor, would have fallen off her chair. "Pac Man got eaten, Mommy," he said, scratching his hair. "Is that funny?" "Yes, Pumpkin," she replied, "but try again." "'Kay, Mommy." "Thank you," she said, her eyes sparkling for the first time. The ghost had fled, at least for a while. "Damsels in distress are my specialty," he acknowledged. retrieved the pencil, sat and paused for He

'a Packman got eaten,

Mommy' and then ran a string of questions that lasted twenty

minutes according to the kitchen clock above the refrigerator. "Did Low Ellen have a pimp? friends? murder? How many enemies? Who were her

Was there a connection between Low Ellen and the first Can you think of anything unusual about the killer--his

height, weight, voice, husky, soft, etc.?" She answered each question ina meloncholy tone, "No, there Enemies? Sure.

wasn't a pimp tough enough to handle Low Ellen.

Every pimp who wanted her for his stable, but none of the other girls. Friends? I guess only me. You see, Low Ellen and I were

the only girls in the neighborhood who operated outside a stable. The pimps didn't like their property talking to renegades." was said with a thin smile. ideas. This

"They are afraid the girls might get As for the other She had only

No, Low Ellen didn't know Lucy at all.

girl who was killed, nobody in the hotel knew her. lived for a few weeks.

As for the killer, except for his shadow,

I never got a good look at him . . . I think he was bald, but the shadows . . . . "Wait! sounded he had a low voice, and now that I think of it, he I don't know. Kind of like I heard it

familiar.

somewhere before.

Maybe in the hotel or maybe on the streets.

"Then again, maybe not," she finished. "Do you think if you heard it again, you would recognize it?" "Yes," she said. "Yes, yes I think so."

Her face was shadowed by a thin stream of light that escaped the kitchen curtains. her eyes said the laughter was all washed

out, but would return in time and he found himself impressed with her sincerity and realized he felt a warmth for her. The latter

had seemed to creep up on him and he wondered if it was because she reminded him of Marcie. As he flipped pages on the note pad, It would be terribly unfair to

he hoped this wasn't the case. like her because of Marcie.

"A few more questions," he asked hopefully. of anyone who was close to Lucy?" "Julie," she answered readily. met in the hall last night." "Did Lucy have a pimp?" he asked, nodding. "Yes," she answered slowly. He lives in Room 121. "Ted.

"Can you think

"That's one of the girls you

he's also Julie's pimp.

A very tough man."

"What about the first girl?" "I'm sure she did, but he wasn't from around here." As he wrote, he really didn't think it was pimp killing the girls, no more than it was a blackboard. But then, Linda's

talking to the killer destroyed that theory, mashing it to pieces. At least he hoped Shaun would see it that way. But, whoever he

was, the killer didn't seem to be selective in where he committed the murders. Twice in the hotel and once in the walkway. Where

would he strike next? "One more question," he said as he finished writing. would I find the hotel manager and what's his name?" "That's two questions," she smiled. "I always cheat." "I see. I'll remember that, and his name is Lou Elder. That's 101." You "Where

can find him in the office.

He nodded and made a mental note to talk to Ted, read what he had written, added Lou Elder, then looked up as Davie yelled, "Pac Man broke." She scooped him up, adjusting him on her lap, "In that case, why don't we pay attention to Mr. Oatmeal. down enough to play the Star War game." I'm sure he's cooled

"Star War game?" Daniel asked. "Sure enough," she grinned. Davie's mouth is the sky port." "Davie is tired of yucky Star Wars," Davie said, then popped his thumb in his mouth. "Tell you what, guy," Daniel said, "I seem to remember Chicago has great zoo. It's called Lincoln Perk or Lincoln Park . "The spoon is Hans Solo and

. . something like that." "Lincoln Park Zoo," Davie yelled. "Right, and maybe if you eat all your oatmeal, your mother will take us," he answered, then looked at Linda, "after I run a few errands, that is." "Really?" she asked. "Really," he replied, liking the way her eyes had once again lit up, "Say about 3:00?" "Sure, and thanks." He brushed Davie's hair, then stepped toward the door. She

walked him to the door, said goodby and went back to the kitchen. Oatmeal covered Davie's head as he banged hisspoon on the table. "Boom. Mr. Oatmeal all gone. Boom.?"

She sighed and began to clean up the oatmeal.

2

Room 216. Julie turned off the hot water, her face breathing in the steam that rose from the tub. She sprinlkled in bubble bath,

swishing it around with her finger and thinking last night had been a bitch, but this morning had been a nightmare. Cops and

news reporters all over the place, and worst of all, Low Ellen dead. Someday a reporter was going to write how it was really Men wanting head and booty were just the tip

working as a hooker. of the iceberg.

They should write about the men wearing razor

blades strapped to their cocks, laughing while they cut your pussy to ribbons. Men tying a whore down and filling her pussy with

super glue, being ever so careful in taking care not to spill any glue on their precious fingers. took the cake: candles and all. And the bastard from last night

"Ah, you're tied up all nice and tight," the man said, as he smiled so nicely, while his limp dick grew. "Remember, you promised no rough stuff," she reminded, somehow knowing he had lied, but two hundred dollars was a bunch of green. "No, no. No rough stuff," he soothed. "Just a few cherry

bombs up your twit." "Wait . . ." she screamed, squirming at the ropes, but they held her tight, and all she could think was Jesus Christ, this was the killer and she was about to die. Jesus Christ! With cherry

bombs up her twit. Christ!

Jesus Christ!

What a way to go.

Jesus

"One, two, three and a match," he said, breaking her thoughts as he stuffed three cherry bombs up her pussy, wick ends out. Suddenly, she was sure he was the killer, but shit these things didn't happen to her. Please. Not my pussy." "No," she screamed, "not my pussy.

"Light this one," he sang, "then that one and then the last one." She gritted her teeth, thinking that pretty soon her pussy was going to explode, that she was going to have an exploding pussy, that she would go down in the Guiness Book of Records. But, as the wicks burned towsrd her pussy, the man groaned and his pecker sprayed, and sparayed. She had never seen so much come. it just kept coming and coming. The man was truly a comebag.

"The cherry bombs are a dud," he said, slumping on the bed and untying her. "I should write a book," she said, dipping a single toe in the water. "Hot-t-t-t-t," she squealed, then counted five, then Steam rose around her and she

plunged her body in the water.

moaned, determined to wash away last night's men for tonight's.

3 Room 207 Mrs. T. Smith (T for Tiberius, she always yelled at the bartender at Tony's Bar) felt the lump on the bed. "Wsssit?" Pop Breezernose mumbled.

"And our next contestant is," Bob Parker drawled out, "Miss Sheila Obermeyer from Sunny Springs, California." "Found diamonds last night, Pop," Mrs. T. whispered. "Wsssit?" he mumbled. "Mrs. Obermeyer, you can spin this wheel and win a thousand dollars, or you can take the money you've won and go home," Bob Barker teased. "Spin the fuckin' wheel, spin the fuckin' wheel," Mrs. T. screamed. She sucked up a whopper and spit into the tattered A&P

shopping bag next to the bed, then leaned over Pop Breezernose and whispered, "Found diamonds last night, Pop." "Wsssit?" he mumbled.

4

Reflecting on the Velvet and the residents, Daniel slid ten bucks across the stainless steel bar. The neon outside had called

the place the Pin Flamingo Bar and Space Place, but the sign had been a bit understated, he told himself. Plastic pink falmingoes

circled a pedestal bandstand, which in itself was an island among a sea of goldfish encased within a plastic floor. THe booths that

lined the walls were pink and he was sure the bathrooms offered more of the same, but one thing bothered him. they feed the goldfish? He pressed lightly at his temples, dismissing the fish and hoping the Southern Comfort would deliver him from the Vincents and Lou Elders of the world. How in the hell did

"Say, Slick," he yelled at Vincent as the pimp pounded on Sophie's door, "I'm looking for a guy named Ted. he is?" Vince raised his fist against the door, then lowered it, "Well, if'n isn't the honking honkey from last night." "That's me," he said, wishing he'd approached someone else. "Well now's, if you's looking for Ted so'n you can procure a woman, I've got one waking up right now. price." "Not interested, Slick," he said, thinking that for Vincent 'procure' was the outer limits of his vocabulary. few words with Ted." "Then you's just gonna have to go out and find him yourself, ain'tcha?" Vincent said as he toyed with his gold chains. He'd asked a dozen other people, and had gotten the same response as he got last night. . . . but he didn't think it was because they were ignoring him. It was probably because they were "Just want a You can have her for a You know where

more interested in hashing over Low Ellen's death and who might be next than harassing him, so he knocked on Lou Elder's office, telling himself it was a waste of time as he entered. A short, stout man, strands of hair hung over a bald head, sat behind a metal desk. talked, "Yes, Sir. Yes, Sir. He had a phone stuck in one ear as he

The people in 323 promise to be out by noon. See you then." He hung the phone

I shall see to it.

up and looked at Daniel, "If you're looking for a room, that's handled at the front desk."

Daniel shook his head, explaining he was a journalist and apologizing for interrupting his busy schedule. "Busy?" Lou Elder waves amicably. is. "Let me tell you what busy

I had planned on fixing Mrs. Eggleston's toilet--not that Believe

that would stop her complaining because it wouldn't.

me.-- Then, I'm supposed to let the exterminator in the basement to exterminate the rats. You know what the first thing is that No you don't. Well, let me

the jerk says when going down there?

tell you, bub, he yells very loudly that every bug and rat should get out because in five minutes he's killing everything that moves. You know something the damned bugs and rats take a hike

until the exterminator leaves, then return after that, the trash in Room 323 are supposed to check out and I'm to fumigate the room and have it ready by four. what busy is, Bub. Then and then then. Let me tell you

Busy is when the gods shit on you for sport

and that's what having people murdered in your hotel is called-being shit on for sport. "But, for the press, I always have time. a capital E, Lou with a capital L." Daniel told his drink there was nothing wrong with that as he motioned for another and there was nothing wrong with Elder's answers about Low Ellen and Lucy and the first murder, but that's where the feeling that everything was hunky dory vanished. "Oh, by the way," he asked nonchalantly, "could you tell me who made the reservations for Mr. McFarland and myself? clerk said you would know." The desk The name Elder with

"I--I

wouldn't know," Elder stuttered.

He went to the

window and toyed with the blinds, "The desk clerk handles all reservations." He knew instinctively tha man was lying. but's about it. No if's, and's or

But why, he wondered as he toyed with his drink.

Elder had no reason to lie and the most obvious scenario was somebody from U.N.S. slipped him a twenty to keep quiet, probably hoping to make Shaun even more paranoid than he was, if that was possible. He had decided that was the case and a little dollar persuasion would show a change of heart when the maid had burst in yelling, "Mr. Elder, the boys on 323 done overdosed." Elder stiffly slumped in his desk chair as if the It

familiarity of it would keep his face from going bone white. hadn't.

"I'll phone the police," he said to the maid, then turned

to Daniel, "Would you excuse, please?" Daniel fingered the Southern thoughtfully, thinking maybe it was the strain catching up: three murders, an assortment of other He

problems and a couple of overdoses would get anybody down.

finished the Southern, leaned forward and looked at the Tribune that lay on top empty Bud bottles. LIEUTENANT NORTH TAKES THE

FIFTH ON WHETHER HE SITS OR STANDS WHEN TAKING A PISS is what the headlines basically said, but it was the date that caught his eye and he muttered, "Of course." "Okay," the bartender said, and filled his glass. "That, too," he said as he flipped pages backward on his note pad. The first murder had occurred on the sixteenth, the secon on

the twenty-second and Low Ellen had died today, the twenty-eighth. Six days apart, one and all. but he didn't think so. It could be a coincidence, he knew,

Experience told him that crazies followed

a pattern as religiously as baseball players wearing the same socks while on a winning streak. "Six days apart," he said aloud, hoping it felt as real out loud as it had in thought. The sun blinded him and he shaded his eyes as he headed for the Velvet. He paused outside the awning and saw that the street Police, etc., had gone on to bigger and

had returned to normal.

better things; which meant coffee breaks or leg breaking suspects. He crossed the street and turned in the walkway Low Ellen had been carried from. He paused for a second, then came out the other end

and was faced with a church, a carport and a long row of garages. He followed the police chalk marks until he came to a stairwell, then studied the body outline on the cement for several seconds. Everything indicated she had taken her killer here to Or, in the

service him, but why here and not in her hotel room? walkway? concluded.

More than likely because the killer wanted privacy, he A church stairwell, at night, empty, alone, except for

the religious symbols inside offered all the privacy in the world. What better place, after all, to slice and dice? He grimaced at his last thought and scanned tht pebbles that made up the carport, until his eyes fell across the rear of the church. He started to turn away, when a sliver of cloth caught He pushed aside pebbles and removed a black sash, He touched the blood

his attention.

the kind women use as waist decorations.

stains, then stooped and examined the ground for more blood. Finding none, he guessed the distance from the stairwell to the carport was approxiamately sixty feet. He walked back through the There was

walkway, searching the ground for blood as he went.

none and the only explanation he could think of was that the killer had carried the sash, dropping it by accident as he left. He stepped between two parked cars and hailed a passing taxi, telling himself the sash, by itself, was meaningless, so was the six day pattern, so was Lou Elder lying and so was the fate of the Chicago Cubs. But, ahh-h-h. Put them all together and you had

pieces to a puzzle. the Cubs.

The only one that really was meaningless was

At least they were if you were from New York.

"Police file building," he said to the driver as he climbed in.

CHAPTER TEN

Daniel squeezed the bridge of his nose, closed his eyes for a second, then hit the pass button on the computer and leaned

forward, squinting at the information on the screen: North Sector, May 8, 1945, THe Velvet Hotel.

7540812V,d Male -

Victims:

Caucasian, female - Caucasian, male - Bob MacDonald, female Cathy Spense. Occupation Male hotel custodian, female Suspect of Bob

prostitute. female. MacDonald. guilty of

Suspect apprehended two blocks from hotel. Name Jean MacDonald. Suspect legal wife

Suspect indicted on both murders. first death degree penalty murder. . . . Prosecutor, End of file.

Suspect found Mr. Dodsworth, For further

recommended

information, splice to file 7540813, -14, -15, -16, -17 and a streamer on file 2222287 North Sector, Unsolved Missing Persons Department. Victim James Watts.

Bingo, he thought as he recorded the information on his note pad, taking care to note that the woman's name was Mrs. MacDonald and that her husband was one of the victims. That explained a

lot, but he would leave that to the heavenly shrinks, which was probably where she was at. Right now, he had a hunch to play and

if it panned out, he would have the answer to the puzzle, and the funny thing was, was that Shaun wasn't far wrong. He quickly moved his hands over the into the five other cases. computer keys, splicing

The word SEALED blinked five times He stared at the screen

for each, then stayed on the screen.

until his eyes ached.

Finally, his mind came up with a solution It occurred

and he wrote in his note pad, blinking as he worked.

to him that another hour of this and he'd need glasses and he wondered if anybody had made the relationship between computers and medieval torture chambers. He decided, probably not, reread

the notes, scratched his head and rose. He stiffly walked to the Information Desk and asked the officer if he could use the phone. "Anything for the Press," the officer replied nastily. "Yeah,k" he responded. he punched out the number on the

phone, thinking about the information on the screen while the phone rang on the other end. Nope, Shaun wasn't far wrong, he was

just searching heaven and hell when the answers were right here on the earth. "U.N.S. Research Department," the woman on the other end answered, breaking his thoughts. "This is Daniel Logan," he said. McFarland. "I'm working with Shaun He

I need the phone number for Clarence Dodsworth.

was an Assistant D.A. for the city at one time. Can do?" "If you can hold?" the woman purred. "No problem," he said, looking at the officer.

I need it now.

"2-7-1-4-6-8-9," the woman finally purred back. "Thanks," he said, pressed disconnect and punched out seven more numbers. Ghosts and Marcie, blackboards and windows, Linda,

Low Ellen and Lucy and life and death, he thought and the phone

slipped from his hand, bouncing on the floor. the receiver and the officer looked at him. "Hello," he said, grabbing the receiver. "Son?" an elderly voice bristled. was yesterday. At eighty three,

A squeak came from

"Sorry."

"My eighty third birthday yesterdays are best not

forgotten, especially when my todays are whittled away by young people who keep apologizing for stupidity." "Happy Birthday," he said, warming instantly to the voice. "Mr. Dodsworth, I presume." "Yes, Son, and if you expect your sideways poppycock to preen my feathers, you're sadly mistaken. "Mrs. MacDonald," he shot out Have a good day." quickly. he hald his breath,

courting the gods that be as he prayed. "Just who am I speaking to?" Mr. Dodsworth asked. "My name's Daniel Logan," he said, allowing himself to breathe. "I'm a reporter. I'm trying to, uh figure out a puzzle.

I'm hoping the past will help." "Son," Mr. Dodsworth sighed, "You're interested in history, not the past." He supposed forty years was history, but hell, so was yesterday. "Yes, Sir, and I--"

"Son, do you believe in ghosts?" Mr. Dodsworth abruptly asked, cutting him off. "Well, Sir," he answered, pausing to consider Marcie, "it's been said, but that's not why I . . ." "Son, like I said, I'm eighty three," he said slowly, almost as if remembering was painful. "I've seen things; some

explainable, some just fate and others just plain stupidity . . . and a few, two really, that defied imagination." He started to flip a page in his note pad, then paused at the sudden seriousness in Mr. Dodsweorth's voice. "Son, you still there?" he whispered. "Was Mrs. MacDonald one of those?" he asked, his heart skipping a beat. "Well, Son, Mrs. MacDonald was beyond imagination," he replied. "She committed a savagery in such magnitude as I've Even now, half senile--at least The bits

never witnessed before or since.

my children think so--, I can still picture her victims. and pieces. She didn't just murder, Son, she sacrificed."

"So, that's why the file was sealed," he murmured. "Of course, Son. It was 1945, after all."

"Why weren't the files on Mrs. MacDonald sealed?" "Two reasons, really," he answered. the D.A. wanted a speedy end a to the "The War was ending and whole plea mess. in So, Mrs. for

MacDonald's

attorney

offered

guilty

exchange

dropping the first four murders.

We--we agreed."

"Then, she was only executed for the last two murders?" "Son, what are you talking about?" "I . . . " "Son, her attorney outfoxed us all," he said. "By pleading

guilty, he was able to get gher sentenced to the nut house at Mantino." "But the files indicated the death penalty ahd --"

"Recommended. State Hospital."

Yes," Mr. Dodsworth said, "but she went to a

"She's alive, then?" he asked, feeling his heart quicken. "No, Son," he replied. of the word. "At least not in the Dictionary sense

In 1951, she escaped, fleeing to The Velvet Hotel. She bled

She committed suicide by gnawing her veins to the bone. to death."

He felt his heart slow, thinking for a second he almost believed in ghosts, Shaun's story and fairy tales. second, the old guy almost had him. "Is that all?' Yeah, for a

"Well, Son, there is one little thing," Mr. Dodsworth said very slowly. "Mrs. MacDonald left a note, of sorts. Using her

own blood, she said she would return.

Mephistopheles so decrees."

So, she was Mephistophelean, a Devil worhipper, a believer in the Faust legend, he thought but he would keep that to himself. After all, she was dead and Shaun didn't need a devil to add to his blackboard. "So that's what you meant by history?" "Yes, Son." "Well, Sir, all that's very interesting, but the reason I called was to ask if Mrs. MacDonald had a son. did?" "Why yes, Son." "Would you remember his name, or do you know what happened to him?" Do you know if she

"No, Son," Mr. Dodsworth replied.

"The D.A.'s office didn't

pay much attention to him or any of her other relatives-----Like I said, it was 1945, after all." He nodded to himself, thinking that would be easy enough to check, then wrote in his note pad. Dodsworth, then paused. he started to thank Mr. his head at? he

Where the hell was

thought as he stared at the names of the girls who were killed. All three had lived on the third floor. "Do you believe she had come back?" he asked, surprised at the question himself. "Permit me a question, Son?" "Certainly." "Is your father still alive?" "No, Sir." "He leave you a million dollars?" "Just common sense." "Then, here's the answer to your question, Son," he replied. "I'm not too old to believe in dragons, just too old to fight them. I'm also not too old to read the papers." "Yes, Sir," he responded, wiping his brow. It was a silly

question, he told himself, but he formed his next question in his mind beforehand, knowing it was just as silly as the first. But

after all, the girls living in three had to be just a coincidence. That was all. But still, it was better to be safe thatn sorry, Do you remember what rooms the victims

"Just one more question. from 1945 lived in?"

"No, Son, and seeing as those records are sealed, you'll have to find them elsewhere," Mr. Dodsworth answered. "By the way, I They

called the police and told them much of what I told you. didn't have much use for an old man's stories. drift?" "I suppose so," Daniel mumbled, lighting a Camel. "Son, one more thing--be careful. "I will, Sir," he replied weakly. Be very careful."

Do you follow my

"Son, I'd love to chat longer, but I've a sibling in the parlor and he's probably wondering if I'm still alive, hoping I'm not so he can count on his inheritance. I'd better go in and disappoint him." "Thank you, Sir," he replied absently and replaced the receiver. He went back to the computer room, feeling like he was a penny on a Bloomingdale's counter waiting for change. He knew he

should be elated at guessing that Mrs. Macdonald had a son, but that was just common sense, and at some point the police would have discovered the connection between '45 and the present.

Shaun, too, if he hadn't been os wrapped up in his blackboard. The son was killing the hookers, the same as his mother had. was for the shrinks. Why,

He had to find those room numbers and stop

the man before he killed off the entire floor. He checked his watch and saw it was almost three, and decided to call U.N.S. and have them check their records for the room numbers in 1945. he would also have them check for the son's name

and James Watts, if only because he was missing and God knows how

amny others Mrs. MacDoanld killed. switched off the computer.

What a mess, he thought as he

As he walked back toward the phone, the thought of Linda had an urgent feel to it. Marcie, Amstar, Chris. He had been here before, hadn't he? What a bummer. What a fuckin' bummer.

2

Lou Elder listened half-heartedly as he toyed with the receipts and penciled reminders that cluttered his desk. He

wanted to ask why he was being given a vacation, but it wasn't his place to ask, simply to comply. That's what the prissy-assed

instructor at Hotel Management School had constantly said, not that he minded taking a vacation. him Between (not that the murders, the he had anything

prostitutes

constantly

bugging

against prostitutes.

If the truth be known and his wife didn't,

he enjoyed them immensely), drag queens harassing him and the gay men threatening to bugger him, he needed a vacation. When you

threw in a crazy bag lady who collected more junk than his not too tightly wrapped uncle who died with his snooze, sniffing the inside of a garbage can, it was just what the doctor ordered. So,

why did he feel like the gods were once again shitting on him for sport? "Yes, Mr. Dozier," he answered, trying to avoid looking at the gray wig, red lips and cristy makeup that was his boss' face, "I understand."

"Good, good," Arthur said.

"Now, about this Daniel Logan."

"It's like I said," he defended, "he simply asked who made the reservations. I told him I had no idea." "I hope you fully

"As I insrtucted," Arthur replied. understand my reasons.

The consortium feels that bad press at

this time would diminish The Velvet's value which, as I said earlier, is why I'm assuming the reins as Resident Manager, but I will add again, Upon this your is no reflection we will on be your supervisory extensive I

abilities.

return,

starting

rehabilitation, one that fits in with the new town revival.

sincerely hope y ou will see fit to stay on in your present capacity." "I fully understand, Mr. Dozier." "Good, good," he answered. "Now, about Room 323."

"It's been cleaned and is ready for your inspection."

Good, good," he replied, walking around the desk and putting his arm on Lou Elder's shoulder. "While we inspect the room, would You will

you be so kind as to explain the day-to-day operation. find me an attentive student, I'm sure." Lou Elder pushed up.

3

Linda reminded herself that Daniel was picking her and Davie up at three as she cleaned, fighting the most recent images of her and Low Ellen drinking coffee, munching powdered doughnuts and

giggling at the asses of men as they gossiped over who was pimping for who, which pimp had the hots or a hard on for who and wasn't it a shame about what's her name a year and a day in the house of correction. And you know Sally? Well, she got thrown off Welfare Did you hear that Trish stuck Oh yeah, and did you hear

and found a job that spells relief.

her two month old baby in the furnace. that Sandy got run over by a Toyota. didn't get a scratch.

The car got smashed, but she

"Yeah, it's a tough old world," Low Ellen always would reply. "That it is, Low Ellen," Linda murmured. She surveyed her two and a half room kitchenette and saw it wasn't white glove clean, but it was clean and she liked it like that. She rinsed and hung cleaning rags over the shower rack.

She emptied the mop water into the toilet, rinsed out the bucket and placed under the kitchen sink. She put the Pledge can, Mr. The mop and broom went

Clean bottle and Brillo pads next to it. behind the refrigerator. listened as it fell.

She carried the garbage to the chute and

She locked her door, sighed and discarded

the morning's thoughts on Low Ellen by running a tub of steaming hot water and playing the Would Game. Would this Daniel like Davie and bounce him on his knees and tell him scary stories that would make Davie giggle? like Daniel? Would Daniel like me? Would Davie

She stepped from the tub and wrapped a pink towel around herself. Would this Daniel like her face or would this man hurt

her like . . . . like Paul?

She had met Paul at Sonny's Golden Cue.

She and Elaine

Miller, her runaround pard, were leaning against the cue stick, sipping Knee High Oranges and drooling over the tattoo dragons on the muscled forearms of the male palyers, when the best hunk of meat she had ever sen stepped over and asked them if they wanted to play. She lightly touched the places on her stomach where Paul had put out his Kools. body? Elaine had cried no, but she had gone with Paul to his basement crash pad and sitting between a '57 Harley Hog and the couch, she swallowed a handful of rainbow colored pills. night, she became his lover. called her his motorcycle mamma That Would this Daniel like a scarred and beaten

She had loved it when Paul had and told her to share. So,

she had shared and the first of the sharing was the humiliation of being gang raped in the worn felt pool table in the hell's

henchmen's clubhouse.

Afterward, she had cried and wailed until

Paul, yelling, "I'll give you something to cry about," tattooed her with neat, round cigarette burns. or arms. But he didn't burn her face

After all, she had become A-1 bait for the motorcycle

club's prostitution ring and he didn't want to burn anything that was A-1 bait. Not Paul.

Would this Daniel beat me and bruise my body? She had let strange hands touch her, invading every crevice of her body until Paul tried to fit his bike between a bus and a garbage truck. The bike careened off the bus and bounced against

the garbage truck's bumper, throwing Paul head first into the

truck's

shredder.

The

driver, thinking he had

hit the

stop

button, hit start, (he was relly thinking about his son who had been killed by a drunken Hell's Angel in L.A.) and the truck's shredder spit out Paul in miniature pieces. David was born. A knock jarred her thoughts and she pinched herself, thinking it was no wonder the other girls called her a fool for Six months later,

daydreaming.

She was a hooker, a hooker, a hooker.

"But dreaming is free," she murmured as she answered the door. "Yes?" she said to the person standing there. "Hello, hello," Arthur said, offering his hand. "I'm Arthur

Dozier, the new resident manager . . . . May I come in for a second?"

4 Room 212. Pop Breezernose fell out of bed, landing on the diamonds. "My diamonds," Mrs. T. pouted. "You broke them."

"Wsssit?" PopBreezernose murmured and went back to sleep.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

Daniel kept step with the

lightening flashes that were He crossed

making the tree shoots seem like flickering candles.

Belmont, holding Davie's hand as he smiled at the orange glow that spread across Davie's face every time the wind waffled the string attached to the balloon Davie carried, except when the logo, Lincoln Park Zoo, spun forward, then dark shadows darkened the boy's eyes. "Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my!" they sang in unison.

Oh my, was right, Daniel thought, releasing Davie's hand to Linda. He hadn't had this much fun since he and Marcie had gone At the time, he hadn't told Marcie about Mr. And despite

to Coney Island.

Rochman's threat, preferring to keep it to himself.

misgivings, he had decided not to tell Linda about the murders in 1945 and their similiarity to the present. to go around scarind people and until Nobody was paying him he verified the room

numbers, he intended keeping it that way and besides, he had six days before the man struck again. After all, he could be wrong. Telling

Just showing her the sash had scared the hell out of her. her the rest would probably cuase a coronary. "Was this Low Ellen's?" he asked at the lion's cage.

"I--I--yes," she answered shakily, fingering the blood stains.

"Are you sure?" he gently prodded, watching to make sure Davie didn't get too close to the lions. the seal cage. "Yes we bought matching ensembles only last week at T.J. Max's" she replied, her voice cracking. "How did you get it?" Silently they moved too

He explained while Davie fed the smelt to the seals, softening the edges and squeezing her hand before going to a pay phone opposite the seal pool. Suddenly, he desperately wanted

those room numbers and he couldn't explain why, even to himself. He pumped in quarters and dialed, asking, as soon as the woman on the other end identified herself as a staff secretary for United News Services, if Shaun McFarland was there. "Sorry, Mr. McFarland left about twenty minutes ago. leave a message?" "No, but could you tell me if he got my message? Logan, Daniel Logan." "Yes. He said to tell you he would check on it and see you Name's Care to

back at the hotel." "Thanks," he said and replaced the receiver. He watched Linda and Davie feed the seals for several seconds, thinking this was becoming too big for him to handle alone. Three years ago, he would have picked up on room numbers He

right away, and ditto for the killer striking every six days.

was definitely either rusty or, as Chris would say, too old to trot and too tired to jog, so you'd better walk and leave the driving to younger men. Well, the only other person involved was A few cops

Lieutenant Sanders, and he had the manpower to deploy.

on each floor would do for starters, and maybe an extra two for Floor number three. He also had the clout to open those sealed

files and to issue an all points bulletin ofr Mrs. MacDonald's son. He told himself these things one more time and decided to give Sanders a shot. He called Information and got the numbers Sanders growl

for Sanders at Police Headquarters, then dialed. broke the line on the first ring. "Sanders here."

He told Sanders who he was, then explained in a monotone everything he had, ending with "You should also check Lou Elder, the Velvet's manager. He lied to me about the reservations. I

really don't think Elder is Mrs. MacDonald's son, but it couldn't hurt to check that out." "I don't know how to tell you how grateful the Chicago Police Department is for your help," Sanders said sarcastically. assured, we'll get right on it." As he searched the throng that congregated in twos and threes up and down Belmont for Shaun, he dismissed Sanders, hoping the man would do more than just sit on his fat ass. He smiled at a black man, hawking weed that was guaranteed to knock your socks off, and caught sight of Shaun leaning against a Dodge ('68 or '69, he guessed). He was gesturing animatedly while "Rest

holding a coke and a candy bar as he talked to Julie and an older man wearing lipstick and a gray wig. the candy and Coke on the car's hood. He waved at Daniel and laid

"Hey, Jagoff, get that shit off'n my car," a voice from above screamed, then a flower pot smashed at his feet. "Who's that?" Daniel asked. "Old Lady Sims," Linda answered. "She's been sitting up

there, winter, rain and shine for as long as I can remember, waiting to catch people leaning on her car. many since she started throwing flower pots." "We had a nut like that when I was a kid," he replied nostalgically. "Every time my Dad parked his car more than two She hasn't caught too

feet from the guy's driveway, the guy would dump kitchen garbage in the back seat." "What did your father do?" she commented, waving at Julie. "Burned the guy's garage down." "Yuck," she echoed. "It was a windy night. His house burned up, also.

Fortunately, his wife and kids weren't home." "Danny?" she stated. "It was a bit extreme, I agree, but it worked." "The guy stopped throwing garbage in the car." "Danny, you're a strange man," she said, lifting Davie to her chest. As he approached Shaun, what Linda was aying trailed off to the whine of a voice he recognized as Vincent's, "Hey, Mamma Amateur Night, I see you went out and got yourself a man." Daniel sucked in his cheeks as Vincent and Sophie disappeared into THe Velvet. He shook his head, catching the tail end of He smiled,

Shaun's conversation.

"She was a good kid." He assumed Shaun was talking about Lucy. The man with the

gray wig nodded sympathetically, touching Shaun's shoulder and Daniel wondered if he was a resident or just an aging faggot, kibitzing with his fantasies. Whatever the case was, the man

should pick a new perfume because what he was wearing definitely smelled like camel piss. "I see you're eating like a real reporter," he said, pointing at the Coke and candy bar. The sky rumbled and lightening bellowed, shooting light across Shaun's face. He shrugged, his eyes swollen and puffy, and

Daniel realized he had been crying recently and told himself this wasn't the time or place to trade questions or harass him. "We have an invite for drinks later," he said, tilting his head at Linda who was talking to Julie. "I have a dinner engagement," Shaun answered. "Okay," he said, "but before you go, let's stop some place and exchange information." "Fine," Shaun agreed. "You're . . . ?" "Daniel Logan," he said, offering his hand. "Sorry," Shaun replied. "This is Mr. Dozier. He's the new

manager, at least until things calm down." "Good. Good. Good to meet you," Arthur exclaimed, bowing a

slight curtsy.

"Is Miss Feilds your wife?" "She's a resident."

"No, I'm afraid not," he said chuckling.

"Why, why of course.

I met her during my rounds.

Miss

Feilds resides in . . . Now don't tell me. it's on the tip of my tongue . . . "Yes," she laughed.

You're in . . . Oh, Correct?"

I'ts--it's 316.

"And you must be Davie," Arthur said, ruffling his hair. "Why, I"ve heard big things about you." "Me-e-e-e-e?" "Yes, yes, but I've been told keep them all a secret." "Tell me, tell me, tell me," Davie giggled. "Well, it's been said that you love ice cream." "Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate," Davie screeched. "Well, in the morning, if you stop by my office, I'll have a bunch, a whole bunch of Hagen Daz Chocolate Ice Cream." "'Kay, Mommy, 'kay, Mommy?" "Only if you eat your breakfast without wearing it," she chastised. "'Kay, Mommy," Davie said very solemnly. "Thank you, Mr. Dozier," Linda said. "My pleasure," he replied. "In fact, it is my intention to So, please don't You

transform THe Velvet into a ahven for families. hesitate to call on me.

After all, that's what I'm here for.

can find me either in the office or, when I'm not ferreting out problems that are inherent in grand hostelry as old as The Velvet, you can find me in Room 323. from yours." "You're staying in Room 323?" she asked a little too quickly. That, I believe, is directly across

"Ah, yes," he nodded.

"I see you're referring to the lads A ghastly affair, just ghastly,

that departed during the night.

but ti was either 323 or stay in the officg." "Departed?" Linda echoed. "Yeah. disappeared. Adrian and John fired a hot shot. Al just up and

The police will find him eventually, I'm sure,"

Julie explained. "It just never quits," Linda murmured. broken flower pot, her stomach churning. Davie, so I think I'd better go in. Danny?" "Absolutely," he said. "I'll walk you in," Julie said, putting her arm around Linda's shoulder, "Mr. McFarland, Shaun, I mean. speaking to you." "Same here," he replied, "and thanks. being Lucy's best friend." "Nice girls. Very nice girls," Arthur commented as they Thanks for . . . for It was nice She stared at the "It's time to feed

Stop by for that drink later,

disappeared into The Velvet. Daniel blew out a breath as he caught Shaun's sad eyes staring at him. He looked worse today than yesterday and he

wondered if Lucy's death was taking a greater toll than he had otherwise thought. "Could you tell me what happened to Mr.

Elder?" he asked. "The poor man was so devastated by, shall we say, the happenings that the consortium who owns The Velvet felt it better to give him his vacaton time now."

Daniel squeezed his lips together, thinking Mr. Elder hadn't seemed that devastated a few hours ago. able to handle whatever problems faced him. ot his leaving than was being said. "Would you have his phone number? I was talking to him Upset, certainly, but Unless there was more

earlier and there's a few more questions I'd like to ask." "Why, certainly, certainly, certainly," Arthur responded, "but your request will have to wait until the morning, I'm afraid. You see, the maid has the office key. My fault, really. I gave

them to her to clean up the office and she neglected to return them. An oversight, I am sure."

"Shit!" he uttered, unable to hide his disappointment. "Perhaps I can be of some assistance?" Arthur offered. "No. Well, yes, maybe. You could check and see who made Mr.

McFarland's and my reservation," he asked hopefully. "That will also have to wait until morning, I'm afraid," he said. "So sorry." "Fine, if it would be no problem, I can stop by, say around nine?" "Certainly, Mr. Logan. stated. It would be my pleasure indeed," he

"After all, I'm a big fan of yours."

"Come again?" he said, flashing Shaun a hard look. "Oh, no, no, no," Arthur replied. McFarland said. "It's nothing Mr.

I have followed your career ever since you won

the first Pulitzer, winning a second was quite an accomplisment." "Thank you," he said flaly, "but that was years ago."

"And you're modest, too," he replied.

He batted his eyes and

patted his wig, "Suddenly, I feel very secure you'll apprehend the killer." "Really . . .?" Shaun started to say, then bit off the rest of the words. Daniel raised his eyebrows, wondering what Shaun had intended to say, then said, "The police will do that, I'm sure." "We'll see. We'll see," Arthur said, holding his hand out.

"Until seven a.m., then?" He shook Arhtur's hand and then waited until the man disappeared into the void he now called The Velvet Hotel. It

seemed like people went in, but nobody came out, at least not in the twenty minutes he'd been standing there. Shaun said, "I have something to . . . " "So do I," he replied. Belmont. talked." "Okay," Shaun shrugged. They went into the Pink Flamingo. up, then went back to their drinks. Two men at the bar glanced The bartender nodded and "I wanted to H etook Shaun's arm, steering him up until everybody left before we

wait

pointed at the Southern Comfort bottle and Daniel nodded back, saying, "On the rocks, this time." regal on the rocks. Toying with a scratch on the bar as he flipped pages in his note pad, he wondered if Lou Elder was Mrs. MacDonald's son. He He waited as Shaun ordered a

shrugged the thought away, telling himself Sanders would find that

out.

Besides, Elder didn't seem like a killer.

He seemed more

like a man on a tightrope; probably just needed a few days off. "Did Julie know Lucy well?" he asked, putting the note pad down and clinking the ice in his drink. "Yes, she was very helpful. sipping his drink. thirty dollars?" "No, hookers are people, too," he replied. "I suppose," he said absentmindedly, thinking about Lucy. "Did you check on what I wanted?" Daniel asked as he motioned for another drink. "Yes," Shaun answered as he squinted his eyes and looked in his drink. "Except for Mrs. MacDonald's death in 1951, there was No mention of her son or what happened to him, nor A very nice person," Shaun said,

"Think I should have slipped her twenty or

nothing there.

any room numbers for the murders in 1945 and zero on James Watts or what became of him." "What do you mean?" "Just what I said," eh snapped. "It wasn't reported; probably not worth the time." "Dammit!" Daniel said to himself. information. Maybe he'll--" He slid off the stool, going to the "Well, Sanders has the

"Wrong," Shaun answered. goldfish.

"How do they feed these?"

"Fuck the fish!" Daniel said, walking over and jabbing him in the chest. "What's wrong with Sanders?" "Told me to keep you

"He thinks you're nuts," Shaun mumbled.

away from him or else he'd lock you up, press card and all."

"The hell with what he thinks about me. information I phoned in?" "The six days apart and all that?" "And all that."

What about the

"According to Sanders and the medical examiner, the woman killed last night . . ." "Her name was Low Ellen." " . . . died at 11:34. That puts it five days, not six."

"What the fuck is twenty minutes?" he yelled. "There's more," Shaun continued. "Unlike Lucy and the other

girl, this Low Ellen wasn't killed in The Velvet, but across the street in the church parking lot." "I know that." "Also, unlike the others, her clothing was missing, and Sanders has a witness who saw the killer leave the walkway. six foot, a moustache and bushy hair." "That's a junky's imagination running wild," Daniel commented sourly. "What makes you right and Sanders wrong?" He shuffled a step forward, slumping over the bar as he grabbed his drink, thinking, because Linda didn't think the man had any hair at all and because the blood stopped at the car port, not the walkway. but why bother? He wanted to shout this as he emptied his drink, Shaun had made up his mind and it didn't take a Fuck him, and Sanders, About

genius to figure out where it was going. too.

When he found the clothes that matched the sash, then he

would dump the entire mess, kit and caboodle, in Sanders' lap.

Until then, he was keeping everything to himself. said, signaling for another drink.

"I just am," he

"Maybe you are and maybe not, but Sanders has decided we're dealing with several killers. His theory is that because of the

publicity in the paper, one wacko is playing off the news stories of another." "What did Sanders say about the slayings in 1945 and the present slayings?" Daniel demanded. "He checked that, also," Shaun answered. "Oh, not today, but He said the

a couple of weeks ago, when Mr. Dodsworth phoned him. guy is nuts." "It's your theory, Shaun," Daniel whispered. "I was . . . " "And it's beginning to look like you were right. is recreating the past.

The killer

And just maybe, maybe, you're sitting in

for James Watts; Low Ellen, Lucy and the other girl, for the hookers killed in '45 and . . . " "Stop it, stop it, stop it! yelled. The bartender looked up, a soapy glass in his hand. two stools down grabbed their drinks and left, The men heads Just fucking stop it," Shaun

their

swiveling forward and backward nervously, a cockroach ran the other way and the jukebox began singing "New York, New York". "You're going home, aren't you?" Daniel said, thinking the song was deja vu. "You're just going to cut and run."

"I'm sick of your snide remarks," Shaun yelled. done since we left New York is insult me. to stand here and take this."

"All you've

You know, I don't have

"What about Lucy?" he replied, holding Shaun's arm. "Lucy's dead," Shaun said evenly, "and, as you said back in your hotel, there's nothing in the world that will change that and the dreams were just that: dreams." "You've got Just like

"So, that's it," Daniel replied in a low voice.

yours and you don't give a rat's ass about anyone else. the Governor, huh Shaun? about him.

Well, wait until you start dreaming Well,

You think your blackboards and window are bad?

having nothing but air between you and the ground with nothing but forty stories of windows in between is a whole new nightmare." Shaun grabbed his arm, squeezing the tendons between his fingers, "Damn you. wouldn't be here." "I'll break it," Daniel warned, his eyes clouding over. "What?" "Your hand, if you don't move it." A smile crossed Shaun's face and he dropped his arms, stepping to the door. He looked around once, then left. You have no right. If not for me, you

Daniel sat in Shaun's chair, then sat in his, swiveling it so it faced Shaun's stool, "See you at U.N.S. tomorrow, about noon." He scooted to Shaun's stool, swiveling it so it faced his stool, "I won't be there." He hopped back to his stool, "Yes you will."

He jumped on Shaun's stool, "Don't play that mumbo jumbo game with me. I am the Senior Editor, remember?"

He hopped back to his stool, "Oh, you'll be there." He slid on top Shaun's stool, "All right. Why?"

He sat on his stool, "Because you'll bleed if you don't." The bartender wiped the bar where Shaun's drink had been, one eyebrow raised at him. He stored the towel under the bar and "Comfort on the rocks?" he said

picked up the Southern bottle. and smiled.

Daniel scratched his ear, lowered his head and laughed. to think he ws going to apologize to Shaun. was.

And

What an asshole he

Leaving his change, he slid off the stool and went outside.

Rain dodged his heels as he headed toward The Velvet, thinking life was a bitch and then you died. Anything in between was

tracer fire and if you lifted your head too high, you better do it very carefully.

CHAPTER TWELVE

The lobby was filled with people from pillar to pillar, he thought as he stood on the black runner, scanning the crowd and tapping his left foot to the beat of four black men playing calypso music on tin cups and spoons. He considered his options

while he dismissed Shaun, telling himself that maybe it was best Shaun returned to New York City, but that was Shaun's problem to be sure. His immediate problem was finding the room numbers and

providing some sort of security for Linda and the other girls on the third floor. Without Snaders' help, the former would prove

to be a bit difficult, but if worse came to worse, he could set up a security network. Nothing as elaborate as Sanders', but it

would have to do, and God help the next person on the killer's hit list if it didn't. He gritted his teeth and slid by a lanky redhead who was dressed to kill. He hadn't seen her before and wondered what

she was doing in The Velvet, but reminded himself that the hotel was not only a sexual supermarket, but also a drug haven. "You're new," she purred as he passed. "Yes, but I'm getting older by the minute," he answered. "I'm Tiffany," she said. "I'm sure," he replied as he breezed on by her and stopped at the front desk. He noticed Bill was busy with two men, one

wearing a zebra-striped jump suit and the other a purple jump suit. The one in the zebra skin was saying, "We'll need two The man in the

pounds of Crisco and at least twenty poppers." purple jump suit nodded silently.

he chuckled to himself and once again checked out the people in the lobby. This time, dismissing the ones he had

spoken to last night while keying in on the people who were most likely to talk to him, then separating the ones who might know something from the bull shitters. "Money talks ans everything

else walks," he mumbled and extracted a hundred from his wallet. He turned and saw Bill was free and stepped to the counter. "Break this into fives?" "Sure, Toots." He wrapped eighteen fives around a stack of ones, then took a rubber band off the counter and snapped it over the wad. put the roll in his pocket, pushing two fives across the counter, "Merry Christmas." "And a Happy New Year," Bill said, "but why?" "The guy by the elevator, the one with the cigarettes curled up in his sleeve," he answered in a whisper, "and the queen on the couch the one with the green hair, "and the gay blade next to her and that redheaded vixen, Tiffany I believe, and that kid, the one who looks fourteen and is pitching quarters next to the Coke machine. games? What's their names and their he

Also, which one of these bozos is Ted?"

Bill fingered the money, eying him sexually as he bid, "We couldn't trade all that information for a night in bed, could we?" He knew that was coming--no pun intended--and smiled, "In another life, mnaybe." Bill smiled, then folded the money so it made a square and tucked it in hsi shoe, "The guy with the cigarettes rolled up in his sleeve is an asshole called Joe, for real. shit and you can buy and sell him for a nickel. His game is bull The queen's

name is Maxine, a blow job hooker; does speed all day and all night. The faggot next to her is her old man; just lives off

her earnings, no game. is right.

Frown at him and he cries.

And, Tiffany

THe working girls hate her. Her game is, nose candy.

She strips nights at the Know what I mean?

Pink Flamingo. She's--awesome. kid. way.

The kid, he's just a street urchin, but a nice Hope it stays that

Nobody's fucked him or with him, yet. Hope that was worth the bucks."

"And Ted?" Daniel asked, sucking on his teeth. "Third pillar to your left. The ugly white guy next to "Very dangerous man."

Vincent White," he said in a low voice.

"One more thing," he said, decidign to hit on Ted first. "I'll add ten each day, if you keep me informed on anything out of the ordinary. Anything."

"In The Velvet, my man, out of the ordinary is the norm." "But ordinary isn't." "Yeah, I see what you mean." He winked at Bill, then went around the couch, coming up behind Vince. "Talk to you, Slick?" he said to Ted, keeping a

wary eye on Vince. "Me?" Ted motioned to himself with his finger. "Well, if it isn't the honkey moving in on Linda," Vince grinned. "Yeah," he said, ignoring Vince. "By the Coke machine."

Ted searched his face, trying to dig behind the curtain he saw there. Slick." He shrugged and slapped him on the back, "Lead on,

Daniel dug out four quarters, dropping them in twos into the Coke machine. He handed a Coke to Ted and said, "Hear

you're a big amn here." "Yep, just like Butch Cassidy," he smiled. He made a wry face at he ceiling, then at Ted's amused eyes. "Well, Butch, if the killer has his way, in a few weeks

you're going to be just another pimp without a stable." "Come again?" Ted blinked, his smile faltering. "You've already lost Lucy." "Okay, Slick, what do you want?" he said, his smile fleeing. "I want your girls to keep their eyes alive and report anything, anything at all, to me." "Is that it?" Ted said, his smile returning. "No. I also want the maid's pass key for the third floor,"

he said nonchalantly. "You're crazy," Ted grinned, "I don't even know you." "Have it your way," he said, knowing he was gambling as he walked toward Tiffany. "Hey, Slick," Ted said, his eyes narrowing. "Yeah?" he answered in a half-turn. "You know why you're going to get the key?:" "Pray tell, tell me." "Because Tina says to give you anything you want, otherwise I'd shove this Coke can so far up your ass, it would come out your nostrils." As Ted sauntered away, he squeezed his smile into a fist. Tina, he thought. So she wasn't being cute last night, after

all.

It occurred to him she was a man, or at least had the same Tina . . . what's her last name? MacDonald

equipment as a man. maybe?

he flattened his smile and walked to Tiffany, deciding

to question Linda about Tina what's her name. "I couldn't resist that smile," he said. "Likewise," she replied. He winked and rattled off several quick questions, "Any stranger been around lately? girls well? Did you know Lucy or the other

Would you mind keeping your eyes open, especially

while dancing nights, calling me if anything unusual occurs? And, did she know anybody named MacDonald?" "Only Old MacDonald," she chimed. "But he has a farm," he said, enjoying her company. "That's true," she smiled back. "If you stop at the

Flamingo and watch me dance--I have great legs--I'll be more than happy to keep my eyes open for you." He didn't need to be reminded that she had great legs. Sasson jeans looked like they had been painted on her; or, as they said in school, those jeans are so tight, you could count the hairs on her pussy. from her. He chose the kid next, telling himself the kid had to be street wise to keep from getting his booty taken in a place like this. He stuffed two fives in the kid's pocket, asking him the "Be my pleasure," he said, backing away Her

same questions he had asked Tiffany, but ending with "Get a couple of your friends and hit the floors every forty, fifty

minutes or so and I'll add ten each day. running to me. Hear?'

See anything you come

"No problem," the kid smiled. He ruffled the kid's hair, going to the queen and her lover. He sat between them, putting a hand on their legs. Same answers. Same

questions.

Ten dollars tucked under the queen's

thigh, same promise to keep their eyes open. "I give good head," the queen said as he walked away. "No doubt," he muttered as he approached Asshole Joe. snapped the rubber band against the bills and watched while Asshole Joe's eyes opened wide and spittle bubbled on his lips. He wiped his hands on his jeans, "You looking for some action?" "I've got big bucks here," he said, "and the desk clerk says you're the man to talk to about anything and everything." "Yeah, that's me," Asshole Joe said, reaching for the money. "Tut, tut," he answered, stuffing the money in his pocket. Same questions. Same answers, only wetter. "Okay," he said, He

slipping the ten out.

"Pass the word, keep your eyes open and

come up with something I can use and I'll add a hundred." He knew he hadn't covered everything as he rounded the curve in the stairs, but the queen would spread the word among the other queens, the kid would recruit his pals, the punk would brag to his cronies while at the same time enlisting their help and Tiffany would sink a thousand ships just by smiling. If

nothing else, he had replaced Sanders' storm troopers with eyes of his own, ones who alone might dismiss a stranger's glance but

collectively pass on observations that lead to the killer's mistake. It was slim at best, but it was all he had. His watch said 11:38, so he

He let himself into his room.

took a fifth of Southern from his bag, closed the door and knocked on Linda's, hoping she was still awake. As she opened

the door, the smell of her, clean, fresh and alive, brought a smile to his face. tired man?" "Absolutely," she said. He explained what he had done while she got ice and glasses and joined him on the couch, leaving out his theory on the third floor. that. She listened easily, without interrupting and he liked She had a quick mind that didn't have to impress by Marcie was like that, too, and "I keep He held the bottle up, "Share a drink with a

asking unnecessary questions.

again eh felt a twinge of guilt at the comparison.

coming back to you and the fact you heard the killer's voice," he said, laying his head on the cushion. "Do you suppose he'll come looking for me?" she asked, turning to stare at him. He rolled his head, enjoying the shadows that dusted her face. "No the killer's not playing that game," he assured her. "Then what?" she asked, pulling her legs under her buttocks. "Oh, I don't know. It's just that if you recognized the He

voice, then chances are he lives in The Velvet some place." paused and swirled the ice in his glass, letting the thought take hold.

Suddenly it amde sense and he wondered why he hadn't He filed it away, telling himself he

thought of it before.

would add it to his growing list and smiled, "Is it possible it could be Lou Elder? why. He did lie to me, but I can't figure out

And Tina . . . what's her last name?" "Anderson," Linda said, sipping. "She's a very nice

person.

As for Lou, well some of the girls take advantage of He's a nice man. Besides, it

him, but he wouldn't hurt them.

wasn't his voice, of that I'm sure." "Mmmm," he said, closing his eyes. He waited for the Southern to relax him, a little bit The couch

embarrassed at tricking Tina's alst name from Linda. squeaked and he opened his eyes.

Linda had taken off her "Do me a

blouse, her nipples straining against her under shirt. favor," he murmured, placing his arm around her waist. "Sure.

Well, maybe," she smiled, stretching out and laying

her head on his chest. He toyed with her hair, liking the feel of it as it ran through his fingers, "I'm sure I'll get the killer, but just in case, how about taking off work for a few days. "Danny?" she whispered. "Mmmm," he murmured, enjoying the way his name sounded. "I will be glad to." She paused, wondering if her next Say, a week?"

line would sound like a lie, "I--I had decided to take a few days off yesterday. that." "No, I don't," he said, brushing his head across her breasts. "Danny?" I don't want you to think I'm just saying

But he was asleep, his head resting on her.

2

Room 322 Shaun folded his ahnds under his left cheek and stared at the ceiling until his eyes got heavy, drawing him into darkness. "Do you, Shaun, take Sue to love and cherish, upon your death, only then will you part?" "I, Shaun, take Sue to love and cherish, upon my death only will I part." "Do you, Sue, take this Shaun to love and honor 'til death you both shall part, and only then?" "I, Sue, accept Shaun to love and always love to the day my love dies, then so shall I."

3

Room 323 Arthur lay flat on the bed, his eyes staring in the darkness. He saw tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and another

lovely tomorrow.

4

Room 316

Daniel untangled himself from Linda's embrace, careful not to disturb her. He checked the spring lock on the door and The hall was quiet, almost too quiet, he

closed it behind him.

thought, as he entered his room, but violent had a habit of nesting in people's minds, making them wonder if they were next as they hurried into rooms, locking the doors with a backward glance and a sigh. Maybe death was the ultimate loitering sign,

he thought, except in the lobby where safety in numbers was the order of the day. If that was the case and the killer did

indeed live in The Velvet, then even Ted and the others wouldn't stop the killer; not if he had the run of the place, picking A chicken

and choosing his victims whenever he pleased.

delight, so to speak, drumstick, wing, breast, white or dark meat--take your pick. He shuddered at the thought as he emptied his pockets, onto the bed stand. He pulled a crumpled Camel from his pack, lit

it and stared out the window, rerunning all the facts in his mind, then rearranging his itinerary for tomorrow. stopped at James Watts. and maybe he should have. of the earth. Finally, he

He hadn't given the man much thought People just didn't fall off the face

They either died and were buried somewhere or But he would

they assumed another name, starting another life.

bet the house Watts was dead, taking whatever he knew with him. But then again, maybe not. them zealously. Good reporters kept notes, guarding

He nodded to himself, adding The Chicago

Tribune to his morning stops, stabbed out the cigarette, undressed and quickly fell asleep.

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

He was dreaming, or at least he hoped he was. the blackboard was going to make him write:

Otherwise,

'I will not put my

gum under my seat at school' five hundred times and man! he was only five years old and couldn't spell gum, yet; which meant he would also have to write a thousand times: 'I will learn how to

spell' and man alive! he couldn't spell 'spell' yet, either, but he couldn't worry about that right now. He was dreaming within

a dream, within a dream and the blackboard would have to stand in line behind the dragon that was hot on his heels. He scampered for the castle, but the drawbridge was up. Closed at six p.m. Please use the rear entrance, the sign said

and he wondered of King Arhtur had this problem as he breathed in the dank foliage that clung to the castle walls. six. Closed at

Can you believe this shit? he added, coughing out dank Closed at six. What a bummer. He started to add

mucous.

another thought when the trees before him went poof, evaporating toward heaven in a ball of fire. he wouldn't go poof. When the dragon reached him,

He would ogo whoosh, all that Southern His mother told him there would

Comfort in his body exploding. be nights like this.

She just forgot to tell him to drink

lemonade the day before. He adjusted his helmet, touched Linda's grail for comfort (and not night. Southern, that was for sure) and stepped out into the Fire licked his boots as the grass beneath him burst

into flames.

His crotch felt warm and suddenly the future

looked a long way away and the dragon only seconds ahead. A tardy shadow, overcast and vague filled the sky, and snickered, its scarlet eye smiling. "Screw you!" he shouted, figuring the dragon wasn't impressed by the word doom. The dragon stamped the ground and he trembled, or the ground trembled, he wasn't sure which. Well, that had gotten

the dragon's attention, but it was best not to push it. "And the good looking bitch that sired you," he yelled nicely. Whoa, mistake, he thought as smoke poured from the dragon's open mouth. looked up. He stepped forward, his hands spread out as he "Can't you take a joke?" he offered.

The dragon stepped forward, his wings blocking out the sky as he tapped his foot lightly, shaking the ground, almost as if saying, No, no, no. Daniel arched his arm and aimed the sword for the eye. scene was set. Lights, camera, action. The

Would the hero prevail

or would the dragon win? He opened his eyes and lay on the damp sheet for several seconds. The dragon came back to him, but there was another

dream or two behind that, lingering, but lost in his subconscious. He slowed his breathing, wishing he had dreamed

about Marcie, if only because dreams were a birtch enough, especially when they ended before the punch line. But it was

time for real dragons, he concluded sadly and quickly dressed, showered and shaved. He ran through his note pad, checking to see if there was anything he had missed Satisfied, he wrote Tribune nest to A note taped to his door You have until

U.N.S. and stepped into the hall. caught his attention: then.

Sue arriving tomorrow.

It was signed Shaun.

He smiled and threw the note over

his shoulder. "Tisk, tisk, Dolly," Tina said, "Don't you know it's not nice to litter." She was dressed in a lavender robe that hugged

all the right places, but only if a person had all the right huggable places. He raised his eyebrows, thinking that of all the people he wanted to see in the hotel, she was tops on his list. But he

held back asking her about Ted and the reference to his poem, telling himself that there were more important things to do. She would keep until later. "Good morning," he said, knocking on Linda's door. "Dolly, don't bother," she said. VIncent DePaul Day Care Center." "Thanks," he said, trying to shake the feeling that he knew her from somewhere as he headed for the stairs. "Dolly?" "Yeah?" "Do you think "Count on it." "Remember, Dolly. Heroes often fail." we could talk later? Say, about fivish?" "Linda took Davie to

"Especially when fighting dragons," he said.

He waved

three fingers at her and hugged the rail as he rounded the curve into the lobby. Several people were watching a game show, hissing every time the contestant answered a question. Ted nodded at him, He tilted his head

then went back to banging the Coke machine.

at the desk clerk, ignoring Vincent White as he knocked on the office door. "Come in, come in," Arthur sang out. He stepped into the office and squinted his eyes, barely able to make out Arthur's shape as it crossed rainbows that streamed through the venetian blinds into shadows that fell on a twin burner stove wedged in the closet. "Polly put the kettle on. Molly call the muffin man. Sally blow the bellows strong.

We'll all have tea," Arthur sang,

then stood, brushing a hand across his cheek and smacking his lips, "Perfect, perfect. you know." "No, I didn't," Daniel replied offhandedly. "Oh, yes, yes," Arthur said as he waved a hand at the chair facing his desk. won't you? the morning. "You will indulge me and share a cup of tea, It is seldom I find the chance to enjoy Tea, after all, can't be burned, don't

Sit, sit.

Having company makes it all that much the better."

"Thank you, I will," Daniel answered, wishing Arthur was offering him whiskey. "Yes, do sit. Yes," Arthur sang out. He placed three

embroidered hankies on the desk, then cups and suacers.

Daniel stared at the tea set for several seconds, finally realizing they had seven tarot cards imprinted on them. His cup had the Hermit, Arthur's cup had the Hangman. His suacer had His hanky

the Wheel of Fortune and Arthur's had the Magician.

had the Fool, Arthur's Death, and the center hanky had the Moon and Stars. "Interesting tea set," he commented. "Family heirlooms," Arthur replied. He held the kettle up

to the sunlight, "Ah-h-h, perfect color, don't you think?" "Abolutely," he agreed with a smile. Arthur leaned across the desk, careful not to spill as he filled the cups, then leaned back and sipped slowly, smacking his lips. "Ah-h-h."

Daniel hid a laugh behind a smile at Arthur's Victorian mannerisms one moment and his aged gaiety the next. He was in

heaven, or the closest thing to it in operating a hotel that was an incubator for gays, but somebody really should tell him that

the wages of modern sexual enjoyment were hard on aged bodies. First the legs go, then the brain drowns in its own wet fantasies, exploding the heart in self-defense; but that was Arthur's problem. "About Lou Elder," he ventured. "Forgive me," Arthur exclaimed. "I got so engrossed in the

tea, I completely forgot your reasons for stopping by in the first place." He rolled his chair to a gray filing cabinet,

extracted a gray folder and rolled back, "I searched the reservation file and found no mention of who made your and Mr.

McFarland's reservations, so I naturally inquired with the person who was working the front desk at the time. All he could

remember was that the reservations came via telephone." "Yes. doubtfully. "I take it by your tone that you question Mr. Elder's, uh, shall we say response?" "Mmmm," he murmured. "Probably just the excitement, but to That's what Mr. Elder said," Daniel answered

satisfy my curiosity, could you give me Mr. Elder's phone number and address, anyway?" "Why certainly," Arthur replied, "but I'm afraid it would be for nought. You see, I called this morning, wanting to know

when to expect him back, his landlady said he left for parts unknown. Wanted to get away and weigh his future, I suspect."

"Did she say when he'd return," he asked, suddenly finding his thoughts racing. "A week, ten days at the most, I believe is what she said." "Damn!" Daniel uttered, not liking what he was thinking. "Do you suppose Mr. Elder had something to do with the murders?" "I don't know what to think," he said as he considered the question. He sipped the tea, not wanting to outright accuse Lou

Elder, and savored a succesion of piquant spices that warmed his stomach. "Has he worked at The Velvet very long?"

"I believe he was here when the Hotel was purchased, but that should be in Mr. Elder's employment file," Arthur replied. He rolled his chair back to the file cabinet and extracted

another folder.

"Ah yes, yes.

He started his employment six He's been a very efficient

months prior to the purchase. amnager."

"Do you mind if I look at that?" "No, no, no. Be my guest."

He quickly read the file, writing down Lou Elder's birth date, June 10, 1958. If that was correct, then he was

definitely too young to be Mrs. MacDonald's son , he thought, handing the fiel over. But, if Mr. Elder wasn't her son, then no

one thing was certain, he was like the bitch-kitty bolt:

matter which way he turned, it just didn't wash, didn't make any sense at all. "And there's no way to reach him at all?" "I'm afraid not," Arthur said. "You see, and I hesitate to He

add fuel to the fire, but he has been experiencing lately. probably just wanted to get away and sort out his thoughts.

Besides, I seriously can't believe he's involved in the horror that's descended upon The Velvet." "No, I'm sure," Daniel answered. "Mr. Dozier, I appreciate

your sparing me this time and this tea is magnificent." "Your company was pleasure enough, young man," Arthur replied. He tilted his head and rubbed his collar bone sexually His eyes turned dreamy as he

as he locked eyes with Daniel.

leaned forward, "As for the tea, the prominent seasoning is wormwood, an extrememly delicate spice that's been a Eurasian perennial for centuries. It was my mother's favorite recipe,

when she was alive, that is."

Daniel smiled slightly, not really offended at the pass Arthur was obviously directing his way. "Well, if I think of

anything else, I'll stop back again," he said, rising. "Do so, do so," Arhtur replied, offering his hand. "About Mr. Elder's address and phone," he said s eh shook Arthur's hand, "I'll put that on hold for a while. If he should

be in, would you contact me or would you have him stop by my room?" "Yes, yes," Arthur said. "Thank you, then," Daniel replied as he closed the office door. He quickly went out to the street and, nagging at the questions that nagged him, he hailed a taxi.

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

Daniel stepped from the taxi and stared at the United News Service building, then lowered his eyes and nodded at a woman as she walked by him. She smiled back, possibly thinking he was

nice, but her mother told her never to talk to strangers, except at the health club, yuppie bars and perhaps the personal adds. He watched her for several seconds, her pauses, as she stared at the wares in the shops and boutiques that lined Chicago's Magnificent Mile, and her starts that almost always were impeded by men coming the other way. She gave him a

backward glance and disappeared into a building. He sighed, not so much for the woman but to wash away his indecision at whether to stop at the Trib or go directly to U.N.S. Shit. The Trib was probably a waste of time, but there

was a chance, however slim, that Shaun had been wrong about the room numbers. He sighed again, took out a penny and flipped it. It came up heads and he headed for the

Tales was yes, heads no.

Tribune Tower anyway, telling himself it was what Chris would do. desk. The lady grinned, her dietary lunch of Bib lettuce and spinach greens growing from her teeth, "May I help you?" "Is Larry Smith in?" He went into the news room, stopping at the information

"If he was a snake, he'd bite you," she said, laughing at her own joke. "He's right behind you."

"I told myself only Dan Logan walks like a man holding chicken balls, you son of a bitch," Larry smiled, "but then I said, Nah, that asshole is too boo-coo smart to ever set foot in a news room again." Daniel sucked in his cheeks, pointing at Larry's bristly face, "I see you still haven't learned how to shave well." "Still don't believe in blow dryers, either," Larry replied, rubbing his chin, "but I still believe in tipping a few every now and then. the wagon?" "Sounds like paradise to me," he responded. He followed Care to join me at my desk or are you on

Larry past people working on typewriters, and the sound was like music to his ears and that he really did miss. "I've been thinking about you lately," Larry said, sitting at his desk. He took a pint of Jack Daniels from his breast

pocket, then emptied two styrofoam coffee cups into a wastebasket, filled both and leaned back, smiling sadly, "Oh, not a lot, but some." "Dinosaurs always think about other dinosaurs," Daniel commented, telling himself as he sipped that the Jack Daniels was Southern Comfort in drag. "Not the boo-coo smart ones," Larry said wistfully, staring at the ceiling. funeral." "I . . . . ah, hell. I said it all at Chris'

We shall not grieve for this man, for God cares, Daniel thought. Those were the last words the preacher said. Larry

had cried that day, not because God cared.

He later explained

that God cared about everybody, only shaking his head at the blood spilled in his name, the money extorted in his name and the lack of belief preached in his name. He was crying for the

person left behind, not Chris, but then Larry paused and turned away, never explaining the rest. As the years went by, he had

never really needed to, now nor then. "Yeah" he murmured. "Yeah, but you're not here to just kick around old times. He nodded. "Larry, I need a run down on a James Watts. He

used to be a reporter for the Chicago Sun, but first, would a news story be in the Trib morgue and not in U.N.S.'s morgue?" "Depends on when the story occurred." "There are several dates, but the main one would be may 8, 1945." "You are getting old," he joked. "How's that?" he asked, sipping Old Man Jack. "During World War II, wire services, unless the story was national, only carried war-related stories. For the most part,

the local rags did the saame, but the larger papers, like the Times, Post and Trib, usually inserted a filler that featured local rags did the same, but the larger papers, like the Times, Post and Trib, usually inserted a filler that featured local events and news."

"Shit, I should know that," he moaned, "but then I've been listening to Shaun McFarland instead of my instincts these last several days." "So it's true?" "Hmmm?" "The rumor running from bar room change tickler to change tickler is that McaFarland and Logan are in town and working on a story. Knowing you and how you feel about him, I figured it

to be just another rumor." "No," he said pulling out his note pad. He studied it for

several seconds, then shook his head and handed Larry the pad, "You want to run that lead date and see what comes up?" "You must have a very good reason," he commented, draining his cup, then rising. As he watched Larry slowly trudge across the huge room and punch keys on a computer, he again wondered if he knew what he was doing. He had missed so many little things that maybe he After all, dinosaurs had been

was too old for this shit. extinct for

thousands of years, so Mickey Mouse, the Lone

Ranger had lost his guns at L.A. International and Felix the Cat was in reruns. He emptied his glass, feeling Old Man Jack burn Yeah, maybe he was too old, but he was all

all the way down.

The Velvet had, for better or for worse. "Interesting," Larry said, breaking his thoughts as he handed him a computer copy. SEX-CRAZED SLASHER STRIKES NEW NORTH VELVET HOTEL. Police

report that at 6:45 p.m., the nude body of a male caucasian and

a female caucasian were discovered in Room 316 of The Velvet Hotel. He stared at the room number and suddenly, the air in the office got very thin and he started to loosen his tie, then realized with a start to loosen his tie, then realized with a start he wasn't wearing one. It was funny how something as

trivial as a room number could mean so much, yet in the eyes of the diminutive minds that filed the police story on microfilm mean os little. "Well?" Larry asked. "Let's try the next day down on the pad," he requested. "Same hotel, same room number," Larry said, handing over another computer copy. suicide there. "It seems a Mrs. MacDonald committed

Beats hell, huh?"

"Yeah, sure beats hell," he commented, reaching for the Jack Daniels. He drank from the bottle, letting the whiskey

work its way down before finding his voice, "It sure as hell does. Want to try one more?" "Sure. "Good. I like Wheel of Fortune same as the next man." Then, let's punch up James Watts now," he stated, "He was investigating a murder spree Also, see if you can get

consulting his note pad.

at The Velvet in 1945 and disappeared.

the room numbers of the victims he was investigating and whatever else you may have on Watts, or the murders." As Larry left, he read the printouts again, then absently pulled out a Camel, tapped it on the desk, put it back in the pack, then took it out, tapped some more and then put it back.

he stared at the desk for several seconds, finally jumping at the sound of Larry's voice. "Sorry I took so long," he said, handing over another printout. "Watts was working on a murder spree involving As you guessed,

hookers at The Velvet, but then you knew that. he disappeared.

The aforementioned is all we had on him, So, I checked for any

probably because he worked for the Sun.

other stories involving prostitution murders at The Velvet in '45. Aside from the usual deaths, there were four other hookers No dates, but that's not

killed, rooms 310, 312, 314, and 324. unusual.

Probably just blips inserted several days or even

weeks after the fact." "Shit! I was really hoping for the dates and something on

Watts," Daniel commented, scanning the reports and paying particular attention to the room numbers. commenting on Watts. Dammit." "I mean, I was

"I know a sports writer who used to work for the Sun, back then. Just a kid at the time, but he may have known Watts," "He's out of town If you want, I

Larry said, tapping a pencil on his desk.

covering a fight in Vegas. Should be back soon. can ask him about Watts when he returns?" "Yeah. killings."

Do that, and ask him if Watts ledt any notes on the He said, "By the way, do your computers hook into

the city hall records?" "No. Why?" I was hoping to save some

"This Mrs. MacDonald had a son.

time by tapping into the birth and death records."

"Yeah, that's a tedious job," Larry said, "but sorry." "Shit," he said checking his watch and wondering if he should bother meeting Shaun or go straight to City Hall. "Care to tell me what this is all about?" "Love to," he said. "As soon as I know myself, I'll stop

back, we'll slam a fifth of Southern and I'll tell you all about it." "That's fine," Larry said, "and Dan?" "Yeah," he said, rising. "It was good to see you. for whatever reason." He folded the printouts, placing them in his pocket, "Yeah, I . . ." "I . . . you," Larry said in a whisper. thing back then. "Did the right Good to see you working again,

A hard thing maybe, but the right thing.

Chris would have done the same." He turned to leave, then muttered, "What I did never seems to go away for very long." Larry watched him weave through the news room, thinking the good ones die slowly, inch by inch and ain't that a bitch. picked up the Jack Daniels, taking a long drink. He

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Daniel straddled a stool at the bar that graced the lobby of U.N.S. Towers and ordered a ham sandwich and Southern Comfort on the rocks. He shook his head as he went through his notes,

took a sip off the Southern, flipped another page and then shook his head a final time and put the note pad in his pocket. just got worse and worse, he thought. He had started out, telling himself he was chasing a man and Shaun chasing guilt. chasing. Now, he wasn't so sure what he was This

Certainly, it was a man, but what kind of man? Enough so that he had drawn

Crafty, to be sure, but how crafty? Shaun here, or

was he just playing room numbers, taking what

came his way, whether it was Shaun or the man in the moon or simply a hooker in each room. He took a bite of his sandwich and then took out his note pad again and stared at the room numbers. They were all there The

and Mrs. MacDonald had also killed herself in Room 316.

same room where she had murdered her husband and either a hooker or her husband's lover. The same room that Linda lived in. He

took a sip, then looked again at the room number 316, then ran his eyes over the room number 324. It dawned on him that if the

killer was indeed playing by the room numbers, then 324 was next on the killer's list and 316 last. He finished his drink, breathed a sigh of relief, then took the elevator to the forty-seventh floor. He paused, his hand on

the door knob.

Ginny Birkwood, Staff Psychiatrist, United News But it said more than that, NYU University. Lovers.

Service, the brass name plate said.

it said Ginny and Chris, Class of '68. Tear gas. SDS and. finally, tears.

"How can you do it? cover a war? Tell me."

Just tell me, how can you leave me to

Chris didn't have an answer then and when he returned, Ginny had gotten married. The seven word letter she'd enclosed It's time

inside flowers for Chris' funeral had said it all: for Chris to move on. He supposed so.

"Sorry I'm late," he said, nodding at Shaun sitting on a leather couch with a tennis racket stuck between his legs. smiled at Ginny, marveling at how good she looked. he

She had her

blond hair wrapped in a bun, and the smile she wore turned her cheeks to dimples--making her look much like she had in '68, and that was pleasing. the years well. "Long time no see, Daniel," she said, walking around her desk. He took her hand, ignoring Shaun's, "I didn't know you two knew each other," and kissed it, "Yes, and thanks for your supportive letter at trial." "Sorry I couldn't make it. I was getting divorced, which Chris would be happy knowing she had worn

is the same as getting buried, but without the party afterward." He tilted his head in acknowledgement and sat opposite Shaun, moving the leather chair so it faced Ginny's desk. Shaun filled you in?" "Has

"He's . . . " "Excluding the blackboard," Shaun interjected, "I've given her a complete rundown. Right Gin?"

"Yes," she replied, "and I have and appointment in ten minutes, so we have to make this quick. sooner, I would have cancelled it." "No problem," Daniel replied. "Since you already have the Sorry. Had I known

background, what can you tell us about the killer?" "Killers," Shaun corrected. "Killer," Ginny stated. "Dammit, Gin." "No, Shaun. According to what you've told me and what I've

read in the papers, you're dealing with the same person." He stared defensively past his eyebrows, then raised the tennis racket, pretending he was smacking a ball, "Okay, okay. Why are you two right and the Chicago police department wrong?" "Hold it, Gin," Daniel said. printouts and sat back down. again, read these. He handed Shaun the computer

"Before you start getting angry, They match, and

Notice the room numbers.

the only rooms left are 324 and 316." Shaun placed the pages behind each other until he found himself rereading the same pages. His body sunk inward and his He stiffly walked

hands shook as he handed the papers to Ginny.

to the liquor cabinet and took out a bottle of bourbon, smiled, then drank from the bottle. "Jesus," he muttered, handing Daniel the bottle. dreams are real." "My

Gin looked up from the papers, "Perhaps you better tell me about the blackboard you mentioned." "That didn't get by you, huh?" Shaun answered, slumping in the chair and smiling bravely. but no. No thanks. "Well, I didn't think it would, Just a dream, I'm sure."

It's just a dream.

"Daniel?" Ginny said, shifting her gaze. Daniel stared at Shaun, thinking he should tell GInny about Shaun's dreams, but that was Shaun's business and if he preferred keeping it to himself, then that was the way he would play it. "Gin, I don't know. Can you just tell us what we are

dealing with here?" "Considering the killer is copying the same room numbers, same number of victims, so far, and same occupation, I would say it's probably this woman's offspring--her son more than likely." "Her son?" Shaun asked, startled. my dreams really are not--" "No," Daniel said. "and if you wouldn't have stormed out "Of course. It fits and

of the bar last night, I would have told you that Mr. Dodsworth had told me she had a son." He shook his head and turned to How

GInny, "What I'm looking for is the man's characteristics? can I tell him apart from Johnny Appleseed?"

Ginny considered the questions for several seconds, then leaned forward, "First of all, you're dealing with a cool, calm, collected person. He probably views his actions like you or I

view a pestering fly--squash, that's it." "He won't show any symptoms of guilt? tick? Anything?" A twitch? A nervous

"No," she said firmly, as she tinkered with her ear rings. "He's extracting vengeance. You have to understand he had

probably spent his life subconsciously hating his mother, for whatever reason and there are many. A mother hatred and the

child he once was begins to fill his every waking moment, perhaps even appearing in his sleep. them visions. for existence. child win. Maybe he even considers

Suddenly the man is fighting the mother and child At some point, the man loses and the mother and

When that happens, they embrace each other. Now, they must also recreate

Internally, the past is complete.

the external past, which is what they're doing now, or he's doing, or trying to do." "What you're saying is we're searching for a man, woman and child all rolled up in one?" Daniel asked. "Correct." she answered. "At times, he will exhibit all man will only manifest

three personalities, but most likely the himself during moments of extreme stress."

"Will the mother and child appear at the same time?" "Possible, but I wouldn't think so. Not at the same time,

Daniel," she said, "but certainly within a space of minutes, possibly even seconds. other very motherly." "That's great," Shaun injected. "The Velvet is a teeming One moment acting like a child and the

cesspool of men, women and children all rolled up in one." "That's true, Gin," Daniel agreed. "Could the man be gay?"

"I doubt it," Ginny said, shaking her head.

"That's

something a mother, especially a mother fromt the 1940's period, would never allow." Daniel tried to imagine the Shaun was right. people he'd met at The Velvet.

There were so many who fit the prescription

that it was almost impossible, and that was just in the residents he'd met. There were scores he hadn't met. He

massaged the slight pain that was beginning to crack his thoughts and broke through whatever Shaun was asking Ginny. "Gin, how sure can we be of the killer striking every six days?" "I don't know," she said slowly, looking at the computer readouts. "Usually, psychotics adhere to a very rigid schedule.

In this case, I would say that's almost absolute, but seeing as you're missing the dates for these other killings, I can't say for certain." "Yeah, I know," Daniel said more to himself. is working on that." "How soon?" Ginny asked. "A few days," he answered. "I know this isn't what you want to hear, but I would guess your six day schedule is, well, a good one." Shaun rose and stiffly walked the few feet to Ginny's desk. He sat on the edge, knocking a bronze statue to the floor. He "Larry Smith

retrieved it and held it out, his eyes pleading, "Do you realize there is more to this than just killing hookers? recreating everything: The man is

their room numbers-Lucy lived in 312,

Linda lives in 316; I'm a journalist, James Watts was a

journalist.

That's impossible to plan unless, unless . . . God

help me . . . unless she's alive and controlling his mind." "Shaun, don't you ever quit?" Daniel retorted. "Is this your blackboard?" Ginny said as she hugged Shaun. "Gin, I can't talk about . . . " "No need," she said, holding him. "No need at all."

"Ginny, I'm sorry," he said, breaking her grasp. "I forgave you a long time ago, Shaun . . ." she said sadly. Daniel raised his eyebrows, feeling like he'd just learned a dark secret, but it made sense. Shaun and Gin, both part of

U.N.S.'s heirarchy, both running into each other during high level meetings. Whoever this Sue was that Shaun loved, she must

be oen hell of a woman. "You two have a lot to think over," she said, giving Shaun a peck on the cheek. call me. "If you think of any further questions, She's a very lucky woman."

And give Sue my best.

"She's flying in tomorrow," Shaun said in a shaky voice. "Perhaps we can take in lunch?" "I'm busy," she said lightly and walked to the door. She

ran a finger nail down the edge, hiding the hurt in her eyes, "Daniel, could I interest you in dinner before you leave for New York? I would like to talk about Chris." "My pleasure," he answered, flashing a weak smile. really would be." A smile crossed her face as she closed the door. Daniel "It

saw Shaun was staring at the door, his hands held outward as if reaching for some unseen ghost. Finally, they fell to his side.

Pain, fear and confusion rode his eyes and for the first time since leaving New York, he sympathized or wanted to but there wasn't time for that. He picked up Ginny's phone, pressed 9 for an outside line, consulted his note pad and waited for the ringing to transform into Mr. Dodsworth's voice. squeaky man. "Mr. Dodsworth is dead," came back and then the connection was broken. He thought he detected a note of pleasure in the man's voice and assumed it was Mr. Dodsworth's son. So the old guy "Is Mr. Dodsworth in?" he asked a

had found a better place to be, taking the murder dates with him. Well, God speed, he said silently hanging up the phone. As much as he had sympathized

Shaun looked at him expectantly.

with him earlier, he resisted an impulse to punch the look off Shaun's face and checked his watch instead. 12:51. If he was wrong about the killer's pattern, then

the next person down the line was big trouble, unless the ragtag sentries stopped him. But, he didn't think that would happen.

The killer was too smart for that. "We have to call Sanders and warn him. officers at The Velvet full time." "He won't," Shaun said. "He just won't." 12:53. His heart has He has to put

Daniel once again checked his watch:

sunk at Shaun's reply, knowing he was right, but what else could he do? He again checked his watch. 12:54 ticked by, then 12:55.

What would Chris do? he thought. Sanders. No, he wouldn't.

Would he forget about

He would go and beg if he had to.

12:56 passed on through, then 12:58. "We'll go see Sanders and beg if we have to," he said at last. "He won't help," Shaun yelled. "Dammit," he yelled back. "Dammit, he has to."

"He won't, I tell you," Shaun said, grabbing his arm. Daniel started to grab Shaun's hand, then stopped and breathed into his face. matching Daniel's. Shaun stared back, his breathing

Finally, his hand fell and he turned away, I'm sorry." Ginny was right.

uttering, "I'm sorry.

"Shaun, there's nothing to be sorry for. But, we have to stop fighting." "I . . . " "And you have to stay. I'm too rusty." "I . . . " "Shaun, dammit." "I, . . . " I need you.

I can't do this alone.

"No, Shaun," he said, flinging his pencil at the door. can't do this alone." "But maybe I'm on the list?" "Shaun," he yelled, then took a breath and counted to seven. "Shaun, it won't come to that. I promise you.

"I

Together, we can beat this man before he strikes again. which room number he will hit next. We know.

We know

We can stop him."

"What if?" "No what if's," he soothed as he put his arm around Shaun's shoulder. "We'll take watch, starting tonight. Everybody who I'll even

comes or goes on three will be checked by one of us.

have a few of the residents keep us company so we're never alone. Okay? How about that? You in?"

"I ... I ..... God help me, yes," he replied weakly.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

The man buried his face in Sophie's neck, his buttocks glistening in the shadows as they rose and fell. Her vagina

swelled and she thought, ode, ode, ode ocean, free, free, free. Ode, ode, ode ocean, free, free, free, until the man crashed on top her, breaking her thoughts as he moaned a low gutteral groan, "Oh, God." She squirmed, sliding her buttocks on the sheet until the man's weight eased. His penis slipped out of her pussy,

spilling semen down her thigh onto the already stained sheet. "You's was the best I's ever had," she said, her voice quaking like Vince had coached her to do. "I do pride myself as being a heck of a lover," he said, "even with whores." He quickly dressed, remembering he had to pick up his sixteen year old daughter at Marshall Fields. forty-five dollars." "Jus' ain't 'nuf," she answered doubtfully. "Hell, it's more than you're worth." She jumped up, her eyes flaring, knowing she would have fucked him for twenty, but the extra thirty would make Vince happy and maybe he would'nt be so mad all the time. would be friendly, like he was when he first met her. agreed on fifty." Maybe he "We's "Here's the

"Here, bitch," the man snarled, peeling off five ones and throwing them on the floor. leaving the door open. She knelt down and began scooping the bills up, only pausing at a brown shoe that had stepped on the last bill. She "Whores!" he muttered and left,

jerked her eyes up, startled at the pink blouse and brown baggy trousers that the man wore. She giggled, thinking the man

reminded her of her stepfather on the bottom and her mother on the top. "Vincent's not here."

Arthur hooked his hands under Sophie's arm and helped her up, then allowed his shaking hands to feel her breasts. Her

nipples peaked and hardened and he smiled, "Child, you are beautiful. Magnificent. Really." Is that what ya wants?"

"You wants ta party, Mister?

He licked his lips, thinking the others were just whores, but this, this chocolate beauty was stunning and yes, he wanted her, not to kill but to love. that's what he wanted. He wanted her innocence. Yes,

Her innocence.

"Yes, yes," he murmured, kicking the door shut. "You's come over to the bed and we's party for fifty dollars," she said, realizing for the first time he was the hotel manager. "Yes, yes," he said. She shook her hips, trying to imitate Julie's flit and lay on the bed, her bottom lip trembling as she stared up at him. He knelt, sucking on her breast, imagining it tasted like a chocolate bar, then hitched in a breath and bit her nipples.

She inhaled deeply and moaned.

She likes it, he thought,

unzipping his trousers and wiggling them off. "You's hairless," she exclaimed. "Yes, yes, my lovely," he whispered as he straddled her chest, rubbing his penis over her breast and onto her mouth, "Make it hard, make it hard." "What's yous name?" she asked, letting his penis fill her hand. "God," he moaned, feeling his heart quicken.

2 "God damned mother fucker," Daniel screamed. He threw ten

dollars at the cab driver and slammed the door so hard that his arm vibrated up to his shoulder blades. Shaun walked over and touched his shoulders, "I'll see if I can't pull some strings in the morning. Sanders around to our way of thinking." "Fuck Sanders," he screamed. to turn a deaf ear. He had expected the bastard That should turn

It was reading the closed sign at City Hall Larry was right. He was getting old.

that had him ticked off.

Cops will always be cops, always be pennies waiting for change, wasting time, buying time, but never giving time unless it served their own purpose. may very well be out. But that was the bitch goddess. Sorry. Time

No return.

And all because of

going to see Sanders first.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck and me too."

"You two looking for a hot time?" two drag queens cooed. "Fuck you, too."

Daniel steered Shaun past the awning, shaking his head as the queens shot him the finger. next room on the list. "The way it goes, 324 is the I believe

I say we go up and see her.

that is the young black girl named Sophie. another room; by force, it need be." "Yes.

We'll move her into

That should work," Shaun replied, shaking his head.

"Just hang in there a few more days," he asked. "That's not why I'm shaking my head." "Then why?" "I've dragged you into a hell of a mess, haven't I?" "Shaun, that doesn't matter now," he replied weakly. "Yeah, I guess you're right." "Let's just go in." "Okay," Shaun replied. They walked under the awning and into The Velvet.

3 "Come and play with me, come and play with me, come and play with me." Arthur sang as he danced, first around the TV, then back to the bed. with me." He stepped back, meeting her black gaze, then ran his fingers through her hair. "Ring around the rosies, pocket full He fell on the bed, "Come play, little girl. Come and play

of posies, ashes, ashes, all fall down."

then bobbed Sophie's head up and down, snaking his tongue at her open mouth.

"You don't want to play, little girl?" the head against the TV. rest on the carpet.

He pouted and threw

She bounce off the screen, coming to a

Her eyes stared at the screen half

expecting Bill Cosby to make her laugh. "Mama, the little girl is watching TV." back, feeling the ache in his ribs. soaked sheet, then the walls. finger painted them in red. He said and lay

He stared at the blood-

They looked like someone had He looked at the sheet. A black

arm lay under the pillow, another lay beside him, blood pouring from the armpits and, next to that, Sophie's stomach lay open, blood and guts spilling over her pretzeled legs. "Oh, God, oh God, oh God, oh God," he moaned, his heart jumping, almost choking him as a knock came at the door. "Whore, open up." His eyes blinked and he brushed frantically at the skin and blood that clung to his body. to do? It wouldn't come off. No. No. Oh God! he thought, what was he

He jumped up and took a step,

then stopped.

I didn't do this, his mind screamed as

his toes dug into the carpet, blood spilling over them. "Sophie, I`s tired of beatin' down this door every fuckin' day, jus'ta get my money. Now, opens up!"

Arthur trembled as a crack ran down the board, exposing naked wood. "Bitch, open up." He sank to his knees, his mind spinning. clothes," his mother said. "Pick up your

"Ring around the posies," his little

boy self said.

"Maamma, why?" he screamed to himself.

"Put on

your clothes," his mother demanded. "S-o-o-o-o-p-h-i-i-i-i-i-e-e-e-e!" Vincent screamed, rapping at the door once again. He whipped his head back and forth, what to do? do? What should he do? What to

He ran to the window and pushed it

open, then paused. "Stop that fucking pounding," Julie screamed. He crawled over to the light that streamed through the crack in the door and pressed his ears close, but daring not to touch the door for fear of rattling it. "Shut your trap, hole, and mind yous own bidness!" Vincent screamed back. "You don't want to fuck with me," Julie shouted. cut your balls off and stuff them in your mouth." "I's not gonna bat my gums, girl. I's in need of a fix, so "Ted will

buzz off or I'll slap the shit out of yous." "Frankly, I hope you puke your guts out," she sneered, "but I have a john coming soon and I don't need a crazy nigger going ape shit and scaring him away. Besides, I saw your little

chicken shit leave the room not more than twenty minutes ago. So, go find her on the street. the floor." Arthur jerked his head away from the door as a loud crack filled the room and Julie's cry followed. "You mother fucker, I'm telling Ted, you ass-licking, ballsucking, nigger bastard." Go fuck off, nigger, and get off

"Fuck you, hole, and Ted, too. White that way."

Nobody talks to Vincent

Arthur pressed his ear tight against the door.

A thin

smile crept across his face as a far away, high pitched scream rang the hall. "Fuck off, nigger." "Hole." He collapsed on the floor, then crawled to the bathroom, grabbed the sink and pulled himself up. mirror. He stared in the

Vacant eyes and a mad grin stared back, but back there,

somewhere, was his mother, himself and maybe even his father. He thought he must kill himself and for a second he halfexpected the mirror to shout no. He picked up the razor from the sink, but it slipped between his fingers, clanging on the porcelain. His heart sank, But, he

suddenly knowing there was nothing left but surrender. couldn't surrender.

God, please grant him the couage, he His body shot straight up, as if God, no, he thought, pressing his Stop, please stop these

thought, not to surrender. plugged into a light socket.

nails into the porcelain sink. thoughts. No, mamma, stop.

Tears streamed down his face as he stared at the mirror. The face there said his life was over. to himself and ran for the window. smashing his fingers. No, not yet, he yelled

The window slammed shut, Blood

He howled, pulling his hand away.

poured over the broken and cracked nails.

Please, Mamma, he screamed. sour milk of your kindness. you.

Let me die.

I have tasted the I want Mamma, I

I love you.

I hate you.

Oh, Mamma, please keep me.

Please release me.

h-h-h-h-h-a-a-a-a-a-t-t-t-t-e-e-e-e- y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-o-o-o-o-ou-u-u-u-. He slumped forward, crying to himself softly, Ring around the posies, ashes, ashes, all fall down. little boy and he must listen to Mamma. Ashes, ashes, all fall down. That was it. He was a

Ring around the posies.

He crawled to the window, opened

it and out onto fire escape, whispering to himself as he went, "Ring around the posies, ashes, ashes, all fall down."

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

Keeping Ginny's description foremost in his mind, Daniel studied two males leaning jauntily against the Coke machine. They didn't seem to fit the description. Besides, they were too

young to be Mrs. MacDonald's son and he cautioned himself not to start suspecting everything that moved. He passed over several

high school kids smoking marijauna behind the far pillar, paused for a moment on Tina and a black man talking at the front desk and nodded at the desk clerk, Bill. He smiled at Pop

Breezernose sitting hunched on the couch, as he drew on a pint of Mad Dog 20/20 and then raised his eyebrows as Julie came charging around the stairwell.

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