Authors: David Hosp
Tags: #Fiction, #Thrillers, #General, #FIC031000
Finn nodded in understanding. “I could help with that, at least. I could probably have you out of here pretty quick,” he said.
“Bail hearing shouldn’t be too bad. I took a look at your sheet, and it’s been a while since you’ve picked up any convictions.
The DA will be looking for high bail, but I’m guessing the judge would be reasonable about it if it’s handled right.”
“I been arrested a couple times in the past few years,” Devon said. He sounded skeptical. “And the shit I was caught with
Finn shook his head. “Bail isn’t what I’d be worried about. The problem is what happens after bail. Your case sucks.”
“No shit. That’s why I need a fuckin’ miracle worker.”
“Even miracle workers hate to lose cases, Devon. Unless you’ve got something to give to the DA to get him to make a decent
plea offer, you’re screwed. You really think you can get some sort of helpful information once you’re out after the arraignment?
Something we might be able to trade?”
“Maybe. When’s the arraignment?”
Finn scratched his chin. He hadn’t shaved that morning and a dark patch of stubble covered his face. “Don’t know yet, it hasn’t
been scheduled. You were picked up on Sunday, and today is Patriots’ Day, so the courts are closed. They’ll put you on a schedule
when they get in tomorrow, but given the three-day weekend and the inevitable backlog, I wouldn’t expect you to be seen anytime
Devon shook his head. “No good. The longer I stay in here, the colder the fuckin’ rat’s trail gets. You want me to get you
something to use with the DA, you gotta spring me sooner.”
“You may be putting too much stock in the ‘miracle worker’ reputation I have. There’s no way I can change the court’s schedule.”
“No, I guess not,” Devon said. He looked down at the floor as he tapped his feet anxiously. Then he looked up at Finn. “How
’bout if you was to move things on the outside?” he asked. “You know, poke around, see what you can find out?”
“I don’t do windows,” Finn replied.
“C’mon,” Devon pleaded. “I’m not askin’ for much. Just ask a few fuckin’ questions. Otherwise, we may never find out who tipped
off the cops.”
Finn thought about it. He hated the idea of getting his hands dirty; he’d given up that kind of work. “I charge by the hour,”
he said. “You’re not going to want to pay as much as it would cost.”
“I may not want to pay it, but I will,” Devon said. “I’m desperate, and payin’ you beats the shit out of going to jail. Besides,
don’t you have some sort of private investigator you could use?”
“Sort of,” Finn admitted. “But he’s an ex-cop. He’s not the kind of guy someone like Vinny Murphy is gonna want to talk to.”
“Take him anyway. You want someone ridin’ shotgun. Guys like Vinny don’t fuckin’ play. They’re serious people.”
Finn considered the suggestion some more. “It’s gonna cost you a boatload of money, y’know? Not a little—a lot.”
“I know. I’ll pay it,” Devon replied simply. “I need this.”
Finn shot Devon a look. “And you really can pay my fees?”
“I swear to fuckin’ God, Finn. The second you get me out, I’ll pay you cash for what you done so far. Plus a fat fuckin’ retainer
for the rest. I swear it, on my mother’s fuckin’ grave.”
“Your mother passed?”
“Not yet, but she’s got the cancer. Any day. Shit, Finn, I just need your help.”
Finn rubbed his hand over his stubble again. “I’ve got to talk to the others in the firm. If you’re really willing to pay,
we’ll think about doing some poking around. Don’t get your hopes up too high, though. I don’t know whether my people are gonna
want to take this on, and even if we do end up taking the case, I can’t imagine we’re gonna get too far.”
“You’re a good shit, Finn,” Devon said thoughtfully. “A really good shit.”
Finn sat up straight in his chair. He caught a calculating tone in Devon’s voice. “What is it?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Don’t bullshit a bullshitter, Devon. There’s something else.”
“Don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”
“Yeah, you do.”
Devon was silent for a moment. “Okay. I got one other favor to ask,” he began.
“Of course you do.”
“There’s a woman in my apartment. It’s a little fucked up with her.”
“You never change, do you Devon.”
“Like you said, not in any way that’s important. I didn’t call her when I got pinched, so she’s probably a little twitchy.
She’s gotta go down to her ma’s place in Providence today.”
“You want me to get her a message?” Finn asked.
“It’s not that simple.”
Finn frowned. “Why isn’t it that simple, Devon?”
Devon looked hard at Finn. “I trust you,” he said.
“You’d better,” Finn replied. “I may end up being your lawyer.”
“You don’t understand; there’s no one else I trust. I’m not in the right business for trust—not when it comes to shit that
really matters. You know that better than anyone, right?”
Finn didn’t like the turn the conversation was taking. “Crap,” he muttered. “What’s this about, Devon?”
Devon sighed. “It’s about my daughter.”
Detective Paul Stone drove. He and Elorea Sanchez had been partners for two weeks. Though he’d been a cop for five years,
he was a rookie on the homicide squad, and she had every right to take the wheel, but never did. They walked out of the station
house that first day to the dented, unmarked Lincoln and Sanchez had tossed the keys onto the driver’s seat. She’d never said
a word about it, and Stone had driven ever since. He’d joked once that she must like having a younger man chauffeuring her
around the city, but it hadn’t gone over well. She just stared at him with a hard look that was effective at cutting off conversation.
She wasn’t easy to figure out. They’d spent nearly ten hours a day together for two weeks, but they seldom spoke more than
a few words to each other at a time. Her idea of conversation was to tell him where to turn. Most of what he knew about her
he’d gotten from her personnel file and station gossip. She was fifty years old, female, Hispanic of unspecified geographic
origin, five-seven, one hundred and thirty-five pounds. She had joined the police force later in life than most cops—after
the army, college, and a master’s degree in criminal justice. She’d even done two years of law school, but hadn’t finished.
No one knew why she’d dropped out. What people did know was that she had shot up through the BPD ranks with incredible speed.
The jealous credited affirmative action, ignoring the fact that she had the best clear rate in the homicide unit. In her fifteen
years on the detective squad, she’d cleared over seventy-five percent of her cases. That meant that if a case was assigned
to her, three out of four times someone was convicted of the crime. The national average was sixty-five percent. In Boston,
the average had sunk in recent years as low as thirty-three percent. That meant that only a third of all murders were being
solved. It was one of the worst records in the country. Given that grim reality, affirmative action or not, seventy-five percent
made Sanchez a star.
Word was, though, that she was difficult to work with. Since joining the detective squad, she’d churned through five partners.
Those inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt claimed that her intensity burned partners out. Those less charitable
said it was because she couldn’t be trusted, and without trust there could be no real partnership. Whatever the reason, she
was working alone when Stone was bumped up to homicide. He’d been told the arrangement was on a trial basis, but had been
given no indication when the trial would end or by what criteria he would be judged. He was a team player, so he kept his
mouth shut. At the very least, he figured, he could learn something riding with someone who had a seventy-five percent clear
rate, no matter for how short a time.
“You got the address?” she asked.
He didn’t need the address; he’d grown up in Southie. Never left there, in fact. When he was growing up, the Body Shop had
been a landmark. The sign that hung from the grimy, low-slung stucco building read “Murphy’s Car Body and Engine Repair,”
but it was known to everyone in the neighborhood simply as the Body Shop. It was located on an oversized lot fringed with
knee-high weeds, set back from the street, in an area that drew little traffic. That hardly mattered, though—no one ever took
their cars there anyway. A mechanic was on the premises during the daytime to keep appearances up, but anyone looking to have
a car repaired was invariably told that all of the appointments were booked. The only auto-body work performed there took
place at night, and few of the cars that found their way into the garage emerged again in one piece.
Notwithstanding the lack of legitimate automotive services offered, the place usually buzzed during the day. Murphy, a leader
in what remained of the loosely affiliated Irish-American gangs, kept his office in the back, running his crews and brokering
a tenuous peace among those in the neighborhood who operated on the wrong side of the law.
The place was humming with activity as Stone guided the car into the driveway, though not with its normal daily business.
The driveway was crammed with BPD squad cars and crime scene units. Yellow tape was strewn loosely around the entire complex,
and a patrolman had to lift one of the banners strung across the entryway to allow the detectives’ car in.
“You think this is the start of another war?” Stone asked as he eased the Lincoln around to the back of the lot.
“Don’t know,” Sanchez replied. “Been a long time since the last one, and things have been outta whack since Whitey took off.
If it is another war, it’s gonna get ugly.”
“Yeah,” he agreed. He remembered the times when he was a boy and he’d heard whispers about the wars that went on between the
rival gangs back in the sixties and seventies. They had seemed at the time like mythic, almost heroic battles. Later he came
to understand that they were more like scraps between vicious animals.
“You grew up here, right?” Sanchez asked.
“Did you know him?”
“Murphy?” Stone thought about his answer. “Everyone knew him. He was one of Whitey’s guys back in the day. He had a rep as
being nicer than most, but still dangerous. You ever deal with him?”
Sanchez shook her head. “Not really. I watched him get grilled after a bust back in the nineties, but that’s it.”
“What did you think?”
“I thought he was smart. One of the smartest I’ve seen.” She opened the door and slid out of the car; Stone did the same.
She looked around the front of the building. A young man from the coroner’s office was leaning against his van, a gurney at
his side. Piled loosely on top of the rolling stretcher were two empty black vinyl body bags. “Not smart enough, I guess.”
She started walking toward the doorway and Stone fell in just behind her. As he walked, it dawned on him that the exchange
was the longest conversation they’d had since they’d become partners.
The stench in the Body Shop was overpowering. It was a warm day for April in Boston, and the aluminum-lined building seemed
to trap the heat. Sanchez could feel the sting of oil and gasoline in her nostrils, but the odors were swallowed up in the
sickly sweet aroma of death and decay. It smelled like rotten meat boiled in sour milk and honey. She clenched her jaw so
as not to betray her nausea. She’d been on the force long enough to understand the double standard—men could show their disgust
at a crime scene, but for women it was viewed as a sign of weakness.
“Any word on the time of death?” she asked Stone as they walked through the front-counter section, past a couple of uniformed
officers acting as bored sentries, and back around into the garage bays.
“Doc thinks Saturday. No time yet, and even the day’s an estimate until they get the bodies back to the lab to run some tests.”
“Smells like Saturday,” she said.
“Smells like shit,” he said. He coughed and put a hand to his face.
“Found this morning?”
Stone nodded. “Place was closed yesterday, and no one was around. They were supposed to be closed today, too, for Patriots’
Day, but one of the mechanics stopped by to do some work on his own car and found them.”
She threw a quick look at her partner. He was young and good-looking in an overmuscled, athletic sort of way—the kind of a
man whose neck strained against his collar, and who developed a five o’clock shadow as he pulled away from the sink after
shaving. His hair was thick and dark and his brow jutted forth just a little more than necessary. His accent chopped his hard
consonants and slid through his “r”s in a manner characteristic of lifelong Bostonians from working-class neighborhoods. She’d
worked with men like him before. The jury was still out on him, as far as she was concerned. She’d be disappointed in the
end, she was sure—she always was. It had become such a predictable pattern that she now thought of a “partner” merely as an
obstacle to be negotiated as she focused on getting the job done.