Authors: David Hosp
Tags: #Fiction, #Thrillers, #General, #FIC031000
“Really?” Finn said. “That’d be great. I want to get over to the Body Shop as early as possible.”
“No problem,” Lissa said. “You ready?” she asked Sally.
The girl got up and picked up her bag. She walked over to the door and looked back at Lissa. Lissa started toward the door,
then turned and walked back to Kozlowski, lifting herself up on her toes and giving him a kiss that lasted longer than necessary.
Kozlowski was taken by surprise, but she didn’t care. She turned and walked past Sally, whose mouth was open wide enough to
count teeth. “C’mon,” she said. “Let’s go.” With that, Lissa opened the door and walked out, a broad, amused smile breaking
over her face as Sally followed her out to the car.
Detective Stone crouched near the spot where Vinny Murphy’s body had been found. He stared down at the rough outline traced
around what had been left of the man before they poured it into a body bag, rolled it on a stretcher, loaded it into a van,
and drove it to the morgue to be deposited in a refrigerated drawer. The autopsy had revealed little that wasn’t apparent
from a visual inspection. The injuries that preceded the fatal shot to the head had been inflicted carefully, to maximize
pain while keeping Murphy alive and conscious.
It was still an hour before Stone’s shift started at nine o’clock, and he’d already been at the Body Shop for half an hour,
considering the entire scene in the glint of the morning. He wasn’t entirely sure why he was there. It was unlikely that the
teams of forensic specialists that had been there the day before had missed anything. And yet there he was, squatting by the
dark stain that was the last impression Murphy would leave on the world.
It was because he wanted to gain Sanchez’s approval, he recognized. There was no getting around it. He hoped to gain some
additional insight he might share with Sanchez at the start of their shift to earn her respect. It was foolish, probably.
He was a damned good cop, and if she couldn’t see that already, she would likely not be convinced. They had gone back to the
station house the previous day and she had gotten on her computer and tapped away at the keyboard for more than an hour. He’d
asked twice what she was researching, but she hadn’t responded. He could see why she lost partners.
He stood up, taking one last look around the garage before walking back out to the parking lot. As he approached his car,
a tiny, battered convertible pulled into the driveway, rolling over the line of yellow police tape Stone had left on the ground.
Stone waved his arms and yelled, “You can’t come in here! This is a police investigation scene!” Ultimately it mattered little—the
forensics team had swept the entire property for anything that might be helpful to them. They had taken plaster molds of tire
tracks and sifted through the dirt of the driveway for anything they could find, like archeologists on a dig, bagging and
tagging every cigarette butt and every piece of trash. Nevertheless, Stone had no intention of letting civilians into the
crime scene area while the investigation was continued. It would open the door for a defense lawyer to argue that the evidence
was tainted if they ever caught the bastards. He waved his arms again as he pulled out his badge and held it up for the driver
The car pulled to a stop, but didn’t turn around. Instead, both doors opened and two men got out. Stone squared his shoulders,
drawing on the authority of indignation. He slowed, though, as the bigger of the two men pulled himself from the low-slung
passenger seat and looked at him. Stone recognized the man instantly.
“Jesus,” Stone said. “Kozlowski. You’ll get yourself shot, pulling into a crime scene like that, y’know? You’re not a cop
anymore, in case you’d forgotten.”
“Maybe if they’d put a real cop in charge here it wouldn’t be such a problem,” Kozlowski replied. “Maybe someone who wasn’t
a rookie, and who’d know to put the tape back up in front of the driveway.”
“Been a while since I was a rookie. Been a while since I saw you.”
“No shit? I’m old; time moves faster for me,” Kozlowski said. He looked Stone up and down. “I’d heard they put you in civies
full time,” he acknowledged. “Vice?”
Stone shook his head. “Homicide.”
“No shit, again. A real job? I guess they’ll take anyone these days, then, huh?”
“They have to. We used to have a bunch of old guys who fucked things up pretty bad.”
“I never fucked up a case in my life,” Kozlowski growled.
“No, you never did,” Stone admitted. “You just pissed off the wrong people in the department.” He moved forward and put out
his hand. “How you been?”
Kozlowski shook the hand. “Getting by.”
“Good to hear.”
“You remember Scott Finn, right?”
Stone regarded the second man. “From the Caldwell case, right? Hard to forget.” Neither of them offered his hand. “I heard
Koz was working with you now. Hard to believe. If I remember right, he had you pegged as a murderer a few years ago.”
“I was wrong,” Kozlowski said.
“He also had you pegged as an asshole,” Stone said.
“So, he was partially wrong,” Finn replied.
Stone turned back to Kozlowski. “What are you doing out here?”
“We need to talk to Vinny Murphy,” Kozlowski replied. “I take it he’s not around?”
“That’s an understatement.”
Kozlowski exchanged a look with Finn. “How so?” he asked.
“I mean he’s gone. Really gone.”
“Arrested?” Finn asked.
Stone shook his head. “That’d be an upgrade. He was murdered. You read the papers?”
Finn shook his head. “I had a busy morning. I haven’t had the chance.” He looked at Kozlowski, who just shrugged. “What happened?”
he asked Stone.
“Pretty nasty. We’re not sure exactly yet.”
“Saturday night. Maybe early Sunday morning.”
“Any leads?” Kozlowski asked. He still sounded like a cop.
“Not that I can talk about,” Stone said.
“Anything you can tell us?” Finn asked.
Stone hesitated. Kozlowski had been one of the best detectives in the department; his insight might be useful. Stone wasn’t
going to give up any information without getting something in return, though. “Why don’t you tell me why you’re here first.”
The two men looked at each other. “We can’t,” Finn replied.
Finn shook his head.
“Well then, it looks like we’re not going to be able to help each other.”
Finn sighed. “We’re here for a client. For information. That’s all I can say.”
“I could ask you to come down to the station to talk,” Stone said. “This is a murder investigation.”
“Wouldn’t do you any good,” Finn replied.
“No, probably not. But without more, this conversation isn’t gonna go anyplace.”
Finn put his hands in his pockets, but Kozlowski spoke up. “Devon Malley was picked up Sunday night for a robbery.” Finn’s
head spun toward the private detective, but Kozlowski waved him off. “Rumor had it that Murphy might know something about
the crime. We were just out looking to see what we could find out.”
“Koz—” Finn protested, but Stone cut him off.
“Don’t worry,” Stone said. “I know Devon. He’s got nothing to do with this.”
“What makes you say that?” Finn asked.
“Devon’s a thief, not a murderer. Right circumstances, he might be able to push a button on a guy—maybe even pull the trigger
himself if he was scared enough. But that’s as far as he’d go. He wouldn’t be a part of what went down here. He’s not the
brutal type, and this was brutal.”
“How so?” Kozlowski asked.
“Vinny was worked over before he was killed. Whoever did it knew what they were doing. Lots of pain, but nothing that would
kill until the final shot. Very fucked up. They used chains, they broke bones. They did stuff to him you only read about.”
Finn frowned. “Why?”
“That’s the question.” Stone looked at Kozlowski. “You got any thoughts?”
Kozlowski shrugged. “I don’t know enough about the man’s business to tell. He chose a livelihood that makes this sort of thing
“True,” Stone said. “But this doesn’t seem like just a turf war. There’s something more. Something I can’t figure out. They
didn’t do anything to conceal the body or make it difficult to identify him. They left him in a heap in his place of business.
There’s only one reason to do that.”
“They wanted to send a message,” Kozlowski said.
“That’s the only thing I can come up with,” Stone agreed. “But to who?” He thought about the message written in blood, but
decided it would be disclosing too much.
“That’s your problem, not mine,” Kozlowski said. “I don’t get paid by the city anymore.”
“We should go,” Finn said. There was an edge in his voice.
Kozlowski put his hand out first this time. “If I hear anything on the street, I’ll pass it on if I can,” he said.
Stone shook his hand. “I’d appreciate anything I can get.”
Finn was already heading back toward his car, and Kozlowski followed him. He walked around to the passenger side and opened
the door. As he started to lean down to get in, he looked over the soft top and spoke again. “Stone,” he said.
“The civies look good on you, but it’s not the clothes that make the cop.”
“You taught me that one already.”
“Doesn’t mean it’s not still true.”
Finn started the car, whipped it around in a mangled three-point turn, and pulled out into the street. He didn’t say anything
until Stone had faded from the rearview mirror. “What do you think?” he asked then.
“Bad luck for Murphy,” Kozlowski replied. “Bad luck for Devon, too.”
Kozlowski sighed. “You mean, do I think this has anything to do with Devon?” It took him a moment to answer. “I don’t see
how. Even if Murphy set Devon up and dropped a dime on him for some reason, Devon hadn’t been picked up by the cops yet when
Murphy’s ticket got punched, so he wouldn’t have known to be pissed yet. Where’s the motive? Plus, the level of violence doesn’t
fit. Stone’s right about that, it wouldn’t be Devon’s style, even if he wanted to kill the man. He’s not a psychopath.”
“I don’t disagree,” Finn said. “We’re still shit outta luck with no place to go.”
“Murphy definitely isn’t going to be of any help at this point.”
“Clearly not.” Finn blew out a long breath as the lines of Southie’s row houses flashed by, each corner dividing one block
from the next with identical pizza parlors, pubs, and liquor stores. “Sounds like he went out in a bad way.”
“Unlike all those good ways to go out? He played the game. He had it coming.”
“Maybe. I knew him. He wasn’t all bad.”
“Right. Hitler liked dogs and kids. I’m still not gonna shed any tears for him.”
The scenes kept rolling by, and as they passed a bodega on West Broadway, Finn spotted three young Irish-looking men tumbling
loudly out the door, slapping each other on the back, laughing. They wore jeans and sweatshirts, and they pulled out cigarettes
in unison. Construction workers, Finn thought, on their way to the work site, a little late for the job but without any real
care in the world. Or boyos, back from a night of mischief, stopping off for a quick bacon-and-egg sandwich before heading
back to their apartments to sleep for the first time in days. There was no way to tell the difference from the driver’s seat
of Finn’s car.
“Coulda been me,” Finn said. “I was in the game.”
“You were a kid,” Kozlowski said, waving his hand. “Besides, you got out.”
“I got lucky.”
“That’s not luck. Not in this world.”
“A lot of it’s luck. I think about the people I ran with; the stuff we did. Then I think about what I do now. I’m not sure
there’s a difference in the end.”
“There’s a world of difference.”
Kozlowski looked at him and shook his head. “Goddamned Irish. Angst-ridden to the core, every last one of you. Why the hell
“The Irish are cursed with brains. You’re Polish, you wouldn’t understand.”
“Maybe not. So, what now?”
Finn shrugged. “I guess I’ll drop you off at the office and head over to Nashua Street to see Devon. Maybe there’s someone
else who can give us some information.”