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Authors: John Lawrence Reynolds

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BOOK: Solitary Dancer
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Scrignoli sighed, smiled and looked away. “Don't need one for Green Files. There's supposed to be restricted access.”

“And Vance, Donovan, none of them know anything about the link, about Heather and DeMontford?”

“Only Timmy.” Scrignoli shrugged.

“You gonna tell them?”

“Not unless I have to.”

“You're concealing information about a murder investigation.”

“No, I'm not. Zelinka's the connection. I'm covering my ass that way.”

McGuire nodded. Something had begun to turn in his mind. Cogs engaging, facts falling into place.

“Whattaya think of Donovan?” Scrignoli asked. He was sitting back again, staring across the square, working a thumbnail between his teeth.

“He tries too hard.”

“Heard you belted him one. Heard he's ready to charge you with assault.”

“Hasn't yet.”

“He can be a mean and stupid bastard, can't he?”

“What're you trying to say?”

“The guy's an animal is all.”

“You got more on your mind.”

Scrignoli shrugged and turned away.

“What's the time?” McGuire asked.

Scrignoli checked his watch. “One thirty. You got somewhere else to go?” He stood up and scanned the Mall, nodding and waving to people he knew.

“Drop me off at the Common,” McGuire said. “I need to think.”

“Zelinka shouldn't've said anything about DeMontford to you,” Scrignoli said.

“He's involved in Timmy's murder. He'll do whatever it takes, Danny. You know that.”

“But they're not connected, Timmy and him. No way at all.”

“Yes, they are,” McGuire said, standing up. “One way or another they are. And I'm it.”

“You think Brookmyer or Zelinka'll tell Donovan or Fat Eddie about DeMontford? Or the Lorenzo thing? After I told him there's no way he could be involved, he was with me that whole night?”

“I don't know.”

“Couldn't have yet, could he? Or they'd be on my guy like flies, right?”

“Probably.”

“You know what I figure?” Scrignoli leaned forward to catch McGuire's eye, his brow furrowed. “I figure Zelinka's fingered Donovan somehow. He's got me telling him DeMontford's not it and if Vance goes after DeMontford and blows it, we screw up two cases. And he's already got something on Donovan. What d'ya think?”

McGuire shrugged. “Zelinka . . .” He hesitated, thought better of it. “Zelinka's a strange guy. Anybody in I.A.'s gotta be a little strange. So who knows what he's thinking?”

“Yeah,” Scrignoli nodded. “Who knows?”

McGuire smiled to himself and he stood there and stretched his arms above his head in the morning sunshine. The realization that he hadn't thought about the pills, Django's candy, for several moments elated him, like a man who had been climbing a mountain for several days and finally had a handhold on its peak.

Chapter Fourteen

Rudy Zelinka looked out his third-floor office window at the gray stone Romanesque courthouse across the square and fingered a round, hard peppermint before sliding it into his mouth.

Zelinka and his staff of two middle-aged secretaries represented the entire Internal Affairs branch of the Boston Police Department, a staff that had once numbered ten people. But the potent combination of budget cuts and complaints from the Boston Police Officers' Benevolent Society about I.A.'s “heavy-handed activities and open intimidation” eventually diminished the department's size and power.

Before joining I.A. when it was at the height of its powers, Rudy Zelinka had been a competent if unspectacular detective on the Burglary squad, working out of Berkeley Street. One day, while making an arrest in a Chelsea tenement, he found himself sympathizing with the suspect, a black man who hugged each of his five hysterical children and sobbing wife one by one while Zelinka and two uniformed officers stood by, one of the cops, handcuffs dangling loosely from his hand, suppressing a grin. The other cop kept his revolver drawn, and Zelinka stood shifting his weight uneasily from one foot to the other.

The black man, whose name Zelinka would always remember as Hollingsworth, was sentenced to three to five years in jail and died six months later in Deer Island prison, caught up in a riot. A week later, six police officers, led by the cop with the handcuffs and the cynical grin, were implicated in a shakedown scheme, extorting money from drug runners on Dorchester Avenue, and the next day Zelinka applied for a position in I.A.

“You're nuts,” his captain said. “What you wanta work for the internal snoops for? Nobody you ever knew on the force'll have anything to do with you, you're in I.A.”

“Sounds fair to me,” Zelinka said.

Zelinka's sense of ethical standards, never articulated but always in his mind, was the source of his admiration for McGuire. The two men were, as unlikely as they might appear when seen together, reflections of each other.

For many years the antics of Joe McGuire and Ollie Schantz had outraged supervisors on the force, people like Jack the Bear Kavander and Fat Eddie Vance who constantly complained about their disregard for procedures and insubordination.

“But they never take a penny,” Zelinka would say to anyone who questioned how McGuire and Schantz had managed to avoid serious censure when they ignored precepts that other members on the force were pressured to follow. “Not an apple from a fruit stand, not a parking ticket left unpaid, not a quick lay from a street whore. All those things other cops accept as perks, these guys ignore.”

Big fucking deal, Zelinka's colleagues would grumble.

Zelinka would nod and say, “Exactly. It is a very big deal.”

Now he sucked on the hard round candy and stood three stories above Courthouse Square watching one of the few incorruptible men he had ever known walk distractedly toward his office window, head down and kicking at scraps of newspapers.

You and me, Zelinka said silently to McGuire from his window. McGuire and Zelinka.

It's about time.

“I hear you succeeded in ridding yourself of the addiction.”

Zelinka watched McGuire stretch his legs in front of him. He was seated in the office's only side chair, a patched leather affair whose springs threatened to break through at various locations.

McGuire was gazing out the window at people in the square below. There had been no small talk when McGuire arrived, just a perfunctory offer of coffee from Zelinka answered by a shake of McGuire's head before Zelinka ushered the other man into his cramped office with its two windows facing west toward the old courthouse.

Zelinka settled himself behind his desk in the wooden swivel chair that creaked like a rodent and waited for McGuire to respond.

“Wasn't as hard as I expected,” McGuire said finally. The light through the window reflected back from his eyes in white pinpoints, and he ran a hand through his hair. “Like having a bad case of the flu.”

“You still have pains?” Zelinka folded his hands across his stomach.

“Not like before.” McGuire continued staring out the window. “I wasn't taking them for the pain. The pain was part of the withdrawal. I was taking them because they made me feel good.”

“They made you feel nothing, you mean.”

“No difference.” McGuire turned to face Zelinka. “What's up?”

“Same as before. Two murders, one of a policeman.”

“You don't believe I did them.”

“I don't believe you did them, no.”

“Internal Affairs doesn't look into homicides.”

“And I'm not. Others are busy doing that. I'm looking into what I am supposed to look into. Allegations of serious misconduct by police officers. The homicides, they're perhaps the effects, not the causes, of my interest.”

McGuire frowned. “What the hell're you talking about?”

Zelinka leaned forward, resting his weight on his arms. “You understand segregation, McGuire?”

“What about it?”

“Not racial segregation. That's what everybody thinks, every American, when they hear the word. I mean isolation, exclusion, separation.”

McGuire watched the Hungarian warily.

Zelinka smiled, ducked his head and scratched his scalp. “I love the English language, it's wonderful in its ability to express so much. In Hungarian we have one word, it means, oh, perhaps compartmentalize, and it does it all, you see. But in English . . .” He shrugged his shoulders.

“I still don't know what you're talking about.”

The amusement left Zelinka's voice and his words flew at McGuire, clipped and precise in the voice of a man who, as a teenager in a South Boston tenement, had learned to speak English from phonetic spellings in the Oxford Dictionary.

“I am talking about keeping information in one area, McGuire. I am talking about access codes and holding knowledge to one's bosom, hoarding it from others in secrecy. I am talking of people who follow regulations like . . . like rats through a maze. Turn here, turn there, do not stop to think, do not become distracted.”

McGuire watched Zelinka carefully. He had never seen the Hungarian display so much emotion.

“You like computers, McGuire?” Zelinka's voice was more relaxed and he leaned back in his chair, which gave an obedient squeak. Before McGuire could respond, Zelinka said, “I despise them. Do you know why I despise them? Because they segregate information, McGuire. Because as long as facts are in computers and as long as access to those facts is limited because of secrecy, people like me cannot do our job. There is no, how do you say it, paper trail in briefcases or filing cabinets. And so when someone such as me needs to follow information, I encounter secret codes and limited access.”

“You're I.A.,” McGuire said. “You can go to the top and get permission—”

“The top does not create codes, McGuire. Everyone with computer access can use their own codes now. It is not like having a key or combination to files.”

“Codes can be broken—”

“By specialists. By experts. But only with permission from the top, McGuire. Do you know what it takes to get permission from the commissioner's office to access a detective's private file?”

“I would think the murder of a cop, Timmy Fox's murder, would be enough.”

Zelinka grinned coldly and his mustache creased in the middle. “Yes, as a matter of fact, it is, McGuire,” he said. “To a point.”

McGuire shook his head and looked out the window again. “I still don't know what you're getting at.”

“This Lorenzo woman. There are rumours that she was being threatened by a police officer. We do not know who but it is enough, in a homicide investigation, for me to pursue some facts. The death of Detective Fox was a spur. Because I believe there is a link that extends beyond you.”

“Who've you got in mind?”

“No one. Yet.”

“What're you looking for?”

“Connections. Links. Splices.” The Hungarian smiled and his teeth shone like snow beneath his mustache. “You see what I mean about the English language? So many words for one meaning. So many subtleties.”

“You've already found a link, haven't you?” McGuire said.

“I have found a name that arises where it should not.” Zelinka crunched down on a mint and chewed thoughtfully. “The name appears in a Team Green file which has nothing to do with the murder of the woman over on Newbury Street.” His heavy eyebrows arched.

“Heather Lorenzo.”

“And you also know the businessman's name. Because I gave it to you.”

“DeMontford.”

“What else do you know of him?”

“Scrignoli turned him for some stockbroker investigation. He's using DeMontford to funnel information about a bunch of scams being committed downtown.”

“And his relation to this Lorenzo woman?”

“DeMontford? She was blackmailing him. Like she did a bunch of other men. It was a hobby to her. Could've written a book. How to fuck rich men for fun and profit.”

“Why did Scrignoli tell you about him?”

“Because he's afraid if this guy is linked to Heather's murder and a lot of crap starts coming out, he'll refuse to play with Scrignoli. And Danny says this guy couldn't have done the murder anyway because both of them were on the Cape that night, going through files.” McGuire smiled tightly. “But I'll bet you already know that, don't you?”

Zelinka was not amused. “Of course I know it,” he said, standing up. “Without that alibi I could lay out a case that would toss Scrignoli's entire investigation through the window. We would sacrifice a dozen stockbroker convictions to get one murderer of a police officer, you know that.” Zelinka scratched his ear distractedly. “But we have a record of a call from her apartment to DeMontford's apartment at eight p.m. Then a long distance telephone record from DeMontford's Cape Cod home to Berkeley Street at two fifteen a.m., just as Scrignoli said he made. We have DeMontford's credit card receipt at a Hyannis Port restaurant where the two men had breakfast and a witness who confirms they were there.”

“Wait a minute, wait a minute.” McGuire leaned forward. “First you tell me I.A. doesn't investigate homicides, yet we both know the department would blow the whole headquarters building to hell if it meant finding who killed Timmy. Now you tell me you've checked DeMontford's alibi on a case that's right out of your jurisdiction. So what the hell's going on? If you've got something happening here, why don't you cut loose, nail somebody, grill their ass off?”

“Because it would be a high-risk gamble. And I cannot afford to be wrong. DeMontford has a company called Bedford Investments over on Winthrop Square. It is quite large, very successful and totally untainted by any scandal to this date.” Zelinka sat down again, crossed his legs, put his hands behind his head and leaned back in the chair. “Bedford Investments is also a major contributor to the election campaigns of several leading politicians and supports a number of key charities.” He smiled coldly. “These things are supposed to be irrelevant, of course.”

McGuire watched in silence, waiting for him to continue.

“It's been four days since you began your, ah, retreat, McGuire,” Zelinka said. “Do you have any idea how much progress has been made on Detective Fox's case since then?”

“Not a hell of a lot.”

“Not a hell of a lot,” Zelinka echoed. “I suppose Ollie Schantz filled you in on that fact.”

“And Danny Scrignoli. He did too.”

“Really?” Zelinka's eyes caught McGuire's.

“He's a good cop.”

Zelinka watched McGuire in silence. His mind seemed to be a million miles distant.

“Dan Scrignoli,” McGuire said, as though the other man hadn't heard. “Got a good rep, works hard.”

“Yes,” Zelinka said, and sat forward. His chair squeaked in protest.

“You want me to do something.”

“I think you know what it is.”

“You want me to turn over stones,” McGuire said.

“In a manner of speaking.” The Hungarian was staring past McGuire, lost in thought. “This investigation concerning DeMontford and his business associates is very important to Scrignoli. I don't have enough yet to jeopardize it.” He opened a file folder on his desk, removed four sheets of paper stapled at the corners and handed them to McGuire. “Here is a copy of the murder investigation report. On the Lorenzo case. Just a summary. You may wish to read it for your own amusement or . . .” Zelinka shrugged.

McGuire folded the papers without looking at them and slid them into a trouser pocket. “You've got something in mind, someone you need me to make the connection with.”

“Something like that, yes.”

“DeMontford?”

Zelinka raised his eyebrows in mock surprise and pleasure. “That is a wonderful idea.”

“You can't do it officially.”

“Even if I could, I have no staff, no facilities. When I obtain sufficient proof, I will approach the commissioner. Until then . . .” He shrugged.

“And you're not going to tell me what you've got in mind, what you're looking for precisely.”

“That is privileged police business.”

“And now that I'm a civilian, I don't have access to that kind of speculative horseshit.”

“Not a particle.”

“So why should I do anything at all? The hell's in it for me?”

Zelinka nodded and stared back at McGuire. Then he opened his desk drawer, withdrew the plastic bag of mints, reached in again and pulled out a photograph set in a small brass picture frame. He studied the snapshot carefully as though reading a business contract before turning it to face McGuire, holding the picture by the edges of the frame and watching for McGuire's reaction.

“You're a son of a bitch, you know that?” McGuire said. He lowered his head.

BOOK: Solitary Dancer
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