At the Scene 

FAR TOO EARLY on a Tuesday morning, unshaved and only just adequately dressed  for his station, he arrived at the unfamiliar place that spoke to him in whispers like  an old acquaintance.  

With his left hand sunk into the dust of the doorjamb, he squinted, drew breath,  trying fiercely to remember what in the name of God he was doing here. Or how he  got here as far as that goes. I came by car, didn’t I? Or was it a taxi… Christ!  

Why didn’t I have coffee first? 

But he was used to being called out at all hours. To see this crime scene, to talk to a witness, to follow up on some tenuous lead. This morning someone must have been  having one on. Someone thought it would be funny to get me out of bed before the  sun. Before I woke up. And they couldn’t be bothered to explain? Someone would  answer for this. Unconsciously he pushed the door open – it was slightly ajar and the  inner discernible smells of an unaired home seeped through the breach. 

Just inside the door, dust from his tentative steps floated momentarily in the wispy  light intruding through unsettled blinds before coming to rest on the scattered  fragments of the life within. Someone lived here. 

It was a scene like many others he had attended. Here it was a possible witness.  More often a suspect. Walking through the door, he knew he exposed himself to  trouble. They would ask about a warrant, about a lack of exigent circumstances.  

But in reality, he was just terribly curious.  

He drank in the atmosphere and tried to feel who this person was. This was his  home and he was an invader, an intruder violating its sanctity. No doubt the  remnants of breakfast things on the rickety wooden table, set for four, were not left  for his benefit, not abandoned in the hopes that a middle-aged detective would  arrive to draw conclusions. 

But he had already begun to draw them. To surmise.  

His steps were deliberate and slow, not wanting to move too quickly through the  scene, not wanting to overlook any part of it. There was something naggingly familiar  about it all. It was as though he had touched this table before, as though he knew the  person who had just vacated the tableau.  

He wanted a cigarette and touched his pocket instinctively, feeling the cold metal of  the zippo there. Not here though. He could not let anyone know he had been here  – it wasn’t a crime scene after all. He turned back toward the door and headed out  the corridor to collect himself and his thoughts. Too many random thoughts and not  enough coffee for this.  

Darkness. Curtained, the far double windows admitted a weak bar of light from the  sides. His eyes slowly adjusted. He was not ready to disturb the scene yet – whatever it turned out to be. It would come back to him. It always came back to  him. The room was a tableau, which the artist had only just stepped away from.  

As he became accustomed to it, the room slipped in and out of focus as his gaze  floated from sofa to table to television to the stark wooden chairs – three chairs – pulled out and left there. As though they had been in use only moments before.  Three chairs. Traditional bentwood chairs, seats intermittently blacked from use.  Not new. And here something had spilled on one of them. Ink?  

No one uses inks anymore. An artist maybe? But he knew it wasn’t. How could he  possibly know? 

Instinctively, he turned to the open kitchen and ran a hand over the surface. It was  wet, and here were scattered crumbs. The stovetop was cold.  

Shuffling automatically from point to point. No time for coffee. A quick shower though – no  – when I get back. Hands feeling over a row of shirts. Managing to tie the tie without  looking. No tie. The light by the bed was on, the rest was still black.  

No sun. Not yet.  

I have to go quickly though. I can’t miss it. I can’t slide in too late and be left in the  darkness, in the wilderness of this unknown and unknowable thing that I have to do. No 

choice – it will be gone and I will miss it. Just a bite of something. Empty fridge – here’s  some bread and cheese then.  

Must go. Miss it forever.  And where are my – ok. Keys. 

Open your eyes man. I can’t. I will miss it for sure. 


Precinct XIII 

WHEN ARMAN SCAIFE did not show up for the briefing this morning, no one was  surprised.  

Scaife was far too unpredictable for his taste. He kept his own hours, his own  rhythm, and when it came to sharing what he had found or figured out, he kept his  own counsel as well. Bringing him in on this was their first mistake – he had told  them that at the staff meeting. 

There was a “view” (that’s what the Deputy Chief always called it) that their  department did not have enough solved cases and that they should call in an external  consultant to close more of them quickly. Scaife was no one’s first choice, but he  was available. He was a private investigator who was known not to take on many  cases, only the ones that appealed to his unsoundable curiosity. He had a strong  intuitive sense about him – Scaife himself always said that he followed the evidence,  but that was way off the mark. He chased hunches and guesses and his own inner  compass. Real detective work, collecting hard evidence and deduction, was not  among his best abilities.  

He would never have made it as a cop.  

It was getting close to eleven now and people were starting to ask about his  whereabouts. Scaife was meant to be here already at seven thirty for a briefing on  the suspicious suicide that came in over the weekend.  

“Suspicious? You mean it looks like something else,” Scaife had asked.

“That’s how it seems.” Captain Marlin bit his tongue. Of course, you idiot, otherwise we  would not have said suspicious. “Be here in the morning, Arman. We’ll give you the file.  But be here.” 

The file was thin enough, unfortunately. The victim was a 27-year-old French male,  found lying on the sofa in his apartment. He had been dead for at least two weeks  until a neighbor called in to say something smelled bad. The coroner called the cause  of death to be a drug-induced aortic aneurysm. Prednisolone found in the blood. But  Scene of Crime had not found any bottles, syringes, or any evidence that any doctor  had even prescribed him the drug. Identity of the body: established through a  driver’s license issued to one Gérard Farfadet, resident of Chaumont-sur-Loire,  Department of Loir-et-Cher. He had no French ID card on his person and only 14  euros in his pockets. No credit cards. Nothing else to go on. They would have to  confirm the identity with the French authorities in the Loir-et-Cher. Maybe they  would send him out to there, Marlin mused. A little wine and cheese wouldn’t go  wrong, would it? 

But they would be sending Scaife instead of him for sure. 


At the Scene 

THERE WAS NO key to this apartment. It had been open. He stood there under  the transom as he had stood in a thousand places over his life. But just now he still  could not… I mean I must be here for a reason, right. Shake it off! Come on! 

Reaching behind him, he flipped on a light. Observation first. Take in the details and  sort them out later. He took everything in, breathed it, felt it, remembered  everything, so that later on he could work the pieces into a clear picture. The facts  are contemplated until, by a kind of reaction, an image is gradually produced, but one  that does not itself actually exist yet in his mind. He smiled to himself – Captain  Marlin would need a sedative after hearing something like this. 

Still, nagging at the back of his mind was the idea that he had already committed this  scene to memory – it was already there in outline form, colorless, light on detail in  places, in others steeped in a kind of oneiric recollection with a record of things that  had happened here, yet just beyond his ability to access them here. It feels like a test.  You know this scene. Anamnesis fulfilled and filed and classified and the drawer slid  firmly closed.  

The living room sofa looked well worn. It sagged slightly in the middle. Gave him the  impression of edging forward as he watched television, read something. Had to prop  himself into its chamfer with pillows to be comfortable. Had he sat here? Not really  possible. But it suggested strongly. 

I know who you are.  

Meet me for lunch, Tuesday. Remember our bond.


He felt a pounding at his temples, behind his eyes. As he continued to cast his eyes,  eyes well known for not missing even the smallest particular, in all directions, he had  an indistinct feeling of recognition. These are known objects. They are arranged after  a design. Care has been taken to align the books on the shelf, the spices, the angle of  the armchair facing the television obliquely and away from the sofa. In this room  there was an imperative of order. There was deliberate symmetry. Except the three 

chairs. And for them, an explanation. 

Objects on the side table. A clean ashtray. A water glass. A phone charger. A spoon  with a brownish semicircle of dried coffee. A blank envelope. Five objects. Not  thrown down randomly; they formed a quincunx, with the spoon at its center. Why  the spoon? Was it the most central object? The most important? It was the first and  easiest to remove, leaving a quadrangle of permanent residents. Of course, he  nodded silently. Of course it was.  

He sat down heavily on the sofa, feeling its worn, downward slope. Closing his eyes,  he felt movement brush past him. As if of a man. A man moving with measured pace  around the furniture. Sitting at the table, making a note of something with a cheap  ballpoint pen – wondering if he shouldn’t fish the Waterman out of his bag. Shifting  into position before the sink and preparing something. Returning for something  forgotten to the adjacent bedroom. Out of sight. The bed was unmade. As usual, he  thought.  

Eyes closed still, he recalled that he had not yet seen the bedroom.  

In this apartment, in this room – he somehow knew – something had happened.  Something had occurred very recently that awaited the violence of his discovery, the  ripping away of these damnable veils that blocked his vision. A shudder tumbled  sharply down his spine. An alert quivered in his stomach. Something he had seen  before. It all happened here. And finding it would resolve all these answers without  questions in which he felt restrained and confined. It’s what I do. Let’s do it then,  shall we? 

He adjusted himself backward on the sofa. What was the evidence around him? He  took out a notepad. 

1. The resident had been here just prior to his arrival on the scene. 

2. He may not have been alone. Three pulled out chairs. 

3. He may have left in some considerable hurry. Crumbs. Water.

4. He likely lived here alone. 
Why “he”? Yes is was “he.” I’m sure of it. 

5. This had been the scene of another crime, at another time. I have been here  before. I know this place and its things too well. I remember things about it. I  can’t place my finger on –

He scratched the last item off the list hurriedly and reviewed the list, forcing it to  make sense, to fall into place. It was arbitrary. It only told the story of a moment, the  moment before he walked in. The rest of the story… the rest of the story was the  whole story, but he still could not see it.  

More sun began to stream in from behind the drawn curtains. The morning was  taking hold. Pushing himself off the sofa, he stepped carefully into the bedroom to  see what he already knew he would find. An unmade bed. A shirt draped over the  back of a chair.  

It was orderly – like the sitting room. It was efficient. This is some kind of  persnickety bachelor, he thought. He likes his things just so. I get it.  

But no sign of any misadventure in this room either. Only the bed was left in a state  of abandon, like he did not have time to tend to it before his precipitous departure.  But then again, he wasn’t expecting me this morning either. He then picked up the  fact that there were no photographs around. Anywhere. I can hardly know what this  guy even looks like – black, white, tall, short, lanky, squat… no clue really. He wasn’t  from here, this they had in common. A foreigner, maybe, of no description, living in  apartment of nothing extraordinary depicting an uneventful life.  

The people who might have been here. At least one might have been a woman.  Three. Him plus two. One woman. One other man. Another foreigner? Did they  stay the night? Nothing said so. Did they arrive even earlier than he did? He fancied  the woman to be slightly shorter than he was, maybe blonde, maybe in a light yellow  summer dress, embroidered frills along the hemline, cut high on her hips. She was  attractive, this woman. He was not.  

She wasn’t anyone’s girlfriend though. No signs of feminine presence in the kitchen  or the bathroom, except that it was neat and tidy like the rest of the place. No  combs, creams, hairbands. Women liked to mark their territory by leaving objects  behind. As if they belonged there. An extra toothbrush in the glass. Some cosmetic  product or another arranged on the sink or thereabouts. A hairbrush. Here there  was none of that. No territory had been claimed.  

He leans forward on his elbows, as if to reveal a confidence. But he only hovers there, close  enough. I can feel the urgency. It cloys. But not close enough. No words.  

He does not trust me.  

He wants something. Something I have, and I can’t just hand it over.  

My god. We have to go. Time is short.  

And if I stay… how not to lose myself?  

I am falling.


Precinct XIII 

WHEN JAMES MARLIN made captain, it thudded at his feet, like a block of rough  wood jarring free of his grip.  

If you are any good at your job, you can’t stay on the force as a police lieutenant  forever, but Marlin was happy to stay in the lower ranks. Station politics and  influences from any number of grey eminences in city government always seemed to  dog his captain’s every move. It was one thing to follow orders and do what you  were told, all in the aim (hopefully) of solving the usual trickle of interesting cases  that came through his captain’s hands. Most of his work was routine, most crimes  minor and straightforward, dispatched in a day or two. He could usually go home  feeling like he accomplished something, and that he earned his two-Brooklyn habit.  

But Capt. Hernandez had retired, and no one else was left standing. Take the  promotion and the headaches or get out of the game. Marlin never really gave any  thought to leaving, so of course he would make captain. The precinct was much  happier about it than he, however.  

“While I am off fishing, you might want to look into the unsolved files. Downtown  has got hard on about clearing them – not just us, all over the city. Thank your  guardian angel that this isn’t the 7th. They’re backed up for 30 years at least down  there on the Lower East Side,” Hernandez laughed. He was clearing out his desk and  tossing out his last words of advice as he went. Marlin knew that Capt. Hernandez  had never fished a day in his life. 

“We really don’t have too many,” he went on. “You knew Arman Scaife, right? I  used him a lot on these open investigations, where I would have had to put on more  officers than I could ever justify to get them put away.” 

“I know Scaife.” 

“You need a guy like that. An outsider who gets the job done and, as long as you  give him enough rope, he gets the guy most of the time. You don’t have to like him.” 

“We’re all right, Captain. Rockaway was a long time ago.” 

“Rockaway? Oh yes… Not long enough for me. For you either.” 

Four cops were lost at the “incident” at Far Rockaway, 11 years ago. Scaife walked  away from it after he traced the shooters to the rump end of Whitey Bulger’s boys  that slipped into Queens after Boston got too hot. Bulger was already locked up at  Coleman II in Sumterville, Florida. Marlin had been assigned to tail Scaife along the  byzantine paths that finally led to their discovery behind a flower shop. The officers  who lost their lives were the first ones in the door. It always felt like they were set  up.  

Scaife had told him that he got the idea from a dream. By itself that was not so bad – everyone gets ideas and inspiration from somewhere. But don’t walk around telling  people about it. Scaife gave the appearance of a fairly regular guy. His suits were all  from about 20 years ago. He never had a tie. But he was presentable and could talk  with just about anyone. But after Rockaway, it was like some sort of bond fused him  to Marlin, opening the way for Scaife to share far too much with him.  

They were not friends, but something much deeper went between them than Marlin  ever liked. After the uniforms fell, friends, colleagues, the next round was trained on  Scaife and Marlin, who were standing close to each other, about 40 feet back. Before  the SWAT Humvee crashed through the doors, both men stood for a fraction of an  instant under an identical flash of destiny, about to die and then to live in the same  breath. It was a moment that linked them inescapably.  

In the interceding years, they barely spoke. But whenever Hernandez called him in,  there was always a glance of recognition, across the desks of the precinct or at the  scene of the crime, when Scaife’s eyes sought him out. Eyes that saw everything.  Every stray thought. Every discarded fancy. Eyes that went deep. The tacit  understanding between them hung heavily on Marlin. He did not want this man’s  confidences, to feel somehow responsible for him – but he did.  

He knew Scaife. 

And waiting for him to show up, he knew that Scaife was not a man you could count  on to be where he was wanted when it was required. He tried his cell phone, but it  was switched off. The Farfadet file was sitting on his desk, and Marlin thumbed through it. The apartment was at Gramercy Park and 20th, only a few blocks away.  He could walk over there and have a look at the scene. Scaife should have been  there too. Maybe he already was.



Farfadet Apartment 

“I knew you’d be here,” Marlin growled. “I wanted you for the damn briefing,  remember?” 

Scaife stared at him. No recognition in his eyes. Marlin’s angry glare phased through  his body, slipping past the receptors that would have jolted him back to the moment.  He squinted.  

“I was about to…” 

“What?” Marlin barked. “Get a drink? You need one.” He turned to the sergeant and  told him to get inside and secure the scene, again. Make sure Scaife hadn’t tossed the  place. Scaife was still dazed about something. Something had messed with his head  inside there. “What did you find?” 

“I came back to see something. I think I missed it again. I’m not sure,” Scaife was  speaking just a little too slowly.  

“You were here already? Without telling me anything?” 

“I was,” he said. I must have been. 

Impatient, Marlin pushed by the private investigator and started up the stairs. This  should be open and closed really. It was a suicide, somehow, and they just needed to  find the bottle or the needle or whatever it was. The victim had no record (here, he  stopped, maybe back home); he barely registered as even being here. There would  be a passport somewhere – that would help. If I could ship the whole thing back to  the French gendarmes, all the better. Get this thing out of my hair and send Arman  Scaife back to his reveries. 

11 The room was half-lit. Marlin tried to find the light switch and bumped his hand on a  wall hanging, some kind of painting, that managed to hit a nerve, and he pulled his  hand back suddenly. Scaife switched on the main light. He had followed him back to  the apartment. He was at his back. With the overhead lamp glowing, he tried to look  deeply at the scene. It was a soft light, leaving many shadows and much to the  imagination. He had to see what Scaife had seen, whatever it was that left him in an  altered state. Scaife’s eyes would find all the upturned edges, depressions in  upholstery, and wrinkles in pillowcases, and they would speak to him, as if the very  act of seeing became intimate involvement, drawing him into a narrative inaudible to  anyone else. Invisible stories. Marlin strained but he felt as though he were barred  from entering that world. He was limited by his overpowering need for structure  and order. Where Marlin sought out familiar patterns, Scaife’s gaze pierced their  surfaces and contemplated the underlying chaos, making sense of it.  

Together they entered the small bathroom. The undersized tub had not been  scoured for many weeks, and an overhanging shower dripped into an incoherent  pool around the drain. The light was a naked bulb, precariously clinging to wires  emerging from a hole in the ceiling. Looking up at it, the photo-bleaching effect flash 

blinded him momentarily. He blinked and pressed his eyes.  

In the mirror over the small sink he made out Scaife watching him as he struggled to  get his normal vision back. Where his face should be was the after image of the  bright bulb.  

“What are you looking at?” Marlin gnarled at the image. 

Scaife hadn’t come in here when he had reviewed the scene earlier, and he seemed  not to notice Marlin in front of him as he widened a skimming view over the space.  He caught a glimpse of Marlin’s reflection and looked away. “Two soaps,” he said,  mostly to himself.  

Did anyone ever use two different soaps? Farfadet, to look at the rest of the place,  was not a cleanly type. He liked order but left the details to manage themselves.  Why two? The importance of this detail would fester in Marlin’s head now. This is  why he could not see like Scaife – who would imagine soap could indicate anything.  Maybe two soaps means two people? A girlfriend? Every peculiarity had a reason and  a meaning that fit with every other one. Two soaps could mean that he did not like  one after he bought it. Or something completely far fetched that would only occur  to Scaife’s mind. 

He was seated on the sofa, the place where they had found the body, when Marlin  came out of the bathroom, his eyes closed and hands pressing on his knees. He was  assembling the puzzle in his head. Marlin continued to survey the living room, the  floors, the surfaces, the shelves. A brass zippo lighter was on the table, on top of the  envelope.  

“Isn’t that your lighter, Arman?” 

Scaife searched his pockets. “Maybe,” he sounded absent. “I think I left mine – ”


“Wait, it’s mine. How is it here? Did you take it off my desk before?”  “Why do even have one? You don’t smoke, do you?” 

“I don’t. Not much. But I got this as a present from… When I was in school.” Marlin  pocketed the lighter.  

Scaife allowed his eyes to close again. Images from this morning were starting to  move around, drift, change places in his mind. The quincunx on the table – now the  lighter and now into Marlin’s pocket again. The recognitions from this morning were  flexing slightly out of focus, arching back on themselves, blurring what had started to  clear. Marlin had been here before. And so had he. And they did not meet.  

“There were three of them, right?” Marlin said over his shoulder. “Four, I think. Him plus three.” 

“A woman. And two men.” 

Scaife’s eyes found Marlin. They nodded to the captain’s assumption.  “Right. The chairs,” Marlin added. 

“The five objects on the table.” 

This was getting too murky now. Maybe Scaife had a scenario in his great brain, but  Marlin was getting more and more frustrated by this. The objects – the envelope,  the spoon, ashtray, water glass, and something else.  

“The phone charger,” Scaife murmured.  

“What do they mean, then?” Apart from the obvious uses, he could not tie them to  a man lying dead, poisoned, on the sofa. Unless the prednisolone was in the coffee.  They could test the spoon then. Marlin bagged it and called the sergeant to come in  and take it.  

Scaife looked over suddenly. That small arrangement, now affected, had significance,  like characters in a play, each having its part and bringing the rising action together.  With one hand, he reached toward the table. The actions seemed to hang in the air.  Latent traces of movement. Scaife was transfixed, perfectly still, even his breath  seemed to stop, as if the slightest turn of the kaleidoscope would sweep in an  entirely new picture. Colors and forms, threads, were coming together in a pattern,  predictable shapes that could expel the story. Whole. Uncovered.  

Marlin said nothing.  

Sergeant Edison, holding the bagged coffee spoon, could not figure out what he was  meant to be doing. He waited by the door, but then he said



Far Rockaway 

The concussing impact rammed into his gut like an upper cut, lifting him from the  ground and sending him hurtling back three or four feet to be slammed into the  rough cut brick wall. He gasped for breath and nothing came, the wind knocked  completely out of him, only acrid smoke and dry ash.  

Flashes from random gunfire. The detective was down, doubled up and writhing. A  grudging snatch of oxygen at last reached his lungs. Voices yelling, screaming. Crumbled façade where the police Humvee had smashed through the back wall very  nearly reaching his feet where he was lying, forcing himself upright.  


The detective was alive, stunned, consciousness rolling around the back of his eyes  and sending faint flickering signs. Not on his feet, pulling them inward, trying to  summon himself. But there was a nod.  

Within minutes, maybe seconds, maybe an hour, silence fell again, closing the night  around the two of them – where was everyone else? He remembered the sight of an  ambulance, its mournful wail, backing out and speeding away beyond sight. The  Humvee was dark and cold. Marlin was alive – he caught the same force of the  shockwave; it hit both of them in its blind fury – there was movement.  

Breathing better, he assessed the damage. Limbs working. Nothing broken. He  pushed himself up and leaned over the detective, trying to force him into a better  position. Help him breathe. At that moment a second ambulance spewed out a 


handful of EMTs and gurneys. They swept him up and suddenly he was on his back  with a respirator over his mouth and nose, blocking his view. He let his eyes close.  

Lambert, Jones, Reichenbach, and Gonzales.  

He knew them all. He knew their wives. He knew their kids. None was more than  30 years old, and Marlin had just watched their comfortable and safe lives  interrupted forever and ripped from them on what should have been a routine raid.  Kevlar jackets would have stopped small caliber fire – but deep in the flower shop  they had been waiting for the assault, armed like special forces commandos and  ready to defend.  

Marlin had followed Scaife to the alleyway behind the shop and radioed for backup.  They counted on surprise, but Marlin called in the big guns anyway – better to shock  and awe than be caught short. An M998A1, bought from the DoD last year and  shipped directly from Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait where it was being  decommissioned, was the only one of its kind in the city: a military Humvee not yet  stripped of its armor and a little outsized for urban work. But bring it. And a SWAT  team, a dozen squad cars.  

He caught up with Scaife and braced him. He had was caught him completely off guard, but rolled with it. 

“We can’t go in yet, Captain,” he whispered. “I’m not sure who is in there and if  they are all connected to the Bulgers. But let’s get ready.” 

From the very beginning, Marlin had had a bad feeling about this. Everyone knew  where this place was – everyone it seemed except Scaife who needed to piece it  together himself – but the order to invade had never been given. The Deputy Chief  wanted them taken in, but there wasn’t enough evidence to tie them to anything yet,  no probable cause to break through the doors. Scaife had been working on a string  of circumstantial fragments that led him out to Far Rockaway and into the alley  behind the flower shop where the Bulgers were holed up and secure. He was so  certain of his facts. So sure of himself. Marlin had trailed him to see what he knew.  And now, faced with the moment, he knew he would need reinforcements and had  called them in.  

The patrol units arrived first, with 24 armed and vested officers including Lambert,  Jones, Reichenbach, and Gonzales. The SWAT van and the Humvee directly  followed. They arrived in stealth mode, pulling in quietly without sirens or revving  engines. They were not called to attack; they were called to protect – Marlin made it  crystal clear. No noise.  

The alley was dark, one streetlamp cast its dim light from the corner, only allowing  everyone to just make out who was who and how many of them there were.  Marlin’s stomach was a tight knot. He had gambled a lot on Arman Scaife’s wild idea 


tonight. He usually got it right, sure. But he did not seem as confident as usual now.  What if they were about to surprise and old couple arranging irises?  

The assembled teams were packed into the narrow alley, making just enough space  for the Humvee to slide into the lead spot. Marlin signaled the approach. Lt.  Lawrence Lambert and the three others were sent to the wooden framed door and  knocked.  

When he opened his eyes again, he was in a hospital bed. His arm ached a little  where the IV connected him to the drip. Its high stand was attached to the  bedframe. A medical lo-jack keeping him firmly in place. 

There was nothing wrong with him – he did not get hurt. He needed to check on…  A nurse walked by and he grabbed out at her sleeve.  

“There were two of us. Where’s the other guy?” The words gushed out as if he  hadn’t spoken for days. “What happened to me?” 

But she didn’t know anything about anyone else. The doctor would be coming now  that he was awake again. She freed herself from his clasp and gently but forcibly  returned him to the pillow. She adjusted something on his head. Maybe it was better anyway. He was a little foggy. The doctor would tell him. If he knew.  

The doctor turned out to be a fairly young man, maybe 32 or 33, with one of those  hipster beards that people were already starting to abandon now. He stood over the  bed, leaning in to examine his eyes and move his hand over his head that was, he  realized, bandaged all around. He had a kind manner, but his eyes were lifeless.  

“You look better,” he smiled. “You’ve been out for almost two days. Can you focus  on me?” 

They called it minor head trauma. It was a form of concussion with some edema, and  they detected a micro-fracture of the cranium, but it was already beginning to knit  and heal. It was quite small. It would heal up fully in a month as long as he did not go  around bashing his head into walls.  

He worked up a half-smile.  

“Maybe your friend was taken to another ER,” he said. “You were the only one  brought in.”



Farfadet Apartment 

“Only this, Cap?”  

Sergeant Ron Edison was a little confused. Usually he would wait at least until they  had finished with the scene to take the evidence down to forensics. The captain had  only given him one dirty spoon to take in so far. Maybe he should wait a little.  

Edison was going off duty in 45 minutes. If he stayed only a little longer, he could  swing by the lab and drop everything off and go straight home. Tonight he would be  meeting Catherine – Cat – for the first time. In fact it was the first time he would  ever meet anyone in real life with whom he had been chatting online. He could feel  the tingle of anticipation snaking around his insides. The more Marlin dragged his feet  and meandered around the scene, the better. If he went back to the precinct he  could count on being roped into something else and making him break his date.  

Marlin turned his head toward the sergeant and then back to the room. He was not  finished. Edison straightened his back a little. He had just been told off for asking.  

Captain Marlin was a mystery to most of the precinct. None more so than Edison  who just could not figure the guy out. He has been a captain for so many years,  never moving up, never getting the nod for a promotion. Or maybe he did and never  told anyone, but Kathy behind the desk knew everything and she would not have sat  on that information. Everyone knew he was good, and a few of the older guys 


remembered him coming up, fast tracked from the get go, and making a name for  himself. But then he just stopped.  

He was not one for the headlines – he was just practical. He got the job done, never  complained, and could always be counted on in a pinch. Moving from beat cop to  sergeant to lieutenant and then captain, no one said he was “ambitious.” On the  contrary, he always seemed to wave away any praise that came his way. He never  seemed like a guy who wanted to be noticed.  

Edison would be noticed. He was happy to be on this assignment because the victim  was foreign, and it would for sure get some ink in the Daily News or even the  Times. Whatever happened, he would not be like Marlin. He wanted the big job. But  tonight, with the prospect of “Cat” on the horizon, he could not concentrate.  

Anyway, except that the guy was French and they could not seem to figure out the  circumstances, it was not a huge case. They knew he was poisoned. It looked like he  probably did it himself. The poison itself was a little fancy, but not exotic or strange.  He could not figure out what Marlin was looking for so hard at the scene, and – he  did not like to say it but it was obvious to everyone – he kept talking to himself,  muttering things under his breath. Edison made out a few words. Someone’s name.  Odd words that did not seem to connect. Almost like he was arguing.  

Edison watched as the captain now moved over to the sofa, the victim’s last bed, and  dropped heavily onto it. Elbows on his knees. Hand on his face. This could take  longer even than he planned, maybe ruining his chances tonight anyway. When  Marlin started his thinking mode, it could go on a long time. But he sat up now.  

“What do we have here, Ronnie?” 


“Nothing,” Marlin sighed. “We have been over this place and over it. and there is  nothing of any interest at all. Nothing but a lonely guy, far from home, who got lost  in the city.”  

Edison scanned the scene to see where Marlin was getting this from. 

“He took this apartment, met a couple of people here and there. But he never really  fit in. Never found his place. On that night, he tried again to make a connection but  nothing came of it. Look at the phone charger, Ronnie. Where’s the phone? He put  out an ashtray even though he didn’t smoke. The water glass is empty and the spoon  – the one you have there – was the last thing he tasted on the way out. Liquid  prednisolone from dirty coffee spoon and wash it down. He could not even be  bothered to write a note. See the envelope? Why would you take one out and then  not do anything with it. He was showing me something – showing me that he had  just given up.” 

“So you’re calling it suicide after all, Captain?”


“It was the end of the line,” Arman Scaife said to himself, tugging at his jacket and  standing up again. “When nothing else was left.”

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