So I need you to picture a man about five feet five inches tall, the kind of man with a permanent stubble on his hollow cheeks, thin graying hair askew and a bit too greasy to blow in the November wind. He is in a brownish tweedy suit, with the elbows bagged out and the trousers a bit too big, cinched up with a thin black belt almost to his breast to keep the pants from slipping down over his flat rear end. His shirt is white but gone yellow. His cap is in his hand, so worn that the name, once printed in gold on the lining, is now just a scrap of color here and there.
The man is thin and his wrists stick out of his sleeves like bony pendulums. His shoulders slope, hiding what used to be some muscle, built up by random hard labor over many years, but there is not much of that left. The man draws on the short stub of an off-brand cigarette, the smoke disappearing between yellowed teeth into his chest, where the smoke gives birth to a shallow cough.
He is fifty years old. He is sixty years old. He is the kind of guy you cannot tell how old he is but you do not care. He has a history in the lines of his face but you do not wish to share that history. He is invisible and eye contact is to be avoided. His name is Harry. His name is Max. His name is Shorty. Actually, this one is named Jeff.
“Hello there, my name is Jeff. Jeff the Jet they call me. It’s a long story you don’t want to hear. Pleased to meet you.”
“I am waiting for my former wife. She has something of mine, something she kept on purpose when we split maybe fifteen years ago. She remarried right away, didn’t wait for any divorce but it doesn’t matter to anyone, certainly not to me. Just so long as she doesn’t want any money. The new guy – not so new anymore, huh? – he’s paid everything for the kid, spoiled him so he doesn’t work, a real punk, I see him around sometimes but we don’t talk to each other. I know he knows who I am but he never cuts me a break as his father, know what I mean? Never a beer, a game of pool or anything. He’ll end up what I call a dickwad, no job, end up running numbers or worse for small change. Well, fuck him. He couldn’t lay brick or know how to pick up a 55 gallon barrel or anything useful and I don’t think he’s sitting at a some desk, he’s stupid as a post – just like his friggin’ mother, the slut.”
“But it’s my stuff, and I called her a few times and finally she sighs, like it’s a big bother even though she doesn’t work and has nothing but time, and says if I come all the way to Somerville and stand on this corner here she’ll bring it to me if I just promise to not call her anymore which is fine.”
I’m beginning to think she isn’t coming and it sure is brisk out here, I put my cap back on although I don’t like it, it makes my head itch. The woman who runs the house where I rent a room tells me I need to shower more, rub my scalp, but the water is cold unless you’re the first one up and my one big pleasure, now that I gave up working, is to sleep in.
“Well wait a sec, here she is coming around the corner, a small woman still dying her hair blonde, a couple of shades too much towards brass, but her eyebrows are still dark; she would be helped by letting her hair go a bit lighter, it’s on its own trip already, headed nonstop towards gray. Wrapped in a big cloth coat, dark blue, with a pair of those brightly colored sneakers stepping out from under the coat folds when she walks; a vision in ordinary. Her face isn’t too bad but then again I choose not to look at it.”
“Ya got the envelope,” I ask.
“Yeah, I got it. I told you I would bring it. You think I’d haul my ass out here in this weather just to see you again? If I never saw you again it would be too soon.”
I bit my tongue. “You look good, Tina. You doin’ okay?”
“Here’s your fuckin’ envelope. Save your sweet talk for your whiskey bottle.” She held out a manila envelope, pretty dog-eared but I flipped it over and it still seemed scotch-taped shut. I shrugged and started to walk away.
“Thanks for the thank-you, shit-head,” I heard.
I didn’t turn around, I just walked away. I was proud of myself. In my old age I have learned something I never got down before: how to shut up. The envelope I stuck under my suit coat, it didn’t fit in a pocket so I held it tight against me. On the outside, in my handwriting from a long time ago, the ink slightly smeared, was the word “Lips.”
Lawrence Carter was up early, as usual. His terminals streamed Bloomberg and the market data. His I-Pad had the Journal, his cell phone was frozen on The Economist article about American economic decline in manufacturing. His lap-top was tied to his trading desk. Sitting in his shorts, one of the girls set down a mug of black coffee, Nairobi Dark, his favorite for the morning; at night, it kept him awake, but awake was what he wanted to be in the morning when the European markets were closing and the American markets were coming alive.
“Close the door, goddammit,” he yelled, not turning his head from the screens. The women his wife hired to maintain the household never had a clue about what he expected while he was working, and half of them didn’t even speak enough English to explain. Most of them thought any conversation was leading up to a proposition, but, between his wife and Lois, Lawrence’s dance card was full up.
From the hallway, he could hear Melissa upbraiding one of the kids, probably Larry Jr. who was always slow to get ready for school. “I know the feeling,” he thought. “The world will beat that shit out of him soon enough,” he mumbled to himself, barely audible.
He ran his slightly open hand back over his remaining wisps of blond hair; his forehead had a light sweat, as always when he was trading. His sharp nose was receding into ever-expanding pads of fat growing unwanted on his cheeks, out of which his dark blue eyes shone with transfixing intensity that so many found unsettling. His chin, cleft still visible although growing more shallow each year, framed his rounded mouth, a mouth that failed to reach out to his delicate ears but gave up the chase in a line just about at the middle of his eye-sockets. The Aruba tan was fading, he needed to get back under the lamp in the solarium for a few minutes but who had time these days? The market had returned to volatility, it required all his focus.
He scratched his balls through the slit in the front of his boxers, and went long ten thousand Microsoft and watched for the market to tick upwards into paydirt.
They found the Jet in a marsh out by Logan Airport in the late Fall. His clothes had pretty much disintegrated, and his wallet was gone, but the tattoo together with the teeth led to a positive identification. Larry had put the envelope in his home safe, the one for which Melissa did not have the numbers. Every once in a while he remembered that he wanted to read, to study its contents again, for old time’s sake, before he burned it or shredded it or otherwise made it disappear, but the market was still jumpy, who could figure out China, and then there was South America getting tied up in its own history, and he wanted to savor the experience. Melissa would be on the Island with the kids, he would light a fire, open a magnum of Ducru Beaucaillou, maybe the 2000, and relive those halcyon days when he was known as “Lips” on account of his quick patter, and he and Sonny and Louis and the Jet used to hang out in the Combat Zone and make money the old fashioned way.
But Lawrence Carter had time, yes indeed he did. He was making money, the Jet had flown away for good, Lois had agreed to the abortion and he had begun to work out, using the gym on the top floor for the first time since he equipped it lavishly five years ago. It was all good, ya know what I mean?
Then someone called, said he was representing Tina. “Tina who,” he had asked; he had no idea. “Tina, Jeff’s wife,” said the male voice, high pitched from nerves. “Tina, she married the Jet.”
A pause. Then, coolly: “Oh, yeah, Tina. Say, who is this, maybe we should get together and chat about this.”
“Bullshit on that. I don’t want to end up like Jeff did.”
Now Lawrence was really not happy. “Don’t know what you mean.”
“Yeah, I know you don’t. We’ll be in touch. All by phone. And we are recording everything, so you should remember what’s going down if you screw with us. By the way, interesting reading in the envelope, Lips. Glad Tina made a copy.” The dial tone went on for a long time after that, then the recording of the woman telling Lawrence to hang up and dial again.
Lawrence locked the den door, warning not to wait up, he was doing something with Singapore and there was this time difference. He had taken in a sleeve of wasabi rice crackers, a wedge of London Fog cheese and a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 15, no ice. This was not an exercise for wine, but for something a bit more powerful.
He turned the tatty envelope over a couple of times, then looked hard at the scotch tape sealing it. Yellowed, cracked, fragile, but you could see that it probably hadn’t been lifted off and then resealed. Of course, he had never seen the envelope, never knew it existed, didn’t even know if this was the original envelope. He had an idea what was in it, but perhaps the material had been opened, copied, and then put into this envelope with some old tape, or tape that had been aged by heat or by a chemical. It would be good to be able to have it analyzed by a police lab, but of course that was out of the question.
Then it occurred to him that you might open an envelope like this, with an overlapping glued seam at the bottom, without touching the scotch tape and the main opening at all: you might get the bottom open, slip the stuff out and back in, re-glue it and who would know? The hell, he thought, and took a letter opener, grabbed its onyx handle and gently worked it along the edge of the tape, which fell apart into splinters of stiff yellow plastic-like shards.
Lawrence used the back of his hand to whisk the cracker crumbs and a few small clumps of cheese off the desk-top, then for some reason he could not identify took out his handkerchief and half-polished the area before sliding the contents flat out onto the cherry-wood. He poured a third glass of bourbon and started reading.
Impressively complete. The notes were just stories, they could have been fiction, could have been about anyone. But the Jet had been pretty complete in his package. There were pictures; there were a couple of parking receipts, a cab receipt, and there was a small reel of recording tape that he had no way of playing; that could be a problem but if you had money you could buy any old thing you needed on Craig’s List or E-Bay including an old-fashioned tape machine, it would just take a little time. Did he have time? There was also a copy of the Boston Herald’s front few pages, the one with a picture of the body half, but only half- draped with a sheet. You could see Sonny’s shoes sticking out of the bottom, and on the ground was the sweater the Lip had lifted from the counter of Filene’s basement the week before – before the thing.
What the hell was the Jet doing? Was this a souvenir for his own personal Hope Chest, until he decided to monetize his memories with the only guy he knew who was solvent? Would he have planned to shake someone down with this, a couple of decades ago? Inconceivable; who would think that way, and who would figure anyone would be rich enough in the future—or even alive, for that matter, given how they were earning their dough back then?
How could he deal with this new caller? This was going to be delicate, over the phone; and he didn’t even know if he was being conned, which was worse than having to pay if they had the goods. And what would stop them from doing it over and over if it worked once? What was on the tape anyway, who had a tape recorder in 1980? There wasn’t enough Papy to answer all these questions and that was for sure. He was feeling hazy, not enough food to absorb the alcohol. No matter. Not an action item for tonight. Only question is, do I just destroy all this shit right now? Having it laying around sure can’t help me any, no matter what next happens. Well, not before I decipher the tape. What the hell am I looking for on EBay? Do I put in my own ad, doesn’t that prove something even if it turns out no one can produce a copy of the tape?
It was easier running hookers and selling horse, you just delivered the goods and got paid, there was no mystery. Who needs mystery in their lives? Who needs this shit?
Lawrence Carter restuffed the envelope, sealed it with fresh tape and put it into his private safe. The crackers were gone, the cheese was no good without crackers, the bourbon was mellow and smoked and only burned a little in the back of his throat if he let it slosh there for the moment. “The morning,” he said out loud. He was always at his best in the morning, and tomorrow at least the markets were closed so he would have more time to think.
Luis was sweating in his hands. He had never had perspiration in his palms before, not even when he was high or having sex or stapling dry-wall in a summer construction job. Luis did not like the feeling.
“How’d it go, whaddaya think?” he asked Tina. It was next morning and according to their plan, they were going to let Carter sweat until next Monday or Tuesday.
“How the hell do I know, you was on the phone.”
“Yeah, well it went fine I think. But I wish to hell I knew what was inside the envelope.”
Tina sighed. “Look, I ain’t one hundred percent sure but I know this much from back in the day: The Jet and the Lip were pretty wild, and one of their boys turned up dead after there was this fight, so I figure one of them offed the guy and because the Jet had the envelope I figure he was holding something on this Carter guy so it must have been Carter or at least he was there. I also think there was a tape recording in there; Jeff lifted one of those miniature tape recorders one time, he loved it, he kept writing memos to himself on the thing like he was some bigshot behind a desk, and I’m pretty sure I felt one of them tapes in the envelope there, so there’s that to tell him when he gets suspicious. Which he will. I don’t have any info but I betcha he’s the guy that done Jeff, or his people. This Carter, he’s a real rich guy but he got his start down in the strip joints and bars in town before they cleaned them up, he’s a real phony, name isn’t even Carter, it was something Italian or Greek like Carterino or Carino or something.”
Luis wiped his face and hands with a stained dish towel and rehung it on the oven door handle. “Ya know I don’t like this, this is real dangerous.”
“Ya think? I’m the one whose name we’re using. You, you’re just a voice. If this Carter is what we think, I’m the one with a major problem here, not you.”
“Oh, and if they decide to do something you think they won’t figure out it’s your husband making the calls? I’m in deep cover here, right? Bullshit.”
“Bullshit, bullshit, everything you don’t like, to you it’s bullshit. Grow up. I’m sick and tired of being broke.”
“We ain’t broke,” Luis bristled. “If it weren’t for your shithead son sponging off us we’d be fine.”
Tina sighed. “We been over this. I don’t wanna hear about my son no more. The idea is, we all get healthy, right? This guy’s got too much to risk to take a chance. He’s gotta play. He’s gotta play big.”
At about the same time Tina was mentally contemplating her future money, Lawrence was looking through his notebook for the coded name and phone number of that guy he had hired when the Jet started acting up.
Normie Pockets sat at a table at the back of the coffee house dipping a rock-hard almond biscotti into the narrow top of his espresso cup; the yellow crumbs floated in a thin scum on top, making it unpleasant to drink, but he liked how the warm coffee flowed into the cookie like into a rigid sponge. Normie enjoyed mornings because they were peaceful, he could kick back and think about things. The Italian soccer league gamE was coming on the TV in a half-hour, direct from Turin. That was good because Normie was not big into reading newspapers. He lit another cigarette.
“Normie, ya know ya can’t smoke.”
“Tone, ya know I’m alone in here on this shitty morning, what’s ya point. If some dumb paisan stumbles in here while I’m smoking and has a problem I’ll put it out.”
Tony snorted. “Yeah, someone from the neighborhood is goin’ ta be real comfortable telling YOU to snub it out, Normie. Let me know when that happens, I want to tell everyone about it.”
Normie’s cell rang. He picked up and said nothing.
“Mr. P, is that you?”
“Who is this?”
“My name is – uh, Mr. CL.”
“So I need to talk to you about something.”
Normie sat up straight. “Old business?” Normie did not prefer revisiting old business, anyone who wanted to talk about old business generally had an old problem, and Normie knew that sometimes old problems were messy problems.
“What? No, this is – new business.”
“Well, you know the drill. Tomorrow.” Normie hung up. A good call for a Saturday morning. Mr. CL’s fifty thou had been a nice deal, above market in the neighborhood but these Beacon Hill types had no idea what the market was, so you could sort of set your own price; particularly for repeat business, because, based on Normie’s sizeable experience base, for these guys repeat business really was somehow related to old business that had not quite been fully buried.
Tony clicked on the TV and came around to sit next to Normie. He absent-mindedly reached down onto the table and took a Camel out of Normie’s pack.
“Hey, Normie, where’s ya lighter?”
Sarah Greenberg swiped her stringy hair up her forehead; it kept slipping down and blocking her eyes and she was trying to concentrate. She had a guy out of the swamp from four months ago and she couldn’t seem to get any traction.
Sarah was the stubborn type. Back when she was married to the Asshole and teaching school in Watertown, that streak got her in a lot of trouble. The Junior High wanted math taught the way the State said to teach it so the kids would pass the test in ninth grade and then the State would leave the school alone on the theory that they must be doing its job. And at home it was no better; Sarah had the stubborn idea that Asshole should stop going to graduate school and go out and get a job so they could find a different place to live, maybe where the rodents were not so well established that the landlord had given up on dislodging them, pointing to the low rent as an explanation.
But stubborn was good for a detective. The Boston Police Department liked stubborn. Stubborn got cases solved, if they happened to be one of the small percentage of cases that the Police Department cared about. And they cared about citizens of Boston, when they turned up decomposing in shallow water. Even cared about the least of these, which means they cared about Jeffrey Redenheimer.
How did this shlub earn a professional hit? His last arrest was thirty years ago. Since then he had become a citizen. A poor citizen, odd jobs mostly labor, and he lived in a dive for sure and his ex had no kind words to say about him, but still, the guys he worked with, the people he worked for, said he was “solid” and brighter than he seemed. Of course, when Sarah first got a look at him it was not hard to look smarter, what with his eyes and half his nose gone and his hair, what there was of it, all intermeshed with that fishing line with the sea-weed mixed in.
The only interesting thing she had found in his room, aside from a surprisingly large collection of unredeemed pawn tickets, was a phone number stuck to the mirror with black plumber’s tape. It turned out to belong to one Lawrence Carter, a well-connected Boston Brahman with one of those early 19th century red brick houses with the curved front windows and wrought iron gates up on Beacon Hill. Carter had checked out pretty well; she had decided not to talk to him until she researched the rest of the facts, but it turned out there really weren’t any other facts; and then, the rash of rapes in the North End took her attention until they caught the guy and now she was staring at the file again, with the picture of the decedent and her useless notes, realizing she should not have delayed so long in talking to this guy Carter.
Another thing was the angle of the bullets. Two in the back of the head, entering the skull at a steep slope. The decedent was short, but how tall was the shooter? He would have had to have been about seven feet tall; unlikely. Unless the guy was kneeling, or sitting in a chair…. Possible but unusual. She had found a couple of other similar hits in the files, but both were a few years back; one they had tried to hang on this Polish guy, Norman Poduluski, he had been seen in the neighborhood a couple of nights in a row with no reason to be so far from home, but he ended up with a tight alibi on the given night and then he had faded from police view….
Greenberg began plucking the hairs from the corner of her right eyebrow; there were not many remaining, it was a bad habit, and with those steel colored eyes, wide apart and slightly popped and straddling a porcine nose and light olive skin, she looked a little like a flounder with one eye pointed up and the other hiding in plain view. The crow’s feet didn’t help either.
“I changed my mind.”
“Whaddaya mean, changed ya mind? I been spending the last week and a half watchin’ this guy. He’s a weirdo, doesn’t go out much but I got him figured now I think.”
“Well, I don’t want you to – do it.” Lawrence held the disposable phone tightly, hissing into it. The interior of the Lincoln was cold as hell, the weather had turned. The engine had been off for an hour while he thought it over, but it was too risky; he would pay the money, for now, and see if Tina just went away. If she became a regular problem, there would be time enough.
“Look, it’s your thing, I don’t gotta do it, ya know? It’s fine, just let it sit and ya change ya mind you can, ya know, try me again.”
“How do I get my money back?”
Norman paused, figured it out right away, and snorted into the cell phone belonging to a nonexistent Verizon subscriber named Ralph Ligouri. “We seem to have a bad connection all of a sudden, Mr. CL.” Norman smiled to himself for thinking up such a clever way to phrase it; and right on the spot also. “This is not your regular type arrangement with a deposit, ya know.”
Now a pause on the other end.
A short breath inward, a longer pause.
The, in a calm business tone : “I realize you have expended some — effort here and I am willing to pay for your time, but look, 75 grand for following a guy for a couple of weeks is pretty stiff.”
“Whoa, it ain’t the time. Let’s say it was even five hundred an hour, that’s only maybe ten thou of my time. But what about the risk I take? Why am I following this guy? We got a conspiracy here, that is what we call in my business a major crime, to conspire to, well do something.” Norman checked himself, he did not like specifics on a phone, even one that could not – theoretically – be connected to him.
Larry didn’t quite know how to complain to the cops or the Better Business Bureau but did not like being ripped off; he had to salvage something out of this.
“Okay, okay, we’ll call it a credit.”
“You asking to open an – account in my – store, is that it Mr. CL? You gotta be kiddin’ me. This is rich. Absolutely shittin’ me, right, you’re not serious, right? Cause you ain’t possibly bein’ serious here.”
“Dammit,75 is a lot of money.” Larry felt the swirl as the toilet bowl he was sitting in began to empty even faster, disorienting him as he swished around in ever-shrinking circles. “What are you going to do for the 75? Huh?”
Norman was loving it, a righteous shit fit from some rich guy who wanted his refund on a murder! “What am I going to do for the 75? I tell ya what, MR. CL. For the 75 I will forget this little incident here and not deliver my product directly to you, MR. CL. That’s what you get for 75.”
Larry rationalized the click as Norman hung up on him as a positive sign in one way—it was over for now, at least. That kike broad from the police was not a good surprise when she dropped by the house with her load of questions, but she had said she had talked to Tina, so this was no time to have a bad accident happen to Tina’s moron husband. What the hell is the Boston police force coming to, anyway? Chief Detective Greenberg! It could almost be a bad joke ….
The more Norman thought about it, the madder he got. He did not like CL. For the hell of it he felt like shooting Luis anyway, as a matter of principle! But then the cops might get CL who would have nothing to lose by giving up Norman at that point. Unless he took care of both of them? All that work, maybe he should think on it.
And what could CL tell the cops, anyway? They would first have to find him and then put him together with the thing before they would think to try to get an ID, which would be suspect anyway.
“Fuck him!” said Norman out loud.
In her own cop way, Sarah had not liked Lawrence Carter; he was too controlled. Rich guys on Beacon Hill who traded their own portfolio would have been nervous without reason, being dropped in on by the police. They would try to ask questions, try to get the connection. Carter had been smooth as butter, too conversational, too casual with his hand gestures. And he hadn’t even asked what was going on, which might mean he already knew? Not enough to get a search warrant or a phone tap, certainly. But maybe enough to spend a couple of days watching Carter.
Which she did. Which was easy. He didn’t leave his town house for five full days (and nights). Not so strange; but why did Sarah feel it was? She was going to give it one more day, when Luis was found in his parked car in East Boston with two neat bullet holes descending at a sharp angle into his skull.
After that, it was not too hard to get a warrant.
Tina took the cash from the savings bank, all $434. She took the cash in the jar, all $117. She took the money she had hidden over the years from Rico, all $4,918.25. She left the morgue, dried off her tears when out of view of everyone, took her one packed bag and went to the South Station bus terminal and bought a one-way to Lowell, where her widowed sister was solvently ensconced in her old wooden Victorian, long paid for by her now-deceased husband, who had left her with a neat lawn and several empty bedrooms formerly occupied by assorted children who could not wait to get as far from Lowell as possible. She knew a guy from the old days who made her on the cheap a social security card in the name of Natalie Carbone, her sister’s married last name, and a pretty good Massachusetts driver’s license that matched, with a watermark of the State Seal floating below the glossy surface, just like the real ones.
Meanwhile Norman called CL to tell him that the hit was finished and to make arrangements to pick up the second 75 grand.
“We agreed it was off,” whispered Carter, and then hissed “let me call you back, how dare you call me on this phone and how did you know where to call me anyway?”
“Oh, ya know, I don’t mind this one being on the record and ya know you arranged this so don’t try to welch out of this or you may find that breach of contract is not the best policy when you’re doing my line of work.”
“Fuck you. I’ll call you back,” Carter snapped as he hung up his house phone and grabbed his prepaid portable and dialed the number. Lou let it ring until it went to voice mail, and only picked it up on the fourth ring of the second call.
“You called,” Lou purred into the phone.
“Yeah, I called,” snapped Carter.
“Sorry I didn’t pick right up, when ya called back but I was on the line with my stock broker.”
Carter ignored the dig. “We expressly agreed it was off, you son of a bitch,” he spit into the phone.
“Nah, ya see, what we agreed to was that you were welching me out and I was personally offended and the more I thought about it I figured I’d just finish the thing and pick up the rest of my money, sort of teaching you a lesson. So, Government Center parking garage, just before the Bruins game against the Black Hawks, say 6:45, section 10, row B just like before. And Mr. Carter sir: I would not be late if I was you.”
Sarah saw Carter leave about 6:15 that night, wearing a Boston Bruins hockey jacket and a matching knit hat. Finally, he was leaving his house. She had decided not to use the search warrant just yet. Tina had skipped, and could not be found. Something was happening; better to let it play a while.
She had Tracy follow Carter, and the next morning she saw the fuzzy pictures of Carter talking with someone who looked familiar in the Government Center garage. Very familiar. And Carter returned to his house by 7:45; he never went to the game. It took the identification specialists from forensics about half a day to make Norman Poduluski, who had been off radar for years. Later that day, with search warrant in hand, Sarah made sure that the envelope finally caught up with Lawrence Carter.
Tina slumped over the table; it was 10:15, and the linoleum floor had been mopped and the settings for breakfast had been put out; folded paper napkin, coffee mug in beige, knife and fork and spoon at each seat, all twenty-some-odd of them. Her sister was making her pay for room and board, which Tina sort of understood; it was not like she had been civil to her sister for a decade or three; but waiting diner tables was not easy for someone with varicose veins and a major lazy streak.
The day’s Boston Herald had been left by someone on her last table. Before tossing it out, Tina saw a familiar face on the front page, and realized it was the detective she had talked to about Luis. Next to it was another picture, a photo of a handsome business type with thin light-colored hair and deep-set eyes, in suit and tie.
“Son of a bitch,” Tina muttered. “They caught my meal-ticket.”
A half- smile invaded her flaccid features, triggering a small cascade of perspiration down her cheeks. “At least I can move back to the flat,” she thought. “Wonder if they cleaned it out and rented it to someone else already.”
At about that time, Normie Pockets was sitting quietly in his black Buick, lights off, in front of the Victorian on Maple Street. He did not like loose ends. He sipped his cold Dunkin’ Donuts decaf French Vanilla coffee, chewed the curved lip of the paper cup, and half-closed his eyes. The broad better come home sometime soon; his sweat pants were beginning to run annoyingly up his ass. How late were diners in a shit-hole like Lowell open, anyway?