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"How many people read that column? And what proportion of them found nothing in it to object to?"

"A whole lot of people read it," I said, "and most of them very likely agreed with it. Adrian had something most of the rest of us lacked. Two things, actually. He'd played a role in Richie's little dance through the halls of justice, and he could probably find a way to feel at least some responsibility for the outcome. Maybe he'd passed up a chance to get Richie to plead."

"All right, it's speculative but I'll allow it. You said two things. What's the other one?"

"He had access."

"To what, the blunt instrument he clubbed him with? Or the rope he used to hang him from the tree?"

"To Richie. Think about it, Ray. Here's a son of a bitch they caught dead to rights for killing children, and he walks, so now he's free but he's a pariah, a fucking moral leper. And you're Will, a public-spirited citizen determined to dispense rough justice. What do you do, look him up in the phone book? Call him up, tell him you want to talk to him about the advantages of investing in tax-free munis?"

"But Adrian would have known where to find him."

"Of course he'd know. He was his lawyer. And do you think Richie would refuse a meeting with him? Or be on his guard?"

"You can never predict what a client will do," he said. "You're the next thing to a member of their family during the trial, and then it ends in an acquittal and they don't want to know you. I used to think it was ingratitude. Then for a while I decided it stemmed from a desire to put the experience behind them."

"And now?"

"Now I'm back to ingratitude. God knows there's a lot of it going around." He leaned back in his chair, his fingers interlaced behind his head. "Let's say you're right," he said, "and Adrian had access. He could call Richie and Richie would meet him."

"And not be on his guard."

"And not be on his guard. Adrian wouldn't have to turn up on his doorstep disguised as a twelve-year-old girl. You have anything beside conjecture to place the two of them together?"

"The cops might have the manpower to turn up a witness who saw the two of them together," I said. "I didn't even try. What I looked for was the opposite, proof that Adrian was somewhere else when Richie was killed."

"In court or out of town, for instance."

"Anything that would give him an alibi. I checked his desk calendar and his time sheets at the office. I can't prove he didn't have an alibi, because he wasn't around to answer questions, but I couldn't find anything to establish one for him."

"What about the others? Patsy Salerno was next. Another distinguished client?"

"Adrian never represented him. But a few years ago he had one of Patsy's soldiers for a client."


"Maybe it gave him a chance to take a strong dislike to the man. I don't know. Maybe it left him with a contact in Patsy's circle, someone who might let slip where Patsy was going to be having dinner and when."

"So Adrian could get there first and hide in the toilet." He shook his head. "It's hard to picture him walking in there in the first place, this Waspy guy chasing up to Arthur Avenue for a plate of ziti and eggplant. And how does he hide in the can, and how can he be sure Patsy's going to answer a call of nature? I'll grant you Patsy was of an age where you wouldn't expect him to go too many hours between visits to the can, but you could still spend a long time waiting. And Adrian wasn't a guy who'd blend in there."

"More conjecture," I said.

"Go ahead."

"Maybe he didn't try to blend in. Maybe he used who he was instead of trying to disguise it. Maybe he got Patsy's ear and set up a supersecret meeting."

"On what pretext?"

"A traitor in Patsy's ranks. A leak in the U.S. Attorney's office. A message from somebody highly placed in one of the other crime families. Who knows what he made up? Patsy'd have no reason to be suspicious. The only wire he'd worry about is the kind you wear, not the kind that goes around your neck."

"He could even let Patsy pick the time and place," Ray said. " 'I'll make sure the back door's unlocked for you. Slip in, and the bathroom's along the hall on the right.' "

"I don't even know if there's a rear entrance," I said, "but one way or another he'd let Patsy set up a meeting. And he'd make sure Patsy wouldn't mention it to anybody."

"So his identity gives him access. Same as with Richie."

"It strikes me as the best way for him to operate."

He nodded. "When you think of Will," he said, "you picture some Ninja gliding invisibly through the city streets. But the best cloak of invisibility might be a three-piece suit. I suppose you looked for an alibi for him for Salerno's murder? And I don't suppose he was fly-fishing in Montana?"

"As far as I can tell, he was right here in New York."

"So were eight million other people," he said, "and I don't see you accusing them of murder. What about Julian Rashid? How was Adrian planning on getting into the compound in St. Albans?"

"I don't know," I admitted. "Maybe he was working on a plan to lure Rashid out. I know he wasn't there when Rashid was killed. He spent the evening with"-I checked my notebook-"Henry Berghash and DeWitt Palmer."

"A judge and a college president? I'd say it's a damn shame the cardinal couldn't join them. I don't suppose the three of them wound up at a leather bar on West Street."

"Dinner at Christ Cella's, fifth-row seats for the new Stoppard play, and drinks afterward at Agin-court. A notation in his calendar, backed up with a credit card receipt and a ticket stub."

"That's just perfect," he said. "You managed to find him a rock-solid alibi for the one murder Will didn't commit."

"I know."

"You think he set it up that way? He knew Scipio was going to do it and made sure he covered himself?"

"I think it was coincidence."

"Because it's hardly incriminating, having an alibi."


"Any more than it's incriminating not having an alibi for the other two murders."


"But we've left one out, haven't we? The abortion guy. Except he'd hate to be called that, wouldn't he? I'm sure he'd much rather be known as the anti-abortion guy."

"Protector of the unborn," I said.

"Roswell Berry. Killed not here in nasty old New York but halfway across the country in the tele-marketing capital of America."


"You didn't know that about Omaha? Whenever there's an ad on a cable channel, a twenty-four-hour eight hundred number for you to order a Vegematic Pocket Fisherman CD of Roger Whittaker's greatest hits, nine times out of ten the person who takes your order is sitting in an office in Omaha. Did Adrian have an alibi when Berry got killed?"

"Yes, he did."

His eyebrows went up. "Really? That sinks your whole theory, doesn't it?"

"No," I said, "it's the closest thing I've got to hard evidence, and it's strong enough to have brought me here tonight. See, Adrian did have an alibi for Berry's murder. And it's full of holes."

* * *

"He went to Philadelphia," I said. "Rode down and back on the Metroliner, had a seat reserved both ways in the club car. Charged the ticket to his American Express card."

"Where'd he stay in Philly?"

"At the Sheraton near Independence Hall. He was there three nights, and again he used his Amex card."

"And meanwhile Roswell Berry was being murdered in Omaha."

"That's right."

"Which is what, two thousand miles away?"

"More or less."

"Don't make me dig," he said. "This would appear to clear Adrian. How does it implicate him?"

"Here's what I think he did," I said. "I think he went to Philly and checked into the hotel and unpacked a bag. Then I think he took his briefcase and caught a cab to the airport, where he paid cash and showed ID in the name of A. Johnson. He flew to Omaha via Milwaukee on Midwest Express. He registered at the Hilton as Allen Johnson, showing a credit card in that name when he checked in but paying cash when he left. He got there in plenty of time to kill Berry and he got out before the body was found."

"And flew back to Philadelphia," Ray said. "And packed his bag and paid his hotel bill and got on the train."


"And you've got nothing that places him in Philadelphia during the time that our Mr. Johnson was either in or en route to Omaha."

"Nothing," I said. "No phone calls on his hotel bill, no meals charged, nothing at all to substantiate his presence in the city except that he was paying for a hotel room."

"I don't suppose there was a maid who would remember if the bed had been slept in."

"This long after the fact? The only way she'd remember is if she slept in it with him."

"Matt, why'd he go to Philly? You'll say to set up an alibi, I understand that much, but what was his ostensible purpose?"

"To keep some appointments, evidently. He had four or five of them listed on his desk calendar."


"Times and last names. I don't think they were real appointments. I think they were there for show. I checked the names against his Rolodex and couldn't find them. More to the point, I checked his phone bills, home and office. The only call to Philly that fits the time frame was the one he made to the Sheraton to book his room."

He thought about it. "Suppose he was seeing somebody in Philadelphia. A married woman. He calls her from a pay phone because-"

"Because her husband might check Adrian's phone records?"

He started over. "He can't call her at all," he said. "She has to call him, and that's why there are no calls to her on his phone bill. The appointments on his calendar are with her. The names are phony so no one can glance at his calendar and recognize her name. He goes there and never leaves his room, she visits him when she can, and somebody else named Johnson flies out to Omaha and back, not because he's Will but because he wants to discuss investments with Warren Buffet."

"And Adrian stays in his room all that time and never orders a sandwich from room service? Or eats the mixed nuts from the mini bar?"

I went over it again, letting him raise objections, knocking them down as he raised them.

"Allen Johnson," he said. "Is that right? Allen?"

"Allen at the Hilton, just the initial at the airlines counter."

"If you'd found a wallet full of identification in that name in the top drawer of Adrian's desk, I'd say you had something."

"He could have it tucked away in his closet," I said, "or stashed it in a safe-deposit box. My guess is he got rid of it once he knew he wouldn't need it anymore."

"And when was that? When he got back from Omaha?"

"Or when he wrote the letter designating himself as Will's last victim. Or later. It would be nice if it showed up on a list of recent cyanide purchasers."