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"I was wondering about that," I said. "It seems to me it shouldn't be much of a trick to prove that the new letter was typed on a different machine."

"Well, sure," he said. "If it was typed."

"If it wasn't," I said, "he's got a funny kind of handwriting."

"I mean typed on a typewriter, which it wasn't, and neither were any of the earlier letters. They were done on a computer and printed on a laser printer."

"Can't they identify the computer and the printer forensically?"

He shook his head. "With a typewriter the keys'll be worn differently, and this one'll be out of alignment, or the E and O's'll be filled in. Or the typeface is different. A typewriter's like a fingerprint, no two alike."

"And a computer?"

"With a computer you can choose a different typeface every time, you can make the type larger or smaller by touching this key or that one. You see how the signature's in script? You get that by switching to a script font."

"So you can't tell if two letters came out of the same computer?"

"I'm not a hundred percent in the loop on this," he said, "but there's a certain amount you can tell. With Will's letters, the ones from Will Number One, they think there was more than one printer involved."

He went on to tell me more than I could take in, about ways in which you could compose a letter on one computer, copy it on a disk, and then print it out through another computer and printer. I didn't listen too closely, and eventually I held up a hand to stop him.

"Please," I said. "I'm sick to death of computers. I can't have a conversation with TJ without hearing how wonderful they are. I don't care about the typeface or the paper, or if he composed it on the East Side and printed it out on the West Side. I don't even care about the writing style. What's so different it jumps off the page at you is what he's saying."

"How do you mean?"

"His list."

"The original Will wrote open letters to the vies," he said. "This one writes to McGraw. Plus he lists three at once."

"Uh-huh. And look who's on the list."

"Peter Tully, Marvin Rome, and Regis Kilbourne."

"Adrian picked people society couldn't come to terms with. A child killer who got away with it. A Mafia don who got away with everything. A right-to-lifer who'd incited homicide and remained untouchable. A racist firebrand who, like the rest of them, had found a way around the system."

"And a defense attorney."

"Adrian didn't really belong on the list, did he? That should have been grounds for suspecting him in and of itself. Leave him out, though, and you've got four people who could certainly be viewed as public enemies out of the law's reach. You could argue that the small-W will of the people might very well be what big-W Will was carrying out."

"And the new list?"

"A labor leader, a judge, and a critic. They're right up there with Jack the Ripper and Attila the Hun, wouldn't you say?"

"Oh, I don't know," he said. He knocked back the rest of his martini, caught the bartender's eye and pointed to his glass. "I could probably think of a few people who might not break down crying if Send-'em-home Rome went to that great courtroom in the sky. The son of a bitch has made a career out of never giving a police officer the benefit of the doubt. He sets minimum bail or releases on own recognizance all the damn time, dismisses cases right and left."

"He's a judge," I said, "and the people voted him into office, and they could vote him out if they really wanted to. And one of these days they probably will."

"Not soon enough."

"What about Peter Tully?"

"Well, he's an arrogant prick," he said. "What's Will have to say about him? 'You hold an entire city hostage to your lust for power as you threaten to thrust a wrench into the machinery of urban transit.' You know, maybe Will Number Two isn't such a great mimic after all. I can't see Number One coming up with a sentence like that."

"Listen to his bill of goods against Regis Kilbourne. 'Your power over the Broadway stage is near absolute, and it has absolutely corrupted you. Drunk with it, you unfailingly choose form over content, style over substance, promoting the willfully obscure at the expense of the well-made drama with a story to tell.' There's more about how he'll criticize an actor for being physically unattractive, and how unfair it all is."

He thought about it while the girl brought his drink. "It's not just the exotic aspect," he said once she was out of hearing range. "It's also she happens to be gorgeous."

"You and Regis Kilbourne," I said, "placing an undue premium on physical appeal."

"We're both a couple of superficial bastards," he agreed. "Who the hell would want to kill a critic?"

"Anybody who ever wrote a play or appeared in one," I said, "which in this town would have to include half the waiters and a third of the bartenders. But they'd like to kill him the way you'd welcome a shot at Judge Send-'em-home Rome. You might relish the fantasy, and it might not break your heart if a piece of the cornice broke off a tall building and took him out when it landed. But you wouldn't actually want to kill him."

"No, and I probably wouldn't jump for joy if somebody else did, either. It's not good for the system when people start taking out judges."

"Or critics," I said, "or labor leaders, either. You know the difference between the two Wills? The first one objected to the invulnerability of his targets, the way they'd managed to subvert the system. But these three don't have that kind of invulnerability. Marvin Rome's not going to be riding the bench forever. The voters'll probably boot him next time he comes up for reelection."

"Let's hope so."

"And Peter Tully can shut down the city, but the governor can return the favor. Under the Taylor Law, he can lock up anybody who orders a work stoppage by public employees. Kilbourne's probably got a job for life at the Times, but he's likely to rotate off the theater desk sooner or later, like the man before him. These three are by no means invulnerable, and that's not what's got the new Will's motor running. What he resents is the power of the men on his list."

"Power, huh?"

"Tully can throw a switch and plunge the city into immobility. Rome can unlock the cell doors and put criminals back on the street."

"And Regis Kilbourne can tell an actress her nose is too big and her tits are too small and send her running in tears to the nearest plastic surgeon. If you call that power."

"He can pretty much decide which shows stay open and which ones close."

"He's got that much clout?"

"Just about. It's not him personally, it's the position he holds. Whoever reviews plays for the Times has influence that comes with the territory. A bad notice from him won't guarantee a show's dead, and a rave won't necessarily keep one open if everybody else hates it. But that's usually what happens."

"Which means he's the man."


"What man?' The man with the power.' Remember that?"


" 'What power?' 'The power of voodoo.' "

"It comes back to me now."

" 'Who do?' 'You do.' They don't write 'em like that anymore, Matt."

"No, and I can see why. He must feel powerless himself, don't you figure?"

"Who, the man with the power?"

"The man who wrote this."

"Let's see." He held the letter, scanned it. "Powerless, huh?"

"Don't you think so?"

"I don't know," he said. "I suppose that's what the Feebies would say if they did a profile of him. He resents the power others have over him and seeks to redress the balance by threatening their lives. Plus he wet the bed when he was a kid."

"Funny how they always tell you that."

"Like it's going to help you find the son of a bitch. 'Hey, the FBI says our guy used to wet the bed, so I want you guys out on the street looking for a grown-up little pisspot.' Useful bit of knowledge when you're mounting a manhunt, but they always toss it in."

"I know."

"Along with the information that he came from a dysfunctional family. Jesus, that's helpful, isn't it? A dysfunctional family, holy shit, whoever heard of such a thing?"

"If you came from a dysfunctional family," I said solemnly, "you'd wet the bed, too."

"And probably kill a few people while I was at it. It's all part of the package." He frowned at the letter. "Powerless and resenting the power of others. Yeah, I suppose so. It's a hard theory to argue with. But you know what he reminds me of, Will Number Two?"


"A list of pet peeves like you'd write up for the high school yearbook. 'What really pisses me off is insincere people, snap quizzes in algebra class, and lumpy mashed potatoes.' "

"Well, who likes lumpy mashed potatoes?"

"Not me. They make me want to kill the pope. But isn't that how it reads? 'Here's a list of the people who really piss me off.' "

"You're right."

"I am, aren't I?" He pushed his stool back. "The son of a bitch doesn't sound like a homicidal maniac. He just sounds like a nut with a hair up his ass."


The next couple of days were a three-ring circus for the media. Marty McGraw broke the story of the new letter from Will, with "WILL'S BAAAAACK!" on his newspaper's front page. Reporters hurried around town interviewing his three prospective victims, each of whom seemed to take the distinction more as an insult than a threat.

Peter Tully chose to see Will not as a personal foe but as an enemy of organized labor as a whole. He issued a statement linking the anonymous letter writer with the repressive anti-union forces as exemplified by the mayor and the governor. There was a wonderful cadence of old-fashioned lefty rhetoric to his words. You could almost hear the Almanac Singers in the background, harmonizing on "Union Maid" and "Miner's Lifeguard," songs to fan the flames of discontent.

Judge Marvin Rome managed to view Will's attack as an assault on civil liberties and the rights of the accused. The one time I saw him on the news, he was linking Will with prosecutors and police officers who were willing to call an end run around the Bill of Rights in order to railroad a defendant-"invariably poor, and all too often black"-into a prison cell. Will's threat, he assured the public, would no more lead him to compromise his principles than had the vilification he'd received over the years from DAs and cops and their lackeys in the press. He would go on dispensing true justice and tempering it with mercy.

Regis Kilbourne turned the whole thing into a free-speech issue, lamenting a world in which a critic might feel constrained in any way from the free expression of his views. He went on to say the worst constraints came not from government censorship or his newspaper's editorial policy, but from "those very aspects of oneself one tends to regard as emblematic of one's better nature." Friendship, compassion, and a sense of fair play seemed to be the worst offenders, tempting one to give a kinder, gentler review than the material might otherwise deserve. "If I have dared to inflict pain, to destroy a cherished relationship, to crush a perhaps promising career, all for the sake of a higher truth, can simple physical fear possibly sway me from my course? Indeed, it cannot and it will not."