The debate was just warming up when the police announced the arrest of Marion Scipio, a trusted associate of Rashid's and a member of his inner circle. Scipio (nй Marion Simmons; Rashid had suggested the change with a nod to Scipio Africanus) had broken down under police interrogation and admitted he'd seized the opportunity of Will's open letter to right a longstanding injury. Apparently Rashid's libido had not been slaked by his two official wives, sisters or twins or whatever they were, and he'd had a fling with Scipio's wife. Scipio only had one wife, and he'd taken this the wrong way. When his chance came around, he took the Senufo ax down from the wall and made Rashid a head shorter.

Will was so pleased you'd have thought he did it himself. His next letter, posted hours after Scipio's arrest and confession became public knowledge, restated the theme of his letter upon the death of Roswell Berry. The people's will had found expression. What did it matter who swung the ax?

* * *

And there he'd let it lie for the ten days or so since. There were other voices-letters and phone calls purporting to be from Will, but clearly not, a couple of anonymous bomb threats, one of which cleared a midtown office building. McGraw got a handwritten letter, "An Open Letter to the So-called Marry McGraw," whose semi-literate author blamed him for Will's reign of terror. "You'll pay for this in your own blood, asshole," the letter concluded, and it was signed with a large red X that covered half the page. (A lab analysis quickly established that the X was not in fact blood, but red Magic Marker.)

It took the cops just two days to pick up Mr. X, who turned out to be an unemployed construction worker who'd written the letter on a dare and then boasted about it in a saloon. "He thinks he's hot shit," he said of McGraw, but outside of that he didn't really have anything against him, and certainly planned him no harm. The poor son of a bitch was charged with menacing and coercion in the first degree, the latter a Class D felony. They'd probably let him plead to a misdemeanor and my guess was he'd get off with probation, but in the meantime he was out on bail and not feeling terribly proud of himself.

And the city went on speculating about Will. There was a new joke about him every day. (Publicist to client: "I've got good news and bad news for you. The good news is you're the subject of a column in tomorrow's Daily News. The bad news is Marty McGraw's writing it.") He kept winding up in your conversation, as had happened at least once that very evening, when TJ assured me that computers would ultimately reveal Will's true identity. There was, of course, no end of guesswork about the sort of person he was and the sort of life he was likely to be leading. There was guesswork, too, as to who would next draw his attention. One shock jock had invited his listeners to submit names for Will's consideration. "We'll see who gets the most votes," he told his unseen drive-time audience, "and I'll announce your top choices over the air. I mean, who knows? Maybe he's a listener. Maybe he's a big fan."

"If he's listening," purred the fellow's female sidekick, "you better hope he's a fan."

That was on a Friday. When he returned to the air on Monday morning, he'd had a change of heart. "We got lots of letters," he said, "but you know what? I'm not announcing the results. In fact I'm not even tabulating them. I decided the whole thing's sick, not just the poll but the whole Will fever that's gripping the city. Talk about everybody's baser instincts. You wouldn't believe some of the jokes that are going around, they are truly sick and disgusting." And, to prove the point, he told four of them, one right after the other.

The police, of course, were under enormous pressure to find the guy and close the case. But the sense of urgency was very different from that surrounding Son of Sam, or any of the other serial killers who had cropped up over the years. You weren't afraid to walk the streets, not for fear of Will stalking you and gunning you down. The average person had nothing to fear, because Will didn't target average people. On the contrary, he took aim only at the prominent, and more specifically at the notorious. Look at his list of victims-Richie Vollmer, Patsy Salerno, Roswell Berry, and, if indirectly, Julian Rashid. Wherever you stood in the social and political spectrum, your response to each of Will's executions was apt to be that it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. And now he'd set his sights on Adrian Whitfield.


"I'll tell you," he said, "I just don't know what to make of it. One minute I'm laughing over the latest Will joke. Next thing you know I find out that I'm the latest Will joke, and you want to know something? All of a sudden it's not so funny."

We were in his apartment on the twenty-first floor of a prewar apartment building on Park Avenue and Eighty-fourth Street. He was a tall man, around six two, lean and trim, with patrician good looks. His dark hair had gone mostly gray, and that just enhanced the commanding presence that stood him in good stead in a courtroom. He was still wearing a suit but he'd taken off his tie and opened his collar.

He was at the serving bar now, using tongs to fill a tall glass with ice cubes. He added club soda and set it down, then dropped a couple of ice cubes in a shorter glass and filled it with a single-malt scotch. I got a whiff of it as he was pouring it, strong and smoky, like wet tweed drying alongside an open wood fire.

He gave me the tall glass and kept the short one for himself. "You don't drink," he said. "Neither do I." My face must have shown something. "Ha!" he said, and looked at the glass in his hand. "What I mean to say," he said, "is that I don't drink like I used to. I drank a lot more when I was living in Connecticut, but I think that's because everybody in that crowd used to hit it pretty good. One small scotch before dinner is generally as much as I have these days. Tonight's an exception."

"I can see where it would be."

"When I left the office," he said, "after I got rid of those cops, I stopped at the bar down the block and had a quick one before I went and hailed a cab. I can't remember the last time I did that. I never even tasted it. I threw it down and walked right on out again. And I had another when I walked in the door, I went over and poured it without thinking about it." He looked at the glass he was holding. "And then I called you," he said.

"And here I am."

"And here you are, and this will be my last drink of the night, and I'm not even sure I'll finish it. 'An Open Letter to Adrian Whitfield.' You want to know the most distressing thing about it?"

"The company you're in."

"That's it exactly. Now how the hell did you know I was going to say that? That's the clarity of club soda talking."

"It must be."

"Vollmer and Salerno and Berry and Rashid. A child-killer, a mobster, an abortion-clinic bomber, and a black racist. I graduated from Williams College and Harvard Law School. I'm a member of the bar and an officer of the court. Will you please tell me how I can possibly belong on the same list with those four pariahs?"

"The thing is," I said, "Will gets to decide who's on his list. He doesn't have to be logical about it."

"You're right," he said. He went over to a chair and sank into it, held his glass to the light, then set it down untasted. "You said something earlier about leaving the country. You were exaggerating to make a point, right? Or were you serious?"

"I was serious."

"That's what I was afraid of."

"If I were you," I said, "I'd get the hell out of the country, and I wouldn't wait, either. You have a passport, don't you? Where do you keep it?"

"In my sock drawer."

"Put it in your pocket," I said, "and pack a change of clothes and whatever else will fit into a bag you can carry onto the plane. Take whatever cash you've got around the house, but don't worry if that's not very much. You're not a fugitive, so you'll be able to cash checks and use credit cards wherever you wind up. You can even get cash. They've got ATMs all over the world."

"Where am I going?"

"That's up to you, and don't tell me. Some European capital would be my suggestion. Go to a first-class hotel and tell the manager you want to register under another name."

"And then what? Lock myself in my room?"

"I don't think you'd have to do that. He followed Roswell Berry to Omaha, but he didn't have to do any detective work. Berry was right there on the evening news every night, throwing cow's blood on doctors and nurses. And you don't need a passport to go to Nebraska, either. My guess is if you leave the country and don't make it too obvious where you've gone, he'll find it a lot simpler to dash off an open letter to somebody else than to knock himself out tracking you down. And he can always tell himself he won the game by scaring you out of the country."

"And he'd be quite right about that, wouldn't he?"

"But you'll be alive."

"And a little tarnished around the image, wouldn't you say? The fearless defense attorney who skipped the country, rousted by an anonymous letter. I've had death threats before, you know."

"I'm sure you have."

'The Ellsworth case brought a whole slew of them. 'You son of a bitch, if he walks you're dead.' Well, Jeremy didn't walk, so we'll never know."

"What did you do with the letters?"

"What I've always done with them. Turned 'em over to the police. Not that I expected a lot of sympathy from that quarter. There weren't a lot of cops pulling for me to get Jeremy Ellsworth acquitted. Still, that wouldn't keep them from doing their jobs. They investigated, but I doubt they pushed it too hard."

"They'd have dug a lot deeper," I said, "if you'd gotten killed."

He gave me a look. "I'm not leaving town," he said. "That's out of the question."

"It's your call."

"Matt, death threats are a dime a dozen. Every criminal lawyer in this town's got a desk drawer full of them. Look at Ray Gruliow, for God's sake. How many death threats do you suppose he's received over the years?"

"Quite a few."

"He got a shotgun blast through his front windows on Commerce Street one time, if I remember correctly. He said the shooters were cops."

"He couldn't know that for sure," I said, "but it was a logical guess. What's your point?"

"That I've got a life to live and I can't let something like this make me run like a rabbit. You've had death threats yourself, haven't you? I'll bet you have."

"Not that many," I said. "But then I haven't had my name in the papers all that much."

"But you've had some."


"Did you pack a bag and hop a plane?"

I took a sip of club soda, remembering. "A couple of years ago," I said, "a man I'd sent to prison got out determined to kill me. He was going to start out by killing the women in my life. There weren't any women in my life, not at the time, but his definition turned out to be broader than mine."

"What did you do?"

"I called an ex-girlfriend," I said, "and I told her to pack a bag and leave the country. And she packed a bag and left the country."

"And lived to tell the tale. But what did you do?"