"They let you sleep there?"

"No, but how are they going to stop you? She goes there during the day and catches four or five hours at a time that way."

"That must be awful."

"It's safer than a shelter, and a lot more private. Probably cleaner and quieter, too. She changes her clothes there, and there's a coin laundry in the neighborhood when she needs to do a load of wash."

"How does she wash herself? Don't tell me she's got a shower in there."

"She cleans up as well as she can in public rest rooms, and she's got friends who'll occasionally let her shower at their place. It's hit or miss. A shower isn't necessarily a daily occurrence in her life."

"Poor thing."

"If she stays sober," I said, "she'll have a decent place to live sooner or later."

"With a shower of her own."

"Probably. But you get a lot of different lifestyles in this town. There's a fellow I know who got divorced six or seven years ago, and he still hasn't got his own place."

"Where does he sleep?"

"On a couch in his office. That'd be a cinch if he was self-employed, but he's not. He's some kind of mid-level executive at a firm with offices in the Flatiron Building. I guess he's important enough to have a couch in his office."

"And when somebody catches him sleeping on it-"

"He yawns and tells them how he stretched out for a minute and must have dozed off. Or he was working late and missed the last train to Connecticut. Who knows? He belongs to a fancy gym two blocks from there, and that's where he has his shower every morning, right after his Nautilus circuit."

"Why doesn't he just get an apartment?"

"He says he can't afford it," I said, "but I think he's just being neurotic about it. And I think he probably likes the idea that he's getting over on everybody. He probably sees himself as an urban revolutionary, sleeping in the belly of the beast."

"On a leather sofa from Henredon."

"I don't know if it's leather or who made it, but that's the idea. In the rest of the country people with no place to live sleep in their cars. New Yorkers don't have cars, and a parking space here costs as much as an apartment in Sioux City. But we're resourceful. We find a way."

* * *

In the morning I deposited Adrian Whitfield's check and tried to think of something I could do to earn it. I spent a couple of hours reviewing press coverage of the case, then spoke to Wally Donn and checked the security arrangements they'd made. Whitfield had called first thing in the morning, but not before Wally'd seen a paper, so he'd known right away what the call was about.

"Let me get your thinking on this," he said, "since you know the guy and steered him over here, which incidentally I appreciate. We're basically looking at him in three places, the courtroom and his home and his office. In court it's a crowded public place, plus you have to go through a metal detector to get in."

"Which doesn't mean somebody couldn't wheel in a howitzer."

"I know, and this is a guy who walks through walls, right? Has he used a gun yet? He mostly goes for the throat. He strung up Vollmer and garroted Patsy S. and what was it the right-to-lifer got, a coat hanger around the neck?"

"First he'd been stabbed."

"And what's-his-name got his head chopped off, the black guy. Except that doesn't count on account of his own man did it. Skippy, whatever his name was."


"Anyway, no guns. The point is he's not afraid to work close, and he always manages to get the vic in private. Which means Whitfield's gonna have men around him all the time, but he's especially not walking in anywhere by himself. Like the john in the Criminal Courts Building, for example. That's where he got Patsy, isn't it? In a toilet?"

"That's right."

"His MO's all over the place," he said, "which is a pain in the neck. You're right about the abortion guy, he got stabbed first, and Vollmer pretty much got his head beat in, if I remember correctly. So the point is he's not married to a single way of doing it, which means you can't rule out a rifle shot from across the street."

"That's hard to guard against."

"It's close to impossible," he agreed, "but there's still precautions you can take. I got him wearing a Kevlar vest, which won't stop everything but it's still a lot more protection than he was getting from his Fruit of the Looms. For transportation he's getting an armor-plated limo with impact-resistant glass all around. He's got two men with him at all times, plus the driver who never leaves the vehicle."

He went on to run it all down for me. I couldn't think of a way to improve it.

"He's never the first to walk through a door," he said. "Makes no difference if it's a room that got checked ten minutes ago. Before he walks in, somebody checks it again."


"This fucker's spooky, Matt. 'The People's Will.' Thinks he's Babe Fucking Ruth, calling his shots and then hitting the ball out. And he's batting a thousand, too, the son of a bitch. This time we're gonna strike him out."

"Let's hope so."

"Yeah, let's. Personal protection work's supposed to be boring. If you do it right, nothing ever happens. But it generally doesn't come with front-page headlines attached to it. 'WILL TAKES AIM AT LEGAL WHIZ.' And everywhere you go with the guy, there's reporters and film crews, jokers sticking a mike in his face, other jokers pointing a video cam at him."

"Now you know what the Secret Service goes through."

"I do," he said, "and they're welcome to it. I never cared for Washington anyway. The streets go every which way, and the fucking summers there are enough to kill you."

* * *

I found things to do over the next several days. I saw Joe Durkin at Midtown North, and he made a couple of phone calls and confirmed that the open letter to Adrian Whitfield had been written by the same person (or at least laid out in the same fashion and printed in the same typeface) as Will's earlier correspondence. I'd assumed as much, just on the basis of literary style, but it was something I'd wanted to confirm.

Even so, I spent a little time looking for someone with a personal reason to want Whitfield dead. He'd been divorced twice, and was presently married to but legally separated from his third wife, who continued to live in Connecticut. Each of the marriages had produced children, and I remembered that one son (the eldest, it turned out) had been arrested two years previously for selling a few hundred dollars' worth of Ecstasy to an undercover police officer. Charges had been dropped, evidently in return for his rolling over and giving up his supplier. That looked promising, but it didn't seem to lead anywhere.

I liked the idea of someone with a private grudge. It wouldn't be the first time someone had concealed a personal motive behind the smoke screen of serial murder. Sometimes an opportunist would disguise his own solitary act of homicide to look as though it was part of somebody else's string-I'd had a case like that once, the killer used an ice pick and so did the imitator. And I'd known of cases where the killer committed several purposeless murders at random to establish a pattern of serial murder, then struck down someone he had reason to kill as part of that same pattern. It was a way to divert suspicion from oneself when one would otherwise be the first and most obvious suspect. But it didn't work, because routine police work sooner or later led someone to take a look at everybody with an individual motive, and once they started looking they always found something.

If this was a smoke screen, Will was certainly blowing a lot of smoke. Writing letters to newspapers and knocking off a batch of public figures was a long way from strangling a string of housewives so that you could wring your own wife's neck without being obvious about it.

But maybe he just plain got into it. That happens. The man who did the housewives killed four of them before he left his own wife with her panty hose knotted around her neck. And he went on to do three more before they caught him. I can't believe he went on that long just to make it look good. My guess is he was enjoying himself.

* * *

The good weather held into the weekend. Sunday it was supposed to rain, but it didn't, and by late that afternoon it was hot and hazy. Monday was worse, with a high of ninety-two and the air like wet wool. Tuesday was more of the same, and that afternoon I got a phone call that diverted my attention from Will for the time being.

The caller was a woman I knew named Ginnie. She said, "God, I'm so upset. You've heard about Byron?"

"I know he's ill."

"He's dead."

I knew Ginnie from AA. She lived at Fifty-third and Ninth and came to meetings at St. Paul's. Byron was a friend of hers, and I'd met him a few times at meetings, but he lived in the Village and mostly attended meetings down there. He came into the program because he couldn't stop drinking, but some years before that he'd been a heroin addict, and he'd shared needles, and shortly after he got sober he had the antibody test and turned out to be HIV-positive. You'd think people would react to such news by saying the hell with it and going out and getting drunk, and I suppose some of them do, but a lot don't.

Byron didn't. He stayed sober and went to meetings, and he took the drugs his doctor gave him, along with a nutritional regimen designed to strengthen his immune system. This may have done him some good, but it didn't keep him from coming down with AIDS.

"I'm sorry to hear that," I said. "The last time I saw him would have been in March or April. I ran into him at a meeting in the Village. I think it was Perry Street."

"That's where he mostly went."

"I remember noticing that he didn't look well."

"Matt, AIDS would have killed him but it didn't get the chance. Somebody shot him."


"Pointed a gun at him and pulled the trigger. Now why in God's name would anybody do a thing like that?"

Gently I said, "Ginnie, he'd be the one with the best reason."


"Maybe he did it himself."

"Oh Christ," she said, impatient with me. "He was in a public place, Matt. You know that little park across the street from his building?"

"I don't know where he lived."

"Horatio Street. Not the Van Gogh but the prewar apartment building next door to it. There's a little park across the street. Abingdon Square? No, that's the other one."

"Jackson Square."

"I guess so. He was sitting there this morning with a cup of coffee and the morning paper. And a man walked up to him and shot him dead."

"Did they catch the shooter?"

"He got away."

"But there were witnesses."

"There were people in the park. It was early, so it was still comfortable. It's an oven but there now."

"I know."

"Thank God for air-conditioning. Byron should have stayed in his own air-conditioned apartment, but he liked the sun. He said he'd spent his whole life staying out of it, but now he seemed to get energy from it. Solar energy. He said one good thing about being HIV-positive is you didn't have to worry about skin cancer. You didn't know him well, did you, Matt?"

"Hardly at all."