He could not remember having been this angry in all the time since his breakdown. Now and then he had been irritated by something or someone, but he had never allowed himself to feel extremes of emotion.


"I bet you were all for the war. I'll bet you're one of the people that made it possible for me to be there in the first place. It's easy to set standards of performance, select limits of right and wrong, when you never get closer than ten thousand miles to the place where it's all coming down."

Judge tried to speak, but Chase talked him down:

"I didn't even want to be there. I didn't believe in it, and I was scared shitless the whole time. All I thought about was staying alive. In that tunnel, I couldn't think of anything else. I wasn't me. I was a textbook case of paranoia, living in blind terror, just trying to get through."

He had never spoken about the experience so directly or at such length to anyone, not even to Fauvel, who had pried his story from him in single words and sentence fragments.

"You're eaten with guilt," Judge said.

"That doesn't matter."

"I think it does. It proves you know you did wrong and you—"

"It doesn't matter, because regardless of how guilty I feel, you haven't the right to pass judgment on me. You're sitting there with your little list of commandments, but you've never been anywhere that made a list seem pointless, anywhere that circumstances forced you to act in a way you loathed."

Chase was amazed to realize that he was crying. He had not cried in a long time.

"You're rationalizing," Judge began, trying to regain control of the conversation. "You're a despicable, murdering—"

Chase said, "You've not exactly followed that commandment yourself You killed Michael Karnes."

"There was a difference," Judge said. Some of the hoarseness had returned to his voice.


"Yes," Judge said defensively. "I studied his situation carefully, collected evidence against him, and only then passed judgment. You didn't do any of that, Chase. You killed perfect strangers, and you very likely murdered innocents who had no black marks on their souls."

Chase hung up.

When the phone rang at four different times during the following hour, he was able to ignore it completely. His anger remained sharp, the strongest emotion that he had experienced in long months of near catatonia.

He drank three more glasses of whiskey before be began to feel mellow again. The tremors in his hands gradually subsided.

At ten o'clock he dialed the number of police headquarters and asked for Detective Wallace, who at that moment was out.

He tried again at ten-forty. This time Wallace was in and willing to speak to him.

"Nothing's going as well as we hoped," Wallace said. "This guy doesn't seem to have been printed. At least, he's not among the most obvious profile group of felons. We still might find him in another group—military files or something."

"What about the ring?"

"Turns out to be a cheap accessory that sells at under fifteen bucks retail in about every store in the state. Impossible to keep track of where and when and to whom a particular ring might have been sold."

Chase committed himself reluctantly. "Then I have something for you," he said. In a few short sentences, he told the detective about Judge's calls.

Wallace was angry, though he made an effort not to shout. "Why in the hell didn't you let us know about this before?"

"I thought, with the prints, you'd be sure to get him."

"prints hardly ever make a difference in a situation like this," Wallace said. There was still a bite in his voice, though it was softer now. He had evidently remembered that his informant was a war hero.

"Besides," Chase said, "the killer realized the chance of the line being tapped. He's been calling from pay phones and keeping the calls under five minutes."

"Just the same, I'd like to hear him. I'll be over with a man in fifteen minutes."

"Just one man?"

Wallace said, "We'll try not to upset your routine too much."

Chase almost laughed at that.

* * *

From his third-floor window, Chase watched for the police. He met them at the front door to avoid Mrs. Fielding's involvement.

Wallace introduced the plainclothes officer who came with him: James Tuppinger. Tuppinger was six inches taller than Wallace—and not drab-looking. He wore his blond hair in such a short crew cut that he appeared almost bald from a distance. His eyes were blue and moved from one object to another with the swift, penetrating glance of an accountant itemizing an inventory. He carried a large suitcase.

Mrs. Fielding watched from the living room, where she pretended to be engrossed in a television program, but she did not come out to see what was happening. Chase got the two men upstairs before she could learn who they were.

"Cozy little place you have," Wallace said.

"It's enough for me," Chase said.

Tuppinger's gaze flicked about, catching the unmade bed, the dirty whiskey glasses on the counter, and the half-empty bottle of liquor. He did not say anything. He took his suitcase full of tools to the phone, put it down, and began examining the lead-in wires that came through the wall near the base of the single window.

While Tuppinger worked, Wallace questioned Chase. "What did he sound like on the phone?"

"Hard to say."

"Old? Young?"

"In between."



"Speech impediment?"

"No. Just hoarse—apparently from the struggle we had."

Wallace said, "Can you remember what he said, each time he called?"


"Tell me." He slumped down in the only easy chair in the room and crossed his legs. He looked as if he had fallen asleep, though he was alert.

Chase told Wallace everything that he could remember about the strange conversations with Judge. The detective had a few questions that stirred a few additional details from Chase's memory.

"He sounds like a religious psychotic," Wallace said. "All this stuff about fornication and sin and passing judgments."

"Maybe. But I wouldn't look for him at tent meetings. I think it's more of a moral excuse to kill than a genuine belief "

"Maybe," Wallace said. "Then again, we get his sort every once in a while."

Jim Tuppinger finished his work. He outlined the workings of his listening and recording equipment and further explained the trace equipment that the telephone company would use to seek Judge when he called.

"Well," Wallace said, "tonight, for once, I intend to go home when my shift ends." Just the thought of eight hours' sleep made his lids droop over his weary, bloodshot eyes.

"One thing," Chase said.


"If this leads to something—do you have to tell the press about my part in it?"

"Why?" Wallace asked.

"It's just that I'm tired of being a celebrity, of having people bother me at all hours of the day and night."

"It has to come out in the trial, if we nab him," Wallace said.

"But not before?"

"I guess not."

"I'd appreciate it," Chase said. "In any case, I'll have to appear at the trial, won't I?"


"If the press didn't have to know until then, it would cut down on the news coverage by half."

"You really are modest, aren't you?" Wallace asked. Before Chase could respond to that, the detective smiled, clapped him on the shoulder, and left.

"Would you like a drink?" Chase asked Tuppinger.

"Not on duty."

"Mind if I-?"

"No. Go ahead."

Chase noticed that Tuppinger watched him with interest as he got new ice cubes and poured a large dose of whiskey. It wasn't as large as usual. He supposed he'd have to restrain his thirst with the cop around.

When Chase sat on the bed, Tuppinger said, "I read all about your exploits over there."


"Really something," Tuppinger said.

"Not really."

"Oh, yes, really," Tuppinger insisted. He was sitting in the easy chair, which he had moved close to his equipment. "It had to be hard over there, worse than anybody at home could ever know."

Chase nodded.

"I'd imagine the medals don't mean much. I mean, considering everything you had to go through to earn them, they must seem kind of insignificant."

Chase looked up from his drink, surprised at the insight. "You're right. They don't mean anything."

Tuppinger said, "And it must be hard to come back from a place like that and settle into a normal life. Memories couldn't fade that quickly."

Chase started to respond, then saw Tuppinger glance meaningfully at the glass of whiskey in his hand. He closed his mouth, bit off his response. Then, hating Tuppinger as badly as he hated Judge, he lifted the drink and took a large swallow.

He said, "I'll have another, I think. Sure you don't want one?"

"Positive," Tuppinger said.

When Chase returned to the bed with another glassful, Tuppinger cautioned him against answering the phone without first waiting for the tape to be started. Then he went into the bathroom, where he remained almost ten minutes.

When the cop returned, Chase asked, "How late do we have to stay up?"

"Has he ever called this late—except that first night?"

"No," Chase said.

"Then I'll turn in now," Tuppinger said, flopping in the easy chair. "See you in the morning."

* * *

In the morning, the whispers of the dead men woke Chase, but they proved to be nothing more than the sound of water running in the bathroom sink. Having risen first, Tuppinger was shaving.

When the cop opened the door and came into the main room of the tiny efficiency apartment a few minutes later, he looked refreshed. "All yours!" He seemed remarkably energetic for having spent the night in the armchair.

Chase took his time bathing and shaving, because the longer he remained in the bathroom, the less he would have to talk to the cop. When he was finally finished, it was quarter to ten. Judge had not yet called.

"What have you got for breakfast?" Tuppinger asked.

"Sorry. There isn't anything here."

"Oh, you've got to have something. Doesn't have to be breakfast food. I'm not particular in the morning. I'll eat a cheese sandwich as happily as bacon and eggs."

Chase opened the refrigerator and took out the bag of Winesap apples. "Only these."

Tuppinger stared at the apples and into the empty refrigerator. He glanced at the whiskey bottle on the counter. He didn't say anything.

"They'll do fine," Tuppinger said enthusiastically, taking the clear plastic bag of apples from Chase. "Want one?"


"You ought to eat breakfast," Tuppinger said. "Even something small. Gets the stomach working, sharpens you for the day ahead."

"No, thanks."

Tuppinger carefully peeled two apples, sectioned them, and ate them slowly, chewing well.

By ten-thirty Chase was worried. Suppose Judge did not call today? The idea of having Tuppinger here for the afternoon and the evening, of waking up again to the sound of Tuppinger in the bathroom shaving, was all but intolerable.

"Do you have a relief man?" Chase asked.

"Unless it gets too protracted," Tuppinger said, "I'll stick with it myself."

"How long might that be?"

"Oh," Tuppinger said, "if we don't have it wrapped up in forty-eight hours, I'll call in my relief."

Though another forty-eight hours with Tuppinger was in no way an attractive prospect, it was probably no worse—perhaps better than it would have been with another cop. Tuppinger was too observant for comfort, but he didn't talk much. Let him look. And let him think whatever he wanted to think. As long as he could keep his mouth shut, they wouldn't have any problems.

At noon Tuppinger ate two more apples and cajoled Chase into eating most of one. They decided that Chase would go for take-out fried chicken, fries, and slaw at dinnertime.

At twelve-thirty Chase had his first Jack Daniel's of the day.

Tuppinger watched, but he didn't say anything.

Chase didn't offer him a drink this time.

At three in the afternoon the telephone rang. Although this was what they had been waiting for since the night before, Chase didn't want to answer it. Because Tuppinger was there, urging him to pick it up while he adjusted his own earphones, he finally lifted the receiver.

"Hello?" His voice sounded cracked, strained.

"Mr. Chase?"

"Yes," he said, immediately recognizing the voice. It was not Judge.

"This is Miss Pringle, calling for Dr. Fauvel, to remind you of your appointment tomorrow at three. You have a fifty-minute session scheduled, as usual."

"Thank you." This double check was a strict routine with Miss Pringle, although Chase had forgotten about it.

"Tomorrow at three," she repeated, then hung up.

* * *

At ten minutes before five, Tuppinger complained of hunger and of a deep reluctance to consume a fifth Winesap apple.

Chase didn't object to an early dinner, accepted Tuppinger's money, and went out to buy the chicken, French fries, and slaw. He purchased a large Coca-Cola for Tuppinger but nothing for himself. He would drink his usual.

They ate at a quarter past five, without dinner conversation, watching an old movie on television.

Less than two hours later Wallace arrived, looking thoroughly weary although he had only come on duty at six. He said, "Mr. Chase, do you think I might have a word alone with Jim?"

"Sure," Chase said.

He stepped into the bathroom, closed the door, and turned on the water in the sink, which made a sound like dead men whispering. The noise put him on edge.

He lowered the lid of the commode and sat facing the empty tub, realizing that it needed to be scrubbed. He wondered if Tuppinger had noticed.

Less than five minutes passed before Wallace knocked on the door. "Sorry to push you out of your own place like that. Police business."

"We haven't been lucky, as Mr. Tuppinger probably told you."

Wallace nodded. He looked peculiarly sheepish, and for the first time he could not meet Chase's gaze. "I've heard."