They both repeated his name, and the man said, 'Sorry, Commissario. I didn't hear your rank when you came in. I hope you didn't mind being called officer.'
'Not at all,' Brunetti said with a smile. They shook hands, and Brunetti stood and watched them until they had disappeared beyond the corner of the church.
When he returned to the place where the man had been killed, he found a uniformed officer standing beside one of the stanchions. He saw Brunetti approach and saluted. 'You alone here?' Brunetti asked. He noticed that all of the sheets and the few bags that had remained had disappeared and wondered if the police had taken them back with them.
'Yes, sir. Santini said to tell you he didn't find anything.' Brunetti assumed this meant not only shell casings, but any traces of whoever might have killed the man.
He looked at the enclosed area and only then noticed an oval mound of sawdust in the centre. Without thinking, he asked, nodding towards it with his chin, 'What's that?'
'It's the, er, blood, sir,' the man answered. 'Because of the cold.'
The image this conjured up was so grotesque that Brunetti refused to consider it; instead, he told the officer to call the Questura at midnight and remind them that he was to be relieved at one. He asked the young man if he wanted to go and have a coffee before the bar closed and then stood and waited for him.
When the uniformed man was back, Brunetti told him that, if he saw any of the other vu cumprà, he was to tell them that their colleague was dead and ask them to call the police if they had any information about him. He made a particular point of telling the officer to make it clear to them that they would not have to give their names or come to the Questura and that all the police wanted from them was information.
Brunetti used his telefonino to call the Questura. He gave his name, repeated what he had just told the crime scene officer, emphasizing that callers were not to be asked their names, and instructed that all calls relating to the shooting were to be recorded. He called the Carabinieri and, unsure of his authority, asked their cooperation in treating any relevant calls they might receive with the same discretion, and when the maresciallo agreed, asked if they would record their calls as well. The maresciallo observed he was very doubtful that any information would be volunteered by the vu cumprà but nevertheless agreed to do so.
There seemed little else for Brunetti to do, so he wished the young officer a good evening, hoped it would get no colder, and, having decided it would be faster to walk, turned towards Rialto and home.
Copyright © 2005 by Donna Leon and Diogenes Verlag AG Zurich. Reprinted with permission from Grove Atlantic, Inc. All rights reserved.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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