Carl waved a hand up, resisting an urge to use one finger, and rummaged in an inside pocket of his coat, the same U.S. Army field jacket the old man had noted the previous month. Jesus, he thought. It must have been him. Had to be. He pulled out a creased and slightly soiled business card, which he passed over.
"Call me, will you? I'm doing a story about Mr. Sawson and I'd like to give a good accounting of his life for the paper. Hate to just run a brief story. I'm sure he's worth more than that."
Townes took the card and retreated into the apartment, "This is all so awful," he muttered as he closed the door, and Carl went out to the porch. The crisp October air felt good after being inside the apartment house.
Poor Merl Sawson. Probably just a crazy dead vet. Their meeting last month? Just coincidence, that's all. Still...it wouldn't hurt to look at that list of names again. The old wooden apartment building was three stories, painted white, each floor an apartment with an outside porch facing the street. In this Hibernian town they were affectionately known as Irish battleships. He looked at the three mailboxes on the porch. Townes, Sawson, and Clemmons. He wrote down the names and stepped off the front porch, past two uniformed Boston cops. The older cop said, "They get anybody yet?"
"Not that I know of."
The younger cop tried to make a joke. "Chances are, the perp's out of state. He'll be as hard to find as a Kennedy 'fore the night's out."
The younger cop laughed, but the older one frowned and stuck his hands in his uniform coat pocket and turned away. The cop's name tag said "Mooney." Maybe he was one of the true Irish believers, still pining for that lost promise. Could be. This was Boston, after all, and even Carl sometimes still felt the faint stirrings of that old promise, an old promise he often tried to forget.
A man in a tweed jacket and jeans stood on the sidewalk, a camera bag over his shoulder and a 35mm camera in his hands. It was Mark Beasley, a photographer for the Globe who wore a beard that reached the middle of his chest and was nicknamed the Beast.
"What have you got, Carl?"
"I don't have much, but the cops have a dead man up in the second-floor apartment."
"You want me to wait around?"
Most reporters simply tolerated the Beast, but Carl found he liked the guy. He might have the charm of a bull sniffing around the entrance to a china closet, but he did get the job done and didn't treat his work as an impediment to a "serious" career as an artist.
Carl checked his watch. "Yeah, if you can. If there's a hole in the metro section, they might be able to use a picture of the cops dragging this guy's body down the stairs."
Another jet flew by overhead. Beasley looked up, camera in his hands. "Jesus, what a place to live in. Freakin' noise would drive me crazy."
"What noise?" Carl asked, oblivious.
"Typical reporter," the Beast said, grinning. "Wouldn't notice a naked woman in front of him unless it had something to do with his story."
Carl smiled back. "Typical photographer. Wouldn't notice a naked woman in front of him unless he had film in his camera."
He walked away quickly, past a faded McGovern for president sign flapping from a telephone pole. No neighbors were standing around, and he didn't have time for a door-to-door to get local color. If he was lucky he could make it to the Globe in fifteen minutes---if there were no checkpoints set up along the way---and have almost thirty to do the piece. Already, as he unlocked the car door and got inside, he was writing the story in his mind. It shouldn't be too hard.
The inside of his '69 Coronet was cluttered with old Globes, notebooks, and maps. The outside was light blue and freckled with rust. It was sloppy but comfortable and, most days, reliable. Today it started up after three tries. At the first stop sign, he saw some faded graffiti on the side of a liquor store. he lives, it said.
Reprinted from RESURRECTION DAY by Brendan DuBois by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 1999 by Brendan DuBois. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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