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"Yes, I talked to him. He'll cooperate one hundred percent.

He's out of his depth on this case and he knows it. He's got some good men, but no one with your experience and knowhow.

He'll take help anywhere he can get it."

"Is he working the Ellerbee case personally?"

"After the flak started, he got personally involved. He had to.

But from what he told me, so far they've got a dead body, and that's all they've got."

"It happened Friday night?"

"Yes. He was killed about nine P.m. Approximately. According to the ME."

"More than forty-eight hours ago," Delaney said reflectively.

"And getting colder by the minute. That means the solution probability is going down."

"I know."

"What was the murder weapon?"

"Some kind of a hammer."

"A hammer?" Delaney said, surprised. "Not a knife, not a gun? Someone brought a hammer to his office?"

"Looks like it. And crushed his skull."

"A hammer is usually a man's weapon," Delaney said.

"Women prefer knives or poison. But you never know."

"Well, Edward? Will you help us?"

Delaney shifted his heavy bulk uncomfortably. "If I doand you notice I say if-I don't know how it could be done. I don't have a shield. I can't go around questioning people or rousting them. For God's sake, Ivar, I'm a lousy civilian."

"It can be worked out," Thorsen said stubbornly. "The first thing is to persuade you to take the case."

Delaney drew a deep breath, then blew it out. "Tell you what," he said.

"Before I give you a yes or no, let me talk to Suarez. If we can't get along, then forget it. If we hit it off, then I'll consider it. I know that's not the answer you want, but it's all you're going to get at the moment."

"It's good enough for me," the Deputy said promptly. "I'll call Suarez, set up the meet, and get back to you. Thank you, Edward."

"For what?"

"For the scotch," Thorsen said. "What else?"

After the Admiral left, Delaney went back into the kitchen.

Monica had gone, but there was a note on the refrigerator door, held in place with a little magnetic pig. "Roast duck with walnuts and cassis for dinner. Be back in two hours.

Don't eat too many sandwiches."

He smiled at that. But they usually dined at 7:00 P.m and it was then barely 1:30. One sandwich was certainly not going to spoil his appetite for roast duck. Or even two sandwiches, for that matter.

But he settled for one-which he called his U.N. Speciaclass="underline" Norwegian brisling sardines in Italian olive oil heaped on German schwarzbrot, with a layer of thinly sliced Spanish onion and a dollop of French dressing.

He ate this construction while leaning over the sink so it would be easy to rinse the drippings away. And with the sandwich, to preserve the international flavor, he had a bottle of Canadian Molson ale. Finished, the kitchen restored to neatness, he went down into the basement to find the newspapers of the last two days and read again about the murder of Dr. Simon Ellerbee.

Shortly after midnight, Monica went up to their second floor bedroom.

Delaney made his customary rounds, turning off lights and checking window and door locks. Even those in the empty bedrooms where his children by his first wife, Barbara (now deceased), had slept-rooms later occupied by Monica's two daughters.

Then he returned to the master bedroom. Monica, naked, was seated at the dresser, brushing her thick black hair. Delaney perched on the edge of his bed, finished his cigar, and watched her, smiling with pleasure.

They conversed in an intimate shorthand: "Hear from the girls?" he asked.

"Maybe tomorrow."

"Should we call?"

"Not yet."

"We've got to start thinking about Christmas."

"I buy the cards if you'll write the notes."

"You want to shower first?"

"Go ahead."

"Rub my back?"

"Later. Leave me a dry towel."

The only light in the room came from a lamp on the bedside table. The tinted silk shade gave the illumination a rosy glow. Delaney watched the play of light on his wife's strong back as she raised her arms to brush, religiously, one hundred times.

She was a stalwart woman with a no-nonsense body: wide shoulders and hips, heavy bosom, and a respectable waist.

Muscular legs tapered to slender ankles. There was a warm solidity about her that Delaney cherished. He reflected, not for the first time, how lucky he had been with women: first Barbara and now Monica-two joys.

She, took up her flannel robe and went into the bathroom, pausing to glance over her shoulder and wink at him. When he heard the shower start, he began to undress, slowly. He unlaced his high shoes, peeled off the white cotton socks. He removed the heavy gold chain and hunter from his vest. The chunky chain had been his grandfather's, the pocket watch his father's. It had stopped fifty years ago; Delaney had no desire to have it started again, Off came the dark suit of cheviot as coarse as an army blanket. White shirt with starched collar. Silk rep tie in a muted purple, like a dusty stained-glass window. He hung everything carefully away, moving about the bedroom in under drawers as long as Bermuda shorts and balbriggan undershirt with cap sleeves.

Monica called him a mastodon, and he supposed he was.

There was a belly now-not big, but it was there. There was a layer of new fat over old muscle. But the legs were still strong enough to run, and the shoulders and arms powerful enough to deal a killing blow.

He had come to an acceptance of age. Not what it did to his mind, for he was convinced that was as sharp as ever.

Sharper. Honed by experience and reflection. But the body, undeniably, was going. Still, it was no good remembering when he was a young cop and could scamper up a fire escape, leap an air shaft, or punch out some gorilla who wanted to remake his face.

His face… The lines were deeper now, the features ruder -everything beginning to look like it had been hacked from an oak stump with a dull hatchet. But the gray hair, cut en brosse, was still thick, and Doc Hagstrorn assured him once a year that the ticker was still pumping away sturdily.

Monica came out of the bathroom in her robe, sat again at the dresser, and began to cream her face. He headed for the shower, pausing to touch her shoulder with one finger. Just a touch.

He bathed swiftly, shampooed his stiff hair. Then he put on his pajamas-light cotton flannel, the pants with a drawstring waist, the coat buttoned as precisely as a Norfolk jacket.

When he came out, Monica was already in her bed, sitting up, back propped with pillows. She had taken the bottle of Rdmy from the bedside table and poured them each a whack of the cognac in small crystal snifters.

"Bless you," he said.

"You smell nice," she said.

"Nothing but soap."

He turned down the thermostat, opened the window a few inches. Then he got into his own bed, propping himself up as she had done.

"So tell me," she said.

"Tell me what?" he asked, wide-eyed.

"Bastard," she said. "You know very well. What did Ivar Thorsen want?"

He told her. She listened intently.

"Ivar's done a lot for me," he concluded.

"And you've done a lot for him."

"We're friends," he said. "Who keeps score?"

"Diane Ellerbee," she said. "The wife-the widow of the man who was killed-I know her."

"You know her?" he said, astonished.

"Well, maybe not know-but I met her. She addressed one of my groups. Her subject was the attraction between young girls and horses."


"Edward, it's not a joke. Young girls are attracted to horses. They love to ride and groom them."

"And how did Mrs. Diane Ellerbee explain this?"

"Dr. Diane Ellerbee. There was a lot of Freud in it-and other things.

I'll dig out my notes if you're interested."

"Not really. What did you think of her?"

"Very intelligent, very eloquent. And possibly the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. Breathtaking."

"That's what Ivar said."

They were silent a few moments, sipping their cognacs, reflecting.