I slipped in the window, which had been left open for me. The crime scene had been processed; the coroner’s on-site prelim completed. The only person in the room besides me was Detective Sergeant Patrick Mulligan. I knew Mulligan – he was an honest cop who admitted that sometimes, a costume could handle things a uniform couldn’t. At the same time, I was not on the Boston PD’s list of approved people to call in, which meant that he wasn’t sure the PD could handle it. Or there was another reason. A call on the way over to my contact in the coroner’s office confirmed it for me.
“You came,” he said, his voice tightly controlled.
I nodded. “You called,” I replied.
He didn’t look at the corpse on the floor of the small but neat apartment. “The victim was a 28 year old white female; no children, no regular boyfriend, one living relative. Apparent cause of death was a single bullet to the jaw, upwards through the brain: suicide. The decedent did not own a gun gotten through legal manners; she did, however, have access to handguns.” He paused as I circled the corpse, looking at it carefully, then knelt down to look at the neck, below the ruined skull. Years of practice kept all emotion from my face.
“The coroner will find ligature marks on her neck. The gunshot will have ruined any chance of checking for petechial hemorrhage in the eyes.”
‘How can you tell?” he asked quietly, more subdued than I’d ever seen him.
“UV lenses. They show up in UV.” I turned to look him. “You were convinced this wasn’t a suicide even before I showed.”
He nodded. “It could be my badge if the higher-ups know I deliberately called you in. But I don’t care. Find the bastard that did this. Find the bastard killed my baby sister.“
I nodded. “I’m going to need more information, but now isn’t the time. One of my people will contact you and get the information.” I looked at the cooling corpse of Amanda Mulligan. “I will find them and bring them in. Not so you can finish them. She wouldn’t rest well if she knew you broke your oath to justice for her.”
He nodded, his eyes starting to fill. “I’m taking two weeks leave when I leave here. Milholland’s going to be covering for me. Bring it to him.”
I nodded, and left through the window. Mulligan was a good cop. I would find who did this, and there would be justice done.
Patrick Mulligan sat in the booth in the diner, drinking bad coffee and nursing a plate of eggs and bacon. This was the place, and the time. He had a dozen things to do before taking his sister’s body home. Where the hell was this contact?
Even as he though it, a black poker chip slid against his sleeve as a young girl, barely out of her teens, slid into the booth across from him. She had curly brown hair tied into a ponytail, and wore a pair of sunglasses, and was clothed in a black windbreaker and jeans. Pretty, but not overly so; clothing easy to blend into a crowd and hard to tail this close to the colleges.
“You’re the contact?”
She grunted, then replied in a thick Russian accent. “Da. I have list of questions to ask you.” She pulled a piece of paper out of a battered black backpack. “I have no idea what all this means. Maybe you should just fill it out.”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“I have drop where you-know-who will pick it up.”
He took the paper, and started writing on it. If this was how the Night wanted to run things… he trusted the vigilante enough to do it.
Marishka Petrovskaya slipped out of the diner, then around the corner and into a small alley and behind a dumpster. She checked to be sure no one had followed her from the diner. When she was sure she hadn’t been tailed, the sunglasses came off and a pair of slightly tinted eyeglasses went on, the fake ponytail was unclipped and stuck in a pocket of the jacket, and then she took off the black windbreaker to reveal a “PARTACEL! HERO OF THE ATOM!” hoodie, rolling it up and stuffing itinto her backpack.
Once on the bus, she rubbed her hands together as if she was cold, removing the white glue on her fingertips that hid her fingerprints subtly, then rolling it up into a small ball and putting it in her pocket. That done, Mellisa Flanagan took the notes out of the backpack and started to read.
No unexpected fingerprints, no sign of forced entry, nothing missing. Scratches on the inside of the locks showing it had been picked by someone trained but inexpert, so now they knew how he got in. The gun had been stolen six months before and properly reported. The coroner report wasn’t finished yet, so she’d have to check on that – bruising on the arm, maybe, showing that there was someone holding her arm when she was shot, and the toxicology report.
One of her phones buzzed with a text. She pulled it out – the phone associated with the number that Marishka used for messages, a phone that was modified to not have GPS. The message read:
Then she sat back and relaxed for the rest of the trip to the parking lot to her motorcycle, thinking through what she knew about the Chinatown gangs (the Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean gangs mixed due to pressure from the Russians and the Mob), and waiting for another text from another informant.
Stephen “Box” Bochsmann jumped a little. He was waiting, he thought he was ready, but still he got surprised when she showed up. (At least now he knew the Night was a ‘she’, as opposed to the androgynous appearance she’d shown when she first showed up, assuming this was the original one who disappeared for three years.) Then he realized she was waiting and decided it was time to answer.
“Uh, hi.” He had a folder in his hand. “This is about Mulligan’s sister, right? Yeah, you said ‘sister case’, stupid of me. Anyway. Tox came back with zolpidem in her blood, really high dose, and some traces in a glass in her dishwasher that hadn’t been run yet. No sign of sexual assault, mild bruising on her arms, and spatter analysis showed she’d been sitting in a chair, about five feet from where she was found.”
“Staged suicide,” the Night’s voice came flatly. She was using a voice distorter, he realized, but that was probably normal for her bunch.
“Yeah. Mulligan’s on leave. We’ve released the body to him to take home to his parents – they’re somewhere in upstate New York – and the Doc said not to tell him anything.” He shrugged. “I mean, implied in memos is not to tell you either. Milholland’s got his teeth in it, and I know Captain Costigan’s looking for an arrest quick.”
“I know. Is Milholland here?”
“Man’s living in the precinct until he breaks this one.”
Roger became uncharacteristically serious and straightlaced for a moment. “What’s your plan?”
“Find out who did this, and then give that information to Milholland. You people deserve to get this slime.”
“Good,” came another voice, and Detective Jason Milholland stepped out of the shadows. “The last thing I want is for this guy to get away because some cape horned in.”
“Well,” the Night replied after a moment. “I was going to try to talk to you later, but now’s a good time as well.”
Box watched them stare at each other, before he made a comment about having somewhere else to be and went back inside. They kept staring, and then both relaxed.
“That line about giving me the information – that helps. That helps a lot. Mulligan told me privately he’d asked you for help, and I was pissed, but he told me you were more helpful that most.”
She nodded. “I’m guessing you already know about her witnessing a shooting a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know if you know it was a member of one of the Vietnamese gangs, but I managed to track down information about that murder, and it’s fallout from Bac Guai’s arrest. Power struggle between lieutenants. The shooter was one of the Red Crane’s people, and the victim was from Lucky’s. I don’t know exactly who, but the old mahjong club behind the tea place on Tyler is where his people meet.” She shrugged. “I have some feelers out for exactly who, but no one’s gotten back to me yet.”
“Jesus,” Milholland replied, his Southie accent thickening. “You’ve got more than we do in Homicide. It’s a pain in the ass getting the gang task force to talk about anything. Fuckers.” He shook his head, then tapped out a Marlboro.
“They’re usually all there at midnight. If you can get the raid together, sweep up the entire place. Here.” She reached into a pocket of her coat and offered him some folded paper. “It’s all printed out there, so you can use it for an anonymous tip.”
The cop hesitated, then took it. “What do you get out of this? You’re handing it over to the cops, you don’t get a headline – you never really did, but hell, you’d think you’d want something out of it.”
“I’m getting it. A good man’s getting to see justice done.”
“Me and Paddy came up through the academy together. He is a good man.” He took a deep breath. “Hard to say, but… thanks. You gonna be there?”
“Just in case they have some extra help. Otherwise, I’m not getting involved. Like I said… this is a cop thing. It’s family.”
11:55 PM. A text from Milholland – how he got the Night’s text number, I don’t know, but probably Mulligan – told me that the raid was going down. I could imagine the screaming in the precinct from the Gang Task Force lead, and Captain Costigan almost literally slapping them all down. I was on top of the Chinese Masonic Lodge, watching the street and the nearby parking lot. With admirable efficiency, the police cars went screaming down Tyler, past the restaurant, and continuing on. Meanwhile, behind them, a dozen unmarked cars pulled cleanly into the lot as people watched the distraction cars go by. I tuned my radio to the police band, and listened in as they rushed in.
Sure enough, there was a second set on the other side of the block – on Hudson – and on Beach. Good. I could just sit back and watch.
…No. No, I couldn’t. I had my linegun in my hand, and I was tense. None of these bastards were getting away.
And as I thought that, one of them came out the front of the building, through the door of the shipping business just below street level, and ran across the street. No one else seemed to notice – there was a lot of noise inside, he was small and dressed in dark colors, and kept low before crossing – but I saw him.
Like I said: none of the bastards were getting away.
It was quick: I swung down, landed in front of him, and leveled him with one punch (backed up by an energy surge). My time in Russia had been fairly well spent, getting me even fitter than I was before and adding a few tricks to my fighting. One of the cops saw me, and came running over, then stopped when he got close.
“Runner?” he said.
“Yeah. He’s yours.”
He nodded, slapped the bracelets on, and called for help, while I returned to the roof.
Imagine my surprise to get there to find a man waiting. He was in his 50s, still fit, wearing a lit grey three-piece suit, and had a pair of glasses on just below the silver that crowned his hair.
“Captain Costigan.” He was not my biggest fan, but I wondered what he was doing here. Hopefully, not arresting me – I didn’t need that kind of beda right now.
“I don’t know what the hell you thought you were doing poking your nose in here, kid, but thanks. I’d been trying to get Gang to get their head the hell out of their fucking asses for hours when Milholland came in to my office with your ‘anonymous tip’. I beat it outta him, and then got this together. These goddamn motherfuckers were so intent on their fucking turf they missed the bigger fucking picture.”
Yeah, he was still in his heart a beat cop. Just a bigger beat.
“Good man deserved to see some justice done. That’s all.”
“Yeah, well, watch your ass. Some of these guys, they don’t think of you being much better than that nut job in New York. This might help, though – nothing official, yanno. But yeah, thanks. Here, you probably want this.” He offered me a card. I took it, read it, and nodded.
“Thank you, Captain.”
Two days later saw me in Rochester, NY at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. I held back, watching from a distance, as the ceremony completed, and the mourners dispersed except for one. He stood there for a half hour in a nearly-abandoned cemetery before saying “Hey.”
I slipped on the goggles and turned on the field, and walked over. “Hello.”
“I heard from Milholland you helped get the bastards. Pissed off Pignatelli, but that guy was always big on his turf with the gangs. Asshole. What are you doing here, anyway?” He finally looked at me, and noticed the bouquet I held. “Oh.”
I knelt, laid down the flowers, crossed myself (hey, raised Catholic) and prayed, and then stood up.
“I owe you,” he said, simply.
“No, you don’t.” I gestured at the grave. “I did it for her. She deserved so much better.”
“Yeah. Still. Thanks.”
I nodded, then walked away. I had time to make the bus back to Boston, and on the bus I could finally relax.
Justice had been done.