Many sat on a frigid park bench behind Ray-Bans, on a busy Logan Square. Runners sprinted by in sweats and cotton gloves, heading to the river to do the eight-mile circuit. Catholic schoolgirls from Hallahan flocked together, their saddle shoes and blue uniforms out of a bad porn movie. Business-people hurried by, heading back to the office after lunch at one of the neighborhood restaurants like Au Bon Pain, Subway, and Mace's Crossing. Mary could count on one hand how many of them would have eaten at the Four Seasons.
'It's freezin' cold, Mare,' Lou said, sitting next to her. Lou Jacobs was a retired cop who worked as an investigator at the Rosato firm. His thin hair had silvered like cedar shakes and his skin weathered from a lifetime of weekend fishing trips to Ventnor. He was compact, though trim and fit, with sharp blue eyes and a nose curved like a gull's beak. Lou and Mary had worked together on a previous murder case and had survived – each other. Mary, newly in charge, had called him and asked him to meet her here.
'I know it's cold, Lou. We bosses aren't bothered by cold. In fact, we welcome cold.'
'Gimme a break.' Lou shoved his hands into the pockets of a lined windbreaker, with a zippered neck. Underneath he wore a blue cotton shirt, knit tie, and corduroy pants. He liked to look good while he froze his nuts off. 'Mare, let me give you a clue. When I was on the job, I ran plenty of stakeouts. We always waited in the car, where there was heat.'
'We can't do that. There's no parking around here.'
'Plus if you can't bug the suspects or put in a tap, you have to get real close to hear them talk. Take it from me. I'm giving you the inside track here.' Lou waved a wrinkled hand at the curved grey building that was the Four Seasons Hotel, perched on the corner across the street. The hotel restaurant faced Logan Square, and the Parkway encircling it was clogged with traffic. This may be too much of a detail for a boss, but trust me. We're too effin' far away to see or hear anything.'
'I know that. I'm working on that.' Mary sulked behind the sunglasses. I'll have a plan in a minute.'
'Well, let's review. We came, we saw the girl, Paige, and the boyfriend hug hello, then we saw them go inside to the restaurant. Now we're sittin' here like ice cubes.'
'Well, what do you think we should do? We bosses do use consultants from time to time.'
'Thank you.' Lou nodded graciously. 'Now. This girl, Paige, she obviously knows what you look like. But she doesn't know what I look like.'
'Well, it's late and I haven't eaten yet. So, I suggest I have lunch, right now, at the Four Seasons.' Lou nodded, turning to the hotel. 'Maybe a nice, thick steak. With a beer. Imported, naturally, to go with my steak.'
Mary perked right up. 'That's a great idea! What a good consultant you are! You go in and listen!'
'Heineken would be nice.' Lou gazed at the hotel. 'Or Amstel.'
'You come back and tell me what you hear!'
'Maybe, for dessert, a little cappuccino. I like a little cappuccino with my imported beer.' Lou turned to Mary with a sly smile. 'I hear better when I have a little cappuccino, after my steak and my Amstel.'
'Go, already!' Mary said, giving him an excited shove, and Lou rose from the bench stiffly.
'Should I bring you a doggie bag?'
'Bring me evidence! Evidence to go!'
Lou muttered something and walked off.
Five minutes after he had gone, Mary realized she could have waited somewhere toasty, but by then it was too late to leave the bench. She pressed her legs together for warmth and huddled deep into her coat. The skyscrapers blocked the sun. Wind from the Schuylkill River whisked down the wide boulevard. Passersby looked at her curiously. She caught sight of Lou in the warm restaurant, being seated at a table near Paige and Trevor. She edged forward on the bench. Her butt was frozen. Her pantyhose formed crystals.
Mary watched as Lou ordered, then was brought a meal. She shivered as runners, businesspeople, and even the homeless came and went. She was cold to her contact lenses, but she didn't want to leave. This was her shot. If her theory was right, Paige and Trevor were conspirators to murder. She prayed Lou was hearing something incriminating.
She got up and paced to keep warm and kill time. She walked around until her pumps got caught in the grey cobblestones and she had memorized the placards posted for tourists. She learned that Logan Square used to be a site of public executions, that the Swann Fountain was named after the president of the Philadelphia Fountain Society, and that the three verdigris statues at the center of the fountain – man, woman, and young girl – represented the three rivers of Philadelphia: the Schuylkill, the Delaware, and the Wissahickon. She hoped that Lou learned something more useful, or at least, more interesting.
An hour later Mary saw Paige and Trevor pay the bill and leave the restaurant. As soon as they were out of sight, Lou got up and went after them. She couldn't suppress her excitement. What had Lou overheard? What if they were both in on it? She shivered, this time with anticipation, and trained her eyes on the hotel entrance. In time Lou came out, crossed the valet parking area, and walked briskly across the street and toward the park bench.
Mary stood up. Tell me, tell me, tell me!' she said, practically jumping up and down.
'Cheese and crackers! It's cold out here!'
'What'd you get?'
'A Caesar, to start, then I went with the Chilean sea bass, not the steak. For dessert, I had the chocolate chiffon cake with a decaf cappuccino. It hit the spot.'
'No, I mean, what did you hear?'
'What?' Mary was crestfallen. 'You didn't hear anything?'
'I heard, but they didn't say anything that mattered. They talked the whole time about nothing. He talked about his French test and his track team. She talked about Wu-Tang.'
'Wu-Tang?' Mary flopped down on the bench, dejected.
'That mean something to you?'
'It's music. A rap group.'
'Rap!' Lou snorted. 'Rap isn't music. Stan Getz is music. Or the Bird. Or Miles.'
Mary was too disappointed to debate it. 'So my lead doesn't pan out.'
'Don't take it too bad.' Lou sat down on the bench, tugging on his corduroy pants first so they didn't wrinkle. 'You didn't ask me where they are now.'
'Where they are now?' Mary looked over at him, then brightened. 'Where are they?' She checked the hotel entrance. They didn't come out. You came out but they didn't!'
They're inside. They tried to get a room.'
'A room?' Her mouth dropped open. She didn't know she was such a prude. Well, she kind of did. They tried to get a room together?' •,
'No separate.' Lou snorted. 'Of course, together.'
That's disgusting. They're way too young for that.'
'Not possible. Anyway, the hotel was booked and they didn't have a reservation. The room is beside the point, anyway.'
'It is? Why?'
'Because they're having sex in the cloakroom.'
'What?' Mary was astounded, but Lou checked his watch matter-of-factly.
'They should be done by now.'
'He's young. What can I say? We all go through it.'
Mary ignored him. 'How do you know this?'
'I followed them after they got turned down at the reception desk: I thought they were going out to the atrium but they took a quick right into the cloakroom. It's right off the main lobby.'
Mary sat back in the bench, appalled. 'Her mother was just killed. When does grief-stricken start?'
'Hold off on that. Mare.' Lou's eyes watered as he squinted against the cold wind. Sterling silver filaments of his hair flew around wildly. 'Look, if she were my kid, I'd smack her one. The both of 'em are outta control, you ask me. Rich kids. They think they're entitled.'
Mary nodded in agreement. Sometimes Lou sounded so much like her father it was scary. Mary decided that Italians and Jews weren't so different, except that Italians had even more guilt.
'It isn't good behavior, but it doesn't mean the kid killed her mother. I know, I've seen lots of victims' families. One father, when I told him his kid was dead, he just laughed and laughed. You can't judge by that. People show their grief in different ways.'
'Sex in public is mourning?'
'Yeah, for some people.'
Mary glanced at the hotel dubiously. 'Wonder when they'll come out. She told us Trevor had a class at three.' She checked her watch. It was almost three o'clock now. 'She lied about that.'
'Maybe she didn't lie. Maybe she talked him out of it.'
'I don't understand.'
'You're not a man. End of story.'
'Hmmm.' Mary watched the entrance, feeling torn. She wanted to see how long the two of them were there and what they did next, but she also felt guilty leaving Judy back at the office. She explained the quandary to Lou as she reached into her bag for her flip phone, dialed the office number, and left a message. 'She's not there,' she said as she slid the antenna down with a flat palm. 'So I should stay, at least.'
'Stay? In this cold?'
'You go back to the office. I'll stay here.' Suddenly Mary felt a surge of well-being. Dividing labor. Managing the case. Pushing old men around. Was this what they meant by empowerment?
'What are you gonna do here alone?'
'Watch when they come out, maybe follow them. Surveill them,' she answered, but Lou was looking at her, his eyes blank pools of blue in a tan, lined face. Either he didn't understand real police lingo or resented her empowerment. 'All right, Lou. You're the cop here. Help me out. Tell me what to do.'
'I'll stick around. See what happens.'
'Okay, good. I approve.'
'Like it matters.'
Mary smiled. 'I think you enjoy our quality time.'
'I think I got nothin' better to do. Plus I don't want you near that kid, the boy. I don't like him. He's a punk.'
Mary felt her suspicions gain strength. Lou knew this stuff. 'You think Trevor's in on it?'
'I don't know who's in on what. To me, the jury's out on the both of them. I don't know enough to make any conclusions, except that for kids with a lotta class, they got no class.' *
Mary didn't disagree.
Mary and Lou watched the entrance to the Four Seasons through two cups of hot coffee, three soft pretzels, and a hot dog with sauerkraut, which she had carted from a hot
dog stand in front of the Academy of Natural Science. At three-thirty, she switched to chocolate water in a white Styrofoam cup. There was still no sign of either Paige or Trevor, although Mary saw the entire partnership of Morgan, Lewis and Bockius leave a firm luncheon, laughing and talking. They'd had a good year. Again.
'Why does everybody hate lawyers?' she asked Lou, sipping lukewarm chocolate water. She kept her eyes on the hotel entrance.
'Because they can,' Lou answered. 'It's like that dog joke. You know that joke.'
'Yes, you told me that joke. The punch line is, "Because they can," right?'
'Right,' Lou said, though he didn't remember telling Mary that joke. He would never tell a woman that joke, and even though Mary was a kid, she was still a woman. 'Did I really tell you that joke?' he asked, to double-check.
'Yes,' she said, watching and sipping.
If he did, Lou regretted it.
Mary was giving Lou a pop quiz. 'Do you know what the three statues in the Swann Fountain are?'
Lou squinted behind him at the still fountain. 'Naked.'
'No. They're a man, woman, and young girl.'
'No!' Mary's teeth chattered. 'I mean, do you know what they represent? Beside the Newlins?'
The three rivers of Philadelphia. Can you name them?'
'The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria '
'Manny, Moe, and Jack?'
'Moe, Larry, and Curly?'
'Okay, tell me,' Lou said, after a time.
'It's them! They're out!' Mary leapt from the frosty bench when she saw Paige and Trevor materialize at the entrance to the Four Seasons, looking remarkably remote for a young couple that had just had sex in a coatroom. They weren't even holding hands, a fact that Mary couldn't help noting. 'See?' she said.
'I see 'em,' Lou said, rising stiffly and shoving his hands in the pockets of his corduroys.
'No, I meant, see, she shouldn't have had sex with him. He's not even holding her hand.'
His eyes were trained on the hotel and he squinted against the cold. 'What?'
'Look.' Lou frowned. 'She's takin' the one cab, he's takin' the other.'
'Oh, no.' Mary watched as the doorman retrieved a cab for Paige and Trevor helped her into it, then waited until the next cab in line pulled up for him. 'Where's he going? His school is three blocks away. What's he need a cab for?'
'Maybe he's late.'
'It'll take longer in the cab.' Mary snatched her bag from the bench. 'I'll follow him.'
'No, I will. I don't want you near him.' Lou hustled to the curb and hailed a cab that was coming toward them down the Parkway. 'You take her.'
'No, she knows what I look like.' Mary hustled in front of him at the curb and waved frantically at the cab. 'I'm following him.'
'Mare, wait.' Lou grabbed her arm in protest. 'Let me do it. You take her, I'll handle him.'
'No!' Mary said, and as the cab slowed to a halt, she lunged forward to take it, flinging open the door even before the cab had stopped. 'Follow her.'
'Mary, stop!' Lou kept a wrinkled hand on the door handle. 'This kid could be dangerous. Don't talk to him. Don't get close to him.'
I'll be careful. I'm not Judy or Bennie. You got your lawyers mixed up.'
'Hah! You're all trouble,' Lou called back, flagging the next cab, as Mary climbed into hers and took off.