chapter four – prove it (just the facts)


This is the exact testimony of P. David Peterson (known throughout u-town as "Pete") regarding the night in question.

There are some discrepancies between his version and some others (see Appendix II). Regarding these, Mr. Peterson wants to emphasize that he has very exact and detailed notes.

It was the night of:

Mr. Peterson wishes to emphasize that nothing weird, inexplicable or apparently magical will happen in this chapter.

Episode One: 3:30pm

Pete sometimes called his apartment his "office," because that was mostly what went on there.

He sat on the edge of the flattened mattress in the corner, scratching his puny chest. He looked out the window, wondering what time it was.

Wrapping his tattered bathrobe around himself, he got up and went to the stove, where there was always a pot of coffee warming. He poured himself a cup, spooning in sugar. He still missed having milk, but there was no way to get any without traveling to the other side of the river.

He looked over the set list for that night's gig again. Henshaw was adamant, but Pete knew the set wouldn't work the way it was set up. When you structure a set, you have to assume it's at least possible you'll be able to finish it.

"I wonder if it will really happen," she said quietly, swinging her pale legs over the side of the mattress.

"You fo' it or agin it?" he asked, not looking around.

She stood up, pulled on her underwear and went into the tiny bathroom. From around the corner, he heard her say, "I want it to happen. How can you even ask?"

He turned as she flushed the toilet and came out again. She rooted in the pile of clothes for her bra, which she put on as he stood by the stove, sipping his coffee.

She wasn't looking at him, and he pulled his robe tighter around him. He suddenly had the idea that she was embarrassed to get dressed with him watching her that closely, but that was silly.

The obvious answer to why her motives might be suspect was right in front of them, but neither of them mentioned it.

She finished dressing and walked to the door without speaking. She opened the door, then turned. "I'll half-see you later," she said.

He nodded. "Half-see you later," he said quietly as she closed the door behind her. He went over to make sure the door was locked, then moved to the bed and started to get dressed.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Two: 4:30pm

The window slid up noiselessly and a freckled face poked in, wiping long red hair out of his face.

"Is the coast clear?" he whispered with exaggerated secrecy, his eyes wide.

Pete snorted. "Fine, she's long gone. Where were you hiding?"

Carl climbed in, his long arms and legs moving smoothly through the narrow window. "Up on the roof, as the song goes. Any news about tonight?"

Pete shrugged. "I haven't heard. We won't get to do a sound check, but we should still get over there pretty early. I'm worried about the equipment, for one thing. Too many people around with empty pockets."

Carl sat tailor fashion on the mattress in the corner of the room and pulled a small plastic bag from one of the pockets in his denim vest. He started to roll a joint.

"We're going to have to make tonight count," he said slowly, his concentration obviously more on the project his fingers were engaged in than on what he was saying. "There may not be a lot more chances to get away with this."

Pete nodded, and poured himself more coffee.

Carl lit the joint and took a huge hit. He held it, then let it out slowly. He looked his roommate in the eye for the first time since he came into the room. "Do you know what you're doing?"

Pete sipped his coffee. "I think so," he said slowly.

Carl shook his head. "Well, it sure as hell doesn't look like it."

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Three: 5:30pm

Pete was the first one there.

Charley the sound man squatted on the stage, testing microphone cables. Donna the bartender was sitting on a bar stool, obviously half asleep. The cigarette dangling limply between her fingers wasn't lit.

Frances was examining her face critically in a broken piece of mirror.

The place looked old and worn in the harsh glare of the work lights. Pete wondered if he looked as pale and sickly as everyone else.

He wished he had a radio to listen to while he waited. He had a small portable hidden at home that he used to listen to the news. Batteries were very hard to find these days, so he used his sparingly, but he did like to listen at least once a day to find out what was going on in the outside world. But he never used it when Jenny was there. She hated to listen to the news.

The street door opened and Henshaw walked in briskly, Jenny Owens a few feet behind him. Her face was rigid. She didn't even glance at Pete, she just stormed past and towards the back of the bar, where the bathrooms were.

Henshaw came up and clapped Pete on the back. "I spoke to Eddy," Pete said. "He thinks a sound check would be too risky. This morning will have to be enough."

Henshaw shrugged, rubbing his hands together. "We'll be fine. If we were any more ready for this we'd pass out."

"Yeah, and Charley's done sound for us before. He knows what we need."

"I hope he can tape it," Henshaw said.

Frances came up and asked, "You guys want a drink?"

Henshaw shook his head. "Too early for me. I'm so nervous, if I open up the bar this early, I'll end up playing on the floor."

"Do you have any coffee?" Pete asked.

Henshaw nodded. "That would be fine for me, too."

Frances went behind the bar.

Henshaw sat on one of the bar stools and tapped the side of his foot against the bar rail. "Is Carl here yet?"

Pete snorted. "He was still smoking reefer and brushing his hair when I left the apartment. Then he had about ten girls to call to get them to come tonight. If each one buys him one drink, we'll have to get another drummer."

Henshaw laughed a small laugh as Jenny Owens came back. She slipped into the crook of Henshaw's arm and squeezed him. "Hullo, Pete," she said quietly, looking at the floor.

"Hello," Pete said quietly, and she disengaged from Henshaw and moved across to the stage. She sat on the edge, looking out across the empty tables.

"I wish you and Carl weren't so cold to Herself," Henshaw said quietly.

"Carl is cold," Pete said quietly, turning away from the stage. "I'm just cautious."

Henshaw shrugged as Frances brought over two cups of coffee.

Henshaw took his without looking at her, sipped it and then made a face. He didn't say anything, though, just sipped it as Pete sat down, wondering what would happen between then and the gig. Always so many hours to fill before you could actually play.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Four: 6:30pm

Pete was making some notes on a scrap of paper he had scrounged from behind the bar when the door opened and Carl came in. He came over the table and plopped into the chair next to Pete.

"What's going on?" he asked, looking around.

Pete shrugged. "Just waiting. Henshaw and I stashed the equipment in the basement in case the cops come in. We'll bring it back up later on, maybe around nine o'clock."

Carl nodded. "Good idea. Is our fearless leader around?"

"Somewhere. He and Owens were having a row backstage before."

Carl laughed, leaning back in his chair. "Too much fussin' and fightin' there, my friend. El jefe should make some other arrangements for his needs." He looked over his shoulder towards the bar. "Might even be some possibilities right here on the premises. I don't see why he—" Carl spotted Henshaw coming from the rear, running his fingers through his curly hair. Carl winked at Pete and held a finger to his lips as Henshaw sat down.

Henshaw ignored this. Carl laughed again and reached in the pocket of his denim jacket. He pulled out a few sheets of folded paper and handed them to Henshaw, who looked at them blankly.

"New lyrics, son," Carl said happily. "Slap some tunes on them and we'll try 'em at the next practice."

He got up and strolled over to the bar as Henshaw read. Pete waited a minute and then asked, "How are they?"

Henshaw put them carefully in the inside pocket of his leather jacket and leaned back in his chair, looking at the ceiling. "I don't know how he does it," he said quietly.

Carl leaned over the bar, trying to catch the eye of Donna, the bartender. She was ignoring him. He leaned over further and started to croon Richie Valens' "Oh, Donna."

Without looking, Donna said, "Forget it, Carl."

Carl laughed and came back to the table. He sat down again, then started singing "Donna, the Prima Donna." Pete joined in, the two of them singing the background part with great verve (though somewhat questionable pitch) until Henshaw finally picked up the main melody.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Five: 10:45pm

Pete was sitting at the end of the bar, in a corner behind the jukebox. He was trying to make some notes, but he was having trouble concentrating. He pulled a dented cigarette from his pocket and lit it.

Not that there had been any problems.

Suddenly he heard running footsteps outside, and the door opened. He leaned back and craned his neck around to see the front door past the edge of the jukebox.

It was Fifteen, one of the band's roadies, talking excitedly to Frances. Pete got to his feet and walked over to them as Fifteen said, "I ran when the shooting started. The—"

"Shooting?" Pete asked.

Frances turned and he was momentarily disoriented by her face paint. "Some big doings at Duffy's. Cops . . ." She stopped and gestured at Fifteen. "You tell it."

He drew in a deep breath, aware that he had his audience's full attention. "I was on the corner of White and Frazee, doing some decorating. It was quiet as can be, then this guy runs around the corner from Franklin, coming from the hill, and runs into Duffy's."

"What did he look like?" Pete asked.

"I don't know. Big guy, blond hair, dressed in old clothes. The cops were almost on top of him, two cars full of them, and most of them ran in after him. Then there was a lot of shooting, and it wasn't all the cops."

"How do you know?" Pete asked.

Fifteen shrugged. "I heard a shotgun. None of the cops were carrying shotguns."

Pete nodded. "Indeed," he said. "Then what?"

Fifteen shrugged again. "I was gone, then. I don't stick around when there's shooting. I need a hole in my head like–" He cocked his hand into a gun and held a forefinger to his temple.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Six: 11:15pm

They were necking with their leather jackets on. Pete glanced in as he and Fifteen passed the kitchen. Jenny Owens was sitting on the edge of the sink, her strong thighs wrapped around Henshaw's waist as she kissed him.

Pete pushed open the rear doors. He looked out. "When you get the cabinet, you guys bring it in through here. I don't want to bring any more stuff in through the front."

Fifteen nodded and jumped off the sill down to the ground, which was covered with garbage. "Got it," he said, pulling his bandanna up over his mouth and nose. "Be back soon." Pete watched him run down the alley towards the street, then closed the door again.

Walking back to the front, he had two quick mental images of Jennifer Owens from earlier in the afternoon, one tender and one erotic. He shook his head, deciding not to think about either.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Seven: 11:30pm

Pete and his friend Chet were sitting at a table, drinking beers and talking. The club was starting to fill up. Word always got around, though Pete could never figure out how.

"You like Nelson's stuff?" Chet asked. They had been talking about novelist Perry Nelson's plans to go to war-torn Bellona.

Pete looked uncharacteristically sheepish.

"What?" Chet asked, leaning forward.

"I have all of his books, two of them autographed. I even wrote him a letter once, saying he should consider that what was going on here in u-town was at least as important as what's happening in Bellona."

"You get an answer?"

Pete shook his head, laughing. "Probably some flunky read it and threw it out immediately. I doubt if Perry Nelson reads his own mail."

Henshaw and Jenny Owens walked by quickly, headed for the door.

Carl came over, planted a big juicy kiss on Chet's forehead and said, "C'mon, P. David. Time to set the stage."

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Eight: 12:10am

With Fifteen and Drone, the two roadies, it hadn't taken very long to get the equipment set up again. Carl was still tapping various drums, tuning them according to his own personal system, and Pete was tuning Henshaw's guitar.

Pete checked his watch again. He was starting to wonder where Henshaw was. He and Jenny Owens hadn't been gone that long, but with those two anything was possible. Pete wished they would get back, even if they might bring some rough weather.

He looked over his shoulder at Carl. "I'm surprised the Jinx haven't shown up yet."

Carl shook his head, starting to break out his stash on the head of his floor tom. "Henshaw had deep talks with Dr L. this afternoon, and he asked them not to come."

Pete looked up, surprised. "Why?"

"They're a magnet for the cops. If they show up, we probably won't make it past the first song." He started to roll a joint. "Dr. Lee wasn't happy, but she had to admit that he's right. They're trying to set up something else, something legal for next month. Don't hold your breath." He nodded his head towards the edge of stage and Pete turned.

It was Paris, a young man Pete had met before. "Hey, Pete," he said. "Donna said you might know where the dance is going to be tonight."

Pete nodded. "Just got the word from the Drone. It's in the basement of Finster's. The entrance is on Tremont. So, you're not going to stay and see the set?"

Paris looked at the stage as though he was only then becoming aware of the equipment. He shook his head. "No, sorry." Then he grinned. "I'm conducting two tourists around, and they'd rather do something fun."

Pete shook his head. "Well, if they get sick of boom-boom-boom, bring them back here."

Paris walked off and moved to Chet's table, where he collected a tall woman in a suit and a very tiny girl in a leather jacket. As they moved to the door, Pete realized that they were the women from the Duffy's shoot-out that Fifteen and Chet had told him about, but by then it was too late to catch their attention before they were out the door.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Nine: 12:30am

Henshaw came over to Chet's table and sat down heavily. He was a mess, his black shirt and jeans torn and dirty, his lip split. "Shall I guess?" Pete asked.

"It wouldn't be hard. We had a fight. I started it, I guess, but it was her fault. We were walking around, just talking. You know what it can be like, walking with her." His voice was flat, thin and raspy. He ran his fingers through his hair. "There's something about that woman when there's a little chill in the air and there's nobody else around. I defy you to see her under a street light and not be moved."

"Sounds idyllic," Pete said, obviously trying to get the story moving. Chet got up and went to the bar for another drink.

"But she had to fuck it up. She made some stupid crack and there we were, just two people who goddamn well knew better. Jesus, I hate her when she drinks. Anyway, I told her to shut up. She said something snotty and I belted her. Should have known better, she was trained by experts. Beat the shit out of me."

There was an eerie wail from outside, and people turned to look, but of course the windows were all painted black. The sound faded away.

CJ came over and planted one boot on the rung of Henshaw's chair. She gestured around at the crowded room with her left hand, which held a quart bottle of beer, and clamped her huge right hand on Henshaw's shoulder. "No time like the present, chief. Let's do it."

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Ten: 1:00am

The lights went down. They didn't see it, of course, since they were back in the tiny dressing room, but they could tell by the crowd reaction.

Pete and Carl looked at Henshaw. As usual before a gig, he had been getting quieter and quieter, and neither had spoken to him for several minutes. He fingered his battered electric guitar, looked around the messy little room and said, "Let's go." CJ dropped her empty beer bottle into the trash and followed them out into the corridor. Fifteen held a flashlight so they could find their footing in the darkness.

There was a chair placed flush against the side of the stage so they could step up. Drone held the chair steady as Henshaw went first, wincing as he bent his skinned knee, with Pete right after him. Carl bounded up with a yell, slipping in behind his drums as CJ stepped up easily, disdaining the chair.

Pete picked up his bass from where it had been leaning against the amp and slung it over his shoulder. He played a couple of notes, then held one of the thick strings against the microphone to make sure he wouldn't get a shock when he sang his harmony parts.

He looked out at the crowd as CJ and Henshaw plugged in their guitars. The lights were still down, but even so he had never seen the Quarter so packed. The room was tense, the air hot and still. He wiped his hands on his T-shirt.

"We're Kingdom Come," Henshaw said as the lights came up. "And these days we're all Facing the Wall." He started the relentless rhythm pattern, his arm pumping faster and faster as Pete and Carl joined in. Henshaw had started too quickly as usual, but Carl pulled them all together. CJ held back a little in the beginning, then her guitar roared in to push the tension even higher. The three men had been drenched in sweat almost from the moment they'd stepped onto the stage, but somehow CJ, even in her leather jacket, wasn't sweating at all.

The song's long introduction gathered momentum through a series of simple parts, like falling down a series of steep staircases, until Henshaw finally leaned into the mike to sing the first lines of lyric.

"You say you won't fuck me when I'm wearing a mask,
but I'll take it off just as soon as you ask . . ."

*  *  *  *  *

As the set really started to take off, Pete was once again wondering if it would be feasible to play with earplugs. Then he saw Jenny Owens, standing by the side of the stage, leaning forward intently, as if trying to keep her balance in a powerful wind. He could tell she was very drunk, listening to something other than the music. She held a beer bottle loosely in her hand. Her face was expressionless.

Then it happened, so quickly that he almost missed it. Her arm flashed out, smashing the beer bottle against the edge of the stage. Then, the jagged neck of the bottle in her outstretched hand, she leaped for Henshaw.

There was silence for a minute, punctuated only by a couple of drum beats as Carl belatedly realized what had happened. Henshaw grabbed for his microphone stand, blood running down his black jeans. Jenny had a stunned look on her face, as though she wasn't sure what had happened or who had done it. The broken bottle slipped from her fingers. She reached for Henshaw.

CJ crossed the stage in three huge strides and lifted Jenny Owens up with one hand. "Don't touch her," Henshaw rasped as Pete helped him sit down. Then all of them heard the sirens outside, and Henshaw looked up. "Oh, shit," he said, as Pete heard Chet yell something.

And then, suddenly, the stage and the bar and all the other people fell away from them like a TV picture when you turn off the set, and Pete felt nauseous.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Eleven: 1:15am

There were no doctors at the hospital until morning, but one of the nurses had told Pete that someone would look at Henshaw as soon as two more serious cases had been dealt with.

They had given Henshaw a bed, and a pain killer. Pete, Chet and Jenny Owens sat in the waiting room. There were about a half dozen other people there, scattered around the large, dirty room. A couple of them were asleep.

Chester looked around the room. Hospitals always depressed him. He knew that when he got home he'd hear some complaints about putting himself in situations where he had to be rescued.

He leaned over to Pete and whispered, "Do you guys really need–"

Pete whispered back, "I do wish you'd stay."

Chet shrugged.

They sat for several minutes in silence. Chet leaned back in his chair, looking at the ceiling, wishing he had a drink. Pete jotted notes in his small notebook, writing everything down while it was fresh in his mind.

Jenny Owens sat opposite them, her head in her hands. The sleeves of her jacket were covered in blood.

Then, in one motion, they all sat up straighter. "Shit," Pete whispered as the other people in the waiting room started to become aware of the sound.

It was an eerie wail, a strange howling that became louder and louder. The people in the room who know what this meant sat back in their seats, obviously wondering if they could be somewhere else in a big hurry. The others just looked confused, as if the plumbing was at fault.

"How the hell did they find out so quickly?" Pete asked, but nobody even tried to answer.

The doors flew open and about fifteen motorcycle gang members came in. They stopped, looking around, creating almost an arc around a small woman in black leather and black jeans. She spotted Pete and Chet, and came over. A blonde man and CJ, who had been playing with the band, followed her, while the others stood near the door.

"Hello," Chet said. "I guess you heard the news."

She nodded. "Hi, Chet. Hello, Pete."

"Hello, Dr. Lee," Pete said. As usual he was worried he might say something wrong.

"How is he?" Dr. Lee asked Chet.

"They've looked him over and gave him a pain pill. There aren't any doctors until morning, but a nurse will examine him within an hour or so."

Dr. Lee nodded. She motioned to the blonde man (who Chet knew to be Neil, her bodyguard) and CJ to follow her into the examining area.

The lights flickered and then went off. "Oh, great," Chet said. After a couple of minutes, they came back on.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Twelve: 1:30am

The scene at the hospital was tense. Jinx were everywhere, more of them than Pete had ever seen in one place before. They'd managed to convince the minimal staff to give Henshaw preference over several more serious cases.

When the Jinx had realized who Jenny Owens was, several of them had started for her, but Dr. Lee, leaning against the wall, cleaning her fingernails, had said, "No. Leave her alone for now."

Jenny just sat, her head in her hands, not paying any attention to what was going on. She looked like she didn't care a bit if one of the Jinx beat her up or not.

After a while, somebody in hospital green came out of the big doors, and went over to Dr. Lee. They conferred for a moment, then he went back inside. Chet got up and went over to Dr. Lee.

"How does it look?" he asked.

She shrugged. "Nothing definite. They think he'll be okay." She raised her eyes from the floor. "Lots of blood, but probably no permanent damage."

Chet came back and reported this to Pete, trying to tell if Jenny was listening as well. "She was obviously talking at least partly to reassure herself, but what she was saying made a lot of sense," he finished.

Pete looked around the room. The dozen or so people who were there for reasons other than Henshaw all looked quite nervous about the Jinx being there. He was rather used to them, and was a bit surprised that people obviously considered them frightening.

After a minute, he got up and walked over to sit beside Jenny. She looked up, dry-eyed, and he saw the bloody handkerchief she had tied around her hand. She looked at him wryly. "They don't tell you about that part in the movies. People break bottles all the time and never get their hands cut up in the process."

"Maybe there's some trick to it that you don't know," he suggested.

"Well, I'd rather not keep practicing until I get it right."

He didn't know quite what to say to that.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Thirteen: 2:00am

Henshaw appeared at the door, supported by CJ. He gestured for Dr. Lee to come over, and she moved quickly to his side. But as he leaned over to say something to her, the frosted glass doors opened and at least a dozen policemen came in. They saw Dr. Lee and a couple of them moved towards her, obviously wanting to talk.

It didn't work out that way. Pete was looking the other way, at Jenny who had touched his hand to get his attention, when he heard the crash. By the time he turned, the police and the Jinx were mixing it up all over the room.

Pete turned to Chet, but then he felt Randi arriving, and Chet faded from sight. In that instant, he heard Randi's voice in his ear. "If you don't get her out of here right now, the Jinx will kill Jenny Owens."

Pete grabbed Jenny's hand and pulled her towards the double doors to the rest of the hospital. There were too many people between them and the street doors for them to even try that way.

Dr. Lee had snapped "Get him out of here!" to CJ the minute the fighting started, and the tall guitarist lifted the struggling Henshaw and carried him back through the doors into the examining room.

Pete pulled Jenny down the hall as fast as he could run, past darkened rooms and through dingy hallways. Finally she spotted an EXIT sign, and she pointed at the double doors. They ran up to them and he pressed the bar that opened the door to the dark street outside. Then, without warning, Jenny Owens pushed him out the door. He stumbled down the two steps to the sidewalk as she slammed the door behind him.

There was no way to open the big metal doors from the outside.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Fourteen: 3:50am

Vicki sat huddled against the cold, her arms wrapped around her knees. The ground under her was cold and damp, and she wished she had a blanket or something to sit on. She moved a little closer to the fire. There was no moon or stars, just a few other camp-fires visible through the trees.

She stared up through the tree-tops at the flat grey sky. The whole evening seemed like it had just been a dream, as if she was just sitting in the woods out behind her parents' house at home.

There were three other people around the campfire. It was a windy night, and they all had to move from time to time as the wind shifted and the smoke from the fire started to blow towards them.

It seemed to Vicki like it had been night for at least a week. She looked up at the sky, but there was nothing to see. No stars, no moon, no indication that the sun would ever rise again. Maybe it wouldn't. At this point, she wasn't sure of anything.

Finally, George, whose campfire it was, stood up and said he could use a cup of coffee. Hesitantly, fumbling for change, she offered to buy him a cup.

He shook his head. "Thanks, but the night man at the deli up there on the corner is a right guy. He always gives me a cup." He got up and walked across the street, ignoring the cars.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Fifteen: 3:50am

After the police had taken Jan Sleet, Vicki had walked aimlessly for a bit, not sure what she should do. There had been a few people on the street, but everybody was moving quickly, obviously on their way to a definite destination.

Vicki wondered about quite a few things. She wondered about the clothes she was wearing. Where had they come from? She wondered where Paris was, and what had been the urgent reason he and his friends had left the dance.

Then she turned a corner and saw a hospital. It looked deserted, but she wondered if this was where the ambulance had taken the man she had helped. She thought she'd like to know how he was doing. As she approached the front door, she heard her name called quietly from across the street.

She looked and saw Pete standing in an alleyway. She sprinted across the street and he motioned for her to step into the alley with him. He stepped back a little so they'd be in shadow.

"What's up?" she asked, finding herself whispering.

"Henshaw, from my band, is in here. He was stabbed. There was–" He looked up as they heard sirens. "Oh, shit. I was hoping to find out–"

A police car screeched to a halt, and he turned and pulled her down the alley. "I think they saw us." They reached a dead end, with a blank wooden door, secured with a large padlock covered in rust. He tried the door. It didn't budge. "Shit," he whispered under his breath as a flashlight started to scan the alley.

Vicki reached out and yanked the padlock and hasp from the door, the long screws pulling out of the wood. Pete pulled the door open and they slipped in.

George came back with a leaking paper bag which held three containers of coffee. He took them out, set one beside himself and indicated that the others were to share the other two. Pete took out a pack of cigarettes and offered them around. George took one, and Pete lit them both. Paris didn't respond at all for a while, then he reached forward and took one of the cups of coffee.

Vicki looked at the faces of the three men with whom she was sharing the warmth of the fire.

Sitting next to her on her right was Paris. He sat cross-legged, staring into the fire, obviously lost in his thoughts. In the firelight, with his concentration a little relaxed, she realized for the first time how young he was. He was probably about her age. The warm light of the fire flickered across his dark skin, his hair so short she could clearly see his scalp. She realized that when they had danced it had been the first time she had touched the skin of a Black person.

She could also see the weight of the gun in his jacket pocket. No matter what, she was very aware of that.

Beyond him sat Pete. Skinny in a mismatch of plaid shirt, shabby grey T-shirt and tattered cut-off jeans, she wasn't surprised to see that his sneakers had holes. He squatted on his haunches, giving the impression he was waiting for something. Not impatient, just waiting. He took the last cup of coffee and sipped it.

Pete had referred to George as Big George while he and Vicki were walking across town to the park, but when they had arrived he had just introduced him as George. Paris had arrived a few minutes later and hadn't said much. Vicki had realized that nobody she was meeting had a last name, and had stopped mentioning hers very early on.

George was middle-aged, but in very good shape. His sleeveless T-shirt showed powerful upper arms, with the muscles very well defined. He was much darker-skinned than Paris, but she suddenly wondered if they were related somehow. Or maybe it was just that both Pete and Paris treated him with a certain respect that made her think of family.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Sixteen: 3:50am

George stubbed out his half-smoked cigarette and laid it carefully on a small rock next to him. "Frances came by a little while before you did," he said to Pete. "She said everything went fine at the Q after you folks left. The members of another band, called Straight Edge or something like that, were there, and they played a set. They went over really well." He smiled wryly. "The police never showed up."

Pete shook his head. "Of course not."

Paris looked puzzled. "Why do you say that? They don't allow–"

"Don't forget," George said patiently, "several cops were killed at Duffy's. Once a cop is killed, they stop worrying about little things like infractions of the curfew."

Pete nodded, looking disgusted. "That's what really pisses me off. We could have really played, for as long as we wanted, to a pretty good crowd. And that stupidity with Owens ruined it. Who knows when we'll get another shot."

"There aren't very many chances for such a thing," George agreed. "I suppose Henshaw knows what he's about, but it seems like a waste to me. Do you know how he is?"

Pete shrugged. "I couldn't get to go back into the hospital again. After the fight with the Jinx there were cops all over the place. Jenny Owens was still inside when I left. They nearly caught Vicki and me, and we had to get out of the area."

George smiled as he sipped his coffee. "Think Owens will try to finish the job?"

"What? Oh, no," Pete said, shaking his head. "She's not about to do that again. Together those two make up one manic depressive person. They'll both be too gloomy to speak for days now."

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Seventeen: 3:50am

Paris looked up for the first time.

"What happened to Jan?" he asked Vicki.

"Jan Sleet?" Pete asked. "I want to talk to her. She–"

"She was taken by the police," Vicki said.

There was a moment of silence.

"Taken by the police?" Pete asked. "When was this?"

"A little while ago," Vicki said quietly. "We were walking around after we left the dance, trying to figure out where we could sleep, and this police car pulled up and three cops got out. They asked her name, she told them, and they grabbed her and threw her into the car. Then they drove off."

"Well, she did persist in being from out of town," Paris said.

Vicki said, "I thought they were after me. I did kill that cop."

"No witnesses, from the way you've described it," Paris said. "And no one's going to look at you and think you could kill a cop."

George shook his head. "All the petty thieves, gang members, rebels, artists, drug users and other trouble makers around here, and the cops pick up a perfectly respectable writer."

Pete shook his head. "And she was probably the only person in all of u-town wearing a suit and tie. Well, whatever it all means, it's too bad. I was hoping she'd write something about all this."

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Eighteen: 8:30am

Vicki watched as Pete unlocked the door and let them into his apartment. She walked in and stood in the center of the room, slowly looking around. Pete waved his hand aimlessly. "It's a mess, I know."

She shrugged. "No problem. Thanks for putting me up." She climbed up on one of the chairs at the kitchen table. "I was afraid I'd end up sleeping in the park."

Pete shrugged. "It's not that bad on a night like this. I used to do it a lot before Carl found this place." He went over to the door of the small bedroom and looked in. "He's not in yet. No surprise."

Vicki started swinging her legs back and forth. By the light of the camp-fire, he had begun to forget how tiny she was. Her entire hand was probably no bigger than his palm. He thought about Henshaw's big hands.

Vicki pushed her long dark hair back behind her high pointed ears.

Pete was finding that the conversational well had suddenly run dry, and he wished Carl was home. Carl would have had something smarmy to say about Vicki being there, but at least it would have filled the silence.

"So, are you going to go back home?" he asked finally, putting up water for coffee.

She shook her head, looking down at the floor. "I don't really want to, and I don't know where it is anyway."

He accepted this and started to empty his pockets onto the table. He was startled when she asked, "What's this stuff?" and he realized that he was operating by reflex, doing the things he always did when he got home as if she wasn't there.

"My notes," he said sheepishly, sitting down across from her and then getting up again to start preparing the coffee.

"Notes from school?" she asked.

"Ummm, no. I take notes. On the things I see, and things that happen to me."

He got down on his hands and knees and pulled the front panel off the bottom of the stove. He reached in and pulled out a small transistor radio. He set it on the edge of the stove and turned it on. It was set to an all-news station. He listened for a few minutes, making a couple of notes on one of the scraps of paper on the kitchen table.

"Why do you hide the radio like that?" Vicki asked.

He shrugged. "These days, there's too many people around who like to poke around people's apartments when they're not home. We were losing everything, what little we have, until we started hiding things. Jenny Owens is pretty good with tools, she helped us build a few hiding places." He smiled. "Carl tried hitting on her. Once."

"But you told me before that she's Henshaw's girlfriend, right? And Carl tried to hit on her?"

"Carl doesn't usually think until it's too late," Pete said lamely.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Nineteen: 8:30am

Vicki pushed her long dark hair back behind her high pointed ears. "If you're the guy with the notes, maybe you can tell me a couple of things."

"Oh, probably," he said and smiled, sitting opposite her again with his coffee cup in his hand. Then he got up again. "I'm sorry, do you want some coffee?"

She shook her head. "No, thanks." She sat back in her chair, her legs sticking out in front of her. She made a face. "I don't know where to start asking questions. I don't think I've understood very much of what's happened to me tonight." She yawned.

Pete smiled, sipping his coffee. "You don't have to have the answers to all your questions right now. You look all in. Why not ask me later on?"

She nodded, obviously close to dropping off. "Okay, let me just ask you one thing, then. What do you know about Paris?"

"Paris," Pete said slowly. "Now that's something that you need to be more specific about. Paris has had a very complex life for one so young. What is it about him that you want to know?"

"Well, after we left that bar where we met you, we went to this big warehouse, and there was this weird dance in the basement. We were having a pretty good time, then suddenly somebody came in and gave him some sort of signal, and he ran out." She decided not to mention the gun Jan Sleet had found in his jacket pocket. "I followed him and his friends, and they ran a few blocks away, where some people had obviously been beaten up or something." She covered her mouth as she yawned again. "Paris talked to one of them, then he and his friends ran off again."

"What did you do?" Pete asked. "Did you follow them?"

"I stayed and helped the people get an ambulance. I didn't see Paris again until we saw him in the park."

Pete sipped his coffee. "Well, I could guess, but maybe you should ask Paris himself. If he wants to, he'll tell you. It's kind of . . ." He frowned. "It's not anything I can really talk about." He looked at her searchingly. "You're not interested in him, are you?"

She covered her mouth as a very small giggle bubbled up and out. She shook her head. "Oh, no, nothing like that."

He laughed. "Good. I didn't mean to be nosy, but it's no secret that he's not into girls. And he's spoken for besides."

Vicki's small mouth was still trying to find some shape other than a smile.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Twenty: 8:30am

Pete motioned towards the flattened mattress in the corner of the room. "That's my bed. You can sleep there. I've got to go to work pretty soon anyway."

"If it's not too much trouble," she said, moving towards the bed, dropping her leather jacket on the floor. She looked about ready to collapse.

"No problem. You don't want to be in Carl's bed if he does come home." She stopped and smiled over her shoulder. "Oh, yeah," he said, "I guess you could handle him."

She looked down at the bed and seemed to be sniffing at something. He suddenly had the irrational idea that she was smelling everything that had happened in that bed that afternoon. He started shivering uncontrollably and had to hug himself to try to stop.

"You okay?" she asked, looking around.

He shook his head. "No, not really."

She turned back towards him, her hand still on the zipper of her black jeans. He grabbed his notebook and ran out.

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Episode Twenty-One: 10:30am

Pete filled a mug from the bottle of spring water he kept under the counter. He uncoiled the cord of the small immersion heater and let it hang into the mug. He plugged the plug into one of the tangle of extension cords on the floor and watched for the first small bubbles.

He had barely caught the last subway of the morning, and was thankful he had. Somebody had stolen his bicycle the day before, and the walk to work was something he didn't really want to have to tackle after a night of no sleep.

Satisfied that the water would boil in a few minutes, he leaned back on his stool, trying to find the position of perfect balance where he could doze without falling to the floor. He had just about achieved it when the phone rang. He grabbed it on the first ring (to show how alert he was) and said, "Bean Me Up Coffee and Tea Euphorium" (for every time he had to say that he swiped another quarter from petty cash).

It was his boss, saying he wouldn't be in until one in the afternoon (which Pete knew meant at least three-thirty or four). As Pete hung up the phone he realized that his water was half boiled away, almost to the point where the immersion heater would explode. He grabbed the bottle from under the counter again and poured some into the mug, stopping the boiling, and some on the counter-top as well.

As he waited for it to boil again, he leaned back, trying to find that perfect balance.

He woke up and Randi was there. He straightened up on his stool, but he was surprised when she didn't speak. Usually she said hello right away, as a courtesy to those who weren't as aware of her as he was.

"Randi?" he asked finally.

–Hello, Pete, she replied slowly.

"Is something wrong?" he asked.

–I'm afraid so. Peter, my friend, I hate to be the one to tell you this news, but if I don't tell you I don't know when you'd find out.

"What is it?" he asked quietly.

–Pete, Carl is dead.

He felt the unmistakable sensation of somebody sitting next to him, arm around his shoulder.

"When? How?" he asked dully.

–About six-thirty this morning. He went home with the lead singer of the band who played in place of Kingdom Come, but her husband gets home from work at six in the morning so he had to leave while it was still dark.

–He was walking across town, and he cut through next to the old Kensington warehouse to avoid a patrol. Unfortunately, a couple of members of the fraternity were in the alley there conducting some business. They told him to get out.

Pete nodded as if she didn't even have to finish the story.

"He mouthed off, didn't he?"

–Yes. He was still a little drunk, and anyway you know Carl. One of the guys shot him. They took the body, so I don't know when you'd have found out.

She squeezed his shoulder and he sat looking at the far wall, not seeing the rows of glass jars of tea and coffee. After a minute, without thinking, he put his arm around her, and they sat like that for a while.

"Randi," he started, then stopped and shook his head.

–I know, Pete, she said quietly. For Carl I might even have interfered. But when it happened Chet and I were . . . we were making love, and I wasn't thinking about much else. The whole thing with Carl only took a few seconds. I really didn't–

The front door of the shop opened, a little bell tinkling, and Pete felt her leave.

–We'll talk later, she said.

Pete's notes on this episode

Episode Twenty-Two: 10:30am

The door swung open, the little bell ringing, and he saw it was Jennifer Owens. Her hair was tied back, and she looked like she hadn't slept.

"I wasn't sure I'd see you today," he said quietly as she sat down. "How is Henshaw?"

"He's okay."

"That's good." He sipped his tea, then he said, "I don't know if we should tell him right away, while he's still in the hospital, but I just heard that Carl was killed last night. He stumbled into the middle of . . ." his voice trailed off as he realized all the color had drained out of her face.

"Oh, my God," she said, staring in shock. Pete reviewed what he had said, wondering why she was so affected.

She met his eyes. Hers were brimming with tears. "Oh, my God, Pete," she said.

"I–" he began, then stopped. "I'm surprised you're this upset. Carl–"

She banged her fist on the counter. "Don't you understand anything!?" she yelled at him.

Pete stared at her helplessly. "I guess I don't. What–"

"Without Carl, there isn't a band. No more Kingdom Come." She sat down again. "Don't you know what that means?"


"No more band. It's over." She looked at him for a long minute. "He'll go back to his wife and his kids."

Pete's notes on this episode

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