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 I had a little of it in Police College, that Jap stuff really any good?
 Jiujitsu... the 'soft or gentle art,' I said.  Really isn't Japanese, the Chinese had it about
two thousand years ago, and maybe it started in India before that. It was hot stuff then,
but now...
 It still works! Saltz said, stroking his throat.
 It depends upon surprise, knowledge of the vulnerable spots of the body. Today, with
boxing and wrestling on TV, kids learning how to handle themselves in school, judo isn't
so much. And it's frustrating as hell.
I grinned.  You can never finish a good hold without killing the other guy. But it
works for a shrimp like myself. Forget the lecture and let's get back to Anita. Could
this have been a sex job? She was a hot kid, might have got mixed up with...
Saltz shook his head.  No marks of attack, underwear wasn't touched. Doc says she was
a virgin.
 Then why the awful beating? Think it's the work of a loon?
 We're considering that. Most cases of torture they're trying to make the victim talk.
You on any big cases, anything important?
 Hell, I never had an important case in my life.
He asked me about the other people I had in the agency and I told him about the pugs
and he said,  I remember this Martinez, a good boy with no heart. Ran out on the
champ. How come you got all these punchies working for you?
 They're not punchy. Did some boxing myself... I was a good little man. You know the
old adage a good little man can't beat a good big man. Outside the ring, whenever I
had to handle myself, always seemed to run into good big men. Why I turned to judo.
The point is I got to know a lot of pugs around the gym and...
 And they work cheap.
 I give them a fair shake. I give them guard work because there isn't much else an ex-
pug is suited for.
We talked some more about Anita and it astonished me how little I actually knew about
her. By the time it was starting to get light outside, Saltz told me I could leave.  But
don't try anything fancy, like leaving town. Until I get a better one, you're number one
on my suspect parade.
It was a little after 6 a.m. and I had three cups of coffee and felt better. But the more I
thought, the less things added up. The rock didn't make any more sense than when Will
gave me the case. The fact that it was missing didn't mean a thing wouldn't be hard to
lose a sliver like that. But if it wasn't the rock...? I ran into an absolute blank wall. Yet
Anita must have known she was in danger or she wouldn't have taken the gun. Every
time I thought of the gun, a wave of bitter shame and rage shook me.
I had another coffee and the counterman said cheerfully,  No feeling worse than when
you're really hung over. He favored me with a yellow-toothed grin.  Bet you tied a
good one on. Nice lip you got there, too.
I finished the coffee. A bar across the street was opening and I went in, downed two
quick ryes. As I came out, my buddy, the counterman, was standing in the doorway of
his shop, sadly shaking his head at me.
When I got to the office, the door was open and the place looked like a hurricane had
struck it. There's only a plain lock on the door so they didn't have any trouble with that.
The safe was scratched and marked but they hadn't opened it. But every drawer had been
turned inside out and the floor was ankle deep in papers and files. About twenty bucks of
new stationery was shot to hell. I got Bobo on the phone and out of bed, told him to
come right down. Then I called Artie Jenks who was going fine till he got a concussion
banging his head on an unpadded canvas, told him to take over Bobo's construction job.
I found my rubber pad among the paper, sat down and hit the sides of my hands against
it and tried to think. Ransacking my office meant Anita hadn't been killed by any jerk
she'd picked up, but what were they looking for? It couldn't be the rock, they already had
that. Or did they? I thought till my head ached but nothing came. I still felt the rock was
behind everything, but I was damned if I knew why. I went over every job we'd had in
the last month, everybody I'd met or spoken to, and it all ended in a dead end.
Bobo came breezing in a half hour later, asking,  Why the early morning rush call? Got
a big job that...?
I told him about Anita and he fell into a chair, his rough face going pale as he mumbled,
 That poor kid... murdered? But... why?
 'Why' will be the jackpot at the end of our rainbow. When we know 'why' we know
all the answers. She called yesterday at six and told me she had a supper date at some
joint on 60th Street and First Avenue. In her language a joint meant a ginmill, so we can
assume she lucked up on something during the afternoon and...
Bobo stared at me.  Lucked up? Some luck!
 ... and made that date for supper. She had to take the rod before I returned to the office
yesterday at about five, so that meant she expected things to happen at supper. But she
came aboard my boat shortly after midnight and I took the gun from her so...
 Hal, for Christsakes! You... you let her go to... wherever she was going... without a rod?
Why that's the same as...
 Shut up, Bobo! How did I know she was in danger or that... Oh hell, Anita was always
playing cops and robbers. The thing is, she didn't seem frightened on the boat. She was
gay, excited, maybe she expected something big to break. The last thing on her mind
was death. No, she either met the killer at the ginmill and made another date with him
or her or she was fingered there for the after-midnight date where she... got it.
Bobo cupped his square jaw in his wide hands, said softly, in Spanish,  May God have
mercy on her soul. Then he added in a louder voice,  She was a funny kid played
detective once too often. And who parked it on your lip? What's the matter, Hal, why
you staring at me? [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]