Line of Succession
Line of Succession
10:45 P.M. EST The girl's body was found by a man in a raincoat. It was in an alley near the intersection of Euclid and Fourteenth Street Northwest-a black neighborhood of brick row-houses and urban ferment.
At first the man in the raincoat shrank from the body: he stood against the wall breathing shallowly, blinking, but in the end he knelt by the girl and began to search near and under the body, although there was little hope. If she had been mugged there would be no handbag.
A car was going by slowly. The man in the raincoat ignored it until it stopped, but then it was too late. The spotlight swiveled onto him and pinned him against the wall.
He threw up an arm in front of his eyes and heard the car door open and chunk shut. There was a voice:
"Turn around. Hands high against the wall."
The man in the raincoat obeyed. He knew the routine. He splayed his feet a yard out from the base of the wall and leaned against his palms. The patrolman frisked him and found nothing and moved with a crunch of shoes to the girl's body.
The second cop got out of the squad car. The first cop said, "DOA. Send in a squeal-we'll want the wagon."
The man in the raincoat heard the first cop get up and take two steps forward. The cop's voice had changed: before it had been weary but now it was taut, angry. "What in the hell did you do that with?"
"I didn't do nothing."
He felt a sudden grip on his shoulder and the cop pulled him upright from the frisk position and cracked the handcuffs against his wrists.
"Now sit down."
He slid down with his back against the brick wall. The drizzle ran down inside the collar of his raincoat and he hitched around on his buttocks to free enough cloth to cover the back of his neck. The spotlight was in his eyes and he kept them squinted almost shut.
"You vicious bastard," the cop said, very soft.
When the boot caught him in the ribs he was half expecting it and he managed to ride with it, toppling over on his side; it hurt but it hadn't broken anything. He stayed on his side with his cheek in the gravel. He had learned submission a long time ago. If you showed any fight at all they would kick the guts out of you.
The cop's feet shifted and the man in the raincoat got ready for another kick but then the other cop came from the car. "Take it easy, Pete."
"You didn't see what the son of a bitch did to her. Take a look."
"Just take it easy. Some lawyer sees him all black and blue they'll turn him loose and hand us a reprimand."
"Since when can anybody see black and blue on that spade hide?" But the cop didn't kick him again.
The other cop went over to the dead girl. Breath whistled out through his teeth. "Sweet Jesus."
"What'd he do it with?"
"Beats me. He must have ditched the knife."
"Took more than a knife."
"I'll have a look around."
The first cop started to prowl the alley, and the second cop came over to the man in the raincoat. "Sit up."
He obeyed. The cop was above him and when he looked up he could see the cop's fleshy white face in the hard beam of the spotlight. The cop said, "You got some identification? Move your hands real slow."
The man reached inside his raincoat and took out the little plastic case. The cop took it from him and lifted it, turning, to get it in the light. All it contained was a numbers slip, a welfare card, Social Security and a single dollar bill.
"Franklin Delano Graham," the cop said. "Jesus Christ."
11:20 P.M. "I think he's telling it straight," the lieutenant said.
The sergeant propped himself against the hip-high partition that delineated the lieutenant's corner of the detective squad room. "Hell, he's a junkie. He wouldn't know the truth if it kicked him in the face."/