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48

Ness tiptoed quietly into the house. Once again, he was late. Probably he shouldve gone to the apartment. But he had told Edna he was coming home tonight. He felt as if they were making a little progress-had been ever since that party for the mayor. If only he didnt have to spend so much time on this torso case. And then there was a flare-up on the labor front. Then Burton summoned him in for an emergency strategy meeting. And

And the next thing he knew, he was late. Exactly what Edna had been complaining about for so long. Hed done it again.

He poked his head through the bedroom door. She was asleep. Wearing her best, silken nightgown, too, he noticed.

Maybe he should give her a gentle nudge, see if she woke up. Or maybe that would lead to more embarrassment

She was a lovely woman, Edna was. Tender. Sweet. She looked beautiful lying there, her head on the pillow, her brown curls poking out from under the covers. Absolutely lovely

But when he was on the job on the chase bursting through doors and catching thugs with their pants down well, there was nothing like that. Nothing at all.

He gently closed the bedroom door. Hed see her in the morning. If she got up before he went to work. Theyd have a chance to talk then, with any luck.

He returned to the living room and started to sit down on the sofa, but Ednas enormous purse was lying in the center, tipped over on one side. He picked it up

Something fell out.

He started to reach for it-then realized it was a postcard.

His heart began to race. His legs felt wobbly. He sat down, breathed deeply, then took the card into his hands.

On the outside, it was just like all the others. A city view of beautiful Cleveland, taken before congestion and smog made it dark and sooty. It was addressed to Eliot Weak, Ness. The message contained but a single word.


TOUCHABLE.


It bore no stamp or postmark.

It had been in Ednas purse.

Without even thinking about it, Ness picked up the phone and dialed.

Merylo? Yes, I know what time it is. Listen to me. Ive had a change of heart. I want you to bring in the doctor.

He waited while a groggy voice on the other end of the line tried to assimilate what it was hearing.

Yes, I know what Im saying. No, I havent been drinking. Yes, Ive had some thoughts about that, too. Well rent a hotel room. Do the whole thing in secret. No one at the station needs to know about it. Just you and me and a couple of handpicked men I can trust to keep their yaps shut.

There was more rattling on the other end of the line, as Merylo ran through every objection Ness had made earlier in the day.

Yes, well, Ive had some thoughts about that, too. Didnt your lady at the Sailors Home say hes been sober for a long time now? Hes about due for a bender. Keep an eye on him. As soon as hes good and sloshed, grab him. Anyone questions us, well say he was drunk and disorderly. And once we have him in custody, we can ask him about anything we want.


| Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness | c



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