Ness tiptoed quietly into the house. Once again, he was late. Probably he should’ve 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 didn’t 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. He’d 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. He’d see her in the morning. If she got up before he went to work. They’d have a chance to talk then, with any luck.
He returned to the living room and started to sit down on the sofa, but Edna’s 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.
It bore no stamp or postmark.
It had been in Edna’s purse.
Without even thinking about it, Ness picked up the phone and dialed.
“Merylo? Yes, I know what time it is. Listen to me. I’ve 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 I’m saying. No, I haven’t been drinking. Yes, I’ve had some thoughts about that, too. We’ll 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, I’ve had some thoughts about that, too. Didn’t your lady at the Sailors’ Home say he’s been sober for a long time now? He’s about due for a bender. Keep an eye on him. As soon as he’s good and sloshed, grab him. Anyone questions us, we’ll say he was drunk and disorderly. And once we have him in custody, we can ask him about anything we want.”