The knock on the hotel room door came less than an hour after the broadcast.
Ness opened the door. Chief Matowitz stood on the other side. Ness did not recognize the other man, but the briefcase and the three-piece suit with the carnation boutonniere gave him a clue.
“Sorry, Eliot,” the chief mumbled. “Had no choice.”
“This is a private interrogation,” Ness began. “We can’t be interrupted for-”
“My name is Carlton P. Danvers,” the other man said, stepping forward. “I’m a lawyer. I represent the man you are keeping in there against his will.”
“He hasn’t spoken to a lawyer. He only just sobered up-”
“I was hired by his cousin and given a full retainer. It’s perfectly legal.”
“We’re in the middle of an interrogation and-”
“No, this interrogation is over.” Before Ness could stop him, Danver pushed the door open. His eyebrow arched. “Handcuffs, Mr. Ness?”
“For his own safety. He went on an alcoholic binge. Spent three days shaking it off. Had the d.t.’s. We were afraid he might hurt himself.”
“What do you take me for, a fool?” Danvers strode into the hotel room as if he had rented it himself. “Four men, barely any light, handcuffs. Did you train with the Bolsheviks?”
“We believe this man may be implicated in the torso murders.”
“Indeed. And what hard evidence do you have?”
Ness stumbled a moment. “He knew some of the victims. He has medical expertise.”
“And that’s your proof?”
“You should hear what he’s been saying.”
“You’re right, I should, but I didn’t, because you kidnapped him and held him in violation of his constitutional rights. Did he confess?”
“In a manner of speaking.”
“Didn’t you tell me he was suffering from an alcoholic delirium?”
“He’s over it. He’s-”
“Is that your medical opinion, Mr. Ness? When did you get your medical degree? This poor man looks to me as if he needs medical attention.”
“I’m taking him away. Now.”
“Just a minute.” Ness jumped in front of Danvers, blocking his way. “I’m not done with him.”
“I told you already. This interrogation is over.”
“I’ll be the one who decides when it’s over.”
Danvers drew up his shoulders. “I think you’re in quite enough trouble already, Mr. Ness. You have held this man a prisoner in clear violation of his constitutional and God-given rights.”
“I’m the safety director. I was appointed by the mayor to-”
“Is this man under arrest?”
“Not at this time.”
“Then I’m taking him.”
Again, Ness blocked his way. “He’s not going anywhere until I’ve had a chance to finish what I started.”
“Mr. Ness, do you want me to get a warrant?”
Behind Danvers, Ness could see Chamberlin silently shaking his head no.
“Because if I apply for a warrant, that will mean a hearing before a judge. At that hearing, I will have to describe the unconscionable conduct that I have witnessed being perpetrated on a poor man suffering from a disease and committed to a rehabilitative facility, practiced for days entirely against his will. I will not only get my warrant, you will likely be censured, if not forced to resign, removed from your post, etc. Is this something you want to read about in the morning papers, Mr. Ness?”
Ness’s head was swimming. He’d been working much too long. Interrogating Sweeney, trying to make some sense out of what he was saying. Now this. He didn’t know what to do.
“Let me answer for you, Eliot,” Matowitz said, jumping in. “That is not what you want.”
“I’ll make that decision.”
“No, you won’t. Not this time. I’m the chief of police and this is still a police investigation. I don’t want a lawsuit on my hands and I’m certain the mayor doesn’t, either. Especially not when it involves Congressman Sweeney.”
“Fine. Then I’ll charge the man.”
Ness’s brain raced. “Drunk and disorderly.”
Matowitz rolled his eyes. “Not tax evasion?” He turned his attention to Danvers. “You may take your client. Eliot, uncuff him.”
“I’m telling you, Chief, he may be the killer.”
“I told you to uncuff him, and I expect it to be done. Now!”
Ness removed the cuffs.
“There will be no more harassment or persecution of this man,” Matowitz added. “You will leave him alone. Totally.”
“Here is my business card, Mr. Ness,” Danvers said, as he took Sweeney by the arm and led him out of the hotel room. “You will contact me if you want anything. You will have no contact with my client whatsoever unless I am present. If you wish to continue this conversation, you will schedule a mutually convenient appointment. Good day.”
Just before they exited, Sweeney turned and…
Neither Ness nor Merylo knew how to describe the expression on the man’s face. There was something in his eyes that hadn’t been there before, something new and repulsive-and eerie. It wasn’t exactly a smile, or a frown, or a sneer. It was more like a promise.
Chief Matowitz closed the door behind them.
“What do you think?” Ness said quietly, after they were gone.
“About what?” Merylo grunted.
“You think he’s the killer?”
Merylo hesitated. “The only thing I’m sure about is this: You haven’t heard the end of this business.”
“I want Sweeney followed.”
“I can’t do that. You heard the chief.”
“You work for me.”
“I can’t go against the chief. ’Sides, his cousin will keep him under wraps, at least for a while. You need to prepare for whatever else the congressman may do.”
“I don’t know,” Merylo said quietly. “But it won’t be pretty.”