home   |   -   |   A-Z   |  


57

The mayor did not wait for Ness to open his office door.

Eliot, what in the name of all thats holy is going on?

Ness looked up at him slowly. I dont know what you mean.

I mean- He stopped in midsentence, staring. Eliot-have you been drinking?

Course not.

You look horrible. You need a shave.

I had a rough night. He pushed himself to his feet and tried to stay steady.

I dont doubt it. I read what those newspapers had to say. Vile stuff. After all youve done for the city. But the fact is, people are scared. They want this monster caught.

So do I.

But you havent been able to bring him in. Mind you, Im not saying its your fault. But this is politics.

I thought it was law enforcement.

Either way, sometimes you have to toss the people a scapegoat. Cut off the feet to save the head.

Am I the feet or the head?

I think you know the answer to that.

Ness took a few baby steps around his desk, stopping when he got to the mayor. He looked at him through bleary eyes. Youve been talking to Congressman Sweeney, havent you?

Mayor Burton harrumphed. Im not sure Id call it talking. More like listening. Hes very angry.

Im not surprised.

First you pull that stunt with his cousin.

Best suspect we ever had.

Did you ever consider consulting me before you started grilling him?

You havent been taking my calls.

Then you go and torch Shantytown, again without consulting with me first. Then you pull these raids that you and I both know wouldnt survive judicial scrutiny. Even if you did find the killer we might not be able to convict him.

I had all that covered.

Maybe, maybe not. The point is, Sweeney is our political opponent, and youve been giving him the ammunition to destroy us like it was his birthday.

My job is not political.

Dont be infantile, Eliot. Youve created a serious problem. Im forced to make a serious response. Much as it pains me-

So Im going to be the scapegoat?

Youve brought this on yourself.

I did everything you appointed me to do. And then some.

Do you think I dont know that? But sometimes, everything is not enough. These people play hardball.

Ness flopped down in the easy chair, sitting sideways and twisting his legs over the arm. Youre afraid of Sweeney.

Thats right, Eliot. I am. And with good reason. Id like to continue being mayor a while longer, and that man stands between me and what I want. Do you have any idea how powerful he is? How many people he has to do his bidding? How much money he has at his disposal?

Ness pressed his fingers against his mouth, stifling a hiccup. I didnt know congressmen made that much money.

Congressmen? Whats that got to do with it? He was born rich. The Sweeneys made their pile years ago, back before Prohibition.

Mobsters?

No. Perfectly legit. Had a brewery on the riverfront. Not far from where you and your men made your illegal raids.

Ness sat up, suddenly alert. Near Kingsbury Run?

Not too far.

What happened to it?

Closed it down when Prohibition came. Took their profits and invested them. Not in the stock market, lucky for them. In land. Theyre one of the biggest landlords in all of-

Do they still own the brewery?

Far as I know. I dont think they could sell it if they wanted to.

And its still closed down?

Absolutely. Boards on the windows.

No one goes there? Large open place? Far from prying eyes?

I suppose.

Drainage into the lake?

What on earth are you talking about?

Ness was already halfway into his coat. Ill be out of the office for a while.

Im not finished talking to you!

You can fire me tomorrow. Or Ill resign. Whatever you like. Doesnt matter.

Eliot, youre not making sense. Come back here!

Sorry, Ness said, closing the door behind him. Ive got work to do.


| Nemesis: The Final Case of Eliot Ness | c



Loading...