Loomis was sitting at his desk with the drawer open, looking for things to throw out. It was, for instance, ridiculous to hold on to his Roberto Clemente letter opener. He was sure he had never once used it to open a letter. Of course he had used it the day Sandra came to the office to open the little packages she gave him, one of photos, one of money. But he only did that to impress her. He held the letter opener in his hand knowing there was no way he would ever throw it out. First of all, Roberto was his childhood hero. Second of all, a friend had given it to him, a friend who had subsequently died of a drug overdose. Third of all, the Pirates had just lost the playoffs and it would seem small of him to be ridding himself of his Pirate paraphrenalia.
Everything in the drawer, yo-yos, harmonicas, pens, bookplates, coins, everything had some claim on him, some degree of dependance upon what slight value they might have for him. He closed the drawer and went into the back room.
Goz had helped him move that morning, his first day out of the hospital. Because of his hand, Loomis had to leave most of it for Goz and Martha, who had been very sweet to him, really. She had let him spend last night at her place and they had talked long into the night. It was disturbing to realize, that as painful as it was, she was glad to have him out. She had been sympathetic, but plain speaking to him and full of desire to get on with things. To be honest, he was glad, too. He liked her more than anyone else in the world, but as a couple they were finished. They had made some vague reference to the possibility of dating a little after awhile.
The back room wasn't as jammed as he had feared, which was good, but the thought that all his things fit so easily into this large closet was a little depressing. It was really just a larger version of his desk drawer.
The one good thing that had happened that day was the message that was waiting for him when he opened up the shop that morning. Chester had run down Joey, living in a basement in the Five Corners area of Jersey City, and had given Loomis an address and phone number. He took a chance and called.
"Joey? It's Loomis."
"Oh fuck. How did you . . ."
"Write this down, Joey. I'm smarter than you are. You run again, I'll find you again, but the deal gets worse for you every time I have to go looking. When are you going to get it that I'm trying to help you? You read the papers?"
"I heard some things."
"You know Elroy's dead and Mrs. Fishbein's in jail."
"I saw that, yeah."
"You didn't see that your brother's grand jury convenes the day after tomorrow."
"No, you didn't, because it's secret. Your brother doesn't know about it either. He looking for you?"
"He wouldn't do anything here. My old man would kill him."
"What about after the grand jury indicts him? You disappear, secret grand jury convenes, cops come for him. I know what I'd think if I were him."
"You got a point."
"No, the point is he's going to think that no matter what. The only way to make sure he goes away and can't do anything about it is for you to come in and talk. The only way."
Joey eventually saw the light and Loomis gave him Mozarsky's number. After he hung up he called Mozarsky and then Chester. He thanked Chester and told him he would pay out of his own pocket for Chester to have someone keep an eye on Joey for the next two days. If he personally brought Joey into the grand jury it would be a very large deposit in his account with his friends in blue.
Other than that there had been no calls all day. The doctor had told him to expect depression but he hadn't felt it in the hospital. He was feeling it now.
The door opened and Gallagher walked in.
"Hey, Loomis, great to see you."
"How you feeling?"
Loomis held up his hand. There was only a small bandage.
"Looks great. Looks like they did a great job."
Loomis looked at his hand and looked back at Gallagher.
"Looks like I'm missing a finger, doesn't it?"
"I guess. Not so you'd notice. What do you use your pinkie for anyway, besides picking your nose? Right?"
"Making a wish."
"Bullshit. You still got your right one. Listen, I hate to bring it up, but . . ."
"Oh, yeah." Loomis lifted his blotter and handed Gallagher his check. "Sorry its late."
"No problem," said Gallagher and he immediately headed for the door. "Listen, you want to get something to eat?"
Loomis shook his head and Gallagher was gone. Loomis thought about the last job he had before he went to work for Chester Conforti. It was a foundry up in Jackson Township. He worked in the punch press department and it was good money, but because it worked on a quota system, he was able to make great money. They figured, say, the average worker would make 50 pieces of a particular item in an hour. If you were able to make 100 you got twice your hourly wage. Loomis went wild and after a month he was pulling down better than a grand a week. The only thing he couldn't figure out was why everyone else seemed to be taking their time. It was another month before he noticed that almost everyone in his department was missing at least one digit. He quit the next day and went to work for Chester. There was irony there, but not in the fact that he had lost a finger anyway. It was that after it took him two months to notice a dozen people with missing fingers he went to work as a detective. Some detective.
Schneider came in late in the afternoon. He was very nice about the finger and happy to hear Loomis had found Joey and seemed willing to let Loomis handle bringing him in.
"If he doesn't show it'll hurt you."
"Well, then, I guess you'll be all right."
"Oh, yeah. She's talking. I think her lawyer's going for a PMS or metapause defense or something."
"That'll be tough, seeing as how crafty she was."
"Crafty? Listen, Loomis, the only reason you got her instead of us is because she was so stupid. She did everything wrong except leave evidence."
"Oh, that's the official story, huh? She left plenty of evidence. She left a gun with Keevers prints on the boardwalk and a gun with Arlene's prints in the pine barrens. She followed the Cap'n and me without getting caught. The only stupid thing she did was try to kill Zelbo."
"The stupid part was not killing you right off. That's what got her caught."
"Yeah, that was pretty stupid all right."
"You did a good job, son."
"Yeah. I been thinking about it. You know, all I really accomplished was saving Zelbo's life. The whole thing was his fault. It never would have gone this far without that greedy scumbag. He figured a messy divorce was an expensive divorce so he set them against each other. How did he think he was going to get away with it?"
Schneider shrugged. "It was her word against his. He tried to make a deal with her, but he probably figured he could brazen it out."
"So nothing happens to him?"
"You didn't hear? He's gone. He left a statement and a bond to appear at Sandra's trial, but he picked up and split. He's in Pennsylvania somewhere working on his bar exams."
Loomis shook his head.
"He called the Cap'n after Sandra fired him didn't he?"
"He didn't put it quite like that, but you can assume so. He says he first talked to Fishbein the day before you got brought in on it. After running off the wife I'm guessing he went a little slower with the Cap'n. He wanted war between the Fishbeins, but it took him most of a week to get the Cap'n fired up."
"What about Arlene?"
"What about her? She's going to testify against Ciscone, but she won't be much help. She can't get too specific without looking like she knew what was going on."
"She did, you know."
"Of course she did. Its like a tacit plea bargain."
"And she keeps the boat."
"Maybe. That other old guy is putting in a claim. The one with the checks."
"Goesser? Good for him."
"Look, Loomis, I'm not saying we don't appreciate your, uh, help."
"You better not. I cleared two murders and I'm handing you John Ciscone and I kept my mouth shut."
"But I'm talking to you as a friend. You got a lot on your plate now. You been knocked around quite a bit lately. What with the finger and Martha its been a rough month. Why don't you think about taking a little time off."
Loomis started to answer but then thought about it some more.
"I don't think so, Carl. I got a small nut, but a smaller margin. I don't think I can. Where would I go?"
"Go to the mountains. Its not expensive. You've earned it. I could lend you some money."
"That's nice. I appreciate it, Carl. I'll think about it."
"But not before Friday," said Schneider, getting up.
"Oh, I'll be there. Me and my pal Joey. Count on it."
"Take care, Loomis. And call your mother."
He did think about the mountains and the more he thought about it the nicer it sounded. The phone rang and he reached with his left hand. He pulled it back and picked it up with his right. Wrong number. Funny, he never noticed he picked up the phone with his left hand. Some detective.