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"Jake, I want you all over the Missing Persons files." I slid him a folder. "See what you can find in the right age range, check blood types if you have them. Keep an 'A' file of everything that looks possible, a 'B' pile of everything that's not impossible."

"Big fuckin' file," he said.

"You'll need those handy when we find more information."

Jeffries: "If we do."

"Homicide is the final act of aggression," I said, shooting Joey's words at Jeffries. "Final and irrevocable. You came to this squad so you'd never have to ask questions like right or wrong. Once a guy kills somebody, he's wrong. Enjoy it." Silence as I handed out copies of a map I'd drawn grids all over and slid a manila file to Jeffries.

"Jeffries and Milsap, this is a printout of the butchers in the area. Ask questions and search the premises."

Jeffries snorted. "Got no warrant."

"Tell them if they volunteer you'll be out in ten minutes. If they don't, you'll have to close them down to do a thorough search when the warrant comes. Torbett and Waller, I want you to talk to Vice and get a list of pimps in Charlie Sector, names, photos, records, haunts.

Divvy them up and start rousting. Start with anyone who has cases pending, especially possession or Assault and Battery. Make 'em rat out their friends. After that, Jeffries take area A, north of East Twelfth and west of the ravine. Milsap area B, including the methadone clinic; Torbett C, including Planned Parenthood; and Waller D. Start close to the dump site and work outward. The stores and bars listed at the bottom are places where I know people. I'll take those and the Casa Rosa complex. We'll meet back at Casa Rosa at five with whatever we got so far and regroup."

Jake asked, "What are we gonna call her?" I'd given it some thought. "Sally."

Jake hummed, "Mustang Sally."

Waller suggested, "Long tall Sally."

Jeffries said, "Dirty Sally, " the name of a university area bar with a penchant for vice.

I nodded. "Let's just call her 'Sally'." Everybody seemed to go along with it. But I could tell which one would stick.

Jeffries: "Why Charlie Sector?"

"If she was a streetwalker it's fifty-fifty she worked there. If she was a junkie she probably scored dope there. We know that's where she landed."

Torbett: "What do we ask?"

"Talk it up. What kind of action is going on in the neighborhood? What's anybody heard? Any fights? Lovers' spats, angry pimps, whores looking to get out, cults..."

Waller with a sparkle in his eye: "Did anyone notice a girl they haven't seen lately?"

"With scabby knees," Jeffries said, and laughed.

No motive, no suspects, no ID on the victim. The best thing we had was a doer who didn't mind fucking with the cops, and cops glad for the excuse to roust some pimps. Small pieces of a big puzzle. And the black charm she swallowed. If it wasn't the perfect crime, it would do until something better came along.

But I'd been disciplined twice. Sally was my chance to become a rising young detective again—my last chance. Jeffries whispered something to Milsap loud enough for me or anyone else to hear about "Tonto" not being much good without "the Lone Ranger." Or at least I thought he did.

Milsap said, "Hey, what's the matter with Reles?"

Jeffries said, "Some cops don't handle stress so good. Depends how you grew up."

I said, "Hey, Jeffries, did I tell you about my dream?"

He eyed me. "No."

I leaned into the light of the projector, Crazy Reles. "I dreamed we were in prison and you were my bitch."

The squad froze. Terror slammed Jeffries's huge face. "Whut?!"

"Yeah, there we are in Huntsville and I'm fuckin' your fat ass." I punched my palm. "Bam! Bam! Bam! I wonder what it means."

Miles covered his eyes. Another moment of dead silence before Waller broke it with a guffaw and flicked on the lights. The squad broke into laughs except for Jeffries himself, beet red and breathing heavily like a cornered animal, and Torbett, who never laughed, only listened.

I looked around the table. "The first seventy-two hours determine everything. Public Information is doing a good job of keeping a lid on this. Today the big story is a bus accident. No guarantees for tomorrow. When the press comes in, figure Jack the Ripper stories, mutilation pictures, Denton'll get curious. And we fuckin' well better have something to show her."

"I'll show her a luncher," Jeffries muttered.

"Have lunch on your own time," I said. "We're not eating this one. That goes for the rest of you. Before someone turned her out on the street she went to high school with your kid sister. This guy's good at cutting up girls. If he's done it before he'll do it again. So you can dick around till he finds a classier victim or you can do your fuckin' job and find out who hacked up Sally."

But before we could guess who killed her we had to find out who she was, this faceless girl who was so important that someone cut her up and left the rest for pickup. Who was she and who needed her this dead?

And how many more would be gone before we found out?


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