“If you want me to call the police so you can report it…”

“I just want to get out of here,” he said. “I need a cab, but I could drown out there waiting for an empty one to come along.”

She brightened, able at last to suggest something. “Right over there,” she said. “The hotel? There’s a canopy’ll keep you dry, and there’s cabs pulling up and dropping people off all day long. And you know what? I’ll bet Angela at the register’s got an umbrella you can take. People leave them here all the time, and unless it’s raining they never think to come back for them.”

The girl at the cash register supplied a black folding umbrella, flimsy but serviceable. “I remember that coat,” she said. “Green. I saw it come in and I saw it go out, but I never realized it was two different people coming and going. It was what you would call a very distinctive garment. Do you think you’ll be able to replace it?”

“It won’t be easy,” he said.

“You didn’t want to do this one,” Dot said, “and I couldn’t figure out why. It looked like a walk in the park, and it turns out that’s exactly what it was.”

“A walk in the rain,” he said. “I had my coat stolen.”

“And your umbrella. Well, there are some unscrupulous people out there, Keller, even in a decent town like Boston. You can buy a new coat.”

“I never should have bought that one in the first place.”

“It was green, you said.”

“Too green.”

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“What were you doing, waiting for it to ripen?”

“It’s somebody else’s problem now,” he said. “The next one’s going to be beige.”

“You can’t go wrong with beige,” she said. “Not too light, though, or it shows everything. My advice would be to lean toward the Desert Sand end of the spectrum.”

“Whatever.” He looked at her television set. “I wonder what they’re talking about.”

“Nothing as interesting as raincoats, would be my guess. I could unmute the thing, but I think we’re better off wondering.”

“You’re probably right. I wonder if that was it. Losing the raincoat, I mean.”

“You wonder if what was what?”

“The feeling I had.”

“You did have a feeling about Boston, didn’t you? It wasn’t a stamp auction. You didn’t want to take the job.”

“I took it, didn’t I?”

“But you didn’t want to. Tell me more about this feeling, Keller.”

“It was just a feeling,” he said. He wasn’t ready to tell her about his horoscope. He could imagine how she’d react, and he didn’t want to hear it.

“You had a feeling another time,” she said. “In Louisville.”

“That was a little different.”

“And both times the jobs went fine.”

“That’s true.”

“So where do you suppose these feelings are coming from? Any idea?”

“Not really. It wasn’t that strong a feeling this time, anyway. And I took the job, and I did it.”

“And it went smooth as silk.”

“More or less,” he said.

“More or less?”

“I used a letter opener.”

“What for? Sorry, dumb question. What did you do, pick it up off his desk?”

“Bought it on the way there.”

“In Boston?”

“Well, I didn’t want to take it through the metals detector. I bought it in Boston, and I took it with me when I left.”

“Naturally. And chucked it in a Dumpster or down a sewer. Except you didn’t or you wouldn’t have brought up the subject. Oh, for Christ’s sake, Keller. The coat pocket?”

“Along with the keys.”

“What keys? Oh, hell, the keys to the apartment. A set of keys and a murder weapon and you’re carrying them around in your coat pocket.”

“They were going down a storm drain before I went to the airport,” he said, “but first I wanted to get something to eat, and the next thing I knew my coat was gone.”

“And the thief got more than just a coat.”

“And an umbrella.”

“Forget the umbrella, will you? Besides the coat he got keys and a letter opener. There’s no little tag on the keys, tells the address, or is there?”

“Just two keys on a plain wire ring.”

“And I hope you didn’t let them engrave your initials on the letter opener.”

“No, and I wiped it clean,” he said. “But still.”

“Nothing to lead to you.”

“No.”

“But still,” she said.

“That’s what I said. ‘But still.’ “

Back in the city, Keller picked up the Boston papers. Both covered the murder in detail. Alvin Thurnauer, it turned out, was a prominent local businessman with connections to local political interests and, the papers hinted, to less savory elements as well. That he’d died violently in a Back Bay love nest, along with a blonde to whom he was not married, did nothing to diminish the news value of his death.

Both papers assured him that the police were pursuing various leads. Keller, reading between the lines, concluded that they didn’t have a clue. They might guess that someone had contracted to have Thurnauer hit, and they might be able to guess who that someone was, but they wouldn’t be able to go anywhere with it. There were no witnesses, no useful physical evidence.

He almost missed the second murder.

The Globe didn’t have it. But there it was in the Herald, a small story on a back page, a man found dead on Boston Common, shot twice in the head with a small-calibre weapon.

Keller could picture the poor bastard, lying facedown on the grass, the rain washing relentlessly down on him. He could picture the dead man’s coat, too. The Herald didn’t say anything about a coat, but that didn’t matter. Keller could picture it all the same.

He went home and made some phone calls. The next morning he went out first thing and bought the Globe and the Herald and read them both over breakfast. Then he made one more phone call and caught a train.

Thirteen

“His name was Louis ‘Why Not?’ Minot,” he told Dot. “No ID on the body, but his prints were on file. He had a dozen arrests on charges ranging from petty theft to bad checks.”

“Well, you wondered what kind of man would steal another man’s raincoat. A small-time crook, that’s what kind.”

“Somebody gave him two in the head with a twenty-two.”

“Mathematically, that’s the same as one with a forty-four.”

“It was enough. Gun was silenced, would be my guess, but there’s no way to tell. Minot was walking on the Common, someone waited until there was nobody nearby, not hard to manage with the weather as bad as it was. Went up to him, popped him, and walked away.”

“Must have been a vigilante,” Dot said. “Whenever he sees someone steal a coat, he wreaks vengeance. Charles Bronson can play him in the movie.”

“What do you know about our client, Dot?”

“I can’t believe this came from him. I just can’t.”

“What must have happened,” he said, “is someone was watching the house on Exeter Street. As a matter of fact…”

“What?”

“There was a cab came along, dropped a guy in front of the place. I thought it was him, what’s his name, Thurnauer. Not that there was a resemblance, but I was seeing him from the back, watching him take a long look at the house across the street. But he walked away. Except maybe he just walked a little ways off and waited.”

“And saw you go in and come out.”

“In my pretty green coat. Then he tagged me to the place where I had lunch, and then he picked me up when I left, except this time it wasn’t me.”

“It was Louis Minot.”

“Wearing my coat. A day like that, rain coming down hard, he wouldn’t get too good a look at my face. The coat would do it. He stayed with the coat. Minot walked over to the Common, the shooter followed him, picked his moment…”

“Bang bang.”

“Or pop pop, if he used a suppressor.”

“Who knew you were going to Exeter Street? Answer: the client. But I still can’t believe it.”

“The cops believe it.”

“How’s that?”

“We already know what color Minot ’s coat was. Do you want to guess what he had in the pockets?”

“The keys and the knife.”

“Letter opener.”

“Whatever. I forgot about them, Keller. The cops made the connection?”

“Well, how could they miss it? One guy’s stabbed to death and another guy turns up dead less than a mile away with a letter opener in his pocket? They found blood traces on it, too.”

“I thought you wiped it.”

“I wiped it, I didn’t run it through a car wash. They found traces. Probably not enough for a DNA match, but they can type it, and it’ll be the same type as Thurnauer’s.”

“And the letter opener fits the wound.”

“Right. And the keys fit the locks.”

She nodded slowly. “Not hard to reconstruct. Minot moved up in class and took a contract, iced Thurnauer on Exeter Street and kept a date on Boston Common to get paid off. And got shot instead, bang bang or pop pop, because dead men tell no tales.”

“That’s how they figure it.”

“But we know better, don’t we, Keller? Minot said ‘Why not?’ to the wrong coat, and got himself killed by mistake. By somebody working for our client.”

“You just got finished saying you couldn’t believe it.”

“Well, what choice have I got, Keller? I have to believe it, whether I want to or not.”

“Not necessarily.”

“Oh?”

“I was up most of the night,” he said. “Thinking about things. Do you remember Louisville?”

“Do I remember Louisville? As if I could forget. The smell of bluegrass, the taste of a tall mint julep in a frosty glass. The packed stands at Churchill Downs, the horses thundering down the stretch. Keller, I’ve never been to Louisville, so what’s to remember?”

“You know what I mean.”

“Your trip there, the other time you had a bad feeling. And a husband tracked his cheating wife to your motel and killed her and her boyfriend in your old room.”

“Capped them with two in the head from a twenty-two.”

“Jesus Christ. But they got the husband for it, remember?”

“He didn’t do it.”

“You sure?”

“The cops are,” he told her. “His alibi held up.”

“Do they have anybody else they like for it?”

“I don’t think they’re looking too hard,” he said, “because they still like the husband. They think he arranged it, although he doesn’t seem like the kind of a guy who could arrange a three-car funeral. But they think he hired someone else to follow the wife and kill her in the act. Because it sure looked like a pro hit.”