"He was a suspect in some other crimes; anyway, it's in the public interest to find out all we can."
Uxbridge asked skeptically, "The public interest, or to satisfy your own personal ambition, Sergeant?"
"As far as Animal Doil is concerned, my ambition was satisfied when he was found guilty and sentenced. But I have an official duty to learn all the facts I can."
"And I am more concerned with this man's soul."
Ainslie smiled slightly. ''Fair enough. Facts are my business, souls are yours. Why don't you work on Doil's soul while I'm on my way, and I'll take over when I get there?"
Uxbridge's voice deepened. "I insist on a commitment from you right now, Ainslie, that in any exchange you have with Doil, there will be no pretense that you possess any pastoral authority whatever. Furthermore "
"Father, you have no authority over me."
"I have the authority of God!" Uxbridge boomed.
Ainslie ignored the theatrics. "Look, we're wasting time. Just tell Animal I'll be at the prison before he checks out. And I assure you there will be no pretenses about my role there."
"Do I have your word on that?"
"Oh, for heaven's sake, of course you have my word. If I wanted to parade as a priest, I wouldn't have left the priesthood, would I?"
Ainslie hung up.
* * *
Quickly picking up the phone again, he punched out the number of Lieutenant Leo Newbold, commander of Homicide, who was off duty and at home. A pleasant woman's voice, tinged with a Jamaican accent, answered, "Newbold residence."
"Hello, Devina. This is Malcolm. May I speak to the boss?"
"He's sleeping, Malcolm. Do you want me to wake him?"
" 'Fraid so, Devina. Sorry."
Ainslie waited impatiently, checking his watch, calculating the distance, the drive, and the time. If nothing got in their way they could make it. But with no time to spare.
He heard a click as an extension phone was lifted, then a sleepy voice. "Hi, Malcolm. What the hell is this? Aren't you supposed to be on vacation?" Leo Newbold had the same distinctive Jamaican accent as his wife.
"I thought so, too, sir. But something's come up."
"Doesn't it always? Tell me."
Ainslie summarized his conversation with Father Uxbridge, and the urgency to leave at once. "I called for your okay."
"You have it. Who's driving you?"
"I'm taking Rodriguez."
"That's good. But watch him, Malcolm. The guy drives like a mad Cuban."
Ainslie smiled. "Right now that's exactly what I need."
"Will this mess up your family vacation?"
"Probably. I haven't called Karen yet. I'll do it on the way."
"Oh shit! I'm really sorry."
Ainslie had told Newbold of their special plans for tomorrow, which would mark both the eighth birthday of their son, Jason, and the seventy-fifth birthday of Jason's maternal grandfather, Brigadier-General George Grundy, ax-Canadian Army. The Grundys lived in a suburb of Toronto. For the dual celebration an elaborate family reunion was planned.
Newbold queried, "What time does that Toronto flight leave here?"
"Five after nine."
"And what time are they burning Animal?"
"Which means you'll be away by eight. Too late to get back to Miami. Have you checked Toronto flights from Jacksonville or Gainesville?"
"Not yet." "Let me work on that, Malcolm. Call me from the car in about an hour."
"Thanks. Will do."
On the way out of Homicide, Ainslie gathered up a tape recorder and the equipment to conceal it under his clothing. Whatever Doil's last statement, his words would live beyond him.
* * *
On the Police Building main floor, Jorge Rodriguez was waiting at the Patrol Office.
"Car's signed out. Slot thirty-six. And I got the cell phone." Jorge was the youngest Homicide detective, in many ways a protege of Ainslie's, and his eagerness was an asset now.
"Let's move it."
They exited the building at a jog, feeling at once the oppressive humidity that had blanketed Miami for days. Ainslie glanced at the sky, which, apart from a few small cumulus clouds, was clear, with stars and a half moon.
Minutes later, with Jorge at the wheel, they left the Police Department parking lot, making a fast turn onto Northwest Third Avenue. Two blocks later they were on the Interstate 95 northbound ramp, from where they would continue north for ten miles, then switch to Florida's Turnpike, with three hundred miles ahead.
It was 11:10 P.M,
The marked car for which Ainslie had asked was a fully equipped, air-conditioned Miami Police blue-and-white Chevrolet Impala, unmistakably official.
"You want lights and siren?" Jorge asked.
"Not yet. Let's see how it goes, but put your foot down and keep it there."
Traffic was light and they were already doing seventyfive, knowing that a marked police car, even out of Miami jurisdiction, would not be stopped for speeding.
Malcolm settled into his seat and gazed out the window. Then he reached for the cellular phone and entered his home number.
"I cannot believe this, Malcolm! I absolutely cannot believe it."
He told Karen unhappily, "I'm afraid it's true."
"You're afraid! Afraid of what?"
A moment earlier, on receiving Malcolm's call, Karen's first question had been, "Darling, when are you coming home?"
When he told her he wouldn't be home that night, the temper that she seldom showed exploded.
He tried to explain and justify what he was doing, but unsuccessfully.
Now she continued, "So you're afraid of offending that piece of human garbage who's about to be electrocuted, as he goddam well should be! Afraid of missing a juicy tidbit to one of your stupid cases? But not afraid, oh no! not afraid at all of disappointing your own son on his birthday. Your son, Malcolm, in case you've forgotten your son who's been looking forward to tomorrow, counting the days, counting on you . . ."
Ainslie thought miserably: everything Karen was saying was true. And yet . . . How could he make Karen understand? Understand that a cop, especially a Homicide detective, was always on duty. That he was obligated to go. That there was no way he could not respond to the call he'd received, no matter what was happening in his personal life.
He said flatly, "I feel terrible about Jason. You must know that."
"Must I? Well, I damn well don't know. Because if you cared at all, you'd be here with us now instead of on the way to that murderer the man you've put ahead of everything, especially your own family."
Ainslie's voice sharpened. "Karen, I have to go. I simply have no choice. None!"
When she didn't answer, he continued, "Look, I'll try to catch a flight out of Jacksonville and Gainesville, so I can join you in Toronto. You can take my suitcase."
"You're supposed to be traveling with us the three of us together! You, Jason, me your family! Or have you totally forgotten?"
"Karen, that's enough!"
"And of course there's the little matter of my father's birthday, the only seventy-fifth birthday he'll ever have, and who knows how many more there'll be. But clearly none of us count not in comparison to that creature 'Animal.' That's what you call him, isn't it? An animal who comes ahead of all of us."
He protested, "That isn't true!"
"Then prove it! Where are you now?"
Ainslie looked out at road signs on I-95. "Karen, I cannot turn around. I'm sorry you don't understand, but the decision's been made."
Briefly his wife was silent. When she resumed, her voice was choked and he knew she was close to tears. "Do you realize what you're doing to us, Malcolm?"
When he didn't answer, he heard a click as she hung up.
Dispirited, he switched off the cellular phone. He remembered guiltily the number of times he had disappointed Karen by putting official duty ahead of his family life. Karen's words of a week ago came back to him: Malcolm, our life simply cannot go on like this. He hoped desperately she didn't mean it.
Within the car a silence followed that Jorge had the good sense not to break. At length Ainslie said glumly, "My wife just loves being married to a cop."
Jorge rejoined warily, "Pretty mad, eh?"
"Can't think why." Ainslie added sourly, "All I did was screw up our vacation, all for the sake of having a chat with a killer who'll be dead by morning. Wouldn't any good husband do the same?"
Jorge shrugged. "You're a Homicide cop. Some things you just gotta do. Can't always explain them to outsiders." He added, "I'm never getting married."
Suddenly Jorge floored the accelerator, pulling out sharply to pass one car and cutting in ahead of another coming up behind. The second car's driver blasted his horn in protest.
Ainslie roared, "For Christ's sake! Cool it!" Then, turning in his seat, he waved to the car behind, hoping the driver would take it as an apology. He fumed, "It's Doil who's supposed to die tonight, not us."
"Sorry, Sergeant." Jorge grinned. "Got carried away with the need for speed."
Ainslie realized Leo Newbold was right. At times Jorge did drive like a madman, but his Cuban charm remained intact. His appeal clearly worked wonders on women as well a series of beautiful, sophisticated women who accompanied Jorge everywhere, seemed to adore him, then, for reasons never explained, were periodically replaced.
"With the kind of arrangements you have, why would you get married?" Ainslie said.
"At my age I need to keep my options open."
"Well, you're certainly doing that. You're a regular prime-time Romeo. You remember yesterday even Ernestine couldn't resist your charms."
"Sergeant, Ernestine's a hooker. Any guy with a wallet in his back pocket could charm her."
"I had forty-five Dollars in my pocket, and she didn't come on to me."
"No. Well, it's just that . . . I don't know . . . people respect you. Those girls would feel like they were propositioning their uncle."
Ainslie smiled and said quietly, "You did well yesterday, Jorge. I was proud of you."
And he leaned back in his seat. . .
* * *
An elderly tourist, Werner Niehaus, was driving a Cadillac rental car when he got lost in Miami's maze of numbered streets many of which had names as well, sometimes even two names. Getting lost happened often, even to locals. Unluckily, the bewildered German strayed into the notorious Overtown area, where he was attacked, robbed, and shot dead, his body then thrown from the rental car, which his attackers subsequently stole. It was a wanton, needless killing. Robbery presumably the objective could have been achieved easily without it.
A statewide BOLO "be on the lookout" was immediately issued for the missing car.
With the killing of foreign tourists already receiving international attention, pressure was building from the mayor, the city commissioners, and the chief of police downward for a speedy resolution. While nothing would undo the adverse publicity for Miami, a swift arrest might soften the negative edge.
The following morning, Jorge, accompanied by Malcolm Ainslie, cruised the Overtown area in an unmarked car in search of evidence or witnesses. Ainslie let Jorge take the lead, and near the corner of Northwest Third Avenue and Fourteenth Street he spotted two drug dealers, known to him by their street names, Big Nick and Shorty Spudman. There was an arrest warrant out for Shorty on an aggravated assault charge, a felony.