“I know you confine your reading material to dime novels and Sherlock Holmes,” Darrow said, slyly wry, “so I would imagine you missed it, when it made the newspapers…but there was a little incident on Wall Street, a while back.”

I grunted. “I heard you got hit pretty hard in the Crash. But I thought you were writing now…. And aren’t you a hot ticket on the lecture circuit?”

He grunted back at me; his was more eloquent than mine. “This so-called depression has dwindled even those meager avenues of revenue. Absurd, publishing an autobiography in an age when only a mystery story has a chance to be a bestseller.”

“You’ve been involved in more than your share of real-life mystery stories, C.D.”

“I have no interest in distorting the facts of my life and my work into any such popular fiction.” He began buttering another roll; he looked at it, not me, but the half-smile that began digging a deeper groove in his left cheek was all mine. “Anyway, son, there’s more to life than money. I would have hoped you’d have learned that by now.”

“I learned a long time ago,” I said, reaching for a roll myself, “that for a man who despises capitalism, you have a more than grudging admiration for a dollar.”

“True,” he acknowledged, and chomped off another bite of buttered roll. “I’m like all humans—weak. Flawed.”

“You’re a true victim of your environment, C.D.,” I said, “not to mention heredity.”

He laughed, once. “You know what I like about you, son? You’ve got wit. And nerve. And brains. Not that those items will ease your suffering to any noticeable degree, in this sorry state of existence that burdens us so.”

C.D. had the most cheerfully bleak outlook on life I’d ever encountered.

“This isn’t about money at all,” he insisted. He squinted one eye, conspiratorially. “But don’t tell Ruby I said so—I have her convinced that our financial plight is the sole stimulus behind my stirring from self-imposed hibernation.”

“What’s really behind it?”

His shrug was grandiose. “Boredom. Loafing as an ideal is one thing; as a practice it’s quite something else. Four years of freedom from work may sound attractive. But think of four years of monotony. Four years of stagnation.” And now a grandiose sigh. “I’m tired, son—tired of resting.”

I studied him as if he were a key exhibit in a trial that could go either way.

“If you’re talking to lawyers the likes of Malone and Donovan,” I said, “this ‘little case’ must be pretty big.”

The gray eyes twinkled; he was like an immense wrinkled elf. “Big enough to shoulder that little Lindbergh matter you’ve been looking into off to the side of page one.”

I felt a chill, and it wasn’t from the ceiling fans.

Leaning forward, I said, “You’re kidding, right?…Not the Massie case?”

The half-smile blossomed into full bloom; he looked different than I remembered him from my childhood: that upper plate was a lot more perfect than his real teeth had been.

“I’ve never been to Honolulu,” he said, as if we were discussing the merits of a travel brochure and not a notorious criminal case. “Never been to that part of the Pacific. I hear it has unusual charm.”

From what I’d read, there was nothing charming about the Massie case: Thalia Massie, the wife of a naval lieutenant stationed at Pearl Harbor, had been abducted and raped; she had identified five “natives” as the assailants, and the men were arrested—but the trial resulted in a hung jury.

Thalia Massie’s mother—a Mrs. Fortescue, something of a society matron—had, with her son-in-law Thomas Massie’s assistance, engineered the kidnapping of one of the alleged assailants, hoping to make him confess; but he had been killed while in their “custody,” shot to death, and now Mrs. Fortescue, Lt. Thomas Massie, and two sailors they’d recruited to help them on their misadventure were to stand trial on a murder charge.

The Lindbergh kidnapping had indeed been edged out of the tabloid limelight by the cocktail of sex, violence, and racial turmoil that was the Massie case. The Hearst papers were reporting a rate of forty rapes against white women per year in Hawaii, and painted a picture of a “deplorable” situation in America’s “Garden of the Pacific.” Good citizens all around the nation were abuzz about the stories of bands of native degenerates who waited in the bushes to leap out and ravage white women. Editorials were calling for stern official measures to curb these sex crimes; headlines cried out of MELTING POT PERIL and labeled Hawaii a SEETHING CRATER OF RADICAL HATE. News stories out of Washington reported talk of martial law coming from Congress and the White House.

In short, the perfect case for Clarence Darrow’s comeback.

Shaking my head, I said, “Defending the rich again, C.D.? Shame on you.”

A chuckle shook his sunken chest. “Your father would be disappointed in me.”

“He didn’t mind when you represented Loeb and Leopold.”

“Of course not. He was an anti-capital punishment man himself.”

With one exception, I thought.

His smile was gone now. He was gazing into a sweating water glass as if it were a window on the past. “Your father never forgave me for supplementing my efforts on behalf of coal miners, anarchists, Negroes, and unionists with clients of…dubious distinction.”

“Gangsters and grafters, you mean.”

He raised an eyebrow, sighed. “A hard man, your father. Moral to a fault. No one could live up to his exacting standards. Not even himself.”

“But the Massie case…if what I’ve read is even close to true, you’d be a natural for the

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