Hitch and I left the PAB in his Porsche at two thirty the day after the deal was cut with Nash. It was before any of this had hit the news.

It was one of those crystal-clear Santa Ana days when the wind blew out of the desert and L.A. seemed to sparkle. We drove over the hill to Studio City and parked in front of Russ and Gloria Trumbull’s house, then sat in silence for a minute.

“This is why we do it,” Hitch said.

“Yes,” I said. “It is.”

We got out of the car and walked up the steps to the front door. Hitch rang the bell. After a moment Mrs. Trumbull opened up. She was wearing pink shorts and a white jersey top over flats. She looked at us as if she couldn’t quite remember who we were.

“Mrs. Trumbull, we’re the detectives working on your daughter’s murder case,” I prompted.

“I know who you are,” she said, and the anger in her voice confirmed it.

“Is Mr. Trumbull home?”

“He’s taking a nap. Is this important?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. “Could you please get him?”

“Come in.”

She led us into the neat living room. We sat on the sofa, and as she left, Hitch and I locked gazes. He nodded at me and finally smiled.

Gloria Trumbull returned a few minutes later with her husband in tow. Russ was rubbing his eyes as he came across the room, wearing jeans and a sweater.

“Sorry, I was taking a nap,” he said. “What is it? More questions?”

“Mr. and Mrs. Trumbull, we came here to tell you we’ve made an arrest in your daughter’s case.”

“An arrest?” Mrs. Trumbull said, her hands wandering up to hover near her mouth.

“Yes, ma’am,” Hitch said. “It was a police officer. A sergeant named Lester Madrid. He’d been dating your daughter.”

Then both of them sat down opposite us.

“A policeman,” Gloria said.

“Yes,” I replied.

Hitch and I told them what had happened, and when we were through they sat there in silence.

“You mean they actually caught him? He’s in custody right now?” Russ finally asked.

“Yes, sir,” I answered. “He was charged with the crime this afternoon. It’s a solid case with a witness. The indictment will come down in a day or two.”

They looked at each other. Gloria Trumbull started to mist up and then began to cry.

“We never thought this day would come,” she said, through her tears.

“We just wanted to come over and tell you in person,” I said. “We wanted you to hear it from us first.”

Hitch and I stood. The Trumbulls walked us to the door. When we turned to leave, both Russ and Gloria reached out and stopped us.

“You kept your promise,” Russ said. “Thank you, so very much. You can’t know how much this means.”

But I did know. It was on both their faces.

“We’ll never be able to repay you,” Gloria added.

Then she pulled us forward, gave us each a kiss on the cheek, and said, “God bless you.”

We left them standing in the doorway, watching us as we walked away. We sat in the car for a long time. Then the Trumbulls closed their front door.

The San Gabriel Mountains were almost purple in the clear golden sunlight. The sky was so blue it seemed like a gift from God. I didn’t have words for what I felt, but Hitch, the ersatz movie producer and bon vivant, who always seemed to be looking for a better gig, was able to sum it all up in just one sentence.

“Sometimes this job really kicks ass,” he said.

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