asked without looking up.

'Santa Monica,' Carr said. 'Same building I lived in before I was transferred.' He shook his head. 'Rent's up a hundred bucks.'

Kelly put down the newspaper. 'Doesn't seem like two years,' he said, chuckling harshly. 'The memos 'No Waves' sent to headquarters to keep you from transferring back here were classic. He'd say things like, 'Agent Carr would benefit, career-wise, by a transfer to an office other than Los Angeles,' or 'Office requirements in the Senior Special Agent category are minimal…' like the pencil-neck geek that he is, he would never just come out like a man and say he hated your guts and didn't want you here. Good old true-to-form Norbert C. Waeves, the man who can grind out government memos faster than an offset printing press.

Carr smiled and said, 'That's why he was promoted to special agent in charge.'

Kelly changed the subject. 'I saw Sally in court the other day. She wants you to call her … told me that three times. Said she had been elected president of the Federal Court Stenographers Association. Nice gal, Sally, lots of class. The wife still says you should have married her years ago.

Carr shrugged.

Kelly folded the newspaper and tossed it in the trashcan. 'Since you were transferred, here's what you've missed: We have a new United States attorney. He was appointed because he's married to the daughter of that guy that owns half the hotels in Palm Springs. He has Jell-O for brains and all of his prosecutors are family friends-arrogant hippies and unbelievable Ivy League pricks. They're more concerned with the rights of the defendant than the public defender, and they all wear bow ties like that storefront lawyer on television. The other day the U.S. attorney actually gave a press release on the prosecution of a postman who got caught throwing his advertising mail in the sewer. The same day I asked them for a search warrant for a counterfeiter's car. They refused to issue one because they weren't sure of the case law. I had to let the guy drive off even though I knew the car had a load of phony twenties in the trunk.'

'In other words, the system hasn't changed,' Carr said.

'What system?' Kelly said. He flipped open a briefcase that was sitting on his desk and grabbed a sandwich. He removed the wax paper and lifted the top piece of bread to check the contents, then mashed the sandwich down with the heel of his hand.

'Meatloaf and raw onions?' Carr said.

Kelly's eyes said yes. He opened his mouth as wide as possible, bit off a full third of the sandwich, and chewed intently. Three more bites and the sandwich disappeared. He pulled a handkerchief from his back pocket and wiped his hands and mouth roughly.

Later, they left the office with Carr behind the wheel of the government sedan. Carr explained Calhoun's problem as they drove south on Main Street past L.A.'s skid row.

'Now I see why you didn't want to talk in the office,' Kelly said when Carr finished explaining his plan. He stared at a group of derelicts huddled under a rescue-mission sign featuring a picture of Jesus with outstretched hands. They were passing around a bottle of wine.

'Every one of 'em has a full head of hair,' Kelly said.


'Winos,' Kelly said. 'They all have full heads of hair.'

Carr gave his old partner a puzzled look.

'Just think of it,' Kelly said. 'In your whole entire lifetime, how many bald winos have you seen? There must be something about the booze that helps 'em keep their hair.'

'Dr. Jack Kelly,' Carr said. He chuckled.

Carr steered through the deserted garment district and down Central Avenue past crowded soul-food stands and pool halls. 'There's still not one single movie theater in all of Watts,' Kelly said. 'Too much vandalism, too many fights. But there is an answer. The owner could hook electrical wires under every seat in the theater. Anybody causes trouble, just give 'em a jolt. Knock 'em right out the door.'

'Great idea,' Carr said dryly. He pulled out the napkin to check the address, then turned onto a side street. He parked in front of a run-down apartment house with three Cadillacs lined up in the driveway. The agents took flashlights from the glove compartment and climbed out of the sedan. They strolled slowly down the driveway. Kelly flashed a beam of light on a mailbox. The name Calhoun was listed on the box for apartment number 3 along with two other names. Kelly flashed the light on the side of the two-story building. Number 3 was on the ground floor.

'I'll take the back,' Kelly whispered. He tiptoed along the driveway and turned right at the corner of the building.

As Carr approached the front door, he heard the sound of rock music inside. He knocked. Footsteps came to the door and a man inside said, 'Who's there?' Carr slipped his revolver out of its holster.

'Federal officers,' Carr said. 'Open the door.' There was the sound of running inside. Carr stepped back, lifted his foot, and slammed it into the doorknob as hard as he could. The doorjamb shattered and the door flew open. The living room was empty. He ran down the hallway and into a bedroom. The window was open and a black man was halfway out. He moaned. Kelly had him in a headlock. Carr grabbed the black man by the belt, pulled him back into the room, then threw him against a wall and frisked him. Carr handcuffed the man's hands behind his back. As Kelly started to climb in the window, Carr silently pointed at the closet.

'What's your name?' Carr said to the prisoner.

'Tyrone Calhoun,' he said in a voice that quavered.

Carr stepped to the closet door. He stood to the side, grasped the doorknob, and yanked the closet open. Two young black men stood huddled in the corner. 'Good evening, lads. Come on out and join the party,' he said. The men stepped out of the closet. They wore bright full-sleeved silk shirts and tailored trousers. Carr shoved them against a wall. He frisked.

As Kelly crawled in the window, Carr motioned him to watch Calhoun. He grabbed the other two men, shoved them into the living room, and opened the front door. 'Bye,' he said. The men looked at one another, then rushed out the door and down the driveway. Carr returned to the bedroom.

Kelly pulled drawers out of the dresser and upended them. He yanked clothing out of the closet, searched it, and tossed it on the floor.

'Do you have a warrant?' Tyrone Calhoun said.

'Shut your goddamn mouth,' Carr snapped.

Kelly hoisted a nightstand upside down. 'Bingo,' he said. He tossed Carr a stack of counterfeit ten-dollar bills wrapped with a rubber band.

Carr held the money in front of Calhoun's face. 'Is this yours?'

'I just moved in here a couple of weeks ago,' Calhoun said. 'I swear to God I ain't had anything to do with that stuff.'

'Oh, really,' Carr said sarcastically. 'You're under arrest for possession of counterfeit money.' He turned to Kelly. 'Give him his rights, Jack.'

Kelly sauntered across the room. He pulled a card from his shirt pocket and read in a singsong fashion: 'You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court or other proceedings. If you cannot afford a shyster one will be appointed for you. You also have a right to a free press and to peaceably assemble for the purpose of libation. Do you understand those rights and wave them as you would the flag of our nation?'

'Uh, yes sir,' Tyrone Calhoun said.

'How old are you?' Carr said.

'I just turned eighteen.'

'Then you also have the right to make one telephone call,' Carr said. 'Whom do you choose to call?'

Tyrone Calhoun squeezed his eyes shut. 'My dad will kill me,' he said.

Carr grasped the prisoner's arm. He pulled him into the living room. Calhoun gave him a number and Carr dialed it. He held the phone to the young man's ear.

'Dad? It's me. I … I'm under arrest, but I didn't do anything. I'm at the apartment.'

Carr pulled the phone away and hung up. 'I don't like long phone calls,' he said.

Kelly shuffled out of the bedroom carrying a handful of pill bottles and glassine envelopes. 'Found some dope, too,' he said. 'The stuff ought to be good for at least another five years in the pen for this punk.' He sat

Вы читаете The Quality of the Informant
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