here's something you're really going to like: The `considerable resources' part includes you. He mentioned you by name.' Silva's headache took a turn for the worse.

The director lowered his eyes to the desktop and stared at the last of the photos, the one that showed the destruction of Dom Felipe's cranium. It seemed to hold a morbid fascination for him. He put a hand to the side of his head.

'Is it always like that?' he asked.


'If someone's shot in the head, does it always do that much damage?'

'Not always. Depends on the weapon. A. 22, even at close range, usually makes a hole no bigger than the diameter of a pencil. And the bullet stays inside the skull.'

The director shuddered and focused on another aspect of the photo.

'Dom Felipe had just climbed out of a helicopter. He was going to consecrate a new church. Look, you can see it in the background.'

Silva leaned over and scrutinized the shot. 'The church?'

'The helicopter. It was owned by that fertilizer company, Fertilbras. They must have loaned it to him.'

'Umm,' Silva said, nodding. He turned the photo over. There was nothing on the back.

'Where did it happen?' he asked.

'Some little hick town called…' The director consulted a paper on his desk, 'Cascatas do Pontal, wherever the hell that is.'

'State of Sao Paulo, far western part. Not so hick. Population must be almost a quarter of a million by now.'

'For me, that's still hick,' the director said.

He proudly hailed from Sao Paulo, the capital of the state of the same name. It was a city boasting a population ten times larger than that of Brasilia and at least sixty times larger than Cascatas do Pontal.

'How the hell do you know about Cascatas do Wherever?'


'Right. Pontal. I never even heard of it,' the director said.

'There were some killings. A month ago, maybe a little more.'

'Killings? What killings?' the director asked and leaned back, awaiting an explanation. It was Mario Silva's business to know about such things.

'An agricultural worker, his wife, and their two kids. A nasty business.'

'Was it in the newspapers?'

'A couple of paragraphs, no more.'

'A couple of paragraphs, eh?' The director leaned forward. 'It doesn't matter how little there was. If it was in print at all, that bastard Pluma will know about it and you can bet your ass he'll mention it to the minister. Fill me in.'

'I don't think it could possibly have anything to do with what happened to the bish-'

'Fill me in, I said.'

'As you wish. Ever hear of Luiz Pillar?'

'Who in this town hasn't? What's Pillar got to do with it?'

Luiz Pillar, the spokesman for the Landless Workers' League, was a notorious gadfly, a major critic of the government's policy of land reform and a thorn in the side of Brazil's big landowners. He was not one of the director's favorite people.

'Seventy-five years ago-'

Silva got that far before the director cut him off.

'I don't care about history. I asked you what Pillar had to do with it.'

'Bear with me. I'm getting there.' Silva waited for a nod of assent before he picked up the thread.

'Seventy-five years ago,' he repeated, 'ninety-five percent of the land around Cascatas was owned by the government. These days, less than two percent of it is. The rest is in private hands, all concentrated into big estates.'


'So, Pillar claims that it was all done with fraudulent documents. He wants the landowners to give it back, and he wants the government to redistribute it to the poor.'

'Give it back?' Sampaio said. 'Ha. Fat chance.'

Big landowners were also big contributors to election campaigns. Their political clout far outweighed that of the poor and landless.

'A lot of that land isn't cultivated,' Silva observed.

That brought the director up short.

The Brazilian government had a constitutional obligation to appropriate untilled land and distribute it to the landless. In practice, however, local politicians and a corrupt judiciary were almost always successful at blocking any attempt to break up the great estates. Populist presidents, ministersand politically ambitious directors of the federal policedidn't like to be reminded of that fact.

'So this agricultural worker, he was some kind of an activist?' Sampaio asked, picking up a pen and tapping it impatiently on his desk.

'As I understand it, yes.'

'Worked with Pillar.'

'Probably. Most of them do.'

'And some landowner had him killed?'

'Maybe a single landowner, more likely a group of landowners. That would be my guess.'

The director dropped his pen and raised his hands in the air. 'So why don't you do something about it?'

Silva held his ground. 'With respect, Director, I think you know the answer to that.'

The answer was that the federal police, except in rare and very specific cases, had no mandate to investigate murders unless they occurred on federal property. The director knew that as well as Silva did.

'You're my man for criminal matters, and this is clearly a criminal matter. Put a stop to it,' the director said, just as if Silva could, and should. 'I have no sympathy for Pillar and his crowd, but we can't just stand idly by while people go around killing people. Where the hell do those landowners think they are, Dodd's City?'

Silva thought Sampaio probably meant Dodge City, but maybe not. Maybe there actually was a place called Dodd's City.

'The minister's going to call the Governor of Sao Paulo,' the director went on, 'and he'll talk him into requesting our help in the investigation of the bishop's murder. And while you're there, you'd better sniff around and see what you can learn about who killed that activist. It might help to keep Pillar off our backs.'

While you're there? Silva didn't like the sound of that. 'Can I keep those?' he said, reaching for the photographs and rising to his feet.

'Not so fast,' the director said.

Silva withdrew his hand.

'Sit down.'

Silva sank back into his seat, knowing what was coming, knowing he wouldn't like it.

'The first man you should talk to when you get there,' Sampaio continued, 'is a colonel in the State Police' - he consulted the same paper he'd looked at before-'called Ferraz. He's the man in charge.'

'Are you suggesting I go personally?' Silva said it innocently, as if he hadn't seen it coming all along.

The director's eyes rounded. He leaned back in his chair, his face transformed into a perfect expression of surprise. He would have made a first-class thespian.

'Are we on the same page here?' Sampaio spoke as if he was addressing someone who wasn't fluent in the language. 'I told you. We-are-on-the-spot. This is top priority. It has to be perceived that we regard it as such. I'm not suggesting anything. I'm telling you. You can use that hotshot nephew of yours, what's his name?'

'Costa. Hector Costa.'

'Yeah, him, and anybody else you think you might need, but you're going too, Mario. I'm supposed to call the minister at noon, and I'm going to tell him that.'

He glanced at his watch.

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