wife once or twice at some official functions. As you know, she's married to Mike Foster now. Seems like a nice woman.' His gaze shifted slightly. 'I'm not sure any normal woman could have been happy married to Victor; he was married to his work, and totally independent.'

'Did he work after his first accident?'

'Not as far as I know. He was too weak from a series of operations. Most of his time was spent recuperating.'

'What about Mike Foster?' I asked. 'How do you know him?'

'As a matter of fact, he was introduced to me by Rafferty, who considered Mike one of the best contractors around. I use Mike for an annual lecture to first-year design students. Very successfully, I might add. He serves to remind the dreamers that there are men who actually have to build the structures they think up.'

I thanked Frank and said I'd find my own way to the door. By the time I reached it he was already absorbed in his acrylic towers in the sandbox.

The obvious thing to do, of course, was to celebrate the imminent end of school. But I'd already done that; three times, beginning in March. Besides, I didn't feel right; the case didn't feel right. I couldn't forget the quiet desperation in Foster's voice. I went home and found a fly struggling in a pool of water in the bottom of the sink. Feeling like an absolute idiot, I gently lifted the fly out of the water and put it on the sink counter to dry. It died anyway. I kept thinking about omens.

That night I slept badly. I finally gave up the struggle with my subconscious and waited for dawn with the latest Ross Macdonald caper; Lew Archer was still tracking lost children-masterfully, propelled by words that shone as bright and hard as diamonds and left a warm glow in the mind.

I finished the book and went down to my favorite diner for a big breakfast. The Times and the crossword took me to nine. I walked to Park and Fifty-ninth, where Patern's architectural firm was headquartered.

Richard Patern's sudden success had earned him a large suite of offices deep in the inner sanctum of Fielding, Fielding and Gross. The blonde with the hard green eyes and Mary Quant makeup who sat at the desk in the walnut-and- chrome outer office was there to protect the young genius from distractions like dwarf private detectives.

She listened to my story about being the representative of an eccentric billionaire who wanted to erect a circus monument. Either too amused or too much of a lady to call me a liar, she penciled me in for a four-o'clock appointment.

It was a nice day, and I kept walking-this time to the Forty-second Street library, where I settled down in the periodical reference room with a smuggled container of coffee. With a person as famous as Rafferty, I figured the logical place to begin was at the end. His obituary, in New York Times small print, was a page and a half long. I paid special attention to the report on his death; it gave the name and address of the watchman who had supposedly seen Rafferty fall into the furnace at the metallurgical lab. According to the report, Rafferty's wife had refused to talk with newsmen. I wondered why. A desire to grieve in privacy? Or fear?

I studied the photos of the woman who was now Mike Foster's wife. The difference in the appearance of the woman in the photographs taken before and after Rafferty's death was striking. In the earlier photos she was beautiful, carefree, conscious of the camera and seemingly not at all averse to the attention her husband abhorred.

All that had changed in the later photos. She looked-to use Foster's expression-haunted. There were dark rings under her eyes and a wild, almost desperate, air that had transformed her vibrant beauty into something plastic and hollow. It struck me that there seemed to be far more fear than grief in the stiff mask of her face.

There was an accompanying, detailed report on Rafferty's first 'death.' The car accident had made headlines; Rafferty's recovery made even bigger ones. It was apparently considered by medical men to be the most amazing medical rally since Lazarus, and most of the credit went to a New York-based neurosurgeon named Arthur Morton.

Morton's picture showed a large, thick-bodied man who might have been a decent athlete fifty pounds before. He was standing in front of a wall papered with framed diplomas, looking extremely pleased with himself.

An intriguing aside near the end of the article mentioned Morton's death. I checked the appropriate cross- index and came up with his obituary.

I skipped the Grosse Pointe and Harvard Medical School background. There were two things about the account of his death that immediately caught my attention. The report said that Morton had been murdered in his Park Avenue office by an intruder-at approximately three-thirty in the morning, a decidedly unlikely hour for a Park Avenue physician to be in his office. I also found it curious that Arthur Morton had been killed less than two weeks before Victor Rafferty's final, presumably fatal, accident.

The fact that the two men who had been paired to produce one of history's greatest medical miracles had died violent deaths a few days apart seemed like an interesting coincidence.

Scanning through succeeding issues, I couldn't find any mention of the murderer's being caught, but I noted down some of the details in my pocket notebook. Next I started checking through all the issues of the Times published in the six months between Rafferty's car accident and his death-a laborious task made easier by the library's microfilm records. I had no idea what I was looking for, but the added fact of Arthur Morton's murder made me curious enough to make the effort.

Aside from the series of follow-up reports on Rafferty's recovery, there wasn't much about him up until the time of the final accident-except for one item that I almost missed and that then seemed to leap out from the page.

It was a photograph, and the only caption was a large question mark. A short paragraph below noted that the picture had been taken outside Victor Rafferty's home, but that reporters had been kept behind police lines and forbidden to question any of the men present.

When I magnified the photo under the viewer, I could make out two men lying on a flagstone walk leading up to a large Tudor house. One of the men was trying to rise, a hand to his head, and seemed to be in pain. The other lay in the kind of final, splay-limbed position I'd come to associate with death.

Rafferty's wife was standing just outside the house, almost hidden in the shadows of the huge willows that dotted the lawn. Her hand was clamped over her mouth, and in the silence of the library I imagined I could almost hear her screaming.

There were four men standing around the two who had fallen. Three of the four had the burly, no-nonsense look of plainclothes detectives or government agents. The fourth man was of a different breed. The picture had been taken with a telephoto lens and was slightly blurred under magnification, but I could see that the man's head was completely bald. He seemed to be in charge of whatever was going on, because his face was pointed toward the camera and he was gesturing angrily in the direction of the photographer.

The heavyset men were dressed in light, sweat-stained summer suits; Mrs. Rafferty wore a sleeveless frock; the bald-headed man was wearing what appeared to be a heavy winter overcoat, complete with fur collar. I frowned and rechecked the dateline in the newspaper; it read Friday, August 15: two days before the accident in the metallurgy lab. I photocopied the picture and left the library.

I still had some time to kill before my appointment with Patern, so on a hunch I went back uptown to my university office. There was an envelope from Mike Foster that had been delivered by messenger. Inside was a check for an unexpected five hundred dollars that brought visions of sunny Acapulco beaches to my mind. The accompanying head-and-shoulders shot of Victor Rafferty, taken after the accident, brought the temperature back down; it showed, in good detail, that the right side of his skull had been shaved, as if for an operation. A thin, furry matting of hair was just beginning to grow in over an ugly, puckered mass of scar tissue; a network of scars ran like rivers of ugliness down the right side of his face, over the area of his temple, through his eyebrow, and down his right cheek. The unscarred flesh on his high forehead looked almost transparent, like cheap tissue paper. His thin lips seemed locked in a painful grimace. The black, sensitive eyes were very bright, almost feverish. There was a brooding quality about the face; the torment in those smoldering eyes seemed fueled by more than just physical pain.

I let the photograph slip from my fingers onto the top of my desk, as though the fire in those eyes might burn

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