I switched the siren to wail. Ben Atreus was the chief paramedic. When he introduced me to Troy as Troy’s temporary partner, by the way Ben smiled and Troy grunted, I sensed bad blood between them.

“Time’s a-ticking,” Troy said

I ran the ambulance hard on the center line. Traffic parted. We crossed Woodland. The road dipped and then curved.

Four-oh-four out.”

Troy cursed under his breath. “Take this right up here.”

I swung around a stopped city bus and then turned right onto Scarborough. It was a long flat street lined by giant maple trees. Large, stately homes were set well back from the road, many behind hedges or iron gates.

“Keep going. It’ll be down toward the Albany end on the right hand side. We should see the cars in the drive. There they are—down there.”

A Capital Ambulance fly car, its red lights still whirling, was parked behind three police cars in the circular driveway of the white columned brick house. I shut off the siren as I drove through the entrance.

We wheeled the stretcher across the damp, recently cut lawn. A police officer met at us at the front door. “You’re not going to need that. It’s a seventy-eight. In the library. I hope you have a strong stomach.”

We walked through a living room, where moving boxes were piled. The walls held only picture hooks.

Ben Atreus stood by the French doors open to a brick terrace. A man in his mid-thirties, he had the red complexion of someone with high blood pressure. He wore a white supervisor shirt with a gold badge over the left breast pocket. He nodded solemnly to us. “C-MED four-oh-four,” he said into his radio, “a patch to Saint Fran with medcon, please.”

Med eight. Stand by.”

Brahms played from an unseen source. There was a Persian rug in front of a large marble-faced fireplace. Empty bookcases lined the high-ceilinged room. A man sat in a chair behind a massive mahogany desk. I looked at the face. There was nothing there. No eyes. No nose. No mouth. Just torn bloody flesh. Bits of tissue, blood, and hair stuck to the ceiling. You could still smell the acrid discharge of gunpowder.

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