Over the next few weeks he spent the greater part of each day combing the town for rings. Sometimes, finding one, he might also come across a bird, or a part of a bird, but not always. There was no pattern that he could see, no sense in any of it. Some of the sites, like the one near 4th Bridge, were clean, as if a team of forensic experts had been contracted to remove any trace of what had been done, while at others the evidence was everywhere: trails of loose feathers or a spattering of yellowish shit on the snow, a body or maybe a head, its black on red eyes like thin soap bubbles, already deflating. Hollister never found anything that might lead him to the person responsible, but it was clear (to him at least) that whoever was killing the birds was someone who'd spent time on the streets; they knew the alleys too well, the entrances to the unnamed spaces between buildings, and the iron-grilled stairwells that could be scaled, at night, to roofs where thin columns of steam rose from faulty pipes and the only views were those that overlooked the back of apartment complexes, other roofs, further alleys.

He canvassed the people in the central station, mostly men, who lived in shelters built of cardboard, or else dozed in sleeping bags while all around them swarmed the morning commute and the sound of leather shoes pounded the linoleum like a hard fall of rain. He asked the men he met at the shelter and the staff members there, and any panhandlers he came across on his daily walks, scouring the streets for a killer that no one but him seemed to care about, or even wanted to acknowledge; people were reluctant to talk about the rings, and if they did they usually blamed them on stoned teenagers, or conceptual artists with too much time on their hands. One man, a graying former soldier he met in a park, told Hollister that it was all just a marketing stunt.

"You'll see," he said. "In a few months they'll be on billboards, hocking shoes."

"I don't think so," said Hollister. The man shrugged.

"You're really worried about it you should talk to Maria."

"Maria who?" asked Hollister, lighting a cigarette.

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