Stone Barrington had already had a drink and had almost given up on Dino Bacchetti. It was unlike his former NYPD partner, now the lieutenant in charge of the detective squad at the 19th Precinct, to be late for eating or drinking. Stone was signaling a waiter for another drink and a menu when Dino trudged in.
Why are you trudging?” Stone asked.
I’m trudging because I’m depressed,” Dino said, waving at a waiter and making drinking motions.
And why, pray tell, are you depressed?”
Mary Ann and I have just split.”
Yeah, sure,” Stone said. Just sleep on the sofa tonight, and everything will be fine in the morning.”
Not this time,” Dino replied, drinking greedily from the glass set before him. Words were spoken that can’t be taken back.”
Take it from a lawyer,” Stone said, the only words spoken that can’t be taken back are Guilty, Your Honor.’”
Those were pretty much the words,” Dino said.
And who spoke them?”
Who the fuck do you think?” Dino asked. You think she would ever cop to anything?”
What did you plead guilty to?”
To the new desk sergeant at the precinct.”
Stone’s eyebrows went up. Dino, are you switch-hitting these days?”
A girl desk sergeant.”
So the sofa is not an option?”
Nah. I guess I’m moving in with you.”
Stone blinked loudly.
Relax. It’s only ’til I can find a place.”
Stay as long as you like, Dino,” Stone said, patting his arm and hoping to God it wouldn’t be more than a day or two before Mary Ann relented and let him back in the house.
Thanks, pal, I appreciate it.” Dino nodded toward the door. Look who’s coming.”
Stone looked toward the door to find Lance Cabot and Holly Barker approaching.
May we join you?” Lance asked.
Sure.” Stone waved them to chairs. Lance was in charge of some sort of New York CIA unit that Stone didn’t really understand, and Holly had left her job as a chief of police in a small Florida town to work for him. Both Stone and Dino were contract consultants,” and Stone didn’t really understand that, either, except that Lance sometimes asked him to do legal stuff. Stone and Holly were, occasionally, an item.
Lance ordered drinks.
Why do I perceive that this isn’t a social visit?” Stone asked.
Because your perceptions are very keen,” Lance replied.
Tell me everything you know about Richard Stone.”
Stone blinked. It was the second time that day that Dick Stone’s name had come up. He’s my first cousin,” Stone replied.
I said everything you know,” Lance pointed out.
Okay, he’s the son of my mother’s older brother, now deceased; he grew up in Boston, went to Harvard and Harvard Law. I think he’s something at the State Department.”
How long since you’ve seen him?”
Stone thought about it. We had dinner eight, nine years ago, when I was still a cop. Last time before that was a little more than twenty years ago.”
Did you know him as a boy?”
Okay, let me tell you about it. The summer after I graduated from high school my parents sat me down and told me I was going to spend the summer in Maine with some relatives of hers. This came as a surprise, because my mother’s relatives had stopped speaking to her years before I was born, because she had married my father, who had been disowned by his family, because he was a Communist. He didn’t seem too happy about my spending the summer with a bunch of Stones.”
MALON BARRINGTON WAS, indeed, unhappy. Why would you want your son to spend ten minutes with those plutocratic sons of bitches, let alone a whole summer?” he asked his wife.
Because Richard was my brother, and Caleb and Dick Jr. are Stone’s cousins, and he ought to take advantage of the opportunity to get to know them,” Matilda Stone replied. They have that very nice place on Islesboro, in Penobscot Bay, and it’s a wonderful place to spend a summer.”
Stone was going to work for me in the shop,” Malon said. Malon was a maker of fine furniture and cabinets.
You’re going to have to hire somebody when Stone goes to NYU in the fall anyway,” Matilda said, so it might as well be now as then.”
Malon made a disgruntled noise.
Matilda got down an atlas and found Maine. Here,” she said, tapping her finger on a large body of water. This is Penobscot Bay, the largest bay in Maine, and this long, skinny island is Islesboro. The Stones live here, in the village of Dark Harbor. I spent a couple of summers there in their big, drafty old house, which isn’t insulated. It’s one of those rambling summer cottages’ that’s unusable before June or after Labor Day.”
Sounds swell,” Stone said dryly.
AND THAT WAS IT,” Stone said to Lance. I took a train to Bangor, where I was met by a retainer in a 1938 Ford station wagon. We drove to Lincolnville, then took a twenty-minute ferry ride to Islesboro.”
Dick had a brother named Caleb?”
Yes. He was two years older than Dick, who was my age, and Caleb was a pain in the ass; he was a bully and a general all-round shit. Dick was a nice guy: smart, good in school, good athlete. All Caleb ever did in school was wrestle, and he liked nothing better than to grab Dick or me and get us in some sort of stranglehold. This went on until the day I kicked him in the balls and broke his nose with an uppercut. His mother almost sent me back to New York. When I left after Labor Day, she made it pretty clear that I wouldn’t be invited back, and I wasn’t.”
What did you do that summer?” Lance asked.
We sailed and played golf and tennis. The Stones lived near the yacht club, and there was a nine-hole golf course and a tennis club. We didn’t lack for activity.”
Did you and Dick keep in touch?”
We exchanged a few letters over the next year or two, but that petered out. I didn’t hear from him again until he turned up in New York and called me at the precinct and invited me to dinner. We went to the Harvard Club, I remember, and I was impressed.”
What did you talk about that evening?”
About our work: He was stationed in Rome, as I recallhe was the agricultural attaché, or somethingand I was working homicides with Dino. I remember he asked me if I was interested in government service, and I said I was already in government service. I asked him what he had in mind, but he was vague. I didn’t hear from him again until this morning.”
Lance nearly choked on his drink. This morning?”
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