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.Corleone had tucked himself in, the clerk went out to copy down the car license.” Joe extracted a slip of paper from his pocket and handed it to Lil Farber.“We traced it to a rental place at the Newark airport.”Willy was clearly irritated at hearing this only now.“Fat lot of good that’ll be.Busiest rental desk in the Northeast, probably.Which was exactly the point.”Joe was genuinely embarrassed by his oversight.This information had been so last second, he’d truly just shoved it into his pocket and forgotten about it.“I don’t doubt it,” he agreed soothingly.But Farber wasn’t playing.“I wouldn’t say that,” she said.“Not necessarily.We have pretty good relations with these outfits, since a lot of the car arsons involve rentals as getaway vehicles.We can give it a try, at least.”Ben Silva stood up again, making Joe wonder if perpetual motion was the man’s primary form of exercise.“Great,” he said, rubbing his hands like a pleased host.“Lil will be your official liaison during your stay.Anything you want, ask her.It goes without saying that we’d appreciate your doing all police work in her presence or with her knowledge, since you’re out of your jurisdiction.” He looked a little embarrassed by his own words.“Don’t want you boys to get into any jams in the big city.”Willy gave him a predictably baleful look.“Right—goes without saying.”Joe grabbed his elbow and steered him toward the door, saying cheerfully, “Got it, Ben.Appreciate the help.We’ll mind our manners.You want updates as we go?”Silva seemed grateful for the fast exit.“Lil will keep me up to date, but come by any time.”Chapter 12LIL FARBER WAS DRIVING, WITH JOE up front and Willy in the center of the back seat, sitting slightly hunched forward.They were in Farber’s unmarked SUV, heading toward downtown Newark.“How long you been a cop?” Joe asked conversationally, looking out the window at what he believed was one of the most unremarkable urban centers he’d ever visited.It didn’t always look bad or blighted, necessarily, barring the occasional weed-choked, empty city block.Mostly, it seemed like a jumble of spare parts borrowed from other communities—a little suburbia here, a little small-town America there, some anonymous big-city bits elsewhere.There was no particular rhyme or reason to it, and no overriding sense of identity.The only common thread Joe could see—in this section of town, at least—was the occasional glimpse of the New York skyline down several of the eastern-pointing streets—hovering enormously on the horizon like a supertanker bearing down, albeit far enough off to be only startling.“Twenty-two years,” she answered.“I came into the prosecutor’s office straight out of college.” She laughed and glanced at him to raise her eyebrows.“Did it for the money, if you can believe that.It was the best job offer I had going.”“Jesus,” Willy commented.“What else were you looking at? Panhandler?”“I can’t complain,” she said, ignoring him.“It’s interesting work, and I have a business on the side.A lot of us do.I’m part owner of a restaurant.”“There it is,” Willy exclaimed suddenly, his pointing finger appearing between the two of them.“I told you.”Joe looked ahead and saw looming into view an enormous rusty metal bottle perched on stilts atop an abandoned building.“Hoffman bottling plant originally,” Farber explained.“Then the Pabst brewery, before it went out of business.People never paid much attention that the beer bottle started out as a soda bottle.”“Close as Newark comes to a landmark,” Willy repeated.“Like the Eiffel Tower.”Farber glanced over her shoulder quickly.“You’re quite the asshole, aren’t you?”“One of our best,” Joe agreed.“I’m taking you on a small side trip,” Farber explained, driving between two cemeteries, one Jewish, the other Catholic.“The Newark most people know is actually several municipalities, of which Newark’s just one.They all fit together like puzzle pieces.There’s Irvington, Orange—where we just came from—Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Nutley, and a few others.They all have their own governments, police and fire departments.New Jersey is one of the most heavily bureaucratic states around, and it’s bloated with patronage and corruption.One reason that bottle stands out like it does is because everybody’s too busy lining their own pockets to care much about civic pride.“We have a beautiful old courthouse that looks like a palace,” she continued, “built in 1907 for two million bucks.Not a hundred years later, it’s been under renovation for six years, and supposedly the scaffolding cost more to put up than the original building.Tell me someone isn’t making a profit on that one.”She indicated one of the empty lots that Joe had noticed earlier, and which had been increasing in number as they headed south.“You’ll see those all over Newark.The really big ones were once either factories or public housing buildings, the smaller ones were usually properties that burned down during the ’67 riots, back in the days of ‘Burn, baby, burn.’”“Forty years ago?” Joe asked, surprised.“That’s when the city started dying big-time,” Willy added.“Actually,” their host continued, “it was dying way before then.The riots were just the last spasms.Whatever a town could do wrong, this one did, decade after decade, including taking all its poor and stuffing them like black powder into the biggest collection of public housing projects in the country.Talk about a time bomb.After the riots, of course, they tore them all down.No halfway measures here.”The neighborhood they were in now had disintegrated into a variation of what Joe had seen in New York’s poorer sections a couple of years earlier.The streets were dirty, cars were abandoned everywhere, building after building was gutted and empty, windows gaping.Farber waved her hand as if introducing a stage act.“So here’s the latest version: Welcome to Irvington—our current time bomb.With the projects gone, Newark decided the next best move was to throw out its poor.Irvington became the trash barrel.We had a surveillance we were running in Irvington Park a while back.It was broad daylight, middle of the week, but we couldn’t get the job done because we were constantly distracted by all the crime going on around us, some of which was too bad to ignore [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]