Black Traffic



It was cold by the Landwehr Canal. The crime scene was contained inside a small perimeter, and understated, no portable generator or halogen lamps. Ambulance, hazard lights off, a diver, already stripping out of his wetsuit, the patrol car, two uniforms next to it, an unmarked vehicle, with a driver. The unmarked car belonged to Inspector Glass, and he was talking quietly into a radio handset. Then there was the body they’d fished out of the canal, not yet shapeless, the dark clothing soggy, the flesh pale as oystershell.
Glass signed off the radio and walked over to where Andy stood, looking down at the dead man. The exit wound in the back of his head was the size of a lemon, and most of his brains had leaked out of the skull cavity. Glass tipped the dead man’s face up with his foot. The features were swollen and distorted, his cheeks puffy and cyanotic, the waxy skin bruised with powder residue.
“They put the muzzle in his mouth,” Glass said. “Not a nine.” He meant nine-millimeter, Luger caliber. “Heavy bullet, low relative velocity, maximum damage.”
“Like a .45,” Andy said. .45 ACP was U.S. Army issue, the duty auto Andy himself carried.
Glass studied the dead man without much curiosity, hands in his pockets. “What was CID’s interest?” he asked.
“GI’s selling on the black market.”
“Is that all there is?” Glass asked him.
Andy turned and made eye contact. “I thought it was just easy money,” he said. “It’s not that easy, some dumb bastard gets his head blown off.”
Glass understood, and let him go. They were all subject to political pressures. It was the nature of what they did, and the place they worked in. They made minor accommodations, unter vier augen, as the expression had it, but Andy had to check in with his people, just as Glass would check in with his. He lit a cigarette and looked toward the searchlights at the far end of the canal, where it met the Spree. Here in Görlitz, they were in the shadow of the Wall, just below the Oberbaumbrücke. Glass shook off a premonitory shiver.


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