University College, London. Johnson marched me through the clipped campus, down echoing corridors, past alabaster busts and locked doors. At the end of a long corridor, he stopped at a door marked Private.
“It’s never too late for university, Cartier,” he said, knocking.
In the open side door of the school, Koenig leaned on his broom and watched the junior high children stream from the building at the sound of the bell. Line after line, they spilled through the front doors like cockroaches from the drains in the basement. He pictured a colony of roaches wearing yellow Star of David armbands and laughed . . .
On the platform between the subway tracks, a young woman was playing the violin. A few dollar bills and coins were scattered over the inside of her case. She played semiclassical versions of pop tunes that Maria couldn’t quite recognize. The music was nice, and the young woman had a sweet, pleasant face, but as soon as she got onto the crowded subway car Maria knew that she had made a mistake. It was a simple procedure, they had said, but not that simple . . .
“Do you understand?“ the man asked as he looked from the driver’s seat to the empty parking lot to the gas station at the other end. He couldn’t believe how quickly night had fallen. “Do you understand that this is a necessity?”
He waited for a response but got none. He looked at the large black duffel propped up in the passenger seat and sighed . . .
He blew into town on a Greyhound from Cleveland. His name was Christopher McKendrick—at least that’s what his license said. He couldn’t wait to get to the beach. If he was caught, he’d snatch a little piece of heaven first . . .