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The Heimlich maneuver was the treatment of choice primarily in cases of stage IV steak- or pork-sphyxia. But it was handy in other situations.

Rizzo contracted his biceps, that reinforced fist of his driving in and up under Dannyboy’s rib cage, expelling all breath, shocking the heart into a brief arrhythmia. The surprise of it made the lock on that throat ease up, and Rizzo step-two’d his evacuation plan with a backward yank that pissed off his bad shoulder.

Danny came off yacht boy and the table like a barnacle pried from the hull of a trawler. Momentum being what it was, they both pinwheeled. Balance-to-booze ratio being what it was, Rizzo recovered his footing. Danny not so much. The 499’s firebrand landed on his ass.

But sure as alchies rallied during a bender, he didn’t stay there. He was up like out of a toaster and he made as though he was just going to hop right back on his victim.

Rizzo stepped in the way. “No.”

“Get out of my—”

“Time for an Uber, Maguire.”

“Fuck you, Rizzo.”

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnnd that was when the next fight started.

Chapter 14

It was after ten p.m. when Anne’s cell phone rang. The old-fashioned ding-a-ling pulled her head up out of her laptop, but what she had been studying stayed with her both in her mind and on the screen as she answered.



She frowned. “Yes? Wait, Moose?”

“Yeah. It’s me. Long time, no talk, right?”

“It’s been a while.” She cleared her throat. “Ah, how are you? How’s Deandra?”

“Oh, she’s great, we’re great, I’m great. We moved into the house, you know. I got a new Charger, and I’m working on the engine already. You know, getting more horses under that hood. Guess I haven’t changed, huh?”

“Guess not.” She swung her eyes around the enclosed porch and wondered how she could end things without being rude. “So, um . . . what else is new?”

“So, yeah, so Deandra’s really great. She got a job at Avento Salon? It’s that fancy place in the center of town. Did you know that Reese Witherspoon showed up there for highlights last week? She was a good tipper. I think she’s working on a movie somewhere around here. Deandra’s just manning the front desk, but she’s going to be a stylist soon. Did you know that she’s gotten her cosmetology degree?”

Anne’s looked back at the laptop screen. The map that she’d been studying was of the old part of downtown New Brunswick, far from the center, or Centre, where Moose’s wife worked. The latter was Disneyland clean with almost Rodeo Drive kinds of high-end shops and restaurants. The former was where she had been earlier in the day on Harbor Street. Where the dead buildings were.

Where people started fires sometimes for reasons. Like they wanted to, oh, say, get rid of some office equipment that maybe they didn’t want anyone else to see or find?

“That’s great. Hey, Moose?” She hit print and her wireless Brother started chattering on the corner of her desk. “I’m actually working right now. Was there something you needed?”

“Oh, that’s right. You’re a fire inspector. How’s that going?”

“Today was my first day.” And it was rocky, thanks, Moose. “What can I do for you?”

“Hey, is Don Marshall your boss?”

“Yes, he is.”

“Did you know that he used to play college ball for Syracuse—”

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