Mac got out of the limo and buttoned his gray double-breasted suit. As I did the same, a man called to Mac from across C Street. He wore a charcoal suit and had slick silver hair, a long sharp nose, a square cleft chin and a clenched-toothed grin. A genteel Kirk Douglas. He extended his hand, a gold Cartier on his wrist, glinting in the waning sun.
"Lawrence Marshall," he said, "Vicky's better half."
Mac introduced us, even though I was the one who'd told him about Dr. Marshall back at the office, how he'd founded a small but wildly successful pharmaceutical company. Behind him appeared Senator Serling, just as she looked on TV. She wore a slim blue suit and had short blonde hair, soft high cheekbones and smart brown eyes. She was indeed, as one pundit had once quipped, a corporate version of Jessica Lange. She flashed Mac a hydrogen-peroxide smile.
"Sorry to tear you away from the gym. This must be Mr. Fisher. For someone so clever, he certainly is handsome. Even with a black eye."
I took her hand by the fingertips, resisting the impulse to bow. "I'm handsome ... I mean, Hank."
"And nervous. How charming."
Dr. Marshall reached up and clapped Mac on the shoulder. "Recognized you from the news. Great job getting Bustamonte off."
"It's easy when they're innocent."
"Innocent, right." Dr. Marshall jerked his thumb toward Senator Serling. "That's why I told her to hire you. You're a true believer."
Mac looked back at the limo, which still sat at the corner, waiting for the light to turn green. "I'd give you a finder's fee, but it doesn't look like you're missing any meals."
"You never know. My other car's a Chevy."
Mac didn't laugh; he drove a Blazer.
Senator Serling glanced over her shoulder down First Street, two perfect worry lines appearing on her forehead. "We probably shouldn't stand here."
Mac craned his neck. "Don't tell me you're that worried about eavesdroppers."
The senator continued to stare over her shoulder.
Dr. Marshall put an arm around her. "Darling, you're imagining things. No one would attack a senator on Capitol Hill."
"Hold on," Mac said. "Attack? I thought this was about a tax violation."
"That's why I wanted to talk to you," the senator said. "It's a little more complicated than I first thought."
"How much more complicated?" he said, and I knew he was thinking of increasing her retainer.
As she started to explain, Mac listened intently, knitting his eyebrows and cocking his head. Then his face lit up, and he shoved his briefcase into Dr. Marshall's chest, sending him flying off his feet. At first I thought he was reacting to something the man had done. Then I heard Mac cry, "Car!" and I saw him lunge at the senator, whose head was turned away from the impending blow.
Over my shoulder an engine roared. I whirled around just in time to see an SUV bearing down on us: headlights dead, vertical grill slats looking like teeth.