The Naked Face

Chapter Fourteen


THE CORONER'S MEN had finished their work and gone. Moody's body had been taken away and everyone had de parted except Judd, McGreavy, and Angeli. They were sit ting in the manager's small office, decorated with several im pressive calendar nudes, an old desk, a swivel chair, and two filing cabinets. The lights were on and an electric heater was going.
The manager of the plant, a Mr. Paul Moretti, had been tracked down and pulled away from a pre-Christmas party to answer some questions. He had explained that since it was a holiday weekend, he had let his employees off at noon. He had locked up at twelve-thirty, and to the best of his knowl edge, there had been no one on the premises at that time. Mr. Moretti was belligerently drunk, and when McGreavy saw that he was going to be no further help, he had him driven home. Judd was barely conscious of what was happen ing in the room. His thoughts were on Moody, how cheerful and how full of life he had been, and how cruelly he had died. And Judd blamed himself. If he had not involved Moody, the little detective would be alive today.
It was almost midnight. Judd had wearily reiterated the story of Moody's phone call for the tenth time. McGreavy, hunched up in his overcoat, sat there watching him, chewing savagely on a cigar. Finally he spoke. "Do you read detective stories?"
Judd looked at him, surprised. "No. Why?"
"I'll tell you why. I think you're just too goddam good to be true, Dr. Stevens. From the very beginning I've thought that you were in this thing up to your neck. And I told you so. So what happens? Suddenly you turn into the target instead of the killer. First you claim a car ran you down and - "
"A car did run him down," Angeli reminded him.
"A rookie could answer that one," McGreavy snapped. "It could have been arranged by someone who's in this with the doctor." He turned back to Judd. "Next, you call Detective Angeli with a wild-eyed yarn about two men breaking into your office and trying to kill you."
"They did break in," said Judd.
"No, they didn't," snapped McGreavy. "They used a spe cial key." His voice hardened. "You said there were only two of those keys to that office - yours and Carol Roberts'."
"That's right. I told you - they copied Carol's key."
"I know what you told me. I had a paraffin test run. Carol's key was never copied, Doctor." He paused to let it sink in. "And since I have her key - that leaves yours, doesn't it?"
Judd looked at him, speechless.
"When I didn't buy the loose maniac theory, you hire a detective out of the yellow pages, and he conveniently finds a bomb planted in your car. Only I can't see it because it's not there any more. Then you decide it's time to throw me another body, so you go through that rigmarole with Angeli about a phone call to meet Moody, who knows this mysteri ous nut who's out to kill you. But guess what? We get here and find him hanging on a meat hook."
Judd flushed angrily. "I'm not responsible for what happened."
McGreavy gave him a long, hard look. "Do you know the only reason you're not under arrest? Because I haven't found any motive to this Chinese puzzle yet. But I will, Doctor. That's a promise." He got to his feet.
Judd suddenly remembered. "Wait a minute!" he said. "What about Don Vinton?"
"What about him?"
"Moody said he was the man behind all this."
"Do you know anyone named Don Vinton?"
"No," Judd said. "I - I assumed he'd be known by the police."
"I never heard of him." McGreavy turned to Angeli. Angeli shook his head.
"OK. Send out a make on Don Vinton. FBI. Interpol. Po lice chiefs in all major American cities." He looked at Judd. "Satisfied?"
Judd nodded. Whoever was behind all this must have some kind of criminal record. It should not be difficult to identify him.
He thought again of Moody, with his homely aphorisms and his quick mind. He must have been followed here. It was unlikely that he would have told anyone else about the rendezvous, because he had stressed the need for secrecy. At least they now knew the name of the man they were looking for.
Praemonitus, praemunitas.
Forewarned, forearmed.
The murder of Norman Z. Moody was splashed all over the front pages of the newspapers the next morning. Judd picked up a paper on his way to the office. He was briefly mentioned as being a witness who had come across the body with the police, but McGreavy had managed to keep the full story out of the papers. McGreavy was playing his cards close to his chest. Judd wondered what Anne would think.
This was Saturday, when Judd made his morning rounds at the clinic. He had arranged for someone else to fill in for him there. He went to his office, traveling alone in the elevator and making sure that no one was lurking in the cor ridor. He wondered, even as he did so, how long anyone could live like this, expecting an assassin to strike at any moment.
Half a dozen times during the morning he started to pick up the phone and call Detective Angeli to ask about Don Vinton, but each time he controlled his impatience. Angeli would surely call him as soon as he knew something. Judd puzzled over what Don Vinton's motivation could be. He could have been a patient whom Judd had treated years ago, perhaps when he was an intern. Someone who felt that Judd had slighted him or injured him in some way. But he could remember no patient named Vinton.
At noon he heard someone try to open the corridor door to the reception room. It was Angeli. Judd could tell nothing from his expression except that he looked even more drawn and haggard. His nose was red, and he was sniffling. He walked into the inner office and wearily flopped into a chair.
"Have you gotten any answers yet on Don Vinton?" Judd asked eagerly.
Angeli nodded. "We got back teletypes from the FBI, the police chiefs of every big city in the United States, and Inter pol." Judd waited, afraid to breathe. "None of them ever heard of Don Vinton."
Judd looked at Angeli incredulously, a sudden sinking sensation in his stomach. "But that's impossible! I mean - someone must know him. A man who could do all this just didn't come out of nowhere!"
"That's what McGreavy said," replied Angeli wearily. "Doctor, my men and I spent the night checking out every Don Vinton in Manhattan and all the other boroughs. We even covered New Jersey and Connecticut." He took a ruled sheet of paper out of his pocket and showed it to Judd. "W e found eleven Don Vintons in the phone book who spell their name 'ton' - four who spell it 'ten' - and two who spell it 'tin.' We even tried it as one name. We narrowed it down to five possibles and checked out every one of them. One is a paralytic. One of them is a priest. One is first vice-president of a bank. One of them is a fireman who was on duty when two of the murders occurred. I just left the last one. He runs a pet shop and he must be damn near eighty years old."
Judd's throat was dry. He was suddenly aware of how much he had counted on this. Surely Moody wouldn't have given him the name unless he was certain. And he hadn't said that Don Vinton was an accomplice; he had said he was behind the whole thing. It was inconceivable that the police would have no record of a man like that. Moody had been murdered because he had gotten onto the truth. And now that Moody was out of the way, Judd was completely alone. The web was drawing tighter.
"I'm sorry," Angeli said.
Judd looked at the detective and suddenly remembered that Angeli had not been home all night. "I appreciate your trying," he said gratefully.
Angeli leaned forward. "Are you positive you heard Moody right?"
"Yes." Judd closed his eyes in concentration. He had asked Moody if he was sure who was really behind this. He heard Moody's voice again. Dead sure. Have you ever heard of Don Vinton? Don Vinton. He opened his eyes. "Yes," he repeated.
Angeli sighed. "The n we're at a dead end." He laughed mirthlessly. "N o pun intended." He sneezed.
"You'd better get to bed."
Angeli stood up. "Yeah. I guess so."
Judd hesitated. "How long have you been McGreavy's partner?"
"This is our first case together. Why? "
"Do you think he's capable of framing me for murder?"
Angeli sneezed again. " I think maybe you're right, doctor. I'd better get to bed." He walked over to the door.
"I may have a lead," Judd said.
Angeli stopped and turned. "Go on."
Judd told him about Teri. He added that he was also going to check out some of John Hanson's former boy friends.
"It doesn't sound like much," Angeli said frankly, "but I guess it's better than nothing."
"I'm sick and tired of being a target. I'm going to start fighting back. I'm going after them."
Angeli looked at him. "With what? We're fighting shadows."
"When witnesses describe a suspect, the police have an artist draw up a composite picture of all the descriptions. Right?"
Angeli nodded. "An identi-kit."
Judd began to pace in restless excitement. "I'm going to give you an identi-kit of the personality of the man who's behind this."
"How can you? You've never seen him. It could be anyone."
"No it couldn't," Judd corrected. "We're looking for someone very, very special."
"Someone who's insane."
"Insanity is a catchall phrase. It has no medical meaning. Sanity is simply the ability of the mind to adjust to reality. If we can't adjust, we either hide from reality, or we put our selves above life, where we're super-beings who don't have to follow the rules."
"Our man thinks he's a super-being."
"Exactly. In a dangerous situation we have three choices, Angeli. Flight, constructive compromise, or attack. Our man attacks."
"So he's a lunatic."
"No. Lunatics rarely kill. Their concentration span is ex tremely short. We're dealing with someone more compli cated. He could be somatic, hypophrenic, schizoid, cycloid - or any combination of these. We could be dealing with a fugue - temporary amnesia preceded by irrational acts. But the point is, his appearance and behavior will seem perfectly normal to everyone."
"So we have nothing to go on."
"You're wrong. We have a good deal to go on. I can give you a physical description of him," said Judd. He narrowed his eyes, concentrating. "Don Vinton is above average height, well proportioned, and has the build of an athlete. He's neat in his appearance and meticulous about everything he does. He has no artistic talent. He doesn't paint or write or play the piano."
Angeli was staring at him, open-mouthed.
Judd continued, speaking more quickly now, warming up. "He doesn't belong to any social clubs or organizations. Not unless he runs them. He's a man who has to be in charge. He's ruthless, and he's impatient. He thinks big. For exam ple, he'd never get involved in petty thefts. If he had a rec ord, it would be for bank robbery, kidnapping, or murder." Judd's excitement was growing. The picture was growing sharper in his mind. "When you catch him, you'll find that he was probably rejected by one of his parents when he was a boy."
Angeli interrupted. "Doctor, I don't want to shoot down your balloon, but it could be some crazy, hopped-up junkie who - "
"No. The man we're looking for doesn't take drugs." Judd's voice was positive. "I'll tell you something else about him. He played contact sports in school. Football or hockey. He has no interest in chess, word games, or puzzles."
Angeli was watching him skeptically. "There was more than one man," he objected. "You said so yourself."
"I'm giving you a description of Don Vinton," said Judd. "The man who's masterminding this. I'll tell you something more about him. He's a Latin type."
"What makes you think so?"
"Because of the methods used in the murders. A knife - acid - a bomb. He's South American, Italian, or Spanish." He took a breath. "There's your identi-kit. That's the man who's committed three murders and is trying to kill me."
Angeli swallowed. "How the hell do you know all this?"
Judd sat down and leaned toward Angeli. "It's my profession."
"The mental side, sure. But how can you give a physical description of a man you've never seen?"
"I'm playing the odds. A doctor named Kretschmer found that eighty-five percent of people suffering from paranoia have well-built, athletic bodies. Our man is an obvious para noiac. He has delusions of grandeur. He's a megalomaniac who thinks he's above the law."
"The n why wasn't he locked up a long time ago?"
"Because he's wearing a mask."
"He's what?"
"We all wear masks, Angeli. From the time we're past in fancy, we're taught to conceal our real feelings, to cover up our hatreds and fears." There was authority in his voice. "But under stress, Don Vinton is going to drop his mask and show his naked face."
"I see."
"His ego is his vulnerable point. If it's threatened - really threatened - he'll crack. He's on the thin edge now. It won't take much to send him completely over." He hesitated, then went on, speaking almost to himself. "He's a man with - mana."
"With what?"
"Mana. It's a term that the primitives use for a man who exerts influence on others because of the demons in him, a man with an overpowering personality."
"You said he doesn't paint, write, or play the piano. How do you know that?"
"The world is full of artists who are schizoids. Most of them manage to get through life without any violence be cause their work gives them an outlet in which to express themselves. Our man doesn't have that outlet. So he's like a volcano. The only way he can get rid of the pressure inside him is to erupt: Hanson - Carol - Moody."
"You mean these were just senseless crimes that he committed to - "
"Not senseless to him. On the contrary..." His mind raced ahead swiftly. Several more pieces of the puzzle were beginning to fall into place. He cursed himself for having been too blind, or frightened, to see them. "I' m the only one Don Vinton has been after - the prime target. John Hanson was killed because he was mistaken for me. When the killer found out his mistake, he came to the office for another try. I had gone, but he found Carol there." His voice was angry.
"He killed her so she couldn't identify him?"
"No. The man we're looking for isn't a sadist. Carol was tortured because he wanted something. Say, a piece of in criminating evidence. And she wouldn't - or couldn't - give it to him."
"What kind of evidence?" probed Angeli.
"I have no idea," Judd said. "But it's the key to this whole thing. Moody found out the answer, and that's why they killed him."
"There's one thing that still doesn't make sense. If they had killed you on the street, then they couldn't have gotten the evidence. It doesn't fit with the rest of your theory," An geli persisted.
"It could. Let's assume that the evidence is on one of my tapes. It might be perfectly harmless by itself, but if I put it together with other facts, it could threaten them. So they have two choices. Either take it away from me, or eliminate me so I can't reveal it to anyone. First they tried to eliminate me. But they made a mistake and killed Hanson. Then they went to the second alternative. They tried to get it from Carol. When that failed, they decided to concentrate on kill ing me. That was the car accident. I was probably followed when I went to hire Moody, and he, in turn, was followed. When he got onto the truth, they murdered him."
Angeli looked at Judd, a thoughtful frown on his face.
"That's why the killer is not going to stop until I'm dead," Judd concluded quietly. "It's become a deadly game, and the man I've described can't stand losing."
Angeli was studying him, weighing what Judd had said. "If you're right," he said finally, "you're going to need protection." He took his service revolver out, flipped the chamber open to make sure it was fully loaded.
"Thanks, Angeli, but I don't need a gun. I'm going to fight them with my own weapons."
There was the sharp click of the outer door opening. "Were you expecting anyone?"
Judd shook his head. "No. I have no patients this afternoon."
Gun still in hand, Angeli moved quietly to the door leading to the reception room. He stepped to one side and yanked the door open. Peter Hadley stood there, a bewildered expression on his face. "Who are you?" Angeli snapped.
Judd moved over to the door. "It's all right," Judd said quickly. "He's a friend of mine."
"Hey! What the hell goes?" asked Peter.
"Sorry," Angeli apologized. He put his gun away.
"This is Dr. Peter Hadley - Detective Angeli."
"What kind of nutty psychiatric clinic are you running here?" Peter asked.
"There's been a little trouble," Angeli explained. "Dr. Stevens' office has been...burglarized, and we thought whoever did it might be returning."
Judd picked up the cue. "Yes. They didn't find what they were looking for."
"Does this have anything to do with Carol's murder?" Peter asked.
Angeli spoke before Judd could answer. "We're not sure, Dr. Hadley. For the moment, the Department has asked Dr. Stevens not to discuss the case."
"I understand," Peter said. He looked at Judd. "Is our luncheon date still on?"
Judd realized he had forgotten about it. "Of course," he said quickly. He turned to Angeli. "I think we've covered everything."
"And then some," Angeli agreed. "You're sure you don't want..." He indicated his revolver.
Judd shook his head. "Thanks."
"OK. Be careful," Angeli said.
"I will," Judd promised. "I will."
Judd was preoccupied during luncheon, and Peter did not press him. They talked of mutual friends, patients that they had in common. Peter told Judd he had spoken to Harrison Burke's employer and it had been quietly arranged for Burke to have a mental examination. He was being sent to a private institution.
Over coffee Peter said, "I don't know what kind of trouble you're having, Judd, but if I can be of any help..."
Judd shook his head. "Thanks, Peter. This is something I have to take care of myself. I'll tell you all about it when it's over."
"I hope that's soon," Peter said lightly. He hesitated. "Judd - are you in any danger?"
"Of course not," replied Judd.
Unless you counted a homicidal maniac who had committed three murders and was determined to make Judd his fourth victim.