couldn't find anything he
really wanted to write about, nothing he felt strongly enough to give him
direction in his writing."
"He wasn't particularly worried about
writing in that way. He was, as I say, deft and clever in his writing, but it
was all too shallow. I think they might have been bad for one another,
actually. Perkins could see that Gruber had the depth and sincerity that he
lacked, and Gruber thought that Perkins was free from the soul-searching and
self-doubt that was hampering him so much. In the last month or so, both of
them have talked about dropping out of school, going back home and forgetting
about the whole thing. But neither of them could have done that, at least not
yet. Gruber couldn't have, because the desire to write was too strong in him.
Perkins couldn't, because the desire to be a famous writer was too
"A year seems like a pretty short time to
get all that depressed," said Levine.
Stonegell smiled. "When you're young,"
he said, "a year can be eternity. Patience is an attribute of the
"I suppose you're right. What about girl
friends, other people who knew them both?"
"Well, there was one girl whom both were dating rather steadily. The rivalry
again. I don't think either of them was particularly serious about her,
but both of them wanted to take her away from the other one."
"Do you know this girl's name?"
"Yes, of course. She was in the same
class with Perkins and Gruber. I think I might have her home address
Stonegell opened a small file drawer atop his
desk, and looked through it. "Yes, here it is," he said. "Her
name is Anne Marie Stone, and she lives on Grove Street , down in the Village. Here you are."
Levine accepted the card from Stonegell,
copied the name and address onto his pad, and gave the card back. He got to his
feet. "Thank you for your trouble," he said.
"Not at all," said Stonegell,
standing. He extended his hand, and Levine, shaking it, found it bony and
almost parchment-thin, but surprisingly strong. "I don't know if I've been
much help, though," he said.
"Neither do I ,
yet," said Levine. "I may be just wasting both our time. Perkins
confessed, after 2dl."
"Still — "said
Levine nodded. "I know. That's what's got
me doing extra work."
"I'm still thinking of this thing as
though —as though it were a story problem, if you know what I mean. It isn't
real yet. Two yourtg students, I've taken an interest in both of them, fifty
years after the worms get me they'll still be around —and then you tell me one
of them is already wormfood, and the other one is effectively just as dead. It
isn't real to me yet. They won't be in class tomorrow night, but I still won't
"I know what you mean."
"Let me know if anything happens, will
Anne Marie Stone lived in an apartment on the
fifth floor of a walk-up on Grove Street in Greenwich Village , a block and a half from Sheridan Square . Levine found himself out of breath by the
time he reached the third floor, and he stopped for a minute to get his wind
back and to slow the pounding of his heart. There was no sound in the world
quite as loud as the beating of his own heart these
days, and when that beating grew too rapid or too irregular, Detective Levine
felt a kind of panic that twenty-four years as a cop had never been able to
He had to stop again at the fourth floor, and
he remembered with envy what a