Tommy motioned for me to follow him. Inside, the station house was filled with an eerie silence broken only by the occasional munch of a honey-glazed doughnut.
"Why is it so quiet?" I asked.
"It's HIM," Tommy said, his face suddenly the color of cemetery dust. "The new prisoner." He shuddered. "See for yourself."
He led the way through the cold, dark, forbidding catacombs of Area D, down, down into the bowels of the labyrinthine lock-up. Even the drunk tank was quiet, except for the sound of belches muffled by an all-pervading terror.
A broken board in the stair gave a loud crack. Tommy threw himself against the wall and drew his service revolver. "Get a hold of yourself, Tommy!" I said, shaking him by the lapels.
He blubbered. "I can't help it, I can't." The gun dropped to the floor. "This kid, his... his eyes, the story..."
The back of my hand on his mug sounded like a Roger Clemens fastball cracking into a mitt. "Slowly, Tommy."
He sobbed. "all right, all right... It, it was about three in the morning," he began. "Security from Fenway Park called: an intruder. When we got there, we found him in the bleachers."
We'd reached what the boys called the bird cage, the interrogation cell where the stool pigeons sang--with the right incentive. I'd arranged a few recitals in my time. Tommy hesitated, his hand paralyzed on the key.
"I can't!" he cried. Pushing him aside, I opened the familiar door and saw a solitary figure crouched in the corner, out of the glare of the naked bulb swinging at the end of its cord like a hanged man. After a while, you can tell at a glance what kind of time you're going to have in the cage. This one would be tough.
"Cigarette, kid?" I said to the huddled form. No response. He was large, powerfully built, with hair the color of fresh blood on a sidewalk. His face, with all its secrets, was buried in his trembling hands. At his feet lay a faded Sox cap, the old-fashioned style they wore in '75. A good kid, maybe, who just got mixed up with the wrong ball club. I wondered how Haywood Sullivan could sleep at night.
The tension was as thick as doughnut-shop coffee. Tommy broke it. "His name's Carl Reginald Anthony McFoy--he was named after the 1967 Sox outfield.
So the parents were to blame. Pity welled up in me like blood in a bullet hole. I'd seen mothers shooting up their toddlers with heroin, I'd seen fathers spiking the baby's bottle with Ballantine, but hooking your child on the Sox... I took a deep breath.
"All right, son, I want you to tell me what you're doing in Fenway."
There was no sign he even heard me.
"I guess we have to do it the hard way, then. Tommy, get the VCR and the videotapes from '86."
"Not game 6!" The kid was on his feet, foam bubbling from his mouth.
"It's up to you, son. We can sit and watch Buckner try to touch his toes or you can tell us what you were doing in the bleachers. Or maybe you'd prefer Bucky Dent?"
The kid's eyes were glazed with horror. I regretted the last dig.