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himself loose, however, and walked over to the end of the long bar where he ordered a Liquore Grappa to light the burners of his digestive system and lessen the load in his stomach.

He had two more quick shots of the Italian white lightning before leaving Emilio's and slowly walking over to Tenth Street, past the Women's House of Detention where all the boy friends and pimps stood on the sidewalk yelling up to the faces of the inmates in the wire-meshed, pigeonhole windows "Everything's all right, baby! You gonna be back out on the street soon! Don't worry, okay?! Trust me!" Sure.

Emmett walked into Casey's bar where he'd been once before with Candy Sand at that literary party during the early part of spring. He remembered that they made a very good Irish coffee in Casey's, and he wanted one and possibly two or three. He stood in the front corner of the room where the bar curved in toward the wall. The tables were crowded with eight o'clock diners and the bartenders busy, tending aperitifs or sour, before-supper drinks. There was a very solid, strong-looking black man dressed in a gray suit and charcoal tie with his polished Florsheim shoe up on the bar rail next to Emmett's funky boot. He was in his late forties and, glancing at his reflection in the behind-the-bar mirror, Emmett saw that the cat was very happy about something.

The two of them began talking about nothing in particular, and they felt relaxed with each other as only men who have very little to fear or lose can relax with other men. They'd been rapping for about a quarter of an hour and had bought each other a round, when Mercer McKay, as he introduced himself, invited Emmett to follow him outside to the car he had parked down the street. Emmett did so without hesitation and pleased by the invite, because he instinctively knew he was going to find out what this black man, Mercer McKay, was smiling so much about.

The car was a practically brand new Cadillac Coupe de Ville limousine, all black shiny outside and luxurious leather upholstery inside, with one-way tinted windows, so no one could see into the spacious interior. Emmett slid into the passenger's side of the front seat and immediately noticed the gray hat next to him. Mercer was the chauffeur for whosever car this was.

"Lock your door back up, 'n take a blow o' this!" Mercer was handing Emmett a clear plastic vial of pharmaceutical cocaine and an ei~hteen-carat gold spoon to ever so delicately scoop out the snow [end page 436]


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