Helena is Missing

Chapter 1

Salt Lake City, April 1945

Denis Cannon stopped humming. He grimaced as he reread the obituary that lay before him. What is the matter with this reporter?The writer had shredded the newspaper’s stylebook into confetti.

He was aware that the Salt Lake Post was an anachronism, writing its own obits. It was a reflection of a city with small town ways.

As city editor, it was Denis’s duty to maintain editorial integrity while honoring even the dullest life. Obituaries, printed in agate type with tiny photographs of the deceased, were second only to the front page in readership.

He fumed as his grease pencil slashed down the page, blotting out words, letters, and entire sentences in a dark-blue fury.

Denis stopped, aware of the smell of hot lead that rose from the composing room one floor below him. He seemed to taste it. Something jagged behind his eyes telegraphed an arriving headache. Opening his desk drawer, he withdrew an aspirin bottle and unscrewed the cap. He shook two tablets into his hand and shot them between his lips, swallowing without water, gulping to clear the acrid streak they left in his throat. He resumed his trademark humming, a little more subdued now, and the sound filled the space around his desk like an electrical current.

Denis waited for the aspirin to work. Eyes half-closed, he gazed at his surroundings. The editorial office of the Post looked much the same as it had when he had left it on a cold day in January 1942, except that some of the reporters and editors were now women, replacements for the men who had gone to fight Germans or Japanese.

Denis, 26, was devoted to the Post, since his life had virtually begun as a teenager among its battered desks and chattering sounds. A violent interlude had taken him to the war, then returned him to the Post, maimed and limping.

He returned his attention to the obituary. Of all the sections he oversaw—weather, crime, and local news—obituaries gave him the most satisfaction. He believed Schopenhauer: Newspapers are the second hand of history, a clock stopped at the instant of happening. Obituaries placed him in the continuum of time and, in doing so, soothed his sense of mortality, which had been so intensified in the South Pacific. Obituaries were set in type using hot, melted lead. The lead was reused again and again, as transitory and reconstructed as humanity itself. Denis was comforted by the idea that, in some parallel way, the dead were revived to never-ending and useful purpose.

This particular obit writer had been carried away:

 Family and friends knew when Tom thought a song was good because he would tap his toes and whistle along. His favorites were Glenn Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo” and Artie Shaw’s “Begin the Beguine.”

It came from the one reporter for whom he would cut no slack, the new woman who was too pretty for her own good, the one with the smart mouth and the short crop of tousled black hair. Cannon summoned the writer in his usual manner.

“Burke!” He roared it loud enough to carry across the city room. He saw her head pop up. Leni Burke rose and walked toward him, chin tilted, daring eyes the color of liquid emerald.

“Are you in a trance?” he snapped. “Glenn Miller? Artie Shaw?”

“That’s the way the family wants it.”

“Do you work for the family or for the Post?”

“Is it too much to ask? She’s a grieving widow—”

He arose from the desk, his face flushed with indignation. Later he would remember pointing his index finger at her. He would remember that she had faint crow’s feet forming at the corners of those green eyes. Suddenly his left leg locked and the sole of his shoe slapped uncontrollably on the tile floor. The corner of the desk met his head with a meaty thud. Inky dots swarmed to form a black hole into which he tumbled.

The Salt Lake Post occupied a dowdy building constructed forty years earlier. It rose like a battered five-story warehouse, its brown bricks eroded and exhausted from its ongoing battle with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—the Mormon Church.

Few of Salt Lake City’s buildings climbed higher than a dozen stories on this late April day in 1945. It would sprout height in a few more years. This city of Mormons and miners, enemies formed by the conflicts of the city’s century of history.

Two blocks north, on City Creek, the Mormon Temple loftily ignored the Post.

A mile east of the Post building, Holy Cross Hospital opened its emergency room doors to a white Cadillac ambulance.

Even though Cannon was unconscious, Leni Burke looked down on his form with both hauteur and caution for the man whose angry tongue had lacerated her for weeks.

“He’s the city editor at the Post,” Leni said. She bent over the gurney to watch as the doctor directed a needle of light into the pupil of an eye that was possibly blue.

Leni heard the editor’s breath, quick and shallow, rising from his prostrate form on invisible clouds of pain. She heard the doctor inhaling rhythmically. She heard the squeaky-soft sounds of nurses’ shoes and wheeled carts. Permeating everything was the pungent sweet scent of alcohol and iodine.

“He’s got a concussion,” said the fiftyish doctor with crooked teeth. The doctor clipped his penlight to the pocket of his jacket. “You say he fell?” He moved the stethoscope across the editor’s sternum like a chess piece, bringing it to rest in a sparse nest of black hair.

She nodded. “He crumpled like he was shot. He tried to put out his arms, but his head struck the desk. Bounced like a tennis ball. I guess he had a stroke.”

The doctor, whose hands palpitated the editor’s throat, looked at her for further explanation.

“He was mad at me, doctor. Apoplectic.”

“Don’t blame yourself.”

“Oh, I won’t.”

The doctor frowned. “You’re the next of kin?”

“No. I just happened to be there when it happened. My managing editor told me to go with the ambulance.” She shrugged.

“How am I going to get a history on him?” said the doctor.

“Beats me.” She noticed the doctor wore a bow tie that looked as if it had a peanut butter smear on it.

From beneath Cannon’s eyelids came a glint of blue light, as if he was spying on her, taking in the conversation while pretending to be asleep. His thick black hair was tousled and angry-looking, sticking up in sprigs or matted into clumps where blood and sweat had been sponged from his bruised head.

At least he’s quit that damn humming.

The thought she would walk out of the emergency room and be done with it.

Wilf Gorski, the managing editor of the Post, stopped at Leni’s desk, glancing up at the four-sided clock hanging in the center of the city room.

“How is Denis doing?” He shifted his gaze to her.

She was concentrating on how she might improve the paragraph she had just written.

“I don’t know,” she said, continuing her typing.

“Find out, Burke.”

His demand came like a slap. She jerked her hands from the typewriter keys and turned to face him. His eyes flickered with threat. She’d seen his eyes like this the day one of the men on the copy desk failed to catch a typographical error that caused the letters page headline to read The Pubic Forum.

“I’ll call the hospital now, Mr. Gorski.” She reached for the phone, and then felt the light touch of Gorski’s fingers on her shoulder, unexpected from a man whose hands were always thrust deep in his pockets. He held out a booklet of taxi tickets.

“Don’t phone, Burke. Go to the hospital. Take flowers.” Then the managing editor, a tall bachelor with a hooked nose who always dressed in pale blue shirts, moved away like a ghost, hands back in their hiding places in his trousers.

She stood at the foot of the hospital bed, letting her bag drop to the floor. A bottle on a wheeled pole fed liquid into Denis’s arm. A florist’s spray of yellow roses sat on the cabinet top. There was a bandage on his left temple.

“How do you feel?” she asked.

“I feel shitty. How do you think I feel?” Denis rolled his eyes sideways to glare at her.

She tilted her chin and searched for a response. “You are one humiliating bastard.”

“Why are you here then?”

“Because Gorski ordered me.” She suspected she was there because she was one of the lowest-paid staffers and one of the least missed.

“He made you bring the flowers?”

“Yep.”

“Put ’em on the Post account?”

“Yep.”

“You don’t have to stay.”

“I won’t.” She shouldered her bag as the doctor entered.

The doctor began detailing the condition of Denis Cannon before she could slip away.

“What’s Cannon’s diagnosis?” said Gorski, glancing as always at the clock in the Post’s newsroom, measuring deadlines against the beat of the second hand. He turned to Burke, his eyes demanding an answer.

“He has a concussion. His leg gave out for some reason.”

“His leg was shattered at Matanikau River,” said Gorski.

She gave him a puzzled look.

“That’s on Guadalcanal, Burke. When will he be coming back?”

“Doesn’t he have a family, Mr. Gorski? Somebody who cares about him?”

Gorski’s face narrowed into a let-me-tell-you-something scowl. “Cannon’s been a fixture at the Post since before the war. He was a copyboy at fifteen. He is meticulous and curious. He’s different, but this paper has always accommodated eccentricity.”

Gorski softened as he continued. “As for family, his mother died in ’43, while he was recuperating from wounds in Honolulu. His father has been dead for years. He has no brothers or sisters. The paper is his life.” He looked at the ceiling, as if searching for something.

“We are a family here at the Post. I want you to help him. At least until he recovers enough to get around on his own.”

“Find a real nurse.”

“Nurse? There’s a war on, Burke.” His voice was incredulous.

“I can’t stand him, Mr. Gorski.”

“Just until he’s a bit better.”

“I don’t want to do this. He’s miserably combative.”

“He’s a banged-up veteran. You help this man.” Gorski’s look was unmistakable.

She had no choice. Leni Burke owed Gorski because he had hired her on the basis of her assurances that she was a fast learner, good at executing orders, and had excellent skills in English. He had hired her without probing into her past.

“You look like hell,” Leni said, standing over the bed. “There’s a bruise the size of an orange on your forehead. It’s yellow and blue, like a kid’s clay ball that’s all molded together.”

“Do you think I give a damn what it looks like?” Denis croaked.

“No, I don’t think you give a damn. I think you’re thoughtless, nasty, and rude.”

He lay with his arms outside the sheet, the drape covering and exposing his every hollow and ridge.

He said slowly, “Are you trying to be a writer? You can find better words. Try sullen, ill-tempered, morose, and splenetic. And you forgot abusive.” He closed his eyes.

“Cannon, I’ll try Shakespeare: ‘Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight.’” She tapped a cigarette from her pack and lit it with a quick flourish of her Zippo. She thought she saw a flicker of amusement in his possibly blue eyes. She couldn’t be sure what color they were.

The exchange seemed to absorb the awkwardness in the room. She stepped closer to the bed. “Gorski said to give you these.” She proffered all five editions of the morning’s Post.

“When I’m up to it,” he said weakly. He blinked his eyes.

She circled the bed warily, placing the newspapers on the nightstand.

“Would you like to know what’s on the front page of the street edition, Cannon?”

“Do I look like I could read the paper?”

“No. You look like a horse kicked you. But let me rephrase that. I believe I will read the paper to you.” She rattled the paper as she opened it. “First the headlines: ‘Mussolini Dead; Hanged by Partisans with His Mistress.’”

“You don’t have to do this.” He stared at the ceiling.

“Tell that to Gorski.” She snapped the leaves of the paper flat. “’Patton Calls for Fight Against Reds Once Germany Is Finished.’”

She mused more to herself, “I wonder what Truman’s going to say about that? FDR is spinning in his grave.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the thirty-second president of the United States, had died on April 12, just ten days earlier.

Denis lay unresponsive.

“Okay. This is a funny one. Ready for laughs, Cannon? ‘Aborigines Attack Lawmen with Kangaroo Tails.’ You like that one?” She glanced at him when she detected a flicker of interest.

“Headline’s a dangling modifier,” he grumped. “Do the lawmen have tails?”

“Hey, blame someone else for a change. I didn’t write the headline.”  She snapped the paper. “It’s a wire story, datelined Alice Springs, Australia.

Aborigines attacked three policemen with frozen kangaroo tails in a remote Northern Territory town and then ate the evidence, a court was told Friday.

Senior Constable Marcus McCallister told Alice Springs Court that three officers were attacked by fifteen aborigines carrying frozen kangaroo tails bought at a local store. The officers were not seriously injured. Six men were charged with assault. But a police spokesman said the kangaroo tails won’t be introduced as evidence because it is believed they were eaten by the aborigines after the attack.

McCallister said police believe the attack stemmed from an earlier attempt by police to move a man sitting in the middle of a highway in an apparent suicide bid.

He nodded, eyes half-closed. She thought she saw a softening of the lines at the corners of his mouth.

“You are one quirky bastard,” she said, staring at this strange man as she lowered the paper.

“Stop using that kind of language, Burke. Were you raised by sailors?”

“How dare you impugn my…” She had almost said “family.” A slip could be dangerous. She had worked hard at erasing who she was.

She remembered the first day he called her to his desk. He kept his eyes on the story she had written.

His first words to her were, “It’s not bad. It’s terrible.”

She gathered herself tensely, brushing her hair over her ear and rolling her shoulders as she always did when she was nervous.

“Okay. Tell me why.”

“Never start a story with the day of the week. Listen to what you wrote: ‘On Wednesday, April 29, a piano concert will be held at the Methodist Church at 210 East 200 South to raise funds.”

“How should it be?” she said.

“The story isn’t about Wednesday. It’s about a piano concert. Start with that. A piano concert to raise funds for the Methodist Church at 210 E. 200 South will be conducted Wednesday, April 29. At what time?You left out the time. Should folks just show up in the morning and wait around until the concert starts, whenever that is?  And why are they trying to raise funds?  What are they for?   Also, you cannot hold a concert. Tell me, can you hold a concert?” He held up cupped hands, as if inviting her to sip the imaginary acid held in them.

“You don’t have to be s-so nasty a-about it!” she snapped back, her feelings hurt. She was doing her best to live up to her new self-description, writer, and the bastard was taking it away from her. She noticed he’d caused a touch of her stutter to return.

“Pain is a fabulous teacher,” he said, balling up the copy and tossing it into the trash bin. Rewrite it.”

Later they battled over the use of the word that. He argued it could always be deleted. She argued that the word was needed for the grace of a sentence.

“You understand the war has limited how much newsprint we get? Every word counts. Your writing should be spare and concise. You’re not writing short stories; you are writing news,” Denis said.

The next day she got a memo from Cannon:

I consider that that “that” that worries us so much should be forgotten. Rats desert a sinking ship. Thats infest a sinking newspaper.
(With thanks to James Thurber.)
—Cannon

The conflict continued with wariness on her part.

Denis gave her a thorough bashing over her improper use of the word Mormon when she let it slip into an obituary.

“How long have you been inkslinging here? I’m wearing out my grease pencils on your copy. You’ve had enough time to know you use Mormon only when quoting someone who says it. Otherwise, in first reference it is always the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In second reference it is the LDS Church. When it refers to an individual, it’s either a Latter-day Saint or a member of the LDS Church. Never, ever forget that. ‘Mormon’ is an appellation used by outsiders.”

She returned to her desk where the other reporters could feel the spreading heat of her humiliation.

She took a small measure of guilty pleasure when she learned that Cannon was somewhat deaf. One day she took a call and shouted over the clacking of typewriters to ask Cannon if he wanted a story announcing a peach festival.

“Preachers?” he shouted back.

“Peaches. The Brigham City Peach Festival.”

He appeared befuddled.

She wrote the word PEACHES on a piece of paper and held it up so he could see it.

He twitched the corner of his lip in embarrassment, and then yelled at her to transfer the call to one of the rewrites. Later she learned he’d been deafened by gunfire.

She watched how Denis guarded himself at work, seldom divulging a hint of his activities away from the office. He was a young man with old ways. He arrived at his desk every day between noon and 2:00 P. M. and often stayed until midnight or 1:00 A.M., depending on how late the last edition came off the presses. He brought his own sandwich, bologna on white, or sent a copy boy out for his dinner, always a roast pork sandwich on a hard roll, half of which went uneaten, from the Mint Café.

Now she studied Cannon’s profile in the hospital bed, his black hair splayed out by the rise of the pillows. He looked like a kid who’d been in a fight. His scarred nose seemed to have been knocked to one side. His rough-edged good looks were such a waste on a misanthrope. And her time here at the hospital was a greater waste; she felt like a 27-year-old errand girl. She was trying to be a reporter. She had obituaries piling up, and invalid-sitting this jackass was demeaning.

“I’ve got work to do. If Gorski insists on it, I’ll come back later,” she said, picking up her purse from the foot of his bed.

“Have a pleasant afternoon,” said Denis dryly.

Through the thumping pain that clouded his view, Denis looked up from his hospital bed at the veiny jowls and lumpy nose of Dr. Gilbert Miles, the aged physician charged with looking after him. He was unimpressed with the doctor’s clipped manner and his superior disengagement. He reminded him of Grover Pleasance, a neighborhood kid, son of a banker, a bully who went on a Mormon mission in a cloud of sugary sanctimony and certainty, self-righteousness worn as his armor against the world. Grover made headlines when he was arrested for busting up a whorehouse while drunk in Kemmerer, Wyoming. Denis was a copy boy at the time. “I know that guy,” he said to his editor, who had let him cover the story. He savored writing every word, and the reporting of Grover’s misadventure moved him up to the obituary desk and a real newspaper job. He felt for the first time the puncturing of sanctimony by truth. He liked the influence he could produce with his fingertips on a typewriter.

“Do you have any pain?” The doctor thumped across Cannon’s chest with his stethoscope.

 “Of course I have pain.” Denis snapped out the words like the whine of a bullet. His cranium felt as if it had a bellows attached and had been overfilled.

“We X-rayed your head. Doesn’t look like a fracture. But your eyes indicate a concussion. Also, the X-ray shows you’ve got bits of metal in your face. Some in your sinuses, too.”

“No kidding,” said Denis derisively. He felt the doctor’s hands on the muscles of his legs and back and arms. He felt himself bent forward. Fingertips tapped up his spine.

“If you X-ray the rest of me, doctor, you’ll see I have metal bits in my legs, and also a .25 caliber bullet,” he snarled.

Dr. Miles took the stethoscope from around his neck and stuffed it into the pocket of his smock.

 “I am going to give you something stronger for the pain.” The doctor left silently. A few minutes later a nurse came in and Denis felt a needle go into his arm.

His insides went sweet and pulpy. Familiar warmth trickled into his veins like ribbons of honey. He sighed as the anodyne worked up his neck and into his skull from behind his ears. He had a great respect for morphine, but hated the bleakness that came after its withdrawal.

His mind drifted. Pain grew more distant as memory came closer. He was in the LCVP, the landing craft, and the .30 caliber was stuttering, splintering the universe with lethal clatter. The gun was spattering the beach, the palms, and men in brown uniforms. Then it went out of control, spinning skyward. The barrel refused to obey him. He saw the mouths of men working as they fell, but he could not hear their words.

Then he heard his mother declaring, The Lord shall smite thee with consumption and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish. But what had he done to get that curse? He couldn’t remember.

In two minutes he cared about none of it, circling above his life and looking down on it as dispassionately as a gull.

When he awakened the doctor was back.

“Are you related to George Q. Cannon?” In Salt Lake City, it was common to probe for family relationships.

“Of course. My great-grandfather. God knows my mother researched the Cannon and Davis lines back to goddamn Moses. Mormons do genealogy with fiendish glee, so they can baptize all their progenitors and get them all together in the celestial kingdom. You understand?”

Dr. Miles stepped back from Denis, as if he found him dangerous.

“Mormonism has caused me nothing but pain,” said Cannon. “My descendants from the Cannon line are all considered rascals and apostates. Count me among them.”

The doctor pursed his lips in disapproval.

“Have you told me everything you know about what’s wrong with me?” Denis felt crumpled and disturbed. His experience with Navy doctors had taught him to be suspicious.

“You have a concussion. You have war injuries that are still pretty fresh.”

Denis lifted his hand to his heart, feeling the beat for reassurance.

Sometime after midnight, in the distorted twilight caused by the sleeping pill the nurse had brought, he saw his own obituary on one of the pages he laid. Denis Cannon, his mother told police, was a bad boy. He smelled the grass of the cemetery, and its green became the lawn at his mother’s house.

As the effects of the morphine dimmed, a desperate and amplified loneliness embraced him, as if hope were running like water from the vessel that had been his body. He settled back in the bed, aware of the tension returning to his limbs. In the midnight silence of the hospital, he became aware of the inevitability of death, and it gave him a sad relief, a sense of belonging somewhere, finally. Of being immortalized in one of his own obituaries.

Dr. Miles stopped Leni Burke outside the hospital room, his hand up like a traffic cop.

“The concussive effects seem to be dissipating. We’ll keep Mr. Cannon quiet for a few days. He could suffer a blood clot to the brain if he is not quiet.”

Blood clot to the brain. She felt a moment of pity for the man who lay beneath the sheets. Her sympathy faded as she left the hospital.

Back at the city room she tried not to think about death and disease and bleakness, concentrating on the warmth radiating from the coffee cup in her hand instead of the demanding pile of death sheets she had been handed by visiting morticians. The coffee tasted wonderful. The sheets could wait. Life is like this coffee. When it’s gone, nobody knows what once filled the cup, unless it leaves a stain on its glossy, hard surface. Maybe that’s the reason I’m still alive. To leave my stain on some cup or other.

She placed the coffee cup on her desk, its dull clunk dispelling the reverie. She ripped a page from a pad marked NOT FOR PUBLICATION and rolled it into her machine. Her fingers found their place on the typewriter and rippled across the keys. In five minutes she had written Gorski a detailed explanation of Cannon’s diagnosis and prognosis. She tore it out. “Copy!” she shouted, and a moment later one of the war‘s questionably deferred college boys appeared.

 “Give this to Gorski.”

When the managing editor passed her later, he nodded wordlessly, a sign that he had no questions.

The next day Leni entered Cannon’s room with a lidded pot of coffee, china cups, sugar, and cream, all collected on a tray from the duty nurse. She held the Post editions clasped beneath her arm. She let the papers fall to the bed and placed the coffee tray on the nightstand. It was ten o’clock, and she opened the drapes to admit the morning sun, startling Denis from sleep. Outside, the wind brushed the budding trees into movement, sending light splashing across the room.

“We are supposed to have thunderstorms,” she said cautiously, bracing for a caustic retort. “They tell me it’s early in the year for thunderstorms.” 

“Who are ‘they’?”

He rolled to face away from her, tugging the sheets from their moorings in the mattress.

“Come now, Denis, you of all people must like thunder and lightning?”

The silence was palpable. She heard the clicking of a medical contraption down the hall.

“Do you want cream or sugar in your coffee? I brought some.” She placed the little pottery cup of hospital cream and two wrapped cubes of sugar on the stand next to the bed.

 “Shall I raise the bed? Is your vision any better?” Her eyes followed the rise and fall of his chest. “Look, I know you feel lousy, Cannon, but you’ll be better soon.” She leaned against the windowsill and was aware of the shadows of the tree branches thrashing the black and white squares of linoleum on the floor.

“Would you like me to call someone for you? Have you got any relatives?” There has to be someone. His figure lay unresponsive in the bed.

She moved to the other side of the bed where she could see his eyes. “Denis? I’m doing the best I can here…” She waited for several seconds. She tapped a Chesterfield from its pack and lit it.

“That does it, Cannon.” Leni stalked to the elevator in a trail of smoke.

Denis did indeed enjoy thunderstorms. During the hot summer months, they came to the Salt Lake Valley almost every afternoon in clouds that boiled up over the Oquirrh Mountains and loomed above the city like huge, threatening horsemen. He had a happy memory of walking down State Street in a pounding summer downpour, the pellets of water tapping on his skull and shoulders, raindrops jumping as they struck the sidewalk, lifting the odor of hot concrete to his nostrils.

Now it was April, a thousand years later, and the day was unseasonably dry with the flat, dimensionless heat you get out West, electric heat that builds thunderheads and ground lightning and virga—veils of rain that dry up before they reach the sagebrush. Weather was Cannon’s other anodyne. Like obituaries, weather placed him in the context of a world made more understandable by natural forces, amusing him when all of man’s puny plans were knocked askew by a rising river or a heavy wind. Even war seemed puny in typhoons.

In the eight months since his discharge from the Coast Guard and his return, the city had seen every kind of weather but hurricanes. There had been a colorful autumn that brought gentle rains and the smell of wet sage and cheat grass rolling in from the desert. Bitter cold and two feet of snow followed in January, snow that filled in the crevasses of the fierce mountains and would linger in some ravines well into August.

Now, as he lay in the hospital on this spring day, the heat wrung the moisture from the pockets of snow remaining in the valley. The Great Salt Lake, the dead-hearted receptacle for the Wasatch creeks, had stagnated, and the city gagged on the overpowering smell of dead bacteria stirred up from the shallow lake bottom by warm breezes. How does man, for all his technical know-how, fight a smell? In war you buried the bodies quickly. Cannon admired the lake because it was so perverse, rising when it should not, blowing away during drought years. It embraced creatures not fit to live in sweet water, and its currents sometimes blushed pink and purple from the mineralization. It was a good old lake where man had tried to raise oysters and run ferry boats but had been thwarted in every attempt because the lake refused to be predictable.

If he were at his desk today, he’d assign a photographer to find a farm in the valley and shoot pictures of cherry trees blossoming too early. Winter was not over. Maybe he would assign a reporter to cover the Agricultural Extension workers for comments on the unusual warmth…if he were editing today.

Merde,” Leni muttered, looking up at the clock. It was time to go to the hospital. She  corrected the obituary she had taken over the phone, and called “Copy!” moving it to the day city editor, a woman named Faye Edith Woolf, who often held the slot position on the copy desk, filling in for Cannon. Leni had to snag a taxi, and no telling how hard that might be.

“God be with you till we meet again,” said Gorski through clenched teeth as she left the city room, mocking a Mormon saying that had found its way from the end of a hymn into the idiom of the community.

“I hope so,” she shot back. “This is above and beyond the call.” Cannon was being released, and Gorski had insisted that Leni pick him up. She felt the sun on her face as she stepped into the dazzling morning.

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