Cover image for Color of law
Color of law
Milofsky, David.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boulder, Colo. : University Press of Colorado, [2000]

Physical Description:
viii, 377 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



This is a rich, absorbing novel about good, evil, and the inability of the legal system to mediate between the two. Two white Milwaukee motorcycle cops pursue and kill a young black man on a bitterly cold winter night in 1959 and with the help of their superiors escape detection for twenty years. When at last the truth comes out -- first in a confession and then in a ground-breaking civil rights suit brought against the state by the victim's family many people find their present lives increasingly altered by this event from the past. This includes Milwaukee Times reporter Bob Joseph, mayoral candidate Andy Hedig, Hedig's wife Sarah, lawyer Charlie Simon, the sister of the murdered youth, and many more. Written in lean, evocative prose, Color of Law is a profoundly ambitious novel that renders precisely an American City and the lives that are lived there.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

"This case is full of losers," observes Milwaukee attorney Charlie Simon in Milofsky's (Playing from Memory) meaty novel of racial injustice. Simon's comment is directed at Tommy Paley, a former motorcycle patrolman who witnessed the sport shooting of an unarmed young black man, Jimmy Norman, by a fellow bike man, John Grogan, a racist cop with a penchant for violence, one winter's night in 1959. Both Grogan and Paley were summarily dismissed from the force, and Paley (an accomplished loser to begin with) has narrowly survived a 20-year downward spiral and come clean to a local reporter, Bob Joseph. In 1959, no one questioned the verdict of justifiable homicideÄno one except Jimmy Norman's family. But in 1979, the white population is forced to pay attention when Joseph's story reopens the case, and Jimmy's sister, Olivia, hires Simon to represent her in a $100-million civil rights suit against the city. Tensions flare as the Rev. Marcus Jackson, a black civic leader, galvanizes black support for the Norman case, and protesters clash with police. Local politicians Emil Mueller, who's the town mayor, and liberal Andy Hedig use the case to advance their own interests. A disturbing revelation about Olivia threatens the integrity of her civil case. Why did she disappear so quietly after the original verdict? Milofsky's writing is compelling, and his knowledge of law, journalism and politics is thorough. His characters, black or white, are never one-dimensional, and though he packs in more action and more subplots than the novel's structure can support, his ambitious book succeeds in coming to terms with complex racial issues. The novel's Midwest setting should give it a solid start in bookstores there. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This novel seems intent on demonstrating the saying that old sins cast long shadows. When an African American youth is killed by two white police officers in 1959 Milwaukee, the cover-up reaches into the highest levels of city government, until one of the officers, 20 years later, confesses to his part in the killing and the cover-up. The consequences threaten to end several political careers, give others a boost, and damage personal lives along the way. Despite this promising plot, this novel by Milkofsky (English, Colorado State Univ.; Playing from Memory) never quite engages the reader. The characters are wooden and stereotypical, particularly the women: a beautiful but unhappy political wife and a poor but queenly black woman. It is also difficult to accept characters who are seemingly oblivious to common sense, such as the newspaper reporter who doesn't seem to realize that his affair with the mayoral candidate's wife, also the biographer of the victim's family, would compromise his journalistic credibility. Not recommended.ÄKerie L. Nickel, St. Mary's Coll. of Maryland, St. Mary's City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One Tommy Paley was driving west on Wright Street, trying to stay warm, when Rogan waved him over. It was so dark that Tommy didn't like to get off his motorcycle unless there was a damned good reason, especially in the Core. Milwaukee had changed since Tommy was a kid, but it was still more a collection of small towns than a real city. The Third Ward belonged to the wops, and the Germans lived in the big mansions on the lake. The Jews had filled the center until they started making money and moving to the West Side or maybe the northern suburbs. The South Side was for the Polacks, except for a handful of Yugoslavs, but to Tommy they were all the same, and as far as that went, they were all OK with him. He was Irish himself, but he never had problems with Polacks. They worked hard and kept their noses clean. If there were problems, they tended to take care of them without anyone else's help.     The north side was a different story. Before 1950, Milwaukee had been basically an all-white town. Then, all of a sudden, there were 100,000 niggers living in a few square miles of the inner city. Some people said they came for the welfare, but Tommy knew they did the work no one else wanted. The bus stops were crowded with nigger women in the morning going out to clean the big houses on the lake and every busboy in town had black skin. But change made everyone nervous, and it was up to the police to keep the ghetto quiet and contained. If things were going right you never saw a black face east of Holton or north of Capital Drive. And any nigger who went on the south side would be taking his life in his hands. Tommy wasn't sure he liked the arrangement, but no one was asking him. Those were the rules and generally they worked. Which brought him back to Rogan.     They had been together in the Academy, and Tommy remembered John before that, from high school, when they both played basketball in the city league. But Tommy had never liked Rogan, and the fact that he had no good reason didn't change anything. He thought he'd be getting away from the problem when he wrote applying for the cycle corps, but Rogan was waiting as soon as he got in, and Tommy started to feel like he was cursed with the sonofabitch for life. When John took him for a beer after work and tried to introduce him around, it only made things worse. Tommy felt bad resenting a fellow officer who was trying to be his friend, but he couldn't help it. There was just something about John Rogan that made him wary, the way he walked, hands cupped out to the side and his cocky habit of leaning back on his heels and looking at you out of the bottom of his eyes.     Rogan always needed to be different. Even in his dress. He wore the uniform because you had to, but here in the middle of winter when it was about a hundred below and all the other guys were wearing their Big Bennies and the gauntlet gloves that ran all the way up your arms and still you froze your ass, Rogan had on his light jacket and plain leather gloves. The guy was something, but if you saw a bikeman down you were supposed to go over and see what was going on. It was the code and Tommy was trying to be a team player. It was important to him. Besides, his ears were ringing from the bike's engine, so any excuse to get off was welcome.     Tommy parked and Rogan offered him a butt. "Take a load off your feet," he said.     Tommy looked around, but there was no place to sit. The street was empty of cars or pedestrians, which made sense to him. It was too goddamned cold to go for a walk, especially down here. There were few lights on in the dingy houses that lined the streets, and the overhead lamps cast a yellow glow in the mist. He shrugged and accepted a light. Rogan was a man of medium height, which meant he was short for a bikeman, most of whom were over six feet. You had to be at least 5'9" to get in and Rogan might have made it by an inch but no more. This was mildly surprising since Tommy remembered him playing bigger for Tech. John was a forward with arms on him and he wasn't afraid to mix it up down low with the big guys. Now he lounged against his Harley as if it was eighty degrees and they were over by the lake looking for women. Tommy wondered why Rogan had waved him over.     "You war-horsing?" the other man asked. "This ain't your regular beat."     Tommy shook his head. "Walker's on vacation, so I pulled his line. But I haven't been on my beat for weeks." Strictly speaking, the bikemen didn't have beats. They all patrolled the whole city, shaping up every morning for whatever assignments the sergeant felt like giving them. It was what they all liked about it, the independence, not being attached to a district. They tended to be where there was the most action, if there was a big accident or some crowd control problem, which kept things interesting. The chief took particular pride in the bikemen, considered them an elite group, which was why they had the special uniforms and also why they were on the streets twelve months a year, unlike any other police force Tommy had ever heard of. Still, most of the guys had preferences, beats they'd rather ride, and if the old man wasn't on you for something, he'd keep that in mind. If you were lucky you could ride the same line for years, running from one end to the other every eight-hour shift. At least you got to know the people and what to look out for that way. But Tommy wasn't lucky. No one had ever accused him of that.     "Pissed the sarge off?" Rogan asked sympathetically.     Tommy nodded. "I was late for roll call because I was half in the bag and the sonofabitch hasn't let me forget it." He shivered. Even in the big leather coat, he was cold when the wind blew. But it was only two hours to the end of his shift, and he was already thinking about what he was going to drink on the way home. He was in no hurry to get back these days, and he always made sure he had a good buzz on by the time he made it. Sometimes Lucy's light would still be on when he rolled in, and then he'd just sit outside on the steps and smoke until he was sure she had gone to sleep. That or he'd make sure he was so loaded he didn't care what she said.     Rogan threw his butt in the street and stretched. "Think I'll check these houses and get some niggers," he said.     Tommy looked at the battered fronts. He thought he saw a dim glow deep within the one on the corner, but he couldn't imagine going in there looking for trouble. Rogan was just running his mouth, as usual. "You're on your own there, Buddy," he said. But Rogan just smiled.     A car rolled past, going east. "Busted taillight," Rogan said. "Come on."     Tommy hadn't seen anything; it was just a passing car and he wasn't paying attention. But Rogan was gone, and by the time Tommy got on his bike and down the block, John had the guy spread-eagled on his fender. Tommy got down and approached carefully, from behind, his right hand on his gun. The street was still empty and snow blew around in the gutters. It was cold as a sonofabitch, but when Tommy saw the driver was just a teenaged kid, he relaxed. As he approached, Tommy thought he noticed the kid looking at him, but Rogan snapped the boy's head back in a hurry. To Tommy's surprise, he was going through the whole drill, ordering the kid to put his right-hand palm up on his head, then the left, then frisking him up and down. Amazing. Rogan was getting ready to cuff this kid, maybe take him downtown and book him, all for a broken taillight. Tommy wondered what the desk sergeant would think of that.     The kid was wearing a light raincoat with a small gray hat pulled down over his eyes. He looked as if he was about to say something, but Tommy heard nothing. Then, just as Rogan was about to put the handcuffs on, the kid took off, running like a bat out of hell toward Sixth. "Shit," Rogan said and started after him.     Tommy didn't understand what was going on. Let the kid run; they had his car, his registration. Unless the car was stolen, which he had to admit was a strong possibility. But it still made no sense. Why were they running down this kid on a cold winter night for a traffic violation? But Rogan was already down the block and Tommy had no choice but to back him up.     By the time he made the corner, Tommy was puffing and the kid was pulling away. He stepped into the street and looked for a car. Then he heard a shot, though he couldn't say where it came from. A Chevy turned onto Wright and Tommy waved it down. "Police emergency," he told the driver. "I need your car." The guy looked tired, probably on his way home from work and he didn't need this. Tommy felt for him, but he couldn't run anymore. "Hit it," he said.     They caught up with Rogan in half a block and Tommy swung open the door. "Cocksucker can run," John said, out of breath. Tommy noticed his gun was out.     "What's going on?" the driver asked.     "Escaped burglar," Rogan said. Tommy looked at him. "Sure," John said. "It was on the bulletin, that grocery over on Brown."     Tommy remembered a holdup. The proprietor of the store had been shot. He hadn't gotten a good look at this kid, but he was doubtful. "I thought that guy was bigger. Didn't they say six feet, two hundred pounds?" But Rogan didn't respond.     They came abreast of the kid now. He was running easily, legs high, arms pumping, the tails of his coat spread out behind him on the wind like a sail. He looked so graceful that Tommy hated to interrupt. "Here we go," Rogan said and jumped out of the car, which was still moving.     "Get the sonofabitch," Tommy shouted, surprising himself with his vehemence. And he was out of the car with his gun pulled too.     The boy darted to his left when he saw them, like he was going to try to run behind a little white house that, like all the others on the street, was dark, though it was only eight-thirty. But thanks to the ride, Tommy and Rogan were fresh now and gaining.     Rogan ran up the snowbank, practically on top of the kid, who was heading down the service walk at the side of the house. If he jumped, Tommy figured he'd have him. Then he heard a shot, and even before he saw what had happened, he knew this one wasn't in the air.     Tommy slipped, trying to stop in the icy street, and by the time he righted himself and got up to the house, the kid was stretched out on the ground. It was very quiet now and smoke was everywhere. Rogan was putting his gun back, still panting from his run. "The fuck happened?" Tommy said. "Why'd you shoot him?"     Rogan didn't seem upset, just out of breath. "You saw it," he said finally. "I had no choice; he was coming at me." His voice was soft, matter-of-fact. But Tommy hadn't seen anything. One minute the kid was running, the next he was down. That was all he knew. But Rogan's manner unnerved him, made him doubt himself. If he had shot someone he'd be on the fucking roof, but John was calm, so maybe he was telling the truth. It beat the hell out of Tommy what was going on.     Meanwhile, the kid wasn't moving. Tommy bent down and put his hand on the boy's neck, searching for the jugular vein. He didn't really know what he was doing, didn't know first aid, but he figured he should do something. There was no pulse he could find, but it surprised him how warm the body was against his cold hands. The kid was burning up. "I think he's dead," he said.     This got Rogan's attention. He grabbed the kid's wrist roughly and held it for a moment. Then he shook his head as if he was finally beginning to understand. "Goddamn," he said. Because shooting someone was serious business, even for a hotshot Like Rogan, and even if the person he killed was a nigger kid no one cared about. Every killing was investigated by the higher-ups, and the officer was suspended while the investigation was going on. Everyone knew that. Tommy had been on the force for five years and had never had his gun out of the holster until tonight, but he knew this was trouble, even if they decided Rogan had been right.     Now a man wearing an overcoat over his pajamas approached. A white man, which surprised Tommy. He didn't know there were any whites left in this neighborhood. "I live across the street," he said. "I heard a shot. What happened?" Tommy saw a teenaged boy standing behind his father at the curb. Great, he thought. Now we got the whole family out here. The man looked down at the dead boy on the sidewalk. The kid wasn't much older than his son. "Did he do something wrong, officer?"     Tommy started to answer, but then a terrible weariness came over him. The question was basic, but there was nothing to say, nothing he could say that would satisfy anyone. The man had a point. It seemed like you ought to do something wrong in order to get your ass killed, but all this kid had done was run away. He had been scared, that was about it. Mostly, however, Tommy was tired and overwhelmed by the situation. One minute he had been driving down the street worrying about nothing but staying warm and the next he was involved in a murder with witnesses. The white house and the whiteness of the snow blurred his vision, and he wondered if he was crying or just cold. The kid was the only black thing around. Then he shook himself awake. They had to get organized, or at least look that way. They were cops, for Christ's sake. He had to report the shooting, get some backup out here and an ambulance. There was a chance the kid might still make it. "I'm going to have to use your phone, if you have one," he said. "Can you show me where it is?"     The man nodded dumbly and retreated, still staring at the boy on the ground. Then Tommy walked over to the Chevy, which was still waiting at the curb where they'd left it. "Thanks," he said to the driver. "Sorry we had to inconvenience you tonight." The man nodded and placed the car in gear. Tommy thought about telling him to forget what he'd seen, but he had the feeling that wasn't necessary.     When he got back from calling in their location, Rogan was kneeling next to the body, and when he stood up, he motioned to Tommy. "Check that out," he said.     There was a four-inch switchblade curled in the dead boy's fingers. Tommy hadn't seen it before, but he wasn't looking at the kid's hands then. "I didn't see any knife before," he said.     "I told you," Rogan said. "Fucking kid was coming at me. Look at the size of that thing. I'd have a hole in me the size of the Grand Canyon if I hadn't put him down, I'll tell you that right now."     Tommy shook his head. He remembered a sergeant at the Academy telling them to carry throwaways in case they ever had to do a nigger, but he had figured it was just talk and didn't take it seriously. Now he wondered about Rogan. He could see it, could imagine what Rogan would be thinking. Why ruin my service record over some nigger kid? Despite his dislike of the other man, Tommy couldn't really blame him. What was done was done and there was nothing to change it. "I just didn't see it, John," he repeated. "But I was behind you, coming up, and I slipped in the street."     "Goddamned right," Rogan said. "It happened fast. One minute I was up behind him, the next thing I knew there's this fucking machete coming at my ribs."     Now Tommy thought the kid's skin looked gray, as if it had started to fade in death. If they stayed there long enough he might actually turn white, just like them. There was a small dark hole at the base of the boy's skull, and it looked so delicate that it was hard to believe the shot could have done any real damage. But Tommy knew the truth was otherwise. Every cop carried the same gun, a .357, but their ammunition was special, designed not to exit the body as an ordinary bullet might, but to mushroom once it was inside and blow up. The coppers called it a "hot load" and it did incredible damage when it hit. Tommy imagined the bullet ricocheting around inside the boy's body, but the thought sickened him and he turned away. It was important to stay calm, to figure out what to do and figure it out fast.     Rogan's eyes were soft, almost as if he knew what Tommy was thinking. "Look," he said. "It wasn't like I wanted to kill the kid. Why would I chase him for two blocks if I just wanted to grease him? But why did he run, why'd he leave his car behind, and where does a kid like that get money to buy a car in the first place? Then when he pulled that blade I had no choice, you can see that, can't you, Tommy? We got to get together on this because once we get downtown that's what they're going to want. You know anytime a cop's involved in a killing all hell breaks loose. So we got to agree on our story about what happened."     Tommy didn't know how it had become his problem all of a sudden. He hadn't shot anyone. But he knew Rogan was right; he was there, and if he didn't back up his partner, they'd both look bad. Tommy shrugged. "We got the knife," he said.     Rogan nodded thoughtfully. "Yeah, and probably he was that burglar, like I said before. Chances are he was. Maybe somebody will ID him." Rogan seemed hopeful all of a sudden, as if he thought he'd get a medal out of this.     But talking helped and Tommy's exhaustion was lessening now. It was a problem, that was all. Something they had to work out, but they were partners, they were going to do it together. "OK," Rogan said. "How's this. He jumps out of the car and yells, `You won't catch me, I'm a hold-up man!' and he's waving the knife around?"     Tommy hadn't heard the kid say boo, but he had been back up the block when Rogan pulled his car over and then he'd started running. "I thought you didn't see the knife until later," he said.     "Yeah, that's right," Rogan said. "OK, so I had him there against the car, you saw that, and then he started running and we chased him and then it all happened just like I said before, just like you saw it."     Tommy didn't know what to say. He couldn't argue with Rogan because he didn't know for sure what had happened himself, even though he had been there the whole time. That was the confusing thing; he didn't know what had been going on right in front of him. But how could he tell anyone that? "If you say so, John," he muttered.     "Right," Rogan said. He seemed pleased with himself, gaining confidence now. "That's good. He fits some of them bulletins to a T. How do we know he ain't a fucking hold-up man anyway? Swear to God, that's the first thing went through my mind."     The guy was amazing. He was rolling now, working on his story, refining it, as if he was writing a goddamned TV show or something. One minute Rogan had been talking about going through vacant houses looking for niggers and the next he stops a car for a broken taillight and shoots the driver. But now, to hear John tell it, the whole thing had been planned and he'd been crime-stoppers all along, responding to the bulletin about the Brown Street robber. Tommy shook his head. The way Rogan was going on was making him nervous. "That's it, then?" he said, anxious to be through with this.     Rogan nodded. "That's what we'll tell them. You got it now, Partner?"     There was a siren in the distance coming closer. A bar on the corner had its doors open and people had begun to gather across the street, though no one had the nerve to advance toward the two bikemen. Tommy wondered where they had all been before and whether anyone besides the guy in the pj's had seen anything. Now the siren was louder, and for no reason, Tommy looked at his watch. It was almost nine, time to call in for his hourly mark, to let them know where he was. He wished he had pulled the hook in that call box he had seen a few blocks back. In the middle of all the confusion, police procedure offered him some comfort. But he had screwed up again. He hadn't made his mark and now he was stuck in this situation with Rogan. The two things seemed connected in his mind.     "What about it?" Rogan said, his voice sharper now. "You with me on this, Partner? You got it all?"     The two men were close enough to touch, and though they hardly knew each other, Tommy felt joined together with the other man. What had happened made it that way and that's how it would stay. He had never felt comfortable with other cops, never been included in their bull sessions about hunting and women. The only place he fit in was in the bar, and then he was usually too loaded to know if he was fitting in or not. But he knew about cops hanging together and not crapping out on your partner. That's what was happening now. "I've got it," he said.     "OK," Rogan said, and patted his shoulder. "That's good then. That's all right."     Charlie Moran, a detective sergeant, and two uniforms were in the first car. Tommy knew Moran from the neighborhood, and he respected him. Moran was probably ten years older than he was, old enough that he had seemed like a grown-up when Tommy was still just a kid playing ball in the streets. He remembered Charlie as a tall, skinny pitcher on the St. Pete's baseball team and then later the general approbation among the parents when he had joined the force after high school and service in Korea. In fact, Charlie Moran was part of the reason Tommy had decided to become a copper, though he had known from the beginning he wanted to be a bikeman, and this hadn't changed when Moran was promoted to detective and got to wear plainclothes to work. Any asshole could ride in a car, Tommy figured, but you had to apply to be a bikeman and they didn't take everyone who wanted in.     After a year riding in a squad, Tommy had written for the motorcycle corps and he had been admitted, though at first they made him ride a checkerbike and handle traffic patrol, helping old ladies across the street. Finally, he got a solo and he had been patrolling on his own ever since. Now, he had trouble meeting Charlie Moran's eyes, though the other man seemed calm enough.     "What happened, Tommy?" Moran asked and looked at the kid's body.     "Sarge, we shot a guy," Tommy said.     "Both of you."     "I did it," Rogan said.     Moran looked first at one, then the other. "Go sit in my car," he said quietly to Tommy.     The uniforms outlined the body in the snow, and then a crew from the ambulance put the kid on a stretcher and took him away. No one was hurrying; there wasn't much point in it now. Tommy sat in Moran's car and waited, listening to the radio. It was warm and there was a pipe and tobacco pouch on the dashboard, which gave the car a homey atmosphere. More squads were arriving all the time. Two uniforms made a diagram of the scene. Then they fanned out, looking for witnesses, Tommy thought. He wondered where the guy in the bathrobe had gone. Moran stood talking to Rogan, his hip cocked, one hand in a pocket, relaxed, as if nothing unusual were going on, which reassured Tommy. Probably Charlie had seen a lot of this.     Finally, Moran returned to the car. He was a big man with a deep crease between his eyes that made Tommy think of his father, though the old man had been dead for ten years. Now Moran took off his hat and let out his breath. It was warm and Tommy felt sleepy and secure.     "OK," Moran said. "I want to know the truth. I want to know what the hell you're doing with Rogan and why you're not patrolling on your bike. I called headquarters and they said you didn't pull your nine o'clock mark. So what were you guys doing out there and why's that kid down on the ground?"     In the dark car, Tommy felt like confessing his own confusion about the shooting, his own doubts. Moran was just a guy from the Third Ward, almost a friend. He could trust him. But something held him back, some loyalty to Rogan he didn't fully understand. Anyway, even if Rogan had pulled the trigger, Tommy had been there. He was in it too. There was no getting around that. So Tommy told Moran he was war-horsing because the sergeant had pulled him off his regular beat, but he left out the part about being late to roll call. He was driving alone when he saw Rogan on the ground and pulled over, like he was supposed to when another officer was down. That much was true--Moran couldn't say anything about that. But then Tommy repeated the story he and John had agreed on about the knife, and he could tell the detective wasn't buying it.     Moran just sat quietly for a long time, looking straight ahead, saying nothing. Finally, he turned to Tommy. "I'm just telling you this because you're a kid from the neighborhood and I feel a responsibility for what happens to you," he said. "This whole thing is nothing to me. Rogan, even the dead kid, I could give a shit about them. But once we go downtown and you file your report, it's out of my hands. And you want to watch out with this, for your own self, I mean. Rogan's a bad ass, a real shit head. You don't know how bad he is, so take my word for it because I do. You think you're standing behind a fellow officer, backing him up, and I understand that, but you're seriously wrong, Tommy. We got a dead kid out there, and it doesn't matter that he's a nigger or what he is. You don't want to be in this with Rogan unless you have to be."     Moran was scaring him, and though Tommy knew he was trying to, that this was part of the game, that they tried to separate you and break you down, he couldn't shake off a growing feeling of dread. Still, what could he do? He'd already told the story, the same one Rogan had. He couldn't back away now; they'd agreed on it. "What do you mean?" he asked.     Moran wiped his face with his hands as if they were a towel. "He's got complaints all over the goddamned place," he said wearily. "People coming into the precinct saying he responds to calls then beats the shit out of everyone in the place, women, kids, doesn't matter." He turned in his seat to face Tommy. "Look," he said. "I know you bikemen, how you all think you're tough motherfuckers and the rest of us are pussies, but this guy's something else, take my word. I checked your record and so far you're in the clear. You don't want to screw things up for yourself by fronting for a loser like Rogan."     Tommy didn't know what to say. He had the feeling Moran was telling the truth, that he was looking out for his best interests, but he couldn't be sure. He hadn't shot the kid, but it would be his word against the other man's if he changed his story now. And what would the other guys think if he ratted out on Rogan? He wouldn't be able to show his face at roll call. Besides, if they stuck together, this would all blow over in a few weeks. "I don't know, Sarge," he said.     Moran nodded. "So you're sticking with this then," he said, tapping his notebook.     "That's it," Tommy said. He could hear himself breathing shallowly and felt an enormous pressure in the middle of his chest.     "OK," the detective said. "We got nothing more to talk about then. Let's go." They got out of the car and walked slowly over to where one of the uniforms was talking to Rogan.     "How far away were when you shot him?" Magnusen asked.     "Not that far," Rogan said, indicating the street.     "Show me," Magnusen said, and Rogan stepped off about twenty-five feet.     "Hell of a shot," Moran muttered. "In the dark too. Ought to put him up for a marksman's medal."     "Maybe it was a little closer," Tommy offered. Rogan had been on top of the kid, for Christ's sake.     Magnusen looked at Tommy, then he spoke again to Rogan. "This about right, John?"     Rogan didn't look at Tommy. They were on their own now. He nodded. "Looks like it to me," he said.     Magnusen put a piece of ice on the ground to mark the spot, then he paced it off and measured with a tape he took out of his pocket. "Twenty-three feet nine inches," he said to no one in particular. He wrote this down in his notebook.     "You agree on that, Tommy?" Moran asked. The others were moving away.     "I don't know. I'd say it was a little closer. Maybe ten or fifteen feet. But I was in back of them, running. I didn't really see how far away Rogan was."     Moran nodded and made a note of this. Then he turned and looked at the crowd of silent blacks lining the curb. Considering how many people were watching, it was amazingly quiet. Only the noises of the ambulance and the coppers moving back and forth interfered with their conversation. But there was a strong impression of menace in the air. Tommy remembered the acrid smell of cordite and smoke right after Rogan shot and imagined he smelled it still. Maybe it was just death he was smelling. He looked around and wondered if it was possible that no one had seen what had happened here, that there were no witnesses in the growing crowd of people. Still, even if that were true, he doubted that anyone on the street believed John Rogan had been acting in self-defense against a crazed burglar when he shot that boy down.     Moran might have been thinking the same thing. He looked at Tommy with what seemed to be a mixture of compassion and disgust. Then he looked around the crime scene and gestured toward the car. "Let's go downtown," he said. "You boys sure fucked up my night." Copyright © 2000 University Press of Colorado. All rights reserved.