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I gave the last of the cream soda to the pigeons, twirled the hands on the little paper clock on the door to sometime around eightish and went down three flights to let myself out.

Peoria was still out there, grubby, shopworn, cynical, symbolic. A thousand stories in the naked city, and most of ’em would put you to sleep.

I ankled down the block and around the corner to old Zeke’s newsstand to see if the latest Black Mask Detective was in yet.

Zeke looks something like the leading man in a Hollywood movie-- “The Mummy.” But he knows what’s going on out there on the street, and he’s a tough old fossil. Once a young punk swiped a pack of Luckies from his stand. Wrinkled old Zeke vaulted over the counter, chased him six blocks and beat him senseless. It wasn't the principle of the thing, Zeke explained, it was the money.

Zeke’s newsstand was festooned with the afternoon blatters— The Peoria Puppy Trainer, The Tattler-Picayune, the BackStreet Journal, Evening Fishwrap, even an early-early edition of tomorrow’s Peoria Morning Moan. Every one of them had a front-page spread on our new District Attorney, Tammany Tweed, who’d recently won election in a loudly-trumpeted reform campaign against crime and corruption, two of our leading local industries.

I plunked down a nickle and flipped open a paper. D.A. Tammany’s pictures were all over the front page-- cool, haughty, beautiful. Our new D.A. was a real bitch-- a collie, actually, slim and tall, with long sleek gams and an aristocratic poise. I studied her pictures, considered her expression, pondered her quotes, imagined her clothes off.

“What do you think, Zeke?” I asked. “Is our new D.A. really going after corruption?”

Perched like an ancient vulture on his high stool, Zeke slowly turned his little rheumy eyes on me. “I don‘t know nothing about politics,” he rasped.

“Hot this afternoon, isn’t it, Zeke?” I drawled, pulling off my tie and opening the top three buttons of my shirt.

Zeke’s eyes zeroed in on a spot a bit south of my esophagus. He croaked, “Word on the street is, only thing D.A. Tammany is going after is the cash. She’s about like her predecessor, only more curvy than crooked. Word on the street also is, she’s keeping a harem of well-hung cops on her country estate.”

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