"Book him, Jess," the senior officer said, slamming the door behind Bolan.
Bolan sat at the gray metal table, wiping the ink from his fingertips with the rough paper towel. A skinny plainclothes policeman wearing an ill-fitting toupee sat across from him lazily moving a stir stick around in his Styrofoam cup of coffee. He hadn't offered Bolan any. In fact the only thing he offered Bolan was a chance to make one phone call. They'd been sitting there for fifteen minutes, while man speaking. The skinny cop just kept staring and stirring. The only sound was a faint rattling in the air-conditioning duct. If it wasn't for the rattle, Bolan wouldn't have known the air-conditioning was even on. The room must have been ninety-five degrees. The humidity was like an invisible gel pushing at him from all sides. The skinny cop put down the cup and took off his jacket, all the time staring at Bolan. Dark wet stains drooped under each arm.
"Kinda hot in here for coffee," Bolan said.
"Is it hot in here?" the officer said.
That ended conversation for another ten minutes. The silent treatment was supposed to make Bolan nervous so he tried to act nervous, fidgeting with the inky paper towel, glancing anxiously at the clock on the wall, studying the green acoustic squares that paneled walls and ceiling.
Then the door opened and a scrappy-looking guy walked in, no taller than five foot six, but thick like a jeep. He wore a natty three-piece blue suit and carried a beat-up leather briefcase. Bolan guessed him to be around forty-two. "I got about two minutes, Culver. What we got here?" He had a soft Georgia accent.
"We got one smartass bad guy who won't give us his name."
"Signed and seated, Captain."
"Sent them in. They're checking now."
"Silent alarm from the liquor store. Boggs and Simpson caught him running away. Had a .38 and a bag from the liquor store with the exact amount of cash stolen. No ID on him."
"We're bringing the liquor-store clerk down for a lineup. The clerk had been knocked on the head, but the wound's minor. There shouldn't be any problem. This guy fits the description perfectly."
The captain looked at Bolan. "You took like you been around the block before, sport. You gotta know that playing dummy won't get you nothing but hard time and pain."
"I'm saying nothing till I see my lawyer," Bolan said.
The captain shook his head. "Lock his ass up."
"Right." The skinny cop stood. "Notice those tiny scars around the eyes and nose, Captain?" The captain squinted at Bolan's face. "You mean those wrinkles?"
"They're scars. My sister was in an accident when she was a kid. Her boyfriend had a snoot full and crashed his Studebaker into a tractor. Mashed her face something awful. Doctors did the best they could back then, but she never could breathe proper. Always chewing with her mouth open so's she could breathe. Ever watched yams chewed like that? Yeech."
"Get on with it, Jimmy." The cop patted his toupee, shifting it.
"Anyway, couple years ago she had it fixed and figured while they was at it they might as well do a little adjusting and tightening here and there. Had tiny threadlike scars just like this fella."
"What are you saying, Jimmy? This boy's had plastic surgery?"
"Looks that way."
The captain rubbed his chin. "Well, that don't change anything for now. Lock him up and wait for the fingerprint results. I think he's going to be spending some time in a Georgia jail."
There was a knock on the door.
The captain pulled it open.
The uniformed cop outside pointed to Bolan.
"His lawyer's here. Wants to see him."
"In a second."
The uniformed cop nodded and left. The captain faced the skinny plainclothes cop. "Let him jaw with his lawyer. Meantime, tell the D.A. what we got. This looks like one case we won't have to bargain down. This tough guy's going all the way."