"I don't understand? What just happened?"

"I've been seeing it coming for two weeks, Hank," I told him. "I've tried to tell you that we couldn't just come back to it. You haven't been listening to me."

Lieutenant Kahn and the big brass had just left the interview room. And there Hank and I sat at the table, each with a thick packet in front of us.

"But we can't just disappear off the face of the earth."

"Hank and Clint can," I said. "At least for a couple of years. And I've been planning for it. We'll be OK."

"I don't understand."

"You keep saying that, but it isn't going to change a thing. Open the packet. Let's see who you are."

"I can't. I'm Hank Halston. Always have been."

"As soon as our names ran in the Chicago newspaper after that hit by the Rapinos on the Scarlottis, you've needed to stop being Hank Halston. We're just lucky they didn't run our faces in the paper too. But the gangs can find that out. They aren't all dumb as rocks. They have guys to search the Internet for them. I knew as soon as the Chicago media got hold of us that we'd have to be different people for a couple of years. That's what the department's done for us. It's given us new identities. I worked with them, though. We put together a plan."

"A plan."

"Open the envelope, Hank."

"You open yours?"

"I know who I am now."

We sat, looking at each other for a few minutes.

"This is really happening, isn't it?" Hank said.

"It sure is. And it's for the best. I don't want to have to be looking over my shoulder for Rapino, or Scarlotti, or Arcadi for the next five years. But OK, you don't have to open it now. Just get up and come with me. Don't even go back to your desk. Someone's already cleaned it out by now. Your life in the department will be delivered to us in a box--or rather, it will catch up with us."

"Where are we going?"

"We're going to see the world, Hank. Come on, up and at 'em."

"But where are we going right now?"

"I'm glad you asked. We're going to the Lincoln Harbor Yacht Club across the Hudson. It's the only place that Holi, my financial guy, could find a big enough boat slip on short notice."

Forty-five minutes later we were standing on the dock, looking at the vintage yacht.

"She's the Final Curtain, Hank. The original one. I've had Holi looking for her for two years. Isn't she a beaut? Maybe my first love, connecting me back to the happy aspects of my childhood."

"That she is," Hank acknowledged.

We both stood there and admired the classic 1930s-style teak decked fan-tail motor yacht.

"She belonged to the producer of many of my parents' movies," I explained. "I sailed in her frequently when I was growing up. I can't think of a better way for us to lose ourselves in style for a few years than to sail the world. I can be a playboy millionaire--which, luckily for us, I am. And you can be my bodyguard. Or, what the hell, you can be the playboy millionaire, and I'll be your rent boy."

"For years, sailing the world?"

"Yep, on my nickel, supplemented by the city of New York. If we get bored, we can come back and be cops again--after a few years."

"I'm not sure you could go that long without--" Hank had started to say something, but then he stopped. Activity was stirring on the yacht. Two muscled-up and hunky crewmen were descending a stairway on the yacht.

"The hired help," I said, with a grin.

Hank grinned back. "You weren't planning on making this voyage alone, were you?"

"Variety is the spice of life, Hank," I said, returning his grin. "Now, why don't you open your envelope and find out who you are now? I'm happy to say that the new you has a cock as big as the old you does."

[Thus ends the saga of Clint Folsom's NYPD life.]



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