Gorecki raised a hand. “I’m sure you’ve seen a lot, Mr. James, underage drinking, monitoring in-school detention duty and such, but this here’s serious.”

“You’re a cop, you said?” Vargas said. “Not in Evanston PD. What precinct?”

“I’m a special agent, actually.”

Both detectives raised their eyebrows.

“DEA?” Gorecki guessed.

Now he did produce his badge. “FBI, Chicago field office.”

Gorecki inspected it. “Special Agent James,” he said mostly to himself. Then a glimmer of understanding came over his face. “I—” he started to say but stopped abruptly.

This happened sometimes. Ezra would be having a perfectly normal conversation with somebody, but then a headline would flash through their mind, and their whole demeanor changed. For an entire year, Ezra’s name appeared in the Chicago Tribune, sometimes making the front page. Eventually people remembered seeing one of those headlines.

His jaw clenched as he waited for Gorecki to continue.

“You’ve helped a lot,” the detective said, biting his lip. “You can rejoin your friends inside.”

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