Darrel Two Moons and Steve Katz were having a late dinner at Café Karma when the call came in. The restaurant was Katz's choice. Again. Two Moons watched his partner put aside his Eden-Yield Organic Lamb Plus Eclectic Veggie Burrito with great reluctance and fiddle in his pocket for his chirping pager.
It was just after ten-thirty p.m. Probably another south side domestic violence. For five weeks running, Darrel and Katz had worked the four p.m. to two a.m. Special Investigations shift. Their calls had consisted of feuding spouses, gang assaults, various and sundry alcohol-related issues, all taking place below St. Michael's --- the Mason-Dixon Line that split Santa Fe and was more than an arbitrary map squiggle.
It was three weeks before Christmas, and the first few days of December had signaled an easy winter, with daytime temperatures in the forties. But four days ago, the weather had taken a drop: fifteen degrees Fahrenheit at night. The snow that had fallen during this serious drought year remained white and fluffy. The air was cold and biting. Their shift was one big freezer burn.
At least the weirdos who ran Café Karma kept the dive warm. Downright hot. A big and tall kind of guy to begin with, Darrel was drowning in clothing, sweating in his black wool shirt and black tie, black corduroy sports coat, and heavy black gabardine slacks tailored in Germany and inherited from his father. His quilted black ski jacket was draped over a horribly hand-painted chair, but he kept the sports coat on to conceal the department-issue .45 in its X-harnessed cowhide shoulder holster. No problem hiding his unauthorized boot gun, a nickel-plated .22. It nuzzled his calf, snug in his left custom-stitched elephant-hide Tony Lama.
Katz had on what he'd worn every night since the weather had turned: a fuzzy brown and white plaid Pendleton shirt over a white cotton turtleneck, faded blue jeans, black and white high-top sneakers. Over his chair was that ratty gray wool overcoat --- pure New Yawk. How could he keep his feet warm in those Keds?
Two Moons sipped coffee and ate his dinner as Katz finally freed the now-silent pager. Over by the pastry case, the multipierced Goth waitress who'd served them --- or tried to --- stood gazing into space. She'd taken their order with vacant eyes, then had proceeded to the coffee machines, where the detectives watched her spend six straight minutes foaming Katz's Green Tea Chai Latte. Six and a half, to be precise: The detectives had timed her.
Staring into the foam, like it held some kind of big cosmic secret.
Darrel and Katz had exchanged knowing glances, then Two Moons had muttered under his breath about what was really cooking in the back room. Katz had cracked up, his big red mustache rising and falling. This month, another team was handling narcotics.
Katz studied the number on the pager and said, "Dispatch." A bit more fumbling in another pocket and he produced his little blue cell phone.
Another meal cut short. Two Moons ate fast as Katz called in. He'd ordered as close to normal as possible at this loony bin: a mushroom burger with chipotle-spiced home fries and sliced tomatoes. Specifying no sprouts, but they'd stuck a tumbleweed of the stuff on his plate anyway. Darrel hated it; it reminded him of cattle fodder. Or something picked out of a comb. Just looking at it made him want to spit. He removed it and wrapped it in a napkin, whereupon Katz immediately grabbed it and snarfed it down.
If it were up to Katz, they'd be here every night. Darrel conceded that the food was consistently good, but atmosphere was another issue. With its snaky walkway embedded with pebbles and shards of mirror glass, antiwar petitions tacked to the Technicolor walls of the tiny entry, and cell-like rooms full of mismatched thrift shop furniture and incense fumes, Karma was what his gunnery sergeant father used to call "hippie-dippie left-wing lunacy crap."
Somewhere along the way, his father had changed, but Darrel's army-brat upbringing stuck with him. Give him a burger and plain old fries in politically neutral surroundings.
Katz reached dispatch. The office had been moved out of Santa Fe PD to the county building on Highway 14 --- police, fire, city, county, everything integrated --- and most of the dispatchers were no longer familiar voices. But this time was different: Katz smiled and said, "Hey, Loretta, what's up?"
Then his face grew serious, and the big copper-wire mustache drooped. "Oh . . . Yeah, sure . . . Where? . . . You're kidding."
He hung up. "Guess what, Big D?"
Darrel chomped on his burger, swallowed. "Serial killer."
"Half correct," said Katz. "Just a killer. Blunt-force homicide on Canyon."
Canyon Road was very high-rent, just east of the Plaza in the Historic District, a narrow, leafy, quiet, pretty place lined with gated compounds and galleries and expensive cafés. The hub of Santa Fe's art scene.
Darrel's pulse rate quickened from forty to fifty. "Private residence, right? Not a gallery at this hour."
"Oh, a gallery, amigo," s