Friday, 9:10 p.m., Manhattan
The night of the first killing was filled with song. St. Patrick's
Cathedral in Manhattan trembled to the sound of Handel's
Messiah, the grand choral masterpiece that never failed to
rouse even the most slumbering audience. Its swell of voices surged
at the roof of the cathedral. It was as if they wanted to break
out, to reach the very heavens.
Inside, close to the front, sat a father and son, the older man's
eyes closed, moved as always by this, his favorite piece of music.
This may have been a preview, a warm-up for the Christmas season,
but that did not lessen its power. The son's gaze alternated
between the performers --- the singers dressed in black, the
conductor wildly waving his shock of gray hair --- and the man at
his side. He liked looking at him, gauging his reactions; he liked
being this close.
Tonight was a celebration. A month earlier Will Monroe Jr. had
landed the job he had dreamed of ever since he had come to America.
Still only in his late twenties, he was now a reporter, on the fast
track at the New York Times. Monroe Sr. inhabited a
different realm. He was a lawyer, one of the most accomplished of
his generation, now serving as a federal judge on the second
circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. He liked to acknowledge
achievement when he saw it, and this young man at his side, whose
boyhood he had all but missed, had reached a milestone. He found
his son's hand and gave it a squeeze.
It was at that moment, no more than a forty-minute subway ride
across town but a world away, that Howard Macrae heard the first
steps behind him. He was not scared. Outsiders may have steered
clear of this Brooklyn neighborhood of Brownsville, notorious for
its drug-riddled streets, but Macrae knew every street and
He was part of the landscape. A pimp of some two decades' standing,
he was wired into Brownsville. He had been a smart operator, too,
ensuring that in the gang warfare that scarred the area, he always
remained neutral. Factions would clash and shift, but Howard stayed
put, constant. No one had challenged the patch where his whores
plied their trade for years.
So he was not too worried by the sound behind him. Still, he found
it odd that the footsteps did not stop. He could tell they were
close. Why would anybody be tailing him? He turned his head to peer
over his left shoulder and gasped, immediately tripping over his
feet. It was a gun unlike any he had ever seen --- and it was aimed
Inside the cathedral, the chorus was now one being, their lungs
opening and closing like the bellows of a single, mighty organ. The
music was insistent:
Excerpted from THE RIGHTEOUS MEN © Copyright 2011 by Sam
Bourne. Reprinted with permission by HarperCollins. All rights