“What you don’t understand, my friend, is that the veneer of civility is paper-thin. Easily torn, easily mended, easily discarded.”

Logain squirmed in his chair. “Enough with the ten-dollar words, flatfoot,” he said. “I got rights. I said I’m not tellin’ you nothin’, and you can’t keep me here ‘less I get a lawyer or you get a judge.”

“My, my, we have a constitutional scholar on our hands here, boys!” Detective Richat cried to his fellows, who responded with low chuckles. Richat removed his hat and overcoat; their brass accouterments clanked on the steel table as he laid them down.

“Yeah, not all us west side boys are complete rubes,” Logain said. “Let me go; you can be surprised later.”

One of the officers handed Richat a box from Dulley’s Floral Shoppe on State, which he cradled.

“It may be the thought that counts, but I don’t think you’re my type, detective,” Logain said, batting his lashes.

“I’m going to give you one last chance, my friend, before the veneer is discarded,” said Richat. “What did you do with Mr. Berkeley’s book?”

Logain, in response, slowly and deliberately raised his middle finger.

Richat whipped an M1913 cavalry saber out of the box and severed Logain’s outstretched finger in a single fluid stroke. A dirty rag served to muffle the prisoner’s screams.