Chad made a sour face. He turned to Shadow. “Okay,” said Chad. “Through that door and into the sally port.”
“Out there. Where the car is.”
Liz unlocked the doors. “You make sure that orange uniform comes right back here,” she said to the deputy. “The last felon we sent down to Lafayette, we never saw the uniform again. They cost the county money.” They walked Shadow out to the sally port, where a car sat idling. It wasn’t a sheriff’s department car. It was a black town car. Another deputy, a grizzled white guy with a mustache, stood by the car, smoking a cigarette. He crushed it out underfoot as they came close, and opened the back door for Shadow.
Shadow sat down, awkwardly, his movements hampered by the cuffs and the hobble. There was no grille between the back and the front of the car.
The two deputies climbed into the front of the car. The black deputy started the motor. They waited for the sally port door to open.
“Come on, come on,” said the black deputy, his fingers drumming against the steering wheel.
Chad Mulligan tapped on the side window. The white deputy glanced at the driver, then he lowered the window. “This is wrong,” said Chad. “I just wanted to say that.”
“Your comments have been noted, and will be conveyed to the appropriate authorities,” said the driver.
The doors to the outside world opened. The snow was still falling, dizzying into the car’s headlights. The driver put his foot on the gas, and they were heading back down the street and on to Main Street.
“You heard about Wednesday?” said the driver. His voice sounded different, now, older, and familiar. “He’s dead.”
“Yeah. I know,” said Shadow. “I saw it on TV.”
“Those fuckers,” said the white officer. It was the first thing he had said, and his voice was rough and accented and, like the driver’s, it was a voice that Shadow knew. “I tell you, they are fuckers, those fuckers.”
“Thanks for coming to get me,” said Shadow.
“Don’t mention it,” said the driver. In the light of an oncoming car his face already seemed to look older. He looked smaller, too. The last time Shadow had seen him he had been wearing lemon-yellow gloves and a check jacket. “We were in Milwaukee. Had to drive like demons when Ibis called.”
“You think we let them lock you up and send you to the chair, when I’m still waiting to break your head with my hammer?” asked the white deputy gloomily, fumbling in his pocket for a pack of cigarettes. His accent was Eastern European.
“The real shit will hit the fan in an hour or less,” said Mr. Nancy, looking more like himself with each moment, “when they really turn up to collect you. We’ll pull over before we get to Highway 53 and get you out of those shackles and back into your own clothes.” Czernobog held up a handcuff key and smiled.
“I like the mustache,” said Shadow. “Suits you.”
Czernobog stroked it with a yellowed finger. “Thank you.”
“Wednesday,” said Shadow. “Is he really dead? This isn’t some kind of trick, is it?”
He realized that he had been holding on to some kind of hope, foolish though it was. But the expression on Nancy’s face told him all he needed to know, and the hope was gone.