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Below, a woman waited for her dog to finish sniffing a tree trunk while she chatted across the road to the bookseller washing down his shop door. A family of father, mother, and two children, prayer books in hand, was on its way to church. So bourgeois, she thought, so safe. In Moabit you were never safe; people lived too close to the border between survival and starvation. Since the advent of the Brownshirts, there was no protection either from a jackbooted invasion that left broken heads and windows in its wake.

Nightclubs weren’t his line; the Vice boys usually dealt with them. With its chandeliers and mirrors and indefinable, expensive perfume, this one was a playground for the very rich—a fact that didn’t endear it to him. Willi was coming out of a cubbyhole behind the reception desk. “On its way,” he said. Schmidt walked through into the club proper. Potrovskov switched on lights and followed him. “What I tell you? ” Watching Schmidt eyeing some splintered wood in the middle of the floor, he said, “So they break a chair or two.

One of Nick’s bears, second from the left across the dance floor, was swelling to twice its size. It became two. One of it stepped down from its plinth and began padding across the floor toward the foyer. It had something in one of its paws; everything else about the thing absorbed light, but this flashed back a gleam from the foyer chandeliers—a blade. Slowly, very slowly, keeping the rest of her body still, Esther’s hand searched for the telephone on Nick’s desk, felt it, lifted the receiver, and found it dead.

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