First of all there is Blue. Later there is White, and then there is Black and before the beginning there is Brown. Brown broke him in, Brown taught him the ropes, and when Brown grew old, Blue took over. That is how it begins. The place is New York, the time is the present, and neither one will ever change. Blue goes to his office every day and sits at his desk, waiting for something to happen. For a long time, nothing does, and then a man named White walks through the door, and that is how it begins. The case seems simple enough. White wants Blue to follow a man named Black and to keep an eye on him for as long as necessary. While working for Brown, Blue did many tail jobs, and this one seems no different, perhaps even easier than most. Blue needs the work, and so he listens to White and doesn’t ask many questions. He assumes it’s a marriage case and that White is a jealous husband. White doesn’t elaborate. He wants a weekly report, he says, sent to such and such a postbox number, typed out in duplicate on pages so long and so wide. A cheque will be sent each week to Blue in the mail. White then tells Blue where Black lives, what he looks like, and so on. When Blue asks White how long he thinks the case will last, White says he doesn’t know. Just keep sending the reports, he says, until further notice. To be fair to Blue, he finds it all a little strange. But to say that he has misgivings at this point would be going too far. Still, it’s impossible for him not to notice certain things about White. The black beard, for example, and the overly bushy eyebrows. And then, there is the skin, which seems inordinately white, as though covered with powder. Blue is no amateur in the art of disguise, and it’s not difficult for him to see through this one. Brown was his teacher, after all, and in his day Brown was the best in the business.