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Michael Connelly

A Darkness More Than Night

The seventh book in the Harry Bosch series, 2000

PROLOGUE

Bosch looked through the small square of glass and saw that the man was alone in the tank. He took his gun out of its holster and handed it to the watch sergeant. Standard procedure. The steel door was unlocked and slid open. Immediately the smell of sweat and vomit stung Bosch’s nostrils.

“How long’s he been in here?”

“About three hours,” said the sergeant. “He blew a one-eight, so I don’t know what you’re going to get.”

Bosch stepped into the holding tank and kept his eyes on the prone form on the floor.

“All right, you can close it.”

“Let me know.”

The door slid closed with a jarring bang and jolt. The man on the floor groaned and moved only slightly. Bosch walked over and sat down on the bench nearest to him. He took the tape recorder out of his jacket pocket and put it down on the bench. Glancing up at the glass window he saw the sergeant’s face move away. He used the toe of his shoe to probe the man’s side. The man groaned again.

“Wake up, you piece of shit.”

The man on the floor of the tank slowly rolled his head and then lifted it. Paint flecked his hair and vomit had caked on the front of his shirt and neck. He opened his eyes and immediately closed them against the harsh overhead lighting of the holding tank. His voice came out in a hoarse whisper.

“You again.”

Bosch nodded.

“Yeah. Me.”

“Our little dance.”

A smile cut across the three-day-old whiskers on the drunk’s face. Bosch saw that he was missing a tooth he hadn’t been missing last time. He reached down and put his hand on the recorder but did not turn it on yet.

“Get up. It’s time to talk.”

“Forget it, man. I don’t want -”

“You’re running out of time. Talk to me.”

“Leave me the fuck alone.”

Bosch looked up at the window. It was clear. He looked back down at the man on the floor.

“Your salvation is in the truth. Now more than ever. I can’t help you without the truth.”

“What’re you, a priest now? You here to take my confession?”

“You here to give it?”

The man on the floor said nothing. After a while Bosch thought he might have fallen back asleep. He pushed the toe of his shoe into the man’s side again, into the kidney. The man erupted in movement, flailing his arms and legs.

“Fuck you!” he yelled. “I don’t want you. I want a lawyer.”

Bosch was silent a moment. He picked up the recorder and slid it back into his pocket. He then leaned forward, elbows on his knees, and clasped his hands together. He looked at the drunk and slowly shook his head.

“Then I guess I can’t help you,” he said.

He stood up and knocked on the window for the watch sergeant. He left the man lying on the floor.

Chapter 1

“Someone’s coming.”

Terry McCaleb looked at his wife and then followed her eyes down to the winding road below. He could see the golf cart making its way up the steep and winding road to the house. The driver was obscured by the roof of the cart.

They were sitting on the back deck of the house he and Graciela had rented up on La Mesa Avenue. The view ranged from the narrow winding road below the house to the whole of Avalon and its harbor, and then out across the Santa Monica Bay to the haze of smog that marked overtown. The view was the reason they had chosen this house to make their new home on the island. But at the moment his wife spoke, his gaze had been on the baby in his arms, not the view. He could look no farther than his daughter’s wide blue and trusting eyes.

McCaleb saw the rental number on the side of the golf cart passing below. It wasn’t a local coming. It was somebody who had probably come from overtown on the Catalina Express. Still, he wondered how Graciela knew that the visitor was coming to their house and not any of the others on La Mesa.

He didn’t ask about this – she’d had premonitions before. He just waited and soon after the golf cart disappeared from sight, there was a knock at the front door. Graciela went to answer it and soon came back to the deck with a woman McCaleb had not seen in three years.

Sheriff’s detective Jaye Winston smiled when she saw the child in his arms. It was genuine, but at the same time it was the distracted smile of someone who wasn’t there to admire a new baby. McCaleb knew the thick green binder she carried in one hand and the videocassette in the other meant Winston was there on business. Death business.

“Terry, howya been?” she asked.

“Couldn’t be better. You remember Graciela?”

“Of course. And who is this?”

“This is CiCi.”

McCaleb never used the baby’s formal name around others. He only liked to call her Cielo when he was alone with her.

“CiCi,” Winston said, and hesitated as if waiting for an explanation of the name. When none came, she said, “How old?”

“Almost four months. She’s big.”

“Wow, yeah, I can see… And the boy… where’s he?”

“Raymond,” Graciela said. “He’s with some friends today. Terry had a charter and so he went with friends to the park to play softball.”

The conversation was halting and strange. Winston either wasn’t really interested or was unused to such banal talk.

“Would you like something to drink?” McCaleb offered as he passed the baby to Graciela.

“No, I’m fine. I had a Coke on the boat.”

As if on cue, or perhaps indignant about being passed from one set of hands to another, the baby started to fuss and Graciela said she would take her inside. She left them standing on the porch. McCaleb pointed to the round table and chairs where they ate most nights while the baby slept.

“Let’s sit down.”

He pointed Winston to the chair that would give her the best view of the harbor. She put the green binder, which McCaleb recognized as a murder book, on the table and the video on top of it.

“Beautiful,” she said.

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