'Yeah, but your car is junk. A sea anchor.'

'If it saved your life, it did its job.' She smiled. 'I'll cash the insurance and get a red one. I was tired of powder blue anyway.'

Then, almost without knowing how he started, he was telling her, talking about seeing the Charger, seeing Jody Dean looking back at him across a lane of traffic, the heart-stopping moment of recognition… And then, Jody, taking off, leaving Shane in the dust; the Ryder van pinwheeling in front of him until the Subaru finally ground to a halt under the bridge on the Howard Hughes Parkway.

Alexa didn't say anything while he was telling it. 'Shane,' she said after he had finished. 'Jody is dead. We talked about it last night. What is it? Why do you insist on?…' She didn't finish, but instead, let go of his hand.

'His suicide never made sense to me… I couldn't believe he'd kill himself,' Shane said. 'He wasn't the kind of guy who eats his gun.'

'Yet cops who seem normal do it all the time When it's a good friend, it's just harder to accept.'

'Alexa, I may be going through a psychiatric review, but I'm not a psycho.'

'Jody is dead,' she repeated. 'You carried his box to the furnace-gave his ashes to his wife. You know he's gone.'

'Then who did I see on the freeway? He ran, Alexa. Took off. I crashed because he cut off a truck and it almost hit me. Why would he run if it wasn't Jody?'

She sat there quietly, looking at him, for a long time, trying to find the right thing to say. Then she lowered her voice and leaned toward him. 'I want you to let this go. Okay? I want you to keep quiet about it and let it go.'

'Don't think it'll look good in my package? Help dress up my psychiatric review?' he said sarcastically.

She smiled a tight smile. 'I'm sure there's some explanation. Jody's body was identified by his wife and by his commander at Detective Services Group… Who was it back then?'

'Captain Medwick.'

'Right. Carl Medwick. He and Lauren wouldn't identify the body if Jody wasn't dead.'

'Yeah… Yeah… Of course. Probably not.' The conversation stopped, but these ideas lay between them, festering malignantly.

'You just saw somebody who looked like Jody,' she added.

Ants working hard, tugging at crumbs, still trying to make this untidy idea go away.

'Of course, you're right,' he said, with more enthusiasm. 'That's gotta be it. Gotta be. And he ran because… Because…' He looked up for help.

'Because, sometimes, Shane, when you stare at people, you can look very ferocious. The driver of that Charger just got scared.'

A big piece, an important piece, dragged… Hauled, actually, to the edge of the blanket, but not gone… not quite yet.

'You're right,' he said. 'Shit, I probably scared the poor guy, whoever he was, half to death.'

'I've seen you do it.'

'He probably thought I was some lane-change killer about to pull a gun and start blasting.'

They both sat there anxiously, trying to buy it, hoping for the best, like family members waiting for a biopsy.

'Yeah… God, what was I thinking? The guy sure looked like Jody, but it wasn't him. Couldn't've been,' Shane said.

Alexa nodded.

But as he sat there in the Peking Duck trying to convince himself, he remembered that look again-Jody's look. In his memory he saw little ten-year-old Jody, standing on the mound, shaking off signs in frustration, sending Shane his own brand of telepathy… Jody-thoughts coming in on their special frequency. With this realization, the self-deception ended. It was Jody in that Charger, talking to Shane without having to speak, just like in Little League. Stop screwing around, manUrn gonna throw the heater. Rearing back, going into his windup, burning it in there… Shane, knowing the pitch without even flashing the sign. Cowhide slapping leather. Fastball. Right down the old pipe.

Strike three, asshole… You're outta there!

Chapter 4


WHAT HAPPENED NEXT made no sense at all.

Since Shane had missed his psychiatric appointment because of the accident, he decided to kill the early afternoon pursuing this dilemma. He'd promised Alexa that he'd forget about Jody, forget about seeing his dead best friend tooling along on the San Diego Freeway instead of doing what he was supposed to be doing-gathering dust in an antique urn.

Shane broke his promise to Alexa because he had to. He got Jody's old commanding officer's address from the department newsletter mailing roster, then cabbed home to Venice and picked up his black Acura. Chooch's last spring practice wouldn't finish until six P. M., and Alexa had agreed to pick him up in a department car. Shane had lied, telling her that his shrink appointment had been pushed back and that he'd be late getting out of the psychiatrist's, freeing himself to go see Jody's old captain.

Captain Carl Medwick lived in a Leave It to Beaver neighborhood in the West Valley: maple trees, picket fences, tricycles parked unattended in the driveways, as if L. A. hadn't become the bike-theft capital of the world, not counting Miami and Singapore.

Shane parked out front and looked at the wood-frame house painted a light blue- Subaru blue. He was beginning to loathe that color.

He rang the front doorbell and then, after the door opened, found himself staring into the bloodshot, tear- filled eyes of a handsome middle-aged woman wearing a loose-fitting cotton-print dress and comfortable shoes.

'Excuse me, ma'am. Is Carl Medwick home?' he asked. The question caused the woman to bring a lace handkerchief up to her eyes. It fluttered there and landed hesitantly, like a delicate white butterfly. She didn't answer. He tried again.

'I'm looking for Carl Medwick.'

'We all are,' she said, her voice weak, almost a whisper. 'He's not here. He didn't come home last night.'

'Didn't come home?'

'He went to the store and didn't come back. We talked to the police, called all his friends, checked the places he goes, we even checked the hospitals.' Rambling all this at Shane, not even knowing who he was but needing to say it to somebody… To anybody… Ticking off the details of her search to convince them both that nothing had been forgotten.

'I'm Shane Scully, a sergeant in the department,' he said, stretching the truth. He was really suspended Sergeant Scully. Psychiatrically disoriented and temporarily unassigned Sergeant Scully. But the fib worked, because the woman reached out and clutched his hand. 'I'm Doris Medwick, his wife. Please tell me you found him.'

Shane held her hand, looked into her bloodshot eyes, and shook his head sadly. 'I'm afraid I'm not a part of the Missing Persons Bureau,' he said.

'Oh…' She hesitated, then went on. 'He… He was in his woodshop, working… Building a birdhouse for our granddaughter. He said he needed some materials and would be back in twenty minutes. Then he drove to the store. They found his car in the parking lot at the Hardware Center, but he didn't… He wasn't…' The handkerchief came up again, fluttering around her face, wiping her eyes, blowing her nose. She was a stout but attractive gray- haired woman in her late sixties with almost translucent white skin.

According to information Shane had collected from several of Medwick's friends, the captain had retired,

Вы читаете The Viking Funeral
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату