The men smiled at one another. Travis Bailey turned and headed for the doorway.

'Are you balling her?' Cleaver asked.

Bailey stopped just outside his office. 'No, I'm not,' he lied.

As Travis Bailey climbed into his unmarked sedan in the police parking lot, a Rolls-Royce sped by at at least seventy miles per hour. Speed was a privilege of the residents of Beverly Hills. 'Don't write tickets for people who live in this town,' a veteran patrolman told him twelve years ago when he first reported for duty, 'and call the Chief at home, even if it's in the middle of the night, before you arrest one of these rich motherfuckers. Arresting anyone in this town except a burglar is the quickest way to end up with a career in the property room. Unless you get a charge out of stacking evidence in the basement eight hours a day for the rest of your career, go along with the program.'

The advice had served him well; three years in a radio car and he went straight to Detectives. He chalked up his rapid promotion to the fact that he had realized early on that the name of the game was informants. One good snitch solved burglaries that a thousand fingerprint-and-photo men could spend the rest of their lives investigating.

Bailey started the engine and drove out of the parking lot. Almost by rote he made right turns through the glittery business district to avoid the usual traffic tie-ups. Hell, after more than ten years in the Department he could draw a map of the city blindfolded. As a matter of fact, he'd cinched his promotion to detective II by submitting a paper called 'The Geography of Burglary Patterns in the City of Beverly Hills' to the easily snowable Chief of Police. In it he espoused his 'funnel theory' and documented it with lots of criminology jargon and some aerial photos he'd borrowed from the Sheriff's Helicopter Unit. The theory went like this: Since the city was shaped like a funnel, with residential areas nestled against the foothills at the northern-most boundary (the rim of the funnel was the golf course), the majority of radio-car patrol services should be concentrated there rather than on the relatively burglary-free areas in the south, which formed the spout of the funnel. Or something like that.

He drove out of the business district and onto a busy thoroughfare, passing a line of medium-sized office buildings that he knew were bursting with lawyers' offices. Minutes later, he stopped at a red light that marked the city limits.

Across the street, where West Los Angeles began, was a brick building with brass letters above the front door reading Pascoe Military Academy. Centered in the square of lawn in front of the building, a bird-stained statue of a cadet saluted the boulevard. Adjoining the academy was an asphalt-covered playground surrounded by chain link fence. In the playground a group of boys wearing starched olive drab uniforms, red epaulets and garrison caps stood in military formation. A similarly costumed man with a white-sidewall haircut stood on a small platform in front of them. Bailey had attended the academy from age twelve to sixteen and knew that the man was the commandant and was probably announcing the orders of the day.

Next to the academy playground was the grounds of a pet cemetery marked by a perimeter of tall Italian cypress bushes. It was there, after taps and on weekends, that the upperclassmen initiated the younger cadets to snipe hunts, sodomy, jack-off contests and the technique of holding one's breath until one passed out; kiddie- soldier play.

Having checked for cross-traffic, he drove through the red light. After a block or so, he turned north on a street that returned him to the boundaries of The City. Slowly, he wound through wide palm-lined streets of imposing homes (realtors said there was no lot in The City valued under a million dollars) in various conservative styles. Though no two residences were identical, there were few without multicar garages, abundant flowers and greenery. Tennis courts (by unwritten law) were not visible from the street. The wide streets, sidewalks and driveways were remarkably free of stains as well as any hint of trash or other detritus.

The only vehicles parked on the street belonged to caterers and gardeners; those in service to the movie stars, kingpins, chairmen of the board, directors, producers and socialites who were residents of The City.

Finally, he reached Sunset Boulevard, turned left and drove past a bus bench. A pudgy, middle-aged blonde woman sitting on the bench reminded him of his deceased mother. Perhaps, he thought to himself, it was just her maid's uniform. Or maybe it was the uniform along with the frizzy, peroxide hair. He remembered how the vice- president-in-charge-of-production who had employed her always paid her with a studio expense check in order to beat the I.R.S. In the city, everything was a write-off.

Travis Bailey kept his eyes on the painted curb signs until he found the house he was looking for. He swerved right and followed a semicircular driveway to the front of an immaculate Tudor-style mansion. He parked, then slipped a comb from his shirt pocket and ran it through his hair before he climbed out of his car and headed for the front door. Cautiously, he used the lion's head doorknocker. A lean, middle-aged man wearing a gray blazer that matched the color of his hair opened the door. He held a drink in a slim glass.

Travis Bailey showed his badge.

'Won't you come in?' Jerome Hartmann said after the two men shook hands.

He followed Hartmann along a hallway past a darkened study and into a spacious living room decorated with abstract oil paintings and tapestries. The wall facing the rear of the house was a bank of sliding glass doors leading to a grotto-style pool. An aquarium filled the wall between the sliding glass door and the hallway. Facing it across an expanse of brown shag carpeting that matched the grotto masonry was a diminutive polished-wood bar arrangement.

Bailey took a seat on a sofa.

Hartmann sat down in an uncomfortable-looking chair. He caught himself sipping his drink and, perfunctorily, offered one to Bailey. As expected, Bailey refused. 'I take it you're aware of this counterfeiting case I'm involved in,' Hartmann said.

'Just what I've read in the newspapers.'

'Then I'm sure you understand why I'm a little apprehensive about going away for two weeks. My help is on vacation, so no one will be here, I don't even own a dog. I'm worried about someone planting a bomb in my house while I'm gone. This probably sounds a little silly to you.' He sipped his drink.

'Not at all, sir,' Bailey said. 'But hasn't the federal government offered you protection as a witness?'

'Yes, they have,' he said, 'but it's too complicated. I don't want people hanging around me all day. I'd just appreciate some special consideration by the Department while I'm gone. If you could just have one of the patrol officers stop by and check things out once or twice a day at their convenience…'

'No problem, Mr. Hartmann, I'll get the word out to the area car,' Bailey said. 'And as a matter of fact, I'll stop by myself now and then just to check things out.' Bailey made a policeman's courtesy-wink.

'It'll sure help my peace of mind,' Hartmann said.

'Who's handling the Treasury case?'

'Agent Carr. Charles Carr.'

'I've met him.'

'Small world,' Hartmann said without interest. He gave a banker's terse smile that meant that the meeting was over.

Bailey stood up and shook hands again with Hartmann before he left.

In the unmarked car, he wound south through familiar streets. As usual, things were quiet. Now and then a Mercedes-Benz or a Cadillac slithered out of a driveway. There was the usual number of well-attired joggers running about, a few servants carrying things in and out of homes, a caterer looking for an address.

As he drove, Travis Bailey sorted things out in his mind. As he recently lectured at a Police Management Seminar, the objective of police planning was to set priorities on problems, define challenges and make sound and permanent decisions. After cruising about for what must have been an hour, he decided to give the good news to Delsey Piper. Why not pick the most pleasant task first? Begin what was sure to be stress-causing with something stress-relieving? He reached for the radio microphone. 'David Fourteen,' he said in a radio voice. 'Have David Niner meet me at the golf course to take a theft report.'

'Roger, David Fourteen.'

By the time he arrived at their usual meeting spot, a deserted cluster of trees at the northern edge of the Beverly Hills Golf Course, Delsey Piper was already there. Her black-and-white was parked under a tree next to a high fence. Dressed in full uniform, she was perched on a front fender. Holding a little mirror, she was brushing her short blonde hair when he parked his car and climbed out.

'A theft report?' she said, amused. 'What'll you think of next?'

'You start in the Detective Bureau next Monday,' he told her, taking in a view of the golf course stretching

Вы читаете To Die in Beverly Hills
Добавить отзыв


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

Отметить Добавить цитату