'Maybe. Yeah, that sounds about right. I hear he used to be a janitor, or something like that. One day he was just there in the business. Maybe some mob guys set him up, or something like that.'

'Or something like that. Thanks, sister.' I started to walk away.

'Hey, Mr. Whatever-your-name-is! You still got ten minutes left!'

I blew her a kiss.

It was a little before ten. I took a cab back to the university; I found one of the night guards, and he let me into the building where I had my office. On the way up to the third floor, I took off my jacket and removed the miniaturized tape recorder I kept in a pocket sewn into the lining; the recorder had been running throughout my talk with Harry Barnes.

The recorder was a component of a machine called a Stress Evaluator, and it was the latest invasion-of- privacy wrinkle. It was reputed to be far more accurate than the polygraph, and was certain to arouse more controversy. What it did was measure the relative stress in a person's voice, then relay that information to the operator by means of a line graph fed out of the machine on a paper tape. It was assumed that a person was under more stress when he or she was lying. A recording was played at low speed into the machine, and the paper tape came out the other side. All the operator had to do was to compare the spikes on the graph with the corresponding response to any particular question to determine whether the person had, in all probability, been lying. Instant Truth. The machine was a long way from courtroom use, but I was impressed by its potential uses-and abuses. That was what I'd told the American Bar Association in the evaluation report they'd asked me to write.

Using the pause control between each question and answer, I played the Barnes tape into the machine, then scanned the readout. The parts of Barnes's story where he talked about Rafferty's supposed death were consistently skewed toward the high end of the graph.

According to the machine, Harold Q. Barnes had been lying through his teeth.


Dirty Harold bothered me all night. There was a recurring dream in which I had somehow become a film director; Barnes was an actor who couldn't remember his lines. He was naked, sitting in a pool of grease and gnawing on a hamburger while I harangued him.

'Are you now, or have you ever been, an architect?'

No answer.

'Are you an actor, Harold? Are you acting? What the hell are you all about, Harold?'

No answer.

The alarm rang precisely at eight. I slapped it into submission and went back to sleep. The phone woke me up fifteen minutes later.

'You'd better get your ass down here, brother,' Garth said in his cheery morning growl. 'I think I've got something that'll interest you.'

'You said ten.'

'I'm saying now. Where's your sense of dedication? Get it down here!'

'All right. Let me get some coffee.'

'Bring coffee,' Garth said. The line went dead.

I fell into my clothes and made my way downtown to the station house. Garth was sitting at his desk, studying the contents of two pea-green manila folders. He held out his hand as I entered and I stuck a container of coffee into it. He didn't look up.

'What have you got, Garth?'

He motioned for me to sit down as he passed one of the folders over for me to see. 'Read it, Mongo,' he said seriously.

The field report on the investigation into the murder of Dr. Arthur Morton was about as brief a report as I'd ever seen; all it contained was the bare facts of Morton's death.

The neurosurgeon had been killed by a single bullet in the brain. The bullet markings indicated that it had come from a gun equipped with a silencer, which probably made the killer big-league professional. The caliber of the gun was British. There had been no signs of a forced entry into the office, and as far as the investigating officers could tell, nothing had been taken or disturbed. There had been no clues, no suspects. The title page of the file was stamped UNSOLVED.

Garth didn't object when I took out my notebook and wrote down the name of Morton's widow, along with a few other details. 'There's not a whole hell of a lot here,' I said.

'That's what I thought would interest you. Whoever killed him was no amateur.'

'Obviously. Morton decided to stroll into his office at three-thirty in the morning so he could get himself killed by a professional.' I pointed to the second folder. 'What's that?'

'Oh, this?' he said with a gesture of mock surprise. 'This is Victor Rafferty's file.'

'Victor Rafferty had a police record?' My voice reflected my shock.

'No,' Garth said. 'But there was a Missing Persons report filed on him.'

'What's the date?'

'August 15, 1969.' 'The same day that weird picture outside his house was taken.' I reached out for the folder. 'Can I see?'

'No,' Garth said, placing his hand on it. 'This is pretty heavy; it's flagged.'

'A Missing Persons report flagged? Who flagged it?'

Garth looked grim. 'I can't even discuss it. I'm probably risking my job just having this file on my desk.' He rose. 'I've got to go to the john. Just remember, you haven't seen any police files on Morton or Rafferty. Understood?'

I winked. 'Understood.'

Garth walked out of the office and I opened the Rafferty file. The first thing that caught my attention was a line that read REPORTED BY________. It had a code number instead of a name.

I was suddenly conscious of Garth looking over my shoulder. 'I thought you'd gone to the head.'

'I'm still there.'

'What's that?' I asked, pointing to the number.

'I don't know,' Garth said evenly.

'What the hell do you mean, you don't know? Don't you work here?'

'It's a code number that has something to do with the Feds. That's why it's flagged. Ordinary detectives like your humble brother aren't even supposed to look at these things. My guess is that it's the D.I.A.-Defense Intelligence Agency.'

'Can you find out for sure?' I asked.

'No way.'

'Who would put a number like that on?'

'The Commissioner, m'boy, and you're not going to question the Commissioner.'

'Garth, do you think the Feds could have been after him?'

'It looks that way.'

'So, with government agents presumably after him, Rafferty shows up on a Sunday at his metallurgy lab to inspect the furnaces.' I tapped the report. 'Doesn't make much sense, does it?'

'Not when you put it that way.'

'It wasn't even his wife who reported him missing.'

'Maybe she didn't miss him,' Garth said wryly.

'She might have known where he was, or at least why he left.'

Garth shrugged. 'Why don't you ask her?'

Вы читаете Shadow of a Broken Man
Добавить отзыв


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

Отметить Добавить цитату