A Walk Among The Tombstones Page 48


Evidence discovered in the Wallens house, and in two vehicles found in the adjacent garage, strongly implicated both men in several homicides which police at Brooklyn Homicide had recently determined to be linked, and to be the work of a team of serial killers. Several theories sprang up to explain the death scene, the most persuasive of which suggested that there had been a third man on the team and that he had slain his two partners and made his escape. Another conjecture, given less credence by anyone who had seen Callander or read his injury report at all closely, held that Callander had gone completely out of control, first killing his partner with a garrote, then indulging in a fitful orgy of self-mutilation. Considering that he\d somehow managed to divest himself of hands, feet, ears, eyes, and genitalia, ’’fitful’’ would barely begin to describe it.

Drew Kaplan represented Pam Cassidy in her negotiations with a national tabloid. They ran her story, ’’I Lost a Breast to the Sunset Park Choppers,’’ and paid her what Kaplan called ’’a high five-figure price.’’ In a conversation conducted without her attorney present, I was able to assure Pam that Albert and Ray were indeed the men who had abducted her, and that there was no third man. ’’You mean Ray really did himself like that?’’ she wondered. Elaine told her there are some things we aren\ meant to know.

ABOUT a week after Callander\s death, which would have made it sometime around the end of the week following our trip to the cemetery, Kenan Khoury called me from downstairs to say that he was double-parked out front. Could I come down and have a cup of coffee or something?

We went around the corner to the Flame and got a table by the window. ’’I was in the neighborhood,’’ he said. ’’Thought I\d stop by, say hello. It\s good to see you.’’

It was good to see him, too. He was looking well, and I told him so.

’’Well, I made a decision,’’ he said. ’’I\m taking a little trip.’’

’’Oh?’’

’’More accurately, I\m leaving the country. I cleaned up a lot of loose ends the past few days. I sold the house.’’

’’That quickly?’’

’’I owned it outright and I sold it for cash. I sold very cheap. The new owners are Korean, and the old guy came to the closing with his two sons and a shopping bag full of money. Remember Petey saying it was a shame Yuri wasn\ a Greek, he coulda raised so much cash that way? Man, he shoulda been Korean. They\ e in a business don\ know from checks, credit cards, payrolls, taxes, nothing. The whole business is conducted in green. I got the cash, they got clear title, and they damn near gave birth when I showed \em how to use the burglar alarm. They loved that. State of the art, man. They oughta love it.’’

’’Where are you going?’’

’’Belize first, to see some relatives. Then Togo.’’

’’To go in the family business?’’

’’We\ll see. For a little while, anyway. See if I like it, see if I can stand living there. I\m a Brooklyn boy, you know. Born and raised. I don\ know if I can hack it that far from the old neighborhood. I might be bored to death in a month.’’

’’Or you might love it.’’

’’No way to know unless you try, right? I can always come back.’’

’’Sure.’’

’’It\s not a bad idea to leave now, though,’’ he said. ’’I told you about that hash deal, right?’’

’’You said you didn\ have much faith in it.’’

’’Yeah, well, I walked away from it. I had a lot of money in it, too, and I walked. I didn\ walk, you\d have to talk to me through bars.’’

’’There was a bust?’’

’’There was indeed, and they had an invitation with my name on it, but this way even if the guys they caught roll over, which I\m sure they will, they still got no real case against me. But what do I need with the bullshit of subpoenas and all that, you know? I\ve never been arrested, so why don\ I get the hell out of the country while I\m still a virgin?’’

’’When do you leave?’’

’’Plane leaves from JFK in what, six hours? From here I drive out to a Buick dealer on Rockaway Boulevard and take whatever he\ll give me for the car. \Sold,\ I\ll say, \provided you throw in a ride to the airport,\ which is like five minutes from there. Unless you want a car, man. You can have it for like half of Blue Book just to save me the aggravation.’’

’’I can\ use it.’’

’’Well, I tried. Did my part to try to keep you out of the subways. Would you take it as a gift? I\m serious. Run me out to Kennedy and you can have it. The hell, if you don\ want it you can take it straight over to the car lot yourself, make a few dollars on the deal.’’

’’I wouldn\ do that and you know it.’’

’’Well, you could. You don\ want the car, huh? It\s my only remaining loose end. Past few days I saw some of Francine\s relatives, told \em more or less what happened. I tried to leave out some of the horror of it, you know? But you can only sweeten it up so much and you\ e still left with the fact that a good and gentle and beautiful woman is dead for no f*king reason at all.’’ He put his head in his hand. ’’Jesus,’’ he said, ’’you think you\ e over it and it comes and takes you by the throat. Point is I told her folks she had died. I said it was a terrorist thing, it happened overseas, we were in Beirut, it was political, crazy people, you know, and they bought it, or at least I think they bought it. Way I told it, it was quick and painless, the terrorists were killed themselves by the Christian militia, and the service was private and unpublicized because the whole incident had to be hushed up. Some of it\s more or less parallel with the truth. Some I wish was true. The quick and painless part.’’

’’It may have been quick. You don\ know.’’

’’I was there at the end, Matt. Remember? He told me what they did to her.’’ He closed his eyes, breathed deeply. ’’A change of subject,’’ he said. ’’You seen my brother at any of your meetings lately? What\s the matter, that a delicate subject?’’

’’In a manner of speaking,’’ I said. ’’See, AA\s an anonymous program, and one of the traditions is that you don\ tell someone not in the program what gets said at a meeting, or who does or doesn\ attend. I stretched a point before because we were all involved in a case together, but as a general thing that\s probably not a question I can answer.’’

’’It wasn\ really a question,’’ he said.

’’What do you mean?’’

’’I guess I just wanted to feel things out, see what you knew or didn\ know. F*k it, there\s no way to ease into this. I got a call from the police the night before last. See, the Toyota was registered in my name, so who else would they call?’’

’’What happened?’’

’’They found the car abandoned in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge.’’

’’Oh, Jesus, Kenan.’’

’’Yeah.’’

’’I\m very sorry.’’

’’I know you are, Matt. It\s so f*king sad, isn\ it?’’

’’Yes, it is.’’

’’He was a beautiful guy, he really was. He had his weaknesses, but who the f*k doesn\ , you know?’’

’’They\ e sure that-’’

’’Nobody specifically saw him go over, and they didn\ recover a body, but they told me the body might never be recovered. I hope it never is. Do you know why?’’

’’I think so.’’

’’Yeah, I bet you do. He told you he wanted to be buried at sea, right?’’

’’Not in so many words. He told me how water was his element, though, and how he wouldn\ want to burn up or be buried in the earth. The implication was clear, and the way he talked about it-’’

’’Like he was looking forward to it.’’

’’Yes,’’ I said. ’’Like he longed for it.’’

’’Ah, Jesus. He called me, I don\ know, a day, two days before he did it. If anything happened to him would I make sure he was buried at sea. I said yeah, sure, Petey. I\ll book a stateroom on the QE F*king Two and slip you out the porthole. And we both laughed, and I hung up and forgot about it, and then they call me up and they found his car on the bridge. He loved bridges.’’

’’He told me.’’

’’Yeah? When he was a kid he loved \em. He was always after our father to drive over bridges. Couldn\ get enough of \em, thought they were the most beautiful thing in the world. One he jumped off, the Brooklyn, that does happen to be a beautiful bridge.’’

’’Yes.’’

’’Same water under it as all the others, though. Ah, he\s at peace, the poor guy. I guess it\s what he always wanted, you come right down to it. The only peace he had in his life was when he had smack in his veins, and aside from the rush the sweetest thing about heroin is it\s just like death. Only it\s temporary. That\s what\s good about it. Or what\s wrong with it, I guess, depending on your point of view.’’

AND a couple of days after that I was getting ready for bed when the phone rang. It was Mick.

’’You\ e up early,’’ I said.

’’Am I then?’’

’’It must be six in the morning there. It\s one o\clock here.’’

’’Is it,’’ he said. ’’My watch stopped, don\ you know, and I called in the hope that you could tell me the time.’’

’’Well, this must be a good time to call,’’ I said, ’’because we\ve got a perfect connection.’’

’’Clear, is it?’’

’’As if you were in the next room.’’

’’Well, I should f*king well hope so,’’ he said, ’’as I\m at Grogan\s. Rosenstein got everything cleared up for me. My flight was delayed or I\d have been in hours ago.’’

’’I\m glad you\ e back.’’

’’No more than I. She\s a grand old country, but you wouldn\ want to live there. But how are you keeping? Burke says you haven\ been around the saloon much.’’

’’No, not much at all.’’

’’So why don\ you get yourself down here now?’’

’’Why not?’’

’’Good man,’’ he said. ’’I\ll put up a pot of coffee for you and crack the seal on a bottle of Jameson. I\ve a great store of tales to tell.’’

’’I have a few of my own.’’

’’Ah, we\ll make a night of it, won\ we now? And go to the butchers\ mass in the morning.’’

’’We might do that,’’ I said. ’’It wouldn\ surprise me.’’


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