Long Lost Page 31

But saying it out loud had drained her. I took over. Trying to sound somewhat sane as I told him about the blood samples and the blond hair. I didn\'t tell him about seeing her on the video or any of that. This was too hard to believe as it was. The best way to present it was with scientific evidence DNA testing not my intuition based on her walk on a grainy surveillance video.

For a long time he said nothing.

Then: ’’The blood test has to be wrong.’’

We both said nothing.

’’Or, wait, they think you killed Rick, right?’’

’’They originally thought Terese had a hand in it, yes.’’

’’What about you, Bolitar?’’

’’I was in New Jersey when he was murdered.’’

’’So they think Terese did it, is that it?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’And you know how cops are. They play mind games. What better mind game than this telling you your dead daughter might still be alive?’’

Now I made a face. ’’How would that help land her for his murder?’’

’’How am I supposed to know? But, I mean, come on, Terese. I know you want this. Hell, I want this. But how can it possibly be?’’

’’\'Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth,\' ’’ I said.

’’Sir Arthur Conan Doyle,’’ Mario said.

’’Yep.’’

’’You ready to go that far, Bolitar?’’

’’I\'m ready to go out as far as I need to.’’

17

WHEN we were a block away, Terese said, ’’I need to visit Miriam\'s grave.’’

We found another hansom cab and rode in silence. When we got to the fenced cemetery, we stopped at the gate. Cemeteries always have a fence and gate. What exactly were they protecting?

’’Do you want me to wait out here?’’ I asked.

’’Yes.’’

So I stayed outside the gates, as though afraid to trample sacred ground, which, I guessed, I was. I kept Terese in sight for reasons of safety but when she bent down on her knees, I turned away and started to walk. I thought about what must be going through her mind, what images were running through her head. This, I assure you, wasn\'t a good idea, so I called Esperanza back in New York.

It took her six rings to answer.

’’There\'s a time change, dummy.’’

I looked at my watch. It was five AM in New York. ’’Oops,’’ I said.

’’What now?’’

I decided to open big. I told Esperanza about the DNA and the blond girl.

’’It\'s her daughter?’’

’’Apparently.’’

’’That,’’ Esperanza said, ’’is seriously messed up.’’

’’It is.’’

’’So what do you need from me?’’

’’I took a bunch of pictures credit card bills, phone, whatever and e-mailed them over,’’ I said. ’’Oh, and there\'s some weird thing about opals or something in the To Dos.’’

’’Opals like the stones?’’

’’No idea. Might be code.’’

’’I\'m terrible at codes.’’

’’Me too, but maybe something will click. Anyway, let\'s start figuring out what Rick Collins was up to. Also his father committed suicide.’’ I gave her his name and location. ’’Maybe we can look into that.’’

’’Into a suicide?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’Look into it for what?’’

’’See if there was anything suspicious, I don\'t know.’’

There was silence. I started walking.

’’Esperanza?’’

’’I like her.’’

’’Who?’’

’’Margaret Thatcher. Who are we talking about? Terese, dopey. And you know me. I hate all your girlfriends.’’

I thought about it. ’’You like Ali,’’ I said.

’’I do. She\'s a good person.’’

’’Do I hear a but?’’

’’But she\'s not for you.’’

’’Why not?’’

’’There are no intangibles,’’ she said.

’’What does that mean?’’

’’What made you a great athlete?’’ Esperanza asked. ’’Not a good athlete. I\'m talking about pro level, first-team collegiate All-American, all that.’’

’’Skill, hard work, genetics.’’

’’Lots of guys have those. But what separates you what divides the greats from the almosts are the intangibles.’’

’’And Ali and I?’’

’’No intangibles.’’

I heard a baby crying in the background. Esperanza\'s son, Hector, was eighteen months old.

’’He still doesn\'t sleep through the night,’’ Esperanza said, ’’so you can imagine how thrilled I am about your call.’’

’’Sorry.’’

’’I\'ll get on it. Take care of yourself. Tell Terese to hang tough. We\'ll figure this out.’’

She hung up. I stared at the phone. Usually Win and Esperanza hate when I get involved in stuff like this. All of a sudden the reluctance was gone. I wondered about that.

Across the street, a man with sunglasses, black Chuck Taylor high-tops, and a green T-shirt strolled without a care. My Spidey senses started tingling. His hair was close-cropped and dark. So was his skin what we call Semitic, which I often confuse with Latino or Arabic or Greek or heck, Italian.

He turned the corner and vanished. I waited to see if he reappeared. He didn\'t. I looked around to see if someone else had now entered the scene. Several people walked by but no one else set off my Spidey senses.

When Terese came back she was dry-eyed.

’’Should we grab a cab?’’ she asked.

’’Do you know this area?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’Is there a subway station nearby?’’

I could almost hear Win saying, ’’In London, Myron, we call it the tube or the underground.’’

She nodded. We walked two blocks. She led the way.

’’I know this sounds like the most idiotic question known to mankind,’’ I began, ’’but are you okay?’’

Terese nodded. Then: ’’Do you believe in anything supernatural?’’

’’Meaning?’’

’’Ghosts, spirits, ESP, any of that.’’

’’No. Why, do you?’’

She didn\'t answer the question directly. ’’That was only the second time I\'ve visited Miriam\'s grave,’’ she said.

I put my credit card in the ticket-buying machine and let Terese press the right buttons.

’’I hate it there. Not because it makes me sad. But because I don\'t feel anything. You would think that all that misery, all the tears that have been shed there have you ever stopped and thought about that at a graveyard? How many people have cried. How many people have said final good-byes to loved ones. You\'d think, I don\'t know, that all that human suffering would come swirl up in tiny particles and form some sort of negative cosmic sensation. A tingle in the bones maybe, a cold prickle on the back of the neck, something.’’


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