Long Lost Page 38

21

WIN took one look at me and said, ’’You finally got some.’’

I was going to argue, but what would be the point? ’’Yep.’’

’’Details, please,’’ he said.

’’A gentleman doesn\'t kiss and tell.’’

He gave me crestfallen. ’’But you know I love details.’’

’’And you know I never tell you any.’’

’’You used to let me watch. When we were dating Emily in college, you used to let me look in the window.’’

’’I didn\'t let you. You just did. And when I fixed the shade, you usually broke it again. You\'re a pig, you know that?’’

’’Some would call me an interested friend.’’

’’But most would call you a pig.’’

Win shrugged. ’’Love me for all my faults.’’

’’So where are we?’’ I asked.

’’We\'re both getting some.’’

’’Besides that.’’

’’I had a thought,’’ Win said.

’’I\'m listening.’’

’’Maybe there\'s a simpler explanation for how the dead girl\'s blood got to the crime scene. This Save the Angels charity. One of the things it deals with is stem cell research, correct?’’

’’In some manner, I guess. They\'re against it, I think.’’

’’And we know that Rick Collins may have discovered that he has Huntington\'s disease. Certainly his father had it.’’

’’Okay.’’

’’People save their children\'s umbilical cord blood nowadays they freeze them or some such thing for future use. They\'re full of stem cells and the idea is that somewhere down the line those stem cells could save your child\'s life, or even your own. Perhaps Rick Collins saved his daughter\'s. When he found out he had Hunting-ton\'s, he decided that he could use it.’’

’’Stem cells can\'t cure Huntington\'s.’’

’’Not yet, no.’’

’’So you figure he had the frozen cord blood when he was murdered and it, what, thawed out?’’

Win shrugged. ’’Does that scenario make less sense than Miriam Collins being alive this whole time?’’

’’And the blond hair?’’

’’There are lots of blondes in this world. The young woman you saw might just be another.’’

I thought about it. ’’It still doesn\'t tell us who killed Rick Collins.’’

’’True.’’

’’I still think whatever this is, it started with the car accident ten years ago. We know that Nigel Manderson was lying.’’

’’We do,’’ Win agreed.

’’And Karen Tower is holding something back.’’

’’What about this Mario fellow?’’

’’What about him?’’

’’Is he holding something back?’’

I thought about that. ’’Could be. I\'m seeing him this morning to go over Rick\'s work files. I\'ll take another run at him then.’’

’’Then we also have the Israelis maybe Mossad following you. I called Zorra. She\'ll check her sources.’’

’’Good.’’

’’And lastly, your Parisian confrontation and the mug shot that sent warning bells all the way up the Interpol hierarchy.’’

’’Your visit with Interpol went well?’’

’’They asked their questions, I told them my story.’’

’’One thing I don\'t get,’’ I said. ’’Why haven\'t they brought me in yet?’’

Win smiled. ’’You know why.’’

’’They\'re tailing me.’’

’’Correct answer.’’

’’You see them?’’

’’Black car on right corner.’’

’’Mossad is probably following me too.’’

’’You\'re a very popular man.’’

’’It\'s because I\'m a good listener. People like a good listener.’’

’’Indeed.’’

’’I\'m also fun at parties.’’

’’And a snazzy dancer. What do you want to do about the tails?’’

’’I\'d like to lose them for the day.’’

’’No problem.’’

LOSING a tail is fairly easy. In this case, Win got us a car with tinted windows. We drove into an underground garage with several exits. The car left. Two others came along. I hopped in one, Win the other.

Terese was at Karen\'s now. I was on my way to see Mario Contuzzi.

Twenty minutes later, I rang the doorbell at the Contuzzi apartment. No answer. I checked my watch. I was about five minutes early. I thought about the case, about how Interpol had gone crazy over that mug shot.

So who was the guy who pulled a gun on me in Paris?

I had tried all the cute \'n\' fancy ways to find the man\'s identity. Maybe, while I had a free minute, I should try the most direct route.

I called Berleand\'s private line.

Two rings later, a voice answered and said something to me in French.

’’I would like to speak to Captain Berleand, please.’’

’’He is on holiday. May I help you?’’

Holiday? I tried to picture Berleand enjoying some leisure time on the beach in Cannes, but the picture wouldn\'t hold. ’’I really need to reach him.’’

’’May I ask who\'s calling?’’

No point in not saying. ’’Myron Bolitar.’’

’’I\'m sorry. He\'s on holiday.’’

’’Could you please contact him and ask him to call Myron Bolitar? It\'s urgent.’’

’’Please hold.’’

I held.

A minute later, another voice this one gruff and speaking perfect, uh, American came on the line. ’’May I help you?’’

’’I don\'t think so. I wanted to talk to Captain Berleand.’’

’’You can talk to me, Mr. Bolitar.’’

’’But you don\'t sound like a very nice man,’’ I said.

’’I\'m not. Cute how you slipped our tail, but this isn\'t very funny.’’

’’Who are you?’’

’’You can call me Special Agent Jones.’’

’’Can I call you Super Special Agent Jones? Where is Captain Berleand?’’

’’Captain Berleand is on holiday.’’

’’Since when?’’

’’Since he sent you that mug shot against protocol. He was the one who sent you that mug shot, wasn\'t he?’’

I hesitated. Then I said, ’’No.’’

’’Sure. Where are you, Bolitar?’’

From inside the Contuzzi apartment I heard the phone ring. Once, twice, three times.

’’Bolitar?’’

It stopped after six rings.

’’We know you\'re still in London. Where are you?’’

I hung up and looked at Mario\'s door. The ringing phone ringing like a phone used to, not like some ringtone on a cell had sounded very much like a landline. Hmm. I put my hand on the door. Thick and sturdy. I pressed my ear against the cool surface, hit Mario\'s cell phone number, watched the LCD display on my mobile. It took a moment or two before the connection went through.


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