Long Lost Page 48

’’What friends?’’

’’You met them.’’

I thought about it. ’’The Mossad.’’

He nodded. ’’Collins had enlisted their help too.’’

’’That\'s why they were following me?’’

’’At first they thought maybe you murdered him. I assured them that you had not. Collins clearly knew something, but he wouldn\'t say exactly what. He played all sides against the middle it\'s hard to say by the end where his loyalties lay. According to Mossad, he stopped contacting them and vanished a week before he died.’’

’’Any idea why?’’

’’None.’’

Berleand\'s eyes dropped to his glass. He stirred his drink with his finger.

’’So why are you here now?’’ I asked.

’’I flew over when they found you.’’

’’Why?’’

He took another deep swallow. ’’Enough questions for today.’’

’’What are you talking about?’’

He rose.

’’Where are you going?’’

’’I explained to you the situation.’’

’’Right, got it. We have work to do.’’

’’We? You have no role in this anymore.’’

’’You\'re kidding, right? I need to find Terese, for one.’’

He smiled down at me. ’’May I be blunt?’’

’’No, I\'d rather you keep beating around the bush.’’

’’I say that because I\'m not good with delivering bad news.’’

’’You seem pretty good at it so far.’’

’’But not like this.’’ Berleand kept his eyes off me and on the stage, but I don\'t think he was looking at the dancer anymore. ’’You Americans call it a reality check. So here it comes: Terese is either dead, in which case you can\'t help her. Or like you, she is being held at a black site, in which case you\'re helpless.’’

’’I\'m not helpless,’’ I said in a voice that couldn\'t have sounded more feeble.

’’Yes, my friend, you are. Even before I contacted him, Win knew to keep everyone quiet about your disappearance. Why? Because he knew that if anyone your parents, whoever made a stink you\'d maybe never come home. They\'d stage a car accident and you\'d be dead. Or a suicide. With Terese Collins, it is even easier. They could kill her and bury her and say she is back hiding in Angola. Or they can stage a suicide and say her daughter\'s death became too much for her. There is nothing you can do for her.’’

I sat back.

’’You need to take care of yourself,’’ he said.

’’You want me to stay out of this?’’

’’Yes. And while I meant it when I said you\'re not to blame, I warned you once before. You chose not to listen.’’

He had a point.

’’One last question,’’ I said.

He waited.

’’Why tell me all this?’’

’’About the black site?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’Because despite what they think the medications will do, I don\'t believe you can totally forget. You need help, Myron. Please get it.’’

HERE was how I found out that maybe Berleand was right.

When I came back to the office, I called some clients. Esperanza ordered in sandwiches from Lenny\'s. We all ate at the desk. Esperanza talked about her baby boy, Hector. I realize that there are few bigger clichés than saying that motherhood changes a woman, but in the case of Esperanza the changes seemed particularly startling and not all that appealing.

When we were done, I went back into my office and closed the door. I left the light off. I sat at my desk for a very long time. We all have our moments of contemplation and depression, but this was something different, something more profound and deeper and heavier. I could not move. My limbs felt heavy. I have gotten into my share of scrapes over the years, so I keep a weapon in my office.

A .38 Smith &Wesson to be more exact.

I opened the bottom drawer, took out the gun, and held it in my hand. Tears ran down my face.

I know how melodramatic this must sound. This image of poor, pitiful me, sitting alone at my desk, feeling depressed, a gun in my hand it\'s laughable when you think about it. If there had been a photograph of Terese on my desk, I could have picked it up àla Mel Gibson in the first Lethal Weapon movie and jammed the barrel into my mouth.

I didn\'t do that.

But I had thoughts.

When the doorknob on my office door started to turn no one knocks here, especially Esperanza I moved fast, dropping the gun back into the drawer. Esperanza walked in and looked at me.

’’What are you up to?’’ she asked.

’’Nothing.’’

’’What were you just doing?’’

’’Nothing.’’

She looked at me. ’’Were you pleasuring yourself under the desk?’’

’’Caught me.’’

’’You still look terrible.’’

’’That\'s the word on the street, yeah.’’

’’I would tell you to go home, but you\'ve missed enough days and I don\'t think wallowing around by yourself is going to do you much good.’’

’’Agreed. Was there a reason you intruded?’’

’’Does there need to be?’’

’’Never been one in the past,’’ I said. ’’By the way, what\'s up with Win?’’

’’That\'s why I intruded. He\'s on the Batphone.’’ She gestured for me to turn around.

On the credenza behind my desk there is a red phone that sits under what looks like a glass cake cover. If you saw the original Batman TV show, you know why. The red phone was blinking. Win. I picked it up and said, ’’Where are you?’’

’’Bangkok,’’ Win said, his tone a tad too upbeat, ’’which is really an ironic name for this place when you stop and think about it.’’

’’Since when?’’ I asked.

’’Is that important?’’

’’Just seems like weird timing,’’ I said. Then remembering: ’’What happened with that DNA sample we took from Miriam\'s grave?’’

’’Confiscated.’’

’’By?’’

’’Men with shiny badges and shinier suits.’’

’’How did they find out about it?’’

Silence.

That wave of shame. Then I said, ’’Me?’’

He did not bother replying. ’’Did you speak with Captain Berleand?’’

’’I did. What do you think?’’

’’I think,’’ Win said, ’’that his hypothesis has merit.’’

’’I don\'t get it. Why are you in Bangkok?’’

’’Where should I be?’’

’’Here, home, I don\'t know.’’

’’That\'s probably not a very good idea right now.’’


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