Long Lost Page 55

’’Am I under arrest?’’ I asked.

’’Not yet. But you really should come with me.’’

’’Let\'s wait for the arrest warrant,’’ I said. ’’I\'ll bring my attorney too. Keep it all on the up and up.’’

Jones moved a step closer. ’’I would rather not bring formal charges. But I know for a fact that you\'ve committed crimes.’’

’’You\'re a witness, no?’’

Jones shrugged.

’’Where did you take me after I passed out?’’ I asked.

He faked a sigh. ’’I\'m sure I have no idea what you\'re talking about. But neither of us have time for this. Let\'s go for a ride, okay?’’

As he reached out for my arm, Esperanza said, ’’Special Agent Jones?’’

He looked at her.

’’I have a call for you,’’ she said.

Esperanza handed him her cell phone. He frowned but took it from her. I frowned too and looked at her. Her face gave me nothing.

’’Hello?’’ Jones said.

The phone was set loud enough so that I could hear the voice on the other end clearly. The voice said: ’’Chrome, military style, with the Gucci logo engraved on the lower left-hand corner.’’

It was Win.

Jones said, ’’Huh?’’

’’I can see your belt buckle through my rifle scope, though I\'m aiming three inches lower,’’ Win said. ’’Perhaps two inches would be more apropos in your case.’’

My eyes dropped toward the guy\'s buckle. Sure enough. I had no idea what military-style chrome meant, but there was a Gucci logo engraved on the lower left-hand corner.

Win said, ’’Gucci on a government salary? It has to be a knock-off.’’

Jones kept the phone against his ear, started looking around. ’’I assume this is Mr. Windsor Horne Lockwood.’’

’’I\'m sure I have no idea what you\'re talking about.’’

’’What do you want?’’

’’Simple. Mr. Bolitar is not going with you.’’

’’You\'re threatening a federal officer. That\'s a capital offense.’’

’’I\'m commenting on your fashion sense,’’ Win said. ’’And since your belt is black and your shoes are brown, the only one committing a crime here is you.’’

Jones\'s eyes lifted and met mine. There was a strange calm in them for a guy with a rifle aimed at his groin. I glanced at Esperanza. She didn\'t meet my gaze. I realized something rather obvious: Win was not in Bangkok. He had lied to me.

’’I don\'t want a scene,’’ Jones said. He raised both hands. ’’So, okay, no one is forcing anything here. Have a good day.’’

He turned and began to walk back to his car.

’’Jones?’’ I called out.

He looked back at me, shielding his eyes from the sun.

’’Do you know what happened to Terese Collins?’’

’’Yes.’’

’’Tell me.’’

’’If you come with me,’’ he said.

I looked at Esperanza. She handed the cell phone back to Jones.

Win said, ’’Just so we\'re clear. You won\'t be able to hide. Your family won\'t be able to hide. If something happens to him, it is total destruction. Everything you love or care about. And, no, that\'s not a threat.’’

The phone went dead.

Jones looked at me. ’’Sweet guy.’’

’’You have no idea.’’

’’You ready to go?’’

I followed him to the Escalade and got in.

30

WE drove over the George Washington Bridge and back into Manhattan. Jones introduced me to the two agents in the front seat, but I didn\'t remember their names. The Escalade exited at West Seventy-ninth Street. A few minutes later it stopped by Central Park West. Jones opened the door, grabbed his briefcase, and said, ’’Let\'s take a walk.’’

I slid out. The sun was still bright.

’’What happened to Terese?’’ I asked.

’’You need to know the rest first.’’

I really didn\'t, but there was no point in pushing too much. He would tell me in his own time. Jones took off his brown suit jacket and laid it on the backseat. I waited for the other two agents to park and get out, but Jones slapped the top of the car and it took off.

’’Just us?’’ I said.

’’Just us.’’

His briefcase was from another era, perfectly rectangular with number locks on both bolts. My dad used to have one like it, carrying his contracts and bills and pens and a tiny tape recorder to and from his office in that Newark factory.

Jones started into the park on West Sixty-seventh Street. We passed Tavern on the Green, the lights on the trees dim. I caught up to him and said, ’’This seems a little cloak \'n\' dagger.’’

’’It\'s a precaution. Probably unnecessary. But when you deal with what I do, you sometimes like to see why.’’

I found this a tad melodramatic, but again I didn\'t want to push it. Jones was suddenly somber and reflective, and I didn\'t have a clue why. He watched the joggers, the Rollerbladers, the bike riders, the moms with designer-name strollers.

’’I know it\'s corny,’’ he said, ’’but they skate and run and work and love and laugh and throw Frisbees and they don\'t have a clue as to how fragile it all is.’’

I made a face. ’’But let me guess you, Special Agent Jones, are the silent sentinel who protects them, the one who sacrifices his own humanity so the citizenry can sleep well at night. That about it?’’

He smiled. ’’Guess I deserved that.’’

’’What happened to Terese?’’

Jones kept walking.

I said, ’’When we were in London, you took me into custody.’’

’’Yes.’’

’’And then?’’

He shrugged. ’’It\'s compartmentalized. I don\'t know. I hand you over to someone from another department. My part is over.’’

’’Morally convenient,’’ I said.

He winced but kept walking.

’’What do you know about Mohammad Matar?’’ he asked.

’’Just what I read in the paper,’’ I said. ’’He was, I assume, a serious bad guy.’’

’’The baddest of the bad. A highly educated, radical extremist who made other radical terrorists wet their bed in fear. Matar loved torture. He believed that the only way to kill the infidels was to infiltrate and live among them. He started up a terrorist organization called Green Death. Their motto is: \'Al-sabr wal-sayf sawf yudammir al-kafirun.\' ’’

A spasm ripped through me:

’’Al-sabr wal-sayf.’’

’’What does that mean?’’ I asked.

’’\'Patience and the sword will destroy the sinners.\' ’’


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