Long Lost Page 56

I shook my head, trying to clear it.

’’Mohammad Matar spent almost his entire life in the West. He grew up in Spain mostly, but spent some time in France and England as well. And Dr. Death is more than a nickname he went to medical school at Georgetown and did his residency right here in New York City. Spent twelve years in the United States under various assumed names. Guess what day he left the United States?’’

’’I\'m not really in the mood for guessing.’’

’’September tenth, 2001.’’

We both stopped talking for a moment, almost subconsciously turning south. No, we wouldn\'t be able to see those towers, even if they still stood. But respect had to be paid. Always and hopefully forever.

’’Are you saying he was involved in that?’’

’’Involved? Hard to say. But Mohammad knew about it. His departure wasn\'t a coincidence. We have a witness who places him at the Pink Pony earlier that month. That name ring a bell?’’

’’Isn\'t that the strip club the terrorists went to before September eleventh?’’

Jones nodded. A class trip crossed in front of us. The children they looked about ten or eleven years old all wore matching bright green shirts with the school name emblazoned on the front. One adult took the front, another the rear.

’’You killed a major terrorist leader,’’ Jones said. ’’Do you have any idea what his followers would do to you if they found out the truth?’’

’’And that\'s why you took credit for killing him?’’

’’That\'s why we kept your name out.’’

’’I\'m really grateful.’’

’’Is that sarcasm?’’

I wasn\'t really sure myself.

’’If you keep stumbling around, the truth is going to come out. You\'ll kick a beehive and a bunch of jihadists will be there.’’

’’Suppose I\'m not afraid of them.’’

’’Then you\'re demented.’’

’’What happened to Terese?’’

We stopped at a bench. Still standing, he put one knee on the seat and used it to balance his briefcase. He fumbled through it. ’’The night before you killed Mohammad Matar, you dug up the remains of Miriam Collins\'s grave for the purposes of a DNA test.’’

’’Are you hoping for a confession?’’

Jones shook his head. ’’You don\'t get it.’’

’’Don\'t get what?’’

’’We confiscated the remains. You probably knew that.’’

I waited.

Jones pulled a manila folder out of the briefcase. ’’Here are the DNA test results you wanted.’’

I reached out. Jones played coy for a moment, as if debating whether he should let me see it or not. But we both knew. This was why I was here. He handed me the manila folder. I opened it. On top was a photograph of the bone sample Win and I had collected that night. I turned the page, but Jones was already walking.

’’The tests were conclusive. The bones you dug up belong to Miriam Collins. The DNA matches Rick Collins as the father and Terese Collins as the mother. Furthermore, the bones matched the approximate size and development for a seven-year-old girl.’’

I read the report. Jones kept walking.

’’This could be faked,’’ I said.

’’It could,’’ Jones agreed.

’’How do you explain the blood found at the murder scene in Paris?’’

’’You just raised an interesting possibility,’’ he said.

’’That being?’’

’’Maybe those results were faked.’’

I stopped.

’’You just said that maybe I faked a DNA blood test. But wouldn\'t it be more rational to assume that the French did?’’

’’Berleand?’’

He shrugged.

’’Why would he do that?’’

’’Why would I? But don\'t take my word for it. In this briefcase, I have your original bone sample. When we are done, I will give it to you. You can test it for yourself, if you wish.’’

My head swam. He kept walking. This made sense. If Berleand lied, everything else fell into place. Removing emotion and want from the equation, which seemed more likely that Miriam Collins had actually survived the crash and ended up in her murdered father\'s room, or that Berleand was lying about the test results?

’’You got involved in this because you wanted to find Miriam Collins,’’ Jones said. ’’Now you have. The rest you should leave to us. Whatever else is going on here, you now know for certain that Miriam Collins is dead. This bone sample will give you all the proof you need.’’

I shook my head. ’’There\'s too much smoke for there to be no fire.’’

’’Like what? The terrorists? Almost all of your so-called smoke can be attributed to Rick Collins\'s attempt to infiltrate the cell.’’

’’The blond girl.’’

’’What about her?’’

’’Did you capture her in London?’’

’’No. She was gone by the time we arrived. We know you saw her. We have a witness from Mario Contuzzi\'s apartment, a neighbor, who says he saw you chase her.’’

’’So who was she?’’

’’A member of the cell.’’

I arched an eyebrow. ’’A blond teen jihadist?’’

’’Sure. The cells are always a mix. Disenfranchised immigrants, Arab nationals, and, yes, a few crazy Westerners. We know that the terror cells are stepping up the effort to recruit Caucasian Westerners, especially women. The reason is pretty obvious a cute blonde can go places an Arab man can\'t. Most of the time the girl has serious daddy issues. You know the deal some girls turn to p*****, some sleep with radicals.’’

I wasn\'t sure I bought that.

A small grin played on his lips. ’’Why don\'t you tell me what else is bothering you?’’

’’A lot of things,’’ I said.

He shook his head. ’’Not really, Myron. It\'s pretty much down to one thing now, isn\'t it? You\'re wondering about the car accident.’’

’’The official version is a lie,’’ I said. ’’I talked to Karen Tower before she was murdered. I talked to Nigel Manderson. The accident didn\'t happen the way they said.’’

’’That\'s your smoke?’’

’’It is.’’

’’So if I clear that smoke, you will drop this?’’

’’They were covering something up that night.’’

’’And if I clear that smoke, you will drop this?’’ Jones said again.

’’I guess,’’ I said.

’’Okay, so let\'s discuss alternate theories.’’ Jones kept walking. ’’The car accident ten years ago. You think what really happened is . . .’’ He stopped and turned to me. ’’Well, no, you tell me. What do you think they were covering up?’’


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