Long Lost Page 57

I said nothing.

’’The car crashed I guess that you buy that part. Terese was rushed to the hospital. I guess you buy that part too. So where does it go wrong for you? You think help me here, Myron that a cabal involving Terese Collins\'s best friend and at least one or two cops hid her seven-year-old daughter for some odd reason, raised her in hiding all these years . . . And then?’’

I still said nothing.

’’And this conspiracy of yours assumes that I\'m lying about the DNA test, which you can now learn independently I\'m not.’’

’’They were covering up something,’’ I said.

’’Yes,’’ he said. ’’They were.’’

I waited. We headed down past the park\'s carousel.

’’The crash happened pretty much as you were told. A truck bounded down A-Forty. Ms. Collins spun her steering wheel, and well, that was that. Disaster. You know the backstory too. She was home. She got a call to come in so that she could anchor prime time. She hadn\'t planned on going out that night, so I guess in some ways it\'s understandable.’’

’’What is?’’

’’There is a Greek expression: The humpback never sees the hump in his own back.’’

’’What does that have to do with anything?’’

’’Maybe nothing. That expression is talking about flaws. We are quick to find flaws in others. We aren\'t so good with ourselves. We are also poor judges of our own abilities, especially when there is a nice carrot in front of us.’’

’’You\'re not making any sense.’’

’’Sure I am. You want to know what was covered up but it\'s so obvious. With her daughter dead, hadn\'t Terese Collins been punished enough? I don\'t know if they were worried so much about the legal ramifications or just the guilt a mother would load on herself. But Terese Collins was drunk that night. Could she have avoided the accident if she was sober? Who knows the truck driver was at fault but maybe if her reaction time was a little faster . . .’’

I tried to take this in. ’’Terese was drunk?’’

’’Her blood test showed she was over the legal limit, yes.’’

’’And that was the cover-up?’’

’’It was.’’

Lies have a certain smell. So does truth.

’’Who knew?’’ I asked.

’’Her husband. So did Karen Tower. They covered it up because they feared the truth would destroy her.’’

The truth may have done that anyway, I thought. A weight filled my chest as I realized yet another truth: Terese probably knew. On some level, she knew about her culpability. Any mother would be devastated by a tragedy like that, but here it was, ten years later, and Terese was still trying to make amends.

How had Terese put it to me when she called from Paris? She didn\'t want to rebuild.

She knew. Maybe subconsciously. But she knew.

I stopped walking.

’’What happened to Terese?’’

’’Does that clear the smoke, Myron?’’

’’What happened to her?’’ I asked again.

Jones turned and faced me full. ’’I need you to let this go, okay? I\'m not much of an ends-justify-means sort of guy. I know all the arguments against torture and I agree with them. But the issue is murky. Let\'s say you catch a terrorist who has already killed thousands and right now he has a bomb hidden that will kill millions of children. Would you punch him in the face to get the answer and save those children? Of course you would. Would you punch him twice? Suppose it was only a thousand children or a hundred or ten? Anyone who doesn\'t get it at all . . . well, I would be wary of such a person. That\'s an extremist too.’’

’’What\'s your point?’’

’’I want you to have your life back.’’ Jones\'s voice was soft now, almost a plea. ’’I know you don\'t buy that. But I don\'t like what happened to you. That\'s why I\'m telling you this. I\'m protected. Jones isn\'t even my real name, and we are here in this park because I don\'t have an office. Even your friend Win would have trouble locating me. I know everything about you now. I know your past. I know how you destroyed your knee and how you tried to move past it. You don\'t get many second chances. I\'m giving you one right now.’’

Jones looked off into the distance. ’’You need to let this go and move on with your life. For your sake.’’ He gestured with his chin. ’’And hers.’’

For a moment I was afraid to look. I followed his gaze, my eyes sweeping left to right, when I suddenly froze. My hand fluttered toward my mouth. I tried to take the blow standing, felt something blow across my chest.

Standing across the expanse of green, staring back at me with tears in her eyes but looking as achingly beautiful as ever, was Terese.

31

DURING the attack in London, Terese had been shot in the neck.

I was back at that lovely shoulder, kissing it gently, when I saw the scar. No, she had not been drugged or taken to a black site. She had been kept in a hospital outside of London and then flown to New York. Her injuries had been more severe than mine. She had lost blood. She was still in a great deal of pain and moved gingerly.

We were back at Win\'s Dakota apartment, in my bedroom, holding each other and looking up at the ceiling. She rested her head on my chest. I could feel my heart beating against her.

’’Do you believe what Jones said?’’ I asked her.

’’Yes.’’

I ran my hand down the curve of her back and pulled her closer. I felt her shake a little. I didn\'t want her out of my sight.

’’Part of me always knew that I was deceiving myself,’’ she said. ’’I wanted it so badly. This chance at redemption, you know? Like my long-lost child was out there and I had a chance to rescue her.’’

I understood the feeling.

’’So what do we do now?’’ I asked.

’’I want to lie here with you and just be. Can we do that?’’

’’We can.’’ I kept my eyes on the ceiling\'s wainscoting. Then, because I can never leave well enough alone: ’’When Miriam was born, did you and Rick store her cord blood?’’

’’No.’’

Dead end.

I asked, ’’Do you still want us to run the DNA test to be sure?’’

’’What do you think?’’

’’I think we should,’’ I said.

’’Then let\'s do that.’’

’’You\'ll have to give a DNA sample,’’ I said. ’’So we have something to compare it with. We don\'t have Rick\'s DNA, but if we confirm the child was yours, well, I assume you only gave birth that one time?’’

Silence.


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