Long Lost Page 60
Albin continued to preen in his cape. Preening, I thought, was meant for a man in a cape. We discussed price, which was absolutely ridiculous and would require a second mortgage. I played along. Finally, I said, ’’Look, that\'s the number my wife gave me. The session number. She said that if I saw those photographs it would simply blow me away. Do you think I could see the shots from session four-seven-one-two?’’
If it struck him as odd that I had originally come in claiming to pick up photographs and now wanted to look at pictures from a session, the note hadn\'t sounded over the din of true genius.
’’Yes, of course, it\'s on the computer here. I must tell you. I don\'t like digital photography. For your little girl, I want to use a classic box camera. There is such a texture to the work.’’
’’That\'d be super.’’
’’Still, I use the digital for Web storage.’’ He began typing and hit return. ’’Well, these aren\'t baby pictures, that\'s for sure. Here you are.’’
Albin turned the monitor toward me. A bunch of thumbnails loaded onto the screen. I felt my chest tighten even before he clicked on one, making the image large enough to fill the entire monitor. No doubt about it.
It was the blond girl.
I tried to play it cool. ’’I\'ll need a copy of that.’’
’’Whatever, eight-by-ten would be great.’’
’’It will be ready a week from Tuesday.’’
’’I need it now.’’
’’Your computer is hooked up into the color printer over there,’’ I said.
’’Yes, but that hardly produces photo quality.’’
No time to explain. I took out my wallet. ’’I\'ll give you two hundred dollars for a computer printout of that picture.’’
His eyes narrowed, but only for a second. It was finally dawning on him that something was up, but he was a photographer, not a lawyer or doctor. There was no confidentiality agreement here. I handed him the two hundred dollars. He started for the printer. I noticed a link that said Personal Info. I clicked it as he pulled the photograph from the printer.
’’Pardon me?’’ Albin said.
I backed off, but I had seen enough. The girl\'s name was only listed as a first: Carrie. Her address?
Right next door. Care of the Save the Angels Foundation.
ALBIN did not know Carrie\'s last name. When I pressed him, he let me know he took pictures for Save the Angels, that was all. They gave him first names only. I took the printout and went next door. Save the Angels was still locked up. No surprise. I found Minerva, my favorite receptionist, at Bruno and Associates and showed her the picture of the blond Carrie.
’’Do you know her?’’
Minerva looked up at me.
’’She\'s missing,’’ I said. ’’I\'m trying to find her.’’
’’Are you like a private eye?’’
’’I am.’’ It was easier than explaining.
’’Yeah. Her first name is Carrie. Do you recognize her?’’
’’She worked there.’’
’’At Save the Angels?’’
’’Well, not worked. She was one of the interns. Was here for a few weeks last summer.’’
’’Can you tell me anything about her?’’
’’She\'s beautiful, isn\'t she?’’
I said nothing.
’’I never knew her name. She wasn\'t very nice. None of their interns were, truthfully. Plenty of love for God, I guess, but not real people. Anyway, our offices share a bathroom down the hall. I would say hi. She would look through me. You know what I mean?’’
I thanked Minerva and headed back to suite 3B. I stood in front of it and stared at the door for Save the Angels. Again: the mind. I started letting the pieces tumble through ye olde brain cavity like socks in a dryer. I thought about the Web site I had surfed through last night, about the very name of this organization. I looked down at the photograph in my hand. The blond hair. The beautiful face. The blue eyes with that gold ring around each pupil, and yet I saw exactly what Minerva meant.
Sometimes you see strong genetic similarities in a face, like the gold ring around the pupil and sometimes you also see something more like an echo. That was what I saw on this girl\'s face. An echo.
An echo, I was certain, of her mother.
I looked again at the door. I looked again at the photograph. And as the realization sank in, I felt the coldness seep into my bones.
Berleand hadn\'t lied.
My cell phone rang. It was Win.
’’The DNA test on those bones has been completed.’’
’’Don\'t tell me,’’ I said. ’’It\'s a match for Terese as mother. Jones was telling the truth.’’
I stared at the picture some more.
’’I think I get it now,’’ I said. ’’I think I know what\'s going on.’’
I drove back to New York City more specifically, to the offices of CryoHope.
This can\'t be.
That was the thought that kept rambling through my mind. I didn\'t know if I hoped that I was right or wrong but like I said, truth has a certain smell to it. And as far as the ’’can\'t be’’ aspect, I again bring up the Sherlock Holmes axiom: When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.
I was tempted to call Special Agent Jones. I had the girl\'s picture now. This Carrie was probably a terrorist or a sympathizer or maybe best-case scenario she was being held against her will. But it was too early for that. I could talk to Terese, run this possibility by her, but that, too, felt premature.
I needed to know for sure before I got Terese\'s hopes up or down.
CryoHope had valet parking. I gave the keys to the man and started inside. Immediately after Rick Collins found out that he had Huntington\'s disease, he had come here. It made sense on the surface. CryoHope was a leader in cutting-edge research with stem cells. It was natural to think that he had visited here in hopes of finding that something might save him from his genetic fate.
But that hadn\'t been it.
I remembered the name of the doctor from the brochure. ’’I want to see Dr. Sloan,’’ I said to the receptionist.
’’Myron Bolitar. Tell him it\'s about Rick Collins. And a girl named Carrie.’’
WHEN I came back out, Win was waiting by the front door, leaning against the wall with the ease of Dino at the Sands. His limo was outside, but he stayed with me.
’’So?’’ he said.