Seconds Away Page 30

Chief Taylor\'s face turned even redder. Oh, this wasn\'t helping.

’’I\'m bringing him in, Bolitar. Get out of my way.’’

’’Where are you taking him?’’

’’To the station for initial booking, then a bail appearance down in Newark.’’

’’Bail? Isn\'t that a little overkill, Ed?’’

’’He might be a flight risk.’’

’’He\'s a kid, for crying out loud.’’ Myron put his hand on my shoulder. ’’Don\'t say a word, Mickey, do you hear me? Not one word.’’ He turned back to Taylor. ’’I will be following your vehicle. As his attorney I\'m forbidding you from questioning him.’’

Taylor had his cuffs out. ’’Hands behind your back.’’

’’Seriously, Ed?’’ Myron said.

’’Procedure,’’ Taylor replied. ’’Unless you think your nephew deserves special treatment.’’

’’It\'s okay,’’ I said, putting my hands behind my back. Chief Taylor cuffed me. One of his men guided me into the back of a squad car and sat next to me. Chief Taylor took the front seat.

I looked back at the burning house. I thought about those photographs the one of Ashley, the one of that sad-eyed boy with the curly hair. I thought about all I had seen and heard there and wondered what it all meant. That house, I figured, had been the headquarters for the Abeona Shelter. Now it was gone, burned down by . . .

Who? The Butcher of Lodz? A man who would be ninety but still looked in his thirties? Did that make any sense?

And most of all, the question that kept coming back to me again and again: What had he done with my father?

’’I can\'t believe it,’’ Taylor said.

I looked toward the rearview mirror and met Chief Taylor\'s eyes. I wanted to ask what he was talking about, but I remembered what Myron had said about keeping quiet.

The cop next to me made it easier: ’’What can\'t you believe?’’

’’Bolitar. The kid\'s uncle.’’

’’What about him?’’

’’He\'s following us in a stretch limo.’’

It wasn\'t easy to turn around with my hands cuffed, but I managed enough. Chief Taylor was right. We were indeed being followed by a big black limousine.

’’So, Mickey,’’ Chief Taylor said, ’’this is the second time I\'ve caught you near that old house. You want to tell me why?’’

’’No, sir.’’

’’Maybe you got a thing for old ladies,’’ Chief Taylor said, and in his mocking voice I could hear the echo of his son\'s Ema Moo! ’’Is that it, Mickey? Do you dig grannies or something?’’

I didn\'t rise to the bait. Even the cop next to me was frowning at this lame approach.

The Kasselton police station was located across the street from Kasselton High School. A few hours ago, I\'d been quietly celebrating my basketball debut in a gymnasium a few yards from where I was now being brought in by cops. Life is definitely a series of thin lines.

Taylor slipped out of his seat and closed the door behind him. A few seconds later, the cop sitting next to me helped me out. The limousine was right behind us. The back door opened, and Myron stepped out.

’’You have a limo now, Bolitar?’’ Chief Taylor said. He ran his hand along the roof of the stretch. ’’You must really think you\'re hot stuff.’’

’’It isn\'t mine.’’

’’No? Then whose is it?’’

’’Actually’’ and now I thought I saw the smallest hint of a smile on Myron\'s face ’’it belongs to Angelica Wyatt.’’

Taylor scoffed at that. ’’Sure, right, and I\'m George Clooney.’’

The tinted back window slid down. When Angelica Wyatt stuck her gorgeous face out the window, smiled, and said, ’’Are you the town police chief? What a pleasure to meet you,’’ I thought Taylor would have a stroke.

’’Uh, Miss Wyatt . . . oh, my, is it really you? We\'re all big fans, aren\'t we, fellas?’’

There were five cops surrounding the limousine now. They all nodded like puppets. Angelica Wyatt awarded them with yet another smile. She said something else, I couldn\'t hear it, but some of the cops began to chuckle. I met Uncle Myron\'s eyes and he rolled them.

Angelica Wyatt made a comment about how handsome men in uniform were. I saw Chief Taylor pet down his hair and puff out his chest. Really? Are we men this easily taken? Then I thought about Rachel Caldwell. Hadn\'t she done something similar to me when we first met? Hadn\'t I fallen for it?

I bet Ema would have something cutting, funny, and true to say about this.

Myron and I stood away from the rest of them. My hands were still cuffed behind my back. Angelica Wyatt continued to talk to Chief Taylor. He continued to giggle like a schoolgirl.

’’What\'s going on?’’ I asked Myron.

That small smile was back on his face. ’’Wait.’’

Three minutes later, Chief Taylor came over and unlocked my cuffs. He turned to Myron. ’’You\'re his legal guardian?’’

’’I am.’’

He wasn\'t. Not really. That was part of the deal. I would stay with him, but Mom remained my legal guardian. Still, with her in rehab, he was the closest thing to one.

’’You have to come inside and sign some papers, promising that he will appear when we need him, that kind of thing.’’

Myron and I managed not to ask what happened to the bail hearing in Newark. We knew the answer: Angelica Wyatt.

’’Go wait in the car,’’ Myron said to me.

A chauffeur complete with a chauffeur cap opened the door for me. I got in and sat next to Angelica Wyatt. It was weird for me, so it must have been weird for her. She was a big-time movie star and being in her presence was, well, like being in the presence of a movie star, something big and grand and unreal. It wasn\'t her fault. I don\'t think it was my fault either. It was just weird. I wondered what it was like for her to deal with that every day. It gave you great powers look at how it\'d freed me but it must also have been a strange burden.

’’Are you okay?’’ she asked me.

’’Yes, ma\'am. Thanks for your help.’’

I had never been in the back of a stretch limousine. The seats were rich leather. There was a small TV set and heavy crystal glasses.

’’What happened? Were you in the house?’’

Once again I didn\'t want to lie but I wasn\'t up for telling the truth either. I really didn\'t know this woman. ’’I thought I saw a fire, so I tried to help.’’

Angelica Wyatt looked skeptical. ’’By going in the house?’’

’’Yes. To, uh, see if anybody was home.’’

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