Seconds Away Page 52

’’Exactly,’’ I added, ’’and if you went there to get the package back, wouldn\'t you toss the place? They clearly wanted their money and drugs back. Why not search for it? Why just shoot the two people who could tell you?’’

The official conclusion wasn\'t making sense anymore.

’’There\'s more,’’ I said.

’’Like?’’

’’Like how come Mr. Caldwell was all chummy with them when I saw them at the house? I mean, he\'d have to know they just shot his ex-wife and daughter, right?’’

’’Right.’’ She shook her head. ’’We have to consider another possibility.’’

’’What?’’

’’Let\'s just go back over this, okay? Rachel\'s father is a drug dealer. He was willing to keep his ex-wife locked up for years to protect himself. Now she comes back. Rachel gives her mom the benefit of the doubt and steals his cash and drugs.’’

Ema stopped. I stopped. It was right there in front of us, but neither one of us wanted to say it.

’’He wouldn\'t shoot his own daughter,’’ I said.

’’Are you sure?’’

’’I just don\'t believe it.’’

’’The man drew a gun on you.’’

’’To protect her. Because he was worried about her.’’

We pondered that for a few moments.

’’It could have been an accident,’’ Ema said.

’’How so?’’

’’Think about the whole scenario. Rachel\'s dad finds out his money and drugs are missing. He comes home and finds, to his surprise, that his ex-wife is there. They argue. He pulls out a gun, maybe they struggle. Rachel surprises them. Maybe he shoots Rachel accidentally.’’

It added up. And yet . . . ’’There\'s one more thing,’’ I said.

’’What?’’

’’What\'s up with Chief Taylor?’’ I asked. ’’Why has he been hanging around Henry Caldwell? Why does he keep worrying about what Rachel will say about the shooting? Is it just a coincidence he was first on the scene?’’

’’Wait,’’ Ema said, showing me her palms in a double stop. ’’I mean, okay, I know we have our problems with him and Troy, but you\'re not suggesting . . . ?’’

’’I don\'t know what I\'m suggesting. But Spoon is right. We have to get out of here. We are all in danger until we figure out who shot Rachel.’’

Chapter 42

Uncle Myron was quiet during the ride home. I expected a lot of questions and a long lecture, but because he sat with me throughout the interrogations, maybe he\'d concluded that there was little more to ask.

I hadn\'t slept now in more than twenty-four hours. Fatigue was setting in, making my bones feel heavy. Uncle Myron pulled the car to a stop and said, ’’You were trying to help a friend.’’

It seemed more a statement than a question, so I didn\'t say anything.

’’I get it,’’ Myron continued. ’’The need to rescue people. I guess it\'s genetic.’’

I didn\'t know if he meant it came from him or my father. Or both.

’’You think you\'re doing good. I get that too. But when you upset the balance . . .’’

I waited. Then I said, ’’So you think, what, people should step back and just let things take their course?’’

’’No.’’

’’So what\'s your point?’’

’’Maybe nothing,’’ Uncle Myron said. ’’Or maybe I need you to understand that what you\'re trying to do isn\'t easy. It isn\'t black and white.’’ He shifted in his seat. ’’Pretend there are a bunch of figurines on a shaky shelf.’’

I arched an eyebrow. ’’Figurines?’’

’’Just go with me, okay? If one of the figurines tips over and starts to fall, you should reach for it and try to catch it. But if you try too hard or dive after it too clumsily, you might knock down more figurines. You may save the first figurine but ultimately break more.’’

He looked at me. I looked at him. Then I said, ’’I have a question, though.’’

Myron grew serious. ’’Yes?’’

’’When you say figurines, do you mean like bobble-heads or those weird little Hummel kids that Grandma loves so much?’’

He sighed. ’’I guess I was asking for that, wasn\'t I?’’

’’Because I don\'t think I\'d want to save any of those,’’ I said. ’’They creep me out.’’

Myron laughed. ’’All right, all right.’’

’’Don\'t tell Grandma, okay?’’

’’Wise guy.’’

We got out of the car and went inside. I started heading down to the basement when Myron asked me one last question. ’’Does all this have something to do with Bat Lady or your wanting to exhume your dad\'s grave?’’

It was a good question, and he had earned a truthful answer. ’’I don\'t know.’’

Down in the basement, I collapsed onto the bed. I had to block out Spoon. If I kept thinking about him lying in the hospital, I\'d freeze up. Spoon had pushed through the pain and asked to see me for one reason. He didn\'t want us to quit. He wanted us to find out who shot Rachel. Much as I wanted right now to just curl up in a ball and give up, I had to honor that request.

So what was the next step?

My cell phone rang. When I saw on the caller ID that it was Rachel, I sat up, hit the green answer button, and put the phone to my ear. Her voice was distraught and angry. ’’How could you do that to me?’’

’’Rachel?’’

’’There are cops all over my house.’’

’’Are they asking you questions about the gym bag?’’

’’They tried to, but my father won\'t let them talk to me. Why did you do this, Mickey? Why couldn\'t you just leave it alone?’’

’’We were trying to help. We were trying to ’’

’’You know what?’’ she snapped. ’’I don\'t want to hear it. I just called because I wanted to know how Spoon was.’’

I thought again about the look on Spoon\'s mom\'s face. Would I ever forget that? ’’I don\'t know. He\'s in critical condition.’’

’’That poor kid.’’

’’We were just trying to help find the shooters.’’

’’Who asked you to do that?’’

But I\'d had enough of being on the defensive. ’’You know the answer to that, Rachel.’’

She did. The Abeona Shelter.

’’We are all linked in this together. You could have trusted us. You could have told us about believing your mom and hiding that gym bag.’’

’’I was trying to protect you,’’ she said.

’’And I was trying to protect you,’’ I said, remembering Myron\'s dumb figurine metaphor. ’’Look where that got us.’’


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