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Authors: LS Sygnet

Tags: #mystery, #deception, #vendetta, #cold case, #psychiatric hospital, #attempted murder, #distrust

Forgotten Place (48 page)

BOOK: Forgotten Place
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"Then you're talking to him soon?"

"Tomorrow is Christmas.  I'll see him
of course, hear all about this latest victory in the police
department.  He can always be counted upon to justify this
hideous vocation he's embraced.  It's been... useful."

"I should say so," the old man
concurred.  "At the same time, I do feel that we should revise
our timetable now, plan for the contingency that will remove Dr.
Eriksson from play before she has the opportunity to discover more
than she already has.  It was disappointing when the FBI
failed to indict her for her ex-husband's murder."

"And somewhat disturbing that Mr. Franchetta
continues to modify his story. Of course, we'll never know what
really happened in that park the night Rick Hamilton died."

"Nonsense.  We don't have to know the
truth.  It was the appearance of impropriety that mattered the
most."  He took another nip from the flask.  Damned cold
weather.  It settled into bones, creaked and reverberated in
joints that had seen better days.  "Mr. Franchetta is
concerning.  Perhaps our friend in the FBI who is so appalled
by Dr. Eriksson's guilt and lack of consequences could explain
what's going on."

"He has no easy access to information now
that Mr. Seleeby was banished.  How I hated to see that
happen!"

"Orion again," the old man said dryly.

"And our beloved governor."

He smiled.  "Well, using one's
political clout for personal advantage has been the downfall of
more than one elected official.  When the new year begins, and
the campaign picks up earnest steam, everything changes.  It's
all fair game.  We'll see how hard and fast old Collangelo
scrambles when his ignorance is known."

"He'll have little choice but do what the
public outcry will demand."

"And if Eriksson doesn't have a cloak of
protection from the state's top law enforcement agency anymore,
perhaps it makes our lives easier."

"Or sends her back to Washington where she
belongs."

"Tsk," the old man scolded softly. 
"Don't be bitter.  I know it can't be easy for you of all
people to see her out here.  Stirs up a few unpleasant
memories, I'd imagine."

The sigh over the phone line was little more
than a harsh crackle.  "You cannot begin to imagine what it's
been like for me since she showed up last June.  I want her
gone.  I want her gone for good this time."  He
paused.  "Where are you anyway?"

"Outside Downey Division.  I thought I
might go in with the Good Book and see if I might be permitted a
visit with the lost souls in their holding cells, see if I can pick
up any interesting tidbits of information."

"I'd rather you didn't do that.  What
if she sees you?  Recognizes you?"

The old man laughed
softly.  "Not possible, if you'll recall.  Wendell kept
her very close growing up.  Certainly I knew everything going
on because of Marie, but I was never granted an audience
with
his precious
daughter
."

"Precious," the other man snorted. 
"Hardly.  Whatever you decide to do, just be cautious. 
I'm concerned that we're not able to get to Franchetta
anymore.  The fact that he refuses to speak to anyone without
his attorney present concerns me."

"Yes, that was a troubling turn of
events.  Perhaps our friend's visit to Wendell after Orion
went to see him was our mistake."

"I thought you said he was completely
contained."

After another quick nip from the bottle, the
old man admitted, "Well, yes, I did believe that.  But we
discounted the bond between Helen and her father, and the
resourcefulness of that man.  He'd go to any lengths to
protect her."

"That guard Lucero, he disliked Eriksson
enough to be rather helpful when our man spoke to him. 
Perhaps he could give us some more information now."

"Such as?"

"If anyone else has come to talk to
Eriksson.  Or more importantly, who Eriksson is willing to
talk to."

"Do you think Helen's been to see him since
our man was there?"

The conspirator hissed a soft curse. 
"No, she hasn't come up for more than booze and physical therapy
since that shooting in October."

"We're not monitoring her phone calls."

"Believe me, if I could figure out a way to
do it, we'd be doing exactly that."

"This isn't a good time to continue this
conversation," the old man said.  He slouched low in the front
seat of his Mercedes.

"Oh?"

"If I'm not mistaken, the FBI has just
descended on Downey Division.  With any luck, everyone will be
so busy digging into Datello's life that we will be completely
ignored."

"So we're back in business," his partner's
smile was audible.  "And it looks like Christmas will be merry
after all."

"Do tell Eugene that the shipment will
arrive on schedule," the old man said.  "I'll make sure that
our partners are aware that they've got the green light to resume
the operation."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 44

 

David Levine walked into Downey Division
with an squadron of federal agents.  They were there for the
most part, to retrieve the evidence we uncovered against Sully
Marcos, the names, dates, location of bodies, the reasons why hits
had been ordered on close to thirty of his enemies.  Oddly,
Datello's father was one of them.  David came for an
additional reason.

He pulled me aside immediately and hugged me
tightly.  "It's really over, Helen."

I wasn't so sure. 

"I heard what happened to Johnny.  Have
you seen him?"

"No."

"Why not?"

I shrugged.  "It's pointless, don't you
agree?  Why would he want some strange woman showing up to
visit him in the hospital?  He doesn't know who I am. 
People can feed him what he missed over the past few months until
the stars fall.  Unless he starts remembering it on his own,
it'll be fiction to him."

"What comes next for you, my dear?" his
gentle voice nearly ripped my heart out.  Never let anyone
tell you that lying to the people you love is easy.  It's
not. 

"Not sure," I murmured.  "Carpenter
wants me to stick around and be available for whenever this goes to
trial.  It could be years before that happens."

"I suspect it won't take that long,
Helen.  Datello will want to fight this as quickly as he
can.  When Commander Darnell personally showed up at the
airport to escort us over here, he said that Danny has refused to
speak, that he will only talk to his attorney."

Breath evacuated my lungs in a rush. 
"Yeah, about that..."

"Franchetta changed his story again, Helen,
for a sweet deal of course," David said.  "First he wanted to
talk to you.  When we made it clear that wouldn't happen, he
said that you didn't kill Rick."

My eyes snapped into focus
on David's face.  "
What
?"

He nodded.  "He said you were there,
but that Rick killed himself.  You ran off and he swooped in
and picked up the weapon, thinking that they could use it as
insurance against you.  He stashed the gun in that waste
disposal facility thinking it would be safe until they needed to
cash in their marker with you."

My hands started to tremble.  How could
this be?  How could Franchetta suddenly make the decision to
protect me?  If he had been present that night, he knew that I
was the one who took the gun.  He would've known that I pulled
the trigger.  And where would he get the idea that I might
tell Johnny that Rick killed himself?  Not just Rick, but
short hours ago, I repeated the lie to Datello.

"What kind of deal did they make with
him?"

"Three to five, medium security, and then
witness protection, provided he agrees to testify against Marcos
for the decades of felonies he witnessed the man order if not
outright commit with his own two hands."

I thought of Sully's missing millions, the
ones Rick feared would be attributed to him for theft.  Maybe
Johnny was right – Franchetta had been behind it all along. 
Something didn't fit.  Someone had spoken to Franchetta and
given him a convenient lie that would absolve me of my
culpability.

"Helen, are you all right?"

I shook my head. 

"Honey, what is it?"

"Franchetta," I whispered.

"Nobody believed a word he said about you,
Helen."

"They should."

David's eyes widened. 

"He had to have been there.  He told
you the truth about what happened that night, at least up to the
point where I ran away from Rick after he... after."

His arms wound around me and hugged me
close.  "Why didn't you tell me this months ago, Helen? 
I knew something was eating you from the inside out.  We
could've avoided –"

I silenced him with a doubtful stare. 
"With Mark Seleeby heading the witch hunt?  I don't think so,
David.  You might've tried to help, but Seleeby knew I was
lying.  The problem was, he wasn't interested in the truth,
just the one he had determined was factual."

Devlin interrupted, curiosity crinkling
around eyes that zoomed in on the arms around me.  He dangled
keys from his fingertips, ones that did not belong to my mashed
Expedition.  "Lou asked me to give you a Crown Vic until yours
is repaired... and to apologize profusely for using your car as a
battering ram."  He grinned.  "The shop says they should
have the damage repaired by the end of the week.  Lou pushed
you to the front of the line of damaged cop vehicles."

"Thank you, Devlin."  I introduced him
to David.

"Are you going home from here?" David
asked. 

"Very soon, I hope."  I rubbed my
shoulder.  "I think I need a hot shower and a couple of pain
pills more than anything else right now."

"I've got to join the team and get on with
this disk thing," David said.  "Can I call you later? 
Maybe we could have dinner before I go back to Washington."

"I'd like that."

He kissed my cheek and left. 

"On that note, I'm going to give you the
rest of my news," Devlin said.  "Shelly just heard from
Darnell that someone left the hospital against medical advice when
he heard that Datello had been arrested this morning.  He's on
his way over here right now.  Briscoe is bringing him."

I groaned.  "Get me out of here,
Devlin.  I'm too tired to deal with anything else."

"Are you sure?"

I nodded and locked arms with
him.   "Are you and Ned sticking around all day wrapping
up reports?"

He grinned.  "Not exactly.  Lou
gave us the rest of the day off.  We start our midnight
rotation tomorrow night.  Since it's a holiday and we've
already got the basics down, she said we can finish it up tomorrow
night."

"Come home with me.  We'll make late
lunch, decompress, get some rest with the phones shut off. 
I'll even put on some Christmas music," I said when we paused by
the car. 

"Are you sure you're up for company this
soon?"  His hands rubbed up my arms slowly.

In all honesty, I wanted to crawl in a hole
and die.  My unanswered questions wouldn't let me retreat to
that dark place again.  A bigger part of my heart knew I
needed someone, a friend, ears to listen and not judge me.
 Devlin now, was the only soul alive who knew even a fragment
of the truth. 

The tires of a car crunched over the rock
drive behind Downey Division.  My eyes drifted, watched Tony
Briscoe emerge, joined simultaneously by Johnny.  Briscoe's
lips moved.  Johnny's head turned toward me.  Our eyes
met.

Nothing there.  Not anger, not
recognition, not even curiosity.

I looked up at Devlin, unable to hide the
pain I felt.  "Please come home with me.  I don't think I
can bear to be alone right now."

He nodded.  "Whatever you need,
Helen.  I'm here."

I climbed into the car, wishing for the
numbness I'd felt earlier, but sucked so deeply into the pain
caused by Johnny's vacant gaze, I could see nothing else. Emotional
pain created an oubliette of another kind, one where the forgotten
place was my role as a detective. I failed to grasp all of the
little things that didn't quite add up about this case, about who
Mitch Southerby was, who sent him, why Datello was driving the
vehicle we apprehended this morning, or even the charcoal gray
Mercedes so terribly out of place in the lot behind Downey
Division.

But somewhere in my brain, the shadowy man
in the vehicle registered, the faint smile on his face when he
watched Dev take me away from Johnny.

What difference did any of it make? I'd done
what I came to Darkwater Bay to do, but in the process lost the one
thing that truly mattered to me. Fear that Johnny was forever lost
to me, that it was my fault entirely, made me miss a glaringly
important clue.

None of this made any sense, the motive, the
returned from the dead Southerby, the made-to-order evidence
against Sullivan Marcos. I felt like someone else was pulling the
strings, someone I hadn't seen yet, or found yet.

Or this was fatigue in its deepest form.
Mental, physical, emotional, spiritual. I was ground down to a
bloody nub, and even if I did miss the boat on a thing or two here
and there, it probably didn't matter.

The questions would fade away into the mists
in this godforsaken city. Maybe all of its secrets would be
swallowed into the belly of a forgotten place. For today, I'd had
enough. I had my revenge. Danny Datello was behind bars where he
belonged.

 

 

BOOK: Forgotten Place
6.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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