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Authors: Thomas Perry

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Shadow Woman (57 page)

BOOK: Shadow Woman
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Foley walked to the private
bathroom at the far end of the room and knocked, then opened the door
with his key. He glanced at the key, as he often did, before he put
it back in his pocket. There were only three copies of that key. He
had seen them listed once on the roster for the hotel complex:
Universal Grand Masters. They were the keys to the kingdom. They
would open any lock that any other key in the hotel would open, and a
few more besides. “We three kings of Orient-Tar,” as his
kids used to say. That was – what? Two marriages back, before
he had become rich enough to make giving away half his visible assets
too steep a price for getting laid now and then. Foley stared in the
mirror at his shave, combed his hair, and went back out into the
conference room, then looked at his watch. It was after five o’clock,
and he was getting impatient.

Foley walked to the end of the
vast conference table and sat down in his chair. He glanced at the
three identical piles of newspapers that had been left here for the
partners and picked up the paper on the top of this morning’s
pile. It was the
Idaho Statesman.
He thumbed down the pile,
reading the mastheads:
Salt Lake Tribune, Denver Post,
Spokane
Spokesman-Review.
It looked as though the staff had just
bought every paper within a thousand miles of Kalispell. He returned
to the top and spotted the words in the lead article that had been
circled.

“Montana State Police
confirmed that Calvin Seaver, the Nevada man held for questioning in
the shooting, has been ruled out as a suspect and released.”

The muscles in Foley’s
shoulders and elbows locked. He let the newspaper drop from his hands
as he tried to reconcile what he had read with what he knew. Foley
and his partners had sent Seaver out to find Hatcher and kill him. A
man had been shot. Seaver had been caught a few miles away with the
murder weapon in his motel room, powder residue on him, and false
identity papers. Foley had always acknowledged that there was some
remote possibility that Seaver might not be convicted of the murder –
there could be warrant problems or something – but the notion
that he would be released had never entered Foley’s mind.

Foley’s eyes fell on the
pile of newspapers in front of Buckley’s seat. He leaned
forward and lowered his head to be certain. Yes, if he looked at it
from the side, he could see an indentation in the shape of a circle.
Buckley had set his coffee cup on the newspaper. Buckley had been
here and gone.

Foley studied Salateri’s
pile of newspapers, but they seemed to be untouched. He swung his
chair around, picked up the telephone, dialed Salateri’s suite,
and let the phone ring fifteen times.

He walked out of the room to the
partners’ private elevator and used his Universal Grand Master
key to activate it, then rode it back up to the thirtieth floor. He
rapped on Salateri’s door, then kept knocking until his
knuckles were sore and the knocks grew fainter. He took out his key
and unlocked the door.

Foley pushed the door open,
stepped into the big living room, and surveyed the rest of the suite
through doors left ajar. Drawers had been yanked out of the built-in
dressers to be dumped into suitcases, then thrown on the floor.
Salateri had not even bothered to close the floor safe and push the
antique Persian rug over it after it was empty.

Foley went out, locked the door,
and walked along the hallway and up the fire stairs to Buckley’s
suite. He unlocked Buckley’s door and took in a sharp breath.
The place looked untouched. Maybe Buckley was asleep in one of the
bedrooms. Foley stepped in, closed the door behind him, and took two
steps toward the master bedroom before he noticed the painting over
the sideboard. The Matisse on the wall had been replaced by a
reproduction of a Watteau. Foley spun around to look at the lighted
glass display case on the wall behind him. The spot that Buckley had
designed as a shrine for his Faberge egg was now occupied by a small
black-and-orange urn that had curly-headed Greek wrestlers squaring
off along the sides. To Foley it looked about as real as the ones in
museums, but he knew better. It was a cheap fake, and Buckley was
gone.

Foley stepped from room to room
in the suite and savored Buckley’s premeditation. He had left
nothing here that was likely to be of value, but a casual observer
would not have noticed that anything was gone. Buckley must have
spent several nights packing up treasures, slipping them out of the
hotel, and replacing them with junk. No, Foley decided. This was all
too elaborate. Buckley had probably been preparing for something like
this for years, the way people in flood zones kept a bag packed.

Foley closed this door behind
him too and locked it, then walked down two flights to his own suite.
As he packed his suitcases he tried to estimate the dimensions of his
problem.

Seaver had been hired because he
was a cold-blooded, competent watchdog. Now he was a watchdog with
rabies. He was already locked inside the house with the family, and
he was certain to be getting the urge to bite somebody. He must have
used his cop experience and credentials and connections to cut
himself a spectacular deal. But a spectacular deal was something like
a short sentence, or even a reduced charge, not a free ticket on a
murder. What did Seaver have to offer that the cops wanted more than
they wanted the man who had shot some hapless schmuck through a
restaurant window? There was only one possibility. He must have given
them a sniff of the project in upstate New York.

Foley tested the opposite point
of view. Suppose Seaver had not turned informant? If Seaver had an
alibi, the cops would have had to let him go. God knew, if anybody
could set up a solid alibi and go kill somebody, it was Seaver. But
the thought only gave Foley a sick feeling. Hiring a couple of
killers to go after a nice, gentle kid like Pete Hatcher was one
thing. Sending a team of thugs to stab a man like Calvin Seaver in
jail and having them arrive after he was loose was another. Seaver
was an old pro, and the ones looking for him were a pick-up team of
second-stringers hastily assembled and sent into the game without a
plan. Even if he didn’t know yet that his bosses had sent
killers to silence him, by now he knew that they had cut him loose
when he got arrested. He had been made into an enemy.

If Seaver now had an impulse to
come here and get past the security to pay his respects to his
bosses, it was hard to imagine a way to stop him. He had designed the
whole system personally, supervised the installation of the hardware,
hired the men and told them where to stand. Making Seaver into an
enemy had been the wrong decision.

Foley stopped himself. He had to
fight this new, neurotic tendency to construct ways to blame himself
for everything.

This problem was not Foley’s
fault. It wasn’t. He and Buckley and Salateri had been
absolutely right to assume that Pete Hatcher was a threat. After
waiting three months for the threat to be removed, they had been
right to send Seaver out to handle it. That was his job, and they
paid him more than enough to be entitled to assume he would do it.
When Seaver bungled it and got arrested, they had been right in
acting immediately to disassociate themselves from him and act to cut
their losses. The only way Seaver could have gotten out of that mess
was to talk.

Now Foley had to assume that
Seaver was sitting in some secret, safe location – didn’t
they usually put people like him on some military base? –
giving investigators from Washington everything. In a day or less,
there would be the F.B.I. the Justice Department, and the police
agencies of several states. They would make travel impossible and
staying here unthinkable.

A couple of days after that,
there would be raids at the offices of politicians in Albany, New
York. A few powerful old men in New York City would start to notice
that there were a lot more parked delivery vans, and city crews
digging up the streets near their favorite haunts. Those old bastards
wouldn’t wait around for some grand jury to vote an indictment.
They would do exactly as Foley would do in their position: act to cut
their losses.

Foley packed very efficiently
and methodically. He had never seen the attraction of sinking
enormous amounts of money in paintings and bric-a-brac like Buckley,
and he didn’t have fifty pounds of gold jewelry hidden under a
Persian rug like Salateri, so he didn’t have to think very
hard. He nearly filled his two suitcases with cash, threw on top an
accordion envelope that contained a few passbooks for offshore banks,
last month’s stock and bond statements, and his passport. He
slipped a few personal papers in with them, put on his favorite sport
coat, stuck his prescription sunglasses into the pocket, and walked
out the door.

As he stood in the private
elevator and felt it descend thirty floors, he marveled at how simple
and inevitable it suddenly had become to walk away from a
two-billion-dollar company. There really was no decision to make. If
Seaver had not talked, he would probably be on his way here to kill
whoever was left. If he had talked, the police were on the way, and
so were people a hell of a lot scarier than police. And if Seaver
hadn’t talked, and wasn’t mad, then Pete Hatcher had
probably heard of Seaver being caught running around the country with
a gun, and that would convince Hatcher that
he
had to talk.
And as of this morning, even if none of this happened, Foley would
have the problem of explaining to the world the disappearance of his
two partners. Foley’s position had become untenable. This was
like walking away from a burning building.

The elevator opened and he
dragged his two suitcases out on the garage level. Then he thought
about selecting the right car to take to the airport. His Saab was
probably the best one for this, because it didn’t look like
something a man like Foley would drive.

He took the keys off the board
and carried his suitcases over to the dark-green, stubby Saab. It was
the name of the car that suggested his first destination. He would go
to Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa. He would stay at the
Singita Lodge and begin making calls to find his next stop while he
was there. For the moment he had a strong interest in places where he
could see people coming from a long way off.

Foley opened the trunk. As he
lifted the first suitcase in, he had a sudden, uncontrollable urge to
look over his shoulder. It was like a chill at the back of his neck.
He whirled quickly. There was nobody in the dark behind him, no
visible shape at all on this level except his four other cars. But
there could have been. It could have been the first F.B.I, agent, or
Calvin Seaver waiting to get even, or some nightmare guy that the
Mafia had sent to get rid of a bad memory. It could even be nothing
more than a thief, somebody who knew that Foley had a lot of money.
In a day or so, when the word got around that the three partners had
bailed out, there would be a lot of people like that. He would have
to watch for them, too.

It occurred to him that he was
never going to be able to stop looking over his shoulder, even if he
lived for a year or more. As he started the car, a familiar thought
entered his mind, but it was for a new reason. He wished he knew a
way to find that woman who made people disappear.

 

The End
BOOK: Shadow Woman
8.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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