Authors: Stuart Woods
Tags: #Mystery, #Thriller, #Suspense
As he reached the bottom of the steps duBois noted with pleasure that his driver was standing next to a new, white Mercedes S500 sedan. His old BMW 3 was not in sight.
“Congratulations, Colonel,” his driver said, opening the rear door for him.
“Thank you, Nigel,” duBois replied. “Take me to my new office.”
“Yes, sir,” Nigel replied. He put the car in gear and sped away.
DuBois ran his fingers over the leather interior and fiddled with the rear-seat controls for the air conditioning and radio. “Nigel?” he said.
“See to the installation of satellite radio as soon as possible.”
“Of course, Colonel. The phone and communications radio have already been installed; the handsets are in the rear armrest.”
DuBois opened the armrest and examined the equipment with satisfaction. “Faster,” he said, then felt the seat press into his back with the acceleration.
olly and Stone sat and waited while Bill Pepper fired up his laptop and waited for it to boot. “Something’s wrong,” he said.
“What?” Holly asked.
“It’s not booting properly,” Bill replied. “Instead, it’s crashing. Let me try again.” He rebooted.
“I don’t like this,” Holly said. “When did they take the laptop?”
“When they arrested me at my office,” Bill said. “Oh, shit, it’s crashed again.”
Annie spoke up. “Use your backup boot disk,” she said. “It’s in your desk drawer.”
Pepper went into his study and came back. “Gone,” he said. “They must have taken it when they searched the house.” He went into the living room and removed a picture from the wall, revealing a small safe with an electronic keypad. He tapped in the code, opened the safe, removed a computer disk and rehung the picture.
“Thank God,” Holly breathed.
Pepper returned to the dining table, inserted the disk and rebooted. “It’s giving me a choice of start-up sources,” he said. “Let’s try the hard disk; if it won’t boot from the hard disk, then it’s going to have to go to Langley for a recapturing of all the files.” He sat and watched the screen. “Seems to be booting,” he said. “I’m in!”
Holly walked around the table and stood behind him. An encryption page appeared on the screen. Pepper went through three stages of typing in long sequences of numbers and letters, then, finally, the desktop appeared.
“Here we go,” Pepper said. “I’ll bring them up side by side.” He hit some more keys. “There,” he said, “Pemberton on the left, Weatherby on the right, Robertson in the middle.”
“Well,” Holly said, “I can tell you that Robertson isn’t Teddy. He’s too young by fifteen years. I don’t think Teddy could fake that.”
Stone came and stood next to Holly. “They look like passport photographs,” he said.
“British-sized passport photos,” Pepper replied. “Does either of the other two look familiar to you, Holly?”
Holly stared at both the photos. Pemberton had a military-style brush mustache, and Weatherby had a Vandyke, with mustache and goatee. “No,” she said, “not immediately. Is that a toupee?” she asked, pointing to Pemberton.
“Possibly,” Pepper replied.
“Definitely,” Stone said. “The hairline is too low for a man his age. But Weatherby’s hair looks real enough.”
“Gray,” Pepper said. “Pemberton’s looks gray, too, but Weatherby’s is whiter.”
“About the same weight,” Holly said, “but Weatherby seems to have had a broken nose at some point.”
“Did Teddy Fay have a broken nose?” Stone asked.
“Not that I can recall,” Holly said.
“You’ve met Teddy?” Pepper asked, surprised.
“Once, possibly twice,” she replied. “Both times disguised.”
“What about their chins?” Pepper asked.
“Hard to say, since Weatherby has a goatee.”
“Eyes?” Stone asked.
“They both have the wrinkles you’d expect in a man in his sixties,” Pepper said. “The ears aren’t dissimilar, but Pemberton’s stick out more.”
“You’re right,” Holly said.
“Look,” Pepper said, “we’re not going to be able to analyze these pictures here; it’s time to forward them to Lance; he’ll have Tech Services on them immediately.”
Holly shrugged. “I was just hoping we’d catch something that would give us a clue about one of them, something that would help make him Teddy. But there isn’t anything.”
“Shall I transfer them?” Bill asked.
“Can you print copies?”
“Sure, and in color.”
“Then shoot them to Lance.” She watched as Bill sent the e-mails, then printed the photos, handed them to Holly and closed the laptop.
“Nothing to do but wait, now,” he said.
ance sat behind his borrowed desk, watching the faces of a group of a dozen men and women, while Hugh English spoke to them.
“I know you’ve all been expecting this at some point, ever since the death of Dick Stone, and now the time has come. A short time ago, the director told both Lance Cabot and me that Lance will be the new DDO, effective immediately. For those who haven’t yet met him, I’m pleased to introduce you all.” He ran through the introductions, while Lance consulted a list of names and photographs on his desk that he had already memorized. When English was done, Lance got up, walked around his desk and sat on its edge.
“I’m very pleased to meet some new people and glad to see again the ones I already know,” he said. “First, I want to thank Hugh English for postponing his retirement and so ably continuing in this office until the director had time to make a new appointment. Though I know Hugh is looking forward to his retirement, we’re going to miss his knowledge and his wisdom, and I hope he has imparted enough of both to you all, so that you can help me find my feet in this new job. It makes it tougher on all of us that we knew and worked with Dick Stone and that we will not have the full benefit of his experience.”
Hugh English stood up. “Excuse me, Lance, but I think my time to exit this stage has come.” He turned to the group. “Thank you all for your hard work over the years, and I hope you’ll give Lance the same level of dedication and loyalty that you have given me.” English shook hands with Lance, and without another word, he left the room.
Lance gave his departure a moment’s silence, then turned back to his audience. He indicated a cart filled with file folders, some of them very thick. “I’ve already begun to read these, and let me say that, so far, I’m very impressed with their completeness and lucidity. In a day or two, I hope to be up to speed on all operations, but I’m sure I’ll have some questions for most of you before that time. Any questions for me?”
A man in the rear of the room raised his hand. “Will you be working out of this office?”
“For the moment, until Hugh has had time to make his move, and a few alterations have been made. My extension number will be the same in both offices, though, so I won’t be hard to find.”
His laptop beside him emitted a small chime. “Excuse me a moment,” he said, turning the instrument so that he could see the screen. He looked back at his office. “Any other questions?”
“What about vacations already scheduled?” a woman asked.
“Keep them scheduled,” Lance said, “subject only to the sort of last-minute emergencies I’m sure you’re all accustomed to. Anyone else? No? Well, thank you all, and I look forward to working with each of you. By the way, as we speak, all stations are being notified of the personnel changes, so there won’t be any surprises in your contacts with those in the field.” Lance ran a finger down his list of names and photographs, looked around the room and settled on an attractive woman in her forties near the back of the room. “Mona Barry? Will you stay a moment, please?”
The others ambled out of the room, and Mona Barry rose and walked forward. “Yes, sir?”
“No ‘sirs’ are necessary; Lance will do,” he said.
“I’m told that you are our best photo analyst, Mona.”
“That’s very flattering.”
“I expect you know how good you are.” He turned the laptop so that she could see the screen. “I’ve just received these photos from our station in St. Marks, in the Caribbean.” He pressed a button, and his printer began to work. “I’d like you to give them your closest attention, and at the earliest possible moment.” He also copied them onto a DVD and handed it to her.
Mona picked up the printout, set her reading glasses on her nose and began examining the three photographs. “What do you want to know about them?”
“These are photographs submitted by three men to the government of St. Marks on applications to buy houses on the island. All three are British subjects and the photos appear to be the sort used on British passports.”
“Are they wanted for something? Either by us or by the law somewhere?”
“It’s suspected that one of them may be a fugitive from justice in Britain, and another may be—and this is on a strictly need-to-know basis, Mona—Teddy Fay.”
She looked up at Lance. “So he’s alive?”
“That’s what we’re trying to determine.”
“Well, I never worked with Teddy, and since there are no known photos of him on record, the best I can do is clean them up, rid them of facial hair and show them to people who knew Teddy better than I did.”
“That’s exactly what I want you to do,” Lance said, “and as quickly as humanly possible.”
“I’ll call you when I have something,” Mona said, then left the office.
Lance went back to reading operations files.
ino and Genevieve were lunching on the terrace of the beach cottage when the phone rang inside. Dino got up and went to answer it. “Hello?”
“Dino, it’s Thomas; you’re about to have visitors.”
“The local police and a Colonel duBois, who is Croft’s replacement. Be careful in dealing with him.”
“I will,” Dino said. He looked up to see a car stopping outside. “They’re here; thanks, Thomas.” Dino got his and Genevieve’s passports and his NYPD ID from their room and went outside. Genevieve was looking up with big eyes at two uniformed policemen and a civilian. “Gosh,” she said. “Are you the police?”
Dino walked to the table. “Good afternoon, gentlemen,” he said. “May I help you?” He gave them a little smile.
“Yes, indeed, you may,” said the civilian, who was wearing a sharply cut tan suit that set off his cafe-au-lait coloring. “What is your name?”
“I am Lieutenant Dino Bacchetti, of the New York City Police Department,” he said, handing the man his badge wallet.
The man inspected the badge and ID card closely.
“May I know your name?” Dino asked pleasantly.
The man looked up at him. “I am Colonel Marcel duBois, of the Home Office.”
Dino offered his hand. “How do you do?”
DuBois shook it hastily. “May I see your passports.” It wasn’t a question.
“Of course,” Dino replied, handing them over. He waved a hand at the table. “Would you like some lunch or a glass of iced tea? It’s always interesting to meet a colleague.”
DuBois looked at him sharply. “Colleague?”
“We are both police officers, are we not?”
DuBois ignored the question. “What is your business on St. Marks?”
“We are here on vacation.”
“For how long?”
“We had planned to leave tomorrow, but I understand travel has been interrupted because of a murder.”
“What do you know of this murder, Lieutenant Bacchetti?”
“Only that it occurred and that the victim was Colonel Croft. I assume you are his replacement?”
“That is so. What other details do you have of this murder?”
“None whatever, I’m afraid. In my work in New York I have specialized in homicides for many years. If I can be of any assistance, I would be happy to do so.”
“Thank you, that will not be necessary. We have the required skills and experience in our own department.”
“I’m sure you do; I just thought that an outside opinion might be helpful.”
“Opinion of what?”
“Interpretation of the evidence.”
“We do not share evidence of crimes with outsiders.”
“As you wish.”
Now duBois seemed intrigued. “What would you say of this, Lieutenant? Colonel Croft was shot while sitting in the central courtyard of the St. Marks Police Station.”
“From inside the station?”
“A rifle shot, then.”
“That is our assumption.”
“Then the shooter would have needed elevation.”
“And a rifle with sufficient muzzle velocity to be accurate at a distance.”
“I would first look for the shooter’s location, and when I found it I would isolate the scene and look for evidence, such as cartridge casings and fibers from the shooter’s clothing. I would also look for fingerprints.”
“Of course; that will be done.”
Dino waved duBois to a chair and sat down himself. “Someone loading a rifle would leave fingerprints on the cartridge casings, unless he was careful to wear gloves or wipe them clean.”
“Yes,” duBois said. “Go on.”
Dino was beginning to get the impression that duBois had never investigated a homicide. Probably, with his Haitian police background, he was more accustomed to committing than solving them.
“Have you located the shooter’s firing point?”
“We believe it to be an abandoned fire tower on a hill not far from the police station.”
“Then I would also look for tire tracks and footprints, and if the tower is accessed by a ladder or stairs, I would look for prints on the rungs or banisters. I would also look for DNA evidence, if the shooter, perhaps, spat or left a coffee cup or cut himself while climbing the tower. Hairs would be helpful, too.”
“All of that will be sought, of course,” duBois replied.
Dino was surprised he wasn’t taking notes. “Do you have the facility for DNA analysis available on St. Marks?”
“Not as yet,” duBois replied. “That will be one of my first requests of my government.”
“I would be very happy to have any evidence you find tested in our labs in New York, if that would be helpful.”
“Thank you; I will let you know.” DuBois consulted a list from his pocket. “Where are your companions, Mr. Barrington and Ms. Heller?” he asked.