Authors: Ridley Pearson
LOU BOLDT PICKED UP BITS
and pieces of the assault over an uncooperative cell phone. Paramedics were still on the scene—a trailer park near Sea-Tac Airport—a promising report because it suggested the victim was still there as well. If he reached the site in time, Boldt meant to ride to the hospital in the back of the ambulance. He owed Danny Foreman that much.
The Crown Vic bumped through a pothole that would have knocked dentures out. Boldt’s eyes shifted focus briefly to catch his reflection in the silver of the windshield. Boldt had crossed forty a few years back, tinges of gray gave a hint of it. He was in the best physical shape of his professional career thanks to Weight Watchers, a renewed interest in tennis, and a regimen of sit-ups and push-ups in front of CNN each morning. He scratched at his tie, seeing that he was wearing some of his dinner, a familiar tendency, and hit a second pothole because of the distraction. His head came up to catch a glimpse of a closed gas station. Plywood tombstones where the pumps should have been,
the signs torn down, the neon beer ads gone from the windows.
He turned down a muddy lane, dodging the first of many emergency vehicles. The air hung heavy with mist, Seattle working its way out of a lazy fall and into the steady, cold drizzle of winter. Three to five months of it depending on El Niño or La Niña—Boldt couldn’t keep straight which was which.
Beneath twin sliding glass windows on the butt end, the once white house trailer carried a broken, chrome script that Boldt reassembled in his head to read
. It had come to rest in a patch of weedy lawn that needed cutting and was accessed by a poured concrete path, broken and heaved like calving icebergs. The emergency vehicles included a crime scene unit van, a King County Sheriff patrol car, and an ambulance with its hood up. Technically the scene was the Seattle Police Department’s and therefore Boldt’s, but Danny Foreman’s career had landed him first in the Sheriff’s Department, then SPD, and now BCI, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, what some states called the investigative arm of the state police. Boldt wasn’t going to start pawing the dirt in a turf war. Danny Foreman was well liked, both despite and because of his unorthodox approach to law enforcement. To his detriment and to his favor he played it solo whenever possible; it had won him accolades and gotten him into trouble. The job was as much politics as it was raw talent, and Foreman lacked political skills, which to Boldt explained their mutual respect.
Foreman lay on a stretcher inside a thicket of blackberry bushes that grabbed at Boldt’s pant legs. A balloonlike device had been inserted into Danny’s mouth. A woman
squeezed the bag while monitoring her sports watch. Foreman, a dark-skinned African American, looked wiry and older than the early fifties Boldt knew him to be. Tired and beaten down. His nap was graying now and cut short, and a pattern of black moles spread beneath both eyes, lending him the masklike look of a raccoon. Could it possibly have been as long as all that?
Boldt was quickly caught up to date by a deputy sheriff and the paramedic, both interrupting each other to finish the other’s sentence. The deputy sheriff knew the name Boldt and acted like a teenager in front of a rock star, trying to impress while fawning at the same time. Boldt had enough headlines to fill a scrapbook, but wasn’t inclined to keep one. He had the highest case clearance per average in the history of the Seattle Police Department. He had rumors to defeat and stories to live up to, and none of it mattered a damn to him, which only served to provoke more of the same.
Foreman had apparently been hit by a projectile stun gun and “subsequent to that”—these people all spoke the same way, and though Boldt was probably supposed to as well, he’d never taken up the language—”the subject was administered a dose of an unknown drug with behavioral characteristics not dissimilar to those of Rohypnol.” The date rape drug of choice, alternately known as roofies, ruffies, roche, R-2, rib, and rope, produced sedation, muscle relaxation, and amnesia in the victim, more commonly a coed found later with her panties down than a cop on a stakeout.
The ambulance on the scene was having engine trouble, and though a second ambulance had been dispatched, efforts were being made to get this one started. Boldt’s chest tightened with anticipation as he learned that the combination
of the medication and the stun gun had resulted in “respiratory depression.” Foreman had nearly stopped breathing. He’d been unconscious for almost fifteen minutes.
“Look what the dog drug in,” a blinking Foreman said suddenly, his voice slurred behind the drug.
His gaining consciousness sent the paramedic into high gear, shouting out numbers like a sports announcer.
“You took a stun dart,” Boldt said. “Then they roped you.”
“Feel like Jell-O. No bones, discounting the one I got for Emma, my nurse here.”
“Keep it in your pants, Danny,” the woman said, grinning, “or I’ll search my bag for the hemostats.”
“Emma and I went to high school together.”
“We went to the
high school,” Emma corrected for Boldt’s sake. “Only Agent Foreman graduated twenty-eight years ahead of my class.”
“Always technicalities with you,” Foreman said.
“We met outside of work,” Emma further explained. To Foreman she said, “And here I am with my hand on your heart.”
“Wish our situations were reversed.”
“It’s the medication loosening his tongue,” Emma said. “Next thing he’ll be proposing. Good part is, he won’t remember any of this.”
“Seriously?” Boldt asked.
“Doubtful. He’ll sleep soon, and when he wakes he’ll have lost most of the last few hours.”
“Bullshit,” Foreman said. “I’m as clear as day.”
“Starting when?” Behind him Boldt heard the ambulance’s engine rev and a handful of half-assed cheers.
“I’ve got a vague recollection of thinking a dog had bit me, or a bee stung me. That’s about it.”
“A stakeout?” Boldt inquired. “A solo stakeout?”
“Meaning you will, or will not share the identity of whomever it was you were watching in that trailer?”
“I’ll need a kiss before I can answer that.” Foreman added, “From her, not you.”
“Fat chance,” the medic said.
As they strapped Foreman into the stretcher, Boldt collected more bits and pieces: Foreman had gone off-radio while on duty, which had eventually caused his own people to go looking for him. BCI had called King County Sheriff, asking for a BOLO—Be On Lookout. A patrol unit had found Foreman’s car—a brand-new Cadillac Escalade—which had eventually led to discovering Foreman out cold in the bushes. Boldt was told the house trailer held “a good deal of blood evidence.”
While the EMTs loaded Foreman into the ambulance Boldt conducted a quick examination of the trailer. A tubeframe lawn chair in the center of the small living room looked to be the origin of most of the blood. The scarlet stains radiated out like the spokes of a wheel. Dirty dishes filled the sink and the television was on, tuned to a rerun of
The gloved forensics guy told Boldt the only thing they’d touched was the mute button on the remote: “The volume was deafening.” Boldt filed this away as important information.
Several pizza boxes were stacked on the counter, the
cardboard oil-stained, indicating age. In the back bedroom, a room about eight by ten feet, he took in the unmade bed and clothes on the floor.
“We seem to be missing a body,” Boldt said.
KCSO CSU was stenciled across the back of the man’s white paper coveralls, the crime scene unit of the King County Sheriff’s Office.
Boldt repeated, “Do we have a body?”
The man turned around. He wore plastic safety glasses over a pinched face. “We’re told we have an earlier ID made on the possible victim by the surveillance team. The mobile home’s rented to one David Hayes. Male. Caucasian. Thirty-four. Our guy claims Hayes was observed inside this structure earlier this evening.” Boldt experienced a small stab of anxiety; he knew the name, yet couldn’t place it. Another unpleasant reminder of his being on the other side of forty.
“Your guy, or BCI’s guy? Are you talking about Agent Foreman?”
“We are. We do BCI’s forensics,” the technician clarified. Boldt had forgotten about the arrangement between BCI and the Sheriff’s Office. SPD had their own lab and field personnel.
The ambulance driver wouldn’t let Boldt ride along, so he followed in the Crown Vic. Once at the hospital, while they awaited processing, Boldt found himself a sugar-and-cream tea and joined Foreman in the emergency room. No one seemed in any great hurry to help.
“A pro job by the look of it,” Boldt said.
“Sounds like it.”
“Who’s David Hayes? And why is his name so familiar to me?”
“It’s a case we’re working.”
“We? Are you sure about that, Danny? Because I may have squirreled things for you there, without meaning to. I called your Lieu on the way over here. He said they’d assigned CSU to
assault. He didn’t know anything about any stakeout, anything about a bloody trailer.
put CSU into that trailer when they showed up, Danny, didn’t you? This is
you lost your breath and went unconscious. Isn’t that right?”
“Hayes was paroled from Geiger four days ago. Two years in medium, two in minimum.”
“And someone wanted him more than you did. Why’s
“Seventeen million reasons.”
The light finally went on in Boldt’s head. “He’s the
A wire fraud case involving his wife’s bank, six or seven years earlier. Seventeen million intercepted electronically. Not a penny recovered. “A Christmas party,” Boldt said.
“I met the guy, Hayes, at a Christmas party. For Liz’s bank.” Sparks firing on top of sparks. “You were with us at the time.”
“I was in my fifth year with Fraud. Yeah. Before Darlene’s illness. Before everything. Like eighteen-hour shifts for me.”
“It was wire fraud, right?”
“Fucking black hole is what it was.” Police used the term to define an unsolvable case. “We collared Hayes—by luck, mostly. We never recovered the software he used, and we never found the money. More important, we never
uncovered whose money it was. We knew it was headed offshore, but it never got there. That meant someone had seventeen million bucks he was willing to lose rather than identify himself. That’s what interested us.”
Boldt considered this and offered unsolicited advice. “A cop pulling an unauthorized stakeout on a guy who helped steal seventeen million dollars is going to get asked some questions, Danny.”
Foreman said nothing.
More of the case came back to Boldt. It had been a bad time for him and Liz. He remembered that especially. “So we put the bloodbath in the trailer down to the rightful owners of the seventeen mil coming after Hayes,” Boldt speculated.
Foreman changed the subject.
“We couldn’t prove the money ever left the bank. Bank figured it got deposited into some brokerage account, papered over by Hayes. Still inside the bank’s system. There, but not there. A real whiz kid, our David Hayes. A real wunderkind,” he said, with the animosity of a scorned investigator. Boldt knew the feeling. “He was twenty-seven at the time, and the bank had basically given him control over anything with a chip inside it. They even called him that: ‘Chip.’ His nickname.”