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Authors: Stephen Frey

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“What do you mean, strange?”

“Every once in a while people would come to the Lanes’ house in the middle of the night.” She pointed toward the bluff. “Not often, maybe a couple of times a year. They’d come after midnight and leave before dawn. And sometimes Joe took telephone calls in the middle of dinner parties he and Patsy were hosting. He’d leave the room and be gone for an hour while we finished.”

“You could say it was rude of him to leave the party, but not strange,” Jay observed. “As far as middle-of-the- night visits go, he was a businessman. It’s difficult to say those kinds of visits are strange.” He was challenging Edith because he wanted her to dig deeper.

She drew herself up. “My husband knew a man on the docks who claimed that the fishing vessels Joe Lane owned weren’t always used for fishing. Most of the time they were, but not always.” She nodded triumphantly, as if she’d proven her case.

“What else were they used for?”

“He didn’t know, or wouldn’t say, but—”

“Well, I don’t think—”

“But”—her voice rose as she interrupted Jay—“he did say that occasionally the men on other boats saw Lane’s vessels heading
away
from the fishing and lobstering grounds. He said that there were crew members on board Joe’s boats that weren’t from Gloucester. Men with soft hands and no dirt under their fingernails who dressed the part of a fishing boat crew but obviously hadn’t done a lick of physical labor in their lives. He also said things were loaded on those boats in the middle of the night that didn’t look much like fishing equipment. And sometimes the boats wouldn’t return for weeks. Typically the boats are out for a day, or maybe a few days, but never weeks at a time.”

“What do
you
think was going on?” Jay asked quietly.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “But I do know that every time I brought up the midnight visits or the rumors on the docks with Patsy, she got very quiet. One time she almost opened up to me. I felt as if she was going to tell me something important, then she backed off.” Edith paused. “After that I never asked her about Joe’s business again.”

Jay glanced out to sea. When he looked back, Edith was walking toward the woods. He started to go after her, to press her for more, but then stopped. She had given him all he could ask for.

A few minutes later Jay slid behind the rental car’s steering wheel. He was now certain that the Sally Lane he knew had never lived in the house on the bluff. But now there were more questions. Such as what Abby had meant when she told Oliver she knew about his friends. Who were the people she had claimed would take care of her in return for the information she could provide? Who had strangled her, and why?

Jay checked the rearview mirror and froze. A blue sedan was moving slowly past Edith’s house—a sedan matching the one that had followed him from Boston to Gloucester and passed the restaurant where he’d eaten lunch at a booth by the window. For several moments he gazed into the mirror, intensely aware of the blood pounding in his ears. Edith’s description of the activity on Joe Lane’s fishing boats and the midnight visits had raised his suspicions to a new level. There wasn’t any proof of anything, but the anecdotal evidence was piling up, causing him to question everything and everyone. He started the engine, put the car in gear, and headed down the driveway. He was about to put that anecdotal evidence to a test.

He guided the rental car onto the wide two-lane road that followed the coastline, turning left, away from Gloucester. There was no sign of the blue sedan. He picked up speed, then saw it parked in a driveway. As he sped by, he checked the rearview mirror. The blue sedan was coming after him.

At the bottom of a steep hill the road veered sharply right. Jay saw another, narrower road leading off into the dense forest, and he leaned on the brakes and wrenched the steering wheel to the right. The rental car fishtailed crazily, then the car skidded sideways. He lifted his foot off the brake for a moment; instantly the car straightened out, and he gunned the engine, flying over the narrow, twisting lane, constantly checking his rearview mirror, twigs and pebbles being kicked up behind him.

The road crossed a tiny raised bridge over a meandering creek, then dove back down again. The rental car went airborne, all four tires losing contact with the road, hurtling toward a ninety-degree left turn at the bottom of the short hill. Jay jammed the brake pedal to the floor out of reflex, but the car flew uncontrollably toward a massive oak tree. With just a hundred feet between Jay and the tree, the car regained contact with the pavement, bouncing crazily as it bottomed out. He twisted the wheel left and pumped the brakes, hypnotized by the huge tree trunk. He was so close he could see the scars on the bark where other drivers had hit it.

At the last moment the front end pulled left. The back right fender smacked the huge tree, partially ripping the bumper from the car and smashing the taillight. Jay careened left, bouncing away from the tree. He came to rest facing the way he had come. He punched the gas, steered the car to the right behind another large tree, came to a stop, and waited.

Seconds later another car roared over the bridge. At first Jay couldn’t see it because of the tree he was hiding behind. But he didn’t have to wait long. The blue sedan flashed in front of him, sideways, as he had been. But the driver of the sedan wasn’t able to regain control of the vehicle. It skidded past Jay and slammed into the massive tree trunk with a sickening crash.

Jay gunned the rental car’s engine and headed back up the hill the way he had come, the rear bumper of his car dragging along the road, barely connected to the car. At the top of the bridge he hesitated, but when he saw the driver of the sedan emerge slowly from the door, he took off. He’d call the police to report the accident when he made it to a pay phone that was well away from Gloucester.

 

CHAPTER 19

Bill McCarthy ran a hand through his hair as he sat at the kitchen table looking out a window of the small three-bedroom house. Dusk was falling on the middle-class neighborhood. “I need a damn haircut,” he announced.

“You sure do.” Kevin O’Shea sat on the opposite side of the table, sipping unsweetened iced tea. “You’re starting to look like a hippie, like a sixties throwback or something.”

“That’ll be the day,” McCarthy groused.

O’Shea chuckled. “All you’ll need pretty soon is a pair of bell-bottom jeans and a tie-dyed T-shirt.” The top button of O’Shea’s shirt was unbuttoned, the knot of his tie was pulled down, and his dark red hair was tousled and frizzy. The humidity had reached 90 percent that afternoon and the temperature had soared to almost a hundred degrees. The small house they were using for the meeting didn’t have air-conditioning. “What do you think about Bill’s hippie look, Oliver?”

Oliver sat beside O’Shea, slumped in his chair.

“Did you hear me?” O’Shea nudged Oliver with an elbow.

Oliver grunted something unintelligible but refused to look up. His mood had darkened since that morning. The mental walls were closing in around him again, as they had the day before. Abby was dead, and he had an ominous feeling that the plan he was counting on to get him out of the insider-trading mess was developing cracks. Someone was out there putting chinks in his armor.

And his crutch was gone. His supply of cocaine had run dry.

“Why did we have to come all the way up here?” McCarthy asked gruffly, annoyed at the prospect of a long trip back to the city. “Christ, this shit-heel town must be fifty miles from Wall Street.”

“Sixty,” O’Shea answered sharply. “And it isn’t a shit-heel town. It’s a very nice town. My in-laws live here.” McCarthy was turning out to be a real horse’s ass, O’Shea thought. “We’re here for security reasons.” The three of them had been driven to the small town of Milton, New York, on the banks of the Hudson, in separate cars by professionally trained drivers who had made certain that no one was following. Federal law enforcement authorities maintained a network of homes in residential neighborhoods across the country for meetings like this one. “We’ve come too far to blow this thing at the eleventh hour because somebody happens to overhear something they shouldn’t.”

“Who the hell would overhear us?” McCarthy asked. “And what was up with all of that cloak-and-dagger driving around and doubling back we did on the way? Christ, I think I threw my back out because of one of those CIA-wheel-man turns my driver made.”

“So sue me,” O’Shea snapped. “I felt it was necessary, and what I say goes. I’m driving this bus.” He picked up an apple from the table and took a huge bite. He was starving. He’d eaten nothing but rabbit food for the last few days. But it didn’t seem as if the diet was having any effect on his waistline.

“Fine, but can we get on with this thing?” McCarthy complained. “I’d like to get back to the city. I’m flying down to New Orleans on Friday and I haven’t even packed yet.”

“Oh?” O’Shea’s radar flipped on. “New Orleans?”

“Yeah, I need some R and R, so I’m going out to my place on the bayou.”

O’Shea nodded. His initial thought had been that McCarthy ought to remain in New York, given what was about to happen. But now that he considered it, perhaps it would be better for McCarthy to be away from the action so that the public-relations people could handle damage control on their own, with no need for him to wade into unfamiliar waters. McCarthy had very little experience dealing with reporters, so maybe it was best for him to be away, at least initially. At some point he would have to face the music. O’Shea snickered. That was all McCarthy was going to have to do: face a few zingers from a couple of reporters. He knew McCarthy despised the press, but answering their questions for a few hours was a small price to pay for the sweet deal the government was offering. By all rights he ought to be taking a fall. Maybe in the end he would. “You’ll leave a number, Bill,” O’Shea ordered.

“No, I won’t,” McCarthy said petulantly. “If you need me, you can call my executive assistant at the firm. I don’t want to be bothered when I’m down in Louisiana. It’s my time to get away from everything. My time to completely relax. I’ll take a cell phone with me, but Karen Walker will be the only one with the number for the place.”

“Okay,” O’Shea said slowly, rolling his eyes. If McCarthy wanted to be obstinate, the hell with him.

“Now tell me what this is all about,” McCarthy demanded, his southern accent growing sharper.

O’Shea took a deep breath. “Next week I’m going to arrest Jay West on insider-trading charges,” he explained. The room became pin-drop still except for the whirring of a small fan on top of the refrigerator. “In front of everyone.”

“If you’re lucky.” It was the first thing Oliver hadn’t mumbled since arriving.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” O’Shea asked, picking at a seed lodged tightly between his top front teeth.

“Jay took a trip this morning.”

“I know,” O’Shea said. “He went to New Hampshire to see some company.”

“TurboTec,” Oliver specified. “But how did you know?”

“I’ve got my sources,” O’Shea replied nonchalantly. “He’ll spend the night and come back tomorrow or Friday. We aren’t moving on him until next week. It’s all right.”

Oliver shook his head. “Jay never made it to New Hampshire. He told Sally he was going to see a guy named Jack Trainer who’s in the marketing department at TurboTec, but according to Trainer, Jay never went there. I had my secretary call the guy. He had no idea what she was talking about. Jay had never even made an appointment with him.”

O’Shea pushed out his lower lip, acting as if he were deep in thought. He couldn’t tell Oliver that he knew Jay had gone to Gloucester, because that revelation might push Oliver over the edge—Oliver knew about Sally’s cover. He’d seen the coming-apart-at-the-seams signs in people before, and Oliver was definitely exhibiting them. “If Jay isn’t back on Friday morning, we’ll go looking for him. You know I can find him. I have the resources.”

“But we wanted to arrest Jay at McCarthy and Lloyd to get the biggest bang for our buck,” McCarthy broke in anxiously, as if rain clouds were looming over his parade. “I thought you said someone from your office was going to give the media advance warning concerning the arrest so that the cameras could be outside the front doors waiting when you lead him away in chains. Then our public-relations people will talk about how we’ve been cooperating with your office, and your people will say that Jay’s actions are an isolated incident. And McCarthy and Lloyd will be in the clear. That was the plan.”

“It still is.” O’Shea glanced at Oliver, who had lapsed into silence again and was hunched even further down in his chair. It was almost as if Oliver was regretting the fact that he had set up Jay, even though by doing so Oliver was saving himself. Perhaps Oliver didn’t want to be saved, O’Shea pondered. He turned back to McCarthy. “But if we have to arrest Jay elsewhere, we will. We can’t have him on the run.”

McCarthy leaned back in his seat, pushing it up on two legs, balancing himself by placing one foot against the table leg. “I also thought that we were going to wait awhile after the Bell Chemical and Simons deals had been announced to arrest Jay. A couple of weeks, anyway.” McCarthy rolled up his shirt sleeves. “Christ, the deals were only announced yesterday. Isn’t it kind of quick to go after Jay next week? Won’t people be suspicious?”

“No,” O’Shea answered quickly. “We’ll reveal that we received a tip from an unnamed source deep inside McCarthy and Lloyd. That’s perfectly acceptable. These things happen that way all the time. When we arrest Jay next week at M and L, we’ll already have been through his apartment, where we will have discovered the computer disk containing all kinds of incriminating evidence pertaining to Bell Chemical and Simons. Evidence proving that he planned the insider trades all along.” O’Shea patted his shirt pocket, indicating that the disk was inside. “The disk we discover will be the same one we obtained from Jay’s apartment, the one containing his entire personal financial file for last year. The disk will link him directly to insider trades. Of course, we will have put all the stuff about Bell Chemical and Simons on the disk, but Jay’s lawyer won’t know that for certain, and neither will the jury.” O’Shea laughed. “By the way, Jay had kind of a rough year last year, and he doesn’t have a net worth to speak of.” O’Shea nudged Oliver. “But I guess you already knew that. You knew the smell of a million bucks would make him do anything.”

Oliver said nothing, barely reacting to O’Shea’s elbow.

“Is the disk in your pocket?” McCarthy asked incredulously.

“There are more copies of it,” O’Shea assured McCarthy, anticipating his concern.

“But the original one has Jay’s fingerprints on it.”

“That’s why I have it in an envelope and a plastic bag,” O’Shea said. “In case you’re worried.”

McCarthy relaxed. That was exactly what he’d been worried about. They had gone to great lengths to acquire a damning piece of evidence that would link Jay directly to Bell and Simons when O’Shea had entered the planted evidence on it. “I still think it seems kind of soon to move on Jay.”

“No,” O’Shea said firmly. They had to move right away. He didn’t want Jay doing any more digging. The kid had turned out to be one sharp customer, and sooner or later he’d figure out what was really going on. Unlike Oliver and McCarthy, who were too wrapped up in their own egomaniacal worlds to see the bigger picture. “We have plenty of evidence to make the case appear airtight. Individuals from my office who have no idea what’s really going on will execute the search warrant. They’ll be accompanied by officers from the New York Police Department. The disk will be planted in Jay’s apartment minutes after he leaves for McCarthy and Lloyd one morning next week, and minutes before the authorities arrive. By the time Jay is arrested we will have in our possession records of the calls to Bell and Simons made from his home telephone.” O’Shea smiled. “We’ve got him.”

“Good.” McCarthy was smiling, too.

“Yeah, great!” Oliver shouted. “The kid will spend twenty years in jail. He’ll probably be raped in his cell a few times if we can get him sent someplace really nice. Aren’t we just the smartest, greatest, most upstanding assholes in the world?” Oliver slammed his hand down on the table, almost spilling O’Shea’s iced tea.

“Damn it!” O’Shea reached for his glass, snatching it just before it toppled over.

“What the hell’s wrong with you, Oliver?” McCarthy roared.

“Nothing. Not a damn thing,” Oliver replied curtly.

McCarthy took a deep breath and glanced furtively at O’Shea, then at Oliver. Now didn’t seem like a great time to drop the bomb, but he had no choice. Andrew Gibson had called from Washington that morning to make certain McCarthy had followed through on the order. McCarthy glanced at O’Shea once more. The powers above O’Shea must have told him about the edict. “Oliver, there’s something we need to discuss.”

O’Shea took a sip of iced tea. “Do you want me to leave, Bill?”

“Yeah, give us a second.”

Oliver looked up curiously, watching O’Shea walk into the living room.

McCarthy removed a handkerchief and wiped his forehead. He was perspiring profusely. He’d put this task off as long as he could, but the time was at hand.

“What is it?” Oliver asked, his voice weak. He saw McCarthy’s discomfort. “Tell me.”

McCarthy cleared his throat and drew circles on the Formica tabletop with his fingertip. “Oliver, when all this is over—when Jay has been arrested, I mean—you are going to have to resign from McCarthy and Lloyd. Or I’ll fire you.”

“What?”

“It has to be that way.”

“I don’t understand.” Oliver felt the room beginning to spin. His entire self-worth—what few shreds remained— was entirely wrapped up in his association with McCarthy & Lloyd. He was a god at the firm, and without the adulation of his coworkers he was nothing. He would be just another hack on Wall Street trying to make a living trading pieces of paper—assuming he could catch on with another firm, which, he realized, wasn’t a sure thing. The other firms would know why he had been let go from McCarthy & Lloyd and wouldn’t touch him. “Please don’t do this to me, Bill,” he begged.


I’m
not doing it to you, Oliver. You know that.” McCarthy wiped his forehead again. “The order came down from the mountain, from way above O’Shea.” McCarthy nodded toward the living room. “The people who have arranged this exit for you simply couldn’t allow you to remain at McCarthy and Lloyd. It would have been too much of a kick in the teeth. They’ve been investigating you for a while, and only with my help have they agreed to what we have arranged. Otherwise you’d be in deep trouble.”

“But I thought I was going to work on special projects for you, then restart the arbitrage desk in six months,” Oliver protested, his eyes flicking around wildly.

“You were, but that isn’t how it’s going to play out. The people in charge felt your crimes were too great. There were just too many cases of insider trading.” McCarthy took a labored breath and allowed shock to register on his face. “I couldn’t believe it when O’Shea showed me the extent of what you’ve been doing. I mean, there are at least fifty incidents of blatant insider trading over the past five years. Incidents in which your desk bought shares or call options only days before the announcement of a takeover. It’s obvious what was going on, and it stinks, Oliver.” McCarthy shook his head sadly. “It’s appalling.”

Oliver gazed at McCarthy, hatred festering inside him like an infected sore. What was appalling was that McCarthy would attempt to paint himself as some innocent bystander in all of this. McCarthy had known all along what was happening on the arbitrage desk, and Oliver had the proof. But if he presented that proof to authorities, the head of McCarthy & Lloyd would execute a scorched-earth strategy and he’d lose his godfather. McCarthy would cut him loose like excess ballast in a storm and convince the authorities not to protect him anymore. It would be him alone against McCarthy and his influential friends in Washington, who didn’t want to see McCarthy’s political-contribution jet crash and burn because of something trivial like insider trading, which Oliver knew many people in Washington considered a victimless crime. Hell, they’d probably all engaged in it at one time or another. He’d lose the fight with McCarthy and end up in jail, while McCarthy would remain free. And he couldn’t handle jail. He really would jump off a building before he would ever spend a night behind bars.

BOOK: The Insider
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