Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 9

"Then I got hold of the waiter. He said no one came near the guy the whole time he was there. But he also said they were really busy and he could have missed something.

"The same waiter will be at Chez Pierre tonight, so you guys can talk to him yourselves. I'm still hopeful someone there can help us. I asked all of them to think about it."

Sherlock said, "You've covered a lot of the bases, Bowie." She sighed. "Wouldn't it be nice if something in this life was easy?"

Bowie gave them a small salute, patted his jacket pocket to be sure his cell was safely inside, and started to leave. He called out over his shoulder, a big grin on his face, "I sure hope you enjoy Norman Bates Inn." There was a slight pause, and a waggle of dark eyebrows. "Most do."

They were shown to an antique-filled large corner room on the second floor of the Norman Bates Inn, with a dozen framed posters from Psycho on the walls. Savich said, "I need to call Senator Hoffman. He's probably wondering what's going on after last night, and I did tell him I'd get back to him soon."

Sherlock was studying the classic image of Janet Leigh being stabbed in the shower, when she heard Dillon say into his cell, "Senator, Sherlock and I are in Connecticut. We're here to look into the murder of a German national. But first, I wanted to give you an update on what happened this morning."

Sherlock listened in as Savich repeated to Hoffman what he had already told her, and watched Savich fall silent as he listened to Hoffman's utter disbelief flow over him, followed by a dozen questions.

When Senator Hoffman finally ran down, Savich said, "Yes sir, I do know how difficult this is to accept. I know it sounds like madness, but it really is Nikki. On the other hand, seeing something float outside your bedroom window most every night sounds pretty nuts too.

"Do you know what Nikki is talking about? What it is you don't understand? What is this danger you're facing?"

Savich listened to Senator Hoffman huff and deny there could be any danger-"I mean, who, Agent Savich, would want to hurt me?"-and nearly hyperventilate, then hang up.

Savich looked at Sherlock, who was smoothing a pair of black pants onto a wooden hanger, and gave her a crooked grin. "Understandably, the good senator is shaken and disbelieving, and wishes he'd never contacted us. He says he has no clue what his dead wife could be warning him about." Savich shrugged. "Nothing more to be done, I suppose, until something really bad happens or I get a chance to talk to Nikki."

"You think you will?"

"I have no idea."

When they left Norman Bates Inn, Savich patted the black Pontiac G6's roof in the inn's parking lot. "Nicer wheels this time. What do you say we pay a visit to Carla Alvarez and Caskie Royal after we visit Milo's Deli right down the street?"




Late Monday afternoon

When Sherlock and Savich stepped out of the third-floor elevator into the Schiffer Hartwin executive reception area, they saw three assistants, their heads close, no doubt buzzing with speculation about the murder and break-in. The reception space was good-sized, but not particularly plush. The chairs looked comfortable enough, the magazines on the tables not too ancient. Behind a counter there was a well-equipped work station, on the wall behind it a half-dozen framed black-and-white photographs of nineteenth-century Stone Bridge.

At the sight of the two strangers, two of the three assistants slithered away. After they showed their creds to a dimpled young woman who looked both worried and excited, Sherlock was directed to the second door on the right, and Savich to the last office on the left.

Sherlock paused at a big door emblazoned in gold lettering: C. Alvarez, Production Manager.

An assistant sat at her work station in front of that impressive door. She was a young woman who sported blond hair in a brush cut maybe a half-inch long all over her head, and bright red lipstick. She looked, Sherlock thought, both clever and hip, like she could toss down a few straight vodkas and remain standing.

"I'm Special Agent Sherlock, FBI, Ms. Riker," she said pleasantly. "I would like to see Ms. Alvarez."

Lori Riker jumped to her feet. "Oh dear, I mean, Ms. Alvarez is in a meeting with Mr. Drexel, ah, that's Mr. Turley Drexel, he's the accounting manager, and it's their monthly meeting to go over-"

"It's all very important, I know," said Sherlock, "but given the murder last night of one of Schiffer Hartwin's German employees right in your backyard and the break-in into the CEO's office, I think I trump just about everything, don't you?"

"The dead man is German? I didn't know that. But who was he? I mean-oh goodness."

Sherlock stepped toward the big shiny door. She heard the angry voices before she even had the knob in her hand.

"No, wait, Agent Sherlock, I mean, really, let me tell them, inform them that-"

Sherlock flashed Lori Riker a sweet smile and opened the door to see a seated man and woman, their faces just inches from one another. The air was thick with acrimony, and sudden silence.

The woman straightened like a shot and moved quickly away from the man, going to stand behind her very modern glass-and-chrome desk. Every inch of it was covered-by stacks of papers, a sleek computer, printer, and two phones. She was tall, in her mid-thirties, with an athlete's body, hair dark as sin and nearly as short as her secretary's. She was wearing a navy blue suit and white blouse with a mannish blue tie, and plain dark blue pumps. Her eyes, also very dark blue, and as cold as ice, were narrowed on Sherlock's face. She should have looked severe and masculine in her getup, but, oddly, she didn't. She looked forbidding and angry. But just for an instant, Sherlock saw fear leap into her dark eyes.

Sherlock looked back and forth between the two of them. "I believe you're Carla Alvarez, production manager, and you are Turley Drexel, accounting manager. Have I got that right?"

"Yes," Carla said, voice clipped. But Sherlock saw another flash of fear in her narrowed eyes before she wiped her expression clean. Her chin went up and the power player was back, full force. She asked, her voice steady as a rock, "You are a police officer? Here to question us about the murdered man in Van Wie Park?"

"I'm FBI-Agent Sherlock." She handed Carla her creds, then she handed them over to Mr. Drexel, who was looking at Carla Alvarez, eyes flat and hard. He didn't even bother to glance at Sherlock's ID. Finally, he nodded to her, and remained seated, looking hard again at Alvarez, mouth tight.

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