Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 37

Caskie sat forward, hands clasped between his knees, just the right note of sincerity in his charming voice, "I cannot tell you how I regret I did that, sir, but you see, no one is allowed in my office except my assistant and even she doesn't know my computer password. But this woman, she managed to-"

Dieffendorf interrupted him smoothly as if what he was saying was not worth spit, "Is there anything as yet to point to the identity of this woman who broke into your office?"

Caskie shook his head. "I know the FBI are trying very hard to find her."

"Helmut would have located her by now." Dieffendorf sighed. "How I miss him. To hear he was murdered in such a brutal fashion, I cannot comprehend who would have done such a thing. Do you know, Mr. Royal?"

"I have no idea, sir. I wish I did. Evidently it was close to the time the woman broke into my office. Perhaps she was involved. Like I said, the FBI is looking hard for her."

Dieffendorf said slowly, "I am not certain I want the American FBI to find her. What would she say? I am here, Mr. Royal, to ensure that Schiffer Hartwin does not suffer from your negligence. I have promised the family that I will discover everything that is going on here and fix it. Do you understand me, Mr. Royal?"

Gerlach said, "Actually, Adler, the FBI doesn't need to find her to have the axe fall on the company's head. She has but to give the papers over to the media. I sincerely hope she plans to blackmail us instead. What with the unfortunate sabotage of the Spanish plant, the hungry media here would crucify us. Isn't this correct, Mr. Royal?"

Caskie nodded dumbly. He thought about grabbing a plane to South America, getting lost in Patagonia.

Dieffendorf said, "Mr. Bender tells us you are thinking about speaking frankly to the FBI, Mr. Royal. May I ask what you would say to them?"

The spit dried in his mouth. Caskie shook his head, back and forth. "No, Mr. Bender is quite wrong. I would never do that, never."

Caskie saw from the corner of his eye that Bender would speak, but Dieffendorf raised his hand to keep him silent.

"I really am curious what you would say if you decided to speak to them."

Caskie ran his tongue over his dry lips. "Listen, sir, no one was more shocked than I was to hear about the closing of the Spanish plant. I owe my loyalty to Schiffer Hartwin, my livelihood, you know that. I've worked for you for five years now, five excellent years."

"I found myself wondering why on earth it would be important to anyone to have a major shortage of such a simple drug as Culovort. It didn't take long to think of the CEO of Laboratoires Ancondor, the paltry unethical little hypocrite who produces the oral cancer drug Eloxium. Do you know Monsieur Renard? Did you perhaps make a deal with him? Stocks and cash in exchange for help cutting off our Culovort production, and forcing our patients to his high-priced oral drug?"

"Sir, I have never met Monsieur Renard." It was the truth, he thought, but still, his armpits were wet. Could they smell his sweat?

"If I discover that you have been lying to me, Mr. Royal, I will make a call. You will find yourself wishing for Helmut Blauvelt's tender mercies. Do you understand me?"

"I understand," Caskie said at nearly a whisper. "I am guilty of nothing, sir, except bad luck. Our plant in Missouri will be much more profitable once our production problems are behind us. The papers on my computer, they were an exercise in thinking outside the box, something you encourage, nothing more."

Dieffendorf slowly nodded. "Schiffer Hartwin will see to that, Mr. Royal." It was then that Caskie looked for the final time into Gerlach's eyes.

Caskie washed his hands again, stared at himself once more in the old mirror over the ancient sink, maybe to reassure himself that he was really here, and not the ghost of a man who would shortly be dead.

He knew what he had to do. He had to get home, gather his passport and some cash and his private bankbooks, and disappear. This rest stop was in the boonies of western Connecticut, thick woods all around, and very few people. He could get away here, but not through the restroom door, Toms or Bender might be there. He had to do something else. He looked up at the windows, not small like the window in his office bathroom, thank God. He judged the distance from the floor, wondered if he was strong enough to pull himself up.

If he wanted to live, he'd do it. He was alone in the restroom for now, but Toms could open the door at any time, or anybody who wanted to take a leak. He had only a minute. He drew in a deep breath, climbed up over the sink, and managed to grab the windowsill.

Now, pull yourself up-

Caskie pulled and heaved, felt sweat slicking his hands, felt his muscles shake. He couldn't fail, or he'd be dead, Gerlach, Dieffendorf, it didn't matter which. Living in South America would beat any jail here in the U.S. Surely if he was gone, his boys would be all right with their mother. The FBI would blame him for everything, surely that would be what Dieffendorf would want as well.

Caskie managed to heave himself through the open window. It was only about five feet to the ground and he managed to turn as he pushed himself out and land on a roll. He felt a sharp pain in his back, but he dismissed it.

He'd made it, and he was alive.

He ran for the woods.



Thursday afternoon

Savich lightly touched the back of Erin's hand. He still remembered the searing pain he'd felt when a burning seat from an exploding van in Jessborough, Tennessee, had sliced into his own back. She lay on her side, still asleep, or drugged out, just as he had. He looked up at Bowie. "Tell me what happened."

Bowie did, adding, "She could easily have died if she hadn't acted so quickly. She jumped right out the door and rolled."

Savich said, "Answer me this, Bowie. Why the attempt on her life?"

Bowie dashed his fingers through his hair, making it stand on end. "Because, somehow, she's in the middle of this mess, only I don't have a clue how that could be, and I should. Sherlock knows, but she wants Erin to tell us when she's not under the influence of morphine. Do you know?"

"So Sherlock's figured it out, has she?"

Bowie looked angry at himself. "She has, yes."

Savich said. "Where's Caskie Royal?"

"I just spoke to Agent Clive Pohli. He and Agent Marty Torres are following the limo. They're on the Merritt Parkway, in Connecticut now."

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