Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 39

Kesselring rose and walked to stand beside Savich at the foot of her bed. He gave her a sharp bow. "My name is Agent Andreas Kesselring. I was sent here from Germany to help in the investigation of Herr Blauvelt's murder. You are a dance teacher. Your name is Erin Pulaski. Why is everyone here with you and not out chasing down Caskie Royal?"

"I'm a very important dance teacher since I also take care of Agent Richards's daughter."

"His daughter? I did not know this, but that is hardly the point. Why are you important?"

Erin felt only a slight aching in her back, but nothing terrible. It wasn't the morphine talking, either. Most of the stuff was already out of her bloodstream. She felt alert and stronger, and realized she'd been luckier than she deserved. Bless you, Daddy. Very slowly, she rolled over and sat up, ignoring Sherlock's hand. She felt a twinge in her back, but it wasn't anything she couldn't handle. She said, dropping her voice to a whisper, "I'm important because I know things."

"What things could you possibly know to make someone try to blow you up?"

She knew it infuriated this lovely man, but she asked Sherlock, "Is it all right to speak to him?"

"Feel free," Sherlock said, and patted her hand.

Kesselring said, his voice hard, "Come, tell us what you know that makes you such a threat to-someone?"

"I know what everyone in this room knows: namely, Caskie Royal is a crook. Schiffer Hartwin are crooks. Herr Blauvelt is dead, brutally murdered. He was a crook too."

"Those are scurrilous things to say, Ms. Pulaski. Hopefully they're also completely unfounded. Well, Herr Blauvelt is dead, but as for the other-"

"It's simple," Erin said right over him. "It's about corrupt pharmaceutical houses looking for every possible way to make money, and not caring who they hurt on the way. It's all about their bottom line."

"Where did you get these ideas, Ms. Pulaski? The drug companies have done amazing things, amazing. They've produced medicines that have eradicated diseases."

"I now believe any good they do is secondary to their goal, which is making money and more money."

"Come now, what does any of this have to do with a ballet teacher?"

Erin looked him dead in the eye. "Agent Kesselring, are you a crook as well?"

Kesselring studied her face a long silent moment, then said with great precision, "I am a ten-year veteran of the BND, Germany's Federal Intelligence Service. I have dozens of awards and commendations to prove it. I ask you again: How do you purport to know anything that would push someone to try to kill you?"

"I don't know anything about you, Agent Kesselring." Erin turned to look at Bowie, wincing just a bit with the movement. "I am all right, I'm not lying to you. What I am is very mad. Someone tried to kill me. That someone blew up my Hummer. Get me out of here. I want to rent a car, then I want to go home."

"May I accompany you?" Kesselring asked.

"Like I said, Agent Kesselring, I don't know you, but let me hasten to add I do understand why Agent Cliff was so pleased to drive you in from New York."

He snorted, which was really quite charming, and she had to repress a smile. "She is a woman of excellent character and taste. No one wishes to see you hurt, Ms. Pulaski, especially because you are a dance teacher who knows something you shouldn't, and that, for heaven's sake, is what exactly?"

Erin slowly swung her legs over the side of the hospital bed. "What I know is that I'm dancing out of here."




Thursday evening

"I will, of course, support you in whatever you decide to do," Werner Gerlach said to Adler Dieffendorf as he hung up his favorite light blue suit with its very narrow light gray pinstripes. The wool was so soft now that it felt like a cozy old friend. He spoke in German, since no one in this impertinent uncivilized country felt the need to speak another language, and so it was safe. He stroked the material a moment and left it carefully hung on a padded hanger in the too-small closet.

Dieffendorf turned from the window. "While you were in the bathroom, I called Agent Kesselring to tell him Caskie Royal had run away. He already knew. He had to agree it seems likely our own man, the CEO we trusted, murdered poor Helmut. It's a shock, but one keeps coming back to it-why else would he have run?"

Gerlach said, his head still in the closet, "Royal killed him because Helmut must have found Royal was involved with Renard, Royal probably planned the sabotage of the Spanish plant with Renard as well." Gerlach shrugged. "They must have fought, and somehow, though it is hard to believe, Royal got the better of him, killed him. I didn't want to believe it, but now? I fear there is no other conclusion." Gerlach looked around his miserly little room which connected to Dieffendorf's one-bedroom suite in the Merriam Bartlett hotel, the only superior lodging for gamblers at the nearby Indian casino. Dieffendorf's bedroom was much larger than his. He watched Dieffendorf as he sat down in a cream-and-green-striped wing chair next to a window overlooking a vast woodland, and drummed his fingertips together. "Royal must have connected with Renard, right? I wonder if he had the spine to call him, or if Renard called Royal? There is no way Royal could have pulled off the sabotage of the Spanish plant by himself, and in any case, why would he? Without Renard, there wouldn't be a profit. It even smells like Renard, don't you think?"

Gerlach shrugged, carefully placing paddled shoe trees into another pair of shoes. "I know nothing more than you do, Adler."

"I do not know what to tell the family. They look to me to keep scandal away from the door. But now? I have failed." Gerlach knew Dieffendorf had always worshipped at the feet of the Schiffer family. They'd always insisted the managing director be a medical doctor, and Adler was, having earned his medical degree in endocrinology. What Adler really excelled at, Gerlach thought, was looking both wise and benevolent. Gerlach wondered how many people besides him knew Dieffendorf was the most ruthless man in the room. Gerlach had often wondered if Dieffendorf's precious Schiffer family knew how skilled their managing director was at subtly skewing data so the drug in question was seen as effective enough, or safe enough, to pass review. He was renowned for it, in fact, impressed even the staff writers hired to ghostwrite many of the review articles presented by physicians to the major U.S. medical journals, a longtime practice by the drug companies only recently discovered, causing much chagrin in the medical journal review boards. It was a pity. But Gerlach knew that when one door closed, another opened, like the American FDA's recent approval of drug testing conducted outside the U.S., where the pharmaceuticals would be able to do just about anything they pleased. Didn't the idiots realize this? Not only were they making it cheaper for the drug companies, it meant the bribing of local officials would increase exponentially. Who would care about illegal drug tests run on local natives in backward countries? No one cared now. Gerlach couldn't see anything changing. As long as Dieffendorf and Helmut Blauvelt kept the problems plausibly deniable, the results pleased the family more than their consciences would bother them. But now Blauvelt was dead. It didn't matter, Dieffendorf would soon sniff out another Blauvelt. There were more Blauvelts in this world than anyone imagined. Gerlach said, "Helmut's murder really bothers you, doesn't it?"

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