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Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 14

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Dillard Shanks, known to the Chez Pierre patrons as Estafan, told them he'd happened to overhear Mr. Blauvelt speaking on his cell phone, something simply no one did at Chez Pierre, and he actually sniffed. However, no one had bothered the gentleman since he was sitting at a back table, wearing an expensive English suit and Italian loafers; but still, Monsieur Remier had believed it exceedingly rude.

"Tell us what you heard him say," Bowie said.

They could tell Estafan didn't want to admit to eavesdropping, but when Bowie added, "You'll make us the happiest people in Stone Bridge if you heard something," Estafan said, "Well, as a matter of fact, I did stop and listen because the gentleman had a bit of an accent, German, I believe. I heard him say he'd made up his mind and to leave him alone. He said something about flying home, but I didn't hear enough to be certain. He listened for a couple of seconds, then nodded, just like a person was sitting across from him, and said there were always difficulties but he was good with overcoming them. Then he switched to German, laughed a little bit, then hung up." Estafan frowned at a fork beside Sherlock's plate, picked it up and rubbed it vigorously on the napkin over his forearm. "I guess he got more difficulties than he'd counted on, since he's dead."

Sherlock smiled up at him. "Thank you for the information and my shiny fork. You ever need a parking ticket fixed, you call Agent Richards."

Estafan said, "Could that include my boyfriend, who's a maniac on his motorcycle?"

"Not a problem," Bowie said, and wondered what the odds were of Chief Clifford Amos's making good. Bowie sat back in his chair and watched Estafan lean over a client four tables away, nod solemnly, and wend his way gracefully to the kitchen. "My question is, if Blauvelt was speaking to his boss in Germany, then why was he speaking in English? And what did he mean about he'd made up his mind and leave him alone?"

They enjoyed a further bit of luck with Claude-just Claude-the sommelier, who confided that the foreign gentleman at table eleven obviously had a lovely trained palate, and money, since he'd ordered a bottle of Blanklet 2004 Paradise Hills Merlot, Napa Valley, a very fine wine indeed.

"Did he drink the entire bottle?"

"Oh, yes, he did," Claude said to Sherlock, admiring the lock of red hair curling around her ear. "It costs nearly two hundred dollars a bottle here."

Bowie said, "Was he tipsy when he left?"

"I wouldn't say tipsy, no. He ordered another bottle, then paused and appeared to think about it. He changed his mind, waved me away. I didn't notice him after that."

"Okay," Savich said when the dapper Claude was out of earshot, "Dr. Franks did indeed say he'd had red wine with his venison. An entire bottle-did that make him slow, less careful?"

"Well, he certainly realized another bottle might impair him," Sherlock said. "Speaking of wine, does anyone want a nice dry chardonnay for dinner?"

Bowie shook his head, smiling. "None for me, I don't drink."

Sherlock's left eyebrow hoisted itself. "Health reasons?"

"No, not really," Bowie said, and nothing more.

They enjoyed a lovely sauced scampi over rice, crème brûlée for dessert, and rich dark French espresso.

It was nearly midnight when Bowie dropped them back at the Norman Bates Inn. Fifteen minutes later, they were tucked into a soft bed with Janet Leigh's silent earsplitting screams on the wall behind them. Sherlock said against his shoulder, "The espresso was a mistake," and sighed.

"Maybe not," Savich said, and turned to her. After a couple of minutes, she whispered against his mouth, "Well, another dessert is always nice."


Tuesday morning

Erin let a well-dressed, heavy-eyed Bowie Richards into her apartment the next morning at seven thirty.

"You don't look good, Agent Richards. You on an all-night bender with those wild agents from Washington?"

"All I can hope is they had as miserable a sleepless night as I did. We all drank espresso, and the stuff was so strong it could have blasted a rocket into space. That and thinking about this gnarly murder kept me up until nearly three a.m."

Erin cocked her head to one side, tried to look uninterested, but polite. "And what did you decide after all that thinking?"

He eyed her, realized he liked the oversized white shirt over the black leggings, the ballet flats on her feet. Her hair was pulled back in a French braid, big dangly hoops in her ears. She looked all dancer this morning, not a whiff of P.I. "About what? Oh, the murder. It's interesting, we found a waiter at Chez Pierre last night who'd heard the murdered man on a cell phone saying he'd made up his mind and to leave him alone-" Bowie stopped, frowned, shook his head. "Forget I said that, I shouldn't have. Shows you my brain is still singing the espresso blues. Where's Georgie? We've got to leave for school pretty soon."

Yeah, sure, I'll forget it. It's already emblazoned on my brain. Erin said, "I heard the murdered guy's name on the news this morning. Helmut Blauvelt."

"Yeah, I forgot we let out that information."

"It's lucky the waiter at Chez Pierre understood German, isn't it?"

"Oh, he didn't. Blauvelt spoke in English, only a slight accent, Estafan told us, until the end, then Blauvelt switched to German-what's wrong with me? Keep that confidential, okay?"

Erin said easily, "Not a problem. Georgie! Your dad's here."

"I'm eating oatmeal," Georgie called out from the kitchen. "You want some, Daddy?"

Bowie rubbed his eyes. "Oatmeal? She never eats oatmeal. How'd you manage that?"

"I've got a special recipe passed down from my great-grandfather. Georgie took one bite and blissed out. She doesn't want to let the oatmeal out of her sight. Have you had breakfast yet, Agent Richards? Maybe Great-granddad's oatmeal will glue things back together again in your brain."

"Call me Bowie, please."

"All right. Call me Erin."

"Erin." He took a quick look at his watch. "I really don't have time, I've got so much stuff to do and-your great-grandfather's recipe, you say?"

"Yep. He was Polish, but he always claimed he'd learned how to make it when he lived in Inverness for three years. Come on, Bowie, come into my kitchen. It'll just take a minute. Believe me, Georgie isn't going to budge from the kitchen table until she cleans out her bowl, and it's a big bowl."

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