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Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 38

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Bowie's cell phone sang out "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas." Bowie dug into his pocket, frowned, then spotted his cell on the side table beside Erin's bed.

He listened, said to Savich, "Pohli says the limo's at a rest stop, and Royal and Toms went to the men's room, then Toms came out alone. Pohli said a blind man couldn't miss Toms, he's wearing a lime-green tie with white stripes."

"Anybody else around?"

Bowie asked the question into his cell. "Maybe half a dozen in the Quick Mart, a couple in the parking lot outside the store. That's it. Hey, wait, Toms just opened the men's room door and now he's running around to the back of the restroom. Pohli says the limo driver just made them. They're all getting back into the limo and pulling out of the rest stop." Bowie raised his eyes to Savich's face. "Caskie Royal is no longer with them. It seems, for the moment at least, he's escaped."

Savich said, "I guess I'm not surprised. In his shoes, I might run too. Tell Pohli to pull the car into the parking lot where Royal can see it if he's still close. And tell him to look in the woods. Maybe Royal's ready to talk to us now."

Bowie spoke into the phone, then looked at Savich. "We'll save his hide, then we'll make him see reason."

Sherlock hurried back into the hospital room. "I brought you some tea, Dillon. Is Erin still out of it?"

"Yeah, still asleep," Bowie said. "I get the impression she's very sensitive to drugs. Sherlock, Caskie Royal's run off from the Schiffer Hartwin directors and lawyers at a Merritt Parkway rest stop, of all places. Our guys are trying to find him in the woods."

There was a small sound from Erin.

Sherlock leaned over her, lightly smoothed her hair back from her face. "Wake up, Erin, time to talk to Mama about all your worries."

But Erin wasn't with it yet.

Bowie said, "I wonder if the directors are staying at our Psycho B-and-B."

"The answer is no," Andreas Kesselring said as he walked into the hospital room. He gave each of them a sharp nod. He just needed to add a heel click, Savich thought, to really make an entrance. He looked like he could step off the pages of GQ magazine, the German edition.

Kesselring waved in Erin's direction. "I see she is still alive. How badly is she injured?"

Bowie said, "Some bruises and contusions, a burn on her back, but not too serious. She was very lucky."

"A nurse told me her car exploded. It was a miracle she managed to get out in time."

"Not a car," Bowie said, smiling toward Erin, "a Hummer. It wasn't a miracle, it was her own quickness that saved her. What are you doing here, Agent Kesselring?"

Kesselring looked thoughtfully at each of them in turn. "I find myself wondering why all of you are here at your daughter's dance teacher's bedside. And then I wondered, Why would someone try to blow up a dance teacher? I am forced to conclude this must all somehow be connected to the investigation. I am right, am I not?"

"We don't know yet," Sherlock said. "We're waiting for her to wake up enough to tell us."

Kesselring walked over to the single chair in front of the single window in the room. "I will wait with you." He sat down, crossed his legs, and swung a foot shod in dark gray Italian soft-as-butter leather, the exact shade as his suit.

"Nice shoes." Bowie wished he could throw the guy out the window. They were on the third floor, a nice long way down. "Are they comfortable?"

"Not particularly," said Kesselring, "but they go well with this particular suit, so I suffer them when I have to. I'm in a foreign country, and I must try to look as respectable as I can."

Sherlock said, "What have you been up to today, Agent?"

Kesselring smiled. Again, Savich saw a flash of hot violence in his eyes when he looked at Sherlock, but his voice sounded amused when he finally spoke. "Nice of you to ask, Agent Sherlock. I was at Schiffer Hartwin's headquarters, learning very little of use. I was hoping Carla Alvarez would have something to say, but she didn't."

Bowie said, "I was just telling Agent Sherlock that Caskie Royal ran away at a rest stop on the way here from JFK with the Schiffer Hartwin directors. Our agents are trying to find him, but no word yet."

Kesselring looked startled. "You say he ran away from them at a rest stop? How very interesting. I cannot fathom why he would do such an odd thing, and in such a manner. Dr. Dieffendorf and Herr Gerlach must tell us what happened. One is tempted to conclude Mr. Royal ran because he's guilty of a crime, perhaps even of this murder."

Bowie said, "So you no longer believe it was a psychotic mugger who murdered Herr Blauvelt? Now you believe it was Caskie Royal? Why?"

If the light touch of sarcasm failed to float over Kesselring's head, he gave no clue, at least Sherlock thought so until she saw the glint in Kesselring's very nice green eyes. "Why else, Agent Richards, would Caskie Royal run?"

Bowie said, "I'm certain we will find out soon enough."

Kesselring looked at his elegant Piaget watch. "At any rate, the directors should be here in an hour or so. They will no doubt be tired. It is a long flight from Frankfurt to New York, and they are not young men. I understand their limo driver is taking them directly to their hotel. I suspect they will wish to rest tonight. If so, I will take you to see them at the Schiffer Hartwin headquarters in the morning."

"Don't forget the lawyers, Agent Kesselring," Sherlock said easily. "Perhaps they will be able to tell us what frightened Caskie Royal so very much he felt he had to run for his life."


Kesselring didn't rise to the bait, though it was meaty. He merely swung his foot, tented his fingers, and tapped them against his chin, smiling charmingly at her. But his eyes, his eyes. "I find this case a fascinating conundrum. And this abrupt departure of Mr. Royal is yet one more thread to unravel. Please remember I am here to help you do that." And he gave each of them a long look.

Erin made a little sound in her throat and opened her eyes, saw Savich, and smiled. "You're back. Hi. I'm very glad to see you."

"Hi, yourself, Erin. I'm glad to see that smile on your face. You okay?"

She queried her body, nodded. "Yeah, I'll live." She turned her head slightly to look at the strange man sitting in the lone chair. A feast for the eyes, she thought, and would you just look at those exquisite Italian loafers on that swinging foot. She wouldn't mind wearing them herself. Her father had loved Italian loafers, particularly the ones with the tassels. She didn't smile at him. "Who are you?"

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