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Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 42

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They didn't know which room was Jane Ann Royal's, which rooms were her children's.

Sherlock nearly froze. Her two boys. What if the killer had murdered the boys? Please no, not the children.

Savich opened each door as they came to it. The first was a small sitting room with a harp sitting next to the window. Jane Ann played the harp?

The next was a bedroom that obviously belonged to a preadolescent boy-two posters on the wall of David Beckham, a soccer ball rolled into the corner, a pair of filthy sneakers on the floor. No occupant, thank God. She opened the closet door and nearly got buried when a pile of clothes poured out. She looked inside the clothes. There was no body. She closed her eyes and offered up a prayer.

Sherlock thought she'd lose it when they eased open the second door, another bedroom, and there was something on or in the bed, something substantial, something that didn't move. Was it was one of the boys, dead? Sherlock ran to the bed and saw to her blessed relief that it was a tangled pile of clothes. A desk filled most of the space along the wall. No soccer theme in this room but an incredible array of computer equipment, and a big stack of comic books. She opened the closet door. There was no child, only a collection of shoes and sneakers and a couple of bats and mitts.

"Jane Ann did send the boys away, thank God."

"Very smart of her," Savich said. "Okay, let's get to her bedroom."

There was another door that opened into a small office with a single closet, and Savich opened it. Copy paper, envelopes, supplies. No bodies.

The room at the end of the hall had white double doors. They were closed. Savich didn't have a good feeling about this. He turned the doorknob, pushed lightly. The door went silently inward.

Sherlock called, "Jane Ann? Are you in here?"

There was dead silence.

"Jane Ann? Everything is all right now. You can come out."

They heard a gulping sound, then a sob. "Is that you, Agent Sherlock?"

"Yes." Sherlock ran toward her voice. The closet door slowly opened. Savich turned on the overhead light.

Jane Ann Royal was sitting on the floor of the closet, a thick winter coat pulled around her, and she was as pale as death. She held a gun in her hand. Her hand was shaking so badly Sherlock quickly took it from her.

"Are you all right?"

"Yes, I am-" She shuddered, and lowered her head to her hands and began rocking.

Savich asked, his voice calm and low, "Where are the boys?"

She started at the sound of the man's voice. Sherlock said, "It's all right, this is Agent Savich."

Jane Ann Royal peered up at him through terrified eyes. "I sent them to my sister in Philadelphia, yesterday. They're safe."

"You're all right, Jane Ann. Take a deep breath and tell us what happened."

"It-it's hard. I've never been so scared in my life."

"I know, but it's okay now. You've got to tell us what happened."

Jane Ann Royal sucked in air, breathed, and managed to smooth herself out. "After I hung up with you, I got Caskie's gun out of the bedside table and I hid here in the closet, just like you told me to. I kept the door open a crack so I could see and hear if someone came into the bedroom. I heard some men, I don't know how many, but I heard them come up the stairs, real slow, like they wanted to be quiet. Then they were in the hallway and I thought they were coming to kill me." Her voice broke as she began to wheeze.

Sherlock gently stroked her arm, and waited. Finally, Jane Ann raised her eyes to Sherlock's face. "Then I didn't hear anything, for maybe two minutes. I started to get up, but I heard someone right outside the bedroom door. I scrunched into a ball and pulled a coat over me. I held out my gun, aimed it straight at the middle of the closet door.

"But no one came in. I heard the men talking, then I heard a single shot. It sounded far away, like it was down at the end of the hall in the laundry room. One of the men yelled, 'I got the bastard!' I didn't know what they were talking about. I was so afraid. I didn't know who'd fired or why-there was no one here but me.

"I heard someone open the bedroom door and I thought I'd die. Someone looked in, I could hear his breathing, but he didn't come into the bedroom. I heard him say, 'Come on, let's get out of here.' And one of them shut the bedroom door again. Then I heard shots, so many shots, then they stopped. I wanted to help you because I knew it had to be you. I had to do something! I ran to the door and opened it a crack. I saw them running down the hall away from me. I guess they went out the window at the end of the hall, where the laundry room is. There's a huge cedar tree out there and they must have climbed down. Then I heard you, but I wasn't sure it was you, I couldn't hear you clearly. I knew you were looking in all the rooms, and I was afraid they'd come back, to see if there was anyone else here and I hid in the closet again. Then you came in, Agent Sherlock, and you called to me." She raised a tear-streaked face. "I know who they killed." She put her face on her drawn-up knees and cried, huge gulping sobs. "Oh God, I know who they killed."

Savich said quietly, "Who do you think they killed, Mrs. Royal?"

"Caskie," she whispered through her tears, "it must be Caskie. He must have come home. He had to be hiding from me, just like you thought he would, Agent Sherlock. I think they killed my boys' father, they killed my husband."

Savich and Sherlock found Caskie Royal's body in the huge laundry room at the end of the hall, sprawled on a pile of dirty sheets and towels, shot through the head. The large window over the dryer was open, the white curtains flowing inside, pushed by the night wind.

There was blood everywhere.


Friday at dawn

Bowie said, "Mrs. Royal's Smith and Wesson hasn't been fired. And none of the brass the team found were from a Smith and Wesson."

Sherlock said, "If you'd found her hiding in the closet, seen her terror firsthand, I don't think you'd have bothered checking out her S-and-W." She looked over at Erin, who stood against the side of her rented Taurus, bent forward a bit, probably feeling the burn on her back. She'd parked as close as she could get to the front of the Royal house. She looked shell-shocked. Sherlock said, "I told her not to come, but I'm not surprised she's here." Sherlock paused a moment, saw the blood in Bowie's eyes, and added, "She's amazing. She can't be feeling all that hot."

Erin wasn't feeling much of anything. It was just past dawn, so she could finally see all the people going in and out of the Royal house, beyond the glare of the huge spotlights. The coroner's van was still parked directly in front of the house, but not for much longer-two men were carrying out a large green bag that held Caskie Royal's body. He's dead, she thought-just like that-

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