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Книга Whiplash. Содержание - 43

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And now this dance teacher was hanging around. Who would want to kill her? Nothing about anything made any sense. He said to himself more than to anyone else, "A female shouldn't drive a muscle car like that Hummer unless she can handle it, which you couldn't, now could you?"

Erin just looked at him. Thank God she didn't say anything. He was tired, knew he was tired, running off at the mouth like that, saying things that would get Loraine Briggs, one of his deputies, ratting him out to Corrine. That nearly made him shudder. It was time to apply himself, to get things straight, but he knew to his bones he didn't know how to deal with this case, didn't have a clue what to do next. He said to Agent Bowie Richards, his voice belligerent, "I suppose you're going to tell me this is your case too, aren't you?" He knew he sounded intimidating, tough as nails, like The Man in Charge. Maybe he'd sounded too intimidating and Richards would fold, which was the last thing he wanted Richards to do. He waited, saying a little prayer. What he wanted more than anything was to go home and crawl into his bed and sleep until Wheel of Fortune came on tonight and his wife made him his favorite pot roast with new potatoes. He wanted to think about all this, but from a distance.

Bowie knew exactly what the chief wanted him to say. It wasn't Amos's fault, he knew the best shot at cleaning this mess up was to keep it with the FBI. The last thing any of them needed was Chief Amos and his people blundering around. He said, "I'm sorry, Chief Amos, sincerely sorry, but I really must insist we handle Mr. Royal's murder. There were shots fired at our own agents. I know you don't want to let it go, but you must admit it all looks connected."

Chief Amos rocked back and forth on his heels, his hands tucked into his wide belt. "Well, I don't like it, but yeah, okay, maybe we can work together. But you gotta get this thing figured out, Agent Richards, and fast. My town's gonna shake to its foundations when it gets out that Caskie Royal was brutally murdered, and everybody's gonna start yelling-at me."

"I understand, Chief. I really would appreciate your continued assistance. Your sending out your people to speak to all the neighbors is just what I need. If any of the neighbors saw anything, have your deputies report directly to me."

"Yeah, well, I guess it'd be okay for you to assign jobs to my other guys as well if nothing major comes up."

Yeah, Bowie thought, like somebody stealing clothes from Maude's Dry Cleaners or some idiot high school bad boys handing around a joint on the corner of Main and Randolph, but he said, "Thank you, Chief."

Erin was listening with only half an ear. She recognized that Bowie was jollying Chief Amos, but she didn't care. She just couldn't get past it-Caskie Royal was dead. Who was next? Was there anyone left to murder besides her? What about Carla Alvarez?


He didn't turn to her, simply said over his shoulder, "Yeah?"

"Carla Alvarez."

He didn't miss a beat. "Chief, would you send a couple of officers over to Carla Alvarez's house, make sure she's okay? And stick with her, round the clock for a couple of days? I'm thinking it might be smart to keep a close watch on her."

"Who? Oh, I see your point." The chief hiked up his pants and walked to a small knot of men and one woman standing next to a squad car, spoke quietly to them, then headed straight to his car, not quite at a run but close.

Erin looked after him, but she wasn't thinking about Carla Alvarez anymore, she wasn't even thinking about people who'd tried to blow her up in her Hummer, she was thinking how nice it would be to sit down in her car and go to sleep.

Bowie looked at her, not a dollop of sympathy in his hard eyes or in his hard voice. "You look ready to fall over. Why don't you let me drive Georgie and your own butt home and put you back into bed?"


Bowie didn't wait to see if she agreed, he turned on his heel to start for the car door. She grabbed his arm, and he turned back, more than willing to pin back her ears. What stopped him cold was the panic in her eyes. Given that someone had tried to blow her up, panic was probably appropriate. She said, her voice urgent, "Bowie, please tell me what happened here. Do you know who's doing this?"

He was still angry with her, but he was worried about her too. "No, not yet. Mrs. Royal says there were two men. I see you already know that. Did you hear they fired on Savich and Sherlock?"

She nearly fell backward against the Taurus, not a good idea with her back already unhappy. Dr. Kender was right. This was insanity. "They tried to kill Dillon and Sherlock? No, she didn't tell me that."

"Don't hyperventilate. Take some slow, deep breaths. No, keep my jacket on a while longer. Listen, they're both okay, which seems odd, but there you have it. Deep, slow breaths, Erin. That's it."

It took a few seconds but she managed to get herself under control again. "Sorry about that. It's not okay for a private investigator to lose it like that. What do you mean, it's 'odd'?"

"Look at this straight on. Two gunmen murder Caskie Royal with one shot right through the middle of the forehead, then they hear someone coming into the house. They wait at the top of the stairs until Savich and Sherlock are walking up the stairs, admittedly they're alerted, but still, even after firing off at least a dozen rounds, neither of the two gunmen manage to land a single shot."

Thank you, God, was all Erin could think. She looked over to see Dillon and Sherlock standing together, speaking to Agent Dolores Cliff. Erin looked back up at Bowie, saw he was staring back at her as if he was waiting for her to keel over. She lightly touched her hand to his arm. "Yes," she said, "you're right, that is bizarre. You're also freezing. Here's your jacket. I don't need it anymore." She tossed it back to him. "Doesn't sound like real professionals, does it?"

Good, she seemed back together. He said, "It's something to think about. Savich and Sherlock found Mrs. Royal hiding in the closet in her bedroom, clutching her husband's S-and-W."

He repeated the story Mrs. Royal had told, and added, "A good thing for her the shooters had found Caskie Royal first. She said the killers didn't come into the master bedroom-and that's another strange thing. Why didn't they?

"We found brass all over the place, a good dozen rounds from two different weapons. A painting was shot off the wall, wall plaster rained down, and stair railings were splintered and flew everywhere. It looks like a god-awful shoot-out, but as I said, neither Savich nor Sherlock was hit, which seems a miracle. Besides the brass from Savich and Sherlock's SIGs, all the other casings were from a Glock forty and a nine-millimeter Kel-Tec, which does indeed add up to two gunmen."

"Did Dillon and Sherlock hit anyone?"

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