Authors: Nevada Barr
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Suspense, #Mystery & Detective, #Women Sleuths, #Mystery Fiction, #Mystery, #Crime & mystery, #Fiction - Mystery, #Detective, #Mystery & Detective - Women Sleuths, #Mystery & Detective - Series, #Pigeon; Anna (Fictitious Character), #Women Park Rangers, #Mystery & Thrillers, #Ellis Island (N.J. and N.Y.), #Statue of Liberty National Monument (N.Y. and N.J.)
Anna's arms were shaking so bad she'd stopped trying to use her sights and was pointing the gun as she would point a finger, trusting in years of experience. Sacrifice the one for the many. Blow great bloody holes in James Hatchett that the hundreds of souls in Liberty's heart might live. Tucker was right, Anna couldn't do it. Good little lackeys of the United States Government didn't gun down innocent people, regardless of the temptation--or the cost. It was something she really liked about her job.
"He'll kill me, then he'll kill you," Jim said. "And blow up the thing anyway."
"He's not fast enough," she said. Maybe that was true. If she could hold the Glock steady long enough.
Tucker reached the fence. Leaning against it, he gauged the distance to the boat and the detonator. He readied himself to go down the bank. Once there was dirt between him and Anna, he'd drop Jim and kill her. Anna started to move closer, not letting him out of her sights even for an instant.
"Stop or I blow his fucking brains out," Tucker said.
"And I kill you."
Tucker moved the .45 from Jim to point it at Anna. "Or I just shoot you. What are you going to do? Shoot through this old bag of shit? I would. He's no use to anybody anymore." The barrel moved back to Jim's temple. Tucker was having fun.
Jim fixed Anna with his remarkable eyes. "I'll give Jimmy your regards," he said with a hint of a smile.
"Shut the fuck up," Tucker hissed.
Anna knew her part, the only one left to her. The time she'd felt slipping through her hands all week. Now she must buy a little of it back. She lowered the Glock. "Easy," she said. "I like my job, but I'm not dying for it. Or for anybody's niggers." A.J. wasn't a trusting soul, but she was singing his song and he loved listening. Anna kept talking. A scarred brown workingman's hand eased to the waistband of a geriatric blue jumpsuit. Silver glinted. A strong old wrist turned expertly, his arm jerked up and back. Jim buried the fish-gutting knife deep between Andrew Jackson Tucker's ribs.
Above the beard, the militiaman's eyes grew wide with surprise. Then his finger closed on the trigger. Half of James Hatchett's head was gone, his body jerked to the side. The silver barrel of the .45 swung toward Anna. She fired four shots into A.J. Tucker before he hit the ground.
Regardless of how divinely inspired, New York frowned upon unauthorized persons shooting people with borrowed guns. Anna spent seven hours with three different law enforcement agencies giving statements, defending her actions, accepting congratulations, being bullied and drinking bad coffee. Drowning in polluted salt water was beginning to seem like the good old days.
It was late afternoon on the fifth of July before she got to the hospital to see her sister. Once again Molly had been moved out of ICU. For good this time, Frederick insisted, and Anna believed him. Frederick welcomed her as the conquering hero. Molly tried to scold her for old times' sake, but Anna could tell her heart wasn't in it. Multiple bypass surgery, a near-death experience, age--something had finally mellowed Dr. Pigeon. Anna could see a new and beautiful softness in her sister's eyes.
Frederick settled Anna in a comfortable chair, plied her with water and left her to tell her story in her own way. Anna had thought she'd want to but found she didn't. Living it had been enough. It wasn't a tale of high glamour, riches gained or lost. It was a nasty little story of hatred, fear and ignorance.
"I'm flying home tomorrow," she said, and felt guilty at how relieved she sounded. They were unoffended. Anna was reminded there might be something called unconditional love and found the energy to go on.
"Tucker is dead--twice. Jim's knife would have killed him in an hour or so. Andrew's bullets made it happen a little sooner." Anna wasn't hiding anything. Molly and Frederick knew she'd shot the man. The whole country knew. The press Mrs. Weinstein brought in to get the political goody out of the festivities had descended on Anna et al. like ravening beasts. "Idaho--Ben--Tucker's eldest from his first marriage, half brother to Agnes Abigail, was arrested, no problem. Without Daddy around to tell him what to do, he gave up without a fight. He was working under the name Ben Thomas. When Tucker took an alias his son did too. Mandy was arrested later. The security guard let her go but she was tracked down at the apartment on the Lower East Side where the Tucker/Thomases were staying. Bad news is, she can't be made to testify against Ben or vice versa. They're married. Agnes was her sister-in-law. Mandy shoved Hatch to avenge her death, thinking it would impress A.J. and her husband. Make her one of the revolutionaries."
"What was this Ben/Idaho going into Mandy's house to look for?" Frederick asked.
Anna hoped he'd forgotten that. "A picture," she said. "He had it on him when he was arrested. I'd seen it once. I thought it was a military shot--somebody's regiment or something. There were kids and dogs around. That should have tipped me off. Military pictures are sans civilians. The shot was of his Idaho militia group. Tucker was in it and so was Ben, though he had hair, so I might not have recognized him. Ben/Idaho was removing anything from Mandy's room that could incriminate them."
"And you a trained observer," Frederick teased.
"And me a trained observer," Anna admitted.
"I don't understand. Did Mandy get on with the Park Service and then get transferred to the statue just to set up this job?" Molly asked. "That's a little tricky. It took you years to get on permanent."
"No. Mandy was already at the statue when Ben got the job. He was the inside man. Then she was recruited. Idaho wooed and won her. Six weeks start to finish. She was easy pickings. A misfit, a malcontent. She needed a cause. Wanted to belong. Wanted to get even. A cult groupie waiting to happen. So Idaho stepped in."
"And the little girl jumped?" Molly asked.
"We think so. Her pack had to have been taken by her father. I remember his boots, he was front row center after she fell. The only thing that makes sense is she had detonators, blasting caps she was going to leave in the statue for her half brother. When Hatch took her for a pickpocket she was sharp enough to know if she got caught the plot would be exposed. So she jumped."
"Died for the cause," Frederick said.
"At fourteen it seems like the thing to do," Molly added sadly. "Children soldiers. We've been murdering them since the beginning of time."
"Do they know where this guy got the C-four?" Frederick asked.
"Not for sure. The speculation is he stole it from a mine or mines in Idaho. Some of the more isolated sites have pretty poor security."
They digested the precariousness of life for a moment.
"Corinne's still in a coma," Anna finished. "Even if she comes out of it, she's going to be a mess."
Nobody said anything. The room should have been thick with the sorrow of the world, but it wasn't. Molly and Frederick had a lightness about them that permeated the air, lifted Anna's spirits though she wasn't sure why.
Molly had her hands under the coverlet, as she'd had once before.
"Have you got another kitten?" Anna demanded.
Molly laughed. "Not another kitten." She took her left hand from beneath the sheet and waggled her fingers. The emerald caught the light, the gold shone.
Joy boiled up in Anna so fiercely she had to clamp her teeth hard and close her eyes so she wouldn't start crying.
"Are you okay?"
"We don't have to do it."
"Oh my gosh."
"We were only kidding."
The backpedaling made Anna smile. As soon as she had herself under control she would tell Frederick to send for the tailor. The sooner she got fitted for that peach silk tux, the better she would sleep at night.
Her sister was going to be looked after.