Authors: Richard North Patterson
“OK. Meet me in front. By the way, was that Lynette who answered?”
“Yeah. She’s back.”
“Amazing,” I said, and hung up.
Mary stared at me in stark disbelief. “Why didn’t you tell him about me?” she finally asked.
“I have reasons.”
Her face relaxed. I looked at my watch. 9:35. Greenfeld was due in nine minutes. I dialed again and got lucky. Di Pietro was in his office. He sounded surprised. “Did you get anything?”
“Lehman was handling the laundered money. I’ve got a memo from Lasko giving Lehman instructions and deposit box numbers. That’s what he was going to tell me. I’ve also got records from banks. Is that enough to indict Lasko for Lehman’s murder?”
“It’s what we need. Martinson came to this morning and gave a statement—everything he told you. And mug shots of the two guys who tried to kill you were identified by a carry-out boy at the shopping center, the one where they stole the car to run down Lehman. I’ll pick Lasko up tonight. Just lie low and you may be all right.”
“Great.” I checked my watch. 9:39. Greenfeld was due in five minutes. “I’ll send you this stuff.”
“Thanks, Christopher. You’ve done a nice job.”
“Thanks for everything, Lieutenant.” The phone clicked off.
I grabbed a notepad from my desk. “Check out Feiner,” I scrawled. “Market watch had Lasko stock pattern.” I initialled it CKP and stuck it in an envelope. I wrote “Attention—Joseph P. McGuire” on the envelope and put it in my coat pocket.
The time had done Mary some good. A smile flirted at the corners of her mouth. “You’re going to take care of everyone tonight, aren’t you?”
Woods moaned, but didn’t move. Mary glanced at him dispassionately. “You know, he was right. You can’t do to him what you’ve done to Lasko and Catlow.”
I shrugged. Her eyes were imploring now. “Chris,” she said urgently, “there has to be some way to make this better.”
I didn’t answer. Instead I looked at my watch. 9:43. Greenfeld should be out front in one minute. I picked up the phone and placed my last call.
An operator answered. “Police Emergency.”
“Yes. I’d like to report an incident. The address is the ECC Building on D Street, Northwest, third floor, room 327. I’ve just caught a man trying to burglarize my desk. I knocked him unconscious, possible concussion. I’ll need a couple of officers and maybe an ambulance.”
Mary bolted upright. The operator repeated the address. “We’ll have someone there within three minutes,” she said.
I put down the phone. Mary lunged for the door, half-tripping over Woods. I caught her by the wrist. She wriggled, then stopped. I pulled her to me. “OK, Mary, the cops will be here in about two minutes. I have to leave. I’m giving you a choice—stay or go.”
She stared at me furiously. “I want to leave.”
I forced myself to be very calm. “Choice one is to stay and tell the cops the truth. That Woods said he called Lasko about Lehman, that you called Woods tonight, and that after that he broke into my desk—”
“I didn’t know he was going to do that,” she interjected.
“And along with that you can do your Miss Innocence routine and try to wriggle out. Tell them you stayed as an act of civic virtue. If you can pull that off, I won’t stop you.”
Her eyes were black pools. “And if I leave?”
“Then I give your name to Greenfeld and you become as famous as Lizzie Borden.”
She clutched my shirt. “Do you know what that would do?”
“I figure disbarment at the very least. You’ve got about a minute to decide.”
She dropped her hand. “I’ll stay, damn you.”
“Good. Tell the cops I’ll be by in the morning.”
Woods was moaning and the blood had dried on his mouth. The memo still lay by his hand. I picked it up and turned to leave.
“You’re a bastard, Chris.” She said it in a clear, quiet voice.
I turned back. She was watching me, with a funny expectant look. “Greenfeld will be calling the police at exactly midnight to check your statement on Woods, for his article. If you change your story or tell the cops where I am, you’ll be reading about yourself tomorrow morning.”
Her mouth parted. I’d never seen her prettier. “It could have been worse, Mary,” I said quietly. “It could have been a lot worse.” I turned and walked out.
I glanced back at the room as I rounded the corner. Mary was staring down at Woods. The yellow light was surrounded by darkness. The room looked like a cell. I turned and felt my way to the back stairwell.
There was a mail slot in the wall. I stuck McGuire’s note in, then looked down the stairs. They were lit. I took them. It wasn’t enough, I thought, not after all of this. But Lasko would pay for Lehman, and Woods and Catlow would be ruined. The President wasn’t getting rich, this time, and Martinson was safe, for Tracy’s sake. And I was still alive. All I had to do was get to the Post.
I reached the main floor and pushed the door. It opened into a corridor, around the corner from the elevators. I stepped out and turned the corner. Then I loped past the elevators into the front lobby, holding the memo. Officer Davis was nowhere in sight.
Two men burst through the doors. Uniformed police. They ran toward me. “Where are the elevators?” one asked.
I pointed behind me. “Back there.”
“Thanks.” They rushed past.
“Sure thing,” I muttered.
I got to the glass doors, then glanced back. The two cops stepped into the elevator. I watched the doors close behind them. Woods might turn around and screw her. But then that wasn’t my problem. I turned away.
A car squealed to an abrupt stop in front of the building. It wasn’t Greenfeld’s car. I looked around. The reception room was off the lobby to the right. It was dark, and the door was open. Two men jumped out of the car. I scrambled into the room and leaned up against the wall. My forehead was dewed with light sweat.
The two men opened the front doors and stood in the lobby, staring. I peered out of the darkness. Lasko’s men from the airport. Oh Jesus, I thought. Then they ran toward the stairs, heading for my office. Their footsteps faded. I grinned weakly in the dark. That, I thought, was going to be a nice party. I walked softly out of the dark room, peering back over my shoulder. They were gone.
I looked through the glass. Greenfeld’s Alfa was double-parked in front.
I opened the door and left.