All that remains, p.14
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       All That Remains, p.14
 

           Patricia Cornwell

  "It all depends on the person I'm dealing with, what energy I'm picking up from this individual. But the jack of hearts is equal to the knight of cups in tarot cards."

  "A good card or a bad card?"

  "It depends on who the card represents in relation to the individual whose reading I'm doing," she said. "In tarot cards, cups are love and emotion cards, just as swords and pentacles are business and money cards. The jack of hearts would be a love and emotion card. And this could be very good. It could also be very bad if the love has gone sour or turned vengeful, hateful."

  "How would a jack of hearts be different from a ten of hearts or queen of hearts, for example?"

  "The jack of hearts is a face card," she said. "I would say this is a card that represents a man. Now a king of hearts is also a face card, but I would associate a king with power, someone who is perceived or perceives himself as in control, in charge, possibly a father or something like that. A jack, like a knight, might rep someone who is perceived or perceives himself as soldier, a defender, a champion. He might be sour who is out in the world doing battle on the business front Maybe he's into sports, a competitor. He could be a lot things, but since hearts are emotion, love cards, would make me say that whoever this card represent there is an emotional element versus a money or work element."

  Her telephone rang again.

  She said to me, "Don't always trust what you hear, Scarpetta."

  "About what?" I asked, startled.

  "Something that matters a great deal to you is causing unhappiness, grief. It has to do with a person. A friend, a romantic interest. It could be a member of your family I don't know. Definitely someone of great importance in your life. But you are hearing and maybe even imagining many things. Be careful what you believe."

  Mark, I thought, or maybe Benton Wesley. I couldn't resist asking, "Is this someone currently in my life, someone I'm having encounters with?"

  She paused. "Since I'm sensing confusion, much is unknown, I'll have to say that it isn't someone you are currently close to. I'm feeling a distance, you know, necessarily geographical, but emotional. Space that is, making it hard for you to trust. My advice is to let it go, don't do anything about this now. A resolution will come, and I can't tell you when this will be, but it will be all right if you relax, don't listen to the confusion, or act impulsively.

  "And there's something else," she went on. "Look beyond what is before you, and I don't know what this is about. But there is something you aren't seeing and it has to do with the past, something of importance that happened in the past. It will come to you and lead you to the truth, but you will not recognize its significance unless you open yourself first. Let your faith guide you."

  Wondering what had happened to Marino, I got up and looked out the window.

  Marino drank two bourbon and waters in the Charlotte airport, then had one more when we were in the air. He had very little to say during the trip back to Richmond. It wasn't until we were walking to our cars in the parking lot that I decided to take initiative.

  "We need to talk," I said, getting out my keys.

  "I'm beat."

  "It's almost five o'clock," I said. "Why don't you come to my house for dinner?"

  He stared off across the parking lot, squinting in the sun. I could not tell if he was in a rage or on the verge of tears, and I wasn't sure I'd ever seen him this out of sorts.

  "Are you angry with me, Marino?"

  "No, Doc. Right now I just want to be alone."

  "Right now, I don't think you should be."

  Fastening the top button of his coat, he muttered, "See ya later," and walked off.

  I drove home, absolutely drained, and was mindlessly puttering in the kitchen when my doorbell rang. Looking through the peephole, I was amazed to see Marino.

  "I had this in my pocket," he explained the instant I opened the door. He handed me his canceled plane ticket and inconsequential paperwork from the rental car. "Thought you might need it for your tax records or whatever."

  "Thank you," I said, and I knew this was not why he had come. I had charge card receipts. Nothing he had given to me was necessary. "I was just fixing dinner. You might as well stay since you're already here."

  "Maybe for a little while."

  He would not meet my eyes "Then I got things to do."

  Following me into the kitchen, he sat at the table while I resumed slicing sweet red peppers and adding them to chopped onions sautéing in olive oil.

  "You know where the bourbon is," I said, stirring.

  He got up, heading to the bar.

  "While you're at it," I called after him, "would you please fix me a Scotch and soda?"

  He did not reply, but when he came back he set drink on the counter nearby and leaned against the butcher's block. I added the onions and peppers to tomatoes sautéing in another pan, then began browning sausage.

  "I don't have a second course," I apologized as I worked.

  "Don't look to me like you need one."

  "Spring lamb with white wine, breast of veal, or roast pork would be perfect."

  I filled a pot with water and set it on the stove. "I'm pretty amazing with lamb, but I'll have to give you a rain check."

  "Maybe you ought to forget cutting up dead bodies and open a restaurant."

  "I'll assume you mean that as a compliment."

  "Oh, yeah."

  His face was expressionless, and he was lighting a cigarette. "So what do you call this?"

  He nodded at the stove.

  "I call it yellow and green broad noodles with sweet peppers and sausage," I replied, adding the sausage to the sauce. "But if I really wanted to impress you, I would call it Le papardelle del Cantunzein."

  "Don't worry. I'm impressed."

  "Marino."

  I glanced over at him. "What happened this morning?"

  He replied with a question, "You mention to anyone what Vessey told you about the hack mark's being made with a serrated blade?"

  "So far, you're the only person I've told."

  "Hard to figure how Hilda Ozimek came up with that, with the hunting knife with a serrated edge she claims popped into her mind when Pat Harvey took her to the rest stop."

  "It is hard to understand," I agreed, placing pasta in the boiling water. "There are some things in life that can't be reasoned away or explained, Marino."

  Fresh pasta takes only seconds to cook, and I drained it and transferred it to a bowl kept warm in the oven. Adding the sauce, I tossed in butter and grated fresh Parmesan, then told Marino we were ready to eat.

  "I've got artichoke hearts in the refrigerator."

  I served our plates. "But no salad. I do have bread in the freezer "This is all I need," he said, his mouth full. "It's good. Real good."

  I had barely touched my meal when he was ready for a second helping. It was as though Marino had not eaten in a week. He was not taking care of himself, and it was showing. His tie was in serious need of a dry cleaner, the hem on one leg of his trousers had unraveled, and his shirt was stained yellow under the arms. Everything about him cried out that he was needy and neglected and I was as repelled by this as I was disturbed. They was no reason why an intelligent grown man should allow himself to fall into poor repair like an abandoned house. Yet I knew his life was out of control, that in way he could not help himself. Something was terribly wrong.

  I got up and retrieved a bottle of Mondavi red wine from the wine rack.

  "Marino," I said, pouring each of us a glass, "whose photograph did you show to Hilda? Was it your wife? He leaned back in his chair and would not look at me "You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to, but you haven't been yourself for quite a while. It's very apparent."

  "What she said freaked me out," he replied.

  "What Hilda said?"

  "Yeah."

  "Would you like to tell me about it?"

  "I haven't told no one about it."

  He paused, reaching for his wine. His face was hard, eye
s humiliated. "She went back to Jersey last November."

  "I'm not sure you've ever told me your wife's name."

  "Wow," he muttered bitterly. "Ain't that a comment."

  "Yes, it is. You keep an awful lot to yourself."

  "I've always been that way. But I guess being a cop has made it worse. I'm so used to hearing the guys bitch and moan about their wives, girlfriends, kids. They cry on your shoulder, you think they're your brothers. Then when it's your turn to have a problem, you make the mistake of spilling your guts and next thing it's all the hell over the police department. I learned a long time ago to keep my mouth shut."

  He paused, getting out his wallet. "Her name's Doris."

  He handed me the snapshot he had shown Hilda Ozimek this morning.

  Doris had a good face and a round, comfortable body. She was standing stiffly, dressed for church, her expression self-conscious and reluctant. I had seen her a hundred times, for the world was full of Dorises. They were the sweet young women who sat on porch swings dreaming of love as they stared into nights magic with stars and the smells of summer. They were mirrors, their images of themselves reflections of the significant people in their lives. They derived their importance from the services they rendered, survived by killing off their expectations in inches, and then one day woke up mad as hell.

  "We would've been married thirty years this June," Marino said as I returned the photograph. "They suddenly she ain't happy. Says I work too much, never around. She don't know me. Things like that. But I wasn't born yesterday. That's not the real story."

  "Then what is?"

  "It got started last summer when her mother had a stroke. Doris went to look after her. Was up north for almost a month, getting her mother out of the hose and into a nursing home, taking care of everything When Doris came home, she was different. It's like she was somebody else."

  "What do you think happened?"

  "I know she met this guy up there whose wife died a couple years back. He's into real estate, was helping sell her mother's house. Doris mentioned him once or twice like it was no big deal. But something was going on. The phone would ring late, and when I answered it, person would hang up. Doris would rush out to get mail before I did. Then in November, she suddenly up and leaves, says her mother needs her."

  "Has she been home since?" I asked.

  He shook his head. "Oh, she calls now and then, wants a divorce."

  "Marino, I'm sorry."

  "Her mother's in this home, you see. And Doris looking after her, seeing this real estate guy, I guess. Upset one minute, happy the next. Like she wants to come back, but don't want to. Guilty, then don't give. damn. It's just like Hilda said when she was looking her picture. Back and forth."

  "Very painful for you."

  "Hey."

  He tossed his napkin on the table. "She can do what she wants. Screw her."

  I knew he did not mean that. He was devastated, and my heart ached for him. At the same time, I could not help but feel sympathy for his wife. Marino would not be easy to love.

  "Do you want her to come home?"

  "I've been with her longer than I was alive before we met. But let's face it, Doc."

  He glanced at me, his eyes frightened. "My life sucks. Always counting nickels and dimes, called out on the street in the middle of the night. Plan vacations and then something goes down and Doris unpacks and waits at home - like Labor Day weekend when the Harvey girl and her boyfriend disappeared. That was the last straw."

  "Do you love Doris?"

  "She don't believe I do."

  "Maybe you should make sure she understands how you feel," I said. "Maybe you should show that you want her a lot and don't need her so much."

  "I don't get it."

  He looked bewildered.

  He would never get it, I thought, depressed.

  "Just take care of yourself," I told him. "Don't expect her to do that for you. Maybe it will make a difference."

  "I don't earn enough bucks, and that's it, chapter and verse."

  "I'll bet your wife doesn't care so much about money. She'd rather feel important and loved."

  "He's got a big house and a Chrysler New Yorker.

  Brand-new, with leather seats, the whole nine yards.

  I did not reply.

  "Last year he went to Hawaii for his vacation."

  Marie was getting angry.

  "Doris spent most of her life with you. That was her choice, Hawaii or not - " "Hawaii's nothing but a tourist trap," he cut in, lighting a cigarette. "Me, I'd rather go to Buggs Island and fish."

  "Has it occurred to you that Doris might have grown weary of being your mother" "She ain't my mother," he snapped.

  "Then why is it that since she left, you've begun; looking like you desperately need a mother, Marino?"

  "Because I don't got time to sew buttons on, cook, do shit like that."

  "I'm busy, too. I find time for shit like that."

  "Yeah, you also got a maid. You also probably earn a hundred G's a year " "I would take care of myself if I earned only ten G's year," I said. "I would do it because I have self-respect and because I don't want anyone to take care of me I simply want to be cared for, and there's a very big, difference between the two."

  "If you got all the answers, Doc, then how come you're divorced? And how come your friend Mark's is in Colorado and you're here? Don't sound to me like you wrote the book on relationships."

  I felt a flush creeping up my neck. "Tony did not truly care for me, and when I finally figured that out, I left. As for Mark, he has a problem with commitments."

  "And you were committed to him?"

  Marino almost glared at me.

  I did not respond.

  "How come you didn't go out west with him? Maybe you're only committed to being a chief."

  "We were having problems, and certainly part of it was my fault. Mark was angry, went out west, maybe to make a point, maybe just to get away from me," I said, dismayed that I could not keep the emotion out of my voice. "Professionally, my going with him wouldn't have been possible, but it was never an option."

  Marino suddenly looked ashamed. "I'm sorry. I didn't know that."

  I was silent.

  "Sounds like you and me are in the same boat," he offered.

  "In some ways," I said, and I did not want to admit to myself what those ways were. "But I'm taking care of myself. If Mark ever reappears, he won't find me looking like hell, my life down the drain. I want him, but I don't need him. Maybe you ought to try that with Doris?"

  "Yeah."

  He seemed encouraged. "Maybe I will. I think I'm ready for coffee."

  "Do you know how to fix it?"

  "You gotta be kidding," he said, surprised.

  "Lesson number one, Marino. Fixing coffee. Step this way."

  While I showed him the technical wonders of a drip coffee maker that required nothing more than a fifty IQ he resumed contemplating this day's adventures.

  "A part of me don't want to take what Hilda said, seriously," he explained. "But another part of me has to.

  I mean, it sure gave me second thoughts."

  "In what way?"

  "Deborah Harvey was shot with a nine-millimeter. They never found the shell. Kind of hard to believe the squirrel could collect the shell out there in the dark. Makes me think Morrell and the rest of them wasn't looking in the right place. Remember, Hilda wondered if there wasn't another place, and she mentioned something lost. Something metal that had to do with war. That, could be a spent shell."

  "She also said this object wasn't harmful," I reminded him.

  "A spent shell couldn't hurt a fly. It's the bullet that's harmful, and only when it's being fired."

  "And the photographs she looked at were taken last fall," I went on. "Whatever this lost item is may have been out there then but isn't there now."

  "You thinking the killer came back during daylight to look for it?"

  "Hilda said the person who lost this metal obje
ct was concerned about it."

  Don't think he went back," Marino said. "He's too careful for that. Be a big damn risk. The area was crawling with cops and bloodhounds right after the kids disappeared. You can bet the killer laid low. He's got to be pretty cool to have gotten away with what he's doing for so long, whether we're talking about a psychopath or a paid hit man."

 
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll
Add comment

Add comment