All that remains, p.2
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       All That Remains, p.2

           Patricia Cornwell
 

  1 didn't know which dog was which. Both were big and light tan with wrinkled faces and floppy ears.

  Morrell grinned and put out his hand.

  "Howya doin', fella?"

  Salty, or maybe it was Neptune, rewarded him with a wet kiss and a nuzzle to the leg.

  The dog handlers were from Yorktown, their names Jeff and Gail. Gail was as tall as her partner and looked just about as strong. She reminded me of women I've seen who have spent their lives on farms, their faces lined by hard work and the sun, a stolid patience about them that comes from understanding nature and accepting its gifts and punishments. She was the search and-rescue team captain, and I could tell from the way she was eyeing the Jeep that she was surveying it for any sign that the scene, and therefore the scents, had been disturbed.

  "Nothing's been touched," Marino told her, bending over to knead one of the dogs behind the ears. "We haven't even opened the doors yet" "Do you know if anybody else has been inside it? Maybe the person who found it?"

  Gail inquired.

  Morrell began to explain, "The plate number went out over teletype, BOLOs, early this morning - " "What the hell are BOLOs?"

  Wesley interrupted.

  "Be On the Lookouts."

  Wesley's face was granite as Morrell went on, tediously, "Troopers don't go through lineup, so they're not always going to see a teletype. They just get in their cars and mark on. The dispatchers started sending BOLOS over the air the minute the couple was reported missing, and around one P.M. a trucker spotted the jeep, radioed it in. The trooper who responded said that other than looking through the windows to make sure nobody was inside, he didn't even get close."

  I hoped this was true. Most police officers, even those who know better, can't seem to resist opening doors and at least rummaging through the glove compartment in search of the owner's identification.

  Taking hold of both harnesses, Jeff took the dogs off to "use the potty" while Gail asked, "You got anything the dogs can scent off of?"

  "Pat Harvey was asked to bring along anything Deborah might have been wearing recently," Wesley said.

  If Gail was surprised or impressed by whose daughter she was looking for, she did not show it but continued to regard Wesley expectantly.

  "She's flying in by chopper," Wesley added, glancing at his watch. "Should be here any minute."

  "Well, just don't be landing the big bird right here," Gail commented, approaching the Jeep. "Don't need anything stirring up the place."

  Peering through the driver's window, she studied the inside of the doors, the dash, taking in every inch of the interior. Then she backed away and took along look at the black plastic door handle on the outside of the door.

  "Best thing's probably going to be the seats," she decided. "We'll let Salty scent off one, Neptune off the other. But first, we got to get in without screwing up anything. Anybody got a pencil or pen?"

  Snatching a ballpoint Mont Blanc pen out of the breast pocket of his shirt, Wesley presented it to her.

  "Need one more," she added.

  Amazingly, nobody else seemed to have a pen on his person, including me. I could have sworn I had several inside my purse.

  "How about a folding knife?"

  Marino was digging in a pocket of his jeans.

  "Perfect."

  Pen in one hand and Swiss army knife in the other, Gaff simultaneously depressed the thumb button on the outside of the driver's door and pried back the handle, then caught the door's edge with the toe of her boot to gently pull it open. All the while I heard the faint, unmistakable thud-thud of helicopter blades growing louder.

  Moments later, a red-and-white Bell Jet Ranger circled the rest stop, then hovered like a dragonfly, creating a small hurricane on the ground. All sound was drowned out, trees shaking and grass rippling in the roar of its terrible wind. Eyes squeezed shut, Gail and Jeff were squatting by the dogs, holding harnesses tight.

  Marino, Wesley, and I had retreated close to the buildings, and from this vantage we watched the violent descent. As the helicopter slowly nosed around in a maelstrom of straining engines and beating air, I caught a glimpse of Pat Harvey staring down at her daughter' Jeep before sunlight whited out the glass.

  She stepped away from the helicopter, head bent and skirt whipping around her legs as Wesley waited a safe distance from the decelerating bides, necktie fluttering over his shoulder like an aviator's scarf. Before Pat Harvey had been appointed the National Drug Policy Director, she had been a commonwealth's attorney in Richmond, then a U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. Her prosecution of high profile drug cases in the federal system had occasionally involved victims I had autopsied. But I had never been called to testify; only my reports had been subpoenaed. Mrs. Harvey and I had never actually met.

  On television and in newspaper photographs she came across as all business. She was, in the flesh, both feminine and strikingly attractive, slender, her features perfectly wrought, the sun finding hints of gold and red in her short auburn hair. Wesley made brief introductions, and Mrs. Harvey shook each of our hands with the politeness and self-assurance of a practiced politician. But she did not smile or meet anyone's eyes.

  "There's a sweatshirt inside, "she explained, handing a paper bag to Gail "I found it in Debbie's bedroom at the beach. I don't know when she wore it last, but I don't think it's been recently washed."

  "When's the last time your daughter was at the beach?"

  Gail inquired without opening the bag. "Early July. She went there with several friends for a Weekend."

  "And you're sure she was the one wearing this? Possible one of her friends might have?"

  Gail asked casually as though she were inquiring about the weather.

  The question caught Mrs. Harvey by surprise, and for An instant doubt clouded her dark blue eyes. "I'm not sure" She cleared her throat. "I would assume Debbie was the one wearing it last, but obviously I can't swear to it. I wasn't there."

  She a stared past us through the Jeep's open door, her attention briefly fixed on the keys in the ignition, the silver "D" dangling from the keychain. For a long moment no one spoke, and I could see the struggle of mind against emotion as she warded off panic with denial.

  Turning back to us, she said, "Debbie would have been carrying a purse. Nylon, bright red. One of those sports purses with a Velcro-lined flap. I'm wondering if you found it inside?"

  "No, ma'am," Morrell replied. "At least we haven't seen anything like that yet, not from looking through the windows. But we haven't searched the interior, couldn't till the dogs got here."

  "I would expect it to be on the front seat. Perhaps on the floor," she went on.

  Morrell shook his head.

  It was Wesley who spoke. "Mrs. Harvey, do you know If your daughter had much money with her?"

  "I gave her fifty dollars for food and gas. I don't know what she might have had beyond that," she replied. "She also, of course, had charge cards. Plus her checkbook."

  "You know what she had in her checking account?" Wesley asked.

  "Her father gave her a check last week," she replied matter-of-factly. "For college - books, and so on. I'm fairly certain she's already deposited it. I suppose she should have at least a thousand dollars in her account" "You might want to look into that," Wesley proposed. "Make certain the money wasn't recently withdrawn."

  "I will do so immediately."

  As I stood by and watched, I could sense hope blossoming in her mind. Her daughter had cash, charge cards, and access to money in a checking account It did not appear that she had left her purse inside the Jeep, meaning she might still have it with her. Meaning she might still be alive and well and off somewhere with her boyfriend.

  "Your daughter ever threaten to run away with Fred?"

  Marino asked her bluntly.

  "No."

  Staring again at the Jeep, she added what she wanted to believe, "But that doesn't mean it isn't possible."

  "What was her mood when you
Marino went on.

  "We exchanged words yesterday morning before my sons and I left for the beach," she replied in a detached, flat tone. "She was upset with me."

  "She know about the cases around here? The missing couples?" Marino asked.

  "Yes, of course. We have discussed them, wondered about them. She knew."

  Gail said to Morrell, "We ought to get started."

  "Good idea."

  "One last thing."

  Gail looked at Mrs. Harvey. "You got any idea who was driving?"

  "Fred, I suspect," she answered. "When they went places together, he usually drove."

  Nodding, Gail said, "Guess I'm going to need that pocketknife and pen again."

  Collecting them from Wesley and Marino, she went around to the passenger's side and opened the door. She sped one of the bloodhounds' harnesses. Eagerly, he got up and moved in perfect accord with his mistress's feet, snuffling along, muscles rippling beneath his loose, glossy coat, ears dragging heavily, as if lined with lead.

  "Come on, Neptune, let's put that magic nose of yours to work."

  We watched in silence as she directed Neptune's nose at the bucket seat where Deborah Harvey was presumed to have been sitting yesterday. Suddenly he yelped as if he had encountered a rattlesnake, jerking back from the Jeep, practically wrenching the harness from Gail's hand. He tucked his tail between his legs and the fur literally stood up on his back as a dull ran up my spine.

  "Easy, boy. Easy!"

  Whimpering and quivering all over, Neptune squatted and defecated in the grass.

  2

  I woke up the next morning, exhausted and dreading the Sunday paper.

  The headline was bold enough to be read from a block away: DRUG CZAR'S DAUGHTER, FRIEND MISSING - POLICE FEAR FOUL PLAY Not only had reporters gotten hold of a photograph of Deborah Harvey, but there was a picture of her jeep being towed from the rest stop and a file photograph, I presumed, of Bob and Pat Harvey, hand in hand, walking a deserted beach in Spindrift. As I sipped coffee and read, I could not help but think about Fred Cheney's family. He was not from a prominent family. He was just "Deborah's boyfriend."

  Yet he, too, was missing; he, too, was loved.

  Apparently, Fred was the son of a Southside businessman, an only child whose mother had died last year when a berry aneurysm ruptured in her brain. Fred's father, the story read, was in Sarasota visiting relatives when the police finally hacked him down late last night. If there were a remote possibility that his son had "run off" with Deborah, the story read, it would have been very much out of character for Fred, who was described as "a good student at Carolina and a member of the varsity swim team."

  Deborah was an honor student and a gymnast gifted enough to be an Olympic hopeful Weighing no more than a hundred pounds, she had shoulder-length dark blond hair and her mother's handsome features. Fred was broad-shouldered and lean, with wavy black hair and hazel eyes. They were a couple described as attractive and inseparable.

  "Whenever you saw one, you always saw the other," a friend was quoted as saying. "I think it had a lotto do with Fred's mother dying. Debbie met him right about that time, and I don't think he would have made it through without her."

  Of course, the story went on to regurgitate the details of the other four Virginia couples missing and later found dead. My name was mentioned several times. I was described as frustrated, baffled, and avoiding comment I wondered if it occurred to anyone that I continued to autopsy the victims of homicides, suicides, and accidents every week. I routinely talked to families, testified in court, and gave lectures to paramedics and Police academies. Couples or not, life and death went on.

  I had gotten up from the kitchen table, was sipping Coffee and staring out at the bright morning when the phone rang.

  Expecting my mother, who often called at this hour on Sunday to inquire about my well-being and if I had been to Mass, I pulled out a nearby chair as I picked up the receiver.

  "Dr. Scarpetta?"

  "Speaking."

  The woman sounded familiar, but I could not place her.

  "It's Pat Harvey. Please forgive me for bothering you at home."

  Behind her steady voice, I detected a note of fear.

  "You certainly aren't bothering me," I replied kindly.

  "What can I do for you?"

  "They searched all through the night and are still out there. They brought in more dogs, more police, several aircraft."

  She began to speak rapidly. "Nothing. No sign of them. Bob has joined the search parties. I'm home."

  She hesitated. "I'm wondering if you could come over? Perhaps you're free for lunch?"

  "After a long pause, I reluctantly agreed. As I hung up the telephone I silently berated myself, for I knew what she wanted from me. Pat Harvey would ask about the other couples. If I were her, it was exactly what I would do.

  I went upstairs to my bedroom and got out of my robe.

  Then I took a long, hot bath and washed my hair while my answering machine began intercepting calls that I had no intention of returning unless they were emergencies. Within the hour I was dressed in a khaki skirt suit and tensely playing back messages. There were five of them, all from reporters who had learned that I had been summoned to the New Kent County rest stop, which did not bode well for the missing couple.

  I reached for the phone, intending to call Pat Harvey back and cancel our lunch. But I could not forget her face when she had arrived by helicopter with her daughters' sweatshirt, I could not forget the faces of any of the parents. Hanging up the phone, I locked the house and got into my car.

  People in public service can't afford the accoutrements privacy demands unless they have some other means of income. Obviously, Pat Harvey's federal salary was a meager sliver of her family's worth. They lived near Windsor on the James in a palatial Jeffersonian house overlooking the river. The estate, which I guessed to be at least five acres, was surrounded by a high brick wall posted with "Private Property" signs. When I turned into along drive shaded by trees, I was stopped by a sturdy wrought-iron gate that slid open electronically before I could roll down my window to reach for the intercom. The gate slid shut behind me as I drove through. I parked near a black Jaguar sedan before a Roman portico of unfluted columns, old red brick, and white trim.

  As I was getting out of my car, the front door opened. Pat Harvey, drying her hands on a dish towel, smiled bravely at me from the top of the steps. Her face was pale, eyes lusterless and tired.

  "It's so good of you to come, Dr. Scarpetta."

  She motioned for me to enter. "Please come in."

  The foyer was as spacious as a living room, and I followed her through a formal sitting room to the kitchen. Furniture was eighteenth century, Oriental rugs wall to wall, and there were original Impressionist paintings and a fireplace with beechwood logs artfully placed on the hearth. At least the kitchen looked functional and lived in, but I did not get the impression that anyone else was home.

  "Jason and Michael are out with their father," she explained when I asked. "The boys drove in this morning."

  "How old are they?"

  I inquired, as she opened the oven door.

  "Jason is sixteen, Michael fourteen. Debbie is the oldest."

  Looking around for the potholders, she turned off the oven, then set a quiche on top of a burner. Her hands trembled as she got a knife and spatula from a drawer "Would you like wine, tea, coffee? This is very light. I did throw together a fruit salad. Thought we'd sit out on the porch. I hope that will be all right."

  "'That would be lovely," I replied. "And coffee would be fine."

  Distracted, she opened the freezer and got out a bag of Irish Creme, which she measured into the drip coffee maker. I watched her without speaking. She was desperate. Husband and sons were not home. Her daughter was missing, the house empty and silent She did not begin to ask questions until we were on the porch, sliding glass doors open wide, the river curving beyond us glinting in the sun.

 
; "What the dogs did, Dr. Scarpetta, "she began, picking at her salad. " Can you offer an interpretation?"

  I could, but I did not want to.

  "Obviously, the one dog got upset. But the other one didn't?"

  Her observation was posed as a question.

  The other dog, Salty, had indeed reacted very differently than Neptune had. After he sniffed the driver's seat, Gail hooked the lead on his harness and commanded, "Find."

  The dog took off like a greyhound. He snuffled across the exit ramp and up through the picnic area. Then he tugged Gail across the parking lot toward the Interstate and would have gotten a nose full of traffic had she not yelled, "Heel!"

 

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