All that remains, p.20
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       All That Remains, p.20

           Patricia Cornwell
 

  "After what I did?" he asked, incredulous. "What about what you did?"

  "The only thing I did was to get sick and tired of making concessions. You never really tried to relocate to Richmond. You didn't know what you wanted and expected me to comply, concede, uproot myself whenever you figured everything; out. No matter how much I love you, I can't give up what I am and I never asked you to give up what you are."

  "Yes, you did. Even if 1 could have transferred to the field office in Richmond, that's not what I wanted."

  "Good. I'm glad you pursued what you wanted."

  "Kay, it's fifty-fifty You're to blame, too."

  "I'm not the one who left." My eyes filled with tears, and I whispered, "Oh, shit."

  Getting out a handkerchief, he gently placed it on my lap.

  Dabbing my eyes, I moved closer to the door, leaning my head against the glass. I did not want to cry.

  "I'm sorry," he said.

  "You're being sorry doesn't change anything."

  "Please don't cry."

  "I will if I want," I said, ridiculously.

  "I'm sorry," he said again, this time in a whisper, and I thought he was going to touch me. But he didn't. He leaned back in the seat and stared up at the roof.

  "Look," he said, "if you want to know the truth, I wish you had been the one who left. Then you could have been the one who screwed up instead of me."

  I did not say anything. I did not dare.

  "Did you hear me?"

  "I'm not sure," I said to the window.

  He shifted his position. I could feel his eyes on me.

  "Kay, look at me."

  Reluctantly, I did.

  "Why do you think I've been coming back here?" he asked in a low voice. "I'm trying to get back to Quantico, but it's tough. The timing's bad with the federal budget cuts, the economy, the Bureau's being hit hard. There are a lot of reasons."

  "You're telling me you're professionally unhappy?"

  "I'm telling you I made a mistake."

  "I regret any professional mistakes you've made," I said.

  "I'm not referring just to that, and you know it."

  "Then what are you referring to?" I was determined to make him say it.

  "You know what I'm referring to. Us. Nothing's been the same."

  His eyes were shining in the dark. He looked almost fierce.

  "Has it been for you?" he pushed.

  "I think both of us have made a lot of mistakes."

  "I'd like to start undoing some of them, Kay. I don't want it to end this way with us. I've felt that for along time but . . . well, I just didn't know how to tell you. I didn't know if you wanted to hear from me, if you were seeing someone else."

  I did not admit that I had been wondering the same about him and was terrified of the answers.

  He reached for me, taking my hand. This time I could not pull away.

  "I've been trying to sort through what went wrong with us," he said. "All I know is I'm stubborn, you're stubborn. I wanted my way and you wanted yours. So here we are. I can't say what your life has been like since I left, but I'm willing to bet it hasn't been good."

  "How arrogant of you to bet on such a thing."

  He smiled. "I'm just trying to live up to your image of me. One of the last things you called me before I left was an arrogant bastard."

  "Was that before or after I called you a son of a bitch?"

  "Before, I believe."

  "As I remember it, you called me a few rather choice names as well. And I thought you just suggested that we forget what was said back then."

  "And you just said no matter how much I love you."

  "I beg your pardon?"

  "Love,' as in present tense. Don't try to take it back. I heard it."

  He pressed my hand to his face, his lips moving over my fingers.

  "I've tried to stop thinking about you. I can't."

  He paused, his face close to mine. "I'm not asking you to say the same thing."

  But he was asking that, and I answered him.

  I touched his cheek and he touched mine, then we kissed the places our fingers had been until we found each other's lips. And we said nothing more. We stopped thinking entirely until the windshield suddenly lit up and the night beyond was throbbing red. We frantically rearranged ourselves as a patrol car pulled up and a deputy climbed out, flashlight and portable radio in hand.

  Mark was already opening his door.

  "Everything all right?" the deputy asked, bending over to peer inside. His eyes wandered disconcertingly over the scene of our passion, his face stern, an unseemly bulge in his right cheek.

  "Everything's fine," I said, horrified as I not so subtly probed the floor with my stocking foot. Somehow I had lost a shoe.

  He stepped back and spat out a stream of tobacco juice.

  "We were having a conversation," Mark offered, and he had the presence of mind not to display his badge. The deputy knew damn well we had been doing a lot of things when he pulled up. Conversing was not one of them.

  "Well, now, if y'all intend to continue your conversation," he said, "I'd 'preciate it if you'd go someplace else. You know, it ain't safe to be sitting out here late at night in a car, been some problems. And if you're not from around here, maybe you hadn't heard about the couples disappearing. " He went on with his lecture, my blood running cold.

  "You're right, and thank you," Mark finally said. "We're leaving now."

  Nodding, the deputy spat again, and we watched him climb into his car. He pulled out onto the road and slowly drove away.

  "Jesus," Mark muttered under his breath.

  "Don't say it," I replied. "Let's not even get into how stupid we are. Lord."

  "Do you see how damn easy it is?"

  He said it anyway. "Two people out at night and someone pulls up. Hell, my damn gun's in the glove compartment. I never even thought about it until he was right in my face, and then it would have been too late - " "Stop it, Mark. Please."

  He startled me by laughing.

  "It's not funny!"

  "Your blouse is buttoned crooked," he gasped.

  Shit! "You better hope like hell he didn't recognize you, Chief Scarpetta."

  "Thank you for the reassuring thought, Mr. FBI. And now I'm going home."

  I opened the door. "You've gotten me into enough trouble for one night."

  "Hey. You started it."

  "I most certainly did not."

  "Kay?" He got serious. "What do we do now? I mean, I'm going back to Denver tomorrow. I don't know what's going to happen, what I can make happen or if I should try to make anything happen."

  There were no easy answers. There never had been with us.

  "If you don't try to make anything happen, nothing will."

  "What about you?" he asked.

  "There's a lot of talking we need to do, Mark."

  He turned on the headlights and fastened his seat belt. "What about you?" he asked again. "It takes two to try."

  "Funny you should say that."

  "Kay, don't. Please don't start in."

  "I need to think."

  I got out my keys. I was suddenly exhausted.

  "Don't jerk me around."

  "I'm not jerking you around, Mark," I said, touching his cheek.

  We kissed one last time. I wanted the kiss to go on for hours, and yet I wanted to get away. Our passion had always been reckless. We had always lived for moments that never seemed to add up to any sort of future.

  "I'll call you," he said.

  I opened my car door.

  "Listen to Benton," he added. "You can trust him. What you're involved in is very bad stuff."

  I started the engine.

  "I wish you'd stay out of it."

  "You always wish that," I said.

  Mark did call late the following night and again two nights after that. When he called a third time, on February tenth, what he said sent me out in search of the most recent issue of Newsweek.

  Pat
Harvey's lusterless eyes stared out at America from the magazine's cover. A headline in bold, black letters read THE MURDER OF THE DRUG CZAR'S DAUGHTER, the "exclusive" inside a rehashing of her press conference, her charges of conspiracy, and the cases of the other teenagers who had vanished and been found decomposed in Virginia woods. Though I had declined to be interviewed for the story, the magazine had found a file photograph of me climbing the steps of Richmond's John Marshall Court House.

  The caption read, "Chief Medical Examiner releases findings under threat of court order."

  "It just goes with the turf. I'm fine," I reassured Mark when I called him back.

  Even when my mother rang me up later that same night, I remained calm until she said, "There's someone here who's dying to talk to you, Kay " My niece, Lucy, had always had a special talent for doing me in.

  "How come you got in trouble?" she asked.

  "I didn't get in trouble."

  "The story says you did, that someone threatened you."

  "It's too complicated to explain, Lucy."

  "It's really awesome," she said, unfazed. "I'm going to take the magazine to school tomorrow and show it to everybody."

  Great, I thought.

  "Mrs. Barrows," she went on, referring to her homeroom teacher, "has already asked if you can come for career day in April.. " I had not seen Lucy in a year. It did not seem possible she was already a sophomore in high school, and though I knew she had contact lenses and a driver's license, I still envisioned her as a pudgy, needy child wanting to be tucked into bed, an enfant terrible who, for some strange reason, had bonded to me before she could crawl. I would never forget flying to Miami the Christmas after she was born and staying with my sister for a week. Lucy's every conscious minute, it seemed, was spent watching me, eyes following my every move like two luminous moons. She would smile when I changed her diapers and howl the instant I walked out of the room.

  "Would you like to spend a week with me this summer?"

  I asked.

  Lucy hesitated, then said disappointedly, "I guess that means you can't come for career day."

  "We'll see, all right?"

  "I don't know if I can come this summer."

  Her tone had turned petulant. "I've got a job and might not be able to get away."

  "It's wonderful you have a job."

  "Yeah. In a computer store. I'm going to save enough to get a car. I want a sports car, a convertible, and you can find some of the old ones pretty cheap."

  "Those are death traps," I said before I could stop myself. "Please don't get something like that, Lucy. Why don't you come see me in Richmond? We'll go around and shop for cars, something nice and safe."

  She had dug a hole, and as usual, I had fallen in it. She was an expert at manipulation, and it didn't require a psychiatrist to figure out why. Lucy was the victim of chronic neglect by her mother, my sister.

  "You are a bright young lady with a mind of your own," I said, changing tactics. "I know you'll make a good decision about what to do with your time and money, Lucy. But if you can fit me in this summer, maybe we can go somewhere. The beach or mountains, wherever you'd like. You've never been to England, have you?"

  "No. "

  "Well, then, that's a thought."

  "Really?" she asked suspiciously.

  "Really. I haven't been in years," I said, warming up to the idea. "I think it's time for you to see Oxford and Cambridge, the museums in London. I'll arrange a tour of Scotland Yard, if you'd like, and if we could manage to get away as early as June, we might be able to get tickets for Wimbledon."

  Silence.

  Then she said cheerfully, "I was just teasing. I don't really want a sports car, Aunt Kay."

  The next morning there were no autopsies, and I sat at my desk trying to diminish piles of paperwork. I had other deaths to investigate, classes to teach, and trials demanding my testimony, yet I could not concentrate. Every time I turned to something else, my attention was drawn back to the couples. There was something important I was overlooking, something right under my nose.

  I felt it had to do with Deborah Harvey's murder.

  She was a gymnast, an athlete with superb control of her body. She may not have been as strong as Fred, but she would have been quicker and more agile. I believed the killer had underestimated her athletic potential, and this was why he momentarily lost control of her in the woods. As I stared blankly at a report I was supposed to be reviewing, Mark's words came back to me. He had mentioned "kill zones," officers at Camp Peary utilizing automatic weapons, grenades, and night vision equipment to hunt each other down in fields and woods. I tried to imagine this. I began toying with a gruesome scenario.

  Perhaps when the killer abducted Deborah and Fred and took them to the logging road, he had a terrifying game in store for them. He told them to take off their shoes and socks, and bound their hands behind their backs. He may have been wearing night vision goggles, which enhanced moonlight, making it possible for him to see quite well as he forced them into the woods, where he intended to track them down, one at a time.

  I believed Marino was right. The killer would have gotten Fred out of the way first. Perhaps he told him to run, gave him a chance to get away, and all the while Fred was stumbling through trees and brush, panicking, the killer was watching, able to see and move about with ease, knife in hand. At the opportune moment, it would not have been very difficult for him to ambush his victim from behind, yoke arm under chin and jerk the head back, then slash through the windpipe and carotid arteries. This commando style of attack was silent and swift. If the bodies were not discovered for a while, the medical examiner would have difficulty finding a cause of death because tissue and cartilage would have decomposed.

  I took the scenario further. Part of the killer's sadism might have been to force Deborah to witness her boyfriend being tracked and murdered in the dark. I was considering that once they were in the woods, the killer held her captive audience by binding her feet at the ankles, but what he did not anticipate was her flexibility. It was possible that while he was occupied with Fred, she managed to bring her bound hands under her buttocks and work her legs through her arms, thus getting her hands in front of her. This would have allowed her to untie her feet and defend herself.

  I held my hands in front of me, as if they were bound at the wrists. Had Deborah locked her fingers together in a double fist and swung, and had the killer's reflex been to defensively raise his hands, in one of which he was holding the knife he had just used to murder Fred, then the hack to Deborah's left index finger made sense. Deborah ran like hell, and the killer, knocked off guard, shot her in the back.

  Was I right? I could not know. But the scenario continued to play in my mind without a hitch. What didn't fit were several presuppositions. If Deborah's death was a paid hit carried out by a professional or the work of a psychopathic federal agent who had selected her in advance because she was Pat Harvey's daughter, then did this individual not know that Deborah was an Olympic-caliber gymnast? Would he not have considered that she would be unusually quick and agile and have incorporated this into his premeditations? Would he have shot her iii the back? Was the manner in which she was killed consistent with the cold, calculating profile of a professional killer? In the back.

  When Hilda Ozimek had studied the photographs of the dead teenagers, she continued to pick up fear. Obviously, the victims had felt fear. But it had never occurred to me before this moment that the killer may have felt fear, too. Shooting someone in the back is cowardly. When Deborah resisted her assailant, he was unnerved. He lost control. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that Wesley and perhaps everybody else was wrong about this character. To hunt bound, barefoot teenagers in the woods after dark, when you have weapons, are familiar with the terrain, and are perhaps equipped with a night vision scope or goggles would be like shooting fish in a barrel. It's cheating. It's too damn easy. It did not strike me as the modus operandi I would expect were the killer a
n expert who thrived on taking risks.

  And then there was the matter of his weapons.

  If I were a CIA officer hunting human prey, what would I use? An Uzi? Maybe. More likely I would pick a nine-millimeter pistol, something that would do the job, nothing more, nothing less. I would use commonplace cartridges, something unremarkable. Everyday hollowpoints, for example. What I would not use was anything unusual like Exploder bullets or Hydra-Shoks. The ammunition. Think hard, Kay! I could not remember the last time I had recovered Hydra-Shok bullets from a body.

 

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