All that remains, p.33
All That Remains,
The telephone rang several weeks later when I was home alone working in my study. My recorded message had barely begun when the person hung up. The phone rang again half an hour later, and this time I answered before my machine. I said hello, and the line was disconnected again.
Perhaps someone was trying to reach Abby and did not want to talk to me? Perhaps Clifford Ring had discovered where she was? Distracted, I went to the refrigerator for a snack and settled on several slices of cheese.
I was back in my study paying bills when I heard a car pull in, gravel crunching beneath tires. I assumed it was Abby until the doorbell rang.
I looked through the peephole at Pat Harvey zipped up in a red windbreaker. The hang-ups, I thought. She had made certain I was home because she wanted to speak to me face-to-face.
She greeted me with "I'm sorry to impose," but I could tell she wasn't.
"Please come in," I said reluctantly.
She followed me to the kitchen, where I poured her a cup of coffee. She sat stiffly at the table, coffee mug cradled in her hands.
"I'm going to be very direct with you," she began. "It has come to my attention that this man they arrested in Williamsburg, Steven Spurrier, is believed to have murdered two women eight years ago."
"Where did you hear this?"
"That's not important. The cases were never solved and have now been linked to the murders of the five couples. The two women were Steven Spurrier's first victims."
I noticed that the lower lid of her left eye was twitching. Pat Harvey's physical deterioration since I had seen her last was shocking. Her auburn hair was lifeless; her eyes were dull; her skin was pale and drawn.
She looked even thinner than she had been during her televised press conference.
"I'm not sure I'm following you," I said tensely.
"He inspired their trust and they made themselves vulnerable. Which is exactly what he did with the others, with my daughter, with Fred."
She said all this as if she knew it for a fact. Pat Harvey had convicted Spurrier in her mind.
"But he will never be punished for Debbie's murder," she said. "I know that now."
"It is too early to know anything," I replied calmly.
"They have no proof. What was found inside his house is not enough. It will not hold up in any court, if the cases ever go to court. You can't convict someone of capital murder just because you found newspaper clippings and surgical gloves inside his house, especially if the defense claims the evidence was planted to frame his client."
She had been talking to Abby, I thought with a sick feeling.
"The only evidence," she went on coldly, "is the blood found inside the women's car. It will all depend on DNA, and there will be questions because the cases occurred so long ago. The chain of custody, for example. Even if the prints match and the courts accept the evidence, there is no certainty that a jury will, especially since the police have yet to find the murder weapons."
"They're still looking."
"He's had plenty of time to dispose of those by now," she replied, and she was right.
Marino had discovered that Spurrier worked out at a gym not far from where he lived. The police had searched his rented locker, which not only locked with a key but had had a padlock on it. The locker was empty.
The blue athletic bag Spurrier had been seen carrying around the gym had never been found, and never would be, I felt sure.
"What do you need from me, Mrs. Harvey?"
"I want you to answer my questions."
"If there is evidence I don't know about, I think you'd be wise to tell me."
"The investigation is not over. The police, the FBI are working very hard on your daughter's case."
She stared across the kitchen. "Are they talking to you?"
Instantly, I understood. No one directly involved in the investigation was giving Pat Harvey the time of day.
She had become a pariah, perhaps even a joke. She was not going to admit this to me, but that's why she had appeared at my door.
"Do you believe Steven Spurrier murdered my daughter?"
"Why does my opinion matter?" I asked.
"It matters a great deal."
I asked again.
"You don't form opinions lightly. I don't think you jump to conclusions or believe something just because you wish to. You're familiar with the evidence" - her voice trembled - "and you took care of Debbie."
I could not think of what to say.
"So I'll ask you again. Do you believe Steven Spurrier murdered them, murdered her?"
I hesitated, just for an instant, but it was enough. When I told her that I could not possibly answer such a question, and indeed, did not know the answer, she did not listen.
She got up from the table.
I watched her dissolve in the night, her profile briefly illuminated by the interior light of her Jaguar as she got in and drove away.
Abby did not come in until after I had given up waiting for her and had gone to bed. I slept fitfully and opened any eyes when I heard water running downstairs. I squinted at the clock. It was almost midnight. I got up and slipped into my robe.
She must have heard me in the hall, for when I reached her bedroom she was standing in the doorway, her pajamas a sweat suit, feet bare.
"You're up late," she said.
"So are you."
"Well, I . . ."
She didn't finish her sentence as I walked inside her room and sat on the edge of the bed.
she asked uneasily.
"Pat Harvey came to see me earlier this evening, that's what's up. You've been talking to her."
"I've been talking to a lot of people."
"I know you want to help her," I said. "I know you've been outraged by the way her daughter's death has been used to hurt her. Mrs. Harvey's a fine woman, and I think you genuinely care about her. But she needs to stay out of the investigation, Abby."
She looked at me without speaking.
"For her own good," I added empathically.
Abby sat down on the rug, crossing her legs Indian style, and leaned against the wall.
"What did she say to you?" she asked.
"She's convinced Spurrier murdered her daughter and will never be punished for it."
"I certainly had nothing to do with her reaching such a conclusion," she said. "Pat has a mind of her own."
"Spurrier's arraignment is Friday. Does she plan to be there?"
"It's just a petit larceny charge. But if you're asking if I'm worried Pat might appear and make a scene ...."
She shook her head. "No way. It would serve no purpose for her to show up. She's not an idiot, Kay."
"What? Am I an idiot?" She evaded me again.
"Will you be at the arraignment?"
"Sure. And I'll tell you exactly how it will go. He'll be in and out, will plead guilty to petit larceny and get slapped with a fifteen-hundred-dollar fine. And he's going to spend a little time in jail, maybe a month at most. The cops want him to sweat behind bars for a while, break him down so he'll talk."
"How do you know that?"
"He's not going to talk," she went on. "They're going to lead him out of the courthouse in front of everyone and shove him in the back of a patrol car. It's all meant to scare and humiliate him, but it won't work. He knows they don't have enough on him. He'll bide his time in jail, then be out. A month isn't forever."
"You sound as if you feel sorry for him."
"I don't feel anything for him," she said. "Spurrier was into recreational cocaine, according to his attorney, and the night the cops caught him stealing the license tags, he was planning to make a buy. Spurrier was afraid some drug dealer would turn out to be a snitch, record his plate number, maybe give it to the cops. That's the explanation for the stolen tags."
"You can't believe that," I said heatedly.
Abby straightened ou
Without saying a word, she stood up and walked out of the room. I followed her to the kitchen, my frustration mounting. As she began to fill a glass with ice, I placed my hands on her shoulders and turned her around until we were face-to-face.
"Are you listening to me?"
Her eyes softened. "Please don't be angry with me.
What I'm doing has nothing to do with you, with our friendship."
What friendship? 1 feel as if I don't even know you anymore. You leave money around my house as if I'm nothing more than the damn maid. I don't remember the last time we ate a meal together. You never talk to me.
You're so obsessed with this damn book. You see what's happened to Pat Harvey. Can't you see that the same thing is happening to you?"
Abby just stared at me.
"It's as if you've made up your mind about something," I continued to plead with her. "Why won't you tell me what it is?"
"There's nothing to make up my mind about," she said quietly, pulling away from me. "Everything's already been decided."
Fielding called early Saturday morning to say there were no autopsies, and exhausted, I went back to bed. It was midmorning when I got up. After a long, hot shower I was ready to deal with Abby and see if we could somehow repair our damaged relationship.
But when I went downstairs and knocked on her door, there was no answer, and when I went out to get the paper I saw her car was gone. Irritated that she had managed to avoid me again, I put on a pot of coffee.
I was sipping my second cup when a small headline caught my attention:
WILLIAMSBURG MAN GIVEN SUSPENDED SENTENCE
Steven Spurrier had not been cuffed and hauled off to jail following his arraignment the day before as Abby had predicted, I read, horrified. He pleaded guilty to petit larceny, and because he had no prior record and had always been a law-abiding citizen of Williamsburg, he was fined one thousand dollars and had walked out of the courthouse a free man.
Everything's already been decided, Abby had said.
Is this what she had been referring to? If she knew Spurrier would be released, why would she deliberately mislead me? I left the kitchen and opened the door to her room. The bed was made, curtains drawn. Inside the bath, I noticed drops of water in the sink and the faint scent of perfume. She had not been gone long. I looked for her briefcase and tape recorder, but could not find them.
Her .38 was not in its drawer. I went through dressers until I found her notepads, hidden beneath clothes.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, I frantically flipped through them. I streaked through her days and weeks as the meaning became clearer.
What had begun as Abby's crusade to discover the .truth about the couples' murders had turned into her own ambitious obsession.
She seemed fascinated by Spurrier. If he was guilty, she was determined to make his story the focus of her book, to explore his psychopathic mind. If he was innocent, it would be "another Gainesville," she wrote, referring to the spree murders of university students in which a suspect became a household name and later turned out to be innocent. "Only it would be worse than Gainesville," she added. "Because of what the card implies."
Initially, Spurrier had repeatedly denied Abby's requests for interviews. Then late last week, she had tried again and he had picked up the phone. He had suggested they meet after the arraignment, telling her his attorney had "made a deal."
"He said he had read my stories in the Post over the years," Abby had scribbled, "and had recalled my byline from when I was in Richmond. He remembered what I had written about Jill and Elizabeth, too, and remarked that they were 'nice girls' and he'd always hoped the cops would get the 'psycho.' He also knew about my sister, said he'd read about her murder.
That's the reason he finally agreed to talk to me, he said. He 'felt' for me, said he realized I understood what it was like to 'be a victim; because what happened to my sister made me a victim, too.
'I am a victim,' he said. 'We can talk about that. Maybe you can help me better understand what that's all about' "He suggested I come to his house Saturday morning at eleven, and I agreed, providing all interviews are exclusive. He said that was fine, he had no intention of talking to anybody else as long as I told his side. 'The truth,' as he put it. Thank you, Lord! Screw you and your book, Cliff. You lose."
Cliff Ring was writing a book about these cases, too. Dear Lord. No wonder Abby had been acting so odd.
She had lied when she had told me what was going to happen at Spurrier's arraignment. She did not want me to suspect that she planned to go to his house, and she knew such a thought would never occur to me if I assumed he would be in jail. I remembered her saying that she no longer trusted anyone. She didn't, not even me.
I glanced at my watch. It was eleven-fifteen.
Marino wasn't in, so I left a message on his pager. Then I called the Williamsburg police, and the phone rang forever before a secretary answered. I told her I needed to speak to one of the detectives immediately.
"They're all out on the street right now."
"Then let me speak to whoever's in."
She transferred me to a sergeant.
Identifying myself, I said, "You know who Steven Spurrier is."
"Can't work around here and not know that."
"A reporter is interviewing him at his house. I'm alerting you so you can make sure your surveillance teams know she's there, make sure everything's all right."
There was a long pause. Paper crinkled. It sounded as if the sergeant was eating something. Then, "Spurrier's not under surveillance anymore."
"I beg your pardon?"
"I said our guys have been pulled off."
"Now, that I don't know, Doc, been on vacation for the past-"
"Look, all I'm asking is you send a car by his house, make sure everything's all right."
It was all I could do not to scream at him.
" "Don't you worry about a thing."
His voice was as calm as a spill pond. "I'll pass it along."
I hung up as I heard a car pull in.
Abby, thank God.
But when I looked out the window, it was Marino.
I opened the front door before he could ring the bell.
"Was in the area when I got your message on the beeper, so I - "
I grabbed his arm. "Abby's there! She's got her gun!"
The sky had turned dark and it was raining as Marino and I sped east on 64. Every muscle in my body was rigid. My heart would not slow down.
"Hey, relax," Marino said as we turned off at the Colonial Williamsburg exit. "Whether the cops are watching him or not, he ain't stupid enough to touch her: Really, you know that. He ain't going to do that."
There was only one vehicle in sight when we turned onto Spurrier's quiet street.
"Shit," Marino muttered under his breath.
Parked on the street in front of Spurrier's house was a black Jaguar.
"Pat Harvey," I said. "Oh, God."
He slammed on the brakes.
He was out of the car as if he had been ejected, running up the driveway in the pouring rain. My heart was pounding as he pushed the front door open with his foot, revolver in hand, and disappeared inside.
The doorway was empty when suddenly he filled it again. He stared in my direction, yelling something I could not hear.
I got out of the car, rain soaking my clothes as I ran.
I smelled the burnt gunpowder the instant I entered the foyer.
"I've called for help," Marino said, eyes darting around. "Two of them are in there."
The living room was to the left.
He was hurrying up the stairs leading to the second story as photographs of Spurrier's house crazily flashed in my mind. I recognized the glass coffee table and saw the revolver on top of it. Blood was pooled on the bare wood floor beneath Spurrier's body,
For an instant I didn't know what to do, the roaring inside my head as loud as a windstorm. I squatted beside Spurrier, blood spilling and seeping around my shoes as I rolled him over. He was dead, shot through the abdomen and chest.
All That Remains by Patricia Cornwell / Mystery & Detective / Thrillers & Crime have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes