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Книга EchoPark. Содержание - Part two the field trip

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Bosch was hungry now, having missed lunch. He decided he would cross over the freeway into Chinatown and grab takeout to bring back to the squad room. He pulled back onto the street and was debating whether to call the office to see if anybody wanted anything from Chinese Friends when his cell rang. He checked the screen but saw the ID was blocked. He answered anyway.

“It’s me.”

“Rachel.”

“I wanted to switch to my cell.”

There was a pause. Bosch knew he had been right about the phones at Tactical.

“How have you been, Harry?”

“I’ve been fine.”

“So you did like you said you were going to do. You went back to the cops. I read about you last year with that case up in the Valley.”

“Yeah, my first case back. Everything’s been below the radar since then. Until this thing I’ve got working now.”

“And that’s why you called me?”

Bosch noted the tone in her voice. It had been more than eighteen months since they had spoken. And that was at the end of an intense week when they had crossed paths on a case, Bosch working on a private ticket before coming back to the department and Walling working on resuscitating her career with the bureau. The case led Bosch back to the blue fold and Walling to the L.A. field office. Whether Tactical, whatever that was, constituted an improvement over her previous posting in South Dakota was something Bosch didn’t know. What he did know was that before she had fallen from grace and been cast out to the reservation beat in the Dakotas, she had been a profiler in the Behavioral Science Unit at Quantico.

“I called because I thought maybe you’d be interested in putting some of your old skills to work again,” he said.

“You mean a profile?”

“Sort of. Tomorrow I have to go head to head in a room with an admitted serial killer and I don’t know the first thing about what makes him tick. This guy wants to confess to nine murders in a deal to avoid the needle. I have to make sure he’s not playing us. I have to figure out if he’s telling the truth before we turn around and tell all the families-what families we know of-that we’ve got the right guy.”

He waited a moment for her to react. When she didn’t he pressed on.

“I’ve got crimes, a couple crime scenes and forensics. I’ve got his apartment inventory and photos. But I don’t have a handle on him. I was calling because I was wondering if I could show you some of this stuff and, you know, maybe get some ideas from you on how to handle him.”

There was another long silence before she answered.

“Where are you, Harry?” she finally asked.

“Right now? Right now I’m heading into Chinatown to pick up some shrimp fried rice. I missed lunch.”

“I’m downtown. I could meet you. I missed lunch, too.”

“You know where Chinese Friends is?”

“Of course. How about a half hour?”

“I’ll order before you get there.”

Bosch closed the phone and felt a thrill that he knew came from something other than the idea that Rachel Walling might be able to help him with the Waits case. Their last encounter had ended badly but the sting of it had eroded over time. What was left in his memory was the night they had made love in a Las Vegas motel room and he had believed he had connected with a kindred soul.

He looked at his watch. He had time to kill even if he was going to order food before she got there. In Chinatown he pulled to the curb outside the restaurant and opened up his phone again. Before he had turned the Gesto murder book over to Olivas he had written down names and numbers he might need. He now called Bakersfield and the home of Marie Gesto’s parents. The call would not be a complete shock to them. His habit had always been to call them every time he pulled the file to take another look at the case. He thought it was some measure of comfort for them to know he had not given up.

The missing woman’s mother answered the phone.

“Irene, it’s Harry Bosch.”

“Oh!”

There was always that initial note of hope and excitement when one of them answered.

“Nothing yet, Irene,” he responded quickly. “I just have a question for you and Dan, if you don’t mind.”

“Of course, of course. It’s just good to hear from you.”

“It’s nice to hear your voice, too.”

It had been more than ten years since he had actually seen Irene and Dan Gesto. After two years they had stopped coming to L.A. in hopes of finding their daughter, had given up her apartment and gone home. After that, Bosch always called.

“What is your question, Harry?”

“It’s a name, actually. Do you remember Marie ever mentioning someone named Ray Waits? Maybe Raynard Waits? Raynard is an unusual name. You might remember it.”

He heard her breath catch and he immediately knew he had made a mistake. The recent arrest and court hearings involving Waits had made it into the media in Bakersfield. He should have known that Irene would have a keen eye on such things in L.A. She would know what Waits was accused of. She would know they were calling him the Echo Park Bagman.

“Irene?”

He guessed that her imagination had taken terrible flight.

“Irene, it’s not what you think. I’m just running some checks on this guy. It sounds like you’ve heard of him from the news.”

“Of course. Those poor young girls. Ending up like that. I…”

He knew what she was thinking, maybe not what she was feeling.

“Can you think back before you saw him on the news. The name. Do you remember if your daughter ever mentioned it?”

“No, I don’t remember it, thank God.”

“Is your husband there? Can you check with him?”

“He’s not here. He’s still at work.”

Dan Gesto had given everything of himself to the search for his missing daughter. After two years, when he had nothing left spiritually, physically or financially, he went home to Bakersfield and went back to work at a John Deere franchise. Selling farmers their tractors and tools kept him alive now.

“Can you ask him when he comes home and then call me back if he remembers the name?”

“I will, Harry.”

“One other thing, Irene. Marie’s apartment had that tall window in the living room. You remember that?”

“Of course. That first year we came down for Christmas instead of her coming up. We wanted her to feel like it was a two-way road. Dan put up the tree in that window and you could see its lights from up and down the block.”

“Yes. Do you know if she ever hired a window washer to keep that window clean?”

There was a long silence while Bosch waited. It was a hole in the investigation, an angle he should have followed thirteen years before but hadn’t even thought of.

“I don’t remember, Harry. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, Irene. It’s okay. Do you remember when you and Dan went back to Bakersfield and you took everything from the apartment?”

“Yes.”

She said it in a strangled voice. He knew that she was crying now and that the couple had felt that in some way they were abandoning their daughter as well as their hope when they had gone home after two years of searching and waiting.

“Did you keep it all? All the records and bills and all of the stuff we gave you when we were finished with it?”

He knew that if there had been a receipt for a window washer, it would have been a lead that was checked out. But he had to ask her anyway to confirm the negative, to make sure it hadn’t slipped through the cracks.

“Yes, we have it. It’s in her room. We have a room with her things in it. In case she…”

Ever came home. Bosch knew their hope would not be fully extinguished until Marie was found, one way or the other.

“I understand,” he said. “I need you to look through that box, Irene. If you can. I want you to look for a receipt from a window washer. Go through her checkbooks and see if she paid a window washer. Look for a company called ClearView Residential Glass Cleaners, or maybe an abbreviation of that. Call me if you find anything. Okay, Irene? Do you have a pen there? I think I got a new cell number since the last time I gave it to you.”

“Okay, Harry,” Irene said. “I have a pen.”

“The number is three-two-three, two-four-four, five-six-three-one. Thank you, Irene. I’m going to go now. Please give your husband my best.”

“I will. How’s your daughter, Harry?”

He paused. Over the years it seemed like he had told them everything about himself. It was a way of keeping solid the bond and his promise to find their daughter.

“She’s fine. She’s great.”

“What grade now?”

“Third, but I don’t get to see her that much. She’s living in Hong Kong with her mother at the moment. I went over last month for a week. They’ve got a Disneyland over there now.”

He didn’t know why he threw in that last line.

“It must be very special when you are with her.”

“Yes. She is also sending me e-mail now. She’s better at it than me.”

It was awkward speaking about one’s daughter to a woman who had lost her own and didn’t know where or why.

“I hope she comes back soon,” Irene Gesto said.

“Me, too. Good-bye, Irene. Call me on the cell whenever you want.”

“Good-bye, Harry. Good luck.”

She always said good luck at the end of every conversation. Bosch sat in the car and thought about the contradiction in his desire for his daughter to live here in Los Angeles with him. He feared for her safety in the far-off place where she lived now. He wanted to be close so that he could protect her. But would bringing her to a city where young girls disappeared without a trace or ended up in pieces in trash bags be a move toward safety? He knew deep down that he was being selfish and that he couldn’t really protect her no matter where she lived. Everybody had to make their own way in this world. It was Darwin’s rules out there and all he could do was hope that her path didn’t cut across the path of someone like Raynard Waits.

He gathered up the files and got out of the car.

5

BOSCH DIDN’T SEE THE CLOSED sign until he got to the door of Chinese Friends. It was only then that he realized the restaurant closed in the late afternoon before the dinner rush started. He opened his phone to call Rachel Walling but remembered she blocked her number when she had called him back. With nothing to do but wait he bought a copy of the Times out of a box at the curb and paged through it while leaning against his car.

He scanned the headlines quickly, feeling that he was somehow wasting time or losing momentum by reading the paper. The only story he read with any interest was a brief item reporting that district attorney candidate Gabriel Williams had picked up the endorsement of the South County Fellowship of Christian Churches. It wasn’t much of a surprise but it was significant because it was an early indication that the minority vote was going with Williams, the civil rights attorney. The story also mentioned that Williams and Rick O’Shea would be appearing the next night at a candidate forum being sponsored by another coalition representing the south side, the Citizens for Sensitive Leadership. The candidates would not debate each other but would give speeches and take questions from the audience. The CSL would announce its endorsement afterward. Also appearing at the forum would be city council candidates Irvin Irving and Martin Maizel.

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