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Книга EchoPark. Страница 103

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“Good. Glad to hear it.”

32

BOSCH WALKED TOWARD PRATT. He came too close to him, invading his personal space, which caused Pratt to back into his office and move back to his desk. This was what Bosch wanted. He said good-bye and have a good weekend. He then headed toward the door of the squad room.

The Open-Unsolved Unit had three cars assigned to its eight detectives and one supervisor. The cars were used on a first-come first-served basis and the keys hung on hooks next to the squad room door. The procedure was for a detective taking a car to write his or her name and the estimated time of return on an erasable white board that hung below the keys. When Bosch got to the door he opened it wide to block the view from Pratt’s office of the key hooks. There were two sets of keys on the hooks. Bosch grabbed one and left.

A few minutes later he pulled out of the garage behind Parker Center and headed toward the DWP Building. The mad rush to empty downtown by sunset was only just beginning and he made it the seven blocks in quick time. He parked illegally in front of the fountain at the entrance to the building and jumped out of his car. He checked his watch as he approached the front door. It was twenty minutes to five.

A uniformed security guard came through the doors, waving at him.

“You can’t park-”

“I know.”

Bosch showed him his badge and pointed to the radio on the man’s belt.

“Can you get Jason Edgar on that thing?”

“Edgar? Yeah. What’s this-”

“Get him on there and tell him Detective Bosch is waiting out front. I need to see him as soon as possible. Do it now, please.”

Bosch turned and headed back to his car. He got in and waited five minutes before he saw Jason Edgar come through the glass doors. When he got to the car he opened the passenger door to look in, not get in.

“What’s up, Harry?”

“I got your message. Get in.”

Edgar reluctantly got in the car. Bosch pulled away from the curb as he was closing his door.

“Wait a minute. Where are we going? I can’t just leave.”

“This should only take a few minutes.”

“Where are we going?”

“Parker Center. We won’t even get out of the car.”

“I have to let them know.”

Edgar took a small two-way off his belt. He called in at the DWP security center and said he would be off-location on a police matter for a half hour. He received a 10-4 and put the radio back on his belt.

“You should’ve asked me first,” he said to Bosch. “My cousin said you had a habit of acting first and asking questions later.”

“He said that, huh?”

“Yeah, he did. What are we doing at Parker Center?”

“Making an ID of the cop who talked to you after I left today.”

Traffic had already gotten worse. A lot of nine-to-fivers getting an early jump on the commute home. Friday afternoons were particularly brutal. Bosch finally pulled back into the police garage at ten to five and hoped they wouldn’t be too late. He found a parking space in the first row. The garage was an open-air structure and the space afforded them a view of San Pedro Street, which ran between Parker Center and the garage.

“You have a cell phone?” Bosch asked.

“Yeah.”

Bosch gave him the general number for Parker Center and told him to call it and ask for the Open-Unsolved Unit. Calls transferred from the main number did not carry forward caller ID. Edgar’s name and number would not show up on the OU lines.

“I just want to see if somebody answers,” Bosch said. “If somebody does, just ask for Rick Jackson. When you’re told that he’s not there, don’t leave a message. Just say you’ll get him on his cell and hang up.”

Edgar’s call was answered and he went through the routine Bosch had outlined. When he was finished he looked over at Bosch.

“Somebody named Pratt answered.”

“Good. He’s still there.”

“So what’s that mean?”

“I wanted to make sure he hadn’t left. He’ll leave at five, and when he does he’ll cross the street right over there. I want to see if he’s the guy who told you he was monitoring my investigation.”

“Is he IAD?”

“No. He’s my boss.”

Bosch slapped the visor down as a precaution against being seen. They were parked a good thirty yards from the crosswalk Pratt would use to get to the garage but he didn’t know which way Pratt would go once he was inside the structure. As a squad supervisor he had the perk of being able to park a personal car in the police garage, and most of those assigned spaces were on the second level. There were two sets of stairs and the ramp up. If Pratt walked up the ramp he would come right by Bosch’s position.

Edgar asked questions about the Echo Park shooting and Bosch answered them in short sentences. He didn’t want to talk about it but he had just yanked the guy off post and had to respond in some way. It was only being courteous. Finally, at 5:01 he saw Pratt come through the back doors of Parker Center and down the ramp by the jail’s intake doors. He walked out to San Pedro and started to cross with a group of four other detective supervisors who were heading home as well.

“Okay,” Bosch said, cutting Edgar off in the middle of a question. “See those guys crossing the street. Which one came to DWP today?”

Edgar studied the pack crossing the street. He had an unobstructed view of Pratt, who was walking next to another man at the back of the group.

“Yeah, the last guy,” Edgar said without hesitation. “The one puttin’ on the shades.”

Bosch looked over. Pratt had just put on his Ray-Bans. Bosch felt a deep pressure in his chest, like the worst case of heartburn he’d ever had. He kept his eyes on Pratt and watched him turn away from their position once he crossed the street. He was heading toward the far stairwell.

“Now what? You going to follow him?”

Bosch remembered Pratt saying he had something to do after work.

“I want to but I can’t. I’ve got to shoot you back to DWP.”

“Don’t worry about it, man. I can walk it. Probably be faster with this traffic, anyway.”

Edgar cracked his door and turned to get out. He looked back at Bosch.

“I don’t know what’s going on but good luck, Harry. I hope you get who you’re looking for.”

“Thanks, Jason. Hope to see you again.”

After Edgar was clear Bosch backed out and left the garage. He took San Pedro over to Temple because he assumed that Pratt would take that route on his way to the freeway. Whether he was going home or not, the freeway was the likely choice.

Bosch crossed Temple and pulled to the curb in a red zone. It gave him a good angle on the exit to the police garage.

In two minutes a silver SUV came out of the garage and headed toward Temple. It was a Jeep Commander with a retro boxy design. Bosch identified Pratt behind the wheel. He immediately fit the dimensions and color of the Commander to those of the mystery SUV he had seen take off from the street near his house the night before.

Bosch leaned down across the seat as the Commander approached Temple. He heard it make the turn and after a few seconds he got back up behind the wheel. Pratt was on Temple up at the light at Los Angeles Street and he was turning right. Bosch waited until he completed the turn and then took off to follow.

Pratt entered the crowded northbound lanes of the 101 Freeway and joined the crawl of rush-hour traffic. Bosch came down the ramp and pushed into the line of cars about six vehicles behind the Jeep. He got lucky in that Pratt’s vehicle had a white ball with a face on it atop the radio antenna. It was a giveaway promotion from a fast-food chain. It allowed Bosch to track the Jeep without having to get too close. He was in an unmarked Crown Vic which might as well have had a neon sign on its roof that flashed POLICE!

Slowly but surely Pratt made his way north with Bosch following at a distance. When the freeway cut past Echo Park he looked up to the ridgeline and saw that the crime scene and media soirée on Figueroa Lane was still in full swing. He counted two media choppers still circling overhead. He wondered if his car would be towed from the scene or if he would be able to go back and retrieve it later.

As he drove, Bosch tried to piece together what he had on Pratt. There was little doubt that Pratt had been following him while he was on home duty. His SUV matched the SUV that had been on his street the night before, and Pratt had been IDed by Jason Edgar as the cop who had followed him into the DWP Building. It was not feasible to think that he had been following Bosch simply to see if he was abiding by the rules of home duty. There had to be another reason and Bosch could think of only one thing.

The case.

Once he’d made this assumption, other things quickly came together and they served to only stoke the fire that was burning in Bosch’s chest. Pratt had told the story about Maury Swann earlier in the week, and that made it clear they knew each other. While he had relayed a negative story about the defense attorney, that could have been a cover or an attempt to distance himself from someone he was actually close to and possibly working with.

Also obvious to Bosch was the fact that Pratt was intimately aware that Bosch had regarded Anthony Garland as a person of interest in the Gesto case. Bosch had routinely informed Pratt of his activities in reopening the case. Pratt was also notified when Garland’s lawyers successfully reacquired a court order restraining Bosch from talking to Garland without one of his lawyers present.

Last, and perhaps most important, Pratt had access to the Gesto murder book. It sat most of the time on Bosch’s desk. It could have been Pratt who put in the phony connection to Robert Saxon, aka Raynard Waits. He could have planted the connection long before the book was given to Olivas. He could have planted it so Olivas would discover it.

Bosch realized that the whole plan for Raynard Waits to confess to the murder of Marie Gesto and to lead investigators to the body could have completely originated with Abel Pratt. He was in a perfect position as a go-between who could monitor Bosch as well as all the other parties involved.

And he realized that with Swann part of the plan, Pratt wouldn’t need Olivas or O’Shea. The more people in a conspiracy, the more likely it is that it will fail or fall apart. All Swann had to do was tell Waits that the prosecutor and investigator were behind it and he would have planted a false trail for someone like Bosch to follow.

Bosch felt the hot flash of guilt start to burn at the back of his neck. He realized that he could be wrong about everything he had been thinking until a half hour before. Totally wrong. Olivas might not be dirty after all. Maybe he had been used as skillfully as Bosch had been used himself, and maybe O’Shea was guilty of nothing more than political maneuvering-taking credit where it was not due him, redirecting blame away from where it was due. O’Shea could have called for the department fix simply to contain Bosch’s accusations because they would be politically damaging, not because they were true.

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