Книга EchoPark. Страница 108
It appeared that he was doing exactly what he had been doing the night before, just watching and possibly trying to determine if Bosch was home.
Bosch heard a car coming behind him. He turned and started walking back toward his car as if he were on an evening walk. The car drove by slowly and Bosch then turned and headed back to the hedge. As the car came up behind Pratt’s Jeep, rather than pull to the side, Pratt took off again, the lights of his SUV coming on as he sped away.
Bosch turned and ran back toward his rental car. He jumped in and pulled away from the curb. As he drove he hit redial on the rental phone and soon Rachel’s line was ringing. This time she answered.
“Rachel, it’s Harry. Are you in my house?”
“Yes, I’ve been wait-”
“Come outside. I’m going to pick you up. Hurry.”
“Harry, what is-”
“Just come out and bring your gun. Right now.”
He clicked off and pulled to a stop in front of his house. He could see the glow of brake lights disappearing around the curve ahead. But he knew those belonged to the car that had spooked Pratt. Pratt was farther ahead.
Bosch turned and looked at his front door, ready to hit the horn, but Rachel was coming out.
“Close the door,” Bosch yelled through the open passenger window.
Rachel pulled the door closed and hurried out to the car.
“Get in. Hurry!”
She jumped into the car and Bosch took off before she had the door closed.
“What is going on?”
He gave her the shorthand as he sped through the curves on the way up to Mulholland. He told her that his boss, Abel Pratt, was the setup man, that what had happened in Beachwood Canyon had been his plan. He told her that for the second night in a row he had been outside Bosch’s home.
“How do you know all of this?”
“I just know. I’ll be able to prove it all later. For now, it’s a fact.”
“What was he doing outside?”
“I don’t know. Trying to see if I was home, I think.”
“Your phone rang.”
“Right before you called my cell. I didn’t answer it.”
“It was probably him. Something’s going on.”
They came around the last bend, and the four-way stop at Mulholland was ahead. Bosch saw the taillights of a large vehicle just as they disappeared to the right. Another car moved up to the stop. It was the car that had made Pratt move on. It went straight through the intersection.
“The first one must have been Pratt. He turned right.”
Bosch got to the stop and also turned right. Mulholland was the winding snake that followed the crest line of the mountains across the city. Its curves were smoother and not as deep as Woodrow Wilson’s. It was also a busier street, with plenty of night cruisers. He would be able to follow Pratt without causing much suspicion.
They quickly caught up to the vehicle that had turned and confirmed that it was Pratt’s Commander. Bosch then dropped back and for the next ten minutes tailed Pratt along the crest line. The sparkling lights of the Valley sprawled below on the north side. It was a clear night and they could see all the way to the shadowy mountains on the far side of the sprawl. They stayed on Mulholland through the intersection with Laurel Canyon Boulevard and continued west.
“I was waiting at your house to say good-bye,” Rachel suddenly said.
After a moment of silence, Bosch responded.
“I know. I understand.”
“I don’t think you do.”
“You didn’t like the way I was today, the way I went after Waits. I’m not the man you thought I was. I’ve heard it before, Rachel.”
“It’s not that, Harry. Nobody is ever the man you think they are. I can live with that. But a woman has to feel safe with a man. And that includes when they are not together. How can I feel safe when I’ve seen firsthand how you work? It doesn’t matter whether it is the way I would do it or not. I’m not talking about us cop to cop. What I’m talking about is that I could never feel comfortable and safe. I’d wonder every night if it’s the night you won’t be coming home. I can’t do that.”
Bosch realized he was giving the car too much gas. Her words had made him unconsciously press the pedal down harder. He was getting too close to Pratt. He slowed down and pulled back from the taillights a hundred yards.
“It’s a dangerous job,” he said. “I thought you more than anybody would know that.”
“I do. I do. But what I saw out there today with you was recklessness. I don’t want to have to worry about someone who is reckless. There’s enough to worry about out there without that.”
Bosch blew out his breath. He gestured toward the red lights moving in front of them.
“Okay,” he said. “Let’s talk about it later. Let’s just concentrate on this for tonight.”
As if on cue, Pratt hooked a hard left onto Coldwater Canyon Drive and started dropping down toward Beverly Hills. Bosch delayed as long as he believed he could and made the same turn.
“Well, I’m still glad I’ve got you with me,” he said.
“Because if he ends up in Beverly Hills I won’t need to call the locals because I’m with a fed.”
“Glad I could do something.”
“You have your gun with you?”
“Always. You don’t have yours?”
“It was part of the crime scene. I don’t know when I’ll get it back. And that’s the second gun they’ve taken from me this week. It’s gotta be a record of some kind. Most guns lost during reckless gunplay.”
He looked over to see if he was getting under her skin. She showed nothing.
“He’s turning,” she said.
Bosch snapped his attention back to the road and saw the left-turn signal on the Commander blinking. Pratt made the turn and Bosch went on by. Rachel bent down so she could see out the window and up at the street sign.
“Gloaming Drive,” she said. “Are we still in the city?”
“Yeah. Gloaming goes way back in there but there’s no way out. I’ve been in there before.”
The next street down was Stuart Lane. Bosch used it to turn around in and headed back up to Gloaming.
“Do you know where he could be going?” Rachel asked.
“No idea. Another girlfriend’s place, for all I know.”
Gloaming was another curving mountain road. But that’s where the similarity to Woodrow Wilson Drive ended. The homes here ran a minimum seven figures, easy, and all had nicely manicured lawns and hedges with not so much as a leaf out of place. Bosch drove it slowly, looking for the silver Jeep Commander.
“There,” Rachel said.
She pointed out her window at a Jeep parked in the turnaround of a mansion with a French provincial design. Bosch drove by and parked two houses away. They got out and walked back.
“West Coast Choppers?”
She hadn’t been able to see the front of his shirt while he was driving.
“It helped me blend in on a case once.”
“My daughter saw me in this one time. I told her it was from my dentist.”
The gate to the driveway was open. The cast-iron mailbox had no name on it. Bosch opened it and looked inside. They were in luck. There was mail, a small stack held together with a rubber band. He pulled it out and angled the top envelope toward a nearby streetlight in order to read it.
“‘Maurice’-it’s Maury Swann’s place,” he said.
“Nice,” Rachel said. “I guess I should’ve been a defense attorney.”
“You’d’ve been good working with criminals.”
“Fuck you, Bosch.”
The banter ended with a loud voice coming from behind a tall hedge that ran along the far side of the turnaround and on the left side of the house.
“I said get in there!”
There was a splash and Bosch and Walling headed toward the sound.
BOSCH SEARCHED THE HEDGE with his eyes, looking for an opening. There didn’t appear to be one from the front. When they got close he wordlessly signaled Rachel to follow the hedge to the right while he went left. He noticed that she was carrying her weapon down at her side.
The hedge was at least ten feet high and so thick that Bosch could see no light from the pool or house through it. But as he moved along it he heard the sound of splashing and voices, one of which he recognized as belonging to Abel Pratt. The voices were close.
“Please, I can’t swim. I can’t touch the bottom!”
“Then what d’you have a swimming pool for? Keep paddling.”
“Please! I’m not going to-why would I tell a soul about -”
“You’re a lawyer, and lawyers like to play the angles.”
“I’m telling you, if I get even a hint that you’re playing an angle on me, then next time it won’t be a pool. It will be the fucking Pacific Ocean. You understand that?”
Bosch came to an alcove where the pool’s filter pump and heater were located on a concrete pad. There was also a small opening in the hedge for a pool maintenance man to squeeze through. He slipped into the opening and stepped onto the tile surrounding a large oval pool. He was twenty feet behind Pratt, who was standing at the edge, looking down at a man in the water. Pratt held a long blue pole with a curved extension. It was for pulling people in trouble to the side but Pratt was holding it just out of reach of the man. He grabbed at it desperately but each time Pratt jerked it away.
It was hard to identify the man in the water as Maury Swann. The pool was dark with the lights off. Swann’s glasses were gone and his hair looked like it had slipped off his scalp to the back of his head like a mud slide. On his gleaming bald dome was a strip of tape for holding his hairpiece in place.
The sound of the pool filter gave Bosch cover. He was able to walk unnoticed to within six feet of Pratt before speaking.
“What’s happening, Top?”
Pratt quickly lowered the pole so that Swann could grab the hook.
“Hang on, Maury!” Pratt yelled. “You’re all right.”
Swann grabbed on and Pratt started pulling him toward the side of the pool.
“I gotcha, Maury,” Pratt said. “Don’t worry.”
“You don’t have to bother with the lifeguard act,” Bosch said. “I heard it all.”
Pratt paused and looked down at Swann in the water. He was three feet from the side.
“In that case,” Pratt said.
He let go of the pole and whipped his right hand behind his back to the belt line.
It was Walling. She had found her own way through the hedge. She was on the other side of the pool, pointing her weapon at Pratt.