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Книга EchoPark. Страница 114

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Part Five ECHOPARK

36

AT 10 A.M. ON MONDAY Abel Pratt walked from his car across the green lawn of Echo Park to a bench where an old man was sitting beneath the protective arms of the Lady of the Lake. There were five pigeons resting on her shoulders and upturned hands and one on her head but she showed no sign of annoyance or fatigue.

Pratt shoved the folded newspaper he carried into the overly full trash can by the statue and then sat on the bench next to the old man. He looked out at the smooth waters of Lake Echo in front of them. The old man, who held a cane down by his knee and wore a tan business suit with a maroon handkerchief in the breast pocket, spoke first.

“I remember when you could take your family here on a Sunday and not have to worry about being shot up by gangbangers.”

Pratt cleared his throat.

“Is that what you’re worried about, Mr. Garland? The gangbangers? Well, I’ll give you a little tip. Right now is one of the safest hours in any neighborhood in the city. Most of your gangbangers don’t roll out of bed until the afternoon. That’s why whenever we go out with warrants we go in the morning. We always catch them in bed.”

Garland nodded approvingly.

“That’s good to know. But that’s not what I am worried about. I’m worried about you, Detective Pratt. Our business was concluded. I was not expecting to hear from you ever again.”

Pratt leaned forward and scanned the park. He studied the rows of tables on the other side of the lake, where the old men played dominoes. His eyes then moved along the cars parked at the curb that edged the park.

“Where’s Anthony?” he asked.

“He’ll be along. He’s taking precautions.”

Pratt nodded.

“Precautions are good,” he said.

“I don’t like this place,” Garland said. “It’s full of ugly people, and that includes you. Why are we here?”

“Wait a minute,” a voice said from behind them. “Don’t say another word, Dad.”

Anthony Garland had approached from their blind side. He came around the statue to the bench at the water’s edge. He stood in front of Pratt and signaled him to stand up.

“Up,” he said.

“What is this?” Pratt protested mildly.

“Just stand up.”

Pratt did as he was asked and Anthony Garland produced a small electronic wand from the pocket of his blazer. He began moving it up and down in front of Pratt from head to toe.

“If you’re transmitting an RF signal this will tell me.”

“Good. I always wondered if I had RF. You never know with those women down in Tijuana.”

Nobody laughed. Anthony Garland seemed satisfied with the scan and started putting his magic wand away. Pratt started to sit down.

“Wait,” Garland said.

Pratt remained standing and Garland started running his hands over Pratt’s body, a second precaution.

“Can’t be too sure with a slimeball like you, Detective.

He moved his hands to Pratt’s waist.

“That’s my gun,” Pratt said.

Garland kept searching.

“That’s my cell phone.”

The hands went lower.

“And those are my balls.”

Garland then went down both legs and when he was satisfied, he told Pratt he could sit down. The detective returned to his seat next to the old man.

Anthony Garland remained standing in front of the bench, his back to the lake, his arms folded across his chest.

“He’s clean,” he said.

“Okay, then,” T. Rex Garland said. “We can talk. What’s this about, Detective Pratt? I thought it was made clear to you: You don’t call us. You don’t threaten us. You don’t tell us where to be and when.”

“If I hadn’t threatened you, would you have come?”

Neither of the Garlands answered and Pratt smiled smugly and nodded.

“I rest my case.”

“Why are we here?” the old man asked. “I made it quite clear before. I don’t want my son touched by any of this. Why did he have to be here?”

“Well, because I sort of missed him since our little walk in the woods. We’ve got a bond, don’t we, Anthony?”

Anthony said nothing. Pratt pressed on.

“I mean, a guy leads you to a body in the woods, I’d say normally they’d stay pretty tight. But I haven’t heard from Anthony since we were up at the top of Beachwood together.”

“I don’t want you talking to my son,” T. Rex Garland said. “You don’t talk to my son. You’re bought and paid for, Detective, you get that? This is the only time you will ever call a meeting with me. I call you. You don’t call me.”

The old man never looked at Pratt as he spoke. His eyes were cast toward the lake. The message was clear. Pratt wasn’t worth his attention.

“Yeah, all that was fine, but things have changed,” Pratt said. “In case you haven’t been reading the papers or watching the news, things have gone to shit out there.”

The old man remained seated but stretched his arms forward and put both palms on the polished gold dragon’s head at the top of his cane. He spoke calmly.

“And whose fault is that? You told us you and the lawyer could keep Raynard Waits in line. You told us no one would get hurt. You called it a clean operation. Now look at what you’ve involved us in.”

Pratt took a few moments to respond.

“You involved yourself. You wanted something and I was the provider. No matter whose fault it is, the bottom line is I now need more money.”

T. Rex Garland shook his head slowly.

“You were paid one million dollars,” he said.

“I had to cut it up with Maury Swann,” Pratt responded.

“Your subcontractor costs were not and are not my concern.”

“The fee was based on everything working smoothly. Waits taking the fall for Gesto, case closed. Now there are complications, ongoing investigations to contend with.”

“Again, not my concern. Our deal is done.”

Pratt leaned forward on the bench and put his elbows on his knees.

“It’s not quite done yet, T. Rex,” he said. “And maybe you should be concerned. Because you know who paid me a visit on Friday night? Harry Bosch, and he had an FBI agent with him. They took me to a little meeting with Mr. Rick O’Shea. Turns out that before Bosch capped Waits the little bastard told him that he didn’t kill Marie Gesto. So that puts Bosch back on your ass, Junior. And it puts all of them on mine. They’ve damn near worked the whole story out-connecting me and Maury Swann. They just need somebody to fill in the blanks and, since they can’t get to Swann, they want that somebody to be me. They’re starting to apply the pressure.”

Anthony Garland groaned and kicked at the ground with his expensive loafers.

“Goddamn it! I knew this whole thing would-”

His father put a hand up for quiet.

“Bosch and the FBI don’t matter,” the old man said. “It’s all about what O’Shea will do, and O’Shea is taken care of. He’s bought and paid for. Only he doesn’t know it yet. Once I apprise him of his situation, he will do what I tell him to do. If he wants to be district attorney.”

Pratt shook his head.

“Bosch isn’t going to let go of this. He hasn’t for thirteen years. He’s not going to now.”

“Then, you take care of it. That’s your end of the deal. I took care of O’Shea. You take care of Bosch. Let’s go, son.”

The old man started to get up, using the cane to push up on. His son stepped over to help him.

“Wait a minute,” Pratt said. “You aren’t going anywhere. I said I want more money and I’m serious. I’ll take care of Bosch, but then I need to check out and disappear. I need more money to do that.”

Anthony Garland angrily pointed down at Pratt on the bench.

“You goddamn piece of shit,” he said. “You were the one who came to us. This whole goddamn thing is your plan from start to finish. You go out there and get two people killed, and then you have the balls to come back to us for more money?”

Pratt shrugged and spread his hands.

“I’m looking at a choice here, same as you. I could sit tight with the way things are and see how close they come to me. Or I could disappear right now. The thing you should know is that they always make deals with the little fish to get to the bigger fish. I’m a little fish, Anthony. The big fish? That would be you.”

He turned to look at the old man.

“And the biggest fish? That would be you.”

T. Rex Garland nodded. He was a pragmatic businessman. He seemed to now understand the gravity of the situation.

“How much?” he asked. “How much to disappear?”

Pratt didn’t hesitate.

“I want another million dollars and it will be well worth it to you to give it to me. They can’t get to either of you without me. If I’m gone, the case is gone. So it’s a million and the price is nonnegotiable. Anything less and it is not worth it for me to run. I’ll make a deal and take my chances.”

“What about Bosch?” the old man asked. “You already said he won’t give up. Now that he knows Raynard Waits didn’t-”

“I’ll take care of him before I split,” Pratt said, cutting him off. “I’ll throw that in for free.”

He reached into his pocket and took out a piece of paper with numbers printed on it. He slid it across the bench to the old man.

“There’s the bank account and wiring code. Same as before.”

Pratt stood up.

“Tell you what, talk amongst yourselves. I’m going over to the boathouse to take a leak. When I come back I’ll need an answer.”

Pratt walked past Anthony, coming close, each man holding the other’s eyes in a hard stare of hatred.

37

HARRY BOSCH STUDIED THE MONITORS in the surveillance van. The FBI had worked through the night setting cameras in eight locations at the park. One whole side of the interior of the van was covered with an array of digital screens that showed a multitude of visual angles on the bench where T. Rex Garland sat and his son stood waiting for Abel Pratt to return. The cameras were located on four of the park’s path lights, in two of its flower beds, in the mock lighthouse atop the boathouse and in the fake pigeon perched on top of the Lady of the Lake ’s head.

Added to this, the bureau techs had set up microwave sound receivers triangulated on the bench. The sound sweep was aided by directional mikes located in the fake pigeon, a flower bed and the folded newspaper Pratt had placed in the nearby trash can. A bureau sound tech named Jerry Hooten sat in the van, wearing a huge set of earphones and manipulating the audio feeds in order to produce the cleanest sound. Bosch and the others had been able to watch Pratt and the Garlands and hear their conversation word for word.

57

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