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Книга EchoPark. Страница 21

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“To dump the bags, I thought.”

“Right, yeah, we know that. But why Echo Park? He lived closer to Griffith Park and that would’ve probably been a better place for burying or dumping bodies. I don’t know, something is missing or doesn’t fit right. I think he was going somewhere he knew.”

“He could have wanted the distance. You know, he thought the farther away from him the better.”

Bosch nodded but he wasn’t convinced.

“I think I’m going to ride over there.”

“And what? You think you’ll find where he was going to bury those bags? You turning psychic on me now, Harry?”

“Not yet. I just want to see if I can get a feel for Waits before we actually talk to the guy.”

Saying the name made Bosch grimace and shake his head.

“What?” Rider asked.

“You know what we’re doing here? We’re helping to keep this guy alive. A guy who cuts women up and keeps them in the freezer until he runs out of room and has to take them out like trash. That’s our job, find the way to let him live.”

Rider frowned.

“I know how you feel, Harry, but I have to tell you, I kind of come down on O’Shea’s side on this. I think it’s better that all the families know and we clear all the cases. It’s like with my sister. We wanted to know.”

When Rider was a teenager her older sister was murdered in a drive-by shooting. The case was cleared and three bangers went away for it. It was the main reason she became a cop.

“It’s probably like you with your mother, too,” she added.

Bosch looked up at her. His mother had been murdered when he was a boy. More than three decades later he solved the crime himself because he wanted to know.

“You’re right,” he said. “But it just doesn’t sit right with me at the moment, that’s all.”

“Why don’t you take that ride and clear your head a little bit. I’ll call you if anything comes up on the AutoTrack.”

“I guess I will.”

He started closing the files and putting them away.

4

IN THE SHADOWS OF downtown’s spires and under the glow of lights from Dodger Stadium, Echo Park was one of L.A.’s oldest and ever-changing neighborhoods. Over the decades it had been the destination of the city’s immigrant underclass-the Italians coming first and then the Mexicans, the Chinese, the Cubans, Ukrainians and all of the others. By day a walk down the main drag of Sunset Boulevard might require skills in five or more languages to read all of the storefronts. By night it was the only place in the city where the air could be split by the sound of gang gunfire, the cheers for a home-run ball, and the baying of the hillside coyotes-all in the same hour.

These days Echo Park was also a favored destination of another class of newcomer-the young and hip. The cool. Artists, musicians and writers were moving in. Cafés and vintage clothing shops were squeezing in next to the bodegas and mariscos stands. A wave of gentrification was washing across the flats and up the hillsides below the baseball stadium. It meant the character of the place was changing. It meant real-estate prices were going up, pushing out the working class and the gangs.

Bosch had lived for a short time in Echo Park when he was a boy. And many years back, there had been a police bar on Sunset called the Short Stop. But cops were no longer welcome there. The place offered valet parking and catered to the Hollywood crowd-two things sure to keep the off-duty officer away. For Bosch the neighborhood of Echo Park had dropped off the radar. To him it wasn’t a destination. It was a drive-through neighborhood, a shortcut on his way to the Medical Examiner’s Office for work or to a Dodgers game for fun.

From downtown he took a quick jog on the 101 Freeway north to Echo Park Road and then took that north again toward the hillside neighborhood where Raynard Waits had been arrested. As he passed Echo Lake he saw the statue known as the Lady of the Lake watching over the water lilies, her hands palms up like the victim of a holdup. As a boy he had lived for almost a year with his mother in the Sir Palmer Apartments across from the lake, but it had been a bad time for her and him and the memory was all but erased. He vaguely remembered that statue but almost nothing else.

At Sunset he turned right and took it down to Beaudry. From there he drove up the hillside to Figueroa Terrace. He pulled to the curb near the intersection where Waits had been pulled over. A few old bungalow homes built in the thirties and forties were still there, but for the most part the houses were postwar concrete-block construction. They were modest with gated yards and barred windows. The cars in the driveways were not new or flashy. It was a working-class neighborhood that Bosch knew would be largely Latino and Asian now. From the back of the homes on the west side there would be nice views of the downtown towers with the DWP Building front and center. The homes on the east side would have backyards that stretched up into the rugged terrain of the hills. And at the top of those hills would be the far parking lots of the baseball stadium complex.

He thought about Waits’s window-washing van and wondered again why he had been on this street in this neighborhood. It wasn’t the kind of neighborhood where he would have customers. It wasn’t the kind of street where a commercial van would be expected at two in the morning, anyway. The two CRT officers had been correct in taking notice.

Bosch pulled over and put the car in park. He stepped out and looked around and then leaned against the car as he contemplated the questions. He still didn’t get it. Why had Waits chosen this place? After a few moments he opened his cell phone and called his partner.

“You run that AutoTrack yet?” he asked.

“Just did. Where are you?”

“Echo Park. Anything come up near here?”

“Uh-uh, I was just looking. The farthest east it puts him is the Montecito Apartments on Franklin.”

Bosch knew that the Montecito wasn’t near Echo Park but it was not far from the High Tower Apartments, where Marie Gesto’s car had been found.

“When was he at the Montecito?” he asked.

“After Gesto. He moved in, let’s see, in ’ninety-nine, and out the next year. A one-year stay.”

“Anything else worth mentioning?”

“No, Harry. Just the usual. The guy moved house every one or two years. Didn’t like staying put, I guess.”

“Okay, Kiz. Thanks.”

“You coming back to the office?”

“In a little while.”

He closed the phone and got back in the car. He took Figueroa Lane to Chavez Ravine Place and hit another stop sign. At one time the whole area up here was known only as Chavez Ravine. But that was before the city moved all the people out and bulldozed the bungalows and shacks they had called home. A grand housing project was supposed to rise in the ravine, with playgrounds and schools and shopping plazas that would invite back those who had been displaced. But once they cleared it all out the housing project was scratched from the city’s plans and it was a baseball stadium that went in instead. To Bosch it seemed that as far back as he could remember in L.A., the fix was always in.

Bosch had been listening lately to the Ry Cooder CD called Chávez Ravine. It wasn’t jazz but that was okay. It was its own kind of jazz. He liked the song “It’s Just Work for Me,” a dirge about a bulldozer driver who came to the ravine to knock down the poor people’s shacks and refused to feel guilty about it.

You got to go where they send you

When you’re a dozer-drivin’ man…

He took a left on Chavez Ravine and in a few moments he came to Stadium Way and the spot where Waits had first drawn the attention of the CRT patrol as he passed on his way down into Echo Park.

At the stop sign he surveyed the intersection. Stadium Way was the feeder line to the stadium’s huge parking lots. For Waits to have come into the neighborhood this way, as the arrest report stated, he would have to have come in from downtown, the stadium, or the Pasadena Freeway. This would not have been the way in from his home in West Hollywood. Bosch puzzled with this for a few moments but determined there was not enough information to draw any conclusion. Waits could have driven through Echo Park, making sure he was not followed, and then drawn the CRT tail after turning around to go back.

He realized that there was much about Waits he didn’t know and it bothered him that he would come face-to-face with the killer the next day. Bosch felt unprepared. He once again considered the idea he’d had earlier, but this time he didn’t hesitate. He opened his phone and called the FBI field office in Westwood.

“I’m looking for an agent named Rachel Walling,” he told the operator. “I’m not sure what squad she’s with.”

“Hold one.”

By “one” she had apparently meant a minute. As he waited he was honked at by a car that had come up from behind. Bosch moved through the intersection, made a U-turn and then pulled off the road into the shade of a eucalyptus tree. Finally near the two-minute mark his call was transferred and picked up and a male voice said, “Tactical.”

“Agent Walling, please.”

“Hold one.”

“Right,” Bosch said after he heard the click.

But this time the transfer was made quickly and Bosch heard Rachel Walling’s voice for the first time in a year. He hesitated and she almost hung up on him.

“Rachel, it’s Harry Bosch.”

Now she hesitated before responding.

“Harry…”

“So what’s ‘Tactical’ mean?”

“It’s just the squad designation.”

He understood. She didn’t answer because it was eyes-only stuff and the line was probably on tape somewhere.

“Why are you calling, Harry?”

“Because I need a favor. I could use your help, actually.”

“With what? I’m sort of in the middle of something here.”

“Then don’t worry about it. I thought maybe you’d… well, never mind, Rachel. It’s no big deal. I can handle it.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure. I’ll let you get back to Tactical, whatever that is. You take care.”

He closed the phone and tried not to let her voice and the memory it conjured distract him from the task at hand. He looked back across the intersection and realized he was probably in the same position the CRT car had been in when Gonzalez and Fennel spotted Waits’s van. The eucalyptus tree and night shadows had provided them cover.

11

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