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Книга EchoPark. Страница 26

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Bosch lowered the paper and daydreamed for a moment about showing up at the forum and sandbagging Irving from the audience, asking him how his skills as a police department fixer qualified him for elective office.

He came out of the reverie when an unmarked federal cruiser pulled to the curb in front of his car. He watched Rachel Walling step out. She was dressed casually in black slacks and blazer with a cream-colored blouse. Her dark brown hair was down to her shoulders now and that was probably what was most casual of all. She looked good and Bosch jumped back to that night in Vegas.

“Rachel,” he said, smiling.

“Harry.”

He walked toward her. It was an awkward moment. He didn’t know whether to hug her or kiss her or just shake her hand. There was that night in Vegas but it had been followed by that day in L.A., on the back deck of his house, when everything had come apart and things had ended before they really started.

She saved him from making a choice by reaching out and touching him lightly on the arm.

“I thought you were going to go in and order food.”

“For some reason they’re closed. They don’t open up for dinner until five. You want to wait or go somewhere else?”

“Where?”

“I don’t know. There’s Philippe’s.”

She shook her head emphatically.

“I’m tired of Philippe’s. We eat there all the time. In fact, I didn’t eat lunch today because everybody in the squad was going there.”

“Tactical, huh?”

If she was tired of a downtown place, then Bosch knew she wasn’t working out of the main field office in Westwood.

“I know a place. I’ll drive and you can look at the files.”

He walked back over and opened the door of his car. He had to grab the files off the passenger seat so she could get in. He then handed her the files and went around to the driver’s side. He tossed his newspaper onto the backseat.

“Wow, this is so Steve McQueen,” she said of the Mustang. “What happened to the SUV?”

Bosch shrugged.

“Just needed a change.”

He revved the engine to humor her and then pulled away from the curb. He went down to Sunset and turned toward Silver Lake. The route would take them through Echo Park on the way.

“So what exactly do you want from me, Harry?”

She opened the top file that was on her lap and started reading.

“I want you to take a look and then tell me your impressions of this guy. I’m talking to him tomorrow and I want to have any edge I can get. I want to make sure that if anybody is manipulated, it’s him and not me.”

“I’ve heard about this guy. He’s the Echo Park Butcher, right?”

“Actually, they call him the Bagman.”

“Got it.”

“I have a previous connection to the case.”

“Which is?”

“Back in ’ninety-three I was working out of Hollywood Division. I caught a case involving a missing girl. Her name was Marie Gesto and she was never found. It was big at the time, a lot of media. This guy I’m going into the room with, Raynard Waits-he says that’s one of the cases he’ll trade us.”

She looked over at him and then back down at the file.

“Knowing how I have seen you take a case straight to heart, Harry, I wonder, then, if it is wise for you to be dealing with this man now.”

“I’m fine. It’s still my case. And taking it straight to heart is the way of the true detective. The only way.”

He glanced over at her in time to see her roll her eyes.

“Spoken like the Zen master of Homicide. Where are we going?”

“A place called Duffy’s in Silver Lake. We’ll be there in five minutes and you’ll love it. Just don’t start taking your bureau buddies there. That’ll ruin it.”

“I promise.”

“You still have the time?”

“I told you, I didn’t take lunch. But I do need to go back to check out at some point.”

“So are you working out of the federal courthouse?”

She answered while continuing to scan and turn pages in the file.

“No, we’re off campus.”

“One of those secret federal locations, huh?”

“You know the story. If I told you I’d have to kill you.”

Bosch nodded at the joke.

“That mean you can’t tell me what Tactical is?”

“It’s nothing. Short for Tactical Intelligence. We’re gatherers. We analyze raw data we pull off the Internet, cell transmissions, satellite feeds. It’s actually quite boring.”

“But is it legal?”

“For now.”

“Sounds like a terrorism gig.”

“Except more often than not we end up feeding leads to the DEA. And last year we came up with more than thirty different Internet scams involving hurricane relief. Like I said, it’s raw data. It can lead anywhere.”

“And you traded the wide-open spaces of South Dakota for downtown L.A.”

“As far as the career choice goes, it was the right move. I don’t regret it. But I do miss some things about the Dakotas. Anyway, let me concentrate on this. You do want my take on it, right?”

“Yes, sorry. Have at it.”

He drove silently for the last few minutes and then pulled to a stop in front of the small storefront restaurant. He brought the newspaper in with him. She told him to order her what he was having. But when the waiter came and Bosch ordered an omelet she changed her mind and started scanning the menu.

“I thought you said we were having lunch, not breakfast.”

“I missed breakfast, too. And the omelets are good.”

She ordered a turkey sandwich and handed back the menu.

“My warning is that my take is going to be very superficial,” she said when they were left alone. “There is obviously not going to be enough time for me to do a full psychological. I’ll only be scratching the surface.”

Bosch nodded.

“I know that,” he said. “But I don’t have the time to give you, so I will take whatever you can give me.”

She said nothing else and went back to the files. Bosch glanced at the sports pages but wasn’t that interested in the rundown on the Dodgers game the night before. His appreciation for the game had dropped markedly in recent years. He used the newspaper section mostly as a blind so that he could hold it up and appear to be reading while he was actually looking at Rachel. Other than the longer hair, she had changed little since he had last been with her. Still vibrantly attractive with an intangible sense of damage about her. It was in the eyes. They weren’t the hardened cop’s eyes he had seen in so many other faces, including his own when he looked in the mirror. They were eyes that were hurt from the inside out. She had a victim’s eyes and that drew him to her.

“Why are you staring at me?” she suddenly said.

“What?”

“You’re so obvious.”

“I was just-”

He was saved by the waiter, who appeared and put down plates of food. Walling moved the files aside and he detected a small smile on her face. They continued their silence as they began to eat.

“This is good,” she finally said. “I’m starving.”

“Yeah, me, too.”

“So what were you looking for?”

“When?”

“When you were acting like you were reading the newspaper but you really weren’t.”

“Um, I… I guess I was trying to see if you were really interested in looking at this. You know, it sounds like you have a lot going. Maybe you don’t want to get into this sort of stuff again.”

She held up half her sandwich but stopped herself from taking a bite.

“I hate my job, okay? Or rather, I hate what I am doing right now. But it will get better. Another year and it will be better.”

“Fine. And this? This is okay?”

He pointed to the files on the table next to her plate.

“Yes, but there is too much. I can’t even begin to help you. It’s information overload.”

“I only have today.”

“Why can’t you delay the interview?”

“Because it’s not my interview to delay. And because it’s got politics on it. The prosecutor is running for DA. He needs headlines. He’s not going to wait for me to get up to speed.”

She nodded.

“All the way with Rick O’Shea.”

“I had to push my way into the case because of Gesto. They’re not going to slow down to let me catch up.”

She put her hand on top of the stack of files as if taking some sort of measure from them that would help her make a decision.

“Let me keep the files when you drive me back. I’ll finish my work, clock out and continue with this. I’ll come see you tonight at your place and give you what I’ve got. Everything.”

He stared at her, looking for the hidden meaning.

“When?”

“I don’t know, as soon as I get through it. Nine o’clock at the latest. I have an early start tomorrow. Will that work?”

He nodded. He wasn’t expecting this.

“Do you still live in that house up on the hill?” she asked.

“Yeah. I’m there. Woodrow Wilson.”

“Good. My place is down off Beverly, not too far. I’ll come up to your place. I remember the view.”

Bosch didn’t respond. He wasn’t sure what he had just invited into his life.

“Can I give you something to think about until then?” she asked. “Maybe do some checking?”

“Sure, what?”

“The name. Is that his real name?”

Bosch frowned. He had never considered the name. He assumed it was real. Waits was incarcerated. His fingerprints would have been run through the system to confirm identity.

“I assume so. His fingerprints matched a previous arrest. That previous time he tried to give a false name but a DMV thumbprint made him as Waits. Why?”

“Do you know what a reynard is? Reynard spelled R -e -y instead of R -a -y.

Bosch shook his head. This was coming from left field. He hadn’t even been thinking about the name.

“No, what is it?”

“It’s a name for a young male fox. A young female is a vixen and the male is a reynard. I studied European folklore in college-back when I thought I wanted to be a diplomat. In medieval French folklore there is a character that is a fox named Reynard. He is a trickster. There are stories and epics about the scheming fox named Reynard. The character has appeared repeatedly through the centuries in books-children’s books mostly. You can Google it when you get back to the office and I am sure you will get many hits.”

Bosch nodded. He wasn’t going to tell her he didn’t know how to Google. He barely knew how to e-mail his eight-year-old daughter. She tapped a finger on the stack of files.

“A young fox would be a small fox,” she said. “In the description Mr. Waits is small in stature. You take it all in context of the full name and-”

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