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Книга EchoPark. Страница 29

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“I know. I saw it.”

“It meant he called you guys, Bosch. The killer called you, and you and your partner blew it. Looks like nobody ever followed up with him or ran his name through the box. You had the killer’s alias and a phone number and didn’t do anything. ’Course, you didn’t know he was the killer. Just some citizen calling in about what he saw. He must’ve been trying to play you guys in some way, trying to find out about the case. Only Edgar didn’t play. It was late in the day and he probably wanted to get to that first martini.”

Bosch said nothing and Olivas was only too happy to continue to fill the void.

“Too bad, you know? Maybe this whole thing could’ve ended right then. I guess we’ll ask Waits about it in the morning.”

Olivas and his petty world no longer mattered to Bosch. The barbs couldn’t penetrate the thick, dark cloud that was already coming down on him. For he knew that if the name Robert Saxon had come up in the Gesto investigation, then it should have been routinely run through the computer. It would have scored a match in the alias database and taken them to Raynard Waits and his prior arrest for prowling. That would have made him a suspect. Not just a person of interest like Anthony Garland. A strong suspect. And that would have undoubtedly taken the investigation in a whole new direction.

But that never happened. Apparently neither Edgar nor Bosch had run the name through the box. It was an oversight that Bosch now knew had probably cost the lives of the two women who ended up in trash bags and the seven others Waits was going to tell them about the next day.

“Olivas?” Bosch said.

“What, Bosch?”

“Make sure you bring the book with you tomorrow. I want to see the fifty-ones.”

“Oh, I will. We’ll need it to do the interview.”

Bosch closed his phone without another word. He felt the pace of his breathing increase. Soon he was close to hyperventilating. His back felt hot against the car seat and he was starting to sweat. He opened the windows and tried to slow the measure of each breath. He was close to Parker Center but pulled to a stop at the curb.

It was every detective’s nightmare. The worst-case scenario. A lead ignored or bungled, allowing something awful to be loose in the world. Something dark and evil, destroying life after life as it moved through the shadows. It was true that all detectives made mistakes and had to live with the regrets. But Bosch instinctively knew that this one was malignant. It would grow and grow inside until it darkened everything and he became the last victim, the last life destroyed.

He pulled out from the curb and into traffic to get air moving through the windows. He made a screeching U-turn and headed home.

7

FROM THE REAR DECK OF HIS HOUSE Bosch watched the sky start to dim. He lived up on Woodrow Wilson Drive in a cantilevered house that clung to the side of the hill like a cartoon character hanging on to the edge of a cliff. Sometimes Bosch felt like that character. Like on this night. He was drinking vodka sprinkled liberally over ice, the first time he’d gone with hard liquor since coming back on the job the year before. The vodka made his throat feel as though he had swallowed a torch, but that was okay. He was trying to burn away his thoughts and cauterize his nerve endings.

Bosch considered himself a true detective, one who took it all inside and cared. Everybody counts or nobody counts. That’s what he always said. It made him good at the job but it also made him vulnerable. The mistakes could get to him and this one was the worst of all mistakes.

He shook the ice and vodka and took another deep drink until he finished the glass. How could anything so cold burn so intensely hot on the way down? He walked back inside the house to put more vodka on the ice. He wished he had some lemon or lime to squeeze in the drink but he had made no stops on his way home. In the kitchen, with fresh drink in hand, he picked up the phone and called Jerry Edgar’s cell phone. He still knew the number by heart. A partner’s number was something you never forgot.

Edgar answered and Bosch could hear TV noise in the background. He was at home.

“Jerry, it’s me. I gotta ask you something.”

“Harry? Where are you?”

“Home, man. But I’m working on one of our old ones.”

“Oh, well let me go down the list of Harry Bosch obsessions. Let’s see, Fernandez?”

“No.”

“That kid, Spike whatever-her-name-was?”

“Nope.”

“I give up, man. You’ve got too many ghosts for me to keep track of.”

“Gesto.”

“Shit, I should’ve gone with her first. I know you’ve been working it on and off since you’ve been back. What’s the question?”

“There’s an entry in the fifty-ones. It’s got your initials on it. Says a guy named Robert Saxon called and said he saw her in the Mayfair.”

Edgar waited a moment before replying.

“That’s it? That’s the entry?”

“That’s it. You remember talking to the guy?”

“Shit, Harry, I don’t remember entries in cases I worked last month. That’s why we have the fifty-ones. Who is Saxon?”

Bosch shook his glass and took a drink before answering. The ice tumbled against his mouth, and vodka spilled down his cheek. He wiped it with the sleeve of his jacket and then brought the phone back to his mouth.

“He’s the guy… I think.”

“You’ve got the killer, Harry?”

“Pretty sure. But… we could’ve had him back then. Maybe.”

“I don’t remember anybody named Saxon calling me. He must’ve been trying to get his rocks off, calling us. Harry, are you drunk, man?”

“Gettin’ there.”

“What’s wrong, man? If you got the guy it’s better late than never. You should be happy. I’m happy. Did you call her parents yet?”

Bosch was leaning against the kitchen counter and felt the need to sit down. But the phone was on a cord and he couldn’t go out to the living room or the deck. Being careful not to spill his drink, he slid down to the floor, his back against the cabinets.

“No, I haven’t called them.”

“What am I missing here, Harry? You’re fucked up and that means something’s wrong.”

Bosch waited a moment.

“What’s wrong is that Marie Gesto wasn’t the first and she wasn’t the last.”

Edgar was silent as it registered. The background sound of television went quiet and he then spoke in the weak voice of a child asking what his punishment will be.

“How many came after?”

“Looks like nine,” Bosch said in an equally quiet voice. “I’ll probably know more tomorrow.”

“Jesus,” Edgar whispered.

Bosch nodded. Part of him was angry with Edgar and wanted to blame him for everything. But the other part said they were partners and they shared the good and the bad. Those 51s were in the murder book for both of them to read and react to.

“So you don’t remember the call?”

“No, nothing. It’s too far back. All I can say is that if there was no follow-up, then the call didn’t sound legit or I got all there was to get from the caller. If he was the killer, he was probably just fucking with us anyway.”

“Yeah, but we didn’t put the name in the box. It would have drawn a match in the alias files. Maybe that’s what he wanted.”

They were both silent as their minds sifted the sands of disaster. Finally, Edgar spoke.

“Harry, did you come up with this? Who knows about it?”

“A Homicide guy from Northeast came up with it. He has the Gesto file. He knows and a DA working the suspect knows. It doesn’t matter. We fucked up.”

And people are dead, he thought but didn’t say.

“Who is the DA?” Edgar asked. “Can this be contained?”

Bosch knew that Edgar had already moved on to thinking about how to limit the career damage something like this could cause. Bosch wondered whether Edgar’s guilt over the nine victims that came after Marie Gesto had simply vanished or just been conveniently compartmentalized. Edgar was not a true detective. He kept his heart out of it.

“I doubt it,” Bosch said. “And I don’t really care. We should have been onto this guy in ’ninety-three but we missed it and he’s been out there cutting up women ever since.”

“What are you talking about, cutting up? Is this the Echo Park Bagman you’re talking about? What’s his name, Waits? He was our guy?”

Bosch nodded and held the cold glass against his left temple.

“That’s right. He’s going to confess tomorrow. Eventually it will get out because Rick O’Shea is going to run with it. There will be no way to hide it because some smart reporter is going to ask whether Waits ever came up way back when in the Gesto case.”

“So we say no, because that’s the truth. Waits’s name never came up. It was an alias and we don’t need to tell them about that. You have to make O’Shea see that, Harry.”

His voice had an urgent tone to it. Bosch now regretted making the call. He wanted Edgar to share the burden of guilt with him, not figure out a way to avoid blame.

“Whatever, Jerry.”

“Harry, that’s easy for you to say. You’re downtown on your second ride. I’m up for one of the D-two slots in RHD and this thing will fuck up any chance I have if it gets out.”

Bosch now wanted to get off the line.

“Like I said, whatever. I’ll do what I can, Jerry. But you know, sometimes when you fuck up you have to take the consequences.”

“Not this time, partner. Not now.”

It angered Bosch that Edgar had pulled the old “partner act,” calling on Bosch to protect him out of loyalty and the unwritten rule that the bond of partnership lasts forever and is stronger than even a marriage.

“I said I’d do what I can,” he told Edgar. “I have to go now, partner.

He got up off the floor and hung the phone on the wall.

Before returning to the back deck he educated the ice in his glass once more with vodka. Outside, he went to the rail and leaned his elbows down on it. The traffic noise from the freeway far down the hill was a steady hiss that he was used to. He looked up at the sky and saw that the sunset was a dirty pink. He saw a red-tailed hawk floating on an upper current. It reminded him of the one he had seen way back on the day they had found Marie Gesto’s car.

His cell phone started to chime and he struggled to pull it out of his jacket pocket. Finally, he got it out and opened it before he lost the call. He hadn’t had time to look at the caller ID on the screen. It was Kiz Rider.

15

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