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Книга EchoPark. Страница 42

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“Ray,” he said. “Don’t play games. Just answer the questions. Remember, we want this. We brought it to them. It’s our show.”

Bosch saw a slow burn move across Waits’s face as he turned and looked at his lawyer. But then it quickly disappeared and he looked back at Rider.

“I saw the city burning, that’s what I saw.”

He smiled after giving the answer.

“It was like a Hieronymus Bosch painting.”

He turned to Bosch as he said this. It froze Bosch for a moment. How did he know?

Waits nodded toward Bosch’s chest.

“It’s on your ID card.”

Bosch had forgotten that they’d had to clip their IDs on once they entered the DA’s office. Rider moved in quickly with the next question.

“Okay, which way did you walk once you got to Hollywood Boulevard?”

“I took a right and headed east. The bigger fires were down that way.”

“What was in your pockets?”

The question seemed to give him pause.

“I don’t know. I don’t remember. My keys, I guess. Cigarettes and a lighter, that was all.”

“Did you have your wallet?”

“No, I didn’t want to have ID with me. In case the police stopped me.”

“Did you already have the lighter fluid with you?”

“That’s right, I did. I thought I might join in the fun, help burn the city to the ground. Then I walked by that pawnshop and got a better idea.”

“You saw Mr. Fitzpatrick?”

“Yeah, I saw him. He was standing inside his security fence holding a shotgun. He also was wearing a holster like he was Wyatt Earp or something.”

“Describe the pawnshop.”

Waits shrugged.

“A small place. It was called Irish Pawn. It had this neon sign out front that flashed a green three-leaf clover and then the three balls, you know, that are like the symbol for a pawnshop, I guess. Fitzpatrick was standing there, watching me when I passed by.”

“And you kept walking?”

“At first I did. I passed by and then I thought about the challenge, you know? How could I get to him without getting shot by that big fucking bazooka he was holding.”

“What did you do?”

“I took the can of EasyLight out of my jacket pocket and filled my mouth with it. Squirted it right in, like those flame breathers do on the Venice boardwalk. I then put the can away and got out a cigarette and my lighter. I don’t smoke anymore. It’s a terrible habit.”

He looked at Bosch as he said this.

“Then what?” Rider asked.

“I went back to the asshole’s shop and walked into the alcove in front of the security fence. I acted like I was just looking for a blind to try to light my smoke. It was windy that night, you understand?”

“Yes.”

“So he started yelling at me to get the fuck away. He came right up to the fence to yell at me. And I was counting on that.”

He smiled, proud of how well his plan worked.

“The guy hit the stock of his shotty against the steel fence to get my attention. You see, he saw my hands, so he didn’t realize the danger. And when he was about two feet away I got a flame on the lighter and looked him right in the eyes. I took the cigarette out of my mouth and spit all of that lighter fluid into his face. Of course, it hit the lighter on the way and I was a fucking flamethrower. He had a face full a’ flames before he knew what hit him. He dropped the shotty pretty fast so he could try to slap at the flames. But his clothes went up and pretty soon he was one crispy critter. It was like being hit by napalm, man.”

Waits tried to raise his left arm but couldn’t. It was bound to the armrest at the wrist. He turned and raised his hand instead.

“Unfortunately, I burned my hand a little bit. Blisters, the whole thing. It really hurt, too. I can’t imagine what that asshole Wyatt Earp felt. Not a good way to go, if you ask me.”

Bosch looked at the upraised hand. He saw a discoloration in the skin tone, but not a scar. The burn had not gone deep.

After a long measure of silence, Rider asked another question.

“Did you seek medical attention for your hand?”

“No, I didn’t think that would be too smart, considering the situation. And from what I heard, the hospitals were overflowing. So I went on home and took care of it myself.”

“When did you place the can of lighter fluid in front of the store?”

“Oh, that was when I was walking away. I just took it out, wiped it off and put it down.”

“Did Mr. Fitzpatrick call out for help at any time?”

Waits paused as if to ponder the question.

“Well, that’s hard to say. He was yelling something, but I am not sure it was for help. He just kind of sounded like an animal to me. I closed the door on my dog’s tail once when I was kid. It sort of reminded me of that.”

“What were you thinking as you were walking home?”

“I was thinking, Far-fucking-out! I finally did it! And I knew I was going to get away with it, too. I felt like I was pretty goddamn invincible, if you want to know the truth.”

“How old were you?”

“I was… I was twenty, man, and I fuckin’ did it!”

“Did you ever think about the man you killed, who you burned to death?”

“No, not really. He was just there. There for the taking. Like the rest of them that came after. It was like they were there for me.”

Rider spent another forty minutes questioning him, eliciting smaller details that nonetheless matched those contained in the investigative reports. Finally, at 11:15 she seemed to relax her posture and pull back from her place at the table. She turned to look at Bosch and then at O’Shea.

“I think I have enough for the moment,” she said. “Maybe we could take a short break at this point.”

She turned off the tape recorder, and the three investigators and O’Shea stepped out into the hallway to confer. Swann stayed in the interview room with his client.

“What do you think?” O’Shea said to Rider.

She nodded.

“I’m satisfied. I don’t think there is any doubt that he did it. He solved the mystery of how he got to him. I don’t think he’s telling us everything but he knows enough of the details. He either did it or he was right there.”

O’Shea looked at Bosch.

“Should we move on?”

Bosch thought about this for a moment. He was ready. As he had watched Rider interview Waits his anger and disgust had grown. The man in the interview room showed such a callous disregard for his victim that Bosch recognized it as the classic profile of a psychopath. As before, he dreaded what he would next hear from the man but he was ready to hear it.

“Let’s do it,” he said.

They all moved back into the interview room and Swann immediately suggested that they break for lunch.

“My client is hungry.”

“Gotta feed the dog,” Waits added with a smile.

Bosch shook his head, taking charge of the room.

“Not yet,” he said. “He’ll eat when we all eat.”

He took the seat directly across from Waits and turned the recorder back on. Rider and O’Shea took the wing positions and Olivas sat once again in the chair by the door. Bosch had taken the Gesto file back from Olivas but had it closed in front of him on the table.

“We’re going to move on now to the Marie Gesto case,” he said.

“Ah, sweet Marie,” Waits said.

He looked at Bosch with a brightness in his eyes.

“Your attorney’s proffer suggests that you know what happened to Marie Gesto when she disappeared in nineteen ninety-three. Is that true?”

Waits frowned and nodded.

“Yes, I’m afraid so,” he said with mock sincerity.

“Do you know the current whereabouts of Marie Gesto or the location of her remains?”

“Yes, I do.”

Here it was, the moment Bosch had waited on for thirteen years.

“She’s dead, isn’t she?”

Waits looked at him and nodded.

“Is that a yes?” Bosch asked for the tape.

“That is a yes. She’s dead.”

“Where is she?”

Waits broke into a broad smile, the smile of a man who had not an atom of regret or guilt in his DNA.

“She’s right here, Detective,” he said. “She’s right here with me. Just like all the others. Right here with me.”

His smile turned into a laugh and Bosch almost went across the table at him. But Rider moved her hand under the table and put it on his leg. It immediately calmed him.

“Hold on a second,” O’Shea said. “Let’s step out again, and this time I would like you to join us, Maury.”

12

O’SHEA CHARGED INTO THE hallway first and managed to pace back and forth twice before all the others were out of the interview room. He then instructed the two deputies to go into the room and keep an eye on Waits. The door was then closed.

“What the fuck, Maury?” O’Shea barked. “We’re not going to spend our time in there laying the groundwork for an insanity defense for you. This is a confession, not a defense maneuver.”

Swann turned his palms up in a what-can-I-do gesture.

“The guy obviously has issues,” he said.

“Bullshit. He’s a stone-cold killer and he’s in there vamping like Hannibal Lecter. This isn’t a movie, Maury. This is real. You hear what he said about Fitzpatrick? He was more worried about a little burn on his hand than he was about the guy whose face he spit flames into. So I’ll tell you what, you go back in there and take five minutes with your client. Set him straight or we walk away from this and everybody takes their chances.”

Bosch was unconsciously nodding. He liked the anger in O’Shea’s voice. He also liked the way this was going.

“I’ll see what I can do,” Swann said.

He went back into the interview room and the deputies came back out to give the attorney and his client privacy. O’Shea continued to pace while he cooled down.

“Sorry about that,” he said to no one in particular. “But I’m not going to let them control this thing.”

“They already are,” Bosch said. “Waits is, at least.”

O’Shea looked at him, ready for a fight.

“What are you saying?”

“I mean we’re all here because of him. The bottom line is, we are engaged in an effort to save his life-at his own request.”

O’Shea emphatically shook his head.

“I’m not going to go back and forth on that issue with you again, Bosch. The decision has been made. At this point, if you’re not on board, the elevator’s right down the hall to the left. I’ll handle your part of the interview. Or Freddy will.”

Bosch waited a beat before answering.

“I didn’t say I wasn’t on board. Gesto is my case and I will see it through.”

21

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