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Книга EchoPark. Страница 73

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He was only a few steps down the path when his cell phone started vibrating. He stopped, dug the phone out of his blue jeans and saw on the screen that it was Jerry Edgar calling. Bosch had left him a message earlier while driving home.

“How’s Kiz?”

“Doing better. You ought to go visit her, man. Get over whatever it is you two need to get over and visit her. You didn’t even call yesterday.”

“Don’t worry, I will. In fact, I was thinking about cutting out of here early and dropping by. You going to be there?”

“I might. Give me a call when you’re going and I’ll try to meet you. Anyway, that’s not really why I called. There’s a couple things I wanted to tell you. First, they got a confirmation on the ID at the autopsy today. It was Marie Gesto.”

Edgar was silent a moment before responding.

“Have you talked to her parents?”

“No, not yet. Dan’s got that job selling tractors. I was going to call up there tonight when he’s home and they’re together.”

“That’s what I’d do. What else you got, Harry? I got a guy in a room here and I’m about to go in and break his ass down on a murder-rape we’re working.”

“Sorry to interrupt. I thought you called me.”

“I did, man, but I was calling you back real quick in case it was important.”

“It is important. I thought you’d want to know, I think that line that was found in the fifty-ones on this case was phonied. I think when it all shakes out we’ll be clear on it.”

This time there was no hesitation in his old partner’s response.

“What are you saying, Waits never called us back then?”

“That’s right.”

“Then how’d that entry get in the chrono?”

“Somebody added it. Recently. Somebody trying to fuck with me.”

“Goddamn it!” Bosch could hear the anger and relief in Edgar’s voice. “I haven’t slept since you called me up and told me that shit, Harry. They didn’t only fuck with you, man.”

“That’s what I figured. That’s why I called. I haven’t figured it all out, but that’s the way it’s looking. When I get the whole story I’ll let you know. Now go back to your interview and nail that guy.”

“Harry, my man, you just made my day. I’m going to go into the room and crunch this asshole’s bones.”

“I’m glad to hear that. Call me if you’re going to see Kiz.”

“You got it.”

But Bosch knew Edgar was just paying lip service to the idea. He wouldn’t be visiting Kiz, not if he was in the middle of a breaking case like he said. After closing and pocketing the phone, Bosch looked around and took in his surroundings. He looked high and low, from the ground to the overhead canopy, and didn’t see any obvious markings. He guessed that there would’ve been no need for a Hansel and Gretel trail while Waits had been on the clearly defined path. If there were markers, they would be at the bottom of the mud slide embankment. He headed that way.

At the top of the precipice he looped the rope around the trunk of the white oak at the top and was able to rappel down the sheer surface to the lower level. He left the rope in place and once again assessed the area from floor to canopy. He saw nothing that readily marked the way to the grave site, where Marie Gesto had been found. He started walking toward the grave site, looking for carvings in the trunks of the trees, ribbons in the branches, anything that Waits might have used to lead the way.

Bosch got to the grave site without seeing a single indication of a marked trail. He was disappointed. His lack of findings went against the theory he had outlined for Rachel Walling. But Bosch was sure he was right in his thinking and he refused to believe there was no trail. He thought it was possible that whatever markings had been there had been trampled over and obliterated by the army of investigators and technicians who had descended on the woods the day before.

Refusing to give up, he made his way back to the embankment and then turned and looked toward the grave site. He tried to put his mind into the position Waits was in. He had never been to the spot before, yet he had to readily choose a direction to go in while everyone else watched.

How did he do it?

Bosch stood motionless, thinking and looking off into the woods in the direction of the grave site. He did not move for five minutes. After that he had the answer.

In the middle distance on the sight line to the grave site was a tall eucalyptus tree. It was split at ground level and two fully mature trunks rose at least fifty feet through the canopy of other trees. In the split, about ten feet off the ground, was a branch that had fallen and become lodged horizontally between the trunks. The formation of split trunk and branch created an inverted A that was clearly recognizable and could have been noticed quickly by someone scanning the woods and looking specifically for it.

Bosch headed toward the eucalyptus, certain that he had the first marker that Waits had followed. When he reached the position, he looked again in the direction of the grave site. He slowly scanned until he again picked up on an anomaly that was obvious and unique in terms of the immediate vicinity. He walked toward it.

It was a young California oak. What made it noticeable to Bosch from a distance was that its natural balance was off. It had lost the symmetrical spread of its branches because one of the lower limbs was missing. Bosch walked to it and looked up at a broken outcropping on the trunk where a four-inch-thick limb had been attached about eight feet up. By grabbing a lower branch and pulling himself up into the tree he was able to examine the break more closely and found that it was not a natural break. The outcropping showed a smooth cut through the top half of the branch. Someone had sawed across the top of the branch and then pulled down on it to break it. Bosch was no tree surgeon but he thought the cut and break looked recent. The exposed inner wood was light in color and there was no indication of regrowth or natural repair.

Bosch dropped to the ground and looked around in the brush. The fallen limb was nowhere to be found. It had been dragged away so as not to be noticed and cause suspicion. To him it was further proof that a Hansel and Gretel trail had been left for Waits to follow.

He turned and looked in the direction of the final clearing. He was less than twenty yards from the grave site and he was easily able to pick out what he believed to be the last marker. High up in the oak tree that shaded the grave site was a nest that looked like the home of a large bird, an owl or a hawk.

He walked to the clearing and looked up. The hair scrunchy Waits had said marked the spot had been removed by the Forensics team. Looking further up into the tree, Bosch could not see the nest from directly beneath. Olivas had planned it well. He had used three markers recognizable only from a distance. Nothing that would draw a second glance from those following Waits, yet three markers that could easily lead him to the grave site.

As his eyes dropped to the open grave at his feet he remembered that he had noticed a disturbance in the soil the day before. He had credited it to animals foraging in the dirt. Now he believed the disturbance had been left by the first digging into the soil to confirm the grave site. Olivas had been out here before any of them. He had come out to mark the trail and confirm the grave. He had either been told where to find it or had been led to it by the real killer.

Bosch had been staring at the grave and putting the scenario together for several seconds before he realized he was hearing voices. At least two men in conversation, their voices approaching. Bosch could hear them moving through the brush, their footfalls heavy in the mud and on the bed of fallen leaves. They were coming from the same direction Bosch had come from.

He moved quickly across the small clearing and got behind the massive trunk of the oak tree. He waited and soon he could tell that the men had reached the clearing.

“Right here,” said the first voice. “She was right here for thirteen years.”

“No shit! This is spooky.”

Bosch didn’t dare look around the tree and risk exposing himself. No matter who it was-media, cops or even tourists-he didn’t want to be seen here.

The two men stayed in the clearing and batted meaningless conversation back and forth for a few moments. Luckily, neither approached the trunk of the oak and Bosch’s position. Then finally Bosch heard the first voice say, “Well, let’s go get this done and get out of here.”

The men trod off in the direction from which they had come. Bosch looked around the tree and caught a glimpse of them just before they disappeared back into the brush. He saw Osani and another man he assumed was also from the OIS Unit. After giving them a head start Bosch moved from around the tree and crossed the clearing. He took a position behind an old eucalyptus and watched as the OIS men walked back to the sheer facing left by the mud slide.

Osani and his partner made so much noise walking through the brush that it was quite easy for Bosch to pick and move his way toward the embankment as well. Under cover of their noise he got to the eucalyptus that was Waits’s first marker and watched the two men as they set up to take measurements from the bottom of the embankment to the top. There was a ladder on the facing now, positioned much like the ladder had been the day before. Bosch realized that the two men were cleaning up the official report. They were taking distance measurements that had either been forgotten or deemed unnecessary the day before. Today, in light of the political fallout involved, everything was necessary.

Osani climbed the ladder to the top while his partner remained below. He then took a tape measure off his belt and pulled out several lengths, passing the end down to his partner. They took measurements with Osani calling out the lengths and his partner writing them down in a notebook. It looked to Bosch as though they were measuring various lengths from the spot on the ground where he had been the day before to the positions where Waits, Olivas and Rider had been. Bosch had no idea what the importance of such measurements would be to the investigation.

Bosch’s phone started to vibrate in his pocket and he quickly pulled it out and shut it off. As the screen died he saw that the incoming number had a 485 prefix, which he knew meant Parker Center.

A few seconds later Bosch heard the ringing of a cell phone in the clearing where Osani and the other man were working. Bosch peeked around the tree and saw Osani take a phone off his belt. He listened to the caller and then took a sweeping look around the woods, doing a 360-degree turn. Bosch ducked back.

37

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