Книга EchoPark. Страница 88
Part Four THE DOG YOU FEED
BOSCH AND WALLING USED Bosch’s Mustang, since it would give them at least a small degree of cover compared with her federal cruiser, which screamed law enforcement. They drove to Echo Park but did not approach the Saxon house at 710 Figueroa Lane. There was a problem. Figueroa Lane was a short turnaround street that extended for a block off the end of Figueroa Terrace and curved up along the ridge below Chavez Ravine. There was no cruising by it without being obvious about it. Even in a Mustang. If Waits was there and watching for law enforcement, he would have the advantage of seeing them first.
Bosch stopped the car at the intersection of Beaudry and Figueroa Terrace and drummed his fingers on the steering wheel.
“He picked a good place for the secret castle,” he said. “There’s no getting close to it without being picked up on radar. Especially in daylight.”
“Medieval castles were built on hilltops for the same reason.”
Bosch looked to his left, toward downtown, and saw the tall buildings rising over the roofs of the homes on Figueroa Terrace. One of the closest and tallest buildings was the Department of Water and Power headquarters. It was directly across the freeway.
“I’ve got an idea,” he said.
They drove out of the neighborhood and back into downtown. Bosch entered the DWP garage and parked in one of the visitor slots. He popped the trunk and went to the surveillance kit he always kept in the car. He got out a pair of high-powered binoculars, a surveillance camera and a rolled-up sleeping bag.
“What are you going to take pictures of?” Walling asked.
“Nothing. But it’s got a long lens and you might want to look through it while I use the binocs.”
“And the sleeping bag?”
“We might be lying on the roof. I don’t want your fancy federal suit to get dirty.”
“Don’t worry about me. Worry about yourself.”
“I’m worried about that girl Waits grabbed. Let’s go.”
They headed across the garage floor toward the elevators.
“Did you notice that you still call him Waits, even though we are now sure his name is Foxworth?” she asked when they were going up.
“Yeah, I have noticed. I think it’s because when we were face-to-face he was Waits. When he started shooting, he was Waits. And it just sort of stuck.”
She nodded and didn’t say anything else about it, though he guessed that she probably had a psychological angle on it.
When they reached the lobby Bosch went to an information desk, showed his badge and credentials and asked to see a security supervisor. He told the desk man that it was urgent.
In less than two minutes a tall black man in gray pants and a navy blazer over his white shirt and tie came through a door and directly toward them. This time Bosch and Walling both showed their creds and the man appeared properly impressed by the federal-local tandem.
“Hieronymus,” he said, reading Bosch’s police ID. “Do you go by Harry?”
The man put out his hand and smiled.
“Jason Edgar. I believe you and my cousin were partners once.”
Bosch smiled, not just because of the coincidence but because he knew it meant that he would have this man’s cooperation. He put the sleeping bag under his other arm and shook his hand.
“That’s right. He told me he had a cousin with DWP. You used to get him billing info when we needed it. Nice to meet you.”
“Likewise, man. What do we have here? If the FBI’s involved, are we talking about a terrorism situation?”
Rachel raised a hand in a calming gesture.
“Not quite,” she said.
“Jason, we’re just looking for a place where we can look down on a neighborhood across the freeway in Echo Park. There’s a house we’re interested in and we can’t get close to it without being obvious about it, know what I mean? We were thinking that maybe from one of the offices here or from the roof we could get an angle and just see what’s happening over there.”
“I’ve got just the spot,” Edgar said without hesitation. “Follow me.”
He led them back to the elevators and had to use a key to get the fifteenth-floor button to light. On the way up he explained that the building was going through a floor-by-floor renovation. At the moment the work had moved to the fifteenth floor. The floor had been gutted and was empty, waiting for the contractor to come in to rebuild according to the renovation plan.
“You can have the whole floor to yourselves,” he said. “Pick any angle you want for an OP.”
Bosch nodded. OP, as in observation point. That told him something about Jason Edgar.
“Where’d you serve?” he asked.
“Marines, Desert Storm, the whole shebang. That’s why I didn’t join the PD. Had my fill of war zones. This gig is pretty much nine to five, low stress and just interesting enough, if you know what I mean.”
Bosch didn’t but nodded anyway. The elevator doors opened and they stepped out onto a floor that was wide open from glass exterior to glass exterior. Edgar led them toward the glass wall that would look down on Echo Park.
“What’s the case about, anyway?” Edgar asked as they approached.
Bosch knew it would come to this. He was ready with an answer.
“There’s a place down there we think is being used as a safe house for fugitives. We just want to see if there is anything there to be seen. You know what I mean?”
“There’s something else you can do to help us,” Walling said.
Bosch turned to her along with Edgar. He was just as curious.
“What do you need?” Edgar said.
“Could you run the address through your computers and tell us who is paying for utilities?”
“Not a problem. Let me just get you situated here first.”
Bosch nodded to Rachel. It was a good move. It would not only get the inquisitive Edgar out of the way for a while, but it could also provide them with some valuable information about the house on Figueroa Lane.
At the floor-to-ceiling glass wall on the north side of the building, Bosch and Walling looked down and across the 101 Freeway at Echo Park. They were farther from the hillside neighborhood than Bosch had thought they would be, but they still had a good vantage point. He pointed out the geographic markers to Rachel.
“There’s Fig Terrace,” he said. “Those three houses up above it on the curve are on Fig Lane.”
She nodded. Figueroa Lane had only the three houses on it. From this height and distance it looked like an afterthought, a developer’s discovery that he could jam three more houses onto the hillside after the main street grid had already been laid out.
“Which one is seven-ten?” she asked.
Bosch dropped the sleeping bag and raised the binoculars. He studied the three houses, looking for an address. He finally zeroed in on a black trash can sitting out front of the house in the middle. In large white numerals someone had painted 712 on the can in an effort to safeguard it from theft. Bosch knew the address numbers would rise as the street extended away from downtown.
“The one on the right is seven-ten,” he said.
“Got it,” she said.
“So that’s the address?” Edgar asked. “Seven-ten Fig Lane?”
“Figueroa Lane,” Bosch said.
“Got it. Let me go see what I can find. If anybody comes up here and asks what you are doing, just tell them to call me on three-three-eight. That’s my page.”
“You got it.”
Edgar started walking back to the elevators. Bosch thought of something and called after him.
“Jason, this glass has got film on it, right? Nobody can see us looking out, right?”
“Yeah, no problem. You could stand there naked and nobody would see you from the outside. But don’t try that at night, ’cause it’s a different story. Internal light changes things and you can look right in.”
“When I come back, I’ll bring a couple chairs.”
“That would be good.”
After Edgar disappeared into the elevator, Walling said, “Good, at least we’ll be able to sit naked at the window.”
“Sounded like he knew all that from experience,” he said.
“Let’s hope not.”
Bosch raised the binoculars and looked down at the house at 710 Figueroa Lane. It was of similar design to the other two on the street; built high on the hillside with steps leading down to a street-front garage cut into the embankment below the house. It had a red barrel-tile roof and a Spanish motif. But while the other houses on the street were neatly painted and cared for, 710 appeared run-down. Its pink paint had faded. The embankment between the garage and the house was overrun with weeds. The flagpole that stood at the corner of the front porch flew no flag.
Bosch fine-tuned the focus of the field glasses and moved them from window to window, looking for indications of occupancy, hoping to get lucky and see Waits himself looking back out.
Next to him he heard Walling click off a few photos. She was using the camera.
“I don’t think there’s any film in that. It’s not digital.”
“It’s all right. Just force of habit. And I wouldn’t expect a dinosaur like you to have a digital camera.”
Beneath the binoculars, Bosch smiled. He tried to think of a rejoinder but let it go. He focused his attention back on the house. It was of a style commonly seen in the city’s older hillside neighborhoods. While with newer construction the contour of the land dictated design, the houses on the inclined side of Figueroa Lane were of a more conquering design. At street level the embankment was excavated for a garage. Then, above this, the hillside was terraced and a small single-level home had been constructed. The mountains and hillsides all over the city were molded this way in the forties and fifties as the city sprawled through the flats and grew up the hillsides like a rising tide.
Bosch noticed that at the top of the stairs that ran from the side of the garage up to the front porch there was a small metal platform. He checked the stairs again and saw the metal guide rails.
“There’s a lift on the stairs,” he said. “Whoever’s living there now is in a wheelchair.”
He saw no movement behind any window viewable from the angle they had. He dropped his focus down to the garage. It had a pedestrian entrance door and double garage doors that had been painted pink a long time before. The paint, what was left of it, was gray now and the wood was splintering in many places from direct exposure to the afternoon sun. One garage door looked as though it had closed at an uneven angle to the pavement. It didn’t look operational anymore. The pedestrian entrance door had a window, but a shade was pulled down behind it. Across the top panel of each of the garage doors was a row of small square windows, but they were being hit with direct sunlight and the dazzling reflection prevented Bosch from seeing in.