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Книга EchoPark. Страница 92

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“You better.”

Bosch checked the gun. It was loaded and appeared operational. He put it into the waistband at the back of his pants and looked at Rachel. She was standing three feet behind him in the entryway. She made a movement with her hand, pantomiming turning a key. Bosch understood.

“Do you have a key to the garage door, Mrs. Saxon?” he asked.

“No. Bobby came and got the extra key.”

“Okay, Mrs. Saxon. I’ll check with him.”

He moved toward the front door. Rachel joined him and they went out. Halfway down the steps to the garage, Rachel grabbed his arm and whispered.

“We have to call backup. Now!”

“Go ahead and call but I’m going into the garage. If he’s in there with the girl, we can’t wait.”

He shook off her grip and continued down. When he got to the garage he looked once again through the windows on the top panels and saw no movement inside. His eyes focused on the door on the rear wall. It was still closed.

He moved over to the pedestrian door and opened the blade of a small folding knife that was attached to his key ring.

Bosch went to work on the door’s lock and got the blade across the tongue. He nodded to Rachel to be ready and pulled the door open. But it didn’t come. He tried it again and pulled hard. Again the door would not come open.

“There’s an inside lock,” he whispered. “It means he’s in there.”

“No, it doesn’t. He could’ve come out through one of the garage doors.”

He shook his head.

“They’re locked from the inside,” he whispered. “All the doors are locked from the inside.”

Rachel understood and nodded.

“What do we do?” she whispered back.

Bosch thought about things for a moment and then handed her his keys.

“Go back and get the car. When you get up here, park it with the rear end right here. Then pop the trunk.”

“What are you-”

“Just do it. Go!”

She ran down the sidewalk in front of the garages and then crossed the street and dropped from sight down the hill. Bosch moved toward the pull-up door that looked like it had closed awkwardly. It was out of alignment and he knew it would be the better of the two doors to try to breach.

Bosch heard the Mustang’s big engine before he saw his car come over the hill. Rachel drove toward him fast. He stepped back against the garage to give her maximum room to maneuver. She made almost a complete turn in the street and then backed toward the garage. The trunk was popped and Bosch immediately reached in for the rope he kept in the back. It was gone. He then remembered that Osani had taken it after discovering it on the tree in Beachwood Canyon.

“Shit!”

He quickly looked through the trunk and found a shorter length of clothesline he had used once to tie down the trunk lid when he was moving a piece of furniture to the Salvation Army. He quickly tied one end of the cord to a steel towing loop underneath the car’s bumper and then the other end to the handle at the bottom of the garage door. He knew that something would have to give. The door, the handle or the rope. They had a one-in-three shot at getting the door open.

Rachel had gotten out of the car.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

Bosch quietly closed the car’s trunk.

“We’re going to pull it open. Get back in the car and go forward. Go slow. A sudden jerk will snap the line. Go ahead, Rachel. Hurry.”

Without a word she got back in the car, dropped it in drive and started moving forward. She watched in the rearview and he rolled a finger to keep her moving. The cord pulled taut and then Bosch could hear the sound of the garage door groaning as the pressure mounted. He stepped back and at the same time drew his gun again.

The garage door gave way all at once and popped up and out three feet.

“Stop!” Bosch yelled, knowing there was no longer any need for whispers.

Rachel stopped pulling but the line remained taut and the garage door was held open. Bosch moved forward quickly and used his momentum to duck and roll beneath it. He came up inside the garage with his gun up and ready. He swept the space but saw no one. Keeping his eyes on the door at the rear wall, he sidestepped over to the van. He jerked one of the side doors open and quickly checked the interior. It was empty.

Bosch moved toward the back wall, making his way around an obstacle course of upright barrels, rolls of plastic, bales of towels, squeegee blades and other window-washing equipment. There was a strong smell of ammonia and other chemicals. Bosch’s eyes were beginning to water.

The hinges on the door at the rear wall were visible and Bosch knew it would swing toward him when he opened it.

“FBI!” Walling yelled from outside. “Coming in!”

“Clear!” Bosch yelled back.

He heard her scrabble under the garage door but kept his attention on the door in the back wall. He moved toward it, listening all the time for any sound.

Taking a position to the side of the door Bosch put his hand on the doorknob and turned it. It was unlocked. He looked back for the first time at Rachel. She was in a combat stance at an angle from the door. She nodded and in one quick move he flung the door open and moved across the threshold.

The room was dark and windowless and he saw no one. He knew he was a target standing in the light in the doorway and quickly sidestepped into the room. He saw a string from an overhead light and reached out and yanked on it. The string snapped in his hand but the light came on, the hanging bulb jumping and swinging in response. He was in a crowded work and storage room that was about ten feet deep. There was no one in the room.

“Clear!”

Rachel entered and they stood there scanning the room. A bench cluttered with old paint cans, household tools and flashlights was on the right. Four old and rusting bikes were stacked against the left wall, along with folding chairs and a pile of collapsed cardboard boxes. The back wall was concrete block. Hung on it was the dusty old flag for the pole up on the front terrace of the house. On the floor in front of it was a stand-up electric fan, its blades caked with dust and crud. It looked like at one time somebody had tried to blow the fetid, damp smell out of the room.

“Shit!” Bosch said.

He lowered his gun, turned and walked past Rachel back into the garage. She followed him.

Bosch shook his head and tried to rub some of the chemical sting out of his eyes. He didn’t understand. Were they too late? Were they following the wrong lead altogether?

“Check the van,” he said. “See if there is any sign of the girl.”

Rachel crossed behind him to the van, and Bosch went to the pedestrian door to check for the flaws in his belief that someone had to be in the garage.

He had to be right. There was a dead bolt on the door, meaning it could only have been locked from the inside. He moved over to the garage doors and stooped down to look at their locking mechanisms. He was right again. Both had padlocks on interior slide locks.

He tried to puzzle it out. All three doors had been locked from the inside. It meant that either someone was inside the garage or there was an exit point he hadn’t identified yet. But this seemed impossible. The garage was dug directly into the hillside embankment. There was no possibility of a rear exit.

He was checking the ceiling, wondering if it was possible that there was a passageway up to the house, when Rachel called from inside the van.

“I’ve got a roll of duct tape,” she said. “I’ve got used strips on the floor with hair.”

It boosted Bosch’s belief that they had the right place. He stepped over to the open side door of the van. He looked in at Rachel while he pulled out his phone. He noticed the wheelchair lift in the van.

“I’ll call for backup and Forensics,” he said. “We missed him.”

He had to turn the phone back on, and while he waited for it to boot up he realized something. The stand-up fan in the back room wasn’t pointed toward the garage doors. If you were going to air the room out, you would point the fan toward the door.

His phone buzzed in his hand and it distracted him. He looked down at the screen. It told him he had a message waiting. He clicked a button to check the call record and saw that he had just missed a call from Jerry Edgar. He’d get to it later. He punched in a number for Communications and told the dispatcher to connect him with the Raynard Waits Fugitive Task Force. An officer identifying himself as Freeman picked up.

“This is Detective Harry Bosch. I have-”

“Harry! Gun!”

It was Rachel who had yelled. Time slowed down. All in a second Bosch looked at her in the van’s doorway, her eyes focused over his shoulder at the back of the garage. Without thinking, he jumped forward and into her, pulling his arms around her and taking her to the floor of the van in a crushing tackle. Four shots came from behind him followed by the instantaneous sound of bullets striking metal and glass breaking. Bosch rolled off Rachel and came up with his gun in hand. He caught a glimpse of a figure ducking into the rear storage room. He fired six shots through the doorway and raking across the wall to its right.

“Rachel, okay?”

“I’m okay. Are you hit?”

“I don’t think so!”

“It was him! Waits!”

They paused and watched the door to the rear room. No one came back through.

“Did you hit him?” Rachel whispered.

“I don’t think so.”

“I thought we cleared that room.”

“I thought we did, too.”

Bosch stood up, keeping his aim on the doorway. He noticed that the light from within was now off.

“I dropped my phone,” he said. “Call for backup.”

He started moving toward the door.

“Harry, wait. He could-”

“Call for backup! And remember to tell them I’m in there.”

He cut to his left and approached the door from an angle that would give him the widest vision of the interior space. But without the overhead light the room was cast in shadows and he could see no movement. He started taking small steps using his right foot first and maintaining a firing position. Behind him he heard Rachel on her phone identifying herself and asking for a transfer to LAPD dispatch.

Bosch got to the threshold and swung the gun across his body to cover the part of the room he had not had an angle on. He stepped in and sidestepped to the right. There was no movement, no sign of Waits. The room was empty.

He looked at the fan and confirmed his mistake. It was pointed toward the flag hanging on the back wall. It had not been used to blow damp air out. The fan had been used to blow air in.

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