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Michael Connelly: Cielo Azul

 

   On the way up, the carís air conditioner gave up shortly after Bakersfield. It was September and hot as I pushed through the middle of the state. Pretty soon I could feel my shirt start to stick to the vinyl seat. I pulled off my tie and unbuttoned my collar. I didnít know why I had put a tie on in the first place. I wasnít on the clock and I wasnít going anywhere that required a tie.

   I tried to ignore the heat and concentrate on how I would try to handle Seguin. But that was like the heat. I knew there was no way to handle him. Somehow, it had always been the other way around. Seguin had the handle on me. One way or the other that would end on this trip.

   I turned my wrist on the steering wheel and checked the date on my Timex. Exactly ten years since the day I had met Seguin. Since I had looked into the cold green eyes of the killer and known I was looking into the abyss.

 

***

 

   The case began on Mulholland Drive, the winding snake of a road that follows the spine of the Santa Monica Mountains. A group of high schoolers had pulled off the road to drink their beer and look down upon the smoggy city of dreams. One of them spotted the body. Nestled in the mountain brush and the debris of beer cans and tequila bottles tossed down by past revelers, the girl was nude, her arms and legs stretched outward in some sort of grotesque display of sex and murder.

   The call went to me, Detective Harry Bosch, and my partner, Frankie Sheehan. At the time we worked out of the LAPDís Robbery-Homicide Division.

    The crime scene was treacherous. The body was snagged on an incline with a better than 60 degree grade. One slip and a person could tumble all the way down the mountainside, maybe end up in somebodyís hot tub down below or on somebodyís concrete patio. We wore jumpsuits and leather harnesses and were lowered down to the body by firemen from the 58th Battalion.

   The scene was clean. No clothes, no ID, no physical evidence, no clues but the dead girl. We didnít even find any fibers that were going to be useful. This was unusual for a homicide.

   I studied the girl closely and put her age at fifteen but no older. Mexican, or of Mexican descent, she had brown hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion. I could tell that in life she had been beautiful to look at. In death she was heartbreaking. She had been strangled, the indentations of her killerís thumbs clear on her neck, the petechial hemorrhaging putting a murderous rouge around her eyes. Rigor mortis had come and gone. She was loose. That told us she had been dead more than twenty-four hours.

   The guess was that she had been dumped the night before, under cover of darkness. That meant she had been lying dead somewhere else for twelve hours or more. That other place was the true crime scene. It was the place we needed to find.

***

 

   When I turned the car inland toward the bay the air finally began to cool. I skirted the east side of the bay up to Oakland and then went across the bridge into San Francisco. Before crossing the Golden Gate I stopped for a hamburger at the Balboa Bar & Grill. I get to San Francisco two or three times a year on cases. I always eat at the Balboa. This time I ate at the bar, glancing occasionally up at the television to see the Giants playing in Chicago. They were losing.

   But mostly I rolled the old case back and forth in my head. It was a closed case now and Seguin would never hurt another person again. Except himself. His last victim would be himself. But still the case stuck with me. A killer was caught, tried and convicted, and now stood to be executed for his crimes. But there was still an unanswered question that stuck with me. It was what put me on the road to San Quentin on my day off.

***

 

   They called it the Little Girl Lost case in the newspaper. It was because we didnít know her name. Fingerprints from the body matched no prints contained in computerized records. The girl matched no description on an active missing persons case anywhere in Los Angeles County or on national crime computer systems. An artistís rendering of the victimís face put on the TV news and in the papers brought no calls from a loved one or an acquaintance. Sketches faxed to five hundred police agencies across the southwest and to the State Judicial Police in Mexico drew no responses. The victim remained unclaimed and unidentified, her body reposing in the refrigerator at the coronerís office while Sheehan and I worked the case.

   It was tough. Most cases start with the victim. Who that person was and where she lived becomes the center of the wheel, the grounding point. Everything comes from the center. But we didnít have that and we didnít have the true crime scene. We had nothing and we were going nowhere fast.

   All that changed with Teresa Corazon. She was the deputy coroner assigned to the case officially known as Jane Doe # 90-91. While preparing the body for an autopsy she came across the lead that would take us first to McCaleb and then Seguin.

   Corazon found that the victimís body had apparently been washed with an industrial strength cleaner before being discarded on the hillside. It was an attempt by the killer to destroy trace evidence. This in itself, however, was both a clue and trace evidence. The cleaning agent could help lead to the killerís identity or help tie him to the crime.

   However, it was another discovery made by Corazon that turned the case for us. While photographing the body the deputy coroner noticed an impression in the skin on the rear left hip. Post-mortem lividity indicated the blood in the body had settled on the left half, meaning the body had been lying on its left side in the time between the stilling of the heart and the dropping of the body down the hillside off of Mulholland. The evidence indicated that during the time that the blood settled the body had been lying on top of the object that left the impression on the hip.

   Using angled light to study the impression, Corazon found that she could clearly see the number 1, the letter J and part of a third letter that could have been the upper left stem of an H, a K or an L.

   »A license plate,« I said when she called me to the autopsy suite to view the discovery. »He put her down on a license plate.«

   »Exactly,« said Corazon.

   We formed the theory that whoever had killed the girl with no name had hidden the body in the trunk of a car until it was nighttime and safe to dump it. After carefully cleaning the body the killer put it into the trunk of his car, mistakenly putting it down on part of a license plate that had been taken off the car and also placed in the trunk. That part of the theory was that the license plate had been removed and possibly replaced with a stolen plate as one more safety measure that would help the killer avoid detection if his car happened to be spotted by a suspicious passerby at the Mulholland overlook.

   Though the skin impression gave no indication of what state issued the license plate, we decided to go with the percentages. From the state Department of Motor Vehicles we obtained a list of every car registered in Los Angeles County that carried a plate beginning 1JH, 1JK and 1JL.

   The list contained over three thousand names of car owners. We then cut forty percent of those names by discounting the female owners. The remaining names were slowly fed into the National Crime Index computer and we came up with a list of forty-six men with criminal records ranging from minor to the extreme.

   The first time I studied the list of 46 I knew. I felt certain that one of the names on it belonged to the killer of the girl with no name.

***

 

   The Golden Gate lived up to its name in the afternoon sun. It was packed with cars going both ways and the tourist turn off on the north side had the »lot full« sign up. I kept moving, into the rainbow-painted tunnel and through the mountain. Soon enough I could see San Quentin up on the right. A foreboding-looking place in an idyllic spot, it housed the worst criminals California had to offer. And I was going to see the worst of the worst.

***

 

   »Detective Bosch?«

   I turned from the window where I had been looking down at the white stones of the veterans cemetery across Wilshire. A man in a white shirt and maroon tie stood holding open the door to the FBI offices. He looked like he was in his mid-thirties with a lean build and healthy look about him. He was smiling.

   »Terry McCaleb?«

   »Thatís me.«

   We shook hands and he invited me back, leading me through a warren of wood-paneled hallways and offices until we came to his. It looked like it might have been a janitorís closet at one time. It was smaller than a solitary confinement cell and had just enough room for a desk and two chairs.

   »Guess itís a good thing my partner didnít want to come,« I said, squeezing into the room.

   Frankie Sheehan alternately referred to criminal profiling as »bur-eau bullshit« and »Quantico quackery.« When I had chosen a week earlier to contact McCaleb, the resident profiler in the bureauís L.A. office, there had been an argument about it. But I was lead on the case; I made the call.

   »Yeah, things are kind of tight here,« McCaleb said. »But at least I get a private space.«

   »Most cops I know like being in a squad room. They like the camaraderie, I guess.«

   McCaleb just nodded and said, »I like being alone.«

   He pointed to the guest chair and I sat down. I noticed a photo of a young girl taped to the wall above his desk. She looked to be about the same age as my victim. I thought that if maybe it were McCalebís daughter it would be a little plus for me. Something that would make him put a little extra drive into my case.

   »Sheís not my daughter,« McCaleb said. »Sheís from an old case. A Florida case.«

   I just looked at him. It wouldnít be the last time he seemed to know my thoughts like I was saying them out loud.

   »So, still no ID on yours, right?«

   »No, nothing yet.«

   »That always makes it tough.«

   »So on your message you said youíd reviewed the file?«

   »Yeah, I did.«

   I had sent copies of the murder book and all crime scene photographs the week before. We had not videotaped the crime scene and this distressed McCaleb. But I had been able to get tape of the scene from a television reporter. His stationís chopper had been in the air over the crime scene but not aired any footage because of the graphic nature of its contents.

   McCaleb opened a file on his desk and referred to it before speaking.

   »First of all, are you familiar with our VICAP program -Violent Criminal Apprehension?«

   »I know what it is. This is the first time I ever submitted a case.«

   »Yes, youíre a rarity in the LAPD. Most of you guys donít want or trust the help. But a few more guys like you and maybe I can get a bigger office.«

   I nodded. I wasnít going to tell him that it was institutional distrust and suspicion that stopped most LAPD detectives from seeking the help of the bureau. It was an unspoken dictate that came from the police chief himself. It was said that the chief could be heard cursing loudly in his office every time news of an FBI arrest within city limits was reported. It was well known in the department that the bank robbery squad routinely monitored the radio transmissions of the bureauís bank squad and often moved in on suspects before the feds got the chance.

   »Yeah, well, I just want to clear the case,« I said. »I donít really care if youíre a psychic or Santa Claus, if youíve got something that will help me Iíll listen.«

   »Well, I think maybe I do.«

   He turned the page in the file and picked up a stack of crime scene photographs. These were not the photos I had sent him. These were 8X10 blow ups of the original crime scene photos. He had made these on his own. It told me that McCaleb had certainly spent some time with the case. It made me think that maybe it had hooked him the way it had hooked me. A girl with no name left dead on the hillside. A girl no one had come forward to claim. A girl no one cared about.

   In my secret heart I cared and I had claimed her. And now maybe McCaleb had, too.

   »Let me just start with my overview of what I think youíve got here,« McCaleb said.

   He shuffled through the photos for a moment, ending with a still that had been made off of the news video. It showed an aerial shot of the naked body, arms and legs stretched wide on the hillside. I took out my cigarettes and shook one out of the pack.

   »You may have already arrived at these same conclusions. If so, I apologize. I donít want to waste your time. By the way, you canít smoke in here.«

   »Donít worry about it,« I said, putting the smokes away. »What have you got?«

   »The crime scene is very important in that it gives us an avenue to the killerís thinking. What I see here suggests the work of what we call an exhibition killer. In other words, this is a killer who wanted his crime to be seen - to be very public - and by virtue of this to instill horror and fear in the general population. From this reaction by the public he draws his gratification. He is somebody who reads the newspapers and watches the news for any information or update on the investigation. It is a way of keeping score. So when we find him, I think we will find newspaper clippings and maybe even videos containing television reports on the case. These will probably be in his bedroom because they would be useful to him in carrying out masturbatory fantasies.«

   I noticed he had said Ďweí in reference to the case investigators but I didnít react. McCaleb went on as if he was talking to himself and there was no one else in the office.

   »A component of the exhibition killerís fantasy is the duel. Exhibiting his crime to the public includes exhibiting it to the police. In effect, he is throwing down a challenge. He is saying. ĎI am better than you, smarter and more clever. Prove me wrong, if you can. Catch me, if you can.í You see? He is dueling with you in the public media arena.«

   »With me?«

   »Yes, you. In this case in particular you appear to be the media front man. It is your name in the newspaper stories included in the file.«

   »Iím lead on the case. Iíve been the one talking to the reporters.«

   McCaleb nodded.

   »Okay,« I said. »All this is good in terms of understanding what a nut this guy is. But what do you have that will help point us to the right guy?«

   McCaleb nodded.

   »You know how the realtors say, location, location, location? Itís the same with me. The place he chose to leave her is significant in that it plays into his exhibitionistic tendencies. You have the Hollywood Hills here. You have Mulholland Drive and the view of the city. This girl was not dropped here randomly. This place was chosen, perhaps just as carefully as she was chosen as a victim. The conclusion is that the drop site is a place our killer may be familiar with because of the routines of his life, but none-the-less was not chosen because of reasons of convenience. He chose this spot, he wanted this spot, because it was the best spot to announce his work to the world. It was part of the canvas. It means he could have come from a long distance to leave her there. He could have come a few blocks.«

   I noticed the use of Ďourí as in our killer. I knew if Frankie had come with me he wouldíve blown a gasket by now. I let it go.

   »Did you look at the list I gave you of the forty-six names?«

   »Yes, I looked at everything. And I think your instincts are good. The two potential suspects you highlighted both fit into the profile I constructed for this killing. Late twenties with a history of crimes of escalating nature.«

   "The Woodland Hills janitor has routine access to industrial cleaners - we could match something to the cleaning agent used on the body. Heís the one we like best.«

   McCaleb nodded but didnít say anything. He seemed to be studying the photographs, which were now spread across the desk.

   »You like the other guy, donít you? The stage builder from Burbank.«

   McCaleb turned and looked directly at me.

   »Yeah, I like him better. His crimes though minor fall more into line with the sexual predator maturation models we have seen. I think when we talk to him we have to make sure we do it in his home. Weíll get a better feel for him. Weíll know.«

   »We?«

   »Yes. And we need to do it soon.«

   He nodded to the photos covering his desk.

   »This wasnít a one shot deal. Whoever he is, heís going to do it again . . . if he hasnít already.«

***

 

   I had been responsible for many men going to San Quentin but I had never been there myself before. At the gate I showed ID and was given a printout with instructions that directed me to a fenced lot for law enforcement vehicles. At a nearby door marked »Law Enforcement Personnel Only« I was ushered through the great wall of the prison and my weapon was taken and locked in a gun vault. I was given a red plastic chit with the number 7 printed on it.

   After my name was put into the computer and the pre-arranged clearances were noted, a guard who didnít bother introducing himself walked me through an empty rec yard to a brick building that had darkened over time to a fireplace black. It was the death house, the place where Seguin would get the juice in one weekís time.

   We moved through a man trap and a metal detector and I was passed off to a new guard. He opened a solid steel door and pointed me down a hall.

   »Last one on the right,« he said. »When you want out wave at one of the cameras. Weíll be watching.«

   He left me there, closing the steel door with a thunderous bang that seemed to reverberate through my marrow.

***

 

   Frankie Sheehan wasnít happy about it but I was the lead and I made the call. I allowed McCaleb to come with us on the interviews. We started with Victor Seguin. He was first on McCalebís list, second on mine. But there was something about the intensity in McCalebís eyes and words that made me defer and go with Seguin first.

   Seguin was a stage builder who lived on Screenland Drive in Burbank. It was a small house with a lot of woodwork you might expect to find in a carpenterís house. It looked as though when Seguin wasnít finding movie work he was home building handsome window boxes and planters for the house.

   The Ford Taurus with the license plate number 1JK2LL4 was parked in the driveway. I put my hand on the hood as we walked up the driveway to the door. It was cold.

   At 8 p.m., just as the light was leaving the sky, I knocked on the front door. Seguin answered in blue jeans and a t-shirt. No shoes. I saw his eyes go wide when he looked at me. He knew who I was before I held up the badge and said my name. I felt the cold finger of adrenalin slide down my back bone. I remembered what McCaleb had said about the killer tracking the police while they tracked him. I had been on TV talking about the case. I had been in the papers.

   Giving nothing away, I calmly said, »Mr. Seguin, thatís your car in the driveway, isnít it?«

   »Yeah, itís mine. What about it? Whatís going on?«

   »We need to ask you about it, if you donít mind. Can we come in for a few minutes?«

   »Well, no, Iíd first like to know what - «

   »Thank you.«

   I moved through the threshold, forcing him to step back. The others followed me in.

   »Hey, wait a minute, what is this?«

   We had worked it out before weíd arrived. The interview was mine to conduct. Frankie was second seat. McCaleb said he just wanted to observe.

   The living room was carpenter overkill. Built-in bookshelves on three walls. A wooden mantle that was too big for the room had been built around the small, brick fireplace. A floor to ceiling television cabinet was built in place as a divider between the sitting area and what looked like a little office nook.

   I nodded approvingly.

   »Nice work. You get a lot of down time with your work?«

   Seguin reluctantly nodded.

   »Did most of this when we had the strike a couple years ago.«

   »What do you do?«

   »Stage builder. Look, what is this about my car? You canít just push your way in here like this. I have rights.«

   »Why donít you sit down, Mr. Seguin. We believe your car was possibly used in the commission of a serious crime.«

   Seguin dropped into a soft chair positioned for best viewing of the television. Bosch noticed that McCaleb was moving about the outer edges of the room, studying the books on the shelves and the various knickknacks displayed on the mantle and other surfaces. Sheehan sat down on the couch to Seguinís left. He stared at him coldly, wordlessly.

   »What crime?«

   »A murder.«

   I let that sink in. But it appeared to me that Seguin had recovered from his initial shock and was hardening. I had seen this before. He was going to try to ride it out.

   »Does anyone drive your car besides you, Mr. Seguin?«

   »Sometimes. If I loan it to somebody.«

   »What about three weeks ago, August fifteenth, did you lend it to anybody?«

   »I donít know. Iíd have to check. I donít think I want to answer anymore questions and I think I want you people to leave now.«

   McCaleb slid into the seat to Seguinís right. I remained standing. I looked at McCaleb and he nodded slightly and only once. But I knew what he was telling me; heís the guy.

   I looked at my partner. Frankie had missed the sign from McCaleb because he had not taken his eyes off of Seguin. I had to make a call. Go with McCalebís signal or back out. I looked back at McCaleb. He looked up at me, his eyes as intense as any I had ever seen.

   I signaled Seguin to stand up.

   »Mr. Seguin I need you to stand up for me. I am placing you under arrest on suspicion of murder.«

   Seguin slowly came to his feet and then made a sudden move toward the door. But Sheehan was ready for it and was all over him and had his face down in the carpet before he had gotten three feet. Frankie pulled his arms behind his back and cuffed them. I then helped him pull Seguin to his feet and we walked him out to the car, leaving McCaleb behind.

   Frankie stayed with the suspect. As soon as I could I came back inside. I found McCaleb still sitting in the chair.

   »What was it?«

   McCaleb reached out his arm to the nearest bookshelf.

   »This is his reading chair,« he said.

   He pulled a book off the shelf.

   »And this is his favorite book.«

   The book was badly worn, itís spine cracked and its pages weathered by repeated readings. As McCaleb thumbed the pages I could see paragraphs and sentences had been underlined by hand. I reached over and closed the book so I could read the cover. It was called The Collector.

   »Ever read it?« McCaleb asked.

   »No. What is it?«

   »Itís about a guy who abducts women. He collects them. Keeps them in his house, in the basement.«

   I nodded.

   »Terry, we need to back out of here and get a search warrant. I want to do this right.«

   »So do I.«

***

 

   Seguin was sitting on the bed in his cell looking at a chess board set up on the toilet. He didnít look up when I came to the bars, though I could tell my shadow had fallen across the game board.

   »Who are you playing?« I asked.

   »Somebody who died sixty-five years ago. They put his best moment - this game - in a book. And he lives on. Heís eternal.«

   He looked up at me then, his eyes still the same - cold, green killerís eyes - in a body turned pasty and weak from ten years in small, windowless rooms.

   »Detective Bosch. I wasnít expecting you until next week.«

   I shook my head.

   »Iím not coming next week.«

   »You donít want to see the show? To see the glory of the righteous?«

   »Doesnít do it for me. Back when they used the gas, maybe thatíd be worth seeing. But watching some asshole on a massage table get the needle and then drift off to never, never land? Nah. Iím going to go see the Dodgers play the Giants.«

   Seguin stood up and approached the bars. I remembered the hours we had spent in the interrogation room, close like this. The body was worn but not the eyes. They were unchanged. Those eyes were the signature of all the evil I had ever known.

   »Then what is it that brings you to me here today, Detective?«

   He smiled at me, his teeth yellowed, his gums as gray as the walls. I knew then that the trip had been a mistake. I knew then that he would not give me what I wanted.

***

 

   Two hours after we put Seguin in the car two other detectives from RHD arrived with a signed search warrant for the house and car. Because we were in the city of Burbank, I had routinely notified the local authorities of our presence and a Burbank detective team and two patrol officers arrived on scene. While the patrol officers kept a vigil on Seguin, the rest of us began the search.

   We spread out. The house had no basement. McCaleb and I took the master bedroom and Terry immediately noticed wheels had been attached to the legs of the bed. He dropped to his knees, pushed the bed aside and there was a trap door in the wood floor. There was a padlock on it.

   While McCaleb went off into the house to find the key I took my picks out of my wallet and worked the lock. I was alone in the room. As I fumbled with the lock I banged it against the metal hasp and I thought I heard a noise from beyond the door in response. It was far away and muffled but to me it was the sound of terror in someoneís voice. My insides seized with my own terror and hope.

   I worked the lock with all my skill and in another 30 seconds it came open.

   »Got it! Terry, I got it!«

   McCaleb came rushing back into the room and we pulled open the door revealing a sheet of plywood below with finger latches at the four corners. We raised this next and there beneath the floor was a young girl. She was blindfolded, gagged and her hands were shackled behind her back. She was naked beneath a dirty pink blanket.

   But she was alive. She turned and pushed herself into the sound-proofing padding that lined the coffin-like box. It was as if she were trying to get away. I realized then that she thought the opening of the door had been him coming back to her. Seguin.

   »Itís okay,« McCaleb said. »Weíre here to help.«

   McCaleb reached down into the box and gently touched her shoulder. She startled like an animal but then calmed. McCaleb then laid down flat on the floor and reached in to the box to start removing the blindfold and gag.

   »Harry, get an ambulance.«

   I stood up and stepped back from the scene. I felt my chest growing tight, a clarity of thought coming over me. In all my years I had spoken for the dead many times. I had avenged the dead. I was at home with the dead. But I had never so clearly had a part of pulling someone away from the outstretched hands of death. And in that moment I knew we had just done that. And I knew that whatever happened afterward and wherever my life took me, I would always have this moment, that it would be a light that could lead me out of the darkest of tunnels.

   »Harry, what are you doing? Get an ambulance.«

   I looked at him.

   »Yeah, right away.«

***

 

   I stepped closer to the bars and looked in at him.

   »Youíre running out of time. Youíve exhausted your appeals, youíve got a governor who needs to show heís tough on crime. This is it, Victor. A week from today you take the needle.«

   I waited for a reaction but there was nothing. He just looked at me and waited for what he knew I would ask.

   »Time to come clean. Tell me who she was. Tell me where you took her from.«

   He moved closer to the bars, close enough for me to smell the decay in his breath. I didnít back away.

   »All these years, Bosch. All these years and you still need to know. Why is that?«

   »I just need to.«

   »You and McCaleb.«

   »What about him?«

   »Oh, he came to see me, too.«

   I knew McCaleb was out of the life. The job had taken his heart. He got a transplant and last Iíd heard he lived on a boat with a fishing line in the water.

   »When did he come?«

   »Oh, a few months ago. Dropped by for chat. Said he was in the neighborhood. He wanted to know the same thing. Who was the girl, where did she come from? He told me you even gave her a name back then, during the trial. Cielo Azul. Thatís really very pretty, Detective Bosch.«

   »He told you that?«

   »Yes, standing right where you are standing.«

   »Are you going to tell me or not?«

   He smiled and stepped back from the bars. He walked over to the chessboard and seemed to look down at it to consider a move.

   »You know, they used to let me keep a cat in here. I miss that cat.«

   He picked up one of the game pieces but then hesitated and returned it to the same spot. He turned and looked at me.

   »You know what I think? I think that you two canít stand the thought of that girl not having a name, not coming from a home with a mommy and a daddy and a little baby brother. The idea of no one caring and no one missing her, it leaves you hollow, doesnít it?«

   »I just want to close the case.«

   »Oh, but it is closed. Youíre not here because of any case. You are here on your own. Admit it, Detective. Just as McCaleb came on his own. The idea of that pretty little girl - and by the way, if you thought she was beautiful in death then you should have seen her before - the idea of her lying unclaimed in an unmarked grave all this time undercuts everything you do, doesnít it?«

   »Itís a loose end. I donít like loose ends.«

   »Itís more than that, Detective. I know.«

   I said nothing. I wanted to leave. The idea I had of getting him to tell me seemed absurd now.

   »If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?«

   He smiled broadly.

   »If a girl is murdered in the city and nobody cares, does it matter?«

   »I care.«

   »Exactly.«

   He came back to the bars.

   »And you need me to relieve you of that burden by giving you a name, a mommy and daddy who care.«

   He was a foot away from me. I could reach through the bars and grab his throat if I wanted to. But that would be what heíd want me to do.

   »Well, I wonít release you, Detective. You put me in this cage. I put you in that one.«

   He stepped back and pointed at me. I looked down and realized both my hands were tightly gripped on the steel bars of the cage. My cage.

   I looked back up at him and his smile was back, as guiltless as a babyís.

   »Funny isnít it? I remember that day - ten years ago today. Sitting in the back of the car while you cops played hero. So full of yourselves for saving the girl. Bet you never thought it would come to this, did you? You saved one but you lost the other.«

   I lowered my head to the bars.

   »Seguin, youíre going to burn. You are going to hell.«

   »Yes, I suppose so. But I hear itís a dry heat.«

   He laughed loudly and I looked at him.

   »Donít you know, Detective? You have to believe in heaven to believe in hell.«

   I abruptly turned from the bars and headed back toward the steel door. Above it I saw the mounted camera. I made an open up gesture with my hand and picked up my speed as I got closer. I needed to get out of there.

   I heard Seguinís voice echoing off the walls behind me.

   »Iíll keep her close, Bosch! Iíll keep her right here with me! Eternally together! Eternally mine!«

   When I got to the steel door I hit it with both fists until I heard the electronic lock snap and the guard began to slide it open.

   »All right, man, all right. Whatís the hurry?«

   »Just get me out of here,« I said as I pushed past him.

   I could still hear Seguinís voice echoing from the death house as I crossed back across the open field.

 

- Michael Connelly
Copyright 2001 by Hieronymus Inc.

 

No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.
Permission granted by www.michaelconnelly.com.

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Der Text darf ohne ausdrŁckliche Genehmigung des Autoren auch nicht in AuszŁgen abgedruckt werden.
Erlaubnis erteilt von www.michaelconnelly.com.

 

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