Darkest Fear Page 59

She cocked an eyebrow. “Help?”

“Counseling. To help you through it.”

She made a face. “Oh please,” she said.

Myron stood there, his mind circling nowhere over nothing.

“So now you know the truth, Mr. Bolitar.”

“I guess,” he said.

“Meaning?”

“I wonder why you told me all this. You could have just shown Dennis to me.”

“Because you won’t talk.”

“How can you be so sure?”

She smiled. “After you shoot your own brother, shooting strangers becomes so easy.”

“You don’t really believe that.”

“No, I suppose not.” Susan Lex turned and faced him. “The fact is, you really don’t have much to tell. As you said earlier, we both have reasons to keep our mouths shut. You’ll be arrested for kidnapping and Lord knows what. The evidence of my crime—if indeed it was a crime—is nonexistent. You’d be worse off than I.”

Myron nodded, but his mind still whirred. Her story might be true or just something she told him to gain sympathy, to contain the damage. Still, there was the ring of truth in her words. Maybe her reason for talking was simpler. Maybe, after all this time, she just needed someone who’d listen to her confession. Didn’t matter. None of it mattered. There was nothing here. Dennis Lex was truly a dead end.

Myron looked out the window. The sun was starting to dip away. He checked his watch. Jeremy had been missing five hours now—five hours alone with a madman—and Myron’s best lead, his only lead, was lying brain-damaged in a hospital room.

The sun was still strong, bathing the expansive garden in white. Myron saw what looked like a maze made of shrubbery. He spotted several patients in wheelchairs, legs covered with blankets, sitting by a fountain. Serene. The rays reflected off a pool of water and a statue in the middle of—

He stopped. The statue.

Myron felt the blood in his veins turn to crystal. He shaded his eyes with his hand and squinted again.

“Oh Christ,” he said.

Then he sprinted toward the stairs.

34

Susan Lex’s helicopter was starting to descend toward the sanitarium’s landing pad when Kimberly Green called him on the cell phone.

“We’ve caught Stan Gibbs,” she said. “But the boy wasn’t with him.”

“That’s because he isn’t the kidnapper.”

“You know something I don’t?”

Myron ignored the question. “Has Stan told you anything?”

“Nope. He lawyered up already. Says he won’t talk to anyone but you. You, Myron. Why don’t I find that particularly surprising?”

Had Myron responded, the helicopter’s propeller would have drowned it out. He backed off a few steps. The copter touched down. The pilot stuck his head out and waved to him.

“I’m on my way,” Myron shouted into the phone. He switched it off and turned to Susan Lex. “Thank you.”

She nodded.

He ducked and ran toward the helicopter. As they rose, Myron looked back down. Susan Lex’s chin was tilted up, her eyes still on him. He waved. And she waved back.

Stan was not in a holding cell because they had nothing to hold him on. He sat in a waiting room with his eyes on the table and let his attorney, Clara Steinberg, do the talking. Myron had known Clara—he called her Aunt Clara though there was no familial relationship—since he was too young to remember. Aunt Clara and Uncle Sidney were Mom and Dad’s closest friends. Dad had gone to elementary school with Clara. Mom had roomed with her in law school. Aunt Clara, in fact, had set up Mom and Dad on their first date. She liked to remind Myron with a wink that “you wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for your aunt Clara.” Then she’d wink again. Subtle, that Clara. During the holidays, she always pinched Myron’s cheeks in admiration of his punim.

“Let me set up the ground rules, bubbe,” she said to him. Clara had gray hair and a pair of oversized glasses that magnified her eyes to Ant-Man size. She looked up at him and the giant eyes seemed to reel in everything all at once. She wore a white blouse with a gray vest, matching skirt, a kerchief around her neck, and teardrop pearl earrings. Think Shtetl Barbara Bush.

“One,” she said, “I am Mr. Gibbs’s attorney of record. I have requested that this conversation not be overheard. I have changed rooms four times to make sure the authorities don’t listen in. But I don’t trust them. They think your aunt Clara is an old dodo bird. They think we’re going to chat right here.”

“We’re not?” Myron said.

“We’re not,” she repeated. There was little hint of the cheek pincher here; if she were an athlete, you’d say that she’d strapped on her game face. “What we’re going to do first is stand up. Got me?”

“Stand up,” Myron repeated.

“Right. Then I’m going to lead you and Stan outside, across the street. I’m going to remain on the other side of the street with all those friendly agents. We do this right now, quickly, so they won’t have a chance to set up surveillance. Understood?”

Myron nodded. Stan kept his eyes on the Formica.

“Good, just so we’re all on the same page here.” She knocked on the door. Kimberly Green opened it. Clara walked past her without speaking. Myron and Stan followed. Kimberly rushed up behind them.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“Change of plans, doll.”

“You can’t do that.”

“Sure I can. I’m a sweet little old lady.”

“I don’t care if you’re the Queen Mother,” Kimberly said. “You’re not going anywhere.”

“You married, hon?”

“What?”

“Never mind,” Clara said. “Try this on for size. See how it fits. My client demands privacy.”

“We already promised—”

“Shh, you’re talking when you should be listening. My client demands privacy. So he and Mr. Bolitar are going to take a little walk somewhere. You and I will watch from a distance. We will not listen in.”

“I already told you—”

“Shh, you’re giving me a headache.” Aunt Clara rolled her eyes and kept walking. Myron and Stan followed. They reached the doorway. Clara pointed to a bus depot across the street. “Sit over there,” she said to them. “On the bench.”

Myron said okay. Clara put a hand on his elbow.

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