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.For someone normal.Someone not her.“Be careful,” she said to the dead air.CHAPTER30Susan had left a tampon on his desk.Archie had noticed it while he was on the phone with Claire.No change.That’s what Claire had said.Archie wasn’t sure if that was good or bad.If Henry’s body was processing the toxin, shouldn’t his vital signs be getting better?He opened his desk drawer, slid out the flash drive, and turned it over in his hand.It had been six months since Gretchen had given it to him.Her last move in their demented psychological chess game.Archie had yet to plug it into his computer and look at the files.He had promised Henry he wouldn’t.He put it back in the drawer and checked his watch.It was after noon.An e-mail bounced up—the electronic file of Patrick Lifton’s missing persons report.The FBI had come through.He was scanning it when Susan came back in.“I’ll do it,” she said.“The story.I called the national editor at The New York Times while I was outside.Can I have a desk to work at?”“You leave the boy out of it for now,” Archie said.“Yep,” Susan said.“Now give me back my purse.I need my notebook.”Archie’s phone rang.He saw Heil’s number and snapped the cell to his cheek.“Where are you?” Archie asked.“In the front,” Heil said.“You’re calling me from the office?”“It was faster.There’s someone here.Says he’s the one who moved Stephanie Towner’s body.”“Here, now?”“I’m looking at him.Says he’s the caretaker at Oaks Park.”“I’ll be right out,” Archie said.He looked at Susan.“You can work in my office,” he said.He immediately regretted the offer.* * *August Hughes had broad cheekbones and a wide nose, and white hair that receded halfway back his scalp.Deep folds were stacked on his dark forehead, and dimples had long ago deepened into shallow trenches on either side of his mouth.White whiskers spotted his chin.His collared shirt was ironed.He was wearing red suspenders.His son, Philip, had brought him in.He’d taken care of the congenital receding hairline by shaving his head and growing a beard.Archie had decided against interviewing them in the interrogation room, and instead suggested the conference room where they now sat.The list of possible key purposes was still on the dry-erase board.Heil sat next to Archie; August and Philip Hughes, side by side across the table.August Hughes swallowed hard.“I’ll accept full responsibility,” he said.His son looked away.They hadn’t asked for a lawyer.“You moved the body to the carousel?” Archie asked.“I did.”“Why?” Archie asked.“I’ll accept full responsibility,” he said again.His irises looked almost black, the whites of his eyes more cream than white, and threaded with red blood vessels.“Why did you do it?” Archie repeated.Philip Hughes placed a hand on his father’s back.“Tell them, Pop,” he said.August’s shoulders slumped.“At first I pulled her off the bank because I was afraid the river would wash her back out,” he explained.“I laid her in the grass.” He shrugged a little and frowned.“But it didn’t seem right.She just looked so cold.So scared.I didn’t want her found like that.”Archie raised an eyebrow.“So you put her on the carousel?”“Carousel’s been there since 1923,” August said.“It’s on the National Register of Historic Places, and recognized by the National Carousel Association.All wood.Hand-carved.It’s the prettiest thing in the park.” He shook his head, eyes closed.“I knew it was wrong.Knew it when I did it.But sometimes right is wrong, know what I mean?”“You might have destroyed valuable evidence,” Archie said.She had been in the water two days; any trace evidence had certainly been long gone.But August Hughes didn’t know that.“Something that could have helped us catch her killer.”August’s eyes opened.“She was murdered? I thought she drowned.”Philip Hughes took a breath, removed his hand from his father’s back, and laid it on his father’s hand.“It’s okay, Pop.”“Why didn’t you report it?” Archie asked August.“How could I explain what I’d done?” the old man said.“Besides, I knew the work crew would find her.They take their smoke breaks over there.But it ate at me.I finally told my son this morning.Asked him to bring me down to you all.”People did a lot of strange things, for strange reasons.Archie had seen some of those things up close.But this? It was up there.“Why the ostrich?” Archie asked.August Hughes looked at his hands.“No reason.Thought she’d like it [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]