Tell no one, p.36
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       Tell No One, p.36

           Harlan Coben
 
Chapter 35

  When night fell, Tyrese found me a room at the apartment of Latisha's cousin. We couldn't imagine that the police would unearth my connection with Tyrese, but why take the chance?

  Tyrese had a laptop. We hooked it up. I checked my email, hoping for a message from my mysterious mailer. Nothing under my work account. Nothing under my home account. I tried the new one at bigfoot. com. Nothing there either.

  Tyrese had been looking at me funny since we'd left Flannery's office. "I ask you something, Doc?"

  "Go ahead," I said.

  "When that mouthpiece said about that guy being murdered-"

  "Brandon Scope," I added.

  "Yeah, him. You look like someone hit you with a stun gun. "

  I had felt it. "You're wondering why?"

  Tyrese shrugged.

  "I knew Brandon Scope. He and my wife shared an office at a charitable foundation in the city. And my father grew up with and worked for his father. In fact, my father was in charge of teaching Brandon about the family holdings. "

  "Uh-huh," Tyrese said. "What else?"

  "That's not enough?"

  Tyrese waited. I turned to face him. He kept his eyes steady and for a moment I thought he could see all the way to the blackest corners of my soul. Thankfully, the moment passed. Tyrese said, "So what do you want to do next?"

  "Make a few phone calls," I said. "You sure they can't be traced back here?"

  "Can't see how. Tell you what, though. We'll do it with a conference call to another cell phone. Make it that much harder. "

  I nodded. Tyrese set it up. I had to dial another number and tell somebody I didn't know what numbers to dial. Tyrese headed for the door. "I'm gonna check on TJ. I'll be back in an hour. "

  "Tyrese?"

  He looked back. I wanted to say thanks, but somehow it didn't feel right. Tyrese understood. "Need you to stay alive, Doc. For my kid, see?"

  I nodded. He left. I checked my watch before dialing Shauna's cell phone. She answered on the first ring. "Hello?"

  "How's Chloe?" I asked.

  "Great," she said.

  "How many miles did you walk?"

  "At least three. More like four or five. " Relief coursed through me. "So what's our next-"

  I smiled and disconnected the phone. I dialed up my forwarding buddy and gave him another number. He mumbled something about not being a goddamn operator, but he did as I asked.

  Hester Crimstein answered as though she were taking a bite out of the receiver. "What?"

  "It's Beck," I said quickly. "Can they listen in, or do we have some kind of attorney-client protection here?"

  There was a strange hesitation. "It's safe," she said.

  "I had a reason for running," I began.

  "Like guilt?"

  "What?"

  Another hesitation. "I'm sorry, Beck. I screwed up. When you ran like that, I freaked out. I said some stupid things to Shauna, and I quit as your attorney. "

  "Never told me," I said. "I need you, Hester. "

  "I won't help you run. "

  "I don't want to run anymore. I want to surrender. But on our terms. "

  "You're not in any position to dictate terms, Beck. They're going to lock you up tight. You can forget bail. "

  "Suppose I offer proof I didn't kill Rebecca Schayes. "

  Another hesitation. "You can do that?"

  "Yes. "

  "What sort of proof?"

  "A solid alibi. "

  "Provided by?"

  "Well," I said, "that's where it gets interesting. "

  Special Agent Carlson picked up his cell phone. "Yeah. "

  "Got something else," his partner Stone said.

  "What?"

  "Beck visited a cheap mouthpiece named Flannery a few hours ago. A black street kid was with him. "

  Carlson frowned. "I thought Hester Crimstein was his attorney. "

  "He wasn't looking for legal representation. He wanted to know about a past case. "

  "What case?"

  "Some all-purpose perp named Gonzalez was arrested for killing Brandon Scope eight years ago. Elizabeth Beck gave the guy a hell of an alibi. Beck wanted to know all about it. "

  Carlson felt his head doing a double spin. How the hell. . . ?

  "Anything else?"

  "That's it," Stone said. "Say, where are you?"

  "I'll talk to you later, Tom. " Carlson hung up the phone and pressed in another number.

  A voice answered, "National Tracing Center. "

  "Working late, Donna?"

  "And I'm trying to get out of here, Nick. What do you want?"

  "A really big favor. "

  "No," she said. Then with a big sigh, "What?"

  "You still have that thirty-eight we found in the Sarah Goodhart safety-deposit box?"

  "What about it?"

  He told her what he wanted. When he finished, she said, "You're kidding, right?"

  "You know me, Donna. No sense of humor. "

  "Ain't that truth. " She sighed. "I'll put in a request, but there's no way it'll get done tonight. "

  "Thanks, Donna. You're the best. "

  When Shauna entered the building's foyer, a voice called out to her.

  "Excuse me. Miss Shauna?"

  She looked at the man with the gelled hair and expensive suit. "And you are?"

  "Special Agent Nick Carlson. "

  "Nighty-night, Mr. Agent. "

  "We know he called you. "

  Shauna patted her mouth in a fake yawn. "You must be proud. "

  "Ever hear the terms aiding and abetting and accessory after the fact?"

  "Stop scaring me," she said in an exaggerated monotone, "or I might just make wee-wee right here on the cheap carpeting. "

  "You think I'm bluffing?"

  She put out her hands, wrists together. "Arrest me, handsome. " She glanced behind him. "Don't you guys usually travel in pairs?"

  "I'm here alone. "

  "So I gather. Can I go up now?"

  Carlson carefully adjusted his glasses. "I don't think Dr. Beck killed anyone. "

  That stopped her.

  "Don't get me wrong. There's plenty of evidence he did it. My colleagues are all convinced he's guilty. There is still a massive manhunt going on. "

  "Uh-huh," Shauna said with more than a hint of suspicion in her voice. "But somehow you see through all that?"

  "I just think something else is going on here. "

  "Like what?"

  "I was hoping you could tell me. "

  "And if I suspect that this is a trick?"

  Carlson shrugged. "Not much I can do about that. "

  She mulled it over. "It doesn't matter," she said. "I don't know anything. "

  "You know where he's hiding. "

  "I don't. "

  "And if you did?"

  "I wouldn't tell you. But you already know that. "

  "I do," Carlson said. "So I guess you won't tell me what all that talk about walking his dog was about. "

  She shook her head. "But you'll find out soon enough. "

  "He'll get hurt out there, you know. Your friend assaulted a cop. That makes it open season on him. "

  Shauna kept her gaze steady. "Not much I can do about that. "

  "No, I guess not. "

  "Can I ask you something?"

  "Shoot," Carlson said.

  "Why don't you think he's guilty?"

  "I'm not sure. Lots of little things, I guess. " Carlson tilted his head. "Did you know that Beck was booked on a flight to London?"

  Shauna let her eyes take in the lobby, trying to buy a second or two. A man entered and smiled appreciatively at Shauna. She ignored him. "Bull," she said at last.

  "I just came from the airport," Carlson continued. "The flight was booked three days ago. He was a no-show, of course. But what was really odd was that the credit card used to purchase the ticket was in the name of Laura Mills. That name mean anything to you?"

  "Should it?"

  "P
robably not. We're still working on it, but apparently it's a pseudonym. "

  "For whom?"

  Carlson shrugged. "Do you know a Lisa Sherman?"

  "No. How does she fit in?"

  "She was booked on the same flight to London. In fact, she was supposed to sit next to our boy. "

  "Another no-show?"

  "Not exactly. She checked in. But when they called the flight, she never boarded. Weird, don't you think?"

  "I don't know what to think," Shauna said.

  "Unfortunately, nobody could give us an ID on Lisa Sherman. She didn't check any luggage and she used an e-ticket machine. So we started running a background check. Any guess what we found?"

  Shauna shook her head.

  "Nothing," Carlson replied. "It looks like another pseudonym. Do you know the name Brandon Scope?"

  Shauna stiffened. "What the hell is this?"

  "Dr. Beck, accompanied by a black man, visited an attorney named Peter Flannery today. Flannery defended a suspect in the murder of Brandon Scope. Dr. Beck asked him about that and about Elizabeth's role in his release. Any clue why?"

  Shauna started fumbling in her purse.

  "Looking for something?"

  "A cigarette," she said. "You have one?"

  "Sorry, no. "

  "Damn. " She stopped, met his eye. "Why are you telling me all this?"

  "I have four dead bodies. I want to know what's going on. "

  "Four?"

  "Rebecca Schayes, Melvin Bartola, Robert Wolf - those are the two men we found at the lake. And Elizabeth Beck. "

  KillRoy killed Elizabeth. "

  Carlson shook his head.

  "What makes you so sure?"

  He held up the manila folder. "This, for one. "

  "What is it?"

  "Her autopsy file. "

  Shauna swallowed. Fear coursed through her, tingling her fingers. The final proof, one way or the other. She tried very hard to keep her voice steady. "Can I take a look?"

  "Why?"

  She didn't reply.

  "And more important, why was Beck so eager to see it?"

  "I don't know what you mean," she said, but the words rang hollow in her own ears and, she was sure, his.

  "Was Elizabeth Beck a drug user?" Carlson asked.

  The question was a total surprise. "Elizabeth? Never. "

  "You're sure?"

  "Of course. She worked with drug addicts. That was part of her training. "

  "I know a lot of vice cops who enjoy a few hours with a prostitute. "

  "She wasn't like that. Elizabeth was no Goody Two-shoes, but drugs? Not a chance. "

  He held up the manila envelope again. "The tox report showed both cocaine and heroin in her system. "

  "Then Kellerton forced them into her. "

  "No," Carlson said.

  "What makes you so sure?"

  "There are other tests, Shauna. Tissue and hair tests. They show a pattern of use going back several months at the least. "

  Shauna felt her legs weaken. She slumped against a wall. "Look, Carlson, stop playing games with me. Let me see the report, okay?"

  Carlson seemed to consider it. "How about this?" he said. "I'll let you see any one sheet in here. Any one piece of information. How about that?"

  "What the hell is this, Carlson?"

  "Good night, Shauna. "

  "Whoa, whoa, hold up a sec. " She licked her lips. She thought about the strange emails. She thought about Beck's running from the cops. She thought about the murder of Rebecca Schayes and the toxicology report that couldn't be. All of a sudden, her convincing demonstration on digital imaging manipulation didn't seem so convincing.

  "A photograph," she said. "Let me see a photograph of the victim. "

  Carlson smiled. "Now, that's very interesting. "

  "Why's that?"

  "There are none in here. "

  "But I thought-"

  "I don't understand it either," Carlson interrupted. "I've called Dr. Harper. He was the M. E. on this one. I'm seeing if he can find out who else has signed out for this file. He's checking as we speak. "

  "Are you saying someone stole the photographs?"

  Carlson shrugged. "Come on, Shauna. Tell me what's going on. "

  She almost did. She almost told him about the emails and the street cam link. But Beck had been firm. This man, for all his fancy talk, could still be the enemy. "Can I see the rest of the file?"

  He moved it toward her slowly. The hell with blase, she thought. She stepped forward and grabbed it from his hand. She tore it open and found the first sheet. As her eyes traveled down the page, a block of ice hardened in her stomach. She saw the body's height and the weight and stifled a scream.

  "What?" Carlson asked.

  She didn't reply.

  A cell phone rang. Carlson scooped it out of his pants pocket. "Carlson. "

  "It's Tim Harper. "

  "Did you find the old logs?"

  "Yes. "

  "Did someone else sign out Elizabeth Beck's autopsy?"

  "Three years ago," Harper said. "Right after it was placed into cold storage. One person signed it out. "

  "Who?"

  "The deceased's father. He's also a police officer. His name is Hoyt Parker. "