There were six cars behind her now. Any second now, one of them would start getting pissed off and the chain reaction would set in. He started to ask Mrs. Dbinsky if she’d mind pulling over against the curb, but he knew that would set her off again, and he had a feeling there was more on her mind than just trucks today, so instead he said he’d come by her house later this afternoon, how would that be? He’d come by and they’d discuss what he could do about the trucks—
“What you could do and what you’re gonna do are two different things!” she said. “You
put up signs, you
give ’em tickets. You
get the damn trucks off my street. You’re
do absolutely nothin’!”
The first horn honked now. It came from one of the nine cars backed up behind Mrs. Dbinsky. But Justin Westwood wasn’t concentrating on the honking. Or Gary and the other idiot-boy cop who were smirking at him, enjoying this whole thing. He wasn’t even concentrating on Mrs. Dbinsky. Because from the middle of Main Street, from inside a building somewhere—it sounded like it was near the yoga center—there was a scream. A loud, frightened, and frightening scream.
People were coming out of their stores now, looking around for the source of the noise.
Gary and What’s-his-name were running, sprinting toward a small house in the middle of the block.
Westwood was running too. His hand instinctively went to his belt. Even after all these years that instinct hadn’t left him, and he was shocked when he realized that. But of course there was no gun there, so he dropped his hand, trying to pretend it hadn’t happened, that those instincts were long dead and buried, and just ran.
And he thought:
Son of a bitch.
East End Harbor has an emergency.
The girl’s name was Susanna Morgan and Westwood knew her, of course. Everybody in town knew her. She was bubbly and friendly and curious. She had interviewed him a couple of times, nothing serious; she didn’t know anything about his background, hadn’t done any probing before they talked. It was just human interest–type stuff, wanting to know the way the local police force worked and thought. Basically, he had told her that the force worked hard and didn’t think much, and Jimmy Leggett, his boss, had not been too happy with that quote so that was the end of the interviews.
He’d bumped into Susanna a few times after that. It was hard not to bump into people in East End. There were only so many bars and restaurants. Once he’d seen her at Duffy’s. He hadn’t pegged her for a Duffy’s girl. Not that it was hard-core—nothing was hard-core out here—but it was fairly serious for East End Harbor. Duffy’s didn’t have any real food, just nuts and pretzels in red straw bowls and sometimes sandwiches that were wrapped in plastic and looked like they came out of a vending machine. They served a lot of beer and straight liquor, didn’t keep cranberry juice as part of their stock, and there was a dart-board off to the side, which was about all the atmosphere the place had. It wasn’t a pickup place or a place to take anyone you wanted to impress. It was a place to drink and to be lonely, if not alone. So he’d been surprised to see her there one night. She was with a girlfriend and they drank a couple of beers. He was sitting at the bar when she came in and they nodded at each other. He was still sitting at the bar when she left. She had smiled at him on her way out.
She was twenty-seven years old, he knew.
twenty-seven years old.
Now she wasn’t anything because she was goddamn dead.
The woman who’d found her body was Regina Arnold. She worked with Susanna at the paper and when ten o’clock rolled around and Susanna hadn’t shown up for work, everyone got worried. She called Susanna’s apartment, got no answer, then called her cell phone and got nothing there, either. She had a spare key—several people had keys,