Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly by the Concrete Blonde the Black Ice The Harry Bosch Novels: The Black Echo Read Free Book Online

Book: Michael Connelly by the Concrete Blonde the Black Ice The Harry Bosch Novels: The Black Echo Read Free Book Online
Authors: the Concrete Blonde the Black Ice The Harry Bosch Novels: The Black Echo
Tags: FIC031000
puzzle with
     it a little more until I’m sure.”
    “Well, like I said, no problem with me. You’re giving me the clean end of the stick.”
    “I think I’m going to look around a little more. You go ahead, and I’ll see you tomorrow when I get back in from the cut.”
    “Okay, partner.”
    “And Jed?”
    “Yeah?”
    “It’s got nothing to do with getting downtown again.”
    • • •
    Bosch sat alone, thinking, and scanning the room for secrets. His eyes eventually came down on the cards spread out before
     him on the coffee table. Solitaire. He saw that all four aces were up. He picked up the deck of remaining cards and went through
     it, peeling off three cards at a time. In the course of going through he came across the two and three of spades and the two
     of hearts. The game hadn’t stalled. It had been interrupted. And never finished.
    He became restless. He looked down into the green glass ashtray and saw that all the butts were nonfiltered Camels. Was that
     Meadows’s brand or his killer’s? He got up and walked around the room. The faint smell of urine hit him again. He walked back
     into the bedroom. He opened the drawers of the bureau and stared at their contents once more. Nothing turned in his mind.
     He went to the window and looked out at the back end of another apartment building across an alley. There was a man with a
     supermarket cart in the alley. He was poking through a Dumpster with a stick. The cart was half full of aluminum cans. Bosch
     walked away and sat down on the bed and put his head back against the wall where the headboard should have been and the white
     paint was a dingy gray. The wall felt cool against his back.
    “Tell me something,” he whispered to no one.
    Something had interrupted the card game and Meadows had died here, he believed. Then he was taken to the pipe. But why? Why
     not leave him? Bosch leaned his head back to the wall and looked straight across the room. It was at that moment that he noticed
     a nail in the wall. The nail was about three feet above the bureau and had been painted white along with the wall at some
     point a long time ago. That was why he hadn’t noticed it before. He got up and went to look behind the bureau. In the three-inch
     space between it and the wall, he saw the edge of a fallen picture frame. With his shoulder, he pushed the heavy bureau away
     from the wall and picked up the frame. He stepped backward and sat on the edge of the bed studying it. The glass was cracked
     into an intricate spiderweb that had probably occurred when the frame fell. The damaged glass partially obscured an eight-by-ten
     black-and-white photograph. It was grainy and fading to a brownish yellow around the edges. The photo was more than twenty
     years old. Bosch knew this because between two cracks in the glass he saw his own, young face staring out and smiling.
    Bosch turned the frame over and carefully bent back the tin prongs that kept the cardboard backing in place. As he was sliding
     the yellowed photo out, the glass finally gave way and the pieces dropped to the floor in shatters. He moved his feet away
     from the glass but didn’t get up. He studied the photograph. There were no markings on front or back to tell where or when
     it had been taken. But he knew it must have been sometime in late 1969 or early 1970, because some of the men in the picture
     were dead after that.
    There were seven of them in the photo. All tunnel rats. All shirtless and proudly displaying their T-shirt tan lines and tattoos,
     each man’s dog tags taped together to keep them from jangling while they crawled through the tunnels. They had to have been
     in the Echo Sector of Cu Chi District, but Bosch could not tell or remember what village. The soldiers stood in a trench,
     positioned on both sides of a tunnel entrance no wider than the pipe in which Meadows would later be found dead. Bosch looked
     at himself and thought that his smile in the photograph was foolish.

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