G is for Gumshoe - Page 36/98

"Much." I sat up and ran my hands through my hair, scratching at the flattened strands. The medication had erased the pain, but I was feeling slightly out of it. I leaned my head back again and slouched down on my tail bone. "How's the traffic been?"

"We're through the worst of it."

"If I don't get a shower soon, I'll have to kill myself."

"Twenty-five miles to go."

"No sign of a tail?"

His gaze crept up to the rearview mirror. "Why follow us? He probably knows where you live."

"A happy thought," I said. "How long is this whole thing likely to go on?"

"Hard to say. Until he gives up or gets caught."

"And who's doing that?"

He smiled. "Not me. My job's to look after you, not catch bad guys. Let's leave that to the cops."

"And what's my responsibility in all of this?"

"We'll talk about that in the morning. Most of what I want is 'obedience without whining.' Very few women master it."

"You don't know me very well."

He peered over at my face. "I don't know you at all."

"Well, here's a hint," I said dryly. "I was raised by my mother's sister. My folks were killed in an accident and I went to live with her when I was five. This is the first thing she ever said to me… 'Rule number one, Kinsey… rule number one…'-and here she pointed her finger right up in my face-'No sniveling.' "


I smiled. "It wasn't so bad. I'm only slightly warped. Besides, I got even. She died ten years ago and I sniveled for months. It all came pouring out. I'd been a cop for two years and I gave that up. Turned in my uniform, turned in my nightstick…"

"Symbolic gesture," he interjected.

I laughed. "Right. Six months later, I was married to a bum."

"At least the story has a happy ending. No babies?"

I shook my head. "Not a one."

"With me, it's just the opposite. I never had a wife, but I've got two kids."

"How'd you manage that?"

"I lived with a woman who refused to marry me. She swore I 'd leave her in the end and sure enough that's what I did."

I stared at him for a while, but he subsided into silence Soon afterward, the outskirts of Santa Teresa began to speed into view and I felt an absurd rush of joy at the notion of home.


We found a parking spot for the Porsche two doors down from my place and unloaded the trunk. By the time we pushed through the gate and rounded the corner to the rear, Henry had emerged from his back door to welcome me home. He stopped in his tracks, his smile faltering as his eyes shifted from my face to Dietz's. I introduced the two of them and they shook hands. Belatedly, I remembered what my battered visage must look like.

"I was in an accident," I said. "A guy ran me off the road. I had to leave the car in Brawley and Dietz gave me a ride back."

Henry was visibly dismayed, especially as he was in possession of only half the tale. "Well, who was the fellow? I don't understand. Didn't you file a report with the police down there?"

I hesitated, uncertain how much detail to get into at this point. Dietz settled the matter for me. "Let's go inside and we'll fill you in on the rest of it." He was clearly uneasy about standing around in the open air, exposed to view.

I unlocked the door and pushed it open, moving into the apartment with Henry behind me and Dietz at the rear, herding us like a sheepdog.

"I'll just be a second. I want to get things squared away," I said to Henry. And then to Dietz, "Henry designed the place. It was just finished two days ago. I've spent exactly one night here."

I set my duffel down and cranked open a window to let in some fresh air. The apartment still smelled of sawdust and new carpeting. The space felt like a Barbie-doll penthouse in its own carrying case: scaled-down furniture, built-ins, spiral staircase, the loft visible above.

"I brought your mail in," Henry said, his eyes on my guest. He sat down on the couch, perplexed at the liberties Dietz seemed to take. The contrast between the two men was interesting. Henry was tall and lean, the blue eyes in his narrow, tanned face giving him the look of an ascetic; someone otherworldly, aged and wise. Dietz was compact, more muscular, a pit bull of a man with a thick chest and a brazen manner, his face marked by life, as if he'd had lessons hammered into him since birth. Henry had a stillness about him where Dietz was restless and energetic, the air around him charged with a curious tension.