G is for Gumshoe - Page 64/98

"Agnes was picked up. She's in the emergency room at St. Terry's and she's asking for Kinsey. We left a couple of messages on the answering machine, but when we didn't hear back, we thought we'd stop by. We're on our way to the hospital. Is she home yet?"

Dietz said, "Hang on." He pointed to the answering machine, which rested on the bookshelf behind the sofa. I eased across the room and checked the message light, which indicated that two calls had been recorded. I turned the volume down, pushed the auto playback button, and listened to the tape. The first message was from Irene, the second from Clyde, both saying much the same thing. Agnes had been found and was asking for me. Dietz and I exchanged a look. He lifted his brows in a facial shrug. He flipped the porch light on, peered through the spyhole, and opened the door with caution. Clyde was standing by himself on the doorstep in a circle of wan light. Beyond him, all was darkness. The fog was rolling in and I could see faint wisps of it curling around the light. "Sorry for the inconvenience," he said. "I don't like to disturb people this late, but Irene insisted."

"Come on in," Dietz said, stepping back so Clyde could enter. Dietz closed the door behind him and motioned Clyde to have a seat, an offer Clyde declined with a brief shake of his head. "Irene's waiting in the car. I don't want to leave her too long. She's anxious to get over there."

He was looking weary, his baggy face weighted with anxiety. He wore a tan gabardine topcoat, hands shoved down in his pockets. His gaze flickered across Dietz's holster but he refrained from comment, as if mentioning the gun might be a breach of etiquette.

"How's Agnes doing? Has anybody said?" I asked.

"We're not really sure. The doc says minor cuts and bruises… nothing serious… but her heartbeat's irregular and I guess they put her on some kind of monitor. She'll be admitted as soon as we sign the paperwork. I gather it's nothing life-threatening, but the woman is eighty-some-odd years old."

"The cops picked her up?"

Clyde nodded. "Some woman spotted her, wandering in the street. She was the one who called the police. The officer who called said Agnes is disoriented, has no idea where she is or where she's been all this time. The doc says she's been talking about you since they brought her in. We'd appreciate your coming with us if it's not too much trouble."

I said, "Sure. Let me change my clothes. I don't want to go like this."

"I'll let Irene know you're coming," he said to me. And then to Dietz, "Will you follow in your car or ride with us?"

"We'll come in your car and grab a cab back," Dietz said.

I was on my way up to the loft, stripping off the black silk jacket as I went, kicking off my shoes. I leaned my head out over the railing. "Where'd they find her?"

Clyde turned his face up to mine with a shrug. "Same neighborhood as the nursing home… somewhere close by… so she didn't get far. I can't figure out how we missed her unless she saw us and hid."

"I wouldn't put it past her." I ducked back, peeling off the jumpsuit, hopping on one foot as I tugged my jeans on over the black panty hose. I put a bra on, grabbed a polo shirt out of the chest of drawers, pulled it on, and shook my hair out. I stepped into my high-top Reeboks and left the laces for later. I was clopping down the narrow staircase two seconds later, reaching for my shoulderbag.

"Let's hit it," I said, as Dietz opened the door.

Clyde's white Mercedes sedan was parked at the curb. Irene, in the front, turned a worried face toward us as we approached.

The fifteen-minute drive to St. Terry's was strained. Dietz and I sat in the backseat with Dietz angled sideways so he could check out the back window for any cars following. I was perched, leaning forward, arms resting on the front seat close to Irene, who clutched my hand as if it were a lifeline. Her fingers were icy and I found myself listening unconsciously for the wheezing that might signal another asthma attack. No one said much. The information about Agnes was limited and there didn't seem to be any point in repeating it.

The small parking lot in front of the emergency room was full. A black-and-white occupied the end slot. Clyde pulled up to the entrance and let us out, then went off to find parking on the street. Irene hung back, evidently reluctant to go in without him. She wore a lightweight spring coat, double-breasted, bright red, which she pulled around her now as if for warmth. I could see her peering off toward the streetlights, hoping to catch sight of him.

"He'll be with us shortly," I said.