G is for Gumshoe - Page 83/98

"Who the hell is this?" I said with disbelief. "I thought her mother's name would be Anne."

"Isn't Sheila the name Agnes mentioned to the cop who brought her into emergency?"

I turned around and stared at him. "That's right. I'd forgotten."

"If it's true, it might imply that Agnes and Sheila are the same person."

I made a face. "Sure shoots our Bronte theory. But hey, check this." I pointed to the screen. The address listed was the same one given for Emily Bronfen, whose death had occurred ten years before Irene's birth- fourteen years before the tea set had been packed away in the box. I found myself squinting, trying to make sense of it. Dietz seemed equally mystified. What the hell was this?


We paid eleven dollars and waited another ten minutes for a certified copy of Irene's birth certificate. I didn't think she'd believe us unless she saw it for herself. As we left the Hall of Records, I paused briefly at the counter, where the clerk who had helped us was sorting through a pile of computer forms.

"Do you have a city map?" I asked.

She shook her head. "The docent might have one at the information booth around the corner on the first floor," she said. "What street are you looking for? Maybe I can help."

I showed her the address on the birth certificate. "This says eleven oh-seven Sumner, but I've never heard of it. Is there such a street?"

"Well, yes, but the name was changed years ago. Now it's Concorde."

"Concorde used to be Sumner?" I said, repeating the information blankly. News to me, I thought. And then I got it. I lowered my head for a moment. "Dietz, that's what Agnes was talking about in the emergency room. She didn't say 'it used to be summer.' She was saying 'Sumner.' That's where the nursing home is. She knew the street."

"Sounds good," Dietz said. He took me by the elbow and we pushed through the double doors, heading back to the public garage where his car was parked.

We were getting close to the answer and I was beginning to fly. I could feel my brain cells doing a little tap dance of delight. I was half-skipping, excitement bubbling out of me as we crossed the street. "I love information. I love information. Isn't this great? God, it's fun…"

Dietz was frowning in concentration as he scanned the walkway between the library and the parking structure, unwilling to be distracted from his assessment of the situation. We reached the three-story garage and started climbing the outside stairs.

"What do you think the story is?" he finally asked as we passed the second landing. I was straggling behind him, working hard to keep up. For a man who'd only quit smoking four days before, he was in remarkable shape.

"I don't know yet," I said. "Patrick could have been a brother. They lived at the same address. The point is, Emily did die in the earthquake just like Agnes said. Or at least that's how it looked…"

"But what's it got to do with Irene Gersh? She wasn't even born then."

"I haven't figured that part out yet, but it has to fit. I think she witnessed an act of violence. It just wasn't Emily. Let's go to eleven oh-seven Concorde and see who lives there. Maybe we can get a line on this Bronfen guy."

"Don't you want to go talk to Irene about it first?"

"No way. She's too stressed out. We can fill her in afterwards."

I arrived at the top level of the structure, heart pounding, out of breath. One of these days, I was going to have to start jogging again. Amazing how quickly the body tends to backslide. When we reached the car, I shifted impatiently from foot to foot while Dietz went through his inspection routine with the Porsche, checking the doors first for any signs of a booby trap, peering at the engine, the underside of the chassis, and up along the wheel mounts. Finally, he unlocked the door on my side and ushered me in. I leaned across the driver's seat and unlocked his door for him.

He got in and started up the engine. "Lay you dollars to doughnuts, there's nobody left. If this traumatic event took place in January nineteen forty, you're talking more than forty years ago. Whatever happened, all the principal players would be a hundred and ten… if any were alive."

I held my hand out. "Five bucks says you're wrong."

He looked at me with surprise and then we shook hands on the bet. He glanced at his watch. "Whatever we do, let's be quick about it. Rochelle Messinger's due up here in an hour."

Pulling out of the parking structure, he cut over one block and headed left on Santa Teresa Street. Concorde was only nine blocks north of the courthouse, the same quiet tree-lined avenue Clyde Gersh and I had walked yesterday in our search for Agnes. Unless I was completely off, this had to be an area she recognized. Certainly, it was the address given for Emily Bronfen at the time of her death. It was also the house where Irene's parents resided at the time of her birth ten years later.