Read A Catskill Eagle Online

Authors: Robert B. Parker

Tags: #General, #Fiction, #Detective, #Mystery, #Crime & mystery, #Mystery & Detective, #Fiction - Mystery, #Suspense, #Hard-Boiled, #Crime & Thriller, #Mystery & Detective - Hard-Boiled, #Mystery fiction, #Boston (Mass.), #Political, #Mystery & Detective - General, #Private investigators, #Spenser (Fictitious character), #Escapes, #Private investigators - Massachusetts - Boston

A Catskill Eagle (2 page)

BOOK: A Catskill Eagle
8.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ZONKED, AND I HADN’T slept in two days, and my great escape plan didn’t go into effect until after midnight, so I made a pillow out of the blanket and lay on the cot and went to sleep.

When I woke up it was late. I had no watch and there was no clock in view from the cell, but there was the heavy silence that comes at two in the morning. Whatever hour, it was late enough.

I took my cast off quietly and took the gun out of the left foot. I stood and felt uneven with one shoe on and one shoe off, so I kicked off my right shoe and moved across the cell barefoot. With my shirttails out and the automatic tucked in my belt, in front under my shirt, I leaned against the bars of my cell and said loudly, “Hey, Rastus.”

Hawk said from two cells down, “You talking to me, motherfucker?”

“Any other jigaboos down there,” I said, “might be named Rastus?”

“You and me is all that’s in here, whitey.”

“Good, what time is it?”

“You wake me up to ask what time is it?”

“Niggers sleep?” I said.

“You be sleeping the big sleep, motherfucker, I get hold of your pale ass.”

“You trying to sleep, Rastus?” I picked up my shoe and began to rattle it over the bars, the way a kid will drag a stick along a picket fence. “How’s that sound, a little jungle rhythm for you, Rastus.”

“I play some rhythm on you, you honkie bastard,” Hawk said.

I began to bang with the heel of the shoe on the bars and sing loudly, “‘Bongo, bongo, bongo, I don’t want to leave the Congo, Oh no, no, no, no, no! Bingle, bangle, bungle, I’m so happy in the jungle I refuse to go.’ ”

And Hawk started yelling at me to shut up. Then the cellblock lights went on, and a moonfaced cop with a crew cut came in from the office. “What the fuck is going on in here,” he said.

“I’m singing to the coon,” I said.

“The man’s goddamned crazy,” Hawk said at the same time.

I sang louder. The moon-faced cop walked toward me. He had a leather sap in a low pocket on the right side of his uniform pants and he pulled it out as he walked.

“You,” he said, “button it up, now.”

“‘Don’t want no bright lights, false teeth, doorbells, landlords, I make it clear/That, no matter how they coax me, I’ll stay right here.’ ” I beat a sloppy paradiddle on the cinder-block wall with my shoe. Actually half a paradiddle, because I had only one shoe.

The moon-faced cop turned and yelled out into the office.

“Hey, Maury, get in here.”

A second cop appeared, this one taller than Moon Face, with a puzzled country look to his face, and brown hair slicked back and parted in the middle. I kept singing. Hawk was silent. Moon Face made a gesture at me with his head and Maury pulled a switch inside the corridor door and my cell door slid back. Moon Face walked in tapping his thigh with the sap. Maury walked down the corridor and came in behind him. He was taking the handcuffs from the back of his belt.

I said, “What are you guys going to do?”

“We’re going to show you how to shut up,” Moon Face said.

I put my hand under my shirt and rubbed my bare stomach nervously. “I was just ragging the spade,” I said.

“Turn around,” Moon Face said, “and put your hands behind your neck.”

I took my gun out from under my shirt and pointed it at both of them. “If you make any noise,” I said, “I’ll kill you.”

Both of them stopped in freeze-frame.

I said, “Hands on top of your heads, walk over and stand facing the wall.”

They did what I said, neither one said a word. I took the service revolver from each of them. Moon Face had a standard issue .38, but Maury was packing a .44 magnum. Good for whale hunting.

I said, “Who’s on the dispatch board?”

Moon Face said, “Madilyn.”

I said, “Okay, to be sure she doesn’t get hurt, and you don’t get hurt, you be as quiet as two tombs in here. I’m going to open the other cell and I can see you all the time.”

Carrying both guns by the trigger guard, I backed out of the cell and down the corridor. On the wall inside the door to the office was a series of switches labeled Cell One, Two, Three, and Four. I hit Two and the door closed, I hit Four and Hawk’s cell opened. He came out and walked to me. I handed him the guns.

He handed me the .38 and held the .44 in his right hand. I stuck the .38 in my pants pocket.

“Bongo, bongo, bongo?” he said.

“Get the dispatcher,” I said.

Madilyn was about fifty-five and not slender. She went without a word and sat on the bunk in Hawk’s open cell, while we shut the door.

“We got until somebody on patrol calls in and can’t get an answer,” I said.

“Long enough,” Hawk said.

We walked quickly out of the police station and down the silent main street to the library. The Skylark was still parked behind it.

“There,” I said. I got the key from the ledge and gave it to Hawk. “You drive,” I said.

“Susan’s?” he said.


“First place they’ll look,” Hawk said, “when they know we gone.”

“Doesn’t matter,” I said.

We swung out from behind the library and turned right at the end of the square. A mile up the road, we pulled right again and then left into the parking lot of a six-story industrial building. Even in the moonlight you could see that a lot of work had gone into the place. The brick walls had been sandblasted and steam cleaned and all the windows were new. There was a lot of granite filigree around the rooftop and the door lintels were granite blocks.

Hawk parked right in front of the back door. “That her window,” Hawk said, “over there. You want to ring the bell or you want to go on in through the window?”

The window was ground-floor level.

“We’ll go in,” I said, and started across the parking lot.

The lot had numbered slots and cars were parked in most of them. One of them might be Susan’s. I used to know what her car was. Now I didn’t.

“Maybe she won’t be alone, babe,” Hawk said.

“Got to see. If we ring and there’s no answer, we got to go in anyway, make sure. May as well cut out the first step. We don’t have a lot of time.”

Hawk nodded. We stopped beside her window. I took the police .38 from my pocket and broke the glass at the juncture of upper and lower sash. Hawk reached through and turned the window catch. I raised the window and went in, sliding on my stomach over the sill and landing on the floor like a clumsy snake. Hawk came right in behind me. We were both still for a moment. There was no sound in the apartment. I got to my feet. To my right was a spiral staircase. Hawk pointed toward it.

“Bedroom,” he said softly.

I went up the stairs quietly. Behind me I could hear Hawk move through the darkness. The stairs ended in a small platform and the bedroom opened off it. I stepped in.

I could smell Susan, her perfume, her hair spray, maybe even herself, imprinted on me. The bed was to my left, parallel to the low wall that let you look down from the sleeping balcony. The moonlight coming in the higharched window made it easier to see up here than in the living room. It shone on the empty bed. “Hawk,” I said in a normal voice.

“Nobody down here,” he said.

“Nobody up here either.” I turned the bedside lamp on. The room was neat. The bed was made. It was too neat. Susan would have left makeup out, maybe some panty hose draped over a chair. Shoes on the floor, one standing up, one lying on its side. There was no sign of that here. Maybe this Susan was different.

I opened the closet doors. Downstairs Hawk turned on the other lights. I heard him come up the staircase. The closet was wall length and the doors were louvered and opened by folding back along a sliding track. Her clothes were there, again the smell of her. The clothes were very neatly hung, and spaced carefully so they wouldn’t wrinkle. She was careless about what she had worn, but very careful about what she was going to wear. I recognized many of her clothes. But there were too many. I couldn’t tell what was missing. Or if there were any missing.

“The bathroom,” I said.

Hawk said, “We pressed for time, babe.”

“I want to know if she’s gone, or just out,” I said. “If she’s gone she’d take lingerie and makeup.”

“Downstairs,” Hawk said.

I took in the apartment as I went down the spiral stairs. The living room ceiling was two stories and the windows were twenty feet high. There was a kitchenette off the living room, with a counter top tiled in red Mexican tile. A huge red fan was spread high on one wall of the living room, and a Tiffany lamp hung straight down from the ceiling on a gold chain. Beneath it a glass-topped dining table sat on oak sawhorses.

The bathroom was off the living room, and next to it a den. Susan always kept her lingerie in a small bureau in her bathroom, and her makeup in the medicine cabinet and everywhere else there was room. The bathroom was white tile with black and silver trim. A small four-drawer bureau stood opposite the sink. I opened the top drawer. It was empty. There was a maroon half-slip in the second drawer and odds and ends of eye shadow, mascara, lipstick, face powder, blusher, and conditioner and things of unknown application in the remaining two drawers. All were partially used and looked discarded. I knew Susan kept the current stuff near the mirror. The stuff in the drawers was backup. The medicine cabinet was nearly empty, and there was nothing on the sink top. I turned and touched the half-slip for a moment, then I closed the drawer and went back into the living room.

“She’s gone away,” I said to Hawk. “No underwear, no makeup.”

Hawk was leaning against the wall near the open window, looking at the parking lot, listening to the silence. He nodded.

“Two more minutes,” I said.

Hawk nodded again.

I went into the den. There was a desk in there and a big sectional sofa and a color television set. I sat at the desk.

It was disorganized and cluttered with small slips of paper stuck into alcoves, and mail in piles that had been pushed aside to clear writing space. A letter from me showed among the other mail. Susan’s calendar was there. There were entries on various dates in Susan’s nearly illegible hand. Most of the entries meant nothing. There was no entry for today, and for Monday it said Dr. Hilliard G-3:40.

The doorbell rang. I turned off the light in the den and almost at the same time Hawk killed the living room light. He was out the window by the time I got to it and by the time the doorbell rang again we were both crouched against the outside wall of the building moving in its shadow toward the Buick, fast.

There was no sign of anyone in the lot, and no sign of anyone at the door.

“This the back,” Hawk murmured. “They must be at the front.”

We were in the car, and Hawk drove. He went out the other side of the parking lot and turned left and drove slowly parallel to the condominium building toward Mill River Boulevard. In front were two Mill River Police cars. We turned right on the boulevard toward 101, not fast, staying under the speed limit.

“They know we’re gone,” I said.

Hawk said, “How you get the gun in?”

“Henry rigged me a leg cast and we hid it in the foot.”

Hawk laid the .44 in his lap. I was driving barefoot. Hawk said, “They catch us, they gonna shoot us. So you be ready. This a bad town, babe.”

I said, “Susan. I want to know. Tell me.”

Hawk nodded. “Yeah. Some of this gonna be hard to hear.”

I didn’t say anything. The dashboard clock on the Skylark said 4:11.

“Susan call me,” Hawk said. “She say she can’t call you. But she in trouble. She say she gotten involved with this dude Costigan and he a bad man.”

There was nothing on the road before us. The Skylark started to creep up past sixty. Hawk slowed to under fifty-five.

“She say she want to leave him but she think maybe she can’t. She say she too involved to leave on her own.”

“Involved how,” I said.

“She didn’t say. She sounded real tight. So I say, I come right out in the morning, and if she want to leave I take her with me. And if anyone bother her, I tell them to stop. And she tell me come to her condo, which is down here in Mill River, and she give me the address, fifteen Los Alimos. Unit number sixteen. And she say, she don’t know if she want to leave, but she needs to talk with me and if she want to leave, she need to be able to.”

We had reached 101. Hawk turned north, toward San Francisco.


IT WAS A CLEAR NIGHT, A LOT OF STARS, THE moon about three-quarters full. The land loomed higher in a dark mass of low hills to my left, and tabled away flat toward the bay on my right. There was nothing on the highway.

“So you went out,” I said.


“Without telling me anything.”


The wheels made a little hum on the asphalt and now and then when we hit a seam there was a harumph.

“I wouldn’t have told you either,” I said.

“I know,” Hawk said.

On the other side of the highway a big produce truck went by, heading south toward Salinas.

“So I got here and rented a car and drove on down to Mill River like she say. And Susan’s there.”

“How’d she look,” I said.

“She looking terrific, except she looking real tired and she tense, like she frantic but she don’t want anyone to know it, including her.”

“How’d she sound?” I said.

“Same way,” Hawk said. “Got a bow, you could play `Intermezzo‘ on her.”

I blew out some breath.

Hawk said, “Told you this wouldn’t be easy.” I nodded.

Hawk said, “So we have some coffee, she got some new French roast, and she put out some little sesame cookies, and all. Like she playing house and she tell me she met this guy Costigan in Georgetown last year, when she in Washington doing intern. And she took up with him and he say he can get her a job at a clinic out here.”

“In Mill River?”

“Yeah,” Hawk said, “Costigan Hospital.”

“Family business,” I said.

Hawk said, “One of them.”

There were unattractive shacks along the way that sold artichokes and strawberries and things. The headlights picked up the ugly hand-lettered signs in front of them.

“So Susan having her troubles with you and all, she decide she going to come out. And she really like Costigan, she say. But she don’t want to let go of you. So she talk to you on the phone and you write her letters and you talk and she hanging on to you but she staying close to Costigan too.”

A green sign loomed up on the right shoulder of the highway. The headlights brightened the reflective lettering for a moment. It said, SAN MATEO BRIDGE, 5 MILES.

“And Costigan, he getting edgy. He wanting to move in, and she saying no. And he saying, `how come you don’t dump this stiff from Boston,‘ and Susan saying, ’‘cause I love him,’ and Costigan saying, `how come you love him and me too,‘ and Susan saying, `I don’t know,’ and they having a nice time like that.”

“I know some of this,” I said.

“So she can’t go back to you and leave Costigan; but she can’t give you up and move in with him. She say to herself, I believe I am fucked up, and she go see a shrink.”

Hawk’s voice was soft and pleasant as he talked, telling the story as if he were talking about Br’er Rabbit and the briar patch.

“I say to her, ‘Susan, you a shrink,’ and she say, `I know‘ and shake her head. Anyway,” Hawk said, “she talk to this shrink… ”

“She mention the shrink’s name?” I said.

“No,” Hawk said. “And the shrink help her see that maybe she got some problems. And she begin to pull back a little and Costigan not liking that and he begin hanging around even when she ask him not to, and he come into her apartment, he got a key, even when she say she need to be alone and try to work this out. And she say if he don’t give her some room she going to move, and he say he won’t let her. And I say, `what he going to do,‘ and she shake her head and she say, ’you don’t know him.‘ And I say, `you want to tell me about it’ and she just shake her head, and I see she getting tears, her eyes filling up. And I say, `why not come back with me. And Spenser and me, we fix it up, whatever it is. We can fix up anything.‘ And she just sit there, she not crying exactly, but her eyes full of tears and she shake her head, and then the door opens and Costigan comes in and he got a couple of heavy lifters with him.”

“Only a couple?” I said.

Hawk said, “I telling this story.”

The dashboard clock read 5:03.

“And Susan say, `Russell what in hell you doing,‘ ” Hawk said, “and Russell, he say to me, `beat it.

I almost smiled. “Beat it?” I said.

“Beat it. He that kind of a slick guy. So I say something about lawzy me M’ars Russell but I a guest of Ms. Silverman. And the two heavy lifters are standing around checking their pecs in the mirror and seein‘ which one got the bigger tricep dimple and Russell he say, `You ain’t nobody’s guest, Boogaloo, on your way.”’

“Boogaloo?” I said.

“Boogaloo. So I look at Susan and she frozen, and…”

“What do you mean, frozen?” I said.

“Still. She got a little half smile and she look scared and mad and she not moving or speaking or looking like she going to.”

“Jesus Christ,” I said.

“Umm hmm,” Hawk said. “I not feeling warm toward Russell anyway, even before I know him. And he getting on my nerves telling me to beat it and all. So I expressed my displeasure by hitting him in the mouth with my elbow. I hate to cut up my hands if I don’t have to. And the two gym rats get into it and I forced to quell them. And I quell one of them kind of hard with a chair and the dumb bastard died.”

“And the cops came,” I said.

“Yeah. About ten of them with shotguns and vests and all.”

“And no one called them,” I said.

“Nope,” Hawk said, “they come in the door about the time the last gym rat hit the floor.”

“Like they’d been waiting.”


“You were set up,” I said. “You were supposed to get roughed up and then arrested for assault. Teach us all a lesson.”

“Figure they had her phone tapped,” Hawk said.

“Cops or Costigan?”

“Don’t matter,” Hawk said. “They Costigan’s cops.”

BOOK: A Catskill Eagle
8.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Time Was by Steve Perry
In My Time by Dick Cheney
Why Beauty is Truth by Ian Stewart
Living Dead Girl by Tod Goldberg
L.A. Success by Hans C. Freelac
Thirteen Pearls by Melaina Faranda
Pájaro de celda by Kurt Vonnegut
Naughty Neighbors by Jordan Silver
The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves