Everybody Dies Page 26

"How do you mean, present?"

"To the public. I do a drawing, people look at it, they say to themselves, oh, an artist did this, so it's just an approximation. But they can make that computer likeness come out looking like a photograph, and you see it and it seems authentic. It's got credibility. It may not look like the perpetrator, but it sure shows up nice on TV."

I tapped the sketch he'd done. "This one's never going to be seen on TV," I said, "and it looks just like the son of a bitch."

"Well, thanks, Matt. Now how about the other one?"

"The other goon? I told you, I didn't get a good enough look at him."

"Maybe you saw more than you think you did."

"The light was bad," I said. "The streetlamp was shining in my eyes and his face was in shadow. And he was only in front of me for a second or two anyway. It's not a question of memory."

"I understand," he said. "All the same, I've had some luck in similar situations."


"What I think happens," he said, "is that the memory doesn't get suppressed, but it barely registers in the first place. You see something, and the image hits the retina, but your mind's on something else and you never know you see it. But it's there all the same." He spread his hands. "I don't know, but if you're not in a hurry…"

"I'm certainly willing to try."

"Okay, so just get comfortable and let yourself relax. Start with your feet and just let them go completely limp. This isn't hypnosis, by the way, which is to my mind a great way to get people to remember things they never saw in the first place. This is just to relax you. Now your lower legs, letting them relax completely…"

I didn't have a problem with the relaxation technique, having gone through something similar at a workshop Elaine dragged me to once. He led me through it, and he had me envision a canvas hanging on a wall, all in a gilded frame. Then he instructed me to see the face painted on the canvas.

I was all set to tell him it wasn't working, and then damned if there wasn't a face looking back at me on the framed canvas I'd constructed in my mind's eye. It didn't look as if it had been pieced together with an Identi-Kit, either, or morphed on a computer. It was a real human face with a real expression on it. And I knew it, by God. I'd seen it before.

"Shit," I said.

"You're not getting anything? Give it time."

I sat up, opened my eyes. "I got a face," I said, "and I was all excited, because it was like magic the way it appeared."

"I know, that's what it's like. Like magic."

"But it was the wrong face."

"How do you know?"

"Because the face I just saw belongs to somebody else. A few days prior to the incident I was in a bar, and I caught a glimpse of a guy. You know how you'll see a person and you know him but you don't know how you know him?"


"That's what happened. Our eyes met, and I knew him and he knew me, or seemed to. But I can't think how, and the fact of the matter is I probably saw him once on the subway and his face imprinted itself in my memory. New York's like that. You'll see more people in a day than the entire population of a small town. Except it's in passing. You don't really see them."

"But you saw this face."

"Yes, and now I can't get it out of my mind."

"What's it look like?"

"What's the difference, Ray? It's just a face."

"It's just a face?"

"You know what I mean."

"Why not describe it a little?"

"You want to sketch the guy? Why?"

"To clear the slate. Right now you try to picture a face and that's the face that comes up. So if we get that face on paper we'll be getting it out of your mind." He shrugged. "Hey, it's only a theory. I got the time, and I always enjoy working with you, but if you're in a big hurry…"

"There's no hurry," I said.

And the face seemed eager to be drawn. I watched it emerge as we worked together, the head very wide at the top and tapering sharply like an upside-down triangle, the exaggerated eyebrows, the long narrow nose, the Cupid's bow mouth.

"Whoever he is," I said, "that's him."

"Well, it's an easy face to draw," Ray said. "A caricaturist would have a ball with him. In fact this here comes out looking like caricature, because the features are so prominent."

"Maybe that's why I remembered it."

"That's what I was thinking. It stays with you, if it was a meal you'd say it sticks to your ribs. It'd be a hard face to forget."

Bitsy came home while we were working, but she stayed out of the kitchen until we were done. Then she joined us and I had another cup of coffee and a piece of carrot cake. I left the house with the two sketches, sprayed with fixative and tucked between two sheets of cardboard inside a padded mailer. Elaine would want the originals. She'd frame them and hang them in the shop, and sooner or later somebody would buy them.

I gave Ray $300, and I had trouble getting him to take it. "I feel like a thief," he said. "You come to my house and I get more enjoyment than I've had in the last two months on the job, and on your way out the door I pick your pocket." I told him I had a client and he could afford it. "Well, I won't pretend I can't find a use for it," he said, "but it still doesn't seem right to me. And I collect again when Elaine sells the originals. How can that be right?"

"She collects, too. She's not a charity."

"Even so," he said.

I walked through the rain to the subway and got downstairs just as a train was pulling out. I sat there while three outbound trains came and went before I caught one back to the city. I could have transferred at either Sixth or Eighth to a train that would take me to Columbus Circle, but what I did was get off the train at Union Square and walk over to the Kinko's at Twelfth and University. I made a dozen copies of the sketch of the guy who'd punched me in the stomach. I didn't have any use for copies of the other sketch, but I made a couple anyway while I was at it.

Some years ago I'd spoken at a group called Village Open Discussion, and I seemed to remember that they met on Tuesday evenings at a Presbyterian church just a block west of the copy shop. It was a big meeting, a young crowd. There was a show of hands after the speaker, and there were always plenty of hands in the air. Matt the Listener sat back and listened.

It was still raining when I left, so I passed up the outdoor pay phones for one in a coffee shop on Sixth Avenue. I dialed my own number, waiting for the machine, and Elaine picked it up on the first ring.

"That's a surprise," I said. "I thought we were screening our calls."

"Oh, hi, Monica," she said. "I was just thinking about you."

I felt a chill, and tensed my stomach muscles as if in anticipation of a blow. I said, "Are you all right?"

"Oh, never better," she said. "I could do without the rain, but other than that I've got no complaints."

I relaxed, but not entirely. "Who's there with you?"

"I was going to call," she said apologetically, "but then these two friends of Matt's dropped by. Did you ever meet Joe Durkin? Well, he's married, so forget it."

"You're good at this," I said. "But that's not the Monica I know. She's only interested if they're married."

"Yeah, he's kind of cute," she said. "Hang on and I'll ask him… My friend wants to know your name and if you're married."

"Don't get too cute or he's gonna want to talk to me."

"He says his name is George, and the other is classified information. But there's a ring on his finger, if that means anything." She laughed. "You'll love this. He says he's working undercover and it's part of a disguise."

"Yeah, I love it," I said. "How long are they likely to hang around, do you have any idea?"

"Oh, gee," she said. "I really couldn't say."

"Anybody call?"


"But you don't want to say the names, so just answer yes or no. Did Mick call?"



"Uh-huh, a little while ago. You know, you really ought to get back to them."

"I'll call him."

"There was something else I had to tell you, but I can't think what it was."

"Somebody else called?"


"Feed me the initials."

"Absolutely, baby."


"Uh-huh. That's right."

"Andy Buckley?"

"I knew you'd understand."

"Did he leave a number?"

"Sure, for all the good it does."

"Because he left it on the machine and you don't have it handy. Never mind, I can get it. If those two get on your nerves, tell them to get the hell out."

"My sentiments exactly," she said. "Look, sweetie, I have to go now. And I'll tell Matt what you said."

"You do that," I said.

I knew Mick would know Andy's number, so I tried him first on his cell phone. When it went unanswered I tried it again in case I'd dialed wrong, and after six rings I gave up.

Bronx Information didn't have a listing for an A or Andrew Buckley, but I'd figured the phone was probably in his mother's name, and there were two Buckleys listed on Bainbridge Avenue. I wrote down both numbers, and when I called the first a youngster said, "Naw, that's the other one. Next block up and 'cross the street."

I called the second number and a woman answered. I said, "Mrs. Buckley? Is Andy there?"

He picked up and said, "Yeah, Mick?"

"No, it's Matt Scudder, Andy."

He laughed. "Fooled me," he said. "She said, 'A gentleman for you,' and that's what she always says when it's the big fellow. Just about anybody else, she goes, 'It's one of your friends.'"

"The woman knows quality when she hears it."

"She's a pistol," he said. "Listen, have you talked to Mick lately?"

"No, I haven't."

"I thought I'd hear from him but I haven't. Where's he staying, do you happen to know?"

"I don't."

"Because I want to switch cars with him. What I did, I went down and got his Cadillac out of the garage, and I don't want to park it on the street. That's fine with the bucket of bolts I drive, but a car like that parked out in the open is what the fathers call an occasion of sin for the kids around here. It's in front of my house right now, and I gave a kid from down the block twenty bucks to watch it, and you want to know what I'm doing? I'm sitting in the window watching him."

"I think Mick wants to hang on to your car," I said. "He said his is too visible."

"Oh, yeah? Fine with me, only I thought we were supposed to switch. You got his cell phone number?"

"He doesn't seem to give it out."

"I know, he just uses it when he can't find a pay phone. You want to know, what I think is he lost the number of his own phone and doesn't know how to find it out. Hey, don't tell him I said that."

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