Darkest Fear Page 61

“We don’t have time—”

“Would you?”

“Okay, if it was my father shooting down the plane,” Myron said, “yes, Stan, I would make that trade.”

“And suppose your father wasn’t culpable? If he was sick or deranged?”

“Stan, we don’t have time for this.”

Something in Stan’s face dropped. He closed his eyes.

“There’s a boy out there,” Myron said. “We can’t let him die.”

“And if he’s already dead?”

“I don’t know.”

“You’ll want my father dead.”

“Not by my hand,” Myron said.

Stan took a deep breath and looked over at Greg Downing. Greg stared back, stared right through him. “Okay,” he said at last. “But we go alone.”


“Just you and me.”

Kimberly Green had a major conniption. “Are you insane?”

They were back inside, sitting around the Formica table. Kimberly Green, Rick Peck, and two other faceless feds were hunched together as one. Clara Steinberg sat with her client. Greg sat next to Myron. Jeremy’s kidnapping had siphoned all the blood from Greg’s face. His hands looked sucked dry, his skin almost crisp, his eyes too solid and unblinking. Myron put a hand on his shoulder. Greg didn’t seem to notice.

“You want my client to cooperate or not?” Clara asked.

“I’m supposed to let my number one suspect go?”

“I’m not running away,” Stan said.

“How am I supposed to know that?” Kimberly countered.

“It’s the only way,” Stan said, his voice a plea. “You’ll go in with guns blazing. Someone is going to get hurt.”

“We’re professionals,” Green countered. “We don’t go in with guns blazing.”

“My father is unstable. If he sees a lot of cops, I can guarantee there will be bloodshed.”

“Doesn’t have to be that way,” she said. “It’s up to him.”

“Exactly,” Stan said. “I’m not taking that chance with my father’s life. You let us go. You don’t follow us. I’ll have him surrender to you. Myron will be with me the whole time. He’s armed and he has a cell phone.”

“Come on,” Myron said. “We’re wasting time here.”

Kimberly Green chewed on her lower lip. “I don’t have the authorization—”

“Forget it,” Clara Steinberg said.

“Excuse me?”

Clara pointed a meaty finger at Kimberly Green. “Listen up, missy, you haven’t arrested Mr. Gibbs, correct?”

Green hesitated. “That’s correct.”

Clara turned to Stan and Myron and waved the backs of both hands at them. “So shoo, go, good-bye. We’re talking nonsense here. Hurry along. Shoo.”

Stan and Myron slowly rose.


Stan looked down at Kimberly. “If I spot a tail, I’m calling this off. You got me?”

She stewed in silence.

“You’ve been trailing me for three weeks now. I know what one of your tails looks like.”

“She won’t tail you.”

It was Greg Downing. He and Stan locked eyes again. Greg stood. “I want to go with you too,” Greg said. “And I probably have the strongest interest in keeping your father alive.”

“How do you figure?”

“Your father’s bone marrow can save my son’s life. If he dies, so does my son. And if Jeremy has been hurt … well, I’d like to be there for him.”

Stan didn’t waste a lot of time thinking about it. “Let’s hurry.”


Stan drove. Greg sat in the front passenger seat, Myron in the back. “Where are we going?” Myron asked.

“Bernardsville,” Stan said. “It’s in Morris County.”

Myron knew the town.

“My grandmother died three years ago,” Stan said. “We haven’t sold the house yet. My father sometimes stays there.”

“Where else does he stay?”

“Waterbury, Connecticut.”

Greg looked back at Myron. The old man, the blond wig. It clicked for both of them at the same time.

“He’s Nathan Mostoni?”

Stan nodded. “That’s his main alias. The real Nathan Mostoni is another patient at Pine Hills—that’s what we call that fancy loony bin, Pine Hills. Mostoni was the one who came up with the idea of using the identification of the committed, mostly for scams. He and my father became close friends. When Nathan slipped into total delirium, my father took his identity.”

Greg shook his head, made two fists. “You should have turned the crazy bastard in.”

“You love your son, don’t you, Mr. Downing?”

Greg gave Stan a look that could have bored holes through titanium. “What the hell does that have to do with anything?”

“Would you want your son to turn you in one day?”

“Don’t hand me that. If I’m a raving psychopathic maniac, yeah, my son can turn me in. Or better, he can put a bullet in my head. You knew your old man was sick, right? The least you could have done was get him help.”

“We tried,” Stan said. “He was in institutions most of his adult life. It didn’t do any good. Then he ran off. When he finally called me, I hadn’t seen him in eight years. Imagine that. Eight years. He calls me and tells me he needs to talk to me as a reporter. He made that clear. As a reporter. No matter what he told me, I couldn’t reveal the source. He made me promise. I was confused as all hell. But I agreed. And then he told me his story. What he’d been doing. I could barely breathe. I wanted to die. I wanted to just dry up and die.”

Greg put his fingers to his mouth. Stan concentrated on the road. Myron stared out the window. He thought about the father of three young children, age forty-one; the female college student, age twenty; and the young newlyweds, ages twenty-eight and twenty-seven. He thought about Jeremy’s scream over the phone. He thought about Emily waiting at the house, her mind sowing the seeds, sick and blackening.

They got off Route 78 and took 287 north. They exited onto winding streets with no straightaways. Bernardsville was about old money and rustic wealth, a town of converted mills and stone houses and waterwheels. There were fields of long brown grass swaying in death, everything a little too old and too neatly overgrown.

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