Darkest Fear Page 72

Stan shook his head.

“ ‘Say one last good-bye to the boy,’ ” Myron said.


“That’s what the Sow the Seeds killer said to me on the phone. The boy. I made a mistake when he called me. I told him a boy needed help. After that, I only used the word ‘child.’ When I spoke to Susan Lex. When I spoke to you. I said a thirteen-year-old child needs a transplant.”


“So when we talked in the car that night, you asked what I was really after, what my real interest in all this was. Remember?”


“And I said I already told you.”


“And you said, ‘That boy who needs a bone marrow transplant?” You said, ‘That boy.’ How did you know he was a boy, Stan?”

Win turned toward Stan. Stan looked at Win’s face.

“Is that your proof?” Stan countered. “I mean, is this supposed to be a Perry Mason moment or something? Maybe you slipped up, Myron. Or maybe I just assumed it was a boy. Or I heard wrong. That’s not evidence.”

“You’re right. It’s not. It just got me thinking, that’s all.”

“Thoughts aren’t proof.”

“Wow,” Win said. “Thoughts aren’t proof. I’ll have to remember that one.”

“But there is proof,” Myron said. “Definitive proof.”

“Impossible,” Stan said, but his voice warbled now. “What?”

“I’ll get to that in a moment. First let me back off on my indignation a little.”

“I don’t understand.”

“At the end of the day, what you did was scummy, no question about it. But in its own way, it was almost ethical. Win and I often discuss the ends justifying the means. You could claim that’s what happened here. You tried to turn your father in before he struck again. You did all you could to make sure nobody else was harmed. Jeremy was never in any real danger. You couldn’t know that Greg would be shot. So in the end, you scared a boy, but so what? Next to the murder and destruction your father would have continued to wreak, it was nothing. So you did some good. The ends perhaps justified the means. Except for one thing.”

Stan didn’t bite.

“Jeremy’s bone marrow transplant. He needs that to live, Stan. You know that. You also know that you’re the match, not your father. That was why you slipped him that cyanide pill. Because once we dragged your father to the hospital and realized that he wasn’t a match, well, we would have investigated. We would have realized that Edwin Gibbs was not Davis Taylor né Dennis Lex. So you had to have him kill himself and then you pushed for a quick cremation. I don’t mean to make it sound as harsh or cold as all that. You didn’t murder your father. He took the pill all on his own. He was a sick man. He wanted to die. It’s yet another case of the ends justifying the means.”

Myron took a moment and just looked into Stan’s eyes. Stan did not look away. In a sense, this was more agenting work. Myron was negotiating here—the most important negotiation of his life. He had put his opponent in a corner. Now he needed to reach out. Not help him yet. He had to keep him in the corner. But he had to start reaching out. Just a little.

“You’re not a monster,” Myron said. “You just didn’t count on the complication of being a bone marrow match. You want to do right by Jeremy. It’s why you’ve gone so nuts trying to help the bone marrow drive. If they find another donor, it takes you off the hook. Because you’re in this lie too deep now. You couldn’t admit the truth—that you are the match. It would ruin you. I understand that.”

Stan’s eyes were wide and wet, but he was listening.

“Before I told you that I had proof,” Myron said. “We checked the bone marrow registry. Know what we found, Stan?”

Stan didn’t reply.

“You’re not registered,” Myron said. “Here you are telling everybody to sign up and you yourself aren’t in their computer. The three of us know why. It’s because you’d be a match. And if you matched, there would be those questions again.”

Stan gave defiance one last shot. “That’s not proof.”

“Then how will you explain not registering?”

“I don’t have to explain anything.”

“A blood test will prove it conclusively. The registry still has the blood that Davis Taylor gave during the marrow drive. We can do a DNA test with yours, see if it matches up.”

“And if I don’t agree to a test?”

Win took that one. “Oh, you’ll give blood,” he said with just the slightest smile. “One way or another.”

Something on Stan’s face broke then. He lowered his head. The defiance was over. He was trapped in the corner now. No way to escape. He’d start looking for an ally. It always happened in negotiations. When you’re lost, you look for an out. Myron had reached out before. It was time to do it again.

“You don’t understand,” Stan said.

“Strangely enough, I do.” Myron moved a little closer to Stan. He made his voice soft yet unyielding. Total command mode. “Here’s what we’re going to do, Stan. You and I are going to make a deal.”

Stan looked up, confused but also hopeful. “What?”

“You are going to agree to donate bone marrow to save Jeremy’s life. You’ll do it anonymously. Win and I can set that up. No one will ever know who the donor was. You do that, you save Jeremy, I forget the rest.”

“How can I believe you?”

“Two reasons,” Myron said. “One, I’m interested in saving Jeremy’s life, not ruining yours. Two”—he tilted both palms toward the ceiling—“I’m no better. I bent rules here too. I let the ends justify the means. I assaulted a man. I kidnapped a woman.”

Win shook his head. “There’s a difference. His reasons were selfish. You, on the other hand, were trying to save a boy’s life.”

Myron turned to his friend. “Weren’t you the one who said that motives are irrelevant? That the act is the act?”

“Sure,” Win said. “But I meant that to apply to him, not you.”

Myron smiled and faced Stan again. “I’m not your moral superior. We both did wrong. Maybe we can both live with what we’ve done. But if you let a boy die, Stan, you cross the line. You can’t go home again.”

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