Gone for Good Page 12

“Fairly sure,” McGuane said.

“How do you know?”

“Someone with the FBI. The men we sent to Albuquerque were supposed to confirm it.”

“They underestimated their foe.”


“Do you know where he ran to?”

“We’re working on it.”

“But not very hard.”

McGuane said nothing.

“You’d prefer that he vanish again. Am I right?”

“It’d make things easier.”

The Ghost shook his head. “Not this time.”

There was silence.

“So who would know where he is?” the Ghost asked.

“His brother perhaps. The FBI picked Will up an hour ago. For questioning.”

That got the Ghost’s attention. His head popped up. “Questioning about what?”

“We don’t know yet.”

“Then,” the Ghost said softly, “that might be a good place for me to start.”

McGuane managed a nod. And that was when the Ghost stepped toward him. He put out his hand. McGuane shuddered, couldn’t move.

“Afraid to shake an old friend’s hand, Philip?”

He was. The Ghost took another step closer. McGuane’s breathing was shallow. He thought about signaling Tanner.

One bullet. One bullet could end this.

“Shake my hand, Philip.”

It was a command, and McGuane obeyed it. Almost against his will, his hand rose from his side and slowly reached out. The Ghost, he knew, killed people. Lots of them. With ease. He was Death. Not just a killer. But Death itself—as though the Ghost’s very touch could prick your skin, enter your bloodstream, send out a poison that would puncture your heart like the kitchen knife the Ghost had used so long ago.

McGuane averted his eyes.

The Ghost quickly closed the gap between them and clasped McGuane’s hand in his own. McGuane bit back a scream. He tried to pull away from the clammy trap. The Ghost held on.

Then McGuane felt something—something cold and sharp digging into his palm.

The grip tightened. McGuane gasped in pain. Whatever the Ghost had in his hand speared into a nerve bundle like a bayonet. The grip tightened a little more. McGuane dropped to one knee.

The Ghost waited until McGuane looked up. The two men’s eyes met, and McGuane was sure that his lungs would stop, that his organs would simply shut down one by one. The Ghost loosened his grip. He slipped the sharp something into McGuane’s hand and folded his fingers over it. Then, finally, the Ghost let go and stepped back.

“It could be a lonely ride back, Philip.”

McGuane found his voice. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

But the Ghost turned and walked away. McGuane looked down and opened his fist.

There in his hand, twinkling in the sunlight, was Tanner’s gold pinky ring.


After my meeting with Assistant Director Pistillo, Squares and I hopped in the van. “Your apartment?” he asked me.

I nodded.

“I’m listening,” he said.

I recounted my conversation with Pistillo.

Squares shook his head. “Albuquerque. Hate that place, man. You ever been?”


“You’re in the Southwest yet everything feels pseudo-Southwest. Like the whole place is a Disney facsimile.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, Squares, thanks.”

“So when did Sheila go?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Think. Where were you last weekend?”

“I was at my folks’.”

“And Sheila?”

“She was supposed to be in the city.”

“You called her?”

I thought about it. “No, she called me.”

“Caller ID?”

“The number was blocked.”

“Anybody who can confirm she was in the city?”

“I don’t think so.”

“So she could have been in Albuquerque,” Squares said.

I considered that. “There are other explanations,” I said.


“The fingerprints could be old.”

Squares frowned, kept his eyes on the road.

“Maybe,” I went on, “she went out to Albuquerque last month or hell, last year. How long do fingerprints last anyway?”

“Awhile, I think.”

“So maybe that’s what happened,” I said. “Or maybe her prints were on, say, a piece of furniture—a chair maybe—and maybe the chair was in New York and then it was shipped out to New Mexico.”

Squares adjusted his sunglasses. “Reaching.”

“But possible.”

“Yeah, sure. And hey, maybe someone borrowed her fingers. You know. Took them to Albuquerque for the weekend.”

A taxi cut us off. We made a right turn, nearly clipping a group of people standing three feet off the curb. Manhattanites always do that. No one ever waits for the light on the actual sidewalk. They step into the fold, risk their lives to gain yet another imaginary edge.

“You know Sheila,” I said.

“I do.”

It was hard to utter the words, but there it was: “Do you really think she could be a killer?”

Squares was quiet a moment. A light turned red. He pulled the van to a stop and looked at me. “Starting to sound like your brother all over again.”

“All I’m saying, Squares, is that there are other possibilities.”

“And all I’m saying, Will, is that your head is up your sphincter.”


“A chair, for chrissake? Are you for real? Last night Sheila cried and told you she was sorry—and in the morning, poof, she’s gone. Now the feds tell us her fingerprints were found at a murder scene. And what do you come up with? Friggin’ shipped chairs and old visits.”

“It doesn’t mean she killed anyone.”

“It means,” Squares said, “that she’s involved.”

I let that one sink in. I sat back and looked out the window and saw nothing.

“You have a thought, Squares?”

“Not a one.”

We drove some more.

“I love her, you know.”

“I know,” Squares said.

“Best-case scenario, she lied to me.”

He shrugged. “Worse things.”

I wondered. I remembered our first full night together, lying in bed, Sheila’s head on my chest, her arm draped over me. There was such contentment there, such a feeling of peace, of the world being so right. We just stayed there. I don’t know how long anymore. “No past,” she said softly, almost to herself. I asked her what she meant. She kept her head on my chest, her eyes away from me. And she said nothing more.

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