Gone for Good Page 25

“Possible robbery?”

“Too brutal,” Clyde said. He looked up. “Someone wanted her to suffer.”

There was a moment of silence. Bertha could see tears forming in Clyde’s eyes.

“What else?” she asked.

Clyde quickly looked back down. “She’s no vagrant,” he said. “Well dressed and nourished.” He checked her mouth. “Decent enough dental work.”

“Any signs of rape?”

“She’s dressed,” Clyde said. “But my God, what wasn’t done to her? Very little blood here, certainly not enough for this to be the murder scene. My guess is that someone drove by and dumped her here. I’ll know more when I get her on the table.”

“Okay then,” Bertha said. “Let’s check Missing Persons and run her prints.”

Clyde nodded as Sheriff Bertha Farrow started walking away.


I didn’t have to call Katy back.

The ring hit me like a cattle prod. My sleep had been so deep, so total and dreamless, there could be no slow swim to the surface. One moment I was drowning in the black. The next I jolted upright, heart racing. I checked the digital clock: 6:58 A.M.

I groaned and leaned over. The caller ID was blocked. A useless contraption. Everyone you’d want to avoid or who’d wanted to hide simply paid for the block.

My voice sounded too awake in my own ears as I chirped a merry “Hello?”

“Uh, Will Klein?”


“It’s Katy Miller.” Then, as if an afterthought, “Julie’s sister.”

“Hi, Katy,” I said.

“I left a message for you last night.”

“I didn’t get in until four in the morning.”

“Oh. I guess I woke you up then.”

“Don’t worry about it,” I said.

Her voice sounded sad and young and forced. I remembered when she was born. I did a little math. “You’re, what, a senior now?”

“I start college in the fall.”


“Bowdoin. It’s a small college.”

“In Maine,” I said. “I know it. It’s an excellent school. Congratulations.”


I sat up a little more, trying to think of a way to bridge the silence. I fell back on the classics: “It’s been a long time.”



“I’d like to see you.”

“Sure, that would be great.”

“How about today?”

“Where are you?” I asked.

“I’m in Livingston,” she said. Then added, “I saw you come by our house.”

“I’m sorry about that.”

“I can come to the city if you want.”

“No need,” I said. “I’ll be out visiting my father today. How about we hook up before that?”

“Yeah, okay,” she said. “But not here. You remember the basketball courts by the high school?”

“Sure,” I said. “I’ll meet you there at ten.”


“Katy,” I said, switching ears. “I don’t mind telling you that this call is a little weird.”

“I know.”

“What do you want to see me about?”

“What do you think?” she replied.

I did not answer right away, but that did not matter. She was already off the line.


Will left his apartment. The Ghost watched.

The Ghost did not follow him. He knew where Will was going. But as he watched, his fingers flexed and tightened, flexed and tightened. His forearms bunched. His body quaked.

The Ghost remembered Julie Miller. He remembered her naked body in that basement. He remembered the feel of her skin, warm at first, for just a little while, and then slowly stiffening into something akin to wet marble. He remembered the purple-yellow of her face, the pinpoints of red in the bulging eyes, her features contorted in horror and surprise, shattered capillaries, the saliva frozen down the side of her face like a knife scar. He remembered the neck, the unnatural bend in death, the way the wire had actually slashed deep into her skin, slicing through the esophagus, nearly decapitating her.

All that blood.

Strangulation was his favorite method of execution. He had visited India to study the Thuggee, the so-called cult of silent assassins, who’d perfected the secret art of strangulation. Over the years, the Ghost had mastered guns and knives and the like, but when possible, he still preferred the cold efficiency, the final silence, the bold power, the personal touch of strangulation.

A careful breath.

Will disappeared from view.

The brother.

The Ghost thought about all those kung fu movies, the ones where one brother is murdered and the other lives to avenge the death. He thought about what would happen if he simply killed Will Klein.

No, this was not about that. This went way beyond revenge.

Still he wondered about Will. He was the key, after all. Had the years changed him? The Ghost hoped so. But he would find out soon enough.

Yes, it was almost time to meet with Will and catch up on old times.

The Ghost crossed the street toward Will’s building.

Five minutes later, he was in the apartment.

I took the Community Bus Line out to the intersection of Livingston Avenue and Northfield. The hotbed of the great suburb of Livingston. An old elementary school had been converted into a poor man’s strip mall with specialty stores that never seemed to do any business. I hopped off the bus along with several domestic workers heading out from the city. The bizarre symmetry of reverse commute. Those who lived in towns like Livingston head into the city in the morning; those who clean their houses and watch their children do the opposite. Balance.

I headed down Livingston Avenue toward Livingston High School, which was clustered together with the Livingston Public Library, the Livingston Municipal Court Building, and the Livingston police station. See a pattern here? All four edifices were made of brick and looked as though they were built at the same time, from the same architect, from the same supply of brick—as though one building had begot another.

I grew up here. As a child, I borrowed the classics by C. S. Lewis and Madeleine L’Engle from that library. I fought (and lost) a speeding ticket in that municipal building when I was eighteen. I spent my high school years, one of six hundred kids in my graduating class, in the cluster’s biggest building.

I took the circle halfway around and veered to the right. I found the basketball courts and stood under a rusted rim. The town tennis courts were on my left. I played tennis in high school. I was actually pretty good too, though I never had the heart for sports. I lacked the competitive spirit to be great. I didn’t want to lose, but I didn’t fight hard enough to win.

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