Gone for Good Page 33

His hand speed was unearthly. In one move, he released my arm and shot his fist straight into my face. My nose exploded. I fell back against the floor, my head swimming, only half conscious. Or maybe I passed out. I don’t know anymore.

When I looked up again, the Ghost had vanished.


Squares handed me a freezer bag of ice. “Yeah, but I oughta see the other guy, right?”

“Right,” I said, putting the bag on my rather tender nose. “He looks like a matinee idol.”

Squares sat on the couch and threw his boots up on the coffee table. “Explain.”

I did.

“Guy sounds like a prince,” Squares said.

“Did I mention that he tortured animals?”


“Or that he had a skull collection in his bedroom?”

“Say, that must have impressed the ladies.”

“I don’t get it.” I lowered the bag. My nose felt like it was jammed with crushed-up pennies. “Why would the Ghost be looking for my brother?”

“Hell of a question.”

“You think I should call the cops?”

Squares shrugged. “Give me his full name again.”

“John Asselta.”

“I assume you don’t have a current residence.”


“But he grew up in Livingston?”

“Yes,” I said. “On Woodland Terrace. Fifty-seven Woodland Terrace.”

“You remember his address?”

Now it was my turn to shrug. That was the way Livingston was. You remembered stuff like that. “His mother, I don’t know what her deal was. She ran away or something when he was very young. His dad lived in a bottle. Two brothers, both older. One—I think his name was Sean—was a Vietnam vet. He had this long hair and matted beard and all he’d do was walk around town talking to himself. Everyone figured he was crazy. Their yard was like a junkyard, always overgrown. People in Livingston didn’t like that. The cops used to ticket them for it.”

Squares wrote down the info. “Let me look into it.”

My head ached. I tried to focus. “Did you have someone like that in your school?” I asked. “A psycho who’d just hurt people for the fun of it?”

“Yeah,” Squares said. “Me.”

I found it hard to believe. I knew abstractly Squares had been a punk of biblical proportions, but the idea that he’d been like the Ghost, that I’d have shuddered as he passed me in the halls, that he would crack a skull and laugh at the sound . . . it just would not compute.

I put the ice back on my nose, wincing when it touched down.

Squares shook his head. “Baby.”

“Pity you didn’t consider a career in medicine.”

“Your nose is probably broken,” he said.

“I figured.”

“You want to go to the hospital?”

“Nah, I’m a tough guy.”

That made him snicker. “Nothing they could do anyway.” Then he stopped, gnawed on the inside of his cheek, said, “Something’s come up.”

I did not like the tone of his voice.

“I got a call from our favorite fed, Joe Pistillo.”

Again I lowered down the ice. “Did they find Sheila?”

“Don’t know.”

“What did he want?”

“Wouldn’t say. He just asked me to bring you in.”


“Now. He said he was calling me as a courtesy.”

“Courtesy for what?”

“Damned if I know.”

“My name is Clyde Smart,” the man said in the gentlest voice Edna Rogers had ever heard. “I’m the county medical examiner.”

Edna Rogers watched her husband, Neil, shake the man’s hand. She settled for just a nod in his direction. The woman sheriff was there. So was one of her deputies. They all, Edna Rogers thought, had properly solemn faces. The man named Clyde was trying to dispense some comforting words. Edna Rogers shut him out.

Clyde Smart finally moved to the table. Neil and Edna Rogers, married forty-two years, stood next to each other and waited. They did not touch. They did not gather strength from one another. Many years had passed since they had last leaned on each other.

Finally, the medical examiner stopped talking and pulled back the sheet.

When Neil Rogers saw Sheila’s face, he reeled back like a wounded animal. He kept his eyes up now and let out a cry that reminded Edna of a coyote when a storm is brewing. She knew from her husband’s anguish, even before looking herself, that there would be no reprieve, no last-minute miracle. She summoned the courage and gazed at her daughter. She reached out a hand—the maternal desire to comfort, even in death, never let up—but she made herself stop.

Edna continued to stare down until her vision blurred, until Edna could almost see Sheila’s face transforming, the years running backward, peeling down, until her firstborn was her baby again, her whole life ahead of her, a second chance for her mother to do it right.

And then Edna Rogers started to cry.


“What happened to your nose?” Pistillo asked me.

We were back in his office. Squares stayed in the waiting room. I sat in the armchair in front of Pistillo’s desk. His chair, I noticed this time, was set a little higher than mine, probably for reasons of intimidation. Claudia Fisher, the agent who’d visited me at Covenant House, stood behind me with her arms crossed.

“You should see the other guy,” I said.

“You got into a fight?”

“I fell,” I said.

Pistillo didn’t believe me, but that was okay. He put both hands on his desk. “We’d like you to run through it again for us,” he said.

“Through what?”

“How Sheila Rogers disappeared.”

“Have you found her?”

“Just bear with us please.” He coughed into his fist. “What time did Sheila Rogers leave your apartment?”


“Please, Mr. Klein, if you could just help us out here.”

“I think she left around five in the morning.”

“You’re sure about that?”

“Think,” I said. “I used the word think.”

“Why aren’t you sure?”

“I was asleep. I thought I heard her leave.”

“At five?”


“You looked at the clock?”

“Are you for real? I don’t know.”

“How else would you know it was five?”

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies