Gone for Good Page 58

I was still sitting up on the examining table. My legs hung off. They were starting to go to sleep from the angle. I hopped down.

“Where do you think you’re going?” the cop asked.

“I want to see Katy.”

“I don’t think so.” The cop twitched the mustache. “Her parents are with her right now.”

He studied my face for a reaction. I tried not to give him one.

The mustache twitched. “Her father has some pretty strong opinions about you,” he said.

“I bet he does.”

“He thinks you did this.”

“For what purpose?”

“You mean what motive?”

“No, I mean purpose, intent. Do you think I was trying to kill her?”

He crossed his arms and shrugged. “Sounds reasonable to me.”

“Then why did I call you while she was still alive?” I asked. “I went through this big ruse, right? So why didn’t I finish her off?”

“Strangling someone isn’t that easy,” he said. “Maybe you thought she was dead.”

“You realize, of course, how idiotic that sounds.”

The door behind him opened, and Pistillo entered. He gave me a look as heavy as the ages. I closed my eyes and massaged the bridge of my nose with my forefinger and thumb. Pistillo was with one of the cops who had questioned me earlier. The cop signaled to his mustached compadre. The mustached cop looked annoyed by the interruption, but he followed the other one out the door. I was alone now with Pistillo.

He did not say anything at first. Pistillo circled the room, studying the glass jar of cotton balls, the tongue depressors, the hazardous-waste disposal can. Hospital rooms normally smell of antiseptic, but this one reeked of male-flight-attendant cologne. I did not know if it was from a doctor or cop, but I could see Pistillo’s nose twitch in disgust. I was already used to it.

“Tell me what happened,” he said.

“Didn’t your friends with the NYPD fill you in?”

“I told them I wanted to hear it from you,” Pistillo said. “Before they throw your ass in jail.”

“I want to know how Katy is.”

He weighed my request for a second or two. “Her neck and vocal cords will be sore, but she’ll be fine.”

I closed my eyes and let the relief flow over me.

“Start talking,” Pistillo said.

I told him what happened. He stayed quiet until I got to the part about her shouting out the name “John.”

“Any idea who John is?” he asked.


“I’m listening.”

“A guy I know when I was growing up. His name is John Asselta.”

Pistillo’s face dropped.

“You know him?” I asked.

He ignored my question. “What makes you think she was talking about Asselta?”

“He’s the one who broke my nose.”

I filled him in on the Ghost’s break-in and assault. Pistillo did not look happy.

“Asselta was looking for your brother?”

“That’s what he said.”

His face reddened. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me this before?”

“Yeah, it’s weird,” I said. “You’ve always been the guy I could turn to, the friend I could trust with anything.”

He stayed angry. “Do you know anything about John Asselta?”

“We grew up in the same town. We used to call him the Ghost.”

“He’s one of the most dangerous wackos out there,” Pistillo said. He stopped, shook his head. “It couldn’t have been him.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Because you’re both alive.”


“He’s a stone-cold killer.”

“So why isn’t he in jail?” I asked.

“Don’t be naïve. He’s good at what he does.”

“Killing people?”

“Yes. He lives overseas, no one knows where exactly. He’s worked for government death squads in Central America. He helped despots in Africa.” Pistillo shook his head. “No, if Asselta wanted her dead, we’d be tying a toe tag on her right about now.”

“Maybe she meant another John,” I said. “Or maybe I just heard wrong.”

“Maybe.” He thought about that. “One other thing I don’t get. If the Ghost or anyone else wanted to kill Katy Miller, why not just do it? Why go to the trouble of cuffing you down?”

That had troubled me too, but I had come up with one possibility. “Maybe it was a setup.”

He frowned. “How do you figure?”

“The killer cuffs me to the bed. He chokes Katy to death. Then”—I could feel a tingle on my scalp—“maybe he’d set it up to make it look like I did it.” I looked up at him.

Pistillo frowned. “You’re not going to say ‘Like my brother,’ are you?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Yeah, I think I am.”

“That’s horseshit.”

“Think about it, Pistillo. One thing you guys could never explain: Why was my brother’s blood at the scene?”

“Julie Miller fought him off.”

“You know better. There was too much blood for that.” I moved closer to him. “Ken was framed eleven years ago, and maybe tonight someone wanted history to repeat itself.”

He scoffed. “Don’t be melodramatic. And let me tell you something. The cops aren’t buying your Houdini-cuff-escape story. They think you tried to kill her.”

“What do you think?” I asked him.

“Katy’s father is here. He’s riled up as all hell.”

“That’s hardly surprising.”

“It makes you wonder, though.”

“You know I didn’t do it, Pistillo. And despite your theatrics yesterday, you know I didn’t kill Julie.”

“I warned you to stay away.”

“And I chose not to heed your warning.”

Pistillo let loose a long breath and nodded. “Exactly, tough guy, so here’s how we’re going to play it.” He stepped closer and tried to stare me down. I did not blink. “You’re going to jail.”

I sighed. “I think I’ve already surpassed my minimum daily requirement of threats today.”

“No threat, Will. You’re going to be shipped off to jail this very night.”

“Fine, I want a lawyer.”

He looked at his watch. “Too late for that. You’ll spend the night in lockup. Tomorrow you’ll get arraigned. The charges will be attempted murder and assault two. The D.A.’s office will claim that you’re a flight risk—case in point: your brother—and they’ll ask for the judge to deny bail. My guess is, the judge will grant it.”

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