Gone for Good Page 59

I started to speak but he held up a hand. “Save your breath because—and you’re not going to like this—I don’t care if you did it or not. I’m going to find enough evidence to convict you. And if I can’t find it, I’ll create it. Go ahead, tell your lawyer about this chat. I’ll just deny it. You’re a murder suspect who’s helped hide his killer-brother for eleven years. I’m one of the country’s most respected law enforcement agents. Who do you think they’ll believe?”

I looked at him. “Why are you doing this?”

“I told you to stay away.”

“What would you have done if you were in my place? If it was your brother?”

“That’s not the point. You didn’t listen. And now your girlfriend is dead and Katy Miller just barely escaped with her life.”

“I never hurt either one of them.”

“Yeah, you did. You caused it. If you’d listened to me, you think they’d be where they are now?”

His words hit home, but I pushed on. “And what about you, Pistillo? What about your burying Laura Emerson’s connection—”

“Hey, I’m not here to play point-counterpoint with you. You’re going to jail tonight. And make no mistake, I’ll get you convicted.”

He headed for the door.

“Pistillo?” When he turned around, I said, “What are you really after here?”

He stopped and leaned so that his lips were only inches from my ear. He whispered, “Ask your brother,” and then he was gone.


I spent the night in the precinct holding pen at Midtown South on West 35th Street. The cell reeked of urine and vomit and that sour-vodka smell when a drunk sweats. It was still a step up from the aroma of flight-attendant cologne. I had two cellmates. One was a cross-dressing hooker who cried a lot and seemed confused about sitting or standing when using the metal toilet. My other cellmate was a black man who slept the whole time. I have no jail stories about being beaten or robbed or raped. The night was totally uneventful.

Whoever was working the night shift spun a CD of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” Talk about comfort food. Like every good Jersey boy, I had the lyrics memorized. This may sound strange, but I always thought of Ken when I listened to the Boss’s power ballads. We were not blue collar or suffering hard times, and neither of us had been into fast cars or hanging out on the shore (in Jersey, it’s always “the shore,” never “the beach”)—then again, judging by what I’ve seen at recent E Street Band concerts, that was probably true of most of his listeners—but there was something in the stories of struggle, the spirit of a man in chains trying to break free, of wanting something more and finding the courage to run away, that not only resonated with me but made me think of my brother, even before the murder.

But tonight, when Bruce sang that she was so pretty he got lost in the stars, I thought about Sheila. And I ached all over again.

My one call had been to Squares. I woke him up. When I told him what happened, he said, “Bummer.” Then he promised to find me a good lawyer and see what he could learn about Katy’s condition.

“Oh, the security tapes from that QuickGo,” Squares said.

“What about them?”

“Your idea worked. We’ll be able to see them tomorrow.”

“If they let me out of here.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Squares said. Then he added, “If they don’t give you bail, man, that would suck.”

In the morning, the cops escorted me down to central booking at 100 Centre Street. The corrections department took over from there. I was held in a pen located in the basement. If you no longer believe that America is a melting pot, you should spend some time with the potpourri of (in)humanity that inhabits this mini-United Nations. I heard at least ten different languages. There were shades of skin color that could inspire the people at Crayola. There were baseball caps and turbans and toupees and even a fez. Everyone talked at the same time. And when I could understand them—hey, even when I couldn’t—they were all claiming innocence.

Squares was there when I stood before the judge. So was my new attorney, a woman named Hester Crimstein. I recognized her from some famous case, but I could not put my finger on which one. She introduced herself to me and never looked my way again. She turned and stared at the young D.A. as though he were a bleeding boar and she was a panther with an industrial-sized case of piles.

“We request that Mr. Klein be held over without bail,” the young D.A. said. “We believe that he is a very serious flight risk.”

“Why’s that?” the judge, who seemed to be perspiring boredom from every pore, asked.

“His brother, a murder suspect, has been on the run for the past eleven years. Not only that, your honor, but his brother’s victim was this victim’s sister.”

That got the judge’s attention. “Come again?”

“The defendant, Mr. Klein, is accused of trying to murder one Katherine Miller. Mr. Klein’s brother, Kenneth, is a suspect in the eleven-year-old murder of Julie Miller, the victim’s older sister.”

The judge, who’d been rubbing his face, stopped abruptly. “Oh, wait, I remember the case.”

The young D.A. smiled as if he’d been given a gold star.

The judge turned to Hester Crimstein. “Ms. Crimstein?”

“Your honor, we believe that all charges against Mr. Klein should be dropped immediately,” she said.

The judge started rubbing his face again. “Label me shocked, Ms. Crimstein.”

“Short of that, we believe that Mr. Klein should be released on his own recognizance. Mr. Klein has no criminal record at all. He has a job working with the poor in this city. He has roots in the community. As for that ridiculous comparison to his brother, that’s guilt by association at its worst.”

“You don’t think the people have a valid concern, Ms. Crimstein?”

“Not at all, your honor. I understand that Mr. Klein’s sister recently got her hair permed. Does that make it more likely that he will do the same?”

There was laughter.

The young D.A. was feeling his oats. “Your honor, with all due deference to my colleague’s silly analogy—”

“What’s silly about it?” Crimstein snapped.

“Our point is that Mr. Klein certainly has the resources to flee.”

“That’s ludicrous. He has no more means than anyone else. The reason they’re making this claim is because they believe his brother fled—and no one is even sure about that. He may be dead. But either way, your honor, the assistant district attorney is leaving out one crucial element in all this.”

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