What time do you think youll get back? Cardinal said.
Catherine tied a short plaid scarf around her neck and tucked it inside
her jacket. Does it matter? I thought you had to go back to work.
I do. Just curious.
Well, Ill be home long before you. She pulled her hair out from under
her scarf and shook her head. Cardinal caught a whiff of her shampoo, a
faint almondy smell. She sat down on the bench by the front door and opened
her camera bag again. Split-field filter. I knew I forgot something.
She disappeared downstairs for a few moments and came back with the
filter, which she dropped into the camera bag. Cardinal had no idea what a
split-field filter might be.
You going to the government dock again? In the spring Catherine had
done a series of photos on the shore of Lake Nipissing when the ice was
breaking up: great white slabs of ice stacking themselves up like geological
Ive done the dock, Catherine said, frowning a little. She strapped a
collapsible tripod to the bottom of the camera bag. Why all these
Some people take pictures, other people ask questions.
I wish you wouldnt. You know I dont like to talk about stuff ahead of
Sometimes you do.
Not this time. She stood up and slung the camera bag, bulky and heavy,
over her shoulder.
What a gorgeous night, Cardinal said, when they were outside. He stood
for a moment looking up at the stars, but the glow of the moon washed most
of them out. He took a deep breath, inhaling smells of pine and fallen
leaves. It was Catherines favorite time of year too, but she wasnt paying
attention at the moment. She got straight into her car, a maroon PT Cruiser
shed bought used a couple of years earlier, started the engine, and pulled
out of the drive.
Cardinal followed her in the Camry along the dark curving highway that
took them into town. As they approached the lights at the Highway 11 bypass,
Catherine signaled and shifted into the left lane. Cardinal continued on
through the intersection, heading down Sumner toward the police station.
Catherine was headed toward the east end of town, and he wondered briefly
where she was going. But it was always good to see her involved in her work,
and she was taking her medication. If she was a little moody, that was okay.
Shed been out of the psychiatric hospital for a year now. Last time, she
had been out for nearly two years when she suddenly embarked on a manic
episode that put her back in for three months. But as long as she was taking
her medication, Cardinal didnt let himself worry too much.
It was a Tuesday night, and there was not a lot going on in the criminal
world. Cardinal spent the next couple of hours catching up on paperwork.
Theyd had the annual carpet cleaning done, and the air was rich with
flowery chemicals and the smell of wet carpet. The only other detective on
duty was Ian McLeod, and even McLeod, the station loudmouth during the day,
maintained a comparative solemnity at night.
Cardinal was putting a rubber band around a file he had just closed when
McLeods florid face appeared over the acoustic divider that separated their
Hey, Cardinal. I have to give you a heads-up. Its about the mayor.
Whats he want?
Came in last night when you were off. He wanted to put in a
missing-person report on his wife. Problem is, shes not really missing.
Everybody in town knows where she is except the goddamn mayor.
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