Excerpt of Billy Straight by Jonathan Kellerman
(Page 2 of 5)
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Would he come back? That would be stupid, but there are always surprises. She sure found that out.
I can't help her. I have to put this all out of my mind.
I'll sit here for ten more minutes - no, fifteen. Twenty. Then I'll get my Place Two stuff together and move.
Where to? Place One, up near the observatory, is too far, and so are Three and Four, even though Three would be good 'cause it has a stream for washing. That leaves Five, in the fern tangle behind the zoo, all those trees. A little closer, but still a long walk in the dark.
But it's also the hardest one to find.
Okay, I'll go to Five. Me and the animals. The way they cry and roar and smash against their cages makes it hard to sleep, but tonight I probably won't sleep anyway.
Meantime, I sit here and wait.
Our Father in heaven, how about no more surprises?
Not that praying ever got me anything, and sometimes I wonder if there's anyone up there to pray to or just stars - humongous balls of gas in an empty black universe.
Then I get worried that I'm blaspheming.
Maybe some kind of God is up there; maybe He's saved me lots of times and I'm just too dumb to know it. Or not a good enough person to appreciate Him.
Maybe God saved me tonight, putting me behind the rocks, instead of out in the open.
But if he had seen me when he drove up, he probably would've changed his mind and not done anything to her.
So did God want her to ...
No, he just would've gone somewhere else to do it ... whatever.
In case You saved me, thank You, God.
In case You're up there, do You have a plan for me?
Monday, 5 a.m.
When the call came into Hollywood Division, Petra Connor was well into overtime but up for more action.
Sunday, she'd enjoyed unusually peaceful sleep from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., no gnawing dreams, thoughts of ravaged brain tissue, empty wombs, things that would never be. Waking to a nice, warm afternoon, she took advantage of the light and spent an hour at her easel. Then, half a pastrami sandwich and a Coke, a hot shower, and off to the station to finalize the stakeout.
She and Stu Bishop rolled out just after dark, cruising alleys and ignoring minor felonies; they had more important things on their minds. Selecting a spot, they sat watching the apartment building on Cherokee, not talking.
Usually they chatted, managed to turn the boredom into semi-fun. But Stu had been acting weird lately. Remote, tight-lipped, as if the job no longer interested him.
Maybe it was five days on graveyard.
Petra was bugged, but what could she do - he was the senior partner. She put it aside, thought about Flemish pictures at the Getty. Amazing pigments, superb use of light.
Two hours of butt-numbing stasis. Their patience paid off just after 2 a.m. and another imbecilic but elusive killer hooked up.
Now she sat at a scabrous metal desk opposite Stu, completing the paperwork, thinking about going back to her apartment, maybe doing some sketching. The five days had energized her. Stu looked half-dead as he talked to his wife.
It was a warm June, well before daybreak, and the fact that the two of them were still there at the tail end of a severely understaffed graveyard shift was a fluke.
Petra had been a detective for exactly three years, the first twenty-eight months in Auto Theft, the remaining eight in daytime Homicide with Stu.
Her partner was a nine-year vet and a family man. Day shift suited his lifestyle and his biorhythms. Petra had been a nighthawk from childhood, before the deep blue midnights of her artist days, when lying awake at night had been inspirational.
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