Excerpt of Billy Straight by Jonathan Kellerman
(Page 4 of 5)
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Preparing her for good-bye, but he hadn't mentioned it since.
Petra wondered if he was aiming even higher. His father was a successful ophthalmologist, and Stu had grown up in a huge house in Flintridge, surfed in Hawaii, skied in Utah; was used to good things.
Captain Bishop. Deputy Chief Bishop. She could imagine him in a few years with graying temples, Cary Grant crinkles, charming the press, playing the game. But doing a solid job, because he was substance as well as style.
Freshwater was a major bust. So why didn't it matter to him?
Especially because he was the one who'd really solved it. The old-fashioned way. Despite the Joe Clean demeanor, nine years had made him an expert on streetlife, and he'd collected a stable of low-life confidential informants.
Two separate C.I.'s had come through on Freshwater, each reporting that the hooker killer had a heavy crack habit, was selling stolen goods on the Boulevard at night and scoring rock at a flop apartment on Cherokee. Two gift-wraps: precise address, down to the apartment number, and exactly where the dealers' lookouts hung out.
Stu and Petra staked out for three nights. On the third, they grabbed Freshwater as he entered the building from the back, and Petra got to clamp the cuffs.
Delicate wrists. Whud I do, Officer? She chuckled out loud and filled the arrest form's inadequate spaces with her elegant draftsman's hand.
Just as Stu hung up his phone, Petra's jangled. She picked up and the sergeant downstairs said, "Guess what, Barbie? Got a call from the park rangers over at Griffith. Woman down in a parking lot, probable 187. Tag, you're it."
"Which lot in Griffith?"
"East end, back behind one of the picnic areas. It's supposed to be chained off, but you know how that goes. Take Los Feliz like you're going to the zoo; instead of continuing on to the freeway, turn off. The blues'll be there along with a ranger car. Do it Code 2."
"Sure, but why us?"
"Why you?" The sergeant laughed. "Look around. See anyone else but you and Kenny? Blame the city council."
She hung up.
"What?" said Stu. His Carroll & Company foulard was tightly knotted and his hair was perfectly combed. But tired, definitely tired. Petra told him.
He stood and buttoned his jacket. "Let's go."
No gripe. Stu never complained.
I take things, but that doesn't make me a thief.
I found the same octopus book in the library, borrowed it, brought it back.
I took the presidents book and kept it.
But no one had checked it out for nine months; that's what the card in back said.
Back in Watson the library was pathetic, just a store next to the VFW hall that nobody used, and it was mostly closed. The lady behind the desk always looked at me like I was going to take something, and the funny thing was I never was.
At the Hillhurst library, there's also an old one, but she mostly stays in her office and the one who actually checks books out is young, pretty, and Mexican, with really long hair. She smiled at me once, but I ignored her and the smile dropped from her face like I'd torn it off.
I can't get a library card because I have no address. My technique is I go in there looking like a kid from King Middle School with homework to do, sit down by myself at a table, and read and write for a while, usually math problems. Then I go back to the shelves.
I'll return the presidents book one day.
Even if I kept it forever, no one would miss it. Probably.
An advantage of looking like a harmless little kid is sometimes you can go into a store and take stuff without being noticed. I know it's a sin, but without food, you die, and suicide's a sin too.
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