When Starkey stepped into the restaurant, she began to shake with a rage beyond all hope of control. She had to grip the counter to keep her feet. If Leyton or Kelso walked in now, her career would be finished. Kelso would order her in to the bank for sure, she would be forced to retire with the medical, and all that would be left of Carol Starkey's life would be fear, and emptiness.
Starkey clawed open her purse for the silver flask, feeling the gin cut into her throat in the same moment she cursed her own weakness, and felt ashamed. She breathed deep, refusing to sit because she knew she would not be able to rise. She took a second long pull on the flask, and the shaking subsided.
Starkey fought down the memories and the fear, telling herself she was only doing what she needed to do and that everything would be all right. She was too tough for it. She would beat it. She would win.
After a while, she had herself together.
Starkey put away the flask, sprayed her mouth with Binaca, then went back out to the crime scene. She was always a tough girl.
Starkey found the two Adam car officers, who gave her the log time of their original dispatch call. She used her cell phone to call the day manager at Emergency Services, identified herself, provided an approximate time, and requested a tape of the call as well as an address of origin. What most people didn't know was that all calls to 911 were automatically taped and recorded with the originating phone number and that phone number's address. It had to be this way because people in an emergency situation, especially when threatened or dying, couldn't be expected to provide their location. So the system took that into account and provided the address for them.
Starkey left her office number, and asked the manager to provide the information as quickly as she had it.
When Starkey was finished with Emergency Services, she walked across to the apartment buildings where Marzik and Santos were questioning the few residents who had been let back into the area. They saw her coming, and walked out to meet her by the street.
Jorge Santos was a short man with a quizzical expression who always looked as if he was trying to remember something that he'd forgotten. His name was pronounced "whore-hey," which had earned him the dubious nickname of Hooker. Beth Marzik was divorced, with two kids who stayed with her mother when she was on the job. She sold Amway products for the extra money, but she pushed it so hard that half the detectives at Spring Street would duck when they saw her approaching.
Starkey said, "Good news. Leyton says the call-out was responding to a 911."
"This good citizen happen to leave a name?"
"I already put in a call to Emergency Services. They'll run the tapes and have something for us as soon as they can."
Marzik nudged Santos.
"Bet you a dollar to a blow job there's no name."
Santos darkened. He was a religious man, married with four children, and hated it when she talked like that.
Starkey interrupted her.
"I've gotta get the uniforms set up for the sweep. Dick says the Rampart detectives offered to help with the door-to-door."
Marzik frowned as if she didn't like that idea.
"Well, we're not going to get to most of these people tonight. What I'm hearing is that a lot of the people who were evacuated went to relatives or friends after the damned thing blew."
"You're getting a list of residents from the managers, right?"
Marzik looked suspicious. Her attitude made Starkey tired.
"Get the managers to pull the rental apps, too. They should be on file. Most of the rental applications I used to fill out wanted the name of a relative or somebody to vouch for you. That's probably where those people went."
Copyright Robert Crais, 2000. All rights reserved. Published by the permission of the publisher, Doubleday. No part of this book may be reproduced without permission from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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