Mounted side by side and high on the opposite wall were three large flat-screen televisions tuned to competing twenty-four-hour news channels and the Bloomberg business report. The sound on the Bloomberg screen was up. Taylor lifted a remote control and muted it. Again, it was a courtesy I wasn't expecting. When I had spoken to his secretary to make the appointment, she had made it sound like I would be lucky to get a few questions in while the great man worked his cell phone.
"No partner?" Taylor asked. "I thought you guys worked in pairs."
"I like to work alone."
I left it at that for the moment. I stood silently as Taylor got up to a rhythm on the cycle. He was in his late forties but he looked much younger. Maybe surrounding himself with the equipment and machinery of health and youthfulness did the trick. Then again maybe it was face peels and Botox injections, too.
"I can give you three miles," he said, as he pulled the towel from around his neck and draped it over the handlebars. "About twenty minutes."
"That'll be fine."
I reached for the notebook in my inside coat pocket. It was a spiral notebook and the wire coil caught on the jacket's lining as I pulled. I felt like a jackass trying to get it loose and finally just jerked it free. I heard the lining tear but smiled away the embarrassment. Taylor cut me a break by looking away and up at one of the silent television screens.
I think it's the little things I miss most about my former life. For more than twenty years I carried a small bound notebook in my coat pocket. Spiral notebooks weren't allowed a smart defense attorney could claim pages of exculpatory notes had been torn out. The bound notebooks took care of that problem and were easier on the jacket lining at the same time.
"I was glad to hear from you," Taylor said. "It has always bothered me about Angie. To this day. She was a good kid, you know? And all this time, I thought you guys had just given up on it, that she didn't matter."
I nodded. I had been careful with my words when I spoke to the secretary on the phone. While I had not lied to her I had been guilty of leading her and letting her assume things. It was a necessity. If I had told her I was an ex-cop working freelance on an old case, then I was pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten anywhere near the box-office champ for the interview.
"Uh, before we start, I think there might have been a misunderstanding. I don't know what your secretary told you, but I'm not a cop. Not anymore."
Taylor coasted for a moment on the pedals but then quickly worked back into his rhythm. His face was red and he was sweating freely. He reached to a cup holder on the side of the digital control board and took out a pair of half glasses and a slim card that had his production company's logo at the top a square with a mazelike design of curls inside it and several handwritten notations below it. He put on the glasses and squinted anyway as he read the card.
"That's not what I have here," he said. "I've got LAPD Detective Harry Bosch at ten. Audrey wrote this. She's been with me for eighteen years since I was making straight-to-video dreck in the Valley. She is very good at what she does. And usually very accurate."
"Well, that was me for a long time. But not since last year. I retired. I might not have been very clear about that on the phone. I wouldn't blame Audrey if I were you."
He glanced down at me, tilting his head forward to see over the glasses.
"So then what can I do for you, Detective or I guess I should say Mr. Bosch? I've got two and a half miles and then we're finished here."
There was a bench-press machine to Taylor's right. I moved over and sat down. I took the pen out of my shirt pocket no snags this time and got ready to write.
From Lost Light by Michael Connelly. Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher, Little, Brown & Company.
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