"Look, Cole, I'm not trying to be difficult. It would be better if"
"What did he say?"
Diaz didn't answer right away.
"He told me he was your father."
I sat without moving in my dark house. I had started that night in bed, but ended on the couch, hoping the steady patter of rain would quiet my heart, but sleep had not come.
"Just like that, he told you he was my father."
"I tried to get a statement, but all he said was something about you being his son, and then he passed. You're the same Elvis Cole they wrote the stories about, aren't you? In the Times?"
"He had the clippings. I figured you would recognize the tats if you knew him, me thinking he was your father, but it sounds like you don't."
My voice came out hoarse, and the catch embarrassed me.
"I never met my father. I don't know anything about him, and as far as I know he doesn't know me."
"We want you to come take a look, Mr. Cole. We have a few questions."
"I thought I wasn't a suspect."
"At this time, you aren't, but we still have the questions. We sent a radio car. It should be pulling up just about now."
Approaching headlights brightened my kitchen as she said it. I heard the car roll to a slow stop outside my house, and more light filled my front entry. They had radioed their status, and someone with Diaz had signaled their arrival.
"Okay, Diaz, tell them to shut their lights. No point in waking the neighbors."
"The car is a courtesy, Mr. Cole. In case you were unable to drive after you saw him."
"Sure. That's why you kept offering the car like it was my choice even though it was already coming."
"It's still your choice. If you want to take your own car you can follow them. We just have a few questions."
The glow outside vanished, and once more my home was in darkness.
"Okay, Diaz, I'm coming. Tell them to take it easy out there. I have to get dressed.
"Not a problem. We'll see you in a few minutes."
I put down the phone but still did not move. I had not moved in hours. Outside, a light rain fell as quietly as a whisper. I must have been waiting for Diaz to call. Why else would I have been awake that night and all the other nights except to wait like a lost child in the woods, a forgotten child waiting to be found?
After a while I dressed, then followed the radio car to see the dead.
Excerpted from The Forgotten Man by Robert Crais Copyright © 2005 by Robert Crais. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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