CRAIS: THE PROMISE
woman stood in the far corner
of the dimly lit room, hiding in
shadows like a fish in gray water.
She was small, round, and dumpy.
The fringed leather jacket probably
made her seem rounder, but she’d
never been a looker. She reminded
Mr. Rollins of an overripe peach,
and the peach was clearly afraid.
A steady rain fell from the overcast night. The dingy,
bungalow west of Echo Park reeked of
bleach and ammonia, but the
windows were closed, the shades were
down, and the doors were locked. A
single yellow twenty-five-watt lamp
provided the only light. The
chemical smell gave Mr. Rollins a
headache, but he could not open the
windows. They were screwed shut.
Rollins wasn’t his real name, but the man and the
weren’t using their true names,
either. Amy and Charles. Amy
hadn’t said three words since they arrived. Charles did the talking and
Charles was getting impatient.
“How long does this take?”
The chemist’s answer was resentful.
“Two minutes, dude. Relax. Science takes time.”
The chemist was a juiced-up, sleeved-out rock pile
hunched over the coffee table. A
hiker’s LED headlamp blazed on his
forehead. He was heating the
contents of a glass jar with a small
torch while watching two meters that
looked like swollen TV remotes.
Rollins had found him cooking meth
eight years ago and used him often.
Charles was a trim man in his forties with neat brown
hair and the tight build of a tennis
player. Mr. Rollins had made three
buys off Charles in the past year,
and all had gone well. This was why
Mr. Rollins let him bring the woman,
only now, seeing her, Rollins
wondered why she wanted to come. She
damned near pissed herself when
Rollins searched her and made them
put on the gloves. He made
everyone who entered the house wear
vinyl gloves. Rollins did not allow
food or drinks. No one could chew
gum or smoke cigarettes. The list
was pretty long. Mr. Rollins had
He smiled as he adjusted his gloves.
“They make your hands sweat, don’t they, Amy? I know
it’s a pain, but we’re almost
Charles answered for her.
“She’s fine. Tell your man to finish up so we can get
out of here.”
The chemist mumbled without looking up.
Rollins smiled at Amy again and glanced at the round
plastic container beside the
chemist. It was filled with a
material that looked like yogurt and
felt like modeling clay.
“Where’d you get this?”
Charles stepped on her answer again.
“I told you where we got it.”
Rollins considered pushing his pistol up Charles’s ass
and popping a cap, but he did not
let his feelings show.
“I’m just making conversation. Amy seems nervous.”
Charles glanced at Amy.
Amy’s voice was whisper-soft when she finally spoke.
“I made it.”
The chemist snorted.
Then the chemist sat up and gazed at Rollins.
“Whoever made it did a righteous job. It’s the real
Charles crossed his arms. Smug.
Rollins was impressed. The material in the Tupperware
was not easy to come by. Charles
claimed the woman had two hundred
“What about tags?”
The chemist turned off the torch and unplugged the
“Ethylene test shows zero. I’ll know parts per million
when I run a samp at home, but the
stuff is clean, bro. No tags.
Rollins thanked the chemist, who packed his equipment
into a green backpack and let
himself out through the kitchen. A
light winter shower pattered the
Charles said, “So now what? Are we in business?”
Rollins sealed the lid on the Tupperware.
“The buyer will test it himself. If his results are the
same, we’re golden.”
Amy spoke again and this time she sounded anxious.
“I’ll make more for the right buyer. I can make all
Charles took her arm, trying to turn her away.
“Let’s see their money first.”
Amy did not move.
“I have to meet them, you know. That’s a requirement.”
Charles steered her toward the front door like a
shopping cart. Rollins quickly
“Back door, Charles. Never the front.”
Charles swung the woman around and aimed her toward the
kitchen. After insisting she come, Charles
couldn’t get her out of the house
Rollins opened the back door and asked for their
gloves. He gave
Amy a gentle smile.
“Buyers don’t like to be met, but they’ll make an
exception for you, Amy. I promise.”
She seemed ready to cry, but Charles pulled her out and
they disappeared into the rain.
Rollins locked the kitchen door and hurried to the
front door, where he peered through
a peephole. When Charles and Amy
reached the street, he returned to
the kitchen and opened the back door
to air the place out. The tiny
backyard was dark and hidden from
neighbors by overgrown bushes and a
sprawling avocado tree.
Rollins stood in the door breathing air that didn’t
stink of ammonia and called his
A coded way of saying the tests were positive.
“Very good. I will send someone.”
“You have the other things here, too. I’ve told you for
a week to come get this stuff.”
“I am sending someone.”
“I want it gone. All of it.”
“He will take it.”
Rollins put the Tupperware in the bedroom with the
other things and returned to the
kitchen. He still wore his gloves
and would wear them until he left.
He took a one-liter spray bottle
from beneath the sink and sprayed
bleach on the kitchen counters and
floor and door. He sprayed the
coffee table where the chemist had
done his work and the stool on which
the chemist had sat. He sprayed the
living room floor and the doorjamb
between the kitchen and living room.
Rollins believed the bleach would destroy the enzymes and oils left in
fingerprints or spit and erase DNA
evidence. He wasn’t convinced this
was true, but it seemed sensible, so
he bleached out the house whenever
he used it.
When Mr. Rollins acquired the house, he made several
changes to better serve his needs,
like screwing shut the windows and
installing peepholes. Nothing fancy,
nothing expensive, and nothing to
attract the neighbors’ attention,
none of whom knew him, had met him
or, hopefully, seen him. Rollins did
only enough maintenance to prevent
the house from becoming an eyesore.
He let people stay from time to
time, never anyone he personally
knew and only long enough so the
neighbors would think the house was
a rental. Mr. Rollins had not built
a fortress when he acquired the
house, just a place of relative
safety from which to do his crime.
Rollins put away the bleach, returned to the living
room, and turned off the lamp. He
sat in the darkness, nose burning as
he listened to the rain.
1742 Zulu Time.
Mr. Rollins hated to wait, but there was big money at
stake if Charles and Amy were real.
Rollins wondered if Charles beat
her. He seemed like the type. She
seemed like the type, too. Rollins’s
older sister married a man who
abused her for years until Rollins
Rollins checked the time again.
Rollins put his pistol on the couch. He rested his hand
on the gun, checked the time, and
closed his eyes.
The rain stopped.
Someone knocked at the front door.
Rollins jerked to his feet and moved quickly into the
kitchen. The buyer’s man would never
use the front door. That was a rule.
Everyone used the back.
Rollins quietly closed and locked the kitchen door as
knocking came from the front.
Knock knock knock.
Rollins slipped off his shoes and hurried to the front.
Knock knock knock.
Mr. Rollins peered through the peephole and saw an
adult male in a dark rain shell. The
hood was back and the unzipped
shell exposed a loud patterned
shirt. Average height, Anglo, dark
hair. The man pressed the bell, but
the bell didn’t work, so he knocked
Rollins held his pistol close as he watched.
The man waited a few seconds and finally walked away.
Rollins watched for another two minutes. Cars passed
and a couple went by huddled beneath
an umbrella even though the rain no
longer fell. The world appeared
normal, but a siren wailed in the
distance. Rollins had a bad feeling.
Rollins phoned the buyer again.
“The person you sent, he knows to go to the back?”
“Yes. Of course. He has been there before.”
“If you sent someone, he didn’t show.”
“Hold on. I will find out.”
A second siren was screaming. Closer.
The man’s voice returned.
“He should have been there. This is not right.”
“I’m jammed up here, man. I want to leave.”
“Bring the material to me. Not here. Someone will
meet you by MacArthur Park, there on
the northeast corner.”
Rollins felt a flash of anger, but kept his voice cool.
Rollins had made a fortune off this
man and stood to make more.
“You know the rules, Eli. I’m not driving around with
your things in my car. Come get this
Rollins was pocketing his phone when he heard a wet
crunch in the yard and pounding on
the back door.
Rollins hurried to the kitchen, checked the peephole,
and saw a face he recognized.
Carlos, Caesar, something like that.
His eyes were bright and he was
breathing hard when Rollins opened
Rollins scratched gloves from his pocket.
“Put on the gloves, you idiot.”
Carlos ignored the gloves and ran to the living room,
trailing mud and grass. He peeked
out the nearest window, bare fingers
touching the shade. A helicopter
passed overhead so low the little
“Fuck your gloves. You hear that? The police are on me,
bro. Ain’t this fuckin’ cool? I
smoked their blue ass!”
The helicopter rumbled away, but circled the area.
Rollins felt a burst of fear. Thoughts of mud, grass,
and finger-prints on the shade
vanished. He touched aside the shade
and saw a blazing searchlight sweep
the next street.
“You brought the police.”
Carlos turned away, laughing.
“I lost them, bro. I could be anywhere.”
Rollins felt as if his head were filling with angry
maggots. The helicopter orbited
overhead, lighting up the shades.
The chop of the rotor moved away and
“How the fuck did this happen?”
“They made my face. I got warrants, y’know? Relax.”
Carlos flopped onto the couch, giggling, wired on
adrenaline and chemicals. His muddy
shoes were on the cushions.
“They don’t know where I am. They gonna roll over us
and keep right on rollin’.”
Rollins gathered his thoughts. The house was now lost.
The goods in the bedroom were
history. The mud and the grass no
longer mattered. Rollins could not
allow himself to be found here with
the material in the bedroom and this
giggling idiot on the couch. Rollins
accepted these facts and the
acceptance brought calm.
The pistol was no good to him now. Rollins returned to
the cabinet where he kept the bleach
and took out a rusted, fourteen-inch
pipe wrench. The wrench easily
weighed three or four pounds.
Carlos was still stretched on the couch when Mr.
Rollins went back to the living
room. He strode directly to Carlos
without saying a word and brought
the wrench down hard. He felt the
head go on the first blow, but gave
it two more. Rollins dropped the
wrench and put on a fresh pair of
gloves. He pressed the pistol into
Carlos’s hands, both hands so it
would look like Carlos had handled
the gun, and dropped it beside the
wrench. If Rollins was picked up, he
did not want a gun in his
The helicopter passed again. The shades flashed into
blinding white rectangles and once
more filled with black.
Rollins trotted to the front door and looked through
the peephole. A police officer
passed on the sidewalk and another
spoke with people across the street.
Rollins closed his eyes. He took
slow, measured breaths as he counted
to one hundred. He put his eye to
the peephole again. The policemen
Rollins returned to the kitchen. He wore a dark sport
coat and slacks. There would be
blood splatter, but the blood would
be difficult to see at night on the
dark fabric. He had a nylon rain
shell, but decided not to put it on.
The sport coat was better. The
police were looking for a young
Latin guy in a black T-shirt, not an
older, well-dressed Anglo. His car
was several blocks away. If Rollins
could get away from the house and
beyond the police perimeter, he
still might survive.
The light returned and slid away again.
Rollins moved in the moment of darkness. He opened the
kitchen door, peeled off his gloves,
and stepped out. A cop and a German
shepherd were in the backyard. The
dog was a deep-chested brute with
angry eyes and fangs like daggers.
The cop shouted as the dog charged.
Meryl Lawrence gave me three things
on that rainy night when she
hired me to find Amy Breslyn. She
gave me an address in Echo
Park, two thousand dollars in cash,
and a corporate personnel file
with so much information about her
missing friend it could have
been compiled by the NSA. It
probably was. She gave me these
three things, but nothing
else. Everything else was secret.
The Echo Park address was four or five years old and probably no longer useful, but it
was on my way home. Twenty minutes
before ten that same night—fifty-two
minutes after I agreed to find Amy Breslyn—I parked beneath a
streetlight during a soft,
feathery rain, one block from the
Echo Park house. I would have
parked closer, but no other spots
were available. A fire hydrant saved
A teenage girl chased a young boy past the window of a
house across from me. Next door, a
middle-aged woman in purple tights
pedaled an exercise bike. Behind me,
a balding man laughed at a
television as large as a wall. Nine
o’clock was early. Every house on
the block was alive with life except
the house I came to find. It was
dark and lonely and promised to be a
waste of time.
I was watching the purple woman when my phone rang.
“Elvis Cole Detective Agency. We do it in the rain.”
Humor. I am my own best audience.
Meryl Lawrence’s voice was quiet within the darkness.
“I found her house key. I guess it fell off the
console. It was under my front
I had met with Meryl Lawrence in her car behind
in Pasadena. She hired me in a
parking lot because Ms. Lawrence did
not want to be seen with me. She
paid me in cash because she wanted
no record of our association. Like
so much about Amy Breslyn, my
relationship with Meryl Lawrence was
I said, “Good work. Now I won’t have to climb down her
“Are you coming back? I’ll give you the key and her
“Not tonight. I’m at Lerner’s house.”
Her voice perked up.
“Has he seen her?”
“Haven’t spoken to him yet. I’m waiting for the rain to
She sounded deflated. The address belonged to an
aspiring writer named Thomas Lerner.
Lerner and Amy’s son, Jacob, grew up
together. After college, Lerner
wanted to be a writer, so he rented
the Echo Park house for cheap and
set about typing. Jacob Breslyn went
to work as a journalist and happily
traveled the world until he and
thirteen other people were killed by
a terrorist blast in Nigeria. Amy
changed after Jacob died, Meryl told
withdrew and was never the same.
Now, sixteen months after Jacob’s
death, Amy had simply walked away,
vanished, disappeared, over and out, gone. Meryl did not know if Amy
had kept in touch with Lerner or if
he still lived at the Echo Park
address, but if anyone knew Amy’s
secrets, Meryl felt it would be
Amy’s last and only link to her son.
“It doesn’t look like anyone’s home. If he’s here, I’ll
see what he
knows. If he moved, maybe I can find
out how to reach him.”
“Ask if she mentioned a boyfriend.”
She had gone on about the boyfriend in Vroman’s parking
lot. Meryl Lawrence had never met
the man, didn’t know his name, and
couldn’t describe him, but she was
one hundred percent convinced a man
was behind Amy’s disappearance.
Sometimes you just have to let them
“I only met Thomas the one time, but he should
remember. Tell him I haven’t been
able to reach her, so I’m worried,
but don’t tell
him I hired you, and please for
God’s sake don’t mention anything
else I’ve told you.”
“I know how to handle it.”
“I know you know, but I want to make sure you
understand. Everything I told you is
“If I understood any better, it would be tattooed on my
Meryl Lawrence swore me to secrecy because she was
afraid. She was a senior executive
for a company called Woodson Energy
Solutions, where Amy Breslyn had
been a chemical production engineer
for fourteen years. They
manufactured fuels for the
Department of Defense, which meant
their work was classified. The first
thing she asked when we met was if
the word ‘confidential’ on my
business card truly meant
I told her, “Yes, ma’am, it does.”
“Swear to me. Swear you won’t breathe a word.”
Four days earlier, Amy Breslyn had taken a leave of
explanation and with no advance
warning. She did so by email. Meryl
and her bosses tried to reach Amy,
but their calls and texts were not
returned. A day later, Meryl went to
Amy’s home. Amy was gone, but
nothing seemed amiss. The following
day, Meryl discovered four hundred
sixty thousand dollars missing from
Amy’s department. Meryl kept this
discovery secret. She believed her
friend had been coerced, and hoped
to handle the situation
without involving the authorities.
She hired me off the books and
without her company’s knowledge. She
also refused to give me access to
Amy’s office, corporate email, and
any information related to Amy Breslyn’s work. Security.
“I’ll get the key from you in the morning. Want to meet
in the same place?”
“Oh my God, no. It’s too chancy. I have to be in West
Hollywood tomorrow. Pick a place,
and plan on meeting me at seven.”
I suggested a parking lot at the corner of Fairfax and
Sunset. Meryl Lawrence liked parking
“All right, tomorrow at seven unless I hear otherwise. Maybe
you can settle this tonight and save
us the trouble.”
From the look of the dead little house, I doubted it.
“Is it still raining?”
“If you do it in the rain, get out of your car and find
One hour into the job and I was already getting
I fingered through Amy Breslyn’s file by the hazy glow
of the streetlight. Her corporate
portrait showed a round woman with
light brown hair, a soft face, and
the sad eyes of someone who lost her
only child for reasons no sane
person could understand. If
she wore makeup, I could not see it.
She was as anonymous as a blur in a
crowd except for the fact this
particular blur possessed a Ph.D. in
chemical engineering from UCLA. I
tucked her picture into my
When the rain stopped a few minutes later, I walked up the street and went to Lerner’s
door. A porch lamp hung beside the
door, but the bulb was as dark as
the rest of the house. I knocked,
waited a few seconds, and knocked
again. I pressed the buzzer, but the
bell didn’t work any better than the
I knocked some more, then went back to my car.
Twelve minutes later I was deciding whether to wait or
return in the morning when an LAPD
helicopter thundered overhead so low
it rattled my car. Its searchlight
crawled across the nearby houses,
making their newly wet roofs
shimmer. I craned my head to watch.
A flashing radio car suddenly filled
the street three blocks ahead and
more lights flashed in my mirror. A
second black-and-white crowded the
intersection one block behind me.
The helicopter boomed over again,
raking the ground with its light. I
and turned. Whatever was happening
was happening fast. More radio cars
joined the first two, strobing the
houses with red and blue flashes as
a small army of uniformed officers
dismounted to block the street.
The people who lived in the houses appeared in their
windows or came outside to watch. I
got out of my car and watched along
with them. The Los Angeles Police
Department was surrounding their
neighborhood like a gathering
A short man in a faded sweatshirt came to the door of
the house behind me and called out
with a Spanish accent.
“What they doin’?”
“Setting up a perimeter. I think they’re looking for
He joined me on the sidewalk. A woman holding a baby
took his place in the door.
The helicopter flew in a lazy circle three or four
blocks wide, burning the earth with
its searchlight. We stood below in a
brilliant white pool so bright we
squinted, but then the pool was
The man hooked his thumbs in his pockets.
“We got too much crime ’round here. I got babies in my
I pointed at Lerner’s.
“The dark house on the next block. Does Thomas Lerner
He stared at the house.
“Young guy. Anglo. He’d be twenty-eight or twenty-nine,
something like that. Thomas Lerner.”
He shook his head before I finished.
“We been here three years and there ain’t no Lermer guy
“Was some black chicks when we moved in, but they gone.
dude stayed there for a few weeks
and we had a man from El Salvador,
but that was a couple years ago.
Nobody livin’ there now.”
The news wasn’t all bad. If the property was a rental
before, during, and after Lerner
lived there, the landlord might have
a forwarding address or Lerner’s
rental application. The rental app
would give me the names and
addresses of employers, references,
and maybe even Lerner’s parents.
Finding him would be easy.
Several officers were working their way toward us,
going from door to door. An officer
with dark hair came up the sidewalk.
Sergeant stripes were pinned to his
collar and his name tag read
I said, “What’s going on?”
“Suspect pursuit. Latin male, twenty-five to thirty.
He’s wearing a
black T-shirt with a skull on the
front. You guys see anyone like that
run through here?”
We told him we hadn’t.
The homeowner said, “What he do?”
“Homicide warrant. We spotted him over on Vermont, and
chased him this way. We’re pretty
sure he went to ground here in the
The homeowner glanced at his wife and lowered his
“We got babies, sir. I don’t want no shootin’ out
“Lock your doors and windows, okay? We’ll find him.
the eye in the sky, the manpower,
and a dog coming out. Stay inside
and you’ll be fine.”
The man hurried back to his house.
I said, “People coming home from work or getting back
from dinner or whatever, are you
guys going to let them in?”
“Yeah, no problem, but not after they turn loose the
dog. If a dog
is running around, we won’t let
I glanced toward the black-and-whites blocking the
“How about leaving? Can I get out?”
“You can, but we have to finish the door-knocks. We’ll
free up someone to move the cars as
soon as we can.”
“Okay, Officer. Thanks.”
It was going to be a long night.
A few minutes after I settled into my car, the
helicopter broadcast a recorded
announcement. The recording warned
residents a police K-9 dog was going
to be released and told the suspect
this was his last chance to give up.
I heard barking, but it sounded far
The cops finally finished their door-knocks and drifted
back to the
intersection. I spotted Alvin,
decided it was a good time to leave,
and was putting my key in the
ignition when a man came out of
Thomas Lerner’s house. I could not
see his face and I did not see a
black T-shirt, but everything about
the way he moved told me he was
wrong. He did not stroll casually
from his house the way a person
would or pause to look at the
helicopter or amble out to the
street. He stayed close to the
house, masked by broken shadows and
clearly trying to hide. I got out of
my car for a better look, but lost
him in the darkness. Then lights
flashed in the trees behind his
house and the dog barked fierce and
close. The shadows moved, and the
man ran away from me into the
I shouted and waved at the cops behind me.
“Alvin! Runner! OVER HERE!”
Alvin shouted back, but I was already chasing the man
and running hard.
The man veered hard across the street and passed
through a pool of faint light. I saw
a dark sport coat and dark pants and
maybe dark hair, but then he was
gone between the houses. Alvin was
shouting. I was gaining ground when
I reached Lerner’s house, but an
officer in tactical gear charged
into the front yard. He shouted,
too, and he aimed a pistol.
I stopped cold and threw my hands in the air.
“A man came out. There! He ran across the street.”
The tactical cop shouted past his pistol.
“STOP! Do not MOVE!”
I didn’t move. Somewhere behind me, Alvin shouted I was
a civilian and the tactical cop ran
back behind the house. Alvin and two
other cops reached me. The other
cops kept running, but Alvin grabbed
“Dude, what the hell? You want to get shot?”
“Man came out of this house. He ran across the street.”
“Was it our guy? Long hair? Latin in a black T-shirt?”
“I thought so, but I don’t know. Short hair. He was
wearing a sport coat.”
Alvin radioed that officers were in foot pursuit of a
man seen leaving the address and
gave them the general direction. The
helicopter pulled into a tight orbit
overhead, then banked away to hunt.
Its whup-whup-whup was deafening.
Alvin shouted over the roar.
“So you decided to play hero?”
“I didn’t decide anything, Alvin. I saw him and I
thought he was your guy. He ran and
you were a block behind me. It
seemed like the thing to do.”
Alvin suddenly lifted his radio and glanced at the
“We got him.”
“The guy I was chasing?”
He tipped his radio toward Lerner’s house.
“No, numbnuts. The guy you thought you were chasing.
Our one-eighty-seven suspect. He was
in there, too, and his running days
I stared at Thomas Lerner’s house and felt a greasy
prickle across my chest. I pictured
myself knocking with a body on the
other side of the door. I pictured
myself with a murderer inches away.
“Your fugitive was in this house?”
“Still is. Looks like the asshole you saw killed him.”
Alvin started away, but I didn’t move.
“Alvin, I’m looking for a guy who used to live here. I
knocked on the door twenty minutes
Alvin studied me like he didn’t understand.
“I didn’t go in. I knocked a couple of times, no one
answered, so I went back to my car.
I was about to leave when you guys
Alvin asked to see my identification. I handed him my
driver’s license and investigator’s
license. The investigator’s ticket
made him frown.
“Okay, Mr. Cole, stand by. They’ll want to talk to
Alvin radioed again and had trouble getting an answer.
The helicopter orbited back and
speared Lerner’s house with its
light. Alvin’s radio exploded with
overlapping transmissions. He
darkened at something he heard,
abruptly took my arm, and steered me
toward the perimeter.
“Let’s move. They’re sending someone.”
Alvin changed in that single moment. The officers
grouped at their cars changed. The
houses and yards and night clouds
above us all changed as the air
crackled with frantic tension.
Alvin towed me down the center of the street as if we
couldn’t walk fast enough. The
officers who had been on the
perimeter only minutes ago hurried
from their posts to spread through
the neighborhood, once more knocking
on doors, their faces brittle and
“What’s going on, Alvin? What’s happening?”
Alvin broke into a jog, so I jogged along with him.
People were directed from their homes as we passed.
Some hesitated. Others lurched to
the street. The cops moved faster
and their voices grew louder. Their
eyes seemed wider and brighter.
“Why are these people leaving their homes, damnit?”
Alvin picked up the pace.
When we reached the intersection, a middle-aged male
detective in a tired gray suit and a
female detective in a navy pants
suit were waiting by a dark blue
unmarked sedan. A uniform command
officer stood nearby, but paid no
Alvin said, “This is him.”
The male detective lifted his jacket to show me his
“Bob Redmon, Mr. Cole. Rampart Detectives. This is
Detective Furth. We’d like you to
come with us.”
Furth barely glanced at me. She was watching the men
and women, teenagers, and children
flow across the perimeter, some
angry and sullen, others nervous and
scared. They formed a growing crowd
that spread along the sidewalk.
I said, “Tell me what’s going on, Redmon. Why are you
pulling these people out of their
Redmon ignored my question.
“While it’s fresh, you know? Shouldn’t take long.”
“Are you arresting me?”
He opened the sedan’s rear door and motioned me in.
“We’ll give you a lift back.”
“My car’s a block away.”
Furth spoke for the first time, showing her strain.
“Get in the car or we’ll lock your ass up. C’mon,
Bobby, I want to get out of here.”
I asked them again.
“Why are you evacuating these people?”
Redmon simply held the door until I got in. Furth and
Redmon got in after me and Furth
started the engine.
A loud siren whooped on the far side of the
intersection. A large black Suburban
topped with blue flashers arrived
and nosed through the intersection.
It was an ominous vehicle with words
on its side that answered my
Furth eased forward, going slow because of the crowd. I
stared at the Suburban. Somewhere
above, the helicopter’s
whup-whup-whup matched the beat of
my heart. When I was in the Army, it
was a comforting sound. The heavy
pulse of rotors meant someone was
coming to save your life.
I did not tell the police my true reason for being
there. I did not mention Amy Breslyn.
Not yet, not then, but everything
might have been different if I had.
Meryl Lawrence had told me little about Amy Breslyn,
but now those facts seemed to have a
new and dangerous meaning.
I promised Meryl Lawrence to keep Amy’s secrets mine,
so I kept them. And many, I still
We passed the black Suburban with its silent, flashing
lights. The people on the sidewalk
were gripped by the sight of it like
mice entranced by a snake. I was
gripped, too. The words on the
Suburban explained why we were being
© 2015 by Robert Crais