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"You know I feel all right..."
The tinny music blared again.
Bolting from bed, I unpocketed the phone, and dropped the jeans back onto the floor.
"You've got my cell." got my cell."
"How are you?"
I looked at the clock. Seven-forty.
"Peachy. I love being bled and having thumbs shoved up my b.u.t.t."
"I'm outa here before they take another run at me."
"You've been released?"
"Right." Jake snorted.
"Jake, you have to-"
"Uh. Huh. Did you get it?"
"The bag was gone."
I waited out the explosion.
"What about the other?"
"I have the shrou-"
"Don't say it over a cell phone! Can you get to my place?"
"I've got to deal with the truck, then scare up a replacement vehicle." Pause. "Eleven?"
"Directions?" I darted to the desk.
Jake gave them. The landmarks and street names meant nothing to me.
"I have to call the IAA, Jake." To tell them I'd lost the skeleton. I was dreading it.
"First, let me show you what else I recovered from that tomb."
"I've been in Israel for two days. I have to call Blotnik."
"When you've seen what I have."
"Today," I said.
"Yeah, yeah," he snapped. "And bring my G.o.dd.a.m.n phone."
Obviously Jake still had irritability issues. And paranoia issues? Did he really believe his calls were being monitored?
I was standing naked, phone in one hand, pen in the other, when someone kicked my door.
c.r.a.p. Now what?
I checked the peephole.
Ryan had returned bearing bagels and coffee. He'd shaved, and his hair was wet from the shower.
Through my morning toilette, I described Jake's call.
"We'll finish with Kaplan well before eleven. Where's Jake living?"
"I'll get you out there."
"I've got directions."
"How is he?"
Kaplan was being held at a police station in the Russian Compound, one of the first quarters to be established outside the Old City. Originally intended as a residence for Russian pilgrims, it was now a down-at-the-heels piece of inner city deservedly slated for urban renewal.
The district headquarters and attached lockup were a collection of buildings wedged between Jaffa Street and the Russian church. Stone walls, iron window grates. Dingy and decrepit, the place blended well with the hood.
Police units pointed every which way. Friedman parked among them, by a cement barricade flanking the compound. Near it, a ma.s.sive stone pillar lay half-exposed in the earth.
The pillar was fenced off with iron railings, inside of which were mounded thousands of cigarette b.u.t.ts. I pictured policemen and nervous prisoners taking their last open-air drags before heading or being herded inside.
Friedman noticed me eyeing the pillar.
"First century," he said.
"Herod strikes again?" Ryan said.
Friedman nodded. "They say it was intended for the royal stoa of Herod's Temple Mount."
"The old boy was quite a builder."
"Quarrymen noticed a crack, so they just left the thing in the ground. Two millennia later, it's still here."
We pa.s.sed through a small guardhouse where we were electronically searched, then questioned. Inside the station, we were again quizzed by a sentry who had to have been at least a year out of high school, then led to a recently vacated office.
Smoke fouled the air. Papers littered the desk, topped by a half-drunk mug of coffee. Stacks of reports. A Rolodex flipped to T. T.
I noted a name on the mug. Solomon.
I wondered how ole Sol felt about being booted from his digs.
The air had that universal police station smell. A small fan did its best, but it wasn't enough.
Friedman disappeared, returned. Minutes later, a uniformed cop escorted the prisoner into the office. Kaplan wore black pants and a white shirt. No belt. No shoelaces.
The cop took up a position outside the door. Ryan leaned on one wall. I leaned on another.
Kaplan flashed Friedman a chamber-of-commerce smile. He was clean-shaven, and his eyes seemed pouchier than I remembered.
"I trust Mr. Litvak has come to his senses."
You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.
The raspy voice cinched it. Kessler and Kaplan were one and the same.
Friedman pointed to a chair. Kaplan sat.
"This is such a silly misunderstanding." Kaplan laughed a silly-misunderstanding laugh.
Friedman took Sol's desk chair and inspected his fingernails.
Kaplan turned and got his first good look at me. Something flicked in his eyes, shutter-quick.
Recognition? The first inkling of why he was here?
Ryan stepped forward. Wordlessly, he held up the photo of Max.
Kaplan's smile faltered, but hung in.
"You remember Dr. Brennan?" Ryan nodded in my direction.
Kaplan didn't reply.
"Avram Ferris?" Ryan went on. "All that nasty autopsy business?"
"Tell me about it," Ryan said.
"What's to tell?"
"I didn't travel to Israel to discuss checks, Mr. Kaplan." Ryan's voice could have cut polar ice. "Or is it Kessler?"
Kaplan crossed his arms. "Yes, Detective. I knew Avram Ferris. Is that what you came here to ask?"
"Where did you get this?" Ryan tapped the photo.
Ryan gave Kaplan silence. Kaplan filled it.
Kaplan flicked a glance at Friedman. Friedman was still admiring his manicure.
"Ferris and I did occasional business."
"It's stuffy in here." Kaplan's bonhomie was fading fast. "I need water."
"Mr. Kaplan." Deep disappointment in Friedman's voice. "Is that how we ask?"
"Please." Exaggerated sigh.
Friedman strode to the door and spoke to someone in the corridor. Returning to his seat, he smiled at Kaplan. The smile held all the warmth of a proto-amphibian.
"Business?" Ryan repeated.
"I bought and sold things for him."
"What kind of things?"
A small guy with a big nose arrived and handed Kaplan a grimy gla.s.s. The guy was scowling. Sol?
Kaplan gulped, looked up, but didn't speak.
"What kind of things?" Ryan repeated.