Патрисия Корнуэлл. From Potter's Field
Кей Скарпетта - 6
And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.
'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
He walked with sure steps through snow, which was deep in Central Park, and it was late now, but he was not certain how late. Toward the Ramble rocks were black beneath stars, and he could hear and see his breathing because he was not like anybody else. Temple Gault had always been magical, a god who wore a human body. He did not slip as he walked, for example, when he was quite certain others would, and he did not know fear. Beneath the bill of a baseball cap, his eyes scanned.
In the spot - and he knew precisely where it was - he squatted, moving the skirt of a long black coat out of the way. He set an old army knapsack in the snow and held his bare bloody hands in front of him, and though they were cold, they weren't impossibly cold. Gault did not like gloves unless they were made of latex, which was not warm, either. He washed his hands and face in soft new snow, then patted the used snow into a bloody snowball. This he placed next to the knapsack because he could not leave them.
He smiled his thin smile. He was a happy dog digging on the beach as he disrupted snow in the park, eradicating footprints, looking for the emergency door. Yes, it was where he thought, and he brushed aside more snow until he found the folded aluminum foil he had placed between the door and the frame. He gripped the ring that was the handle and opened the lid in the ground. Below were the dark bowels of the subway and the screaming of a train. He dropped the knapsack and snowball inside. His boots rang on a metal ladder as he went down.
Christmas Eve was cold and treacherous with black ice, and crime crackling on scanners. It was rare I was driven through Richmond's housing projects after dark. Usually, I drove. Usually, I was the lone pilot of the blue morgue van I took to scenes of violent and inexplicable death. But tonight I was in the passenger seat of a Crown Victoria, Christmas music drifting in and out of dispatchers and cops talking in codes.
'Sheriff Santa just took a right up there.' I pointed ahead. 'I think he's lost.'
'Yeah, well, I think he's fried,' said Captain Pete Marino, the commander of the violent precinct we were riding through. 'Next time we stop, take a look at his eyes.'
I wasn't surprised. Sheriff Lament Brown drove a Cadillac for his personal car, wore heavy gold jewelry, and was beloved by the community for the role he was playing right now. Those of us who knew the truth did not dare say a word. After all, it is sacrilege to say that Santa doesn't exist, and in this case, Santa truly did not. Sheriff Brown snorted cocaine and probably stole half of what was donated to be delivered by him to the poor each year. He was a scumbag who recently had made certain I was summoned for jury duty because our dislike of each other was mutual.
Windshield wipers dragged across glass. Snow-flakes brushed and swirled against Marino's car like dancing maidens, shy in white. They swarmed in sodium vapor lights and turned as black as the ice coating the streets. It was very cold. Most of the city was home with family, illuminated trees filling windows and fires lit. Karen Carpenter was dreaming of a white Christmas until Marino rudely changed the radio station.
'I got no respect for a woman who plays the drums.' He punched in the cigarette lighter.
'Karen Carpenter's dead,' I said, as if that granted her immunity from further slights. 'And she wasn't playing the drums just now.'
'Oh yeah.' He got out a cigarette.