Stay Close

Page 27


“I thought you were in a rush.”
“Just bear with me, okay?”
Megan sighed. “The night I told you about, when I ran away. It was Mardi Gras.”
Broome seemed satisfied. “Anything else?”
“Like anything. Like, do you remember anything odd happening on other Mardi Gras? Do you remember any creepy guys hanging around the club on Mardi Gras? Anything.”
She thought about it. “No.”
Broome had a manila folder in front of him. He tapped it with his index finger. Megan waited for him to open it. The waitress came over with a coffeepot. “Hot top on that, hon?” she asked, working a piece of gum the size of a kitchen sponge. Broome shook her off.
When she left, Broome stopped the finger tap and flipped open the folder. He slid the photograph across the table to her. Megan figured she had nothing to hide—at least, that was what she had told herself—so she hadn’t prepared herself for any kind of deception or, well, façade.
When her eyes landed on the photograph, her entire body jolted.
There was no time to cover it up. He saw it. No question. Megan slowly reached out and pulled the photograph closer.
“Do you recognize the picture?” he asked.
Buy time, she thought. Get control. “If you’re asking if I’ve seen this picture before, the answer is no.”
“But you recognize the location, right?”
Megan nodded slowly.
“Do you mind telling me from where?”
She swallowed. “This is the part of the park I told you about earlier. The iron-ore ruins.”
“Where you found Stewart Green bleeding?”
“Do you recognize the man in the photograph?”
There was a man with blond tips and a tight T-shirt in the upper-left-hand corner. Broome probably surmised that Megan had recognized the man and that was what had thrown her. “I really can’t see his face,” she said.
“No idea who it is?”
“No, none.”
“But this is definitely the spot where you last saw Stewart Green?”
She pretended to look again, even though there was no doubt. “Yes.”
Broome put both hands on the table, palms down. “Anything else you can tell me about the picture?”
The fact that Broome had a picture of that path in the Pine Barrens was surprising, yes, but not shocking or stunning. What had stunned her—what was making it hard to move or talk or function—wasn’t the locale or the man with the frosted tips.
It was the photograph itself.
“Where did you get this?” she asked.
She had to be careful here. She shrugged with as much nonchalance as she could muster and told yet another lie. “I was just wondering how you got a photograph of the exact spot I told you about.”
He studied her face. She tried to meet his eye.
“It was mailed to the precinct anonymously. In fact, someone went through quite a bit of trouble to make sure I didn’t know who sent it.”
Megan felt the tremor run straight down her spine. “Why?”
“I don’t know. You have a thought?”
She did. When Megan had first fallen for Ray Levine, she had known nothing of photography. But he taught her. He taught her about light and angle and aperture and composition and focus. He had taken her to his favorite spots to shoot. He constantly took photographs of the woman—her—he purportedly loved.
Over the years, Megan had Googled Ray’s name, hoping to see new photographs by him, but there was only the stuff from before they met, when he was still a big-time photojournalist. Nothing after. But she still remembered his work. She knew what he liked to do with a camera—angles, composition, lighting, aperture, whatever—and so now, even after all these years, there was very little doubt in her mind:
Ray Levine had taken this photograph.
“No,” Megan said to Broome. “No thought.”
Under his breath, she heard Broome say, “Oh, damn, not now.”
She turned, figuring to see Harry Sutton, but no, that wasn’t the case. Two men had just entered the diner. One had older cop written all over him—steel-wool gray hair, badge hanging from his belt, thumbs hitching up his pants as though the task was somehow grand and full of importance. The other man wore a ridiculously bright Hawaiian shirt. The top three buttons were opened, thereby displaying gold chains and medallions enmeshed in ample chest hair. He was probably mid-fifties, maybe older, and looked dazed and disoriented. The older cop grabbed a booth and slid in. Hawaiian Shirt shuffled behind him and collapsed into his seat like a marionette with his strings cut.
Broome kept his head low, near his coffee, clearly trying to hide. It was a no-go. Older Cop’s eyes narrowed. He rose and said something to Hawaiian Shirt. If Hawaiian heard, his face didn’t show it. He just sat there staring at the table as though it held some deep, dark secret.
Older Cop started toward them. Broome quickly put the photograph back into the folder, so his approaching comrade couldn’t see it.
“Broome,” Older said with a curt nod.
There was a tension there. Goldberg let his eyes walk on over to Megan. “And who might this be?”
“This is Jane,” Broome said. “An old friend.”
“She doesn’t look old,” Goldberg said, leaning into her personal space and giving her the eye.
“What a charmer,” Megan said in pure monotone.
Goldberg didn’t like that. “You a cop?” he asked her.
Man, Megan thought, she really had changed over the years. “Just a friend.”
“Friend, right.” Goldberg smirked and turned back to Broome. “What are you doing here?”
“Having a cup of coffee with an old friend.”
“You see who I’m with?”
Broome nodded.
“What should I tell him?”
“We’re getting closer,” he said.
“Anything more specific?”
“Not right now.”
Goldberg frowned and turned away. When he left, Megan looked a question at him. Broome said, “The man with him is Del Flynn, Carlton’s father.”
Megan turned and looked at him. The father’s gold chain glistened off his exposed chest. His horrible Hawaiian shirt was so orange, so bright—almost in defiance of what he was going through—another façade, though in this case, a totally pointless one. Even a blind man could see the devastation. It consumed everything around Del Flynn. It made his shoulders slump. His face, badly in need of a shave, sagged. There was the dazed look, the thousand-yard stare.