EPUB

Sympathy Between Humans

By Paul Murray,2014-11-04 20:29
8 views 0
Amazon.com ReviewSarah Pribek, a Minneapolis missing persons detective, is under suspicion. Investigated but not yet charged in the arson murder of the man who raped and killed her best friend's daughter, she's protecting the identity of the real perpetrator, even though a zealous prosecutor is closing in and threatening to indict her. With her husband in jail in Wisconsin for a crime related to the same case (only alluded to briefly here, but fully explicated in The 37th Hour, the first in the series featuring Pribek), the detective finds herself involved in two other assignments where the line between justice and the law is also murky. When the eldest daughter of reclusive novelist Hugh Hennessy enlists her aid in finding the twin brother mysteriously sent away by he Published by Delacorte Press on 2005/03/01

?

Sympathy Between Humans

Jodi Compton

Delacorte Press

    ?

    ?

    ?

    ?

    ?

    ?

    ?

?

    ?

    It was late afternoon on Spain’s Atlantic coast, the sun turning golden in the lower layersof atmosphere over the water. At the ocean’s edge ran a seawall, not a barrier of rocks but asolid stone wall that broke the gentle surf. A section had been cut away to let water feed intoa bathing pool, a dark-watered rectangle about half the size of a swimming pool, submergedstone benches cut all around the sides.

    ?

    ?

    It was like something an ancient Roman city builder might have created, both simple anddecadent. Egalitarian, as well. There were no fences, and locals seemed as welcome to come hereas the well-heeled vacationers. Sunbathers came in to cool off, and children swam, dartingacross and back from one bench to another, like birds changing roosts in an aviary.

    ?

    ?

    Genevieve Brown had brought me here, Gen who’d once been my partner in the Hennepin CountySheriff’s Department. On the job she’d been measured and cautious, and I’d expected the samefrom her here. But she’d taken the lead, stepping down onto a bench and immediately from thereinto the center of the pool, tucking her knees to let the water cradle her cupped body as herdark, shoulder-length hair made a cloud around her head.

    ?

    ?

    Now Genevieve sat next to me on one of the benches, her face tipped up into the sun. Her skinseemed already to be turning a warm, creamy brown. Genevieve was of southern Europeanextraction, and while she’d never been a sun worshipper, her skin would tan in the weakestearly-spring rays.

    ?

    ?

    “This is nice,” I said, raising my face into the late-afternoon sunlight. Already the saltwater was drying on my face, tightening the skin. I wondered if my face would have a faint saltglaze, a shimmer under light, if I decided not to rinse in fresh water afterward.

    ?

    ?

    “You’re overdue for some good times,” Genevieve said. “Last year was?.?.?. difficult.”

    ?

    ?

    It was an understatement. Last spring Genevieve’s daughter had been murdered, and last fall Ilost my husband to prison. At the end of that extraordinarily bad year, Genevieve had quit theSheriff’s Department, reconciled with her estranged husband, Vincent, and gone to live in hisadopted home of Paris.

    ?

    ?

    We’d talked about me coming to visit, of course, almost from her first transatlantic call inDecember. Five months had passed, though, before I did. Five months of snow and subzerotemperatures, of heating my car’s engine with an extension cord and myself with bad squad-roomcoffee, of the double shifts and extra assignments I’d volunteered for. Then I’d taken Gen up

on this invitation, to meet her down the coast.

    ?

    ?

    “Have you heard anything about the Royce Stewart investigation?” Gen asked, her voice casual.It was the first she’d mentioned it.

    ?

    ?

    “I heard a little about it early on, in December,” I said, “but then nothing happened. Ithink it’s stalled.”

    ?

    ?

    “That’s good,” she said. “I’m happy for you.”

    ?

    ?

    I hadn’t told Genevieve about the investigation into Stewart’s death, much less that I’dbeen suspected of the murder. That was curious. If I hadn’t told her, who had? She’d said shewasn’t in touch with anyone else from her old life in Minnesota.

    ?

    ?

    “Who told you I was under suspicion?” I asked.

    ?

    ?

    “Nobody,” Gen said. “It just stands to reason.”

    ?

    ?

    A small drop of seawater fell from my wet hair onto my shoulder. “Why does it stand toreason?” I asked.

    ?

    ?

    “Because you killed him,” she said.

    ?

    ?

    I looked quickly at the trio of women sitting at the other end of the bathing pool, but theygave no sign they’d heard.

    ?

    ?

    Quietly, I said, “Is that supposed to be some kind of a joke? I didn’t kill Royce Stewart.You did.”

    ?

    ?

    “No, Sarah,” Genevieve said softly. “It was you, remember? I would never do something likethat.” Her eyes darkened with pity and concern.

    ?

    ?

    “This isn’t funny,” I said, my voice low and stiff. But I knew this wasn’t some mean-spirited joke on her part. Her tone communicated nothing but compassion. It said that her heartwas breaking for her friend and partner.

    ?

    ?

    “I’m sorry,” she said, “but someday, everyone’s going to know what you did.”

    ?

    ?

    A siren went off beyond the horizon, piercing and almost electronic in its pitch, relentless inits one-note anxiety.

    ?

    ?

    “What’s that noise?” Genevieve said.

    ?

    ?

    I opened one eye to see the glowing digits of my clock radio, the source of the electronicwail, then raised my hand and squelched the alarm. It was late afternoon in Minneapolis; I’dbeen sleeping before my shift. Through the windows of my bedroom, the elms of NortheastMinneapolis cast greenish shadows on the warped wooden floor; they were in the early leaf ofspring. It was early May; that much was true.

    ?

    ?

    Also true: Genevieve was in Europe, and my husband, Shiloh, a cop once recruited by the FBI,was in prison. All this is because of what happened last year in Blue Earth. You might haveread about it, if you follow the news, but you didn’t read all of it.

    ?

    ?

    At the root of everything that had happened in Blue Earth was a man named Royce Stewart, who’draped and murdered Genevieve’s daughter, Kamareia, and gotten off on a technicality. Monthslater, Shiloh had gone to Blue Earth, intending to run down Stewart in a stolen truck. ButShiloh had found himself incapable of murder. It was Genevieve who, in a chance encounter, hadstabbed Stewart in the neck and burned down the tiny shack he’d lived in.

    ?

    ?

    It was Shiloh who’d gone to prison, though, for stealing the truck, while Genevieve, her crimeunwitnessed by anyone but me, had gone to Europe to start a new life. I didn’t blame her forthat. My husband was already behind bars; I didn’t want my old friend there, too.

    ?

    ?

    It wasn’t until Genevieve was virtually on the plane for France that I’d been tipped off thatI was a suspect in Stewart’s death. Disturbing as it was, it made sense. I was the one who’dbeen in Blue Earth, looking for my husband. It was me who had been seen having unfriendly wordswith Stewart in a bar, just before his death.

?

    ?

    Two Faribault County detectives came to the Cities to interview me, recording my carefullyrehearsed, evasive answers. They didn’t appear convinced by anything I’d said.

    ?

    ?

    I didn’t tell Genevieve what was happening, because I feared she’d fly home to bail me out byconfessing. Nor did I seek Shiloh’s counsel, because at the prison his mail was almostcertainly being monitored, and it was impossible to explain the situation without referring toGenevieve’s guilt.

    ?

    ?

    But a strange thing happened, or rather, didn’t happen. One month passed, then two, but I wasnever arrested, nor even questioned again. The investigation seemed to have stalled.

    ?

    ?

    Star Tribune ran its investigative piece.Then the

    ?

    ?

    THE SUSPECT’S DEATH, the headline had read, with an extended sub-headline below: Royce

    Stewart was suspected of killing a Hennepin County detective’s daughter. Seven months later,he died in a suspicious late-night fire. A former MPD cop has confessed to planning his murder,but not to carrying it out. While the case is still technically open, the answers may have goneup in flames.

    ?

    ?

    It was the Star Tribune piece that had mentioned what all the other stories hadn’t:

    ?

    ?

    In an unexplained sidelight, several documents note that Shiloh’s wife, Hennepin CountyDetective Sarah Pribek, was in Blue Earth the night Stewart died. Faribault County officialshave refused to answer questions about whether Pribek is suspected of involvement in the deathand the house fire.

    ?

    Just two sentences, but they acknowledged at last the rumor that had been circulating inMinneapolis’s law-enforcement community for months. The Monday morning after the article ran,there was a very awkward silence when I arrived at work.

    ?

    ?

    What bothered me most was this, though: after the Strib story ran, I saw something in the

    eyes of the young male rookies when they looked at me. I saw respect. They believed I’d killedRoyce Stewart, and they thought better of me for it.

    ?

    ?

    It would have been an easier burden to bear if it had been shared by my ex-partner and myhusband. I didn’t blame them for not being here. Genevieve had been wise to get away, safelyout from under the growing cloud of suspicion and speculation. And Shiloh, of course, had been

    imprisoned; he was not gone by choice. But I felt their absence every day. They were more thanmy immediate family. They were my history here in Minneapolis. Shiloh and Genevieve had knowneach other before I’d met either of them. That was why, even when the three of us weren’ttogether on a daily or even a weekly basis, there had been a web of interconnectedness betweenus that gave me a sense of stability. Without them, I had lost something deeper than dailycompanionship, something I felt the lack of in conversations with co-workers that were politeand pleasant and nothing more than that.

    ?

    ?

    As two months turned into three, four, and five, still I wasn’t charged with anything, and Irealized that the investigation was stalled, perhaps forever. But I understood something else:if I would never be outright accused of Stewart’s murder, neither would I ever be exonerated.

    probably guilty by reason of persistent rumor. MyAt work I sensed a silent verdict:

    lieutenant did not assign me another partner. The major-crimes and missing-persons work thatGen and I had done dried up, replaced with interim and odd assignments. Like the one I hadtonight.

    ?

    ?

“Excuse me, have you seen this boy?”

    ?

    ?

    A middle-aged woman was showing a photograph around on the avenue where I was working. She wasflagging down passersby, trying to find someone who’d seen a runaway teenager.

    ?

    ?

    Out of professional interest, I moved to intercept the woman. She registered me coming andturned to make eye contact. Then her face quickly shut down and she turned away. She didn’tsee a kind, interested stranger, much less a cop. She saw a hooker.

    ?

    ?

    I couldn’t blame her. It’s what I’d intended.

    ?

    ?

    Prostitution-decoy work was more commonly done by metro police departments, but there’s oftena need for fresh faces, so I was on loan. Tonight I was posted on a heavily trafficked avenuesouth of downtown Minneapolis, not far from the business district, where undercover officerslike me vacuumed up out-of-towners looking for a good time, as well as local salarymen leavingthe bars after their end-of-day cocktails.

    ?

    ?

    A civilian might have been surprised at how simply I was dressed. That’s one of the firstthings you learn: no miniskirt, no high heels, no seamed stockings. Genevieve had explained itto me, years ago.

?

    ?

    “Street workers can’t afford to advertise themselves to cops,” she’d said. “Besides, Ithink a lot of them are just too tired. Psychologically, they can’t bring themselves to treatthis like a job.”

    ?

    ?

    So, early this evening, I’d pulled on a pair of jeans and boots, a white V-necked T-shirt, anda cheap reddish imitation-leather coat. The makeup, more than wardrobe, was important. I used athick, pale concealer stick, not in trouble spots, as prescribed, but all over my face,creating an unhealthy pallor. After that came mascara and eyeliner pencil. “Eyeliner’s thebest,” Genevieve had said. “Nothing ejects you from the ranks of the Camry-driving middleclasses like eye pencil.”

    ?

    ?

    The number one tip-off out on the street, though, isn’t your clothes or makeup but demeanor.It’s that guarded little bend from the waist that street workers do, looking through carwindows. That’s what tells the men who you are.

    ?

    ?

    But tonight, I was having no luck. Men passed on the street in cars, on the sidewalk on foot.They looked at me, some of them, but none stopped, and I didn’t try to stop them. The idea tocommit a crime has to originate with the arrestee, not the officer, otherwise it’s entrapment.

    ?

    ?

    At least it was a pleasant night to be outside.

    ?

    ?

    May weather in the Twin Cities is anybody’s guess. It could bring a record heatwave. Or aseries of bone-rattling, drenching thunderstorms, the kind that started up in the mornings andworsened as afternoon came on, until they shaped their anger into destructive tornadoes outsidethe city, on the farmland and the prairie. Conversely, it was possible that a freak storm couldblow into Minnesota in the next few days and dump inches of snow on us.

    ?

    ?

    The latest had been two days of storms, rains that were fitful but kept coming back, oftentorrentially, overloading the gutters and the drains. Tonight was a pleasant exception; theclouds had parted to reveal a polished twilight sky. But the aftereffects of the rain wereeverywhere: the roads were still dark with it, and the air smelled clean and damp.

    ?

    ?

    A bus swept to the curb, picking up a teenager in a wheelchair. When it wallowed back intotraffic and away, I saw that I’d attracted someone’s attention. A late-model, midsize car waspulled to the curb across the street. Mentally, I wrote up the man inside: white, mid-thirties,hair color brown with some gray on the temples, eye color unknown, no distinguishing marks orscars on the face. Clothes I couldn’t see much of, except for the dark knot of a tie againsthis white shirt.

?

    ?

    Something else, too: there was no sexual interest in his eyes. None at all, yet he didn’tbreak his gaze.

    ?

    ?

    Come on, you need a first arrest of the night. Get him over here and bust him.

    ?

    ?

    I walked a few paces, tried to swing my hips a little. Turned to make eye contact again,sending him an overtly questioning look.

    ?

    ?

    The man pulled into traffic and away.

    ?

    ?

    What was that all about? Lost his nerve, maybe. Dammit.

    ?

    ?

    I paced another five minutes before, at last, a car slid to the curb on my side of the street,a Chevy sedan about fifteen years past its prime. It had, I noticed, Arkansas plates.

    ?

    ?

    I walked to the curb and bent slightly from the waist, looking in through the rolled-downwindow. The driver who looked back was white, with thick, tawny hair that fell over the top ofhis squarish black-rim eyeglasses. He was thin in build, save for the beginnings of softness athis middle, and his large hands, on the wheel, were freckled from sun exposure.

    ?

    ?

    Disheartened, I glanced toward the backseat. A half-folded map was trying to accordion outacross the top of a duffel bag, and a fishing rod was propped diagonally from the floor on oneside to the rear-window shelf on the other, on which rested a well-worn Houston Astros cap. Iknew it.

    ?

    ?

    It was hard to imagine how this out-of-towner had gotten so lost he’d washed up on one ofMinneapolis’s most vice-prone boulevards, but he was here now, and I’d give him thedirections he was pulling over for. Well, Lieutenant, I didn’t actually make any vice

    arrests, but I did help a rube find the Days Inn.

    ?

    ?

    The driver rolled down the passenger-side window, his eyes on mine, seemingly in anticipationof saying something, but then he didn’t speak. The beat of silence stretched out between us,with expectation on both sides, before he finally said, “Well, get in, sugar. Don’t wait forme to ask you.”

    ? ? If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never have men figured out. ? ? “Why don’t you pull around the corner a minute,” I suggested, recovering from my

    misconception, “and we can talk.” Going anywhere with a would-be trick is dangerous, and

    strictly forbidden. ? ? The sedan trundled around the corner to a small parking lot, and I followed. The driver cut the

    engine, and I slid into the passenger seat. ? ? “How you doing?” he said. ? ? I shrugged, studying him from behind my mask of pallid makeup. His age was hard to judge. Mid-

    thirties, maybe. I’d read it off his driver’s license when I made the bust. ? ? “What’s your name?” he asked. ? ? “Sarah,” I said. ? ? “Sarah,” he repeated. “My name’s Gareth. You can call me Gary. Most people do.” ? ? The sound of the Ozarks in his voice was disarming, but I went forward with business. “What’s

    on your mind tonight, Gary?” ? ? He didn’t take the hint. “I’m staying in town tonight, on my way up north, to do some

    fishing.” ? ? “Yeah,” I said. “I saw your pole in the back.” ? ? He gave me a small smile. “I designed that pole,” he said. “That’s what I do for a living.

    Well, I do a couple of things. That’s one of them. You want a smoke?” ?

?

    “No, thanks,” I told him.

    ?

    ?

    “Well, I’m gonna have one,” he said.

    ?

    ?

    Usually the men are nervous, and in a hurry. This man acted like we’d just sat down togetherat a lounge for cocktails. He was entirely at ease, rolling down his window to exhale withalmost lordly pleasure. “Yeah,” he said reflectively, “I heard you’ve got some of the bestfishing in America, up in your lake country. Is that true?”

    ?

    ?

    “I don’t fish,” I said lamely. I’d never had to make small talk with a john before. Thisreally was not going well at all.

    ?

    ?

    “Some friends told me I should come,” he went on. “My wife died a few years ago. I haven’ttaken any vacation time since then.”

    ?

    ?

    His eyelashes were black, much darker than the rest of his fair coloring would have indicated,when his gaze flicked downward as if he were shy about saying that last part. I wondered ifhe’d been with another woman in those years he’d referred to, or if he was trying to work upto making me the first. And I imagined myself standing before a judge someday, not long fromnow, and explaining that in a world full of men who beat up prostitutes, spent the milk moneyon sex, and brought diseases home to their wives, I had gone out on the streets on HennepinCounty’s behalf and caught a courteous, widowed fishing pole designer.

    ?

    ?

    “Gary,” I said, straightening, “are you ever going to ask me for sex?”

    ?

    ?

    He blinked, but I thought I saw a flicker of amusement behind his thick glasses. “Are all youMinnesotans in this big a hurry?” he asked.

    ?

    ?

    “Well,” I said, “I can’t speak for all Minnesotans, especially since I come from out West,but in my case it has a lot to do with the fact that I’m a Hennepin County Sheriff’sdetective. And if you suggest some kind of sex-for-money deal, then I’m going to have toarrest you, and I’d really rather not do that if it’s all the same to you. I’m guessing itis.”

    ?

    ?

    Gary, who had come perilously close to dropping his cigarette from his mouth onto his lap,said, “You’re a cop?”

Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email
cust-service@docsford.com