I turned my head, looked at the platform, turned again, looked at the cars.


Dre wasn’t anywhere.

Because Dre was everywhere.

I found a flashlight and two plastic supermarket bags in the trunk of Dre’s car. I put the bags over my shoes and used the handles to tie knots around my ankles. Then I walked through the blood to the platform. I found one of his shoes down the track, tucked into the inside of the rail. I found what could have been an ear a few feet farther down on the platform. Or it could have been part of a nose. Apparently, an Acela going top-speed didn’t run you over; it blew you up.

On my walk back up the tracks, I spotted a shoulder between the track and the woods. That was the last of Dre I ever saw.

I went to the spot where he’d entered and exited the woods. I shone my flashlight in there, but all I could see were dark trees with clumps of leaves pooled at their bases. I could have gone in farther, but (a) I don’t like woods; and (b) I was running out of time. The Acela passed through Mansfield station, three miles up, and there was a chance someone would spot blood on the front of it or along the side.

Yefim, I could assume, had long since left and taken Sophie and the cross with him.

I walked back across the tracks and at first I didn’t compute what I saw there. Part of me understood it enough to hold the flashlight beam in place, but the other half of me couldn’t make sense of it.

I bent by the gravel between the tracks and the fence that rimmed the parking lot. I’d heard a thunk as it landed, as someone, for who knew what reason, tossed it from the woods to the other side of the tracks. And Dre had come rushing out after it and stepped into the path of over six hundred tons of steel traveling 160 miles an hour.

The Belarus Cross.

I pinched the top left corner of it and lifted it out of the gravel. It was speckled with evaporating snow that revealed it was as bloody as the windshields in the parking lot, as bloody as the platform and the trees and the stairs I descended to Dre’s car. I popped the trunk and sat on the edge and removed the plastic bags and placed them in a third plastic bag. I found a rag in the trunk, and I used it to wipe off the cross as best I could. I tossed the rag into the plastic bag and tied off the handles. I took the bag and the cross up front with me and placed them on the passenger seat and got the hell out of Dodgeville.

Chapter Twenty-Three

There was only one pediatrician in a fifteen-mile radius of Becket, a Dr. Chimilewski, two towns over in Huntington. When Amanda pulled up in front of the office at ten the next morning, I stayed where I was and let her go inside and keep her appointment. I sat in Dre’s car and replayed the conversation I’d had with Yefim on my way out of Dodgeville. He’d called me minutes after I left the train station and nothing we’d discussed made any sense yet.

When Amanda came out twenty minutes later, I was waiting with a cardboard cup of coffee that I offered to her. “I guessed cream, no sugar.”

“I can’t drink coffee,” she said. “It aggravates my ulcer. But thanks for the thought.”

She clicked the remote on her car to unlock the doors and came around me with the baby in the car seat. I opened the door for her.

“You can’t have an ulcer. You’re sixteen years old.”

She snapped the car seat into its base in the backseat. “Tell that to my ulcer. I’ve had it since I was thirteen.”

I stepped back as she closed the door on Claire.

“She okay?”

She looked through the window at the baby. “Yeah. She’s just got that rash. No cause. They said it’ll go away, just like Angie said. They said babies get rashes.”

“Hard, though, right? All these things that could be real health scares turn out to be absolutely nothing, but you never know so you got to get it checked out.”

She gave me a small and weary smile. “I keep thinking they’re going to throw me out next time.”

“They don’t throw you out for being too careful about your child.”

“No, but they tell jokes about you, I’m sure.”

“Let ’em tell jokes.”

She walked around to the driver’s side, looked over the roof at me. “You can follow or just meet me back at the house. I’m not running anywhere.”

“I’ve noticed.”

I turned to walk toward Dre’s Saab.

“Where’s Dre?”

I turned back to her, met her eyes. “He didn’t make it.”

“He . . .” She cocked her head slightly. “The Russians?”

I said nothing. I held her gaze. I looked for something in her eyes that would tell me, one way or another, which side she was playing in this. Or was it all sides?

“Patrick?” she said.

“I’ll see you back at the house.”

In the kitchen, she made green tea for herself and brought the cup and small pot out to the dining room with her. Claire sat in her car seat in the center of the dining-room table. She’d fallen into a deep sleep in the car and Amanda told me she’d learned no good came from pulling her out of the car seat and moving her to the bassinet once they were inside. It was just as easy and just as safe to leave her where she slept.

“Angie get back all right?”

“Yeah. She arrived in Savannah at midnight. Got to her mother’s by half-past.”

“She doesn’t strike me as someone from the South.”

“She’s not. Her mother remarried in her sixties. Her husband lived in Savannah. He passed about ten years ago. By then, her mother was in love with the place.”

She placed her teapot on a coaster and sat at the table. “So what happened at the train station?”

I sat across from her. “First tell me how we ended up at the train station.”

“What? I got a call and they said the meeting site was changed.”

“Who called you?”

“It could have been Pavel, could have been this other one they call Spartak. Actually, now that I think of it, it did sound more like him. He’s got a higher voice than the others. But then what do I know for sure?” She shrugged. “They all sound pretty much the same.”

“And Spartak or whoever said . . .”

“He said something like, ‘We no like Comcast Center. Tell them meet at Dodgeville Station, half hour.’ ”

“But why call you?”

She sipped her tea. “I don’t know. Maybe Yefim lost your—”

I shook my head. “Yefim never made that call.”

Source: www.StudyNovels.com