Page 23 of Mystic River


As he got closer, he saw his sergeant, Whitey Powers, standing a few feet away from a car with the driver's door ajar. Souza and Connolly, who'd been bumped up to Homicide only last week, searched the weeds outside the park entrance, coffee cups in hand, and two patrol units and the Crime Scene Services van were parked along the gravel shoulder, the CSS crew going over the car and shooting dirty looks at Souza and Connolly for trampling possible evidence and leaving the lids off their Styrofoam cups.

"Hey, bad boy." Whitey Powers's eyebrows rose in surprise. "Someone call you already?"

"Yeah," Sean said. "I don't have a partner, though, Sarge. Adolph's out."

Whitey Powers nodded. "You get your hand slapped and that useless kraut takes a sudden medical." He put his arm around Sean. "You're with me, kid. The duration of your probation."

So that was how it was going to work, Whitey keeping watch on Sean until the department brass decided if he met their gold standard or not.

"Was looking like a quiet weekend, too," Whitey said as he turned Sean toward the car with the open door. "Whole county last night, Sean? Quieter than a dead cat. Had a stabbing in Parker Hill, 'nother in Bromley Heath, and some college kid took a beating from a beer bottle over in Allston. None of them fatal, though, and all of them City's. Hell, the Parker Hill vic, right? Walked into the ER at MGH on his own, big ol' steak knife sticking out of his collarbone, asked the admitting nurse where they kept a Coke machine 'round this bitch."

"She tell him?" Sean said.

Whitey smiled. He was one of State Homicide's brightest boys and had been forever, so he smiled a lot. He must have taken the call heading into his shift, though, because he wore sweatpants and his son's hockey jersey, a baseball hat riding backward on his head, iridescent blue flip-flops over bare feet, his gold badge hanging from a nylon cord over the jersey.

"Like the shirt," Sean said, and Whitey gave him another lazy grin as a bird broke overhead from the park and arced above them, letting loose a rattling caw that bit into Sean's spine.

"Man, half an hour ago? I was on my sofa."

"Watching cartoons?"

"Wrestling." Whitey pointed at the weeds and the park beyond. "I figure we'll find her over there somewhere. But, you know, we just started looking and Friel says we call it a Missing Persons till we find a body."

The bird swung over them again, a little lower, that sharp rattle of a caw finding the base of Sean's brain this time and nibbling.

"It's ours, though?" Sean said.

Whitey nodded. "'Less the victim ran back out again, got snuffed somewhere down the block."

Sean glanced up. The bird had a big head and short legs tucked under a white chest that was striped gray in the center. Sean didn't recognize the species, but then he didn't hang out in nature all that much. "What is it?"

"A belted kingfisher," Whitey said.

"Bullshit."

He held up a hand. "Swear to God, man."

"Watched a lot of Wild Kingdom as a kid, didn't you?"

The bird let loose that hard rattle again and Sean wanted to shoot it.

Whitey said, "Want to look at the car?"

"You said 'her,'" Sean said as they ducked under yellow crime scene tape and headed for the car.

"CSS found the reg in the glove box. Car's owner is a Katherine Marcus."

"Shit," Sean said.

"Know her?"

"Might be the daughter of a guy I know."

"You guys close?"

Sean shook his head. "No, just to nod hello from around the neighborhood."

"Sure?" Whitey was asking if he wanted to pass on the case right here, right now.

"Yeah," Sean said. "Sure as shit."

They reached the car and Whitey pointed at the open driver's door as a CSS tech stepped back from it and stretched, arching her back, hands entwined and thrust toward the sky. "Just don't touch nothing, guys. Who's the point on this?"

Whitey said, "That'd be me. Park is State jurisdiction."

"But the car's on city property."

Whitey pointed at the weeds. "That blood spatter fell on state land."

"I dunno," the CSS tech said with a sigh.

"We got an ADA en route," Whitey said. "He can call it. Till then, it's State."

Sean took one look at the weeds leading up to the park and knew if they found a body, they'd find it in there. "What do we have?"

The tech yawned. "Door was ajar when we found it. Keys were in the ignition, headlights were on. Like on cue, the battery shit the bed about ten seconds after we got on the scene."

Sean noticed a bloodstain over the speaker on the driver's door. Some of it had dripped, black and crusty, over the speaker itself. He dropped to a squat and pivoted, saw another spot of black on top of the steering wheel. A third stain, longer and wider than the other two, clung to the edges of a bullet hole punched through the vinyl of the driver's seat back at shoulder level. Sean pivoted again so that he was looking past the door at the weeds to the left of the car, then he craned his head around to look at the outside of the driver's door, saw the fresh dent there.

He looked up at Whitey, and Whitey nodded. "Perp probably stood outside the car. The Marcus girl? if that's who was driving? slams him with the door. Cocksucker gets a round off, hits her, ah, I dunno, in the shoulder, maybe the biceps? The girl makes a run for it anyway." He pointed at some weeds freshly flattened by running feet. "They trample the weeds heading for the park. Her wound couldn't have been too bad, because we've only found a few blood spatters in the weeds."

Sean said, "We got units over in the park?"

"Two so far."

The CSS tech snorted. "They any smarter than those two?"

Sean and Whitey followed her gaze, saw that Connolly had accidentally dropped his coffee in the weeds, was standing over it, bitching out the cup.

"Hey," Whitey said, "they're new, cut 'em some slack."

"I gotta dust some more, guys."

Sean stepped back for the woman. "You find any ID besides the car reg?"

"Yup. Wallet under the seat, driver's license made out to Katherine Marcus. There was a backpack behind the passenger seat. Billy's checking the contents now."

Sean looked over the hood at the guy she'd indicated with a toss of her head. He was on his knees in front of the car, a dark blue backpack in front of him.

Whitey said, "How old did her license say she was?"

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