Wednesday, November 28, 2007


One Month Later

It was warm for late October. Fanny stood on the deck watching Peter and Harold cavort with Arlo on the pier. A couple of times Arlo got too close to the edge but each time he stopped just in time. Arlo had so much energy. Maybe it was time to get a second dog so he would have a playmate. She waved and Harold waved back. “Hey, Fanny. Pete and I are going to take the Whaler out. Call Arlo.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to take him with you?” She knew there was no way Arlo would get in the boat. He was afraid of the water. It was only his adoration of Harold and Peter that enticed him to venture onto the pier. She clapped her hands three time. “Arlo! Come here.” Arlo turned and ran toward her. He didn’t stop until she had reached the top of the wooden stairs that led to the second floor deck. She opened the gate and he rushed in. “Good Doggy. What do good dogs get?” Arlo immediately sat and extended his paw and Fanny took a sausage stick from her pocket. “I don’t know how Harold can say that you’re undisciplined. You’re perfect Arlo.”

She turned in time to see her husband and son set off up the creek. She smiled and went inside to continue dinner preparations.

It had been a month since the ordeal. That’s what they had begun calling it. A month – and it was time to celebrate. They had invited Detective Jacoby down for the weekend and he had asked if he could bring a friend. She had guessed that the friend was Bonnie Jaffe. Jack hadn’t gone into specifics he did say that they had been seeing quite a bit of each other. Fanny was happy for them. She certainly deserved a good man after putting up with Stuart Jaffe all those years. When she’d said as much to Harold he had reminded her gently what happened the last time she gave marital advice.

It was Harold who suggested they call Mosby Ellis and have him come down too. “That way we can make it a real celebration.”

The weather was certainly cooperating. It looked like it would be warm enough to have dinner out on the deck later. Just to be sure, Fanny pushed the heater closer to the table and made sure there was plenty of propane. When she was satisfied everything was ready she stretched out on the chaise to relax before her guests arrived. A pair of swans glided past serenely. Arlo sat down next to her, putting his head against her knee to the scratched. She closed her eyes and said a silent prayer of gratitude.

The tranquility was abruptly shattered when Arlo jumped up and ran around to the side deck signaling the arrival of their guests. She hurried after him to open the gate. “Hope nobody is afraid of dogs. I neglected to mention we had a watch-wolf.”

She held Arlo by his collar so her friends could come inside without being licked and pawed.

“Come on in. Harold and Peter just took the boat out. Drop your things anywhere – preferably out of the reach of Arlo - and come on out on the back deck. We’ll sort out the room assignments later. It’s a perfect afternoon.”

It was a perfect afternoon. Arlo settled down quickly so the four of them were able to enjoy the calm of the quiet afternoon. “What would y’all like to drink. I’m afraid I don’t have any liquor here, but I have iced tea, juice, mineral water….”

“I’d love an iced tea. Let me help you.” Bonnie got up and followed Fanny into the kitchen. “Jack mentioned that you were in AA. I hope that was okay.”

“Sure. I wasn’t a very anonymous drunk. I’ve never seen any reason to keep my sobriety a big secret.” Fanny could sense that Bonnie had more to say. “There are glasses in the cabinet next to the fridge. I’ll get the ice.”

“I’ve decided to try to give it up myself. I miss it every minute. It has been like I’ve lost my best friend. But it’s time. I haven’t had a drink since that night. I’ve thought a few times that if I knew that glass of whiskey was going to be my last drink I might have drunk it instead of slinging it in Stone’s face.”

Fanny laughed and put her arm around Bonnie’s shoulder.
“Congratulations on thirty days of sobriety. Maybe you and I can sneak out to a meeting later so you can pick up a chip. That is if Jack will let you out of his sight.”

They carried a try of iced tea and snacks outside and the four of them spent the next hour letting Jack catch them up on the latest news. Carl Stone had confessed to the murders of Lillian Petulengro and Dennis Doggett. “Of course, he did that in the back of my car on his way to jail. The really good news is that when Reno confronted Jaffe with the evidence against him he confessed to the murder of Victoria Sherwood.” He looked apologetically at Bonnie who just smiled at him.

“It’s okay, honey. I’m a big girl. I knew the bastard was cheating on me.” She grew more serious. “The best part is the girls won’t have to go through the anguish of seeing their father tried for murder.”

“No. The best part is Jaffe agreed to an uncontested divorce.” An unmistakable message passed between Jack and Bonnie.” Fanny decided she should get the little guest house ready for them.

Jack took a sip of his iced tea. “Hey, Mosby. What was in that strange looking container you were holding in your lap all the way down?”

“That’s Lilly. She didn’t have any family so she’s be kind of staying with me. I had this idea that maybe she might like it down here. You made it sound so beautiful here, Fanny, and you didn’t exaggerate.”

Fanny gave Mosby a kiss on the cheek. “Why don’t you bring her out here, Mosby? She should be with us.”

He went inside and came back with the container Jack had mentioned and paced it solemnly on the railing. Fanny thought she saw Jack brush away a team. Bonnie was crying openly. It occurred to Fanny that she knew the perfect place to spread Lilly’s ashes and she decided she would talk to Mosby later.

The somberness was dispelled when a Whaler came roaring up the creek. Fanny smiled when she saw Peter standing in the front of the boat holding a large rockfish. “I’d planned to feed you folks some of my world famous pasta, but it looks like there might be a change in the menu. How does grilled rockfish sound to you guys?”

That night they sat on the deck enjoying the fish that Harold and Pete had caught. They took turns feeding small bites to Arlo. Dinner lasted for hours. No one seemed to want the evening to end. It was such a welcomed respite after the horrors they had all been through. In those hours around the dinner table bonds of friendship were formed and strengthened.

“Fanny, do you remember the night of the Leonide meteor shower.”

Pete groaned. “Oh no, here we go. Pop is going to bring out his repertoire of dinner time stories.”

“Peter! Show a little respect for your father. Just for that, you can go make the coffee.” She turned to Harold. “Continue, my dear.”

“It was so cold that night. We watched it here on the deck. That tree wasn’t so tall then.” He pointed to the crepe myrtle tree that was hanging over the edge of the deck. “That was before we had finished the renovations on this house. We’ll have to show you the before pictures sometime.”

Fanny continued the story. “The basement was flooded. The front wall was caving in. But that night none of that mattered. The sky just lit up. It looked like something out of a Steven Spielberg movie.”

Pete came out with the coffee pot. “They let me sleep through it. I’ve never forgiven them.”

Then it was Jack’s turn to tell a story. He told about the time he played the lead in his high school’s production of Oliver.

“You must have been so cute as the little orphan boy” Bonnie laughed.

“No, honey. I was the romantic lead – Bill Sikes.”

She pretended to examine his fact. “Wow. You do look a little bit like Oliver Reed.”

Fanny and Harold exchanged glances and smiled. The hard boiled policeman and the soon to be divorced Mrs. Jaffe were in the cute stage of their relationship.

Bonnie and Jack excused themselves and retreated shyly to the little guest house where the lights went out fairly quickly. Fanny and Harold turned in soon after but Pete and Mosby stayed up to talk and clear the dishes.

Arlo stayed on the deck – just watching.

Very early the next morning while everyone else was still sleeping, Mosby met Fanny at the bulkhead just as she was lowering the second kayak into the water. He was holding the container holding Lilly’s ashes. Neither of them spoke. He placed the container on the pier and expertly lowered himself into the kayak. Fanny handed him the container, which he placed between his knees. Then she got into her own kayak and paddled silently down the creek, past the little marina with Mosby following her.

Just beyond the marina the creek widened into a large basin and then appeared to end but Fanny kept paddling. Mosby saw that there was a narrow opening with rocks visible just below the surface and just past the opening the creek widened again into a still pond.

When their kayaks had cleared the rocks, Fanny spoke for the first time. “It is only possible to get back here on a high tide and then only by kayak. This is my special place. I always come here when I have important thinking to do or when I am troubled. This is where I came after 9/11. You can’t imagine how comforting it was. And then the weekend after they released me from the hospital. I came here and sat for hours until Harold came to get me. He knew exactly where I would be.”

They sat there silently for a long time. The sun rose over the pine trees that bordered the pond. A pair of swans glided past them. “This is where they make their nests. There are osprey, red-winged blackbirds, egret, green heron – even bald eagles.”

“You’re right, Fanny. It is amazing. This is the perfect place.”

“Just a little further. Follow me.”

She paddled for a while and then she stopped and pointed to an area that was encircled by cattails where the surface was covered with lily pads. “How’s this?”

Mosby was too overwhelmed with emotion to respond. He steered the nose of the kayak though the cattails and opened the container. As he lovingly poured his friend’s ashes over the surface of the water he sang the song she had taught him.

Gelem Gelem lungone dromenca,
Maladilem chorore romenca.
Gelem Gelem
lungone dromenca,
Maladilem baxtale romenca.

Ala voliv lake kale
Kaj si gugle sar duj kale drakha.
Ala voliv lake kale jakha,
Kaj si gugle sar duj kale drakha.

The End


Chapter Seventy

Monday Morning

Jerry Benson smiled. He realized it was the first time he’d really smiled in days. Harold and Fanny were sound asleep, spooned together on the narrow hospital bed. He thought about letting them sleep, but he couldn’t wait to share the news.

“Harold. Fanny. Wake up you two lovebirds. Time to rise and shine.”

Harold opened his eyes. When he saw the broad smile on Jerry’s he knew he had good news for them. “They caught him didn’t they?”

Jerry’s smile got broader. “Yep. They arrested him early this morning at the Senator’s house in Great Falls. They stopped him just as he was about to stab Bonnie Jaffe. Mosby Ellis is a hero. How’s Fanny doing?”

“Hi, Jerry. Fanny is doing just great. Starving, but great. And she is ready to go home.”

“Tell me, Harold. Has your wife always referred to her in the third person or is this a new symptom?” It felt so good to be cracking jokes and laughing after the stress of the past few days. “Why don’t you two brush your teeth, pee and comb your hair. I’ll go get us some breakfast. Bagels for you and me, Fanny. Kale and walnuts for your husband.”

Harold looked genuinely disappointed. “This is a celebration, Jerry. I think that calls for a brief hiatus of Dr. Burger’s diet. Bring me a western omelet with tabasco and an order of hash browns.”

“Harold, what about your adrenals?”

“I’ll leave you two alone to work that out. I’ll be right back.”

After Jerry left them alone Harold and Fanny were quiet for a moment. In the past few days had been a nightmare and they both knew the effect of that nightmare would be with them for some time to come. But, for now, the only thing that mattered to either of them was they were safe and they were together.

“We should call, Peter.”

Harold was ahead of her. He’d already picked up his cell phone. “You know this is against the rules, don’t you?”

Pete must have picked up the phone because Harold smiled and gave Fanny the thumbs up sign.

“Everything is fine, Pete. Your Mom just wanted to talk to you.” Harold handed the phone to Fanny.

“Good morning, Peter. Jerry Benson woke us up with some wonderful news. They have arrested Carl Stone. It’s over, Peter.”

Harold saw that tears were streaming down his wife’s cheeks. She wiped them away with the corner of the sheet.
”No, we don’t know much yet. I’m sure Detective Jacoby will be by soon to fill us in. All we know is they arrested him at the Senator’s house early this morning. Apparently Bonnie Jaffe, the Senator’s wife, was in the house at the time and was in some danger.” Fanny could tell that Harold was anxious to talk to Peter. “No. She was unharmed. Peter, your father wants to talk to you. I love you, son.” She handed the phone back to Harold who listened to Pete while Fanny got out of bed and went into the bathroom.

“Your mother is fine. The doctor hasn’t been by this morning, but from what I can tell she is perfectly normal. Her memory seems to be back and she doesn’t seem to be confused or anxious.”

Fanny’s voice came from the bathroom. “I can hear you. No talking about me.”

Harold laughed. “Like I said, we haven’t seen the doctor yet but I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t release her today. I’ll call you as soon as we know for sure. Love you, Pete. Goodbye.”

When Fanny came out of the bathroom her hair was combed and she had put on a touch of lipstick. “I want to look my best for the doctor. Did Peter have anything else to say?”

“Just that he was going on his way to class – trying to get back to normal – and that he’ll be home this weekend.” He knew that would make Fanny happy.

“I’m so glad. Maybe we should plan to go down to Mill Creek. I love this time of year. It’s quiet and the trees are so pretty.”

“Whatever you want, honey.”

Harold wanted so nothing more than to take his wife home and forget that any of this had ever happened. He was ready to resume their wonderful, ordinary, run of the mill lives. To watch all the shows that had piled up on their DVR, romp with Arlo, agonize over Redskin games with their friends, and snuggle on weekend mornings. He remembered with a pang of guilt how he had referred to Fanny as an “ordinary house wife” a few days ago. He leaned over and kissed his wife. “You’re extraordinary, honey.”

“What brought that on?”

“I’ve missed you. How are you feeling, honey? Your memory?”

“It’s back. I remember everything. And I feel fine. Why don’t you go find a nurse and see if she can track down my doctor and find out when I can get out of here?”

“Great. Now if Jerry would just come back with breakfast. I think I’m going to have real coffee this morning.” He looked over at Fanny who had suddenly grown serious. “Is something wrong, honey?”

“I was just thinking about Abby. I need to call her. Harold, I can’t think of a good reason to tell her what Richard did. As far as she knows her husband was drinking and had an awful accident. If I tell her he abducted me, she’ll feel responsible. I know how her mind works. What do you think, honey?”

Harold didn’t answer right away. He walked over to the window and looked out. The sun was just coming up over the trees on Michigan Avenue. “The only ones that know what really happened are you and I. I think the doctor suspects something, but he doesn’t know for sure. If you think it’s the right thing, we can keep that part of the story between the two of us. I guess everyone else can just think your memory about that day never came back completely. If you’re sure that’s what you want.”

“It’s what I want.”


Chapter Sixty-Nine

The ride back to the station was silent. Jacoby and Reno had plenty they wanted to talk about but neither wanted to say anything with Stone in the back seat.

Stone only spoke once. “You can let Senator Jaffe go now. You’ve caught the one you want.”

Jacoby and Reno exchanged amused glances, but said nothing.

Only after Stone had been placed securely in his cell did they allow themselves to discuss what had happened. They went to Reno's office where he buzzed the front desk. “Let me know when Ellis Mosby and Bonnie Jaffe get here – and could you bring us a couple of cups of coffee? Black.”

After their coffee had been brought in the two men relaxed for a moment before either spoke.

“It’s been quite a day, hasn’t it, Jack?”

Jacoby smiled. That was the second time Barry Reno had called him by his first name. That was fine with him. The two of them had probably been through enough to put them on a first name basis. “You’re right about that, Barry. Do you mind holding onto Stone until I can arrange his transfer?”

“No problem. After all you’ve done, it’s the least we can do.”

“My only regret is we couldn’t come up with more on the Senator. How long do you think you can hold him? It’s pretty clear that Stone doesn’t intend to implicate him.”

“It depends.” You wait here. I just remembered I needed to check on something. I’ll be right back.”

It occurred to Jacoby that the little detective had something up he sleeve but the was too tired to speculate. He just sipped his coffee and let his thoughts wander. He was surprised when one of the things it wandered to was Bonnie Jaffe. From the moment he met her, Jacoby had been intrigued by her wit and her dynamism. He also admired the way she had handled herself earlier. He found himself wondering what she would do if he invited her to dinner sometime when all this was over with.

Barry Reno was gone more than fifteen minutes and when he returned Mosby Ellis and the young technician that Jacoby had met earlier were with him.

“You remember Sam don’t you, Jack? He has something to show us. I invited Mosby to join us. I figured he’s earned the right to see what Sam’s going to show us.” Reno pulled up a chair. “It’s your show, Sam take it away.”

Sam looked a little nervous but he took a position next to Reno’s computer. He looked like a professor about to address a class. He leaned over the keyboard for a moment and then he stood up again. “Can every one see the monitors okay? Earlier tonight Detective Reno asked me to compare this” he touched a key and a high-resolution image of Victoria Sherwood’s cherub tattoo appeared on one screen “with this.” Sam touched another key and an image of Jaffe’s eagle tattoo appeared on the screen next to it.

“Detective Reno told me he had a hunch that buried somewhere in the eagle I would find a find the cherub.” He took a deep breath. Everyone else in the room was holding theirs. The first thing I noticed was that there were two distinct signatures in the eagle tattoo. The first one – this dog icon – was evident immediately. But this one was more obscured.” Sam isolated a section of the eagle image and zoomed in. A likeness of a lily was clearly visible.

Mosby cried out, “That’s Lilly signature. When she was completely finished with a piece she often signed it that way. I expect you found a similar signature on the girl’s tattoo.”

“I did.” Sam zoomed in on the cherub tattoo to show then the second lily. “Now, watch. This is the interesting part.” For the first time Sam allowed himself a bit of theatrics. “Gentlemen – through the magic of computer graphics – voila!” All eyes were on the screens as Sam clicked first on the image of the eagle on the right screen and then pulled the mouse across the desk and released it. Under the image of the Victoria Sherwood’s tattoo was an identical copy. “You can see for yourselves that Detective Reno’s hunch was dead on. The suspect had his tattoo altered to conceal the cherub.”

It was a moment before anyone spoke and then they all spoke at once.

Reno held up his hands. “Hold on. Hold on. It’s not irrefutable, but I think the District Attorney will be able to convince a Grand Jury that Stuart Jaffe’s actions were those of a guilty man attempting to conceal not just a tattoo – but his involvement in the death of Victoria Sherwood.”

“To say nothing of his involvement in the deaths of Lilly Petulengro and Dennis Doggett.” Jacoby stood up and walked across the room to shake hands first with Sam and then Barry Reno. When he got to Mosby Ellis he clasped his shoulder. “You were a good friend to Lillian, Mosby. You didn’t quit. Come one. I’ll give you a ride home.”

“Thanks. Let’s drive by Bonnie’s on the way. Just to make sure everything looks okay.”

“Good idea. Remember, Mosby. I want to hear about that dream of yours.”

Jacoby and Mosby could hear the commotion even before they turned into the cul-de-sac.

“What in the hell is that?”

“I don’t know, Jacoby, but I don’t think Bonnie is getting much rest.”

When they turned the corner they could see the source of the hubbub. The street in front of the Senator’s house was packed with satellite trucks, remote trailers and news cruisers. Reporters stumbled over each other and cables as they jockeyed for position in front of the house. There was no sign of Bonnie Jaffe.

“Come with me, Mosby.” Jacoby pushed through the crowd, waving his badge and threatening to arrest anyone that didn’t get out of his way. “Stand back everyone! Now! You might as well disburse now. Nothing’s going one here.”

He was peppered with questions from the assembled reporters. He ignored them all and banged on the front door. “Bonnie! Open up. It’s Detective Jacoby.” In a few minutes Bonnie opened the door just wide enough for Jacoby and Mosby to squeeze in.

“How long has this been going on?”

“They started gathering just after Mosby left. They’ve been banging on the front door, prowling around the back. The phone rang constantly. I finally took it off the hook. Can you make them go away, Jack?”
She looked so miserable that Jacoby had to fight the urge to hug her. Instead he went to the phone and dialed Reno’s number. “Barry, glad you’re still there. Listen. We have a media circus here at the Senator’s house. Could you send someone down here to get it under control.”

He looked at Bonnie. She was still wearing the clothes she had been wearing earlier. She looked worn out.

“She’s fine. But I’m going to take her downtown with us and get her checked into a hotel. She can’t get any rest with those idiots banging on her door. Thanks, Barry. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“I love a man who takes command.” Bonnie managed a tired smile. “You two wait down here. It won’t take me a minute to get my things together.”

Mosby walked into the study. He saw the poker lying in front of the fireplace. Next to it was a broken glass and a puddle of brown liquid. “This must be where she struggled with him. She’s a lucky woman.”

“She’s lucky you showed up when you did. You still haven’t explained how you happened to be here.” Jacoby sat down in the chair next to the fireplace.

“Well this might sound crazy, but it was Lilly. I was having this dream and she was in it. She was singing this Romani folk song she always sang while she cooked. It was like she was telling me what I needed to do next. When I woke up, I knew I had to come here. I only had the vaguest idea where the house was but it was as though I were being led. I know. It sounds insane.”

“A little insane. But you managed to get here and if you hadn’t Bonnie would be dead and Stone would have escaped.”

“Lilly told me once that Gypsies settle their own disputes. They fear ghosts because they believe the angry spirit of the dead will seek revenge on their killer. You don’t think it’s possible that …. Nah. That’s absurd.”

Before Jacoby could respond, Bonnie came downstairs carrying her overnight bag. “Ready gentlemen? Let’s get out of here.”


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chapter Sixty-Eight

Mosby drove blindly toward what he hoped was the Senator’s house. One of the stories he had read on the Internet included a picture of Jaffe and his family standing in front of their two-story brick home in Great Falls. He remembered it was on a cul-de-sac near the river. There was a stream and a gazebo. He closed his eyes and tried to picture the house. He remembered there was a footbridge. All the homes looked the same. Maybe it was hopeless. Once a policeman had pulled up behind him and Mosby thought he was going to ask him why he was driving so slowly through this upscale neighborhood, but the patrolman had just passed him and drove on.

He was about to give up when he spotted the house. He was almost past it when he’d seen the dark colored Lincoln Navigator in the driveway. “We did it, Lilly. We found it. Now what?”

The lights were on in the house. What did that mean? He parked the Mazda behind the Navigator and crept toward the house. For a moment he wondered what a fifth grade teacher was doing skulking up to a strange house at two in the morning. He wasn’t even sure it was the right house. There were probably a hundred Navigators parked in Great Falls. Maybe he should get out of there before he ended up getting himself shot. But then from inside the house he heard a crash and the sound of someone falling. He ran the remaining few steps to the front door and got there just as it opened and a terrified Bonnie Jaffe fell into his arms. Just behind her Mosby saw Carl Stone holding a long knife. Mosby slammed the door closed just as Stone got to the door. “Run to my car and get it started. I’ll try to hold him.”

Bonnie didn’t waste any time. She ran toward the Mazda while Mosby used all his force to hold the door closed. He heard his car growl to life and out of the corner of his eye he saw the Mazda barreling across the lawn toward the front of the house.

“Get in!” Bonnie yelled as she opened the passenger door.

Mosby let go of the doorknob, ran toward the car and through the open door. He slammed it shut just as Stone reached the car. He slammed the knife against the windshield. “Get us out of here.”

Bonnie made a hard left and headed back toward the street but when she drove off of the curb the front axle broke but the car continued lurching forward. “Keep going” Mosby shouted over the screech of the scraping axle “rear wheel drive!”

“I can’t steer!”

Mosby grabbed the wheel and tried to help Bonnie but she was right. The car lurched forward, out of control. Behind them Stone continued his pursuit.

Mosby and Bonnie were so intent on getting away from Stone that they didn’t see the flashing blue lights moving in their direction until it screamed past them.

“What was that?” Bonnie yelled.

“It’s the police. Stop the car!”

When the car stopped, they could hear the siren that had been drowned out by the scraping axle. “They’ve got him! They’ve got Stone” Bonnie was laughing and crying and the same time.

Reno had jumped out of the car and was standing with gun drawn. A second later Jacoby was next to him with his gun aimed at Stone’s head. “Just give me an excuse to shoot, you asshole. Nothing would make me happier than to blow your brains out.”

Stone dropped his knife and raised his hands. “This is your territory, Barry. I guess you get the pleasure of cuffing this degenerate.”

Reno smiled sheepishly. “I seem to have left my handcuffs at the office.”

“Be my guest.” Jacoby tossed Reno his handcuffs. By the time Bonnie and Mosby crawled out of the Mazda and run the short distance to the cruiser, Carl Stone was handcuffed and Barry Reno was reading him his rights.

Jacoby was surprised to see Mosby standing next to Bonnie Jaffe. “What are you doing here, Ellis?”

“I got tired of hanging around the hospital and decided to go looking for Stone myself.”

“I’m sure glad he did, Jacoby. I was about thirty seconds from being shish-ka-bob when he showed up. I don’t think we’ve been introduced. I’m Bonnie Jaffe.” She extended her hand.

“Mosby Ellis” he said taking her hand. “Pleasure to meet you.”

“I hate to break this up, but I still don’t understand how you knew where to find Stone.”

“I don’t either, Detective. Let’s just say it came to me in a dream.”

“Well you can tell me about it later.”

Two Fairfax County cruisers had just arrived on the scene. Jacoby walked over and spoke briefly to one of the officers then returned to where Mosby was standing with Bonnie Jaffe. They’re calling a tow truck for you Mosby. They’ll wait here and then give the two of you a ride back to Reno’s office.

“I’d rather stay here if that’s okay, Detective. I just want to go to sleep. I promise I’ll come in tomorrow so you can take my statement.”

“Are you sure you’re going to be all right here alone, Bonnie? You’ve been through quite an ordeal. Maybe you should be examined by a doctor.”

“I’m tougher than I look. I’ll be fine.”

“Okay. Here’s my card. Give me a call tomorrow, okay?”

She took the card and walked toward the house. When she had taken a few steps she turned around and blew him a kiss.


Chapter Sixty-Seven

Jacoby had sprinted out of the office to his car with Barry Jones at his heels. Jones barely had time to slam the car door closed before Jacoby peeled out of the parking lot.

Jones fastened his seat belt and looked apprehensively at Jacoby. “Where are we going, Jack? If you don’t slow down I’m going to have to give you a speeding ticket.” In response, Jacoby clamped a flashing blue light to the roof and turned on the siren of his unmarked police car. Jones was grateful that it was after 2:00 AM and there was almost no traffic on Route 7.

When Jacoby made the left onto Georgetown Pike, it dawned on Barry Jones where they were heading.

“Why are we going to the Senator’s house?”

“Because that’s where Carl Stone is.”

As he drove, Jacoby told Jones about his suspicions. “Even full of liquor, something tells me that Bonnie Jaffe is a woman that keeps her wits about her. She tried to tell that dim-witted officer I sent her home with that something was wrong at the house, but he was too thick headed to listen to her.”

“You might be right, but how can you be so sure he’s still there? Why would he hang around the Senator’s house?”

“Because he hadn’t finished what he’d come to do.”

“What’s that, Jacoby?”

“Kill Bonnie Jaffe.”

At that moment a terrified Bonnie was sitting in her husband’s leather chair next to the fireplace. It was the same chair Jaffe had been sitting in when he’d told Stone how he’d killed Victoria Sherwood. Carl Stone was standing in front of Bonnie Jaffe holding a long knife. She swallowed hard. She knew if she had any chance of surviving she was going to have to think of a way to delay Stone long enough for Jacoby to get there. She tried to estimate how long it would take him to get to her.

“Carl, stop and think for a moment about what you’re doing. I’m Stuart’s wife for God’s sake. My husband would be livid if he knew what you were doing right now.”

“He’ll thank me. He hasn’t loved you for a long time. I’m doing him a favor.”

“You’re insane, Carl. How do you think Stu is going to react when he finds out that you killed the mother of his children?”

“You’re a loose end, Mrs. Jaffe. I don’t like loose ends and neither does the Senator. You shouldn’t have gone to the police. If you hadn’t done to the police maybe this wouldn’t have been necessary. I could have let you go. I might have even driven you to the airport. But it’s too late now. You’re going to have to die, Mrs. Jaffe.”

She was beyond terrified. Her hands gripped the leather arms of the chair while her mind searched for a way out of her predicament. Maybe this was her fault. It was her insane jealousy that had landed her in this mess. She had lived with her husband’s infidelity for years but when she had been confronted with it earlier that night something snapped. Nothing had mattered anymore. Not her marriage. Not the celebrity. Not the distinction of being the wife of a U.S. Senator. Nothing mattered except for revenge.

“I need a drink, Carl. You can do that for me can’t you? I always told myself I didn’t want to die sober.”

Carl laughed. Bonnie had never heard him laugh before. It wasn’t a pleasant sound. “Sure, Mrs. Jaffe. You can have a drink. But you’ll have to make it yourself because, as you can see, I’ve got my hands full at the moment.” He gestured to the bar next to the fireplace. “Be my guest.”

She got up and inched her way to the bar. She had to move slowly because the blade of Stone’s knife was pressed against her throat. She managed to fill one of Jaffe crystal glasses with whiskey but instead of bringing the glass to her lips she hurled the liquid into Stone’s face. He dropped the knife and pressed his palms against his eyes. Bonnie took advantage of his momentary confusion to swing the nearby poker toward his head. He fell, giving her a chance to run for the front door. Behind her she could hear Stone stumbling to his feet and cursing.


Chapter Sixty-Six

Mosby was dreaming. He was dreaming about a woman in a multi-colored skirt dancing around a crackling campfire. She was laughing. She was laughing at him. She was singing.

Gelem Gelem lungone dromenca,
Maladilem chorore romenca.
Gelem Gelem lungone dromenca,
Maladilem baxtale romenca.

Ala voliv lake kale jakha,
Kaj si gugle sar duj kale drakha.
Ala voliv lake kale jakha,
Kaj si gugle sar duj kale drakha.

"Sing with me, Mosby. I have taught you this song. Sing it with me."

Mosby woke up. It took him a moment to remember where he was. He had fallen asleep on a couch in the hospital lobby. The words of Djelem, Djelem were still on his lips. It was an old Romani folk song. He had often listened to Lilly sing it while she cooked her stews. One day Mosby had asked her to teach it to him. He thought it might be fun to share it with his fifth graders. But then Lilly translated the lyrics for him. The song that had been so romantic before he knew its meaning had taken on the heartbreak that was the story of the Romani people.

Oh, Roma, from wherever you have come
With your tents along lucky roads
I too once had a large family
But the black legion murdered them
Come with me, Roma of the world
To where the Romani roads have been opened
Now is the time - stand up, Roma,
We shall succeed where we make the effort.

Now Lilly had also been murdered. Mosby had done all he could to save her, but still he felt responsible. He looked at his watch. It was 2:00 A.M. In a few hours he would have to face a roomful of fifth graders. How could he do that when the person who murdered his best friend was still free? We shall succeed where we make the effort.

Mosby sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. “Lilly, Lilly, Lilly” he whispered. The lobby was empty except for the policeman at the elevator and the old woman at the information desk. It looked like she was napping. “I feel so helpless just sitting here while the monster who killed you is out there somewhere. What would he do? Where would he go?”

He stood up and walked to the entrance and looked out at the parking pavilion where he had last seen Carl Stone. He knew that from there he had gone to Charlottesville where he held Pete Britt at knifepoint until he saw the tape of her boss being arrested. Then he’d fled. Where? It was obvious he would be trying to do something to help the Senator. But where was he? Suddenly it came to him. He pushed the door open and jogged across Hospital Drive to the parking pavilion. His plan was nearly stymied at the exit. He only had three dollars in his pocket. “I’ll bring you the rest later, promise.” The parking attendant had been sympathetic and had opened the gate for him to exit. The traffic was light on Irving Street. Mosby only had a vague idea of how to get where he was going. He’d just have to trust Lilly’s spirit to guide him. As he drove, he sang. Kaj si gugle sar duj kale drakha.


Saturday, November 24, 2007

Chapter Sixty-Five

Harold was awakened from a deep sleep by Fanny thrashing about in her sleep. She was turning her head from one side to the other and flailing at something with her fists. “Fanny. Wake up, honey. You’re having a bad dream.” He put his arms around her and tried to hold her still. “It’s all right, Fanny. You’re safe.”

“Harold. It was awful.”

“It was just a dream. Close your eyes and go back to sleep. I’m right here.”

“No, Harold. It wasn’t a dream. It was real. I saw it.”

“What did you see, Fanny?” He knew what she was going to say, but for some reason he needed to hear it from her.

“I was asleep on the sofa in that tattoo parlor. Something woke me. I checked my watch. It was about 3:00. I’d been asleep for a few hours. I remember I felt like I needed to get to a telephone and call you could come and pick me up. I wanted you to go with me to the police to report my…” She hesitated. “…to report the abduction.”

“Fanny. Are you sure you want to go on? You don’t have to do this now?”

“Yes, I do, Harold. I pushed back the curtain. The red haired woman was in the back of the shop talking to a man. I only saw him from the back. Suddenly I saw the man lift his arm. He was holding a knife. I saw him plunge the knife into her face. After that, it’s all a blank. The next thing I remember is standing over her with that knife in my hand.”

“Tomorrow you can tell the police what you’ve remembered, but right now you need to sleep.”

Fanny closed her eyes. In a few minutes her breathing slowed to a steady rhythm. Harold had slept next to her long enough to know she was asleep. He’d lain next to her many nights, battling insomnia, envying the ease with which his wife fell asleep. He lay there a long time, just listening to her breathe. But he no longer envied her. She had lived through a lifetime of nightmares in the past three days.

Meanwhile forty miles away in Great Falls, Virginia, Bonnie Jaffe had woken up to a real life nightmare. She’d had the presence of mind to mumble “Sorry you’ve got the wrong number” before bolting out of bed and racing through the open door of the bedroom. When she reached the top of the stairs she heard the footsteps of her pursuer. In the seconds it took her to descend the stairs the realization formed in her brain that whoever it was had probably been lurking in the closet the whole time. Just has her hand grasped the knob of the front door she felt the blade of a knife press against her throat.


Chapter Sixty-Four

Stuart Jaffe was silent during the short ride from the Fifth District Station to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center where he was placed fingerprinted and photographed. “Remove your shirt, please. The young officer removed the camera from the tripod and walked across the room. “Turn to your right please.”

Jaffe realized he was taking close up photographs of the tattoo on his left shoulder.

“Hold still, Senator. We’re almost done.” He took a few more pictures, checked the monitor and returned the camera to the table. “Okay, sir. You can put your shirt on. We’re done.”

Another officer came in and took him to a private holding cell. “Normally you’d be required to wear a pair of orange coveralls, but since you’re a Senator they’re letting you wear your own clothes. You’ll have to give me your belt and shoelaces however.”

Jaffe looked up at the grinning, round-faced officer. He couldn’t have been more than twenty-two. He was probably going to enjoy telling all his buddies how he locked up a United States Senator. Jaffe remove his laces and his belt and handed them over. He still hadn’t uttered a word - not since Jacoby had told him about his wife’s visit.

At that moment Jacoby and Barry Jones were waiting impatiently for the photographer to email Jones the pictures he had taken of Jaffe’s tattoo. Jones was holding photo of the dead girl’s body, waiting to compare her tattoo to the one on Jaffe’s shoulder. Jones’ computer beeped, indicating the file had been received.

“Moment of truth.” “Jones clicked on the attachment and the two men waited while the image of a tattoo slowly opened up on the screen. “What in the hell is that?”

“It’s an eagle, Barry. I am going to kill Ellis.”

“Not so fast, Jacoby. What’s that?”

Jacoby watched as Jones zoomed in on the bottom right hand corner of the tattoo. “Correct me if I’m wrong, Jacoby, but I see a symbol there at the bottom of the tattoo. Like a signature. Does that look like a dog to you?”

Jacoby looked where Jones was pointing. Damn if he wasn’t right. “We need to find out if Dennis Doggett - better known as ‘Dog’ - had a habit of signing his work.”

“I’ll be right back.” Jones left Jacoby to study the tattoo. He found the officer who had taken the photograph still at his computer. “Sam, I wonder if you can do something for me.” He handed him the photograph of the dead girl’s tattoo. “Can you compare that to the picture you just took of Jaffe’s tattoo?”

“Sure, but they’re totally different. What am I looking for?”

“It’s just a hunch, Sam, but I have a feeling that buried somewhere in that eagle, you’ll find a little cherub.”

Jones decided not to share his speculation with Jacoby until he found out whether he was right. When he got back to his office Jacoby was hanging up the phone. He looked concerned.

“Is something the matter?”

“I’m not sure. I just called my office to get someone to check on whether Doggett signed his work and I talked to the guy that took Bonnie Jaffe home.”

“Yeah? She got home okay and he brought the letters back, right?”

Jacoby nodded. “It’s probably nothing but he mentioned something about her thinking the lights were different from the way she left them and the letters weren’t on the desk they were upstairs. I just have a bad feeling in my gut. Bonnie Jaffe isn’t the kind of woman who gets that kind of stuff mixed up. Do you have Jaffe’s home number handy?”

Jones bent over his computer and punched a few keys. “Here it is.”

Jacoby dialed the number. Bonnie Jaffe picked up after two rings. “Hello?” She sounded like she’d been asleep.

“Bonnie. Don’t say anything. Just listen. I want you to get out of the house as fast as you can. I’ll be there as quickly as I can. Just get out of the house.”

Jones look puzzled. “What’s going on?”

“Come on, let’s go. I’ll explain on the way.”


Chapter Sixty-Three

Sunday Morning

It was almost 2:00 AM, but Pete was still awake. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw the knife. Despite the fact that his apartment was being watched by two armed officers, he was still anxious. Maybe it was the combination of everything his family had gone through since Thursday. He opened a text book and tried to study but he found himself reading the same paragraph again and again.

He picked up the phone on the first ring. "Hello?" It was his father.

"Did I wake you?"

"No. I was awake. How's Mom?"

"Her long term memory has come back but she's still confused about recent events. That's why I didn't call you earlier. The doctor was here asking her questions and then he tried to explain to me what he thought was going on. I'll admit, most of the time it was like he was talking in another language. Anterograde amnesia. Retrograde amnesia. I'm totally confused. Your mom is resting now. Anyway. How are you doing?"

"I'm okay. Just a little jittery. The police are watching my apartment but they're pretty sure whoever it was is miles away by now."

Harold debated whether he should tell his son he had been face to face with the man who had probably killed Petulengro and Doggett and who knows how many others, but Pete had already put it together.

"I know this is all connected, but I just don't know how. Why did the guy want you to bring Mom down here? "

"I talked to Jerry Benson after the doctor left tonight. He told me the police think the man was Carl Stone. He works for Senator Jaffe. They think Stone killed the woman in the tattoo parlor - the one your mother found. And they think he is worried that she may have seen him there and he wants to be sure she doesn't tell anyone."

Pete could hear the catch in his father's voice. It would have been torture for him realize that someone was planning to kill his wife. After a moment, his father continued. "Stone was spotted here at the hospital earlier today. He ran when he realized he'd been recognized. The police figure that he concluded it was going to be impossible to get to your mom here so he came up with the idea to lure her down there."

Now it was Pete's turn to be overwhelmed. "He was right here. Why did he run away?"

"Jerry figures when he saw Jaffe on the news being taken away in handcuffs he ignored everything but getting back here and saving his boss. The man's a psychopath, Pete. He's irrational. His actions aren't going to make sense."

"You're beginning to sound like a tv profiler, Pop. They haven't taken away the guard at Mom's door, have they?"

"No. In fact they have added one in the lobby and another at the nurses' station up the hall. Plus Mosby Ellis, a friend of the woman your mom found, is still downstairs. He's the one who spotted Stone this afternoon and he's determined to make sure the man who killed his friend behind bars."

"Well, I spent almost two hours looking at him. I'll be seeing his face in my sleep - if I ever sleep. I'm coming up there."

As much as Harold wanted his son to be with him, he knew he was safer there. "No, Pete. Absolutely not. You stay there. I have enough to worry about with your mom."

"What is it you're not telling me, Pop?"

"The doctor thinks that - he could be wrong - but he thinks your mom actually saw Stone stab that woman. He thinks that's the event your mom is blocking out." Harold realized he still hadn't told Pete that his mother had been abducted and almost killed in a car crash. He figured he had enough to worry about. "Just try to get some sleep, Pete. That's what I'm going to do. I'll call you when I know more, okay?"

"Okay, Pop. But just don't keep stuff from me. I'm not a kid anymore."

"Deal. I love you, Son."

"I love you too, Pop."

Harold stood over his wife's bed for a few minutes watching her sleep. She seemed so peaceful. He took off his shoes and crawled in next to her. Within minutes he was sound asleep.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Chapter Sixty-Two

Bonnie Jaffe walked through the front door followed by a uniformed officer. “I don’t remember leaving that light on.”

They came inside and went straight to the Senator’s office. “I left them right here on the desk. Someone has taken them.”

The officer looked at her suspiciously. “You’re quite sure that this is where you left the letters?” He opened and closed the drawers and looked under and around the desk. “They’re not here. Have you checked your purse? Maybe you took them with you without remembering.”

“No. They were right there.”

Carl Stone listened from the guestroom upstairs. He knew that in a few minutes the policeman would leave. Bonnie Jaffe would come upstairs alone after stopping briefly at the bar to pour herself a liberal ration of the Senator’s whiskey. He only had to wait. She’d been to the police. He could imagine what she’d told him. If she’d read the letters – and he was sure that she had – she knew about the Senator’s affair with Victoria Sherwood. Somehow she had managed to connect Sherwood to the murdered girl and she had gone to the police to tell them her husband was a killer. When she came upstairs he’d give her time to finish her drink then he’d kill her. If anyone deserved to die, she did.

“Officer, before your leave, would you walk through the house and make sure he’s not here.” Bonnie Jaffe was worried. The person who took the letters could still be in the house.

The officer wasn’t anxious to get back. Detective Jacoby wasn’t going to be pleased when he showed up without the letters. Not to mention the fact that Mrs. Jaffe seemed genuinely concerned. “Sure. You wait here, Mrs. Jaffe. I’ll take a look around.

As the officer reached the top of the stairs there was a noise from the room on his right. He drew his revolver. “Come out with your hands above your head.”

On the other side of the door Stone cursed silently and looked anxiously around the room for somewhere to hide. He slipped into the closet just as the bedroom door opened. He cursed the Senator’s wife and the cursed himself for being so careless. From his hiding place, he listened as the officer moved about the room.

“Mrs. Jaffe. I told you to stay downstairs.” The bitch must have followed the officer upstairs.

“I was nervous down there by myself. Why do you have your gun drawn?”

“I thought I heard something in here, but it must have been those blinds.” The wind was blowing through the open window causing the wooden blinds to clatter against the sill. He closed the window. “You’ve got me jumpy now.” He left her alone in the guest room and went across the hall to the Senator’s room. He continued until he had checked the whole house.

When he returned, Mrs. Jaffe was sitting on the bed holding the letters. “I feel like an idiot. I must have brought them upstairs with me. They were lying right here on the bed.” She handed the letters to the officer. On the other side of the closet door, Stone bit his lip to keep from cursing out loud. He had been sitting on the bed holding the letters when he’d heard the car doors slam. He must have left them behind when he went to the window to look out.

“I’ve been through the whole house, Mrs. Jaffe. There’s no one here. You’ve had a long day. Why don’t you try to get some sleep? I can see myself out. Good night.”

“Good night, officer. Thank you.”

Bonnie Jaffe heard the front door close. She considered going downstairs for a drink but suddenly she was too tired to move. Too tired even to change into her gown. She slipped off her shoes and turned off the light on the bedside table. The officer was right. It had been a long day.


Chapter Sixty-One

“Harold? Harold what happened? Where I am?”

If he hadn’t been so concerned, Harold would have laughed. Why did amnesiacs always say “Where am I?” He kissed Fanny on the cheek and took her hands in his. “You’re in the hospital, honey. Stay calm.” He buzzed for the nurse.

The room intercom crackled. “How can I help you?”

“My wife is awake. Please let the doctor know. He said he’d be in his office.”

Fanny sat up. “Harold. Why am I in the hospital? My head hurts. Was I in an accident?”

“Yes, honey. But you’re going to be all right. Everything’s going to be all right. How are you feeling other than your head?” He didn’t want to say anything about her loss of memory until the doctor got there.

“I’m hungry. Do you think you could find something for me to eat? And I don’t mean beets and walnuts. I feel like a nice thick steak”

“Of course, I can…” He stopped. “What did you say about beets and walnuts?”

“Don’t tell me you’ve been cheating on your diet? How long have I been in here?” A cloud of distress passed across her face. “Harold, something awful happened.”

Harold noticed that the door had opened and the doctor had come in. “Fanny, this is Dr. Wright. He has been taking care of you.” Fanny looked at the doctor but it was obvious to Harold that she had no idea who he was.

Harold left his wife and walked across the room. He spoke softly to the doctor. “What’s going on? I don’t understand. When she woke up she didn’t know where she was, but she could remember the diet that Dr. Burger prescribed for me.”

The doctor approached the bed. “Fanny, do you know who I am?”

“I know you’re Dr. Wright. I know you’ve been taking care of me. Harold just told me that. But I honestly don’t remember meeting you before. But I have met you, haven’t I?”

“When I came in, Fanny, I heard you say to Harold that something awful had happened. What did you mean by that?”

“I’m not sure. It’s as though there is a separate part of me, and that part is aware of things that this part of me isn’t. I don’t know how to explain it. Doctor, did you ever wake up from a dream and you knew it was a very bad dream even though you couldn’t remember what the dream was actually about? The dream still affects you. It’s like that. Only it wasn’t a dream. I am sure that something awful really did happen.”

“Let’s change the subject, shall we Fanny? This will be easier for you. I am just going to as you a series of questions. Is that all right?”

She nodded. “Yes, doctor.” She patted the bed. “Harold, come here and sit next to me.”

“Okay, Fanny. Can you tell me where you live?”

“I live at 2233 Ingleside Drive in Falls Church. I thought these questions were going to be harder.”

“Where did you go to college?”

“William and Mary.”

The doctor looked at Harold who nodded.

“How many children do you have, Fanny?”

“One son – Peter. He’s in a Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Med Program at U. Va.”

“When did you see your son last?”

“Let me see. It was early August. He left for Charlottesville early to get settled.” She suddenly looked confused. “Wait a minute. It’s happening again.”

“What’s happening, Fanny?

“That awareness I was talking about a moment ago. A vague recollection. It’s got something to do with Peter. Is Peter all right, doctor? Has something happened to Peter?”

“Peter’s fine, Fanny. Nothing has happened to him. But Peter was here earlier today. You talked to him. Try to remember, Fanny. Can you recall talking to your son this morning?”

She closed her eyes tightly and gripped Harold’s hand as though she were trying to tap into her husband’s memories. “I remember waking up in this room. Harold was standing there.”

“Before that, Fanny. What’s the last thing you remember before that? Just lie back and close your eyes. Don’t force yourself. Just tell me the last thing you remember before you woke up a few minutes ago?”

“I remember parking the car in the driveway and walking up to our front door with the groceries. I put the bags down next to the door.”

“Why did you do that? What stopped you from going into the house?”

She looked at Harold guiltily. “I'd bought a candy bar at the checkout counter. It was a pretty morning. I decided to go over to my bench and sit for a while and enjoy my candy bar without having to listen to Arlo barking at me the whole time.”

“Our dog is a little spoiled, doctor.” Harold shook his finger at Fanny. “So you’ve been sneaking candy bars while I’ve been denying myself.”

She smiled. “That was the first one. Honest.” Suddenly her smile faded. The same troubled expression. Harold had seen earlier darkened her face.

“Mrs. Britt. What are you remembering now?”

“A car stopped and a man got out and walked up to me. He said something had happened to Harold and I had to go with him right then. I resisted. The man struck me. I must have lost consciousness. I woke up in the backseat of a car. The man was in the front seat. The car was parked. I didn’t recognize the area. The man was shouting at me. He said I had ruined his life. That his wife had left him and he was going to make me pay.

He started the car. He was driving like a maniac. It was impossible for me to keep my balance because my hands were bound. I was thrown from one side of the car to another. I would have screamed but there was tape across my mouth. I don’t know how long he drove like that. Suddenly, the tires squealed and the car began to spin. The next thing I knew I was waking up in a ditch.” She smiled miserably. “I’ve sure been waking up in some strange placed lately.”

“Did you recognize the man, Fanny?”

She nodded. “After he said that thing about his wife leaving him and how I had ruined his life, I realized it was Abby’s husband. Abby is the woman I sponsor, doctor.” She looked at Harold. “You were right, honey. He was crazy. I should never have gotten involved.”

There was so much that Harold wanted to know. It took all of his restraint to keep himself from disrupting the doctor’s sequence of questions. It was actually Fanny who interrupted. “Doctor, one thing I remember is how hungry I am. I realize it’s late, but I would really like something to eat. I’d told Harold I wanted a steak. I’ll settle for a burger and fries or a couple of slices of pepperoni pizza.”

“I think we can arrange that. I have a couple of more questions but I suppose they can wait. I’m sure the police will have some questions themselves. No need to put you through needless interrogations. I am most curious about what caused your physical and psychological trauma. You had two head injuries. One can be explained by the blow you received initially when you were forced into the vehicle.” Fanny winced as the doctor touched an area on her left temple. “Do you have any idea how you received this injury at the back of your head?”

“It must have gotten it during the crash. I was thrown from the car. I woke up in a ditch. I don’t remember seeing any sign of the wreck but I was just intent on getting away. This is where it starts getting jumbled.”

“That’s enough for now. Harold and I are going to see what we can do about finding you something to eat. If you need anything, just buzz for the nurse. We’ll be right back.” The doctor motioned for Harold to come with him.

When the door had closed behind them the doctor spoke to the guard. "Make sure she is not disturbed. Mr. Britt and I will be right back." When they were some distance away he continued. “I think something else happened after the accident. That’s the only thing that would explain this patchy, erratic recall. People with anterograde amnesia often cannot remember the trauma that caused their memory loss as well as some memories of events just before the trauma. The theory is that this loss of past memories, or retrograde amnesia, occurs because harm to the hippocampus has disrupted the process of consolidation, by which recent memories are gradually transformed into enduring long-term memories. The combination of anterograde amnesia plus partial retrograde amnesia is quite common. Collectively, it's often known as simply ‘amnesia. The symptoms exhibited by your wife cause me to think there were two distinct psychological traumas. I believe the first was the kidnapping and accident. It’s too early for us to speculate about the second.”

“Wouldn’t it be the discovery of the body? Certainly that would qualify as a traumatic event.”

“Your wife strikes me as a resilient woman, Harold. In my opinion it would have required something much more devastating to trigger your wife’s memory loss. If I’m not mistaken, Harold, your wife witnessed the murder.”


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Chapter Sixty

“Well we may have solved the Virginia murder, but we still can’t tie Jaffe to the death of Lillian Petulengro.” Chambers reached over and patted Jacoby on the shoulder. “Look at the bright side. You’re going to have the satisfaction of telling Barry Jones you’ve caught his killer.”

“That may have to wait. I doubt whether I’ll have much luck reaching him this late on a Saturday night. He’s probably all tucked in reading the latest issue of Technology for the Law Enforcement Officer”

“You made that up, right?”

Jacoby nodded.

“I thought so. Anyway you’re wrong. Jones heard about what happened at the fundraiser and he’s waiting outside. Shall I have him come in?”

Jacoby wasn’t surprised. Jones was a good cop. He hoped they could work together. If he was going to link Jaffe to the Lillian Petulengro murder he was going to need some help from Jones.

“Jacoby, nice black eye you’ve got there.”

“You ought to see the other guy.” Jacoby got up and walked across the room to shake hands with a grinning Barry Jones. “You realize you’re probably not going to be invited to any more of the Senator’s shindigs, don’t you Barry?”

“I think I'm pretty good at reading ADA’s and judging from the Cheshire Cat grin on Chambers’ face, I don’t think Jaffe's going to be throwing any parties for the next fifteen to twenty years.”

“He’s looking good for your murder, Barry, but I don’t have enough to charge him with mine. And, of course, men like Jaffe have a way of squirming out of tight spots. You still have your work cut out for you.”

“Catch me up.” Jones helped himself to a cup of coffee and sat down.

“We have an angry wife who has identified your Jane Doe as Victoria Sherwood. Ms. Sherwood has been having an affair with the Senator. Mrs. Jaffe found some letters from the deceased to her husband when she went through her husband's desk tonight. I guess something I said to her at the fundraiser must have raised some suspicions.”

“Where is Mrs. Jaffe now?

"After she finished dictating her statement I had one of my guys drive her home. She’s had quite a bit to drink tonight. I also wanted him to pick up those letters. Based on what Mrs. Jaffe said, they make pretty interesting reading.”

“Good idea. Is there anything else? He knew the victim. He didn’t come forward to identify her. He’ll just say he wanted to keep the affair a secret from his wife.”

“Exactly. That’s why it’s critical to your case that we prove that he did more than just fail to admit an affair. He directed Carl Stone to murder an innocent woman because she could tie the Senator to the victim.”

“What about the third murder? The one out in Calvert County? How is that connected to this, Jacoby?”

“I haven’t figured that out yet. Maybe you and I will have a chance to ask the Senator about that.”

“Has he been charged with anything yet?”

“No. What would I charge him with? Taking a punch at an annoying party crasher? Before Mrs. Jaffe showed up, I was about to let him go. Instead, I guess I’ll be releasing him to your custody.”

“Correct. We’re going to be charging him with obstruction. That will give us enough time make our case for the murder of Victoria Sherwood.”


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Chapter Fifty-Nine

Victoria had been in love with the Senator since she was fifteen. When she was sixteen she seduced him in the swimming pool of her parent’s home. He’d driven her home. After sitting in the car and talking for a while, she'd invited him inside to say hello to her parents. She’d known her parents weren’t home but he didn’t. She suggested he fix himself a drink. “I’m sure they’ll be back soon. I’m going to have a swim and cool off. I’m just going to run up and change. Make yourself at home.”

She came down ten minutes later wearing the most revealing bikini he’d ever seen. “I lied. My parents are at the Cape for the weekend. Wouldn’t you like to have a swim with me? There’s no harm in that, is there, Senator Jaffe?”

He’d said something foolish like “I won’t tell if you won’t” and in a few minutes he was splashing around in a pool with his daughter’s best friend.

It had continued that way for the next two years until her family moved away. Jaffe had actually been relieved when she was gone. He realized he was taking too many chances. They’d almost been caught several times. Jaffe had almost put Victoria out of his mind when he’d run into her that spring while he was in Philadelphia addressing a group of investment bankers. He hadn’t recognized her at first. “Hello, Senator. It’s hot. Why don’t we have a swim and cool off.”

Victoria was working as an events planner. After she and the Senator resumed their relationship she tried to arrange a reassignment to Washington, DC but it didn’t work out. They saw each other as often as they could. She’d take the Acela down to DC and stay at The Mayflower. She delighted in sending him off-colored cards and long, steamy letters in which she professed her love for him. She never really loved him. She loved the idea of have an affair with a powerful man.

Toward the end it had stopped being fun for both of him. He was preoccupied with the November election. Victoria felt taken for granted and resented the fact that they never went out in public. “Other girls my age get to go to clubs and parties. You never take me anywhere. I want to have some fun, Stuart.”

He began to wonder if she was worth the aggravation. Twice he tried to end the affair but both times he called her and begged her to come down to see him. Both times she came. He had noticed recently that the balance had shifted in their relationship. Victoria had taken control. She became more and more demanding of his time and attention when they were together. At times he reminded him of his wife. A couple of times he actually called her Bonnie by mistake. “I’m not your damn wife, Stu, although sometimes I can understand why she left you. You can be such a selfish bastard. You never think of anyone but yourself. I’m surprised she stayed with you as long as she did.” He clinched his fists to keep from hitting her. He knew if he ever lifted a hand against her he might not stop until it was too late. Best to keep the anger buried deep inside. Anger was an emotion that men in his position couldn’t afford.

He’d learned that lesson as a young boy. Lindsey Jaffe had hidden his emotions. Denied his rage. Stuart had seen it though. He had seen the white patches under his father’s cheek bones, the bulging veins at his temples and the fists clinched against his sides. He’d secretly watched his father stand stock-still while his mother pounded against his bare chest until red whelps formed. She had pummeled him until her rage was spent. When she finally stopped his father had turned without a word and walked calmly out of the room. Stuart never saw his father strike his mother. When his mother had been found beaten to death beside her car at the end of a dirt road Stuart watched as his father organized the search for her killer. He watched as his father wept over her closed coffin and as he was consoled by his friends. They never apprehended the person who killed his mother. But Stuart knew the truth.

The tattoos had been a concession to Victoria’s incessant demands. An attempt to quiet her. It had been a mistake. He resented her more than ever. He was repulsed by the stain on his shoulder. His bitterness against her grew until it turned to revulsion. Now she was gone and he still carried the mark. He’d carry it until he died.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chapter Fifty-Eight

Traffic had been heavy on Route 29 and it took every bit of Carl Stone’s patience to keep his speed down when he finally merged onto I-66. He knew he couldn’t afford to get pulled over. By now the kid had probably given the police his description and they would be looking for him. His only hope was that no one had tied him to Stuart Jaffe. Maybe he’d made a mistake leaving a witness. It was too late to worry about that now. He had to get back and figure out how to get the Senator out harm’s way.

When he got to the house in Great Falls he drove by the house slowly. The house was dark. The garage door was open and the Navigator wasn’t there. There didn’t appear to be anyone watching the house. He circled through the neighborhood and drove past again to be sure. He was comfortable that there was no one there. He parked his Honda a couple of streets away and walked back to the house and let himself in and turned on the light in the foyer.

He went directly to the Senator’s office. The first thing he noticed was that someone had ransacked the office. The desk had been pried open. A twisted letter opener rested on top of a stack of letters. He picked up the letters. They were all from that woman. Stone couldn’t believe the Senator had saved them. He stuffed the letters in his pocket without reading them. He would destroy them later.

Only a few people could have been in the house and only one would have had the daring to break into the Senator’s desk. Stone hurried upstairs to see in Bonnie Jaffe was still in the house. He looked in the guest room first. The bed had been slept in but there was no sign of Mrs. Jaffe. Stone sat down on the unmade bed and tried to imagine what would have motivated her to rummage around in her husband’s office. He knew he couldn’t avoid the more critical questions. Where was she now and who was she talking to?


Chapter Fifty-Seven

“Nurse, could you call down to the cafeteria and have them let Mr. Britt know that his wife is resting comfortably now. I want to talk to her when she wakes up, but it might be helpful for him to be here when I do.” He glanced at the open laptop on the bedside table. He felt sure that something in that email message must have triggered the reaction. Memory loss was almost always an indicator of a traumatic event, but what made it so difficult to analyze was that the nature of the event was locked in the mind of the patient.

The door opened and Harold Britt came in. “How is she, doctor?”

“Her blood pressure and heart rate have returned to normal and she appears to be resting comfortably now. Do you have any idea why your wife would have had such an extreme reaction to this email?”

“Fanny had been giving Abby advice on a number of thing– including some thorny issues related to her marriage.” Harold could tell that the doctor was puzzled. “Fanny is Abby’s AA sponsor, doctor.”

“I understand. I did see in Fanny’s history that she’d been sober for a number of years. How long has she sponsored Abby?”

“About two years. They met when Abby started going to Fanny’s home group.”

“Did you know Abby’s husband?”

Harold nodded. “He was in the program too. I met him at one of the meetings I go to. Richard had a reputation for being a hot head. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of Fanny sponsoring Abby. I’d heard a rumor that he’d made some threats against his wife’s previous sponsor.”

“Did you know about the accident?”

“Yes, Abby left a telephone message for Fanny saying that Richard had been killed in a car crash. I didn’t tell Fanny about the call. Abby said she’d told Richard recently that she was going to leave him. She said she thought he was going to kill her.”

“Was your wife acquainted with Richard?”

“No. I don’t think she ever met him. With everything else that has happened, doctor, I just don’t understand why his death – as tragic as it is – would have affected her so severely.” He sat down in the chair next to his wife’s bed. “Oh, Fanny” he whispered. ”I wish you could tell us what happened to you.”

“I think she is trying to tell us, Harold. When she wakes up have the nurse call me immediately, I will be in my office.”


Monday, November 19, 2007

Chapter Fifty-Six

“We want our client released immediately. You know as well as I do you have no reason to hold him.”

Felton Chambers had been waiting in Jacoby’s office when he arrived. Now he was in the next room seated across a table from Jaffe’s attorneys listening, but not responding, to their demands. Jacoby was impressed to find the young Assistant U.S. Attorney waiting for him but frustrated that Jaffe’s attorneys had been there too. Chambers had instructed him to wait in his office while he talked to the two attorneys. “You’ve done your job. Now let me do mine. And, Jacoby, under no circumstances are you to have any contact with Jaffe. Is that understood?”


“Okay. Looks like you’re going to have a real shiner there. The Senator really got you good, didn’t he? Don’t look so gloomy, Jacoby. We’ve got him just where we want him. Why don’t you go grab yourself a sandwich?”

Jacoby sat at his desk for a while pushing papers around. When he tired of going that he decided to take Chambers advice. He grabbed his coat and headed across the street for a sandwich. When he got back forty-five minutes later Bonnie Jaffe was waiting for him.
“I brought some things for Stuart. Toothbrush and a change of clothes. Is that okay?” Mrs. Jaffe had changed clothes herself. She was wearing an expensive looking knit pantsuit and comfortable looking shoes. The kind of clothes a woman chose when she was going to be traveling.

“Are you heading back to Oregon, Mrs. Jaffe?”

“Yes I am. And I asked you to call me Bonnie. Is it alright if I smoke in here?”

“Be my guest. I just quit a few days ago. After tonight, I may start again.”

Bonnie lit a cigarette and leaned back comfortably in her chair. She didn’t seem to be in any hurry.

“Is there something you want to know, Bonnie? You didn’t come all the way down here to bring your husband a change of clothes and a toothbrush.” She looked like she had recovered from the confrontation at the fundraiser and didn’t appear to be showing the effects of the drinks she had consumed earlier. “You didn’t drive yourself here did you, Bonnie?”

“I hope you’re not planning on arresting me for driving under the influence, Detective. I needed to ask you about the woman you suspect my husband was involved with. What did she look like?”

“She was blonde. In her mid-twenties. Pretty.”

“She took a photograph out of her purse. “Is this the girl?” She handed the picture to him. “The girl in the picture is a friend of my oldest daughter. Her name is Victoria Sherwood – or it was when I knew her. The picture is pretty old. It was taken about six years ago but it’s the only one I could find. Victoria and my daughter were inseparable when they were growing up. Shortly after the girls graduated from high school Victoria’s family moved away. I haven’t seen her since. Is that the girl, Detective Jacoby? Is that the girl that they found?”

“Yes, Bonnie. It’s her. How did you know?”

“I always suspected that my husband had a thing for Victoria. Stuart has a weakness for young girls. When I got home this evening I went through his desk and I found letters from this girl to my husband.”

“Bonnie, is it alright if I keep the picture?”

She nodded sadly. She looked nothing like the animated woman who had flirted with him a few hours earlier.

“I’m sorry to have to put you through this, Bonnie, but I need to have someone come in and take a statement from you. Would that be okay?”

Again, she nodded.

“I’ll be right back.

Jacoby walked next door to where Felton Chambers was still listening to Jaffe’s attorneys express their indignation. “Mr. Chambers, may I have a word with you please? It’s important.”

When he’d closed the door behind himself, Chambers gave Jacoby a wry smile. “Thanks. I needed a break from those two. What’s up?”

“We have an ID on the Virginia murder victim.” He handed the photo to Chambers. “Her name is Victoria Sherwood. I just learned from Mrs. Jaffe that she was an acquaintance of the Senator.”


Chapter Fifty-Five

The nurse had summoned the doctor who arrived in less than thirty minutes. Fanny’s condition had not changed. She hadn’t spoken a word since reading the email from Abby. After examining her briefly the doctor suggested to Harold that he wait in the hallway. “It will just be for a few minutes. I want to keep the surroundings as calm as possible until her brain has an opportunity to process whatever brought the shock on.”

When Harold protested, the doctor was adamant. “I understand your reluctance, Harold, but it will be better for your wife if we let her deal with this without any added strain. You can wait just outside the door.

Harold was pacing up and down the hallway Jerry Benson rushed up to let him know that he’d just heard from his friend at the Charlottesville Police Department. “Pete is safe. The police arrived to find him sitting just outside his front door tied to a kitchen chair.”

“What happened?”

“Apparently Stone showed up at Pete’s apartment about two hours ago. I guess it was Stone. Pete said the guy didn’t identify himself. The intruder placed a call to your home number and left a message instructing you to bring Fanny to Pete’s apartment in Charlottesville – or else.”

“How did Pete escape?”

“He didn’t. He told the police the guy just went nuts when he saw the news story about Senator Jaffe being arrested and ran out of the apartment like his hair was on fire. My guess is it was definitely Stone and when he learned that his boss had been taken into custody he raced off to bust him out of jail.”

“Jaffe was arrested?”

“Of course. You wouldn’t have heard about it. You remember how Jacoby said he was crashing a fundraiser for the Senator this evening? Well ‘crash’ was the operative word. Jaffe got upset and took a couple of swings at Jacoby. The Senator was arrested for assaulting an officer. Stone must have totally freaked when he saw the Senator being hauled away in handcuffs.”

“What do you think Stone is going to do next?”

Benson smiled. “Whatever it is, you don’t have to worry about Pete. His apartment will be watched by Charlottesville’s finest around the clock.”

Harold just shook his head. “I just don’t understand it, Jerry. How did my family sucked into this nightmare?”

“Hopefully it will be over soon. How’s Fanny doing?”

“She’s had a setback. It’s my fault. I let her check her email and there was a disturbing message from a woman she sponsors. It upset her. The doctor is in with her now.”

The stress caught up with Harold all of a sudden and he began to weep. Jerry put an arm around his shoulder and walked him up the hall, away from the guards. “Any man would crack under what you’ve been through the last couple of days. Come on. Let’s go outside for a few minutes. You need some air. You wait here. I’ll let the guards know where we’re going in case there is any change.”

Harold allowed Jerry to walk him to the elevator and watched as he pressed the button for the lobby. When the elevator doors opened, Mosby Ellis greeted them. “I’ve been watching the news. It doesn’t look like they’re going to be able to hold Jaffe. A pack of attorneys has descended on the Fifth District Police Station. Jacoby will be lucky if he doesn’t end up behind bars himself.”

“Don’t underestimate our friend Detective Jacoby. He’ll figure something out. Harold and I are going to grab a coffee. Why don’t you join us?”

“What about Stone?”

“He’s somewhere north of Charlottesville and I doubt very much if he’s going to be showing up here tonight. Come on. You look like you could use a cup of coffee. I know I can.”


Sunday, November 18, 2007

Chapter Fifty-Four

Pete tried to push the door closed but Stone forced his way inside and closed it behind himself. “Just back up slowly and take a seat. If you’re a good boy, maybe you’ll live to see your Mom and Dad again. That’s right. Nice and slow.” Without taking his eyes off of him he deftly cut the cord of a nearby lamp and used it to quickly lash Pete to a chair. “Now we’re going to make a call to your father. You’re going to tell him you’ve had an expected visitor who wants to talk to him.” He brought the telephone close to Pete. “What’s your home number?”


Stone dialed the number and held the receiver to Pete’s ear. Pete heard the phone ringing and then his mother’s voice on the outgoing message. “I’m getting their answering machine.”

Stone put the receiver to his own ear. “Mr. Britt. We’ve never met but I’m sitting here in your son’s apartment and we were thinking how nice it would be if you and Mrs. Britt joined us for a little visit. And Mr. Britt, let’s keep this little visit our little secret, okay? Because if anyone hears about this, it might not be too healthy for young Peter. We’ll be sitting here getting better acquainted while we wait for your call.” Stone hung up the telephone and clicked on the television. “What say we watch a little TV while we’re waiting for your dad to call us back?” He switched the channel to Fox. “Look at that. America’s Most Wanted. My favorite.” For the next forty-five minutes Stone silently watched television while tossing his knife from his left hand to his right. Every now and then he stood up and taunted Pete by bringing the knife closed to his face.

When the Ten O’clock News came on Stone got up and walked over to the telephone. “Guess we better make another call.” He hit redial, and started to bring the phone to his ear. His motion was abruptly stopped by what he saw on the screen. He was watching Senator Jaffe being led out of the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton. The announcer described the scene. “In a surprise development Senator Stuart Jaffe was taken into custody this evening at a fundraiser in Northern Virginia. His office has had no comment but we have learned that at the time of his arrest, the Senator was being questioned in connection with a series of recent homicides including the gruesome murder of Lillian Petulengro.”

Stone let the telephone drop from his hand and ran from the apartment. Through the open door Pete watched Stone get into his car and speed away toward the highway. Still lashed to the kitchen chair, Pete began to slide himself toward the open door.


Chapter Fifty-Three

“I think you’d better leave, Detective Jacoby.” Jaffe was having a difficult time regaining his composure. The knuckles of the hands that were still gripping his wife arm were white. Beads of perspiration glistened on his forehead.

Jacoby didn’t retreat. “Senator, I will leave as soon as you answer my question. What do you know about the murder of Lillian Petulengro?”

“Answer the man, Stuart. What’s all this about? Why is he asking about tattoos and murders and that detestable dwarf that is always hanging around you?”

Jaffe looked like he was going to be ill but he recovered enough to mount a weak offensive. “Bonnie, can’t you see that this is a stunt dreamed up by my opponent to discredit me? There is no truth to what this man is saying.”

“Senator you can answer my questions here or we can take a ride downtown. It’s up to you.” Jacoby knew he was bluffing but he was hoping the Senator didn’t. “The way I see it you had Stone murder Petulengro before she could link you to the murder of the blonde whose body was discovered just a few miles from here. You didn’t want her to tell anyone she’d given the two of you matching tattoos. Is that the way it was, Senator?”

Bonnie pulled her arm away from Jaffe’s grasp. “You low life, son of a bitch. I hope they fry you.” She punctuated her statement by spitting into her husband’s ashen face before storming away.

The crowed which had been watching in stunned silence as the scene unfolded now parted to allow Bonnie Jaffe to pass. Cameras flashed as Jacoby handed the Senator a handkerchief. He grabbed the handkerchief and flung it to the floor. “Your career is over, Jacoby. Before I’m through, you won’t be able to get a job as a crossing guard.” He turned and followed walked off in the direction his wife had done.

Jacoby called after him, loud enough for those standing near him to hear, “There’s just one thing I haven’t been able to figure out, Senator.” Jaffe froze. “Why did you and Stone have to kill Dennis Doggett?”

Before Jacoby could react the Senator had landed a crashing blow to left jaw. Cameras flashed again as Jacoby theatrically crumbled to the floor. When he was sure all the photographers had gotten a good shot he stood up and brushed himself off and announced loudly “Senator, you’re under arrest for assaulting an officer. You have the right to remain silent…” Before he could finish, Jaffe swung at him again. This time Jacoby ducked. He took Jaffe by the elbow and escorted him very slowly out of the ballroom.


Chapter Fifty-Two

“Harold, could you try Peter again. I’m getting worried. Maybe it’s because I don’t have a lifetime of memories to distract me but I can’t stop thinking that something has happened to him.”

Harold sat down next to Fanny and put his arm around her. “I’ll be right back. I’m going to go talk to Jerry for a minute.” He gave her a quick kiss. “I’ll be right back.”

“See you later, bye.”

“What did you say?”

“See you later, bye.”

“Honey. That’s kind of a little ‘thing’ we always said to each other. Don’t you see what that means? If you can remember things like that, it means you’re going to be able to recall other things soon.”

“I hope so, Harold. I feel like I am living in some kind of alternate reality. Hurry back.”

Jerry was sitting in front of the nurse’s station staring at the bank of elevators. He looked as exhausted as Harold felt. “I really appreciate what you’re doing, Jerry. I don’t think I could go through this alone.”

“You’d do the same for me, Harold. How’s Fanny doing?”

“She’s getting more and more frustrated at not being able to remember, but what’s really got her upset is not being able to contact Pete. He should have been home a long ago. We’ve tried his cell and his home phone. Nothing. Fanny thinks something has happened to him. Jerry, I’m worried too.”

Jerry frowned. He was worried too. “I’m going to call a friend of mind in the Charlottesville police department and have him take a ride by Pete’s apartment.”

“Do you think that’s necessary, Jerry?”

“I hope I’m just over-reacting, but I’ll feel better if someone checks on him. You go back in and try to keep Fanny calm.”

Harold returned to the room to find Fanny busy at her laptop again. He was relieved she’d found something to distract herself. Now he just needed to do the same. He had expected Jerry to dismiss their concerns about Pete. The fact that his friend had reacted so quickly reminded Harold they were dealing with desperate men who would stop at nothing.

“What are you writing, honey?” Harold hoped he sounded calm.

“Actually I’m not writing. I’m trying to get into my email. My username is here but not the password. I’ve tried everything. I tried putting in your name, Peter’s – even Arlo’s. No luck.”

“Did you try ‘mypassword’?”

“Why would I use your password to get into my email?”

“No. M-Y-P-A-S-S-W-O-R-D. You got irritated a while back at having to remember so many passwords and you started using ‘mypassword’ as your password. Try it.”

“That was it. I’m in. Thanks. Wow. Look at this. I have 146 unread emails.”

Harold leaned over her shoulder to look at the list of messages. “Looks like most of them are from people on your writing loop.” He saw that meant nothing to her. “See there – all the ones that have ‘writingloop’ at the beginning of the subject line. Those are from people on your on-line writing loop. It’s a carryover from a writing conference you went to out in New Mexico a few years ago. Someone posts a topic a few times a week and everyone writes on the topic.”

“Okay. Let’s see what topic everyone is writing on now…that’s ironic. Looks like the topic is ‘I remember’. That will be a really short write for me.” Fanny scrolled through the list of messages until she came to one that wasn’t from the writing loop. The message line read ‘Richard is dead’. She clicked on it before Harold could stop her.

Fanny –

I’ve left messages at all your numbers. Maybe you’re traveling. I don’t remember. If you happen to get this email please call me. Richard was killed earlier today in an automobile accident. The police don’t know how it happened. He hit a pole on Suitland Parkway. They’re waiting for the toxicology report but they don’t think he’d been drinking. I guess I should feel something but I don’t. You know how I felt. I guess what I am feeling is guilty because things are so much simpler now. I really need to talk. Please call me.


Fanny was trembling. Harold took her laptop and put it on the table. “What’s the matter, Fanny?” She didn’t respond. Her face was frozen in a mask of fear as though she was watching some gruesome film play out before her eyes. He hurried to the door that was still guarded by the two policemen. “Please get a nurse. Something’s wrong with my wife.”

When the nurse arrived less than a minute later Fanny was still in a stupor. She was conscious but apparently unaware of anyone or anything around her.

“What’s the matter with her?”

The nurse didn’t answer him. She was too busy checking Fanny’s pulse and blood pressure. When she had finished noting her vital signs she responded. “It looks like something must have triggered a memory that upset your wife. Do you remember what she was doing right before this happened?”

Harold pointed at the laptop that was still open on the bedside table.


Chapter Fifty-One

When Jacoby walked into the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton he realized he didn’t exactly blend in and that’s what he had intended. He wanted Jaffe to notice him. Most of the men were in formal attire. The women looked like they’d spent the afternoon at the beauty shop. Most of them had chosen some variation of the same black dress. He followed the crowd to the stairway that led up to the ballroom. As he passed a muted flat screen television at the end of the lobby he noticed the silent images of the rioting in Pakistan. The camera panned slowly over bloody bodies. It always struck him that people like him spent hours and hours pursuing a single criminal while the slaughter that took place in other parts of the world was no more than a blurred image a television screen. Jacoby scolded himself. He should save the philosophizing for later. He and Lieutenant Columbo had a killer to catch.

It wasn’t hard to locate Jaffe in the crowded ballroom. The Senator was surrounded by his minions. Jaffe looked around for Stone but he was no where to be seen. Jaffe looked relaxed and confident. If he was worried about anything it didn’t show on his tanned, unlined face. His grey eyes managed to focus on the people around him and the room at the same time. His right arm never left the shoulder of the striking, dark haired woman at his side but the woman appeared to be more interested in her drink than in whatever the Senator was saying. She was obviously the Senator’s wife. As he moved closer Jacoby got a better look at the woman. He imagined she must have been a beautiful woman at one time but time and the booze had taken their toll. A waiter walked by carrying a tray of drinks and Mrs. Jaffe handed him her empty glass and helped herself to another. It looked like the Senator tried to whisper something to his wife but she pulled away from him and moved a few feet away. Soon the gulf between the Senator and his wife was flooded with well wishers and hangers-on. Jaffe took advantage of the opportunity to approach Mrs. Jaffe. He helped himself to two glasses from a passing tray and worked his way to her side. “Thought you might like a fresh drink, Mrs. Jaffe.” She accepted the drink, and finished the drink she’d been holding before handing the empty glass to Jacoby.

“Thank you. I don’t think I know you.”

She was hiding it well, but Jacoby could tell from experience that Mrs. Jaffe was smashed. “Sorry. I’m Detective Jacoby. I’m here to talk to your husband in connection with a series of murders. One of them occurred in my district.”

She didn’t flinch. Maybe she was too intoxicated for his words to register with her. She took a sip of her drink. “Detective Jacoby, I have no doubt that my husband is guilty of many, many things, but I don’t believe murder is among them. However, Detective, as you may know the Senator and I have – drifted apart of late. Perhaps I don’t know him as well as I once did.”

“Tell me this, Mrs. Jaffe. Does the Senator have a tattoo on his shoulder?”

She laughed. “Detective, the only thing on my husband’s shoulder is a giant chip.”

She laughed again at her joke. Jacoby found the joke neither funny nor terribly accurate. “I heard he had gotten a tattoo recently. Are you sure?”

“As I’m sure you already know, the Senator and I don’t spend much time together these days.” She pointed to Jacoby’s drink. “You gonna’ drink that?”

Jacoby handed her his glass and disposed of the empty one she handed to him. “You know, I was wondering, Mrs. Jaffe…”

She interrupted him by placing a perfectly manicured finger on his lips. “Why don’t you call me Bonnie?”

“I was wondering, Bonnie, is the Senator’s little friend here tonight?”

He let her stew for a moment in a mixture of shock and confusion before clarifying. “I’m referring to Carl Stone. Bonnie, you didn’t think I was asking you.... Forgive me, Bonnie. I have been anxious to meet the inscrutable Mr. Stone this evening.”

“I haven’t seen Carl since I got in this morning. And that’s unusual now that I think about it. Carl is usually closer to my husband than --- I was going to saw his shadow, but maybe I should say a tattoo.” Her second quip of the evening sent her into another ripple of drunken giggles. Before she recovered, they were joined by Senator Jaffe.

“Ah, Senator. I was hoping to have a chance to chat with you this evening. Bonnie and I were just getting acquainted.”

“Yes, Stuart, Detective Jacoby is much more attentive than you are dear.”

“Detective? What brings you to our little gathering this evening?” Jacoby had to hand it to the Senator. He was one cool customer.

“Like I said. I was hoping to have a chance to talk to you. I had a few questions for you.”

“He wants to know if you have a tattoo, Stu. I assure him that you are unblemished.” Bonnie looked like she was in danger of losing her balance. Jaffe reached out to steady his wife but Jacoby didn’t miss the stunned expression on his face. “He also want to talk to little Carl, don’t you Detective?”

“Detective, in the future, if you have questions, you please direct them to me.” The Senator had abandoned his good manners. He was clearly furious. Jacoby could see white patches under his tanned cheekbones.

“Very well, Senator. What do your know about the death of Lillian Petulengro?”


Chapter Fifty

Harold hung up the phone. “Steve said he’d go over now and get Arlo and bring him over to their place. He and Cooper will have a great time. I hope that the two of them don’t totally destroy Steve and Mary’s house. He’s a really good neighbor. He said he’d walked by about noon and heard Arlo barking like crazy. He let himself in and took Arlo for a walk. Said he figured Arlo might be a little lonely.”

“The way you talk about them, I feel like I should know them. It’s so frustrating.”

“Just give it time, honey. It’s all in there.” He tapped her lightly on the forehead. “I’m going to try Pete one more time. I can’t understand why he hasn’t returned my call. It’s just not like him.”


Stone had decided that since the hospital was off-limits he’d stake out the Britt house. He didn’t actually have a plan but didn’t have any other options. The house was empty except for a dog. He could hear it barking and occasionally it would jump up a look out the front window. He got a good look at the dog when a guy – probably a neighbor – came over to take him for a walk. Stone always liked dogs better than he liked people. This one was a beauty. Pure white with a majestic way of walking.

Not long after the neighbor brought the dog back the son came back home. The kid let the dog out in the front yard and let him chase tennis balls for a while before taking him back inside. When he came back out he had his overnight bag with him.

When the kid backed out of the driveway, Stone followed him. There were too many nosey neighbors around the house to try anything so he decided to follow the son and wait for an opportunity to do something. As he drove, a plan began to form in his mind. If he couldn’t get close enough to the woman to shut her up maybe there was another way to make her keep her mouth shut. The kid drove west on I-66 for a while before taking the 29 South exit toward Gainesville. Stone was pretty sure he knew where he was heading. Probably back to school and based on his direction it was probably the University of Virginia. Stone knew the school well. He’d visited there often with the Senator’s father when Stuart Jaffe was in law school there. Stone relaxed and put a little more distance between Britt’s car and his but he always kept it in sight.

Britt parked his car in front of a two story apartment building that looked like it was built for off campus housing and let himself in to the ground floor end unit. Perfect. Now all he had to do was waiting until it got dark.


Chapter Forty-Nine

It was a little after five when Jaffe knocked on the door of Bonnie’s room. “Are you about ready? We need to leave in about a half hour.” There was no answer. “Bonnie. Listen. I can’t be late for this.”

“If you don’t stop yelling at me you can go to this damn fundraiser alone. I have a splitting headache.” The door opened. Bonnie had dressed flawlessly as usual. Not a hair out of place.

“You look very nice, Bonnie. Very nice.”

“I’d like a drink before we go.” Jaffe followed her downstairs to the bar. He noticed that she was walking a bit unsteadily and wondered if she had come downstairs while he was working and fixed herself a drink – or several drinks. He poured them both a drink. He didn’t want to get in a fight with her right before the fundraiser.

“You really do look exceptionally nice tonight. Bonnie.” He meant it. He took a sip of his drink and waited for her to respond. The tenor of her response would tell him the kind of evening that awaited him. He looked at her and wondered when he had stopped finding her attractive. When he had stopped loving her. It would have been so much simpler if he could have just been happy with Bonnie. But he wasn’t happy with her. He needed other women and because of his weakness three people were dead.

Bonnie put down her empty glass. “I’m ready. Let’s get this charade over with.”

While Senator and Mrs. Jaffe were making the silent journey from Great Falls to the Tyson’s, Jacoby was sitting in his car in the parking garage next to the Ritz-Carlton. He needed a quiet place to think He’d been sitting there for more than a half an hour planning how he would confront Jaffe. Before getting out of the car he made one last call to Benson at the hospital.

“Nothing happening here, Detective. All quiet. The Fanny and Harold are getting reacquainted and Mosby has just about talked me into getting a tattoo. Did he tell you that he has the Garden of Eden tattooed on his backside?”

“The only tattoo that I’m interested in right now is the one on Jaffe’s right shoulder. I just have to figure out a way to get the Senator to give me a look at it.”

“If you can pull that one off, Jacoby, I’ll nominate you for Chief of Police.”