Airtight
more knowledgeable about this stuff than I was.
    We met at Spumoni’s, a casual Italian place in Englewood. I’d eaten there a number of times with Julie and Bryan; sometimes I brought a date, and sometimes I didn’t. I even remember some of their names.
    I got there first and took a quiet table near the back. Julie came in a few minutes later, the strain evident on her face. She still looked fantastic; that was a given. But this time she looked fantastic and very, very stressed.
    We didn’t kiss hello; we never did. I don’t think I know another woman in the world, outside of work, who doesn’t kiss me hello, but Julie never did. At least not since the night we did a lot more than kiss.
    She just about grabbed the waiter and ordered a drink, a favorite of hers called a “Dark and Stormy.” She asked for it the way she might ask for a life preserver on a ship about to go down, but didn’t wait for it to come before handing me the envelope she had brought.
    “Everything you ever wanted to know about Christopher Gallagher,” she said.
    “Summarize it,” I said.
    “No, it’s bedtime reading for you, but you won’t sleep much after you read it. You do the talking.”
    I took her through everything that had transpired since we last talked, including showing her printed copies of the e-mails that Bryan and I had exchanged. It was depressing in the telling, as it drove home the reality that we were getting nowhere.
    I was getting nowhere.
    “Do you think I should bring in the Feds?” I asked.
    “I’ve been thinking about that,” she said. “And I don’t think you should.”
    “Why not?”
    “Because they’re a machine, and they will do what they’re programmed to do. They’ll try and catch Gallagher, though I don’t think they’ll be able to. But if they did catch him, it wouldn’t go the way that we want.”
    “I’m chasing something that doesn’t exist,” I said.
    She nodded. “I know.”
    “I’m going to have to fake it,” I said.
    She nodded again, and pointed to the folder that I had brought. “Which is why you wanted the case information from Bollinger.”
    “Right. I need you to go through it. I saw a few possibilities that we can go after, maybe find a credible villain…”
    “So I’ve got my own bedtime reading,” she said.
    “Yeah. Julie, is there anything you want me to say to Bryan for you? Or you could e-mail him yourself.”
    “I don’t think I should. This is a nightmare for him, and I want it to be as bearable as possible. If he wanted to hear from me, he would e-mail me. You think I’m wrong?”
    I nodded. “I think you’re wrong.”
    She thought about it for a while. “Tell him I love him. And tell him I’m sorry.”

 
    Chris Gallagher was waiting on my porch when I got home.
    He was sitting there, not a care in the world, like he belonged and was thinking of organizing a neighborhood block party. I wasn’t particularly surprised.
    “How come you didn’t break in?” I asked.
    “No need for the drama anymore,” he said. “You want to talk inside, or out here?”
    “Inside.”
    We went into the kitchen, and I stopped at the refrigerator. I took out two bottles of beer, and tossed one to Gallagher.
    “The gracious host,” he said.
    “Hopefully you’re doing the same for my brother.”
    “I assume you’re asking him in your e-mails,” he said.
    “And I assume you’re reading them.”
    He shook his head. “No. I could, but I’m not.”
    “You’re full of shit,” I said.
    He smiled. “I am many things, but I am not full of shit. I don’t say words unless I mean them.”
    “So why are you letting him e-mail?”
    “Steven e-mailed me in Afghanistan; it’s the way we kept in touch. I heard from him just six hours before you killed him. Unfortunately, all I did with his e-mails was read them.”
    “So Bryan being able to e-mail me satisfies some sense of justice you have?”
    He shrugged. “I guess so. I don’t try to figure myself out

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