Lightning by John Lutz

Book: Lightning by John Lutz Read Free Book Online
Authors: John Lutz
Tags: Fiction, Mystery
Batista appeared on the screen again.
    “We’ll be right back,” Bobbi said only to Carver. The same commercial about ergonomics came on again, a sleek black sedan cruising along a wickedly curving road while its unconcerned driver, a blissfully smiling woman, switched on the windshield wipers and adjusted the stereo’s volume as she chatted on a car phone while driving through a virtual hurricane. Carver used the remote to switch off the TV.
    Maybe it had been the car phone. He pulled the phone on the breakfast bar over to him, then got out Special Agent Sam Wicker’s card and pecked out his number.
    He was surprised when Wicker himself answered. That kind of directness and efficiency didn’t suit the bureau’s hierarchical image.
    “Ah, you have information for me,” Wicker said when Carver identified himself.
    “Actually I want information from you,” Carver said.
    “You’re turning out to be a disappointment.”
    “Give me time. Do you have an agent who’s tall, broad shouldered, sharply dressed, maybe in a blue suit, has a crew cut, and looks like a typical WASP, wears black horn-rimmed glasses?”
    “Other than the glasses, that could be me,”
    “Let’s include the glasses.”
    “None of my people fits that description. Why do you ask?”
    “A man like that wandered into Beth’s room at the hospital yesterday. There was a nurse with her, and when he saw she wasn’t alone, he smiled and ducked right back out.”
    “Maybe he was there to visit somebody and entered the wrong room.”
    “Probably something like that,” Carver said. “But he spooked Beth, and normally that’s not easy to do, so I thought I’d ask you about him.”
    Carver waited. Apparently Wicker was thinking on the other end of the line, deciding how much importance to place on an injured woman’s concern.
    “Well, I’m sure he’s not ours,” Wicker finally said. “My guess is he was one of McGregor’s men.”
    “McGregor says no.”
    “Okay, I’ll pass the description around and we’ll see if anything comes of it.”
    So Wicker wasn’t brushing Beth off as an alarmist amateur. Carver was impressed. “McGregor’s going to assign somebody to keep an eye on Beth.”
    “That doesn’t fit with what I know of him.”
    “Every ten, twenty years, he’s struck with understanding and a compulsion to do his job. It’ll quickly pass.”
    “You say that a lot—‘uh-huh.’ ”
    “Seems to cover a lot. Remember to let me know about anything even remotely pertaining to the bombing.”
    “Of course. What have you—”
    But Wicker had hung up. Acting very FBI now.
    “Feeb,” Carver said into the phone, then replaced the receiver.
    After washing and putting away the breakfast dishes, Carver drove in to the hospital to look in on Beth before going about the business of the day. The first item of that business would be to talk to Dr. Louis Benedict, Women’s Light’s surviving abortion doctor.
    When Carver knocked lightly and pushed open the door to Beth’s room, he found himself facing a short, dark-haired woman with a heart-shaped face and intense brown eyes. She was wearing a police uniform and the flap was unsnapped on the belt holster of her .38 Police Special. Behind her, Beth was sleeping on her side in the bed.
    “Help you?” asked McGregor’s policewoman who wasn’t worth spit.
    “I’m Fred Carver. I, uh, sort of requested you.”
    “Oh, you a friend of Lieutenant McGregor?”
    “Christ, no!”
    The policewoman smiled with very small, very even teeth. “Let’s step outside into the hall, Mr. Carver.”
    She didn’t move, letting him lead the way.
    In the hall, she stood watching as he softly closed Beth’s door. Without being asked, he pulled out some identification and showed it to her. She looked at it, then her eyes took a walk up and down him.
    Carver flashed her his most winning smile. “How many men with bad legs and canes are likely to come calling on Beth?”

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