Long Lost

Long Lost by David Morrell

Book: Long Lost by David Morrell Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Morrell
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But you’ll need to decide which caliber you want: nine—millimeter or forty—five.”
    “Which is the biggest?”
    “The forty—five.”
    “I’ll take it.”
    “Just so you know your options, biggest isn’t always best. The forty—five holds seven rounds in the magazine and one in the firing chamber. But this nine—millimeter over here holds
rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. A lot of power with eight rounds, versus somewhat less power but
    “How much less power?”
    “With the nine—millimeter? Let’s put it this way, it gets the job done. Actually, the only reason the magazine in this nine—millimeter holds only ten rounds is that in the mid—1990s, Congress passed an anti—assault weapon law that limits the capacity of handgun magazines. But
the law …”
    “There’s a gun show in town Saturday. I’ll introduce you to a friend who’s willing to sell a
law Beretta nine—millimeter that holds
rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber.”
    “That’s a lot.”
    “You bet. Don’t misunderstand. There’s nothing illegal about him selling the weapon. The law only forbids manufacturing or importing magazines that hold more than ten rounds. But because my friend bought his before the law was enacted, it’s legal. That model doesn’t come on the market often, so I expect you’ll have to pay extra.”
    “But after that …” The clerk looked uncomfortable.
    “After that?”
    “No offense. You’re obviously new to this. So you don’t shoot your foot off, you might want to take some lessons.”

    In the darkness beyond my window, the first snowstorm of the season gusted, but I hardly paid attention, too busy using Internet addresses that Payne had given me: sites that he said the FBI favored for researching places. Next to my new laptop computer, I had dictionaries and thesauruses to help me find words associated with redemption. Most weren’t promising. I couldn’t imagine anyone calling a place Atonement, Propitiation, Mediation, Intercession, or Judgment, for example. As it turned out, a village in Utah
called Judgment.
    On the wall to my right, I’d attached a large map of the United States. Periodically, I got up and stuck a labeled thumbtack where a place’s name had a religious connotation. After several hours, there were tacks all over the country, but no pattern. None was in Montana. I was beginning to understand why Gader hadn’t wanted to investigate my theory.
    My discouragement increased when I suddenly realized how many places had been named after saints. More thumbtacks got added to the map. I soon didn’t have any more.

    “How does a person create a false identity?”
    Payne considered my question while tapping fish food into the tank. His chair creaked when he settled his weight into it. “The way it used to be done, first you pick a city where you’ve never lived.”
    “To prevent your real identity and your assumed one from contaminating each other. If you were raised in Cleveland, you don’t want the character you’re creating to have come from there, too. Otherwise, someone investigating your new identity might go there, show your photograph around, and find someone who remembers you under your real name.”
    I nodded.
    “So you go to a different part of the country. But avoid small communities where everybody knows everybody else and can tell an investigator immediately whether someone who looks like you ever came from there. Pick a city; there’s less continuity; memories are shorter. Let’s say you choose Los Angeles or Seattle. Go to the public library there and read newspapers that came out a few years after you were born. You’re looking for disasters— house fires, car accidents, that sort of thing—in which entire families were killed. That detail’s important because you don’t want anyone left alive to be able to contradict your story.

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