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43

The memorial service was up in Bakersfield in an old cemetery that sheltered sixteen of Suzannes relatives. There were news crews all over the place, allowed in by Madeline so her daughter could make history instead of only teach it. The casket was open, and at a good moment Madeline fainted into Bradleys arms. The cameramen scrambled and shot. When it was his turn, Hood could hardly stand to look.

The day was clear, with an east wind that carried an infernal heat, and Hood stood graveside with the mourners in the insufficient shade of a pepper tree. Suzanne was buried above her great-uncle Jack, with an empty plot on either side of her for Madeline and her grandmother.

Hood went over and stood with Ernest and the boys when it was over. They talked for a minute while the mourners went back to their cars and the gravedigger waited patiently atop his front-end loader.

On his way back up the hill to his car, Hood decided for probably the one hundredth time that hed show and tell Bradley everything he knew about his mother. But two steps later he decided for the one hundredth time to let the boy find his own way through life.

He visited friends and stayed in a Bakersfield motel that night. He got drunk and slept poorly but rose early for the drive.

At eleven A.M. Hood was admitted into a fourth-floor room of the Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel, hungover but ready to face internal affairs. Three of the four men hed never seen before. Two were scruffy and didnt look like cops. Another looked like a TV version of the driven prosecutor. One was an assistant sheriff, clearly unhappy about this.

On the coffee table were two digital recorders. Beside it was a small video camera on a black tripod.

Hood sat on a floral rattan sofa and looked through the window to the warm, hazy sky. He was exhausted by his own betrayals.

One of the scruffy cops turned on the voice recorders and the lawyer fixed the camera on Hood then in a strong clear voice established the place and time and players.

Deputy Hood, tell us about Wyte, he said cheerfully.


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