The morning stayed clear and brisk, and Mary flowed with the foot traffic in the business district. Men hurried by with their heads cocked to cell phones, and women hustled along in conversation. She remembered when she had been one of them; an inexperienced associate dressed in her most conservative clothes, hands gripped around a briefcase that contained a legal pad, a Bic, and photocopied antitrust cases. Okay, so it wasn't all that different now. She was still inexperienced, her clothes remained conservative, and she had the same briefcase, legal pad, and Bic, though the antitrust cases had been replaced by something distinctly illegal:
The Clock that Brinkley had slipped her when he and Kovich had been taken away.
She tightened her grip on her briefcase handle, its shape and heft second nature. The gun had felt far less so when she tried to aim it in her parents' kitchen, where she pointed prudently away from any religious paraphernalia. Of course she hadn't fired the gun; the shot would have brought the neighborhood, the police – or worse, her mother – running. As much as Mary hated guns, she had to admit it felt better to have it along, even if it smelled faintly of oregano.
She stopped at the corner, keeping her head down in case anyone recognized her. The Newlin saga was all over the papers; the Daily News had run a small photo of her with Jack. It was a strange feeling, seeing yourself in the paper next to a man you had fallen for. The juxtaposition was more appropriate to engagement announcements than murder stories, but she was getting way ahead of herself.
Must be the gun. It got a girl crazy.
The traffic light changed and she allowed herself to be carried off the curb and across the street, her thoughts focusing on Jack, in jail again, and what she had to do to get him out. It wouldn't be easy, but it was clear she had to question Whittier. She would be meeting with him as Jack's lawyer and start with the easy questions. Ask him about his talk with Jack the day of Honor's murder. Avoid mention of what happened with Trevor; don't put him on the defensive. If Whittier wouldn't cooperate, which was likely given that he hadn't returned any of her messages left with his secretary, she would confront him.
She sighted the glass spike that housed Tribe amp; Wright, a block away. Moussed heads bobbed on the sidewalk ahead of her, and the air was filled with the fog from cold breath and late-breakfast cigarettes. The crowd thickened as she approached the building, and her pace quickened, hurrying unaccountably to keep an appointment she didn't have. She hated the thought of Jack, battered, in prison. She worried what Davis would do next. Two men in front of her stalled. What was the holdup?
She craned her neck, apologizing as she jostled someone's cup of Starbucks. She was too short to see the base of the building. In the street, uniformed police were waving traffic away from the lane nearest the building, their squad cars parked haphazardly behind them. Lights flashed atop the hoods of the cruisers but the sirens weren't on. There seemed no immediacy; it was probably the aftermath of a traffic accident.
Mary threaded her way to the front, heedless about drawing attention to herself. Nobody was looking at her; they were worrying about being late for appointments. The crowd grew denser as she got closer to the building, brought to a standstill by whatever was going on. Over their heads she could hear their chatter and the shouting of the police. The block was suddenly buzzing with activity as two more squad cars pulled down the street, their roof lights flashing,
followed by a news van. If it was an accident, it must have been a serious one.
She wedged herself between wool-clad shoulders but couldn't go forward, the crowd was too packed. She didn't know how much time she had. Whittier had been in when she called, but he might have gone out. He'd certainly want to avoid her, knowing the questions she'd have. She had to get going. She stood up on tiptoe and looked around. One way out. The street.
Mary broke free and headed for the street, then ran along the gutter beside an ambulance that was moving slowly, despite the lane evidently cleared for it. Its driver waved her off in alarm but she sprinted ahead, trying to forget she was bounding along with a concealed deadly weapon. She was out of breath by the time she reached the cop directing traffic.
'How can I get into the building?' she asked him. Behind him was a sea of uniformed cops in caps and black leather jackets. They clustered on the sidewalk on the near side of the building. The ambulance stood parked a few feet away, its back doors flung open and its powerful engine idling.
'Lady, get out of the street!' the cop directing traffic shouted. 'Can't you see we got a situation here?'
'But I have to get into the building.'
'You can't. Now get outta here!' The cop turned his back at the sudden blare of a horn, and Mary sprinted behind him and pushed her way toward the building, just in time to see the cluster of cops breaking up. From the center of the group emerged two paramedics in blue uniforms, carrying a stretcher between them. On the stretcher lay a black body bag, zipped to the top.
Mary stood appalled at the sight. The paramedics loaded the body into the van and the doors slammed closed with a final cathunk. Someone had died here, right on the street. A heart attack maybe. 'What happened?' she heard herself say, and one of the older cops turned around.
'A suicide,' the cop said. His expression was somber and
his eyes strayed skyward. 'A man jumped out a window.'
'My God.' Mary looked up, too, squinting against the searing blue of the sky, or maybe to soften the impact of the sight.
An empty pane of jagged glass marred the shiny, mirrored surface of the building, and the sky reflected in its mirrors looked like someone had torn a hole in heaven itself. A few business papers floated from the shattered window, caught crazily on the crosscurrents of city air, and fluttered to the crowd. She watched them fall, drawing her gaze down to the sidewalk, visible now that the cops were moving away. A large white tarp had been thrown over the pavement but blood still soaked through the material. 'How terrible,' she said, horrified, and the cop nodded.
'Not a pretty sight. He was a big deal, too.'
She looked over, suddenly stricken. Something was very wrong here. She thought of her phone calls to Whittier. 'Who died? Who was he?'
'Don't think we've notified next of kin yet, miss,' the cop answered, with a quick glance over his shoulder. Behind him the cops had begun redirecting the pedestrians around the tarp, now that the body had been removed. But Mary wasn't thinking about getting inside the building any longer. She had a terrible hunch.
'From what company, what firm?' she asked, urgent. She couldn't explain how she knew, but she did. 'Was the man from Tribe amp; Wright?'
'Can't say, Miss. Now please, move along.' One of the officers behind him was listening, and in the next minute she understood why. Captain Walsh, standing out from the uniforms in his bright white cap, navy dress jacket, and dark tie, was eyeing her warily from the center of the group.
'But I'm supposed to see somebody at Tribe. His name is Whittier, William Whittier,' Mary said.
The cop didn't answer but his eye registered a reluctant, but unmistakable, recognition just as Captain Walsh strode toward her.