Chapter 25

    

    By ten o'clock they had everything in the new house. What had seemed like a reasonable amount of goods in the Lexington Park house now filled up every room, every corner, every cabinet. If they put the sofa and two of the dining-room chairs on the roof, they could just about make everything fit.

    Byrne stood across the street from the row house. A pair of older teenage girls walked by, reminding him of Lucy Doucette.

    When he had first met Lucy at the group regression-therapy sessions she had seemed so lost. He did not know much about her life, but she had told him enough for him to know that she was troubled by a traumatic event in her childhood. He recalled her efforts at the regression-therapy group, her inability to recall anything about the incident. He didn't know if she had been molested or not. Running into her accidentally in the city reminded him how he had promised to look in on her from time to time. He had not.

    'Kevin?'

    It was a tiny voice. Byrne turned around and saw that it was Jessica's daughter Sophie, bundled up, standing on the sidewalk in front of the porch. The front door was open, and through it Byrne could see Peter Giovanni inside, leaning against the handrail, keeping one eye on his granddaughter. Once a father, always a cop.

    Byrne crossed the street. For a long time Jessica had insisted that

    Sophie should call him Mr. Byrne. It had taken a while for Byrne to change that, and it looked like it had finally taken hold. Byrne got down to Sophie's level, noticing that she wasn't as small as she had been even last year at this time. 'Hey, sweetie.'

    'Thanks for helping out.'

    'Oh, you're welcome,' Byrne said. 'Do you like your new house?'

    'It's small.'

    Byrne looked over her shoulder. 'It's not that small. I think it's pretty cool.'

    Sophie shrugged. 'It's all right, I guess.'

    'Plus your school is only a block away. You can sleep late.'

    Sophie giggled. 'You don't know my mom.'

    The truth was, he did. He soon realized the folly of his statement.

    Sophie glanced up the street. The looming structure of Sacred Heart Parochial School was silhouetted against the carbon-blue night sky. She looked back at Byrne. 'Did you go to Catholic school?'

    'Oh yeah,' Byrne said. He wanted to tell her that he still had ruler marks on his knuckles to prove it, but decided against it.

    'Did you like it?'

    How to answer this? 'Well, do you have a kid in your school who is always goofing off, always getting into trouble?'

    'Yeah,' Sophie said. 'In my school it's Bobby Tomasello.'

    'Well, in my school that kid was me.'

    'You got into trouble?'

    'All the time,' Byrne said.

    'Did they make you sit in the corner?'

    Byrne smiled at the memory. 'Let me put it this way. Sister Mary Alice ended up putting my desk in the corner. It saved everyone a trip. In fact, I had a corner office in every one of my classrooms.'

    Sophie's face softened into an expression that Byrne had seen a thousand times on Jessica's face, a look of compassion and understanding. 'It's all right, Kevin,' she said. 'You turned out okay.'

    The jury was still out on that one, Byrne thought. Still, it was nice to hear, even if it was coming from a seven-year-old. Maybe especially from a seven-year-old. 'Thanks.'

    They fell silent for a moment, listening to the sounds of the party coming from inside the house.

    'I like Colleen,' Sophie said.

    'Yeah,' Byrne said. 'She's pretty special.'

    'She taught me something.'

    'Oh yeah?'

    Sophie nodded. She thought for a moment, wrinkling her brow, then balled her fists, extended a finger, stopped, thought a bit more, started over. This time she extended her hands, rubbed one palm across the other, lifted the index finger on each hand, bumped fists, and pointed at Byrne.

    It was American Sign Language for 'Nice to meet you.'

    'Very good,' Byrne said. 'Did you just learn that?'

    Sophie nodded. 'It took me a few times.'

    Byrne smiled. 'It took me -way more than a few times.'

    A few minutes later he kissed Sophie on top of her head, watched her walk back inside. After she was inside, Byrne stood and observed Jessica's family through the window for a while. It had been a long time since he'd been part of something like this.

    He thought about Sophie's sign language, how determined she was, how she stayed with it until she got it right. He considered how the oldest sayings were the truest, like that one about the apple not falling far from the tree.

 

    Byrne walked down Third Street, got into the van. He had grown up not far from here. He remembered a variety store on the corner. He used to get his water pistols and comic books there, cadging the occasional Baby Ruth and Butterfinger. He remembered a kid who got beat up once in the alley behind the store, a kid who was thought to have molested a little girl from the neighborhood. Byrne had been sitting on the corner with his cousin Patrick when it happened. He remembered the kid screaming. It was the first time he had ever encountered violence like that, the first time he had ever heard someone in so much pain. He believed that all those sounds, all the dark echoes of violence, in many ways remained.

    Byrne sat there for a long time, not moving, just rolling the fifty- cent piece over his fingers, the memories of his old neighborhood misting across his mind.

    Someone emerged from the shadows just outside the driver's side window of the van. Byrne sat upright. It was Jessica. He rolled down the window.

    'What's up?' he asked. 'Ready to move back already?'

    'You know the paper that was wrapped around the victims' heads?'

    'What about it?'

    'We have a make.'

The Echo Man
titlepage.xhtml
The Echo Man_split_000.htm
The Echo Man_split_001.htm
The Echo Man_split_002.htm
The Echo Man_split_003.htm
The Echo Man_split_004.htm
The Echo Man_split_005.htm
The Echo Man_split_006.htm
The Echo Man_split_007.htm
The Echo Man_split_008.htm
The Echo Man_split_009.htm
The Echo Man_split_010.htm
The Echo Man_split_011.htm
The Echo Man_split_012.htm
The Echo Man_split_013.htm
The Echo Man_split_014.htm
The Echo Man_split_015.htm
The Echo Man_split_016.htm
The Echo Man_split_017.htm
The Echo Man_split_018.htm
The Echo Man_split_019.htm
The Echo Man_split_020.htm
The Echo Man_split_021.htm
The Echo Man_split_022.htm
The Echo Man_split_023.htm
The Echo Man_split_024.htm
The Echo Man_split_025.htm
The Echo Man_split_026.htm
The Echo Man_split_027.htm
The Echo Man_split_028.htm
The Echo Man_split_029.htm
The Echo Man_split_030.htm
The Echo Man_split_031.htm
The Echo Man_split_032.htm
The Echo Man_split_033.htm
The Echo Man_split_034.htm
The Echo Man_split_035.htm
The Echo Man_split_036.htm
The Echo Man_split_037.htm
The Echo Man_split_038.htm
The Echo Man_split_039.htm
The Echo Man_split_040.htm
The Echo Man_split_041.htm
The Echo Man_split_042.htm
The Echo Man_split_043.htm
The Echo Man_split_044.htm
The Echo Man_split_045.htm
The Echo Man_split_046.htm
The Echo Man_split_047.htm
The Echo Man_split_048.htm
The Echo Man_split_049.htm
The Echo Man_split_050.htm
The Echo Man_split_051.htm
The Echo Man_split_052.htm
The Echo Man_split_053.htm
The Echo Man_split_054.htm
The Echo Man_split_055.htm
The Echo Man_split_056.htm
The Echo Man_split_057.htm
The Echo Man_split_058.htm
The Echo Man_split_059.htm
The Echo Man_split_060.htm
The Echo Man_split_061.htm
The Echo Man_split_062.htm
The Echo Man_split_063.htm
The Echo Man_split_064.htm
The Echo Man_split_065.htm
The Echo Man_split_066.htm
The Echo Man_split_067.htm
The Echo Man_split_068.htm
The Echo Man_split_069.htm
The Echo Man_split_070.htm
The Echo Man_split_071.htm
The Echo Man_split_072.htm
The Echo Man_split_073.htm
The Echo Man_split_074.htm
The Echo Man_split_075.htm
The Echo Man_split_076.htm
The Echo Man_split_077.htm
The Echo Man_split_078.htm
The Echo Man_split_079.htm
The Echo Man_split_080.htm
The Echo Man_split_081.htm
The Echo Man_split_082.htm
The Echo Man_split_083.htm
The Echo Man_split_084.htm
The Echo Man_split_085.htm
The Echo Man_split_086.htm
The Echo Man_split_087.htm
The Echo Man_split_088.htm
The Echo Man_split_089.htm
The Echo Man_split_090.htm
The Echo Man_split_091.htm
The Echo Man_split_092.htm
The Echo Man_split_093.htm
The Echo Man_split_094.htm
The Echo Man_split_095.htm
The Echo Man_split_096.htm
The Echo Man_split_097.htm
The Echo Man_split_098.htm
The Echo Man_split_099.htm
The Echo Man_split_100.htm
The Echo Man_split_101.htm
The Echo Man_split_102.htm
The Echo Man_split_103.htm
The Echo Man_split_104.htm
The Echo Man_split_105.htm
The Echo Man_split_106.htm
The Echo Man_split_107.htm
The Echo Man_split_108.htm
The Echo Man_split_109.htm
The Echo Man_split_110.htm
The Echo Man_split_111.htm
The Echo Man_split_112.htm
The Echo Man_split_113.htm
The Echo Man_split_114.htm
The Echo Man_split_115.htm
The Echo Man_split_116.htm
The Echo Man_split_117.htm
The Echo Man_split_118.htm
The Echo Man_split_119.htm
The Echo Man_split_120.htm
The Echo Man_split_121.htm
The Echo Man_split_122.htm
The Echo Man_split_123.htm
The Echo Man_split_124.htm
The Echo Man_split_125.htm
The Echo Man_split_126.htm
The Echo Man_split_127.htm
The Echo Man_split_128.htm
The Echo Man_split_129.htm
The Echo Man_split_130.htm
The Echo Man_split_131.htm
The Echo Man_split_132.htm
The Echo Man_split_133.htm
The Echo Man_split_134.htm
The Echo Man_split_135.htm
The Echo Man_split_136.htm
The Echo Man_split_137.htm
The Echo Man_split_138.htm
The Echo Man_split_139.htm
The Echo Man_split_140.htm
The Echo Man_split_141.htm
The Echo Man_split_142.htm
The Echo Man_split_143.htm
The Echo Man_split_144.htm
The Echo Man_split_145.htm
The Echo Man_split_146.htm
The Echo Man_split_147.htm
The Echo Man_split_148.htm
The Echo Man_split_149.htm
The Echo Man_split_150.htm
The Echo Man_split_151.htm
The Echo Man_split_152.htm
The Echo Man_split_153.htm
The Echo Man_split_154.htm
The Echo Man_split_155.htm
The Echo Man_split_156.htm
The Echo Man_split_157.htm
The Echo Man_split_158.htm
The Echo Man_split_159.htm
The Echo Man_split_160.htm
The Echo Man_split_161.htm
The Echo Man_split_162.htm
The Echo Man_split_163.htm
The Echo Man_split_164.htm
The Echo Man_split_165.htm
The Echo Man_split_166.htm
The Echo Man_split_167.htm
The Echo Man_split_168.htm
The Echo Man_split_169.htm
The Echo Man_split_170.htm
The Echo Man_split_171.htm
The Echo Man_split_172.htm
The Echo Man_split_173.htm
The Echo Man_split_174.htm
The Echo Man_split_175.htm
The Echo Man_split_176.htm
The Echo Man_split_177.htm
The Echo Man_split_178.htm
The Echo Man_split_179.htm
The Echo Man_split_180.htm
The Echo Man_split_181.htm
The Echo Man_split_182.htm
The Echo Man_split_183.htm
The Echo Man_split_184.htm
The Echo Man_split_185.htm
The Echo Man_split_186.htm
The Echo Man_split_187.htm
The Echo Man_split_188.htm
The Echo Man_split_189.htm
The Echo Man_split_190.htm
The Echo Man_split_191.htm
The Echo Man_split_192.htm
The Echo Man_split_193.htm
The Echo Man_split_194.htm
The Echo Man_split_195.htm
The Echo Man_split_196.htm
The Echo Man_split_197.htm
The Echo Man_split_198.htm
The Echo Man_split_199.htm
The Echo Man_split_200.htm
The Echo Man_split_201.htm
The Echo Man_split_202.htm
The Echo Man_split_203.htm
The Echo Man_split_204.htm
The Echo Man_split_205.htm
The Echo Man_split_206.htm
The Echo Man_split_207.htm
The Echo Man_split_208.htm
The Echo Man_split_209.htm
The Echo Man_split_210.htm
The Echo Man_split_211.htm
The Echo Man_split_212.htm
The Echo Man_split_213.htm
The Echo Man_split_214.htm
The Echo Man_split_215.htm
The Echo Man_split_216.htm
The Echo Man_split_217.htm
The Echo Man_split_218.htm
The Echo Man_split_219.htm
The Echo Man_split_220.htm
The Echo Man_split_221.htm
The Echo Man_split_222.htm