Chapter 41


    The Penn Sleep Center, part of the University of Pennsylvania Hospital system, was located in a modern steel and glass building on Market Street near 36th.

    Byrne crossed the river about six, found a parking space, checked in at the desk, presented his insurance card, sat down, speed-skimmed a copy of Neurology Today, one of his all-time favorite magazines. He covertly checked the handful of people scattered around the waiting room. Not surprisingly, everyone looked exhausted, beat-up, dragged- out. He hoped everyone there was a new patient. He didn't want to think they were on their twentieth appointment and still looked this bad.

    'Mr. Byrne?'

    Byrne looked up. Standing at the end of the long desk was a blonde woman, no more than five feet tall. She was in her early forties and wore pink-rimmed glasses. She was perky and full of energy. Insomniacs hate perky.

    Byrne got up, walked over to the bubbly gal in white rayon.

    'Hi!' she chirruped. 'How are you today?'

    'Never better, thanks,' Byrne said. Of course, if that was the case, what the hell was he doing at the hospital? 'How about yourself?'

    'Super!' she replied.

    Her name tag read Viv. Probably short for Vivacious.

    'We're just going to check your height and weight.' She led him over to the digital scale, instructed him to take off his shoes. He stepped on the scale.

    'I don't want to know how much I weigh, okay?' Byrne said. 'Lately I've just been ... I don't know. It's hormonal, I think.'

    Viv smiled, zipped her lips in a dramatic gesture, recorded Byrne's weight without a word. 'Now, if you could turn around, we'll check your height.'

    Byrne spun around. Viv stepped on a footstool, raised the bar of the stadiometer, then lowered it gently, touching the top of Byrne's head. 'What about height?' she asked. 'Would you like to know how tall you are?'

    'I think I can handle my height. Emotionally speaking.'

    'You're still six foot, three inches.'

    'Good,' Byrne said. 'So I haven't shrunk.'

    'Nope. You must be washing in cold water.'

    Byrne smiled. He liked Viv, despite her vim.

    'Come this way,' she said.


    In the small, windowless examining room Byrne cruised the two battered magazines, picking up a dozen new 30-minute chicken recipes, along with some tips on how to get puppy stains out of the upholstery.

    A few minutes later the doctor came in. She was Asian, about thirty, quite attractive. Pinned to her lab coat was a photo ID. Her name was Michelle Chu.

    They got the pleasantries about the weather and the insanity of the people in the indoor parking garage out of the way. Dr. Chu ran through Byrne's history on the computer's LCD monitor. When she had him sufficiently pegged, she turned in her chair, crossed her legs.

    'So, how long have you had insomnia?'

    'Let me put it this way,' Byrne said. 'It's been so long that I can't remember.'

    'Do you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?'


    'How long, on average, does it take you to fall asleep?'

    All night, Byrne thought. But he knew what she meant. 'Maybe an hour.'

    'Do you wake up during the night?'

    'Yeah. At least a couple of times.'

    The doctor made a few more notes, her fingers racing across the keyboard. 'Do you snore?'

    Byrne knew the answer to this. He just didn't want to tell her how he knew. 'Well, these days I don't really have a steady...'

    'Bed partner?'

    'Yeah,' Byrne said. 'That. Do you think you could write me a prescription for one of those?'

    She laughed. 'I could, but I don't think your insurance provider would cover it.'

    'You're probably right,' Byrne said. 'I can barely get them to pay for the Ambien.'

    Ambien. The magic drug, the magic word. At least around neurologists. He had her attention now.

    'How long have you been taking Ambien?'

    'On and off for as long as I can remember.'

    'Do you think you've developed a dependence?'

    'Without question.'

    Dr. Chu handed him a pre-printed sheet. 'These are some of the sleep-hygiene suggestions we have—'

    Byrne held up a hand. 'May I?'


    'No alcohol, caffeine, or high-fat foods late at night. No nicotine. Exercise regularly, but not within four hours of bedtime. Go to bed and get out of bed at the same times every day. Turn your alarm clock around so you can't see the time. Keep your bedroom cool, not cold. If you can't fall asleep in ten minutes or so, get out of bed until you feel tired again. Although, if you can't see your clock, I don't know how you're supposed to know it's been ten minutes.'

    Dr. Chu stared at him for a few moments. She had stopped typing altogether. 'You seem to know quite a bit about this.'

    Byrne shrugged. 'You do something long enough.'

    She then typed for a full minute. Byrne just watched. When she was done she said, 'Okay. Hop up on the table, please.'

    Byrne stood up, walked over to the paper-lined examining table, slid onto it. He hadn't hopped anywhere in years, if ever. Dr. Chu looked into his eyes, ears, nose, throat. She listened to his heart, lungs. Then she took out a tape measure, measured his neck.

    'Hmm,' she said.

    Never a good sign. 'I prefer a spread collar,' Byrne said. 'French cuffs.'

    'Your neck's circumference is greater than seventeen inches.'

    'I work out.'

    She sat down, put her stethoscope around her neck. Her face took on a concerned look. Not the you are in deep shit look, but concerned. 'You have a few markers for sleep apnea.'

    Byrne had heard of it, but he really didn't know anything about it. The doctor explained that apnea was a condition wherein a person stops breathing during the night.

    'I stop breathing?'

    'Well, we don't know that for sure yet.'

    'I'm kind of in the stop-breathing business, you know.'

    The doctor smiled. 'This is a little different. I think I should schedule you for a sleep study.' She handed him a brochure. Color pics of smiling, healthy people who looked like they got a lot of sleep.


    'You're willing to give it a shot?'

    Anything was better than what he was going through. Except maybe the business about not breathing. 'Sure. I'm in.'

    In the waiting room, three of the five people were asleep.


    Byrne stopped at the American Pub in the Center Square Building on Market Street. The place was lively, and lively was just what was needed. He staked a place at the end of the bar, nursed a Bushmills. At just after ten o'clock his phone rang. He checked the ID, fully prepared to blow it off. It was a 215 exchange, with a familiar prefix. A PPD number. He had to answer.

    'This is Kevin.'

    'Detective Byrne?'

    It was a woman's voice. A young woman's voice. He did not recognize it. 'Yes?'

    'It's Lucy.'

    It took Byrne a little while to realize who it was. Then he remembered. 'Hi, Lucy. Is something wrong?'

    'I need to talk to you.'

    'Where are you? I'll come get you.'

    A long pause.


    'I'm in jail.'


    The Mini-Station was located on South Street between Ninth and Tenth. Originally activated in 1985 to provide weekend coverage from spring to autumn, addressing the issues generated by crowds gravitating to South Street for its clubs, shopping and restaurants, it had since become a seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day, year-round commitment, expanded to cover the entire corridor, which included more than 400 retail premises and nearly eighty establishments with liquor licenses.

    When Byrne walked in, he immediately spotted an old comrade, P/O Denny Dorgan. Short and brick-solid, Dorgan, who was now in his early forties, still worked the bike patrol.

    'Alert the hounds,' Dorgan said. 'We got royalty in the building.'

    They shook hands. 'You getting shorter and uglier?' Byrne asked.

    'Yeah. It's the supplements my wife is making me take. She thinks it will keep me from straying. Shows you what she knows.'

    Byrne glanced over at Dorgan's bike, leaning near the front door. 'Good thing you can get heavy-duty shocks on the thing.'

    Dorgan laughed, turned and looked at the waif-like girl sitting on the bench behind him. He turned back. 'Friend of yours?'

    Byrne looked over at Lucy Doucette. She looked like a lost little kid.

    'Yeah,' Byrne said. 'Thanks.'

    Byrne wondered what Dorgan wondered, whether he thought that Byrne was dallying with a nineteen-year-old. Byrne had long ago stopped being concerned with what people thought. What had happened here was clear. Dorgan had stepped in between a misdemeanor and the law, on Byrne's behalf, and had done it as a favor to a fellow cop. The gesture would go into the books as a small act of kindness, and would one day be repaid. No more, no less. Everything else was squad-car scandal.


    Byrne and Lucy had coffee at a small restaurant on South Street. Lucy told him the story. Or, it seemed to Byrne, the part she could bring herself to tell. She had been detained by security personnel at a kids'-clothing boutique on South. They said she'd attempted to walk out of the store with a pair of children's sweaters. The electronic security tags had been removed and were found underneath one of the sale racks, but Lucy had been observed walking around with the items, items which had not been returned to the racks. She had no sales receipts on her. Lucy had not resisted in the least.

    'Did you mean to walk out with these items?'

    Lucy buried her face in her hands for a moment. 'Yes. I was stealing them.'

    From most people Byrne would have expected vehement denials, tales of mistaken identity and dastardly set-ups. Not Lucy Doucette. He remembered her as a blunt and honest person. Well, she was not that honest, apparently.

    'I don't understand,' Byrne said. 'Do you have a child? A niece or a nephew that these sweaters were for?'


    'A friend's child?'

    Lucy shrugged. 'Not exactly.'

    Byrne watched her, waiting for more.

    'It's complicated,' she finally said.

    'Do you want to tell me about it?'

    Lucy took another second. 'Do I have to tell you now?'

    Byrne smiled. 'No.'

    The waitress refilled their cups. Byrne considered the young woman in front of him. He remembered how she had appeared in their therapy group. Shy, reluctant, scared. Not much had changed.

    'Have you been back to any kind of treatment?' Byrne asked.

    'Sort of.'

    'What do you mean?'

    Lucy told him a story, a story about a man called the Dreamweaver.

    'How did you find this . .. Dreamweaver guy?'

    Lucy rolled her eyes, tapped her fingers on her coffee cup for a few seconds, embarrassed. 'I found his card in the trash bin on my cart. It was right there, staring at me. It was like the card wanted me to find it. Like I was supposed to find it.'

    Byrne gave Lucy a look, a look he hoped wasn't too scolding or paternal.

    'I know, I know,' Lucy said. 'But I've tried everything else. I mean everything. And I think it might actually be doing me some good. I think it might be helping.'

    'Well, that's what counts,' Byrne said. 'Are you going to see this guy again?'

    Lucy nodded. 'One last time. Tomorrow.'

    'You'll let me know what happens?'



    They stood on the corner of South and Third. The evening had grown cold.

    'Do you have a car?' Byrne asked.

    Lucy shook her head. 'I don't drive.'

    Byrne glanced at his van, then back. 'I'm afraid I'm going the other way.' He took out his cellphone, called for a cab. Then he reached into his pocket pulled out a pair of twenties.

    'I can't take that,' Lucy said.

    'Pay me back someday, then.'

    Lucy hesitated, then took the money.

    Byrne put a hand on each of her slight shoulders. 'Look. You made a mistake today. That's all. You did the right thing calling me. We'll work it out. I want you to call me tomorrow. Will you promise to do that?'

    Lucy nodded. Byrne saw her eyes glisten, but no tears followed. Tough kid. He knew that she had been on her own for a while, although she hadn't brought up her mother this time. Byrne didn't ask. She would tell him what she wanted to tell him. He was the same way.

    'Am I going to prison?' she asked.

    Byrne smiled. 'No, Lucy. You're not going to prison.' The cab arrived, idled. 'As long as you don't carjack this guy on the way home you should be fine.'

    Lucy hugged him, got into the cab.

    Byrne watched the cab drive away. Lucy's face was small and pale and frightened in the back window. He couldn't imagine the burden she carried. He'd had the same experience of not knowing what had happened to him or where he had gone for that short period of time when they had declared him dead. But he had been an adult, not a child.

    The truth was, Lucy Doucette had a bogeyman. A bogeyman who had kidnapped her and held her for three long days. Three days of dead zone in her life. A bogeyman who lived in every shadow, stood waiting around every corner.

    Byrne had gotten a vision when he hugged her, a sparkling clear image that told him about a man who—

    —dates women with young daughters and comes back years later for the girls. . . something about red magnetic numbers on a refrigerator door. . . four numbers . . .

    1 ...2...0...8.

    Byrne made a mental note to call Lucy the next day.

The Echo Man
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