Chapter 58


    Byrne arrived in front of the hospital at about nine-thirty.

    Jessica was waiting, forced to sit in a wheelchair - which made everything seem so much worse than it was. Spotting his van, she got out of the chair, crossed the driveway, and slid into the passenger seat.

    'You look okay,' Byrne said.

    'I am okay. You know how it is. You break a fingernail and they want to do exploratory surgery. Keeps the premiums up.'

    'What did they say?'

    'I'm fine. No concussion. They said I'll have a headache for a day or so. They want to see me again in two weeks.'

    Byrne drove slowly before pulling into the small temporary parking lot. He put the van in park. 'Tell me more about this.'

    Jessica tried to organize her thoughts. It was a little difficult after getting her brain scrambled. She told Byrne what she remembered about Joseph Novak's diary.

    'He wrote that he was beholden to someone,' she said.

    'His word? Beholden?'

    Jessica nodded. 'He wrote: All Saints Day. It is done. I know now that I will be forever beholden to him.'

    'All Saints Day. November 1st.'


    Jessica also told him about the photograph in the back of the journal.

    'Any idea who the woman was or where it was taken?' Byrne asked.

    'None. I didn't recognize the place.'

    'And the word hell was on the back?'

    'Yeah. Just that. Hell.'

    They fell silent.

    'Now it's your turn,' Jessica said. 'What happened up in Chestnut Hill?'

    Byrne told her about his conversation with Christa-Marie. Jessica had the feeling that her partner was not telling her everything, but that was his way. He would tell her only what she needed to know at this moment.

    'She said there are going to be more killings,' Byrne said. 'She said that she could help us.'

    'And that was it? No details?'

    'No details.'

    'Did she sound ... how do I put this ...'


    'Yeah. That.'

    'I'm not sure,' Byrne said. 'Yeah, I suppose she did. A little. But I'd like to talk to her one more time before all hell breaks loose with her. You know as well as I do that the second I put this on the record they're going to send a half-dozen shrinks up there. She'll shut down completely.'

    The rain picked up again. For a few moments there was only the sound of the music from the stereo and the staccato impact of raindrops on the roof of the van.

    Byrne turned in his seat, put his hand on hers. 'You sure you're okay?'

    'Good to go,' Jessica said. 'Never better.'

    Byrne just stared.

    'Okay, I may have been better once. I think it was the summer my cousin Angela had that Thai stick.'

    Byrne smiled. He squeezed her hand, put the van in reverse. Jessica leaned forward, turned up the stereo. 'This is beautiful. Is this who I think it is?'

    Byrne reached behind her seat, picked up the CD case, handed it to her.

    'This is what we're listening to?'

    Byrne nodded. 'Yeah. Christa-Marie's nurse gave me that. She said Christa-Marie wanted me to hear it.'

    Jessica looked at the CD player, saw it was track two. She looked at the case. Track two was Nocturne in G Major by Chopin.

    'It's incredible,' she said.

    When the track was over she played it a second time.


    As they pulled out of the parking lot, Jessica read the liner notes.

    'This was recorded here in Philly, you know,' she said. 'At the Prentiss Institute.'

    'That's the music school, right? The conservatory over on Locust?' 'I think so.'

    Jessica looked at the back of the CD. At the bottom was a brief list of credits.


    Byrne looked over. Jessica handed him the CD, pointed to the last line of the liner notes.


The Echo Man
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