فصل 10

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فصل 10

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  • زمان مطالعه 14 دقیقه
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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Chapter ten

Patrick’s Story

As Judge Karl Huskey drove to the hospital the next afternoon, he thought about how Patrick had changed physically in the months before his disappearance. He’d gained weight steadily. A month before he disappeared, he told Karl that he weighed 150 kilos. He grew a beard and let his hair grow long. He didn’t look like the Patrick they found in Brazil.

Although others had forgotten about Patrick a few months after his disappearance, Karl had thought about his friend every day. It was hard to believe he was really back.

When he entered the dark room, Patrick was sitting in bed with his shirt off. “Thanks for coming,” he said.

“Nasty burns,” Karl said, as Patrick put his shirt on.

“It was ugly,” Patrick said. “Doc says they’re getting better. But I need to stay here.”

“I have no problem with that, and I’m the one who decides where you stay.”

Patrick seemed to relax a bit. “Thanks, Karl. You know I can’t live in the jail. And I’ll kill myself before I go to Parchman.”

“I don’t blame you. Let’s talk about something pleasant.”

“You said you can’t keep this case. When will you give it to someone else? Who?”

“Soon. Probably Trussel.” Karl stared at Patrick, who was unable to keep eye contact. This wasn’t the same Patrick he’d known before. He decided to ask Patrick about his experiences. “Where’d you get that chin and nose?”

“Bought them in Rio. Do you like them?”

“They’re handsome. I hear there are beautiful beaches in Brazil.”

“Yes.”

There was a long silence. Karl realized that Patrick was in no hurry to talk, but he couldn’t sit silently in the dark room much longer. “Look, Patrick, I’m not here as your Judge. I’m not your lawyer. I’m your friend. You can talk to me.”

“I guess it sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Disappearing and becoming somebody new. All your problems are left behind. You dream about that, don’t you, Karl?”

“I guess everybody does at some time. How long did you plan it?”

“A long time. I seriously doubted that the baby was mine.” Karl looked surprised. “That’s right. I’m not the father,” Patrick continued. “I loved the child, but I knew Trudy wasn’t faithful. I wasn’t happy in the marriage. I gathered evidence, but I didn’t discuss it with Trudy. I was planning to leave, but I didn’t know how to do it. So I read a couple of books on how to change your appearance and obtain new papers. It’s not complicated. Just takes a little planning.”

“So you grew a beard and gained twenty kilos.”

“Yes. I was amazed at how different I looked with the beard. I wasn’t happy at work, either. One day I saw a sailboat off the coast, and I desperately wanted to be on it, to sail away to a place where no one knew me. I knew then I’d disappear, but I had to be patient. I couldn’t leave Trudy and the baby with nothing, so I bought a two million dollar life insurance plan. I planned my funeral. Then I learned about Mr. Benny Aricia and his lawsuit against the government. All the other partners were involved. I was a partner, too, but they kept their secret from me.

“Suddenly they were sending me on a lot of business trips so they could meet with Aricia without me. But I was making plans, too. When I was in Miami, I found a man who makes false passports and driver’s licenses. In Boston, I met someone who helps people disappear. In Ohio, I paid a man to teach me about bugs.”

“Tell me about the car crash.”

Patrick stood and said, “Let’s take a walk. I need to get out of this room.”

They walked down the hall and sat looking out a window.

“It was a Sunday - February the ninth,” Patrick began. “I found the place for the accident the day before. At about ten o’clock that night, I left the cabin. I stopped at Verhall’s Country Store and bought some gas. Three kilometers down the road I turned onto a dirt road and stopped. I put on some protective clothes and drove back to the highway. At the top of a steep hill, I drove off the side of the road.

“I was scared when the car went into the air. It crashed and rolled onto its side. My shoulder hurt, but I was able to climb out. I took off the protective clothes and threw them into the Blazer. Earlier that day, I’d hidden four cans of gasoline. I put three cans inside the car, and poured the gasoline from the fourth can around the inside and outside of the car. Then I stepped back, lit a cigarette, and threw it onto the car. It exploded like a bomb.”

He took a drink of soda. “I ran to find the old motorcycle I’d hidden, pushed it up the hill, and rode away. Soon I was back at my cabin. I was scared, but I knew I was running to freedom and a new life. Patrick was dead. It was exciting.”

“What about the guy burning in the car, Patrick?” Karl almost asked. Instead he said, “Weren’t you afraid Pepper would see you?”

Patrick studied his feet for a few seconds, and then said, “Pepper was gone.”

Karl ordered a pizza. After they ate, he said, “You were at the cabin.”

“Yes. It was around 11:30. I covered the windows so no one would see the lights. Then I cut my hair and colored it dark brown, and I shaved my beard. I felt like a different person. I cleaned the cabin really well and left at 1 A.M.”

“Did you have any concern for Trudy?”

“No. I knew she’d handle the shock well and that she’d be a good widow for about a month. Then she’d get the life insurance money.”

“Pepper’s gun, tent, and sleeping bag were found under one of the beds. How’d they get there?”

Patrick looked at the wall. “I don’t know.”

“Where’d you go?” Karl asked.

“To Mobile, Alabama.”

“The next morning, you were a new man in a new world. All your worries and problems left behind.”

Patrick smiled. He enjoyed telling his story now. “Most of them. It was exciting, and also frightening. I called a taxi, went to a mall, and bought new clothes. I put on my new clothes and looked like a travelling businessman. I took a taxi to the airport, rented a car, and drove to Orange Beach, where I rented an apartment. I watched the evening news and saw that I’d died in the fire after the accident. The next morning, I rented a sailboat.

Then I drove to Biloxi and watched my funeral.”

The Judge enjoyed the evening so much that he called Patrick the next day to see if they could do it again. Patrick was anxious for company. When he arrived, Karl sat next to Patrick’s bed, and they ate the pizza he’d brought.

“Why are you retiring?” Patrick asked.

“How did you know I’m retiring? I haven’t told many people, and you were in Brazil.”

“I had a spy, Karl.”

“Someone here?”

“Of course not. I couldn’t risk contacting anyone here. I had an attorney friend there. A woman.”

“Now I understand. She’s the one who has the money.”

Patrick smiled and laughed. “What do you want to know about the money, Karl?”

“Everything. Where is it? How much is left?”

“I can’t tell you where it is. There’s more money now than I took.”

“How’d you do it?”

Patrick walked across the room and stretched. Then he sat down on the edge of the bed. “I got lucky,” he whispered. “I was leaving, Karl, with or without the money I knew the money was coming to the firm, and I had a plan to get it. But, if it didn’t work, I was still leaving.”

“We got as far as your funeral last night.”

“Right. I stayed at Orange Beach a couple of days, listening to Portuguese language tapes. I also listened to conversations I’d recorded around the office, and I organized documents about Aricia. I learned how to sail and then hid in the sailboat and watched Biloxi from there.”

“Why did you want to do that?”

“I had the office bugged. I could listen to their conversations on the boat, and I recorded all of them.”

“Do you have these tapes?”

“Of course. There were hundreds of them. At night I listened to them and organized the important parts. I knew everything that was said in that office. I knew where the money was going and when it would get there.”

“So, how’d you steal it?”

“I flew to Miami. Then I used a false passport saying I was Doug Vitrano, flew to Nassau, and went to the bank that the money was being wired to. I was sitting in the managers office drinking coffee when the wire came in. I immediately had the money wired out, to a bank in Malta, with instructions to wire it onto Panama. When I left the bank, I took a taxi to the airport and flew to New York. I was extremely nervous. I was sure someone would be waiting for me when the plane landed.

“Tell me, Karl,” Patrick asked curiously, “when did you hear that the money was missing?”

Karl laughed. “Well, your partners at the firm couldn’t keep their settlement quiet. The whole town knew they were going to be very rich. They were buying big Mercedes, new houses, new sailboats. They didn’t try to hide it; they wanted people to know.

“You took the money on Thursday, March 26. The next day, I heard there were problems with the big lawsuit at the firm. The money had disappeared.”

“Was my name mentioned?”

“Not the first day. It didn’t take long, though. The bank’s hidden camera had photographed someone looking a little like you. Then people started talking. The FBI came and questioned everyone around here. A week after it happened, we all believed that you’d done it. How long did you stay in New York?”

“About a week. I had the money wired to Canada because I had a Canadian passport now. I studied Portuguese. After three months, I went to Lisbon and studied the language for a couple of months. Then, on August 5, 1992, 1 flew to Sao Paulo. I was free. No one would ever find me. I almost cried, Karl. I looked at the people and thought, ‘I’m now one of them. I’m a Brazilian named Danilo, and I’ll never be anybody else.’”

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