بخش 01 - فصل 04

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اقای مرسدس

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بخش 01 - فصل 04

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  • زمان مطالعه 8 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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4

Hodges sits where he is for two minutes, four minutes, six, eight. Completely still. He holds the letter in his hand, looking at the Andrew Wyeth print on the wall. At last he puts the pages on the table beside his chair and picks up the envelope. The postmark is right here in the city, which doesn’t surprise him. His correspondent wants him to

know he’s close by. It’s part of

the taunt. As his correspondent would say, it’s . . . Part of the fun! New chemicals and computer-assisted scanning processes can pick up excellent fingerprints from paper, but Hodges knows that if he turns this letter in to Forensics, they will find no prints on it but his. This guy is crazy, but his self-assessment–one crafty perp

–is absolutely correct. Only he wrote perk, not perp, and he wrote it twice. Also . . . Wait a minute, wait a minute. What do you mean, when you turn it in? Hodges gets up, goes to the window carrying the letter, and looks out on Harper Road. The Harrison girl putts by on her moped. She’s really too

young to have one of those things, no matter what the law allows, but at least she’s wearing her helmet. The Mr. Tastey truck jangles by; in warm weather it works the city’s East Side between school’s out and dusk. A little black smart car trundles by. The graying hair of the woman behind the wheel is up in rollers. Or is it a woman? It

could be a man wearing a wig and a dress. The rollers would be the perfect final touch, wouldn’t they? That’s what he wants you to think. But no. Not exactly. Not what. It’s how the selfstyled Mercedes Killer (except he was right, it was really the papers and the TV news that

styled him that) wants him to think. It’s the ice cream man! No, it’s the man dressed as a woman in the smart car! Uh-uh, it’s the guy driving the liquid propane truck, or the meter-reader! How did you spark paranoia like that? It helps to casually let drop that you know more than the ex-detective’s address.

You know he’s divorced and at least imply that he has a kid or kids somewhere. Looking out at the grass now, noticing that it needs cutting. If Jerome doesn’t come around pretty soon, Hodges thinks, I’ll have to call him. Kid or kids? Don’t kid yourself. He knows my ex is Corinne and we have one adult

child, a daughter named Alison. He knows Allie’s thirty and lives in San Francisco. He probably knows she’s five-six and plays tennis. All that stuff is readily available on the Net. These days, everything is. His next move should be to turn this letter over to Pete and Pete’s new partner, Isabelle Jaynes. They inherited the Mercedes thing, along with a

few other danglers, when Hodges pulled the pin. Some cases are like idle computers; they go to sleep. This letter will wake up the Mercedes case in a hurry. He traces the progress of the letter in his mind. From the mail slot to the hall floor. From the hall floor to the La-Z-Boy. From the LaZ-Boy to here by the window,

where he can now observe the mail truck going back the way it came–Andy Fenster done for the day. From here to the kitchen, where the letter would go into a totally unnecessary Glad bag, the kind with the zip top, because old habits are strong habits. Next to Pete and Isabelle. From Pete to Forensics for a complete dilation and curettage, where

the unnecessariness of the Glad bag would be conclusively proved by: no prints, no hairs, no DNA of any kind, paper available by the caseload at every Staples and Office Depot in the city, and–last but not least–standard laser printing. They may be able to tell what kind of computer was used to compose the letter (about this he can’t be sure; he knows

little about computers, and when he has trouble with his he turns to Jerome, who lives handily nearby), and if so, it would turn out to be a Mac or a PC. Big whoop. From Forensics the letter would bounce back to Pete and Isabelle, who’d no doubt convene the sort of idiotic kop kolloquium you see on BBC crime shows like Luther and

Prime Suspect (which his psychopathic correspondent probably loves). This kolloquium would be complete with whiteboard and photo enlargements of the letter, maybe even a laser pointer. Hodges watches some of those British crime shows, too, and believes Scotland Yard somehow missed the old saying

about too many cooks spoiling the broth. The kop kolloquium would accomplish only one thing, and Hodges believes it’s what the psycho wants: with ten or a dozen detectives in attendance, the existence of the letter will inevitably leak to the press. The psycho is probably not telling the truth when he says he has no urge to repeat his

crime, but of one thing Hodges is completely sure: he misses being in the news. Dandelions are sprouting on the lawn. It is definitely time to call Jerome. Lawn aside, Hodges misses his face around the place. Cool kid. Something else. Even if the psycho is telling the truth about feeling no urge to perpetrate another mass

slaughter (unlikely, but not out of the question), he’s still extremely interested in death. The letter’s subtext could not be clearer. Off yourself. You’re thinking about it already, so take the next step. Which also happens to be the final step. Has he seen me playing with Dad’s .38? Seen me putting it in my mouth?

Hodges has to admit it’s possible; he has never even thought of pulling the shades. Feeling stupidly safe in his living room when anybody could have a set of binocs. Or Jerome could have seen. Jerome bopping up the walk to ask about chores: what he is pleased to call chos fo hos. Only if Jerome had seen him playing with that old

revolver, he would have been scared to death. He would have said something. Does Mr. Mercedes really masturbate when he thinks about running those people down? In his years on the police force, Hodges has seen things he would never talk about with anyone who has not also seen them. Such toxic memories

lead him to believe that his correspondent could be telling the truth about the masturbation, just as he is certainly telling the truth about having no conscience. Hodges has read there are wells in Iceland so deep you can drop a stone down them and never hear the splash. He thinks some human souls are like that. Things like bum fighting

are only halfway down such wells. He returns to his La-Z-Boy, opens the drawer in the table, and takes out his cell phone. He replaces it with the .38 and closes the drawer. He speeddials the police department, but when the receptionist asks how she can direct his call, Hodges says: “Oh, damn. I just punched the wrong button on

my phone. Sorry to have bothered you.” “No bother, sir,” she says with a smile in her voice. No calls, not yet. No action of any kind. He needs to think about this. He really, really needs to think about this. Hodges sits looking at his television, which is off on a

weekday afternoon for the first time in months.

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