The police came for Tom before the doctors did. Officer Loretta Graves, short and solid, hair pulled back in an unforgiving ponytail, pulled Tom aside in the lobby.
“I need to ask you some questions.” Her voice was calm but firm, and, to Tom, came from a thousand miles away.
“Sure,” Tom said. He glanced at Ellen, then moved with Officer Graves on toward the doors of the hospital chapel.
“Your friend, Jon. Somebody took a shot at him.”
“Any idea who?”
He nodded again. “His name’s Valiss. Conrad Valiss.”
Tom watched her, looking for a reaction, but got nothing.
“And Conrad Valiss,” Graves said, “what’s he got against Jon?”
“We found a body,” Tom said. This was true. He’d found Rebecca, shot dead inside her home, wearing black lipstick as if she’d known what was coming. “I think he killed someone else. I think he tried to scare us off.”
Graves reached for the radio pinned up against her shoulder. “And this body. Where is it?”
He gave her Rebecca’s address.
Officer Graves turned away, then, and radioed in this new information. Tom was closer to a breakdown than he would have liked. There was that swollen feeling in his chest, the sudden narrowness of his throat. And there was the ground, which pulsated beneath his feet, beating in time with his heart. He knew this feeling. It was the way he felt the day he lost his parents.
Graves turned back, said something he didn’t hear. She looked tired, Tom thought, and it made him tired, too. The whole world needed to sleep. The whole world needed to close its eyes for a little while longer.
“Tom,” Graves repeated, “are you listening? We’re going to need to ask you some more questions. I know you’re worried about your friend. But this is important. Understand?”
“Sure,” Tom said.
“So what I need now is to know you’re going to be here when I come back,” said Graves. “This guy, Valiss. If he did this, we’re going to find him. We need you to be around when we do.”
Graves eyeballed him, then looked somewhere off behind Tom’s head, like she could see an idea sneaking up on him. She reached for her radio again, glanced back at Tom, then headed off for somewhere unknown.
Ellen had stepped outside, smoking a cigarette in front of the metal sign that forbade it. She spotted Tom coming toward her, and flicked the butt into the bushes.
“Well?” said Ellen.
“We need to go.”
“What? What about Remley?”
Tom shook his head. “Clock’s ticking. Shit happens, it happens, but we’ve got to move if we’re going to do this. You got your bump keys?”
She patted her pocket by reflex, but her face knotted up. “Tom, what are you talking about? What’s going on?”
“The cops are going to pick up Valiss,” said Tom. “And when they do, we’ll be there, waiting outside his office. We’re going in, Ellen. We’re going to find out who he’s working for.”