WHEN Mike got home, he slammed the door and started for the computer. He wanted to bring up the GPS computer Web site and see exactly where Adam was. He wondered about that. The GPS was approximate, not exact. Could Adam have been in the vicinity? A block away maybe? In the woods nearby or the Huffs' backyard?
He was about to call up the Web site when he heard a knock on the front door. He sighed, rose, looked out the window. It was Susan Loriman.
He opened the door. She had her hair down now and no makeup and he once again hated himself for thinking that she was a very attractive woman. Some women just have it. You can't quite pinpoint why or how. Their faces and figures are nice, sometimes great, but there is that intangible, the one that makes a man a little weak in the knees. Mike would never act upon it, but if you didn't recognize it for what it was and realize that it was there, it could be even more dangerous.
"Hi," she said.
She didn't come in. That would set tongues wagging if any of the neighbors were watching and in a neighborhood like this there was bound to be one. Susan stood on the stoop, arms folded, a neighbor asking for a cup of sugar.
"Do you know why I called you?" he asked.
She shook her head.
He wondered how to handle this. "As you know, we need to test your son's closest biological relatives."
He thought about Daniel Huff's dismissal of him, the computer upstairs, the GPS in his son's phone. Mike wanted to break this to her slowly, but now was not the time for subtlety.
"That means," he said, "we need to test Lucas's biological father." Susan blinked as though he smacked her.
"I didn't mean to just blurt-"
"You did test his father. You said he wasn't a good match."
Mike looked at her. " Biologicalfather," he said.
She blinked and took a step back.
"It's not Dante?"
"No. It's not Dante."
Susan Loriman closed her eyes.
"Oh, God," she said. "This can't be."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. You didn't know?"
She said nothing.
"Are you going to tell Dante?"
Mike wondered how to answer that. "I don't think so."
"We are still sorting through all the ethical and legal implications here-"
"You can't tell him. He'll go crazy."
Mike stopped, waited.
"He loves that boy. You can't take that away from him."
"Our main concern is Lucas's well-being."
"And you think telling Dante he's not his real father will help him?"
"No, but listen to me, Susan. Our main concern is Lucas's health. That's priority one, two and three. That trumps every other concern. Right now that means finding the best possible donor for the transplant. So I'm not raising this with you to be nosy or to break up a family. I'm raising this as a concerned physician. We need to get the biological father tested."
She lowered her head. Her eyes were wet. She bit down on her lower lip.
"I need to think," she said.
He normally would press this, but there was no reason to right now. Nothing would happen tonight and he had his own concerns. "We will need to test the father."
"Just let me think this through, okay?"
She looked at him with sad eyes. "Don't tell Dante. Please, Mike."
She didn't wait for him to respond. She turned and left. Mike closed the door and headed back upstairs. Nice couple of weeks for her. "Susan Loriman, your son may have a fatal illness and needs a transplant.Oh, and your husband is about to find out the kid isn't his! What's next? We're going to Disneyland!"
The house was so silent. Mike wasn't used to it. He tried to remember the last time he'd been here alone-no kids, no Tia-but the answer eluded him. He liked downtime by himself. Tia was the opposite. She wanted people around her all the time. She came from a big family and hated to be alone. Mike normally reveled in it.
He got back to the computer and clicked the icon. He'd bookmarked the GPS site. A cookie had saved the sign-on name, but he needed to enter the password. He did. There was a voice in his head that screamed for him to let it go. Adam has to lead his own life. He has to make and learn from his own mistakes.
Was he being overprotective to make up for his own childhood?
Mike's father had never been there. Not his fault, of course. He had been an immigrant from Hungary, running away right before Budapest fell in 1956. His father, Antal Baye-it was pronounced byenot bayand had a French origin though no one could trace the tree back that far-hadn't spoken a word of English when he arrived at Ellis Island. He started off as a dishwasher, scraped together enough to open a small luncheonette off McCarter Highway in Newark, worked his ass off seven days a week, made a life for himself and his family.
The luncheonette served three meals, sold comic books and baseball cards, newspapers and magazines, cigars and cigarettes. Lottery tickets were a big item, though Antal never really liked to sell them. He felt that it was doing the community a disservice, encouraging his hardworking clientele to throw away money on false dreams. He had no problem selling cigarettes-that was your choice and you knew what you were getting. But something about selling the false dream of easy money bothered the man.
His father never had time for Mike's Pee-Wee hockey games. That was just a given. Men like him just didn't do that. He was interested in everything about his son, asked constantly about it, wanted to know every detail, but his work hours did not allow time for a leisure activity of any sort, certainly not sitting and watching. The one time he had come, when Mike was nine years old and playing a game outdoors, his father, so exhausted from work, had fallen asleep against a tree. Even that day, Antal wore his work apron, the grease stains from that morning's bacon sandwiches dotting the white.
That was how Mike always saw his father, with that white apron on, behind the counter, selling the kids candy, looking out for shop-lifters, quick-cooking breakfast sandwiches and burgers.
When Mike was twelve years old, his father tried to stop a local hood from shoplifting. The hood shot his father and killed him. Just like that.
The luncheonette went into foreclosure. Mom went into the bottle and didn't get out until early Alzheimer's ate away enough to not make a difference. She now lived in a nursing home in Caldwell. Mike visited once a month. His mother had no idea who he was. Sometimes she called him Antal and asked him if he wanted her to prepare potato salad for the lunch rush.
That was life. Make difficult choices, leave home and all you love, give up everything you have, travel halfway around the world to a strange land, build a life for yourself-and some worthless pile of scum ends it all with a trigger pull.
That early rage turned to focus for young Mike. You channel it out or you internalize it. He became a better hockey player. He became a better student. He studied and worked hard and kept busy because when you're busy you don't think of what should have been.
The map came up on the computer. This time the red dot was blinking. That meant, Mike knew from the little tutorial, that the person was on the move, probably in a car. The Web site had explained that GPS locators eat up battery life. To conserve energy, rather than sending out a continuous signal, they give off a hit every three minutes. If the person stopped moving for more than five minutes, the GPS would turn itself off, starting again when it sensed motion.
His son was crossing the George Washington Bridge.
Why would Adam be doing that?
Mike waited. Adam was clearly traveling by car. Whose? Mike watched the red dot blink across the Cross Bronx Expressway, down the Major Deegan, into the Bronx. Where was he going? This made no sense. Twenty minutes later, the red dot seemed to stop moving on Tower Street. Mike didn't know the area at all.
Stay here and watch the red dot? That didn't make much sense. But if he drove in and tried to track Adam down, he might move again.
Mike stared at the red dot.
He clicked the icon that would tell him the address. It gave him 128 Tower Street. He clicked for the address link. It was a residence. He asked for a satellite view-this was where the map turned into exactly what it sounded like: a photo from a satellite above the street. It showed him very little, the top of buildings in the middle of a city street. He moved down the block and clicked for address links. Nothing much popped up.
So who or what was he visiting?
He asked for a telephone number to 128 Tower Street. It was an apartment building so it didn't have one. He needed an apartment number.
He hit MapQuest. The START or default address was called "home." Such a simple word yet suddenly it seemed too warm and personal. The printout told him it would take forty-nine minutes to get there.
He decided to drive in and see what was what.
Mike grabbed his laptop with the built-in wireless. His plan, as it were, was that if Adam was no longer there, he would drive until he could piggyback on someone else's wireless network and look up Adam's location on the GPS again.
Two minutes later, Mike got into his car and started on his way.