"Look at this."

I took the photo. It showed Frank in white shorts and a different Hawaiian shirt, his arm around a similarly dressed plump blond woman. The woman was holding a white bundle that was either the world's largest QTip pad or a wellswaddled baby.

"Got a family now," he said.

I smiled politely.

I handed the photo to Allison, who gave it the same bored onceover she'd given Frank.

"That means something to me," Frank insisted. "Gets me thinking in a different way.

Taking care of friends, looking after people that've been good to the department—that's one thing. But throwdowns, and with a lady in the car—"

"Yeah," I agreed. "You really know how to draw the moral line."

He spread his hands. "All right. Maybe you don't want to hear it. I just wanted you to know—"

"That your partner didn't share his plans with you," I supplied. "Doesn't make me feel any better."

Frank stared into his empty boots, then sat up and began pulling them back on. "You don't understand how it is these days, Mr. Navarre."

"I understand two people have been murdered. I understand Tilden Sheckly's got some illegal business going on which he's very anxious not to have uncovered. I understand he's playing you for a fool, giving you the pissant jobs of shaking me down, doing surveillance on the least important places, where Les has already been scared away from. What am I missing?"

"He's chicken," Allison said.

Frank stared at her coldly. "You don't know me to say that. You don't know Sheck or what he's dealing with."

Allison laughed. "Like he's a victim?"

Frank's fists closed up and his eyes became unfocused. Something about his response bothered me. His anger turned into something more like embarrassment.

The walkietalkie on his belt clicked.

He and I exchanged looks.

"I see two options, Frank. First is you help me out, tell me what's going on, maybe I can help you get to some people who will listen to your problems. The second option is you let Elgin in on this party and we see where it takes us. Which can you live with easier?"

Allison straightened up, smiling slightly, indicating that either option was just fine by her.

Frank stood. He looked around the tossedup cabin one more time, then decided on a third option.

He picked up the walkietalkie and turned on the volume. "Yo, Elgin, I'm trying again. I thought I saw something."

He took his finger off the button.

"You folks got one minute."

Allison pouted. It took a look of absolute steel for me to persuade her away from the kitchen counter and out the door.

As we walked past Frank his eyes stayed fixed on the back window. When I turned around in the doorway he was still standing like that, like a soldier at attention.


Allison and I hardly spoke on the boat ride back.

We docked at Turk's, thanked Bip for the rental, and sloshed into the store with our lakewater filled shoes. We went our separate ways in the little dusty aisles, then met back at Eustice's cash register.

I had nachoflavoured Doritos and a Nehi orange. Don't ask me why—when I'm stressed and disoriented I pick orange food. Never planned. It just happens. Sort of a dietary mood ring.

Allison had a twentyounce bottle of fortified wine.

I stared at the bottle, then at her.

"What?" she demanded.

"Death wish?"

"Fuck you."

Eustice shifted uncomfortably, tried to smile. "Ya'll have a nice evening."

We drove south, skirting the lake and heading toward the dam. The late afternoon sun was slicing through the tops of the live oaks, making the road furry with shadows and the lake glaring silver. Allison drank her grade A stomach destroyer and pushed my mother's purple glasses farther up on her nose and watched the scenery.

She only spoke when we failed to take the turn that led back to San Antonio. "We going somewhere?"

"One more stop on the Les SaintPierre tour."

"His body, I hope?"

I paused before answering, trying to keep down the irritation. "He's alive, Allison."

"Those deputy guys must've found him."

"They found the cabin. Knowing Frank and Elgin, they blew the surveillance somehow, let Les spot them before they spotted him. Les got out. He left Frank and Elgin sitting on the place, wondering when he would show up. That means Sheckly didn't kill Les, doesn't know where he is, and is anxious to find him."

"That makes one of us."

We drove over the dam. On the lefthand side the lake stretched out, twisted and glittery and dotted with little red racing boats trailing lines of wake. On the righthand side the dam's cement walls sloped down to a valley of limestone chunks and tiny scrub brush and a much reduced Medina River, strained of everything except the sludge.

"Les left in a hurry," I said.


"He was using the cabin as a stopover, someplace to complete his paperwork, collect his funds, settle into his new identity. Since he was flushed out prematurely, he'd need a place to go."


I glanced over. Allison's head was starting to loosen on her neck, her jaw drifting up and down with the bumps in the road. She was frowning and underneath the purple sunglasses her eyes were closed. The wine bottle was empty.

"You okay?"

"I'm angry." She said it calmly, her face so relaxed that she almost didn't look like herself.

"Les left you. You can be angry."

"I didn't ask for your permission, Tres."

I raised my fingers off the steering wheel. "No, you didn't."

She wiped her cheek. "And I am not crying any tears for that bastard."

"No, you aren't."

We crossed the dam and headed around the east side of the lake. On the side of the road barefoot fishermen were making their way back to their cars. College kids were loading their water skis onto trailers. Allison continued not crying over Les SaintPierre and wiping her cheeks furiously. I kept my eyes on the road.

We were almost to the village of Plum Creek before she said, "So where did he go?"


"If he got chased away from his hideyhole before he was ready, where did he go?


"Too dangerous. Hotels remember longterm guests. There's a high risk he'd randomly run into somebody he knew. And he couldn't pay the bill without attracting notice—either by leaving a paper trail with a credit card or being conspicuous by using cash. No. More likely he'd pick somebody he trusted to put him up for a while. A best friend."

"Les has forty thousand of those."

"But people he'd trust to hide him?"

"Julie Kearnes," Allison decided. "Or the Danielses."

"The Danielses?"

She nodded, stretching out her legs and crossing them at the ankles. She stared down at her feet, now bare and white and wrinkled from the lake.

"Les started out treating them like pets or something. You know—simple folk. They needed to be groomed and cared for. Eventually he started liking their company. Willis is a sweet old fart most of the time, and Miranda's an angel. And Brent's a good listener, a little selfdestructive like Les. Les became attached to him pretty quick."

"But you and Brent—"

Allison shrugged. "For the last month or so. I'm not sure Les knew and I'm not sure he would've cared if he did. With me and Brent it's just—it's not love or anything, sweetie."

She sounded like she was trying to reassure me, trying to explain away a minor illness she'd been fighting off. j

"That the way Brent sees it?"

Allison laughed for the first time since we'd entered Les' cabin. "I imagine Brent sees me as some kind of trial to get past. I guess you haven't spent much time around him, Tres. He's sweet. He's also sensitive as a raw blister with all the stuff that's happened to him, tries to punish himself every time he thinks he might be enjoying life again.

Been in his rut so long he's scared to come out, I guess. Sometimes I can't stand him.

Sometimes it feels good to be with him."

"That's disturbing," I said.

"That I've slept with him?"

"No. Your assessment of who Les trusts enough to hide with."


"Julie Kearnes was killed. And the Danielses—is this phone number what I think it is?"

I read her the number on my hand, the last number that had been dialled from Les'


Allison stared out the side window. It was a quarter mile or so before she said, "The Danielses' ranch."

"Of course it may have been dialled months ago," I said, "before Les disappeared. It may have been an ordinary call to a client."


We drove along, both of us trying to get comfortable with that idea.

We turned past the Plum Creek Dairy Queen.

The boat storage facility was uphill, a good fifty yards from the water. It was a gravel clearing fenced off with chain link and barbed wire with a large drivethrough gate.

Inside were storage sheds of corrugated metal and plywood, each just big enough to house a boat on a trailer. When I drove up, the gate was open and a family was hitching up their outboard to a Subaru fourwheeler. Or Mom was doing it anyway. The two kids were making like a trampoline in the backseat and the dad was studying a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition in the driver's seat. Allison and I got out and helped Mom get the hitch in place and connect the brake lights. Mom gave us a nice smile and asked if she should just leave the gate open. We said sure.

Les' boat shed was A12.

The chain and padlock on Les' shed door were new. Fortunately the back wall of the shed was not. The metal peeled up easily on the bottom, giving us just enough space to crawl underneath.

The walls of the shed didn't go all the way to the roof. There was about a foot of space at the top to let in light, enough to see by. Les' boat was just like Kelly Arguello had said, a twentyfivefooter with a collapsed mast and the deck covered with a blue tarp.

The tarp was tied on haphazardly but with a lot of knots and enthusiasm. We finally had to cut our way through.

I climbed onto the aft deck, then gave Allison a hand up.

The bench seats on board were white rubbery material embedded with silver glitter.

There was a small empty cabin below, a closet really. No way more than one person could fit down there.

"Okay," Allison said. "So it's a boat. So what?"

"Hold on."

I went below and searched. Nothing. On the tank of a tiny toilet was a copy of Time, August three years ago. Not encouraging.

When I came back topside Allison was prodding the deck floor with her foot. Whenever she pushed down, the blue plastic showed a square of seams about two feet by two feet.

"Life vest compartment," I said.

She and I exchanged looks.

"Why not?" I agreed.

Two minutes later we were sitting on the bench with an unearthed ice chest between us.

It was a green Igloo big enough to hold two sixpacks. When we opened it there was no beer, though. There were stacks of money. Fiftydollar bills, the same as Milo had paid me with. About fifty thousand dollars' worth. There was also a computer printout of addresses—some in San Antonio, some in Dallas and Houston. Next to each address was a date.