Chapter 22

At some point between where the cop had pulled me over and my house, the silver ring had stopped glowing and I became visible again.

I barely noticed.

I just kept running as hard and as fast as I could and didn’t even slow when I reached our block or when I reached the steps to our brownstone.

What slowed me was the front door. It was locked — something I should have assumed — and I had to ring the bell repeatedly until my dad opened it.

“David?” he said incredulously. “Where — where have you been?”

I pushed past him into the house, hurried over to the table just beside the door where he kept his wallet and keys and breath mints and other junk he’d acquired over a typical business day.

“Where is it?” I said, sorting through the loose dollar bills and change and plastic-wrapped toothpicks.

My dad shut the door. “Where is what?”

Before I could respond my mom rolled into the hallway. She actually gasped when she saw me, placing a hand on her chest.

“Honey, what happened to you? Where have you been?”

Upstairs I heard my sister shouting, “David? Is David home?”

I ignored both of them and turned back to my dad. “The cop from last night, Officer Mallory, he gave you his card. Where is it?”

“I think I have it in my study. Why?”

I was already turning, hurrying around my mom, through the kitchen and into my father’s study. Surrounded by bookcases, his desk stood in the middle like an island. I went to it and started rifling through the papers on top until I found the cop’s card.

Dad stepped into the room. “David, what is the meaning of this? Where have you been?”

I picked up the phone on his desk and dialed the number on the card and then listened as the phone rang, hoping that I wasn’t making a mistake by calling Mallory. He’d shown patience and intelligence last night and he knew about what had happened — or at least some of what had happened — and right now I felt calling him was a better chance than trying to get through to someone at 911, someone who would transfer me to someone else who would then transfer me to someone else …

“Hi, this is Frank Mallory,” the voice mail prompt began, and I closed my eyes and listened to the rest as my mom and Emma both entered the study.

Then there was the beep and I started talking.

“Officer Mallory, this is David Beveridge, from last night. I need you to call me back as soon as possible. Please, it’s important.”

I left the house number and hung up the phone and then just stood there for a long time, staring down at the cluttered papers on Dad’s desk.

“Honey?” Mom said.

I looked up.

She glanced at my dad, cleared her throat, and in a cautious voice said, “Did you visit grandma this morning?”

Right then the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it,” Dad said, already turning to leave the study, but he wasn’t fast enough.

I flew around the desk, past my parents and sister, through the kitchen, back into the main hallway to the front door.

Holding my breath, I peeked out the window. Then exhaling, I turned the lock and opened the door.

Officer Titus stood on the other side. Wearing street clothes like he had this morning, he wasn’t the first cop I wanted to see, but he certainly wasn’t the last.

“Hi, David,” he said, smiling brightly this time, “I was in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by again to — ”

I reached out and grabbed his arm and yanked him into the house. Slamming the door shut, I said, “Thank God you’re here.”

Dad was standing in the kitchen doorway now, completely perplexed. “David, what the hell is going on?”

I looked at him and Officer Titus and shook my head. For the first time the miles I’d run caught up with me and I leaned forward, gripping onto my knees, and took a deep breath.

“You’re not going to believe me even when I tell you.”

Dad said, “What is that supposed to mean?”

The phone rang. Mom answered the extension in the kitchen. She said a few words, then called out my name.

“It’s for you.”

I looked at Dad and Officer Titus again, wanting to tell them everything but realizing just how difficult that was going to be. I hurried into the kitchen, took the phone from my wary-looking mother, and placed the handset to my ear.

“Hello?”

“David, this is Frank Mallory calling you back.”

“Oh, it’s okay now.”

“What’s okay now?”

“Officer Titus is here.”

There was a silence.

Then: “What the fuck are you talking about?”

The tone was one I never thought Frank Mallory could produce.

“Look,” I said, turning and finding that everyone was in the kitchen now — my parents, Emma, Officer Titus — “I’m sorry to have bothered you or whatever, but I needed help and that’s why I called you. But now Officer Titus is here and he’ll take care of the situation.”

“Kid” — Mallory’s voice completely toneless now — “I don’t know what your game is, but that’s impossible. James Titus was found dead this morning. He was murdered.”

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