THE DAY AFTER KIMBERLY WAS FOUND, another girl disappeared. This one was really a young woman, with a baby. They were both found, murdered, two days later.
There had been no more than twenty protesters at the medical center the first day. Now, two thousand were in front of the TV cameras.
"So I'm fired? Just like that, Tom?"
"No, not just like that . . . and you're not fired, you're taking a leave of absence. I'ts just that . . . Harry, we can't operate as a hospital like this. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is."
"Have your lawyers read my contract? Or your accountants?"
"Don't make this even more difficult, Harry. If I don't let you go, the board will fire me and put in someone who will. You still have your private practice—"
"Tom, my receptionist quit. I don't blame her. They torched her car."
The hospital administrator shook his head. "I'm sorry about that. But I have to do what is best for the hospital. Sorry . . . If you'll wait until after dark, I'll have you taken out in an ambulance."
"No thanks, Tom. I'll take my chances." <Known him since college . . . bastard.>
Harold Watanabe sat in his office and drank. He ignored the knocking at the door; he had disconnected the doorbell. He'd unplugged the phone. He'd sent his daughters off to his sister in Seattle, and he doubted very much he would ever see them return.
He looked idly through the one manga his daughters had left behind. Naturally, it was Sailor Moon. Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon. A lovely teenage girl, culturally misplaced but otherwise normal—who had taken an attractive woman and reduced her to a wrinkled crone; then a dry cadaver; and finally a pile of dust. He was sure she hadn't meant to do it, sure that she hadn't meant to destroy his life—that was something out of a Russian novel, not a Japanese cartoon.
<Russian novel.> Arteminski. Not really a Russian— a Byelorusian Jew who'd left the Soviet Union in the seventies, first for Israel, then here. His Inspector Jabert, come halfway around the planet to hunt him to his doom.
As if to confirm his reverie, he thought he heard Arteminski shouting . . . then he realized he actually did. He took another pull, and then headed for the door.
"Sergeant! Do come in. Sorry, maid's night off. Watch your step; broken glass, you know." There wasn't an intact window left on the street side of the house. "Have a drink?"
"No, I am on duty."
"Well, more for me." He took another pull. "So, what can I do for you? Confess? Sorry, I didn't do it, so I'm afraid I couldn't make up a very good confession. Perhaps you could write one for me?"
"Since you are very drunk, your confession would be worthless, I think. I want to ask you some questions about Ms. Chilicothe."
"That's well-worn ground. I've told you I don't remember many times. I've also told you to speak with my lawyer. I'm not drunk enough to forget how to use the phone."
Arteminski held up his palms. "This is off the record, as you say. Really."
"Really . . . I've spoken with the Kino girl."
"I know that."
"No, you don't know . . . what I mean is, I have seen what the girl can do. And she said that now, you remember what she did."
Watanabe took a moment to take that in. Then he smiled, thinly. "You believe it, then?"
"Yes. What I saw the girl do fits with what the officers on the scene found. And what I was not able to remember myself . . . the girl can do things to your mind, can't she?"
"I'm not sure if it is her or the little one or both . . . but yes. That I'm very sure of . . . well, I guess this doesn't exactly exonerate me. It's not like you can tell anyone else.
"You didn't kill Ms.Chilicothe, but what about the others? All your patients, or with your patients. I'm not sure about the last one, of course, but—"
"She was . . . twelve years ago. One of the first juveniles I saw here. She sent me a Christmas card every year. And she sent me a picture of herself and her baby a few months ago, when it was born." He took a very long pull. "Her name was Louisa. Louisa May Alcott Stern. Her mother hoped she would be a poet. And she named her own baby Molly. She said she liked that name."
The cop waited for him. When the cop was sure he wasn't going to say anything else, the cop said, "Are you sure you couldn't be the killer? No one else really fits."
"You mean, could I have a divided personality? Do things with one personality the other one isn't aware of?"
"If you've read much of the prosecution testimony I've given, you should know that I don't support that theory."
"That is not what I am asking. I am asking if you are sure."
The doctor smiled thinly again, and took a final pull, emptying the bottle. "I am sure as I can be. But then . . . I believe I saw a teenage girl turn a woman into a pile of dust. And now you believe it . . . does that sound crazy to you?"
Then the doctor went into his study and unlocked a small drawer in his desk. He pulled out the revolver he had bought eight years ago, when Roberto Iturbe had escaped from prison, and locked away three weeks later, when he was shot to death by police. The doctor had almost forgotten since. There were still bullets in it. He opened his mouth and put the barrel in. Then he picked up the last picture of his wife with the girls—
And saw the note in the corner of the frame.
DONT KILL YOURSELF DOCTOR OR I KILL YOUR GIRLS NEXT.
Arteminski's itinery, via Israel, is pretty commonplace. There are no immigration quotas for Jews going to Israel, and the United States is pretty liberal about Israelis coming here.