F is for Fugitive Page 64


"What about her relationship to the family? She hung out here quite a bit, didn't she?"

"Well, yes. During the time she and Bailey dated."

"I get the impression both your parents were fond of her."

"Absolutely. Which only made it awkward when I tried to approach her professionally at school. In some ways, the ties were too close to permit any objectivity."

"Did she ever confide in you as a friend?" Ann frowned. "I didn't encourage it. Sometimes she complained about Bailey-if the two of them weren't getting along-but after all, he was my brother. I was hardly going to jump in and take her side. I don't know. Maybe I should have made more of an effort with her. I've often asked myself that."

"What about other faculty or staff? Anybody else she might have confided in?"

She shook her head. "Not that I ever knew." We heard the toilet flush. Ann stepped back into the bathroom while I waited in the hall. When Ori emerged, we maneuvered her back into the living room.

She shrugged off her duster and then we struggled to get her into bed. She must have weighed two hundred eighty pounds, all ropey fat, her skin paper white. She smelled fusty and I had to make a conscious effort not to register my distaste.

Ann began to assemble alcohol, cotton wipe, and lancet. If I had to watch this procedure again, I'd pass out.

"Mind if I use the phone?"

Ori spoke up. "I need to keep this line free for business."

"Try the one in the kitchen," Ann said. "Dial nine first."

I left the room.

21

From the kitchen, I tried Shana Timberlake's number, but got no answer. Maybe I'd stop by her place again in a bit. I intended to press her for information when I caught up with her. She held a big piece of the puzzle, and I couldn't let her off the hook. The telephone book was on the kitchen counter. I looked up Dr. Dunne's office number and tried that next. A nursey-sounding woman picked up on the other end. "Family practice," she said.

"Oh, hi. Is Dr. Dunne in the office yet?" I'd been told he was out until Monday. My business was with her.

"No, I'm sorry. This is Doctor's day at the clinic in Los Angeles. Can I be of help?"

"I hope so," I said. "I was a patient of his some years ago and I need records of the illness I was seeing him for. Can you tell me how I'd go about getting those?"

Ann came into the kitchen and moved to the refrigerator, where she removed the glass vial of insulin and stood rolling it in her palms to warm it.

"When would this have been?"

"Uhm, oh gee, 1966 actually."

"I'm sorry, but we don't keep records that far back. We consider a file inactive if you haven't seen Doctor in five years. After seven years, records are destroyed."

Ann left the room. I'd miss the injection altogether if I strung this out long enough.

"And that's true even if a patient is deceased?" I asked.

"Deceased? I thought it was your medical records we were talking about," she said. "Could I have your name please?"

I hung up. So much for Jean Timberlake's old medical chart. Frustrating. I hate dead ends. I returned to the living room.

I hadn't stalled long enough.

Ann was peering at the syringe, holding it needle up, while she tapped to make sure there were no bubbles in the pale, milky insulin. I eased toward the door, trying to be casual about it. She looked up as I passed. "I forgot to ask, did you see Pop yesterday?"

"I stopped by late afternoon, but he was asleep. Did he ask for me again?" I tried to look every place, but at her.

"They called this morning," she said irritably. "He's raising all kinds of hell. Knowing him, he wants out." She swiped alcohol on the bald flesh on her mother's thigh.

I fumbled in my handbag for a Kleenex as she plunged the needle home. Ori visibly jumped. My hands were clammy and my head was already feeling light.

"He's probably making everybody's life miserable." She was blabbing on, but the sound was beginning to fade. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her break the needle off the disposable syringe, dropping it in the wastebasket. She began to clean up cotton wads, the paper from the lancet. I sat down on the couch.

She paused, a look of concern crossing her face. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine. I just feel like sitting down," I murmured. I'm sure death creeps up on you just this way, but what was I going to say? I'm a bad-ass private eye who swoons in the same room with a needle? I smiled at her pleasantly to show I was okay. Darkness was crowding my peripheral vision.

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