Chapter 22: Caper
Robert Blair Kaiser's summary of last week's chapter: In the last chapter, we see that Cardinal Grandeur's dirty tricks department has come up with proof that Cardinal Mahony's campaign for a people's Church is being financed out of a numbered $75 million account in Zurich held by Pike and the Obregón woman, money raised from the TV networks by Para los Otros. Grandeur tells Hawkslaw, "This damn movement is being financed with blood money, pulled together by one of the boldest kidnapping plots of all time." Grandeur has Hawkslaw give Mahony an ultimatum. Grandeur's information will be given to a federal grand jury (which could mean long prison sentences for Pike and Juana Margarita Obregón) or Mahony can just stop his campaign. Mahony, who feels he has been betrayed by his own A-team, has a tearful showdown with Juana Margarita Obregón, learns the total truth behind his kidnapping and its aftermath, and forgives her because he loves her. He cannot accept either of the ultimatums that Grandeur has given him. Instead, he asks the A-team for ideas: how can they stop Grandeur? After a long and fruitless brainstorming session, Rackham says they have to focus not on Grandeur, but on Hawkslaw, Grandeur's spy in Los Angeles. He recruits Phoebe to help him break into Hawkslaw's Wilshire Boulevard apartment and hack his computer. Now here's Chapter Twenty Two...
TEN AM. At 4222 South Sepulveda Boulevard, not far from his own apartment, Rackham visits a ramshackle lock shop called Keys. One man on duty there, a friend of a friend of Rackham named Gonzalo. For a fair price, with no questions asked, Gonzalo will make him a key. To do that, he will sell Rackham a black box about the size of a pack of cigarettes. The black box is a camera, fitted with a tiny fiber-optic lens on the end of a bristle-like probe. Gonzalo tells him that techies developed the lens so surgeons could look inside a patient's heart. Others had found legal and illegal uses for it. "Call it the ambiguity of human progress," he says. Then Gonzalo shows Rackham how to hook the black box up to a laptop computer and take a picture of the inside of any lock, through the keyhole. "You brought your laptop?" he says to Rackham.
"No. But I have one at home."
"Okay," says Gonzalo. "I can show you with my laptop. I have a program in it called Sesame. like in 'Open Sesame?' You just plug this black box into your laptop—after it is loaded with Sesame—then take the rig to your keyhole, any keyhole, and the probe takes a picture of the inside of the lock." He demonstrates the operation while he is speaking, walking the instruments over to the front door of his shop.
"Now, here, I insert the bristle-probe into the keyhole of this Yale lock, and we can see the picture pop right up on my laptop screen. See the pins and the key cuts inside the lock?"
Rackham nods. "I'm impressed."
"You wanna try it yourself? Let's start all over."
"Looks easy enough," says Rackham. He tries the operation. It works for him. He can see the inside of the lock on Gonzalo's front door, right there on his laptop. "Then what?" he asks.
"Then you click here, and save the picture, just like you save a Word document. Save it on your desktop. Or anwhere. Anywhere you can find it easy. Then bring it back to me this afternoon before four and I make you the key."
"How much?" asks Rackham.
Gonzalo squints at him "A thousand."
"A thousand pesos? For one key?"
Gonzalo laughs, knowing the man in the wheelchair is kidding, reminding Rackham that for a thousand U.S. dollars, he will get the key and the black box, too—"for future jobs." Rackham rolls his eyes at the thought he might ever volunteer for another job like this. He extracts ten one hundred dollar bills from his wallet and hands them over. "This include the software, too? Sesame?"
"Absolutely. Here is Sesame. On this data key. Just plug it into a USB port on your laptop and you are in business. Don't forget to download Sesame into your laptop."
ELEVEN AM. From the van, parked across the street, Rackham and Phoebe are watching 9999 Wilshire. It is a neighborhood of high rise apartments, no commercial real estate, no shops, no foot traffic, and, this late on a Saturday morning, no heavy auto traffic either. He and Phoebe keep an eye on the exit of the high rise's parking garage. "He's gotta come out sometime today."
"Shopping. Haircut. Some kind of Saturday errand."
"Unless he shopped and got a haircut yesterday."
"Uh huh." Rackham hunches over the wheel and frowns and rubs his neck.
Phoebe sees he is feeling some tension. She reaches over, massages his neck and upper back muscles. "Feels good," he says. "Thank you." Rackham briefs her again on her moves. One more time. And then one more time after that. By 1:00 PM, Phoebe is also feeling the tension. Rackham reaches over and rubs her neck. No sign yet of Hawkslaw's vehicle.
At 1:33, they smile when they spy a yellow convertible spinning out of the garage. It is Hawkslaw, driving with the top down, wearing a blue and white Dodgers cap.
"Okay, girl, there goes the Hawk. Now we park on the other side of the street." Rackham starts his van.
Phoebe says, "We're just going to wait for another car to come out?"
"Uh huh. Or see a car coming in. Then we slip in before the gate closes."
In less than five minutes, Rackham perks up. "Here's a Lexus, coming from Westwood, slowing up here." The Lexus makes a left turn into 9999 Wilshire, the driver punches in on a key pad, the gate rises, and he guns his Lexus in.
Rackham is five seconds behind him, easing his van into the garage, parking in a space near the elevator bank marked VISITORS, and waving with a smile to the man walking toward the elevators from his Lexus. Rackham takes two minutes getting his motorized wheelchair out of the back of his van. By the time he and Phoebe reach the bank of elevators, the Lexus guy is gone, and no one else is in sight.
He punches a button that says LOBBY and she punches one that says PENTHOUSE.
While Rackham engages the doorman in conversation, mainly to distract him, Phoebe, well-briefed now, proceeds to Hawkslaw's door, Penthouse B, carrying Rackham's black nylon computer bag. She kneels to extract Rackham's laptop and the little black box, then inserts the probe into the lock. She snaps several pictures of the lock's interior, remembering to save them to the desktop.
The whole operation takes her less than a minute, but, even so, she is trembling at the thought that Hawkslaw could be returning at any moment. According to the plan, she takes the elevator directly to the garage and waits for Rackham.
In less than five minutes, he is wheeling his way out of the elevator, all smiles. Phoebe is all smiles, too. She watches Rackham get into his van, fascinated with the way automakers have designed this vehicle for the handicapped.
"You obviously got it," said Rackham, over the whirr of the motor that raises the van's tailgate and draws his wheelchair into the back of the van and then eases him forward to a spot behind the steering wheel. By then, Phoebe has climbed into the front passenger seat. When he locks his wheelchair in place, she hands over Rackham's black nylon computer case. "Do I have to look at this?" he asks.
She shakes her head. "I got the pictures. Slam dunk."
He opens the laptop anyway and finds the image of the inside of the lock, and a second and a third. "Perfect," he says.
"Good. I don't want to have to go up there again. He could have come up the hall and caught me in the act. This is crazy."
"Espionage is not for the faint of heart."
"I'll say. What unbelievable story did you tell the doorman?"
"I told him I was working with the caterers who are doing the party tomorrow."
"I was hoping there'd be a party."
Phoebe grins. "Is there a party tomorrow?"
"As it turns out, there is."
"The doorman buy your story?"
"Not at first. But when I took offense—I was loud and I was profane, complaining that no one can ever believe I am gainfully employed because I am wheelchair bound—he backed right off, with apologies. 'That's all right,' I said. 'Now I just wanna make sure we can get in to set up our party tomorrow night.'"
According to Rackham, the doorman consulted his clipboard and found a notation for the "Bornstein party Sunday night."
"That's it, the Bornstein party," Rackham fumed. "But, damn it, no one told us how to get our van into the garage. I think they were supposed to give us one of those cards—you know, with a magnetic strip."
The doorman, a young Hispanic who was overcompensating for his initial rudeness, was more than helpful. "You won't need a card," he said. "Just enter our four-digit code and you will get right in."
"And what is that code?"
"On Sundays, it is 9991. It's the address on the front of the building, except for the last digit, which changes every day. On Mondays, it is 9992. And so on."
Phoebe smiles, marveling at Rackham's good luck.
"The harder I work," he says, "the luckier I get."
As they pull out of the garage, Rackham says to Phoebe, "Just to make sure, why don't you just hop out and give that keypad four little punches. It's Saturday, the seventh day of the week. Try 9997."
She does that. And as the gate starts to rise, she hustles back to the van.
"This is too easy," she says. "Worries me. How easy will the rest be?"
Rackham chuckles. "Crime is easy. Comedy is harder."
AT 6:00 PM, THEY INVADE the garage again. Rackham takes a complete turn around the garage, up one aisle and back down the other, looking for Hawkslaw's yellow Mercedes convertible. "Not here," he says. "So far, so good."
Rackham parks the van near the elevator bank as before, backing into a handicapped space near the elevator bank. It takes him two minutes to exit the van. "Okay," he says finally. "you got the rake?"
He is referring to a three-foot bamboo rake, which Phoebe will use when they leave Hawkslaw's apartment, to cover up the tracks of Rackham's wheelchair on what they imagine will be the apartment's wall-to-wall carpet. "Yes," she laughs. "I got the rake." She shows it to him, then halfway hides it under her denim jacket. Soon, the two of them are in the elevator heading up to Hawkslaw's penthouse.
Strangely, no one challenges them—which is probably because no one sees them.
Rackham is humming. "Saturday night security isn't very secure," he says.
Phoebe nods. "How much time do we have?"
"We could assume a couple of hours, at least."
"If, that is, the Hawk is really at the game."
"So why don't I call him on his cell?" asks Phoebe. "I can probably tell where he is, by the background noise."
"Wait," he says. "Is your cell phone secure?"
"I mean is your ID blocked?"
"No. I don't think so."
"Well, then, don't call him on your cell phone. Take my Treo. It's secure. And call the landline in his apartment first, just to make sure." Her knees buckle at the thought that Hawkslaw could be sitting there in his apartment. He laughs. "Just teasing. But, I mean, his car could be in the shop."
Phoebe punches up Hawkslaw's home number, lets it ring until the voice mail comes on, and hangs up.
"Now try his cell," he says.
She does. Hawkslaw picks up on the third ring. She knows his voice. "María?" she says.
"No," he says. "What number are you calling?"
She can hear other voices in the background, but it doesn't sound like he's at the ball game. He is polite enough not to hang up, and she is glad of that because she needs to hear more, and so does Rackham. "I'm sorry," says Phoebe, trying to affect an Hispanic accent. "Is thees seven seven three four seex four seex?"
"No," he says, "you're close, but you have two of the numbers turned around, okay?"
As he speaks, Phoebe is handing the cell phone to Rackham, so he too can listen to the background noise. He listens for a moment and hands it right back to her. "Okay, muchas gracias," Phoebe says, "I hope I deed not disturb you." She hangs up.
"So where is he?" he demands. "Ball game?"
"Sounds more like a restaurant. I heard some voices and the tinkle of some glasses, and faint music in the background."
"So did I," says Rackham.
"Could be the sounds in the owner's box. They serve dinners there, don't they?"
"I have never been in the owner's box. Sure, I guess they dine elegantly in the owner's box. But I doubt they pipe in music. I heard violins."
"Then," she quails, "we have to assume he is not at the game? Maybe out for dinner?"
"I'd say that's a pretty good guess." He pauses. "This makes things more risky." He looks at his watch. 6:44 PM. "If he's doing an early dinner, he could be home by eight, eight-thirty."
"So, let's move it!" she cries.
THEY EXIT THE ELEVATOR on the top floor, Phoebe almost sprinting up the hallway in her tennis shoes, Rackham whirring along behind her in his motorized chair. At the door of Penthouse B, they slip on some cheap surgical gloves, and turn off their cell phones. Phoebe tries the key. Gently. Softly. It fits. She turns the key. "Open Sesame," she whispers.
The door opens, and they are in. Rackham says, "Let's not turn on the lights in the foyer, or in the living room either." He wheels around the apartment. A great room with a big picture window looking to the north, an unobstructed view of the Santa Monica Mountains, a large kitchen, a master bedroom with the same mountain view, and a medium-size second bedroom, which Hawkslaw has turned into an office furnished with a desk, a blue Aeron swivel chair and a Hewlett-Packard computer and printer sitting on an adjacent table. A soft black briefcase sits on the floor next to the chair.
Rackham pushes the chair aside, maneuvers his wheelchair into position in front of the computer, and turns it on. But he cannot log on without Hawkslaw's password. Terrific. He checks the Post-its tacked to the computer, the desk drawers, the bottom of the keyboard, the underside of the desk, looking for any anomalous number-letter combination that might be a password (or passwords). Nothing.
The passwords are probably around somewhere. People are told these days to create passwords of random numbers, letters, and symbols so no hacker can crack into their privacy. Trouble is, few can remember their own high-security combinations, so they write them down. But where? He scans Hawkslaw's Rolodex, flips through the pages of a comic calendar (Far Side cartoons, one for each day of the year), looks in the desk drawers. Still nothing. He checks the satchel, finds the usual junk—pens, pencils, some business cards, a pair of sunglasses, Hawkslaw's passport and, tucked away in a pen slot, a USB memory key on a neck strap. Aha.
He sticks the key into his own laptop's USB slot and dumps the contents of maybe one megabyte onto his hard drive.
"What'd you find?" asks Phoebe, looking over his shoulder.
"Maybe nothing. I don't know. let's see."
He sees a good deal of churchy correspondence with e-mail addresses like <archdiocesedenver.org> and a good many recent ones <archdiocesephilly. org>, but opens none of them. "We can review these later," he says. "We need to get into his HP."
"We've been here twenty minutes," Phoebe says. "We're pushing it. People notice lights. People come home. We have to leave."
"Can't leave unless and until we can say, 'Mission accomplished.'"
"Oh great. We stay here until Hawkslaw comes home and finds us here. The cardinal will die if he gets a call from Hawkslaw telling him he's found us snooping in his apartment and has called the police."
Rackham shakes his head. "I'm thirsty. Can you get me a glass of water?"
She finds water bottles in the refrigerator, brings him one, and one for herself, too. They are both thirsty, and the cold water calms them down a little.
"Look," he says. "I have to at least try to guess some possible passwords. you have his coordinates in your iPhone?"
She does. He tries variations on Hawkslaw's phone numbers. Nothing, He tries <msgr123> and then <msgr345> and <msgr678>. Nothing. "you have his social?"
She does and reads it out to him, and he tries any number of words linked to the last four digits of his Social Security number, which is 1723. Nothing. A half-hour later, still nothing. He rubs the back of his neck. "I am almost ready to give up," he says.
"What do you mean, 'almost?' It's after eight. I'm getting so nervous I am going to pee my pants."
"You, too?" he says. "I think we both better go to the bathroom. you first. It takes me more time, getting out of, and back in, this damn thing." He rattles his chair.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW?" she asks.
He is back into his laptop. "I am taking another look at the downloads from this memory key. gotta be something hidden there."
She moans. "Five minutes. I am giving you five more minutes. That's all."
"Okay, okay," he says. "Now I have to look inside his documents, look for some anomalies."
"Yeah," she says, "but which one?"
"Some one thing that is not like the others."
She cannot help looking over his shoulder. "Do I make you nervous?" she asks.
"I am already nervous. Please rub my neck while you are looking, okay?"
"Here, in his My Documents directory, something different. looks like he's writing a novel. A crime novel?"
Phoebe, rubbing his neck muscles and staring at the screen: "Hey, this isn't his novel. It's a Father Brown mystery. He must be reading it on- screen."
"What's a Father Brown mystery?"
"G.K. Chesterton, famous British convert to Catholicism, journalist and author of about a hundred books, including several crime novels centering on a priest who is also a pretty good sleuth. Sort of a Sherlock Holmes in a Roman collar."
"Jeez. Who reads novels on their computers?"
"Apparently Hawkslaw does. you can download lots of 'em these days off the Internet, particularly the classics that are already in the public domain, which these are. you can download 'em into your computer, or into a reader, even into your Palm Pilot."
"Doesn't make any sense," says Rackham. "you can get these books in paperback, can't you? lot more portable than a laptop, or even a text-reader. I'd go blind trying to read a novel on my Treo."
"You're right. Doesn't make sense. So why is Chesterton lurking in Hawkslaw's memory key?"
Rackham brightened."Hang on a minute,"he says."'lurking.'you just used the word 'lurking.' Maybe something else is lurking, or hiding, in this novel." He types the numeral 1 into a Find box, gets a single irrelevant hit, then gets another irrelevant hit with the number 2. But with number 3, he gets <38@3frt8laqla>.
"That's got to be a password," cries Phoebe.
He types the number 4 into the Search box, and the Find function comes up with <46&5984laqrr4la>.
"Another password!" squeals Phoebe.
"Pretty damn smart," he says. "Instantly accessible, and completely portable with the data key, and totally invisible."
"Invisible?" says Phoebe. "Not to us."
RACKHAM TAKES THE NEXT STEP, swiveling over to Hawkslaw's HP, trying the first password. "Shazam!" he says. From there, the rest is easy. He cables his laptop into the HP and proceeds to download the entire contents of Hawkslaw's main directory into his Macintosh Powerbook. "Both computers are fast," he tells Phoebe, "but this will take about five minutes." He watches the names of the folders whiz by, pleased to see that a whole series of them are named FINANCIAL—starting with FINANCIAL 1986, and ending with FINANCIAL 2008.
Still looking over Rackham's shoulder, Phoebe points out another directory on the computer's desktop. "Have you checked on that?" she asks.
He tries, but he is blocked with a prompt for a new password. "Damn!"
"You've got another password, remember? The second one with the fours in it?"
Rackham shakes his head and grins. "Right! Forgot we had that." He types in <46&5984laqrr4la> and he's in. Only three folders there, one called CHIlD PORN, another labeled PRETTY YOUNG MEN, and a third called FOG.
"Let's not even look," she says.
"We don't have time to look," he says as he downloads the contents of the second directory. "We get his stuff and we get ready to scram out of here."
"Thank God," says Phoebe, with a glance at her watch. It is 8:37.
"You got your bamboo rake?"
She nods. "Right over near the door." While Rackham disconnects his cable and stuffs his laptop into his little black tote bag, she rakes over the wheel marks throughout the apartment, even drops to her hands and knees to wipe the tiled bathroom floor with wads of Kleenex, which she flushes down the toilet. When she returns to the office, she finds Rackham peering into his own laptop. "What're you doing? We have to get rolling. Now!"
He grins. "I couldn't resist looking at this last folder, FINANCIAL 2008. look here, he's recorded hundreds of thousand dollars worth of receipts from some of the major textbook publishers in the land. Along with explanatory notes to himself. Apparently, he was not only getting kickbacks for business he was conducting on behalf of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Looks like he has been getting credit for business the publishers were doing in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, St. Louis and New Orleans. Whatever you say about Hawkslaw, he wasn't selfish. He shared the loot with his colleagues in some the country's major cities."
As intrigued as Phoebe is, she is also fuming. "We have to get going. What do we do with these?" She holds out two empty water bottles.
"Here," Rackham says. "Put 'em in my bag." He is still peering into his laptop.
"What are you doing now?"
"You want to take a look at the other folders?"
"No!" she cries. "You should send 'em to the Trash."
"We'll see, Phoebe. We'll see.
"What do you mean, 'we'll see?'"
"We won't use 'em if we don't have to. Depends on what kind of reaction we get when we tell Hawkslaw what we have."
"What do you mean, 'we?' We're going to tell him?"
"Well, maybe Roger might want to do that."
RACKHAM WHEELS OUT of the apartment first, Phoebe right behind him with her rake, hyperventiLating all the way. "It's 8:43," she says in a whisper. "What'll we do if Hawkslaw comes out of the elevator right now?"
"He know you?" He is whispering, too.
"I was on the cover of Time, remember? He knows you, too, doesn't he?"
"I've only seen him twice."
"Well, his memory won't need much jogging if he sees you now. How many other men does he know who go whizzing around town in a motorized wheelchair?"
Phoebe dumps the rake down a trash chute in the hallway, and, seconds later, they are scooting into the elevator. Phoebe punches the button marked GARAGE and heaves a sigh of relief when the doors close and the car descends.
But the elevator stops at the first floor, where a security guard says he needs to talk to them. His name tag says he is Julius Jackson. He says he has seen them on his closed circuit television monitor, coming down on the elevator from the penthouse floor. No telling why he didn't see them when they were on the way up, but maybe he feels guilty now that he didn't, and he wants to cover his behind.
"Hey," says Julius Jackson, "you want to tell me what you were doing up on the penthouse floor?"
Without a beat, Rackham tells him something close to the truth. "Visiting Monsignor Hawkslaw in Penthouse B. We work with him down at the archdiocesan headquarters."
"Your car in the garage?"
"My van is."
"How'd you get in?"
"Monsignor gave us the code. Nine nine nine seven."
"He up there now?"
"I imagine so. We just left him there."
"Just a minute, huh?" The guard saunters over to his station, turns some pages in a directory of some sort, and dials a number on his phone.
Phoebe whispers to Rackham, "I am having a heart attack."
The guard lets it ring. "All I get is a voice mail message."
"I guess he turned his phone off," says Rackham. Phoebe has to hand it to him. He certainly knows how to keep his cool. "We had a lot of work to do tonight. He was tired. Said he was going right to bed."
The guard looks dubious. "Well," he says after giving the situation some thought, "I am not gonna go up there and disturb him. And I am not gonna call my superior on a Saturday night. But, do you mind if I see your IDs? Driver's licenses maybe?"
Phoebe says, "Sorry, I don't drive."
Rackham says to himself, Good girl. She can lie and smile while she lies. But if they can only get out of here tonight with his laptop, his own identity won't matter. Hawkslaw will know about this caper soon enough—after the fact. "Sure," he says to the guard, "I drive a special van. Here's my license."
The guard takes Rackham's California driver's license over to his station and copies it on a Xerox machine. It takes him a minute, but to Phoebe, it seems like an hour. "Thank you very much, Mister uh Mister Rackham. And you, too, Miss Uh . . . Uh."
She wants to scream. "Jones."
"Right. Have a good, uh, good night. Mister Rackham. And, uh, Miss Jones."
Rackham is careful not to call him Julius. "you too, Mister Jackson."
RACKHAM HAS JUST COMPLETED the two-minute drill to launch him into the back of his van, onto the motorized tailgate and on up to the front of the van, which is facing out into the garage. Just as he locks himself behind the wheel, they hear a car whizzing into the building and heading to a parking place in the far aisle.
From her place in the front seat, Phoebe says, "I think that was a yellow Mercedes convertible."
"Let's duck," says Rackham, For him, that is easier said than done. He has to fall out of his chair and try to hide under the dashboard, and do it quietly, too.
"Is he coming over to check us out?" whispers Phoebe from under the dash. "Or is he just headed to the elevator?"
"I don't know. And I am not going to rise up and look."
"I can hear him coming our way," she says. "Lucky it's pretty dark in here."
Rackham can hear the man's footsteps, then sense his hesitation when the footsteps stop right in front of the van. Long pause. If they can read his mind, they suspect he is saying to himself, Now where have I seen this van before?
Finally, they hear the footsteps again quickening past the van. Twenty seconds later, Rackham raises his head in time to see Hawkslaw trotting toward the elevator bank.
Rackham gives it twenty seconds more, then tells Phoebe, "He's out of sight. Probably waiting for the elevator. We better not move yet."
"We can't stay too long," says Phoebe. "What if he stops to talk to the guard on the first floor?"
"By then we gotta be long gone." Phoebe helps him struggle back into his chair, and, once he is in, Rackham doesn't wait another second. He starts the engine and heads for the exit gate, congratulating himself for parking in a getaway mode.
"Uh oh," cries Phoebe, peering into the rear-view mirror on her side of the van.
"The Hawk. He's coming after us." She sees Hawkslaw's figure moving into a shaft of light coming from the elevator bank. Rackham guns it, knowing he doesn't have to key out for the gate to open. It will start automatically as soon as a vehicle comes within ten feet. But the gate better not be sluggish.
Phoebe cries, "The security guard is right behind him. They're both running now." The van approaches the gate, which begins to rise. Rackham edges up to the gate as close as he can. He wants to go, but he can't risk crunching the gate, which is moving too slowly.
"Hey, stop!" cries Hawkslaw, slapping the back of the van just as Rackham clears the gate, and pulls up the incline, laying rubber and a trail of smoke on the driveway. He makes a hard right on to Wilshire Boulevard, dodging a VW bug in the right lane and fishtailing into the left lane.
Phoebe, who has been holding her breath for the past twenty minutes or so, exhales, then laughs. "Nice going, Clyde."
"Okay," says Rackham with a maniacal grin. "Thanks, Bonnie."
THEY ARE HEADED SOUTH on Westwood Boulevard. "I wonder," asks Phoebe, "if Hawkslaw or the guard got your license number?"
"In a way, I hope the guard was getting my number. Better that than drawing his gun."
"If he got your license number, the cops will probably have an APB out on this van inside thirty minutes."
"That's enough time for me to get you to your convent. And enough time for me to get to my place off Pico."
"You better not go to your place," says Phoebe.
"And why not?"
"Because Officer Julius Jones has a copy of your driver's license, remember? It's got your current address on it, doesn't it?"
"Damn," says Rackham.
"So where will you go?"
Rackham ponders, but only for a moment. "Gotta get to Roger sooner or later. Might as well be tonight. Judge Riley's beach house. Roger's still gotta be there. With the others."
"He's probably been phoning you."
Rackham turns on his Treo and finds he has a dozen messages, nine of them from Roger Mahony, and three from Nick Pike. He listens to the first message from Mahony, then hits the repeat button so Phoebe can hear it, too, and hands it over to her.
She listens, then listens to the rest of the messages. "Roger is really pissed off. And he doesn't even know what you've been doing tonight. you're in big trouble, Ted."
"What do you mean, 'you're in trouble?' What have you been doing tonight?"
Phoebe nods. "you're right, Ted. I'm in trouble, too. We're in trouble. We'd better face the music together. I'm not going back to my convent. Make a U-turn here and get us on the I-10 headed west—to Malibu."
"CARDINAL MAHONY – A NOVEL" now serialised in Spanish HERE
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