Just before dawn, Gage walked from his hotel, past the sailboats tied up at their slips and east along Quai de Rive Neuve toward the head of the box canyon port. He bought a cup of cafe Americano at a boulangerie, then walked across the boulevard and stopped next to a small boathouse. From there he looked over the water toward the wall of stone and stucco buildings, extending from the thirteenth-century Fort Saint-Jean at the entrance to the harbor, up past the seventeenth-century city hall, and then past twentieth-century marble-faced apartment houses. He didn’t look over his shoulder, but felt the granite gaze of the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde from atop a distant limestone hill.
As he sipped his coffee and watched the steam swirling above the cup, Gage wondered whether Tabari Benaroun was already at his desk in the Hotel de Police a few blocks beyond the facades of civilian life across the water, and what he was thinking, and whether his supervisors had pressed him about where he’d spent the last two days and who he had been with.
Gage was annoyed at where Tabari had decided to draw the line; his leaving unanswered how Hennessy had gotten to the coast trail and his showing-but-not-telling-draw-your-own-conclusions method.
At the same time, Gage recognized that he hadn’t been forthright with Tabari either. He hadn’t told the young detective, and had asked Benaroun not to tell him, about how Hennessy had arranged the meeting with Abrams, about how Abrams had given the signal that it would take place, and about the reason that they were meeting.
Anyone watching him and Tabari on the trail the previous day would’ve assumed they were hikers, perhaps concluding from their clothing that one was a local who was guiding a foreigner. Two men out early, before the boaters and rock climbers, when the air was still and the path untrodden and the shadows on the inlet walls were still waning and falling toward the sea That is, almost anyone.
Gage thought of Faith. She could recognize a rite of passage where a tourist would see only a native dance.
And Batkoun Benaroun. He could recognize money laundering where a bank clerk would see only a wire transfer.
And Viz. He could recognize countersurveillance where a pedestrian walking on Madison Avenue would see only a man reading a New York transit map.
Connected dots sometimes made not just a route, but a picture.
Gage wondered who was watching him and how, and what they were recognizing in the places and things that he could still only perceive as pieces of a puzzle scattered on a floor.
A church bell rang in the distance. The faint D-G-B notes were soon lost in the rush and rumble of the early morning traffic, but they repeated themselves in his mind with a vague familiarity that merged with his imaginings of Hennessy.
In the ringing bells Gage heard the first three notes of “Amazing Grace.” And they led him to thoughts of Hennessy’s blindness, and of his coming to see, and of what must have been a struggle for redemption, and of his wife and his daughter and the trail of tears that had led them into the emotional wilderness in which they now wandered.
Gage felt a heaviness in his chest as he rested his forearms on the wooden railing next to the boathouse. He stared down at the blue water, at the rocking boats and the reflections of the lightening sky and the buildings on the other side of the port.
Maybe he wasn’t so wrong when he implied to Ibrahim’s old friend in Boston that Hennessy’s family was his client. After all, for Abrams, Hennessy’s death was merely an episode in his life, while for Hennessy’s wife and daughter, it was the event that now gave their lives its meaning.
The hymnal notes sounded again and Gage remembered walking from his Saturday job at the local newspaper when he was fifteen years old to his father’s medical office in Nogales, Arizona, stopping on the sidewalk to listen to choir practice at the storefront Papago Baptist Church, the hymn sung in a low guttural Spanish. Then he thought of Hennessy’s wandering in a desert of his inadvertent design, one that was pooled with mirages and whose horizon receded as he had advanced.
Gage let the song fade to silence in his mind, then pushed off from the railing and continued along Quai de Rive Neuve. Soon he was enveloped by the diesel exhaust of buses and the salty-slimy stench of the fishmongers’ stands lined up along the dock. He heard a yelp and glanced over to see a fisherman holding up a squirming octopus, waving it like a wet mop, and two old women giggling and backing away and then him slamming it down like pizza dough on a marble slab. Next to him a sea urchin vendor waved a sample and yelled at passersby, “Treize a la douzaine, Treize a la douzaine,” thirteen for twelve, a baker’s dozen.
As Gage passed three fishermen mending their nets near the corner, he spotted the grass meridian that split into halves the boulevard that bordered the east end of the port. Beyond it was central Marseilles: the financial district, museums, mosques, cathedrals, Arab markets, and elite chain stores.
Gage continued until he reached the spot where the broad La Canebiere, the city’s Champs-Elysees, dead-ended at the port. From there he could make out the front of the Bourse et Chambre de Commerce, the old Stock Exchange and Chamber of Commerce, where Abrams had met with the other central bankers before his planned meeting with Hennessy.
But instead of seeing the delivery trucks and commuters that were driving toward him, Gage imagined a line of limousines making a turn south.
Abrams’s car had spun off the other way and had escaped into the Basket, a maze of streets and alleys that might have served the needs of the city a thousand years earlier, but now left it choked with traffic, and might have done so on that night. If the limousine had broken through to the other side, it would have then worked its way toward Belsunce, the North African section of the city, an area of old cafes, bars, and couscousaries where Abrams would have climbed out and entered a restaurant and found a back table at which to wait for Hennessy.
Perhaps it was as simple as that, Gage said to himself as he looked from intersection to intersection, from cafe to cafe, from storefront to storefront, scanning for the place where Hennessy might have stationed himself.
Maybe Hennessy missed the signal, or worse, maybe he caught it but got stuck in traffic, his one chance lost-and he just gave up, broken under the strain of failure and of events he couldn’t control.
Gage’s eyes drifted higher toward the rooftops of surrounding office and apartment buildings and church bell towers, all places from which Hennessy could’ve watched Or could have been watched.
Had Hennessy been followed? And by someone who grasped the meaning in his motions and understood what he was trying to accomplish? Maybe just a hired hand like Gilbert and Strubb. Go. Hunt. Fetch. Don’t think. Just do.
And what steps had Hennessy taken to lose them? Abandon his car, grab a taxi, then ditch it and grab another-steal another? Each moment the clock ticking down.
Gage’s ringing cell phone crashed into his thoughts. He recognized the number. He stared at the bright screen as he forced Hennessy’s confusion from his mind, and then answered.
“Bonjour,” Tabari said. “How are the legs?”
While Tabari had driven back to Marseilles, Gage had taken the trail a few miles farther before he returned to Cassis, searching for evidence of Hennessy’s activities before his death. Gage wasn’t convinced that the stolen car found at the trailhead was connected to Hennessy. Suicides don’t wipe away their fingerprints, but car thieves do.
He hoped that Tabari could get time away from work, for today’s trip was supposed to take them to where Hennessy’s rental car had been discovered by the police three days after his body.
“I’m ready for more,” Gage said. “When-”
“It won’t be me. The transport workers have a strike scheduled for this morning. Days off have been canceled and everyone has been assigned to riot duty.”
Gage remembered reading about the last one, a month earlier. Young North African and Arab teenagers had used the pretext of a battle between the strikers and the police as an excuse to ransack and torch a hundred shops.
“My uncle is on his way to pick you up. He had a couple of errands to run beforehand, but he should be near you in a minute or two.”
And that would mean that the inspection would be all show with no chance at all of tell.
Gage scanned the storefronts, then started walking toward a canopied restaurant on the bottom floor of a triangular-shaped building at the terminus of Rue de Republic.
“Have him pick me up in front of Cafe la Samaritaine,” Gage said.
“No problem,” Tabari said. “I’m sorry I can’t help you more, but I hope today you’ll find the answers you’re looking for.”
Gage crossed the quay and sheltered himself under the cafe awning against the rising sun. From there he watched buses offloading office workers and listened to the distant wail of sirens. Two car honks from La Canebiere caught Gage’s attention a few minutes later. He looked over and spotted Benaroun waving from the driver’s window of his Citroen as he rolled to a stop along the near curb. Gage climbed in and Benaroun looped around the meridian and headed south, away from the chaos of the city and once again toward the turmoil that had been Hennessy’s last days.