CHAPTER 37

Boldt arrived alone at Hilltop Cemetery, struck immediately by the finality of death. Melissa had mentioned ‘‘the graveyard’’ on the digital tape. It was time to review that evidence. Hence the visit.

As a homicide cop he was surrounded by death, but not quite like this, the granite and marble headstones rising out of the lush green lawn, names rubbed illegible by decades of salt air so that the stones were nothing more than anonymous testimonies to death itself. The solitude overwhelmed him. He expected either LaMoia or Daphne to join him, having left voice mail for both, and he hoped it might be sooner than later. Visiting a graveyard seemed too close to home; he couldn’t get Liz’s illness out of his thoughts, and suddenly grief and fear overcame him. He stepped forward and leaned his weight against someone named Lillian Grace Rogers who had been in residence in that spongy earth some seventy-three years.

‘‘Do you believe in God?’’ It was Daphne standing incredibly close, just behind him. He’d called her and asked her to meet him. He thought he had found the missing link, but would need support within the department. He didn’t turn around because of his tears. But Daphne always seemed able to read his mind.

‘‘Yes. Of course,’’ he answered.

‘‘Do you have faith in God?’’ she asked.

‘‘Maybe not,’’ he admitted. ‘‘Not after twenty years in this job.’’

A light rain, a mist, began falling. Boldt pulled himself off Lillian Grace Rogers and stood erect.

‘‘Liz has faith in God,’’ Daphne said. ‘‘A deep penetrating trust. A reliance. I’m not qualifying that. It’s foreign to me, too. But until you understand the difference between your belief and her faith-

until you bridge that gap-you can’t possibly hope to understand her.’’

‘‘I have to understand her,’’ he said into the light rain.

‘‘Yes, you do.’’

‘‘So it’s incumbent on me to do this?’’ She didn’t answer. ‘‘You think?’’

‘‘She’s not the one struggling, Lou.’’

A jet passed overhead, its lights flashing, its turbines grinding. The air seemed to shake. Boldt hoped it was the air and not him.

Daphne asked, ‘‘What’s with the suit?’’

‘‘I interviewed with Boeing,’’ he said. To him it felt like a confession; Daphne, of all people, should have heard ahead of time. ‘‘Actually, I didn’t. But I was scheduled to.’’

‘‘I see.’’ She added, ‘‘Whose idea?’’

‘‘Liz doesn’t know.’’

‘‘Okay.’’

‘‘You think I’m running. From work, or from Liz?’’

‘‘I didn’t say anything.’’

‘‘I don’t understand her spirituality. Her reliance upon it. Okay?’’

‘‘But you’ve tried,’’ she said questioningly.

He turned around. She had been smart enough to wear a Gore-Tex jacket. It was green and complemented her eyes. ‘‘How does a person get there? How does a person cross that bridge?’’

‘‘You don’t have to cross a bridge. You simply have to acknowledge the other side, allow the other side to exist as equally valid as your own.’’

‘‘But it’s not equally valid!’’

‘‘So you have your work cut out for you.’’

‘‘I’m supposed to start reading the Bible or something,’’ he said sarcastically.

‘‘Maybe just talk to her about it,’’ Daphne suggested. ‘‘That’s the best bridge of all.’’ She tugged on the hood and a rivulet of water streamed down to her shoulder and cascaded off her elbow. ‘‘Why are we here, anyway?’’

‘‘I’m beginning to wonder,’’ Boldt admitted. ‘‘I thought I came here to find more graves, more bodies.’’ He added, ‘‘Maybe it was just to find what’s buried.’’

‘‘More bodies?’’

‘‘If they buried one, why not others? I’m sitting there in a waiting room at Boeing, and I’m seeing graves in photos of airplane hangars and I’m thinking Jane Doe wasn’t alone up here.’’

‘‘Isn’t it pretty tricky to exhume?’’

‘‘Extremely difficult, especially given we don’t know where to look. But if there are other women buried up here, they may hold information we need. This missing reporter mentions ‘the graveyard’ on her video. I’m thinking that’s the connection we’re missing.’’

‘‘She followed someone here?’’ Daphne suggested. ‘‘Followed someone from here?’’

‘‘The gravedigger maybe. Someone who could tell them when a fresh grave came available. They keep the women frozen until they have an opening.’’

‘‘Melissa made the connection.’’

‘‘Maybe. But if the gravedigger was on the take. .’’

‘‘He’d have to have a way to contact them,’’ she said, completing his thought.

‘‘My job is to find Melissa before she ends up here.’’

The rain slackened off and Daphne drew the hood away. She fluffed her hair and shook her head side to side. She said, ‘‘Has it occurred to you how complex an operation this is? The ships, the containers, the cargo, the rendezvous, transportation, fake IDs, graveyards, brothels, sweatshops.’’

‘‘At thirty thousand dollars a passenger, the margins are pretty good.’’

‘‘But who could pull off something like this? And with the INS out there, how long could they get away with it?’’

‘‘Big players,’’ he said. ‘‘Has to be. On that end, the Chinese Triad would know about it or control it. On this end, people like Mama Lu. That’s why I’m so interested in her. You’re right: It’s huge. It’s no mom-and-pop affair, that’s for sure.’’

‘‘But to get away with it. .’’ she said, coming back to her original thought. ‘‘My job in all this is to come up with a psych profile, a personality sketch of our suspect. I built a model. Closest thing I could come up with was a beehive. Lots of worker bees following orders. They handle the day-to-day.’’

‘‘The gangs.’’

‘‘Exactly. Then come the drones. They can give orders, but they take orders, too. You work your way up this succession of power, and the thing I kept coming back to, the bee in my bonnet-if you will-is that in the upper ranks, up near the very top, it requires, even necessitates, someone in a position of strength. Not power, not physical might; I don’t mean that. But strength: connections, knowledge, insight.’’ She added, ‘‘No matter what model you use, they don’t get away with this without someone in that position. Luck only lasts so long. The way you win in a game this big is not to rely on luck at all.’’

‘‘Stack the deck,’’ Boldt said.

‘‘Yes. Stack the deck.’’

‘‘They’ve bought someone off,’’ Boldt said. ‘‘That’s what you’re saying.’’

‘‘I don’t like it, either.’’

It started raining again. Daphne jerked the hood up over her head.

Boldt stood in the rain. ‘‘Imaging systems.’’

‘‘What?’’

‘‘I saw it on the Discover Channel with Miles. Archeologist, using technologies developed by oil companies. They found dinosaur bones without digging.’’

‘‘Dinosaurs?’’

‘‘So why not humans?’’ he asked, looking up and indicating all the headstones.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 2811 DAYS MISSING

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