Chapter Eleven, Part Two




    I dragged myself up the Whites’ driveway, panting. The gate was wide open, and there was no guard on duty. This made no sense to me, so I pushed myself harder to catch up with Reggie and Banks, who were far ahead. It was dark out, the clouds obscured the moon and stars, and gusts of air flew over my sweating skin, making me shiver. I managed to find my way by the security lights.
    Why couldn’t we drive all the way to the door? I wondered. And where in hell are all the guards?
    Reggie and Banks had both seemed to believe that stopping at the bottom of the hill up to the driveway would give us the edge of surprise. By the time I had reached the front door, Banks had been knocking for some time, and Reggie had finally tried the knob. Pat White pulled it open just as the kid was turning the handle.
    “How can I help you, detectives?” Pat asked. He coerced his facial features into a mockery of a smile. He held a glass of scotch in his left hand, and motioned with his right that we could all enter. “You’ll have to forgive me, Patty’s ‘out’ tonight.” He laughed, and though the sound was not entirely mirthless, it sent my skin crawling. “I’m afraid the place is a mess.” As we followed Mr. White back towards his study we could see that the entire house had been turned upside down.
    “Something missing, Pat?” Reggie asked. The turquoise and pink modern abstracts that hung on the walls were skewed. Every closet door was open. Every drawer in the house seemed to have been torn out and upturned. I nearly tripped over a sheet that lay on the floor. It was cream colored, with purple flowers on it. It seemed familiar.
    “Oh, just a souvenir,” Mr. White said, taking a gulp from his beverage. “Nothing of importance. A book of, well, an old book. My father gave it to me.” He chuckled. “It all seems so pointless and clear now. They finally got us. Those Goddamned Renards.”
    Banks turned towards Reggie, and reached for the book that was concealed in her jacket. Reggie winked at her but shook his head and put his fingers to his lips.
    “I’m not sure I follow you, Pat,” Reggie said. “But whatever you’re missing, maybe we can help you find it?”
    “Ha! No, it’s gone,” he said. “Just as my wife’s gone. And my sons are gone. You’ve identified the corpse by now, haven’t you?”
    “Yes,” Banks said. “Paternity came back positive. It’s your son.”
    “Then that’s it,” he said. They’ve all gone.”
    “Pat, didn’t you say this place had security?” Reggie asked.
    “I gave them the night off!” he threw his head back, laughing again. We had reached his study. He collapsed in his big, black chair. “Permanently. Nothing for them to protect. Just a miserable piece of land, with a miserable house, and a miserable, lonely old man.”
    “Pat,” Banks said, as though she were speaking to a toddler who was holding a loaded firearm, “where’s Patty?”
    “Patty had Sheriff Angelini serve me with these this morning.” He picked a stack of papers off the desk and threw them at us. While they were still in the air he pulled a bottle of scotch from a desk drawer and refilled his drink. Reggie caught the document and I could read the word ‘Divorce’ on its face.
    “I won’t be having any more heirs. My sons are dead, my wives are dead or gone. The White line is finished. I’m sure that Salazar’s happy. And Renard’s laughing at me. I thought I could take him. I thought I could end the curse.”
    “There’s no such thing as curses, Pat,” Reggie said.
    “No! Or werewolves! Or pirate gold! But you know what?” He gulped down his drink. “I loaded that gun with silver bullets anyway. And now that Renard kid’s dead!” He slammed his empty glass down, and poured another.
    I nudged Banks. She ignored me. I elbowed her. She scowled. When she made eye contact with me I gave her hard look. Something clicked and her eyes lit up.
    “I should probably advise you you’re under arrest, Mr. White,” Banks said.
    “Bah!” White waved his hand at us. Banks continued in a dutiful monotone.
    “Anything you say can be used—”
    “‘—against me,” he cut in, reciting the litany of Miranda rights in a sing song voice. “I watched Dragnet. I know my Goddamned rights. I’m telling you,” he insisted, banging his fist with each word, “that kid was a werewolf!”
    “Don’t you think anyone would have died from a point blank shot to the heart?” I asked. “Werewolf or no? Silver bullet or no?”
    “I’m telling you, if you could read the book!”
    “We’ve read the book,” Banks said, throwing the book at him.
    “You? Where did you find this?” Pat gasped.
    “First thing’s first,” Reggie said, putting his hands on the desk and leaning in. White staggered back into his chair. Reggie’s short stature didn’t seem to matter. Nor did White’s six feet or more of height. “Do you have anything you want to add to this?” He pulled a pen from his pocket and put it in White’s hand.
    “Only,” Pat began, and then he started weeping. He put his head in his hands and actually began crying. “Only that I’m a Goddamned coward. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t! I gave the gun to Patty to give to Mike. The gun with the silver bullets.”
    “Wait,” Banks said, “you’re denying that you killed Noah Renard?”
    “I might as well have pulled the damned trigger myself,” he said. “Who cares what I deny?”
    “And what about your own son?” Reggie growled, still leaning over the desk.
    “What?” Pat said. “No. Isn’t what I’ve said bad enough? What more do you want?”
    “No, it wasn’t enough, Pat. It didn’t work,” Reggie said. “Killing Noah didn’t get Renard off the property. Blaming them for Melvin’s disappearance didn’t, either. Jack Renard got out of jail, his family didn’t pack up and move, they didn’t give up. So you decided to frame them better this time. You needed a body. Your son’s body.”
    “I never touched Melvin,” Pat insisted.
    “No, Pat,” Reggie agreed. “You tried, but you never did. Melvin’s still alive. He had this book. He led us right to it.”
    “But she just said!” Pat pointed just over Banks’ left shoulder. He swayed, and pointed just past her right side. His arm collapsed to the desk.
    “You had another son,” Reggie said.
    “He died years ago,” Pat said.
    “Did he?” Reggie asked. “Or did you just stop paying the bill at the home you’d put him in?”
    “I went to his funeral!” Pat rose slowly, unsteadily out of his chair. “I can take you to his grave! Haven’t I admitted enough?”
    “Oh, come on now,” Reggie said. “You know how ‘convincing’ Patty can be. You sent her to convince the Sheriff to arrest Renard, didn’t you? She worked her ‘magic’ on some doctor years ago, he signed a phony death certificate, and Patrick Junior goes out on the street!”
    “No! Patty’d never—”
    “You called him Packey, didn’t you, Pat?” Reggie continued. “Did you know that for the last month, Sam and I have been dropping quarters in his cup? Did you ever go visit him?”
    “He was dead! Oh God.”
    “There’s no such thing, Pat.”
    “I didn’t touch Packey,” Pat said, collapsing again into his chair. “He was already dead! I thought he was already dead! Oh God. That Goddamned Salazar. He got to her, he must’ve. Who knows how long they’ve carried on? He must have made her do it. And then he killed my boy? Why? Oh God.”
    We all saw it happen, but none of us acted quickly enough. In a single motion, Pat pulled a gun from his desk drawer, and swallowed the barrel. Reggie’s reflexes were quickest. He leapt onto the desk, but as he did so, the report of the pistol rang out, and the high leather back of Pat White’s chair was soaked in deep red blood. The crimson liquid, shining in the track lighting of the study, oozed down onto the back of the body that now slumped forward to the desk, displaying the contents of White’s skull to us. There wasn’t much left inside.
    Reggie stood there, on the desk, looking down at what was left of Patrick White, Senior. Reggie wasn’t blinking.
    “Holy shit!” Banks cried. “Did that just happen?”
    I ran into the hallway and vomited before I could find a bathroom.
 
    Half an hour later, Det. Banks walked back down with us to our cars. In between shakes of her head and the occasional exclamation of disbelief, she’d actually held it together pretty well, all things considered. She instructed us to return to Mike Salazar’s to regroup with Street.
    “Anne says there’s more to do over there,” Banks said. “I have to wait here, though. They’ll send someone for White’s body. Wow. Looks like we kinda had the wrong guy?”
    “At the very least,” Reggie admitted, “we need to round up his accomplice.” He and I got in the Jag, and started driving. My hands quivered. I smelled of my own fresh regurgitation. Reggie stared at a bloodstain on his sleeve. I thought I was going to throw up again.
    Now you know how morning sickness felt, Carla’s voice broke in on my thoughts. It was the worst possible time. This was not when I wanted to be thinking about my wife. I felt like I was beginning to crack, so I tried to steer my mind somewhere else. I gasped for a moment, fighting back bile, and then managed to speak.
    “Did you believe anything about what Pat White was saying about Salazar,” I asked. “About Noah? And about not knowing that the other body was his other son?”
    “I don’t know, Sam. People talk. People say things.” He shook his head vigorously. “He didn’t seem like he was lying, though. Usually I can tell.”
    “And his head was already in the noose,” I said. “He’d admitted to the conspiracy, why not the murder?”
    “Who knows. What I want to know is whether Patty White is okay. And why is Melvin still hiding?”
    “It made sense for him to hide while the moon was full, but not now,” I said.
    “Yep. Wait.” Reggie slapped his forehead. “I just can’t believe I missed it.”
    “Missed what?” I asked.
    “I’m an idiot.”
    “You’re not—”
    “I told you about the Mujer Blanca, Muy Amorosa? Salazar’s girlfriend?”
    “Yeah.”
    “Do you know what Mujer Blanca means?”
    “No, but I assume you do.”
    “I thought they meant white woman. But they meant White woman!”
    “Wait, do you— ah. She gets around, doesn’t she?”
    “Melvin told us he went to Patty after getting back from spring break, to ask for help confronting his father.”
    “But then he said she told his father, and his father went after him.”
    “Or she told Salazar,” Reggie said.
    “Maybe she was the go between?” I suggested. “Maybe she was in on the whole thing?”
    “Or she got caught up in it, just like Melvin has,” Reggie said. “Either way, she must have known something about the plot. He sends us after his father, but he must still blame Patty, too.”
    “That’s why he showed up at the house again,” I said.
    “That’s why he’s hiding now,” Reggie said. “He’s hiding from us.”
    “So where is he now?” I asked, getting out of the car.
    “Sam, what did I say about the month after a lycanthrope’s first full lunar cycle?”
    “You said the hormones would be out of whack, that you couldn’t predict—”
    “Anything,” Reggie said.