Book: Ask the Right Question

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41

How they got her off me I don’t know. They don’t know. Miller says that he thinks Crystal may have deflected her when he dived for her legs. Crystal doesn’t agree. He feels like he just rolled right off her, that’s how hard she was coming. They agree that somehow they did get her off, knock her off, or she decided to leave. She got up from my body and ran for the door from the living room to the front, out the house. There is disagreement about whether she was still making that sound, but there is no disagreement that it was just as she was going through the living room door that Miller shot her.

He had had a lot of trouble, he says, now. Trouble getting the gun out of his holster. When he did shoot she was virtually through the door. He thought he had missed her. But the coroner says he didn’t. The bullet went through the door and into her back. Apparently there were wood splinters near the entry hole. It didn’t kill her immediately, but it was a mortal wound, they say, being near the backbone. I just wonder what kind of world it can be when “mortal” wounds are fatal.

Nobody knows when Chivian got out, but he did, and true to his devious character he went through the back to the garage and his car. They picked him up about eight miles away—the patrol cops.

I do know, from the cop posted out front, that Fleur came out the front door as if she were sprinting. He was amazed to find out later that she had a bullet in her, especially a police .38. But the door must have taken some of the sting out of it.

The kid’s name is Fred Wilsky; he’s not a bad kid. He says that he heard the screaming and the shot and saw her coming out the front door all about the same time. He says he drew his gun, but that without appearing to have seen him she turned the other way and ran toward the street. He says he may have forgotten to identify himself as a policeman, but he doesn’t know. He says he fired a warning shot and she didn’t break stride. Then he says he didn’t know what else to do but run after her.

That amazes me. If it had been me I would have had that gun up and shot her full of holes. I swear I would. So help me. But maybe I’m prejudiced. I don’t like punctured lungs and broken ribs and chopped liver. And blood, and being alive now only because she got the right side of my body and not my left side. I lack a certain degree of self-control. I would have made her into mincemeat.

Fred was just following the orders he had been given. That I had given him.

She was about halfway down the block and Fred was about twenty yards past the front door himself when Miller got there and screamed to him, “Get her, get her.” I guess in person it was a less ambiguous instruction than it reads.

Fred got her. When I talked to him he was upset about having shot a woman, but the coroner says she was dead anyway, would have been in a few minutes.

Inside the house Crystal was calling an ambulance and Miller says it was for me. Before it got there he went up and got Eloise.

She says that she had thought it was Leander who was hurt, that she knew that her mother had done something, from her laugh, but that she thought it had been Leander for making her get artificially inseminated. Miller says that Eloise was pretty cool considering, and that she sat by me for a moment until the ambulance came.

Oh, lots of people came to the hospital to tell me cheerful tales.

But not everyone who visited me in the hospital came to tell me things. Captain Gartland, for one. He came two days after the fact and he was literally unwilling to tell me the time of day. I wasn’t all that interested; I inquired only because from the way I felt it had to be three in the morning.

He said he had to have some answers and had to have them now. I told him to go away. Then I pretended to go to sleep. When he didn’t leave I took the plunge and rang for the nurse. I started coughing when she came in. She did the dirty work and shooed Gartland out. But it hurt, to cough.

Everything hurt. I won’t give you a day-to-day hospital report, but don’t believe movies that have guys doing talking a few minutes before they die. That close you don’t feel like talking. It was bad enough that my mother closed Bud’s for a couple of days to come hold my hand.

About a week later I saw Gartland and did talk to him. I had to feel a little sympathy for him. He had everybody on his back. Like New York about Annie. And the city officials and press about the circumstances surrounding the death of the daughter of Estes Graham. And the IRS people about Leander’s tax situation. And later on, the Army was interested in looking into Joshua’s death, and someone from the city talked about digging up Estes.

Miller says he thinks Chivian and Fleur killed Annie without Leander’s knowledge. That Fleur probably did the actual cutting, having seen the way she went for me.

Chivian’s lawyer has told the press that Fleur must have killed Annie alone; that if she had any help it was from Leander; that his client was in no way involved; and that if Chivian was involved he was an unwitting accomplice.

Gartland wanted me to help him show they were all in on it.

The IRS wanted to get Crystal for avoiding taxes on the money he had stockpiled in Switzerland. Andrew Elmitt saw that in the paper and called me in the hospital. It was ridiculous, he said. According to his analysis Leander recorded the money and paid taxes on it. He got it simply by stealing it from Fleur. He prepared a letter to that effect which would show how Leander’s records proved it. He wanted to know whether if he sent it to me unsigned, I would forward it to IRS and keep his name out of it. I did.

My time in the hospital was unreal. I kept thinking about strange things, once I got used to the fact that I was actually there. I remembered that Kevin Loughery played basketball for the Baltimore Bullets against the New York Knicks in the 1969 NBA play-offs while he was recovering from a collapsed lung and a broken rib. I still find that hard to conceive. I spent three months in the hospital and I didn’t even feel like watching basketball on TV.

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