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"Leave me alone, will you?" he pleaded. "Please just leave me alone." I inched closer along the windowsill, hoping he wouldn't notice He noticed. "Stay where you are. YOU come any closer, I'm gonna jump, you hear me?"
"I hear you," I said. "My feet hurt. I was just sitting down."
Thomas Greer was standing on an eighteen-inch concrete ledge, fourteen stories above Third Avenue, his arms ex-tended, palms flat against the surface, fingers searching for any purchase among the breaks and cracks, his back trying to press its way through the blond brick facing of the building. All he needed to do was cross his feet.
He didn't want to talk anymore. On the other hand, he didn't look to me like he wanted to take a dive either, but I couldn't be sure. I kept my distance and waited for the professionals to arrive. They were taking their time. We live in a society where pizza will get to you quicker than the police.
The hotel manager stood half in, half out of the doorway, watching the scene in the window and keeping an eye on the hall leading to the elevators, his head swiveling out of control as if he were watching a tennis match in fast-forward. In spite of the weather, he had sweat all the way through his gray silk suit in several places. I turned my attention back to the jumper. I leaned out a little and spoke to him soothingly.
"Come on, Greer, you don't want to do this.. ." Before it was out of my mouth, I knew Id made a mistake. He instantly picked up on it.
"How do you know my name?" he asked without ever moving his eyes from the sued below. "How do you know my name?"
"Just a lucky guess," I said. It wasweak.
"You found us, didn't you? You're the one. She hired you, didn't she?
"Come on in here, Mr. Greer. You don't want to do this. There's nothing to be gained from this." He wasn't listening.
That bitch. That fucking bitch. She hired you, didn't she?" He looked at me for the first time. My assessment of the chances of him jumping instantly changed. I knew that look. Something in him had shaken loose. There was only the here and now. I kept talking.
"Whatever problems you think you've got," I said, "this isn't going to help. This is only going to make things worse. You don't want your son to remember you this way, do you? This is no way for a boy to remember his dad. Come on in here." I held out my hand. He sidestepped two feet farther away, stopped, and sidestepped back, reaching for my hand. His eyes showed a distinct lack of future.
I pulled my hand back inside and braced myself against the sill with both hands.
"Come on," he screamed. "Come with me." He bent and extended his hand toward me. "Come on, earn your blood money."
I shook my head. He stood back up and pressed himself to the building.
"Come on back inside, Mr. Greer. You're not doing any.body any good out there. Look, I'm sure things look pretty bad to you right now. I'm sure -- "
My babbling was interrupted by the arrival of the Seattle Police Department. A uniformed officer swept the manager out into the hall and cleared the. way for two detectives and a woman.
The larger of the two detectives I'd seen somewhere before. Big features, too much loose, florid skin, a pair of wide, distended nostrils that seemed to be constantly testing the air. This was not a face to forget. Everything about him was thick and wrinkled, as if he'd been thrown in a comer and allowed to dry. He was fifty or so with brush-cut hair and a quarter-inch gap between his front teeth. His deep-set eyes showed minimal Interest as they swept the room. Trask. Bill Trask, maybe. I tried to dredge up where weld met, but at the moment I was too scattered to recall.
His partner and the woman were strangers. She wasn't a cop. They stayed just inside the doorway and beckoned me over. I spoke to Thomas Greer.
"I'll be right back, Mr. Greer. Just hang in there. Okay? Just hang in there. I'll be right back."
"Go on, get outta here, you bloodsucker," he spat at me.
I slid slowly from the sill and walked over to the cops. The woman was removing her full-length blue wool coat. She folded the coat neatly and laid it on the nearest unmade bed. About thirty-five, a natural redhead, small features dwarfed by oversize glasses, wearing a bright blue two-piece suit, she looked like a grammar school teacher. Except for the eyes. An array of fine lines radiated from the comers of her eyes and worked their way through the freckles toward her high cheekbones.
The big detective got things rolling. Apparently, his memory was better than mine.
One of your creditors finally had enough, Waterman?Failing to get so much as a grimace, he moved on to the introductions.
"Leo Waterman." He turned to me. "It is Im, isn't it?" I said it was. "This is Saasha Kennedy. Shes a volunteer with Community Services."
It didn't take an expert to read his tone of voice. Like most cops, he hated social workers.
"Ms. Kennedy, this is Leo Waterman. As I remember, he passes himself off as a private investigator."
"What," she asked me, "have we got here?" I think he's serious," I replied.
"They're all serious, Mr. Waterman. You have to be serious to get out on a ledge like that. Are you just a bystander, Mr. Waterman, or are you part of the problem?" she asked.
The big cop couldn't resist. "P.I.'s are never just bystanders. They're always part of the problem."
"I'll handle this, Sergeant Trask," she snapped. "Why don't you and your partner keep the hall clear and check on the team on the roof."
Posted January 1, 2000
This book was recommended and taunted to be fun and worthwhile reading. The characters are colorful but confusing. Mr. Ford seems more adapt at using verbiage vacillating from street wise to Oxford Don trying to impress a first year female charge. This is an overworked yarn with no real surprises. I suggest you pass oWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.