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Table of Contents
A Preview of Cat & Mouse
A Preview of Cross Justice
About the Author
Books by James Patterson
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THE GAMES BEGIN
SAM HARRISON swung his agile body out of the silver blue Ford Aerostar, which he had parked on Q Street in the Georgetown section of Washington. Horror stories and games are popular for a good reason, he was thinking as he locked the vehicle and set its alarm. Not the comfortable sit-around-the-campfire horror tales and games we used to cherish as kids, but the real-life horror stories that are around us everywhere these days.
Now I'm living one myself. I'm about to become part of the horror. How easy it is. How terribly, terribly easy to move past the edge and into the darkness.
He had stalked and shadowed Daniel Fitzpatrick for two long weeks. He'd done his job in New York City, London, Boston, and finally, here in Washington, D.C. Tonight he was going to murder the United States senator. In cold blood, execution-style. No one would be able to figure out why. No one would have a clue that might matter later on.
That was the first and most important rule of the game called Jack and Jill.
In many ways this was a textbook celebrity-stalker pattern. He knew it to be true as he took up his post across from 211 Q Street.
And yet, if anyone bothered to look more closely, it was like no other stalking pattern before. What he was going to do now was more provocative than secretly observing Senator Fitzpatrick down obscene numbers of Glenlivet cocktails at The Monocle, his favorite bar in Washington. This was the truest form of madness, Sam Harrison knew. It was pure madness. He didn't believe he was mad. He believed only in the validity of the game of chance.
And then, less than thirty yards across the shiny-wet street—there was Daniel Fitzpatrick himself. Right on schedule. At least, close enough.
He watched the senator stiffly climb out of a gleaming, navy blue Jaguar coupe, a 1996 model. He wore a gray topcoat with a paisley silk scarf. A sleek, slender woman in a black dress was with him. A Burberry raincoat was casually thrown over her arm. She was laughing at something Fitzpatrick had said. She threw her head back like a beautiful, spirited horse. A wisp of her warm breath met the cool of the night.
The woman was at least twenty years the senator's junior. She wasn't his wife, Sam knew. Dannyboy Fitzpatrick rarely if ever slept with his wife. The blond woman walked with a slight limp, which made the two of them even more intriguing. Memorable, actually.
Sam Harrison concentrated fiercely. Measure twice, measure five times, if necessary. He took stock of all the details one final time. He had arrived in Georgetown at eleven-fifteen. He looked as if he belonged in the chic, attractive, fashionable neighborhood around Q Street. He looked exactly right for the part he was going to play.
A very big part in a very big story, one of the biggest in America's history. Or some would say American theater.
A leading-man role, to be sure.
He wore professorial, tortoiseshell glasses for the part. He never wore glasses. Didn't need them.
His hair was light blond. His hair wasn't really blond.
He called himself Sam Harrison. His name wasn't really Sam. Or Harrison.
For that night's special occasion, he'd carefully selected a soft black cashmere turtleneck, charcoal gray trousers, which were pleated and cuffed, and light-brown walking boots. He wasn't really such a dapper, self-absorbed dresser. His thick hair was cut short, vaguely reminiscent of the actor Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard, one of his least-favorite movies. He carried a small black duffel bag, swinging it like a baton as he now walked briskly toward 211. A camcorder was tucked inside the bag.
He planned to capture as much of this as possible on film. This was history in the making. It really was history: America at the end of its century, America at the end of an era, America at the end.
At quarter to twelve, he entered 211 through a darkened service entryway that smelled strongly of ammonia and of dust and decay. He walked up to the fourth floor, where the senator had his flat, his study, his love nest in the capital.
He reached Daniel Fitzpatrick's door, 4J, at ten minutes to twelve. He was still pretty much on time. So far, so good. Everything was going exactly as planned.
The highly polished mahogany door opened right in his face.
He stared at an ash-blond woman who was slender and trim and well kept. She was actually somewhat plainer looking than she had appeared from a distance. It was the same woman who had gotten out of the blue Jag with Fitzpatrick. The woman with the limp.
Except for a gold barrette in her hair, a lioness from a trip to the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and a gold choker, she was gloriously naked.
"Jack," she whispered.
"Jill," he said, and smiled.
IN A DIFFERENT PART of Washington, in a different world, another would-be killer was playing an equally terrifying game. He had found an absolutely terrific hiding place among the thick pines and a few towering, elderly oaks at the center of Garfield Park. He made himself comfortable inside a kind of tent formed by the overhanging tree limbs and a few sturdy, overgrown shrubs.
"Let's get busy," he whispered, though no one was in the hiding place with him. This was going to be a wonderful adventure, a great fantasy. He believed it with his whole heart, body, and what remained of his soul.
He sat cross-legged on the damp grass and began to work on his face and hair. A tune from the rock band Hole was blasting from the speakers inside his head. This was really good stuff. He loved it to death. Disguises and costumes were a rush. They were about the only thing that let you truly escape, and goddamn, did he ever need to escape.
When he eventually finished with the costume, he emerged from the shadows of the trees. He had to laugh. He was cracking himself up today. This was the best yet. It was so goofy that it was great. Reminded him of a good joke: Roses are red/violets are blue/I'm schizophrenic/and so am I.
He definitely looked like an old, homeless fuck-bum now. He really did look like a hopeless old fart. Like the mangy character in the rock song "Aqualung." He had put on a white fright wig and a salt-and-pepper beard from an actor's costume kit. Any slight failure of his imagination, or skill as a makeup artist, was covered by the floppy hood of his sweatshirt.
The sweatshirt had HAPPY, HAPPY. JOY, JOY printed on it.
What an incredible, mindblowing adventure this was going to be, he kept thinking. Happy, happy. Joy, joy. That was the ticket. That said it all. The irony just killed him.
The killer-to-be crossed the park, walking quickly now, almost breaking into a run. He was headed in the general direction of the Anacostia River.
He began to see people. Strollers, muggers, lovers, whatever the hell they were. Most of them were black, but that was okay. That was good, actually. Nobody gave a damn about the blacks in D.C. That was a fact of life.
"Aqualung, oh-oh-oh, Aqualung," he sang the old rock-and-roll tune as he walked. It was from a really great old band called Jethro Tull. He listened to rock music incessantly, even in his sleep. Earphones on all the time. He had just about memorized the entire history of rock and roll. If he could just force himself to listen to Hootie and the Blowfish, he'd have it all down cold.
Hardy-har, he laughed at his Hootie joke. He was in a really fine mood today. This was such a cool, fucked-up, freaky blast of a head trip. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Best and worst, worst and best, worst and worse?
He had already selected the spot for the murder. The thicket of spruce trees and evergreens up close to the Southeast Freeway. It was wild and overgrown and nearly perfect.
The spot was at a ninety-degree angle to a grouping of delapo, yellow-brick row houses and a popular bodega on Sixth Street in Southeast. He had already scouted there, scoped the area out, fallen in love with his spot. He could already see kids from the Sojourner Truth Elementary School traipsing in and out of the corner candy store. The little buggers were so cute at that age.
Man, I hate cute with a passion you wouldn't believe. Little fucking robots was what they really were. Mean little parasites, too. Kidz! Everything about them was so kute.
He scrunched down and climbed under the thick, scratchy bushes and got down to serious business. He began to blow up several latex balloons—red, orange, blue, yellow ones.
These were big, really colorful suckers that no kids in their wrong mind could resist. Personally, he had always hated balloons intensely. Hated the forced, phony gaiety they seemed to symbolize. But most kids were ya-ya about balloons. Figured, right?
He tied about a ten-foot length of twine around one balloon. Then he secured the string to a thick tree branch.
The balloon floated lazily above the old tree. It looked like a pretty, decapitated head.
He waited in his tree hut. He hung out with himself, which he liked to do anyway.
"Got to waste some-body to-day," he hummed a little non-song to a non-melody. "Got to, got to. Just gotta, gotta, gotta," he sang and kind of liked the riff.
He heard something move near his hiding place. Something cracked. A branch or something? Somebody come to visit?
He listened closely. Tree branches were definitely being moved, stepped on, broken. Everything sounded amplified—like SNAPPP!
His mind had slipped away and the noise startled the hell out of him, if anybody really wanted to know the truth. His adrenaline was kicking in like crazy. He almost swallowed his Adam's apple.
Suddenly, the top half of a face appeared, came into his view. Just the forehead and the whites of someone's eyes.
THE WHITES OF HER EYES!
Peeking through the tree branches at him.
He saw the face of a tiny black girl. Five or six years old, really cute. She saw him, too. Fair and square.
I SEE YOU, HONEYPIE. YES, I DO. I SEE YOU!
"Hi." He said it real nice and polite, which he could be when he wanted to. He smiled, and she almost smiled back.
He spoke softly. "You want a big balloon? I've got plenty of extra balloons, balloons-a-plenty, balloons galore. Here's a cherry red balloon with your name on it."
The little girl just stared at him. She didn't speak a syllable. Didn't move. She was afraid of him—imagine that. Probably confused because he'd said her name was on one of the balloons.
"Okay, no balloon then. Fine. Forget about the free balloon offer. No balloon for you, little girl. That's okey-dokey with me. No free balloon today! No sir!"
"Yessss, please," she suddenly said. Her brown eyes widened like blossoming flowers. Beautiful little girl, right? Beautiful, chestnut brown eyes.
"Stop being so shy, girl. Come over here, I'll give you a big, beautiful balloon. Let's see, I've got stop-sign red, sky blue, Popsicle orange, mellow yellow. Every color in the rainbow and then some."
He mimicked somebody—maybe it was that nutcase Kevin Bacon in The River Wild, which he'd rented a week or so back. Two weeks back? Who knew? Who cared! As he was speaking, his hand tightened on the handle of a miniature baseball bat, which was reinforced with electrical tape. The bat was eighteen and a half inches long, the kind the local gangbangers used to keep law and order in the projects.
He continued to speak to the little girl in a happy singsong that was actually sarcastic and ironic as hell.
"Red one," the girl finally chirped. Of course. She had a red ribbon in her hair. Red is the color of my true love's love.
She lightly, very tentatively, stepped out into the clearing. He noticed her feet were so tiny. Like a size minus three. She reached toward the colorful balloons clutched tightly in his outstretched hand. She didn't seem to notice that his hand was shaking badly.
Behind his back, he gripped the short, powerful ballbat. Then he swung—real hard.
Happy, happy. Joy, joy.
COULD THEY actually get away with murder—especially a high-level, provocative murder like this? Jack was confident they could. It was easier than anyone knew to kill another human being, or several of them, and never get caught, never even be suspected. It happened all the time.
Jill was scared and visibly tense, though. He couldn't blame her. In "real life," she was a Washington careerist, well-bred, bright, certainly not the typical murderous kook you read about. Not a very likely Jill, and therefore perfect for her part in the game of games. Almost as perfect as he was for his.
"He's drunk, completely out," she whispered as they stood in the dark foyer of the apartment. "It helps that he's such an absolutely repellent snake."
"You know what they say about our Dannyboy. He's a very bad senator, but a much worse date."
A hint of a smile—a nervous smile—from her. "Bad joke, but I can vouch for that. Let's go. Jack."
Jill turned on her bare heels, and he followed close behind. He watched the slight hitch in her step. Bewitching in its way. He watched her slender figure retreat through a tiny sitting room that was dimly lit by the hallway lamp. This was the way to the flat's bedroom, he knew.
They walked silently through a small living room. An American flag proudly stood beside the stone fireplace. The sight of the flag turned his stomach. Color photographs on the wall of a sailing regatta somewhere, probably Cape Cod.
"Izzit you, my dear?" a gruff, whiskey-soaked voice thundered from behind the living room walls.
"Who else could it be?" Jill answered.
Jack and Jill entered the bedroom together. "Surprise party," Jack announced. He had a Beretta semiautomatic out. It was aimed at the senator's head.
His gun hand was steady, his head very clear now. History in the making. No chance to go back now.
Daniel Fitzpatrick bolted up in his bed, surprised and burning mad. "What the bloody hell? What the… who the frig are you? How the shit did you get in here?" he slurred his words. His face and neck were bright red.
Jack couldn't help it—he smiled in spite of everything that was going on. The senator looked like a beached whale, or perhaps an aging walrus, in his fancy bed.
"I guess you could say I'm your despicable past, finally catching up to you, Senator," he said. "Now shut up. Please. Let's make this as easy as we possibly can."
He stared at Daniel Fitzpatrick and was reminded of something he'd read somewhere recently. Upon seeing the senator at a speaking engagement, a spectator had remarked, "My God, he's an old man now." Indeed he was. Fitzpatrick was a white-haired, jowly, graceless, sprawlingly fat, old white man.
He was also the enemy.
Jack opened the black duffel bag and handed Jill a pair of handcuffs. "One hand to each bedpost. Please and thank you."
"It will be my pleasure," she said. There was a simple elegance in the way she spoke, acted, even the way she moved.
"You're in on this?" Fitzpatrick gasped as he looked around at the blond woman he'd picked up at the bar in La Colline. He seemed to be actually seeing her for the first time.
Jill smiled. "No, no. I was attracted by your vast, bloated belly, your alcoholic breath."
Jack took out the camcorder and handed it over to Jill. She immediately aimed it at Senator Fitzpatrick, focused, and started to film. She was good with the camera.
"What in God's name are you doing?" Fitzpatrick asked. His washed-out blue eyes were wide with astonishment, and then with genuine fear. "What the hell do you want? What's going on here? Dammit, I'm a United States senator."
Jill began with the shocked and surprised and hurt look on the senator's face. She pulled out to a wider shot. Oops, a little too wide. Grabbed focus again.
Jack smiled at the inappropriate outburst of bravado. How very Fitzpatrick.
Then, voilà! It was as if the whiskey-dullness swirling in his brain suddenly stopped. Daniel Fitzpatrick finally understood. "I don't want to die," he whispered.
Tears unexpectedly rolled from his eyes. It was strangely affecting. "Please don't do this. You don't have to hurt me," he said. "It doesn't have to be like this. Please, I beg you. Listen to me. Will you just listen to what I have to say?"
This was incredibly important footage, Jill knew. Academy Award stuff. Perhaps the documentary film of the century. They needed this for the game of games, for one of the surprises later on.
Jack walked briskly across the bedroom. He placed the Beretta inches from the senator's forehead.
This was it. This was where the exquisite game truly began. Rule Two: This is history. What you're doing is important. Never forget that for a single moment.
"I'm going to kill you, Senator Fitzpatrick. There's nothing for us to talk about. There's no way out of this. You were a Roman Catholic, so if you believe in God, say a prayer. Please say one for me, too. Say a prayer for Jack and Jill."
This was gut-check time. He noticed that his hand was shaking a little now. Jill saw it, too.
He told himself, This is an execution, and it's well deserved. And this is most definitely a horror story that I'm in.
He fired once, from a distance of no more than a few inches. Daniel Fitzpatrick's head exploded. He fired a second time. Measure twice; cut twice as well.
History was made.
The game of games had begun.
Jack and Jill.
IT'S TOMORROW AGAIN
OH NO, it's tomorrow again.
It seemed as if I had no sooner fallen asleep than I heard banging in the house. It was loud, as disturbing as a car alarm. Persistent. Trouble too close to home?
"Shit. Dammit," I whispered into the soft, deep folds of my pillow. "Leave me alone. Let me sleep through the night like a normal person. Go away from here."
I reached for the lamp and knocked over a couple of books on the table. The General's Daughter and My American Journey and Snow Falling on Cedars. The mishap jolted me fully awake.
I grabbed my service handgun from a drawer and hurried downstairs, passing the kids' room on the way. I heard, or thought that I could hear, the sound of their soft breathing inside. I had been reading them Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit the night before. Don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: Your father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor.
I clutched the Glock even more tightly in my right hand. The banging stopped. Then started up again. Downstairs.
I glanced at my wristwatch. It was three-thirty in the morning. Jesus, mercy. The witching hour again. The hour I often woke up without any help from outside forces, from things that go BANG, BANG, BANG in the middle of the night.
I continued down the steep, treacherous stairs. Cautious, suspicious. Suddenly, it was quiet all around me.
I made no sound myself. My skin felt electrified in the darkness. This was not the recommended way to start the day, or even the middle of the night. Don't go into Mr. McGregor's garden: Your father had an accident….
I continued into the kitchen—my gun drawn—where I suddenly saw the source of the banging. The day's first mystery was solved.
My friend and partner was lurking at the back door like some high-octane version of a neighborhood hugger-mugger.
John Sampson was the noisemaker; he was the trouble in my life; the day's first disturbance, anyway. All six foot nine, two hundred forty pounds of him. Two-John as he's sometimes called. Man Mountain.
"There's been a murder," he said as I unlocked, unchained, and opened up for him. "This one is a honey, Alex."
"OH JESUS, JOHN. You know what time it is? You have any concept of time? Please get the hell away from my house. Go home to your own house. Bang on your own door in the middle of the night."
I groaned and slowly shook my head back and forth, working nasty sleep-kinks out of my neck and shoulders. I wasn't quite awake yet. Maybe this was all a bad dream that I was having. Maybe Sampson wasn't on the back porch. Maybe I was still in bed with my pillow-lover. And maybe not.
"It can wait," I said. "Whatever the hell it is."
"Oh, but it can't," he answered, shaking his head. "Believe me, Sugar, it can't."
I heard a creaking noise behind me in the house. I swung around quickly, still a little spooked and jumpy.
My little girl was standing there in the kitchen. Jannie was in her electric-blue-butterfly pajamas, in her bare feet, with a frightened look on her face. The latest addition to our family, a beautiful Abyssinian cat named Rosie, trailed Jannie by a step or two. Rosie had heard the noise downstairs, too.
"What's the matter?" Jannie asked in a sleepy whisper, rubbing her eyes. "Why are you up so early? It's something bad, isn't it, Daddy?"
"Go back to sleep, sweetheart," I told Jannie in the softest voice I could manage. "It's nothing," I had to lie to my little girl. My work had followed me home again. "We'll go upstairs now, so you can get your beauty sleep."
I carried her up the stairs, softly nuzzling her cheek on the way, whispering sweet nonsense, dream talk. I tucked her in and checked on my son, Damon. Soon the two of them would be heading off to their respective schools—Damon at Sojourner Truth, Jannie at Union Street. Rosie the cat continually crisscrossed between my legs as I performed my ministrations.
- On Sale
- Nov 1, 1997
- Page Count
- 480 pages