Home > The Ex(8)

The Ex(8)
Alafair Burke

I had kept his secret as if he were my own client.

“He didn’t do it, Scott. Jack Harris is completely innocent.”

“He’s not innocent, Olivia. Jack Harris shot three people this morning.”

I didn’t expect Temple to personally unlock Jack’s handcuffs based solely on my word, but I was sure he’d hear me out. I asked how he could possibly be so certain about his case after only a few hours.

“You know I can’t tell you that.”

“Come on, Scott. Give me something. How did the police even wind up at Jack Harris’s door this morning? Some kind of anonymous tip? You know how reliable those can be.”

“Now that’s a question I can answer. We got surveillance video.”

My eyes widened involuntarily. “Of the shooting?”

He made a don’t-be-stupid face. “No. It’s from the Pier 40 parking garage.”

I confirmed that he meant the big ugly brick building just north of the football field.

“That’s the one. Got a tape of a guy in a blue-and-gray-checked shirt, walking alone, fast, like he’s determined. And he’s carrying some kind of case. Or that’s what we thought at the time. Now we know it’s a picnic basket.”

“And you just happened to recognize him as Jack Harris of all the people in New York? Those are some good cameras.”

He gave me the face again. “Turns out your new friend Jimmy Boyle’s got a photographic memory. By the time he rolled on to the scene, Neeley had already been identified by the ID in his wallet. Even the initial responding officers were saying, ‘Hey, this could be revenge for what his son did at Penn Station.’ Especially with the lawsuit just getting dismissed.”

“Jack Harris isn’t the only person who filed that lawsuit.”

“Do you want information or do you want to argue? We get the surveillance tape from the garage. Boyle sees it and he’s immediately, ‘That’s the teacher’s husband.’ Turns out that if you pull up tape of the presser Harris did with his lawyer right after the civil suit against Neeley was dismissed, he’s wearing the same blue-and-gray-checked shirt. Boyle didn’t miss a beat.”

In another case, I could destroy Temple’s logic. I’d send Einer down to Lord & Taylor to buy eight shirts that looked identical in a grainy surveillance video. I’d call the manufacturers for data on how many were made. But it was all moot given Jack’s admission that he’d been at the waterfront this morning.

“You need more than proximity to the scene to charge someone with murder.”

“Motive, means, and opportunity. Trial summation 101, Olivia.”

“Except I don’t hear anything going toward means. Where’s the gun?”

“That basket he’s carrying in the video seems to me like a discreet way to carry a weapon through downtown. And we already pulled footage from his apartment’s elevator. He leaves at 6:40, basket in hand. Back at 7:25, no basket. Where did it go?”

“Jack told Boyle exactly where he left it and why. Go find it. Check out the note inside. Find this woman he was supposed to meet. Conduct a proper investigation.”

“No jury’s going to buy that ridiculous explanation. His secret soul mate just happens to lead him to a spot right next to the man he’s been consumed with for the past three years? Quite the coincidence.”

“This isn’t some misdemeanor you can wrap up on instinct, Temple. You’re accusing someone this city has come to see as a hero. How’s it going to look when I’ve got this missed-moment woman on the courthouse steps for her first press conference: Madeline and Jack, love at first sight. Then all of New York will sigh wistfully as she explains how she would have shown up this morning if not for—something at work, or a sick child perhaps. It was all just a misunderstanding,” I added dramatically. “I hear people love that shit.”

“It’s not going to happen, Olivia. The girl doesn’t exist. You realize that, right?”

“But if she does? You’ll be apologizing to the Penn Station widower, and the entire country will know that you wasted valuable time that could have been used to find the real shooter.”

“So you’re just trying to help me out now, huh?”

“I’m trying to help my client, who did not do this. Saving his ass happens to mean saving yours, too. It’s a win-win. You know me, Scott. I wouldn’t have asked Boyle to call you if this weren’t legit.”

I held his gaze and then widened my eyes, the facial equivalent of an exclamation mark. He shook his head. If we were at a bar with martinis, he would have been twirling his toothpick. He was mulling over the evidence and seeing it all disappear, piece by piece. This was good. It meant they didn’t have it wrapped up tight.

They couldn’t, after all. This was Jack. There was no way he had pulled that trigger.

I pushed once more. “Come on, you know Boyle doesn’t have this thing locked and loaded. You really ready for this to hit the news? Do you even have the GSR results?”

“Give me a second.” I could see him pulling out his cell phone as he walked down the hall. He was calling the boss.

He didn’t reemerge for twenty more minutes. When he did, Detective Boyle was walking beside him toward the squad room. They were whispering intensely and the conversation continued next to a desk that I assumed was Boyle’s. They were arguing.

As Temple turned in my direction, Boyle slammed himself hard into his chair, rolling backward a foot.

“We’re going to wait for the GSR results before booking him,” Temple said. “I called for a rush.”

“If he’s clean, you’ll release him?”

“No, I didn’t say that. But I told Boyle to hold off on the transport for now. We’ll take it from there, okay? But, I swear to God, Olivia, if you burn me on this, if we release him today, and he flees—”

“I know, your office will never trust me again.”

“No. My office will never trust me again, and I’ll devote every moment of my unemployment to making your life a living hell. That’s how much this matters. Now, I’m heading back to the courthouse until we hear back from the lab. A very upset Detective Boyle will be escorting Harris to a holding cell. Try not to gloat, okay?” Once he was out of view, I allowed myself to smile. The gamble had paid off.

Once those tests were back, Jack could go home. Maybe we’d even sit down and talk after all these years.

THIRTY MINUTES INTO MY WAIT, I had already ignored three voice mail messages from Don, pleading, imploring, and then pleading once again that I get back to the office immediately. My legs beginning to tire, I finally gave up and assumed a seat on the bench outside the detective squad. By now, the man rambling about the NSA had been led away, and his fragrant neighbor had managed to air out.

I waited until exactly two PM and then called the main number for the firm. Don would be at the courthouse by now for a pretrial conference he’d been dreading all week.

“Good afternoon, Ellison and Randall.”

“Einer, have you looked up that computer stuff I called about?” I turned my back to my fellow bench occupant.

“Just finished. I think I’ve got diabetes from reading it all. ‘I’m just a girl, sitting in front of a boy, next to the filthy Hudson River, asking him to love her.’ Cue a shirtless Matthew McConaughey before he lost all that weight and won an Oscar.”

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