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The Day After Tomorrow
By Allan Folsom
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The novel that took the nation by storm is now in paperback. Allan Folsom has created an international conspiracy of apocalyptic dimensions that interconnects three intricate and compelling stories spanning two continents and five decades.
Table of Contents
A Preview of Day of Confession
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Paris, Monday, October 3
Brasserie Stella, the rue St.-Antoine
Paul Osborn sat alone among the smoky bustle of the after-work crowd, staring into a glass of red wine. He was tired and hurt and confused. For no particular reason he looked up. When he did, his breath left him with a jolt. Across the room sat the man who murdered his father. That it could be he was inconceivable. But there was no doubt. None. It was a face forever stamped in his memory. The deepset eyes, the square jaw, the ears that stuck out almost at right angles, the jagged scar under the left eye that worked its way sharply down across the cheekbone toward the upper lip. The scar was less distinct now but it was there just the same. Like Osborn, he was alone. A cigarette was in his right hand and his left was curled around the rim of a coffee cup, his concentration on a newspaper at his elbow. He had to be at least fifty, maybe more.
From where Osborn sat, it was hard to tell his height. Maybe five foot eight or nine. He was stocky. Probably a hundred and eighty pounds. His neck was thick and his body looked hard. His complexion pale, his hair was short and curly, black, speckled with gray. Stamping out his cigarette, the man lit another, glancing Osborn's way as he did. Then, putting out the match, he went back to his paper.
Osborn felt his heart skip a beat and the blood start to rise in his veins. Suddenly it was Boston and 1966 again. He was barely ten and he and his father were walking down the street. It was an afternoon in early spring, sunny but still cold. His father, dressed in a business suit, had left his office early to meet his son at the Park Street subway station. From there they crossed a corner of the Common and turned down Winter Street in a flurry of shoppers. They were going to a sale at Grogin's Sporting Goods. The boy had saved all winter for a new baseball mitt, a first baseman's glove. A Trapper model. His father had promised to match his savings dollar for dollar. Together they had thirty-two dollars. They were in sight of the store, and his father was smiling, when the man with the scar and the square jaw struck. He stepped out of the crowd and shoved a butcher knife into his father's stomach. As he did, he glanced over and saw the boy, who had no idea what was happening. In that instant their eyes met. Then the man moved on and his father crumpled to the pavement.
He could still feel the moment, standing so terribly alone on the sidewalk, strangers massing to look, his father staring up at him, helpless, uncomprehending, blood beginning to seep through fingers that had instinctively sought to pull the weapon out but had, instead, died there.
Twenty-eight years later and a continent away the memory roared back to life. Paul Osborn could feel the rage engulf him. In an instant he was up and across the room. A split second later the two men, table and chairs, crashed to the floor. He felt his fingers close around a leathery throat, a stubble of beard at the neck pressed against his palm. At the same time he felt his other hand pounding savagely down. His fist a runaway piston, wrecking flesh and bone, determined to batter the life from it. Around him people were screaming but it made no difference. His only sense was to destroy forever the thing he had in his grasp.
Suddenly he felt hands under his chin, others under his arms, jerking him up and away. He felt himself hurtling backward. A moment later he crashed into something hard and fell to the floor, vaguely aware of dishes falling around him. Then he heard someone yelling in French to call the police! Looking up, he saw three waiters in white shirts and black vests standing over him. Behind them, his man was getting up unsteadily, sucking in air, blood gushing from his nose. Once up, he seemed to realize what had happened and looked toward his attacker in horror. Refusing a proffered napkin, he suddenly bolted through the crowd and out the front door.
Immediately Osborn was on his feet.
The waiters stiffened.
"Get the hell out of my way!" he shouted.
They didn't move.
If this were New York or L.A. he'd have yelled that the man was a murderer and for them to call the police. But this was Paris, he could barely order coffee. Unable to communicate, he did the only thing he could. He charged. The first waiter moved to grab him. But Osborn was six inches taller, twenty pounds heavier and running as if he were carrying a football. Dropping his shoulder, he drove it hard into the man's chest, spinning him sideways into the others so that they fell in a resounding comic crash, helplessly pinned one on top of the other, in a small service area halfway between the kitchen and the door. Then Osborn was through the door and gone.
Outside it was dark and raining. The rush-hour crowd filled the streets. Osborn dodged around them, his eyes scanning the sidewalk ahead, his heart pounding. This is the way the man had run, where the hell was he? He was going to lose him, he knew it. Then he saw him, a half block ahead, moving down the rue de Fourcy toward the Seine.
Osborn quickened his pace. His blood was still up but the violent explosion had spent most of his murderous rage and reason was beginning to set in. His father's murder had taken place in the United States, where there was no statute of limitations on murder. But was that true in France as well? Did the two countries have a mutual extradition treaty? And what if the man was French, would the French government send one of its own citizens to the U.S. to be tried for murder there?
A half block ahead, the man looked back. As he did, Osborn dropped back into the throng of pedestrians. Better to let him think he got away, calm a little, lose his caution. Then, when he's off guard, grab him alone.
A light changed, traffic stopped, so did the crowd. Osborn was behind a woman with an umbrella, with his man no more than a dozen feet away. Again he saw the face clearly. No doubt at all. He'd seen it in his dreams for twenty-eight years. He could draw it in his sleep. Standing there, the rage started to build once more.
The light changed again and the man crossed the street ahead of the crowd. Reaching the far curb, he glanced back, saw nothing and continued on. By now they were on Pont Marie, crossing the Île St.-Louis. To their right was the Cathedral Notre Dame. A few more minutes and they'd be across the Seine and onto the Left Bank.
For the moment Osborn had the upper hand. He looked ahead, searching for a side street or alley where he might be able to take his man out of public view. This was tricky business. If he moved too fast, he risked drawing attention to himself. But he had to move up or gamble losing him altogether should the man suddenly turn down an unseen street or hail a cab.
The rain came down harder and the glare from the passing yellow Parisian headlights was making it difficult to see. Ahead, his man turned right on boulevard St.-Germain and abruptly crossed the street. Where the hell was he going? Then Osborn saw it. The Métro station. If he got in there, he'd be swallowed up in a moment. Osborn started to run, rudely brushing people aside as he went. Suddenly he darted across the street in front of traffic. Honking horns made his man look back. For a moment he froze where he was, then rushed on. Osborn knew he'd been seen and that the man realized he was being pursued.
Osborn all but flew down the steps into the Métro. At the bottom he saw his man take a ticket from an automated machine. Then push through the crowd toward the turnstiles.
Looking back, the man saw Osborn's running dash down the steps. His hand went forward, his ticket inserted in the turnstile mechanism. The press bar gave, he went through. Cutting a sharp right, he disappeared around a corner.
No time for ticket or turnstiles. Elbowing a young woman out of the way, Osborn vaulted the turnstiles, dodged around a tall black man and headed for the tracks.
A train was already in the station. He saw his man get on. Abruptly the doors closed and the train pulled out. Osborn ran a few feet more, then stopped, chest heaving and out of breath. There was nothing left but gleaming rails and an empty tunnel. The man was gone.
Michele Kanarack looked across the table, then extended her hand. Her eyes were filled with love and affection. Henri Kanarack took her hand in his and looked at her. This was his fifty-second birthday; she was thirty-four. They'd been married for nearly eight years and today she'd told him she was pregnant with their first child.
"Tonight is very special," she said.
"Yes. Very special." Kissing her hand gently, he let it go and poured from a bottle of red Bordeaux.
"This is the last," she said. "Until the baby. No more drinking while I'm pregnant."
"Then the same for me." Henri smiled.
Outside the rain beat down in torrents. The wind rattled the roof and windows. Their apartment was on the top floor of a five-story building on the avenue Verdier in the Montrouge section of Paris. Henri Kanarack was a baker who left every morning at five and didn't return until nearly six thirty at night. He had an hour commute each way to the bakery near the Gare du Nord on the north side of Paris. It was a long day. But he was happy with it. As he was with his life and the idea of becoming a father for the first time at the age of fifty-two. At least he had been until tonight, when the stranger had attacked him in the brasserie and then chased after him into the Métro. He'd looked American. Thirty-five or so. Well built and strong. Dressed in an expensive sport coat and jeans, like a businessman on vacation.
Who the hell was he? Why had he done that?
"Are you all right?" Michele was staring at him. What was Paris coming to when a baker could be attacked in a brasserie by a total stranger? She wanted him to call the police. Then find a lawyer and sue the brasserie's owner.
"Yes," he said. "I'm all right." He wanted neither to call the police nor sue the brasserie, though his left eye was all but swollen shut and his lip was puffed up and red/blue where the wild man's blow had driven an upper tooth through it.
"Hey, I'm going to be a father," he said, trying to get off it. "No long faces around here. Not tonight." Michele got up from the table, came around behind him and put her arms around his neck.
"Let's make love in celebration of life. A great life between young Michele, old Henri and new baby."
Henri turned around and looked into her eyes, then smiled. How could he not. He loved her.
Later, as he lay in the dark and listened to her breathing, he tried to blank the vision of the dark-haired man from his mind. But it would not go. It revived a deep, almost primal, fear—that no matter what he did, or how far he ran, one day he would be found out.
Osborn could see them talking in the corridor. He assumed it was about him but he couldn't be sure. Then the short one walked off and the other came back in through the glass door, a cigarette in one hand, a manila folder in the other.
"Would you like some coffee, Doctor Osborn?" Young and confident, Inspector Maitrot was soft-spoken and polite. He was also blond and tall, unusual for a Frenchman.
"I'd like to know how much longer you intend to hold me." Osborn had been arrested by the Police Urbaine for violating a city ordinance after vaulting the Métro turnstile. When questioned, he'd lied, saying the man he had been chasing had earlier roughed him up and tried to steal his wallet. It was a total coincidence that only a short while later he'd seen him in the brasserie. That was when they'd connected him to the citywide call from the Paris police and brought him to central jail for interrogation.
"You are a doctor." Maitrot was reading from a sheet stapled to the inside cover of the folder. "An American orthopedic surgeon visiting Paris after attending a medical convention in Geneva. Your home is Los Angeles."
"Yes," Osborn said flatly. He'd already told the story to the police at the Métro station, to a uniformed cop in a booking cage somewhere in another part of the building and to a plainclothes officer of some kind who led him through a series of fingerprintings, mug photos and a preliminary interview. Now, in this tiny glassed-in cell of an interrogation room, Maitrot was going through everything all over again. Particular by particular.
"You don't look like a doctor."
"You don't look like a policeman," Osborn said lightly, trying to take the edge off.
Maitrot didn't react. Maybe he didn't get it because English was obviously a struggle, but he was right—Osborn didn't look like a doctor. Six feet tall, dark haired and brown eyed, at a hundred and ninety pounds he had the boyish looks, muscular structure and build of a college athlete.
"What was the name of the convention you attended?"
"I didn't 'attend' it. I presented a paper there. To the World Congress of Surgery." Osborn wanted to say, "How many times do I have to keep telling you this; don't you guys talk to each other?" He should have been frightened, and maybe he was, but he was still too pumped up to realize it. His man might have gotten away, but the vital thing was that he'd been found! He was here, in Paris. And with any luck, he would still be here, at home or in a bar someplace, nursing his wounds and wondering what had happened.
"On what was your paper? What subject?"
Osborn closed his eyes and counted slowly to five. "I already told you."
"You didn't tell me."
"My paper was on the anterior cruciate ligament injury. It has to do with the knee." Osborn's mouth was dry. He asked for a glass of water. Maitrot either didn't understand or ignored him.
"You are how old?"
"You already know that."
Maitrot looked up.
"Inspector, I'm divorced. Is that all right with you?"
"How long have you been a surgeon?"
Osborn said nothing. Maitrot repeated the question, his cigarette smoke trailing off toward a ventilator in the ceiling.
"Do you think you are a particularly good surgeon?"
"I don't understand why you're asking me these questions. They have nothing to do with what you arrested me for. You may call my office to verify anything I've said." Osborn was exhausted and starting to lose it. But at the same time he knew that if he wanted to get out of there, he'd better watch what he said.
"Look," he said, as calmly and respectfully as he could. "I've cooperated with you. I've done everything you asked. Fingerprints, photographs, answered questions, everything. Now, please, I would like to either be released or see the American consul."
"You assaulted a French citizen."
"How do you know he was a French citizen?" Osborn said without thinking.
Maitrot ignored his emotion. "Why did you do it?"
"Why?" Osborn stared at him incredulously. There wasn't a day when, at some point, he didn't still hear the sound as the butcher knife struck his father's stomach. Didn't hear the awful surprise of his gasp. Didn't see the horror in his eyes as he looked up as if to ask, What happened?, yet knowing exactly what had. Didn't see his knees buckle under him as he slowly collapsed onto the sidewalk. Didn't hear the terrible shriek of a stranger's scream. Didn't see his father roll and try to reach up, knowing he was dying, asking his son without speaking to take hold of his hand so he wouldn't be so afraid. Telling him without speaking that he loved him forever.
"Yes." Maitrot leaned over and twisted his cigarette into an ashtray on the table between them. "Why did you do it?"
Osborn sat up straight and told the lie again. "I came into Charles de Gaulle Airport from London." He had to be careful and not make any changes from what he'd said to his previous interrogators. "The man roughed me up in the men's room and tried to steal my wallet."
"You look fit. Was he a big man?"
"Not particularly. He just wanted my wallet."
"Did he get it?"
"No. He ran away."
"Did you report it to airport authorities?"
"He didn't steal anything and I don't speak French very well, as you can tell."
Maitrot lit another cigarette and flipped the spent match into the ashtray. "And then later, by sheer coincidence, you saw him in the same brasserie where you had stopped for a drink?"
"What were you going to do, hold him for the police?"
"To tell you the truth, Inspector, I don't know what the hell I was going to do. I just did it. I got mad. I lost my head."
Osborn stood up and looked off while Maitrot made a note in the folder. What was he going to tell him? That the man he had chased had stabbed his father to death in Boston, Massachusetts, the United States of America, on Tuesday, April 12, 1966? That he saw him do it and had never seen him again until just a few hours ago? That the Boston police had listened with great compassion to the horror tale of a little boy and then spent years trying to track the killer down until finally they admitted there was nothing more they could do? Oh yes, the procedures had been correct. The crime scene and technical analysis, the autopsy, the interviews. But the boy had never seen the man before, and his mother couldn't place him from the boy's description, and since there had been no fingerprints on the murder weapon, and the weapon nothing more than a supermarket knife, the police had had to rely on the only thing they had, the testimony of two other eyewitnesses. Katherine Barnes, a middle-aged sales clerk who worked at Jordan Marsh, and Leroy Green, a custodian at the Boston Public Library. Both had been on the sidewalk at the time of the attack and each had told slight variations of the same story as the boy. But in the end, the police had exactly what they had in the beginning. Nothing. Finally Kevin O'Neil, the brash young homicide detective who'd befriended Paul and been on the case from the start, was killed by a suspect he'd testified against, and the George Osborn file went from a personally handled homicide investigation to simply another unsolved murder crammed into central files alongside hundreds of others. And now, three decades later, Katherine Barnes was in her eighties, senile and in a nursing home in Maine, and Leroy Green was dead. That made, for all intents, Paul Osborn the last surviving witness. And for a prosecutor, any prosecutor, thirty years after the fact, to expect a jury to convict a man on the testimony of the victim's son who had been ten at the time, and had glimpsed the suspect for no more than two or three seconds, would be lunatic. The truth was the killer had simply gotten away with it. And tonight in a Paris jail that truth still reigned because even if Osborn could convince the police to try to track the man down and arrest him, he would never be brought to trial. Not in France, not in America, not anywhere, in a million years. So why tell the police? It would do no good and might only complicate things later, if by some twist of fortune, Osborn was able to find him again.
"You were in London today. This morning." Suddenly Osborn was aware that Maitrot was still talking to him.
"You said you came to Paris from Geneva."
"Why were you there?"
"I was a tourist. But I got sick. A twenty-four-hour bug of some kind."
"Where did you stay?"
Osborn sat back. What did they want from him? Book him or let him go. What business was it of theirs what he had done in London?
"I asked you where you stayed in London." Maitrot was staring at him.
Osborn had been in London with a woman, also a doctor, an intern at a Paris hospital, who he later found out was the mistress of a preeminent French politician. At the time she'd told him how it was important for her to be discreet and begged him not to ask why. Accepting it, he'd carefully selected a hotel known for maintaining its guests' privacy and checked in using his name only.
"The Connaught," Osborn said. Hopefully the hotel would live up to its reputation.
"Were you alone?"
"Okay, enough." Abruptly, Osborn pushed back from the table and stood up. "I want to see the American consul." Through the glass Osborn saw a uniformed patrolman with a submachine gun over his shoulder turn and stare in at him.
"Why don't you relax, Doctor Osborn… Please, sit down," Maitrot said quietly, then leaned over to make a notation in the file.
Osborn sat back down and stared deliberately off, hopeful Maitrot would pass on the London business and get on with whatever was next. A clock on the wall read almost eleven. That made it three in the afternoon in L.A., or was it two? This time of year, time zones in Europe seemed to jump by the hour, depending where you were. Who the hell did he know there who he could call in a situation like this? He'd only had one encounter with the police in his life. That had been after a particularly grueling day when he'd accosted a careless and remorseless parking lot attendant outside a Beverly Hills restaurant for crushing the front fender of his new car while attempting to park it. Osborn had not been arrested but merely detained and then released. That was all, one experience in a lifetime. When he was fifteen and in boys' school the police had arrested him for throwing snowballs through a classroom window on Christmas Day. When they asked him why he did it, he'd told them the truth. He'd had nothing else to do.
Why? That was a word they always asked. The people at the school. The police. Even his patients. Asking why something hurt. Why surgery was or was not necessary. Why something continued to hurt when they felt it shouldn't. Why they did not need medication when they felt they did. Why they could do this but not that. Then waiting for him to explain it. "Why?" seemed to be a question he was destined to answer, not ask. Although he did remember asking "Why?" twice, in particular: to his first wife and then to his second, after they said they were leaving him. But now, in this glassed-in police interrogation room in the center of Paris, with a French detective making notes and chain-smoking cigarettes in front of him, he suddenly realized that why was the most important word in the world to him. And he wanted to ask it only once. To the man he had chased down into the subway.
"Why, you bastard, did you murder my father?"
As quickly, the thought came to him that if the police had interviewed the waiters at the brasserie who reported the incident, they might have the man's name. Especially if he was a regular customer or had paid with a check or credit card. Osborn waited until Maitrot finished writing. Then, as politely as possible, said, "Can I ask a question?" Looking up, Maitrot nodded.
"This French citizen I'm accused of assaulting. Do you know who he was?"
"No," Maitrot said.
Just then the glass door opened and the other plainclothes inspector came back in and sat down opposite Osborn. His name was Barras and he glanced at Maitrot, who vaguely shook his head. Barras was small, with dark hair and black, humorless eyes. Dark hair covered the back of his hands, and his nails were cut to perfection.
"Troublemakers are not welcome in France. Physicians are no exception. Deportation is a simple matter," Barras said flatly.
Deportation! God no! Osborn thought. Please, not now! Not after so many years! Not after finally seeing him! Knowing he's alive and where! "I'm sorry," he said, covering his horror. "Very sorry… I was upset, that's all. Please believe that because it's true."
Barras studied him. "How much longer had you planned to stay in France?"
"Five days," Osborn said. "To see Paris…"
Barras hesitated, then reached into his coat pocket and took out Osborn's passport. "Your passport, Doctor. When you are ready to leave, see me and I'll return it."
Osborn looked from Barras to Maitrot. That was their way of taking care of it. No deportation, no arrest, but keeping tabs on him just the same and making sure he knew it.
"It's late," Maitrot said, standing. "Au revoir, Doctor Osborn."
It was eleven twenty-five when Osborn left the police station. The rain had stopped and a bright moon hung over the city. He started to wave at a cab, then decided to walk back to his hotel. Walk and think about what to do next about the man who was no longer a childhood memory but a living creature, here, somewhere within the sweep of Paris. With patience, he was a man who could be found. And questioned. And then destroyed.
The same bright moon illuminated an alley just off Charing Cross Road in the theater district. The passageway was L-shaped and narrow and sealed off at both ends by crime scene tape. Passersby peered in from either end trying to see past the uniformed police, to get some idea of what was going on, of what had happened.
The faces in the leering crowd were not what had McVey's attention. It was another face, that of a white male in his early to mid-twenties with the eyeballs bulging grotesquely from their sockets. It had been discovered in a trash bin by a theater custodian emptying cartons after the closing of a show. Ordinarily Metropolitan homicide detectives would have worked it, but this was different. Superintendent Jamison called Commander Ian Noble of Special Branch at home, and Noble, in turn, had phoned McVey's hotel to wake him from a restless sleep.
It wasn't just the face, it was the head to which it was attached that had been the primary source of the Metropolitan detectives' interest. First, because there was no body to go with it. And second, because the head appeared to have been surgically removed from the rest. Where the "rest" was was anybody's guess, but the burden of what was left now belonged to McVey.
What was all too clear, as he watched scenes-of-crime officers carefully lift the head from the trash bin and set it into a clear plastic bag and then place it into a box for transportation, was that Superintendent Jamison's detectives had been right: the removal had been done by a professional. If not by a surgeon, at least by someone with a surgically sharp instrument and a sound knowledge of Gray's Anatomy.
To wit: at the base of the neck where it meets the clavicle or collar bone is the juncture of the trachea/esophagus leading to the lungs and stomach and the inferior constrictor muscle (which) arises from the sides of the cricoid and thyroid cartilages…
- On Sale
- Nov 15, 2008
- Page Count
- 608 pages