“Worst injury?” Remington asked. We hadn’t spoken since takeoff. We spent the majority of the flight pouring over the files in our laps, refreshing our memories and looking for anything we might have missed over the past four years. Well, nine years for me.
I took a moment to mark my place before replying. “How are we ranking injuries?” I asked. “Pain? Hospital time? Downtime?”
Remington frowned as he considered this, then shrugged. “Downtime,” he decided.
“I was hit by a car,” I answered. He cringed appropriately. “Fortunately, I went over and not under, but I broke my arm”–I pointed to my ulna, then my torso–“two ribs, my right ankle, and dislocated my shoulder on the dismount. I was desked for three months.”
“What was the case?”
“A man had murdered his girlfriend, kidnapped her little girl, and was heading for Mexico–Juarez. We caught him in El Paso. The girl was OK. Well… uninjured.”
Remington snorted. He had been pelting me with these questions since I announced my retirement. He had been with the Bureau for six years already before I inherited him, so he had known better back then than to ask. Thank God, too, because I didn’t have the patience to suffer these rookie questions. We have both cooled down significantly since then.
“How about you?” I countered.
Remington answered by sweeping back his jacket and pulling up his shirttail. Two inches above his navel was a thick white line, about half an inch wide. I had seen it a few times, but I knew when I started not to ask people about their scars.
“Hooker stabbed me with her car key,” he said. “It wouldn’t’ve been so bad, but it took me an hour to get to the hospital.” He sniffed to cover the facial twitch he got whenever he grew bitter. He had been in Organized Crime before he came to me, and he still beats himself up that he couldn’t save everyone. He had a soft spot for working girls; “Hooker” was practically a term of endearment for him. He had even called me “hooker” once or twice, back in his hot-headed days.
The plane began to descend. Remington stared at the seatback in front of him. His brown eyes were hard–They had been harder when I met him, I think. I hope. His jaw bulged as he ground his teeth. That wasn’t what he wanted to ask, I realized. He had been trying to bring it up since the ceremony. I wasn’t about to bring it up myself. I waited patiently.
That wasn’t what he wanted to ask either.
I sighed. Had it really taken him four years to ask that? I had to suppress an embarrassed grin. He caught my twitching mouth and raised an eyebrow.
“It was a suspected kidnapping. An eleven-year-old boy disappeared. His bedroom was trashed. There was blood all over the carpet. This was”–he counted up from ’74–“1978. No DNA testing. God, I’m old… His father had a history of violence, so upon investigation, it appeared to be an open and shut case. The boy never showed up and we never found a body. We arrested the father and charged him with homicide.” I took a deep breath and could no longer suppress my grin.
“Twenty-three years later–1994–this thirty-four-year-old man walks into my office. I recognize him immediately.” I snapped my fingers. Remi scoffed in disbelief. “He ran away and had been living in Ontario.”
Remington chuckled. He worked his fingers over the contours of his knee. I suspect it was starting to pain him, but he would never admit it. His laughter faded. He started a few times before he finally said, “Were you with Goldfarb back then?”
He had finally gotten to his point.
“Yep,” I answered. I didn’t elaborate, although that’s what he wanted. I began to tap my pen, exercising some of the nervous energy that was beginning to build.
Remington didn’t look at me. His smile faded into a thousand-mile stare. “He was fast,” he murmured. His hand drifted up to a spot on the back of his head. He wasn’t talking about Goldfarb anymore. “He was real fast.”
“He was,” I agreed.
The pilot announced our arrival at Hartsfield-Jackson. We gathered our papers into matching manila folders marked “PHOENIX, San Francisco, CA – 2002” and “PHOENIX, Detroit, MI – 1997.”
“Twenty-seven days on the clock,” Remi sighed, checking his watch. “Starting–now.”