Locked Doors, стр. 1

LOCKED DOORS

By Blake Crouch

Copyright © 2005 by Blake Crouch

Cover art copyright © 2010 by Jeroen ten Berge

All rights reserved.

LOCKED DOORS is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

For more information about the author, please visit www.blakecrouch.com.

For more information about the artist, please visit www.jeroentenberge.com.

“Locked Doors,” from The Awful Rowing Toward God by Anne Sexton. Copyright © 1975 by Loring Conant, Jr., Executor of the Estate of Anne Sexton. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

For Rebecca, LOMFL

Acknowledgments

BEFORE we get started, I need to thank some wonderful people.  My wife, Rebecca, has been there for me in every way possible—much love to the Becca.  Linda Allen, Marcia Markland, Anna Cottle, and Mary Alice Kier are some of the savviest readers and kindest people I’ve ever known.  My writers group—Shannon Richardson, Dinah Leavitt, Suzanne Tyrpak, Doug Walker, and Richard Koch—provided me with invaluable feedback and helped make this book readable for those who haven’t encountered Desert Places.  Goddess of website design, Beth Tendall, conjured my internet presence with elegance and humor.  Sandi Greene (how many mother-in-laws show up in the acknowledgements?) should be my North Carolina publicist.  Andy Smith and Anne Walker gave me wonderful feedback.  Bill Smith was kind enough to explain hypnosis to me and in the process damn near put me under.  A double nod for the wonderful writer and inventor-extraordinaire, Doug Walker, who showed me how to build a homemade electric chair.  My climbing buddy and master photographer, Paul Pennington, took some killer author photos.  A standing ovation for the brilliant Detective Art Holland who walked me through the realities of crime scene investigation and inadvertently helped to unravel a crucial plot point.  My brother, Jordan, inspired me immensely, particularly through the last hundred pages.  And finally, a grateful bow to everyone at Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, Colorado.

L U T H E R

For the angels who inhabit this town,

although their shape constantly changes,

each night we leave some cold potatoes

and a bowl of milk on the windowsill.

Usually they inhabit heaven where,

by the way, no tears are allowed.

They push the moon around like

a boiled yam.

The Milky Way is their hen

with her many children.

When it is night the cows lie down

but the moon, that big bull, stands up.

—Anne Sexton, “Locked Doors”

1

THE headline on the Arts and Leisure page read: “Publisher to Reissue Five Thrillers by Alleged Murderer, Andrew Z. Thomas.”

All it took was seeing his name.

Karen Prescott dropped The New York Times and walked over to the window.

Morning light streamed across the clutter of her cramped office—query letters and sample chapters stacked in two piles on the floor beside the desk, a box of galleys shoved under the credenza.  She peered out the window and saw the fog dissolving, the microscopic crawl of traffic now materializing on Broadway through the cloud below.

Leaning against a bookcase that housed many of the hardcovers she’d guided to publication, Karen shivered.  The mention of Andrew’s name always unglued her.

For two years she’d been romantically involved with the suspense novelist and had even lived with him during the writing of Blue Murder at the same lake house in North Carolina where many of his victims were found.

She considered it a latent character defect that she’d failed to notice anything sinister in Andy beyond a slight reclusive tendency.

My God, I almost married him.

She pictured Andy reading to the crowd in that Boston bookshop the first time they met.  In a bathrobe writing in his office as she brought him fresh coffee (French roast of course).  Andy making love to her in a flimsy rowboat in the middle of Lake Norman.

She thought of his dead mother.

The exhumed bodies from his lakefront property.

His face on the FBI website.

They’d used his most recent jacket photo, a black and white of Andy in a sports jacket sitting broodingly at the end of his pier.

During the last few years she’d stopped thinking of him as Andy.  He was Andrew Thomas now and embodied all the horrible images the cadence of those four syllables invoked.

There was a knock.

Scott Boylin, publisher of Ice Blink’s literary imprint, stood in the doorway dressed in his best bib and tucker.  Karen suspected he was gussied up for the Doubleday party.

He smiled, waved with his fingers.

She crossed her arms, leveled her gaze.

God he looked streamlined today—very tall, fit, crowned by thick black hair with dignified intimations of silver.

He made her feel little.  In a good way.  Because Karen stood nearly six feet tall, few men towered over her.  She loved having to look up at Scott.

They’d been dating clandestinely for the last four months.  She’d even given him a key to her apartment where they spent countless Sundays in bed reading manuscripts, the coffeestained pages scattered across the sheets.

But last night she’d seen him at a bar in SoHo with one of the cute interns.  Their rendezvous did not look work-related.

“Come to the party with me,” he said.  “Then we’ll go to Il Piazza.  Talk this out.  It’s not what you—”

“I’ve got tons of reading to catch up—”

“Don’t be like that, Karen, come on.”

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to have this conversation here, so…”

He exhaled sharply through his nose and the door closed hard behind him.

Joe Mack was stuffing his pink round face with a gyro when his cell phone started ringing to the tune of “Staying Alive.”

He answered, cheeks exploding with food, “This Joe.”

“Hi, yes, um, I’ve got a bit of an interesting problem.”

“Whath?”

“Well, I’m in my apartment but I can’t get the deadbolt to turn from the inside.”

Joe Mack choked down a huge mouthful, said, “So you’re locked in.”

“Exactly.”

“Which apartment?”  He didn’t even try to mask the annoyance in his voice.

“Twenty-two eleven.”

“Name?”

“Um…I’m not the tenet.  I’m Karen Prescott’s friend.  She’s the—”

“Yeah, I get it.  You need to leave any time soon?”

“Well, yeah, I don’t want to—”

Joe Mack sighed, closed the cell phone, and devoured the last of the gyro.

Wiping his hands on his shirt he heaved himself from a debilitated swivel chair and lumbered out of the office, locking the door behind him.

The lobby was quiet for midday and the elevator doors spread as soon as he pressed the button.  He rode up wishing he’d bought three gyros for lunch instead of two.

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