JP09_Payment in Kind by Jance J. A

JP09_Payment in Kind by Jance J. A

Author:Jance, J. A. [Jance, J. A.]
Language: eng
Format: mobi
ISBN: 9780062086365
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: 2011-12-27T05:00:00+00:00

Chapter 15

I hurried up to the fifth floor and sat at my desk poring over the AFIS report as if reading the same black-and-white words over and over again would somehow unlock the secrets hidden behind them, because the words gave the bare-bones skeleton of a hell of a story.

John David Madsen, alias Pete Kelsey, had been on deserter status from the United States Army for more than twenty years. Why?

Picking up the phone, I dialed South Dakota information. As I waited for the operator to answer, I thought about how a sons or brothers or husbands sudden reappearance after so many years of unexplained absence might affect the family he had presumably left behind. But the information operator came up empty.

If John David Madsen had any surviving relatives, they were no longer living in the vicinity of Marvin, South Dakota, wherever the hell that was.

Then, since I had come up empty-handed on the first try, I made another wild stab at it. This time I dialed Ottawa information, asking for either a Madsen or a Kelsey. Again, no Madsens, but three Kelseys were listed, one of which was a Peter. It sounded to me like one of the oldest phony ID tricks in the bookassuming the identity of a long-deceased child.

I jotted down the telephone number, but it took several minutes to work up nerve enough to dial it. The woman who answered sounded elderly and frail, and I berated myself for being an uncaring bastard even as I laid the ground-work for asking the painful questions.

Is this Mrs. Peter Kelsey? I asked.

Youll have to speak up a bit. I cant quite hear you.

I upped the volume. Is this Mrs. Peter Kelsey?

Yes it is. Whos calling, please?

My name is Beaumont, Detective J.P. Beaumont, with the Seattle Police Department.

Had I been on the other end of the line, I probably would have demanded that my caller offer some further form of identification or verification. Mrs. Peter Kelsey did not.

What can I do for you, Detective Beaumont? she asked.

This may be difficult for you, Mrs. Kelsey, I said gently, but Im working on a case where someone has been living under an alias for many years. Its entirely possible that this person has taken the name and assumed the identity of someone in your family.

Yes, she said. I see. Go on.

What Im calling for, Mrs. Kelsey, is to see whether or not there was a child in your family named Peter Kelsey, a child who died at a very early age.

The sharp intake of breath answered my question in the affirmative long before she spoke, her voice quavering tremulously. Yes. He was my youngest, she said, almost in a whisper. My baby. He died of whooping cough when he was only three months old. I sat up with him all night in the hospital, but there was nothing anybody could do. Nothing at all. He died at five past seven in the morning.

I was struck by the fact that even after all those years, the exact time of her childs death was still engraved in her heart and brain.



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