Read The Fugitive Page 2

  “Somewhere between four thirty and five. He stayed on the Red Line and got off at the Tenleytown Station. I followed him for about three blocks before I lost him. I didn’t want to get too far from the station; not exactly my neck of the woods, you know.”

  “Okay, that’s all I need. I’ll be there tomorrow. I’m assuming you’re tied up all day.”

  “All day and all night. We’re doing the Smithsonian tomorrow.”

  “Have fun. I’ll text you tomorrow night.”

  Theo was relieved to have an adult involved, even if the adult was Uncle Ike. He was worried, though, about the old guy’s appearance. Ike was in his mid-sixties and not aging that well. He wore his white hair long and tied in a ponytail. He had a scraggly gray beard, and usually wore funky T-shirts, battered old jeans, weird eyeglasses, and sandals, even in cold weather. All in all, Ike Boone was the kind of person who attracts more attention than deflects it. He tended to keep to himself, but he was still known around town. If Pete Duffy had ever met Ike, or seen him, there was a good chance he would remember him. Surely Ike would go heavy on the disguises.

  In the darkness, and long after the other three had sacked out, Theo stared at the ceiling and thought of Pete Duffy and the murder he committed. On the one hand, he was thrilled to be involved in his capture. But, on the other, he was terrified over what it could mean. Pete Duffy had some dangerous friends, and they were still hanging around Strattenburg.

  If it was indeed Pete Duffy, and if they caught him and hauled him back for another trial, Theo would not want his name mentioned.

  Ike? He wouldn’t care. Ike had survived three years in prison. He feared nothing.

  Chapter 4

  At nine a.m. Friday, the four buses from Strattenburg pulled up to the east entrance of the Smithsonian Institution and all the eighth graders spilled out. The Smithsonian is the largest museum in the world, and a person could spend a week there and not see everything. In planning the day, Mr. Mount had explained to his class that the Smithsonian is actually a group of nineteen different museums and a zoo, along with a bunch of collections and galleries, and eleven of the nineteen are located on the Mall. It is home to about 138 million items, everything imaginable, and is nicknamed the “nation’s attic.” Thirty million people each year visit the Smithsonian.

  The students divided into groups. Theo and about forty others headed for the National Air and Space Museum. They spent two hours there, then regrouped and headed for the National Museum of American History.

  At two thirty, Theo received a text from Ike that read: In town, about to check out the Metro system. Theo was tired of museums and wished he could sneak away and do detective work with Ike. By five p.m., he felt as though he had seen at least 100 million items and needed a break. They boarded the buses and returned to the hotel for dinner.

  At six forty-five, while Theo was resting in his room and watching television, he received another text from Ike: Downstairs in lobby. Can u come down?

  Theo replied: Sure. He told Chase, Woody, and Aaron that his uncle had stopped by the hotel and wanted to say hello. Minutes later, he was walking through the lobby and couldn’t find Ike. Finally, a man sitting in a coffee bar waved at him, and Theo realized it was his uncle. Dark suit, brown leather shoes, white shirt, no tie, and some type of beret on his head that covered most of his white hair. The rest, the long part, was stuffed under his collar. Theo would never have recognized him.

  Ike was sipping coffee and smiling at his favorite nephew. “So how’s the great tour of Washington going?” he asked.

  Theo gave a heavy sigh as if he were exhausted. He rattled off the adventures of the day at the Smithsonian, and said, “Tonight, we’re watching a documentary film at the Newseum. Tomorrow we do the Washington Monument, and then visit the war memorials. Sunday, we see the Capitol, the White House, and the Jefferson Memorial, and by Monday I think I’ll be ready to head home.”

  “But you’re having fun, right?”

  “Sure, a lot of fun. Ford’s Theatre was pretty cool. So was the Lincoln Memorial. Did you see Pete Duffy?”

  “Are you going to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial?”

  “Yes, it’s on the schedule.”

  “Well, when you get there, look for the name of Joel Furniss. We grew up together and finished high school at the same time. He was the first boy from Stratten County to be killed in Vietnam, in 1965. There were four others, and their names are on the monument outside our courthouse. You’ve probably seen it.”

  “I have. I see it all the time. We studied that war in history, and, I gotta say, I really don’t understand it.”

  “Well, neither did we. It was a national tragedy.” Ike took a sip of coffee and seemed to gaze far away for a moment.

  “Did you see Pete Duffy?” Theo asked.

  “Oh yes,” Ike said, snapping back and glancing around, as if the wrong people might be listening. No one was sitting within thirty feet. Theo glanced into the wide, open lobby and saw Mr. Mount walk through in the distance.

  Ike continued, “I camped out in the Judiciary Square Station, two stops before Metro Center, where you guys got on yesterday. I saw no one who looked familiar. The train arrived at four forty-five. Eight cars. I got in number three, looked around as quickly as possible, did not see anyone. At the Metro Center stop, I moved to the fourth car. No one. At the Farragut North Station, I moved to the fifth car, and, bingo. It was crowded, as you said, and I slowly moved closer to the man we’re calling Pete Duffy. He was lost behind his newspaper, but I could see the side of his face. He never looked up, never looked around, he was lost in his own world. I backed away and stayed hidden in the crowd. As we approached the Tenleytown Station, he folded his newspaper and stood up. When the train stopped, he got off. I tagged along and was able to follow him to a small apartment building on Forty-Fourth Street. He ducked inside. I assume that’s where he’s hiding.”

  “Why would he hide in Washington? Why not Mexico or Australia?”

  “Because that’s where we expect him to be. Often, it’s the guy who’s hiding in plain sight that’s never discovered.”

  “I saw a movie one time where this guy was running from the FBI, and he had all kinds of plastic surgery to redo his face. You think Duffy’s done that?”

  “No, but he’s definitely changed hair color and grown a mustache. He’s wearing glasses, but they’re fake. I watched him read the newspaper, and he did so while looking over his glasses.”

  “So why is he here?”

  “Don’t know, but he could be waiting on a fresh set of papers—driver’s license, birth certificate, Social Security card, passport. There are a lot of good forgers here in DC, shady outfits that can produce all manner of paperwork that looks legitimate. It’s not easy leaving the country on the run, and it can be even harder entering another country without good paperwork. Also, maybe he’s staying close to his money. Maybe he has a friend or two here and they’re helping him plan his escape. I don’t know, Theo, but I’ll bet he’s not staying here for long.”

  “Okay, Uncle Ike, you’re the adult. What’s the plan?”

  “Well, we have to move fast. My flight doesn’t leave until noon tomorrow, so I’m thinking about getting up early and getting back on the train. I’ll try and pick him up at the Tenleytown Station and follow him in, try and see where he goes during the day. I’m going to be very careful because if he gets suspicious he’ll just vanish again. Then I’ll hop on the plane and be back in Strattenburg tomorrow night. Have you ever heard of some software called FuzziFace?”

  “No. What is it?”

  “You download it, costs about a hundred bucks, and you match up photographs of faces to identify whoever you’re looking for. I’ll find an old photo of Pete Duffy, probably one from the newspaper’s archives, and try to match it with a still shot from your video. If it nails him, the next step is to go to the police. I play poker every Thursday night with a retired detective named Slats Stillman, an old guy who’s still in
thick with the police chief. I’m thinking of running it by Slats and getting his advice. I figure the police will move quick. With some luck, they’ll have Duffy in custody in a matter of days. They’ll hustle him back to Strattenburg for another trial.”

  “A big trial, right?”

  “Just like the last one, only Duffy will also face charges of taking flight and being a fugitive. His goose is cooked, Theo, and you’re the hero.”

  “I don’t want to be the hero, Ike. I keep thinking about Omar Cheepe and Paco and those other tough guys who work for Pete Duffy. I’m sure they’re still around. I don’t want my name mentioned.”

  “I’m sure we can keep things quiet.”

  “And if there’s a big trial, that means Bobby Escobar will have to testify.”

  “Of course it does. He’s the star witness. He’s still in town, right?”

  “I think so, but . . . the last time I talked to Julio they were all living in the same apartment, still waiting on immigration documents.”

  “Does Bobby still work at the golf course?”

  “I think so. This worries me, Ike.”

  “Look, Theo, I’m sure the police will be very careful in dealing with Bobby Escobar. The prosecution’s case is pretty weak without him, and the police will protect him. We can’t allow thugs to influence our judicial system. Come on, you’re a lawyer, you know how important it is to have fair trials. Judge Gantry will be in charge, and if he gets wind of any type of threats made to a witness, he’ll lower the boom on Duffy and his gang. It’s time to step up.”

  Theo suspected that Ike’s eagerness to nail Duffy and to protect the idea of fair trials also had something to do with the reward money: $100,000.

  Theo said, “I need to go. Be careful tomorrow.”

  “I’m not getting caught, Theo. You didn’t recognize me, did you?”

  “No, and you look nice for a change, almost like a real lawyer.”

  “Gee, thanks. And I have another disguise for tomorrow, then, it’s back to the old wardrobe.”

  “Thanks for coming, Ike.”

  “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I haven’t had this much excitement since I got out of prison.”

  “See you later.”

  “You take care and have some fun. And, Theo, nice work.”

  As Theo rode the elevator back to his room, he asked himself if he was doing the right thing. Bringing a murderer to justice sounded great, but there could be a price to pay. He thought about calling his parents and telling them, but such a call would only worry them. He was supposed to be in Washington having a ball as a tourist, not playing detective and stalking a killer.

  He trusted his uncle. Ike always knew what to do.

  • • •

  Early Saturday morning, Theo, his roommates, and forty other students got off the bus near the Mall and headed toward the Washington Monument. As they got closer to it, Mr. Mount began a walking tour. He explained that the monument, built of course to honor our first president, is a true obelisk and is constructed of marble and granite. At 555 feet in height it is still the world’s tallest all-stone obelisk. When it was completed in 1884, it was the tallest structure in the world, a record it held until 1889 when the Eiffel Tower was finished in Paris. Construction was started in 1848, and it took six years to build the first 150 feet. Then, for a number of reasons, including a shortage of money and the Civil War, work on the monument was halted for twenty-three years.

  Theo wasn’t sure about the other students, but after two days of nonstop history lessons, the dates and numbers were beginning to run together.

  They gathered at the base of the monument, waited in line for almost an hour, then entered the ground floor lobby. A friendly park ranger guided them to an elevator and locked the door. Seventy seconds later, they stepped out and onto an observation deck five hundred feet above the ground. The views were stunning. To the west were the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial. To the north were The Ellipse and the White House. To the east was the magnificent US Capitol. To the southeast were the Smithsonian and rows of government buildings. Below the observation deck was a museum filled with even more history.

  After two long hours, the students were ready to move on. They descended in the elevator and left the lobby.

  At eleven forty-six, Theo got a text from Ike: No sign of Duffy. Must have different routine for Sat. At airport, headed home. C U there.

  Chapter 5

  Mrs. Boone picked Theo up at the school Monday afternoon. During the ten-minute drive home, she wanted to know every detail about the trip and Washington. Theo was tired—he had slept little Sunday night because Woody and Aaron played a stupid game to see which one could stay awake until morning, and he hadn’t slept on the bus because there had been a lot of punching, slapping, loud music, laughing, and, of course, passing of gas—so he had little to say to his mother. He promised her he would give her a full report after a nap. At home, she fixed him a grilled cheese sandwich and asked him when was the last time he took a shower. He thought it was either Friday or Saturday, and she instructed him to take one right then, after lunch. When Theo was in the shower, she went back to the office.

  Theo Boone did not take naps. Even though he was dead tired, he had somewhere to go. It was, after all, Monday afternoon and he was required to visit Ike. He did not always look forward to these visits, but today was different. They had important business.

  Ike had been able to run a number of photos of Pete Duffy through FuzziFace, and Theo was eager to know what he had found.

  It was the old Ike—no dark suit, no white shirt and tie, no shiny leather loafers. Instead, he was wearing his standard office attire of faded jeans, faded T-shirt, and sandals. Bob Dylan was singing softly on the stereo when Theo and Judge bounded up the stairs to his messy office. Ike was excited and spent fifteen minutes showing Theo the various images of Pete Duffy on his laptop. The FuzziFace software analyzed every inch of Duffy’s face from the old photos Ike had found, and compared those to a still shot from Theo’s video. The bottom line: There was an 85 percent chance it was Duffy.

  Theo and Ike were convinced beyond a doubt.

  “Now what?” Theo asked.

  “Have you told your parents?”

  “No, but we should. I don’t like keeping secrets from them, especially something as big as this. They might even be ticked off when we tell them everything we’ve already done.”

  “Okay, I agree. When do you want to tell them?”

  “How about now? They’re both in the office. It’s Monday, so we’ll go to Robilio’s for dinner, as always. Let’s catch them in about half an hour. Will you come with me?”

  It was a complicated question because Ike avoided the law offices of Boone & Boone. He had once worked there; in fact, he and Theo’s father had started the first Boone law firm in the same building many years earlier. Then something bad happened. Ike got into trouble, left the firm on bad terms, lost his license to practice law, went to prison, and now generally avoided anything to do with his old firm. But, thanks to Theo, the difficult relationship between Ike and Woods Boone was showing signs of improving. During the first Duffy trial, Ike showed up at the office one night when Judge Gantry stopped by for an important conversation with the entire family.

  Ike would do almost anything for his nephew. “Sure,” he said. “Let’s go.”

  “Great. I’ll see you there.” Theo and Judge left in a hurry. After four days in the big city, Theo was thrilled to be back on his bike and darting along the streets of Strattenburg. These were his streets and he knew every one of them, and every alley and shortcut. He could not imagine being a kid in a big city where the streets were clogged with cars and the sidewalks were packed with pedestrians.

  Theo took the long way back to the office, stalling until five thirty when Elsa Miller would close up her desk, lock the front door, and go home. Elsa was the firm’s receptionist and head secretary, and a very important person in the lives of the Boones. She w
as like a grandmother to Theo, and at that moment she would pounce on him with amazing energy, even more amazing when you considered that she was seventy years old, and hit him with a hundred questions about his trip to Washington. Theo just wasn’t in the mood, so he did a few laps around the block, with Judge close behind. He hid behind a tree down the street—a favorite hiding place—until he saw Elsa’s car leave. He entered the building through a rear door and went straight to his mother’s office. As usual, she was on the phone. Judge parked himself on a dog bed by Elsa’s desk, one of three such beds at the office, while Theo went up the stairs to check on his father.

  Woods Boone was smoking his pipe and reading a document. His desk was stacked with papers and files, many of them untouched for months, maybe even years. He smiled when he saw Theo and said, “Well, well, how was the big trip?”

  “It was great, Dad. I’ll tell you all about it over dinner. Right now there’s something we need to talk about, something really important.”

  “What have you done?” Mr. Boone asked, suddenly frowning.

  “Nothing, Dad. Well, not much anyway. But, look, Ike is on his way over and we need to have a family meeting.”

  “Ike? A family meeting? Why am I nervous?”

  “Can we just meet with Mom in the conference room and talk about it?”

  “Sure,” Mr. Boone said, putting away his pipe and getting to his feet. He followed Theo downstairs. Ike was knocking on the front door and Theo unlocked it. Mrs. Boone emerged from her office and asked, “What’s going on here?”

  “We need to talk,” Theo said. Mrs. Boone gave Ike a quick hug, the kind you’re expected to give but don’t really want to. She gave her husband a curious look, like “What’s he done now?”

  When they were situated around the conference table, Theo told the story: Last Thursday in DC, leaving Ford’s Theatre, on the crowded subway, the man who looks like Pete Duffy, the secret video made by Theo, the call to Ike, Ike’s quick trip to DC, the second spotting of Duffy, the trailing of Duffy to his run-down apartment building, the FuzziFace software and examination of the photos, and, most importantly, their belief that the man is Pete Duffy.

  Mr. and Mrs. Boone were speechless.

  Ike had his laptop, and it took Theo only a few seconds to wire it to a big screen on a wall at the end of the conference table. “Here it is,” Theo said, and the video began in slow motion. Theo froze it and said, “This is the best shot right here.” It was an image of the left side of the man’s face just as he dipped his newspaper.

  Ike pecked on his keyboard and the screen split between that image and one of Pete Duffy taken from an old newspaper photo. Side by side, the men looked somewhat similar.

  Mrs. Boone finally said, “Well, I suppose it sort of looks like the same man.”

  Mr. Boone, always the skeptic, said, “I’m not so sure.”

  “Oh, it’s him,” Ike said with little doubt.

  “He even walks like Pete Duffy,” Theo added.

  “And when did you see Mr. Duffy walk?” his father asked.

  “During his trial. We walked behind him and his lawyers during the first day of the trial. I remember it clearly.”

  “Have you been reading spy novels again?” Mrs. Boone asked. She and Mr. Boone were still staring at the images on the screen. Theo did not answer.

  “What do you have in mind?” Mr. Boone asked Ike.

  “Well, we have to go to the police, show them the video, show them these images, and tell them everything we know. At that point, it’s up to them.”

  The four pondered this for a moment, then Ike continued, “But that, of course, might present another problem. We have a good police department, but Pete Duffy has a lot of friends. There could be leaks. A stray word here or there, then a quick phone call, and Duffy could disappear into thin air.”

  “Are you suggesting Duffy might have a mole inside our police department?” Mrs. Boone asked, her eyebrows arched with skepticism.

  “It wouldn’t surprise me,” Ike replied.

  “Me neither,” added Mr. Boone.

  Theo was shocked by the suggestion. If you can’t trust the police, who can you trust?

  Another long pause as the four stared at the screen and considered the situation. “What are you thinking, Ike?” Mrs. Boone finally asked.

  “He’s a fugitive, currently number seven on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list, right? So we go to the FBI and keep it away from the Strattenburg Police.”

  “Well, whatever we do, we’re keeping Theo out of it,” Mr. Boone said.

  That was perfectly fine with Theo. The deeper he sank into the Duffy matter, the more worried he became. However, it was exciting to think about working with real FBI agents.

  “Of course we are,” Ike said. “But I suppose they’ll want to meet with him and get his version of events. We can keep that all nice and secret.”

  “And when do you think we should meet with the FBI?” Mr. Boone asked.

  “As soon as possible. I’ll call them first thing in the morning and arrange a meeting. I’ll suggest that we meet right here if that’s okay.”

  “Guess I’ll have to miss school tomorrow,” Theo said.

  “You will not,” his mother said sharply. “You were out of class Thursday, Friday, and today. You will not miss tomorrow. If we meet, we’ll do it after school. Okay, Ike?”