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worth anything, so whoever had pulled out the valuable relics must not have
realized the importance of the contents. I
frowned, my euphoria fading. "But that can't be right," I said. "Bones
couldn't fit in that."
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"Not intact," Larson said. "But bones are brittle."
I cocked my head. "Crushed?"
"The dust would still hold the properties, would it not?"
"You're the expert," I said.
"
Go
. Get the box. Bring it back to me and I'll arrange transport with the
Vatican."
He didn't have to tell me twice. I was already up and had my purse over my
shoulder. "Come with me," I
said. "We'll take it to the airport together. I'll make sure you get settled
on the plane."
"I can't. This trial." He rubbed his temple, then looked at his watch. "I can
recess after an hour, come up with some excuse. I can meet you then."
I wanted to argue, to point out that his responsibilities to his job shouldn't
be more important than mine to my family. But there wasn't time, and it wasn't
an argument I could win. "Meet at my house," I said. "I
have to relieve Laura, and maybe Eddie can confirm we've got the right thing.
I'd hate to go running to the Vatican with dear Uncle Edgar's ashes."
"Good point." He hesitated just a moment, and then nodded. "Your house. One
hour. Now go."
Exactly one hour later Larson, Eddie, and I were huddled around my dining room
table. Rather than take
Timmy to day care, I'd begged Laura to watch him at her house. I didn't know
how long this would take, or what was involved. If I ended up escorting Larson
to the Los Angeles Airport, I'd miss the pickup time for Timmy's day care.
The box sat next to the salt and pepper shakers, and neither Eddie nor Larson
had made a move to touch it.
"How do we know?" I asked. "I mean, how can we be sure?"
Both Larson and I turned to Eddie. "Any idea?" Larson asked.
"Well, now," Eddie drawled, "I've got lots of ideas."
"About the box, Eddie," I said, gently prodding him. I doubted Larson was in
the mood to put up with
Eddie's incessant rambling. I know I wasn't.
"Charlie only read some of the text to Michael and me," Eddie said. "Makes
sense. Long document, that was." He blinked, his eyes owlish behind the
half-glasses he'd shoved too far up his nose. "What year was that again? Not
the sixties& none of those flower children. The fifties, maybe?"
"Eddie."
He waved a hand at me. "Sorry. Right. You're right. Now, then." He blinked,
then peered toward
Larson. "What were we talking about?"
Larson pressed both hands to the tabletop and got nose-to-nose with Eddie.
"How do we test the dust?"
"Right. I remember. Sure. Holy water."
I met Larson's eyes, but he looked just as bewildered as me. "Holy water?
How?"
"Sprinkle a bit on and you'll see the Lord's flame. Don't recall the exact
translation, but the text said something about hubris, and the flame was a
warning of how not to use the bones. A reminder, of sorts."
"A reminder?" I asked.
"Matthew 25:41," Eddie said.
I shook my head. My memory of Scripture has never been very good.
"
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels
.' " Larson looked from Eddie to me. "Apropos, don't you think?"
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I nodded, but couldn't speak, the reality of what the bones represented
finally settling in. I wanted to test them, and then I wanted to get them out
of my house out of San Diablo all together. Eddie's spritzer bottle was next
to the salt. I passed it to Larson. "Here," I said. "You can have the honors."
He brushed my hand away, nodding instead toward Eddie. "After so many years, I
think Mr. Lohmann deserves the full impact of this moment."
"Damn straight, I do." Eddie drew in a breath, his scrawny shoulders rising
with his chest, and then he edged the box toward him. He managed to pry the
lid off with little difficulty, then he pointed the nozzle at the dust.
"Anyone want to sound a drumroll?"
"I may not be your alimentatore
," Larson said, "but I'm only going to say this once. Cut the crap and get on
with it."
Eddie flashed a grin in my direction, his dentures blindingly white. "Ever
noticed just how touchy some mentors are?"
"The test, Eddie," I said.
"I'm doing it, I'm doing it." He tapped a bit of the dust onto a napkin, then
squeezed the trigger. A fine mist erupted, then drifted down to blanket the
dust.
I jumped back, anticipating the flames. But they never came. Instead, we were
looking at a pile of slightly soggy dust on a slightly soggy napkin.
Beside me, Larson made a low noise in his throat. "You're sure that was holy
water? You told me the staff was filling his vial with tap water."
"I'm sure," I said, wishing I weren't. "Father Ben replenishes the holy water
every morning, and I filled
Eddie's bottle for him personally."
"Well," Eddie said. "That settles it. I guess we need to keep looking."
"Yes," Larson said, his voice tight. "It appears that we do."
Larson left, leaving Eddie and me sitting at the table, alone in a morose
silence.
"I really thought we had it," I said. "I thought we'd figured it out and we
were done."
"From my way of looking at things," Eddie said, "we'll never really be done."
"You maybe, but I'll be finished as soon as the Lazarus Bones are safely back
in the Vatican."
"That so?" He chewed on the end of a pen.
I waited for him to say something more, and when he didn't, I squirmed in my
chair. "I have to think about my family, Eddie. Allie, Timmy, even Stuart." At
Stuart, I looked away. I hadn't shared my suspicions with Eddie, and I didn't [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]