Kitty Goes to Washington Page 50

I smiled wryly. “Remember, it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.”

I called Flemming. Please, no voice mail, no voice mail—

“Yes?”

“Dr. Flemming? It's Kitty.”

The pause was loaded with frustration. “I really don't have time—”

“Where's Fritz?”

“Who?”

“Don't give me that. He's an old werewolf, German. He said you talked to him. Where is he?”

“How should I know—”

“He always comes to… to this one place to have a drink. Four o'clock, every day. He didn't show up today, and I don't think it's a coincidence. He talked on my show, and someone isn't happy—”

“Why should I be that someone?”

“I don't know. But you're my only lead. You must have some idea where he might be.”

“Look—yes, I know Fritz. I've spoken with him. If he called your show that's his own business, and I don't know why anyone would have had a problem with it. Not enough of a problem to take drastic action.”

I wasn't thinking straight. If I didn't get anywhere with Flemming, I had nowhere else to go, no one else to ask. “I'm worried about him.”

“He's a tough old man, he can take care of himself.” His voice had changed; it had stopped being flat. I was getting to him.

“He's old. He's falling apart. Werewolves don't get sick, but they do get old. He doesn't have anyone looking after him, does he?”

He sighed. “I have his home address. If you'd like, I'll check on him.”

“Can I meet you there?”

“Fine.” He gave me the address.

I got the “Thanks” out about the same time I clicked off and ran out to the curb.

Luis was still waiting in the Miata. “Now where are we going?”

I told him the address.

He raised his brows. “You want me to take this car into that neighborhood?”

I smiled brightly. “You paid for damage coverage, didn't you?”

Long-suffering Luis rolled his eyes and put the car into gear.

I bit my lip. I was really going to have to do something nice to thank him later on tonight.

The address turned out to be a tenement building, about forty years old, in dire need of a coat of paint. Or maybe a wrecking ball. Flemming was waiting by the front door, arms crossed, looking around nervously.

His frown turned surly when we pulled up.

“I'm sure there's no need for this,” he said as I hopped out of the car. Luis left the engine running.

“You're worried, too, or you wouldn't be here,” I said.

“He's on the third floor.”

The elevator didn't work, of course. I ran, quickly getting a full flight of stairs ahead of Flemming.

“What room?” I shouted behind me.

“Three-oh-six.”

The door was unlocked. I pushed it open. The place smelled like it hadn't been cleaned in a long time: close, sweaty, dank. Too warm, like the heat was turned up too high. The door opened into a main room. Another door led to what must have been a bedroom; a kitchen counter was visible beyond that.

Stacks of newspapers lined all the walls, folded haphazardly, as if Fritz had read them all, front page to back, and had meant to throw them out but never gotten around to it. Some of the piles leaned precariously. In the middle of the room, an old sofa sat in front of a TV set that must have been thirty years old, complete with rabbit ears wrapped in tin foil. It sat in a corner, on a beat-up end table. A static-laden evening news program was playing.

Something was wrong. Something in the air smelled very wrong—coldness, illness.

Dr. Flemming entered the room behind me, then pushed past me. I'd stopped, unable to cross the last few feet to the sofa. Flemming rushed to it, knelt by it, and felt the pulse of the man lying there.

Fritz lay slumped against one arm of the sofa, staring at the television, perfectly relaxed. His face was expressionless, his eyes blank.

Flemming sat back on his heels and sighed. “If I had to make a guess, I'd say it was a heart attack.”

“So he's—he's dead.”

Flemming nodded. I closed my eyes and sighed. “It couldn't be something else, something someone did to him?”

“You said it yourself. He's old. Something like this was going to happen sooner or later.”

“It's just when he called last night, he almost sounded like he knew something was going to happen to him.”

The phone—a rotary, for crying out loud—sat on the table next to the TV. He'd hung up and put it back before this happened.

“Maybe he did.” Flemming stared at Fritz's body, like he was trying to discover something, or memorize him. “I've seen stranger things happen in medicine.”

I bet he had. He claimed he wanted his research to be public, but he sure wasn't sharing. My anger, the shock of finding Fritz, was too much. Words bubbled over.

“Which is it, Flemming? Medical applications or military applications? Do you have dreams of building a werewolf army like the Nazis did?”

“No—no. That isn't what I wanted, but—”

“But what? What are you doing in that lab?”

He turned away. “I'll call the coroner.”

He went to the phone by the TV and made the call. That didn't mean he wasn't going to get a shot at his own autopsy as part of his research. I didn't like the idea of Fritz falling out of official channels into some classified research hole of Flemming's devising, embalmed and pickled in a jar. Fritz had spent most of his life outside official channels. It left him in this lonely apartment, surrounded by newspapers and television, with a glass of schnapps at four P.M. for entertainment. How long would it have taken someone to find him if we hadn't come?

We returned to the street. Flemming said he'd wait for the coroner's van. There wasn't anything left for me to do, and Luis convinced me to leave with him.

As the car pulled away, I started crying.

Sunday morning, I was at Luis's apartment. I'd woken up before him, and lay awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to think. Had Fritz really known his heart was about to give out?

I'd run into a wall. I didn't know what else I could learn about Flemming's research. Maybe there was nothing to learn, nothing but what Flemming had already said in the hearings. I was all worked up over nothing.

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