Part 142: Scarlet Star
respond. He felt a searing pain all over, and he realised after a moment that his hands and feet were bound and he was lying on the floor.
His throat stung terribly, and his limbs felt heavy. He tried opening his eyes, but pain shot through them.
*That's right. I got attacked with some kind of sleep spray.*
Hyde forced himself to endure the pain. When he finally got his eyes open, he focused on a dim light that was shining from the floor. It was the flashlight he had been carrying when he came into the room; it had fallen onto the floor when he was assaulted.
Slowly, surely, his eyes accustomed themselves to the light, and he started to have a vague idea of his surroundings.
*First thing's first. I've gotta cut these ropes somehow.*
He looked around the room and quickly formulated his plan. Struggling to move at all, he shuffled, inch by inch, towards the wall.
By the wall was a table with a ceramic vase stood precariously on top of it. Hyde reached the table at last, and then tried pushing against it. The vase began to wobble.
That was all the impetus he needed. He banged against the table again, harder this time, and the vase moved a sizeable distance. He pushed his body into the table leg one last time and, with a loud crash, the vase fell to the ground and smashed into tiny pieces. Taking great care amidst the debris, he picked the fragment that looked the sharpest, and started to cut his ropes with it using the fingers of his bound hands. It took far longer than he was expecting, but after an hour of painful effort, he was free at last.
*Now I'm finally getting somewhere!*
But who on earth had done this to him? And was Tony all right?
Dragging himself off the floor, he picked up the flashlight and tried to find the way out of the room.
But when he tried opening the door, it wouldn't budge. It felt like there was something on the other side jamming it shut. *I've gotta get out of here somehow...*
He had to look around to determine what he might be able touse to break the door. Possible candidates included a wooden chair and a pipe from the bathroom that he'd been able to pull off because the screw was loose.
He kept the pipe to hand in case it was necessary, but he decided the chair was the better option. He picked it up and swung it towards the door with all his might.
With a deafening sound, a large hole broke open in the centre of the door. He looked down at his feet and saw splinters everywhere. Lying there as well was the name plate for the door. It read "Manager".
"So this used to be the manager's room. Interesting..."
It had been quite an effort, but finally he had managed to escape his prison. Cautiously, he glanced along the corridor to try and gauge the situation. Thankfully, no one was lying in wait. Whoever had attacked him appeared to be long gone by now. He could still feel their effect on him, however, his hands and feet ached terribly from the tight bonds.
A few yards ahead he spotted Tony, passed out on the floor. He rushed over to try and rouse him. Clearly Tony had been attacked with the sleep spray as well. When he came to, he blinked his eyes frantically, desperate to try and dull its effect. "Who the hell would wanna do this to us, Hyde?" he asked, each word raw and painful.
"My guess is it was somebody who didn't want us closing in on the Scarlet Star," said Hyde. But who that was, exactly, he couldn't put his finger on just yet.
"Did anything happen to the safe?" asked Tony.
"Same as when you left," Hyde answered. "We need to get back there for antoher look."
"No time like the present. Let's book it!" Tony still had the crowbar with him, so the two of them went back into room 406. As they made their way through the giant hole in the door, Tony exclaimed, "Woah! Did you blow it open with dynamite or something?"
Hyde just shook his head and made a punching motion.
"As if you could break the door like that!" laughed Tony.
The two of them inserted the end of the crowbar into the small gap between the safe and the door. Then, waiting for Tony's say-so, they worked in unison, putting in as much strength as they could possibly muster.
With one determined push, the door broke off its hinges and fell onto the floor.
Housed in the safe was a small, square case. But when Hyde opened it, there was absolutely nothing inside, Scarlet Star or otherwise.
But it wasn't just any notebook. It was the diary of Michael McGrath, former manager of Hotel Cape West and husband of Kathy, the murder victim of 13 years ago. The very same man who had known the location of the Scarlet Star diamond.
He opened it and started reading right away. The following was written on it:
"Written on December 17, 1967, after Kathy's funeral. Kathy, I still can't believe you're gone. Whenever I think of life without you, I am overcome with an intolerable sense of guilt.
Guilt because I know the truth, Kathy.
I know why you were killed, and it's all because of what happened on that fateful night 12 years ago. If I hadn't shot the safecracker who snuck into my office... If I hadn't taken the Scarlet Star from his dead fingers, then maybe you'd still be alive."
Hyde stared down at the page. "Scarlet Star," he muttered. "That's right. Everything started 25 years ago."
He read on, careful not to miss a single word.
"When I closed the hotel, my plan was to sever my ties with Condor as well... George said, 'The only way to escape Condor is to completely disappear. Of course you're well within your right to do so, but remember this: I can overlook certain things while we're friends, but not when we're strangers.'
But George knew... He knew about the provisions I'd made in order to start my new life, and he knew what had become of the Scarlet Star. I expected some sort of retribution... But Kathy... I never imagined it would result in your life being taken.
Kathy, I now know exactly what I have to do. I have no intention of handing the Scarlet Star over to George. And absolutely no intention of forgiving him for what he has done either.
You can rest easy Kathy. You will be avenged. I promise."
In this notebook, Michael had composed his confession to his wife, Kathy, and his declaration of revenge.
*It all happened 25 years ago in this very room. My dad came in and attempted to steal the Scarlet STar, only to be killed by the hotel manager, Michael Manager.*
At last, the truth had revealed itself to Hyde.
Tony tried to get his attention, and Hyde realised he must have been staring into space for a while.
He decided it was time to leave. He suggested that Tony go back to his room to get some rest, since he had been hurt in the attack. Tony nodded in assent and made his way back on his own.
The moment Tony had disappeared through the door, Hyde's pager started beeping again. He'd forgotten all about it -- the shrill sound that had roused him from the darkness an hour or so beforehand. It was definitely time to give Rachel a call.
He hurried back to his room and dialled Rachel's number as quickly as he could.
As soon as she realised it was him, she adopted a concerned tone. "Is everything okay, Kyle?" Apparently she had been paging him over and over again without any kind of response. She'd grown rather worried.
Hyde did his best to reassure her. "Yeah, I got caught up in something, and I was a little tied up for a while. But it's fine now, don't owrry about it."
Hyde's words -- particularly the "tied up" part -- gave her pause for a moment, but she was just barely convinced enough to pass the phone over to Ed.
Her voice become distant, and he heard her telling Ed that she'd finally managed to get in touch with Hyde. She had obviously been quite worried about him.
A moment later, his ear was assaulted by Ed's low rumble. Ed's research had led him to discover that 25 years ago, Frank Raver, had been heading up an investigation into Condor, which he was then dismissed from.
But Hyde, of course, had already learnt this and more from the man himself. He began to tell Ed everything else he had learnt.
Frank placed the blame for his dismissal squarely at the feet of Hugh Speck, the one who had pulled him away from the front line of his own investigation. Because of that, he had been unable to reveal the link between Condor and Nile. And now he was continuing to investigate Hotel Cape West, the site where Condor had conducted their jewellery trades.
But there was more. He told Ed that he had found a diary written by Michael McGrath 13 years ago, and it had included a confession: 12 years before that, he had shot and killed a safecracker in the hotel.
"What?!" exclaimed Ed, and it was an unusually loud reac-
tion or doubt. "Mags."
Hyde was practically certain about this. Firstly, the method of attack had definitely been something a woman would be capable of carrying out. Secondly, she had a connection to Nile, and was being watched by them to this day. Finally, she had a lot to hide, and had always been wary of his attempts to find out more about the building's past.
"What's your next move?" asked Ed.
"Let just say, she and I are going to have a little talk."
He hung up and began his descent to the lobby.
He rapped violently on Mags's door.
"Who is it?" came the innocuous reply from inside.
"It's Kyle Hyde," he growled.
"What? Mr Hyde?" she was audibly unnerved at hearing his voice.
He wasted no time in getting to the heart of the matter. "I know what you did. All of it. Now open this damn door!"
Unsurprisingly, Mags was reluctant to let him in. In fact, she responded in kind. "I've also made certain discoveries, Mr Hyde. I know you snuck in here and stole the key, for example."
She told him that she wouldn't be answering any more of his questions. Hyde had no choice but to abandon this line of inquiry.
Hyde was at a loss. He'd been so sure he would be able to talk to Mags and get her to come clean about everything, but it had all gone up in smoke.
*And how did she find out I snuck into her room, anyway?*
He stood there gazing into the middle distance for a short while. Soon, though, he was joined by Frank, who spoke to Hyde as he was descending the staircase. "I may be mistaken, but have you jsut been to Mrs Patrice's room?"
Hyde told Frank that she had somehow learnt of his intrusion. Frank's response was unexpected, however.
"Actually, she called me before you arrived to talk about you." It seemed she knew that Frank was a former detective and had a suspicion that Hyde was in league with Nile.
Her reasoning, according to Frank, lay in the fact that Hyde had stolen the key with the mark of Condor on it. No one would want to steal the key, she had said, unless they knew what it meant.
*But how did she know it was me that took it?*
A suspicion formed in his mind. "Are you absolutely sure you didn't drop me in it when you spoke to her? You know, just politely told her that I'd been snooping around in her room."
Without missing a beat, Frank flatly replied that he had done nothing of the sort. Then he changed the subject, asking if Hyde had been able to uncover the key's meaning while he was searching on the fourth floor.
"I didn't get a chance to finish my investigation. I was attacked." He relayed the details of his sleep spray encounter -- including the fact that Mags was the likely culprit.
Frank sighed as he spoke. "I may have made a terrible mistake, Mr Hyde.
"When you told me that it was in fact Michael McGrath's son that sent you the order to go searching for the Scarlet Star, I chose to tell you about Michael McGrath's diary. I thought this was a chance to utilise your expertise to help me find evidence that would expose Hugh Speck and his corruption."
But as a result, Frank continued, Hyde had been attacked by Mags. Frank regretted this deeply.
Hyde, however, was less concerned. "Don't flatter yourself, Frank. You think I was doing what I was told? I went into Mags's room to help me uncover the truth of 25 years ago. Simple as that."
"The truth of 25 years ago?" Frank furrowed his brow.
"I wanna know about what went on in the manager's office. About the safecracker's death. I'm not interested in the Scarlet Star itself."
Frank's eyes widened in shock. "Mr Hyde, if you're keen on hearing more about 25 years ago, feel free to join me in my room."
And so, leaving Hyde in suspense, Frank went back up the stairs.
*Frank's face went white as a sheet when I mentioned my dad.*
Hyde didn't hestitate for long. He needed to know everything about what had happened 25 years ago, and he needed to know it now. He followed Frank up to the third floor and pressed the buzzer at his door. "Well, here I am, Frank," he said once the old man came to greet him. "Now talk."
Frank invited him in. If Hyde wasn't mistaken, this room was slightly smaller than his own. There wasn't a single item of furniture in it that
two warm mugs on the coffee table. A fine aroma filled the room. "You're the only person who's been in here and had a coffee with me."
Noticing Hyde's glances towards the photograph, Frank talked a little about his family. His wife had passed away then years earlier after a long battle with illness, he explained, and he hadn't seen either of his children in several years.
As Frank went on, Hyde started to grow annoyed with him. He owuldn't have said he was angry, exactly, but he certainly felt the man had made some thoughtless decisions. Frank's as yet fruitless quest to restore his name wasn't just his own problem, it affected his entire family. All of them would have symphatised.
But Frank had told them nothing. And now here he was, aged and alone, still sniffing out clues.
When Hyde made his accusations clear to Frank, the latter's eyes grew dark. "You clearly don't understand at all, Mr Hyde. I didn't leave my family in the dark all this time just for the sake of my own pride. There's more to it than that. My name wasn't the only thing lost during the Condor case. The whole mess resulted in someone's death."
Hyde could make an educated guess as to who Frank meant. "The person who lost their life... You must be talking about the safecracker."
He was right on the money.
"Frank, I want you to tell me about the safecracker who was killed here 25 years ago. Tell me everything you know."
Frank described the circumstances in which they had met. The safecracker -- Gregory, as Frank had called him -- had been introduced to him by a contact he always used.
"Gregory?" asked Hyde, decidedly puzzled by this piece of information. "Who's Gregory?"
"That was just an alias. I seriously doubt it was his real name, just something he used while working."
Gregory had been a renowned safecracker, and he had never once been caught by the police. He also knew a great deal about Condor.
Frank came up with the idea of using the safecracker as a part of his own plan. So he made an agreement with Gregory, who then snuck into the hotel.
But his grand plan to catch Condor by fair means or foul had all come to naught. Pure vitriol dripped from Frank's tongue as he spoke the name of the one responsible. "Hugh Speck put an end to it all!"
*By fair means or foul? So what was his plans exactly?*
First, though, Hyde asked Frank exactly what Hugh Speck had done to thwart his intentions. Frank's rage finally boiled to the surface as he thundered, "He did something beyond words!"
Hyde wanted to hear all the details, but just thinking about it seemed to leave Frank too emotional to even form the words properly.
So he went back to his primary concern. "There's still something I need to ask about what you told me just now."
Hyde explained that he still needed to know more about the safecracker. Frank's composure returned and he told an irritated Hyde, "If you're a former detective, then ask me the right questions. Make me talk."
*Does he think he's hazing a new recruit or something?*
If this was the only way, then he would have to go with it. His desire to know what happened 25 years ago just burned too strongly.
It was now or never.
His first question for the old man was: "What was your plan from 25 years ago to catch Condor?"
Frank replied, "I decided there was only one way to bring Condor to justice, and that was to catch them in the act."
Skilled as Condor was in conducting systematic thefts at jewellers', Frank explained, they were also adept at turning their acquisitions into near-untraceable cash.
But Frank had managed to find out from a staff member that Hotel Cape West was the site they used to conduct their trades, and that the jewels were kept in a safe in the manager's office. "If I could positively identify that the jewels being stored there were what Condor stole, I would have all the proof I needed to drive the final nail into Condor's coffin."
So the plan, shady as it seemed to Hyde, was to have Gregory break open the safe and send a signal, so that police officers waiting on standby could go into the office and confiscate the stolen jewels.
Out of curiosity, Hyde asked, "What kind of signal had you decided he should send you?"
"We planned to use the window." As soon as Gregory had confirmed the jewels' presence, he would shine a flashlight out the window to notify Frank, who would be waiting outside the hotel.
the signal you were waiting for, right?"
"No, I believe he sent it, but..."
Frank stopped there. Beyond that point there were certain things he couldn't discuss, he said. They related to a promise he had made with the man called Gregory. Bitterly he added that if he had just managed to keep his promise, Gregory wouldn't have had to die. "I regret what happened and I doubt I'll ever outlive that regret. But there's only one person I can imagine telling this whole story to. And that person...is a relative of Gregory."
Hyde's lingering doubts manifested themselves only for a brief second. But he knew he couldn't stop at this point. He asked one of his other questions. "What kind of agreement did you have with Gregory?"
Frank was happy to answer this question. It seemed that Gregory had wanted to wash his hands of the safecracking business, but he couldn't cut his ties to his former associates. In exchange for his co-operation, Frank was to make certain incidents from Gregory's past diappear, and the police would have made sure that any ties to the criminal world were well and truly severed.
But Gregory had been against the idea at first, so Frank had tried a different approach. As a kind of advance payment, he gave Gregory the key to a new car.
"Back then it was commonplace in operations like this. Offering things like this to people who assisted us, I mean."
Then Hyde presented the next question that had been building in him. "So what happened to you?"
Frank said that Hugh Speck had revealed his plan to Condor, and then the same night, something had happened to him. Remembering it was clearly making him very agitated. He simply continued, "But I don't see how that has anything to do with you."
"What if I were to bring a member of Gregory's family here?" said Hyde. "Would you be willing to tell them everything?"
"Naturally. But I hardly think it would be possible for you to do so."
Hyde made a beeline for his own room, where the package his mother had sent him still lay on the coffee table. Nestled inside was the car key that had seemed so mysterious.
*So it was Frank who gave this key to my dad.*
He picked it up and went straight back to Frank's room.
"So where's the member of Gregory's family, Mr Hyde?" asked Frank impatiently.
"Right here. Me."
And he handed the key to Frank -- the very same key the man had given Gregory 25 years prior.
"This was discovered on the body of a man in a downtown parking lot 25 years ago. It's one of the items my dad left me."
Frank made no effort to hide his abject shock at the revelation that Gregory's son was right there before his eyes. He wouldn't have been able to even if he'd tried; he was truly lost for words.
"Gregory's real name was Chris Hyde. After deciding to wash his hands of crime, he left the house on his final job. His body turned up three days later, and the case remained unsolved to this day."
Though doing his best to suppress his anger, Hyde nonetheless took out some of his bitterness and frustration on Frank.
Frank's eyes took on a gloomy pallor. The shock and regret were tangible. "When we made our promise, he looked me directly in the eyes and said: 'Can I really trust you?' I didn't answer, but just nodded. I never intended that to be a lie, but..."
And now, at last, Frank described exactly what had happened on the last night of Chris Hyde's life.
As per their agreement, Gregory had broken into the hotel manager's room and cracked the safe. He saw the jewellery with his own eyes, and shone a flashlight out the window of the darkened room, transmitting the signal just as he was supposed to.
But no matter how many times Gregory shone his flashlight, he received no response, no backup.
Because Frank wasn't there.
That night, Speck gave Frank a note informing him that his wife's condition had worsened, and that he should go to the hospital to be with her. Frank left Speck to preside over the scene and went straight to the hospital. He quickly realised that he had been set up and rushed back, but Speck had just said, "That note? I was just passing it on to you. I didn't even know what it said." And he insisted that he had never seen any kind of signal through the window.
He later found out from one
would still be alive today."
Now that he knew all the facts, Hyde couldn't bring himself to blame Frank for what had happened. In fact, his most immediate feeling was just to wonder how his father must have felt in those final moments.
"Tell me one thing," asked Frank. "When did you find out that your father died in these very apartments?"
He told Frank that it was only very recently, when he had learnt that Will was Michael McGrath's son and happened upon Michael's diary.
But Hyde was forced to dash Frank's hopes. Nothing in the diary had much of anything to do with Hugh Speck. Frank also expressed an interest in chatting to Will, but he was long gone by now. Frank's shoulders sank.
"Don't take it so hard. I'll find you the proof you need to nail Speck." Hyde declared that he would expose all the secrets lurking in the building's past. "All you need to do is keep your nose out and wait for me to get it done. You stay out of the line of fire. Leave the dangerous stuff to me."
Frank agreed to leave the rest up to Hyde. Then he rummaged in his pocket and produced a torn section of a postcard, which he gave to Hyde. There was no mistaking it -- it belonged to the same postcard as the piece he had found in Will's room. "This item represents the only clue. I found while searching the fourth floor. Take it with you; it might help. Incidentally, are you still eager to hear what Mrs Patrice has to say?"
Hyde nodded and said, "Damn right I am."
Frank promised he would make sure Mags understood that Hyde wasn't in league with Nile.
Before leaving, Hyde had one last thing he needed to know. "Tell me, Frank. What kind of man was my dad?"
"We had a drink together once," Frank reminisced. "I remember thinking to myself at the time that he was a lot tougher than he looked. He never had much to say, but what he did say he said with the utmost poignancy. He told me about his kid wanting to be a baseball star when he grew up..."
After they finished talking, Hyde left Frank's room and made an attempt at matching up the two parts of the postcard. Together they formed a picture of the moon. He turned it over, and the writing on the back looked like some kind of codex. He couldn't derive any clear meaning from it, however.
He decided his next move was to pay another visit to his charming landlady. Knocking on her door produced no response at first, but this time he wasn't about to give up so easily. He kept knocking, over and over, until she acknowledged it.
"Who is it?" came her voice at last.
"It's Kyle Hyde. We need to talk, Mrs Patrice. About Michael McGrath and the diary he left behind."
There was a long pause before she answered again. Finally the uncertain voice said, "I see. Very well."
She opened the door and let him in. It soon became clear however, that the mood between them was still acrimonious. Without any prompting, both of them exclaimed, "Why did you do such a thing?" Hyde was referring to the sleep spray, of course, and Mags to him stealing the key from her room. Both of them just glared at each other for a moment.
Then Mags said, "Dylan had warned me about you. He told me I should be extra vigilant when you're around."
"Mrs Patrice, Dylan has been watching you on behalf of his employer, Nile! And not just you either. He was also watching one of the tenants whose relatives worked for Condor."
Mags was interested to know who he was talking about, but he assured her that for her own good, it was better if she remained in the dark...provided she want nothing more to do with Condor, at least.
There was still a key detail Mags didn't understand, though. "I still have no idea about you, Mr Hyde. Exactly how do you figure in all this?"
"Me? Well, I..." He drew a breath. "I'm the son of the safecracker killed here 25 years ago in the manager's office."
Upon hearing this, Mags was struck dumb. She just stared back at him in shock.
"I told you before, didn't I? My dad was killed when I was nine years old. The case is still unsolved to this day. You remember?
"25 years ago, my dad got caught up in a police operation to uncover the secret sales in Hotel Cape West that had been set up by Condor. I only found out that he died here after you gave everyone the eviction notice."
Mags broke her silence. "And how, exactly, did you come to
know about Condor?"
Mags replied, "I've got no interest in talking to you about that."
But Hyde wasn't going to let her off that easy. "Is it because your husband was a Condor ringleader?"
She made no effort to deny this. "Yes, that's precisely the reason! You see, after he injured his hands he couldn't play the saxophone anymore... He changed."
Mags told Hyde how George Patrice had got his first job courtesy of a customer who came into one of the cafés he owned. After it went well, he began to realise that he was in too deep to turn back. Before too long ,he'd made a name for himself within Condor and had become a ringleader.
The time had finally come for Hyde to ask the question that Will had been so desperate to have answered. "Who was it that killed Kathy McGrath 13 years ago?"
"It was George. He said it was payback for Michael double-crossing him."
George and Michael conducted their illicit trades in the hotel using an ingenious system they'd thought up together. George stole the jewels, but instead of keeping them on hand himself, he gave them to Michael, the manager of Hotel Cape West. Michael then kept them securely in the safe until George contacted him to let him know that a sale had been arranged. The buyers would pose as guests staying at the hotel, and the jewels and money would change hands there.
George would then take the immediate receipt of the cash and give Michael his cut.
"So the hotel parties were to find people to buy the jewellery?" asked Hyde.
"Exactly. The parties would be held from time to time at the hotel. There, potential buyers would gather and the process would begin in earnest."
But, she clarified, the trades never took place in the guest rooms. There was a hidden room in the hotel for that express purpose.
As for the murder of Kathy McGrath, it had its origin in Michael's betrayal -- 25 years ago.
When George had received word that someone was going to break into the safe, he contacted Michael and told him to protect it at all costs. Inside the safe was a diamond that was still awaiting a buyer: the Scarlet Star.
An intruder appeared just as anticipated, and Michael shot and killed him. They hid the body in a chest freezer, then moved it to a downtown parking lot two days later. The man was Hyde's father.
Following the incident, Michael insisted that the Scarlet Star had disappeared. He said it was already missing from the safe when he shot the safecracker.
George never openly admitted that he doubted Michael's word. He knew that if he did, he would lose this perfect venue for selling his stolen jewellery.
And then, 12 years later, George killed Kathy. He did it because Michael had decided to close down the hotel and sever all ties with Condor -- in other words, to get out of the illegal jewel trading business altogether.
There was one more reason. "It was because he had grown tired of Kathy's company. George and Kathy had been...intimate, an act which had betrayed both Michael and myself."
Going into detail about all of this had clearly taken a lot out of Mags. She exhaled slightly, letting her shoulders slump.
But Hyde pressed on. "You mentioned a hidden chamber used to sell the stolen goods. Do you know where it is?"
Sadly it was not as simple as that. Mags said she had searched for it herself, even when the hotel was being renovated, but ahd never been able to find it. However, she was certain that the key he had taken from her room was in fact the key to the hidden chamber.
"I think we've covered just about everything, MR Hyde," she added.
"Not so fast. There's still a few holes left."
Mags was willing to continue talking, but only under one condition. "Mr Hyde, even though I own this building, there is still something I have yet to find. I want you to find it for me."
She was referring, of course, to the hidden chamber.
Hyde agreed to her terms, and she gave him two items she thought would help him locate it. One was a photograph of the hotel from when it had just opened, and the other was a tiny key.
There was one more thing she handed to him. It was a single sheet of paper, which she said had been kept in a secure place along with the Condor key. It looked like a map of the fourth floor, but it had red circles marked on it in
the one Mags had just given him and scrutinised them for any differences that might prove helpful.
There it was. A small, round window that was only present in the older photo. By 1967 it had disappeared.
Hyde observed that the hidden chamber would most likely have to be situated between the elevator and room 405, but he had no idea where the entrance was.
No doubt he'd be able to find some clues on the fourth floor. He had a good feeling about this.
And so Hyde made his way up to the fourth floor, bringing the keys with him.
His first step was to perform one more top-to-bottom search of all the rooms. He decided to start from the furthest room on the right, 401, and go around in order. Flashlight in hand, he entered room 401 and shone a light into every corner.
He noticed something curious about the large bed in the centre of the far wall. One of the bed props had a Condor mark on it. He copied it into his notebook, exactly as it appeared. "This symbol has to mean something," Hyde said aloud to himself.
Next was room 402, where he found a similar mark on the inside of the closet door. In 403 it was on the leg of an old chair. 404 had it on the side of an old desk. The edge of a dresser mirror was where he found it in room 405. And finally, it was carved into the window at the end of the fourth floor corridor. Each was slightly different, and he made sure to copy them down accurately in his notebook.
While he was in room 405 he also had a quick look at the wall that, at least judging by the photograph, had the hidden chamber on the other side. Nothing about it seemed especially out of the ordinary, however.
What could he do from here? He took a look back at the drawings he'd just made in his notebook, but nothing useful leapt out at him. He also tried comparing it to the codes on the back of the moon postcard, but he still couldn't hope to make sense of it all.
It was time to investigate the one place left: the elevator. He got in and then once more compared the codex with the various Condor marks.
Suddenly, his gaze brushed the elevator's control buttons, and it all started to fall into place.
The panel had buttons of every floor but the fourth. The space where the "4" button should have been was covered up, and the cover had a small keyhole. It looked just about the right size for the key Mags had given him. He put the key into the lock and turned it to the right.
The cover came off, and, unexpectedly, the fourth floor button along with it. Both dropped to the floor, leaving a hole with a switch inside it. Hyde tried turning it on. Next, he realised, he would have to press some of the buttons on the control panel. He looked down at his notebook and used it in conjunction with the codes on the postcard to determine the buttons he was supposed to press and the order he was supposed to do it in. He followed the instructions exactly.
The instant his hand came off the last button, the elevator started to move. Then it stopped just as quickly.
There was a loud clunk behind him, and he turned around and noticed that a flap had opened up on the side of the bench in the corner of the elevator. Inside was another keyhole. Fraught with tension, Hyde inserted the Condor key and turned it in the lock. A much larger hole opened up in the bench -- and it looked very much like an entrance.
Hyde bent down and crawled into the hidden chamber.
The room was dim and thick with dust. A poker table sat in the centre, and by one of the walls was a desk with a single closed drawer and a lamp perched on top of it.
On top of the desk was some kind of notebook. Hyde flicked through the pages and saw that the details inside appeared to be records of all the illegal jewellery trades Condor conducted. He opened the drawer as well and found an old brown envelope, inside of which was an LAPD badge and a photograph depicting three men, one of whom wore a hat.
*It's him... It's George Patrice!*
The man on the right was indeed George Patrice. Beside him sat someone else, someone Hyde had definitely seen before. That's right, he realised -- it was the mayoral candidate he had seen on television, Hugh Speck, albeit much younger.
Finally, on the left was Michael McGrath. "This is all the evidence I need. It proves that Hugh Speck was in league with Condor." Step by step, he felt like he was
ing four playing cards -- the aces, all in a row.
Amidst the light was a shadow in the shape of a condor. The condor's beak pointed towards the ace of idamonds.
*Hmm, the light from the lighthouse... Surely, this can't be...*
Suddenly it hit him. It was directing him to the Scarlet Star's hiding place.
He stepped onto the roof, where the glow from the windows of surrounding buildings it up the evening.
He discovered that the lighthouse on the roof had also been switched on, casting another condor shadow across the ground and onto a nearby brick wall. The shadow seemed to point to one brick in particular that was visibly newer than the others. Hyde picked up a nearby rock and tried bashing the brick with it. He pounded at it over and over again, chipping away the brickwork bit by bit.
Exposing the diamond underneath.
The size of it was immense. It was by far the largest diamond Hyde had ever seen.
"This is it!" he whispered breathlessly. "The Scarlet Star!"
He took it into his hands. Here it was -- the diamond his father had been grasping the moment he died.
He didn't even know he was doing it, but when Hyde thought about his father's murder, his hand clenched tightly around the diamond.
This precious stone linked the two men together. It transcended time, made the 25 years that had passed simply pale into insignificance. A father's final moments and a son's hard-won fight to learn
As he gripped the Scarlet STar, a distant memory of his father's large, strong hands emerged from the depth of his consciousness.
He wasn't sure how long he stood there. Eventually, though, it was time to go inside again. But just as he was about to, the elevator came up and someone stepped out.
It was Mags. "I assume I have you to blame for switching the lighthouse light on, do I?"
Hyde nodded. But from that alone, Mags knew that he'd entered the hidden chamber -- and that meant she knew that the switch under the picture frame worked the light on the lighthouse monument. Something wasn't quite right. Mags couldn't possibly know all this if she hadn't been into the hidden chamber herself.
That room was where her husband, George, had committed innumerable crimes. He would have expected she'd never want to go in there, but clearly she knew all about it.
"Why did you lie to me?" he asked her. "You told me you didn't know where it was."
Mags stated that she'd never had had any intention of discussing that room with anyone. "But when you started asking such specific questions, I knew I wouldn't be able to keep it a secret for long."
Every detail of George Patrice's dirty dealings was quite literally hidden inside that building's walls. That was why Mags had only agreed to sell on the condition that it would be demolished. George's legacy would finally be able to die.
But Hyde had got in the way of that. He had dug up the secrets buried in Cape West and brought the past under scrutiny.
"So I had to decide. On the one hand, I could leave while everything was still shrouded in secrecy, or I could risk letting everything come to light. It was essentially a gamble."
"What do you mean, a gamble?"
"A gamble to see if you'd be able to find that room or not."
HYde asked how she'd expected the gamble to pay off.
She replied, "I was fully aware that there was little hope I'd keep everything secret. I knew that if anyone could find that room, it would be you." That's the impression she'd got, she elaborated, when she had looked into his eyes and seen how much it meant to him. "And I decided that if you happened upon the room, I would lose my gamble. And I'd need to let you in on everything I knew."
Let him in on everything... Those words provoked a question in Hyde. "So what is it you've been trying to hide?"
"The crimes that he committed, of course!" she declared. Her late husband's status ad Condor's ringleader, the fact that the hotel had been used to sell the stolen jewels, the involvement of an LAPD officer and the murder of a colleague's wife as payback for a betrayal. The sum of George Patrice's crimes was a hefty one indeed.
And Mags had hidden it all. "I was planning to take these truths with me to the grave. But, as we both see, that proved futile. Maybe I knew, Mr Hyde. Even as you arrived at my room, I knew what was about to happen. Somewhere deep down I must have realised that you would uncover the whole thing."
She asked if he thought he'd found everything that had been lost in that place. "Yeah, I think I have."
Michael's diary from 13 years ago, the evidence linking Condor to the LAPD, and the Scarlet Star -- all of them were in his possession.
On that note, he showed her the Scarlet Star. "Your late husband didn't take the disappearance of it lightly and killed Kathy as a result."
"Yes, the Scarlet STar going missing was where this whole horrible ordeal began."
Not quite, submitted Hyde. It had actually all started not when the diamond had disappeared, but when Condor had stolen it in the first place.
"If George Patrice were still alive, I'd be showing the thing to him, and we'd be having a very frank chat about his crimes."
"I'm sure you would," uttered Mags, almost in a whisper, "but as he's no onger with us, that will never happen." She added, "Incidentally, everything you found is as good as yours."
That included the Scarlet Star and everything he'd found in the hidden chamber. She asked him to dispose of it all however he wished.
And with that out of the way, Mags continued, "Okay then, I suppose it's time for me to tell you everything."
Mags looked him straight in the eye. Hyde had never looked so intently into her eyes before, but he saw now how beautiful they were, and how much honesty they projected.
"Will you listen to what I have to say, Mr Hyde? All of it? Will you let me tell you
I became accustomed to the jealousy I felt, the more my desire toward him grew. It was a very strange position to be in."
Even when he started dipping his hands into the world of crime, she loved him enough that she became an accomplice, and their feelings of guilt became a chain that bound them together.
It was inevitable, however, that such a bond would not stand the test of time. She knew that well enough that she didn't make a fuss even when George and Kathy eventually betrayed her and Michael by sleeping together.
And after he had killed Kathy, a weak, bitter smile emerged on George's face, and he had said, "Yeah, I did it. Guess that's just one more secret the two of us have to keep, dollface."
That was when Mags first realised what a mistake she had made. "In part, I was responsible for the man he'd become."
She had hardened her resolve. She knew that she was the only one who could possibly stop him.
"And so, on that day, I planned to shoot him using his own gun." But in an ironic twist, Michael had shot him instead, that very same night.
When she saw him, he struck her on the head with the gun. She lost consciousness, and when she woke up, her right hand was gripping the gun George had been shot with.
George's body lay right before her eyes. As she stared at his contorted expression of pain, she decided that she'd had enough of it all.
As for her husband, she knew that this was nothing more than he deserved.
"I made one final promise to hi then. I vowed that I would keep his secrets even after his death and not tell a soul. I intended to take them with me into the next life, but...
"From then on, I felt much like a ship lost at sea with no lighthouse to guide me home. I drifted aimlessly in the darkness, tossed endlessly by the waves."
Mags was arrested under suspicion of killing her husband, but never breathed a word about Michael's involve-
with anger at this foolish woman's confession, am I right? I really wish I hadn't needed to tell anybody what I've told you."
In as subdued murmur, Hyde answered, "You're kidding, right? Surely you've been hoping to offload this entire thing onto somebody for years." Hyde felt like nobody could keep such dark secrets pent up for so long without wanting to let it all out.
"I... I... I admit it, you're right. I've been languishing in my guilt for waht seems like an eternity. I just wanted to put my love for another ahead of my own feelings. I never thought doing so could lead to this much turmoil." Every word burned in her throat. She was on the verge of tears. "It's true. I've been feeling like this for quite some time now. I really wanted somebody to sit down and talk to."
Mags collapsed to the floor and began sobbing, her head in her hands.
Hyde's mind turned to all the people out there in the world who must be forced to bear painful burdens. It occurred to him that he was one of them. Even knowing the trugh behind what had happened to his father couldn't erase the pain of it all.
So he knew that it was the same for Mags. She had admitted everything, told him her darkest secrets, but the burden would never disappear completely.
Even so, maybe letting it all out would help. Perhaps the more she cried, the lighter the burden would become.
Hyde stood in patient silence until her tears had run dry. A chill wind was blowing across the roof. He offered her his hand to help her up.
But she refused the offer. "I can stand on my own. I have never needed anybody's help, and I have no intention of changing that now."
She stood up on her own, her eyes dry.
Her glance then darted to the lighthouse and its dazzling beam. She stared up at it. "Soon we'll be leaving this lighthouse behind forever. I wonder if I'll be okay without it to guide me through the darkness..."
Hyde offered no reply. He merely joined her in gazing up at the lighthouse.
Mags left him there on his own and descended back into the building. Hyde didn't particularly feel like going back to his room just yet.
Instead he went just one floor down and into room 406, where he opened the curtains and looked out the window. Through the long years of dust and grime he saw a darkened, rain-drenched cityscape that was very familiar to him.
Naturally, it wasn't quite the same view his father had seen. But now that 25 years had passed, Hyde was the
The next morning, Hyde was woken up by the telephone. When he dutifully picked it up, the voice on the other end said, "Morning, Kyle."
It was his mother, Jeanie.
"I got a call from Ed last night. He told me everything. Seems you've been keeping things from me."
Not knowing what she meant exactly, he offered a vague apology.
"Why didn't you just tell me yourself?" she insisted. "I mean, Ed going to hospital is pretty serious and all."
So that's what she was talking about, Hyde realised.
She continued, "Ed told me something nice too though. He said you're not the good-for-nothing you used to be." She sounded very proud of her son.
Hyde didn't feel like much like telling his mother everything he had learnt about his father in the past few days, but he knew it was a conversation he would need to have at some point, so he hinted at the subject.
"Listen, Mom... YOu remember the chat we had a couple days ago? The one about why you and Dad were together?"
She hadn't forgotten.
"Well, I've been doing some thinking since then about Dad. If I can put his crimes into the past, I'd like to come and visit you. Maybe then you could tell me some more about him."
"I'd be happy to, Kyle."
He put the phone down and went over to the wash basin, where he turned on the tap and splashed some cold water on his face.
He put on his favourite suit and decided he should give Rachel a call.
"I'm done with that order," he told her.
"You mean you found the item?"
"Yeah, that and the truth from 25 years ago."
She offered to pass him over to Ed, but he said he'd rather come into the office in person to talk about it. She told him she'd be waiting.
First, though, he paid a visit to Frank, so that he could give the man the items he'd been searching for with such determination.
Hyde told Frank about the hidden chamber and the evidence he'd found there. "This is a ledger containing the details of the jewel sales that Condor made. And here's a picture showing Hugh Speck together with Condor, and an LAPD police badge."
Overwhelmed with emotion, Frank expressed his gratitude. Now he would finally be able to bring down the man he'd been after for all these years. He went back into his room with a sense of wonder about him.
*That ties that one up.*
Having dealt with that, he resolved to finally go to an estate agent in the hope of finding somewhere to move to. He made his way to the first floor.
Once he got to the lobby he was greeted by Claire, the waitress from Lucky's Café. "Good morning, Mr Hyde!"
"What's up? You seem chirpier than usual, if that's possible."
And she had good reason. Her mother was there right now talking to her father, and they were getting along really well. In fact, it was looking very much like they might get back together. Claire could hardly contain her excitement. "And I've got you to thank for this, Mr Hyde!"
He had to admit to her, he wasn't really sure what he had done to help.
As if it was the most obvious thing in the world, she said, "Well, you and Dad talked about it, didn't you? You told him, few families actually manage to get back together, and that there are lots that really want to, but simply can't."
Hyde didn't really remember, but he thought it sounded like something he'd say.
Sidney's voice bellowed from the direction of the café. He was looking for Claire.
The door opened with a click, and Sidney walked out, his face marked by a dispirited scowl.
"Dad, where's Mom?" asked Claire.
"It's no use, Claire. I don't think I can handle it on my own. I run out of things to say when it's jsut the two of us."
Claire's tone was soft and caring. "Mom's not expecting the world, you know. Just take it slowly and try not to get flustered! Don't try to rush through it. Enjoy the time you both have together."
She went back into the café, a spring in her step.
"This whole thing isn't as easy as it looks," muttered Sidney awkwardly.
"Sidney, I think you'd better do what Claire says. After all, these things take time."
"I suppose you're right," he sighed. "I'll give it my best shot."
Hyde could hazard a guess that Sidney still had no idea how things would proceed from here, but he knew from the determined expression on the man's face that he would
today for a whole week, you know!"
The owner of the venue had heard his song on the radio, Tony explained.
But Tony still had one niggling doubt. On the last day, the owner wanted him to play something new, but he couldn't come up with anything.
Hyde refused to mince words. "Cut the crap. Stop worrying about it and just do it!" Tony's jaw practically dropped, but Hyde went on regardless. "I'm pretty sure that, if you put your mind to it, you can write something new. You know how tough life can get, you've got a nice girl, you've even been knocked out. Surely you've got no end of subject matter to work with."
Tony found his resolve and nodded firmly. I'll give it a shot."
Over the past few days, Tony had grown into a stronger person. Of that, Hyde was sure.
Hyde asked how Tony was after the previous night. He certainly seemed like he was over the worst of it.
"Hey, that reminds me. How about you? How'd the treasure hunt go?" asked Tony.
Hyde hastily made up a story about how the whole thing had just been a big scam.
"Damn, that's rough. So I guess all our dreams about becoming stinking rich have gone up in smoke, huh?"
Hyde was about to leave, but Tony remembered something else.
"Oh yeah, Hyde. I'm going to be recording my demo tape tomorrow." Thanks to the cheque Hyde had given him, he'd been able to reserve a recording studio, he said, "And
Tony's voice must have caught Mags's attention, as she emerged from her apartment and asked, "Mr Wolf, I was just curious to hear when you'll be settling the amount of rent you still owe me."
"I'm sorry about that. But it's cool, 'cause I'm gonna pay it all off soon. I got some work that's gonna be bringing in the cash. So don't you worry, you'll get your rent soon enough."
He seemed more confident about it than usual, so she took him at his word and asked him to come and see her as soon as he had the money.
Tony rushed off to get to his gig on time. When he was gone, Mags commented, "He's somewhat different from before, wouldn't you say?" Hyde certainly couldn't deny it; he'd felt the same way. She went on. "He managed to look me in the eye and tell me straight... Much more confident. I feel much more inclined to believe what he says when his attitude is like that. I wonder what brought on this sudden change?"
Hyde told her that in his view, the same applied to her. "Like you, he's been weighed under by problems and couldn't get any help. Now he's overcome that and you've seen the results." There was something he wanted to ask her as well. "Mrs Patrice, what are you going to do with yourself after you leave this place?"
She smiled warmly. "Part of me just wants to get out of here. Maybe on a cruise. Somewhere where there's a lighthouse to guide us at night... What do you think, Mr Hyde? Maybe you'd care to join me."
Having extended this invitation, she went back to her usual formal self and recalled, "Incidentally, it's only you and Mr Wolf who are yet to decide on a new place to live. I'd really appreciate it if you got a move on. THere's still a lot on my plate to take care of, without having you to worry about! Though I'm sure you appreciate that more than the others would."
And leaving him on that note, she went back inside her room. A wry grin crept into his face as he watched her go.
*Maybe she hasn't changed so much after all.*
ment in town seemed to have some aspect or other that didn't suit him.
Still, he could come back to that. For now he headed over to Red Crown like he'd promised Rachel.
It felt like forever since he'd been in the office with Ed and Rachel. It was a little awkward, actually.
"So did you find it?" boomed Ed. "What you were looking for?"
Hyde knew exactly what Ed was getting at. He proceeded to tell them the whole story -- everything that had happened to his father, Chris, on the night of his death.
When he had finished, his two listeners sat in a stunned silence for a moment or two. Then Ed murmured, "Hyde, I gotta ask, are you okay? I'm always worryin' that your old man had a son who's too busy sorting out other people's problems to ever deal with his own."
Hyde had learnt from his mother that Ed was the kind police officer who had given them the bad news after his father's body was discovered in a downtown parking lot.
Ed decided to tell Hyde about the time he and Chris first met. It had happened in a rowdy bar, where in his youthful exuberance, Ed had downed a few too many.
Chris kept him in check that night when his spirits were getting a bit too high for their own good, and they ended up meeting again in that same bar from time to time. They never spoke all that much about their respective backgrounds, but when Chris started to feel the alcohol he's talk a bit about his loving wife, who worked as a nurse, and his sweet young son, who was, he'd said, perhaps a bit too kind-hearted for his own good.
Then for a while Ed had been to busy with work to see Chris -- and the next time he'd seen his friend's face, it was that fateful night in the parking lot.
Ed asked Rachel to get him another cup of coffee.
After she'd served the coffee, Rachel returned to her seat and backtracked a little to what they had been discussing earlier. "Kyle, do you reckon that Frank guy will be able to expose Hugh Speck now?"
Ed answered in Hyde's place. "Frank'll do whatever it takes."
After first deliberately messing up the Condor investigation, Hugh Speck had concocted an internal investigation that led to Frank being pulled off the case entirely.
But as Ed explained, though Frank's heavy-handed techniques and predisposition towards violence led many to criticise him, Frank seldom failed to catch his man. His determination to fight the good fight had even taken him away from his family. Instead of maintaining a happy home life, he focused all his efforts on improving arrest rates.
When his wife was taken ill, he knew that all had to change, that now was the time to try and rebuild his fractured relationships with his family. When he'd wrapped up the Condor case, he was planning to take his first ever vacation since joining the force so that he could be by his wife's side.
Ironically, getting pulled away from active duty did give him a lot of free time. But his wife, knowing all about the internal investigation, grew despondent and soon left this earthly world. He ultimately failed to rekindle things with his children as well.
In listening to Ed's story, Hyde realised that Frank was another of those people with an unbearable burden. Even if he did successfully expose Hugh Speck as the liar and criminal he was, the pain would probably never go away completely.
Now that his order was completed, Hyde gave Ed his
in the expansive waiting room for long-distance trains, beneath the clock on the wall, stood the solitary figure of a man. His name was Rex Foster, and he ahd been standing here for the past 30 minutes, staring intently at the entrance to the waiting room through his dark sunglasses.
Rex was particularly irritated this morning, even by his own standards. He drew a deep breath, a quiet expression of said irritation.
He was mostly annoyed at himself. He had no idea if that woman would trust him enough to come here. But he knew he was the only one who could get her safely away from Nile's all-seeing eye.
Rex glanced up at the clock. The hands already pointed to 6 o'clock, the time he had offered to meet her.
10 minutes. He would wait for 10 more minutes, and if she hadn't shown up by then, he would leave.
At the very moment those words took shape in his head, he noticed a slender form walking toward him from the entrance. He instantly recognised the figure's shape as that of a woman, and the clack, clack of a high-heeled shoes echoing across the marble floor could belong to no other.
When she moved closer, he saw that she wore a long scarf wrapped around in such a way as to cover her face. A small handbag hung from her arm.
She stopped sharply and darted her head around the room, as if unsure of coming too far into the room.
He leant against the wall and watched her for a few moments longer, but she didn't notice him standing there, so he walked over to her and took off his sunglasses.
"I'm here, Marie."
She jumped and spun around to face him. When she realised it was Rex, she replied with a firm nod.
He placed a ticket for the next long-distance train into her hand, then put his arm around her shoulders as they left the waiting room. He didn't let go even as they passed through the ticket gate and made their way onto the platform.
When they reached it, he finally took his arms away. And there, on the platform, he looked properly at her face for the first time. Her blue eyes were deep wells of uncertainty and doubt.
Rex looked Marie straight in the eye and said, "You have to trust me. We've got a bit of a long journey ahead of us, but waiting at the other end of it is your freedom. And until we reach that destination, I'm not going to let anything happen to you."
That was the day Marie Rivet vanished from Los Angeles for good -- and not a single person in the entire city knew where she had gone.
This was the first time in a while that Dylan had drunk such high-quality liquor, though he had perhaps enjoyed too much of it already by this point. He was getting more than a little tipsy.
He knew exactly why the drinks tasted so good to him. It was because he was finally getting out of having to hide away in that apartment building keeping tabs on everyone. He'd been getting so bored of pretending to be someone he wasn't for so long, playing a role, just so he could spy on people.
As he drank to the bottom of his glass, he considered that it was almost like being an undercover cop. And he had been in such deep cover that recently he'd started to forget who he really was.
When he left Cape West, he hadn't meant to follow that guy's advice. Still, he knew that no matter how much of his life he'd signed away to Nile, the people at the top regarded him as nothing more than a pawn. Maybe now really was the right time to move into a new field?
"Another drink?" enquired the bartender upon noticing his empty glass.
"Sure, why not? Surprise me."
While he was waiting for his order, he stood up and went out into the hotel lobby, where he entered a number on the rotary dial of the payphone in the corner.
After several rings came to a click, and Dylan was met with the almost robotic answering machine greeting, asking him to leave a message after the beep.
Dylan was dumbfounded. Hadn't the fool told him to call tonight? And now he wasn't even waiting by the phone!
He was so annoyed that he couldn't help but laugh bitterly. But he quickly stopped and considered his words.
"Mr Hyde, it's me," he spoke down the line, slurring his words a little. "I just can't stomach being around a weirdo like you anymore. Just forget all about me. If you keep my secret, then I won't tell Nile about any of your snooping around in the apartment block either. But if you say a single word about me to anyone, a single word..."
His tone was growing more agitated, but he only got that far before there was another click, followed by the sound of a tape rewinding. Then the line cut off. "Uh, what was that noise?"
Dylan traipsed back into the bar, where the bartender had prepared his drink in a shaker. He placed a cocktail glass on the bar and poured the drink into it. Then he garnished it with a strip of lemon peel and topped it off with an olive skewered on a cocktail stick.
Dylan took a sip of the drink and nodded in satisfaction. Then he looked up at
pulled to a stop and a single man stepped out. His name was Kyle Hyde, and up until the end of the last year, he had lived in an old apartment building just a few blocks from where he now stood.
Hyde walked through the park and over the crossing on the other side. He was headed for a place he had lived for those four years of his life since moving to L.A. As he walked those familiar streets, he couldn't believe it had only been a month.
He turned a corner, and there it was. In place of the building he had called home was a construction site surrounded by a tall fence. He peered in through a gap, and he could see that at least part of the building had been demolished already. In fact, it looked like the entire lobby section was well on its way.
He walked around the back of the building and saw that his own apartment was still intact, as was the lighthouse monument on the roof.
Suddenly a voice called out to him.
Hyde turned around. He was met with a face he had missed seeing every day, one wearing the same cheery smile that always suited it so well.
"Claire, it's you," he replied.
"It's me! Never thought I'd run into you though. Do you come around here oftern?"
"Nah. This is the first time I've come to have a look since moving out."
"Same here. But for me it's the last time too."
Claire's time as a waitress at the café on the first floor was over now. She was moving to Boston along with both her parents, she explained.
"Are they opening a new café?"
"Yeah, near where my mom grew up. It's a little on the small side, but I don't mind!"
"Sounds good", mused Hyde.
"Be sure to stop by if you're even in the neighbourhood. My dad'll make you a California burger, just the way you like it!"
Claire ran over to the fence and took one last peek in at what was left of Lucky's Café. Then she said, "Well, I've gotta go. I hope I'll see you again sometime, Mr Hyde!"
After Claire had gone, Hyde stood and stared up for a while at that last window along on th efourth floor. The last window his father had ever looked out of.
He didn't linger for too long before making his way back to the other side of the park. When he got back into his car, he looked out through the windshield and saw Claire walking along with Sidney and a middle-aged woman. He didn't recognise the latter, but he knew at once who she was. All three of them smiled warmly, as if the family had never been separated.
Hyde reclined his seat slightly and let himself relax. And as he gazed upwards, he had the strangest feeling that there was something different now about the sky over L.A. He wondered if all the people he'd become so involved with at Cape West just one month earlier felt the same when they looked up at the sky.
As he lay there, he felt his eyelids starting to grow heavy, and he allowed himself to slip into an afternoon nap.
Before sleep claimed him, he was reassured by a single