Billy Adams broke out in a sweat even though it was 30 degrees outside, Pine Lake was covered with snow, and he wasn't wearing a jacket. It was bad enough that he'd been hearing voices--well, a voice--but now he was seeing things, too.
The woman looked like Lassiter: the same dark, beady eyes set in a rodent face, same kind of wire brush hair. It was like she was wearing a mask of his face over her own. Maybe she was an alien, Billy thought. Aliens did that kind of shit. Took over bodies. But why would an alien pick Lassiter?
Billy put his head down as he shuffled along the sidewalk. Just on his way to get some smokes, minding his own business, when he'd seen her, and now he couldn't get that face out of his head. Lassiter was haunting him again. In broad daylight. On a public street.
Every damn day he heard the guy's voice, that same taunting sing-song, "Billy, they're gonna get you. The cops are gonna pin my murder on you and there's not a damn thing you can do about it. You and I know that I fell off that balcony all by myself while I was trying to sneak out of your house. But the cops won't think that. They're gonna think you pushed me, and they'll toss you in the hoosegow and throw away the key. Or maybe they'll figure out you're crazy. You are crazy. Totally gonzo. Either way, looney bin or the slammer, you're done. We all know what happens to little boys in those places."
Billy clamped his hands over his ears. He hadn't touched any drugs since the night Lassiter bought it, but his head was still messed up. Maybe he was crazy. Maybe the aliens were crawling inside him. New panic surged. He wrapped his arms around himself protectively as he continued down Third Street.
"I would have been here sooner," Jenni DuMont had said to the police chief, "but I just buried my husband three months ago." She dabbed delicately at her dark eyes with a hankie and made a small mewing sound. "Tell me again, how did Frankie pass?"
Donati shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
"Truth is ma'am, we're not sure."
Maybe it was just because Mrs. DuMont looked so much like her brother, but something about the woman triggered Donati's cop sense, that part of his brain that instinctively smelled a rat in the room. As he recounted the facts of Frankie's death, he tried to push this feeling aside, knowing that later, he'd be doing a background check. His instincts rarely failed him.