Becker crossed the concourse toward the rest room doors only to find the door marked CABALLEROS blocked by an orange pylon and a cleaning cart filled with detergent and mops. He eyed the other door. DAMAS. He strode over and rapped loudly.
“Hola?” he called, pushing the ladies’ room door open an inch. “Con permiso?”
He went in.
The rest room was typical, Spanish institutional‑perfectly square, white tile, one incandescent bulb overhead. As usual, there was one stall and one urinal. Whether the urinals were ever used in the women’s bathrooms was immaterial‑adding them saved the contractors the expense of having to build the extra stall.
Becker peered into the rest room in disgust. It was filthy. The sink was clogged with murky brown water. Dirty paper towels were strewn everywhere. The floor was soaked. The old electric hand blower on the wall was smeared with greenish fingerprints.
Becker stepped in front of the mirror and sighed. The eyes that usually stared back with fierce clarity were not so clear tonight. How long have I been running around over here? he wondered. The math escaped him. Out of professorial habit, he shimmied his necktie’s Windsor knot up on his collar. Then he turned to the urinal behind him.
As he stood there, he found himself wondering if Susan was home yet. Where could she have gone? To Stone Manor without me?
“Hey!” a female voice behind him said angrily.
Becker jumped. “I‑I’m . . .” he stammered, hurrying to zip up. “I’m sorry . . . I . . .”
Becker turned to face the girl who had just entered. She was a young sophisticate, right off the pages of Seventeen Magazine. She wore conservative plaid pants and a white sleeveless blouse. In her hand was a red L. L. Bean duffel. Her blond hair was perfectly blow‑dried.
“I’m sorry.” Becker fumbled, buckling his belt. “The men’s room was . . . anyway . . . I’m leaving.”
Becker did a double‑take. The profanity seemed inappropriate coming from her lips‑like sewage flowing from a polished decanter. But as Becker studied her, he saw that she was not as polished as he’d first thought. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot, and her left forearm was swollen. Underneath the reddish irritation on her arm, the flesh was blue.
Jesus, Becker thought. Intravenous drugs. Who would have guessed?
“Get out!” she yelled. “Just get out!”
Becker momentarily forgot all about the ring, the NSA, all of it. His heart went out to the young girl. Her parents had probably sent her over here with some prep school study program and a VISA card‑and she’d ended up all alone in a bathroom in the middle of the night doing drugs.
“Are you okay?” he asked, backing toward the door.
“I’m fine.” Her voice was haughty. “You can leave now!”
Becker turned to go. He shot her forearm a last sad glance. There’s nothing you can do, David. Leave it alone.
“Now!” she hollered.
Becker nodded. As he left he gave her a sad smile. “Be careful.”