When they stopped to refill the tank they switched seats so that Ashley could take the wheel, while Logan got back on his laptop to dig up what he could on the Thomas Galt Memorial Fund. He started by using a data-mining program to compile information from the web, ranging from the contact information listed on the foundation’s page online, to acknowledgments pages in books published by authors who had been beneficiaries of Galt largesse, to the online résumés of former employees.
“Thomas Galt was a nineteenth century railroad tycoon. Which was kind of like being an Internet tycoon today,” Logan said after they crossed the Alabama state line. “Like most of them he’s got a pretty nasty record; there was lots of talk about his fleecing investors and milking bought Congressmen for subsidies and manipulating the stock market and having Rucker Detectives shoot striking workers. But he ended up just a cut below the Goulds and the Vanderbilts, so that when he died in Eighteen Ninety-Nine he left behind one of the country’s bigger fortunes.
“The money was divided among his relatives, who’ve had a lower profile since then, but their collective holdings remain pretty substantial. Estimates vary, but the lowest still rates the family wealth at ten figures.”
“When did they set up this fund?” Ashley asked.
“Does this actually check out, though?”
“I’ve got a whole host of old press clippings here,” Logan said. “Yeah, the Fund’s been around a long time.”
Over six decades. Before Ashley’s mom had even been born.
“Then they weren’t just something somebody cooked up to funnel money to de Ruyter,” Ashley thought aloud.
“The Fund looks a lot more like a tax shelter than anything else,” Logan said, evoking a story Ashley had come to know well from her time on the Upper West Side. “Still, they do seem to have funded their share of medical research.”
“Who’s running the place today?” Ashley asked.
“Matthew Galt. He’s Thomas’ great-great-great-grandson.”
“That’s a lot of greats,” Ashley said. “What do we know about Matthew?”
“My take? The family had a son they didn’t know what to do with, and figured this foundation was a safe place to put him.”
That too was a familiar story to Ashley, whose mind turned back to de Ruyter then. He said he was head of the project. But what exactly did he mean by that? Did he organize the whole thing himself, recruiting all the people, distributing the money?
Even if he’d been the type to tend to details like that, she didn’t think any one person could see to it all. Especially a single professor with other duties, and carrying on this research secretly. So there had to be others involved, who could be more attentive to those sorts of matters.
Ashley wondered who they were, where they came from, how far the Fund’s involvement in this affair went. She thought of de Ruyter’s impression that Galt had been a front for some other party, and wondered where he got it. The reason might have been the secretiveness surrounding the project, something not usually associated with the research funded by organizations like that—generally quite mindful of publicity and prestige and averse to risk. But perhaps it had also been the people he dealt with, something in their demeanor, which de Ruyter might have seen before in his career.
“Do you have a list of Galt foundation employees in there?” Ashley asked.
“Just a tentative one. Still a lot of gaps to fill.”
“All the same, could you try running the list against the names we got out of the decrypt, see if any of them match anyone who’s been associated with the Memorial Fund?” Ashley asked.
“Already on it.” Logan called up a list of the names he’d made, did the crosscheck. “Believe it or not, there’s one. Todd Mackelvore.”
“Todd Mackelvore,” she repeated. “How does he fit into this?”
“There are some references to him in the file on the Athena Project, but they’re not clear,” Logan said. “All I can really say for now is that he signed off on disbursements that seem to have been part of the project.”
“What about his time at the Galt Fund, though? What do we know about his work there from the other material you’ve collected?”
“They hired him six years ago,” Logan said. “He stuck around for a couple of years, after which he left the foundation for unspecified reasons.”
“So it could be they brought him in just for that?”
“It’s not impossible.”
So who this Mackelvore was seemed like it could be important, and Logan got to work on that.
“According to LinkMe, and Bookface, Todd’s the son of Harris Mackelvore, CEO of the family-owned Mackelvore Enterprises, which owns, among other things, twenty percent of Apex Health Systems. They own eighteen hospitals in the Northwest.”
“So, big money?”
“And old money. Todd himself went to Taylor Prep, then Astor University and Pacific Coast U Med School.”
Ashley had heard of Astor and PCU before. “That all sounds pretty prestigious.”
“It is. No mention of his ever practicing medicine, though. Right after med school he just went into Lansing DeKay—another big nonprofit into medical research, with a profile in neuroscience and neuromedicine.”
“So that’s where his career has been. Any idea why?”
“One reason might be that he just wasn’t cut out to be a doctor. He wasn’t exactly an Honors Student. But dad was a third-generation legacy. And a big donor. Had lots of strings to pull. Donates to Lansing DeKay, too, so that could be just another string.”
“And that’s all?”
“Maybe, maybe not,” Logan said. “You know how it is. Someone like Mackelvore, you don’t hire them through the want ads. Someone knew someone who knew someone . . . they decided to fund de Ruyter through Galt, they wanted a man they could count on in Galt handling this for them, who’d done the non-profit thing and would get on board with what they wanted, and so they decided to put Mackelvore in there.”
Ashley turned that over in her mind, this image of a privileged, entitled young man who’d never cut it on his own. (“Yup, B-minus average, below median MCAT scores,” Logan added.) Still, he must have had his ambitions, to stick with a medical career like that. (“Like his older brother Peter, who’s now an Apex VP, his sister Demi, now managing a hospital.“)
“Did he go straight to Galt from Lansing DeKay?” Ashley asked.
“No, he did a spell at Lister Parks in between. If there’s anything important about that, I don’t see it. No overt links to the Mackelvore family, or Galt, or Northrop, or the kind of people Blake thought were behind all this.”
“Which makes Mackelvore the man with the answers,” Ashley said.
But Philadelphia, and Chicago, remained a long way away, and their current, nearer destination was a more immediate concern. While Logan went on working on his laptop, filling in gaps and probing possibilities as they occurred to him, and piecing together the information that would let him access Mackelvore’s various records, Ashley continued driving toward their goal for the night.
They headed northeast across the Alabama countryside, over terrain that got steadily sparser and higher, until the thinning out of human habitation reversed itself, and Ashley found herself again in the kind of territory familiar to her ever since she’d moved to Newark as a kid, all tall buildings and broad streets of the kind she hadn’t seen in fifteen hundred miles of driving. (Fifteen hundred miles! It was hard to believe they’d covered such a distance in just this one corner of the country.) There were, too, the logos crowning many of the towers in lights, evocations of the Big Names in beverages and banking and telecommunications headquartered in those very buildings. It all put Ashley in mind of a miniature New York, which she supposed Atlanta was.
Less than a half mile past the colossal headquarters of the Lerner Media empire was their destination, the Cordell, fifteen floors of sleek, glassy postmodernity. However, it was like the other places in which they’d passed nights in its presenting the same wearying ritual of access: the display of a new ID, the transfer of money out of a new bank account, the tedious process of exploring and securing the room before they could even think of letting themselves relax.
To Ashley life was coming to seem an endless stretch of highway, an endless succession of hotel rooms. Their suite at the Cordell felt even more transitional than most, giving the impression of an exceedingly well-equipped doctor’s lounge. As if there was no pretense to making guests feel at home, just making them comfortable until they did whatever it was they’d come to do and moved on, as both guest and hotelier knew they were going to do. But as promised Ashley’s room had a queen-size bed, in which she didn’t take long to fall asleep.