Fade Away Page 10


“I can make new contacts,” he said, the ideas coming to him even as he spoke. “I can get closer to sponsors, learn more about them. More people will hear about me and indirectly my clients.”

Esperanza made a scoffing sound. “And you think that’s going to fly?”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s bullshit. ‘Indirectly my clients.’ Sounds like trickle-down economics.”

She had a point. “What’s the big deal really?” he asked, palms to the ceiling. “Basketball will only be a couple of hours a day. I’ll be here the rest of the time. I’ll have the cellular phone with me all the time. We just have to emphasize that I won’t be there long.”

Esperanza looked at him skeptically.

“What?” he asked.

She shook her head.

“No, I want to know. What?”

“Nothing,” she said. She looked him straight in the eye, her hands resting on her lap. “What does the bitch say about all this?” she asked sweetly.

Her pet name for Jessica. “Will you please stop calling her that?”

She made a suit-yourself face, for once not arguing. There had been a time—long, long ago—when Jessica and Esperanza had at least tolerated each other. But then Jessica left, and Esperanza saw what it did to Myron. Some people held grudges. Esperanza internalized them. It didn’t matter that Jessica had come back.

“So what does she think?” Esperanza asked again.

“About what?”

“About the prospects for peace in the Middle East,” she snapped. “What do you think I mean? Your playing again.”

“I don’t know. We haven’t had a chance to talk about it much. Why?”

Esperanza shook her head again. “We’re going to need help in here,” she said, closing the subject. “Someone to answer the phones, do some typing, that kind of thing.”

“You have someone in mind?”

She nodded. “Cyndi.”

Myron blanched. “Big Cyndi?”

“She could answer the phone, do some odd jobs. She’s a good worker.”

“I didn’t even know she could talk,” Myron said. Big Cyndi had been Esperanza’s tag-team wrestling partner, fighting under the name of Big Chief Mama.

“She’ll take orders. She’ll do shit work. She’s not ambitious.”

Myron tried not to wince at the thought. “Isn’t she still working at the strip joint as a bouncer?”

“It’s not a strip joint. It’s a leather bar.”

“My mistake,” Myron said.

“And she’s a bartender now.”

“Cyndi’s been promoted?” Myron said.


“Well, I’d hate to sidetrack her burgeoning career by asking her to work here.”

“Don’t be an ass,” Esperanza said. “She works there nights.”

“What,” Myron said, “Leather and Lust doesn’t do a big lunch crowd?”

“I know Cyndi. She’ll be perfect.”

“She scares people,” Myron said. “She scares me.”

“She’ll stay in the conference room. No one will see her.”

“I don’t know.”

Esperanza rose smoothly. “Fine, you find somebody. I mean, you’re the boss. You know best. Me, I’m just a pissant secretary. I wouldn’t dare question how you handle our clients.”

Myron shook his head. “Low blow,” he said. He leaned forward, his elbows on his desk, his hands holding up his head. “All right,” he said finally, releasing a deep breath. “We’ll give her a try.”

Myron waited. Esperanza stared back at him. After several seconds passed, she said, “Is this the part where I jump up and down and say thank you, thank you?”

“No, this is the part where I leave.” He checked his watch. “I got to talk to Clip about those bloodstains before the press conference.”

“Have fun.” She headed for the door.

“Hold up,” he called out. She turned and faced him. “Do you have class tonight?” Esperanza took night classes at NYU. Law school.


“You want to go to the game?” He cleared his throat. “You can, uh, bring Lucy, if you’d like.”

Lucy was Esperanza’s latest love. Before Lucy she had dated a man named Max. Her sexual preference seemed to vacillate. “We broke up,” she said.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Myron said, not knowing what else to say. “When?”

“Last week.”

“You didn’t say anything.”

“Maybe because it’s none of your business.”

He nodded. True enough. “Well, you can bring a new, uh, friend, if you’d like. Or you can go yourself. We’re playing the Celtics.”

“I’ll pass,” she said.

“You sure?”

She nodded again, left the room. Myron grabbed his jacket and headed back to the lot. Mario tossed him his keys without looking up. He took the Lincoln Tunnel and hopped onto Route 3. He passed a huge and fairly famous appliance and electronics store called Tops. The billboard featured a giant nose jutted out over Route 3. The caption: Tops Is Right Under Your Nose. Very lifelike. The only thing missing were the giant nose hairs. He was only a mile or so from the Meadlowlands when the car phone rang.

“I have some preliminaries,” Win said.

“Go ahead.”

“None of Greg Downing’s accounts or credit cards have been accessed in the past five days.”



“Any cash withdrawals from his bank?”

“Not in the past five days.”

“How about earlier? Maybe he grabbed out a lot of money before he vanished.”

“It’s being worked on. I don’t know yet.”

Myron took the Meadowlands exit. He considered what this all meant. So far, not much, but it wasn’t really good news. The blood in the basement. No sign of Greg. No financial activity. It wasn’t really promising. “Anything else?” Myron asked.

Win hesitated. “I may soon have an idea where dearest Greg had that drink with fair Carla.”


“After the game,” Win said. “I’ll know more then.”

Chapter 5

“Sports is folklore,” Clip Arnstein told the room full of reporters. “What captures our imagination is not simply the winning and losing. It’s the stories. The stories of perseverance. The stories of sheer will. The stories of hard work. The stories of heartbreak. The stories of miracles. The stories of triumph and tragedy. The stories of comebacks.”

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