Fade Away Page 11

Clip looked down at Myron from the podium, his eyes properly moist, his smile his most grandfatherly. Myron cringed. He fought back an intense desire to duck under the conference table and hide.

After a proper pause Clip turned back to the front. The reporters were silent. An occasional flashbulb burst forth. Clip swallowed several times as though summoning some inner resolve he’d need to continue. His throat slid up and down. He raised his moist eyes to the audience.

A little hammy, Myron thought, but all in all a fine performance.

The press conference was more crowded than Myron would’ve thought. Not a free seat and many reporters standing. Must have been a slow news day. Clip took his time, regaining his seemingly lost composure. “A little over a decade ago, I drafted an exceptional young man, a player I believed was destined for greatness. He had a great jumper, a well-honed court sense, mental tenacity, and on top of all that was a fine human being. But the gods had other plans for that young man. We all know what happened to Myron Bolitar on that fateful night in Landover, Maryland. There is no reason to dredge up the past. But as I said when I opened this press conference, sports is folklore. Today the Dragons are giving that young man a chance to weave his own legend into the lush tapestry of sports. Today the Dragons are allowing that young man to try and recapture what was so cruelly snatched away from him all those years ago.”

Myron started squirming. His cheeks flushed. His eyes darted about, seeking a safe haven and finding none. He settled for looking at Clip’s face, as per the media’s expectations. He zeroed in on a cheek mole, staring so hard his vision began to mercifully blur.

“It won’t be easy, Myron,” Clip said, turning now and addressing Myron directly. Myron kept his vision locked on the mole; he couldn’t meet the gaze. “No promises have been made to you. I don’t know what happens from here. I don’t know if this is the culmination of your story or the commencement of a brave new chapter. But those of us who love sports can’t help but hope. It is in our nature. It is in the nature of all true combatants and fans.” Clip’s voice started to crack.

“This is reality,” he went on. “I have to remind you of that, Myron, much as I’d rather not. On behalf of the New Jersey Dragons I welcome you, a man of class and courage, to the team. We wish you nothing but the best. We know that no matter what happens to you on the court, you will bring honor to the entire Dragon organization.” He stopped, tightened his lips, and managed a quick “Thank you.”

Clip held out a hand to Myron. Myron played his part. He stood to shake Clip’s hand. Clip however had other ideas. He put his arms around Myron and pulled him toward him. The flashbulbs increased to the point of being a disco strobe. When Clip finally pulled back, he wiped his eyes with two fingers. Sheesh, the man put Pacino to shame. Clip held out an arm, ushering Myron to the podium.

“How does it feel to be back?” one reporter yelled out.

“Scary,” Myron replied.

“Do you really think you have what it takes to play at this level?”

“No, not really.”

The moment of honesty stopped them for a second. But only a second. Clip laughed and everyone else in the room followed suit. Figuring it was a joke. Myron didn’t bother correcting them.

“Do you think you still have three-point shooting range?” another asked.

Myron nodded. “I have the shooting range,” he said. “I’m just not sure I have the making range.” A stolen joke but what the hey.

More laughs.

“Why the comeback so late, Myron? What convinced you to come back now?”

“The Psychic Friends Network.”

Clip stood and warded off further questions with a raised hand. “Sorry, gang, that’s it for now. Myron has to get suited up for tonight’s game.”

Myron followed Clip out. They hurried down the corridor and into Clip’s office. Calvin was already there. Clip shut the door. Before he sat down Clip asked, “So what’s the matter?”

Myron told him about the blood in the basement. Clip visibly blanched. Frosty’s fingers tightened against the armrest.

“So what are you trying to say?” Clip snapped when he finished.


Clip gave an elaborate shrug. “I don’t get it.”

“There’s nothing to get,” Myron said. “Greg is missing. No one has seen him for five days. He hasn’t used his ATM or credit card. And now there’s blood in the basement.”

“In his kids’ playroom, right? That’s what you said before. The kids’ playroom.”

Myron nodded.

Clip looked a question at Calvin then turned his palms to the sky. “So what the hell does that mean?”

“I’m not sure.”

“It doesn’t exactly add up to foul play, now does it?” Clip continued. “Think it through, Myron. If Greg were murdered, for example, where is his body? Did the killer or killers take it with them? And what do you think happened here? The killers—what?—surprised Greg? Alone? In his kids’ playroom where, I guess, Greg was playing with his little dolly? Then what happened? They killed him down there and dragged him out of the house without leaving traces of blood anywhere but in the basement?” Clip spread his hands. “Does that make sense?”

The scenario had bothered Myron too. He sneaked a glance at Calvin. Calvin seemed deep in thought. Clip stood.

“For all we know,” Clip went on, “one of Greg’s kids cut himself playing down there.”

“Hell of a cut,” Myron said.

“Or a bloody nose. Christ, those things gush like mad. Could be nothing but a bloody nose.”

Myron nodded. “Or maybe they were slaughtering chickens,” he said. “Could be that too.”

“I don’t need sarcasm, Myron.”

Myron waited a beat. He glanced at Calvin. Nothing. He glanced at Clip. Nada. “It’s getting opaque in here again.”


“You hired me to find Greg. I’m tracing down a major lead. Yet you don’t want to hear it.”

“If you mean I don’t want to hear that perhaps Greg has met with foul play—”

“No, that’s not what I mean. You’re afraid of something and it’s not just that Greg may have met with foul play. I’d like to know what.”

Clip looked over at Calvin. Calvin nodded almost imperceptibly. Clip sat back down. His fingertips drummed the desktop. The grandfather clock in the corner ticked an imitating echo. “Understand,” Clip said, “that we have Greg’s best interests at heart. We really do.”

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