Fade Away Page 15

Myron swallowed and rose to his feet. The crowd erupted in sarcasm. He headed for the scorer’s table, ripping off his sweats. His legs felt stiff and cramped. He pointed to the scorer, the scorer nodded and sounded the buzzer. Myron stepped on the court. He pointed at Cameron. Cameron jogged off. “Kraven,” he said. The name of the man Myron would defend.

“Now reporting for Bob Cameron,” the loudspeaker began. “Number 34. Myron Bolitar!”

The crowd went absolutely wild. Hoots, whistles, screams, laughs. Some might think they were wishing him well, but that was not really the case. They were wishing him well the same way you wish a circus clown well. They were looking for pratfalls and darn gone-it, Bolitar was their man!

Myron stepped on the court. This was, he suddenly realized, his NBA debut.

He touched the ball five times before the game ended. Each time it was met with cheer/jeers. He shot only once, from just inside the three point line. He almost didn’t want to, knowing the crowd would react no matter what happened, but some things are just too automatic. There was no conscious thought. The ball went in with a happy swish. By now there were only thirty seconds left and thankfully most everyone had had enough and were heading to their cars. The sarcastic applause was minimal. But for those brief seconds when Myron caught the ball, when his fingertips found the groove, when he bent his elbow and cradled the ball half an inch above both palm and forehead, when the arm smoothed into a straight line, when the wrist flowed into a front curl, when the fingertips danced along the ball’s surface and created the ideal backspin, Myron was alone. His eyes were focused on the rim, only the rim, never glancing at the ball as it arched its way toward the cylinder. For those few seconds there was only Myron and the rim and the basketball and it all felt very right.

The mood in the locker room was far more animated after the game. Myron managed to meet all of the players except TC and Greg’s roommate Leon White, the one man he wanted to get close to most. Figures. He couldn’t push it either; that would just backfire. Tomorrow maybe. He’d try again.

He stripped down. The knee began to tighten up, as though somebody had pulled all the tendons too taut. He slapped on an ice pack and fastened it with a stretch wrap. He limped to the showers, dried off, and was just finishing dressing when he realized TC was standing over him.

Myron looked up. TC had his various pierce-jewelry in place. Ear, of course. Three in one, four in the other. One in his nose. He wore black leather pants and a black cut-off mesh tank top, giving one an excellent view of the ring on his left nipple and the one in the belly button. Myron couldn’t make out what the tattoos were. They just looked like swirls. TC wore sunglasses now, the wraparound kind.

“Your jeweler must send you a hell of a Christmas card,” Myron said.

TC replied by sticking out his tongue and revealing another ring near the tip. Myron almost gagged. TC looked pleased by his reaction.

“You new, right?” TC said.

“Right.” Myron held out his hand. “Myron Bolitar.”

TC ignored the hand. “You gots to get thumped.”

“Excuse me?”

“Thumped. You the new guy. You gots to get thumped.”

Several other players started chuckling.

“Thumped?” Myron repeated.

“Yeah. You the new guy, right?”


“Then you gots to get thumped.”

More chuckling.

“Right,” Myron said. “Thumped.”

“There you go.” TC nodded, snapping his fingers, pointed at Myron, left.

Myron finished dressing. Thumped?

Jessica was waiting for him outside the locker-room door. She smiled as he approached, and he smiled back, feeling goofy. She hugged him and gave him a brief kiss. He smelled her hair. Ambrosia.

“Ah,” a voice said. “Now ain’t this just too sweet?”

It was Audrey Wilson.

“Don’t talk to her,” Myron said. “She’s the Antichrist.”

“Too late,” Audrey said. She put her hand through Jessica’s arm. “Jess and I are going out now to have a few drinks, talk over old times, that kind of thing.”

“God, you are shameless.” He turned to Jessica. “Don’t tell her anything.”

“I don’t know anything.”

“Good point,” Myron said. “So where are we going?”

“We are going nowhere,” Jessica said. She made a motion behind her with her thumb. Win was leaning against the wall, completely still and at ease. “He said you’d be busy.”

“Oh.” Myron looked over at Win. Win nodded. Myron excused himself and made his way over.

Without preamble, Win said, “The last cash transaction Greg made was at an ATM machine at eleven oh three P.M. the night he vanished.”


“Manhattan. A Chemical Bank near Eighteenth Street on the West Side.”

“It makes sense,” Myron said. “Greg gets a call at nine eighteen P.M. from Carla. Carla tells him to meet her in the back booth. So he drives himself to the city and picks up cash before he sees her.”

Win looked at him with flat eyes. “Thank you for that analysis of the obvious.”

“It’s a gift really.”

“Yes, I know,” Win said. “Moving right along, there are eight saloons within a four-block radius of this particular ATM. I limited my search to those. Of the eight only two have what one might term a ‘back booth.’ The others had tables or dining facilities sans booths in the rear. Here are the names.”

Myron had long since gotten past asking how Win did it. “You want me to drive?”

“I can’t go,” Win said.

“Why not?”

“I’m going away for a few days.”


“I leave from Newark airport in an hour,” Win said.

“This is sudden.”

Win didn’t bother responding. The two men headed out the players’ entrance. Five kids ran up to Myron and asked for his autograph. Myron obliged. One kid who looked to be around ten years old took back the paper, squinted at Myron’s scrawl, and said, “Who the hell is he?”

Another kid said, “Some scrub.”

“Hey!” Win snapped. “That’s Mr. Scrub to you.”

Myron looked at him. “Thanks.”

Win made an it’s-nothing gesture.

The first kid looked at Win. “You anybody?”

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