Fade Away Page 16

“I’m Dwight D. Eisenhower,” Win replied.


Win spread his hands. “Our blessed youth.” He walked away then without saying another word. Win was not big on good-byes. Myron reached his car. When he put the key in the door, he felt a slap on the back. It was TC. He pointed at Myron with a finger holding more jewelry than a Gabor-family reunion. “Remember,” TC said.

Myron nodded. “Thumped.”


Then he, too, was gone.

Chapter 7

Myron arrived at MacDougal’s Pub, the first bar on Win’s list. The back booth was empty so he grabbed it. He sat there for a moment, hoping a psychic force would tell him if this was the place where Greg had met up with Carla. He felt nothing—positive or negative. Maybe he should hold a séance.

The waitress came over slowly, as if the effort of crossing the floor was synonymous with wading through deep snow and she should be rewarded for it. Myron warmed her up with one of his patented smiles. The Christian Slater model—friendly yet devilish. Not to be mistaken for the Jack Nicholson model which was also friendly yet devilish.

“Hi,” he said.

She put down a Rolling Rock cardboard coaster. “What can I get you?” she asked, trying to toss up a friendly tone and falling way short. You rarely find a friendly barmaid in Manhattan, except for those born-again waitresses at chains like TGI Friday’s or Bennigan’s where they tell you their name and that they’ll be your “server” like you might mistake them for something else, like your “legal consultant” or “medical advisor.”

“Got any Yoo-Hoo?” Myron asked.

“Any what?”

“Never mind. How about a beer?”

She gave him flat eyes. “What kind?”

Subtlety was not going to work here. “Do you like basketball?” he asked her.


“Do you know who Greg Downing is?”


“He told me about this place,” Myron said. “Greg said he was here the other night.”


“Did you work last Saturday night?”


“Same station? I mean, this booth?”

Quicker nod. Getting impatient.

“Did you see him?”

“No. I got tables. Michelob okay?”

Myron looked at his watch, faked shock. “Whoops, look at the time. I gotta go.” He gave her two dollars. “Thanks for your time.”

The next bar on the list was called the Swiss Chalet. Not even close. A dive. The wallpaper was supposed to trick you into believing that the place was wood paneled; the effect may have worked better had the wallpaper not been peeling in so many spots. The fireplace had a flickering, Christmas-light log in it, hardly giving the place the desired ski-lodge warmth. For some reason there was one of those disco-mirrored balls in the middle of the bar. No dance floor. No lights. Just the disco-mirrored ball—another staple of authentic Swiss chalets, Myron surmised. The place had the stale smell of spilled beer mixed with just a hint of what might have been vomit, the kind of smell only certain bars or frat houses held, the kind where the odor had seeped into the walls like rodents that ended up dying and rotting.

The jukebox blared “Little Red Corvette” by Prince. Or was it by the Artist Formerly Known As Prince? Wasn’t that what he called himself now? But of course when “Little Red Corvette” had been released he had been Prince. So which was it? Myron tried to reconcile this crucial dilemma, but it began to confuse him like one of those time paradoxes in the Back to the Future movies so he gave up.

The place was pretty empty. A guy with a Houston Astros baseball cap and bushy mustache was the sole patron seated at the bar. There was a man and woman seminecking at a table in the center of the room—the most conspicuous table in the place, as a matter of fact. No one seemed to mind. Another male patron skulked around the back like he was in the adult movie area at his local video store.

Again Myron took the back booth. Again he struck up a conversation with a far more animated waitress. When he reached the part about Greg Downing telling him about the Swiss Chalet, she said, “Yeah, no kidding? I only seen him in here once.”


“Would that have been Saturday night?”

She scrunched up her face in thought.

“Hey, Joe,” the waitress shouted to the bartender. “Downing was in here Saturday night, right?”

“Who the fuck wants to know?” Joe shouted back from his spot behind the bar. He looked like a weasel with mousy hair. Weasel and mouse. Nice combination.

“This guy and me, we was just talking.”

Joe Weasel squinted with beady, ferret eyes. The eyes widened. “Hey, you’re the new guy, right? On the Dragons? I saw you on the news. With the dorky name.”

“Myron Bolitar,” Myron said.

“Yeah, right, Myron. That’s it. You guys gonna start hanging out here?”

“I don’t know.”

“We get a pretty exclusive celebrity clientele,” Joe said, wiping the bar with what looked like a gas station rag. “You know who was in here once? Cousin Brucie. The disc jockey. Real regular guy, you know.”

“Sorry I missed that,” Myron said.

“Yeah, well we’ve had other celebs, right, Bone?”

The guy with the Astros hat and bushy mustache pepped up and nodded. “Like that guy who looked like Soupy Sales. Remember him?”

“Right. Celebrities.”

“Except that wasn’t really Soupy Sales. Just someone who looked like him.”

“Same difference.”

Myron said, “Do you know Carla?”


“The girl Greg was with.”

“That her name? No, never got a chance to meet her. Didn’t meet Greg either. He just kinda ducked in, cognito-like. We didn’t bother them.” He sort of puffed out his chest like he was about to salute. “At the Swiss Chalet, we protect our celebrities.” He pointed at Myron with the dishrag. “You tell the other guys that, okay?”

“Will do,” Myron said.

“Fact, we weren’t even sure it was Greg Downing at first.”

“Like with Soupy Sales,” Bone added.

“Right, like that. Except this was really him.”

“Guy looked like Soupy though. Great actor, that Soupy.”

“And what a nickname.”

“Talent all the way round,” Bone agreed.

Myron said, “Had he ever been in here before?”

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