Fade Away Page 17

“The guy who looked like Soupy?”

“Moron,” Joe said, snapping the rag at Bone. “Why the fuck would he want to know about that? He’s talking about Greg Downing.”

“How the fuck was I supposed to know? I look like I work for one of those psychic networks or something?”

“Fellas,” Myron tried.

Joe held up a hand. “Sorry, Myron. Believe me, this don’t normally happen here at the Swiss Chalet. We all get along, right, Bone?”

Bone spread his arms. “Who’s not getting along?”

“My point exactly. And no, Myron, Greg isn’t one of our regulars. That was his first time here.”

“Same with Cousin Brucie,” Bone added. “He only came in that one time.”

“Right. But Cousin Brucie liked the place, I could tell.”

“He ordered a second drink. That shoulda told you something.”

“Right you are. Two drinks. Coulda just had one and left. Course, they were only Diet Cokes.”

Myron said, “How about Carla?”


“The woman Greg was with.”

“What about her?”

“Had she been here before?”

“I never seen her here before. Bone?”

Bone shook his head. “Nope. I woulda remembered.”

“What makes you say that?”

Without hesitation, Joe said, “Serious hooters.”

Bone cupped his hands and stuck them in front of his chest. “Major Charlies.”

“Not that she was good looking or anything.”

“Not at all,” Bone agreed. “Kinda old for a young guy.”

“How old?” Myron asked.

“Older than Greg Downing, that’s for sure. I’d say late forties. Bone?”

Bone nodded. “But a first-rate set of ta-tas.”



“Yeah, I think I got that,” Myron interrupted. “Anything else?”

They looked puzzled.

“Eye color?” Myron tried.

Joe blinked, looked at Bone. “Did she have eyes?”

“Damn if I know.”

“Hair color?” Myron said.

“Brown,” Joe said. “Light brown.”

“Black,” Bone said.

“Maybe he’s right,” Joe said.

“No, maybe it was on the lighter side.”

“But I’m telling you, Myron. That was some rack. Major guns.”

“Guns of Navarone,” Bone agreed.

“Did she and Greg leave together?”

Joe looked at Bone. Bone shrugged. “I think so,” Joe said.

“Do you know what time?”

Joe shook his head.

“Bones, you know?” Myron tried.

The bill of the Astros hat jerked toward Myron like a string had been pulled. “Not Bones, dammit!” he shrieked. “Bone! No S at the end. Bone! B-O-N-E! No S! And what the fuck do I look like, Big Ben?”

Joe snapped the dishrag again. “Don’t insult a celebrity, moron.”

“Celebrity? Shit, Joe, he’s just a scrub. Not like he’s Soupy or something. He’s a nobody, a zero.” Bone turned to Myron. The hostility was completely gone now. “No offense, Myron.”

“Why would I take offense?”

“Say,” Joe said, “you got a photograph? We can put your picture on the wall. You could autograph it to your pals at the Swiss Chalet. We should start like a celebrity wall, you know?”

“Sorry,” Myron said. “I don’t have one on me.”

“Can you send us one? Autographed, I mean. Or bring it next time you come.”

“Er, next time.”

Myron continued to question them but learned nothing more except Soupy Sales’s birthday. He left and headed up the block. He passed a Chinese restaurant with dead ducks hung in the window. Duck carcasses, the ideal appetite whetter. Maybe Burger King should hang slaughtered cows in the window. Really draw the kids in.

He tried putting the pieces together a bit. Carla calls Greg on the phone and tells him to meet her at the Swiss Chalet. Why? Why there of all places? Did they not want to be seen? Why not? And who the hell is Carla anyway? How does all this fit into Greg’s vanishing act? And what about the blood in the basement? Did they go back to Greg’s house or did Greg go home alone? Was Carla the girl he lived with? And if so, why meet here?

Myron was so preoccupied he didn’t spot the man until he almost bumped into him. Of course calling him a man might be a bit of an understatement. More like a brick wall doubling as a human being. He stood in Myron’s way. He wore one of those pectoral-displaying ribbed T-shirts under an unbuttoned flower-patterned semiblouse. A gold horn dangled between his near-cleavage. Muscle-head. Myron tried to pass him on the left. The brick wall blocked his path. Myron tried to pass him on the right. The brick wall blocked his path. Myron went back and forth one more time. Brick Wall followed suit.

“Say,” Myron said, “you know the cha-cha?”

The brick wall showed about as much reaction as one might expect from a brick wall. Then again it wasn’t one of Myron’s better quips. The man was truly enormous, the size of your average lunar eclipse. Myron heard footsteps. Another man, this one on the large size but at least of the human variety, came up behind Myron. The second man wore fatigue camouflage pants, a popular new urban fashion trend.

“Where’s Greg?” Camouflage Pants asked.

Myron feigned startled. “What? Oh, I didn’t see you.”


“In those pants,” Myron said. “You just blended into the background.”

Camouflage didn’t like that. “Where’s Greg?”

“Greg?” Snappy retort.

“Yeah. Where is he?”



“Greg who?”

“You trying to be funny?”

“What, you think this is funny?”

Camouflage looked over at Brick Wall. Brick Wall remained completely silent. Myron knew that there was a very real possibility of a physical altercation. He also knew he was good at such things. He also knew—or at least figured—that these two goons were probably good too. Despite Bruce Lee movies, one man defeating two or more quality opponents was nearly impossible. Experienced fighters were not stupid. They worked as a team. They never rushed one at a time.

“So,” Myron said. “You guys want to catch a beer? Chat this through?”

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