Fade Away Page 19

“I have a mind too,” Myron said. “A brain. Feelings.”

She lowered her mouth toward his ear. When her lips touched the lobe, he felt a jolt. “Who cares?”

“Uh, Jess …”

“Shhh,” she said as her other hand slid down his chest. “I’m the doctor here, remember?”

Chapter 9

The ringing phone jabbed at the base of nerves in the back of his skull. Myron’s eyes blinked open. Sunlight knifed through the slit in the curtain. He checked next to him in the bed—first with his hands, then with his eyes. Jessica wasn’t there. The phone continued to blare. Myron reached for it.


“So this is where you are.”

He closed his eyes. The ache in his head multiplied tenfold. “Hi, Mom.”

“You don’t sleep in your home anymore?”

His home was the basement of his parents’ house, the same house in which he’d been raised. More and more he was spending his nights at Jessica’s. It was probably a good thing. He was thirty-two; he was fairly normal; he had plenty of money. There was no reason to still be living with Mommy and Daddy.

“How’s your trip?” he asked. His mother and father were on some tour of Europe. One of those bus tours that hit twelve cities in four days.

“You think I called at the Vienna Hilton’s long distant rates to chitchat about our itinerary?”

“Guess not.”

“You know how much it cost to call from a hotel in Vienna? With all their surcharges and taxes and everything?”

“A lot, I’m sure.”

“I have the rates right here. I’ll tell you exactly. Hold on. Al, what did I do with those rates?”

“Mom, it’s not important.”

“I had it a second ago. Al?”

“Why don’t you tell me when you get home?” Myron suggested. “It’ll give me something to look forward to.”

“Save the fresh remarks for your friends, okay? You know very well why I’m calling.”

“I don’t, Mom.”

“Fine, then I’ll tell you. One of the other people on this tour—the Smeltmans, very nice couple. He’s in the jewelry business. Marvin, his name is. I think. They have a shop in Montclair. We used to drive by it all the time when you were a kid. It’s on Bloomfield Avenue, near that movie theater. Remember?”

“Uh huh.” He had no idea what she was talking about but it was easier.

“So the Smeltmans talked to their son on the phone last night. He called them, Myron. He had their itinerary and everything. Just called his parents to make sure they were having a nice time, that kind of thing.”

“Uh huh.” Mom was in decompensation mode. There was no way to stop it. She could go in a heartbeat from the modern, intelligent woman he knew her to be to something out of summer stock Fiddler on the Roof. Right now she was Golda heading toward Yenta.

“Anyway, the Smeltmans brag how they’re on the same trip with Myron Bolitar’s parents. Big deal, right? Who knows you anymore? You haven’t played in years. But the Smeltmans are big basketball fans. Go figure. Their son used to watch you play or something, I don’t know. So anyway, the son—I think his name is Herb or Herbie or Ralph, something like that—he tells them you’re playing professional basketball. That the Dragons signed you. He says you’re making a comeback or something, what do I know? Your father is so embarrassed. I mean, complete strangers are talking about it and your own parents don’t even know. We thought the Smeltmans were crazy.”

“It’s not what you think,” Myron said.

“What’s not what I think?” she countered. “You shoot around in the driveway a little. Okay, no big deal. But I don’t understand. You never even mentioned you were playing again.”

“I’m not.”

“Don’t lie to me. You scored two points last night. Your father called Sports Phone. You know what it cost to call Sports Phone from here?”

“Mom, it’s no big deal.”

“Listen to me, Myron, you know your father. The man pretends it doesn’t mean anything. He loves you no matter what, you know that. But he hasn’t stopped smiling since he heard. He wants to fly home right now.”

“Please don’t.”

“Don’t,” she repeated, exasperated. “You tell him, Myron. The man is loo-loo, you know that. A crazy person. So tell me what’s going on.”

“It’s a long story, Mom.”

“But it’s true? You’re playing again?”

“Only temporarily.”

“What does that mean, ‘only temporarily’?”

Jessica’s Call Waiting clicked in. “Mom, I gotta go. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier.”

“What? That’s it?”

“I’ll tell you more later.”

Surprisingly she backed off. “You be careful with your knee.”

“I will.”

He changed over to the other line. It was Esperanza. She didn’t bother with hello.

“It’s not Greg’s blood,” she said.


“The blood you found in the basement,” she said. “It’s AB positive. Greg’s blood type is O negative.”

Myron had not expected to hear this. He tried to reconcile it in his head. “Maybe Clip was right. Maybe it was one of Greg’s kids.”

“Impossible,” she said.


“Didn’t you take basic biology in high school?”

“Eighth grade. But I was too busy staring at Mary Ann Palmiero. What?”

“AB is rare. In order for a kid to have it, his parents have to be A and B or it’s impossible. In other words, if Greg is O, then his kids can’t be AB.”

“Maybe it’s a friend’s,” Myron tried. “Maybe one of the kids had a friend over.”

“Sure,” Esperanza said. “That’s probably it. The kids have some friends over. One of them bleeds all over the place and nobody cleans it up. Oh and then by a strange coincidence Greg vanishes.”

Myron threaded the phone cord through his fingers like his hand was a loom. “Not Greg’s blood,” he repeated. “Now what?”

Esperanza didn’t bother responding.

“How the hell am I supposed to investigate something like this without getting anyone suspicious?” he went on. “I have to ask people questions, right? They’re going to want to know why.”

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