Fade Away Page 2

Clip finally smiled. He looked over to Calvin Johnson. Calvin Johnson forced up a return smile.

“Perhaps I should be less”—Clip paused, searched for the word—“opaque.”

“That might be helpful.”

“I want you on the team. I don’t much care if you play or not.”

Myron waited again. When no one continued, he said, “It’s still a bit opaque.”

Clip let loose a long breath. He walked over to the bar, opened a small hotel-style fridge, and removed a can of Yoo-Hoo. Stocking Yoo-Hoos. Hmm. Clip had been prepared. “You still drink this sludge?”

“Yes,” Myron said.

He tossed Myron the can and poured something from a decanter into two glasses. He handed one to Calvin Johnson. He signaled to the seats by the glass window. Exactly midcourt. Very nice. Nice leg room too. Even Calvin, who was six-eight, was able to stretch a bit. The three men sat next to one another, all facing the same way, which again felt weird in a business setting. You were supposed to sit across from one another, preferably at a table or desk. Instead they sat shoulder to shoulder, watching the work crew pound the floor into place.

“Cheers,” Clip said.

He sipped his whiskey. Calvin Johnson just held his. Myron, obeying the instructions on the can, shook his Yoo-Hoo.

“If I’m not mistaken,” Clip continued, “you’re a lawyer now.”

“I’m a member of the bar,” Myron said. “I don’t practice much law.”

“You’re a sports agent.”


“I don’t trust agents,” Clip said.

“Neither do I.”

“For the most part, they’re bloodsucking leeches.”

“We prefer the term ‘parasitic entities,’ ” Myron said. “It’s more PC.”

Clip Arnstein leaned forward, his eyes zeroing in on Myron’s. “How do I know I can trust you?”

Myron pointed at himself. “My face,” he said. “It screams trustworthiness.”

Clip did not smile. He leaned a little closer. “What I’m about to tell you must remain confidential.”


“Do you give me your word it won’t go any farther than this room?”


Clip hesitated, glanced at Calvin Johnson, shifted in his seat. “You know, of course, Greg Downing.”

Of course. Myron had grown up with Greg Downing. From the time they had first competed as sixth graders in a town league less than twenty miles from where Myron now sat, they were instant rivals. When they reached high school, Greg’s family moved to the neighboring town of Essex Fells because Greg’s father did not want his son sharing the basketball spotlight with Myron. The personal rivalry then began to take serious flight. They played against each other eight times in high school, each winning four games. Myron and Greg became New Jersey’s hottest recruits and both matriculated at big-time basketball colleges with a storied rivalry of their own—Myron to Duke, Greg to North Carolina.

The personal rivalry soared.

During their college careers, they had shared two Sports Illustrated covers. Both teams won the ACC twice, but Myron picked up a national championship. Both Myron and Greg were picked first-team All-American, both at the guard spots. By the time they both graduated, Duke and North Carolina had played each other twelve times. The Myron-led Duke had won eight of them. When the NBA draft came, both men went in the first round.

The personal rivalry crashed and burned.

Myron’s career ended when he collided with big Burt Wesson. Greg Downing sidestepped fate and went on to become one of the NBA premier guards. During his ten-year career with the New Jersey Dragons Downing had been named to the All-Star team eight times. He led the league twice in three-point shooting. Four times he led the league in free-throw percentage and once in assists. He’d been on three Sports Illustrated covers and had won an NBA championship.

“I know him,” Myron said.

“Do you talk to him much?” Clip Arnstein asked.


“When was the last time you spoke?”

“I don’t remember.”

“Within the last few days?”

“I don’t think we’ve spoken in ten years,” Myron said.

“Oh,” Clip said. He took another sip. Calvin had still not touched his drink. “Well, I’m sure you heard about his injury.”

“Something with his ankle,” Myron said. “It’s day to day. He’s in seclusion working on it.”

Clip nodded. “That’s the story we gave the media anyway. It’s not exactly the truth.”


“Greg isn’t injured,” Clip said. “He’s missing.”

“Missing?” Again the probing interrogatory.

“Yes.” Clip took another sip. Myron sipped back, not an easy task with Yoo-Hoo.

“Since when?” Myron asked.

“Five days now.”

Myron looked at Calvin. Calvin remained placid but he had that kind of face. During his playing days, his nickname had been Frosty because he never displayed emotion. He was living up to his name now.

Myron tried again. “When you say Greg is missing—”

“Gone,” Clip snapped. “Disappeared. Into thin air. Without a trace. Whatever you want to call it.”

“Have you called the police?”


“Why not?”

Clip gave him the wave-off again. “You know Greg. He’s not a conventional guy.”

The understatement of the millennium.

“He never does the expected,” Clip said. “He hates the fame. He likes to be on his own. He’s even disappeared before, though never during a playoff drive.”


“So there’s a good chance he’s just being his usually flaky self,” Clip continued. “Greg can shoot like a dream, but let’s face facts: the man is a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. You know what Downing does after games?”

Myron shook his head.

“He drives a cab in the city. That’s right, a goddamn Yellow taxi cab in New York City. Says it keeps him close to the common man. Greg won’t do appearances or endorsements. He doesn’t do interviews. He doesn’t even do the charity thing. He dresses like something out of a seventies sitcom. The man is a nut job.”

“All of which makes him immensely popular with the fans,” Myron said. “Which sells tickets.”

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