Fade Away Page 23

“About a month.”

“Did seeing him all the time help or hurt?”


She said nothing.

“Do you understand now?” he asked. “Do you see why I have to pursue this? You’re probably right. Sleeping with Emily was probably nothing more than payback for not getting drafted before Greg. Just another stupid battle. But what kind of way was that for a marriage to start? I owe Greg Downing. It’s that simple.”

“No,” she said. “It’s not that simple.”

“Why not?”

“Because too much of your past is resurfacing. First Jessica—”

“Don’t start with that.”

“I’m not,” she said calmly. Her voice was rarely calm when it came to Jessica. “I’m just stating a fact. Jessica crushed you when she left. You never got over her.”

“But she’s back now.”


“So what’s your point?”

“Basketball also crushed you when it left. You never got over it.”

“Sure I did.”

She shook her head. “First you spent three years trying every possible remedy to fix your knee.”

“I just tried to get better,” he interjected. “Nothing wrong with that, is there?”

“Nothing. But you were a pain in the ass. You pushed Jessica away. I’m not forgiving her for what she did to you. You didn’t ask for that. But you played a part in her leaving.”

“Why are you bringing this all up?”

She shook her head. “You’re the one who’s bringing it all up. Your entire past. Jessica and now basketball. You want us to watch you go through all this again, but we won’t.”

“Go through what?”

But she didn’t answer. Instead she asked, “Do you want to know why I didn’t go see you play last night?”

He nodded, still not facing her. His cheeks felt flush and hot.

“Because with Jessica, at least there’s a chance you won’t get hurt again. There’s a chance the witch smartened up. But with basketball, there is no chance. You can’t come back.”

“I can handle it,” he said, hearing those words yet again.

She said nothing.

Myron stared off. He barely heard the phone ring. Neither one of them moved to answer it. “You think I should drop this?” he asked.

“Yes. I agree with Emily. She’s the one who betrayed him. You were just a handy tool. If what happened somehow poisoned their relationship, it was her doing. It was her decision. You don’t owe Greg Downing a thing.”

“Even if what you’re saying is true,” he said, “that bond is still there.”

“Bullshit,” Esperanza said. “That’s just a load of pedantic, macho bullshit. You’re just proving my point. There’s no bond anymore, if there ever was one. Basketball hasn’t been a part of your life for a decade. The only reason you think the bond is still there is because you’re playing again.”

There was a loud pounding on the door. The frame shook and almost gave way. Myron startled upright. “Who’s manning the phones?” he asked.

Esperanza smiled.

“Oh no.”

“Come in,” Esperanza said.

The door opened. Myron’s feet fell to the floor. Though he had seen her many times before, his jaw still dropped open. Big Cyndi ducked in. She was mammoth. Six-five and over three hundred pounds. Cyndi wore a white T-shirt with the sleeves ripped off at the biceps. Her arms were the envy of Hulk Hogan. Her makeup was more garish than it had been in the ring. Her hair was purple spikes; her mascara was also purple though a darker shade than her hair. Her lipstick was a red smear. Cyndi looked like something out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She was the single most frightening sight Myron had ever seen.

“Hi, Cyndi,” Myron tried.

Cyndi growled. She held up her middle finger, turned, stepped back through the door, closed it.

“What the—”

“She’s telling you to pick up line one,” Esperanza said.

“Cyndi’s answering phones?”


“She doesn’t talk!”

“In person. On the phone she’s very good.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“Pick up the phone and stop whining.”

Myron did so. It was Lisa, their contact at New York Bell. Most people think that only the police can get phone records. Not true. Almost every private eye in the country has a contact at their local phone company. It’s just a matter of simply paying someone off. A month’s phone records can cost you anywhere from one thousand to five thousand dollars. Myron and Win had met Lisa during their days with the feds. She didn’t take money, but they always took care of her in some way or another. “I got what Win wanted,” Lisa said.

“Go ahead.”

“The call at nine eighteen P.M. came from a public phone located in a diner near Dyckman Street and Broadway,” she said.

“Isn’t that up near Two Hundredth Street?”

“I think so. You want the phone number?”

Carla had called Greg from a diner on 200th Street? Weirder and weirder. “If you have it.”

She gave it to him. “Hope that helps.”

“It does, Lisa. Thanks.” He held up the paper to Esperanza. “Lookie what I got,” he said. “A real live clue.”

Chapter 11

To be fair, the Parkview Diner lived up to its name. You did indeed have a view of Lieutenant William Tighe Park across the street; it was smaller than the average backyard with shrubs so high you really couldn’t see the landscaped garden within. A wire-mesh fence enclosed the grounds. Hung on the fence in several places were signs that read in big, bold letters: DO NOT FEED THE RATS. No joke. In smaller print the warning was repeated in Spanish: No Des Comida a Las Ratas. The signs had been placed there by a group calling itself the Quality of Life Zone. Myron shook his head. Only in New York would this be a problem—people who could not contain themselves from the seductive lure of feeding vermin. Myron glanced again at the sign, then the diner. Rats. Quite the appetite-enhancer.

He crossed the street. Two levels above the Parkview Diner, a dog squeezed his head through the grates of a fire escape and barked at passing pedestrians. The Parkview’s green overhang was ripped in several spots. The letters were faded to the point of unintelligibility, and the support pole was bent so far that Myron had to duck to get to the door. There was a poster of a gyro sandwich in the window. Today’s specials, according to a blackboard in the same window, included eggplant parmigiana and chicken à la king. The soup was beef consommé. There were permits from the City of New York Department of Buildings stuck on the door like car-inspection decals.

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