Fade Away Page 28


He vaguely motioned toward the torso. “Her breasts. They’re implants.”

“Jesus Christ,” Dimonte said, “you fiddling with dead bodies now?”

The elongated face sagged, his jaw dropping to somewhere around his navel. “Don’t even joke about that,” the coroner said in a stage whisper. “You know what rumors like that could do to a guy in my business?”

“Get him promoted?” Dimonte said.

The coroner did not laugh. He gave Myron a wounded look, then Dimonte. “You think that’s funny, huh? Goddamn it, this is my career you’re fucking around with!”

“Calm down, Peretti, I’m just playing with you.”

“Playing with me? You think my career is some kind of fucking joke? What the hell is wrong with you?”

Dimonte’s eyes narrowed. “Kind of sensitive about all this, Peretti.”

“You have to be in my position,” he said, back straightening.

“If you say so.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

“ ‘The lady protests too much, methinks.’ ”


“It’s Shakespeare,” Dimonte said. “From Macbeth.” Dimonte looked over to Myron.

Myron smiled. “Hamlet.”

“I don’t give a shit who said it,” Peretti protested. “You shouldn’t mess around with a man’s reputation. I don’t think any of this is funny.”

“Like I give a rat’s ass what you think,” Dimonte said. “You got anything else?”

“She’s wearing a wig.”

“A wig? No kidding, Peretti. The case is as good as solved now. All we need to do is find a killer who hates wigs and fake tits. This is helpful, Peretti. What kind of panties was she wearing, huh? You sniff them yet?”

“I was just—”

“Do me a big favor, Peretti.” Dimonte made himself a little taller, hitched his pants. Signaling importance. Again the subtlety. “Tell me when she died. Tell me how she died. Then we’ll talk about her fashion accessories, okay?”

Peretti held up his hands in surrender and returned to the body. Dimonte turned to Myron. Myron said, “The implants and wig might be important. He was right to tell you.”

“Yeah, I know. I just like busting his chops.”

“And the quote is, ‘Methinks the lady doth protest too much.’ ”

“Uh huh.” Dimonte changed toothpicks. The one in his mouth was frayed like a horse’s mane. “You going to tell me what the fuck is going on, or am I going to drag you downtown?”

Myron made a face. “Drag me downtown?”

“Don’t bust my balls on this, Bolitar, okay?”

Myron forced himself to look at the bloodied corpse. His stomach did back flips. He was starting to get used to the smell, the thought of which was nearly as bad as the smell itself. Peretti was back at it, making a small slit to get to the liver. Myron diverted his gaze. The homicide crew from John Jay was setting up, taking photographs, that kind of thing. Dimonte’s partner, a kid named Krinsky, quietly walked around and took notes. “Why would she make them so big?” Myron wondered out loud.


“Her breasts. I can understand the desire to enlarge them. All the pressures in this society. But why make them that big?”

Dimonte said, “You’re shitting me, right?”

Krinsky came over. “All her stuff is in those suitcases.” He motioned with his hand to two bags on the floor. Myron had met Krinsky on maybe half a dozen occasions. Talking was not the kid’s forte; he seemed to do it as often as Myron picked locks. “I’d say she was moving out.”

“You got an ID yet?” Dimonte asked.

“Her wallet says her name is Sally Guerro,” Krinsky continued in a soft voice. “So does one of her passports.”

They both waited for Krinsky to continue. When he didn’t, Dimonte shouted, “What do you mean, one of her passports? How many does she have?”


“Jesus Christ, Krinsky, talk.”

“One is in the name Sally Guerro. One is in the name Roberta Smith. One is in the name Carla Whitney.”

“Give me those.” Dimonte scanned through the various passports. Myron looked over his shoulder. The same woman was in all three pictures, albeit with different hair (ergo the wig) and different Social Security numbers. Judging by the amount of stamps, the woman had traveled extensively.

Dimonte whistled. “Forged passports,” he said. “And good ones too.” He turned more pages. “Plus she has a couple of visits to South America in here. Colombia. Bolivia.” The passports closed with a dramatic snap. “Well, well, well. Looks like we got ourselves a nice, neat drug hit.”

Myron mulled over that bit of information. A drug hit—could that be part of the answer? If Sally/Carla/Roberta was dealing drugs, it might explain her connection with Greg Downing. She was his source. The meeting on Saturday night was nothing more than a buy. The waitress job was a cover. It also explained her using a pay phone and maintaining powerful door locks—tools of a drug dealer’s trade. It made some sense. Of course, Greg Downing did not appear to be a drug user, but he would not be the first person to fool everyone.

Dimonte said, “Anything else, Krinsky?”

The kid nodded. “I found a stack of cash in the bedside drawer.” He stopped again.

Dimonte gave him exasperation. “Did you count it?”

Another nod.

“How much?”

“A little over ten thousand dollars.”

“Ten grand in cash, huh?” That pleased Dimonte. “Let me see it.”

Krinsky handed it over. New bills, held by rubber bands. Myron watched while Dimonte shuffled through them. All hundreds. The serial numbers were sequential. Myron tried to memorize one of them. When Dimonte finished, he tossed the packet back to Krinsky. The smile was still there.

“Yep,” Dimonte said, “it looks like things are coming together in a nice, neat, drug-hit package.” He paused. “Only one problem.”


He pointed at Myron. “You, Bolitar. You’re messing up my nice, neat drug-hit. What the hell are you doing—?” Dimonte stopped himself and snapped his fingers. “Holy shit …” His voice sort of drifted off. He slapped the side of his own head. A small spark in his eyes expanded. “My God!”

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