Fade Away Page 3

“I agree,” Clip said, “but that just underlines my point. If we call the cops it could damage both him and the team. Can you imagine the media circus if this got out?”

“It would be bad,” Myron admitted.

“Exactly. And suppose Greg is just hanging out in French Lick or whatever hickville town he goes to in the off-season, fishing or something? Christ, we’d never hear the end of it. On the other hand, suppose he’s up to something.”

“Up to something?” Myron repeated.

“Hell, I don’t know. I’m just talking here. But I don’t need a goddamn scandal. Not now. Not with the playoffs coming up, you know what I’m saying?”

Not really, but Myron decided to let it go for now. “Who else knows about this?”

“Just the three of us.”

The work crew rolled in the baskets. Two extras were kept in storage in case someone pulled a Darryl Dawkins and shattered a backboard. They then began putting down additional seats. Like most arenas, the Meadowlands holds more seats for basketball than hockey—in this case around a thousand more. Myron took another sip of Yoo-Hoo and let it roll around his tongue. He waited until it slid down his throat before he asked the obvious question. “So how do I fit in?”

Clip hesitated. His breathing was deep, almost labored. “I know something of your years with the FBI,” he said finally. “No details, of course. Not even vagaries really, but enough to know you have a background in this kinda stuff. We want you to find Greg. Quietly.”

Myron said nothing. His “undercover” work for the feds, it seemed, was the worst kept secret in the continental United States. Clip sipped his drink. He looked at Calvin’s full glass, then at Calvin. Calvin finally took a sip. Clip turned his attention back to Myron. “Greg’s divorced now,” Clip went on. “He’s basically a loner. All his friends—hell, all his acquaintances—are teammates. They’re his support group, if you will. His family. If anyone knows where he is—if anyone’s helping him stay hidden—it’s got to be one of the Dragons. I’ll be honest with you. These guys are a major pain in the ass. Spoiled, pampered prima donnas who think our purpose in life is to serve them. But they all have one thing in common: They see management as the enemy. Us against the world and all that crap. They won’t tell us the truth. They won’t tell reporters the truth. And if you approach them as some, uh, ‘parasitic entity,’ they won’t talk to you either. You have to be a player. It’s the only way to get on the inside.”

“So you want me to join the team so I can find Greg.”

Myron heard the echoes of hurt in his voice. It was unintentional, but he saw that both men heard it too. His face flushed in embarrassment.

Clip put a hand on his shoulder. “I meant what I said, Myron. You could have been great. One of the greatest.”

Myron took a deep swig of his Yoo-Hoo. No more sipping. “I’m sorry, Mr. Arnstein. I can’t help you.”

The scowl was back. “What?”

“I have a life. I’m a sports agent. I have clients to tend to. I can’t just drop it all.”

“You’ll get the players’ minimum prorated. That’s two hundred thousand dollars less whatever. And there’s only a couple of weeks left until the playoffs. We’ll keep you on till then no matter what.”

“No. My playing days are over. And I’m not a private investigator.”

“But we need to find him. He could be in danger.”

“I’m sorry. The answer is no.”

Clip smiled. “Suppose I sweeten the pot.”


“Fifty-thousand-dollar signing bonus.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Greg could show up tomorrow and you’d still get to keep that. Fifty grand. Plus a share of playoff money.”


Clip sat back. He stared at his drink, dipped his finger into it, stirred. His voice was casual. “You say you’re an agent, right?”


“I’m very friendly with the parents of three guys that will go in the first round. Did you know that?”


“Suppose,” Clip said slowly, “I guarantee you that one of them signs with you.”

Myron pricked up. A first round draft pick. He tried to keep his expression cool—to do like Frosty—but his heart was thumping. “How can you do that?”

“Don’t worry about how.”

“It doesn’t sound ethical.”

Clip made a scoffing noise. “Myron, don’t play choirboy with me. You do me this favor and MB SportsReps gets a first round draft pick. Guaranteed. No matter how this thing with Greg plays out.”

MB SportsReps. Myron’s company. Myron Bolitar, ergo MB. Representing sports people, ergo SportsReps. Add it together: MB SportsReps. Myron came up with that name on his own but still no offers came in from major advertising companies to use his services.

“Make it a hundred-thousand-dollar signing bonus,” Myron said.

Clip smiled. “You’ve learned well, Myron.”

Myron shrugged.

“Seventy-five thousand,” Clip said. “And you’ll take it so don’t bullshit a bullshitter.”

The two men shook hands.

“I have a few more questions about the disappearance,” Myron said.

Using both armrests Clip rose and stood over Myron. “Calvin will answer all your questions,” he said with a nod toward his general manager. “I have to go now.”

“So when do you want me to start practicing?”

Clip looked surprised. “Practicing?”

“Yeah. When do you want me to start?”

“We have a game tonight.”


“Of course,” Clip said.

“You want me to suit up tonight?”

“We’re playing our old team, the Celtics. Calvin will make sure you have a uniform by game time. Press conference at six to announce your signing. Don’t be late.” Clip headed toward the door. “And wear that tie. I like it.”

“Tonight?” Myron repeated, but Clip was already gone.

Chapter 2

After Clip left the box, Calvin Johnson allowed himself a small smile. “I warned you it would be strange.”

“Serious strange,” Myron agreed.

“Finished with your nutritious chocolate beverage?”

Myron put down the can. “Yeah.”

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