Fade Away Page 30

“You’re suggesting putting out an APB on a major, beloved sports hero.”

“And you’re suggesting I play favorites because he’s a major, beloved sports hero.”

“Not at all,” Myron said, his mind racing. “But imagine what happens when you call out this APB. The press gets it. You start getting that OJ coverage. But there’s a difference here. You got squat on Downing. No motive. No physical evidence. Nothing.”

“Not yet I don’t,” Dimonte said. “But it’s early—”

“Exactly, it’s early. Wait a little while, that’s all I’m saying. And handle this one right because the whole world is going to look at everything you do. Tell those bozos upstairs to videotape every step. Leave nothing to chance. Don’t let anyone come back later and say you tampered or contaminated something. Get a warrant before you go to Downing’s house. Do everything by the book.”

“I can do all that and still put out an APB.”

“Rolly, suppose Greg Downing did kill her. You put out an APB, you know what happens? One, you look single-minded. You look like you got it in your head that Downing was the killer and that was it. Two, you got the press in your face—watching your every move, trying to beat you to the evidence, compromising and commenting on everything you do. Three, you drag Greg in here now and you know what bottom-feeders are stuck to him?”

Dimonte nodded and made a lemon-sucking face. “Fucking lawyers.”

“A dream team’s worth. Before you have anything, they’re filing motions and suppressing whatever and, well, you know the routine.”

“Shit,” Dimonte said.

Myron nodded. “You see what I mean?”

“Yeah, I do,” Dimonte said. “But there’s some stuff you forgot, Bolitar.” He gave Myron big-time toothpick gnawing. “For example, if I issue an APB your little team investigation goes down the toilet. You lose out.”

“Could be,” Myron said.

Dimonte studied him with a small, uneven smile. “That doesn’t mean what you’re saying is wrong. I just don’t want you to think I don’t see what you’re up to.”

“You read me,” Myron said, “like Vasco da Gama reads a map.”

Dimonte gave him hard eyes for a moment; Myron fought off the desire to roll his in return. “So here’s how we’re going to play it. You’re going to stay on the team and you’re going to continue your little investigation. I’m going to try to keep what you told me to myself as long”—he held up a finger for emphasis—“as long as it benefits my case. If I find enough to haul Downing’s ass in here, I put out the APB. And you are going to report everything to me. You are not going to hold back. Any questions?”

“Just one,” Myron said. “Where do you buy your boots?”

Chapter 13

On the ride to practice, Myron placed a call from the car phone.

“Higgins,” a voice answered.

“Fred? It’s Myron Bolitar.”

“Hey, long time, no speak. How you doing, Myron?”

“Can’t complain. You?”

“A thrill a minute here at the Treasury Department.”

“Yeah, I bet.”

“How’s Win?” Higgins asked.

“The same,” Myron said.

“The guy scares the piss out of me, you know what I mean?”

“Yes,” Myron said, “I do.”

“You two miss working for the feds?”

“I don’t,” Myron said. “I don’t think Win does either. It got too restrictive for him.”

“I hear you. Hey, I read in the papers you’re playing ball again.”


“At your age and with that knee? How come?”

“Long story, Fred.”

“Say no more. Hey, you guys are coming down to play the Bullets next week. Can you get me tickets?”

“I’ll do my best.”

“Great, thanks. So what do you need, Myron?”

“The wheres and whys of about ten grand in hundred-dollar bills. Sequentially wrapped. Serial number B028856011A.”

“How fast you need it?”

“Soon as you can get it.”

“I’ll do my best. You take care, Myron.”

“You too, Fred.”

Myron held nothing back at practice. He let it all hang out. The feeling was awesome and overpowering. He entered his own zone. When he shot, it was like an invisible hand carried the ball to the cylinder. When he dribbled, the ball became part of his hand. His senses were heightened like a wolf’s in the wilderness. He felt like he’d fallen into some black hole and emerged ten years earlier at the NCAA finals. Even his knee felt great.

Most of practice consisted of a scrimmage between the starting five players and the five who saw the most bench time. Myron played his best ball. His jumper was popping. He came off screens strong and ready to shoot. He even drove straight down the lane twice—into the teeth of the big men’s domain—and came away the victor both times.

There were moments he completely forgot about Greg Downing and Carla/Sally/Roberta’s mangled corpse and the blood in the basement and the goons who jumped him and yes, even Jessica. An exhilarating rush like no other flooded his veins—the rush of an athlete at his peak. People talked about a runner’s high, a euphoria from a gland secretion when your body was pressed to its limit. Myron couldn’t relate to that, but he understood the incredible highs and plunging depths of being an athlete. If you played well, your whole body tingled and tears of pure joy came to your eyes. The tingles lasted well into the night when you lay in bed with no chance of sleep and replayed your finest moments, often in slow motion, like an overzealous sportscaster with his finger on the replay button. When you played poorly, you were surly and depressed and stayed that way for hours and even days. Both extremes were way out of proportion with the relevant importance of jamming a ball through a metallic circle or swatting a ball with a stick or throwing a sphere with great velocity. When you played poorly, you tried to remind yourself how stupid it was to get so caught up in something so meaningless. When you hit that rare high, you kept your internal big mouth shut.

As Myron dashed back and forth in the wave of basketball action, a thought sneaked in through the back door of his brain. The thought stayed on the fringes, hiding behind a couch, popping into view every once in a while before ducking back down again. You can do this, the thought taunted. You can play with them.

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