Fade Away Page 37

“The timing?”

“Yes,” she said. “Why now? Why sign you so late in the season? The answer is obvious really. There is only one thing about the timing that stands out.”

“And that is?”

“Downing’s sudden disappearance.”

“He didn’t disappear,” Myron corrected. “He’s injured. That’s your precious timing. Greg got hurt. A spot opened up. I filled it.”

Audrey smiled and shook her head. “Still want to play dumb, huh? Fine, go ahead. You’re right. Downing is supposed to be injured and in seclusion. Now I’m good, Myron, and for the life of me I can’t find this secluded spot of his. I’ve called in all my best contacts and I can’t get anything. Don’t you find that a bit odd?”

Myron shrugged.

“Maybe,” she went on, “if Downing really craved seclusion to fix his injured ankle—an injury which doesn’t show up on any game tape, by the way—he could find a way. But if all he’s doing is working on an injury, why work so hard at it?”

“So pain in the asses like you don’t bother him,” Myron said.

Audrey almost laughed at that one. “Said with such conviction, Myron. It’s almost like you believe it.”

Myron said nothing.

“But let me just add a few more points and then you can stop playing dumb.” Audrey counted them off on ringless, slightly callused fingers. “One, I know you used to work for the feds. That gives you some background in investigative work. Two, I know Downing has a habit of vanishing. He’s done it before. Three, I know Clip’s situation with the other owners. The big vote is coming up. Four, I know you visited Emily yesterday and I doubt you were there to restoke the flames.”

“How did you know about that?” Myron asked.

She just smiled and put her hand down. “Add them up and there’s only one conclusion: you are looking for Greg Downing. He’s missing again. This time however the timing is much more critical; Clip’s ownership vote and the playoffs are coming up. Your job is to find him.”

“You got a hell of an imagination, Audrey.”

“I do at that,” she agreed, “but we both know I got this right so let’s end playing dumb and cut to the heart of it: I want in.”

“Want in.” Myron shook his head. “You reporters and your lingo.”

“I don’t want to give you up,” she continued. Her knee was still up on the seat. Her face was as bright and expectant as a school kid’s waiting for the final bell in May. “I think we should team up. I can help. I got great sources. I can ask questions without worrying about blowing my cover. I know this team inside and out.”

“And what exactly do you want for this help?”

“The full story. I’m the first reporter to know where he is, why he vanished, whatever. You promise to tell only me; I get the full exclusive.”

They passed several sleazy motels and a potpourri of gas stations on Route 4. No-tell motels in New Jersey always gave themselves lofty names that belied their social station. Right now, for example, they were driving past the “Courtesy Inn.” This fine establishment not only gave you courteous attention, but they gave it to you by the hour at a rate, according to the sign, of $19.82. Not twenty dollars, mind you, but $19.82—so priced, Myron guessed, because it was also the year they last changed sheets. The CHEAP BEER DEPOT, according to another sign, was the next building on Myron’s right. Truth in advertising. Nice to see. The Courtesy Inn could learn a lesson from them.

“We both know I could report it now,” she said. “It’d still be a pretty good scoop—reporting that Downing wasn’t really injured and you’re just here to find him. But I’d be willing to trade it in for a larger story.”

Myron thought it over as he paid the toll. He glanced at her expectant face. She looked wild-eyed and wild-haired, kind of like the refugee women coming off the boat in Palestine in the movie Exodus. Ready to do battle to claim her homeland.

“You have to make me a promise,” he said.


“No matter what—no matter how incredible the story seems—you won’t jump the gun. You won’t report any of it until he’s found.”

Audrey nearly leapt from her seat. “What do you mean? How incredible?”

“Forget it, Audrey. Report whatever you want.”

“All right, all right, you have a deal,” she said quickly, hands raised in surrender. “You had to know saying something like that would pique my interest.”

“You promise?”

“Yeah, yeah, I promise. So what’s up?”

Myron shook his head. “You first,” he said. “Why would Greg vanish?”

“Who knows?” she replied. “The man is a professional flake.”

“What can you tell me about his divorce?”

“Just that it’s been acrimonious as all hell.”

“What have you heard?”

“They’ve been battling over the kids. They’re both trying to prove the other is an unfit parent.”

“Any details on how they’re going about that?”

“No. It’s been kept pretty hush-hush.”

“Emily told me Greg had pulled some sleazy tricks,” Myron said. “Do you know anything about that?”

Audrey chewed on her bottom lip for a few moments. “I heard a rumor—a very unsubstantiated rumor—that Greg hired a private eye to follow her.”


“I don’t know.”

“To film her maybe? Catch her with another man?”

She shrugged. “It’s just a rumor. I don’t know.”

“You know the P.I.’s name, or who he works for?”

“Rumor, Myron. Rumor. A pro basketball player’s divorce is hardly earth-shattering sports news. I didn’t follow it that closely.”

Myron made a mental note to check Greg’s files for any payment to an investigation firm. “How was Greg’s relationship with Marty Felder?”

“His agent? Good, I guess.”

“Emily told me Felder had lost Greg millions.”

She shrugged. “I’ve never heard anything about that.”

The Washington bridge was fairly clear. They stayed to the right and took the Henry Hudson Parkway south. On their right, the Hudson River sparkled like a blanket of black sequins; on their left was a billboard with Tom Brokaw displaying his friendly yet firm smile. The caption under his picture read: “NBC News—Now More Than Ever.” Very dramatic. What the hell did it mean?

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