Fade Away Page 41

“Why?” Win asked.

“It’s got something to do with Greg Downing. That’s all I know, I swear.”

“How much does Downing owe?”

“I don’t know.”

Win moved closer still. He pressed the barrel of the gun between the man’s eyes. “I rarely miss from this distance,” he said.

The man dropped to his knees. Win followed him down with the gun. “Please.” His voice was a pained plea. “I don’t know nothing else.” His eyes filled with tears. “I swear to God, I don’t.”

“I believe you,” Win said.

“Win,” Myron said.

Win’s eyes never left the man. “Relax,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure our friend here had confessed all. Confession is good for the soul, is it not?”

The man nodded hurriedly.

“Have you confessed all?”

More nods.

“You’re sure?”

Nod, nod.

Win lowered the weapon. “Go then,” he said. “Now.”

The man didn’t have to be told twice.

Chapter 18

Win looked down at the dead body as though it were a bag of peat moss. “We best depart.”

Myron nodded. He reached into his pants pocket and took out the cellular phone. A relatively new trick of the trade. Neither he nor Win had hung up after their call. The line was left open; Win had been able to hear everything that had gone on in the van. It worked as well as any bug or walkie-talkie.

They stepped into the cool night. They were on Washington Street. During the day the place was popping with delivery trucks, but at night it was completely silent. Someone would find a nasty surprise in the morning.

Win normally drove a Jaguar, but he had smashed a 1983 Chevy Nova into the van. Totaled. Not that it mattered. Win had several such vehicles he kept out in New Jersey to use for surveillance or activities just east of legal. The car was untraceable. The plates and paperwork were all phony. It would never lead back to anyone.

Myron looked at him. “A man of your breeding in a Chevy Nova?” He tsk-tsked.

“I know,” Win said. “Sitting in it almost gave me a rash.”

“If anyone at the club saw you …”

Win shuddered. “Do not even think such a thought.”

Myron’s legs still felt shaky and numb. Even as the B Man had reached down for his knee, Myron had known that Win would find a way to get to him. But the thought of how close he’d come to being crippled for life kept plucking at the muscles in his calves and thighs. He kept bending down and touching the bad knee, as if he couldn’t believe it was still there. Tears brimmed in his eyes as he looked at Win. Win saw them and turned away.

Myron followed behind him. “So how do you know this B Man?” he asked.

“He operates out of the Midwest,” Win said. “He is also a superb martial artist. We met in Tokyo once.”

“What sort of operation does he run?”

“The usual assorted sundries—gambling, drugs, loan sharking, extortion. A bit of prostitution too.”

“So what’s he doing here?”

“It appears that Greg Downing owes him money,” Win said, “probably from gambling. The B Man specializes in gambling.”

“Nice to have a specialty.”

“Indeed. I would assume that your Mr. Downing owes them a large sum of money.” Win glanced over at Myron. “That’s good news for you.”


“Because it implies that Downing is on the run rather than dead,” Win said. “The B Man is not wasteful. He wouldn’t kill someone who owes him a lot of money.”

“Dead men pay no debts.”

“Precisely,” Win said. “On top of that, he is clearly looking for Downing. If he killed him, he wouldn’t need you to find him.”

Myron considered this for a moment. “It sort of meshes with what Emily told me. She said Greg had no money. Gambling might explain that fact.”

Win nodded. “Kindly fill me in on what else has occurred in my absence. Jessica mentioned something about finding a dead woman.”

Myron told him everything. As he spoke, new theories rushed forward. He tried to sort through them and organize them a bit. When he finished the recap, Myron went right into the first one.

“Let’s assume,” he said, “that Downing does owe a lot of money to this B Man. That might explain why he finally agreed to sign an endorsement deal. He needs the money.”

Win nodded. “Go on.”

“And let’s also assume the B Man is not stupid. He wants to collect, right? So he would never really hurt Greg. Greg makes him money through his physical prowess. Broken bones would have an adverse effect on Greg’s financial status and thus his ability to pay.”

“True,” Win said.

“So let’s say Greg owes them a lot of money. Maybe the B Man wanted to scare him in another way.”


“By hurting someone close to him. As a warning.”

Win nodded again. “That might work.”

“And suppose they followed Greg. Suppose they saw him with Carla. Suppose they figured that Greg and Carla were close.” Myron looked up. “Wouldn’t killing her be a hell of a warning?”

Win frowned. “You think the B Man killed her to warn Downing?”

“I’m saying it’s possible.”

“Why wouldn’t he just break some of her bones?” Win asked.

“Because the B Man wasn’t personally on the scene yet, remember? He got in last night. The murder would have been the work of hired muscle.”

Win still didn’t like it. “Your theory is improbable, at best. If the murder was indeed a warning, where is Downing now?”

“He ran away,” Myron said.

“Why? Because he was afraid for his own life?”


“And did he run away immediately after learning Carla was dead?” Win asked. “On Saturday night?”

“That would be most logical.”

“He was frightened off then? By the murder?”

“Yes,” Myron said.

“Ah.” Win stopped and smiled at Myron.

“What?” Myron asked.

“Pray tell,” Win began with a lilt in his voice, “if Carla’s body was just discovered today, how did Downing know about the murder last Saturday night?”

Myron felt a chill.

“For your theory to hold up,” Win continued, “Greg Downing would have to have done one of three things. One, he witnessed the murder; two, he stumbled into her apartment after the murder; three, he committed the murder himself. Furthermore, there was a great deal of cash in her apartment. Why? What was it doing there? Was this money to help pay back the B Man? If so, why didn’t his men take it? Or better yet, why didn’t Downing take it back when he was there?”

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