Fade Away Page 47

The baseball bat was covered with blood.

Chapter 22

When Myron got back to the office, Esperanza was at the reception desk.

“Where’s Big Cyndi?” Myron asked.

“Having lunch.”

The image of Fred Flintstone’s car tipping over from the weight of his Bronto-ribs flashed in front of Myron’s eyes.

“Win filled me in on what’s been going on,” Esperanza said. She wore an aqua-blue blouse open at the throat. A gold heart on a slender chain dangled proudly against the dark skin of her sternum. Her always-mussed hair was slightly entangled in big hoop earrings. She pushed the hair back with one finger. “So what happened at the house?”

He explained about the cleaned-up blood and the baseball bat. Esperanza usually liked to do other things while she listened. She wasn’t right now. She stared square into his eyes. When she looked at you like that, there was such intensity it was sometimes hard to look back.

“I’m not sure I understand,” she said. “You and Win found blood in the basement two days ago.”


“Since then, someone cleaned up that blood—but they left behind the murder weapon?”

“So it appears.”

Esperanza considered this for a moment. “Could it have been a maid?”

“The police already checked on that. She hasn’t been there in three weeks.”

“Do you have a thought?”

He nodded. “Someone is trying to frame Greg. It’s the only logical explanation.”

She arched a skeptical eyebrow. “By planting and then cleaning up blood?”

“No, let’s start from the beginning.” He grabbed the chair and sat in front of her. He had been going over it in his mind the whole ride back, and he wanted to talk it out. In the corner on his left, the fax machine sounded its digitally primordial screech. Myron waited for the sound to subside. “Okay,” he said, “first I’m going to assume that the killer knew Greg was with Liz Gorman that night—maybe he followed them, maybe he was waiting for them near her apartment. Whatever, he knows they were together.”

Esperanza nodded, stood. She walked over to the fax machine to check the incoming transmission.

“After Greg leaves, the killer murders Liz Gorman. Knowing that Downing would make a good fall guy, he takes some blood from the murder scene and plants it at Greg’s house. That will raise suspicion. To put the icing on the cake, the killer also takes the murder weapon and plants it behind the dryer.”

“But you just said the blood was cleaned up,” she interjected.

“Right. Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Suppose, for example, I wanted to protect Greg Downing. I go into his house and find the blood. Now remember, I want to protect Greg from a murder rap. So what would I do?”

She squinted at the fax coming through. “Clean up the blood.”


“Wow, thanks. Do I get a gold star? Get on with it already.”

“Just bear with me, okay? I would see the blood and clean it up. But—and here’s the important part—the first time I was in that house I never saw the bat. That’s not just in this example. That’s real life. Win and I only saw the blood in the basement. No baseball bat.”

“Hold on,” she said. “You’re saying someone cleaned up the blood to protect Greg from a murder rap but didn’t know about the bat?”



“I don’t know.”

Esperanza shook her head. She moved back to her desk and hit some keys on her computer keyboard. “It doesn’t add up.”

“Why not?”

“Suppose I’m madly in love with Greg Downing,” she said, moving back to the fax machine. “I’m in his house. For some reason I can’t fathom, I’m in his kids’ playroom. Doesn’t matter where I am. Imagine I’m in my own apartment. Or I’m visiting your house. I could be anywhere.”


“I see blood on the floor or on the walls or wherever.” She stopped, looked at him. “What conclusion would you logically expect me to draw?”

Myron shook his head. “I don’t understand what you’re saying.”

Esperanza thought a moment. “Suppose you left here right now,” she began, “and went back to the bitch’s loft.”

“Don’t call her that.”

“Whatever. Suppose when you walked in, you found blood on her walls. What would be your first reaction?”

Myron nodded slowly. Now he saw what she was getting at. “I’d be worried about Jessica.”

“And your second reaction? After you found out she was okay?”

“Curiosity, I guess. Whose blood is it? How did it get there? That sort of thing.”

“Right,” she said with a quick nod. “Would you think to yourself, ‘Gee, I better clean it up before the bitch gets accused of murdering somebody’?”

“Stop calling her that.”

Esperanza waved him off. “Would you think that or not?”

“Not in that circumstance, no,” Myron said. “So in order for my theory to hold water—”

“Your protector had to know about the murder,” she finished for him, back checking her computer for something. “He or she would also have to know that Greg was somehow involved.”

Myron’s head spun with possibilities. “You think Greg killed her,” he said. “You think he went back to his house after the murder and left behind some traces of the crime—like blood in the basement. Then he sent this protector back to the house to help cover his tracks.”

Esperanza made a face. “Where the hell did you come up with that?”

“I just—”

“That’s not what I think at all,” Esperanza said. She stapled the fax pages together. “If Greg sent someone to get rid of the evidence, the weapon would be gone too.”

“Right. So that leaves us where?”

Esperanza shrugged, circled something on the fax page with a red marker. “You’re the great detective. You figure it out.”

Myron thought about it a moment. Another answer—one he prayed was wrong—came to him all at once. “There’s another possibility,” he said.


“Clip Arnstein.”

“What about him?”

“I told Clip about the blood in the basement,” Myron said.

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