Fade Away Page 68

Liz Gorman——>Bank Robbery——>Blackmail

Okay, she thought, follow the arrows. Liz Gorman and the Ravens needed funds, so they robbed the bank. That worked out. It explained the first arrow. That was a gimme anyway. The real problem was that second connection:

Bank Robbery——>Blackmail.

Simply put, what about the bank robbery had led her to the East Coast and her scheme to blackmail Greg Downing? She tried to write down possibilities.

1) Downing was involved in the bank robbery.

She looked up. It was possible, she surmised. He needed the money for gambling debts. He might do something illegal. But this hypothesis still did not answer the biggest question in all this: how did they meet? How did Liz Gorman and Greg Downing hook up in the first place?

That, she felt, was the key.

She wrote a number two. And waited.

What other link could there be?

Nothing came to mind so she decided to try it from the opposite end. Start with the blackmail and go back. In order to blackmail Downing, Liz Gorman had to have stumbled across something incriminating. When? Esperanza drew another arrow:

Bank Robbery<——>Blackmail

Esperanza felt something like a tiny pinprick. The bank robbery. Something they found at the bank robbery led to the blackmail scheme.

She quickly shuffled through the file, but she already knew that it wasn’t there. She picked up the phone and dialed. When the man answered, she said, “Do you have a list of the people who were renting safe-deposit boxes?”

“Somewhere, I guess,” he replied. “Why, you need it?”


Deep sigh. “All right, I’ll start looking. But tell Myron he owes me for this. Owes me big.”

When Emily opened the door, Myron said, “Are you alone?”

“Why, yes,” she replied with a coy smile. “What do you have in mind?”

He shoved past her. Emily stumbled back, her mouth an open circle of surprise. He headed straight for the foyer closet and opened it.

“What the hell are you doing?”

Myron did not bother answering. His hands pushed hangers left and right in a frenzy. It didn’t take long. He pulled the long overcoat with the frilly neck into view. “Next time you commit a murder,” he said, “dispose of the clothes you wore.”

She took two steps back, her hand fluttering toward her mouth. “Get out,” she hissed.

“I’m giving you one chance to tell the truth.”

“I don’t care what you’re giving. Get the fuck out of my house.”

He held up the coat. “You think I’m the only one who knows? The police have a videotape of you at the murder scene. You were wearing this coat.”

Her body slackened. Her face looked like she’d been on the receiving end of a palm strike to the solar plexus.

Myron lowered the coat to his side. “You planted the murder weapon at your old house,” he said. “You smeared blood in the basement.” He turned and half-pounced into the living room. The pile of tabloids was still there. He pointed at it. “You kept searching the papers for the story. When you read about the body being found, you made an anonymous call to the police.”

He glanced back at Emily. Her eyes were unfocused and glazed.

“I kept wondering about the playroom,” Myron said. “Why, I kept asking myself, would Greg go down there of all places after the murder? But of course that was the point. He wouldn’t. The blood could remain undetected for weeks if need be.”

Emily made two fists at her sides. She shook her head, finally finding her voice. “You don’t understand.”

“Then tell me.”

“He wanted my kids.”

“So you framed him for murder.”


“This isn’t the time to lie, Emily.”

“I’m not lying, Myron. I didn’t frame him.”

“You planted the weapon—”

“Yes,” she interrupted, “you’re right about all that. But I didn’t frame him.” Her eyes closed and reopened, almost like she was doing a minimeditation. “You can’t frame somebody for something they did.”

Myron stiffened. Emily stared at him stone faced. Her hands were still tightened into small balls. “Are you saying Greg killed her?”

“Of course.” She moved toward him, taking her time, using the seconds the way a boxer uses an eight count after a surprise left hook. She took the coat from his hands. “Should I really destroy it, or can I trust you?”

“I think you better explain first.”

“How about some coffee?”

“No,” Myron said.

“I need some. Come on. We’ll talk in the kitchen.”

She kept her head high and walked the same walk Myron had watched on the tape. He followed her into a bright white kitchen. The kitchen gleamed in tiled splendor. Most people probably thought the decor was to die for; Myron thought it resembled a urinal at a fancy restaurant.

Emily took out one of those new coffee presses people were using. “You sure you won’t have some? It’s Starbucks. Kona Hawaiian blend.”

Myron shook his head. Emily had regained her senses now. She was back in control; he’d let her stay there. A person in control talks more and thinks less.

“I’m trying to figure out where to begin,” she said, adding hot water to the press. The rich aroma immediately filled the air. If this was a coffee commercial, one of them would be saying “Ahhhh” right about now. “And don’t tell me to begin at the beginning or I’ll scream.”

Myron held up his hands to show he would do no such thing.

Emily pushed a little on the plunger, met resistance, pushed again. “She came up to me one day in the supermarket, of all places,” she said. “Out of the blue. I’m reaching for some frozen bagels, and this woman tells me she has uncovered something that could destroy my husband. She tells me that if I don’t pay up, she’s going to call the papers.”

“What did you say?”

“I asked her if she’d need a quarter for the phone.” Emily chuckled, stopped pressing, stood upright. “I figured it was a joke. I told her to go ahead and destroy the bastard. She just nodded and said she’d be in touch.”

“That was it?”


“When was this?”

“I don’t know. Two, three weeks ago.”

“So when did you hear from her next?”

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