Fade Away Page 7

Win thought a bit. “Is she the one who used to make the little monkey noises?”

“No,” Myron said.

Win seemed surprised. “Who was the one who made the little monkey noises?”

“I have no idea.”

“Maybe it was someone I was with.”


Win considered this, shrugged. “What about her?”

“She used to be married to Greg Downing.”



“I remember her now,” Win said. “Emily Schaeffer. Built.”

Myron nodded.

“I never liked her,” Win said. “Except for those little monkey noises. They were rather interesting.”

“She wasn’t the one who made monkey noises.”

Win smiled gently. “The walls were thin,” he said.

“And you used to listen in?”

“Only when you pulled down the shade so I couldn’t watch.”

Myron shook his head. “You’re a pig,” he said.

“Better than a monkey.”

They reached the front lawn and proceeded to the door. The secret was to look like you belonged. If you scurried around back, hunched over, someone might take notice. Two men in ties approaching the door does not normally lead one to think thief.

There was a metal keypad with a little red light. The light was on.

“Alarm,” Myron said.

Win shook his head. “Fake. It’s just a light. Probably bought it at Sharper Image.” Win looked at the lock and made a tsk-tsk noise. “A Kwiktight brand on a pro basketball player’s salary,” he said, clearly disgusted. “Might as well use Play-Doh.”

“What about the dead bolt?” Myron asked.

“It’s not locked.”

Win already had out his strip of celluloid. Credit cards are too stiff. Celluloid worked much better—known as ’loiding the lock. In no more time than it would take with a key, the door was open and they were inside the front foyer. The door had a chute and the mail was all over the place. Myron quickly checked some postage dates. No one had been here in at least five days.

The decor was nice in a fake-rustic, Martha Stewart sort of way. The furniture was what they called “simple country” where the look was indeed simple and the price outrageous. Lots of pines and wickers and antiques and dry flowers. The smell of potpourri was strong and cloying.

They split up. Win went upstairs to the home office. He turned on the computer and began to download everything onto floppy disks. Myron found the answering machine in a room that used to be called a “den” but now went by such lofty titles as the “California room” or “great room.” The machine announced the time and date of each message. Awfully convenient. Myron pressed a button. The tape rewound and started playing. On the first message, which according to the digital voice was received at 9:18 P.M. the night Greg vanished, Myron hit bingo.

A shaky woman’s voice said, “It’s Carla. I’ll be in the back booth until midnight.” Click.

Myron rewound and listened again. There were lots of noises in the background—people chatting, music, glasses clinking. The call had probably been placed from a bar or restaurant, especially with that back-booth reference. So who was this Carla? A girlfriend? Probably. Who else would call that late to set up a meeting for even later that night? But of course this had not been just any night. Greg Downing had vanished sometime between the time this call was made and the next morning.

Strange coincidence.

So where did they meet—assuming Greg had indeed made their back-booth liaison? And why did Carla, whoever she might be, sound so shaky—or was this just Myron’s imagination?

Myron listened to the rest of the tape. No other messages from Carla. If Greg hadn’t shown up at said back booth, wouldn’t Carla have called again? Probably. So for now, Myron could safely assume that Greg Downing had seen Carla sometime before his disappearance.

A clue.

There were also four calls from Martin Felder, Greg’s agent. He seemed to grow more perturbed with each message. The last one said, “Jesus, Greg, how can you not call me? Is the ankle serious or what? And don’t go incommunicado on me now, not when we’re wrapping up the Forte deal. Call me, okay?” There were also three calls from a man named Chris Darby, who apparently worked for Forte Sports Incorporated. He too sounded panicked. “Marty won’t tell me where you are. I think he’s playing a game with us, Greg, trying to up the price or something. But we had a deal, am I right? Let me give you my home number, okay, Greg? How bad’s this injury anyhow?”

Myron smiled. Martin Felder’s client was missing, but he was doing all he could to turn it into a positive lever. Agents. He pressed the mode button on the answering machine several times. Eventually the LCD screen scrolled to reveal the code number Greg had set to call in for messages: 317. A fairly new trick of the trade. Now Myron could call in anytime, press 317, and hear what messages had been left on the machine. He hit the redial button on the phone. Another fairly new trick. Find out who Greg called last. The phone rang twice and was picked up by a woman saying, “Kimmel Brothers.” Whoever they were. Myron hung up.

Myron joined up with Win in the upstairs office. Win continued copying onto computer disks while Myron went through the drawers. Nothing particularly helpful.

They moved on to the master bedroom. The king-size bed was made. Both night tables were cluttered with pens and keys and papers.


Curious for a man who lived alone.

Myron’s eyes swept the room and landed on a reading chair that doubled as a dressing dummy. Greg’s clothes were strewn over one arm and the back. Normal enough, Myron guessed—neater than Myron, in fact, though that wasn’t saying much. But looking again, he noticed something a tad strange on the other arm of the chair. Two articles of clothing. A white blouse and a gray skirt.

Myron looked at Win.

“They might belong to Miss Monkey Noises,” Win said.

Myron shook his head. “Emily hasn’t lived here in months. Why would her clothes still be on a chair?”

The bathroom, too, proved interesting. A large Jacuzzi on the right, a big steam shower with a sauna, and two vanities. They checked the vanities first. One contained a can of men’s shaving cream, a roll-on deodorant, a bottle of Polo after-shave, a Gillette Atra razor. The other vanity had an open makeup case, Calvin Klein perfume, baby powder, and Secret Roll-On. A sprinkling of baby powder was on the floor near the vanity. There were also two disposable Lady Schick razors in the soap dish next to the Jacuzzi.

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