Fade Away Page 71

Myron broke the eye contact. He walked toward the door. “Don’t destroy that coat.”

“You have no right to judge me.”

“Right now,” he said, “I don’t want to be near you.”

Chapter 33

Audrey was leaning against his car. “Esperanza told me you’d be here.”

Myron nodded.

“Jesus, you look like hell,” she said. “What happened?”

“Long story.”

“And one that you will soon tell me in riveting detail,” Audrey added. “But I’ll go first. Fiona White was indeed a Miss September in 1992—or as that particular rag calls it, the September Babe-A-Rama.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope. Fiona’s turn-ons include moonlit walks on the beach and cozy nights by a fireplace.”

He smiled in spite of himself. “My, what originality.”

“Her turn-offs include shallow men who only care about looks. And men with back hair.”

“Did they list her favorite movies?”

“Schindler’s List,” Audrey said. “And Cannonball Run II.”

He laughed. “You’re making this up.”

“All except the part about being the September Babe-A-Rama in 1992.”

Myron shook his head. “Greg Downing and his best friend’s wife,” he sighed. In a way, the news sort of buoyed him. Myron’s ten-year-old indiscretion with Emily no longer seemed quite so bad. He knew that he shouldn’t find comfort in such logic, but man takes solace where he can find it.

Audrey motioned toward the house. “So what’s up with the ex?”

“Long story.”

“You said that already. I got time.”

“I don’t.”

She held up her palm like a cop directing traffic. “Not fair, Myron. I’ve been a good girl. I’ve been running your errands and keeping my big mouth shut. Not to mention the fact that I got zippo from you for my birthday. Please don’t make me start with the exposure threats again.”

She was right. Myron gave her an abbreviated update, leaving out two parts: the Thumper videotape (no reason anyone had to know about that) and the fact that Carla was the infamous Liz Gorman (it was simply too big a story; no reporter could be trusted to keep it off the record).

Audrey listened intently. Her page-boy cut had grown a little too long in the front. Hairs dangled close to her eyes. She kept sticking out her lower lip and blowing strands off her forehead. Myron had never before seen this particular gesture done by anybody over the age of eleven. It was kind of sweet.

“Do you believe her?” Audrey asked, motioning again to Emily’s house.

“I’m not sure,” he replied. “Her story sort of makes sense. She had no motive to kill the woman, except to frame Greg and that’s reaching.”

Audrey tilted her head as if to say, maybe yes—maybe no.

“What?” he asked.

“Well,” she began, “isn’t there’s a chance that we’re looking at this from the wrong perspective?”

“What do you mean?”

“We assume that this blackmailer had dirt on Downing,” Audrey said. “But maybe she had dirt on Emily.”

Myron stopped, looked back at the house as though it held some answers, looked back at Audrey.

“According to Emily,” Audrey went on, “the blackmailer approached her. But why? She and Greg aren’t together anymore.”

“Carla didn’t know that,” Myron replied. “She figured Emily was his wife and would want to protect him.”

“That’s one possibility,” Audrey agreed. “But I’m not sure it’s the best one.”

“Are you saying that they were blackmailing her, not Greg?”

Audrey turned her palms skyward. “All I’m saying is that it could work the other way too. The blackmailer might have had something on Emily—something Greg would want to use against her in the child custody case.”

Myron folded his arms and leaned against the car. “But what about Clip?” he asked. “If they had something on Emily, why would he be interested?”

“I don’t know.” Audrey shrugged. “Maybe she had dirt on both of them.”

“Both of them?”

“Sure. Something that could destroy them both. Or maybe Clip thought whatever it was—even if it was about Emily—would distract Greg.”

“Any guesses?”

“Not a one,” Audrey said.

Myron mulled it over for a few seconds, but nothing came to him. “There’s a chance,” he said, “we’ll find out tonight.”


“The blackmailer called. He wants to sell me the information.”




“I don’t know yet. He’s going to call. I got my home line forwarded to the cellular.”

As if on cue, the cellular rang. Myron took it out of his pocket.

It was Win. “The dear professor’s schedule was posted on his office door,” he said. “He is in class for another hour. After that, he has open office hours so the kiddies can whine about grades.”

“Where are you?”

“On Columbia’s campus,” Win replied. “By the way, Columbia women are fairly attractive. I mean, for the Ivy Leagues and all.”

“Glad you haven’t lost your powers of observation.”

“Indeed,” Win said. “Have you finished speaking to our girl?”

Our girl was Emily. Win did not trust cellular phones with names. “Yes,” he said.

“Goodie. What time should I expect you then?”

“I’m on my way.”

Chapter 34

Win was sitting on a bench near the Columbia gate on 116th Street. He was wearing Eddie Bauer khakis, Top-Siders without socks, a blue button-down Oxford, and a power tie.

“I’m blending in,” Win explained.

“Like a Hasid at Christmas mass,” Myron agreed. “Is Bowman still in class?”

Win nodded. “He should be exiting that door in ten minutes.”

“Do you know what he looks like?”

Win handed him a faculty handbook. “Page two ten,” he said. “So tell me about Emily.”

Myron did. A tall brunette dressed in a black, skintight cat suit strolled by with her books pressed up against her chest. Julie Newmar on Batman. Win and Myron watched her closely. Meow.

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