Fade Away Page 74

“Help me find her killer, Cole.”

“Why the fuck should I trust you?”

“Me or the police,” Myron said. “It’s up to you.”

That slowed him. “The cops won’t do shit. They think she’s a murderer.”

“Then help me,” Myron said.

He sat back down on the floor and inched a bit closer to Myron. “We’re not murderers, you know. The government labeled us that and now everyone believes it. But it’s not true. You understand?”

Myron nodded. “I understand.”

Cole gave him a hard look. “You patronizing me?”


“Don’t patronize me,” Cole said. “You want me to stay and talk, don’t you dare patronize me. You stay honest—I’ll stay honest.”

“Fine,” Myron said. “But then don’t hand me the ‘we’re not killers, we’re freedom fighters’ line. I’m not in the mood for a verse of ‘Blowin’ in the Wind.’ ”

“You think that’s what I’m talking about?”

“You’re not being prosecuted by a corrupt government,” Myron said. “You kidnapped and killed a man, Cole. You can dress it up in all the fancy language you want, but that’s what you did.”

Cole almost smiled. “You really believe that.”

“Wait, don’t tell me; let me guess,” Myron said. He feigned looking up in thought. “The government brainwashed me, right? This whole thing has been a CIA plot to crush a dozen college students who threatened to undermine our government.”

“No,” he said. “But we didn’t kill Hunt.”

“Who did?”

Cole hesitated. He looked up and blinked back what looked like tears. “Hunt shot himself.”

His reddening eyes looked to Myron for a reaction. Myron remained still.

“The kidnapping was a hoax,” Cole went on. “The whole thing was Hunt’s idea. He wanted to hurt his old man so he figured what better way than to take his money and then embarrass the shit out of him? But then those assholes surprised us and Hunt chose another revenge.” Cole’s breathing grew deep and erratic. “He ran outside with the gun. He screamed, ‘Fuck you, Dad.’ Then he blew his own head off.”

Myron said nothing.

“Look at our history,” Cole Whiteman said, his voice a semi-plea. “We were a harmless group of stragglers. We protested at antiwar rallies. We got stoned a lot. We never committed one act of violence. None of us even had a gun, except for Hunt. He was my roommate and best friend. I could never hurt him.”

Myron didn’t know what to believe; more to the point, he didn’t have time now to worry about a twenty-year-old homicide. He waited for Cole to continue, to let him talk out the past, but Cole remained still. Finally, Myron tried to update the subject. “You saw Greg Downing go into Liz Gorman’s building?”

Cole nodded slowly.

“She was blackmailing him?”

“Not just her,” he corrected. “It was my idea.”

“What did you have on Greg?”

Cole shook his head. “Not important.”

“She was probably killed over it.”

“Probably,” Cole agreed. “But you don’t need to know the specifics. Trust me.”

Myron was in no position to push it. “Tell me about the night of the murder.”

Cole scratched at his stubble hard, like a cat on a post. “Like I said,” he began, “I was across the street. When you live underground, you have certain rules you live by—rules that have kept us alive and free for the last twenty years. One of them is that after we commit a crime, we never stay together. The feds look for us in groups, not individuals. Since we’ve been in the city, Liz and I have made sure we were never together. We only communicated by pay phone.”

“What about Gloria Katz and Susan Milano?” Myron asked. “Where are they?”

Cole smiled without mirth or humor. Myron saw the missing teeth and wondered if they were part of the disguise or something more sinister. “I’ll tell you about them another time,” he said.

Myron nodded. “Go on,” he said.

The lines in Cole’s face seemed to deepen and darken in the bare light. He took his time before continuing. “Liz was all packed and ready to go,” he said finally. “We were going to score the cash and get out of the city, just like I planned. I was just waiting across the street for her signal.”

“What signal?”

“After all the money was collected, she’d flicker the lights three times. That meant she’d be down in ten minutes. We were going to meet at One Hundred Sixteenth Street and take the One train out of here. But the signal never came. In fact, her light never went off at all. I was afraid to go check on her for obvious reasons. We got rules about that too.”

“Who was Liz supposed to collect from that night?”

“Three people,” Cole said, holding up the pointer, middle man, and ring man. “Greg Downing”—he dropped ring man—“his wife what’s-her-name—”


“Right, Emily.” The middle finger went down. “And the old guy who owns the Dragons.” His hand made a fist now.

Myron’s heart contracted. “Wait a second,” he said. “Clip Arnstein was supposed to show up?”

“Not supposed to,” Cole corrected. “He did.”

A black coldness seeped into Myron’s bones. “Clip was there?”


“And the other two?”

“All three showed up. But that wasn’t the plan. Liz was supposed to meet Downing at a bar downtown. They were going to make the transaction there.”

“A place called the Swiss Chalet?”


“But Greg showed up at the apartment too?”

“Later on, yeah. But Clip Arnstein arrived first.”

Win’s warning about Clip came back to him. You like him too much. You’re not being objective. “How much was Clip supposed to pay?”

“Thirty thousand dollars.”

“The police only found ten thousand in her apartment,” Myron said. “And those bills were from the bank robbery.”

Cole shrugged. “Either the old man didn’t pay her or else the killer took the money.” Then, thinking it through a little more he added, “Or maybe Clip Arnstein killed her. But he seems kind of old, don’t you think?”

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