Fade Away Page 8

“He’s got a girlfriend,” Myron said.

“A professional basketball player shacking up with some nubile lass,” Win remarked. “Quite a revelation. Perhaps one of us should cry out, ‘Eureka.’ ”

“Yes, but it raises an interesting question,” Myron said. “If her boyfriend had suddenly vanished, wouldn’t said lover have reported it?”

“Not,” Win said, “if she were with him.”

Myron nodded. He told Win about the cryptic message from Carla.

Win shook his head. “If they were planning on running away,” he said, “why would she say where they were meeting?”

“She didn’t say where. Only in a back booth at midnight.”

“Still,” Win said. “It’s not exactly the kind of thing you do before you disappear. Let’s say that for some reason Carla and Greg decide to vanish for a little while. Wouldn’t Greg know where and when to meet her before the fact?”

Myron shrugged. “Maybe she was changing their meeting place.”

“From what? Front booths to back booths?”

“Damned if I know.”

They checked the rest of the upstairs. Not much doing. Greg’s son’s bedroom had racing-car wallpaper and a poster of Dad driving past Penny Hardaway for a layup. The daughter’s room was done in Early American Barney—dinosaurs and purple. No clues. In fact there were no other clues until they reached the basement.

When they turned on the lights, Myron saw it right away.

It was a finished basement, a brightly colored playroom for the kids. There were lots of Little Tikes cars and big Legos and a plastic house with a sliding board. There were scenes from Disney movies like Aladdin and The Lion King on the wall. There was a television and a VCR. There was stuff too for when the kids got a little older—a pinball machine, a jukebox. There were small rocking chairs and mattresses and knock-around couches.

There was also blood. A fair amount of it in drips on the floor. Another fair amount smeared on a wall.

Bile nestled in Myron’s throat. He had seen blood many times in his life, but it still left him queasy. Not so with Win. Win approached the crimson stains with something akin to amusement on his face. He bent to get a better look. Then he stood back up.

“Look at the bright side,” Win said. “Your temporary slot on the Dragons may become more permanent.”

Chapter 4

There was no body. Just the blood.

Using Glad sandwich bags he found in the kitchen, Win collected a few samples. Ten minutes later they were back outside, the lock on the front door reengaged. A blue Oldsmobile Delta 88 drove past them. Two men sat in the front seat. Myron glanced at Win. Win barely nodded.

“A second pass,” Myron said.

“Third,” Win said. “I saw them when I first drove up.”

“They’re not exactly experts at this,” Myron said.

“No,” Win agreed. “But of course, they hadn’t known the job would require expertise.”

“Can you run the plates?”

Win nodded. “I’ll also run Greg’s ATM and credit card transactions,” he said. He reached the Jag and unlocked it. “I’ll contact you when I have something. It shouldn’t take more than a few hours.”

“You heading back to the office?”

“I’m going to Master Kwon’s first,” Win said.

Master Kwon was their tae kwon do instructor. Both of them were black belts—Myron a second degree, Win a sixth degree, one of the highest ranking Caucasians in the world. Win was the best martial artist Myron had ever seen. He studied several different arts including Brazilian jujitsu, animal kung fu, and Jeet Kun Do. Win the Contradiction. See Win and you think pampered, preppy pantywaist; in reality, he was a devastating fighter. See Win and you think normal, well-adjusted human being; in reality, he was anything but.

“What are you doing tonight?” Myron asked.

Win shrugged. “I’m not sure.”

“I can get you a ticket to the game,” Myron said.

Win said nothing.

“Do you want to go?”


Without another word, Win slipped behind the wheel of his Jag, started the engine, peeled out with nary a squeal. Myron stood and watched him speed away, puzzled by his friend’s abruptness. But then again, to paraphrase one of the four questions of Passover: why should today be different than any other day?

He checked his watch. He still had a few hours before the big press conference. Enough time to get back to the office and tell Esperanza about his career shift. More than anyone else, his playing for the Dragons would affect her.

He took Route 4 to the George Washington Bridge. There was no waiting at the tolls. Proof there was a God. The Henry Hudson however was backed up. He swung off near Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center to get on Riverside Drive. The squeegee guys—the homeless men who “cleaned” your windshield with a mixture of equal parts grease, Tabasco sauce, and urine—were no longer at the light. Mayor Giuliani’s doing, Myron guessed. They had been replaced by Hispanic men selling flowers and something that looked like construction paper. He asked once what it was and had gotten an answer back in Spanish. As much as Myron could translate, the paper smelled nice and spruced up any home. Maybe that was what Greg used as potpourri.

Riverside Drive was relatively quiet. Myron arrived at his Kinney lot on 46th Street and tossed Mario the keys. Mario did not park the Ford Taurus up front with the Rolls, the Mercedes, Win’s Jag; in fact, he usually managed to find a cozy spot underneath what must have been a nesting ground for loose-stooled pigeons. Car discrimination. It was an ugly thing, but where were the support groups?

The Lock-Horne Securities building was on Park Avenue and 46th, perpendicular to the Helmsley building. High-rent district. The street bustled with the doings of big finance. Several stretch limos double-parked illegally in front of the building. The ugly modern sculpture that looked like someone’s intestines stood pitifully in its usual place. Men and women in business attire sat on the steps, eating sandwiches too hurriedly, lost in their own thoughts, many talking to themselves, rehearsing for an important afternoon meeting or rehashing a morning mistake. People who worked in Manhattan learned how to be surrounded by others yet remain completely alone.

Myron entered the lobby and pressed the button for the elevator. He nodded to the three Lock-Horne Hostesses, known to everyone else as the Lock-Horne Geishas. They were all model/actress wanna-bes, hired to escort high rollers up to the offices of Lock-Horne Securities and look attractive while doing it. Win had brought the idea home after a trip to the Far East. Myron guessed this could be more blatantly sexist, but he wasn’t sure how.

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