Live Wire Page 19

“You heading back to your place at the Dakota?”

“Yes.”

“We got a man waiting there for Win. When he arrives, I want to have a little chat with him.”

“Good evening, Mr. Bolitar.”

“Good evening, Vladimir,” Myron said as he breezed by the Dakota doorman and passed through the famed wrought-iron gate. There was a cop car sitting out front, sent by Dimonte. When Myron arrived at Win’s apartment, the lights were low.

Win sat in his leather club chair with a snifter of cognac. Myron was not surprised to see him. Like most old buildings with a storied past, the Dakota held secret underground passageways. There was one Win had shown him that started in the basement of a high-rise near Columbus Avenue, another from a spot a block uptown bordering Central Park. Vladimir, Myron was sure, knew Win was here, but he wouldn’t say anything. The cops didn’t give Vladimir his Christmas bonus.

Myron said, “And here I thought you went out last night in search of casual sex. Now I found out it was to beat up Kyle.”

Win smiled. “Who said I couldn’t do both?”

“It wasn’t necessary.”

“The sex? Well, it never is, but that never stops a man, does it?”

“Funny.”

Win steepled his hands. “Do you think you’re the first guy Kyle dragged to that maroon room—or just the first to escape without a hospital visit?”

“He’s a bad guy, so what?”

“He’s a very bad guy. Three assault beefs in the past year—in all cases, witnesses from the club helped clear him.”

“So you took care of it?”

“It’s what I do.”

“Not your job.”

“But I so enjoy it.”

No point in getting into this now. “Dimonte wants to talk to you.”

“As I’m aware. But I don’t want to talk to him. So my attorney will contact him in about half an hour and tell him that unless he has an arrest warrant, we will not be chatting. End of story.”

“Would it help if I told you that you shouldn’t have done it?”

“Wait,” Win said, starting his mime act. “Before you start, let me tune up my air violin.”

“What exactly did you do to him anyway?”

“Did they find the Taser?” Win asked.

“Yes.”

“Where?”

“What do you mean, where? Next to his body.”

“Next to it?” Win said. “Oh. Well. He must have been able to help himself a little bit at least.”

Silence. Myron reached into the fridge and grabbed a Yoo-hoo. The television screen had the Blu-ray Disc logo bouncing across it.

“How did Kyle put it?” Win said, twirling the cognac in its snifter, his cheeks flushed red. “He will be pissing blood for a while. Maybe he broke a bone or two. But in the end he’ll recover.”

“But he won’t talk.”

“Oh no. He won’t ever talk.”

Myron sat. “You’re a scary dude.”

“Well, I don’t like to brag,” Win said.

“Still this was not a wise move.”

“Wrong. It was a very wise move.”

“How so?”

“There are three things you must remember. One”—Win lifted a finger—“I never hurt innocents, only those most deserving. Kyle fit that category. Two”—another finger—“I do this to protect us. The more fear I instill in people, the safer we are.”

Myron almost smiled. “That’s why you let yourself get caught on that street video,” he said. “You wanted everyone to know it was you.”

“Again I don’t like to brag, but, well, yes. Three,” Win said, holding up the third finger, “I always do it for reasons other than vengeance.”

“Like justice?”

“Like getting information.” Win picked up the remote and pointed it at the television. “Kyle was kind enough to provide me with all the surveillance tapes from last night. I’ve spent most of the day looking through them for both Kitty and Brad Bolitar.”

Whoa. Myron turned toward the screen. “And?”

“I’m still going through them,” Win said, “but so far, it isn’t good.”

“Explain.”

“Why explain when I can show?” Win poured a second snifter of cognac and showed it to Myron. Myron shook it off. Win shrugged, put the snifter down next to him, and pressed the play button on the remote. The screen’s bouncing logo vanished. A woman appeared. Win hit pause. “This is the best view of her face.”

Myron leaned forward. One of the fascinating things about surveillance videos was that they were shot from cameras set up high, so that you rarely got a great look at the face. This seemed counterintuitive, but perhaps there was no better alternative. This particular shot was a touch blurry, a close-up, and Myron imagined that someone had cropped and zoomed in on her face. Either way it ended any doubt about identity.

“Okay, so we know it’s Kitty,” Myron said. “What about Brad?”

“No sign of him.”

“So what—to use your vernacular—isn’t good?”

Win thought about that. “Well, perhaps ‘isn’t good’ was an ineffective way for me to have put it,” he said.

“How should you have put it?”

Win tapped his chin with his index finger. “Really, really bad.”

Myron felt the chill and turned back toward the screen. Win pressed another button on the remote. The camera zoomed out. “Kitty entered the club at ten thirty-three P.M. with approximately ten other people. Lex’s entourage, if you will.”

There she was, turquoise blouse, her face pale. The video was one of those that took pictures every two or three seconds so that the effect was jerky, like one of those flip books or old footage of Babe Ruth running the bases.

“This was taken in a small chamber off the VIP room at ten forty-seven P.M.”

Not long before he and Esperanza arrived, Myron thought. Win hit a skip button and reached a frozen image. Again the camera angle was from above. It was hard to see Kitty’s face. She was with another woman and a guy with long hair tied into a ponytail. Myron did not recognize them. The guy with the ponytail had something in his hand. A rope maybe. Win hit the play button and the actors in this little drama came to life. Kitty put out her arm. Ponytail leaned closer to her and wrapped the . . . nope, not rope . . . around her bicep and tied it off. Then he tapped her arm with two fingers and took out a hypodermic needle. Myron felt his heart sink as Ponytail put the needle in Kitty’s arm with a seemingly practiced hand, pushed the plunger, and untied the cord around her bicep.

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