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He stopped, looked off.

“Joel?”

“Promise me,” Fishman said. “Promise me that if I help you, you won’t tell on me.” Tell on me. Like he was one of his students who cheated on a test. “Give me that chance, please. For the sake of my kids.”

“If you tell me all you know about this woman,” Myron said, “I won’t tell.”

“Give me your word.”

“You have my word.”

“I met her at the club three nights ago. She wanted to score. I set it up.”

“By set it up, you mean you gave her drugs.”

“Yes.”

“Anything else?”

“No, not really.”

“Did she tell you her name?”

“No.”

“How about a phone number? In case she wanted to score again?”

“She didn’t give me one. That’s all I know. I’m sorry.”

Myron was not buying it. “How much did she pay you?”

“Excuse me?”

“For the drugs, Joel. How much money did she give you?”

Something crossed his face. Myron saw it. Here came the lie. “Eight hundred dollars,” Fishman said.

“In cash?”

“Yes.”

“She was carrying eight hundred dollars?”

“I don’t take Visa or MasterCard,” he said with the chuckle of a liar. “Yes, of course.”

“And where did she give you the money?”

“At the club.”

“When you gave her the drugs?”

His eyes narrowed a little. “Of course.”

“Joel?”

“What?”

“Remember I showed you those still photographs?”

“What about them?”

“They came off surveillance videos,” Myron said. “Do you get my drift?”

Fishman’s face blanched.

“To put it grossly,” Myron said, “I saw fluids exchanged, not cash.”

Joel Fishman began to sob again. He put his hands in prayer position, the key chain between his fingers like rosary beads.

“If you’re going to lie to me,” Myron said, “I see no reason to keep my word.”

“You don’t understand.”

Again with the understand.

“What I did was terrible. I’m ashamed. I didn’t see the point in telling you that part. It doesn’t change anything. I don’t know her. I don’t know how to reach her.”

Fishman started wailing again, holding up the photo key chain now like wolfsbane to ward off a vampire. Myron waited, considered his options. He stood, crossed the room, and pocketed the gun. “I’m going to turn you in, Joel.”

The crying stopped. “What?”

“I don’t believe you.”

“But I’m telling you the truth.”

Myron shrugged and reached for the doorknob. “You also aren’t helping me. That was part of the deal.”

“But what can I do? I don’t know anything. Why would you punish me for that?”

Myron shrugged. “I’m bitter.” He turned the knob.

“Wait.”

Myron didn’t.

“Listen to me, okay? Just for a second.”

“No time.”

“Do you promise not to say anything?”

“What have you got, Joel?”

“Her cell number,” he said. “Just keep your word, okay?”

13

It’s a prepaid mobile phone,” Esperanza said. “No way to trace it.”

Damn. Myron pulled his Ford Taurus out of the cemetery lot. Big Cyndi was jammed into the seat so that it looked as though her air bag had gone off. Yep, a Ford Taurus. Exterior color: Atlantis Green Metallic. When Myron cruised by, supermodels swooned.

“Point of purchase was a T-Mobile store in Edison, New Jersey,” Esperanza said. “Paid with cash.”

Myron started to turn the car back around. Time to visit Joel Fishman for one more favor. Ol’ Crush would be delighted to see him.

“Something else,” Esperanza said.

“I’m listening.”

“Remember that weird symbol next to the ‘Not His’ post?”

“Yep.”

“Like you suggested, I put it on a fan page for HorsePower to see if anyone knew about it. A woman named Evelyn Stackman replied, but she won’t talk over the phone.”

“Why not?”

“She wouldn’t say. She wants to meet in person.”

Myron made a face. “Over some symbol?”

“That’s correct.”

“Do you want to handle it?” Myron asked.

“Maybe you didn’t hear me,” Esperanza said. “I said, she. She, as in a reluctant-to-talk female.”

“Ah,” Myron said. “So you figure, what, I could use my wiles and manly charm to seduce the information out of her?”

“Yeah,” Esperanza said, “let’s run with that.”

“Suppose she’s gay?”

“I thought you had the kind of wiles and manly charm that work on all preferences.”

“Yes, of course. My bad.”

“Evelyn Stackman lives in Fort Lee. I’ll set up the meet for this afternoon.”

She hung up. Myron turned the engine off. “Come on,” he said to Big Cyndi. “We’ll pretend to be parents of a middle schooler.”

“Oh, fun.” Then Big Cyndi seemed to consider that. “Wait, do we have a boy or girl?”

“Which would you prefer?”

“I really don’t care as long as he or she is healthy.”

They made their way back into the school. Two parents waited outside the classroom. Big Cyndi cued her tears for them, claiming that their “little Sasha” had a “French emergency” that would only take a second. Myron used the distraction to enter the classroom alone. No reason for Joel to see Big Cyndi and freeze up.

Not surprisingly, Joel Fishman was very unhappy to see him. “What the hell do you want?”

“I need you to call her and set up a meet.”

“Why would we meet?”

“How about—oh, I don’t know—pretending you’re a drug dealer seeing if she needs to score?”

Joel frowned. He was about to protest, but Myron just shook his head. Joel did a quick calculation and realized that the best way to get through this was to cooperate. He took out his cell phone. He had her in his contacts as “Kitty”—no last name. Myron kept his ear near the phone. When he heard the tentative, skittish “hello” on the other end of the line, his face fell. No doubt about it: The voice belonged to his sister-in-law.

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