The Devil Knows You're Dead Page 18

 “What do you mean?”

 “I mean there’s no mortgage,” she said. “I own the apart-ment free and clear. There was never a mortgage. Glenn bought it outright for cash.”

 “Maybe that’s what he was saying, that there was no lien against the property.”

 “No, he was very specific. He explained exactly what the policy was and how it worked. It was reducing term insur-ance, with the amount of coverage decreasing each year as the mortgage was amortized. It was all very clear, and it was all a complete fabrication. He did have insurance coverage, as a matter of fact, a group policy at work and a whole-life policy he took out on his own, both with me as sole benefici-ary. But he didn’t have any reducing term insurance, and there was never any mortgage.”

 “I gather he handled the family finances.”

 “Of course. If I had been paying the bills each month—”

 “You would have noticed there was no mortgage payment to make.”

 “He took care of everything,” she said. She started to say something else, then stopped and got to her feet. She went over to the window. It was fully dark now, and you could see stars. You can’t always see them over New York, even on clear nights, because of the pollution. But they sparkled now, thanks to the clean Canadian air.

 She said, “I don’t know if I should tell you.”

 “Tell me what?”

 “I wonder if I can trust you.” She turned around and fas-tened those big blue eyes on me. They looked trusting enough. There was precious little calculation in their gaze. “I wish I could hire you,” she said. “But you’ve already got a client.”

 “Do you think your interests are opposed to his?”

 “I don’t know what my interests are.”

 I waited for more. When she didn’t say anything I asked her how her husband had been able to buy the apartment for cash.

 “I don’t know,” she said. “He had money he’d inherited on the death of his parents, that’s how he’d been able to afford the down payment. He said.”

 “Maybe there was enough family money so that he didn’t need a mortgage.”


 “And maybe he was secretive about it because he didn’t want to let you know that you were married to a wealthy man. Some rich people are like that, afraid they’ll be loved for their money alone. And if there was a great discrepancy between your net worth and his—”

 “Mine was about a dollar ninety-eight.”

 “Well, that might explain it.”

 “Then where’s the money?” she demanded. “If he was rich, shouldn’t there be bank accounts, CDs, stocks and bonds? I can’t find any of that. There are the insurance poli-cies, I told you about them, and there’s a few thousand dol-lars in a checking account, and that’s it.”

 “There may be other resources you aren’t aware of yet. He could have had a safe-deposit box you don’t know about, or brokerage accounts, or any number of things. If no money turns up in the next few months I’ll grant it’s a strange situa-tion, but it’ll take that long to tell what’s out there.”

 “Some money did turn up,” she said.


 She took a deep breath, let it out, and made her decision. She went into another room and came back a moment later with a metal strongbox about the size of a shoe box.

 “I found this in the closet,” she said, “just a couple of days ago. I was thinking that I ought to go through his things and give his clothes to the Goodwill. And I found this on the top shelf. I didn’t know the combination and I was going to try to break it open with a hammer and screwdriver, and then I realized it was just a three-number dial so there could only be a thousand combinations, and if I started with three ze-roes and ran the numbers in turn up to nine ninety-nine, well, how long could it take? And what else did I have to do? Then when I hit the number I started to cry, because it was five-one-one, and that’s our anniversary, May eleventh, five-eleven. I looked at the dial and I started to cry, and I was still crying as I lifted the lid.”

 “What did you find?”

 For answer she worked the dial and opened the box and showed it to me half-filled with banded stacks of bills. The ones I could see were all hundreds.

 “I was expecting stock certificates and personal papers,” she said. “But after all that buildup you must have known what I was going to show you.”

 “Not necessarily.”

 “What else could it have been?”

 Dozens of things, I thought. A secret diary. A drug stash, for sale or for personal use. Pornography. A gun. Audio tapes. Company secrets. Love letters, old or new. Heirloom jewelry. Anything.

 “I figured it was probably money,” I said.

 “I counted it,” she said. “There’s close to three hundred thousand dollars here.”

 “And nothing to indicate where it came from.”


 “I don’t suppose it’s what’s left of his inheritance.”

 “I don’t know if there was any inheritance. For all I know his parents are still alive. Matt, I’m frightened.”

 “Has anybody tried to throw a scare into you?”

 “What do you mean?”

 “Any strange phone calls?”

 “Just reporters, and not many of those this past week. Who else would call?”

 “Somebody who wants his money back.”

 “You think Glenn stole this?”

 “I don’t know how he got it,” I said, “or where it came from, or how long he’s had it. I’m not sure it’s a good idea for you to keep it around the house.”

 “That occurred to me, but I’m not sure where I can put it, either.”

 “Don’t you have a safe-deposit box?”

 “No, because I never had anything valuable enough to keep in one.”

 “You do now.”

 “But is it a good idea? If there’s an IRS investigation—”

 “You’re right. Wherever this came from, it’s a pretty sure bet he didn’t pay taxes on it. If they run an audit they’ll get a court order to open any boxes in either of your names.”

 “Do you have a box? If you were to hold it for me—”

 I shook my head. A few minutes ago she was unsure whether or not to trust me with the information. Now she wanted to hand me the money. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” I said. “Do you have a lawyer?”

 “Not really. There was a guy on East Broadway I used once when I had a hassle with my old landlord, but I don’t really know anything about him.”

 “Well, there’s somebody I can recommend. He’s across the Brooklyn Bridge, but I think he’s worth the trip. I can give you his number, or if you want I could call him for you.”

 “Would you?”

 “First thing tomorrow. He’ll give you good advice, and he can probably keep the money in his safe. It’ll be more secure there than in your closet, and I think attorney-client privilege would apply. I’ll have to ask him about that.”

 “And until then—”

 “Until then it can stay in the closet. It’s been safe there so far, and I’m not going to tell anyone it’s there.”

 “I’ll be glad when it’s out of here,” she said. “I’ve been nervous ever since I found it.”

 “I’d be nervous myself,” I said. “It’s a lot of money. But I don’t think you should give it to the Goodwill.”

 Chapter 13

 “Do you know,” Mick said, “my mother always swore I had the second sight, and sometimes I believe the good woman was right. I was just now thinking I ought to give you a call. And here you are.”

 “I just dropped in to use the phone,” I said.

 “Did you now? When I was just a bit of a boy, there was a woman a flight up from us sent me every day to Feather-stone’s on the corner to fetch her a bucket of beer. They’d sell it to you like that then, by the pail. A little galvanized-iron pail it was, about so big. They filled it up for her for a dollar, and she paid me a quarter to run the errand.”

 “And that’s how you got your start.”

 “Saving those twenty-five cent pieces,” he said, “and in-vesting them wisely. And look where I am today. No, sad to say, I spent the money on candy. A terrible sweet tooth I had in those days.” He shook his head at the memory. “The point of the story—”

 “You mean there is one?”

 “—is that the woman wouldn’t have you thinking she ever drank the beer. ‘Mickey, there’s a good lad, and would ye ever run down to Featherstone’s for me, as I need to be washin’ me hair.’ I asked my mother how come Mrs. Riley used beer to wash her hair. ‘It’s her belly she’s after washin’,’ says herself, ‘for if Biddie Riley washed her hair for every bucket of beer she bought, she’d wash herself baldheaded.’ ”

 “That’s the point?”

 “The point is she only wanted the beer for a hair rinse, and you’re only here to use the fucking telephone. Have ye no phone in your room?”

 “You found me out,” I said. “I actually dropped in for a wash and set.”

 He clapped me on the shoulder. “If you’ve a call to make,” he said, “use the phone in my office. You don’t want the whole world listening.”

 There were three men at the bar and one behind it. Andy Buckley and a man I recognized but didn’t know by name were playing darts in back, and two or three tables were oc-cupied. So the whole world wouldn’t have heard if I’d used the pay phone on the wall, but I was grateful all the same for the privacy of his office.

 It is a good-sized room, with an oak desk and chair and a green metal filing cabinet. There was a huge old Mosler safe, no doubt at least as sturdy as the one in Drew Kaplan’s law office, but unprotected by lawyer-client privilege. Hand-colored steel engravings in plain black frames formed two groups on the wall. Those over the desk were of the west of Ireland, where his mother’s people had come from. The ones over the old leather couch showed scenes in the south of France, once home to his father.

 The phone on the desk had a rotary dial, but that was all right because I wasn’t calling TJ’s beeper. I called Jan, and for a change I actually reached her instead of her machine. She said hello, her voice thick with sleep.

 “I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t realize it would be too late to call you.”

 “It’s not. I was reading and I dozed off with the book on my lap. I’m glad you called. I’ve been thinking about the conversation we had the other day.”


 “And it occurred to me that I might have overstepped the bounds of our friendship.”


 “By putting you in an awkward position. By asking some-thing I had no right to ask.”

 “I would have said something.”

 “Would you? I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not. You might have felt under an obligation. At any rate, I wanted to call and give you another chance.”

 “To do what?”

 “To tell me to go fly a kite.”

 “Don’t be silly,” I said. “Unless you’ve been having sec-ond thoughts.”

 “About wanting the—”

 “The item.”

 “The item. Ah. That’s what we’re calling it?”

 “On the phone, yes.”

 “I see. No, no second thoughts. I still want the item.”

 “Well,” I said, “it turns out to be a little harder to get hold of than I’d thought, but I’m working on it.”

 “I didn’t want to rush you. I just wanted to give you a graceful way out, if you wanted to take it. After all, that’s what this is about, isn’t it?”


 “A graceful way out.”

 I asked her how she was feeling.

 “Not bad,” she said. “And wasn’t it a beautiful day? That’s why I kept being out when you called. I couldn’t bear to stay inside. I love October, but I guess everybody does.”

 “Everybody with any sense.”

 “And how are you, Matthew?”

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies