The Devil Knows You're Dead Page 21

 “Did you suspect him of it?”

 “Certainly not. I don’t even think he drank very much.”

 I asked about cash. Was there ever much around?

 “We keep substantial funds on deposit,” she said. “They would be listed as cash assets on a balance sheet. But I don’t suppose that’s what you mean.”

 “I was talking about currency,” I said. “Green money.”

 “ ‘Green money.’ Well, Mr. Scudder, my secretary keeps a petty-cash box in the top right-hand drawer of her desk. She dips into it when we have to tip a delivery boy. I suppose there’s fifty dollars in there on a good day, but it would take an extremely resourceful person to steal a quarter of a mil-lion dollars out of it.”

 “I think Holtzmann got his money in cash. If he found some way to steal from you it would have involved unwar-ranted payments to dummy accounts, and I don’t see any sign of any of that.”

 “That relieves my concern but not my curiosity. Where do you suppose he got the money?”

 “I don’t know.”

 “Maybe he just had it all along. Maybe his parents were wealthy, maybe they left him a really substantial amount of money, and he didn’t want anyone to know. He used some of the money to get through law school and he just kept the rest.”

 “In cash? There would be bank accounts, certificates of deposit. Unless it was already in cash when he inherited it.”

 “How could that be?”

 “Maybe it was fruit-jar money, untaxed cash his parents squirreled away that came to him upon their death. When is he supposed to have come to New York? Ten years ago?”

 “At least that long. I could have Enid look it up.”

 “It’s not important. Ten years. The bills I saw looked re-cent enough, but I didn’t check the series dates or the signa-tures, so—”

 “The bills you saw?”

 I hadn’t meant to let that out. “There was some cash in the apartment,” I said.

 “A substantial amount?”

 “I’d call it that.”

 We both fell silent. At length she asked me who my client was. I told her. She wanted to know if this meant that George Sadecki was innocent. Not necessarily, I said. It might only mean that he was guilty of killing a man with a secret. I might know more when I unearthed Glenn Holtzmann’s se-cret, but at this point all I’d managed to establish was that he had one.

 “He worked late frequently,” I said. “At least that’s what he told his wife. But if his work load was as light as you’ve said—”

 “I don’t know that he ever stayed at his desk past five o’clock.”

 “I wonder where he went.”

 “I’ve no idea.”

 “He had some evening appointments as well. Business appointments, but I gather the business wasn’t Waddell & Yount’s.”

 She shook her head. “This is all so incomprehensible to me,” she said. “I don’t think I’m particularly naive. But if there was ever an unlikely candidate for the title role in A Double Life, it was Glenn.”

 “I met him once.”

 “You hadn’t mentioned that.”

 “Well, it didn’t amount to much. My girlfriend and I saw them socially, him and his wife. That was in the spring. Then

 I ran into him a couple of times in the neighborhood. I live just a block from him. He wanted to talk to me about writing a book.”

 “Are you a writer?”

 “No, and I wasn’t at all interested, but the implication was that he’d be interested in publishing a book about my expe-riences. From what he’d already said about your firm I had the impression that you were strictly a reprint publisher.”

 “Yes, that’s correct.”

 “And I also had the impression that Glenn had no more in-terest in my writing a book than I did. He wanted something from me, and he didn’t want to let me know what it was. I was uneasy around him. He always seemed sneaky to me.”

 “Evidently your instincts were better than mine.”

 “Or maybe he didn’t have a hidden agenda here,” I sug-gested. “Maybe he saved his dark side for when he was away from the office.”

 She was the boss, she told me. If Glenn had had a dark side, or even a light side, he’d have been less likely to expose it to the woman who signed his paycheck. She took me around the office and introduced me to three of his fellow employ-ees, including the young woman in charge of foreign rights, and a brief conversation with each of them added nothing substantial to my store of knowledge. Lately his work had centered largely upon a proposed large-print book club, and the legal ramifications of requiring members to purchase a minimum number of books annually. I wound up learning a little more about the subject than I cared to know. I didn’t figure it had much to do with money in a strongbox, or gun-shots, and blood on the sidewalk.

 Back in Eleanor Yount’s office, she wanted to know my guesses on some of the case’s unanswerable questions. I told her it was too early in the game for guesses. There wasn’t enough to go on.

 “I was afraid you’d say that,” she said. “I’d like to know how this turns out, and I have the feeling I won’t get to read about it in the newspapers.”

 “You might.”

 “Even so, they won’t have the whole story, will they?”

 “They usually don’t.”

 “Will you come back and tell me? And of course I intend to have my accountant make very certain that W&Y didn’t pay for Glenn’s apartment. I’ll let you know if there are any irregularities. If you could let me have a card—”

 I gave her one of my cards. She said, “A name, a number, and nothing else. A minimalist business card. You’re an in-teresting man, Mr. Scudder. I don’t publish originals, but I’m friendly with just about everyone in this town who does, so if there should happen to be a book you’ve been wanting to write—”

 “There really isn’t.”

 “That’s remarkable,” she said. “I didn’t think there was a policeman or private detective anywhere in New York who wasn’t trying to get a book published. Nobody’s out looking for criminals these days. They’re all looking for an agent.”

 Chapter 15

 I had called Drew Kaplan earlier but he’d been in court. I called again from Waddell & Yount. His secretary said she’d spoken to him and he could see me in his office at three o’clock. And yes, she said, Mr. Kaplan had a safe in his of-fice. Her tone left me feeling faintly foolish for having asked.

 I called Lisa Holtzmann and listened again to Glenn’s voice. If I had to hear a voice from the grave, I would have preferred something a little more informative. All he did was tell me to leave a message. I waited him out and identified myself, and she picked up right away. I told her she had a three o’clock appointment with Drew Kaplan at his Court Street office.

 “Will you be able to come with me, Matt?”

 “I was planning on it,” I said. “I figured you might want company.”

 “I’d be nervous making the trip by myself.”

 I told her I’d be at her place at two, that that would leave us plenty of time. I had another call to make, to TJ’s beeper, but I didn’t want to loiter in the Waddell & Yount office wait-ing for a callback, nor did I think “Who wants TJ?” would go over well with the girl on the switchboard. I went out and called from the street, punched in my number at the tone, and waited for his call.

 After five minutes without a callback and a couple of dirty looks from passersby looking for a phone, I spent a quarter and called my hotel. The only slips in my box were a pair of calls from TJ. No message, just his beeper number. I fed the phone another quarter and called Elaine and got her machine. “It’s Matt,” I said. “Are you there?” When there was no response I said, “I’d like to see you tonight but things are starting to heat up. We could have dinner if I get done in time, or else I can come over late. I’ll call as soon as I have a better picture of my schedule.” It seemed as though there ought to be something to add to that, but I couldn’t think what, and then the tape ran out and saved me the trouble.

 I depressed the hook and held on to the receiver, hoping for TJ’s call. Of course he could have called while I was talking to my hotel or Elaine’s machine, in which case he’d have gotten a busy signal. I was thinking this through when a man in a dark suit and a porkpie hat asked me if I was go-ing to make my call or what. “Because if what you want’s a private office,” he said, “there’s buildings up and down Broadway got plenty of vacancies, more’n they know what to do with. Talk to ’em, they’ll fix you up with a desk, a chair, phone company’ll put in your own private phone.”


 “Hey, no problem,” he said, and dropped his own quarter in the slot.

 A block away I spent another quarter and called AA’s Inter-group office. I asked the volunteer who answered if there was a lunchtime meeting nearby. She sent me to a commu-nity center just off Union Square and I got there as they were reading the preamble. I sat down and stayed put for an hour, but I was barely aware of what they were saying. My mind was too busy with Glenn Holtzmann to have room for much else. Still, it was as good a place to think as any, and the cof-fee wasn’t bad, and the buck I put in the basket was as much as anyone expected from me. And if I’d declined to throw that in no one would have cared. Nobody suggested I go rent myself an office, nor did anyone advise the old fellow sleep-ing two rows in front of me to look for a hotel room.

 I got to Fifty-seventh and Tenth a few minutes early. There was a different doorman on duty, but when I gave him her name he was every bit as suspicious as the one the night before. I gave him my name as well and told him I was ex-pected, and once he’d confirmed this we were old friends.

 Up on Twenty-eight, she opened the door just as I knocked and closed it as soon as I’d cleared the threshold. She took hold of my arm just above the elbow and told me she was glad I was there. “You’re five minutes early,” she said, “and in the past ten minutes I must have looked at my watch twenty times.”

 “You’re anxious.”

 “I’ve been anxious ever since you left last night. The money made me nervous from the moment I discovered it, but it wasn’t entirely real until I showed it to you and we talked about it. I should have made you take it with you.”

 “Why would you want to do that?”

 “Because it kept me up most of the night. It just scared me, that’s all. At one point I decided it wasn’t safe in the closet, that was the first place they would look.”

 “The first place who would look?”

 “I have no idea. I hopped out of bed and got the box down from the shelf and stowed it under the bed. Then I de-cided that was the first place they’d look. I decided the money was dangerous and all I wanted was to be rid of it. I had the idea of opening the box and throwing all the money out the window.”

 “That’s some idea.”

 “You know what stopped me? I was afraid to open the window. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep from jump-ing. In fact I got so I was scared to stand close to the window even with it shut and locked. Heights don’t usually scare me, but it wasn’t the height, it was my own mind I was afraid of. Look at me.”

 “You look all right.”

 “Do I?”

 She looked fine to me. She was wearing tan flannel slacks, a moss-green turtleneck, a brass-buttoned navy blazer. She had lipstick on, and a little makeup. And she was wearing perfume, a woodsy scent.

 There was coffee made and I agreed we had time for a cup. After she’d poured it she went into the bedroom and came back with the strongbox. I took it from her and felt its weight, then set the dial to 511 and lifted the lid.

 She said, “You remembered the combination.”

 “I remember stuff.” I took out a stack of bills and flipped through them, giving them a close look. She asked, her voice rising, if there was anything wrong with the money. I told her the bills looked good to me. They weren’t counterfeit. They hadn’t been stuffed in fruit jars and buried out behind a stone barn somewhere in Pennsylvania, either. Some of them were older—hundreds circulate at a more sedate pace than smaller denominations, and take longer to wear out— but most bore dates within the past decade. They were not part of Holtzmann’s legendary patrimony. I told her I was glad she hadn’t thrown them out the window.

 “I was going to undo the wrappers,” she said, “so as not to hurt anybody. Imagine being killed by falling money.”

 “You wouldn’t want that on your conscience.”

 “No. But I thought how pretty it would look, all those bills floating through the air, tossed here and there by the breeze. And think of how many people I would have made happy.”

 “Even so,” I said.

 We went downstairs and hailed three cabs to find one willing to make the trip. Cabbies these days apply for a hack license as soon as they clear Immigration, and the first five words of English they learn are, “I don’t go to Brooklyn.” The first two showed off their command of the language and drove away smiling. The third, a Nigerian who’d grown up speaking English, had nothing to prove and was willing to go wherever we wanted. He didn’t know how to get there, but he took direction well.

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