The Final Detail Page 40

be wondering."

"Ah, but don't you like a little mystery?"

"? like mystery in lots of arenas. But when it comes to trouser content, well, I'm a pretty traditional guy."

Thrill shrugged. "I still don't understand why you're here."

"I'm looking for someone." He took out a photograph of Clu Haid and showed it to her. "Do you know him?"

Thrill looked at the photograph and frowned. "I thought you said you're a sports agent."

"I am. He was a client."

"Was?"

"He was murdered."

"He's the baseball player?"

Myron nodded. "Have you seen him here?"

Thrill grabbed a piece of paper and wrote something down. "Here's my phone number, Myron. Call me sometime."

"What about the guy in the photograph?"

Thrill handed him the scrap of paper, jumped off the stool, and undulated away. Myron watched her movements closely, looking for, umm, a concealed weapon. Big Cyndi elbowed him. He almost fell off the stool.

"This is Pat," Big Cyndi said.

Pat the bartender looked like someone Archie Bunker might have hired to work his place. He was mid-fifties, short, gray-haired, slouch-shouldered, world-weary. Even his mustache-one of those gray-turning-to-yellow models-drooped as though it'd seen it all. Pat's sleeves were rolled up, revealing Popeye-size forearms covered with hair. Myron hoped like hell Pat was a guy. This place was giving him a headache.

Behind Pat was a giant mirror. Next to that, a wall with the words Customer Hall of Fame painted in pink. The wall was covered with framed head shots of big-time right-wingers. Pat Buchanan. Jerry Falwell. Pat Robertson. Newt Gingrich. Jesse Helms.

Pat saw him looking at the photographs. "Ever notice that."

"Notice what?"

"How all the big antifags have sexually ambiguous first names? Pat, Chris, Jesse, Jerry. Could be a guy, could be a girl. See what I'm saying?"

Myron said, "Uh-huh."

"And what kind of name is Newt?" Pat added. "I mean, how the hell do you grow up with a healthy sexual attitude with a name like Newt?"

"I don't know."

"My theory?" Pat shrugged, wiped the bar with a dish-rag. "These narrow assholes were all teased a lot as children. Makes them hostile on the whole gender issue."

"Interesting theory," Myron said. "But isn't your name Pat?"

"Yeah, well, I hate fags too," Pat said. "But they tip well"

Pat winked at Big Cyndi. Big Cyndi winked back. The jukebox changed songs. Lou Rawls crooned "Love Is in the Air." Timing.

The right-wing head shots were all "autographed." Jesse Helms's read: "I'm sore all over, Love and kisses, Jesse." Blunt. Several Xs and Os followed. There was also a big lipstick kiss impression as though Jesse himself had puckered up and laid down a wet one. Eeeuw.

Pat started cleaning out a beer mug with the dishrag. Casually. Myron half expected him to spit in it like in an old western. "So what can I get you?"

"Are you a sports fan?" Myron asked.

"You taking a poll?"

That line. It was always such a riot. Myron tried again.

"Does the name Clu ttaid mean anything to you?"

Myron watched for a reaction but didn't get one. Meant nothing. The guy looked like a lifetime bartender. They show about as much range as a Baywatch regular. Hmm. Now why was that show on his mind?

"I asked you-"

"Name means nothing to me."

Big Cyndi said, "Please, Pat."

He shot her a look. "You heard me, Big C. I don't know him."

Myron pressed it. "Never heard of Clu Haid?"

"That's right."

"How about the New York Yankees?"

"I haven't followed them since the Mick retired."

Myron put the photograph of Clu Haid on the bar. "Ever seen him in here?"

Someone called out for a draft. Pat drew it. When he came back, he spoke to Big Cyndi. "This guy a cop?"

"No," Big Cyndi said.

"Then the answer is no."

"And if I was a cop?" Myron asked.

"Then the answer would be no... sir." Myron noticed that Pat had never so much as glanced at the photograph. "I might also add a little song and dance about how I'm too busy to notice faces in here. And how most peopie, especially celebrities, don't show their real faces in here anyway."

"I see," Myron said. He reached into his wallet, took out a fifty. "And if I showed you a photograph of Ulysses S. Grant?"

The jukebox changed songs. The Flying Machine started crooning for Rosemarie to "smile a little smile for me, Rosemarie." The Flying Machine. Myron had remembered the group's riame. What did that say about a man?

"Keep your money," Pat said. "Keep your picture. Keep your questions. I don't like trouble."

"And this guy means trouble?"

"I haven't even looked at the picture, pal. And I don't plan to.

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