Darkest Fear Page 19

Greg drove. He had one of those fancy SUV four-by-fours that are all the rage with New Jersey suburbanites whose idea of “off-road” is a speed bump at the mall. Très truck chic. For a long while neither man spoke. The tension in the air was more than the cut-with-a-knife variety; it pressed against the car windows, weighed Myron down, made him tired and gloomy.

“How did you get this name?” Greg asked.

“It’s not important.”

Greg left it alone. They drove some more. On the radio, Jewel earnestly insisted that her hands were small, she knew, but they were hers and not someone else’s. Myron frowned. Not exactly “Blowing in the Wind,” was it?

“You broke my nose, you know,” Greg said.

Myron kept quiet.

“And my vision hasn’t been the same. I’m having trouble focusing on the basket.”

Myron could not believe what he was hearing. “You blaming me for your crappy season, Greg?”

“I’m just saying—”

“You’re getting old, Greg. You’ve played fourteen seasons, and sitting out the strike didn’t help you.”

Greg waved a hand. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“You’re right.” Myron’s knob turned from Simmer to Boil. “I never got to play pro ball.”

“Right, and I never fucked my friend’s wife.”

“She wasn’t your wife,” Myron said. “And we weren’t friends.”

They both stopped then. Greg kept his eyes on the road. Myron turned away and stared out the passenger window.

Waterbury is one of those cities you bypass to reach another city. Myron had probably taken this stretch of 84 a hundred times, always remarking that at a distance Waterbury was a butt-ugly city. But now that he had the opportunity to see the city up close, he realized that he had underestimated the city’s offensiveness to the eyes, that indeed the city had a butt-ugly quality to it that you just couldn’t appreciate from afar. He shook his head. And people make fun of New Jersey?

Myron had gotten directions from the MapQuest Web site. He read them off to Greg in a voice he barely recognized as his own. Greg followed them in silence. Five minutes later, they pulled up to a dilapidated clapboard house in the middle of a street of dilapidated clapboards. The houses were uneven and crammed so close together, they looked like a set of teeth needing extensive orthodontic work.

They got out of the car. Myron wanted to tell Greg to stay back, but that would be pointless. He knocked on the door and almost immediately a gruff voice said, “Daniel? That you, Daniel?”

Myron said, “I’m looking for Davis Taylor.”


“No,” Myron said, yelling through the door. “Davis Taylor. But maybe he calls himself Daniel.”

“What are you talking about?” An old man opened the door, already in full-suspicious squint. He wore glasses too small for his face, so that the metal earpieces were embedded into the folds of skin beneath both temples, and a bad yellow wig, like something Carol Channing wore once too often, adorned his crown. He had on one slipper and one shoe, and his bathrobe looked as if it’d been trampled over during the Boer War.

“I thought you was Daniel,” the old man said. He tried to readjust the glasses, but they wouldn’t move. He squinted again. “You look like Daniel.”

“Must be the clouds in your eyes,” Myron said.


“Never mind. Are you Davis Taylor?”

“What do you want?”

“We’re looking for Davis Taylor.”

“Don’t know no Davis Taylor.”

“This is 221 North End Drive?”

“That’s right.”

“And there’s no Davis Taylor living here?”

“Just me and my boy Daniel. But he’s been away. Overseas.”

“Spain?” Myron asked. He pronounced it Spahhheeeeen. Elton would have been proud.


“Never mind.” The old man turned to Greg, tried again to readjust the glasses, gave another squint. “I know you. You play basketball, right?”

Greg gave the old man a gentle if not superior smile—Moses gazing down at a skeptic after the Red Sea parted. “That’s right.”

“You’re Dolph Schayes.”


“You look like Dolph. Helluva shooter. Saw him play in St. Louis last year. What a touch.”

Myron and Greg exchanged a glance. Dolph Schayes had retired in 1964.

“I’m sorry,” Myron said. “We didn’t catch your name.”

“You’re not wearing uniforms,” the old man said.

“No, sir, he only wears it on the court.”

“Not that kind of uniform.”

“Oh,” Myron said, though he had no idea why.

“So you can’t be here about Daniel. That’s what I mean. I was afraid you were with the army and …” His voice drifted off then.

Myron saw where this was going. “Your son is stationed overseas?”

The old man nodded. “Nam.”

Myron nodded, feeling bad now about the Elton John teasing. “We still didn’t catch your name.”

“Nathan. Nathan Mostoni.”

“Mr. Mostoni, we’re looking for someone named Davis Taylor. It’s very important we find him.”

“Don’t know no Davis Taylor. He a friend of Daniel’s?”

“Might be.”

The old man thought about it. “Nope, don’t know him.”

“Who else lives here?”

“Just me and my boy.”

“And it’s just the two of you?”

“Yep. But my boy is overseas.”

“So right now you live here alone?”

“How many different ways you gonna ask that question, boy?”

“It’s just that it’s a pretty big house,” Myron said.


“Ever take in any boarders?”

“Sure. Had a college girl just moved out of here.”

“What was her name?”

“Stacy something. I don’t remember.”

“How long did she live here?”

“About six months.”

“And before that?”

That one took some thought. Nathan Mostoni scratched his face like a dog going after his own belly. “A guy named Ken.”

“Did you ever have a tenant named Davis Taylor?” Myron asked. “Or something like that?”

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