Darkest Fear Page 21

“Are you saying he’s never shown any income?”

“Will you let me finish?”


“Two, he has virtually no paperwork. No driver’s license. One credit card, a Visa recently issued by his bank. It has very little activity. Only one bank account, with a current balance of under two hundred dollars.”

“Suspicious,” Myron said.


“When did he open the account?”

“Three months ago.”

“And before that?”

“Nada. At least nada that I’ve been able to come up with so far.”

Myron stroked his chin. “No one flies that far below the radar screen,” he said. “It has to be an alias.”

“I thought the same thing,” Esperanza said.


“The answer is yes and no.” Myron waited for the explanation. Esperanza tucked some loose tresses behind both ears. “It appears to be a name change.”

Myron frowned. “But we got his social security number, right?”


“And most records are kept by social security number, not name, right?”

“Another right.”

“So I don’t get it,” Myron said. “You can’t change your social security number. A name change might make you harder to find, but it wouldn’t wipe out your past. You’d still have tax returns and stuff like that.”

Esperanza turned both palms upward. “That’s what I mean by yes and no.”

“There’s no paperwork under the social security number either?”

“That’s correct,” Esperanza said.

Myron tried to digest this. “So what’s Davis Taylor’s real name?”

“I don’t have it yet.”

“I would have thought it’d be easy to locate.”

“It would,” she said, “if he had any records at all. But he doesn’t. The social security number has no hits. It’s as though this person hasn’t done a thing in his whole life.”

Myron thought about it. “Only one explanation,” he said.

“That being?”

“A fake ID.”

Esperanza shook her head. “The social security number exists.”

“I don’t doubt that. But I think someone pulled the classic tombstone-fake-ID trick.”

“That being?”

“You go to a graveyard and find the tombstone of a dead child,” Myron said. “Someone who would be about your age if he’d lived. Then you write and request his birth certificate and paperwork and voilà, you’ve set up the perfect fake ID. Oldest trick in the book.”

Esperanza gave him the look she saved for his most idiotic moments. “No,” she said.


“You think the police don’t watch TV, Myron? That doesn’t work anymore. Hasn’t worked in years, except maybe on cop shows. But just to make sure, I double-checked.”


“Death records,” she said. “There’s a Web site that has the social security numbers of all the deceased.”

“And the number isn’t there.”

“Ding, ding, ding,” Esperanza said.

Myron leaned forward. “This makes absolutely no sense,” he said. “Our phony Davis Taylor has gone to a great deal of trouble to create this phony ID—or at least to fly below the radar, right?”


“He wants no records, no paperwork, nothing.”

“Right again.”

“Even changes his name.”

“You go, boy.”

Myron put his arms out. “Then why would he sign up to be a bone marrow donor?”



“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Esperanza said.

True enough. He’d called last night and asked her to check out Davis Taylor. He had not yet told her why.

“I guess I owe you an explanation,” he said.

She shrugged.

“I sort of promised you I wouldn’t be doing this anymore,” he said.

“Investigating,” she said.

“Right. And I meant it. I wanted this to be a straight agency from now on.”

She didn’t respond. Myron glanced at the wall behind her. The sparse Client Wall again reminded him of a hair transplant that hadn’t taken. Maybe he should paint on a couple of coats of Rogaine.

“You remember Emily’s call?” he said.

“It was yesterday, Myron. My memory can sometimes go back a whole week.”

He explained it all. Some men—men Myron grudgingly admired—keep it all inside, bury their secrets, hide the pain, the whole cliché. Myron rarely did. He was not one to walk down the mean streets alone—he liked Win to be his backup. He didn’t grab a bottle of whiskey and drown his sorrows—he discussed them with Esperanza. Not very macho, but there you have it.

Esperanza stayed silent as he spoke. When he got to the part about being Jeremy’s father, she let out a small groan and closed her eyes and kept them shut for a very long time. When she finally opened them, she asked, “So what are you going to do?”

“I’m going to find the donor.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

He knew that. “I don’t know,” he said.

She thought about it, shook her head in disbelief. “You have a son.”

“Seems so.”

“And you don’t know what you’re going to do about it?”

“That’s right.”

“But you’re leaning,” she said.

“Win made a pretty good case for not saying anything.”

She made a sound. “Win would.”

“Actually he claims to be using his heart.”

“If only he had one.”

“You don’t agree?”

“No,” she said. “I don’t agree.”

“You think I should tell Jeremy?”

“I think first and foremost you should put aside your Batman complex,” she said.

“What the hell does that mean?”

“It means you always try a little too hard to be heroic.”

“And that’s bad?”

“Sometimes it clouds your thinking,” she said. “The heroic thing is not always the right thing.”

“Jeremy already has a family. He has a mother and a father—”

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