Darkest Fear Page 32

“To keep her from telling the truth?”

“Again that Duke education.”

“But that makes no sense. She was killed after the plagiarism was discovered, right?”

“Right after, yeah.”

“So it was too late by then. Everyone thinks he’s guilty already. He’s lost his job. He’s disgraced. If his mistress now comes out and says ‘Yeah, I lied,’ it wouldn’t really change a thing. What would Stan have gained by killing her?”

Bruce shrugged. “Maybe her retraction would have removed any doubt.”

“But there’s not much doubt there anyway.”

The bartender came over. Bruce ordered a sandwich. Myron shook him off. “Can you find out where Stan Gibbs is hiding?”

Bruce waved down the bartender again. “I already know.”

“How?”

“He was my friend.”

“Was or is?”

“Is, I guess.”

“You like him?”

“Yeah,” Bruce said. “I like him.”

“Yet, you still think he did it.”

“Murder, probably not. Plagiarize …” He shrugged. “I’m a cynical guy. And just because a guy is a friend of mine doesn’t mean he can’t do dumb things.”

“Will you give me his address?”

“Will you tell me why?”

Myron sipped his flat club soda. “Okay, this is the part where you say you want to know what I have. Then I say I have nothing and when I do, you’ll be the first to know. Then you get kinda huffy and say I owe you and that’s not good enough, but in the end you take the deal. So why don’t we skip all that and just give me the address?”

“Will I still get my sandwich?”

“Sure.”

“Fine, then,” Bruce said. “Doesn’t matter. Stan hasn’t talked to anyone since he resigned—not even his close friends. What makes you think he’ll talk to you?”

“Because I’m a witty dinner companion and natty dresser?”

“Yeah, that.” He turned to Myron and looked at him heavily. “Now, this is the part where I tell you that if you find anything, anything, that suggests that Stan Gibbs is being set up, you tell me because I’m his friend and I’m a reporter hungry for a big story.”

“Not to mention a sandwich.”

No smile. “You got me?”

“Got you.”

“Anything you want to tell me now?”

“Bruce, I got less than nothing. It’s just a thread I need to snip away.”

“You know Cross River in Englewood?”

“A mid-eighties condo development that looks like something out of Poltergeist.”

“Twenty-four Acre Drive. Stan just came back to the area. He’s renting there.”

17

The Morning Mosh was not really the establishment’s name. Located in a converted warehouse downtown on the West Side, the Mosh had a neon sign that changed as the day went on. The word Mosh stayed lit all the time, but in the morning it blinked Morning Mosh, then Mid-Day Mosh (as it now read) and later on, Midnight Mosh. And that’s Mosh, not Nosh. Myron had expected a bagel store. But the letter was M, not N, and this place was Mosh. As in Mosh Pit. As in some retro heavy-metal band minus the talent blaring sounds that could strip paint while kids danced—and we’re using that term in its loosest form here—in a pit, careening off one another like a thousand pinballs released into the machine at the same time.

A sign by the front door read FOUR BODY PIERCE MINIMUM TO ENTER (EARS DON’T COUNT).

Myron stayed on the sidewalk and used his cell phone. He called the Mosh’s number. A voice answered, “Go for it, dude.”

“Suzze T please.”

“Dig.”

Dig?

Suzze came on two minutes later. “Hello?”

“It’s Myron. I’m out on the curb.”

“Come in. No one bites. Well, except for that guy who bit the legs off a live frog last night. Man, that was so cool.”

“Suzze, please meet me out here, okay?”

“What-ev-er.”

Myron hung up, feeling old. Suzze came out less than a minute later. She wore bell-bottom jeans with a gravity-defying waist that stayed up south of her hips. Her top was pink and much too small, revealing not only a flat stomach but a bottom-side hint of what interested the fine folks at Rack Enterprises. Suzze sported only one tattoo (a tennis racket with a snake’s head grip) and no piercings, not even her ears.

Myron pointed to the sign. “You don’t meet the minimum piercing requirement.”

“Yeah, Myron, I do.”

Silence. Then Myron said, “Oh.”

They started walking down the street. Another strange Manhattan neighborhood. Kids and the homeless hung out together. There were bars and nightclubs alongside daycare centers. The modern city. Myron passed a storefront with a sign: TATTOOS WHILE U WAIT. He reread the sign and frowned. Like how else would you do it?

“We got a weird endorsement offer,” Myron said. “You know the Rack Bars?”

Suzze said, “Like, upscale topless, right?”

“Well, topless anyway.”

“What about them?”

“They’re opening up a chain of topless coffee bars.”

Suzze nodded. “Cool,” she said. “I mean, taking the popularity of Starbucks and mixing it with Scores and Goldfingers, well, it’s totally wise.”

“Uh, right. Anyway, they’re having this big grand opening and they’re trying to generate excitement and media attention and all that. So they want you to make a, uh, guest appearance.”

“Topless?”

“Like I said on the phone, I had an offer I wanted you to refuse.”

“Totally topless?”

Myron nodded. “They insist on nipple visibility.”

“How much they willing to pay?”

“Two hundred thousand dollars.”

She stopped. “Are you shitting me?”

“I shit you not.”

She whistled. “Lots of cha-ching.”

“Yes, but I still think—”

“This was, like, their first offer?”

“Yes.”

“Do you think you could get them up?”

“No, that would be your job.”

She stopped and looked at him. Myron shrugged his apology.

“Tell them yes,” she said.

“Suzze …”

“Two hundred grand for flashing a bit of booby? Christ, last night I think I did it in there for free.”

Prev Next