Darkest Fear Page 8

“No,” Esperanza said. “She’s returning to FLOW.”

For the wrestling uninitiated, FLOW is the acronym for the Fabulous Ladies of Wrestling.

“Big Cyndi is going to wrestle again?”

Esperanza nodded. “On the senior circuit.”

“Excuse me?”

“FLOW wanted to expand its product. They did some research, saw how well the PGA is doing with the senior golf tour and …” She shrugged.

“A senior ladies’ wrestling tour?”

“More like retired,” Esperanza said. “I mean, Big Cyndi is only thirty-eight. They’re bringing back a lot of the old favorites: Queen Qaddafi, Cold War Connie, Brezhnev Babe, Cellblock Celia, Black Widow—”

“I don’t remember the Black Widow.”

“Before our time. Hell, before our parents’ time. She must be in her seventies.”

Myron tried not to make a face. “And people are going to pay money to see a seventy-year-old woman wrestle?”

“You shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of age.”

“Right, sorry.” Myron rubbed his eyes.

“And professional women’s wrestling is struggling right now, what with the competition from Jerry Springer and Ricki Lake. They need to do something.”

“And grappling old ladies is the answer?”

“I think they’re aiming more for nostalgia.”

“A chance to cheer on the wrestler of your youth?”

“Didn’t you go see Steely Dan in concert a couple of years ago?”

“That’s different, don’t you think?”

She shrugged. “Both past their prime. Both mining more on what you remember than what you see or hear.”

It made sense. Scary sense maybe. But sense. “How about you?” Myron asked.

“What about me?”

“Didn’t they want Little Pocahontas to return?”

“Yep.”

“Were you tempted?”

“To what? Return to the ring?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, sure,” Esperanza said. “I busted my shapely ass working full-time while getting my law degree, so I could once again don a suede bikini and grope aging nymphs in front of drooling trailer trash.” She paused. “Still, it is a step above being a sports agent.”

“Ha-ha.” Myron walked over to Big Cyndi’s desk. There was an envelope with his name scrawled across the top in glow-in-the-dark orange.

“She wrote it in crayon?” Myron said.

“Eye shadow.”

“I see.”

“So are you going to tell me what’s wrong?” she asked.

“Nothing,” Myron said.

“Bullshit,” she said. “You look like you just heard Wham split up.”

“Don’t bring that up,” Myron said. “Sometimes, late at night, I still suffer flashbacks.”

Esperanza studied his face a few more seconds. “This have something to do with your college sweetheart?”

“Sort of.”

“Oh Christ.”

“What?”

“How do I say this nicely, Myron? You are beyond moronic in the ways of women. Exhibits A and B are Jessica and Emily.”

“You don’t even know Emily.”

“I know enough,” she said. “I thought you didn’t want to talk to her.”

“I didn’t. She found me at my parents’ place.”

“She just showed up there?”

“Yep.”

“What did she want?”

He shook his head. He still wasn’t ready to talk about it yet. “Any messages?”

“Not as many as we’d like.”

“Win upstairs?”

“I think he went home already.” She picked up her coat. “I think I’ll do likewise.”

“Good night.”

“If you hear anything from Lamar—”

“I’ll call you.”

Esperanza put on her coat, flipping the glistening black flow out of the collar. Myron headed into his office and made a few phone calls, mostly of a recruiting nature. It was not going well.

Several months ago, a friend’s death had sent Myron into a tail-spin, causing him to—and we’re using complex psychiatric jargon here—wig out. Nothing overly drastic, no nervous breakdown or institutional commitment. He had instead fled to a deserted Caribbean island with Terese Collins, a beautiful TV anchorwoman he didn’t know. He had told no one—not Win, not Esperanza, not even Mom and Dad—where he was going or when he’d be back.

As Win put it, when he wigged out, he wigged out in style.

By the time Myron was forced to return, their clients were scattering into the night like kitchen help during an immigration bust. Now Myron and Esperanza were back, attempting to revive the comatose and perhaps dying MB SportsReps. This was no easy task. The competition in this business was a dozen starving lions, and Myron was one heavily limping Christian.

The MB SportsReps office was nicely situated on Park Avenue and Forty-sixth Street in the Lock-Horne Building, owned by the family of Myron’s college-and-current roommate, Win. The building was in a primo midtown location and offered up some semi-dazzling views of the Manhattan skyline. Myron soaked it in for a moment and then looked down at the suits speeding below. The sight of the working ants always depressed him, a chorus of “Is That All There Is?” playing in his head.

He turned now toward his Client Wall, the one with action shots of all the athletes represented by MB SportsReps, which now looked as spotty and sparse as a bad hair transplant. He wanted to care, but unfair as it was to Esperanza, his heart wasn’t really in it. He wanted to go back, to love MB and have that old hunger, but no matter how much he tried to stoke the old fire, it wouldn’t flame up.

Emily called about an hour later.

“Dr. Singh doesn’t have office hours tomorrow,” Emily said. “But you can hook up during rounds tomorrow morning.”

“Where?”

“Babies and Children’s Hospital. It’s part of Columbia Presbyterian on 167th Street. Tenth floor, south.”

“What time?”

“Rounds start at eight,” Emily said.

“Okay.”

Brief silence.

“You okay, Myron?”

“I want to see him.”

It took her a few seconds. “Like I said before, I can’t stop you. But sleep on it, okay?”

“I just want to see him,” Myron said. “I won’t say anything. Not yet, at least.”

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