One False Move Page 19

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Sincerely,

Thomas Kincaid

“Do you know what he’s talking about?” Myron asked.

She hesitated. “No,” she said slowly. “But that name—Thomas Kincaid—it rings a bell. I just can’t place it.”

“Maybe he did work for your dad before.”

Brenda shook her head. “I don’t think so. I can’t remember my father ever hiring a lawyer. And if he had, I doubt he would have gone to Morristown.”

Myron took out his cellular phone and dialed the office. Big Cyndi answered and transferred the call to Esperanza.

“What?” Esperanza said. Always with the pleasantries.

“Did Lisa fax over Horace Slaughter’s phone bill?”

“It’s right in front of me,” Esperanza said. “I was just working on it.”

Scary as it might sound, getting a list of someone’s long-distance calls had always been fairly easy. Almost every private investigator has a source at the phone company. All it takes is a little grease.

Myron signaled that he wanted the letter back. Brenda handed it to him. Then she knelt and extracted a plastic bag from the back of the locker. Myron looked at the phone number for Kincaid’s office on the letter.

“Is five-five-five-one-nine-zero-eight on there?” he asked.

“Yeah. Eight times. All less than five minutes.”

“Anything else?”

“I’m still tracking down all the numbers.”

“Anything stick out?”

“Maybe,” Esperanza said. “For some reason he called Arthur Bradford’s gubernatorial headquarters a couple of times.”

Myron felt a familiar, not unpleasant jolt. The Bradford name rears its ugly head yet again. Arthur Bradford, one of two prodigal sons, was running for governor in November. “Okay, good. Anything else?”

“Not yet. And I found nothing—I mean, nada—on Anita Slaughter.”

No surprise there. “Okay, thanks.”

He hung up.

“What?” Brenda asked.

“Your father has been calling this Kincaid guy a lot. He’s also called Arthur Bradford’s campaign headquarters.”

She looked confused. “So what does that mean?”

“I don’t know. Was your dad political at all?”

“No.”

“Did he know Arthur Bradford or anybody connected with the campaign?”

“Not that I’m aware of.” Brenda opened the garbage bag and peered inside. Her face went slack. “Oh Christ.”

Myron dropped down next to her. Brenda spread open the top of the bag so he could see the contents. A referee’s shirt, black and white striped. On the right breast pocket was a patch reading “New Jersey Basketball Referee Association.” On the left breast was a big crimson stain.

A bloodstain.

“We should call the police,” Myron said.

“And tell them what?”

Myron was not sure. The bloody shirt didn’t have a hole in it—there were no rips or tears visible—and the stain was a concentrated fan shape over the left breast. How had it gotten there? Good question. Not wanting to contaminate any possible clues, Myron gave the shirt a quick, gentle once-over. The stain was thick and looked a bit sticky, if not wet. Since the shirt had been wrapped in a plastic bag, it was hard to say how long the blood had been there. Probably not long, though.

Okay, good. Now what?

The position of the stain itself was puzzling. If Horace had been wearing the shirt, how could the blood have ended up on just that one spot? If, for example, he had a bloody nose, the stain would be more widespread. If he had been shot, well, there’d be a hole in the shirt. If he had hit somebody else, again the stain would probably be more like a spray or at least more dispersed than this.

Why was the stain so concentrated in that one spot?

Myron studied the shirt again. Only one scenario fit: Horace had not been wearing the shirt when the injury occurred. Strange but probably true. The shirt had been used to stave off blood flow, like a bandage. That would explain both the placement and concentration. The fan shape indicated it had probably been pressed against a bleeding nose.

Okey-dokey, we’re on a roll. It didn’t help him in any way, shape, or form. But rolling was good. Myron liked to roll.

Brenda interrupted his thoughts. “What are we going to tell the police?” she asked again.

“I don’t know.”

“You think he’s on the run, right?”

“Yes.”

“Then maybe he doesn’t want to be found.”

“Almost definitely.”

“And we know he ran away by his own volition. So what are we going to tell them? That we found some blood on a shirt in his locker? You think the police are going to give a rat’s ass?”

“Not even one cheek,” Myron agreed.

They finished clearing out the locker. Then Myron drove her to the late practice. He kept his eye on the rearview mirror, looking for the gray Honda Accord. There were many, of course, but none with the same license plate.

He dropped her off at the gym, and then he took Palisades Avenue toward the Englewood Public Library. He had a couple of hours to kill, and he wanted to do some research on the Bradford family.

The Englewood Library sat on Grand Avenue off Palisades Avenue like a clunky spaceship. When it was erected in 1968, the building had probably been praised for its sleek, futuristic design; now it looked like a rejected movie prop for Logan’s Run.

Myron quickly found a reference librarian who was straight from central casting: gray bun, glasses, pearls, boxy build. The nameplate on her desk read “Mrs. Kay.” He approached her with his boyish grin, the one that usually made such ladies pinch his cheek and offer him hot cider.

“I hope you can help me,” he said.

Mrs. Kay looked at him in that way librarians often do, wary and tired, like cops who know you’re going to lie about how fast you were driving.

“I need to look up articles from the Jersey Ledger from twenty years ago.”

“Microfiche,” Mrs. Kay said. She rose with a great sigh and led him to a machine. “You’re in luck.”

“Why’s that?”

“They just computerized an index. Before that you were on your own.”

Mrs. Kay taught him how to use the microfilm machine and the computer indexing service. It looked pretty standard. When she left him alone, Myron first typed in the name Anita Slaughter. No hits. Not a surprise, but hey, you never know. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you plug in the name, and an article comes up and says, “I ran away to Florence, Italy. You can find me at the Plaza Lucchesi hotel on the Arno River, room 218.” Well, not often. But sometimes.

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