One False Move Page 44

Myron headed straight for the men along the backstop. Livingston fans. The same guys went to all the football games and basketball games and baseball games. Some were nice. Some were blowhards. All of them recognized Myron. They greeted him warmly. Detective Wickner stayed silent, his eyes glued to the field, studying the play with a little too much intensity, especially since it was between innings.

Myron tapped Wickner on the shoulder.

“Hello, Detective.”

Wickner turned slowly. He’d always had these piercing gray eyes, but right now they were heavily tinged with red. Conjunctivitis maybe. Or allergies. Or booze. Your choice. His skin was tan to the point of rawhide. He wore a yellow collared shirt with a little zipper in the front. The zipper was down. He had on a thick gold chain. New probably. Something to jazz up retirement. It didn’t work on him.

Wickner mustered up a smile. “You’re old enough to call me Eli now, Myron.”

Myron tried it. “How are you, Eli?”

“Not bad, Myron. Retirement’s treating me good. I fish a lot. How about yourself? Saw you try that comeback. Sorry it didn’t work out.”

“Thanks,” Myron said.

“You still living at your folks’?”

“No, I’m in the city now.”

“So what brings you out this way? Visiting the family?”

Myron shook his head. “I wanted to talk to you.”

They drifted about ten feet from the entourage. No one followed, their body language working as a force field.

“What about?” Wickner asked.

“An old case.”

“A police case?”

Myron looked at him steadily. “Yes.”

“And what case would that be?”

“The death of Elizabeth Bradford.”

To Wickner’s credit, he skipped the surprise act. He took the baseball cap off his head and smoothed down the gray flyaways. Then he put the cap back on. “What do you want to know?”

“The bribe,” Myron said. “Did the Bradfords pay you off in a lump sum, or did they set up a more long-term payout with interest and stuff?”

Wickner took the blow but stayed upright. There was a quiver on the right side of his mouth like he was fighting back tears. “I don’t much like your attitude, son.”

“Tough.” Myron knew that his only chance here was a direct, no-barred frontal assault; dancing around or subtle interrogation would get him squat. “You’ve got two choices, Eli. Choice one, you tell me what really happened to Elizabeth Bradford and I try to keep your name out of it. Choice two, I start screaming to the papers about a police cover-up and destroy your reputation.” Myron gestured to the field. “By the time I’m done with you, you’ll be lucky to hang out in the Eli Wickner Urinal.”

Wickner turned away. Myron could see his shoulders rising and falling with the labored breaths. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Myron hesitated a beat. Then he kept his voice soft. “What happened to you, Eli?”

“What?”

“I used to look up to you,” Myron said. “I used to care what you thought.”

The words struck home. Wickner’s shoulders began to hitch a bit. He kept his face low. Myron waited. Wickner finally turned to face him. The rawhide skin looked drier now, sapped, more brittle. He was working up to saying something. Myron gave him space and waited.

From behind him Myron felt a large hand squeeze his shoulder.

“There a problem here?”

Myron spun around. The hand belonged to Chief of Detectives Roy Pomeranz, the musclehead who used to be Wickner’s partner. Pomeranz wore a white T-shirt and white shorts that rode so high it looked like someone was giving him a power wedgie. He still had the he-man physique, but he was totally bald now, his head completely smooth as though waxed.

“Get your hand off my shoulder,” Myron said.

Pomeranz ignored the request. “Everything okay here?”

Wickner spoke up. “We were just talking, Roy.”

“Talking about what?”

Myron handled that one. “About you.”

Big smile. “Oh?”

Myron pointed. “We were just saying that if you got a hoop earring, you’d be the spitting image of Mr. Clean.”

Pomeranz’s smile vanished.

Myron lowered his voice. “I’ll tell you one more time. Move your hand, or I’ll break it in three places.” Note the three-places reference. Specific threats were always the best. He’d learned that from Win.

Pomeranz kept the hand there a second or two longer—to keep face—and then he slid it off.

“You’re still on the force, Roy,” Myron said. “So you got the most to lose. But I’ll make you the same offer. Tell me what you know about the Bradford case, and I’ll try to keep your name out of it.”

Pomeranz smirked at him. “Funny thing, Bolitar.”

“What?”

“You digging into all this in an election year.”

“Your point being?”

“You’re working for Davison,” he said. “You’re just trying to drag down a good man like Arthur Bradford for that scum sucker.”

Davison was Bradford’s opponent for governor. “Sorry, Roy, that’s incorrect.”

“Yeah? Well, either way, Elizabeth Bradford died from a fall.”

“Who pushed her?”

“It was an accident.”

“Someone accidentally pushed her?”

“Nobody pushed her, wise guy. It was late at night. The terrace was slippery. She fell. It was an accident. Happens all the time.”

“Really? How many deaths has Livingston had in the past twenty years where a woman accidentally fell to her death from her own balcony?”

Pomeranz crossed his arms over his chest. His biceps bulged like baseballs. The guy was doing one of those subtle flexes, where you’re trying to look like you’re not flexing. “Accidents in the home. You know how many people die in home accidents every year?”

“No, Roy, how many?”

Pomeranz didn’t answer. Big surprise. He met Wickner’s eye. Wickner remained silent. He looked vaguely ashamed.

Myron decided to go for the whammy. “And what about the assault on Anita Slaughter? Was that an accident too?”

Stunned silence. Wickner involuntarily groaned a little. Pomeranz’s thigh-thick arms dropped back to his sides.

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

Prev Next