Time to Murder and Create Page 2

"I guess not. Three twenty? Yeah, I guess that's as good a number as any." He got out a fat alligator wallet and counted out six fifties and a twenty. "Three-two-oh," he said, handing them to me. "If this drags on and on and you want more, you let me know. Good enough?"

"Good enough. Suppose I have to get in touch with you, Spinner?"



"Like, you won't have to, and if I wanted to give you an address I couldn't anyway."


He opened the attachй and passed me a nine-by-twelve manila envelope sealed on both ends with heavy-duty tape. I took it from him and put it on the bench beside me. He gave the silver dollar a spin, picked it up, put it in his pocket, and beckoned to Trina for the check. I let him have it. He paid it and left a two-dollar tip.

"What's so funny, Matt?"

"Just that I never saw you grab a check before. And I've seen you pick up other people's tips."

"Well, things change."

"I guess they do."

"I didn't do that often, dragging down somebody's tips. You do lots of things when you're hungry."


He got to his feet, hesitated, put out his hand. I shook it. He turned to go, and I said, "Spinner?"


"You said the kind of lawyers you know would open the envelope as soon as you left the office."

"You bet your ass they would."

"How come you don't think I will?"

He looked at me as though the question was a stupid one. "You're honest," he said.

"Oh, Christ. You know I used to take. I let you buy your way out of a collar or two, for Christ's sake."

"Yeah, but you were always square with me. There's honest and there's honest. You're not gonna open that envelope until you have to."

I knew he was right. I just didn't know how he knew it. "Take care of yourself," I said.

"Yeah, you too."

"Watch yourself crossing the street."


"Watch out for buses."

He laughed a little, but I don't think he thought it was funny.

Later that day, I stopped off at a church and stuffed thirty-two dollars into the poor box. I sat in a rear pew and thought about the Spinner. He'd given me easy money. All I had to do to earn it was nothing at all.

Back in my room, I rolled up the rug and put Spinner's envelope beneath it, centering it under the bed. The maid runs the vacuum cleaner occasionally but never moves the furniture around. I put the rug back in place and promptly forgot about the envelope, and every Friday a call or a message would assure me that Spinner was alive and the envelope could stay right where it was.

Chapter 2

For the next three days I read the papers twice a day and waited for a phone call. Monday night I picked up the early edition of the Times on the way to my room. Under the heading of "Metropolitan Briefs" there's always a batch of crime items tagged "From the Police Blotter," and the last one was the one I was looking for. An unidentified male, white, height approximately five six, weight approximately one forty, age approximately forty-five, had been fished out of the East River with a crushed skull.

It sounded right. I'd have put his age a few years higher and his weight a few pounds lower, but otherwise it sounded very right. I couldn't know that it was Spinner. I couldn't even know that the man, whoever he was, had been murdered. The skull damage could have been done after he went into the water. And there was nothing in the item to indicate how long he'd been in the water. If it was more than ten days or so, it wasn't Spinner; I'd heard from him the Friday before.

I looked at my watch. It wasn't too late to call someone, but it was far too late to call someone and seem casual about it. And it was too early to open his envelope. I didn't want to do that until I was very certain he was dead.

I had a couple more drinks than usual, because sleep was a long time coming. In the morning I woke up with a headache and a bad taste in my mouth. I used aspirin and mouthwash and went down to the Red Flame for breakfast. I picked up a later Times, but there was nothing further on the floater. They had the same item as the earlier edition.

Eddie Koehler is a lieutenant now, attached to the Sixth Precinct in the West Village. I called from my room and managed to get through to him. "Hey, Matt," he said. "It's been a while."

It hadn't been all that long. I asked about his family and he asked about mine. "They're fine," I said.

"You could always go back there," he said.

I couldn't, for far more reasons than I wanted to go into. I couldn't start carrying a badge again, either, but that didn't keep him from asking his next question.

"I don't suppose you're ready to rejoin the human race, huh?"

"That's not going to happen, Eddie."

"Instead you got to live in a dump and scrounge for every buck. Listen, you want to drink yourself to death, that's your business."

"That's right."

"But what's the sense paying for your own drinks when you can drink free? You were born to be a cop, Matt."

"The reason I called-"

"Yeah, there has to be a reason, doesn't there?"

I waited for a minute. Then I said, "Something in the paper that caught my eye, and I thought maybe you could save me a trip to the morgue. They took a floater out of the East River yesterday. Little guy, middle-aged."


"Could you find out if they identified him yet?"

"Probably. What's your interest?"

"I got a missing husband I'm sort of looking for. He fits the description. I could go down and take a look at him, but I only know him from photographs and after a little while in the water-"

"Yeah, right. What's your guy's name and I'll find out."

"Let's do it the other way around," I said. "It's supposed to be confidential, I don't want to spread the name if I don't have to."

"I guess I could make a couple of calls."

"If it's my guy, you'll get yourself a hat."

"I figured as much. And if it's not?"

"You'll get my sincere gratitude."

"Fuck you too," he said. "I hope it's your guy. I can use a hat. Hey, that's funny, come to think of it."


"You're looking for a guy and I'm hoping he's dead. You think about it, it's pretty funny."

The phone rang forty minutes later. He said, "It's a shame, I could've used a hat."

"They didn't get a make?"

"Oh, they got a make, they made him on fingerprints, but he's not a guy anybody's gonna hire you to look for. He's a character, we got a sheet on him a yard long. You must've run into him once or twice yourself."

"What's his name?"

"Jacob Jablon. Did a little stooling, a little boosting, all kinds of dumb shit."

"Name's familiar."

"They called him the Spinner."

"I did know him," I said. "Haven't run into him in years. He used to spin a silver dollar all the time."

"Well, all he's gonna spin now is in his grave."

I drew a breath. I said, "He's not my guy."

"I didn't think so. I don't think he was anybody's husband, and if he was she wouldn't want him found."

"It's not the wife who's looking for my guy."

"It's not?"

"It's his girlfriend."

"I'll be a son of a bitch."

"And I don't think he's in town in the first place, but I might as well string her for a few bucks. A guy wants to disappear, he's just going to do it."

"That's the way it generally goes, but if she wants to hand you money-"

"That's my feeling," I said. "How long was the Spinner in the water? Do they know that yet?"

"I think they said four, five days. What's your interest?"

"Getting him on prints, I figured it had to be fairly recent."

"Oh, prints'll hold a week, easy. Longer sometimes, depending on the fish. Imagine fingerprinting a floater-shit, if I did that I'd be a long time before I wanted anything to eat. Imagine doing the autopsy."

"Well, that shouldn't be hard. Somebody must have hit him on the head."

"Considering who he was, I'd say there's no question. He wasn't the type to go swimming and accidentally hit his head on a pier. What'll you bet they don't come up with a conclusive homicide tag for it, though?"

"Why's that?"

"Because they don't want this sitting in the open file for the next fifty years, and who wants to bust their balls finding out what happened to an asshole like the Spinner? So he's dead, so nobody's gonna cry for him."

"I always got along with him."

"He was a cheap little crook. Whoever bumped him did the world a favor."

"I suppose you're right."

I got the manila envelope out from under the rug. The tape didn't want to budge, so I got my penknife from the dresser and slit the envelope open along the fold. Then I just sat on the edge of the bed with the envelope in my hand for a few minutes.

I didn't really want to know what was in it.

After a while I opened it, and I spent the next three hours in my room going over the contents. They answered a few questions, but not nearly as many as they asked. Finally I put everything back in the envelope and returned it to its place under the rug.

The cops would sweep Spinner Jablon under the rug, and that's what I wanted to do with his envelope. There were a lot of things I could do, and what I most wanted to do was nothing at all, so until my options had time to sort themselves out in my head the envelope could stay in its hiding place.

I stretched out on the bed with a book, but after I'd gone through a few pages I realized I was reading without paying attention. And my little room was beginning to feel even smaller than usual. I went out and walked around for a while, and then I hit a few places and had a few drinks. I started out in Polly's Cage, across the street from the hotel, then Kilcullen's, then Spiro and Antares. Somewhere along the way I stopped at a deli for a couple of sandwiches. I wound up in Armstrong's, and I was still there when Trina ended her shift. I told her to sit down and I'd buy her a drink.

"But just one, Matt. I got places to go, people to see."

"So do I, but I don't want to go there and I don't want to see them."

"You could be just the slightest bit drunk."

"It's not impossible."

I went to the bar and got our drinks. Plain bourbon for me, a vodka and tonic for her. I came back to the table, and she picked up her glass.

She said, "To crime?"

"You've really only got time for one?"

"I don't even have time for the one, but one's got to be the limit."

"Then let's not make it to crime. Let's make it absent friends."

Chapter 3

I suppose I had a fair idea what was in the envelope before I opened it. When a man who sidesteps through life by keeping his ears open suddenly turns up wearing a three-hundred-dollar suit, it's not hard to figure out how he got it. After a lifetime of selling information, the Spinner had come up with something too good to sell. Instead of peddling information, he had turned to peddling silence. Blackmailers are richer than stool pigeons, because their commodity is not a one-time thing; they can rent it out to the same person over and over for a lifetime.

Read Daily Updated Light Novel, Web Novel, Chinese Novel, Japanese And Korean Novel Online: NovelFull
Prev page Next page