Again note the subtlety. “You have a thought, Rolly?”
Dimonte ignored him. “Peretti!”
The coroner looked up from the body. “What?”
“Those plastic tits,” he said. “Myron noticed they were huge.”
“How big are they?”
“You mean like cup size?”
“I look like a lingerie manufacturer? How the fuck would I know?”
“But they’re big, right?”
“You got eyes, don’t you?”
Myron watched the exchange in silence. He was trying to follow Dimonte’s logic—a most treacherous trail.
“Would you say they were bigger than a water balloon?” Dimonte continued.
Peretti shrugged. “Depends on the balloon.”
“Didn’t you ever make water balloons when you were a kid?”
“Yeah, sure,” Peretti said. “But I don’t remember how big the balloons were. I was a kid then. Everything looks bigger when you’re a kid. A couple years ago I went back to my old elementary school to visit my third grade teacher. She still works there, if you can believe it. Her name is Mrs. Tansmore. I swear to God the building looked like a goddamn dollhouse to me. It was huge when I was a kid. It was like—”
“All right, moron, let me make this simple.” Dimonte took a deep breath. “Could they be used for smuggling drugs?”
Silence. Everyone in the room stopped moving. Myron wasn’t sure if he just heard the most idiotic thing in the world or the most brilliant. He turned toward Peretti. Peretti looked up, mouth open in fly-catching pose.
“Well, Peretti? Could it be?”
“Could it be what?”
“Could she stick dope in her boobs? Smuggle drugs through customs with them?”
Peretti looked at Myron. Myron shrugged. Peretti turned back to Dimonte. “I don’t know,” he said slowly.
“How can we find out?”
“I’d have to examine them.”
“Then what the fuck you staring at me for? Do it.”
Peretti did as asked. Dimonte smiled at Myron; his eyebrows did a little dance. Proud of his deduction. Myron remained quiet.
“Nope, no way,” Peretti said.
Dimonte wasn’t happy with this report. “Why the hell not?”
“There’s hardly any scar tissue,” Peretti said. “If she were smuggling drugs in there, they’d have to rip the skin open and sew it up. Then they’d have to do it again on this side. There’s no sign of that.”
Dimonte said, “Shit.” Then he glared at Myron and pulled him into a corner. “Everything, Bolitar. Now.”
Myron had debated how to handle it, but in truth he had no choice. He had to tell. He couldn’t keep Greg Downing’s disappearance a secret any longer. The best he could hope to do was keep it contained. He suddenly remembered that Norman Lowenstein was waiting outside. “One second,” he said.
“What? Where the fuck you going?”
“I’ll be right back. Just wait here.”
Dimonte followed him down the stairs and out onto the stoop. Norman wasn’t there. Myron looked up and down the block. No sign of Norman. This was hardly a surprise. Norman probably ran when he saw the cops. Guilty or not, the homeless learn quickly to make themselves scarce when the authorities come calling.
“What is it?” Dimonte asked.
“Then start talking. The whole story.”
Myron told him most of it. The story almost knocked the toothpick out of Dimonte’s mouth. Dimonte didn’t bother asking questions, though he continuously stuck in exclamations of “Jesus Christ!” and “Frigging A,” whenever Myron paused. When Myron finished, Dimonte sort of stumbled back and sat on the steps of the stoop. His eyes looked unfocused for a few moments. He gathered himself together, but it took some time.
“In-fuckin-credible,” he managed.
“Are you telling me no one knows where Downing is?”
“If they do, they aren’t talking.”
“He just vanished?”
“That’s how it appears.”
“And there’s blood in his basement?”
Dimonte shook his head again. He reached down and put his hand on his right boot. Myron had seen him do this before. He liked to sort of pet the boot. Myron had no idea why. Maybe he found the feel of snakeskin soothing. Reminiscent of the womb.
“Suppose Downing killed her and ran,” he said.
“That’s a pretty big suppose.”
“Yeah, but it fits,” Dimonte said.
“According to what you said, Downing was seen with the victim Saturday night. How much you want to bet that once Peretti gets her on the table we find the time of death around then?”
“Doesn’t mean Downing killed her.”
Dimonte increased the speed of his boot-petting stroke. A man on Rollerblades skated by with his dog. The dog looked out of breath, trying to keep up. New product idea: Dog Rollerblades. “Saturday night, Greg Downing and the victim get together at some gin joint downtown. They leave sometime around eleven o’clock. Next thing we know she’s dead and he’s vanished.” Dimonte looked up at Myron. “That points to him killing her and running.”
“It points to a dozen things.”
“Like maybe Greg witnessed the murder and got scared and ran. Maybe he witnessed the murder and was kidnapped. Maybe he was killed by the same people.”
“So where’s his body?” Dimonte asked.
“It could be anywhere.”
“Why not just leave it here with hers?”
“Maybe they killed him someplace else. Or maybe they took his body because he’s famous and they didn’t want that kind of heat.”
He scoffed at that one. “You’re reaching, Bolitar.”
“So are you.”
“Maybe. Only one way to find out.” He stood. “We got to get out an APB on Downing.”
“Whoa, hold up a second. I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Dimonte looked at Myron as if he were something left unflushed in a toilet. “I’m sorry,” he said feigning politeness. “You must be mistaking me for someone who gives a rat’s ass what you think.”