Friday, October 26, 2007

BIG MONEY, Chapter 15

Gina Farascio’s unruly gaze fixes on two Branchtown police cruisers bouncing into the Martha’s parking lot. Behind the black-and-whites, I recognize Detective James Mallory’s dirty brown Ford Fairlane. He hits the driveway at thirty miles an hour.

I’m guessing Branchtown’s Bravest found something inside the Martha of serious interest to Branchtown’s Finest. Arson? Or maybe somebody got burned.

Another half-hour goes by and we’re still not back inside. The number of people waiting to return has dwindled considerably, no doubt a casualty of alcoholic thirst. I could use another see-through myself. In fact, I’d head back to Luis’s if it wasn’t for Tony and Bluefish’s one-hundred-thousand cash.

I’m beginning to consider final resting spots.


Detective Mallory stalks me from behind. He has two uniformed officers beside him and a tense, don’t-screw-with-me expression on his face.

Actually, the only time Mallory doesn’t have that nasty cast on his face is when he’s coaching Little League baseball. Even then he talks to the kids like the umpire instead of a coach.

He grips my arm. “Talk to me, pal. Over there, by the patrol car.”

Mallory tugs me over, hands on, like he’s dragging a convict up before the judge. He nudges me against the black-and-white’s rear fender and pushes his face up close. I think he might have had a beer with lunch. Sam Adams? Our noses are almost touching.

“Know a woman named Anne Marie Talbot?” he says.

Gulp. “Yeah.” Mallory’s eyebrows snap higher. I can almost feel wind. “She’s an investigator with the American Association of Securities Dealers,” I say. “She’s been auditing Shore.”

“Did you see her today?”


“You sure? I found your name on a pad by her telephone.”

Double gulp. Why was Mallory up in Talbot’s room? My stomach begins to fill with battery acid. Is there a criminal reason why I haven’t seen Tony or Talbot?

“I had an appointment but didn’t go,” I say.

Mallory grins. Now his breath smells like gasoline. Maybe he was drinking brandy. “You’re a bad liar, Carr. You expect me to believe you’re at her hotel, but you didn’t keep that appointment?”

“I don’t care if you believe me or not. It’s the truth. I sent an associate to keep my appointment.”

Oh, my, that was dumb. Sometimes my gift of blab just means I have a big mouth.

“Yeah? And who would that be?” Mallory says.

I suck a big breath. Considering what Tony was carrying, and what he may have been doing with it, I’m not the smallest bit anxious to reveal Tony Farascio’s identity. Or Shore’s semiserious A.A.S.D. troubles. Oh, man, when am I going to learn to keep my trap shut?

I stall. “Tell me what’s going on. Why all the questions?”

Mallory's right hand jumps up and pinches my shoulder. I feel like knocking it away. “Who went to see her, Carr? Tell me.”

If people exercised the right to remain silent, our prisons would be empty. Too bad so many of us figure this out too late. I say, “You want me to say another word, Jim, explain what’s happened. My lawyer’s phone number is programmed into my cell phone.”

His intense gaze holds onto mine, trying to intimidate me. Fat chance, Jimbo. I watched you throw baseballs all one summer. I’ve seen stronger arms on a Queen Anne chair.

Mallory saying, “Your five o’clock appointment was canceled, Carr. Anne Marie Talbot is dead.”

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