Fangs Out

Fangs Out by David Freed Read Free Book Online

Book: Fangs Out by David Freed Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Freed
ones who didn’t make it home.” He dug his hands in his front pockets. “The truth of it is, that medal didn’t mean a whole lot to me before, not really. Now, it don’t mean a damn thing. I’d trade every decoration I ever got in a New York minute, everything I ever owned in this life, if I could have my daughter back for just one day.”
    “I read once that all the stars in the night sky are really openings in Heaven, so that all the people you’ve ever loved and have gone before you can shine down, to let you know they’re happy.”
    “Wish I could believe that.” We walked in silence for awhile. Then Hub said, “You got any children?”
    “My ex didn’t think I was ready. She said it wasn’t a good idea, having kids when you’re still one yourself.”
    “They do make you grow up right quick, I’ll give your ex that much. I thought Ruthie was gonna be a boy. But you find out that don’t matter much, which flavor they come out. You love ’em all just the same.”
    I told him Savannah and I were exploring a possible reconciliation, and that she was planning to come with me to San Diego.
    “Well, I sure hope that works out for you, I really do,” Hub said. “Lucky in love. Best luck of all.”
    I couldn’t discern an ounce of disingenuousness about the man. The ancient philosophers knew all too well that legends have feet of clay. They warned as much in the sage words they left for humanities majors like me to absorb centuries later. But I saw no such flaws in Lt. Col. Hubert Bedford Walker, USAF retired, one of fewer than one hundred living recipients of America’s highest military decoration. I was honored to be in his company and pleased to be in his employ.

    T HE BANK teller scrutinized Walker’s check with thinly veiled skepticism. She had false eyelashes and looked about twelve, which more or less matched the number of minutes I’d been waiting in line for my turn at her window.
    “I may not look it,” I said, leaning closer and speaking in a low, conspiratorial tone, “but I’m posing online as a Nigerian prince. The sucker who cut me that check? I’ve got him convinced it’s seed money for an investment that’ll return ten million large.”
    “This check is drawn on a bank in San Diego,” she said, like San Diego was Nigeria.
    “OK, the truth,” I said, unable to stop myself, “I’m not really a Nigerian prince. I just found that check in the parking lot.”
    “Excuse me a minute.” She locked her cash drawer with a key dangling from her neck and moved off twenty feet to consult her manager.
    They spoke in hushed tones, shooting me questioning glances every few seconds. I assumed they would scrutinize the balance of my bank account, which was starting to resemble the federal deficit, and put a hold on the check for a couple of days until it cleared. No biggie. The manager came over. The hold, she said, would be a full week.
    “That’s pretty standard banking practice for non-local checks in Nigeria,” she said.
    She smiled, but not in the nice kind of way.
    No one ever said being a smartass was without its drawbacks.

    K IDDIOT WAS still gone when I got home. At least he was consistent: a cat who never failed to disappoint. I stuffed some clean clothes into a duffel bag for the trip to San Diego, along with my toothbrush, then telephoned the five people on Hub Walker’s list.
    My calls to prosecutor Stephen Tassio, Greg Castle of Castle Robotics, and Ruth Walker’s former co-worker, Janet Bollinger, went straight to voice mail. I left detailed messages for each.
    Eric LaDucrie, the ex-Big Leaguer-turned-death-sentence pitchman, answered after about ten rings. He sounded like he was in a cocktail lounge. I could hear the tinkle of a piano somewhere behind him and people laughing, talking loud. I told him that Hub Walker had hired me to dig up dirt on Dorian Munz, and that I wanted to talk to him.
    “I might be able to help you out,” the Junkman said, “only I’m in

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