Peeper by Loren D. Estleman Read Free Book Online

Book: Peeper by Loren D. Estleman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Loren D. Estleman
gas before or after going to this Richard’s.”
    â€œCould of. If I had a reason.”
    â€œThere are plenty of reasons when a hooker gets hurt. Maybe she was blackmailing you.” Ralph laughed. O’Leary looked sheepish. “Yeah, right. But if I were you, I’d find those friends.”
    â€œWhat makes me your yellow dog?”
    â€œFor one thing, not telling me about them in the first place. Strangers in the building on the morning a tenant gets blown up are worth mentioning.”
    â€œI didn’t figure there was a connection. I still don’t. What’s another?”
    â€œI don’t like you.”
    â€œI ain’t crazy about you neither.”
    â€œI can live with it.” O’Leary flipped the switch off and on and off again. “For the record, it was Mrs. Gelatto told us about the three of you on the stairs. In between stories about her late husband and the marvelous curative properties of pickles.”
    â€œMaybe we should try them. Can I go now?”
    â€œI got a Mass to go to anyway. Let us know if you have any plans to leave town. You know that song.”
    Ralph stood. “What kind of Mass takes place in the middle of the week?”
    â€œIt’s a memorial service. The pastor of my wife’s church died sometime last night. They found him this morning in his bed in the rectory. You all right?”
    Ralph coughed and spat splinters into the wastebasket. “Yeah. That’s the second time today I swallowed one of the bastards. What’d you say your pastor’s name was?”
    â€œI didn’t. But it was Breame, John Breame. He was a monsignor at St. Balthazar. Sure you’re okay?”
    â€œI may start smoking again.” He went out.
    â€œNew rule, Poteet,” said Lucille Lovechild. “No more two-and-a-half-hour lunches.”
    Anita had shunted him straight into the office with one of her Cheshire grins. Ralph said, “I had to see a man about a fire.”
    â€œInteresting you should use that word.”
    â€œFire. Get back to work.”
    He stopped at Anita’s desk. She was still reading Working Woman .
    â€œAin’t that like a monk with a subscription to Playboy? ”
    â€œWhy not?” she said. “I bet he gets lucky more often than you do.”
    â€œChuck Waverly around?”
    â€œHe went out a little while ago with his camera. Lucille gave you hell, huh? Tell me everything.” She closed the magazine and cupped her chin in her palm.
    â€œWell, I hope he took the right film. Them forty-watt bulbs they put in motel rooms can barely light themselves.” He turned to go.
    â€œOh, this came for you by messenger.” She held up an envelope.
    Ralph didn’t take it. “Any windows?”
    â€œNo windows.”
    â€œMy wife’s handwriting?”
    â€œI wouldn’t know it.”
    â€œJake Otero serves papers in a messenger’s uniform. Was he a little round guy with a stupid face?”
    â€œYou’re a little round guy with a stupid face.”
    He took it. The envelope was heavy white stock, addressed in fine copperplate. “‘Mr. Ralph Poteet,’” he read aloud.
    â€œA stranger, obviously.”
    He opened it.
    Dear Mr. Poteet:
    If it is not inconvenient, your presence in my home this evening at six o’clock could prove to your advantage and mine.
    Philip Steelcase
    A card with a Farmington Hills address engraved on it was clipped to the letter, along with a crisp one-hundred-dollar bill.
    â€œIRS, I hope?” Anita inquired.
    â€œReligious mail.” He refolded the bill inside the letter and stuck it in a pocket.
    She opened her magazine. “They’re way too late.”

Chapter 7
    â€œGo away.”
    â€œThat’s no way to talk to a partner,” Ralph said.
    â€œEx-partner. You got the boot and I did too. Now I’m giving it to you. Go

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