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Page 22


When Ken finally untied Doug Waites, he left him with a simple warning: “If you ever speak of this, I will come back and it will be worse for you.”
For the next two days, Doug Waites did not speak at all. He was taken away on the third day. Neither Ken nor Barbie ever heard from Waites again.
They continued as counselors, occasionally disciplining others when the need arose. There was the nasty boy who mercilessly bullied others. There was another counselor who sneaked alcohol into the camp and gave it to the young campers. Both were taken to that same spot in the woods.
At one point, Ken and Barbie made what some might consider a mistake. They had tortured a filthy young man—he had sneaked into a girl’s cabin and defiled someone’s brassiere—but they didn’t realize that the filthy young man’s father was a leading mobster from New York City. When his father learned what happened—tormenting his son until he spilled the beans—he sent his two best soldiers to “take care” of Ken and Barbie. But Ken and Barbie were no slack amateurs anymore. When the two mobsters came for them, Ken and Barbie were ready. They turned the tables on them. Ken killed one of them with his bare hands. The other had been captured and taken into the woods. Barbie took her time with him. She was more thorough than ever. Eventually they had let the other soldier live, though in his case, it probably would have been kinder to have put him down.
When word got back to the father-mobster who had put out the original hit, he had been duly impressed—and maybe scared. Instead of sending out more soldiers, he offered them both peace and work. Ken and Barbie agreed. These were, they realized, bad guys hurting other bad guys. It felt to them like destiny. When camp ended, they left their respective families, telling their loved ones that they would be traveling missionaries, which, in some sense, was true.
The cell phone rang. Ken picked it up and said, “Good afternoon, Mr. Goldberg!”
When he finished the call, Barbie moved toward him. “We have another lead?”
“We do.”
“Tell me.”
“An attorney named Harry Sutton. He represents whores.”
Barbie nodded.
They both knelt down next to Tawny. Tawny began to cry.
“You get it now,” Ken said to her. “How wrong this life is for you.”
Tawny continued to cry.
“We will give you a chance,” Barbie said, her smile beatific. She reached into her handbag and pulled something out. “This is a bus ticket out of here.”
“You’ll use it?” Ken asked.
Tawny nodded vigorously.
“When you first saw us,” Barbie said, “you thought we were angels sent to save you.”
“Maybe,” Ken added, “you were right.”
That would have been the prudent course to take. She had done her bit—or as much of it as she could—and now it was time to slip back into her safe cocoon.
Instead she headed over to La Crème.
She sat now at the bar, the one in the far back dark corner. Her old friend Lorraine was working it. When she first entered, Lorraine had said, “Am I supposed to be surprised?”
“I guess not.”
“What can I get you?”
Megan pointed at the bottle behind Lorraine. “Grey Goose on the rocks with four limes.”
Lorraine frowned. “Instead of Grey Goose, how about Brand X watered down and poured from a Grey Goose bottle?”
“Even better.”
While Megan, like most adults, bemoaned e-mails and texting, here was where it came in handy: She’d texted Dave that she’d be home late tonight, knowing, of course, that he wouldn’t be able to hear the lie in her tone or follow up with too many questions.
She nursed the drink and told Lorraine about her visit with Broome.
“Do you remember him?” Megan asked.
“Broome? Sure. I still see him on occasion. Good guy. I threw him a one-timer, what, nine, ten years ago.”
“You’re kidding.”
“Love me for my generosity of heart.” Lorraine cleaned a glass with an old rag and offered up that smile. “Actually I liked him.”
“You like everybody.”
“Generosity of heart.”
“Not to mention body.”
Lorraine spread her arms. “Be a shame to let this go to waste.”
“Truer words.”
“So,” Lorraine said, stretching out the word, “did you tell Broome about my maybe seeing Stewart Green?”
“Why not?”
“I didn’t know if you’d want me to.”
“Could be important,” Lorraine said.
“Could be.”
Lorraine kept cleaning the same glass. Then: “It probably wasn’t Stewart I saw.”
Megan said nothing.
“I mean, it probably just looked like him. Now that I hear your story, I mean, you saw him dead, right?”
“So if you saw him dead, then I couldn’t have seen him alive.” Lorraine shook her head. “Man, did I just say that? I need a drink. Either way, I was probably wrong.”
“Hell of a thing to be wrong about,” Megan said.
“Yeah, well.” Lorraine put the glass down. “But for the sake of argument, let’s say I did see Stewart Green.”
“Where has he been for the past seventeen years? What’s he been doing all that time?”
“And,” Megan added, “why come back now?”
“Exactly,” Lorraine said.
“Maybe we should tell Broome.”
Lorraine thought about it. “Maybe.”
“I mean, if he’s back…”
“Yeah, tell him,” Lorraine said, snapping the rag across the bar. “But don’t tell him who you heard it from, okay?”
“You will remain uninvolved.”
“The way I like it.”
“Despite your generosity of heart.”
Lorraine was cleaning a glass with too much intensity. “So now what, sweetheart?”
Megan shrugged. “I go home.”
“Just like that?”
“If Stewart Green really is back…” The thought made her shudder.
“You’d be in serious danger,” Lorraine said.
Lorraine leaned on the bar. Her perfume smelled of jasmine. “Did Broome ask why you came back?”
“And you gave him all that talk about needing to find the truth.”