Home > Back Spin (Myron Bolitar #4)(6)

Back Spin (Myron Bolitar #4)(6)
Author: Harlan Coben

“About a million. Nothing that can’t wait, though.” Then she asked, “Have you ever met her?”

“Who?”

“Madonna,” she snapped. “Who do you think? Win’s mother.”

“Once,” Myron said, remembering. More than ten years ago. He and Win had been having dinner at Merion, in fact. Win hadn’t spoken to her on that occasion. But she had spoken to him. The memory made Myron cringe anew.

“Have you told Win about this yet?” she asked.

“Nope. Any advice?”

Esperanza thought a moment. “Do it over the phone,” she said. “At a very safe distance.”

3

They got a quick break.

Myron was still sitting in the Coldrens’ den with Linda when Esperanza called back. Bucky had gone back to Merion to get Jack.

“The kid’s ATM card was accessed yesterday at 6:18 P.M.,” Esperanza said. “He took out $180. A First Philadelphia branch on Porter Street in South Philly.”

“Thanks.”

Information like that was not difficult to obtain. Anybody with an account number could pretty much do it with a phone by pretending they were the account holder. Even without one, any semi-human who had ever worked in law enforcement had the contacts or the access numbers or at least the wherewithal to pay off the right person. It didn’t take much anymore, not with today’s overabundance of user-friendly technology. Technology did more than depersonalize; it ripped your life wide open, gutted you, stripped away any pretense of privacy.

A few keystrokes revealed all.

“What is it?” Linda Coldren asked.

He told her.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean what you think,” she said. “The kidnapper could have gotten the PIN number from Chad.”

“Could have,” Myron said.

“But you don’t believe it, do you?”

He shrugged. “Let’s just say I’m more than a little skeptical.”

“Why?”

“The amount, for one thing. What was Chad’s max?”

“Five hundred dollars a day.”

“So why would a kidnapper only take $180?”

Linda Coldren thought a moment. “If he took too much, someone might get suspicious.”

Myron sort of frowned. “But if the kidnapper was that careful,” he began, “why risk so much for $180? Everyone knows that ATMs are equipped with security cameras. Everyone also knows that even the simplest computer check can yield a location.”

She looked at him evenly. “You don’t think my son is in danger.”

“I didn’t say that. This whole thing may look like one thing and be another. You were right before. It’s safest to assume that the kidnapping is real.”

“So what’s your next step?”

“I’m not sure. The ATM machine was on Porter Street in South Philadelphia. Is that someplace Chad likes to hang out?”

“No,” Linda Coldren said slowly. “In fact, it’s a place I would never imagine him going.”

“Why do you say that?”

“It’s a dive. One of the sleaziest parts of the city.”

Myron stood. “You got a street map?”

“In my glove compartment.”

“Good. I’ll need to borrow your car for a little while.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to drive around this ATM.”

She frowned. “What for?”

“I don’t know,” Myron admitted. “Like I said before, investigating is not very scientific. You do some legwork and you push some buttons and you hope something happens.”

Linda Coldren reached into a pocket for her keys. “Maybe the kidnappers grabbed him there,” she said. “Maybe you’ll see his car or something.”

Myron almost slapped himself in the head. A car. He had forgotten something so basic. In his mind, a kid disappearing on his way to or from school conjured up images of yellow buses or strolling sprightly with a book bag. How could he have missed something as obvious as a car trace?

He asked her the make and model. Gray Honda Accord. Hardly a car that stands out in a crowd. Pennsylvania license plate 567 AHJ. He called it in to Esperanza. Then he gave Linda Coldren his cellular phone number.

“Call me if anything happens.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll be back soon,” he said.

The ride wasn’t far. He traveled, it seemed, from green splendor to concrete crap instantaneously—like on Star Trek where they step through one of those time portals.

The ATM was a drive-through located in what would generously be labeled a business district. Tons of cameras. No human tellers. Would a kidnapper really risk this? Very doubtful. Myron wondered where he could get a copy of the bank’s videotape without alerting the police. Win might know somebody. Financial institutions were usually anxious to cooperate with the Lockwood family. The question was, would Win be willing to cooperate?

Abandoned warehouses—or at least, they looked abandoned—lined the road. Eighteen-wheelers hurried by like something out of an old convoy movie. They reminded Myron of the CB craze from his childhood. Like everyone else, his dad had bought one—a man born in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn who grew up to own an undergarment factory in Newark, barking “breaker one nine” with an accent he had picked up watching the movie Deliverance. Dad would be driving on Hobart Gap Road between their house and the Livingston Mall—maybe a one-mile drive—asking his “good buddies” if there was any sign of “smokeys.” Myron smiled at the memory. Ah, CBs. He was sure that his father still had his someplace. Probably next to the eight-track player.

On one side of the ATM was a gas station so generic that it didn’t even bother having a name. Rusted cars stood upon crumbling cinder blocks. On the other side, a dirt-bag, no-tell motel called the Court Manor Inn greeted customers with green lettering that read: $19.99 PER HOUR.

Myron Bolitar Traveling Tip #83: You may not be dealing with a five-star deluxe property when they prominently advertise hourly rates.

Under the price, in smaller black print, the sign read, MIRRORED CEILINGS AND THEME ROOMS SLIGHTLY EXTRA. Theme rooms. Myron didn’t even want to know. The last line, back in the green big print: ASK ABOUT OUR FREQUENT VISITORS CLUB. Jesus.

Myron wondered if it was worth a shot and decided, why not? It probably wouldn’t lead to anything, but if Chad was hiding out—or even if he’d been kidnapped—a no-tell was as good a place as any to disappear.

 

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