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Home > Back Spin (Myron Bolitar #4)(7)

Back Spin (Myron Bolitar #4)(7)
Author: Harlan Coben

He parked in the lot. The Court Manor was a textbook two-level dump. The outer stairs and walkway terraces were made of rotting wood. The cement walls had that unfinished, swirling look that could cut your hand if you leaned against it wrong. Small chunks of concrete lay on the ground. An unplugged Pepsi machine guarded the door like one of the Queen’s guards. Myron passed it and entered.

He’d expected to find the standard no-tell lobby interior—that is, an unshaven Neanderthal in a sleeveless, too-short undershirt chewing on a toothpick while sitting behind bullet-proof glass burping up a beer. Or something like that. But that was not the case. The Court Manor Inn had a high wooden desk with a bronze sign reading CONCIERGE on top of it. Myron tried not to snicker. Behind the desk, a well-groomed, baby-faced man in his late twenties stood at attention. He wore a pressed shirt, starched collar, dark tie tied in a perfect Windsor knot. He smiled at Myron.

“Good afternoon, sir!” he exclaimed. He looked and sounded like a John Tesh substitute on Entertainment Weekly. “Welcome to the Court Manor Inn!”

“Yeah,” Myron said. “Hi.”

“May I be of some service to you today, sir?”

“I hope so.”

“Great! My name is Stuart Lipwitz. I’m the new manager of the Court Manor Inn.” He looked at Myron expectantly.

Myron said, “Congrats.”

“Well, thank you, sir, that’s very kind. If there are any problems—if anything at the Court Manor does not meet your expectations—please let me know immediately. I will handle it personally.” Big smile, puffed-out chest. “At the Court Manor, we guarantee your satisfaction.”

Myron just looked at him for a minute, waiting for the full-wattage smile to dim a bit. It didn’t. Myron took out the photograph of Chad Coldren.

“Have you seen this young man?”

Stuart Lipwitz did not even look down. Still smiling, he said, “I’m sorry, sir. But are you with the police?”

“No.”

“Then I’m afraid I can’t help you. I’m very sorry.”

“Pardon me?”

“I’m sorry, sir, but here at the Court Manor Inn we pride ourselves on our discretion.”

“He’s not in any trouble,” Myron said. “I’m not a private eye trying to catch a cheating husband or anything like that.”

The smile did not falter or sway. “I’m sorry, sir, but this is the Court Manor Inn. Our clientele use our services for a variety of activities and often crave anonymity. We at the Court Manor Inn must respect that.”

Myron studied the man’s face, searching for some signal that this was a put-on. Nothing. His whole persona glowed like a performer in an Up with People halftime show. Myron leaned over the desk and checked out the shoes. Polished like twin mirrors. The hair was slicked back. The sparkle in the eye looked real.

It took Myron some time, but he finally saw where this was leading. He took out his wallet and plucked a twenty from the billfold. He slid it across the counter. Stuart Lipwitz looked at it but made no move.

“What’s this for, sir?”

“It’s a present,” Myron said.

Stuart Lipwitz did not touch it.

“It’s for one piece of information,” Myron continued. He plucked out another and held it in the air. “I have another, if you’d like.”

“Sir, we have a credo here at the Court Manor Inn: The guest must come first.”

“Isn’t that a prostitute’s credo?”

“Pardon me, sir?”

“Never mind,” Myron said.

“I am the new manager of the Court Manor Inn, sir.”

“So I’ve heard.”

“I also own ten percent.”

“Your mom must be the envy of her mah-jongg group.”

Still the smile. “In other words, sir, I am in it for the long term. That’s how I look at this business. Long term. Not just today. Not just tomorrow. But into the future. For the long term. You see?”

“Oh,” Myron said flatly. “You mean long term?”

Stuart Lipwitz snapped his fingers. “Precisely. And our motto is this: There are many places you can spend your adultery dollar. We want it to be here.”

Myron waited a moment. Then he said, “Noble.”

“We at the Court Manor Inn are working hard to earn your trust, and trust has no price. When I wake up in the morning, I have to look at myself in the mirror.”

“Would that mirror be on the ceiling?”

Still smiling. “Let me explain it another way,” he said. “If the client knows that the Court Manor Inn is a place he can feel safe to commit an indiscretion, he or she will be more likely to return.” He leaned forward, his eyes wet with excitement. “Do you see?”

Myron nodded. “Repeat business.”

“Precisely.”

“Referrals too,” Myron added. “Like, ‘Hey Bob, I know a great place to get some ass on the side.’ ”

A nod added to the smile. “So you understand.”

“That’s all very nice, Stuart, but this kid is fifteen years old. Fifteen.” Actually, Chad was sixteen, but what the hey. “That’s against the law.”

The smile stayed, but now it signaled disappointment in the favorite pupil. “I hate to disagree with you, sir, but the statutory rape law in this state is fourteen. And secondly, there is no law against a fifteen-year-old renting a motel room.”

The guy was dancing too much, Myron thought. No reason to go through this rigmarole if the kid had never been here. Then again, let’s face facts. Stuart Lipwitz was probably enjoying this. The guy was several french fries short of a Happy Meal. Either way, Myron thought, it was time to shake the tree a bit.

“It is when he is assaulted in your motel,” Myron said. “It is when he claims that someone got an extra key from the front desk and used it to break into the room.” Mr. Bluff Goes to Philadelphia.

“We don’t have extra keys,” Lipwitz said.

“Well, he got in somehow.”

Still the smile. Still the polite tone. “If that were the case, sir, the police would be here.”

“That’s my next stop,” Myron said, “if you don’t cooperate.”

“And you want to know if this young man”—Lipwitz gestured to the photograph of Chad—“stayed here?”

“Yes.”

The smile actually brightened a bit. Myron almost shaded his eyes. “But, sir, if you are telling the truth, then this young man would be able to tell if he was here. You wouldn’t need me for that, correct?”

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