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2

THE FOLLOWING AFTERNOON at the municipal tennis courts, Moran worked his tail off to win two hard sets, hanging in there against a kid with a vicious serve and a red headband whod try to stare him down whenever Moran called a close shot out of bounds. Moran was only in doubt about his calls a couple of times. He dinked the kid to death with left-handed backspin junk, sliding the kid around on the clay, until the kid threw his racket at the fence and dug out a ten-dollar bill folded to the size of a stamp. Moran said to him, Youre all right, kid. Keep at it. He had always wanted to call somebody kid and today was the first time.

When he got back to the Coconut Palms there was Nolen Tyner out by the pool with a six-pack.

Jerry Shea, sitting at the office desk with a pile of bills, was whistling as he made entries in the ledger. Moran never knew the songs Jerry whistled. He asked him today, whats the name of that? And Jerry said, This Years Crop of Kisses. Jerry was a retired insurance salesman, sixty-seven, who cocked his golf cap to one side, slapped his broken blood vessels with Old Spice and went after lonely widows whod invite him up to their condominiums for dinner, happy to cook for somebody again, have some fun. Moran pictured withered moth-eaten flanks, or else globs of cellulite getting in the way. Jerry said there was more active poon around than you could shake a stick at. With the fat ones, you rolled them in flour and looked for the wet spot.

Moran said, sitting down, taking off his tennis shoes and socks, That guy out there drinking beer-

Mr. Nolen Tyner, Jerry said. Works for Marshall Sisco Investigations, Incorporated, Miami. Actually their office is in Coral Gables.

He told you that?

Ask a person what they do, they generally tell you, Jerry said. Especially since I recognized the address. We used to use Marshall Sisco on insurance investigations from time to time; its a good outfit. Nolen says hes been with them a year, but I think hes part-time help. Before that played dinner theaters up and down the coast and says hes been in movies. He was an actor.

I think he still is, Moran said. He checked in yesterday about two and left at six, didnt use the room.

Well, when he come in today, Jerry said, he took it for a week. Number Five. I asked him was he taking some time off and he says well, you could say that. Sort of combining business with pleasure.

Moran got up and turned to the window to look at Nolen lounging in the shade. The two secretaries from Fort Wayne had their recliners on the cement walk out by the wall, aimed at the sun that soon would be hidden behind the condo next-door, the Aurora. Morans gaze moved from their pink corrugated thighs to Number One.

How about the lovers?

Theyre in there. Jerry swiveled around from the desk. The woman got here first for a change. Then, when the piano player come, Nolen Tyner got up and went over to say something to him. They talked a few minutes, the piano player goes on inside Number One, then comes out again and has another talk with Mr. Tyner.

Arguing?

I dont believe so. A lot of nodding, both of em, getting along fine. Then the piano player goes back inside and Mr. Tyner returns to his beer.

This is a nice quiet place, Moran said. I dont want some husband coming here with a gun.

Maybe theyre friends, Jerry said. Or shes a rich woman and Nolen Tyners her bodyguard; why he thinks its pretty good duty, combining, as he says, business with pleasure.

Maybe, Moran said. But I better find out.

He didnt want to talk to the guy in his sweaty whites, barefoot; it wasnt his natural image. It reminded him of the country club, standing around in whites in polite conversation, waiters coming out with trays of tall drinks. Moran followed the walk to his bungalow, passing behind the figure reclined in the lounge chair, waved to the two 40-year-old secretaries from Fort Wayne and went inside. He drank a beer while he showered and changed into jeans, a T-shirt and dry tennis shoes, old ones that were worn through and he slipped on without socks. He got a fresh beer from the refrigerator, then on second thought another one and took them, one in each hand, out to the Marshall Sisco investigator lying in the shade.

You must like the place you sign up for a week.

Nolen Tyner opened his eyes behind the aviator sunglasses, startled, about to rise, then relaxing again as he saw Moran extending the beer.

Cold one for you, Moran said. Yours must be pretty warm by now. Four empty cans stood upright on the ground next to the lounge chair with two full ones still in the cardboard casing.

Thats very kind of you, Nolen said. He jerked the backrest of the chair up a notch and reached for the can of beer that was beaded with drops of ice water. His sleeve rode up to reveal a bluish tattoo on his right forearm, a two-inch eagle with its wings raised.

While on Morans left forearm, also extended, was his faded blue Marine Corps insignia.

They looked at each other. Nolen said, From the halls of Montezuma, huh? Smiling, popping open the can of beer.

And I take it you were airborne, Moran said. Not by any chance the Eighty-second?

Thats the one.

Second or Third Brigade maybe?

Third. Youre leading up to something, arent you?

As a matter of fact, Moran said. I wonder if you were in Santo Domingo sixteen years ago. Sitting on the bank of the Ozama River by any chance?

Sitting high on the east bank, up on the grain elevators, Nolen said, smiling some more. You dont mean to tell me you were there?

Moran pulled a recliner over with his foot and sat down, straddling the leg rest, now eye to eye with Nolan. You had a weapons squad up there, didnt you? Up on the silos, or whatever they were. With a one-oh-six recoiless rifle?

We had a bunch of em up there.

And one day youre using your one-oh-six trying to hit a sniper, firing across the river at this one guy. He was in a building the corner of Isabella Catolica and Luperon.

Nolen raised his eyebrows. Marines werent ever that close to the river. Were they?

I got excited, Moran said. The heat of the chase.

You mean you fucked up, Nolen said. Got suckered.

The dinger would fire a round, then disappear, Moran said. You never knew where youd get shot at from next.

I remember snipers, Nolen said. Yeah, and I remember the troopers talking about they took this guy out. Little fucker with an M-one.

It was a medium-size fucker with an M-fourteen, Moran said. It was me they got. Were chasing the dinger, I run upstairs, hes gone. I look out the window and a fifty-caliber racer round nearly took my head off.

Nolen was nodding again. Fired from the spotting rifle.

I know what it was fired from, Moran said. Followed by screaming one-oh-six. I had a mitt I couldve stuck my hand up and caught it.

Didnt kill you, huh?

It took out the back end of the third floor and the stairs. I got hit here, below my flack jacket and down my leg. Fifteen pieces of iron they dug out and gave me a Heart, Moran said. So you were Airborne. Whatd I bring you a beer for?

You felt something, a kinship, Nolen said, one grunt sniffing another. Ill tell you what. Even if it wasnt me Ill buy you a drink later on. Make it up to you.

Im going down there next week, Moran said.

Where?

Santo Domingo.

Jesus Christ, what for?

Walk my perimeter, see if it looks the same. Stay at the Embajador-we were bivouacked right there. Maybe look up some people. There doesnt seem to be anything going on; now its El Salvador.

If theres any place down there we can go in and fuck things up, Nolen said, Reagan and Haigll find it, dont worry.

You been back to the D.R. since?

I ate that chow just one time and got Trujillos Revenge, Nolen said. I partied with one girl, one and took home a dose. I take a vacation, man, I go to Las Vegas where everythings sanitary.

They took a sip of their beers. Looking at Moran Nolen Tyner said, Well, well

Im not gonna say its a small world, Moran said, easing back in the recliner to get comfortable, crossing his sneakers, the strings hanging loose.

You want to know how small it is, Nolen said, looking across the pool. You got a couple Dominicans right in that end apartment. The piano player and the broad, the lovers. Though my sheet says the piano player might be Puerto Rican.

I thought they might be Cuban, Moran said, all the Cubans in Miami. Your sheet-what do you mean by your sheet?

The IDs of people I got under surveillance. The broad, for example. Shes married to a guy by the name of Andres de Boya. Miami big bucks, I mean big.

Wait a minute, Moran said. The woman in there?

They got a house on Biscayne Bay looks like that Polynesian restaurant in Lauderdale, the Mai Kai, only bigger.

Moran agreed, nodding. Thats right. But the woman isnt Mrs. de Boya.

Nolen gave him a funny look, guarded. How would you know?

Mrs. Andres de Boyas from the same place I was originally, Moran said. Detroit. And shes no more Dominican than I am. Shes a very nice-looking woman. In fact shes well, shes a nice person.

Nolen was looking at the holes in the toes of Morans sneakers, the left one larger than the right. He didnt seem too sure about Moran.

Maybe its a different de Boya, a relative.

How many Andres de Boyas are there? Moran said. He was in Trujillos government, something like twenty years ago, right up to the time Trujillo got shot on the way to see his girlfriend.

Twenty-seven times they hit him, Nolen said. A prick like that, I guess you have to be sure.

Moran was patient. De Boya came to Miami-I imagine with a few million hed scored. He was a general in charge of something or other

Something or other-try head of the secret police, Nolen said, the Cascos Blancos, the white helmets. Youre a poor Dominican you see a guy wearing a liner painted white you run for the fucking hills.

I thought he owned sugar mills, Moran said.

Thats how he got rich. Trujillo used to pass out sugar mills for good behavior. Three days after the old dictators killed, de Boyas on his yacht bound for Miami. With all the U.S. dollars he could get his hands on. Nolen was looking at Morans sneakers again; his gaze thoughtful, still somewhat skeptical as it raised to Morans beach-bum bearded face.

How do you know him?

Leucadendra Country Club. I played golf with him a few times. Actually it was twice, Moran said, in the same foursome. That was enough.

Too rich for your blood, uh, the bets? Little Nassau?

No, the guy cheats, Moran said. You believe it? Guy thats worth, easy, forty fifty million, he cheats on a hundred-dollar round of golf and all the clucks, the guys that play with him, know it. I couldnt believe it. They not only pay up they go, Gee, Mr. de Boya, give him all this shit what a great game he plays.

Nolen said, Yeah? Still a little hesitant. What about you? You pay him?

No, as a matter of fact I didnt, Moran said. My father-in-law at the time, I thought he was gonna have a stroke. You out of your mind? You know who that is, for Christs sake? I said, Yeah, a guy that cheats. Fuck him. My father-in-law goes, A hundred bucks, Christ, Ill give you the hundred. I tried to explain to him that wasnt the point, but my father-in-law was nervous because de Boya was putting money in his condominium developments and I worked for him, my father-in-law. So he was afraid it would look like he was siding with me, not making me come across. I told him that was too bad, I wasnt gonna pay any tinhorn hacks his way out of the rough like hes cutting weeds, three-putts the hole and says he took a five. Bullshit.

You belong to Leucadendra? Nolens tone of skepticism was giving way to mild surprise.

Not anymore, Moran said. De Boya tried to get me blackballed. He not only didnt like the way I played golf, he hinted around I was trying to hit on his wife.

Were you?

No. I told you, shes a very nice person. Her name was Mary Delaney, worked for de Boyas lawyer before they got married.

Change her luck and marry a spic, uh, with fifty million. Shit, Id marry him too.

Be careful, Moran said.

Nolen grinned. Got a little soft spot there? I wont say another word.

De Boya didnt get me blackballed, Moran said, but it didnt help my standing at the club any. Then when my wife divorced me for not playing the game, her dad helped give me a shove and there went the club membership. Which was fine, I never liked golf that much anyway.

So you were married to bucks, too.

Moran shrugged. It mightve worked, it didnt, thats all. The last time I saw de Boya-he came by here about six eight months ago like nothing had happened, like he hardly knew me, and offered to buy the place, build a condominium.

Whatd you tell him?

I turned him down. I got real estate people calling here every week. Theyre trying to build a solid wall of condos from Key West to Jacksonville.

I wont ask you the last time you saw his wife. Nolen grinned to show he was kidding around.

Moran didnt grin. He said, Good. We leave her out of this. He said, I understand you had a talk with the piano player today.

You got eyes even when youre not here, Nolen said. Yeah, actually I felt sorry for him. I told him I had him under surveillance with a woman he wasnt supposed to be with. Then, before he started to sweat I told him he was perfectly safe, I wasnt gonna turn him in. Even though I was taking a terrible risk.

You made him understand, Moran said, the risk ought to be worth something.

Like fifty a day. Why not.

And you dont even give em clean towels, Moran said. What do you do when youre not hanging out?

I rest, Nolen said. I got rid of my goals, decided to take it one day at a time. Dont overdo it, never drink more than a case of beer or a fifth of booze in any given day. Unless theres a party.

Ive always admired restraint, Moran said. Not overreaching your capabilities.

There you are, Nolen said. I was an actor for twenty years. Well, ten years professionally. Some film work in New York, mostly dinner theater down here. Youre trying to act, the audiences sitting there trying not to break wind out loud. They want to leave, go home, but not any moren I do. I played either the lead guys buddy or the broads brother. You know, just a straight asshole type of guy, wrings his hands a lot, opens his eyes real wide: Gee, Scott, I dont know if Id do that. Doesnt ever know what the fucks going on. I start playing the guy as a drunk, give the part a little dimension. Or Id play it, give it just a hint the guys homosexual. But the asshole directors on that dinner circuit, to get any respect from them you had to be Forrest Tucker Doug McClure. You know what I mean? That type.

I imagine its tough, Moran said, when you think of all the Doug McClures out there. He saw Nolen eyeing the two Fort Wayne secretaries, their chairs backed up to the low cement wall, the high-rise shade now up to their knees.

Im at a motel in Golden Shores, Nolen said, looking at Moran again. Its not bad, three bills a month, its fairly clean. The thing is, Id like very much to give you the business-

I think you are, Moran said.

But even your off-season rate, thirty bucks a day, and you know, come on, thats not only steep its unrealistic. Maybe not for transients, no. But what Im offering you is the assurance of a permanent tenant.

How permanent?

What have you got? With the lovers and the secretaries you got about four units out of twelve rented, am I right? And its like that I bet eight nine months of the year. Okay. For a fair rate youll have guaranteed occupancy of Number Five the year round. Ill even help you out keeping the place up. Skim the pool, cut the grass-

We dont have any grass.

Feed the chickens-I dont know what you do around there. You tell me.

Six hundred, Moran said.

Nolen said, George, six hundred, I can get a furnished two-bedroom apartment for six hundred.

Maybe over at the Seminole Indian Reservation. Not on the beach you cant.

How about three? For old times sake, the Dominican Republic, Nolen said. Ill entertain the secretaries, teach em how to sit up and roll over. Listen, Ill even sign a years lease.

And leave in the dead of night, Moran thought. But what would he be out? He liked Nolen. He didnt trust him especially, but he didnt have to. Moran said, Okay, but no smoking in bed. You promise?

Saturday Nolen Tyner moved into Number Five with everything he owned. Two old suitcases and several cardboard boxes loaded with magazines, letters, glossy photographs of himself in different outfits and poses, a hair dryer. A liquor case that held bottles of scotch, vodka and rum, most of them nearly empty. A lot of clothes, soiled-looking, out-of-style shirts, trousers and sport coats doubled up over bent hangers. A big Northern tissue box of sporty shoes, tan ones and white perforated ones that caught Jerrys eye and Nolen told him he could have any pair he wanted if they fit. The mans life was in cardboard boxes he carried from one motel to another.

Jerry left with his shoes and Nolen poured Moran and himself a scotch to mark the occasion.

He said, Youre right, that Dominican broad is not de Boyas wife.

You find out who she is? Moran sat at the Formica table with his drink.

Shes de Boyas sister. I see the address, Bal Harbor, Nolen said, I guess I assumed theyre separated and she moved out. So this morning I ask Marshall, Whyd you tell me its the guys wife? He goes, I didnt tell you that. I told you her names Anita and who the client is, thats all. You musta decided shes his wife. Marshalls one of those guys, hes never wrong. He gives me the information on the back of an envelope.

His sister, Moran said. I didnt know he had one.

Anitas forty-two, divorced for the third time. Nolen poured himself a little more scotch. She starts fooling around de Boya calls Marshall. Anita is doing it again with somebody. De Boya protecting the family name. Find out who she is fucking and let me know. Thiss been going on for years. One time he follows her all over Miami, she keeps giving him the slip. Marshalls sitting in his car in front of a place over on Collins Avenue, a store where he knows she went in. He looks in his rearview mirror, Christ, here she comes up behind him in her Mercedes, slams into the ass-end of Marshalls car, backs up, doesnt give a shit her grilles all smashed in, and gives him the finger as she drives past. Gives him the old finger Another time, Anita starts out shes balling this jai-alai star in Dania. Right in the middle of the investigation, Marshalls moving in, getting the goods, she switches over to a bongo player with some reggae band doing a gig on the Beach. This broad, shes got gold fixtures in her bathroom, I mean gold, man, and shes fucking this guy wears a wool cap pulled down over his dreadlocks out in the sand. They dont even get a room.

Love is funny, Moran said.

Sunday night Moran saw lights on in Number One and checked with Jerry. Jerry said it was the Latin lovers, theyd paid for the place they could come anytime they wanted, couldnt they? Moran was always patient with Jerry; he said yeah, but why at night all of a sudden when up till now theyd only come afternoons from one to five? Jerry said, dont ask me; those Cubans, you never know what theyre up to. Moran checked with Nolen and Nolen said the piano player was off Sunday and Monday. Moran said well, maybe they were seeing what it was like at night, like regular folks. He wouldnt worry about it.


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