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2

JAY WALT WAS getting a coffee, cream and sugar, to go.

Ryan slid onto a stool between a couple of black girls with coats on, visitors, and hunched over the menu. He didnt feel like talking to Jay Walt in the coffee shop of the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, ninth floor: Jay Walt talked out loud wherever he was, even on an elevator. When Ryan was with him hed feel people looking at them.

Jesus Christ, hey, where you been? Move down one, honey, okay? You mind? Thank you, sweetheart.

Ryan looked up at the beige leisure suit and trench coat over one arm-belt and rings and epaulets-and the alligator attach case and the coffee to go with the plastic lid, all of it being wedged in against the counter, close to him.

Whatre you, so busy you dont call your answering service anymore? I been trying to get you, two days I been calling. I figure youre shacked up with some broad filed for divorce. Needs a little sympathy, huh? I know, dont tell me, buddy, I been there.

Jay Walts back filled and stretched the double-knit suit. The black girl next to him looked over. It was close in here, humid, the stools filled shoulder to shoulder.

I figure you had some paper, Ryan said, no hurry. I was going to call you today or tomorrow. But I dont think I can handle it right now.

Jesus, you eat in here? Jay Walt pulled his tinted glasses off to look at the vapor forming.

Not too often. Usually Im downtown, I go around to the Hellas-

Eat that Greek shit?

-or the Athens. Sounding like he was apologizing.

I grab a cup, Jay Walt said, drink it in the car, make a few phone calls.

You got a phone in the Mark now?

Naw, new Cadillac Seville. Its small, you know, but its okay. With the phone, shit, I could drive to Miami handle all my business I dont have to do personally. Jay Walt was peeling the lid off his coffee to go.

Ryan was hot in his raincoat. He ought to take it off. He looked past Jay Walt to get the waitress. Get something and get out. Jay Walt glistened. His styled hair, like a grayish ace cap, glistened with spray. His nose glistened, and his tinted wire-frame glasses glistened and reflected the overhead light. The waitress wouldnt look this way. Shed made up her mind, nothing was going to make her look. He could get up and leave. He wasnt sure why hed come in here anyway, or why hed come downtown. He hadnt been downtown in a month. He hadnt seen Jay Walt in about two months. He didnt like fast-food counter places with slow service. Tell Jay Walt hed changed his mind.

Christ, walk out if you want. You dont have to explain anything.

Ryan said, Well, I think Im going to give up on getting served.

You want the waitress?

No, never mind. The guy would probably yell at her to get her ass down here, then call her honey and sweetheart and give her a lot of bullshit with everybody listening. Ryan started to turn the stool to ease out of there. Ill call you later on, okay?

Wait a minute, sit still. Jay Walt laid his hand on Ryans arm and left it there. I got you, let me tell you what I want.

Ill come by. Id have to pick up the papers, anyway. Hed do it, just to get out of here.

Its not papers. I want you to find a guy for me.

Ryan could see it coming. A guy ran out on his car payments and took the car, disappeared. Something like that. He said, What do you need me for? Call the police.

Its not that kind of a thing, Jay Walt said. No paper, no summons, anything like that. I just want you to locate a guy for me. A Robert Leary, Jr. Hes probably around sixty. Say fifty-five to sixty-five. Find out where I can reach him and let me know. Thats all. You dont have to hand the guy anything or even talk to him.

So hes not in the phone book or the city directory. Ryan turned back to the counter, but Jay Walts hand remained on his arm.

A lot of people arent. But this guy, he doesnt even have a credit record. Can you imagine that today, no credit record? Not even a rotten one. I put some of my guys on it, thats as far as those shitheads could go, phone book and a credit check. Its going to take a pro, I can see that. So who do I think of first, immediately?

Whatd the guy do?

He didnt do anything. Theres nothing illegal, its a business thing. Client of mine, guy I do business with, wants to find him. Why would you have to know anything about it? You understand?

How much?

Jay Walt finally let go of Ryans arm. He took a sip of coffee and touched a napkin to his mouth. Guarantee you a hundred and a half for three days. No, shit, say two days. Youre fast, the way you work. You dont locate him in two days, you get paid anyway and we talk about it some more, see if theres any point in continuing.

This client of yours-he pays the bills?

Sure he does, hes looking for the guy, Im not. Im helping him out strictly as a favor.

Ryan got out his notebook. How do you spell his name? The guy Im looking for.

Robert Leary. L-e-a-r-y. Junior. J-u-n-i-o-r. Jay Walt glanced over to see if the girl next to him was listening, appreciating him. She was biting into a club sandwich, then wiped some mayonnaise from the corner of her mouth. Last known address 146 Arden Park.

Ryan looked at him with a question.

I know, Jay Walt said, its all colored down there now, but its still a pretty good street-big houses, mansions. I think a lot of colored doctors must live there, or else its all whorehouses, I dont know.

Ryan was sure the girl was still listening. Dumb guy. Thats what it was, not his confidence, he was just dumb, he didnt have any feelings. Ryan said, When did Robert Leary, Jr., live there? How long ago?

Nineteen forty-one. It was still solid white then, a very classy address.

That was thirty-five years ago-you dont have anything else? Something current?

Jackie, if I had something current Id have called the guy up by now. This is why Im talking to the pro, guaranteeing a hundred and a half.

The Jackie stopped Ryan. Jay Walt was the only person he knew who ever called him that. Ryan didnt consider himself a Jackie. It hooked him, Jay saying it in his loud voice.

You want me to do it, Ryan said, itll be twenty bucks an hour. A hundred and a half gets you one day. But Ill probably have to make some inquiries and theyll have to be followed up the next day or maybe even the day after, so it looks to me like were talking about three hundred guaranteed. If thats too steep for you, then put your shitheads back on it.

Jay Walt was staring at him through his tinted glasses. Whatd I say?

You didnt say anything.

All of a sudden, on the muscle.

Im telling you the terms, my rate on something like this. Ryan kept his voice low, calm but with a little edge to it. Since youre not paying, what do you care what I charge, right? Or do you have to get an okay?

I got a little flexibility in negotiating, Jay Walt said. Naturally. Its pretty much up to me.

So maybe Im low, Ryan said, and we should start over.

No, I think you did pretty good. Youre coming along, Jackie.

Also, a hundred and a half in advance, Ryan said. I dont mean in ninety days, I mean before I do anything.

Ill call the guy, Jay Walt said, have him mail you a check. He hesitated. No, wait a minute-

How about if I pick it up? Save him the trouble.

Well, actually, see, he doesnt want to deal with too many people. This guy, hes from out of town, doesnt have a lot of time. Jay Walt was thinking and talking at the same time.

Ryan saw it. If he sends me a check, Im going to know who he is, anyway. Whats his name?

Lets keep it simple. Jay Walt had his billfold out and his thoughts in order. I give you the advance, you wont have to worry about it anymore. We keep the deal simple, strictly between you and me.

Why dont you want me to know who it is?

Jay Walt was holding the billfold open, looking inside.

Ryan watched him. The girl was eating her sandwich, not paying any attention. Hey, Jay? Whats the big secret? Whats it about?

You wouldnt know the guy, anyway. Hes from out of town.

Then whats the difference?

You want the hundred and a half or not?

Ryan didnt ask any more questions.

He got right on it, beginning with the Detroit City Directory for 1941. Then looked up the next few years.

Robert Leary, Jr., was not listed as a resident of 146 Arden Park in any of the volumes. Allen Anderson was the only name that appeared.

Next he visited the records section, Detroit Department of Health. Robert Leary, Jr., finally showed up. Born at Harper Hospital. Parents, Robert J. and Clara Anne. Date of birth

Ryan paused, looking at the date. Right there-July 20, 1941-his job ceased to be routine. Or else somebody had made a mistake. Robert Leary, Jr., at least the one on record, was not sixty years old. He was thirty-five.

Board of Education records confirmed it. Robert Leary, Jr., had attended Cass Technical High School during the years 1957-58. There was no record of his having graduated.

At the Wayne County Clerks office Ryan found out that Robert Leary, Jr., and a Denise Leann Watson had been issued a marriage license August 11, 1973.

There was no Denise Leary or Watson listed in the telephone directory.

Ryan was in a phone booth in the lobby of the Detroit City-County Building. He called his friend Dick Speed and arranged to meet him at the Athens Bar on Monroe, around the corner from police headquarters.

In an hour, Dick Speed said.

That was fine with Ryan. It would give him a chance to look up probate court records and see if he could learn something about the Allen Anderson family, who were living at 146 Arden Park the year Robert Leary, Jr., was born. There was a connection, or else Leary wouldnt have been listed with that address.

Ryan had another idea. Before he left the phone booth he called both the Detroit News and the Free Press and dictated an insertion for their personal columns in the classified section. Both for tomorrows editions.

He almost called Jay Walt, to tell him what he had learned so far, then decided no, dont appear eager. Make it look easy.

Ryan and Dick Speed had gone to high school at the same time, Catholic Central. Both had played varsity football and baseball and American Legion ball. Both their dads had worked at Ford Highland Park. Ryan remembered Speeds brush cut in 62, the year he graduated from Western Michigan with a Phys. Ed. major. He had tried out as a free-agent defensive back with the Browns, Bengals, Redskins, and Lions and finally put in his application at the Detroit Police Academy. Ryan had thought hed make the pros on his name alone, Christ, Dick Speed, six-one, two-ten; but Speed found out he couldnt back-pedal worth a shit and those skinny black wide receivers would show him a hip and be on their way.

Dick Speed had hair now, layers of it, and choker beads and tight faded Levis and a.357 Mag that was almost as big as Clint Eastwoods.

Sipping his Strohs in the Athens Bar, he told Ryan he was with Squad Six now-a special unit of the Criminal Investigation Division that handled drug-related homicides: a lot of execution-type killings where the guy was tied up and gagged and shot in the head.

Like in the movies, Ryan said.

The movies, shit, Dick Speed said. I mean you cant imagine the mess, a guy gets hit in the head. All over the wall, the floor. Jesus, its something.

You ever get sick?

No, I never did. These other guys, the old pros, theyd wait to see how youre going to take it. But I never have been sick. Knock wood. Shit, knock Formica in this place.

I wanted to ask you if you could do me a favor.

The movies, listen, you want to see the real thing, Dick Speed said, I can arrange it, ride in the meat wagon sometime. Shit, youd die.

Then what would I want to do it for?

Sunday morning earlys the best time. Come back to Receiving with the meat wagon, then stop by the morgue, see all the Saturday night hotshots, the good time they had.

Ryan was polite and listened and made a few comments, but he wasnt buying him beer to learn about dope-related executions or Sunday mornings at the morgue.

Listen, Ryan said, I got to get over to Probate before it closes-where he had just come from-and I was wondering if you could do me a favor. Look and see if you got a sheet on a Robert Leary, Jr.

Whats he supposed tove done?

Nothing I know of, Ryan said. But if a guys hard to find, I was wondering maybe its because hes got something to hide. Am I wrong?

There could be all kinds of reasons, Dick Speed said. Maybe he owes money, hasnt paid his alimony. You sure this guys still around?

No, Im not, but I started thinking-what if hes in jail? Im looking up all the records and hes sitting there waiting.

You know something youre not telling me?

No, its just a thought, Ryan said. Something I mightve overlooked.


| Unknown Man #89 | c