Seconds Away Page 25

“I’m going to be home late,” Myron said. “Angelica is filming tonight and I need to be there. Will you be okay?”

Why did I feel such relief when I knew he wouldn’t be around?

“I’ll be fine, don’t worry.”

We said we’d stay in touch and hung up. Tyrell and I managed to scrape up enough players for one more game, but then it was pretty much over for the night. Guys said good-bye and drifted away until it was only Tyrell and me left. The two of us shot around and shared some laughs. I beat him in a game of horse by only one letter, and he immediately demanded a rematch. We started breaking out trick shots and then, because this was the other magic of sports, we started talking for real.

“My friend was shot,” I told him. “Her mother was killed.”

Tyrell stopped. “For real?”


He asked for details. I told him about Rachel, about Ema and Spoon, about Troy’s speech at practice, about everything that happened at the Plan B nightclub.

When I finished, Tyrell shook his head and said, “Man, you have a way of finding trouble.”

“I like to think trouble finds me.”

“And I like to think every girl in school wants my bod,” Tyrell said. “Doesn’t make it so. Anyway, my old man told me you were involved in all those arrests at that nightclub. He didn’t know what to make of it either.”

I should have figured as much. Tyrell’s father worked as an investigator for Essex County.

“In fact, Dad probably would’ve been the one to interview you, except he’s working on this big drug ring in your hometown.”

As if on cue, we heard a voice say, “Good to see you guys working on your game.”

Tyrell’s father smiled as he approached. His jacket was off, so I could see the badge and gun hanging from his belt. Mr. Waters gave his son a hug. If Tyrell was embarrassed about it, he didn’t show it. He hugged his father back, and I felt a pang of envy.

Mr. Waters turned to me. “Hello, Mickey.”

“Hello, Mr. Waters.”

“How are things?”

Last time I was down here, Mr. Waters had driven me home. He’d seen Shaved Head following me and had grown concerned. When we reached Myron’s house, he gave me his card and told me to call in case of trouble.

“I’m fine.”

He kept his eyes on me. I realized that he was a county investigator, probably working in the same division as Investigator Dunleavy. I wondered whether he knew that I’d been questioned about the shooting at the Caldwell house.

“What do you say I take you guys out for a quick bite and then I can drive Mickey home?”

“Thanks for the offer,” I said, “but I can take the bus.”

“It’s no hassle. I have to be in Kasselton for a case anyway. It’ll be good to have the company.”

That was what he had said last time, but there had been something of an ulterior motive. Of course, the ulterior motive was that he’d been worried about me.

“It’s late and I’m starving,” Mr. Waters said. “What do you boys say?”

Tyrell turned to me. “Come on. You gotta eat, right?”

Hard to argue with that logic. We headed to Hobby’s Deli and sat in the corner. All three of us ordered triple-decker sandwiches the approximate size of a catcher’s mitt. It was the best sandwich I had ever eaten. On a scale of one to ten, if this was a ten, the next best sandwich I’d had was a three.

“Cops always know the best places to eat,” Mr. Waters explained.

He asked us about our day, about our studies, about our basketball. He listened and I could see how much he was enjoying this. I was enjoying it too, but that pang never left. He dropped Tyrell at their two-family house on Pomona Avenue. Tyrell kissed his father’s cheek before he got out. Another pang.

Tyrell fist-bumped me and said, “Kick that Troy guy’s ass.”

“Will do.”

Mr. Waters waited until Tyrell was inside before driving again. Neither one of us said anything for a few minutes. Then Mr. Waters broke the silence. “I hear you were questioned by my colleague Investigator Dunleavy.”

Just as I’d suspected. “Yes, sir.”

But hearing her name reminded me of something else—in Rachel’s hospital room, hiding under the bed, Chief Taylor’s voice . . .

A homicide detective named Anne Marie Dunleavy will be coming by to interview you. Don’t feel obligated to talk to her before we speak again, okay?

What had that been about?

“Everything okay, Mickey?”

“Fine, yes. I’m a friend of Rachel Caldwell’s, that’s all.”

“I see.”

“She and I talked on the phone before the shooting,” I said.

Mr. Waters nodded, both hands on the wheel, his eyes straight ahead. “It’s a terrible thing. What happened to her mother. Gunned down like that.”

I said nothing.

“Did you know her?” he asked.

“Rachel’s mother?”


“No, we never met.”

“How’s Rachel holding up?” he asked.

I squirmed in my seat. I didn’t want to tell him that I’d sneaked into the hospital, but I didn’t want to lie either. “She seems better.”

“That’s good. How about Henry?”


“Henry Caldwell. Her father.” We hit a traffic light and came to a stop. Mr. Waters turned and met my eye. “How’s he doing?”

“I don’t know Mr. Caldwell.”

“No?” Mr. Waters arched an eyebrow. “I just figured, you being such good friends with Rachel and all, that you’d have met one of her parents.”

“I haven’t,” I said softly. “And I don’t really know her all that well.”

“But you talked on the phone right before the shooting.”

This was sounding less and less like a casual conversation. “We were partners on a history project,” I said.

He waited. When I didn’t add anything else, Mr. Waters said, “And you two were both involved in that mess at the Plan B nightclub.”

“Yes,” I said.

We pulled up to Myron’s house. Mr. Waters turned off the engine. “Mickey?”


“Are you sure there’s nothing you need to tell me?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“No? First, you have some weird bald dude following you in a black car. Then you get involved in a big-time arrest at an adult nightclub. And now, well, this shooting in your hometown.”

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