Live wire, p.28
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       Live Wire, p.28

         Part #10 of Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben
 
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  Mom was with them, of course. And Mickey too. Mickey had borrowed a suit from Myron. The fit was far from perfect. Myron was last in line, making sure, he guessed, that no one fell too far behind.

  The sun beat down at them with a fury. Myron looked up and squinted into it. His eyes watered. So much had changed since Suzze had first come to his office for help.

  Help. What a joke when you thought about it.

  Esperanza's husband had not only sued for divorce, but he was indeed going for sole custody of Hector. Part of his claim was that Esperanza kept long hours at her job, neglecting her maternal duties. Esperanza had been so freaked out by the threat that she asked Myron to buy her out, but the thought of working at MB Reps without Esperanza or Win was too disheartening. In the end, after much discussion, they agreed to sell MB Reps. The mega-agency that bought it decided to merge companies and get rid of the MB name.

  Big Cyndi was using her severance package to take some time off and write a tell-all memoir. The world awaits.

  Win was still in hiding. Myron had only gotten one message from him in the past six weeks--an e-mail with a short, simple message:

  You are in my heart.

  But Yu and Mee are in my pants.

  Win.

  Terese, his fiancee, was still not able to leave Angola, and now, with all the sudden changes in his life, Myron couldn't go back there. Not yet. Maybe not for a very long time.

  As they neared the burial plot, Myron caught up to Mickey. "You okay?"

  "Fine," Mickey said, quickening his pace and putting some distance between himself and his uncle. He did that a lot. A minute later, they all came to a stop.

  No headstone marked Brad's gravesite yet. Just a placard.

  For a long time, no one spoke. The four of them just stood there and stared off. Cars from the adjacent highway zoomed by without a care, without the slightest concern that just yards away a devastated family grieved. Without warning Dad started reciting the Kaddish, the Hebrew prayer for the dead, from memory. They were not religious people, far from it, but some things we do out of tradition, out of ritual, out of need.

  "Yit'gadal v'yit'kadash sh'mei raba . . ."

  Myron risked a glance at Mickey. He had been in on the lie about his father's death, trying to find a way to keep some semblance of his family together. Now, standing where his father's body lay, the boy remained stoic. His head was up. His eyes were dry. Maybe that was the only way to survive when the blows kept raining down on you. When Kitty had finally come home from rehab, she'd bolted from her son in search of a fix. They found her passed out in a seedy motel and dragged her back to the Coddington Institute. She was getting help again, but the truth was, Brad's death had broken her, and Myron really didn't know whether she could ever be fixed.

  When Myron first suggested that he take custody of Mickey, his nephew had unsurprisingly rebelled. He would never let anyone other than his mother be his guardian, he said, and if Myron tried, he would sue for emancipation or even run away. With Myron's parents heading back to Florida and the school year starting up on Monday, Myron and Mickey had finally come to something of an understanding. Mickey would agree to live in the house in Livingston with Myron as an unofficial guardian. He would attend Livingston High School, his uncle and father's alma mater, and in turn, Myron would agree to stay out of his way and make sure that Kitty, despite everything, maintained sole custody of her son.

  It was an evolving and uneasy truce.

  With his hands clasped and his head lowered, Myron's father finished the long prayer with the words, "Aleinu v'al kol Yis'ra'eil v'im'ru Amein."

  Myron and Mom joined in for that final amein. Mickey stayed silent. For several moments, no one moved. Myron looked down at that churned ground and tried to picture his little brother beneath it. He couldn't.

  He flashed instead to the very last time he had seen his brother, on that snowy night sixteen years ago, when Myron, the big brother who had always tried to protect him, broke Brad's nose.

  Kitty was right. Brad had been on the fence about quitting school and running off to parts unknown. When Dad found out, he sent Myron to talk to his little brother. "You go," Dad told him. "You apologize for what you said about her." Myron argued, pointing out that Kitty was lying about the birth control pills and had a reputation and all the crap Myron now knew was not true. His father had seen through it, even then. "Do you want to push him away forever?" his father asked. "You go and apologize and you bring them both home."

  But when Myron arrived, Kitty, in her desperation to escape, made up the story about Myron hitting on her. Brad went crazy. Listening to his brother scream and rant, Myron realized that he'd been right about Kitty all along. His brother was an idiot for getting involved with her in the first place. Myron started arguing back, accusing Kitty of all kinds of treachery and then, he screamed the final words he would ever say to his brother: "You're going to believe this lying whore over your own brother?"

  Brad took a swing. Myron ducked it and, enraged himself, threw a punch back. Even now, standing at Brad's final resting place, Myron could still hear the sick, wet squelching sound as his brother's nose collapsed under his knuckles.

  Myron's final image of his brother was Brad on the floor, looking up at him in shock, Kitty trying to stem the blood pouring from his nose.

  When Myron got home, he couldn't tell his father what he'd done. Even repeating Kitty's awful lie might give it credence. So instead Myron lied to his father. "I apologized, but Brad wouldn't listen. You should talk to him, Dad. He'll listen to you."

  But his father shook his head. "If that was Brad's attitude, maybe this is what's meant to be. Maybe we need to let him go and find his way."

  So they did. And now they were all back together for the first time, at a graveyard three thousand miles from home.

  After another silent minute had passed, Al Bolitar shook his head and said, "This should never be." He stopped and looked up at the sky. "A father should never have to say the Kaddish for his son."

  With that, he started back down the path.

  After putting Mom and Dad on a flight from LAX to Miami, Myron and Mickey boarded a plane for Newark Airport. They flew in silence. After landing, they grabbed Myron's car from long-term parking and started up the Garden State Parkway. Neither spoke for the first twenty minutes of the drive. When Mickey saw them pass the Livingston exit, he finally said something.

  "Where are we going?"

  "You'll see."

  Ten minutes later, they pulled into the strip mall lot. Myron put the car in park and smiled at Mickey. Mickey looked out the windshield, then back at Myron.

  "You're taking me for ice cream?"

  "Come on," Myron said.

  "You're kidding me, right?"

  When they entered the SnowCap ice cream parlor, Kimberly wheeled over to them with her big smile and said, "Hey, you're back! What can I get you?"

  "Set up my nephew here with your SnowCap Melter. I need to talk to your father for a minute."

  "Sure thing. He's in the back room."

  Karl Snow was going over invoices when Myron entered the room. He looked up at him over his reading glasses. "You promised you wouldn't be back."

  "Sorry about that."

  "So why are you here?"

  "Because you lied to me. You kept trying to peddle how pragmatic you'd been. Your daughter was dead, you said, and nothing could bring her back. There was no way Gabriel Wire would go to jail for it. So you took the hush money to help Kimberly. You explained it beautifully and rationally--and I just couldn't buy a word of it. Not after I saw how you were with Kimberly. And then I thought about the order."

  "What order?"

  "Lex Ryder calls Suzze and tells her that Gabriel Wire is dead. Suzze is in shock. She's skeptical, so she visits Kitty to confirm that Lex is telling the truth. Okay, I get that." Myron tilted his head. "But why then would Suzze go immediately from Kitty--the only one who witnessed Gabriel's murder--to you?"

&nb
sp; Karl Snow said nothing. He didn't have to. Myron knew now. Lex had thought that Ache and Crisp killed Wire, but that made no sense. They had a good thing going with HorsePower.

  "Gabriel Wire was rich and connected and going to get away with killing Alista. You saw that. You saw that he would never face justice for what he did to your daughter. So you acted. It's ironic in a way."

  "What is?"

  "The whole world thinks you sold out your daughter."

  "So?" Karl Snow said. "You think that matters to me? What the world thinks?"

  "I guess not."

  "I told you before. Sometimes you have to love a child privately. Sometimes you have to grieve privately."

  And sometimes you have to get justice privately.

  "Are you going to say anything?" Snow asked.

  "No."

  He didn't look relieved. He probably was thinking the same thing as Myron. The ripples. If Snow hadn't gone vigilante--if he hadn't killed Gabriel Wire--Kitty wouldn't have witnessed it and run away. Myron's brother might still be alive. Suzze T too. But you could only take that sort of logic so far. Myron's own father had expressed the outrage of a parent outliving a child. Karl Snow's daughter had been murdered. Right, wrong, who knew anymore?

  Myron rose then and moved to the door. He turned to say good-bye, but Karl Snow kept his head down, studying those invoices with a little too much concentration. Back in the ice cream parlor, Mickey was working on the SnowCap Melter. Kimberly had wheeled her chair over to cheer him on. She lowered her voice and whispered something that made Mickey explode with laughter.

  Myron again flashed to his fist heading toward his brother. Only one thing helped now. The passport. Per Kitty's instructions, he had looked at it closely. First he checked the stamps, the many countries they visited. But that wasn't what Kitty wanted him to see. It was the first page, the identification page. He studied it again and looked closely at Mickey's name. His real name. Myron had assumed that Mickey was a nickname for Michael. But it wasn't.

  Mickey's real first name was Myron.

  Kimberly said something else, something so funny that Mickey put down the spoon, sat back, and laughed--really just let go and laughed--for the first time since Myron had known him. The sound twisted in Myron's chest. The laugh was so familiar, so much like Brad's, as though the laugh had started in some distant memory, some wonderful moment two brothers shared long ago, and had just echoed through the years until it found its way into this ice cream parlor, into the heart of Brad's son.

  Myron stood and listened, and while he knew the echo would quiet again, he hoped that maybe it would never go silent.

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  This is the part where I get to thank the band--and what an eclectic band it is. In alphabetical order: Christine Ball, Eliane Benesti, David Berkeley (the parachute line), Anne Armstrong-Coben, Yvonne Craig, Diane Discepolo, Missy Higgins, Ben Sevier, Brian Tart, Lisa Erbach Vance, and Jon Wood.

  This is a work of a fiction. That means I make stuff up. So if you're wondering whether I based the character on so-and-so, or if there really is someone like this in your town or kid's school, the answer is no.

  For those who enjoyed meeting Myron's nephew, the story of Mickey Bolitar--and by extension, Myron--will continue in my new young adult novel Shelter, coming in fall 2011. For details, and to read a sample chapter, go to www.HarlanCoben.com. Warning: The sample may contain a Live Wire spoiler. Do not read it until you have finished this book.

  As always, I thank you.

  ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  Harlan Coben is the author of nineteen previous novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers Caught, Long Lost, and Hold Tight, as well as Play Dead and the popular Myron Bolitar series. Winner of the Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony Awards, Coben lives in New Jersey.

  ALSO BY HARLAN COBEN

  Play Dead

  Miracle Cure

  Deal Breaker

  Drop Shot

  Fade Away

  Back Spin

  One False Move

  The Final Detail

  Darkest Fear

  Tell No One

  Gone for Good

  No Second Chance

  Just One Look

  The Innocent

  Promise Me

  The Woods

  Hold Tight

  Long Lost

  Caught

 


 

  Harlan Coben, Live Wire

  (Series: Myron Bolitar # 10)

 

 


 

 
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