Conjugal Rites (Kit Tolliver #7) (The Kit Tolliver Stories)

BOOK: Conjugal Rites (Kit Tolliver #7) (The Kit Tolliver Stories)
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C
ONJUGAL
R
ITES

 

L
AWRENCE
B
LOCK

Copyright © 2013, Lawrence Block

All Rights Reserved

 

Cover Design: Jayne E. Smith

Ebook Design:
JW Manus

 

 

W
hen she first laid eyes on him, he’d looked preppy. That was in a bar in Riverdale, within walking distance of the last stop on the Bronx-bound Number One train, and she knew that much because she knew she’d walked there. She was drinking a Cosmopolitan when their eyes met. He bought her the next Cosmo, and the next thing she’d been able to remember was waking up in his bed.

He had looked a little less generic in the morning. In daylight she’d noted the vivid blue eyes, the once-broken nose, the pouting sensuous mouth. He was a Wall Street guy, she’d learned, and she could see him in that role, aiming to take his place as one of the self-styled masters of the universe.

That had been a while ago, and the years had taken their toll. Online, she’d learned that he’d come by the preppy look honestly. He’d been at Choate first, then Yale, then the B school at Columbia. Destiny had clearly meant him to wear suits from J. Press, khakis and polos from J. Crew.

Was it any wonder that he looked a little older and less prepossessing in a burnt-orange jumpsuit?

That would add years, all right. And it wasn’t a simple matter of costume. Just being incarcerated—that would tend to age a man, wouldn’t it?

The prison was in an upstate New York town she’d never heard of, a good deal closer to the Canadian border than to the city of New York. You had to take two buses to get there, an express to Albany and a local the rest of the way. She was one of a dozen women who migrated from the express to the local, and she figured they were all on similar errands, visiting their incarcerated mates.

An interesting word, incarcerated. As far as she could tell, it was used exclusively by persons to whom it applied—and, to be sure, by the women who loved them. The five syllables served to take the sting out;
I am presently incarcerated
didn’t hit as hard as
The fuckers locked me up and swallowed the key.

She’d noticed one woman in particular on the Albany express, a dishwater blonde with sharp facial features and a feral look to her. Not long ago she’d watched a cable documentary on crystal meth, and every women in it looked like this one. So did half the women on any episode of
Cops.

They’d exchanged glances, and she wasn’t surprised when the blonde took the seat next to her on the local bus. “I’m Barb,” she announced.

“Audrey.”

“I guess we’re going to the same place, huh?”

“I guess.”

“I’m on this bus every week. You see a lot of the same people, and then you stop seein’ some of ’em and instead you start to see different ones.”

“Like life itself.”

Barb had to think about that. Then she nodded. “Got that right,” she said. “I don’t think I seen you before.”

“First visit.”

“Yeah? Your man, right?”

And I’m standing by him. Just like Tammy Wynette wants me to do.

“Well, sort of,” she said. “But I haven’t seen him in years. We more or less lost track of each other. I’m not sure he’ll remember me.”

Barb gave her a look. “How’s anybody gonna forget
you
? Only question’s are you on the list. ’Cause if you’re not an approved visitor, no way they gonna let you in.”

“His lawyer said I’m approved, I won’t have any trouble.”

“Well, you’re okay, then. You figure on using the truck?”

“The truck?”


You
know, Audrey. The
truck
.” A sigh. “The fuck truck. Pardon the expression, but that’s what everybody calls it. What it is, it’s a trailer more’n a truck, and you get an hour in there. Like, private time.”

“I don’t know,” she said. “See, in a way I hardly know him. He’s been, uh, incarcerated for almost three years, and I didn’t even find out about it until a month ago. I’m not even sure why I’m here visiting him. Would I want private time with him? Maybe, but how do I know he’d want to go in the truck with me?”

Barb gave her a look. She said, “Three years?”

“Plus a couple of months.”

“Honey,” Barb said, “that man’d settle for private time with a nanny goat. Will he go in the truck with you? You’re kidding, right?”

But when they brought her in to see Peter Fuhrmann, it wasn’t in the designated trailer, and you couldn’t call it quiet time. After she’d passed through a scanner and been strip-searched by a matron, she wound up sitting in front of a long window. There were women on either side of her, talking to men in orange jumpsuits on the other side of the window. There was an empty chair across from her, but it didn’t remain empty for long. A man appeared, wearing the orange jumpsuit that seemed to be standard here, walked to the empty chair, and looked at her for a long moment before sitting down.

Would she have recognized him?

She knew him right away, saw the man she’d spent a night with in the man who sat across from her now. But she’d been expecting him. If she’d encountered him across the aisle in a subway car, or at adjacent tables in a diner, would any mental bells have rung?

No way to tell. And what did it matter? He was here now, and so was she.

He said, “Audrey Willard.”

“That’s right.”

“Do I know you? Because the name didn’t register when my lawyer mentioned it.”

Well, how could it? She’d never used it before. She sort of liked Audrey, it was unusual without being weird, old-fashioned without smelling of lavender sachets. He’d have known her by another name, and she was clueless as to what that name might have been.

“I may not have given you my real name,” she said.

“You look familiar, but I can’t—”

“You pulled me out of a bar in Riverdale,” she said, “or I pulled you, or we pulled each other. And the next thing I remembered was waking up the next morning.”

“Oh, God. I owe you an apology.”

“Not really,” she said, “because you gave me a repeat performance that got rid of my hangover faster than any aspirin ever did.”

“Jennifer.”

Entirely possible, she thought. She’d been Jennifer often enough back then. It had been a sort of default alias at the time.

“I knew you looked familiar. I remember you. You gave me your number. But when I called—”

“I gave you a wrong number.”

“I tried switching digits, but nothing worked.”

“So I’m the one who owes you an apology,” she said.

“Well—”

“Or maybe it’s a wash,” she said. “A wrong number, a couple of Roofies—”

“You could have died,” he said.

“Like that girl.”

He nodded. “Like Maureen McConnelly,” he said.

She was in Ohio when she discovered what had become of Peter Fuhrmann. She sat at a computer terminal and went to work, and she’d have found him in a couple of keystrokes if she’d had any idea what to look for.

His name, for instance. Google Peter Fuhrmann and he’d pop up in a heartbeat, with a flood of articles providing extensive coverage of the case. And it got a ton of ink—a good-looking Wall Street guy, a Choatie, a Yalie, all of that preppy street cred topped off with a Columbia MBA, who wakes up one fine morning with a beautiful girl in his bed. She’s a BIC, which is to say Bronx Irish Catholic, and she’s all of nineteen, in her second year at Marymount Manhattan College. And she’ll never graduate, nor will she ever be twenty, because, see, she’s dead.

If she’d been in New York when it happened, she’d almost certainly have known about it. That’s where it got a big play in the press. The story made the wire services, but it wasn’t that big a story and it didn’t play that well out of town, because Peter Fuhrmann never denied the charges. Yes, he’d picked up Maureen McConnelly in a Riverdale bar. Yes, he’d brought her home to his apartment—his bachelor pad, one tabloid called it. And yes, he’d poured her a drink, and helped his cause by dissolving a pill in it. The pill was Flunitrazepam, more popular under its trade name of Rohypnol. It was indeed the notorious date-rape drug, and date rape was precisely what happened to Maureen.

BOOK: Conjugal Rites (Kit Tolliver #7) (The Kit Tolliver Stories)
11.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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