Suicide Squeeze Epilogue


3 WEEKS LATER

’’No, not a Dodge Dart,’’ Conner said into the phone. ’’Like I told the other guy, a Plymouth Fury. Oh, forget it.’’ He hung up the phone hard, crossed through the garage's number in the Yellow Pages with a red pen.

’’No luck?’’ Sid put another draft beer in front of Conner.

’’I called everyplace. I don't think I'm going to see my car again.’’ Conner glanced at the TV over the bar, saw the score, and winced. The Marlins were getting shellacked.

’’Buy a new car with the insurance money,’’ suggested Sid. ’’The Plymouth was falling apart anyway.’’

’’It was a vintage automobile.’’

Sid shook his head. ’’Whatever you say.’’

’’Besides,’’ Conner said, ’’I need to make that money stretch. I'm not exactly working right now.’’ Conner still wasn't quite sure what had happened, who the buyer was supposed to be or how to find out, so he'd ended up taking the Joe DiMaggio card to Teddy Folger's insurance company. They'd wanted to know how he ended up in possession of the card. Conner had resorted to the truth. It had been aboard the Electric Jenny when he'd repossessed her. Fortunately, nobody had asked him about the boat.

The insurance company had paid him a recovery fee of ten grand. Some of the money had gone to get Conner back on good terms with his apartment complex. He caught up on his other bills too. He even had a little left over. Still, in his gut, Conner didn't exactly feel he'd come out ahead. He was more or less back at square one, minus a Plymouth Fury.

’’Where's your girlfriend?’’ Sid asked. ’’I never seen nobody get their skull cracked with a cricket bat before.’’

Tyranny had called once a few days after the globe-room shoot-out. She was fine and had started seeing Dr. Goldblatt three times a week. She didn't say anything about her and Conner getting together. And when Conner made hints in that direction, Tyranny squashed them in a hurry. The message was clear. She needed space.

Conner wanted to change the subject. ’’Who's the new girl?’’ He pointed at the pretty blonde rinsing glasses at the far end of the bar.

’’I decided I needed some help around here,’’ Sid said. ’’It would be nice to take a night off once in a while, see the grandkids.’’

’’You've got grandkids? I never knew.’’

’’You never asked. What, you think you're the only one around here with a life?’’

Right.

Conner watched the ball game. The Marlins'relief pitcher started serving up grapefruits. Conner couldn't watch anymore, grabbed the remote, and turned it to ESPN.

The blonde finally made it to his end of the bar. ’’Another draft?’’

’’Sure. What's your name?’’

’’Misty.’’ A smile like sunshine.

’’I'm Conner. Sid said you used to work at one of the beach places.’’

She nodded. ’’The tips were good, but too many tourists. Creeps. Some of them think you're there to serve more than drinks. I like it here. Quiet.’’

Conner said, ’’Anyone ever mention you look almost exactly like Marilyn Monroe?’’

The smile vanished. Her eyes narrowed to ferocious slits. ’’Did somebody put you up to saying that? Is that some kind of joke?’’

’’Whoa. Hey, I was just saying-’’

’’Well, watch it, buddy.’’

’’Hey, fine. Whatever.’’ He took out a cigar, struck a match.

’’Don't light that in here,’’ Misty snapped. ’’Are you trying to kill everybody?’’ She stormed away, nose in the air.

Conner sulked. He took out a pad of paper, started calculating what he might do with his leftover insurance money, but he lost interest and sank into his beer. He didn't have enough cash. There was never enough. The thought of calling Ed Odeski for repo work made Conner's heart sink.

A tall guy walked into the bar, big hook of a nose, pale. Khakis and a red polo shirt. He grabbed a stool next to Conner. ’’You're Samson?’’

Conner froze. ’’Who's asking?’’

’’My name is Devon Haywood. You're Conner Samson, right?’’

’’Yeah, that's me.’’

’’I'm a friend of Jasper Dybek's. Jasper told me you... uh... helped him with a little problem a short while back.’’

Conner raised an eyebrow. ’’Oh, yeah?’’

’’Look, I'm going to be straight with you,’’ Haywood said. ’’My last sculpture sold for six figures. But that was two years ago. The bank's going to repossess my house. Frankly, I was hoping you could do for me what you did for Jasper.’’

The world had gone crazy. ’’I'm not sure that's a good idea.’’

’’The sculptures are insured.’’ He pulled out a business card, put it on the bar next to Conner. ’’Just say you'll think about it and call me.’’

Conner said he would think about it, and Haywood left, looking panicked and desperate.

Conner's thoughts drifted again to Tyranny. He couldn't help it.

He unfolded a letter he'd been carrying around the last few days. He'd found it jammed into the depths of his pants pocket when he'd finally broken down to do a load of laundry. The letter from Marilyn Monroe to Teddy Folger had a dozen new folds and wrinkles from being smashed into his pocket, but the plastic bag had protected it when he'd been tossed into the Gulf of Mexico. The insurance company hadn't asked about it.

He read again the part he liked best.

People are funny. They all want us and expect us to be a certain way. Sometimes people never know the real us.

Just maybe, in a letter to a fourteen-year-old kid she barely knew, Norma Jean had shown herself, had won out over her starlet persona and was just a regular girl with fears and loves and worries like everyone else. Had DiMaggio loved Norma Jean or Marilyn?

Well, Conner knew the Tyranny he loved, every inch, the good and the bad. He'd wait her out, win her over. He didn't know how. He might even fail. But he was sure about one thing. Conner Samson would not go away.

In the meantime, Conner considered Devon Haywood's business card. He reached across the bar, grabbed the phone, hesitated only a moment, and dialed.

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