52 Pickup

52 Pickup by Elmore Leonard

Book: 52 Pickup by Elmore Leonard Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elmore Leonard
Tags: Fiction, thriller
was . . . natural, honest.”
    “A real person.”
    “She was different. Jim, I’m not good at describing people. But I’m telling you I liked the girl. In fact, you want to know the truth, I fell inlove with her. Can you hear me saying that? I fell in love. I felt like I was twenty years old. We had a good time together, we enjoyed each other and we didn’t even do anything. I mean exciting. We didn’t go out and spend a lot of dough. I’d come to the apartment and most of the time all we did was talk. Have some wine, listen to music and talk. You understand what I’m saying?”
    “You’re going through your menopause and you thought you were in love.”
    “I was in love. Christ, I know the feeling. When I wasn’t with her I’d think about her all the time. I’d get a pain inside.”
    “Where, in your crotch?”
    “In my gut. Jim, I’m telling you it’s a real honest-to-God feeling that’s got nothing to do with sex. We went to bed, of course, naturally. But that wasn’t the big thing. We liked being with each other. Listen, we’d sit there and ask each other questions like what’s your favorite color? What’s your favorite vegetable? What’s your favorite movie?”
    “Brief Encounter.”
    “I don’t get it.”
    “What about Barbara?”
    “What about her?”
    “I mean if you were so in love, why didn’t you leave Barbara and marry the girl?”
    “Come on, Jim.”
    “I’m serious. You say you think about her all the time, you’re deeply in love. Why didn’t you get a divorce and marry her?”
    “Jim, last night when I went there, the reason? I was gonna tell her I wasn’t coming back anymore.”
    “Why?”
    “Try faking it for three months,” Mitchell said. “Whether you’re faking one or the other it isn’t worth the state you get yourself in.”
    “Conscience,” O’Boyle said.
    “You said that before.” Mitchell was silent for a moment, thoughtful. “I’ll tell you a funny thing though. I’ve been married twenty-two years. All of a sudden I fall in love with a young, really nice, good-looking girl. But you want to know something, Jim? Barbara’s better in bed.”
    O’Boyle was still in the office when the call came. Mitchell recognized the voice. Nodding toward the extension phone on the table by the couch he said, “Yeah, I know who it is.” O’Boyle went over and very carefully picked up the phone.
    “Have you thought it over?” the voice asked.
    “I’m still thinking,” Mitchell said. “A hundred and five thousand, that’s a lot to think about, isn’t it?”
    “Not for you, sport. A little side money.”
    “I guess I’m tight with it then. I work hard for what I make. I say to myself, why give it to some asshole who comes along trying to con you?”
    There was a silence and O’Boyle made a face, closing his eyes. Finally the voice said, “This is no con. You don’t come across you’re going to find yourself up to your chin in shit, buddy, and I mean it.”
    “But it’s my decision,” Mitchell said. “If I want to be in up to my chin or not is up to me, right?” Again there was a silence.
    “You can have it any way you want,” the voice said.
    “All right, then give me a couple more days to think about it.” Mitchell looked over at his lawyer. “You’ve probably been working on this for a while. What’s a couple more days? I mean you lay it on me all of a sudden, I have to have a little time to make up my mind.”
    “We’ll give you till tomorrow. First payment, ten grand, to show your good faith.”
    “Where do I send it?”
    “I’ll call you tomorrow, let you know.”
    “What time tomorrow?”
    But the voice was no longer there.
    Mitchell hung up. “Now what?”
    “You’re sure,” O’Boyle asked, “you’ve never heard his voice before?”
    “Not before last night.”
    “Could he be somebody who used to work here?”
    “I don’t know, I guess so. The guy knows more about me than my accountant. So what do we

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