Payback by Sam Stewart

Book: Payback by Sam Stewart Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sam Stewart
martyred bulldog.
    â€œCome on, Richard. Talk.”
    He’d have to talk fast and she found herself interested in what he might say. The truth would be that Richard didn’t like to be witnessed. Anywhere. Either in the john or in bed. A witness could testify, go before the court, interpret reality a very different way, could even be encouraged to abet the prosecution. It occurred to her that living, for Richard, was a trial; so of course he’d be a lawyer.
    What he said was, “It’s difficult to say this, Joanna, but you’re trying to exploit me. You used a position of advantage this morning and you’re trying to abuse my connections with the firm. So let’s get it down. If you’re imagining I’ll help you get an interview with Mitchell—”
    â€œDid I ask you to?”
    â€œOh,” Joanna said.
    â€œAnd further,” Richard told her, “I wouldn’t have to guess that you’d been rifling my files.”
    â€œWell, there you have it, Your Honor. Case rests.”
    â€œSo.” Richard nodded.
    Joanna shook her head. “I don’t believe this,” she said. “I really don’t believe this. Whatever’s in your files is in the library, Richard. Christ, I could’ve gone to the library, Richard.”
    â€œBut you didn’t. That’s the point.”
    She said nothing for a second. Then she said, “Boy, you really lost me there, Richard. I mean figuratively too. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Point of what? Point of honor? Point of order? Point of departure? Deci mal point? What the fuck are you talk ing about, Richard? The point is it’s absolutely pointless, is the point. So why don’t I come over and pack what I’ve got there and leave you with the keys.”
    He looked at her grimly. “It’s a shame, Joanna.”
    â€œI don’t think so,” she said.
    Her last shot of Richard: he was standing there nodding philosophically at air; looking less like a lover who’d been losing his lover than a lawyer who’d fucked up a thorny little case.
    And oh Joanna, she’d been thinking as she turned, you mustn’t do this again. You should just go gently into those bad nights—get a cat, read a book, do some macrame, jog; give it up. You’re not even any heroine here. Richard was Richard. He was always Richard and you knew it from the start.
    She looked at her watch again: twelve on the nose.
    A man at the microphone was testing for a level.
    Richard was standing at the back, on the aisle, his head bent forward as he listened intently to a natty-looking fellow in a tan worsted suit.
    Leo Blackburn , she wrote in her notebook. Hollywood’s answer to questionable acts . Leo had handled the public relations for David Begelman and Stacy Keach. So judging it correlatively, why not for this? Everything was show business, wasn’t it? she thought. There was no business that wasn’t show business. No tragedy or damage that couldn’t be interpreted with hard-driven patter and a soft-focus lens. Wink, talk fast, throw sequins in their eyes.
    Richard and Leo were moving down the aisle.
    A reporter was asking, “… what you know about the poison. They’re saying it’s a legal synthetic narcotic. Is it anything you make?”
    Mitchell peered out: Preppy-looking kid, twenty-two, twenty-three. He angled his head. “What paper’re you with?”
    â€œWhy?” the kid said. “Does it make any difference?”
    â€œNo, I’m just figuring it wasn’t High Times, Rolling Stone , like that,” Mitchell said. “The drug here’s a variant of TMF—that’s tri-methyl-fentanyl. Synthetic heroin. It isn’t made from poppies, it’s made out of greed, but the technical difference makes it technically legal. What you’ve got here’s a question of It looks like a duck, it

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