the alarm clock on his side of the bed, and figured he’d been asleep for about a half hour. Perhaps it should have helped, but he just felt logy and more tired than before. This was pretty 62
unprofessional; he was supposed to be working … but on what? His clues had dead-ended, in the most sadly literal way imaginable. Danny might not even be in this state; he could be in Canada, Mexico—hell, he could be in Australia. A runaway rich kid with cash, who had a week on all of them.
He could be almost anywhere.
For some reason, that sparked a thought.
It was too obscure to be helpful, and his brain was still fogged, but he got up and walked over to the computer he had set up in the corner on a small desk—an informal “work area” since he still had to repair the floor in what was essentially his study—and booted it up. While it came online, he pulled on a pair of boxer shorts, and turned down the air conditioner.
He had a vague idea, and he followed it. Entering the address of Tweaks’s place, he compared it to the address of DeSilvo’s place: according to MapQuest, they were separated by two point seven miles. A cat could have easily covered the distance in a night. But that was insane!
There were lots of places between point A and point B, and there’s no way a cat as seemingly bloodthirsty as this one would avoid so many targets in between.
“Oh dear,” Paris said, coming in the room. He held a pizza box in one hand, and in the other the four-pack of the far-too-expensive microbrew that Roan found to be the only beer he could tolerate. It was a pale ale, surprisingly light, and it didn’t smell or taste like piss, which is what most beer tasted like to him. “Working again? You do stop at some point, don’t you?”
“I was just trying to make sense of something.” He went to the online White Pages and typed in the name “Marley Hanson,” the name of Danny’s friend. He got a phone number, and rather than wait much longer, he got up and grabbed the portable phone, punching up the number. He motioned to Paris to be quiet as the phone rang, and a rather young-sounding woman picked up. “Yeah?”
Charming. “Hello, I was wondering if Marley Hanson was there?”
“My name’s Roan McKichan, I’m a private detective hired by the Nakamuras to find Daniel. I was hoping to talk to Marley about him.”
“Oh.” The girl paused thickly, and he thought he heard a stereo playing in the background. Coldplay—the most innocuous band since Al Infected: Prey
Stewart. It wasn’t bad music, it was just so aggressively vanilla that blandness was the only objection you could make about it: music as plain, boiled oatmeal. It probably kept you regular. “Well, um, Danny’s not in trouble, is he?”
This was Marley? He was expecting a boy, but okay—why not a girl? Marley was kind of an odd name, but then again, he was named Roan. He had absolutely no room to talk. “No. His parents are simply worried about him, and I have reason to believe they should be.”
“What d’ya mean?”
“Are you Marley?” He only asked for official confirmation.
She sighed, in that special way of teenage girls—you could just hear the implied eye roll in it—and admitted, “Yeah.”
“I think Danny may be in danger.”
“I can’t talk about this over the phone. Perhaps we can speak in person?” A gamble—she might not take the bait. But he preferred face-to-face interviews, as it was easier to tell when people were lying, when they were hedging or fudging the truth a little. Only a sociopath or a psychopath didn’t have some kind of tell, some little tic that gave them away.
After a very long pause, she said, “Umm, I dunno. I gotta work tonight… I guess if you stop by Poison I can talk to ya for a few minutes.”
“Y’know, in the mall? My shift starts at six. If you wanna show up around seven-thirty or so, it’s kinda