The Anonymous Source

The Anonymous Source by A.C. Fuller

Book: The Anonymous Source by A.C. Fuller Read Free Book Online
Authors: A.C. Fuller
and unclean. Alex sat in a sticky booth in the back for twenty minutes before approaching the bartender.
    “Are you Jack?” he asked an old man who shuffled back and forth behind the bar.
    “Ain’t no Jack,” the man said. “Never was. Owner just thought it sounded homey.”
    “Do you know Demarcus Downton?”
    “Sure I know him. Used to be a regular here before he went upstate.”
    Alex held out his hand. “Alex Vane, New York Standard . I’m writing a piece that might include something on Downton.”
    The bartender looked skeptical. “You a sports reporter? What you writin’, a retrospective or somethin’?”
    “No, nothing like that. I’m wondering if you know where I can find him. I was supposed to meet him here for an interview.”
    The man frowned. “You writin’ a thing about people who did time for somethin’ they didn’t do?”
    “No, not that, but what do you mean?”
    “Demarcus, you know, the bit he did upstate. Everybody knows he deals. Hell, half my customers buy from him. But he ain’t do what he got sent upstate for.”
    “The assault?”
    “Yeah, he ain’t do that. He was here that night, but the police didn’t want to hear it. I tell ya, only upside to 9/11 is that the police have a different group to arrest without cause now. Leave us black folks alone.” He laughed and wiped the bar with a rag.
    “Can you tell me where he might be? Like I said, I was supposed to meet him.”
    The man stopped cleaning and studied Alex. “Yeah, he live nearby.”
    Alex wrote down the address and walked out into the hot sun.
    * * *
    He saw the flashing lights from a few blocks away and broke into a jog up 61st Street. The worry he’d started to feel in the bar sank into his stomach and became a dense ball of dread as he approached Downton’s building. Stopping near the police tape that blocked the entrance, he scanned the faces of the police and paramedics, but didn’t see any he recognized. He didn’t see any reporters he knew either.
    Off to the side, a frail-looking woman of about fifty smoked a cigarette. She was dressed in a pink polyester robe and worn slippers. Alex noticed four cigarette butts around her feet. She was shaking and blinking her eyes rapidly in the bright sun.
    He walked over and stuck out his hand. “Alex Vane, New York Standard .” She blew smoke in his direction then turned her head away.
    “Crystal Neese,” she said hoarsely. She crushed her half-smoked cigarette under her slipper, then reached into the pocket of her robe and pulled a new one from a near-empty pack.
    “Can I ask you a few questions, ma’am?”
    “Demarcus. Police say he got shot. Killed.”
    “What happened?”
    “Leave me alone,” she said, shaking her head. “Don’t like reporters.”
    Alex tried to catch her eye. “Ma’am, I—”
    “Get outta here,” she said. “I said I don’t like reporters.”
    Alex stepped toward the police tape, recalling the anecdote about a group of reporters standing outside a burning building, taking notes as others saved people from the fire. His reporter instinct had kicked in so quickly that he forgot it was Demarcus who was dead inside the building.
    He turned back to Crystal Neese. “I don’t like reporters either,” he said.
    At the police tape, he tried to wave down an officer and a team of paramedics as they entered the building. They ignored him. He spoke with a few neighbors gathered in front of the building, but all he could learn for sure was that Demarcus was dead.
    After passing out business cards to anyone who would take one, Alex jogged to the subway on Fourth Avenue.

Chapter Twenty-Two
    ALEX WEDGED HIS HEAD under the faucet and took a long drink of cool water. He did forty push-ups on the floor of his kitchen, drank again, then lay on the bed. He was sweating.
    For the first time, he realized he might be in danger. He had never been in danger before—at least he didn’t think so. The closest he had come was when Bainbridge Island

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