The Caller

The Caller by Alex Barclay

Book: The Caller by Alex Barclay Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alex Barclay
like, together?’
    ‘That would be right,’ said Joe.
    ‘And you never would be.’
    ‘He’s not my type,’ said Danny.
    ‘Well, you need to look a little closer at the graphic on that T-shirt,’ he said to Danny. ‘Because you might not be sending out the message you want to.’
    ‘Oh,’ said Danny. ‘That’s not what I thought it was. You’re right. Thanks for that.’
    ‘Don’t worry about it. Happens all the time. If you seemed like assholes, I would have let you go. And get hit on, like, ten times, when you’re out with your wife.’
    Danny headed quickly for the door. Joe followed, laughing.
    ‘You should have bought it. I wish he’d let you.’
    ‘I’m not an asshole, remember?’
    ‘Here we go,’ said Joe. ‘Open.’
    They walked in to Dawg On It and the backwards motion of Buck Torrance in a purple cowboy shirt and tight white jeans with purple diamanté paw prints on the pockets. He didn’t hear them over the vacuum cleaner, but turned it off when he caught their reflection in the mirror.
    ‘Hi. Buck?’ said Joe.
    ‘Detectives Lucchesi and Markey, NYPD. You’re the promoter at Bed, Bad and Beyond?’
    ‘Yes, sir. I am. Can I help you?’ said Buck.
    ‘I was speaking with Mark Branham from Gay Alliance. He said you were the man to talk to. We’re looking into some pretty violent attacks on men that have happened over the last year,’ said Joe.
    ‘Gay men,’ said Buck.
    ‘One of them was gay. We were wondering if we showed you a few photos …’
    ‘Sure. Go ahead.’ Buck took the photos. ‘No to this guy, doesn’t look familiar. No again. And yeah. I know this guy’s face. That’s William Aneto.’
    ‘Did you know him?’
    ‘I’d seen him around – in bars, in the club, whatever, so I knew his face. And then there were the posters all around the place last year. People lit candles on the street by the club, that’s it. I’m sorry.’
    ‘Did you notice him with any particular crowd, any one guy?’
    ‘I just didn’t know him that well. Do you want to leave those photos here with me? I could ask around for you?’ said Buck.
    ‘No. We’ll hold onto them. Thanks for your help.’
    ‘My pleasure. If you need anything else, let me know.’
    ‘Sure,’ said Danny.
    ‘Should guys be worried around here?’
    ‘Don’t be,’ said Joe. ‘And you don’t want people staying away from the store because you’re freaking them out.’
    ‘Yeah. Who’s going to dress all the dogs in the neighborhood if you go out of business?’ said Danny.
    ‘Sweetheart? Those dogs you see out there? A lot of them? Don’t even have names.’
    Danny frowned.
    ‘Those little doggies are sniffing butts so their owners can. The ohmygod-let-me-stop-talk-to-you-bout-your-dog/enough-about-the-dog-what-about-me approach. I mean, this store is, like, a major pick-up joint. You want to check out the dog run at Waterside Park. Sit on a bench there and you’ll have a date in no time.’
    Danny was standing at one of the shelves trying to put something back where he found it.
    ‘That little red dog collar isn’t you,’ said Buck.
    ‘You haven’t met his wife,’ said Joe.
    ‘Funny,’ said Danny.
    ‘I know,’ said Buck. ‘Look, seriously? I know it’s hard for you to work a case like this. I’ve seen it before. I mean, gay men spread themselves far and wide. But they get to know the ones who like it rough and the ones who like it way too . So if I hear anything, I’ll let you know.’
    ‘This guy is really wrong,’ said Joe. ‘He’s not someone you want to be alone in a room with.’
    ‘Oh don’t worry about me.’ He laughed. ‘I’m straight, sweetheart.’
    Danny and Joe paused, then walked out onto the street and took a left towards the car.
    ‘He is fucking serious,’ muttered Danny, waving back to Buck.
    ‘He is,’ said Joe.
    Back at the office, Reuben Maller called again.
    ‘Joe? I’ve come up with a loose profile for you. Want me to fax it

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