The Mercedes Coffin
empty folding chair. “Have a seat. I’ll be back in a moment.”
    Decker complied and studied Marilyn. She was dressed in black, and although she was attractive, she emitted nothing but nervous energy. Her blue eyes quivered as if they were bathing in adrenaline.
    He looked around. It was a small room in utter chaos: papers and boxes everywhere with lots of shelves of CDs, most of which were jewel-box demos. A single pot of coffee sat by itself in a corner, looking forlorn. He saw her dragging over a chair and got up to help. “Are you in the process of moving?”
    “Just cleaning out Primo’s shit.” She plopped down. “Seeing if there was any money due. He seemed to be current. He was a lousy housekeeper, but pretty good with the bills.” She rubbed her neck. “So why are you here? I thought the police had the punks in custody.”
    “They do.”
    “So I repeat, why are you here?”
    Decker leaned toward her. “This, in no way, is a reflection on the detectives involved in Mr. Ekerling’s case. I’m sure that the perpetrators in custody did it. I’m here because Primo Ekerling’s murder was similar to one that happened over fifteen years ago involving a man named Bennett Alston Little.” He waited for the name to register. When it didn’t, he said, “The case has been reopened. I’m in charge and I just want to make sure that the coincidences are merely that — coincidences.”
    Marilyn crossed and uncrossed her slender legs. She was wearing a tight black skirt that showed lots of skin. “What kind of coincidences?”
    Decker told her about the cars and the bodies in the trunks plus the fact that both cases involved public parks after dark.
    She continued to stare. “You’re thinking like a serial killer?”
    “The murders were fifteen years apart.”
    “A choosy serial killer.”
    Decker didn’t dare smile, but her black sense of humor was better than bitterness. “I’m trying to see if there was a direct link to the two men, and so far I haven’t come up with anything. So I’d like to get a little background on Primo. What can you tell me about him?”
    She shrugged. “Primo was born in New York. I met him in New York. I know that he spent some time out here when he was involved with the punk music scene in the late eighties to the early nineties.”
    “The Doodoo Sluts.”
    “You’ve done your homework.”
    “Not completely but while looking up Primo on the Internet, I noticed he was involved in several lawsuits with a man named Rudy Banks who was also in the Doodoo Sluts. What can you tell me about that?”
    “You suspect Rudy?”
    “I don’t even know Rudy enough to suspect him. But I can do basic math. If Mr. Ekerling and Rudy were out in the L.A. scene in the late eighties to early nineties, that would be right around the time that Ben Little was murdered.”
    She puffed on her cigarette, but blew the smoke the other way. “And?”
    “I have no
, Ms. Eustis. I’m just trying to gather information.”
    “Rudy can be summed up with a single word. Schmuck! Now if
would have been murdered, no one would have been surprised. The man only had enemies.”
    “Why’s that?”
    “Because he rips off people habitually. He makes compilations. He steals songs but won’t pay royalties. He also plagiarizes songs that other people write and won’t pay them for it. Sometimes he actually makes money legitimately. Primo and Rudy coproduced a retrospective on the L.A. punk scene with current artists doing old favorites. The CD album made a little money — one of the cuts even made it to iTunes for a brief period of time — but Rudy took all the profits.”
    “How does he get away with it?”
    “When people complain, he says sue me. Some do, but most don’t.”
    “Where does Rudy get the money for legal work?”
    “The son of a bitch is smart. Ten years ago, right after the group broke up, Rudy went to law school. One of those nighttime rip-off deals where none of the students

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