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.Only afterwards.I heard the alarms and—""And?""There's not much to report.There were some windows broken.""Hell's Angels on the rampage.""Is that what you heard?""Is that what I heard? You're supposed to be the fucking reporter, Grillo, not me.What do you need? Drugs? Drink? A visit from the fucking Mude?""That's Muse.""Mude, Muse; who the fuck cares? Just get me a story the people want to read.There must have been injuries—""I don't think so.""Then invent some.""I do have something.""What? What?""A story nobody's reported yet, I'll bet.""It better be good, Grillo.Your job's on the fucking line here.""There's going to be a shindig up at Vance's house.To celebrate his passing.""OK.So you get inside the place.I want the works on him and his friends.The man was a no-good.No-goods have no-good friends.I want names and details.""Sometimes you sound like you saw too many movies, Abernethy.""Meaning what?""Skip it."The image lingered, long after Grillo had put down the phone, of Abernethy sitting up nights rehearsing lines from newspaper epics, refining his performance as a hard-pressed, hard-bitten editor.He wasn't the only one, Grillo thought.Everyone had a movie playing somewhere at the back of their heads in which they were the name above the title.Ellen was the wronged woman, with terrible secrets to keep.Tesla was the wild woman of West Hollywood, loose in a world she never made.Which line of thought invited the obvious question: what was he? Cub reporter on a hit scoop? Man of integrity, dogged by crimes against a corrupt system? Neither part suited him the way they might have done when he'd first arrived, hot foot from his hovel, to report the Buddy Vance story.Events had somehow marginalized him.Others, Tesla in particular, had taken the starring roles.As he checked his appearance in the mirror he mused on what it meant to be a star without a firmament.Free to take up another profession perhaps? Rocket scientist; juggler; lover.How about lover? How about the lover of Ellen Nguyen? That had a nice ring.She was a long time coming to the door, and when she arrived it seemed she took several seconds to even recognize Grillo.Just as he was about to prompt her a smile surfaced, and she said:"Please.come in.Are you recovered from the flu?""A little shaky.""I think maybe I'm catching it too." she said as she closed the door."I woke feeling.I don't know."The curtains were still drawn.The place looked even smaller than Grillo remembered it."You'd like coffee," she said."Sure.Thanks."She disappeared through to the kitchen, leaving Grillo abandoned in the middle of a room in which every article of furniture was piled high with magazines, or toys, or unsorted washing.Only as he moved to clear a space for himself did he realize he had an audience.Philip was standing at the head of the passage that led to his bedroom.His outing to the Mall the evening before had been premature.He still looked frail."Hi," Grillo said."How you doin'?"Surprisingly, the boy smiled; a lavish, open smile."Did you see?" he said."See what?""At the Mall," Philip went on."You did see.I know you did.The beautiful lights.""Yes, I saw them.""I told the Balloon Man all about it.That's how I know I wasn't dreaming."He crossed to Grillo, still smiling."I got your drawing," Grillo said."Thank you.""Don't need them now," Philip said."Why's that?""Philip?" Ellen had returned with coffee."Don't bother Mr.Grillo.""It's no bother," Grillo said.He returned his gaze to Philip."Maybe we can talk about Balloon Man later," he said."Maybe," the boy replied, as though this would be entirely dependent upon Grillo's good behavior."I'm going now," he announced to his mother."Sure sweetie.""Shall I tell him hello?" Philip asked Grillo."Please," Grillo replied, not certain of what the boy meant, "I'd like that."Satisfied, Philip made his way back to his bedroom.Ellen was busying herself clearing a place for them to sit.With her back to Grillo she bent to her work.The plain kimono-style dressing gown she wore clung.Her buttocks were heavy for a woman of her height.When she turned back the sash of the gown had loosened.The folds fell away at her breastbone.Her skin was dark, and smooth.She caught his appreciation as she handed him his coffee, but made no attempt to tie the gown more tightly.The gap tempted Grillo's eye every time she moved."I'm glad you came around," she said once they were seated."I was concerned when your friend—""Tesla.""Tesla.When Tesla told me you were ill.I felt responsible." She took a sip of coffee.She made a sharp backward motion when it touched her tongue."Hot," she said."Philip was telling me you were down at the Mall last night.""So were you," she replied."Do you know if anybody was hurt? All that broken glass.""Only Fletcher," Grillo replied."I don't believe I know him.""The man who burned up.""Somebody got burned?" she said."Oh God, that's horrible.""Surely you saw it.""No," she replied."We just saw the glass.""And the lights.Philip was talking about the lights.""Yes," she said, plainly puzzled."He said the same to me [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]