“So nobody’s gonna come around?”

“No sir.” Mouse grinned.

I shook my head. Mouse still lived in the fever of our youth. At that degree he should have died long before he was shot down in that alley.

“Did Merry have a last name, Dom?”

“Not that I know.”

“Did she tell you anything about herself, anything? About her parents, her school, where she’s from—”

“She said she was from Pasadena,” Domaque blurted out. “She said that when she moved out from her parents she moved to, to …” the damaged man pressed his powerful fingers against his dark brow. “… Culver City. Uh-huh, Culver City.”

“Think hard, Dom,” I said. “Did she ever say anything about her last name or her parents’ last name?”

“I think,” he said. “I think that it had the sound ‘Bick’ in it somewhere.”

“Bickman? Becker? Buck somethin’?”

“Uh-uh. No. Not like that. I don’t know, Easy.”

“She have any scars or marks? What color was her hair?”

“Light, light blond. Almost white. But brown eyes though. Most’a your blond-haired peoples got blue eyes but not Merry. And she had a little nose and her canine teef was sharp. She bit me one time and laughed.”

Mouse sighed and stood up. “I’ma go in the other room,” he said. “Stretch out a minute.”

He walked out. I knew he was bored by all of my questions. The only questions Mouse had patience for could be answered by “yes” or “no,” either that or with a number.

“How tall?” I asked Domaque when Raymond was gone.

“Five-five,” he said, and then he ducked his head and grinned. “She showed me her butt,” he whispered.


“She showed me her butt. One day we was playin’ around down by the sand at Horth’s Cove. She’d pushed me and then run before I could push her back. I got kinda hard an’ she point at my pants and laughed. Then she pulled down her jeans and said was that what I wanted. I told her yeah and she said to go down to the market and wait for her in two days. And I did but then the people who owned the place made me go away.”

“That was the day of the robbery?”

“Yeah,” Dom said. There was a glimmer of suspicion in his eye but it faded quickly.

Raymond had left the Wells-Fargo bag on the sofa. I opened it and took out the gun. It was a peculiar design. The barrel was silver or at least silver-plated. It had ornate designs etched all over—wandering vines with small dog heads instead of flowers. The butt was made from ebony wood capped with hammered gold. The cylinder was extra-large with eight chambers. Four bullets had been discharged.

I used my shirttail to wipe my fingerprints off and then put the gun back and checked out the bag. It was double-ply canvas, tough and coarse. On the very bottom it was lined with a leather strip. Along the seam of the strip was a dark stain: blood of the corpses whose dead fingers pointed at one of the only people that Raymond loved.

Dom and Ray were raised together in the now defunct town of Pariah, Texas. They ran together because they were both outcast from the other poor children. Dom because of his birth defects and Raymond because he had always been crazy.

“Did Merry ever say that she had a boyfriend?” I asked Domaque.

He pouted and turned to the side, away from me.

“Did she?” I asked.

“That was all over. She said it was.”

“I’m sure it was,” I said, and he turned a quarter of the way back. “But maybe if I could locate him he might know something about her that could help me find out what happened.”

“Like what?”

“Like her last name.”

This didn’t seem so bad to Dom. A name wasn’t like looking at the comely girl’s butt.

“His name was Dean,” he said. “That’s what she told me. But he wasn’t nice to her and I was and that’s why she liked to come see me at Horth’s Cove.”

“Was there anything else about him?” I asked. “A last name or maybe what he looked like.”

“He was strong but not as strong as I was. And he had stringy black hair that got in her eyes when he made her have sex with him.”

I asked a hundred questions but didn’t learn much else.

Finally I asked, “How did Merry come across you in the first place?”

“I go down to the cove all the time to fish. You know I love fishin’, Easy.”

“Anybody else know that you went down there?”


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