Part 3

109K 183 12


Floyd had just finished making a pot of coffee when I walked through the door from twelve hours of pumping gas. The living room ashtray was full of butts and the air was thick with cigarette smoke. Floyd was all set to light another. His face looked a lot better than when we had met last.

"I've a feelin' I'm not goin' t'like what you're 'bout t'tell me," Floyd said, as soon as I shut the door.

"When did you get back?"

"Midday, I've been climbin' the walls since."

"Andy's dead. Murdered."

Floyd's thumb slid off the wheel of his disposable, extinguishing the flame. His lips moved as if he was going to say something, but had lost the words. He combed bony fingers through his hair.

"You said you'd seen him," he said softly.

"His body's in the print shop's chest freezer. His throat had been sliced through to his spine."

I made for the kitchen and, ignoring the coffee, broke the seal on a bottle of vodka. Lifting two highball glasses from a cupboard, I poured a hefty measure into each, then topped up with grapefruit juice. I stuck the bottle under my arm and carried the drinks through to the living room. Floyd had not moved. He was still holding the lighter and cigarette and staring blankly. I would have found a gentler way to break the news if I had thought Floyd was going to take it this badly.

I handed him a glass. "To Andy."

Floyd clinked glasses, but eyed the liquid as though it was poison. 

"You sure it was him?"

"Yeah. He's been dead three years and eight weeks, give or take a day."

Floyd waited for me to explain.  

"The only other person who knew the money had been moved was Andy. He helped me pack it, but stayed behind to clean the press. He was killed before he had a chance to strip the plate; there was no way he would ever have allowed the ink to dry on it. You left early that night − cut man in Barry Nelson's corner for his big fight at the Arena."

Floyd nodded slowly as it came back to him. It had been Andy's suggestion that they stagger their departures from the print shop and Floyd had always been the last to leave. Except on that particular night. 

"He put Ray Stone down in the seventh. Finished him next round."

I hardly heard him. "Andy had an attack of jitters and suggested I take the money home."

"He was always getting' spooked. The man was obsessed with secrecy; he reckoned half of Miami were on to us."

"No, that night it was worse than usual. I thought it was because we had completed the final print run and had reached our target. We had agreed all along that three million would be it."

"Maybe he knew something you didn't." Floyd took his first taste of the vodka.

"Like what?"

"Dunno. Maybe he thought someone had been tailin' him."

"Someone that knew him, knew of his record."

Floyd mulled it over. "You sayin' a Treasury agent killed Andy?"

I took a slug of vodka and grapefruit juice and felt the spirit burn all the way down. "I don't see it. They would have had no reason to. Andy must have known whoever it was that turned up at the shop after I had left − he would never have let them in otherwise - and realized that he was in deep shit. He might have tried buying himself out of trouble by telling them about the three million. It didn't work."

Paper GhostsWhere stories live. Discover now