Part 4

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CHAPTER SEVEN

I left it to Wednesday before calling at the Herald building to check for replies to the advert and was astonished when the counter clerk handed over a thick bundle of envelopes and fax and e-mail messages bound together with a rubber band. I thanked her and started to walk to a coffee shop on Biscayne Boulevard.

Though it was still early, I had to thread my way through throngs of shoppers, brightly-clad tourists, and teenage in-line skaters handing out flyers.

In the Miami sunshine it is easy to feel good when you have some time to yourself, even without a fortune in your pocket. On Saturday, Ryder had announced the rota for the coming week as he handed out the wage packets. I was on day shift again, with Wednesday and Thursday off. Ryder's only comment on my no-show on Friday was to remind me that it had been deducted. My first wage packet was also light the fifty dollars kickback.

After ordering coffee at a sidewalk table, I ripped the band from the bundle and sorted through the replies. They were in no particular order, though each of the faxes and e-mails did have a 'time of message received'.

I started with them. Two were from private investigators offering their services; the next from a clairvoyant, who, according to her headed paper, specialized in the finding of missing children. In her note she wrote that she could guarantee results if she was allowed to handle something that the missing person had been strongly attached to. Her fee was five thousand dollars.

The rest came from opportunists wanting a crack at the ten grand. Most of them claimed to have seen Andy recently and suggested that a meeting be set up to discuss the reward. One writer claimed to be Andy and promised to be at Joe's Stonecrab Restaurant on South Beach every evening next week at six. He would make himself known only if the advertiser brought the ten thousand in cash in a Sony digital camera case. I couldn't help wondering what the South Beach police would make of the outbreak of tourist mugging at one of Miami's most popular restaurants.

I screwed up the messages and turned to the letters. I had read and discarded eleven before coming on one that rang true. It was from a Biscayne Gardens' motel owner, who claimed that Andy had checked in there three years previously. The owner had cause to remember the name because the guest had never checked out and had left some personal effects behind. I read the letter twice, then stuck it in my inside pocket.

I also struck gold with the next letter. It was a short handwritten note from Elizabeth Kove, Andy's mother, asking the advertiser to ring her. It joined the letter from the motel proprietor in my jacket pocket.

None of the remaining letters held anything of interest. I handed them to the waitress and asked if she would trash them for him. After paying for my coffee, I walked back to parking lot to retrieve my car and drove uptown towards Biscayne Gardens.

This time I had a white coupe with two men in it on my tail. Morrell's men had started to alternate vehicles after my stunt with the golf ball. I turned right and kept watching in the mirror as the coupe drove straight on. I pulled in to the curb, bought a paper from a vending machine, and spent ten minutes in the car reading it. Then I tossed it onto the rear seat and rejoined the traffic flow. Two blocks further on I turned right again onto a street parallel to the one the couple had continued on.

This time it was a red sedan that was dogging me. Morrell wasn't taking any chances. I took a left, then first right, and another left and another right. Stopping at the next set of lights I noticed that the coupe was three vehicles behind me.

I smiled and threw them a wave. I'd make it easy for them this time.

Milton Weaver, round-shouldered proprietor of the Pink Palms Motel and Grill Bar, boasted that he had been born there the week the motel had opened − fifty-one years ago. It was a white lie, he admitted, but he had greeted all his guests with the same story since he had bought the place ten years before. It gives them a reason to remember me.

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