Dead Cat Bounce

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  • Publisher: Witness Impulse
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Stoney gave up drinking, but it couldn't save his marriage. Leaving the big house in New Jersey to his wife and kids, he's living in the City-still working the profitable, if not 100 percent legal, angles with his partner, "Fat Tommy Bagadonuts." Then, out of the blue, Stoney's teenage daughter shows up with a problem: an unwanted admirer who needs to be cooled down . . . or eliminated. But the secrets Marisa's been keeping from her father-like her night job as an exotic dancer-can't compare with those being guarded by the mysterious and violent man who's stalking her: a dangerous enigma with no past and a made-up name. He does, however, have lots of money-which makes him a very tempting mark for Stoney, Tommy, and their young streetwise "apprentice," Tuco. But people who look too closely into this guy's history have a habit of turning up dead.


Dead Cat Bounce

Chapter One

Stoney leaned against the end of the bar and watched the bartender fix his drink. Ice in a tall glass, seltzer water, squeeze the lime, goddammit, don't just throw it in there. The guy put it down in front of him without comment, picked up the five-dollar bill lying there, and went to make change. It had been eight months since Stoney had touched alcohol, and somewhat to his surprise, Seagram's had not gone out of business, nor had Budweiser, Miller, Bushmill's, or any of the rest. The bartender brought back his change, turned away without asking him if he was sure he didn't want a chaser, how about a Dewar's on the side, nothing. There were a half dozen other people in the place, and not one of them, as far as he could tell, cared what he was drinking.

Benny would care. Stoney could hear the guy's voice in his head. "Keep playing on the tracks, kid, don't be surprised when you get hit by the train." Stoney figured that Benny would be right about that, Benny was right about most things that had to do with not drinking, and with living your life like you gave a shit. Stoney glanced at his watch. Another twenty minutes until it was time to meet his daughter. Stoney did not know why he was standing in this bar in the bowels of New York City's Grand Central Station. Wait upstairs, asshole, he told himself. What is wrong with you? You really think you need something to fortify yourself? She's just a kid, for chrissake. He left the seltzer and the change on the bar and walked out.

Grand Central Station's main waiting room is a vast open space, it's the kind of vaulted stone hall that no one builds anymore, a cathedral to all that railroads had once been. Stoney was there because his daughter, Marisa, had left a voice mail on his cell phone. "Meet me under the clock in Grand Central," she'd said, gave him the date and time and nothing else. Surprised the hell out of him, he didn't even know how she'd found his number. She must have gotten it off one of the old bills, back when they were still sending them to the house. Back before his wife, Donna, had thrown him out.

There was nothing for him to do but stand there, Marisa hadn't told him what train she'd be on. He tried to figure it out from the schedule but he gave up on that pretty quickly. He found that he did not know enough about his daughter to be able to do more than guess. How old is she? he asked himself. Do you even know? He came up with an answer to that, though, because he'd driven to the hospital to pick up Donna and the new baby in the Buick Grand National he'd bought in '86. He'd smacked up the car a year later, so Marisa had to be around sixteen. Seventeen. Something like that. Jesus.

She came striding across the floor of that enormous room, longish brown hair, brown eyes, tall but not too tall, thin, but not out of the ordinary, pretty, but not a knockout. Physically, she put him in mind of Donna, his wife, but he could see from the look in her eyes that she was her father's daughter. She's not gonna be easy to deal with, he thought.

He had spent most of the previous evening talking to Benny about this meeting. Stoney might have been a while without a drink, but his head was still all fucked up. Benny supplied him with perspective, judgment, purpose. Benny told him which AA meetings to attend. "Go to Liberty Street tonight," he would say. "Get there around eight and help them put the chairs out." Stoney followed the instructions. Sometimes he'd see Benny there, sometimes he wouldn't. Stoney had quit trying to make sense of it. Just do what the little bastard tells you, he told himself. Working so far, isn't it?

"So let her come meet you," Benny had told him. "Just try not to overreact. She might be coming to tell you she hates your guts and never wants to see you again, or she might want to tell you she misses you. Either way, you gotta take it, you owe her that."

"What about this business of making amends?" Stoney asked him. "Don't I have to say something about that when I see her?"

"You ain't up to that part yet," Benny told him. "No jumping ahead. Look, just go meet her, okay? Don't chase her away by running after her. And try not to act like an asshole. Call me after."

She was wearing jeans and a T-shirt that came several inches short of meeting at her waist. The part of the jeans that would have held belt loops was missing, torn off, leaving a ragged fringe. She had a diamond tennis bracelet on one thin wrist. Stoney could sense the men passing by regarding his daughter as a sexual being, and that primal father thing started up in his head. He couldn't help himself.

She stopped about six feet away and looked at him without expression. "Where's the rest of your pants?" he asked her, but he almost smiled when he said it, and that saved him.

She gave him a look. "That's the way they make them now," she told him. He could tell that she was trying to suck in her stomach the way females do, but she didn't really have one.

"You hungry? You feel like something to eat?"

She shook her head. "Show me where you live," she said.

He wondered if Donna had put her up to this, if she wanted to know where he lived so she could serve papers on him or some shit, but he immediately felt bad for thinking that. Donna was not that underhanded, her . . .

Dead Cat Bounce. Copyright © by Norman Green. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Dead Cat Bounce by Norman Green
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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