A few days later, I was seated in my Range Rover in the parking lot of the hospital, Bolter on the phone.
“As much as I can be. No one seems to give a shit that you’re gone.”
I shifted in my seat. The news should’ve been the best I could’ve hoped for, but it seemed too good to be true.
“Not even Nico?”
“I mean, I can’t say for certain. I asked around about you at the usual bars we went to when we were younger, you know?”
He laughed. “I had this whole routine, told people that I had this killer hemorrhoid, and I needed a doc I could trust. It was such a good line.”
I chuckled, but more to humor him. The idea of Bolter asking around for me so openly didn’t sit well at all.
“Anyway, everyone I talked to said they hadn’t seen hide nor hair of you in months. Oh, and Jax the bartender said that you still owed him fifty bucks from a tab a few years back. I paid him. You’re welcome, by the way.”
That got a laugh out of me. “I’ll pay you back. Anyway, you didn’t hear anything from anyone else?”
“Well, there was one person who seemed to notice that you were gone.”
“That shithead Johnny Baros.”
My blood went cold at the mention of Nico’s right-hand man.
“What’d he say?”
“It was kinda freakin’ weird, actually. I was over getting wings at The Chicken Palace in Sunnyside. Anyway, I’m eating outside, and he shows up out of nowhere, all decked out in his stupid suit and rings and shit.”
I already didn’t like this story.
“Why the hell was Johnny Baros in Queens? He barely ever leaves Manhattan.”
“I don’t know. He tried to play it off like it was just some coincidence. Maybe it was.”
“Tell me what he said.”
“He told me that he heard I was asking about you, wanted to know if I knew where you’d gone. I said I didn’t know, and then asked whyhewanted to know so damn badly. He said that Nico had heard that you’d left the city and wanted to know why, said he missed having a doc like you on hand.”
“Nope. Well, he said that if I heard from you to tell him. That was it.”
I said nothing at first, trying to process the information. My gut reaction was that something was up.
“Anyway, you want me to keep asking around?”
“No, that should be good. Thanks, Bolt.”
“Yeah, sure. Goes without saying that I’m not going to tell that sleazy asshole shit.”