“Yousurethisis the place?” I asked Liam as we entered an apartment building that badly needed a paint job. The carpet in the foyer deserved to be burned. No amount of water and soap could save it. The mailboxes on the right wall were mostly busted, with the tiny doors either torn off or hanging off their hinges.
“You never used to second-guess me like this, Sullivan,” Liam grumbled. “I can’t wait for all this to be done with so we can go back to the way things were before.”
He stalked over to the elevator and hit the button, but nothing happened.
Liam jabbed his finger harder at the button. And again.
“You’re wasting your time.” I pointed at the notice on the wall. “Elevator’s out of service.”
“The entire building should be out of service.”
“The stairs it is.” I wasn’t looking forward to climbing the stairs to the fifth floor. Too bad it was necessary.
Liam followed me closely. I was in no way unfit. Still, by the time we reached the fifth floor, I was breathing hard.
“Thank god the hard part is over.” Liam wheezed behind me. Damn, I’d forgotten he was asthmatic.
“You all right?”
“Yeah, just need to catch my breath.”
He pulled out his inhaler and puffed in. I gave him a couple of minutes to get his bearings back. He flashed me a thumbs-up, and we proceeded to the apartment number we wanted. A few doors down, a little boy sat outside with his back against the wall. He couldn’t have been over ten. He had a reading book in his lap and traced his finger over a picture of dragons.
As we approached, he didn’t even look up, as if he was used to being put outside. Nor did he seem to react to the loud moans emitting from behind the apartment door.
My stomach turned. Some people were just sick.
“You know we can’t interfere,” Liam said softly as we walked by the kid.
“I know.” But I didn’t have to like that I couldn’t do anything about it. If I got involved, though, people might recognize me later. Most people forgot about what you looked like if they never interacted with you.
At the right apartment door, I rapped my knuckles hard against the wood. When no one answered, I resorted to pounding.
“Who the fuck’s beating down my door?” a man growled. “I’m gonna motherfucking rip your head off if you got no good reason.”
Chains rattled, and bolts slid back. Then the door cracked open. A round face with fleshy cheeks and an eyepatch over the left eye appeared. The man took one look at me, and the anger turned to humility.
“Mr. Matthews. Just a second.”
The door closed, a chain was removed, and the door opened again. I stepped right past the man into a tiny apartment that reeked of drugs. On the coffee table sat a burner and a little bag with white powder next to it.
Mickey followed the direction of my gaze and shrugged. “Guy’s got to survive. Don’t mind all that. Take a seat. Can I get you anything to drink?”
I shoved my hands into my coat pockets. “I want to know why you fed us bad intel about Palmer. Who approached you to lie to us?”
“What?” He flinched. “I didn’t lie to you, man.”
“Until a month ago, you worked as a bodyguard for Palmer for six years. Did you so easily forget the rotation of the bodyguards and how many are on each shift?”
“I didn’t. Like I said, he keeps three bodyguards with him at night.”
I took a step toward him. “Then why did we have double that fucking amount when we went to his place?”
He swallowed hard. “You didn’t go on a regular night. They were probably still there from the party.”