O is for Outlaw Page 56


"Why?"

"He's being evicted. I had one chance to search, and I had to take advantage."

"But what is all this?"

"I have no idea. Look, I know how his mind works. Mickey's paranoid. He tends to hide anything of value. I went through his apartment systematically, and this is what I found. I couldn't leave it there."

"The guns are stolen?"

"I doubt it. Mickey always had guns. In all likelihood, they're legal."

"But you don't know that for sure. Mickey didn't authorize you to do this. Couldn't you end up in trouble? "

"Well, yeah, but I can't worry about that now. I didn't know what else to do. They were locking him out. This stuff was hidden in the walls, behind panels, in phony bathroom pipes. Meanwhile, he's in the hospital, completely out of it."

"What happens to his possessions? Doesn't he have furniture?"

"Tons. I'll probably offer to have things moved into storage until we see how he fares."

"Have you spoken to the doctors yet?"

"They're not going to talk to me. The cops put the lid on that possibility. Anyway, I made a big point of saying we've been out of touch for years. I can't come along afterward and ask for daily updates like I'm so distraught. They'd never believe me."

"But you said you weren't going to get involved in this."

"I know. I'm not. Well, I am a little bit. At the moment, I don't even know what's going on."

"Then leave it alone."

"It's too late for that. Besides, you're the one who said I ought to check it out."

"But you never listen."

"Well, I did this time."

"Will you listen if I tell you to butt out?"

"Of course. Once I know what it's about."

"Kinsey, this is clearly police business. You can't keep quiet about this stuff. You ought to call those detectives, "

"Nope. Don't want to. I'm not going to do that. I don't like those guys."

"At least they can be objective."

"So can I."

"Oh, really?"

"Yes, really. Henry, don't do this."

"What am I doing?"

"You're disapproving of my behavior. It tears me up."

"As well it should."

I clamped my mouth shut. I was feeling stubborn and resistant. I was already in the thick of it and couldn't ball out. "I'll think about it some."

"You better do more than that. Kinsey, I'm concerned about you. I know you're upset, but this really isn't like you."

"You know what? It is like me. This is exactly who I am: a liar and a thief. You want to know something else? I don't feel bad about it. I'm completely unrepentant. More than that. I like it. It makes me feel alive."

A shadow crossed his face and something familiar seemed to scurry into hiding. He was silent for a moment and then said mildly, "Well. In that case, I'm sure you don't need any lectures from me."

He was gone before I could reply. The door closed quietly behind him. The plate of brownies remained. I could tell they were still warm because the air was filled with the scent of chocolate and the plastic wrap was foggy with condensation. I stood where I was. I felt nothing. My mind was blank except for the one assertion. I had to do this. I did. Something inside me had shifted. I could sense the muscles in my face set with obstinacy. There was no way I'd let go, no way I'd back away from this, whatever it was.

I sat down at the counter, propping my feet on the rung of the kitchen stool. I folded the newspaper neatly. I picked up the envelope and opened the seal. Inside were two passbooks for Mickey's savings accounts, six cash-register receipts, a Delta ticket envelope, and a folded sheet of paper. I examined the passbooks first. The first had once held a total of $15,000, but the account had been closed and the money withdrawn in January of 1981. The second savings account was opened that same January with a deposit of $5,000. This was apparently the money he'd been living on of late. I noticed that a series of $600 cash withdrawals corresponded to deposits in his checking account with the following discrepancy: Mickey would pull $600 and deposit $200, apparently keeping $400 in pocket change, "walking around" money, as he used to refer to it. I had to guess this was petty cash, used to pay his bar bills, his dinners out, items from the market. The six cash-register receipts were dated January 17, January1, February 7, February 14, March 7, and March 14. The ink was faded, but the name of the establishment wasn't that hard to read: the Honky-Tonk. I was assuming he'd sold his car sometime in the third week in March because he'd deposited $900 in his checking account. The loss of his transportation might explain the sudden cessation of visits after so many regular Friday-night appearances. Why drive all the way to Santa Teresa to have a drink when there were bars in his neighborhood? I set the question aside since there was no way to answer it. Before examining the last item, I pulled out my index cards and made some notes. There's always the temptation to let this part slide, but I had to capture the data while everything was fresh in my mind.

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