Later, Quinn sat beside Violeta and described to her his meeting with Ito. He said nothing, though, of his discovery of Behan’s photos or of following Ito across town. “I know I shouldn’t have lost my temper with the man, but I couldn’t help it,” he concluded.
“Do you really think this Ito had something to do with the murder of your father?” Violeta asked. “What connection could there possibly be between the two of them?”
“I haven’t any idea,” Quinn lied. “It may have been that Behan’s real concern was for one someone else. Perhaps he was afraid for one of his models.”
Violeta thought it over. “It’s possible, of course, but Behan’s models were old enough to take care of themselves. Your father may have warned them to stay away from shady characters – I can easily see him doing that – but that’s hardly a motive for murder.
“Personally, I think you’re just clutching at straws. You have to realize that an investigation such as this takes time. You can’t expect the first suspicious character you come across to turn out to be the murderer. That only happens in books. In real life, it can take months, even years, to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.”
“It bothers the hell out of me to think Behan’s killer is running around free while we sit here talking.” There was indignation in Quinn’s voice. “What I want is payback. I may not have been the best son in the world, but I owe my father that much at least.”
Violeta cast a questioning glance at Quinn. “Perhaps it’s your guilt at not having been a better son that’s really driving you,” she suggested. “Isn’t it possible that you feel so horrible for not having seen your father in such a long time that now you want to make it up to him by finding his killer? Even if you do, you know, it won’t bring Behan back.”
“Yes, I realize that. Nothing I can do now will make any difference to Behan. We like to think the dead are out there watching over us. It’s not true though. We only tell ourselves that because we don’t want to admit the finality of death. There aren’t any second chances. It’s only when people are still in the world of the living that we can show them how much we care and can do things for them to prove it. Once they’re gone, it’s too late.”
“Then be patient. Take your time until you’re sure you have the right man. Otherwise, you will end up doing more harm than good.”
Quinn reached for the bottle of cachaça on the table beside him. He poured himself a good sized shot, knocked it back and then chased it with a beer. “Brrr,” he said. “That is one nasty combination.”
Violeta looked critically at the level of liquor remaining. “Ha,” she exclaimed. “I see you’re developing a taste for this. I’m going to have to buy another bottle soon.”
“I don’t know if you should,” Quinn joked. “I’m starting to worry I might develop too strong a liking for it and end up in the hospital needing a liver transplant.”
“Just enjoy yourself. A drink or two never hurt anyone.”
“Famous last words,” rejoined Quinn. He nevertheless took the bottle from Violeta’s hand and poured himself another. “One thing’s for sure though. If I stay here in the city much longer, I’m definitely going to have to find a new way to support myself. I can’t very well travel around the globe taking travel photos and keep on searching for Behan’s killer at the same time.”
“Fashion. That’s what you need to do!” Violeta slapped Quinn on the knee. “Why do you want to wander around these crazy places at the ends of the earth that no one visits anyway? You know Americans never go anywhere but to Disneyworld on their vacations. What you need to do is to shoot beautiful clothes and the women who wear them.” Violeta smiled mischievously. “Besides, it’s a great way to meet models. They would go crazy over a good looking guy like you. And to be honest, you need a girlfriend. It’s not healthy the way you’re alone all the time. New York is too cold a place to be without anyone to love.”
“Hell. What do I know about fashion? I’ve never shot any type of clothing in my life.” Quinn scoffed at the idea. “Fashion week isn’t until February anyway, and I’d need a whole new set of press credentials to get inside.”
“Don’t worry. The designers on Seventh Avenue are always putting on shows for buyers. And then there’s editorial work. You’ll find plenty to keep you busy.”
Quinn looked doubtful. “I don’t know. It sounds like fun all right, but I’ll have to get my foot in the door first.”
“Leave that to me,” said Violeta. “I have a couture show coming up soon. You can go there and get some shots for your portfolio. It will be good practice. The designer is South American and a friend of mine. He’ll put your name on the list if I ask.”
A half hour later, there was a knock on the apartment’s front door. When Quinn went to open it, he found Sloane standing outside.
“You working this late?” asked Quinn. He regarded the detective doubtfully. “I’m sure you didn’t come all the way over here just to cadge a beer.”
“I heard from Viktor that you’d taken the apartment,” Sloane said as he pushed past Quinn and into the room. “I thought I’d drop by and see how you were doing.”
“You didn’t have to travel all the way here to find that out, did you? You could have given me a phone call. I’d have been happy to tell you how super things are going.”
At that moment Violeta, who’d been taking a shower, stepped out of the bathroom wearing only a towel. She gave Sloane a cold look.
“Yeah, I guess they are at that,” Sloane remarked. He glanced knowingly at Quinn.
“This is Detective Sloane, Violeta. He’s the one investigating Behan’s murder.”
“We’ve met,” said Violeta as she pulled the towel tighter about her. “After Behan’s body was found, Detective Sloane contacted me and asked me to come to his office to answer all the many questions he had. He interviewed me for a very long time but finally decided I hadn’t killed anyone.”
Sloane raised his hands defensively. “If your name and phone number had been found in a murdered man’s address book back where you come from, I’m pretty sure the authorities there would have wanted to talk with you too.”
Without saying another word, Violeta turned, went back into the bathroom and slammed the door behind her.
“She talks our language pretty good for someone from a Spanish speaking country.”
“Just because she’s from Rio that doesn’t mean she can’t understand English,” Quinn admonished him. “And for your information they speak Portuguese in Brazil, not Spanish.”
“Don’t get so touchy. I was only trying to pay your friend a compliment.”
“Never mind. Trying to teach you to be politically correct is hopeless.”
“You don’t think you’re hurting my feelings, do you?” Sloane let out a loud laugh.
Quinn gave up. “I’ve got more important things to worry about than your lack of tact. Do you have someone watching me?”
Sloane was suddenly all business. “No. Why do you ask?”
“I saw someone hanging around the building today. I thought there was a chance he might be one of your guys working undercover.”
“Get over yourself. You’re not important enough to rate surveillance.”
“Yeah. Everyone tells me how unimportant I am. Why shouldn’t you join in?”
Sloane threw his hands up in the air. “Will you stop being so sensitive all the time.”
“Why are you here anyway? And please don’t try telling me you were only stopping by to see how well I was doing in my new home.”
“The real reason I’m here is because I heard you went to see Ito today.”
“Let me guess. He called to complain, right?”
“You knew that was going to happen when you went there.”
“Maybe. He’s got some nerve calling the police. The lowlife should be deported. Instead, he’s got the cops running over here to give me the third degree.”
“Don’t even go there. As a matter of fact, I ended up having a long talk with Mr. Ito. His complaint got passed to me and that gave me a chance to ask him about those DVD’s.”
“Did he have any explanation why Behan was holding onto them?”
“No, why would he? But even assuming Ito knew Behan to begin with, he didn’t have any reason to kill him. Cranking out nasty films doesn’t make him a murderer.”
“Maybe the motive is there if you look hard enough.”
Sloane sat down on the sofa. He plucked absentmindedly at the stuffing oozing from its side. “What’s with you anyway? You don’t have the right to question Ito or anyone else. You show up at his place and threaten to rough him up and then you’re offended when he complains he’s being harassed. What did you expect him to do?”
“I was hoping I could stir him up enough so that he’d call someone besides the police, someone who might panic and try something desperate to get rid of me.”
“So now you’ve got a death wish?”
“I’m still working out the connection between Behan’s murder and the DVD’s. Let it go at that for the time being. When I come up with something solid, you’ll be the first to know.” Quinn went to the kitchen and returned with two beers. He handed one to Sloane and popped open the other. “What about that ‘accident’ I had where someone tried to drop a pile of bricks on my head? Did you find out anything there?”
The detective took a long drink of beer. “We were able to verify that something fell where you said it did. That much was apparent from the foot long crack in the cement sidewalk. There’s no way for us to tell, though, what it was that fell or when it came down. Whatever it was – I’ll take your word that it was bricks – was cleaned up long ago. There’s no evidence to suggest a crime was committed.”
“So you’re just going to let it go and forget about it. Is that it?”
“It’s not our fault that you took your sweet time telling us about it, is it? If we’d been able to check the scene that same night it happened we might have come up with something that would support your story.” Sloane held up his hand before Quinn had a chance to argue. “The building manager is the only one who might know anything, and he’s on vacation somewhere in the Caribbean, the lucky dog. No one seems to know where exactly, and if you think I’m going to send anyone down searching the islands for him, you’re even more nuts than you look. When he does come back, I’ll send someone over to talk with him on the unlikely chance he has any information. Is that good enough?”
Quinn crushed the empty beer can in his hand. “I guess it will have to be, won’t it?”
“Hey, don’t blame me for your own failure to report what happened.”
“Ok. I get the point,” said Quinn.
“We did hear from your hot looking roommate about the SUV that tried to run you down in Chelsea. I suppose you were going to tell me you were too busy playing detective to report that incident also.”
“I would have gotten around to it.”
“Gee, thanks. Don’t knock yourself out on my account.”
“Have you found out anything? It shouldn’t be too hard. It was a late model SUV, painted black, and it had tinted windows. I thought it was illegal to have those in New York. And Violeta got a partial plate number. If you were doing your job, that would be enough.”
Sloane put his beer down, rose from the sofa and walked slowly to where Quinn was sitting. “Listen, guy, I know how rough you must have it with both your father and your sister gone. And I appreciate you must be feeling awfully lonely now. That’s only natural. But you’re letting yourself get too carried away with this crusade to find Behan’s killer. It’s become an obsession. You have to realize your father was no fucking saint. I’m not saying he was so bad that he deserved to die. But when we find out who killed him, it’s probably going to turn out he was up to his neck in something he shouldn’t have been involved in.”
Quinn leapt to his feet without warning and took a wild swing at the detective. Sloane grabbed Quinn’s wrist and put him into a headlock. “Are you crazy?” he asked as he pinned Quinn against the wall. “I could book you right now for assaulting an officer.”
“Go ahead,” shouted Quinn. “I’m not going to sit here while you piss on my father’s memory, especially when he’s not here to defend himself.”
“You really are out of your mind, aren’t you?”
“Say whatever the hell you like. I could care less.”
Sloane released the headlock. “Jesus, when are you going to get wise to yourself?” He let out a sigh. “We’re doing everything we can. And you know it. If there’s something I should be aware of, you can tell it to me now. Otherwise, just keep your mouth shut.”
Quinn grew silent all at once and moved back to his chair without looking at the detective. He hesitated before answering. “No, there’s nothing I know that you don’t.”
Sloane studied Quinn closely. “Are you sure about that? If you’ve discovered something and are holding it back, I’m going to be pretty damned upset with you.”
“If I think of anything I’ll let you know. But you cops should be doing more on your own. Behan’s murderer should be on Rikers right now waiting to be put on trial.”
“Him and who knows how many more. Anyway, I still think Behan was lucky to have you for a son. You must be the only one who ever gave a shit about the poor guy.”
“Too bad he’s not here to appreciate it.” Quinn gave a bitter laugh.
After Sloane had gone, Violeta, still wearing the towel, came out of the bathroom. “Are you all right? I heard you two arguing. I thought maybe I should call the police.”
“Hell, he is the police.” Quinn massaged his wrist where Sloane had bent it back. He looked up at Violeta as though deciding how far he could trust her. “Would you believe that Ito had Behan’s photos of Penelope at his studio? He had actually framed one of them and hung it over his bed. I was thinking of telling Sloane but decided not to, not yet anyway.”
“No,” exclaimed Violeta. She quickly poured herself another shot of cachaça. “What you’re telling me can’t be true. Are you sure Penelope was the woman in the photos?”
“Positive. I knew it was her as soon as I saw them. If that wasn’t enough, I followed Ito in a cab over to the East Side. And who do you think he met with while he was there?”
“You didn’t mention any of this to me before.” Violeta appeared hurt. “What would Penelope want with someone like Ito? And why did he have Behan’s photos to begin with?”
“I’m not sure yet, but I’m damn well going to find out.” Quinn’s voice was as grim as it was determined.
Violeta thought it over. “You were right when you told me there had to be some reason Behan had those DVD’s,” she said. “He was worried about Penelope.”
“I’m going to have to get in touch with her. I’m still not sure exactly what she has to do with Ito, but if he is planning something she could be in danger.”
“You are just like your father. Now you’re the one trying to protect her.”
“Penelope’s no innocent I’m sure, but I wouldn’t want to see any woman end up as one of Ito’s film actresses.”
“You don’t have to play white knight. I’m sure Penelope can look out for herself.”
“Yes, maybe you’re right at that. Maybe it is none of my business.” But Quinn didn’t sound convinced.
Violeta laid a hand on Quinn’s arm. “I don’t want to see you hurt. This woman had a bad influence on Behan. It may even be because of her that he’s dead now.” She gathered her towel about her. “I’m going to go out and get myself some dinner. I’ll bring you back something to eat. If I left it up to you, you’d starve to death.”
Quinn smiled. “Thank you, Violeta, and not just for the food. I appreciate you taking the time to listen to me whenever I go off on some wild rant. It can’t be easy.”
After Violeta had left the apartment a few minutes later, Quinn took off his clothes and stretched out naked on the bed. He lay awake a long while staring into the darkness surrounding him.