Sally Pizarro lived in a Tribeca apartment building that was probably much more impressive back in the 70s when she first moved in. She was waiting outside when Agent Connors arrived, and suggested they go to a coffee shop down the street to talk, as the apartment was a mess.
Sally was in her mid-sixties but still looked quite young and fit. As they walked she talked about how she had always made her living teaching self-defense to women, and these days was doing so for an older clientele. She also hit the gym quite regularly. When they arrived at the coffee shop Sally ordered chai tea, an she and Connors took a seat in the corner.
“Let me just say,” Sally offered, “That I haven’t seen En…Leroy in years. I was…” She looked into her cup of tea and became silent for a moment. “I was shocked and…saddened…when I heard the news. He was my first love.”
Connors knew the two had been friends and partners, but had no idea they were romantically involved. She needed to pursue this further without upsetting Pizarro.
“Can you tell me about his childhood in Idaville?” she asked.
“Well, it was a pretty small town then, and everyone kind of knew everyone. You mentioned the newspaper stories. Encyclopedia — we called Leroy ‘Encyclopedia’ back then — did detective work for kids and also his dad. Minor league kid stuff.”
“Was there anyone who disliked him?”
Sally laughed. “Oh, yeah! Tons of kids hated him, but especially Bugs Meany and his gang, the Tigers. They were always up to no good and Encyclopedia was constantly shutting them down. They friggin’ HATED him. I was his bodyguard.”
“So there were threats of violence even back then?”
“Oh, sure. Again, kid stuff, but yeah, I blacked a few eyes for him back then.”
“Did any of that follow him after he left Idaville?”
“Nah. When he left for college I tagged along. I had some brains, but I knew a good thing when I saw it, and I stuck with him. We were together all through college and law school. But then…we broke up.”
“Can I ask why?”
“Basically, he was such a whiz in law school that he had firms fighting over him. He was a shooting star, and he knew big things were coming, and he didn’t need some kid crush from the sticks holding him back. His world was about to change and he didn’t need the old one anymore. That was the last I heard from him.”
Sally took a long sip of tea. The cup trembled in her hands. After a few seconds she set the cup down and continued.
“I had no idea where to go when I ran into Pablo Pizarro, who was also from Idaville. He was an artist and by this point had gotten a little attention, so he was heading up to New York City to try and really make it big there. He invited me to tag along and it seemed like an opportunity for me to break with my past as well.”
“And Pablo did make it big, didn’t he?”
“He did okay. He got some attention, and the New Yorker did a piece on him back in, like, ’74 or so. But he was always ‘just about’ to really break big without ever managing to do so. Once he realized that the moment was never going to come, he got deeply depressed, and we divorced about twenty-five years ago. I kept the apartment, he took off for California. We keep in touch, but it’s mostly just politeness now. He’s remarried.”
As with Pablo’s career and Sally’s relationships, this lead was seeming like a dead end. Connors tried to salvage what she could. “Sally, I’ve got reason to believe that Justice Brown’s assassination had something to do with Idaville. Can you think of anyone who would hold that big of a grudge for that long?”
“I told you, there were a bunch of people who were pissed at him. But yeah, if there’s one in particular, it would have to be Bugs.”
Connors thanked Sally and they parted ways. Finally she had a lead. She called in to her assistant, Keith.
“Oh hey, Maddie,” he said as he answered. “I was just about to call you. We finally traced the source of that letter. It was mailed from Jacksonville, but I also took a look into the watermarks and talked to the paper company. They were able to trace that particular ream to the Florida State Prison.”
A prisoner? Maddie thought for a second. “Check the prison records. They got anyone with a last name of Meany, first name or nickname ‘Bugs’?” There was a long pause while Keith did the necessary searching. “Got a Rupert Meany, alias Bugs, doing 30 for armed robbery. Place of birth is Idaville.”
A jolt of excitement shot through Maddie. Bugs Meany was going to get a visitor.