A Long Walk Up the Waterslide

Free A Long Walk Up the Waterslide by Don Winslow

Book: A Long Walk Up the Waterslide by Don Winslow Read Free Book Online
Authors: Don Winslow
Tags: Fiction, General, Thrillers
didn’t move an inch to fix his drink. Withers was preoccupied trying to figure out where he’d been the past few days. He had woken up hard in a Reno hotel room and gone for a drink or two and then woken up harder in a different Reno hotel room.
    Thank God Gloria had left the note in his jacket pocket, he thought. In other days, Gloria would have been what is known as a good broad, but those were different times.
    So Withers had solved the mystery of what he was doing in Nevada, and he wouldn’t be the first private investigator in history to blow a few days on a bender. What bothered him was the money.
    He was $1,327 short.
    He had done the figures in his head thirty times. Five thousand had gone to Gloria for the tip, and he didn’t think Scarpelli could object to that. Twenty-three thousand had gone to Sammy, and certainly Scarpelli could and would object to that. Withers was just hoping that Scarpelli would be so pleased with his smutty pictures of Polly that he’d forget about it. Or maybe he could just short Polly on the up-front money. In any case, he’d much rather owe money to Ron Scarpelli or even Polly Paget than to Sammy Black. Ron Scarpelli or Polly Paget would not break his wrists.
    But what had happened to the other $1,327? He had used plastic to pay for the airline ticket and the hotels.
    Oh my God, Withers thought. Could I really have drunk $1,327?
    The bartender was staring at him.
    “Yes?” Withers asked.
    “I don’t serve martinis,” the bartender growled. “I don’t serve martinis, or white wine, or anything with fruit in it.”
    Withers swore he heard a dog growl from behind the bar.
    The bartender continued, “I serve beer, whiskey, and gin. What do you want?”
    Feeling somewhat guilty at the possibility of having consumed in excess of a thousand dollars in alcohol, Withers answered, “Do you have coffee?”
    Growling dog again. Next it will be a trumpeting pink elephant.
    “Made a pot just this morning,” Brogan mumbled. He stepped over to the coffeemaker, found a mug that had been washed at least once during the Reagan administration, wiped it on his shirttail, and poured it full of the greasy coffee. “Milk or sugar?”
    “How old is the milk?” Withers asked.
    “It has Amelia Earhart’s picture on the carton.”
    “Black, thank you.”
    “Fifty cents,” Brogan said.
    Withers laid a five on the bar and told him to keep the change. It was time to get to work, and that meant getting in good with the locals.
    “Do you have a phone I could use?” Withers asked.
    “Phone booth across the street, outside the gas station,” Brogan said. He took four dollars and fifty cents in quarters out of the cash register and set the change on the bar.
    Withers drank his coffee under the watchful eye of the bartender and then went across the street. Except for modern additions like the gas station and the power lines, the street looked like the set of a Western. He had never been in this small a burg in his life. He didn’t know they still existed.
    That gave him an idea.
    Luckily, the phone booth had an intact phone book, something you’d never see in New York. In a town this dinky, Withers thought, it shouldn’t be too tedious or time-consuming a process to take the phone number Gloria gave me and check it against the numbers listed in the book, which will then produce an address. Yes, you have to get up pretty early in the afternoon to put one over on Walter Withers, P.I., he thought.
    “She can’t be pregnant,” Neal said.
    “Why not?” Karen asked.
    “Because she can’t be. It makes things too complicated.”
    “Don’t whine.”
    “I’m not whining,” Neal whined.
    “I dunno,” Polly said. “My friend is usually very prompt.”
    “Well, maybe your friend got a flat tire or something,” Neal said irritably.
    Karen looked at Neal and shrugged.
    “And this is going to be the water slide,” Jack Landis was saying on the television. “The biggest in the

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