Answers and Questions

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"Whatcha doin'?" Wolf said, turning a corner.

"Trying to get this translated," Mitch said, fiddling with one of his phones. "Contro is apparently the Italian word for 'against.' Tutti means all. But I can't figure out the rest of it. 'Eedye' isn't a word. So I'm trying different spellings, but so far I haven't come up with anything that makes sense."

Wolf gave him an appraising look. "Think it matters?"

"Somebody thinks it means something to a guy who left Rose's house with a gun this morning and sounds like they're ready to give him orders," Mitch fumed. "If you still wanna know who he plans to shoot, it matters."

"Well, we're here," Wolf said, pulling into the driveway at Mike's house.

Together they walked up the sidewalk, taking in the size of the townhouse and the heavy carved doors. "Mike's pretty well fixed for money, isn't he?" Wolf mused.

"Makes sense," Mitch said. "With a little money to invest and he knows automatically whenever he's being lied to..."

Wolf shook his head. "Won't work like that, I don't think. All the really high-stakes liars believe their own bullshit. That's why they can say that crap and make it sound just like the truth." He knocked on the door. "It's kind of like guys who sleep around, being so completely sincere when they say they're in love and they won't sleep around any more. At the instant they're saying it, they believe it themselves. That's the only way for them to be so convincing."

"But it's still bullshit, right?"

"Half and half," Wolf said, knocking again and ringing the bell. "Half bullshit and half crap thinking. It only works for people who can fool themselves about who and what they are."

Mitch jerked his thumb at the doorway. "He's not answering, is he?"

Wolf looked around, then went to his hands and knees and sniffed at the sidewalk in front of the door. "Two men used this door this morning. One of 'em I don't know, he's probably Mike. He's gone out this morning, just an hour or so ago. And Mitch? Dover, or whoever he is, was here to pick him up."

"Okay ... " Mitch said. "'Scuse my language, but what the fuck?!"

Wolf stood up, adjusted his coat, and gave an elaborate shrug. "Just the facts, as they used to say."

"Right," Mitch said. "Footprints don't know anything about motive. But I feel like God's screwing with me. Just when I think we're about to be onto the game, the game changes."

One of his phones beeped a rendition of the first six bars of "the wreck of the old ninety-seven" and he fished it out of his pocket. "Yeah," he said in an annoyed voice.

Fifteen seconds later he muttered "Thanks, Sonia," and put the phone back into his pocket. Then he raised his arms to the sky and yelled, "Thank you Lord, but next time could you use some lube?"

Turning to Wolf, he explained. "My two prayers are answered: Rose is okay, and we have a lead on Mike. But the game has changed again, or more. Rose just called Sonia to say she saw Mike in the crowd at this new Aphrodite Cult thing up in South Park and she's worried for him because he looks Lost."

"And what was she doing there?" Wolf wanted to know.

"You know what that is, Wolf? That's a damn good question. That's what that is. And I've got some more damned good questions, like what it is we don't know about the relationship between Dover and Clelland and what it has to do with Clelland being Lost and who exactly is it that Dover intends to shoot? It would be way easier to save lives if we knew whose life we were trying to save and who we were trying to save it from, now wouldn't it? Get back in the car and drive."


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