Today's Reading

CHAPTER TWO

The ride to the bar was a blur. Matt sat in the back seat in the stop-and-go traffic of Greenwich Village feeling punch-drunk from the news and from the paparazzi hurling questions at him: Why weren't you in Mexico with your family? How do you feel? Do you think it was really an accident? Does your brother know?

The agent had just plowed through the crowd, grabbing Matt's wrist and dragging him in her wake. When a guy with a camera stepped in front of them on the way to the car, she'd calmly flashed her badge and looked him up and down. He'd cowered away. New York paparazzi weren't timid souls, so the guy must have sensed that she wasn't one to trifle with.

Now, Matt stared out the window, the wet road smeared with red taillights. His thoughts skipped again to the reporters. Does your brother know?

Danny had no television, internet, or phone, of course. But Matt's dad always said that news—particularly bad news—had a way of penetrating prison walls at light speed. And with Danny's celebrity status from the documentary, he'd hear soon enough.

The car pulled in front of Purple Haze. The place looked grimier in the daylight, the roll-up metal security doors covered in graffiti. Trash bags puddled with rainwater piled on the sidewalk. A man in a tracksuit was bouncing on his feet under the awning. He peered into the car like he was expecting them, and walked over.

"You with the Feds?" he said, stooping so he could see inside the car. He was heavyset and balding. Sweat beaded on his forehead, even in the chill.

"Special Agent Keller," she said, all business. Matt finally had a name.

"I got a call about a problem at the club," the man said in a Brooklyn accent. "We run a clean operation, so I don't—"

"I don't care what kind of operation you run," Keller said. There were no niceties. No bedside manner. Keller gestured to Matt in the back seat. "He left his coat in there last night. His phone's in the pocket. We need you to let us inside."

The club owner hesitated. Bunched his lips. "Well, you, ah, got a warrant?"

Keller glowered at him. "You really want me to get one? I might have to come back with a team of agents at, say, eleven tonight. Who knows what we'll find."

The owner held up his hands in retreat. "Look, I'd get his stuff if it was there," he said. "But my bouncer, I let him take whatever's left behind after closing."

"Wonderful," Agent Keller said, letting out a breath. "I need his name and address."

"I'm not sure I have—"

"Name and address, or I'm back to us having a problem."

"All right, all right. Give me a minute."

Agent Keller nodded, and the owner disappeared inside. He returned with a Post-it note scrawled with the information. Keller plucked it from his hand, then lurched from the curb.

Twenty minutes later they were in front of a towering glass building in Tribeca. Keller turned into the mouth of a garage and stopped at a checkpoint. A guard examined her credentials then waved her inside. "The bouncer lives here?" Matt asked as they circled down the basement lot. It was a high-end building in a high-end neighborhood, not somewhere you'd expect club muscle to live.

"No. I sent some agents to track him down."

"So what's here?"

Keller pulled the car into a spot next to a line of identical dark sedans. "Someone needs to tell your brother."

"Wait, what?" Matt said. He tried to unpack what she was saying. Then: "No."

There was a long pause while Keller searched his eyes. "I know this is a lot," she said. "And I can't pretend to know what you're going through. But I spoke to your aunt and she said your parents would've wanted it to come from you."

The hair on Matt's arms rose.

"He's here'? Matt asked, knowing that didn't make sense.

"Not quite. We need to head up to the roof."
...

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