“I’m looking for Bruce Fuches,” I said.
“I ain’t him.”
I looked her over from top to bottom and smiled what I hoped was a charming smile. “I can see that,” I said.
She smiled back, then wobbled a bit as if it had taken great effort. She placed a hand on the door to steady herself.
“You’re a lot cuter than most of his friends,” she said.
“So are you,” I said, although when you think about it, it wasn’t much of a compliment.
“I’m Wanda,” she said.
“Hi, Wanda.” She didn’t ask for my name and I didn’t give it.
“What do you want with Brucie?”
“I have some business with him and Danny.”
“The Bobbsey Twins,” she said. “Gonna make it big any day now. Least what they say like every day now. Couple a’ losers, you askin’ me. Hey, you wanna come in?”
She turned in the door frame to let me pass. Sykora concealed his gun behind his back and stepped across the threshold. Wanda saw him for the first time.
“There’s two of you,” she said, then smiled a smile that shaded off into a leer. “’At’s okay. I can do two of you.”
The living room was small. A table and two chairs were set in front of the window overlooking the street, and a battered sofa was shoved against the wall opposite them. All the furniture was arranged so that it had a clear view of a TV set on a metal stand with hard plastic wheels. The TV was on and tuned to a reality program in which dozens of beautiful women were chasing a homely man they thought was rich—if you call that reality.
“Is Bruce home?”
“Naw. Think if Brucie was home I’d be … Listen, Brucie, he and Danny ain’t coming back. Least not tonight. We’d be all alone. So whaddaya think? A threesome?”
“I like the sound of that,” I said, feeling suddenly like the pizza delivery guy in a bad porno flick.
“Wha’ ’bout you?” she asked Sykora.
“Well, then …”
“Wouldn’t Bruce be upset?” I asked.
“You don’t look like you’d be ’fraid of Brucie.”
Little did she know.
“Lookit, he don’t mean nothing to me no more,” she said. “This place.” Wanda waved at the room with her beer can. “He said he was gonna take care of me, only it’s been the other way ‘round. My alimony checks and my tips that’s payin’ for all this. Him and that wimpy brother of his, they don’t do nothin’ ’cept say how they gonna be big in the Mafia. The Mafia! You gotta be kiddin’.”
“I appreciate that, Wanda. But I really have to find Bruce.”
“Business, like I said. With him and Danny and Frank.”
“Fat Frank,” she said. “There’s a piece of work. Think I offer to Frank he’d turn me down? C’mon, you guys gonna fuck me or what?”
“I’m just saying right now might not be the best time.”
Sykora moved enough to catch Wanda’s eye.
“You said Bruce wouldn’t be back tonight. Where is he?”
There was an edge to his voice that made Wanda take a step backward. She glanced down at his hand, and her eyes grew wide. He was tapping his thigh with the barrel of the Glock.
“He’s, ahh … he’s …”
“Wanda,” I said. “Hey, Wanda.”
She tore her gaze from the gun and met my eyes. I smiled, going for reassuring this time, hoping Sykora hadn’t panicked her into silence.
“I’m thinking, we take care of our business with Bruce, maybe we could come back later.”
Wanda said, “Him and Danny, they got this place on Whitefish Lake they inherited from an uncle or somethin’. Up near Mille Lacs.”
Sykora said, “Where?”
Wanda gave him an address and directions. Sykora put his gun away and asked her to repeat it. She did, and he wrote it all down in a spiral notebook.
“You’re cops,” she said. Her smile returned. “Well, why didn’t you say so?”
“When did you last see Bruce?” Sykora asked.
“Are you gonna arrest him? Him and Danny? Cuz that’s cool far as I’m concerned. Kinda solve some problems for me, you know.”
“When did you last see Bruce?” Sykora asked again.
“’Round noon today. Frank called and off he went,” she said. “He woulda went with Frank and Danny early this morning, only Brucie, he had to meet with his probation officer.”
“Have you heard from him since?”
“Then how do you know Bruce is at the cabin?”
“He said he was goin’ there. Him and Frank, they talked on the phone for like, I don’t know, a half hour, and then Brucie, he looked like he was really pissed at someone, he said he was gonna stay the night at the cabin and to not wait up. Like I’m gonna wait up for him. So, you know, it’s like I said before, we’re all alone.”
“Maybe we should call him, let him know we’re coming,” I said.
“They ain’t got a phone,” Wanda said, which is exactly what I wanted to hear. “They make calls, they go to this place what’s just down the road.”
Sykora turned and headed back to the car.