A drop of the hard stuff, p.48
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       A Drop of the Hard Stuff, p.48

         Part #17 of Matthew Scudder series by Lawrence Block
Page 48

  “She brought me my clothes,” I said, “and I gave her back my set of keys, but it turned out we weren’t quite done with each other. That took a while longer. We really cared for each other, so we kept trying to make it work, until it was just too obvious that it wouldn’t. ”

  “Ah. ”

  “Who else? I got together with Dennis Redmond now and then, for a meal or a cup of coffee. I called him a couple of times when I had a case I thought he might be able to help me with. But then we lost track of each other. I figure he must be retired by now. ”

  “Like the other one. ”

  “Joe Durkin. We became close over the years, but he was on the job and I wasn’t, and that puts a limit on just how close you can get. He’s working security for a Wall Street firm now, and between that and his city pension he’s doing okay. ”

  “But you don’t see much of him. ”

  “Not too much, no. That bar Redmond liked, the Minstrel Boy? Last time I looked it was gone. ”

  “Places come and go. ”

  “They do, and the leaves fall from the trees. Bare ruined choirs—that was Shakespeare’s line, from one of the sonnets. ”

  “Ah. ”

  “I don’t know where I got the idea it was Keats. Jimmy Armstrong’s dead. He lost his lease and moved a block west, and then he died, and somebody else took over and changed the name. The new place had a dish I liked, an Irish break fast they served at all hours, but then they changed the menu, so that’s gone too. Theresa’s is gone, in case you were hoping for a piece of strawberry-rhubarb pie. Same with Dukacs and Son. There’s a chain drugstore filling the space where both of them used to be, Duane Reade or CVC, I forget which. I don’t know what became of Frankie Dukacs, whether he died or just lost his lease. ”

  “He moved to Nova Scotia,” he suggested, “and became a vegetarian. ”

  “I suppose it could happen. After Billie Keegan quit tending bar for Jimmy, he moved to California and started making candles. And Motorcycle Mark married a Gujarati girl from Jackson Heights and moved somewhere upstate. Putnam County, I think it was, and the two of them are running a day-care center. He stayed sober, he shows up at St. Paul’s every couple of months. He’s still got the Harley, but these days his regular ride is an SUV. ”

  “And the other one with the bike?”

  “The other—oh, Scooter Williams? Last I heard, he was still living on Ludlow Street and enjoying the sixties. It’s become a very desirable neighborhood now, believe it or not. Piper MacLeish got out of prison a couple of years ago. They let him out early, sent him home to die. No idea if Crosby Hart is alive or dead, but Google could probably find him, after it tells us why they call it a Mexican standoff. What else? Tiffany’s has been gone for years. The coffee shop on Sheridan Square, not the jewelry store. That’ll be doing just fine as long as there are Japanese tourists to shop there. ”

  “And the Museum of Natural History? Where you met with himself? It’s still in business, is it not?”

  “Last I checked. Why?”

  “Because,” he said, “there ought to be a place for a couple of old dinosaurs. ” And he picked up his glass. There was nothing in it but water, but all the same he held it aloft and gazed through it at the light.

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