>NEVER A FRONTWARD STEP, PART TWENTY-ONE

>Yvette wore her hat again the next morning. I’d checked out of my hotel and was ready for the heat as I stepped from the lobby. I’d nodded to the doorman, and he’d nodded to me, and I counted his pile of heat-stricken tourists stacked in the shade. I drove my hire car—a new car, of course, and a new company—down the motorway yet again, with the pulsing lights in the darkness. I had already thrown the ubiquitous sanitary floor crepe out the window.

As I walked down to the dock, I felt the security lights on my back from my old friend’s house on the hill. He had contracted me some years ago to take out a thorny property developer, and his laugh washed through my head as I walked to Yvette’s pier.

“I had a feeling you’d be okay,” I told her.

“No one takes any notice of an old fisherman,” she said. “Even if she’s sitting next to a hitman.”

“Don’t really like that word.”

“Can’t imagine you would.”

“So I suppose I owe you one.”

“How’s that?”

“You saved my life.”

“Just trying to redress some karma. I perform two killings to your one—remember?”

“Thanks anyway.”

“Could have brought me a flower. Being so grateful and all.”

“Guys in suits don’t bring flowers.”

We sat for a few moments in silence, and it occurred to me that I had never seen her with a fish, let alone catching one. Seemed to fit, though.

“So,” she said, “did everything work out?”

“Not exactly. I fulfilled someone’s revenge fantasy, but I didn’t get them what they really wanted.”

“An answer.”

“Yeah.”

“Do you think there’ll be an answer?”

I thought about this for a moment and then reached inside my jacket. I pulled out the photograph of the unknown dead man and showed it to Yvette.

She raised her eyebrows. “Oh,” she said. “Him. You should have said.”

I smiled.

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