A Mistaken Identity

The thing is, I knew it was her even before he told me. Okay, it didn’t soften the blow. Okay, I lied about the cigarette smoke from the club. What she’d done had been as inevitable as a train coming down the track, but I’d lain down across the rails anyway.

Frank Slain, a dirty cop moonlighting as a professional hitman to pay for his coke habit. Me, Rick Burns, an arsonist who was going to frame a bunch of terrorists for what was really an insurance job. And the girl. Mandy Teller.

I remember lying in her bed one night, the sheets clammy beneath us, the windows letting in the summer humidity because the AC was busted and her super was “waiting for a part to come in.” She was smoking a cigarette and I was lighting matches. We were listening to the three a.m. street sounds, buzzing lights and breaking glass, stray cars and occasional lost drunks. And I teased her about not being much of a talker. I had the angle wrong, like mistaking Abraham Church for Sam Church.

But she talked a lot. To Slain, not to me.

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