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Page 41

“Have you heard from her today?”

“No. Is she missing or something?”

“It’s just really important that I talk to her.”

Not even Zeke’s slacker voice can hide his growing suspicion. “How do you know Ingrid again?”

“I’m her neighbor,” I say. “Was her neighbor, I guess.”

In one of the units is a twin bed with rails on both sides and the mattress bent in partial incline. On top of it are several stacks of folded sheets coated with a thin layer of dust.

“She moved out of that fancy building already?” Zeke says.

“How do you know she was living at the Bartholomew?”

“She told me.”

“When?”

“Two days ago.”

That would have been the same day Ingrid took the photo in the park. The one Zeke commented on.

The corridor makes a sudden turn to the left. I follow it, noting the numbers: 8A, 8B. Inside the one for 8C is a dialysis machine on wheels. I know because my mother used one just like it, back when she was near the end. I went with her a few times, even though I hated everything about it. The disinfectant smell of the hospital. The too-white walls. Seeing her attached to a tangle of tubes as her blood ran through them like fruit punch in a Krazy Straw.

I move past the machine, quickening my pace until I’ve reached the other side of the building. I can tell because there’s another trash chute. A dumpster sits below it, although it’s smaller than the other one and, at the moment, empty. To the left of the dumpster is a black door, unmarked.

“What did she say?” I ask Zeke.

“I’m not sure I should tell you anything else,” he says. “I don’t know you.”

“Listen, Ingrid might be in some kind of trouble. I hope she isn’t. But I won’t know for certain until I talk to her. So please tell me what happened.”

The corridor here makes another sharp turn. When I round it, I find myself staring at the storage unit for 10A.

Greta Manville’s apartment.

The cage is full of cardboard boxes. Each marked not with its contents but its worth.

Useful.

Useless.

Cheap sentiment.

“She came to see me,” Zeke says. “Not unusual. Lots of people come to see me. I, uh, procure things. Herbal things, if you catch my drift.”

I do. Color me unsurprised.

“So Ingrid came to buy weed?”

Across from Greta’s storage cage is the one for 11A. Unlike all the other storage cages, the only thing inside that chain-link square is a single shoe box. It rests on the concrete floor, its lid slightly askew, as if Ingrid left it there in a hurry.

“That’s not what she was looking for,” Zeke says. “She wanted to know where she could buy something I don’t deal with. But I know someone who does and told her I could be the middleman between them. She gave me the cash; I made the exchange with the supplier and brought it back to Ingrid. That was it.”

Fumbling with the phone in one hand and the key in the other, I unlock the cage.

“Who was the supplier?”

Zeke scoffs. “Shit, man. I’m not giving you his name.”

I step into the cage and move to the box.

“Then at least tell me what Ingrid bought.”

I get the answer twice, both of them arriving in unison. One is from Zeke, who blurts the word over the phone. The other is when I lift the shoe box’s lid.

Inside, nestled on a bed of tissue paper, is a gun.

19


The gun sits on my bed, a deep black against the comforter’s cornflower blue. Beside it is the full magazine also found in the shoe box Ingrid left behind. Six bullets, ready to be locked and loaded.

It took all the courage I could muster just to carry the shoe box from the basement to the elevator. I spent the long ride to the twelfth floor in terror, and when I finally did remove the gun and magazine, I used only my thumb and forefinger, holding both at arm’s length.

It was the first time I’d ever touched a gun.

Growing up, the only firearm in our house was a rarely used hunting rifle my father kept locked in a gun cupboard. I’m pretty sure I glimpsed it only once or twice during my childhood, and then only fleetingly.

But now I can’t stop looking at the weapon whose presence fills the bedroom. Thanks to Google and a soul-deadening number of websites devoted to pistols, I have learned I’m now in possession of a nine-millimeter Glock G43.

During the rest of my conversation with Zeke, I learned that Ingrid told him she needed a gun. Fast. She gave him two grand in cash. He took it to his unnamed associate and came back with the Glock.

“It took an hour, tops,” he said. “Ingrid left with the gun. It’s the last time I heard from her.”

What I still don’t know is why Ingrid, who in high school was probably voted Least Likely to Own a Firearm, felt as though she needed one.

And why she bequeathed it to me when she left.

And why she still isn’t responding, even after I’ve sent a half dozen texts, all of which were different versions of WHAT IS GOING ON WHERE ARE YOU WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME A GUN?!?!?!

All I know is that I need to get it out of the apartment. Although Leslie never mentioned it, I’m sure there’s a rule at the Bartholomew about apartment sitters possessing firearms. The big question is how. It’s not something I can just toss down the trash chute. Nor do I feel comfortable sneaking off to Central Park and tossing it into the lake. And Zeke already balked at my idea of returning it to the man who supplied it.

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