He put his coffee cup down on the end table and pulled the wireless telephone from between the sofa cushions. Brad finally answered after seven rings.

"I hope I didn't wake you up," John said as soon as Brad picked up his end. There was running water in the background and a toilet flushed.

"Got me coming out of the shower."

"Just wondering if I could get a little more inside scoop from you on Tammy Goodchild and a few others around here. I thought I was in the music business, but apparently there's a lot going on that I don't know about."

"Anytime you want to just drop on by. I hope I can help you." Brad said. "Come down to the Sundowner around lunch time. Or anytime today. You know I practically live there."

"How'd we sound last night?"

"You were right on the money. Not me. I need to make time to practice more. I know I do. I feel like I'm holding you guys back most of the time."

"I think I was a little too loud. The monitors weren't acting right. I had to keep adjusting and making up for the loss."

I was going to ask you about that. I guess we need to invest in some new equipment," Brad admitted. "I hate to have to send them off to be fixed because we use'm every night."

John agreed but wasn't interested in investing in anything at the moment.


"See you in a little while," John told him.


The Sundowner was open for the lunch crowd but the place was empty. Sharp sunlight from a clear blue Friday sky beamed through the long windows fronting the sidewalk. The Sundowner reminded John of a battle scene on the day after. No more cannon fire or machine gun blasts ripping the air, no smoke rolling, no cries of mercy. All was calm after the war, or after a long night of eating and drinking. You could even see the falling dust in the air reflecting the sunbeams.

The private eye sat at the end of the bar and talked to Brad as he cleaned up and put things away.

"Don't think I've ever heard of Darryl Howard," Brad said. "The name doesn't ring a bell with me."

John looked at his reflection in the mirrored wall behind the bar. He sipped at the Coke Brad had given him. "That's who Tammy was with yesterday at my office. She said he was her new manager."

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