Conjugal Rites (Kit Tolliver #7) (The Kit Tolliver Stories)

Conjugal Rites (Kit Tolliver #7) (The Kit Tolliver Stories) by Lawrence Block

Book: Conjugal Rites (Kit Tolliver #7) (The Kit Tolliver Stories) by Lawrence Block Read Free Book Online
Authors: Lawrence Block
 

     
    W hen she first laid eyes on him, he’d looked preppy. That was in a bar in Riverdale, within walking distance of the last stop on the Bronx-bound Number One train, and she knew that much because she knew she’d walked there. She was drinking a Cosmopolitan when their eyes met. He bought her the next Cosmo, and the next thing she’d been able to remember was waking up in his bed.
    He had looked a little less generic in the morning. In daylight she’d noted the vivid blue eyes, the once-broken nose, the pouting sensuous mouth. He was a Wall Street guy, she’d learned, and she could see him in that role, aiming to take his place as one of the self-styled masters of the universe.
    That had been a while ago, and the years had taken their toll. Online, she’d learned that he’d come by the preppy look honestly. He’d been at Choate first, then Yale, then the B school at Columbia. Destiny had clearly meant him to wear suits from J. Press, khakis and polos from J. Crew.
    Was it any wonder that he looked a little older and less prepossessing in a burnt-orange jumpsuit?
    That would add years, all right. And it wasn’t a simple matter of costume. Just being incarcerated—that would tend to age a man, wouldn’t it?

    The prison was in an upstate New York town she’d never heard of, a good deal closer to the Canadian border than to the city of New York. You had to take two buses to get there, an express to Albany and a local the rest of the way. She was one of a dozen women who migrated from the express to the local, and she figured they were all on similar errands, visiting their incarcerated mates.
    An interesting word, incarcerated. As far as she could tell, it was used exclusively by persons to whom it applied—and, to be sure, by the women who loved them. The five syllables served to take the sting out; I am presently incarcerated didn’t hit as hard as The fuckers locked me up and swallowed the key.
    She’d noticed one woman in particular on the Albany express, a dishwater blonde with sharp facial features and a feral look to her. Not long ago she’d watched a cable documentary on crystal meth, and every women in it looked like this one. So did half the women on any episode of Cops.
    They’d exchanged glances, and she wasn’t surprised when the blonde took the seat next to her on the local bus. “I’m Barb,” she announced.
    “Audrey.”
    “I guess we’re going to the same place, huh?”
    “I guess.”
    “I’m on this bus every week. You see a lot of the same people, and then you stop seein’ some of ’em and instead you start to see different ones.”
    “Like life itself.”
    Barb had to think about that. Then she nodded. “Got that right,” she said. “I don’t think I seen you before.”
    “First visit.”
    “Yeah? Your man, right?”
    And I’m standing by him. Just like Tammy Wynette wants me to do.
    “Well, sort of,” she said. “But I haven’t seen him in years. We more or less lost track of each other. I’m not sure he’ll remember me.”
    Barb gave her a look. “How’s anybody gonna forget you ? Only question’s are you on the list. ’Cause if you’re not an approved visitor, no way they gonna let you in.”
    “His lawyer said I’m approved, I won’t have any trouble.”
    “Well, you’re okay, then. You figure on using the truck?”
    “The truck?”
    “ You know, Audrey. The truck .” A sigh. “The fuck truck. Pardon the expression, but that’s what everybody calls it. What it is, it’s a trailer more’n a truck, and you get an hour in there. Like, private time.”
    “I don’t know,” she said. “See, in a way I hardly know him. He’s been, uh, incarcerated for almost three years, and I didn’t even find out about it until a month ago. I’m not even sure why I’m here visiting him. Would I want private time with him? Maybe, but how do I know he’d want to go in the truck with me?”
    Barb gave her a look. She said, “Three years?”
    “Plus a

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