The man in the doorway looked familiar. Beefy and florid in the face, he shook the hand of a shorter, slighter man. As Tillotson approached the house from the curb, the big man turned and noticed that he had company. He gave a meaningless smile and nod and strode past Tillotson and down the front walk to a black Crown Victoria. A man in a matching black suit pushed himself upright from the rear door he was leaning on and opened it. The big man didn’t have to break stride as he stooped to climb into the car.
Tillotson placed the man. He had seen him on the news posturing self-righteously in Trenton over school vouchers or some such thing
The smaller man had already gone on to his next item of business, which was Tillotson.
“Mr. Rennert? I called earlier.”
Rennert offered a hand. “I’m sorry. I should have introduced you to the State Senator.”
“I can’t vote for him. I don’t live in his district.”
“What a pleasure. Most people wouldn’t have known that much. Come in.”
Rennert led the way to a small room on the first floor. It was furnished as a no-frills office, but it didn’t have the feel of a room where anyone spent much time. There must be someone waiting in Rennert’s real office, someone who wasn’t as public a personage as the State Senator.
“Diana Andrews told you to expect me. I assume she explained.”
“You’re looking for a man who knew her ten years ago and hasn’t been seen since.”
“That makes her sound like my suspect.”
“I didn’t mean to imply that. Just giving a summary of your problem as it appears to me.”
“Anyone come to mind?”
“About when did she stop working for you?”
“She never worked for me per se. She was more of an independent contractor. But it was certainly seven years ago that she stopped. Perhaps eight.”
“Did she ever complain about anyone you referred to her? You know what I mean—‘Never send him to me again.’ Anything like that?”
“Why do you ask?”
“That kind of man might have offended someone else. Someone who didn’t shrug it off as well as Diana.”
“The Senator comes to mind. But as you see, he is still with us.”
“I’m glad he doesn’t represent me.”
“In that case, don’t tell me where you live. I’m sure I could disillusion you about your own legislators.”
Rennert reached into the breast pocket of his dark gray suit and took out a letter-sized sheet of paper folded in thirds as if for a business envelope.
“Eight names. In each case I remember needing to find some way to keep them entertained for an evening. I haven’t had reason to keep in touch with any of them.”
Tillotson took the sheet and tried not to sneer. He was a little old for homework and too busy for make-work, but it wouldn’t be smart to show his disgust to Gary Rennert.
Diana, now, she was different.