IT WAS ELEVEN-ISH WHEN WE finally dragged ourselves out of bed the next morning. I could walk on my own, but it hurt. A lot. So I was slow. But our only real lead was the tax stuff Stella had taken from Kells’s office with the address of the accountant on them, and he wasn’t going anywhere. Probably.
The cab burped us up in the bowels of Midtown. The three of us stared up at a squat, ugly building sandwiched between a Laundromat and a FedEx, a building that bore the address where Ira Ginsberg, CPA, purportedly filed taxes for evil corporations such as Horizons LLC.
“So, what’s the plan exactly?” Stella asked.
“We’re going to ask him who he works for,” I said.
Stella scratched her nose. “And what if he doesn’t just . . . volunteer that information?”
“Then Jamie will encourage him to volunteer it.” And if that failed, I would encourage him myself. I felt strangely well and strangely confident. Whatever Dr. Kells had tried to do to me, she had failed. I was still here, and those things that had been inside me, whatever they were, were gone. We had the address of the man who’d made it possible for her to do what she’d done. We were getting closer to everything. Closer to Noah. I could feel it.
Jamie cleared his throat. “Shall we?”
We shall. A doorman handed us visitors’ badges, which we slapped on (my chest, Stella’s hip, Jamie’s left ass cheek). Then we rode the elevator up to the stated suite. The waiting area looked like a doctor’s office, complete with a gum-chewing, ponytailed receptionist. Stella looked at Jamie and gestured at Chewy.
“You owe me so much, I can’t even count how much you owe me,” he muttered.
“Names?” the receptionist asked us.
“Jesus,” Jamie answered.
“Mary,” said Stella.
“Satan,” I said as I walked past her and pushed open the door to Ira Ginsberg’s office.
The room was painfully unremarkable, and so was Ira. He had a slightly doughy face that emerged from the collar of his slightly too tight dress shirt and tie. He rose the instant we walked in, followed by the receptionist.
“It’s all right, Jeanine,” he said. “Tell my client on line one that I’ll have to call him back.”
“Yes, Mr. Ginsberg,” she said, glancing at us on her way out.
“How can I help you?” Mr. Ginsberg said to us.
Jamie slid into a seat opposite his desk. “I’m so glad you asked.” He handed Mr. Ginsberg the tax thing Stella had stolen from Kells’s office. “Who hired you to prepare this?”
“I’m afraid I can’t divulge client information, Mr. . . .”
“Jesus,” Jamie said. I snorted.
“Mr. Jesus,” Ira said, without humor.
Jamie nodded thoughtfully. “I understand. I’ll rephrase. Who hired you to prepare this?” This time when Jamie spoke, his voice was sharp and compelling, and Mr. Ginsberg looked at the paper for only a second before answering. The interrogation had begun.
“Horizons LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary; a representative of its parent company contacted me and asked if I could incorporate them in New York and handle their finances. Why?”
“Do you know what they do?”
“No,” Mr. Ginsberg said cheerfully.
“Someone from the company, Horizons, must have had to sign these, right?”
“I believe there was an appointed agent of record, yes.”
Mr. Ginsberg rubbed his chin. “I don’t recall the name. It was very generic.”
“But it’s on the documents you prepared for them?”
“Then give us the documents,” Jamie said, his voice cutting the air like glass.
“Oh, I would, I would, except I don’t have them. Everything that relates to EIC—the parent company—is kept in the archives, not in the office.”
“A repository of documents relating to the corporation and its subsidiaries. But the files are all coded. You’re going to have a hell of a time finding anything in there without the access key.”
Jamie gave Mr. Ginsberg a hard look with a raised eyebrow. “Then give us the access key.”
Mr. Ginsberg’s eyes looked unfocused. “I can’t. I no longer have it.”
I locked eyes with Stella.
“What did you do with it?” Jamie asked him.
“Those particular documents were requested just a few days ago, along with the key. I was instructed to send the key to a box at New York University.”
“By whom?” Jamie asked.
“I don’t know,” Mr. Ginsberg said. “You have to understand, these are the corporation’s operating procedures. One authorized person provides the access code to me, and I provide him or her with the access key, to facilitate the location of documents in the archives. Very useful for litigation.”
Jamie leaned forward in the chair. “Explain?”
“Without the access key the corporation could provide discovery and bury its opponents in paper, and they would have no clue what any of it meant,” Mr. Ginsberg said with a sly smile. “It would take years to sort it all out, and they’d have to pay their lawyers by the hour while they did.”
I couldn’t accept that we’d come all this way and been through everything we’d been through to face yet another dead end. “Tell us who you sent the documents to, then,” I said, my patience dwindling. “And give us the address for the archives.”
Mr. Ginsberg acted like he hadn’t heard me. Jamie repeated my questions.
Mr. Ginsberg sighed. “There was no name to go with the address at New York University, only a department.
“Which one?” Jamie asked.
I was already walking out the door.
WE LEFT THE OFFICE WITH two addresses in hand—one, the archives; the other, the Comparative Literature Department at New York University.
“So where to?” Jamie asked as we stood outside. “Archives first, right?” he asked, at the same time Stella said, “NYU first.”
She shook her head. “If we figure out who received the access key at the university, that could give us at least a name to go on more quickly than sifting through millions of pages of possibly crap documents.”
“But there’s no name with that address,” Jamie said. “Whoever gave the code to Ginsberg could have just had him mail the key there to pick it up, and I just want to find out something, anything, already, even if all we find are crap documents in a mammoth warehouse somewhere. What say you, M?”