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Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III) / (by Harlan Coben, 2021) -

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Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III) /  (by Harlan Coben, 2021) -

Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III) / (by Harlan Coben, 2021) -

, , . , . , . , , . . - : WHL3. . , , . III . , . ? , ?

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Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III) / (by Harlan Coben, 2021) -
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2021
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Harlan Coben
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Steven Weber
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upper-intermediate
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10:35:33
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64 kbps
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mp3, pdf, doc

Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III) / :

.doc (Word) harlan_coben_-_win.doc [1.17 Mb] (c: 2) .
.pdf harlan_coben_-_win.pdf [1.69 Mb] (c: 3) .
audiobook (MP3) .


: Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III)

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CHAPTER 1 The shot that will decide the championship is slowly arching its way toward the basket. I do not care. Everyone else in Indianapolis_s Lucas Oil Stadium stares at the ball with mouth open. I do not. I stare across the court. At him. My seat is courtside, of course, near the center line. An A-list Marvel-Superhero actor sporting a tourniquet-tight, show-biceps black tee sits on my left, you know him, and the celebrated rapper-mogul Swagg Daddy, whose private jet I bought three years ago, dons his own brand of sunglasses to my right. I like Sheldon (that_s Swagg Daddy_s real name), both the man and his music, but he cheers and glad-hands past the point of sycophantic, and it makes me cringe. As for me, I sport a Savile Row hand-tailored suit of pinstripe azure, a pair of Bedfordshire bespoke Bordeaux-hued shoes created by Basil, the master craftsman at G. J. Cleverley_s, a limited-edition Lilly Pulitzer silk tie of pink and green, and a specially created Herm?s pocket square, which flares out from the left breast pocket with celestial precision. I am quite the rake. I am also, for those missing the subtext, rich. The ball traveling in the air will decide the outcome of the college basketball phenomenon known as March Madness. Odd that, when you think about it. All the blood and sweat and tears, all the strategizing and scouting and coaching, all the countless hours of shooting alone in your driveway, of dribbling drills, of the three-man weave, of lifting weights, of doing wind sprints until you hurl, all those years in stale gyms on every level_Biddy basketball, CYO travel all-stars, AAU tournaments, high school, you get the point_all of that boils down to the simple physics of a rudimentary orange sphere back-spinning toward a metallic cylinder at this exact moment. Either the shot will miss and Duke University will win_or it will go in and South State University and their fans will rush the court in celebration. The A-list Marvel hero attended South State. Swagg Daddy, like yours truly, attended Duke. They both tense up. The raucous crowd falls into a hush. Time has slowed. Again, even though it_s my alma mater, I don_t care. I don_t get fandom in general. I never care who wins a contest in which I (or someone dear to me) am not an active participant. Why, I often wonder, would anyone? I use the time to focus on him. His name is Teddy Lyons. He is one of the too-many assistant coaches on the South State bench. He is six foot eight and beefy, a big slab of aw-shucks farm boy. Big T_that_s what he likes to be called_is thirty-three years old, and this is his fourth college coaching job. From what I understand, he is a decent tactician but excels at recruiting talent. I hear the buzzer go off. Time is out, though the outcome of the contest is still very much in doubt. The arena is so hushed that I can actually hear the ball hit the rim. Swagg grabs my leg. Mr. Marvel A-List swings a muscled tricep across my chest as he spreads his arms in anticipation. The ball hits the rim once, twice, then a third time, as though this inanimate object is teasing the crowd before deciding for itself who lives and who dies. I still watch Big T. When the ball rolls all the way off the rim and then drops toward the ground_a definite miss_the Blue Devil section in the arena explodes. In my periphery, I see everyone on the South State bench deflate. I don_t care for the word _crestfallen__it_s an odd word_but here it is apropos. They deflate and appear crestfallen. Several collapse in devastation and tears as the reality of the loss sinks in. But not Big T. Marvel A-Lister drops his handsome face into his hands. Swagg Daddy throws his arms around me. _We won, Win!_ Swagg shouts. Then, thinking better of it: _Or should I say, _We win, Win!__ I frown at him. My frown tells him I expect better. _Yeah, you_re right,_ Swagg says. I barely hear him. The roar is beyond deafening. He leans in closer. _My party is going to be lit!_ He runs out and joins the celebration. En masse, the crowd charges the court with him, exuberant, rejoicing. They swallow Swagg from my view. Several slap me on the back as they pass. They encourage me to join, but I do not. I look again for Teddy Lyons, but he is gone. Not for long though. * * * Two hours later, I see Teddy Lyons again. He is strutting toward me. Here is my dilemma. I am going to _put a hurting,_ as they say, on Big T. There is no way around that. I_m still not sure how much of one, but the damage to his physical health will be severe. That_s not my dilemma. My dilemma involves the how. No, I_m not worried about getting caught. This part has been planned out. Big T received an invitation to Swagg Daddy_s blowout. He is entering through what he believes is a VIP entrance. It is not. In fact, it is not even the location of the party. Loud music blasts from down the corridor, but it is just for show. It is only Big T and I in this warehouse. I wear gloves. I have weaponry on me_I always do_though it will not be needed. Big T is drawing closer to me, so let_s get back to my dilemma: Do I strike him without warning_or do I give him what some might consider a sporting chance? This isn_t about morality or fair play or any of that. It matters to me none what the general populace would label this. I have been in many scrapes in my day. When you do battle, rules rapidly become null and void. Bite, kick, throw sand, use a weapon, whatever it takes. Real fights are about survival. There are no prizes or praise for sportsmanship. There is a victor. There is a loser. The end. It doesn_t matter whether you _cheat._ In short, I have no qualms about simply striking this odious creature when he_s not ready. I am not afraid to take_again to use common vernacular_a _cheap shot._ In fact, that had been my plan all along: Jump him when he_s not ready. Use a bat or a knife or the butt of my gun. Finish it. So why the dilemma now? Because I don_t think breaking bones is enough here. I want to break the man_s spirit too. If tough-guy Big T were to lose a purportedly fair fight to little ol_ me_I am older, much slighter, far prettier (it_s true), the very visual dictionary definition of _effete__it would be humiliating. I want that for Big T. He is only a few steps away. I make my decision and step out to block his path. Big T pulls up and scowls. He stares at me a moment. I smile at him. He smiles back. _I know you,_ he says. _Do tell._ _You were at the game tonight. Sitting courtside._ _Guilty,_ I say. He sticks out his huge mitt of a hand for me to shake. _Teddy Lyons. Everyone calls me Big T._ I don_t shake the hand. I stare at it, as though it plopped out of a dog_s anus. Big T waits a second, standing there frozen, before he takes the hand back as though it_s a small child that needs comforting. I smile at him again. He clears his throat. _If you_ll excuse me,_ he begins. _I won_t, no._ _What?_ _You_re a little slow, aren_t you, Teddy?_ I sigh. _No, I won_t excuse you. There is no excuse for you. Are you with me now?_ The scowl slowly returns to his face. _You got a problem?_ _Hmm. Which comeback to go with?_ _Huh?_ _I could say, _No, YOU got a problem_ or _Me? Not a care in the world__something like that_but really, none of those snappy rejoinders are calling to me._ Big T looks perplexed. Part of him wants to simply shove me aside. Part of him remembers that I was sitting in Celebrity Row and thus I might be someone important. _Uh,_ Big T says, _I_m going to the party now._ _No, you_re not._ _Pardon?_ _There_s no party here._ _When you say there_s no party__ _The party is two blocks away,_ I say. He puts his mitts on his hips. Coach pose. _What the hell is this?_ _I had them send you the wrong address. The music? It_s just for show. The security guard who let you in by the VIP entrance? He works for me and vanished the moment you walked through that door._ Big T blinks twice. Then he steps closer to me. I don_t back up even an inch. _What_s going on?_ he asks me. _I_m going to kick your ass, Teddy._ Oh, how his smile widens now. _You?_ His chest is the approximate size of a squash court_s front wall. He moves in closer now, looming over me, staring down with the confidence of a big, powerful man who, because of his size, has never experienced combat or even been challenged. This is Big T_s amateurish, go-to move_crowd his opponent with his bulk and then watch them wither. I don_t wither, of course. I crane my neck and meet his gaze. And now, for the first time, I see doubt start to cloud his expression. I don_t wait. Crowding me like this was a mistake. It makes my first move short and easy. I place all five of my fingertips on my right hand together, forming something of an arrowhead, and dart-strike his throat. A gurgling sound emerges. At the same time, I sidekick low, leading with my instep, connecting directly on the side of his right knee which, I know from research, has undergone two ACL surgeries. I hear a crack. Big T goes down like an oak. I lift my leg and strike him hard with my heel. He cries out. I strike him again. He cries out. I strike him again. Silence. I will spare you the rest. Twenty minutes later, I arrive at Swagg Daddy_s party. Security whisks me to the back room. Only three types of people get in here_beautiful women, famous faces, fat wallets. We party hard until five a.m. Then a black limo takes Swagg and yours truly to the airport. The private jet is gassed up and waiting. Swagg sleeps the entire flight back to New York City. I shower_yes, my jet has a shower_shave, and change into a Kiton K50 business suit of herringbone gray. When we land, two black limos are waiting. Swagg involves me in some kind of complicated handshake-embrace as a way of saying goodbye. He takes one limo to his estate in Alpine. I take the other directly to my office in a forty-eight-story skyscraper on Park Avenue in midtown. My family has owned the Lock-Horne Building since it was completed in 1967. On the way up in the elevator, I stop on the fourth floor. This space used to be home to a sports agency run by my closest friend, but he closed it down a few years back. I then left the office empty for too long because hope springs eternal. I was sure that my friend would change his mind and return. He didn_t. And so we move on. The new tenant is Fisher and Friedman, which advertises itself as a _Victims_ Rights Law Firm._ Their website, which won me over, is somewhat more specific: We help you knee the abusers, the stalkers, the douchebags, the trolls, the pervs, and the psychos right in the balls. Irresistible. As with the sports agency that used to lease this space, I am a silent partner-investor in the firm. I knock on the door. When Sadie Fisher says, _Come in,_ I open it and lean my head inside. _Busy?_ I ask. _Sociopaths are very much in season,_ Sadie says, not looking up from the computer. She is right, of course. It_s why I invested. I feel good about the work they do, advocating for the bullied and battered, but I also see insecure-cum-violent men (it_s almost always men) as a growth industry. Sadie finally glances in my direction. _I thought you were going to the game in Indianapolis._ _I did._ _Oh, right, the private jet. Sometimes I forget how rich you are._ _No, you don_t._ _True. So what_s up?_ Sadie wears hot-librarian glasses and a pink pantsuit that clings and reveals. This is intentional, she explained to me. When Sadie first started representing women who_d been sexually harassed and assaulted, she was told to dress conservatively, garments that were shapeless and drab and hence _innocent,_ which Sadie saw as more victim blaming. Her response? Do the opposite. I am not sure how to broach the subject, so I just say, _I heard one of your clients was hospitalized._ That gets her attention. _Do you think it would be appropriate to send her something?_ I ask. _Like what, Win?_ _Flowers, chocolates__ _She_s in intensive care._ _A stuffed animal. Balloons._ _Balloons?_ _Just something to let her know we are thinking about her._ Sadie_s eyes turn back to the computer screen. _The only thing our client wants is something we don_t seem to be able to give her: Justice._ I open my mouth to say something, but in the end, I stay silent, opting for discretion and wisdom over comfort and bravado. I turn to leave, when I spot two people_one woman, one man_walking toward me with purpose. _Windsor Horne Lockwood?_ the woman says. Even before they whip out their badges, I know that they are in law enforcement. Sadie can tell too. She rises automatically and starts toward me. I have a slew of attorneys, of course, but I use those for business reasons. For personal affairs, my best friend, the sports agent/lawyer who used to inhabit this office, always stepped in because he had my full trust. Now, with him on the sidelines, it seems that Sadie has instinctively slid into the role. _Windsor Horne Lockwood?_ the woman says again. That is my name. To be technically correct, my full name is Windsor Horne Lockwood III. I am, as the name suggests, old money, and I look the part, what with the ruddy complexion, the blond-turning-gray hair, the delicate patrician features, the somewhat regal bearing. I don_t hide what I am. I don_t know whether I could. How, I wonder, had I messed up with Big T? I am good. I am very good. But I am not infallible. So where had I made a mistake? Sadie is almost by my side now. I wait. Instead of responding, I let her say, _Who wants to know?_ _I_m Special Agent Karen Young with the FBI,_ the woman says. Young is Black. She wears an Oxford blue button-down shirt under a fitted cognac-hued leather jacket. Tr?s fashionable for a federal agent. _And this is my partner, Special Agent Jorge Lopez._ Lopez is more central stock. His suit is wet-pavement gray, his tie a sad and stained red. They show us their badges. _What_s this about?_ Sadie asks. _We_d like to talk to Mr. Lockwood._ _So I gathered,_ Sadie replies with a bit of bite. _What about?_ Young smiles and puts her badge back in her pocket. _It_s about a murder._ CHAPTER 2 We hit a little bit of a wall. Young and Lopez want to take me someplace without further explanation. Sadie will have none of that. Eventually I intervene, and we come to an agreement of sorts. I will go with them. I will not be interrogated or questioned without an attorney present. Sadie, who is wise beyond her thirty years, doesn_t like this. She pulls me aside and says, _They_ll question you anyway._ _I_m aware. This isn_t my first run-in with the authorities._ Nor my second or third or_but Sadie does not need to know this. I don_t want to continue stalling or being _lawyered up_ for three reasons: One, Sadie has a court appearance, and I don_t want to hold her up. Two, if this does involve Teddy _Big T_ Lyons, I would prefer that Sadie not hear about it in this rather head-on manner for obvious reasons. Three, I_m curious about this murder and preternaturally overconfident. Sue me. Once in the car, we travel uptown. Lopez drives, Young sits next to him. I am in the backseat. Oddly enough, anxiety is coming off them like tangible sonar. They are both trying to be professional_and they are_but under that, I can sense the undercurrent. This murder is something different, something out of the ordinary. They are trying to hide that, but their excitement is a pheromone I cannot fail to smell. Lopez and Young start off by giving me the customary silent treatment. The theory is a rather simple one: Most people hate silence and will do anything to break it, including saying something incriminating. I_m almost insulted that they are trying this tactic on me. I don_t engage, of course. I settle into the backseat, steeple my fingers, and stare out the car window as though I_m a tourist on my first visit to the big bad city. Finally, Young says, _We know about you._ I reach into my jacket pocket and press down on my phone. The conversation is now being recorded. It will go straight to the cloud in case one of my new FBI friends discovers that I_m recording and opts for deletion or phone breakage. I am nothing if not prepared. Young turns to face me. _I said, we know about you._ Silence from me. _You used to do some stuff for the Bureau,_ she says. That they know anything about my relationship with the Federal Bureau of Investigation surprises me, though I don_t show it. I did work for the FBI immediately after I graduated from Duke University, but my work was highly classified. The fact that someone told them_it had to be someone on top_again informs me that this murder case is out of the ordinary. _Heard you were good,_ Lopez says, catching my eye in the rearview mirror. Moving quickly now from the silent treatment to flattery. Still I give them nothing. We drive up Central Park West, my home street. The odds now seem slim that this murder has to do with Big T. For one thing, I know that Big T survived, albeit not intact. Second, if the feds wanted to question me for anything related to that, we would be headed downtown toward their headquarters at 26 Federal Plaza; instead, here we are, traveling in the opposite direction, toward my own abode in the Dakota, on the corner of Central Park West and Seventy-Second Street. I consider this fact. I live alone now, so it is not as though the victim could be a loved one. It could be that the courts had issued some sort of search warrant for my residence and found something incriminating that they wish to spring on me, but this too seems unlikely. One of the Dakota doormen would have warned me of such an invasion. One of my hidden alarms would have buzzed my phone. I_m also not careless enough to leave around anything that might implicate me for authorities to locate. To my surprise, Lopez drives us past the Dakota without a pause. We continue uptown. Six blocks later, as we reach the Museum of Natural History, I spot two NYPD squad cars parked in front of the Beresford, another esteemed prewar apartment building, at Eighty-First Street. Lopez is now studying me in the rearview mirror. I look at him and frown. The Beresford doormen wear uniforms seemingly inspired by Soviet generals from the late seventies. As Lopez pulls to a stop, Young turns to me and asks, _Do you know anybody in this building?_ My reply is a smile and silence. She shakes her head. _Fine, let_s go._ With Lopez on my right and Young on my left, they escort me straight through the marble lobby and into an already-waiting wood-paneled elevator. When Young presses the button for the top floor, I realize that we are heading into rarefied air_figuratively, literally, and mostly monetarily. One of my employees, a vice president at Lock-Horne Securities, owns a _classic six_ apartment on the fourth floor of the Beresford with limited views of the park. He paid over five million dollars for it. Young turns to me and says, _Any clue where we are headed?_ _Up?_ I say. _Funny._ I bat my eyes in modesty. _The top floor,_ she says. _Been there before?_ _I don_t believe so._ _Do you know who lives there?_ _I don_t believe so._ _I figured all you rich guys know each other._ _Stereotyping is wrong,_ I say. _But you_ve been to this building before, right?_ The elevator door opens with a ding before I bother not replying. I figured that we would be let out into a grand apartment_elevators often open directly into penthouse suites_but we are in a dark corridor. The wallpaper is a heavy maroon fabric. The open door on the right leads to a corkscrew staircase of wrought iron. Lopez goes up first. Young signals for me to follow. I do so. There is junk everywhere. Six-foot stacks of old magazines, newspapers, and books line both sides of the stairs. We need to go up single file_I spot a Time magazine from 1998_and even then we have to turn our bodies to the side to slip through the narrow opening. The stench is suffocating. It is a clich?, but it is a clich? with merit: Nothing smells like a decaying human body. Young and Lopez both cover their noses and mouths. I do not. The Beresford has four turrets, one atop each corner of the edifice. We reach the landing of the northeastern one. Whoever lives here (or perhaps more accurately, lived), up high on the top level of one of the most prestigious buildings in Manhattan, was a full-fledged hoarder. We can barely move. Four crime technicians in full garb with the shower caps are attempting to comb and climb through the clutter. The corpse has already been zipped up. I_m surprised that they haven_t moved it out of here yet, but everything about this is odd. I still have no idea why I_m here. Young shows me a photograph of what I assume is the dead man_eyes closed, white sheet pulled up high on the body, right up to the chin. He was an older man with white-to-gray skin. I would venture to say in his early seventies. He is bald on top with a gray hair ring that_s overgrown by the ears. His beard is big and thick and curly and dirty-white, so that it looks as though he were eating a sheep when the photograph was taken. _Do you know him?_ Young asks. I opt for the truth. _No._ I hand the photograph back. _Who is he?_ _The victim._ _Yes, I figured that, thank you. His name, I mean._ The agents exchange a glance. _We don_t know._ _Did you ask the tenant?_ _It is our belief,_ Young says, _that he is the tenant._ I wait. _This tower room was purchased almost thirty years ago by an LLC using an untraceable shell company._ Untraceable. I know this all too well. I use similar financial instruments often, not so much to avoid taxation, though that is often a fringe benefit. In my case_as it appears was the case for our late hoarder_such actions are more about anonymity. _No identification?_ I say. _We haven_t found one yet._ _The building employees__ _He lived alone. Deliveries were left at the bottom of the steps. The building has no security cameras in the upstairs corridors, or if they do, they aren_t admitting it. Co-op fees were paid on time from the LLC. According to the doormen, Hermit_that was their nickname for him_was a big-time recluse. He went out rarely and when he did, he would wrap his face in a scarf and leave via a secret basement exit. The manager just found him this morning after the smell started wafting down to the floor below._ _And no one in the building knows who he is?_ _Not so far,_ Young says, _but we_re still going door-to-door._ _So the obvious question,_ I say. _That being?_ _Why am I here?_ _The bedroom._ Young seems to expect me to reply. I don_t. _Come with us._ As we start to the right, I can see the view of the Natural History Museum_s giant round planetarium across the street, and to the left, Central Park in all its glory. My apartment too has a rather enviable view of the park, though the Dakota is only nine stories high while here we are somewhere above the twentieth floor. I am not easily surprised, but when I enter the bedroom_when I see the reason why they brought me here_I pull up. I do not move. I just stare. I fall into the past, as though the image in front of me is a time portal. I am an eight-year-old boy sneaking my way into Granddad_s parlor at Lockwood Manor. The rest of my extended family are still out in the garden. I wear a black suit and stand by myself on the ornate parquet floor. This is before the family destruction or perhaps, looking back on it now, this is the very moment of the first fissure. It is Granddad_s funeral. This parlor, his favorite room, has been over-sprayed with some kind of cloying disinfectant, but the familiar, comforting smell of Granddad_s pipe still dominates. I relish it. I reach out with a tentative hand and touch the leather of his favorite chair, almost expecting him to materialize in it, cardigan sweater, slippers, pipe, and all. Eventually, my eight-year-old self works up the courage to hoist myself up to sit in the wingback chair. When I do, I look up at the wall above the fireplace, just as Granddad so often did. I know that Young and Lopez are watching me for a reaction. _At first,_ Young says, _we thought it had to be a forgery._ I continue to stare, just as I did as an eight-year-old in that leather chair. _So we grabbed an art curator from the Met across the park,_ Young continues. The Met being shorthand for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. _She wants to get this off this wall and run some tests, just to be positive, but she_s pretty certain_this is the real deal._ The hoarder_s bedroom, as opposed to the rest of the tower, is neat, tidy, spare, utilitarian. The bed against the wall is made. There is no headboard. The side table is bare except for a pair of reading glasses and a leather-bound book. I now know why I was brought here_to see the only thing hanging on the wall. The oil painting simply called The Girl at the Piano by Johannes Vermeer. Yes, that Vermeer. Yes, that painting. This masterpiece, like most of the only thirty-four Vermeer paintings in existence, is small, a foot and a half tall by a foot and four inches wide, though it packs an undeniable punch in its simplicity and beauty. This Girl, purchased nearly a hundred years ago by my great-grandfather, used to hang in the parlor of Lockwood Manor. Twenty-plus years ago, my family loaned this painting, valued in excess of $200 million by today_s standards, along with the only other masterpiece we owned, Picasso_s The Reader, to the Lockwood Gallery in Founders Hall on the campus of Haverford College. You may have read about the nighttime burglary. Over the years, there have been constant false sightings of both masterpieces_most recently, the Vermeer on a yacht belonging to a Middle Eastern prince. None of these leads (and I_ve checked several personally) panned out. Some theorized that the theft was the work of the same crime syndicate who stole thirteen works of art, including works by Rembrandt, Manet, Degas, and yes, a Vermeer, from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. None of the stolen works from either robbery has ever been recovered. Until now. _Any thoughts?_ Young asks. I had put up two empty frames in Granddad_s parlor, both as a homage to what was taken and a promise that his masterpieces would someday be returned. Now that promise, it seems, will be at least half fulfilled. _The Picasso?_ I ask. _No sign of it,_ Young says, _but as you can see, we still have a lot to look through._ The Picasso is far larger_over five feet tall and four feet wide. If it was here, chances seem strong that it would have been found already. _Any other thoughts?_ Young asks. I gesture toward the wall. _When can I bring it home?_ _That_ll take some time. You know the drill._ _I know a renowned art curator and restorer at NYU. His name is Pierre-Emmanuel Claux. I would like him to handle the piece._ _We have our own people._ _No, Special Agent, you do not. In fact, per your own admission, you grabbed a random person from the Met this morning__ _Hardly a random__ _This is not a big ask,_ I continue. _My person is educated in how to authenticate, handle, and if necessary, restore a masterpiece like few people in the world._ _We can look into it,_ Young says, trying to move us past this topic. _Any other thoughts?_ _Was the victim strangled or was his throat cut?_ They exchange another glance. Then Lopez clears his throat and says, _How do_?_ _The sheet was covering his neck,_ I say. _In the photograph you showed me. That was done, I surmise, to cover trauma._ _Let_s not get into that, okay?_ Young says. _Do you have a time of death?_ I ask. _Let_s not get into that either._ Shorter version: I_m a suspect. I_m not sure why. Surely, if I had done this deed, I would have taken the painting with me. Or perhaps not. Perhaps I was clever enough to have murdered him and left the painting so it would be found and returned to my family. _Do you have any other thoughts that might help us?_ Young asks. I don_t bother with the obvious theory: The hermit was an art thief. He liquidated most of what he pilfered, used the profits to hide his identity, set up an anonymous shell company, purchased the apartment. For some reason_most likely because he either loved it or it was too hot to unload_he kept the Vermeer for himself. _So,_ Young continues, _you_ve never been here before, right?_ Her tone is too casual. _Mr. Lockwood?_ Interesting. They clearly believe they have evidence that I have been in this turret. I haven_t been. It is also clear that they took the unusual step of bringing me to the murder scene to knock me off my game. If they had followed the normal protocol of a murder investigation and taken me to an interrogation room, I would be on my guard and defensive. I might have brought a criminal attorney. What, pray tell, do they think they have on me? _On behalf of my family, I_m grateful the Vermeer has been found. I hope this leads to the speedy recovery of the Picasso. I_m now ready to return to my office._ Young and Lopez don_t like this. Young looks at Lopez and nods. Lopez slips into the other room. _One moment,_ Young says. She reaches into her binder and pulls out another photograph. When she shows it to me, I am yet again puzzled. _Do you recognize this, Mr. Lockwood?_ To buy time, I say, _Call me Win._ _Do you recognize this, Win?_ _You know that I do._ _It_s your family crest, is that correct?_ _It is, yes._ _It will obviously take us a long time to go through the victim_s apartment,_ Young continues. _So you said._ _But we found one item in the closet of this bedroom._ Young smiles. She has, I notice, a nice smile. _Only one._ I wait. Lopez reenters the room. Behind him, a crime scene technician carries an alligator-leather suitcase with burnished metal hardware. I recognize the piece, but I can_t believe it. It makes no sense. _Do you recognize this suitcase?_ Young asks. _Should I?_ But of course, I do. Years ago, Aunt Plum had one made up for every male member of the family. They are all adorned with the family crest and our initials. When she gave it to me_I was fourteen at the time_I tried very hard not to frown. I don_t mind expensive and luxurious. I do mind vulgar and wasteful. _The bag has your initials on it._ The technician tipped the luggage so I could see the tacky baroque monogram: WHL3. _That_s you, right? WHL3_Windsor Horne Lockwood the Third?_ I don_t move, don_t speak, don_t give anything away. But, without sounding overly melodramatic, this discovery has given my world a shove off its axis. _So, Mr. Lockwood, do you want to tell us why your luggage is here?_ CHAPTER 3 Young and Lopez want an explanation. I start with the complete truth: I had not seen the suitcase in many years. How many years? Here my memory becomes foggier. Many, I say. More than ten? Yes. More than twenty? I shrug. Could I at least confirm that the suitcase had belonged to me? No, I would need a closer look, to be able to open it and look at its contents. Young doesn_t like that. I didn_t think she would. But can_t I at least confirm the suitcase is mine just by looking at it? I couldn_t for certain, sorry, I tell them. But those are your initials and your family crest, Lopez reminds me. They are, I say, but that doesn_t mean someone didn_t make up a duplicate suitcase. Why would someone do that? I have no idea. And so it goes. I make my way down the spiral staircase and move into a corner. I text Kabir, my assistant, to send a car right away to the Beresford_no need to get a return ride from my federal escorts. I also have him prepare the helicopter for an immediate trip to Lockwood, the family estate on the Main Line in Philadelphia. Traffic between Manhattan and Philadelphia is unpredictable. It would probably be a two-and-a-half-hour car ride at this hour. The helicopter takes forty-five minutes. I am in a rush. The black car is waiting for me on Eighty-First Street. As we head toward the helipad on Thirtieth Street and the Hudson River, I call Cousin Patricia_s mobile. _Articulate,_ she says when she answers. I can_t help but smile. _Wiseass._ _Sorry, Cuz. All okay?_ _Yes._ _I haven_t heard from you in a while._ _And I you._ _So to what do I owe the pleasure?_ _I_m about to take a copter into Lockwood._ Patricia doesn_t reply. _Could you meet me there?_ _At Lockwood?_ _Yes._ _When?_ _In an hour._ She hesitates, which is understandable. _I haven_t been to Lockwood in__ _I know,_ I say. _I have an important meeting._ _Cancel it._ _Just like that?_ I wait. _What_s going on, Win?_ I wait some more. _Right,_ she says. _If you wanted to tell me on the phone, you_d do so._ _See you in an hour,_ I say, and disconnect the call. We fly over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which traverses the Delaware River separating New Jersey from Pennsylvania. Three minutes later, Lockwood Manor rises into view, as though it deserves a soundtrack. The copter, an AgustaWestland AW169, passes over the old stone walls, hovers in the clearing, and lands in the lawns by what we still call the _new stables._ It is coming on a quarter century since I razed the original stable, a building dating back to the nineteenth century. The symbolic move was uncharacteristically mawkish on my part. I had convinced myself that a tear-down-and-rebuild might hurl the memory in the mind_s debris. It did not. When I first brought my friend Myron to Lockwood_we were college freshmen on a midterm break_he shook his head and said, _It looks like Wayne Manor._ He was referencing Batman, of course_the original television show starring Adam West and Burt Ward, the only Batman that counted to us. I understood his point. The manor has an aura, a magnificence, a boldness, but _stately Wayne Manor_ is reddish brick while Lockwood is made of gray stone. There have been additions over the years, two tasteful albeit huge renovations on either side. These new wings are comfortable and air-conditioned, brighter and airier, yet they try too hard. They are facsimiles. I need to be in the original stone of Lockwood. I need to experience the damp, the must, the drafts. But then again, I only visit nowadays. Nigel Duncan, the longtime family butler/attorney_yes, it_s a bizarre mix_is there to greet me. Nigel is bald with a three-wisps comb-over and double chin. He sports gray-on-gray sweats_gray sweatpants with a Villanova logo and a tie-string waist around the protruding gut, and an equally gray hoodie with the word _Penn_ across the front. I frown at him. _Nice groufit._ Nigel gives me an elaborate bow. _Would Master Win prefer me in tails?_ Nigel thinks he_s funny. _Are those Chuck Taylor Cons?_ I ask, pointing to his sneakers. _They_re very chic,_ he tells me. _If you_re in eighth grade._ _Ouch._ Then he adds, _We weren_t expecting you, Master Win._ He is teasing with the Master stuff. I let him. _I wasn_t expecting to come._ _Is everything okay?_ _Groovy,_ I tell him. Nigel_s sometimes-English accent is fake. He was born on this estate. His father worked for my grandfather, just as Nigel works for my father. Nigel has taken a slightly different path. My father paid for him to go to the University of Penn undergrad and law school in order to give Nigel _more_ than the life of a butler and yet handcuff him via obligation to stay on at Lockwood permanently, per his family tradition. PSA: The rich are very good at using generosity to get what they want. _Will you be staying the night?_ Nigel asks. _No,_ I say. _Your father is sleeping._ _Don_t wake him,_ I say. We start toward the main house. Nigel wants to know the purpose of my visit, but he would never ask. _You know,_ I say, _your outfit matches the manor_s stone._ _It_s why I wear it. Camouflage._ I give the horse stables no more than a quick glance. Nigel sees me do it, but he pretends otherwise. _Patricia will be here soon,_ I say. Nigel stops and turns toward me. _Patricia, as in your cousin Patricia?_ _The very one,_ I tell him. _Oh my._ _Will you show her into the parlor?_ I head up the stone steps and into the parlor. I still get the faint whiff of pipe tobacco. I know that_s not possible, that no one has smoked a pipe in this room in almost four decades, that the brain not only conjures up false sights and sounds but, more often, scents. Still the smell is real to me. Maybe aromas do indeed linger, especially the ones we find most comforting. I walk over to the fireplace and stare up at the empty frame where the Vermeer once hung. The Picasso took up residence on the opposite wall. That was the sum total of the _Lockwood Collection__three hundred million dollars of value in only two works of art. Behind me I hear the clatter of heel against marble. The sound, I know, is not being made by Chuck Taylors. Nigel clears his throat. My back stays toward them. _You don_t really want me to announce her, do you?_ I turn, and there she is. My cousin Patricia. Patricia_s eyes roam the room before settling on me. _It_s weird to be back,_ she says. _It_s been too long,_ I say. _I concur,_ Nigel adds. We both look at him. He gets the message. _I_ll be upstairs should anyone need me._ He closes the massive doors to the parlor as he departs. They shut with an ominous thud. Patricia and I say nothing for the moment. She is, like yours truly, in her forties. We are first cousins; our fathers were brothers. Both men, Windsor the Second and Aldrich, were fair in complexion and blond, again like yours truly, but Patricia takes after her mother, Aline, a Brazilian native from the city of Fortaleza. Uncle Aldrich scandalized the family when he brought back the twenty-year-old beauty to Lockwood after his extended charity-work journey through South America. Patricia_s dark hair is short and stylishly cut. She wears a blue dress that manages to be both chic and casual. Her eyes are shiny almond. Her resting face, rather than the clich? _bitch,_ is grippingly melancholy and startlingly beautiful. Cousin Patricia cuts something of a captivating and telegenic figure. _So what_s wrong?_ Patricia asks me. _They found the Vermeer._ She is stunned. _For real?_ I explain about the hoarder, the Beresford turret, the murder. I am not known for possessing subtlety or tact, but I_m trying my best to build up to the reveal. Cousin Patricia watches me with those inquisitive eyes, and again I fall back into a time portal. As children, we roamed this acreage for hours on end. We played hide-and-seek. We rode horses. We swam in the pool and the lake. We played chess and backgammon and worked on our golf and tennis. When the estate became too pompous or grim, as was Lockwood_s wont, Patricia would look at me and roll her eyes and make me smile. I have only told one person in my life that I love them. Just one. No, I did not say it to a special woman who, say, eventually broke my heart_my heart has never been broken or even tweaked, really_but to my platonic male friend Myron Bolitar. In short, there has been no great love in my life, only a great friendship. Relatives have been the same. We are bonded in blood. I have cordial, important, and even compelling relationships with my father, my siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins. I had virtually no relationship with my mother_I didn_t see or speak to her from the time I was eight years old until I watched her die when I was in my thirties. This is a long way of telling you that Patricia has always been my favorite relative. Even after the big rift between our fathers, which is why she hasn_t been at Lockwood since her teens. Even after the devastating tragedy that made that rift both unfixable and, alas, eternal. When I finish my explanation, Patricia says, _You could have told me all this on the phone._ _Yes._ _So what else is there?_ I hesitate. _Oh shit,_ she says. _Pardon?_ _You_re stalling, Win, which really isn_t like you_oh damn, it_s bad, right?_ Cousin Patricia takes a step closer to me. _What is it?_ I just say it: _The Aunt Plum suitcase._ _What about it?_ _The hoarder didn_t just have the Vermeer. He had the suitcase._ * * * We stand in silence. Cousin Patricia needs a moment. I give it to her. _What do you mean, he had the suitcase?_ _Just that,_ I say. _The suitcase was there. In the hoarder_s possessions._ _You saw it?_ _I did._ _And they don_t know who this hoarder is?_ _Correct. They haven_t made an identification._ _Did you see the body?_ _I saw a photograph of his face._ _Describe him._ I do as she asks. _That could be anyone,_ she says when I_m done. _I know._ _It doesn_t matter,_ Patricia says. _He always wore a ski mask. Or_or he blindfolded me._ _I know,_ I say again, this time more somberly. The grandfather clock in the corner begins to chime. We stay silent until it finishes. _But there_s a chance, I mean, even a likelihood__ Patricia moves toward me. We had been standing on opposite ends of the parlor. Now we are only a yard or two apart. _The same man who stole the paintings also_?_ _I wouldn_t jump to conclusions,_ I say. _What does the FBI know about the suitcase?_ _Nothing. With the monogram and crest, they_ve concluded that it_s mine._ _You didn_t tell them_?_ I make a face. _Of course not._ _So, wait, are you a suspect?_ I shrug. _When they figure out the suitcase_s real significance,_ Patricia begins. _We will both be suspects, yes._ * * * My cousin, for those who haven_t already guessed, is the Patricia Lockwood. You_ve probably seen her story on 60 Minutes or the like, but for those somehow not in the know, Patricia Lockwood runs the Abeona Shelters for abused and homeless girls or teens or young women or whatever the current correct terminology may be. She is the heart, the soul, the drive, and the telegenic face of one of the country_s highest-graded charities. She has deservedly won dozens of humanitarian awards. So where to start? I won_t go into the family split, how her father and mine had a falling-out, how the two brothers battled, how my father, Windsor the Second, won and vanquished his sibling, because, in truth, I think my father and my uncle would have eventually reconciled. Our family, like many both rich and poor, has a history of fissure and repair. There is no bond like blood, but there is no compound as volatile either. What stopped the potential repair was the great finalizer_death. I will state what happened as unemotionally as possible: Twenty-four years ago, two men in ski masks murdered my uncle Aldrich Powers Lockwood and kidnapped my eighteen-year-old cousin Patricia. For a while, there were sightings of her_a bit like with the paintings, now that I think about it_but they all led to dead ends. There was one ransom note, but it was quickly exposed as a money scam. It was as though the earth had swallowed my cousin whole. Five months after the kidnapping, campers near the Glen Onoko Falls heard the hysterical screams of a young woman. A few moments later, Patricia sprinted out of the woods and toward their tent. She was naked and covered in filth. Five. Months. It took law enforcement a week to locate the small resin storage shed, the sort you_d buy at a chain hardware store, where Patricia had been held prisoner. The shattered manacle she_d managed to break with a rock was still on the dirt floor. So too a bucket for her waste. That was all. The shed was seven feet by seven feet, the door secured with a padlock. The exterior was forest green and thus nearly impossible to spot_a dog from the FBI_s canine unit found it. The storage shed earned the headline _Hut of Horrors,_ especially after the crime lab located DNA for nine more young women/teens/girls, ranging in age from sixteen to twenty. Only six of the bodies have been found to this day, all buried nearby. The perpetrators were never caught. They were never identified. They simply disappeared. Physically, Patricia seemed as okay as one could hope. Her nose and ribs had shown signs of past breakage_the abduction had been violent_but those had healed well enough. Still, it took time to recuperate. When Patricia re-engaged with the world, she did so with a vengeance. She channeled that trauma into a cause. Her passion for her fellow females, those who_d been abused and abandoned with no hope, became a living, breathing, palpable thing. Cousin Patricia and I have never spoken about those five months. She has never raised it, and I_m not the kind of person who invites people to open up to them. Patricia begins to pace the parlor. _Let_s step back and try to look at this rationally._ I wait, let her gather herself. _When exactly was the painting stolen?_ I tell her September eighteenth and the year. _That_s, what, seven months before__ She still paces. _Before Dad was murdered._ _Closer to eight._ I had done the math on the helicopter. She stops pacing and throws up her hands. _What the hell, Win?_ I shrug. _Are you saying the same guys who stole the paintings came back, murdered Dad, and kidnapped me?_ I shrug again. I shrug a lot, but I shrug with a certain panache. _Win?_ _Walk me through it,_ I say. _Are you serious?_ _As a heart attack._ _I don_t want to,_ Patricia says in a small voice that is so unlike her. _I_ve spent the last twenty-four years avoiding it._ I say nothing. _Do you understand?_ I still say nothing. _Don_t give me the silent man-of-mystery act, okay?_ _The FBI will want to see whether you can identify the murdered hoarder._ _I can_t. I told you. And what_s the difference now? He_s dead, right? Let_s say he was this old bald guy. He_s gone. It_s over._ _How many men broke in, the night of your abduction?_ I ask. She closes her eyes. _Two._ When Patricia opens her eyes again, I offer up another shrug. _Shit,_ she says. CHAPTER 4 We decide to do nothing for the moment. In truth, Cousin Patricia decides_it is her life that will be turned upside down, not mine_but I concur. She wants to think about it and see what else we can learn first. Once we open this particular door, there is no way to close it again. I look in on my father, but he is still resting. I don_t disturb him. Most days he is lucid. Some he is not. I climb back into the helicopter and leave Lockwood. I set up a rendezvous with a woman on my app. We decide to meet at nine p.m. She uses the code name Amanda. I use the code name Myron because he finds this app so repulsive. I asked him to explain why. Myron started with the deeper meaning of love, of connection, of being as one, of waking up and making someone else a part of your life. My eyes glazed over. Myron shook his head. _Explaining romantic love to you is like teaching a lion to read: It isn_t going to happen, and someone might get hurt._ I like that. You don_t have this app, by the way. You can_t get this app. An hour later, I enter my office. Kabir, my assistant, is there. Kabir is a twenty-eight-year-old Sikh American. He has a long beard. He wears a turban. I probably should not mention any of this because he was born in this country and acts more like a stereotypical American than anyone I know, but as Kabir puts it, _The turban. You always gotta explain the turban._ _Messages?_ I ask him. _A ton._ _Any pressing?_ _Yes._ _Give me an hour then._ Kabir nods and hands me a water bottle. It is a cold beverage with the latest NAD molecules, which help slow down aging. I am provided the latest compound from a longevity doctor at Harvard. The elevator takes me down to the private workout room in the basement. There are free weights, a boxing heavy bag, a speed bag, a grappling dummy, wooden practice swords (bokkens), rubber handguns, a Wing Chun dummy with hardwood arms and legs, you get the idea. I train every day. I have worked with some of the best fighting instructors in the world. I have practiced all the fighting techniques you know_karate, kung fu, taekwondo, krav maga, jujitsu of various stripes_and many you don_t. I spent a year in Siem Reap studying the Khmer fighting technique of Bokator, which roughly though aptly translated means _pounding a lion._ I spent two college summers outside of Jinhae in South Korea with a reclusive Soo Bahk Do master. I study strikes, takedowns, submissions, joint locks (though I don_t like them), pressure points (not really useful in a true battle), one-on-one combat, group attacks, weaponry of all kinds. I am an expert marksman with a handgun (I am proficient with a rifle, but I rarely find a need for it). I_ve worked with knives, swords, and blades of all sorts, and while I greatly admire the Filipino form of Kali Eskrima, I_ve learned more from our Delta Force_s elite blend of styles. I am alone in my gym, so I take off everything but my underwear_a boxer-brief hybrid for those who must know_and start running through a few traditional katas. I move fast. Between sets, I work three-minute rounds with the punching bag. Best cardio conditioner in the world. In my youth, I trained five hours a day. Now I still go a minimum of an hour. Most days, I work with an instructor because I still thirst to learn. Today, obviously, I do not. Money, of course, makes all this possible. I can travel anywhere_or I can fly in any expert for any length of time. Money gives you time, access, cutting-edge technology and equipment. Don_t I sound a bit like Batman? If you think about it, Bruce Wayne_s only superpower was tremendous wealth. Mine too. And yes, it_s good to be me. Sweat coats my skin. I feel the rush of that. I push harder. I_ve always pushed myself. I_ve never needed to be pushed by anything external. The only training partner I ever worked with was Myron, but that was because he needed to learn, not because I needed motivation. I do this for survival. I do it to keep fit. I do it because I enjoy it. Not all of it, mind you. I enjoy the physical. I don_t enjoy the obsequious _yes, sensei_ patriarchal nonsense that certain martial arts thrust upon their students, because I bow to no man. Respect, yes. Bow, no. I also don_t use these techniques, per the platitude, _only for self-defense,_ an obvious untruth on the level of _the check is in the mail_ or _don_t worry, I_ll pull out._ I use what I learn to defeat my enemies, no matter who the aggressor happens to be (usually: me). I like violence. I like it a lot. I don_t condone it for others. I condone it for me. I don_t fight as a last resort. I fight whenever I can. I don_t try to avoid trouble. I actively seek it out. After I finish with the bag, I bench-press, powerlift, squat. When I was younger, I_d have various lifting days_arm days, chest days, leg days. When I reached my forties, I found it paid to lift less often and with more variety. I hit the steam room, sauna, and then, when my body temperature is raised, I jump into a freezing cold shower. Putting the body through certain controlled stresses like this activates dormant hormones. It_s good for you. When I exit the shower, three suits wait for me. I choose the solid blue one and head back to my office. Kabir holds up his phone. _The story_s hit Twitter._ _What are they saying?_ _Just that the Vermeer was found at a murder scene. I_m also getting a ton of calls from the press interested in a quote._ _Any porn magazines?_ I ask. Kabir frowns. _What_s a porn magazine?_ Today_s youth. I close the door. My office has an enviable view and oak wood paneling. There is an antique wooden globe and a painting of a fox hunt. I look at the painting and wonder how the Vermeer might look there instead. My mobile rings. I look at the number. I should be surprised_I haven_t heard from him in a decade, not since he told me he was retiring_but I_m not. I put the phone to my ear. _Articulate._ _I can_t believe you still answer the phone that way._ _Times change,_ I say. _I do not._ _You change,_ he says. _I bet you don_t _night tour_ anymore, do you?_ Night tour. Back in the day, I used to put on my dandiest suit and stroll through the most crime-ridden streets in the thick of the night. I would whistle. I would make sure all could see my blond locks and alabaster-to-ruddy complexion. I am rather small boned and, from a distance, appear frail_a bully_s irresistibly tasty morsel. It is only when you get close to me that you sense there is considerable coil under the clothes. But by then, it is usually too late. You_ve seen the easy mark, you_ve laughed about me with your friends, you can_t back out. I wouldn_t let you even if you tried. _I do not,_ I tell him. _See? Change._ I stopped night touring years ago. It was oddly discriminatory and all too random. I am now more selective with my targets. _How are you doing, Win?_ _I_m fine, PT._ PT has to be in his mid-seventies by now. He recruited me for my brief stint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was also my handler. Very few agents know about him, but every FBI chief and president has met with him their first day on the job. Some people in our government are considered shadowy. PT is shadowy to the point of nonexistence. He barely makes a blip on anyone_s radar. He lives somewhere near Quantico, but even I don_t know where. I also don_t know his real name. I could probably find out, but while I enjoy violence, I don_t relish playing with fire. _How was the basketball game last night?_ PT asks. I stay silent. _The NCAA finals,_ he says. I still say nothing. _Oh, relax,_ he says with a chuckle. _I watched the game on TV. That_s all. I saw you sitting courtside next to Swagg Daddy._ I wonder whether this is true. _I love his stuff, by the way._ _Whose stuff?_ _Swagg Daddy_s. Who else are we talking about? That song where he juxtaposes bitches ripping out a man_s heart to bitches ripping off a man_s balls? I feel that. It_s poetic._ _I_ll let him know,_ I say. _That would be great._ _Last time I heard from you,_ I say, _you told me you retired._ _I did,_ PT says. _I am._ _And yet._ _And yet,_ he repeats. _Is your line secure, Win?_ _Do we ever know for certain?_ _With today_s technology, we do not. I understand the FBI located your property today._ _For which I_m grateful._ _There is more to it, however._ _Isn_t there always?_ _Always,_ he agrees with a sigh. _Enough to get you out of retirement?_ _Tells you something, doesn_t it? I assume there is a reason you aren_t fully cooperating._ _I_m just being careful,_ I say. _Can you stop being careful by the morning? Let me rephrase._ His tone did not change_nothing you could hear anyway_and yet. _Stop being careful by the morning._ I do not reply. _I_ll have a plane meet you at Teterboro at eight a.m. Be there._ _PT?_ _Yes?_ _Have you identified the victim?_ I hear a muffled female voice through the line. PT tells me to hold on and calls to the woman that he_ll only be a moment more. A wife maybe? It_s shocking how little I know about this man. When he comes back on the line, he says, _Do you know the expression _this one_s personal_?_ _When you trained us,_ I say, _you stressed that it was never personal._ _I was wrong, Win. Very wrong. Tomorrow, eight a.m._ He hangs up. I lean back, throw my feet on the desk, and replay the conversation in my head. I am looking for nuance or hidden meanings. None come to me other than the obvious. There is a knock-pause-double knock on my office door. Kabir sticks his head through it. _Sadie wants to see you,_ he tells me. _She sounds_unhappy._ _Gasp oh gasp,_ I say. I take the elevator back down to Sadie_s law office, where I_m greeted by the receptionist-cum-paralegal, a recent college graduate named Taft Buckington III. Taft_s father_he is known to all as Taffy_is a fellow member of Merion Golf Club. We play a lot of golf, Taffy and I. Young Taft meets my eye when I enter and shakes his head in warning. There are four attorneys in total at Fisher and Friedman, all female. I told Sadie once that perhaps she should hire one man to make it look good. Her response, which I loved, was simple: _Shit no._ Instead the sole male is the receptionist-cum-paralegal. Make of that what you will. When Sadie spots me standing next to Taft_s desk, she beckons me to her office and closes the door once we are both inside. I sit. She stands. This was Myron_s old office. Sadie kept Myron_s desk. It was still here when she took over the lease and so she asked whether she could purchase it. I called Myron to see what he_d charge, but as I expected, he said to give it to her. Still, it_s disconcerting to be in here because nothing else is the same. The small refrigerator where Myron kept his stash of Yoo-hoos has been replaced by a printer stand. The posters from Broadway shows_there is no straight male in North America, with the possible exception of Lin-Manuel Miranda, who loves musicals more than Myron_are gone now. Myron_s office was eclectic and nostalgic and colorful. Sadie_s is minimalist and white and generic. She wants no distractions. It_s all about the client, she once told me, not the attorney. _I have permission to tell you this,_ Sadie begins. _Just so we are clear. It_s no longer attorney-client privilege because, well, you_ll see._ I say nothing. _You know about my hospitalized client?_ _Just that._ _Just what?_ _That you have a client who was hospitalized._ This isn_t true, by the way. I know more. _How did you find out?_ Sadie asks. _I overheard someone in the office talking about it,_ I say. This is also a lie. _Her name is Sharyn,_ Sadie continues. _No last name for now. It doesn_t matter. Names don_t matter. Anyway, her case is textbook. Or it starts out textbook. Sharyn is doing a graduate degree at a large university. She meets a man who works at the same university in a somewhat prestigious job. It starts off great. So many of these do. The man is charming. He flatters her. He_s super attentive. He talks about their grand future._ _They always do that, don_t they?_ I say. _Pretty much, yeah. It_s not fair to label every guy who starts sending you flowers and showering you with tons of attention as a psycho_but, I mean, there is something to it._ I nod. _Not all overly attentive boyfriends are psychos_but all psychos are overly attentive boyfriends._ _Well put, Win._ I try to look modest. _So anyway, the romance starts off great. Like so many of these do. But then it starts to grow weird. Sharyn is in a study group that includes both men and women. The boyfriend_I_m going to call him Teddy, because that_s the asshole_s name_doesn_t like that._ _He gets jealous?_ _To the nth degree. Teddy starts asking Sharyn a lot of questions about her guy friends. Interrogating her, really. One day, she checks the search history on her laptop. Someone_well, Teddy_has been looking up her guy friends. Teddy shows up at the library unannounced. To surprise her, he says. One time he brings a bottle of wine and two glasses._ _As cover,_ I say. _A faux romantic gesture._ _Exactly. The behavior escalates, as again it always does. Teddy gets upset if her study sessions run too late. She_s a student. She wants to go to a campus party or two with her friends. Teddy, who works as an assistant coach, insists on going. Sharyn starts to feel the walls closing in. Teddy is everywhere. If she doesn_t respond to his texts fast enough, Teddy throws a fit. He starts accusing her of cheating. One night, Teddy grabs Sharyn_s arm so hard he bruises her. That_s when she breaks up with him. And that_s when his psycho stalking starts._ I am not a good sympathetic ear, but I try very hard to appear like one. I try to nod in all the right places. I try to look concerned and mortified. My resting face, if you will allow me to use that annoying colloquialism again, is either disinterested or haughty. I struggle thus to engage and look caring. It takes some effort, but I believe that I_m pulling it off. _Teddy shows up unannounced begging her to take him back. On three separate occasions, Sharyn has to call 911 because Teddy_s pounding on her door after midnight. He_s pleading with her to talk to him, says she_s being unfair and cruel not to hear him out. Teddy actually cries, he misses her so bad, and eventually he convinces her that she__here Sadie makes quote marks with her fingers___owes_ him the chance to explain._ _And she agrees to meet?_ I ask, mostly because I worry I_ve been silent too long. _Yes._ _This,_ I say. _This is the part I never get._ Sadie leans forward and tilts her head to the side. _That_s because while you_re trying, Win, you_re still too male to get it. Women have been conditioned to please. We are responsible not just for ourselves but everyone in our orbit. We think it is our job to comfort the man. We think we can make things better by sacrificing a bit of ourselves. But you_re also right to ask. It_s the first thing I tell my clients: If you_re ready to end it, end it. Make a clean break and don_t look back. You don_t owe him anything._ _Did Sharyn go back to him?_ I ask. _For a little while. Don_t shake your head like that, Win. Just listen, okay? That_s what these psychos do. They manipulate and gaslight. They make you feel guilty, like it_s your fault. They sucker you back in._ I still don_t get it, but that_s not important, is it? _Anyway, it didn_t last. Sharyn saw the light fast. She ended it again. She stopped replying to his calls and texts. And that_s when Teddy upped his assholery to the fully psychotic. Unbeknownst to her, he bugged her apartment. He put keyloggers on her computers. Teddy has a tracker on her phone. Then he starts texting her anonymous threats. He stole all her contacts, so he floods mailboxes with malicious lies about her_to her friends, her family. He writes emails and pretends he_s Sharyn and he trashes her professors and friends. On one occasion, he contacts Sharyn_s best friend_s fianc?_as Sharyn_and says she cheated on him. Makes up a whole story about some incident in a bar that never happened._ _Imaginative,_ I say. _You don_t know the half of it. He starts sending Sharyn messages, pretending to be her friends saying what a fool she is to let a sweet guy like Teddy go._ I frown. _Imaginative albeit pathetic._ _Beyond pathetic. These men_sorry, I don_t want to sound sexist, but they are almost always men_are insecure losers of biblical proportions._ _Does Sharyn go to the police?_ _Yes._ _But that doesn_t prove helpful, does it?_ Her eyes light up. Sadie is in her element now. _This is why we exist, Win. The law as it is now can_t really help the Sharyns of the world. It hasn_t yet caught up to technology, for one thing. Teddy hides himself using VPNs and burner phones and fake email addresses. It_s impossible for anyone to prove who is stalking her. That_s why the work we do, it_s so important._ I nod for her to continue. _So now that he_s been dumped again, Teddy doesn_t let up. He sends a naked picture of Sharyn to her ninety-one-year-old grandmother. He makes up a video filled with lies about Sharyn_that she hates Jews, that she_s into all kinds of weird sex, that she_s a white nationalist, you can_t imagine. And get this. When Teddy is confronted with what he_s done, he claims that Sharyn is setting him up. That he dumped her and she can_t move on and this is her way of getting back at him._ I shake my head. _Anyway, that_s when Sharyn finally learned about us._ _How long ago?_ _February._ I wait. Sadie swallows. _Yes. I know, I know, it_s a long time._ _And?_ _And we were trying, Win. We dug in deep and found out Teddy has done this before to at least three other women_it_s one reason why he keeps moving from college to college._ _The colleges know?_ _Institutions protect their own. So he agrees to resign quietly and they agree not to say anything. On at least one occasion, money exchanged hands, and the victim signed a nondisclosure agreement._ I frown some more. _So anyway, we do what we can for Sharyn. We get her a temporary order of protection against Teddy. I told her to write down everything she remembers_everything Teddy did_and to keep a diary of everything he does from here on out. This is key_to keep a record from the get-go if you can. We go to law enforcement, just so we are on record, but like I said, this is why our work is so important. Police aren_t really trained in digital forensics._ I lean back and cross my legs. _So far, this sounds like a classic case for your firm._ _You_re right._ She smiles sadly. _Teddy is textbook. He sounds like my ex._ Sadie_s stalker had taken it to the next level too, but this is not the time to bring that up. I sit back and wait. I already know the bare bones of this story, but she is filling in the details. I am also not sure where she is going with it. _Sharyn ends up dropping out before she gets her degree because Teddy keeps harassing her. She moves up north, starts at another school. But Teddy finds her again. Like I said, we dig up other victims, but no one wants to come forward. They_re scared of him. And then Teddy turns up the harassing by proxy._ She stops and looks at me. I figure she is waiting for my prompt, so I repeat: _Harassing by proxy?_ _You know what that is?_ I do, but I shake my head no. _In his case, Teddy sets up profiles on Tinder and Whiplr and rougher sex apps, ones that deal with BDSM and whatever, as Sharyn. He posts her photos. He carries on conversations as Sharyn, sets up hookup rendezvous. Strange men start showing up at Sharyn_s apartment at all hours expecting sex or role play or whatever. Some get mad when she turns them away. Call her a cocktease and worse. Teddy works it hard. And then__ Sadie stops. I wait. _Then Teddy begins a flirtation with one guy on an underground site. As Sharyn. It lasts for six weeks. Six weeks, Win. I mean, that_s devotion, right? _Sharyn___again with the finger quotes__tells the guy all about her violent rape fantasies. _Sharyn_ tells the guy she wants to be attacked and handcuffed and gagged_Teddy even gives the guy the place to purchase this stuff_and then Teddy sets up a time for the guy to role-play raping her._ I sit perfectly still. _This guy, he thinks he_s talking to Sharyn. He_s been told for weeks to be violent, to hit Sharyn and punch her and tie her up, to use a knife. He_s even been given a safe word. _Purple._ Don_t stop, he says as Sharyn, unless you hear me say _purple.__ Sadie looks away and blinks. My hands tighten into fists of rage. _Anyway, that_s how Sharyn ended up in the hospital. Her condition_it_s not good._ Again: I already know all this. I wonder how to proceed because I still don_t understand the panic. So I make my voice tentative. _I assume Teddy still hid his identity?_ Sadie nods. _Ergo the police couldn_t touch him,_ I continue. _That_s correct._ _He got away with it?_ _So it seemed._ _Seemed?_ _Teddy_s full name is Teddy Lyons. Do you know the name?_ I tap my chin with my index finger. _The name rings a bell._ _He_s an assistant basketball coach for South State._ _Really?_ I say, trying not to oversell it. _We just got word. Last night, after the big game, Teddy was attacked. They beat the hell out of him, did some serious damage._ They. She said _they._ Conclusion: I am still in the clear. _Broken bones,_ she continues. _Internal bleeding. Some kind of serious liver damage. They say he_ll never be the same._ I try very hard not to smile. I am not completely successful. _Ah, that_s a shame,_ I say. _Yeah, I can see you_re all broken up about it._ _Should I be?_ _We had him, Win._ Her gaze through her glasses is an inferno. I see the passion that drew me to her and her cause in the first place. Sadie is a doer, not a talker. We are similar in that way. _What do you mean, _had him_? You just said he was getting away with it._ _After what happened to Sharyn, I reached out to Teddy_s other victims again. They finally agreed to come forward. Sharyn was ready to go public too. That would be traumatic, of course. Teddy had taken so much from them already._ _Hmm._ I lean back and cross my legs. I hadn_t really considered the repercussions. I rarely do. But_no, no, at the end of the day, she_s wrong. I say, _Then it seems Teddy_s beating helped them._ _No, Win, it didn_t. Once you change your mind_It_s cathartic in the end, fighting back, standing up to your abuser. But more than that, we had a big press conference lined up for when Sharyn got out of the hospital. Imagine it_four victims on the steps of the State Capitol, telling the world their stories. We had two state assemblymen ready to appear with us. It would have ruined Teddy_s reputation_but more important, those compelling stories would help us pass a bill_a bill this office__Sadie taps her desk__had drawn up. The two assemblymen were going to present it to the governor._ I wait. _And now,_ Sadie says, _poof, that_s all gone._ _Why?_ I ask. _Why what?_ _Why can_t you still tell the stories?_ _It won_t have the same impact._ _Pish. Of course it will._ _Someone attacked Teddy last night._ _So?_ _So now he_s the victim of a vigilante._ _You don_t know that,_ I say. _It could be that he tried again, this time with the wrong woman._ _And she beat him to a pulp?_ _Or her family did, I don_t know._ I snap my fingers. _Or it could have been an unrelated mugging._ _Come on._ _What?_ _It_s over, Win. The war is still to be fought, but this battle is lost. We needed public sympathy. But our monster is in a coma. Someone on Twitter will claim the victims beat him. Teddy_s mother will say that these scorned women lied about her baby boy_that they made him a target. It isn_t just about facts, Win. We need to win the narrative._ I think about it. Then I say, _I_m sorry,_ with perhaps too little enthusiasm. Just to clarify: I_m not sorry about what I did to Teddy. I_m sorry I didn_t wait until after the press conference. Sadie has to be an optimist. I sadly am not. The law would never have caught up to Teddy. He would have been embarrassed, perhaps lost his job, but he also would have fought back in terrible ways. He would have trashed Sharyn and the other women. He would have claimed to be the victim of their harassment, not the other way around, and too many people would have believed him. That was what Sadie was fighting against here. I believe in Sadie Fisher. She may eventually prevail. But not today. It is eight thirty p.m. I have my own appointment in half an hour, but it is easy enough to cancel. _We could all go out for a drink,_ I say to her. _Are you serious?_ _We can commiserate._ Sadie shakes her head. _I know you_re trying to be kind, Win._ _But?_ _But you_re clueless._ _Colleagues don_t get out for drinks?_ _Not tonight, Win. Tonight I have to go to the hospital and tell Sharyn what happened._ _Perhaps she_ll be relieved,_ I say. _Teddy can_t hurt her anymore. That should offer her some comfort, no?_ Sadie opens her mouth, thinks about it, closes it. I can see she_s disappointed in me. She pats my shoulder as she walks out the door. I check my app. My rich-people dating program is so far down the Dark Web that there is no way anyone could set up a Teddy-like fake profile. Even if they could, they_d never get past the other security. The message reads: Username Amanda is waiting for you. So my partner for the evening has arrived at the suite already. No need to keep her waiting. CHAPTER 5 The app offers several secret entrances. Tonight, we will use the one at Saks Fifth Avenue department store. The venerable Saks, located between Forty-Ninth and Fiftieth Street on Fifth Avenue, has a high-end jewelry department called the Vault. It_s located in the basement. Behind that, you_ll find a door that used to lead to a dressing room. It is locked, but we with the app can open it with a key fob. You enter through the door and take the steps down a level to an underground passage. The passage leads to an elevator under a high-rise on Forty-Ninth Street near Madison Avenue. The elevator only stops on the eighth floor. At this point it takes an eye scan. If your eye doesn_t pass the scan, the elevator doors do not open into the private suite. It_s good to be rich. To be approved for this app you must have a net worth of over $100 million. The monthly costs are exorbitant, especially for someone like me who uses this service frequently. The app_s service is simple: Match rich people with other rich people for sex. No strings attached. It is high end. It is boutique. But mostly, it is sex. The app has no name. Most of the clients are married and crave the ultimate in confidentiality. Some are public figures. Some are gay or otherwise LGBTQ and fear exposure. Some, like me, are simply wealthy and seek sex with no attachments or repercussions. For years, I picked up women at bars or nightclubs or galas. I still do on occasion, but when you get past the age of thirty-five, this behavior feels somewhat desperate. In my somewhat dubious past, I hired prostitutes. There was a time when, every Tuesday, I would order both dim sum and a woman from a place on the Lower East Side called Noble House_my own version of Chinese Night. I believed at the time that prostitution was the oldest and a (per the House) Noble profession. It is not. When I worked a case overseas, I learned about human trafficking and the like. Once I did, I stopped. Like with the martial arts, we learn, we evolve, we improve. With that option gone, I tried working the once-fashionable _friends with benefits_ angle, but the problem is, friends by definition come with strings. Friends come with attachments. I don_t want that. Now for the most part I use this app. Username Amanda sits on the bed wearing nothing but the provided satin-trim Turkish terry-cloth robe. Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame, a ros? champagne, is poured. There are chocolate-dipped strawberries in a silver bowl. A first-rate sound system can play whatever musical stylings suit your taste. I usually leave that to the woman, but I_d prefer no soundtrack. I like to listen to her. Username Amanda rises, smiles, and saunters toward me with a flute of champagne. Myron always says that a woman looks sexiest in a terry-cloth robe with wet hair. I used to pooh-pooh said sentiment in favor of a specific black corset and matching garter belt, but now I think Myron may be onto something. We learn, we evolve, we improve. The sex tonight is great. It usually is. And when it_s not, it is still sex. There is an old joke about a man wearing a toupee_it may be a good toupee, it may be a bad toupee, but it is still a toupee. The same with sex. I_ve heard often that sex with a stranger is awkward. I_ve rarely found this to be the case. Part of this might be my expertise_the techniques I traveled the world to learn involve more than fighting_but the secret is simple: Be present. I make every woman feel as though she is the only one in the world. It is not an act. A woman will sense if you lack authenticity. While we are together, this woman and I, it is just us two. The world is gone. My focus is total. I love sex. I have lots of it. Myron waxes philosophical on how sex must be more than what it is_that love or romantic entanglement enhances the physical experience. I listen and wonder whether he is trying to convince me or himself. I don_t like love or romantic entanglements. I like sharing certain physical acts with another consensual adult. The other stuff doesn_t _enhance_ sex for me. It sullies it. The act itself is pure. Why muddy that with the extraneous? Sex may be the greatest shared experience in the world. Yes, I enjoy going out for a gourmet meal or a good show or the company of dear friends. I appreciate golf and music and art. But do any of those compare to an evening of sex? Methinks not. This is one reason I liked prostitution. It was a straight transaction_I got something, she got something. No one owed anybody anything at the end of it. I still crave that, to leave the room knowing that my partner got out of it as much as I did. Perhaps that_s why I am good at it. The more she enjoys it, the less I feel in her debt. I also have a tremendous ego. I don_t do things that I_m not good at. I_m a very good golfer, a very good financial consultant, a very good fighter, and a very good lover. If I do something, I want to be the best. When we finish_ladies first_we both lie back on the cream-colored Mulberry silk sheets and down pillows. We take deep breaths. I close my eyes for a moment. She pours more of the sparkling ros? and hands me a flute. I let her feed me a chocolate strawberry. _We_ve met before,_ she says to me. _I know._ This isn_t uncommon. Her real name is Bitsy Cabot. The superrich travel in rarefied albeit similar circles. It would be strange if I didn_t know most of the women. Bitsy is probably a few years older than I am. I know she splits her time between New York City, the Hamptons, and Palm Beach. I know that she is married to a rich hedge fund manager, but I can_t remember his first name. I don_t know why she_s doing this. I also don_t care. _At the Radcliffes_,_ I say. _Yes. Their gala last summer was wonderful._ _It_s for a good cause._ _It is, yes._ _Cordelia throws a good party,_ I say. You probably think that I can_t wait to get dressed and leave_that I don_t ever spend the night so as to avoid any attachment issues. But you_d be wrong. If she wants me to stay, I stay. If she doesn_t, I leave. Sometimes she is the one to leave. It doesn_t really matter to me. I sleep the same whether she is here or not. This bed is quite comfortable. That_s all that really matters. She isn_t going to reach me by staying. She isn_t going to repel me either. One major point in favor of the overnight: If we do stay, I often get a spectacular morning encore without the hassle of finding another partner. That_s a nice bonus. _Do you go to the gala every year?_ she asks. _When I_m in the Hamptons,_ I say. _Are you on any of the committees?_ _The food one, yes._ _Who does the catering?_ I ask. _Rashida. Do you know her?_ I shake my head. _She_s divine. I can message you her contact._ _Thank you._ Bitsy leans over and kisses me. I smile and hold her gaze. She slips out of bed. I watch her every move. She likes that. _I really enjoyed tonight,_ she says. _As did I._ Another thing that may surprise you: I don_t have a problem with repeat engagements because in truth there are only so many fish in this particular sea. I am honest about my intentions. If I feel that they want more from me, I end it. Does this always work as cleanly as I_m making it sound? No, of course not. But this is as clean as it gets and maintains what I require. For a few more moments I don_t move. I bathe in this afterglow. It_s two a.m. As much as I_ve enjoyed tonight, as much as I am certain I would relish an encore or two with her, I try to imagine spending the rest of my life only making love to Bitsy Cabot. To any one person, really. I shiver at the thought. I_m sorry_I don_t get it. Myron is married now to a stunning, vibrant woman named Terese. They are in love. If it works out as Myron hopes, he will never know the flesh of another. I don_t get it. Bitsy heads to the bathroom. When she comes out, she is dressed. I am still in the bed, my head propped in my hands. _I better head back,_ she says, as though I know where back is. I sit up as she says, _Goodbye, Win._ _Goodbye, Bitsy._ And then, like all good things, it_s over. * * * The next morning, I have a car service take me to the airport to visit my old FBI boss, PT. I used to love to drive. I am a big fan of Jaguars and still keep two at Lockwood_a 2014 XKR-S GT that I use when I_m out there and a 1954 XK120 Alloy Roadster, which my father gave me for my thirtieth birthday. But when you reside in Manhattan, driving is out of the question. The borough is basically a parking lot that sways forward. One of the great things that money can buy is time. I don_t fly private or have a driver because I crave more comfort in my life. I spend the money on those items because at the end of your life, you will crave more of what the annoying experts coin _quality time._ That_s what private jets and chauffeur-driven cars allow you to do. I have the ability to buy time_and that, when you think about it, is the closest thing to buying happiness and longevity. The driver today is a Polish woman from the city of Wroc?aw named Magda. We talk for the first few minutes of the journey. Magda is reluctant at first to engage_exclusive drivers are often schooled on not bothering the upscale clientele_but I find every human being is a tale if you ask the right questions. So I probe a bit. I can see her eyes in the rearview mirror. They are a deep blue. Blonde hair peeks out of her chauffeur cap. I wonder about what the rest of her looks like, because I_m a man, and at heart, all men are pigs. It doesn_t mean I would do anything about it. Today_s vehicle is a Mercedes-Maybach S650. The Maybach brand gives you a wheelbase stretch of eight inches, so that your chair can tilt back forty-three degrees. The plush seat has a power footrest, a hot-stone massage setting, and heated armrests. There is also a folding tray/desk so as to get work done, a small refrigerator, and cupholders that can cool or heat, depending on your preference. Come to think of it, perhaps I do crave the comfort. Teterboro is the closest airport from Manhattan for private aircraft. I flew into Teterboro with Swagg Daddy after our night of quasi debauchery in Indianapolis. When we reach the well-guarded gate on the south end, Magda is waved through straight to the tarmac. We pull up next to a Gulfstream G700, a plane that hasn_t really hit the market yet. I_m surprised. The G700 is expensive_close to $80 million_and government officials, even top-echelon, clandestine ones like PT, are not usually that extravagant. Middle Eastern sheiks use the G700, not FBI agents. I have no idea where we are going or when we will be back. I assume that I am to be flown to Washington or Quantico for my meeting with PT, but I really do not know for certain. Magda has been instructed to wait for me. She gets out of the car and comes around to open my door. I would insist on doing it myself, but that might be patronizing. I thank her, climb the plane steps, and step inside. _Hello, Win._ PT sits up front with a wide smile. I haven_t seen him in nearly two decades. He looks old, but then again, I guess he is. He doesn_t rise from his seat to greet me, and I notice the cane next to him. He is big and bald with huge gnarled hands. I bend toward him and stretch out my hand. His grip is firm, his eyes clear. He gestures for me to sit across from him. The G700 can hold nineteen passengers. I know this because someone is trying to sell me one. The seats are, as you might expect, wide and comfortable. We sit facing one another. _Are we going anywhere?_ I ask. PT shakes his head. _I figured this would be a good spot to meet privately._ _I didn_t know the G700 had been released yet._ _It hasn_t been,_ he says. _I didn_t fly in on this._ _Oh?_ _I use a government-issue Hawker 400._ The Hawker 400 is a far smaller and older jet. _I_m borrowing this for our meeting because it_s more comfortable than the Hawker._ _That it is._ _And because the Hawker probably has listening devices on board._ _I see,_ I say. He looks me over. _It_s really good to see you, Win._ _You too, PT._ _I hear Myron got married._ _He invited you to the wedding._ _Yeah, I know._ PT doesn_t elaborate, and I won_t push it. Instead, I try to take the lead. _Do you know who the dead hoarder is, PT?_ _Do you?_ _No._ _You_re sure, Win?_ I don_t like the glint in his eye. _I only saw a corpse photo of his face,_ I say. _If you want to show me more__ _No need,_ he says. As I said, PT is a tall man. You can see that even as he sits. He rests his palms on his high knees, as though posing for a statue. _Tell me about the suitcase._ _You_re not going to tell me who the victim is,_ I ask, _or do you not know?_ _Win?_ I wait. _Tell me about the suitcase._ His voice has an edge. It is meant, I assume, to intimidate, but directed at me it comes across as something more worrisome. It comes across as fear. _I_m waiting,_ PT says. _I know._ _Why won_t you tell us about your suitcase?_ _I am protecting someone,_ I tell him. _Noble,_ PT says. _But I need to know._ I hesitate, though in truth I knew that we would get to this point. _Whatever you tell me stays between us. You know that._ PT leans back and gestures for me to go ahead. _My aunt gave me the suitcase when I was fourteen,_ I begin. _It was a Christmas present. She made one up for all the males in the Lockwood family. Only the males. She gave the females a small makeup bag instead._ _Sexist,_ PT says. _We thought so too,_ I say. _We?_ I ignore him. _I also detested the bag, the whole idea of leather monogrammed luggage, really. What_s the point? I didn_t want it, so a female relative and I traded pieces. I took the makeup bag with her initials on it. She took my suitcase. Oddly enough, I still use the makeup bag as my travel toiletry bag. Like an inside joke._ _Wow,_ PT says. _What?_ _You_re dancing, Win._ _Pardon?_ _I_ve never heard you overexplain like this. I assume it_s because you don_t want to tell me who the female relative was?_ He is correct, but there is no point in stalling. _My cousin Patricia._ He looks confused for a moment. Then he sees it. _Wait. Patricia Lockwood?_ _Yes._ _Dear Lord._ _Indeed._ He tries to take this in. _So how did her suitcase end up in that closet at the Beresford?_ The FBI would have figured out about the suitcase eventually. It_s in their files. That is one of the three reasons I decided to come clean. Reason One: I trust PT as much as you can trust someone in this situation. Reason Two: If I gave PT this information, he would probably share what he knows with me. And Reason Three: The FBI will sooner or later put it together without my help and then, alas, Cousin Patricia and I will appear as though we had something to hide. _Win?_ _After the two men murdered my uncle,_ I begin, _they made Patricia pack a suitcase._ My words take a few seconds to register. When they do, PT_s eyes go wide. _You mean_good Lord, are you talking about the Hut of Horrors?_ _Yes._ He rubs his face. _I remember_that_s right. After they murdered your uncle, they made her take some clothes. To distract or something, right?_ I say nothing. _So what did they do with the suitcase?_ _Patricia doesn_t know._ _She never saw the suitcase?_ _Never._ I clear my throat and speak dispassionately. From my tone of voice, I might have been talking about office equipment or bathroom tile. _Patricia was blindfolded and gagged. Her hands were bound behind her back. They threw her and the suitcase in the trunk and drove off. When they stopped, they made her walk through the woods. She doesn_t know how long, but she thinks for at least a full day. They never spoke to her. Not the whole time they walked. When they got to the shed, they locked her inside. She finally took off the blindfold. It was dark. Another day passed. Perhaps two. She isn_t sure. Someone left granola bars and water. Eventually, one of the men came back. He used a box cutter to slice off her clothes. He raped her. Then he took her clothes, threw down a few more granola bars, and locked her up again._ PT just shakes his head. _He did this,_ I continue, _for five months._ _Your cousin,_ he says. _She wasn_t the first victim._ _That_s correct._ _I forget how many others._ _We know of nine others. There may have been more._ His jowls hang slacker now. _The Hut of Horrors,_ he says again. _Yes._ _And they never caught the perpetrator._ I don_t know whether he is asking or merely stating what we both know. Either way, his words hang in the air between us for too long. _Or perpetrators plural,_ PT adds. _That was the odd part, right? Two men kidnap her. But only one keeps her captive, is that right?_ I correct him. _Only one raped her. That is her belief, yes._ In the distance, I can hear the whir of a plane taking off. _So most likely__ PT begins, but then his voice sputters. He looks up at the cabin ceiling, and I think I see something watery in his eyes. _Most likely,_ he tries again, _the hoarder was one of those two men._ _Most likely,_ I say. PT closes his eyes. He rubs his face again, this time with both hands. _Does what I_ve told you clarify things?_ I ask. He rubs his face some more. _PT?_ _No, Win, it doesn_t clarify a goddamn thing._ _But you know who the hoarder is, right?_ _Yes. It_s why I_m back. It_s the case I could never let go._ _You aren_t talking about the Hut of Horrors, are you?_ _I_m not,_ PT says. He leans forward. _But I_ve been searching for that hoarder for nearly fifty years._ CHAPTER 6 PT rubs his jaw. _What I_m about to tell you is strictly confidential._ This statement bothers me because PT knows giving me a warning like this is both superfluous and insulting. _Okay,_ I say. _You can_t tell anyone._ _Well, yes,_ I reply, and I can hear the irritation in my voice, _that_s strongly implied with the use of the phrase _strictly confidential.__ _Anyone,_ he repeats. Then he adds, _Not even Myron._ _No,_ I say. _No what?_ _I tell Myron everything._ He stares at me a moment. Normally, PT displays all the emotional range of a file cabinet. Ask _Siri, show me unflappable,_ and a photograph of PT pops up on your screen. Today, though, on this Gulfstream G700, the agitation comes off him in waves. I sit back, cross my legs, and gesture with both hands for him to bring it on. PT reaches into the briefcase by his side. He pulls out a manila folder and hands it to me. He glances out the window as I open the envelope and pull out the photograph. _You recognize it, I assume._ I do. You would too. It is one of those iconic photographs that define the anti-war, flower-power, feminist-civil-rights counterculture sixties or perhaps (I can_t remember exactly) the very early 1970s. Along with other defining images of the era_the Chicago Seven trial, Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over the dead body of Jeffrey Miller at Kent State, the Merry Pranksters atop their psychedelic bus, a female demonstrator offering a flower to a National Guardsman, the packed crowd at Woodstock, the Black student sit-in at the Woolworth_s lunch counter_this notorious shot of six New York City college students had been plastered across the front page of every newspaper and had entered the annals of the unforgettable. _It was taken the day before the attack,_ PT says. I remember that. _How many died again?_ _Seven dead, a dozen injured._ The photograph was taken in the basement of a town house on Jane Street in Greenwich Village. There are six people in the photograph_four straggly men, two straggly women, all with long hair and garbed in Early American Hippie. All six look elated with huge smiles and bulging eyes; if I blew up the photograph, I_m sure I would see pupils dilated from something in the psychedelic family. All six hold wine bottles high in the air in some kind of bizarre victory salute. Wicks jut out of the top. The bottles, the world would soon learn, are loaded with kerosene. The next night, those wicks would be lit, the bottles thrown, and people would die. _Do you remember their names?_ PT asks me. I point at the two men in the middle. _Ry Strauss, of course. And Arlo Sugarman._ The two leaders are household names. In most famous photographs, people search for some kind of extra meaning in the placement of subjects, almost as you would, to stay on subject, with a great painting. You can see that all here. The two men in the middle seem larger, bathed in a more distinct light. Like Rembrandt_s Night Watch, for example, there is a ton going on in the photograph. You would first view it as a whole and then notice the individual figures. Strauss has long blond hair, like Thor or Fabio, while Sugarman has a loose Art-Garfunkel-esque Afro. Strauss holds the Molotov cocktail in his right hand, Sugarman in his left, and their free arms are draped around each other_s necks. They both stare straight into the lens, prepared to take on the world, which they will soon do_and fail miserably. _How about her?_ PT asks, leaning forward and tapping the face of the young woman to Ry Strauss_s right. The woman is petite and looks less sure. Her eyes are on Strauss, as though trying to follow his lead. Her bottle is only half-raised, her gesture more tentative. _Lark Something?_ _Lake,_ PT corrects. _Lake Davies._ _She was the only one caught?_ _More than two years later. She turned herself in._ _There was controversy around her sentence._ _She served only eighteen months. Her defense attorney made a compelling case that her part had been relatively minor_supposedly, the men wouldn_t let the women throw an explosive_and that she_d been young and stupid and in the thralls of her boyfriend Ry Strauss. Ry was the charismatic leader, the Charles Manson so to speak, of the group. Arlo Sugarman was more the nuts-and-bolts guy. Lake Davies also cooperated with us._ _Cooperated how?_ _Okay, let_s go back._ PT leans forward and points at the various faces as he speaks. _Ry Strauss and Arlo Sugarman were the leaders. They were both twenty-one. Lake Davies was nineteen years old, a freshman at Columbia University. The other woman, the redhead, was Edie Parker from New Jersey. The final two guys are Billy Rowan, a junior from Holyoke, Massachusetts_also Edie Parker_s boyfriend_and the Black guy is Lionel Underwood. Underwood was also a junior at NYU. With me?_ _Yes._ _This photograph was taken the night before they attacked the Freedom Hall on the Lower East Side. The Freedom Hall was going to hold a USO dance with soldiers and local girls, so their plan was to burn down the hall before the dance._ I frown. _Attacking a dance._ _Right? Heroes._ _Or they were high._ _These groups believed that the United States was on the precipice of real political change and that violence would speed it up._ I frown. _Or they were high._ _Do you remember what happened that night?_ _I_ve read about it,_ I say, _but it was a little before my time._ _The group claimed they never wanted to hurt anyone. It was just going to be property damage. That_s why they threw the Molotovs late at night when they knew the Freedom Hall would be empty. But one of their throws went astray and hit a telephone pole. The wires go down, sparks fly up_and all that distracts a Port Authority bus driver, who_s on the ramp to the Williamsburg Bridge. In a panic, the driver swerves hard to the right. The bus hits a stone wall, flips over the overpass, and plunges into the East River. The deaths were all by drowning._ His voice trails off. _So two-plus years later, Lake Davies walks into the FBI office in Detroit and turns herself in. But the fate of the others_Strauss, Sugarman, Rowan, Parker, Underwood_that_s still a mystery._ I know all this. There have been countless documentaries, podcasts, movies, novels written about them. There was a hit folk ballad that still got radio time called _The Disappearance of the Jane Street Six._ _Why did she turn herself in?_ I ask. _She_d been on the run with Ry Strauss. That_s what she told us, at least. She said a secret network of radicals had been keeping wanted militants hidden from the law. This wasn_t news to us. Members of the Weather Underground, the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the FALN, whatever_they were all on the run and getting help in one way or another. At one point, Davies said, Ry Strauss had cosmetic surgery to alter his appearance, using the same doctor who later worked on Abbie Hoffman. She and Strauss kept on the move, staying a step ahead of law enforcement. They ended up on a fishing boat in the Upper Peninsula. The boat capsized, and Strauss drowned. That_s when she decided to surrender._ _Strauss drowned,_ I repeat. _Yes._ _Like his victims?_ _Yes._ I point to the Afroed Arlo Sugarman. _Wasn_t Sugarman almost captured?_ A shadow crosses PT_s face. I see his fingers start to flex and unflex. _Four days after the attack, the FBI got a tip that Arlo Sugarman was hiding in a derelict brownstone in the Bronx. As you can imagine, the Bureau was being stretched pretty thin. We had a lot of agents investigating, but with six suspects to find and with a lot of tips coming in__ He stops and takes a deep breath. He rubs his face again. _We only sent two agents to the brownstone._ _No backup?_ _No._ _Should have waited,_ I say. I remember this. _Sugarman shot one of them, right?_ _A decorated agent named Patrick O_Malley. His rookie partner screwed up, let him go in through the back door on his own. O_Malley got ambushed. He died on the way to the hospital. Left six kids without a father._ _And Sugarman escaped,_ I say. PT nods. _There_s been no sign of him since._ _No sign of any of them._ _Yeah, the great mystery._ _Did you have a theory?_ _I did._ _And?_ _I figured they were all dead._ _Why?_ _Because I love folklore as much as the next guy, but the truth is, it_s hard to stay hidden for fifty years. All those militants who went underground? They_d either surrendered or been caught by the early 1980s. The idea that all of the Jane Street Six could still be alive this whole time without being discovered_it just didn_t make sense._ I stare at the photograph. _PT?_ _Yes?_ _I assume the hoarder is one of the Jane Street Six._ PT nods. _Which one?_ _Ry Strauss,_ he says. I arch my eyebrow. _Lake Davies lied then._ _It would seem so, yes._ I consider this. _And Ry Strauss, the charismatic face of the Jane Street Six, ends up a reclusive hoarder living atop a high-rise on Central Park West._ _With a priceless Vermeer hanging over his bed,_ PT con- tinues. _That he stole from my family._ _Before kidnapping and assaulting your cousin. Not to mention, murdering your uncle._ We let that sit a moment. Then I say, _You don_t expect to keep Strauss_s identity a secret, do you?_ _No, that would be impossible. We have a day, maybe two tops, before this story truly explodes._ I steeple my fingers. _So what do you want from me?_ _Isn_t it obvious? I want you to investigate._ _What about the Bureau?_ _This revelation is going to bring up a lot of embarrassing memories for the FBI. You probably don_t remember the Church Committee in 1975, but it revealed a whole host of illegal surveillance activities by us_on civil rights groups, feminists, anti-wars, the whole of what we called back then the New Left._ _I don_t see what that has to do with me._ _The FBI will have to play this strictly by the rules,_ he says, giving me a meaningful glance. _Do I need to add, _You don_t_?_ _Seems you just did._ _If you_ll pardon the pun,_ PT says, _it_s win-win, Win._ _I won_t._ _Won_t?_ _Pardon the pun._ That gets a smile out of him. _Yeah, fair enough, though it_s accurate. For your part, you get to stay involved and protect the interest of your family and more specifically your cousin._ _And for your part?_ _It_s a big case to solve._ I consider that and say, _I don_t buy it._ He doesn_t reply. _The last thing you need,_ I continue, _is another notch in your retired-undefeated championship belt._ There are a lot of questions, but one keeps bubbling to the surface. So I ask it: _Why is this so important to you?_ PT answers in two words: _Patrick O_Malley._ _The agent Sugarman shot?_ _I was the rookie partner who screwed up._ CHAPTER 7 My plane is fueling up as PT walks me through the telephone-book-thick file. There is a lot for me to digest, but time is also of the essence. We both agree the first person I should speak to is Lake Davies. _She changed her identity after being released,_ PT says. _Not unusual,_ I reply. _Not unusual, but in this case, suspicious. At first, she just got an official name change. Okay, fine. But two years later, after she figured that we stopped keeping tabs on her, she set up with an entirely fake ID._ But of course, PT had never stopped keeping tabs. _Her name now is Jane Dorchester. She owns a dog-boarding business on the outskirts of Lewisburg, West Virginia, with her husband, a local real estate developer named Ross Dorchester. No biological kids, but then again, they got married twenty years ago, so she would have been mid-forties. Ross has two grown girls from his first marriage._ _Does the husband know her real identity?_ _Can_t say._ There is no reason to waste time. We are already at Teterboro Airport. Kabir quickly arranges for my plane to take me to Greenbrier Valley Airport. Less than two hours after I say goodbye to PT, the jet_s wheels are touching down in West Virginia. I keep sets of clothes on board, so I change into the closest thing I own to local garb_slim-fit Adriano Goldschmied faded blue jeans, a Saint Laurent plaid flannel shirt, and Moncler Berenice hiking boots. Blending in. A vehicle awaits my arrival on the tarmac_a chauffeur-driven Chevy Silverado pickup truck. More blending in. Fifteen minutes after the plane has slowed to a stop, the Chevy Silverado pulls up to a long ranch house on the end of a cul-de-sac. A depressingly cheerful sign in the yard_one where every letter is a different color_reads: Welcome to the RITZ SNARL-FUN Hotel and Resort I sigh out loud. And under that, in smaller lettering: West Virginia_s Top-Rated Doggie Spa, Hounds Down! I sigh again and wonder about state-mandated justification for discharging my firearm. The website, which I scanned through on the flight, touts the _Rated Five Paws_ pet hotel and all its merit. The facility is a _cage-free canine establishment_ for both _day care_ and _overnight stays_ for the _posh pup._ There was an oversaturation of appropriate buzz words/phrases_pampering, grooming, positively-reinforcing, and, I_m not making this up, Zen wellness. For a dog. The _hotel_ (as it were) is a generic ranch-style suburban home with extended eaves and low-pitched roofs. Barking dogs serenade me up the walk and through an open front door. A young woman behind the desk offers up a toothy smile and too much enthusiasm: _Welcome to the Ritz Snarl-Fun!_ _How many times a day do you have to say that?_ I ask. _Huh?_ _Does a sliver of your soul leave your body every time?_ The young woman does maintenance on the toothy smile, but there is nothing behind it anymore. _Uh, can I help you with something?_ She leans over the desk and looks down by my feet. _Where_s your dog?_ _I_m here to see Jane Dorchester,_ I say. _I can take care of you._ She hands me a clipboard. _If you can just fill out__ _No, no, I need to see Jane first,_ I protest. _I was told by my good friend Billy Bob__more blending in__to ask specifically for Jane Dorchester before I fill out any paperwork._ She slowly puts the clipboard back on the desk and rises. _Uh, okay. Let me see if she_s available. Your name?_ _They call me Win._ She looks at me. I give her a reassuring smile. She leaves. My phone rings. It_s Cousin Patricia. I don_t answer, instead text-replying: I_ll fill you in later. I don_t yet know how much of what PT told me I should share with Patricia, but it can wait. Do one thing at a time, as my father, who rarely did even that much, always told us. I prefer the way Myron_s mother said the same thing with a delivery that rivaled the greatest of the Borscht Belt: _You can_t ride two horses with one behind._ At the time, she was talking to me about my womanizing, so her point didn_t really take root with me, but I adore Ellen Bolitar and her wisdom just the same. On my right, I see a multihued playroom of sorts_slides, tunnels, ramps, chew toys. There are rainbows painted on the walls. The floor is made of large rubber tiles that snap together in green, yellow, red, and orange. The place is bursting with more color than a preschool. A big man comes out led by his big gut. He frowns at me. _Can I help you?_ I point to the playroom. _Aren_t dogs color-blind?_ He looks confused. Then he asks again, this time allowing a little more irritation into his cadence, _Can I help you?_ _Are you Jane Dorchester?_ I ask. Big Gut doesn_t like that. _Do I look like a Jane Dorchester?_ _Maybe in the boob area._ He doesn_t like that either. _If you want to sign up your dog for a stay__ _I don_t,_ I say. _Then I think you better leave._ _No, thank you. I_m here to see Jane Dorchester._ _She isn_t available._ _Tell her I was sent here by a Miss Davies. Miss Lake Davies._ His reaction would have been about the same if I_d landed a roundhouse kick on the gut. No doubt. He knows Jane Dorchester_s true identity. I_m thinking that this man must be her husband, Ross. _Debbie,_ he says to the toothy young woman at the desk, _go out back and help with the spa baths._ _But Dad__ _Just go, honey._ Merely from her use of the word _Dad,_ I infer that Debbie of the Desk must be one of Ross_s daughters. Don_t be too impressed. It_s bad form to toot your own horn, but I_m pretty adept at deductive reasoning. My phone buzzes. Three short beeps. Surprising. Three short beeps indicate an incoming request from my no-name rendezvous app. I_m tempted to glance at it now. Requests don_t come in that often without the male being the instigator. I am intrigued. But the Ellen Bolitar wisdom comes to me again: One horse, one behind. _You should leave,_ Big Gut says when Debbie is out of earshot. _No, Ross, that_s not going to happen._ _Just get in your car__ _It_s a truck, not a car. Very manly, don_t you think?_ _We don_t know anyone named Lake Davies._ I offer him my patented skeptical eyebrow arch. When applied correctly, words like _Oh please_ become superfluous. _We don_t,_ Ross insists. _Fine, then you won_t mind if I go to the media and tell them that Lake Davies, famed flamethrower from the Jane Street Six, is now hiding in West Virginia under the pseudonym Jane Dorchester._ He steps toward me, the big gut swinging. _Look,_ he says in movie-tough-guy sotto voce, _she served her time._ _So she did._ _And this is still the United States of America._ _So it is._ _We don_t have to talk to you._ _You don_t, Ross. Your wife does._ _I know the law, pal, okay? My wife doesn_t have to say a word to you or anyone else. She has rights, including the right to remain silent. We are going to exercise that right._ His belly is so close I_m tempted to pat it. _And you don_t exercise that often, do you, Ross?_ He doesn_t like that, but to be fair, it isn_t my best work. He inches closer. The belly is almost touching me now. He looks down on me. Big men so often make this mistake, don_t they? _Do you have a warrant?_ he asks me. _I do not._ _Then you_re on a private property. We have rights._ _You keep saying that._ _Saying what?_ _About having rights. Can we cut to the chase? I_m not with law enforcement. They need to follow rules. I don_t._ _Don_t have to__ He shakes his head in amazement. _Are you for real?_ _Let me explain. If Jane refuses to talk to me, I will go to the press and reveal her true identity as the notorious Lake Davies. I have no problem with that. But it won_t end there. I will hire subordinates to hang around your home, your businesses, your upscale canine auberge, barraging her with questions wherever she goes__ _That_s harassment!_ _Shh, don_t interrupt. I already spotted a one-star review for your hotel on Yelp from a woman who claims her poodle was bitten by a bichon frise whilst in your care. I_ll encourage her to sue, give her my personal attorney to handle the case pro bono, perhaps locate others to join a class action lawsuit against you. I will hire investigators to look into every aspect of your personal and business life. Everyone has something to hide, and if I can_t find something, I_ll make it up. I will be relentless in my attempt to destroy you both, and I will be effective. Eventually, after much unnecessary suffering, you will both realize the only way to stop the hemorrhaging is to talk to me._ Ross Dorchester_s face reddens. _That_s_that_s blackmail._ _Hold on, let me find my line in the script._ I mime flipping pages. _Here it is._ I clear my throat. __Blackmail is such an ugly word.__ For a moment Ross looks as though he might take a swing at me. I feel that rush in my veins. I want him to, of course_to make a move so I can counter. I learned a long time ago that I cannot quiet that part of me, even as I recognize that in this instance, violence would be counterproductive to my interests. When he speaks again, I hear pain in his voice. _You don_t know what she_s been through._ I give him nothing in return. This, I think to myself. This is why PT wanted me to handle this. This is why he did not want to rely on his colleagues. _To have you barge in here like this, after all the work she_s done to put the past behind her, to build a good life for us and our family__ Part of me wants to break out one of my top-ten mime moves: playing the world_s smallest violin. But again: counterproductive. _I have no intention of hurting anyone,_ I assure him. _I need to speak to your wife. After that, I will probably suggest you both pack a bag and take a trip for a little while._ _Why?_ _Because, like it or not, the past is coming back._ He blinks a few times and looks away. Filtered out._ _No._ _I said__ Then another voice says, _Ross?_ I turn. Her hair is short and white. She wears denim pants, an oversized brown work shirt rolled to the elbows, tired-gray sneakers. Her gloves are latex and she_s carrying a bucket. Her eyes find me, perhaps hoping for mercy or understanding. When I don_t give her any, I can see the resignation slowly cross her face. She turns her gaze back to her husband. _You don_t have to,_ Ross begins, but Jane-Lake shakes him off. _We always knew this day would come._ Now he too has the look of surrender. _What_s your name?_ she asks me. _Call me Win._ _Let_s take a walk out back, Win._ CHAPTER 8 How did you find me?_ We are in the backyard now. The dogs run free in two large pens_one apparently for smaller dogs, one for larger. A bearded collie is being groomed on a table. A bullmastiff is taking a bath. The sun is bright. She waits for my answer, so I simply say, _I have my ways._ _It was a long time ago. I don_t say this as an excuse. And my role was small. I don_t say that as an excuse either. But not a day goes by that I don_t think about that night._ I feign a yawn. She gives me a little laugh. _Okay, yeah, maybe I deserve that. Maybe that was a bit sanctimonious._ _Oh, just a bit,_ I reply. She strips off the gloves, washes her hands thoroughly, dries them with a towel. She beckons me with her head to follow her toward a path in the woods. _Why are you here, Win?_ I ignore the question by saying, _Tell me about the day Ry Strauss drowned in Michigan._ Her head is down as she walks. She sticks her hands in her back pockets_I_m not sure why, but I find this gesture endearing. _Ry didn_t drown,_ she says. _Yet you told the police that?_ _I did._ _So you lied._ _I did._ We walk deeper into the woods. _I_m guessing,_ she says, _that Ry has surfaced._ I do not reply. _Is he dead or alive?_ Again I ignore her question. _When was the last time you saw Ry Strauss?_ _You_re not an FBI agent, are you?_ _No._ _But you have a big interest in this?_ I stop. _Mrs. Dorchester?_ _Call me Lake._ She has, I admit, a rather potent smile. I like it. There is a quiet strength to this woman. _Why not, right?_ _Why not,_ I repeat. _My interests are irrelevant, Lake. I need you to focus. Answer my questions and then I_ll be out of your life. Is that clear?_ _You_re something._ _I am, yes. When was the last time you saw Ry Strauss?_ _More than forty years ago._ _So that would be_?_ _Three weeks before I turned myself in._ _You_ve had no contact with him since?_ _None._ _Any idea where he_s been?_ Her voice is softer this time. _None._ Then she adds, _Is Ry alive?_ Yet again I ignore her query. _Where were you the last time you saw him?_ _I can_t see how it matters now._ I smile at her. My smile says, Just answer. _We were in New York City. There_s a pub called Malachy_s on Seventy-Second Street near Columbus Avenue._ I know Malachy_s. It_s a legit dive bar, with harried hay-straw-haired barmaids who call you hon and laminated bar menus that make you reach for a hand sanitizer. Malachy_s is not an artificially created _dive,_ not some Disney reproduction of what a dive bar is supposed to look like so that hipsters can feel authentic whilst remaining safe and comfy. I go to Malachy_s sometimes_it is only a block from my abode_but when I do, I don_t pretend I belong. _Back in the seventies,_ Lake continues, _there was an underground network of supporters taking care of us. Ry and me, we moved around a lot. These people helped keep us hidden._ She snags my gaze. Her eyes are an inviting gray that goes well with the hair. _I_m not going to tell you any of their names._ _I have no interest in busting old hippies,_ I say. _Then what do you have an interest in?_ I wait. She sighs. _Right, right, anyway, we moved around_communes, basements, abandoned buildings, camping grounds, no-name motels. This went on for more than two years. You have to remember, I was only nineteen years old when this started. We_d planned to blow up an empty building. That_s all. No one was supposed to get hurt. And I didn_t even throw one of the Molotov cocktails that night._ She is getting off track. _So you_re at Malachy_s in New York,_ I prompt. _Yes. Stuck in a storage room in the basement. The smell was awful. Stale beer and vomit. It still haunts me, I swear. But the big thing is, Ry, he isn_t stable. He never was, I guess. I can see that now. I don_t know what part of me was so broken I thought only he could fix it. My upbringing was troubled, but you don_t want to hear about that._ She is correct. I don_t. _But locked in that foul, tiny basement, Ry was really starting to unravel. I couldn_t stay with him anymore. It was just too abusive a relationship. No, he never hit me. That_s not what I mean. The woman who got us the room under Malachy_s? She saw it too. That kind woman_I_ll call her Sheila but that_s not her real name_Sheila could see I needed help. She became a sympathetic ear. I had to leave him. No choice. But where would I go? I thought about staying underground. Sheila knew someone who could sneak me into Canada and then to Europe. But I_d been on the run for two years now. I didn_t want to live the rest of my life this way. The stress, the dirt, the exhaustion, but mostly the boredom. You either travel or you hide all day. More than anything, I think wanted people turn themselves in to escape the monotony. I just craved normalcy, you know what I mean?_ _Normalcy,_ I repeat to keep her talking. _So Sheila introduced me to this sympathetic lawyer who taught up at Columbia. He thought that if I turned myself in, maybe I wouldn_t get that much time, you know, being so young and under Ry_s influence and all that. So we came up with a plan. I made my way to Detroit. I hid out there for a few weeks. When enough time had passed, I turned myself in._ _Did you tell Ry Strauss what you were doing?_ She slowly shook her head, her face tilted toward the sky. _This was all done behind Ry_s back. I left a note with Sheila trying to explain._ _How did he react to your departure?_ _I don_t know,_ she says. _Once a plan like that goes into effect, you can_t look back. It_s too dangerous for anyone._ _Did you try to find out after the fact?_ _No, never. Same reason. I didn_t want to put anyone in danger._ _You must have been curious._ _More like guilty,_ she says. _Ry was getting worse_and my answer was to abandon him. His hold on me had loosened, but_God, you can_t imagine what it was like. I thought the sun rose and fell on Ry Strauss. I would literally have died for him._ Which raises the question, which I decide not to ask right now: Would you have killed for him too? _You told the FBI he drowned in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan._ _I made that up._ _Why?_ _Why do you think? I owed him, didn_t I?_ _It was a distraction?_ _Yes, of course. Get the cops off his back. I also had to explain why I chose now to turn myself in. I couldn_t say it was because the great Ry Strauss was ranting at himself in a basement bar on the Upper West Side. Now we would diagnose him as bipolar or OCD or something. But back then? Ry used to go up to the bar at night, after it closed, and line up the liquor bottles so they were equidistant from one another with the labels facing the same way. It would take him hours._ I think about the tower room at the Beresford. _Did he have any money?_ _Ry?_ _You said you were hiding in a basement below a dive bar._ _Yes._ _Did he have the money for nicer quarters?_ _No._ _Did he have an interest in art?_ _Art?_ _Painting, sculpture, art._ _I don_t_Why would you ask that?_ _Did you ever commit robberies with him?_ _What? No, of course not._ _So you just relied on the kindness of strangers?_ _I don_t__ _You know other radicals held up banks, don_t you? The Symbionese Liberation Army. The Brink_s robbery. Did you and Strauss ever do anything like that? I don_t care about prosecuting you. My guess is, the statute of limitations would be up anyway. But I need to know._ A teenage boy walks by us with three dogs on leashes. Lake Davies smiles at him and nods. He nods back. _I wanted to turn myself in right at the start. He wouldn_t let me._ _Wouldn_t let you?_ _Part of all worship is abuse. That_s what I_ve learned. Those who love God the most also fear God the most too. _God-fearing,_ right? The most devout who won_t shut up about God_s love are always the ones raving about fire and brimstone and eternal damnation. So was I in love with Ry or was I scared of him? I don_t know how thick that line is._ I_m not here to get mired down in a philosophical discussion, so I shift gears. _Did you see on the news about a stolen Vermeer being found?_ _Yesterday, right?_ It slowly hits her. _Wait. Wasn_t someone found dead with the painting?_ I nod. _That was Ry Strauss._ I give her a moment to take that in. _He_d become a hoarder and a hermit._ I explain about the Beresford, the tower, the clutter, the mess, the painting on the wall. I choose not to go into my cousin_s predicament quite yet. There is a bench up ahead. Lake Davies collapses onto it as if her knees have given way. I stay standing. _So Ry was murdered._ _Yes._ _After all these years._ Lake Davies shakes her head, her eyes glassy. _I still don_t see why you_re here._ _My family owned the Vermeer._ _So you_re, what, here to find the other painting?_ I do not reply. _I don_t have it. When were the paintings stolen?_ I tell her the date. _That was way after I turned myself in._ _Did you ever see any of the other Jane Street Six after the murders?_ She winces at the word _murders._ I used it intentionally. _The underground divided us up. You can_t have six people traveling together._ _That_s not what I asked._ _Just one._ When she stops talking, I put my hand to my ear. _I_m listening._ _We stayed two nights with Arlo._ _Arlo Sugarman?_ She nods. _In Tulsa. He was posing as a student at Oral Roberts University, which I thought was pretty ironic._ _Why_s that?_ _Arlo was raised Jewish but prided himself on his atheism._ I remember something I saw in the file. _Sugarman claimed he wasn_t there that night__ _We all did, so what?_ Fair enough. _Wasn_t he a fine arts major at Columbia?_ _Yeah, maybe. Wait, you think Arlo and Ry_?_ _Do you?_ _No. I mean, I don_t know for sure, but__ I think now about Cousin Patricia and the horror of what she went through. _You mentioned Ry Strauss hurting you._ She swallows. _What about it?_ _You changed your entire identity. You pretty much went off the grid._ _Yet you found me._ I try to look modest. Then I ask, _Were you afraid Ry would try to find you?_ _Not just Ry._ _Who?_ She shakes me off, and I can see she is starting to close down. _There is a chance,_ I say, _that Ry Strauss was involved in something more sinister than stolen art._ _How much more sinister?_ I see no reason to sugarcoat it. _Abducting, raping, and eventually murdering young women._ Her face loses all color. _Perhaps with a partner,_ I add. Then I ask, _Do you think Ry could have been involved in something like that?_ _No,_ she says softly. _And I really think you should leave now._ CHAPTER 9 Back on the plane, I start reading through the FBI file. I call it a file, but in fact it is a three-inches-thick binder with photocopied pages. I take out my Montblanc and jot down the names of the Jane Street Six: Ry Strauss Arlo Sugarman Lake Davies (Jane Dorchester) Billy Rowan Edie Parker Lionel Underwood. I stare at the names for a moment. When I do, when I think of these six and the fact that only one (now two, if you include Ry Strauss) has been seen or heard from in forty years, it becomes apparent that PT is probably right about their fate. Odds are strong that at least some of them, if not all, are dead. Then again, perhaps not. Hadn_t Ry Strauss managed to survive all these years before he was brutally murdered? If Strauss could hide in the center of the largest city in the country, why couldn_t the others stay underground? Oddly enough, I am not buying my own rationale. One could stay hidden. Two perhaps. But four? Unlikely. I start with the timeline and write down the following question: Who has been seen since the night of the Molotov cocktails? Day One, Two, and Three post-attack there were no credible sightings of any of the Jane Street Six. Pretty remarkable when you think of the manhunt. On Day Four, there was finally a break. The FBI received an anonymous tip that Arlo Sugarman was holed up in a brownstone in the Bronx. Alas, we know how that turned out_Special Agent Patrick O_Malley ends up being shot and killed on the stoop. I jot this incident down next to Sugarman_s name because it is his first known sighting. The second sighting, according to what I just learned from Lake Davies, places Arlo Sugarman in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a student at Oral Roberts University in 1975. I mark that down too. That_s it on Sugarman. No third sighting. I move on to Billy Rowan. According to the FBI file, Rowan was spotted only once since the attack_two weeks later_by Vanessa Hogan, the mother of one of the victims, Frederick Hogan, a seventeen-year-old from Great Neck, New York. Vanessa Hogan, a devoutly religious woman, had gone on television almost immediately after her son_s death to say she had forgiven those who harmed young Frederick. _God must have wanted my Frederick for a higher purpose,_ she said at the press conference. I hate this sort of justification. I hate it even more when it_s reversed, if you will_when a survivor of a tragedy claims something to the effect that _God spared me because I_m special to Him,_ the subtle implication being that God didn_t give a damn about those who perished. In this case, however, Vanessa Hogan was a young widow who had just lost her only child, so perhaps I should cut her some slack. I digress. According to the FBI report, two weeks after Vanessa Hogan_s press conference, when the intensity of the search had waned just enough, Billy Rowan, who had also been raised in a devoutly religious home, knocked on Hogan_s back door at approximately nine p.m. Vanessa Hogan was home alone in her kitchen at the time. Billy Rowan had purportedly seen her on TV and wanted to apologize in person before he went fully underground. Okay, fine. I note this next to Rowan_s name. First and only sighting. I move on to the rest. Edie Parker, no sightings. Lionel Underwood, no sightings. And of course, when I was handed the file: Ry Strauss, no sightings. I tap my lip with my Montblanc and mull it over. Let_s suppose that they had all successfully stayed underground for all these years. Do I really believe that they never, not once, reached out to family members? I do not. I scan through the file and jot down the names of close relatives I could potentially question. Ry Strauss had a quasi-famous brother, Saul, a progressive attorney who represents the downtrodden. He_s a television talking head, but then again who isn_t nowadays? Did Ry never contact his brother Saul, even though they lived in the same city for perhaps forty years? It_s worth an ask. Saul Strauss, I know, has been on Hester Crimstein_s news program, ridiculously named Crimstein on Crime. Perhaps Hester could offer an introduction. The Strauss parents are deceased. In fact, of the Jane Street Six_s potential twelve parents, only two are still alive_Billy Rowan_s father, Edie Parker_s mother. I write their names down. Next I go through surviving siblings besides Saul Strauss. That adds another nine people, though two of those belong to Lake Davies, so I won_t need them. I add those names to my list. If I have more time or help, I might spread my family tree out_uncles, aunts, cousins_but I doubt that I will. There are a lot of names here. I will need help. My thoughts naturally gravitate to Myron. He is down in Florida, taking care of his parents and helping his wife settle into a new job. I don_t want to take him away from that. Those who know us well would note that I always came through when Myron would engage in similar quixotic quests and ask for my help_that in fact, after all the times I marched into battle for him without question or pause, Myron _owes_ me. Those folks would be wrong. Let me clue you in on the advice Myron_s father, one of the wisest men I know, gave his son and his son_s best man_that would be yours truly_on Myron_s wedding day: _Relationships are never fifty-fifty. Sometimes they are sixty-forty, sometimes eighty-twenty. You_ll be the eighty sometimes, you_ll be the twenty others. The key is to accept and be okay with that._ I believe this simple wisdom is true for all great relationships, not just marriages, so if you add it up, how my friendship with Myron has improved and enhanced my life, no, Myron owes me nothing. My phone pings a reminder that I have not yet responded to my rendezvous app. I doubt there will be time tonight, but it would be rude to not reply. When I click the notification and scan the request, my eyes widen. I quickly change my mind and set up a meet for eight p.m. tonight. Let me explain why. The rendezvous app has a rather unusual _bio_ page. No, it_s not like the dating apps where you spew out exaggerated nonsense about how you like pi?a coladas and getting caught in the rain. This page starts about akin to ratings one might give an Uber, but because most members use the app on rare occasions (unlike yours truly), the developers have supplemented personal ratings with what could crudely be called an appearance ranking. It_s a far more complicated algorithm than that, scoring in many specific physical fields and on many levels. One of the app rules states that if you ask another client about your ranking_or if that client tells you_you are both immediately forced to relinquish your membership. I, for example, do not know what my rankings are. I am confident that they are high. No need for false modesty, is there? To give you an idea, Bitsy Cabot_s aggregate ranking was an accurate 7.8 out of ten. The lowest I would go for is a 6.5. Well, okay, once I went with a 6.0, but nothing else was available. The app_s scoring is very tough. A six on this app would be considered at least an eight anywhere else. The highest ranking I_ve seen on the app? I was once with a 9.1. She_d been a renowned supermodel before she married a famous rock star. You know her name. That was the only woman above a nine I_d ever seen. The woman who had currently pinged me for a rendezvous? Her ranking was a 9.85. There is no way I was passing that up. PT calls me. _How did it go with Lake Davies?_ I start with the obvious: _She lied about Strauss being dead._ I then fill him in on the rest of our conversation. _So what_s your next step?_ _Go to Malachy_s Pub._ _Forty years later?_ _Yes._ _Long shot._ _Is there any other kind?_ I counter. _What else?_ _I have compiled a list of people I may want to interrogate. I need your people to get me current addresses._ _Email me the list._ I know how PT works. He gets the information before he gives the information. Now that I_ve done my part, I prompt him: _Anything new on your end?_ _We got week-old CCTV footage from the Beresford. We think it_s from the day of the murder but__ I wait. _We don_t know how helpful it will be,_ he says. _Is the killer on it?_ _Likely, yeah. But we can_t really see much._ _I_d like to view it._ _I can email you a link in an hour._ I mull this over for a moment. _I_d rather stop by the Beresford and have one of the doormen show it to me._ _I_ll set it up._ _I will go to Malachy_s first._ _One more thing, Win._ I wait. _We can_t keep the ID quiet any longer. Tomorrow morning, the Director is going to announce the body belongs to Ry Strauss._ * * * _Ain_t you a good-looking fella?_ _Yes,_ I say. _Yes, I am._ Kathleen, the longtime barmaid at Malachy_s, cackles a half laugh, half cigarette-cough at that one. She has a rye (I mean that in two ways) smile and yellow (as opposed to blonde) hair. Kathleen is comfortably north of sixty years old, but she wears it with confidence and an old-world sultry appeal that some might describe as burlesque. She is buxom and curvy and soft. I like Kathleen immediately, but I recognize that it is her occupation to be liked. _If I was a little younger__ Kathleen begins. _Or if I were a little luckier,_ I counter. _Oh, stop._ I arch an eyebrow. It_s one of my trademark moves. _Don_t sell yourself short, Kathleen. The night is young._ _You_re being fresh._ She playfully slaps me with a dishrag last laundered during the Eisenhower administration. _Charming. Good-looking as hell. But fresh._ On the stool to my right, Frankie Boy, who is closer to eighty, wears a tweed flat cap. Thick tufts of hair jut out of his ears like Troll dolls turned on their side. His nose couldn_t be more bulbous without cosmetic surgery. I have been to Malachy_s perhaps five times prior to tonight. Frankie Boy is always at this stool. _Buy you a drink?_ I say to him. _Okay,_ Frankie slurs, _but just for the record, I don_t think you_re that good-looking._ _Sure, you do,_ I say. _Yeah, maybe, but that doesn_t mean I_m gonna have sex with you._ I sigh. _Dreams die hard in here._ He likes that. As I said before, Malachy_s is a legit dive bar_poor lighting, stained (and I mean that in two ways) wood paneling, dead flies in the light fixtures, patrons so regular that it_s sometimes hard to see where the stool ends and their butts begin. A sign above the bar reads, LIFE IS GOOD. SO IS BEER. Wisdom. Regulars blend well with the newcomers, and pretty much anything goes but pretension. There are two televisions, one set up at either end of the bar. The New York Yankees are losing on one, the New York Rangers are losing on the other. No one in Malachy_s seems to be too invested in either. The menu is standard pub fare. Frankie Boy insists I order the chicken wings. Out comes a plate of grease with a smattering of bone. I slide it to him. We chat. Frankie tells me that he is on his fourth wife. _I love her so much,_ Frankie Boy tells me. _Congrats._ __Course, I loved the other three so much too. Still do._ A tear comes to his eye. _That_s my problem. I fall hard. Then I come in here to forget. Do you know what I_m saying?_ I don_t, but I tell him that I do. The song _True_ by Spandau Ballet comes drifting out of the speakers. Frankie Boy starts singing along: _This is the sound of my soul, this is the sound__ He stops and turns to me. _You ever been married, Win?_ _No._ _Smart. Wait. You gay?_ _No._ _Not that I care. Be honest, I like a lot of the gays in here. Less competition for the ladies, you know what I_m saying?_ I ask him how long he_s been coming to Malachy_s. _First time was January 12, 1966._ _Specific,_ I say. _Biggest day of my life._ _Why?_ I ask, genuinely curious. Frankie Boy holds up three stubby fingers. _Three reasons._ _Go on._ He drops the ring finger. _One, that_s the first day I found this place._ _Makes sense._ _Two__Frankie Boy drops his middle finger__I married my first wife, Esmeralda._ _You went to Malachy_s for the first time on your wedding day?_ _I was getting married,_ he says, emphasis on the _married._ _Who_d blame a man for needing a stiff drink or two beforehand?_ _Not I._ _My Esmeralda was so beautiful. Big as a barn. She wore a bright yellow wedding dress. In our wedding pictures, I look like a tiny planet orbiting a giant sun. But beautiful._ _And what_s Reason Three?_ I ask. _You may be too young, but did you ever see the TV show Batman?_ _Oh yes._ This, I think to myself, is kismet. Myron and I have watched every episode at least a million times. I nod. _Adam West, Burt Ward__ _Exactly. The Riddler, the Penguin, oh, and don_t even get me started on Julie Newmar as the Catwoman. I would have ripped off Esmeralda_s right arm and slapped myself silly with it, just to sniff Julie Newmar_s hair. No offense._ _None taken._ _And nowadays, we have all these__finger quotes___method_ actors losing a hundred pounds or whatever to play the Joker, but back then? Cesar Romero didn_t even bother shaving his mustache. Just threw white makeup over it. That, my friend, was acting._ I see no reason to disagree. _And Reason Three?_ He scoffed. _I thought you were a fan._ _I am._ _So what villain appeared in the very first episode?_ _The Riddler,_ I say, _played by Frank Gorshin._ _Correct answer_and when did it first air?_ Frankie Boy smiles and nods. _January 12, 1966._ I want to kiss this man. _So to summarize,_ I say, _on your wedding day, you went for drinks at Malachy_s, and then you watched Batman debut on TV._ Frankie Boy nods solemnly and stares down at his drink. _Fifty years later, Malachy_s is still in my life. Fifty years later, I can still watch Batman on my old VCR._ Big shrug. _But Esmeralda? She_s long gone._ We drink in silence for a moment. I need to get to the point of my visit, but I_m really enjoying this conversation. Eventually, I work my way to asking Frankie Boy whether he remembers a waitress or barmaid named Sheila or Shelly or something like that_I hope that perhaps Lake Davies slipped up and gave me the real name_and he scratches his head. _Kathleen?_ he shouts. _What?_ _You remember a Sheila who worked here a long time ago?_ _Huh?_ Kathleen is smiling, but I detect something awry in her body language. Perhaps it is the smile that suddenly seems forced. Perhaps it is the way her grip tightens on the beer tap. _Who wants to know?_ _Our good-looking friend Win here,_ Frankie Boy says, slapping my back. Kathleen heads back toward us. She has the dishrag over her shoulder. _Sheila what?_ _I don_t know,_ I say. She shakes her head. _Don_t remember a Sheila. How about you, Frankie?_ He shakes his head too, and jumps down from the stool. _Gotta take a massive wiz,_ he tells us. _With your prostate?_ Kathleen counters. _Let a man dream, will ya?_ Frankie Boy hobbles off. Kathleen turns back to me. She has the kind of expression that tells you she has seen it all at least twice. Google _world weary_ and her photograph pops up. _When would this Sheila have been here?_ _1975 or thereabouts,_ I say. _Seriously? That_s like, what, more than forty years ago._ I wait. _Anyway, I didn_t start working here until three years later. Summer of 1978._ _I see,_ I say. _Anyone still here from those days?_ _Let me think._ Kathleen glances up at the ceiling to make a show of thinking this over. _Old Moses in the kitchen would have been here, but he retired for Florida last year. Other than that, well, I_m the most senior employee, I guess._ With that subject dismissed, she points to my empty glass and says, Filtered you another, hon?_ There is a time for the subtle. There is a time for the blunt. I confess that I am far better with the blunt. With that in mind, I ask: _So what about the famous fugitives who hid in the basement?_ Kathleen rears her head back and blinks. _Huh?_ _Have you ever heard of the Jane Street Six?_ _The what?_ _How about Ry Strauss?_ Her eyes narrow. _That name rings a bell, I think. But I don_t see__ _Ry Strauss and his girlfriend Lake Davies were wanted for murder. They hid in Malachy_s basement in 1975._ She doesn_t reply for a few moments. Then she says, _I_ve heard a lot of legends about this place, but that_s a new one._ But her voice is softer now. Kathleen, I_ve observed, usually plays for the entire bar, even in one-on-one conversations, as though the bar is a stage and she wants as big an audience as possible for every encounter. Now suddenly she wants an audience of only one. _It_s the truth,_ I say. _How do you know?_ _Lake Davies told me._ _One of the fugitives?_ _She was caught and served her time._ _And she told you she hid in this bar?_ _In the basement, yes. She told me a kind barmaid named Sheila looked after them. She said the kind barmaid saved her._ We stare at one another for a moment. _Doubt it,_ Kathleen says. _Why?_ _Ever been in our basement? I don_t think anything outside the mold family could survive down there._ She cackles again, but it is far less organic now. As if on cue, a burly man on the far end of the stools slaps his hand down on the bar and gleefully shouts, _Got it!_ Kathleen yells, _What, Fred?_ _A cockroach as big as one of those park pigeons._ Kathleen smiles at me as if to say, See what I mean? _I don_t think Lake Davies made it up,_ I say. Her reply starts with a shrug. _Well, if she_s like those other crazy radicals from back then, maybe she dropped too much acid and imagined it._ _Funny,_ I say. _What?_ _I never mentioned that she was a radical._ Kathleen smiles and leans a little closer. I get the cigarette smell again, though it_s not entirely unpleasant. _You said the Jane Something Six or whatever, and then I remembered they bombed something and killed people. Why you asking about that anyway?_ _Because Ry Strauss has never been caught._ _And you_re looking for him?_ _I am._ _Almost fifty years after the fact?_ _Yes,_ I say. _Can you help?_ _Wish I could._ She is trying too hard to act disinterested. _Be good to see a killer like that get what_s coming to him._ _You think so?_ _Damn straight. You a cop?_ I arch an eyebrow. _In this suit?_ She gives another tobacco-laced laugh as Frankie Boy hops back on his stool. _Fun talking to you,_ Kathleen says. Then, tilting her head, she adds, _I got customers._ She saunters away. _Man,_ Frankie Boy says, watching her with awe, _I could watch that caboose all day. You know what I_m saying?_ _I do._ _You a private eye, Win?_ _No._ _Like Sam Spade or Magnum, P.I.?_ _No._ _But you_re cool like them, am I right?_ _As rain,_ I agree, watching Kathleen work the tap. _As rain._ CHAPTER 10 I have over an hour before my app rendezvous with Mrs. 9.85. The walk from Malachy_s Pub to the Beresford takes me about ten minutes. I head up Columbus Avenue and cut through the grounds of the American Museum of Natural History. When I was six years old, and my parents were still together, they took my siblings and me to this very museum. The Lockwoods, of course, got a private tour before the museum was open to the general public. One of my earliest memories (and perhaps yours) swirls around the dinosaur bones in the entrance foyer, the woolly mammoth_s tusks on the fourth floor, and mostly, the huge blue whale hanging from the ceiling in the Hall of Ocean Life. I still see that blue whale from time to time. At night, the museum hosts high-end gala dinners. I sit beneath the great whale and drink excellent scotch and look up at it. I try sometimes to see that little boy and his family, but I realize that what I_m conjuring up isn_t real or stored in my brain. This is true for most if not all of what we call memories. Memories aren_t kept on some microchip in the skull or filed away in a cabinet somewhere deep in our cranium. Memories are something we reconstruct and piece together. They are fragments we manufacture to create what we think occurred or even simply hope to be true. In short, our memories are rarely accurate. They are biased reenactments. Shorter still: We all see what we want to see. The doorman at the Beresford is waiting for me. He leads me to the security monitors behind the desk. There, cued up on the screen, is a black-and-white image of two people walking single file. I can_t make out much. The shot is from above, the quality not great. The person in front is likely Ry Strauss. He has a hoodie pulled over his head. The person behind him is totally bald. Both keep their heads down, walking so close together that the bald head looks to be leaning on Strauss_s back. _Do you want me to hit play?_ the doorman asks. The doorman looks young, no more than twenty-five. The military-style uniform he wears is far too big on his thin frame. I say, _This is the basement, correct?_ _Yeah._ _Did you have any contact with__I don_t know what to call Strauss, so I point__this tenant?_ _No,_ he says. _Never._ _Did anyone ever call him by a name?_ _No. I mean, we_re trained to call our tenants by their last name. You know, mister or missus or doctor or whatever. If we don_t know the name we use _sir_ or _ma_am._ But with him, I mean, I never even saw the guy, and I_ve been here two years._ I turn my attention back to the screen. _Hit play, please._ He does. The video is short and uneventful. Strauss and assailant walk with their heads down, single file, staying close together. It looks odd. I ask him to rewind and play it again. Then a third time. _Hit pause when I tell you._ _Okay, sure._ _Now._ The image freezes. I squint and lean closer. I still can_t pick up much, but this much seems clear: Both knew that they were on a security camera and at this point_the point where I_ve asked the image to be frozen_the man we now know is Ry Strauss looks up into the lens. _Can you zoom in?_ _Not really, no. The pixels get all messed up._ I doubt that I would pick up much anyway. The assumption, and I think it is a righteous one, is that the bald man behind Ry Strauss is the killer. Their manner is so off_stiff, short steps, staying so close_that I assume Strauss is being led at gunpoint. _To your knowledge, did the deceased ever have visitors?_ _Nope. Never. We all talked about that this morning._ _We?_ _Me and the other doormen. No one remembers anyone coming to see him. Not ever. I mean, I guess they could have come with him up through the basement like this._ _I assume this visitor eventually left?_ _If he did, we don_t have it on tape._ I sit back and steeple my fingers. _We done?_ the doorman asks. _How about the footage of the tenant departing the building?_ _Huh?_ I point at the screen. _Before he met up with this visitor, I assume the deceased left the building?_ _Oh, right. Yeah._ _Could you show me?_ _Give me a second._ This video is even less eventful. Ry Strauss keeps his head down. He wears the hoodie. He walks by, though I do note that he seems in a rush. I check the time_forty-two minutes before he returns. This all adds up in my view. _You said he never left in the daytime, correct?_ _Not that anyone remembers._ _So this__I point to Strauss walking out during the daytime__would be unusual?_ _I_d say, yeah. Hermit normally only went out like super late at night._ That piques my interest. _How late?_ _You_d have to ask Hormuz. He works the night shift. But really late, way after midnight._ _Will Hormuz be on tonight?_ _Yeah. Whoa, someone is coming with packages. Excuse me a moment._ The young doorman departs. I take out my phone and call PT. _Did your guys find a phone in Strauss_s apartment?_ I ask. _No._ _No landline either?_ _No. Why?_ _I have a theory,_ I tell him. _Go ahead._ _Someone called Strauss on a phone and told him something worrying. Perhaps that his cover was blown. We can only speculate. But someone called him and told him something so worrying that the hermit left his apartment during daylight hours. My suspicion is, it was a setup._ _How do you figure?_ _The killer placed the call to Strauss and said something on the phone they knew would get Strauss to react. When Strauss leaves the building, the killer intercepts him at gunpoint and forces Strauss to bring him back to his apartment._ _Where the killer shackles him to the bed and kills him._ _Yes._ _And leaves the Vermeer behind. Why?_ _The obvious answer,_ I say, _is that his murder wasn_t about the stolen art._ _So what else would it be about?_ _It could be a lot of things. But I think we know the most obvious one._ _The Hut of Horrors,_ he says. We are silent for a while. _The Bureau hasn_t put that part together yet, Win._ I say nothing. _They still don_t know why your suitcase is there. When they do, they_ll want alibis for your cousin. And for you._ I nod to myself. His is a solid analysis. _It seems likely,_ I say, _that Ry Strauss was involved in some way with the Hut of Horrors._ His voice is grave. _It does._ I feel a chill at the base of my neck. _So I_m wondering._ _Wondering what?_ _Everyone has always believed that Uncle Aldrich and Cousin Patricia were random victims of serial predators. Uncle Aldrich was killed, so as to abscond with Patricia to the hut._ _You don_t think so anymore?_ I frown. _Think it through, PT. It can_t be random._ _Why not?_ _Because Strauss had the Vermeer._ He takes a second. _You_re right. That can_t be a coincidence._ _And that means Patricia wasn_t a random victim. She was targeted._ We fall into silence. _Let me know how I can help, Win._ _I assume the Bureau will be analyzing these CCTV videos?_ _We are, but the quality is crap. And this has been a pain in my ass for years_why the hell do we keep all the cameras up high? Every criminal knows that. He just kept his head down._ _So nothing else on him?_ _They_re still analyzing, but all they can tell us is he_s slight, short, bald._ _It_s more important that you scour the nearby buildings for CCTV,_ I tell him. _We need to figure out where Strauss went when he left the Beresford and who he encountered._ _On it. Where are you going now?_ I check my watch. Enough work for the moment. My mind shifts quickly to the 9.85 rating. _Saks Fifth Avenue,_ I say. * * * I am nearing Saks when the phone rings. It_s Nigel calling from Lockwood. _Your father heard about the Vermeer,_ Nigel tells me. _He also heard that Cousin Patricia was in the house._ I wait. _He would like to see you. He says it_s urgent._ I push the door open and enter Saks by the men_s suits department. _Urgent as in tonight?_ _Urgent as in tomorrow morning._ _Done,_ I say. _One favor, Win._ _Name it._ _Don_t upset your father._ _Okay,_ I say. Then I ask, _How is he, Nigel?_ _Your father is very agitated._ _Over the Vermeer or Cousin Patricia?_ _Yes,_ Nigel says and hangs up. I head into the basement of Saks and pass the Vault jewelry department. The rendezvous app has a rather lengthy questionnaire to _discover your type in order to make the best matches._ I skipped answering the questions and went straight to the comment section. What_s my type? I wrote one word: Hot. That_s my type. I don_t care whether she_s blonde, brunette, redhead, or bald. I don_t care whether she_s short or tall, heavyset or emaciated, white, Black, Asian, young, old, whatever. My type? I use one type of criteria and rank them thusly: Super Super Hot. Super Hot. Hot. More Hot Than Not. That_s it. The rest, as I say, does not matter. I hold no prejudices or biases when it comes to hotness, and yet I ask you: Where are my laurels for being so open-minded? I am first to arrive in the suite. The app tells me that my rendezvous partner is still fifteen minutes away. The shower is supplied with Kevis 8 shampoo and Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Vitae scented shower cream. I take advantage of that. I strip down and close my eyes under the heavy stream of the propulsive-power-jet Speakman shower head. I think chronologically for a moment. We have the Jane Street Six attack. We have the art heist at Haverford College. We have my uncle_s murder and my cousin_s abduction. Three different nights. The first two are connected by the Vermeer found in the possession of the most famous of the Jane Street Six. Then we add in the suitcase, and it becomes apparent that all three are somehow linked. How? Most obvious answer: By Ry Strauss. We know Strauss was leader of the Jane Street Six. We know he was in possession of the stolen Vermeer (where is the Picasso, by the way?). We know that the suitcase, last seen when Patricia was abducted, was in his tower apartment. Was he the mastermind behind all three? I get out of the shower. Ms. 9.85 Rating should be here within minutes. I am about to silence my phone when Kabir calls. _I found the security guard from the art heist._ _Go on._ _At the time of the robbery, he was an intern paying off student debts by working security at night._ I remember this. One of the criticisms leveled at both the college and our family was that we had trusted two priceless masterpieces to shoddy security. It was a criticism, of course, that proved spot-on. _His name is Ian Cornwell. He_d only graduated from Haverford the year before._ _Where is he now?_ _Still at Haverford. In fact, he_s never left. Ian Cornwell is a professor in the political science department._ _Find out if he_s on campus tomorrow. Also get a copter ready. I_m flying to Lockwood first thing in the morning._ _Got it. Anything else?_ _I need some information about Malachy_s._ I start telling him what I need when I hear the elevator ping. The 9.85 rating has arrived. I finish up quickly and say, _No calls for the next hour._ Then, thinking about that rating, I add, _Perhaps the next two or three._ I disconnect the phone as she steps out of the elevator. I had assumed the rating would be an exaggeration. It isn_t. She has always been_and remains now_at least a 9.85. For a moment, we just stare at one another. I am in my robe. She is in a crisply tailored business suit, but everything she wears always looks crisply tailored. I try to remember the last time I saw her in the flesh. When she and Myron ended their engagement, I gather, but I can_t recall the specifics. Myron had loved her with all his heart. She had shattered that heart into a million pieces. Part of me found the whole thing incomprehensible and tedious, this brokenhearted thing; part of me understood with absolute clarity why I would never let any woman leave me that way. _Hello, Win._ _Hello, Jessica._ Jessica Culver is a fairly well-known novelist. After a decade together, she and Myron broke up because in the end, Myron wanted to settle down, marry, have children and Jessica sneered at that sort of idyllic conformity. At least, that was what she_d told Myron. Not long after the breakup, Myron and I saw a wedding announcement in the New York Times. Jessica Culver had married a Wall Street tycoon named Stone Norman. I hadn_t seen, heard, or thought about her since. _This is a surprise,_ I say. _Yep._ _Guess it isn_t going so great with you and Rock._ Immature of me to intentionally get the name wrong, but there you go. Jessica smiles. The smile is dazzling and beautiful, but it doesn_t reach more than my eyes. I remember when that same smile used to knock poor Myron to his knees. _It_s good to see you, Win._ I tilt my head. _Is it?_ _Sure._ We stand there a few more moments. _So are we going to do this or what?_ CHAPTER 11 The answer ends up being _what._ Jessica and I spend the next hour lying on the bed and talking. Don_t ask me why, but I end up telling her about Ry Strauss and the Vermeer and the rest. She watches me closely as I speak, completely rapt. As I said, I don_t get romantic relationships. During the years that Jessica and Myron were a couple, I understood that she was very attractive and immensely doable, but so are a lot of women. I never got why Myron would want only one woman or put up with her mood swings and drama. Now, as she lies alongside me and gives me that laser focus, I perhaps get a tiny sliver of the appeal. I stop and tell her this. _You hated me,_ Jessica says. _No._ _You viewed us as rivals._ _You and I?_ _Yes._ _For?_ _For Myron, of course._ Jessica shifts on the bed. She is still clothed. I remain in my bathrobe. _You know I wrote a piece on the Jane Street Six for the New Yorker._ _When?_ _It was on one of the anniversaries of the attack. Twenty, maybe twenty-fifth, I don_t remember. You can probably find it online._ She tucked her hair behind her ear. _It_s pretty fascinating stuff._ _How so?_ _It_s a perfect storm of what-if tragedy. The six had originally planned to hit another USO dance hall a month earlier, but Strauss had come down with appendicitis. What if he hadn_t? Several of the six were getting cold feet and threatened not to show. What if one or two had backed out? They were just stoned kids wanting to do some good. They didn_t set out to hurt anyone. So what if? What if that one Molotov cocktail hadn_t gone astray?_ I_m not impressed with this analysis. _Everything in life is a what-if._ _True. Can I ask a question?_ I wait. _Why isn_t Myron helping you? I mean, all the times you played Watson to Sherlock__ _He_s busy._ _With his new wife?_ I don_t feel right talking about Myron with her. Jessica sits up. _You said you need to watch the documentary on the Jane Street Six._ _I do._ _Let_s watch it together and see what happens._ * * * Jessica lies on the right side of the bed, I take the left. Our bodies are close together. I prop up the laptop between us. She puts on reading glasses and flips off the lamp. I click the play button. We start watching the documentary in surprisingly comfortable silence. I find this whole experience odd. For me, Jessica was just an annoying and inconvenient extension of Myron, never her own being. To see or experience her with no attachment to him feels somehow uneasy, not in spite of the comfort but because of it. For the first time, I am seeing her as her own entity, not just Myron_s hot girlfriend. I am not sure how I feel about that. The documentary begins by pointing out that the group was never called the Jane Street Six. They were just six seemingly random college students, a ragtag splinter quasi-group from the Weather Underground or Students for a Democratic Society. The nickname Jane Street Six was given to them by the media after that disastrous night for the very simple reason that the famed photograph of the six of them had been taken in the basement of a town house on Jane Street in Greenwich Village. _It was down in the dark dwelling,_ the serious narrator informed us, _that they brewed the most deadly cocktail of all_the Molotov cocktail._ Dum, dum, duuuum. The narrative then went back in time to how Ry Strauss and Arlo Sugarman originally bonded as sixth graders in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. They flashed up an old black-and-white classic team photo of Ry and Arlo on a Little League team, half-standing, half-kneeling, dramatically using red marker to circle the two young faces on the far right. _Even then,_ Mr. Voiceover gravely intoned, _Strauss and Sugarman stood side by side._ The documentary mercifully skipped those poorly acted and poorly lit reenactment scenes, the ones you always see on true crime drama. They stuck to real footage and interviews with local police, with witnesses, with survivors from the bus crash, with families and friends. A tourist had snapped a photograph of Ry Strauss and Lake Davies running away. The photo was blurry, but you could see them holding hands. The rest were behind them, but you couldn_t make out any faces. The documentary did a bit on the seven victims_Craig Abel, Andrew Dressler, Frederick Hogan, Vivian Martina, Bastien Paul, Sophia Staunch, Alexander Woods. Jessica says, _Remind me to tell you about Sophia Staunch when we_re done._ The documentary focused in on five teenage boys from St. Ignatius Prep who had gone to New York that fateful night to celebrate the seventeenth birthday of Darryl Lance. Back in those days, bars and clubs were not strict about proof of age_and the drinking age had only been eighteen anyway. It came out later that the boys had gone to a strip club with the subtle moniker Sixty-Nine before hopping on the late-night bus heading back out to Garden City. Darryl Lance, who had been in his mid-forties when they filmed the documentary, spoke about the incident. He_d only suffered a broken arm, but his friend Frederick Hogan, also age seventeen, died in the crash. Lance welled up when he described the flames, the panic, the bus driver_s overreaction. _I could see the driver turn the wheel too hard. We went up on just two wheels. I could see the bus start to careen out of control and head for that stone wall. And then we plunge off the road almost in slow motion__ They then replayed the press conference where Vanessa Hogan absolved the Six. _I forgive them totally because it_s not my place to judge, only God_s. Perhaps this was God_s way for Frederick to pay for his own sin._ I turn slightly toward Jessica. _Is she saying God executed her son for going to a strip club?_ _Apparently,_ she says. _I interviewed her for my story._ The doc moves on to Billy Rowan_s surprise visit to Vanessa Hogan. On the screen, an older Vanessa Hogan spoke to the documentarian about it: _We sat right here, right at this very kitchen table. I asked Billy if he wanted a Coke. He said yes. He drank it so fast._ _What did you talk about?_ _Billy said it was an accident. He said they didn_t mean to hurt anyone, that they only wanted to make a statement against the war._ _What did you think of this?_ _I kept thinking how young Billy was. Frederick was seventeen. This boy was only a few years older._ _What else did Billy Rowan say?_ _He saw me on the television. He said he wanted to hear me forgive him with his own ears._ _Did you?_ _Yes, of course._ _That couldn_t have been easy._ _The path isn_t supposed to be easy. It_s supposed to be righteous._ Jessica looks at me. _Good line._ _Indeed._ _She used it on me too._ _But?_ Jessica shrugs. _It sounded too rehearsed._ Back on the screen, Vanessa Hogan says: _I tried convincing Billy to surrender, but__ _But?_ _He was so scared. His face. Even now, I think about Billy Rowan_s scared face. He just ran out my kitchen door._ I whisper, _She_s kind of hot._ _Ew._ _You don_t think so?_ _You haven_t changed, Win, have you?_ I smile and shrug. _What was your take when you met her?_ _Two words,_ Jessica says. _Batshit crazy._ _Because she_s religious?_ _Because she_s a nut. And a liar._ _You don_t think Billy Rowan visited her?_ _No, he did. A lot of evidence proves it._ _So?_ _I don_t know. Vanessa Hogan_s reactions were just all off. I get the belief that your son has gone to a better place or that it_s God_s will, but there were no tears, no mourning. It was almost as though she expected it. Like it wasn_t a surprise._ _We all grieve in different ways,_ I say. _Yeah, thanks for offering up the comforting clich?, Win. But that_s not it._ Jessica rolls on her side to face me. I do the same. Our lips are inches apart. She smells incredibly good. _Sophia Staunch,_ she says. Another Jane Street Six victim. _What about her?_ _Her uncle was Nero Staunch._ Nero Staunch was a huge name in organized crime back in the day. I roll on my back and put my hands behind my head. _Interesting,_ I say. _How so?_ _Lake Davies not only changed her name, but she changed her entire identity and moved to West Virginia. I asked her if she did that because she was afraid Ry Strauss would find her._ _What did she say?_ _Her exact words were, _Not just Ry.__ _So she was afraid of someone else,_ Jessica says. _And who better than Nero Staunch?_ When we finish the documentary, Jessica asks to see my list of people to question. I show it to her. We add Vanessa Hogan. Why not? She was the last person to see Billy Rowan. _Is Nero Staunch still alive?_ she asks me. I nod. _He_s ninety-two._ _So out of the game._ _You_re never really out of that game. But yes._ I add his name to the list too. We are still in the bed. Jessica meets my gaze and holds it. _Are we going to do this, Win?_ I move to kiss her. But I stop. She smiles. _Can_t, huh?_ _It_s not that,_ I say. I don_t quite understand what I am feeling, and that annoys me. Jessica and Myron have been over for a long time. He_s happily married to another woman. She is mind-bendingly beautiful_Super Super Hot_and willing. Jessica then reads my next thought and says it out loud: _If sex is such a casual thing to you, why can_t you?_ I don_t reply. She rolls out of bed. _Maybe you should think about that,_ she says. _No need._ _Oh?_ _I still think of you as Myron_s girl._ She smiles at that. _Is that it?_ _Yes._ _Nothing more?_ _Like?_ _I don_t know. Like something more__Jessica looks up, fake searching for the word__latent._ _Oh please. Could you be more obvious?_ _One of us couldn_t be._ _Come back to the bed,_ I say. _Let me convince you otherwise._ But she is already heading to the elevator. _It really was good to see you, Win. I mean that._ And then she_s gone. CHAPTER 12 I get back to the Beresford at one a.m. Hormuz spots me coming to the door. He hurries to open it. I flash a fake FBI identification and stick it back in my coat pocket. I realize that impersonating an officer is breaking the law, but here is the thing about being rich: You don_t go to jail for crimes like this. The rich hire a bunch of attorneys who will twist reality in a thousand different ways until reality is made irrelevant. They_d claim Hormuz is a liar. They_d say I was obviously joking. They_d deny I ever flashed anything at all, or if we are on tape, they_d say I flashed a photograph of someone I was visiting. We would whisper quietly in the ears of friendly politicians, judges, prosecutors. We would make donations to their campaigns or their pet causes. It would go away. If by some miracle it didn_t go away_if by some one-in-a-thousand chance the authorities were called in on this and stood up to the pressure and took it to trial and found a jury to convict me of impersonating an officer_the punishment would never be prison time. Rich guys like me don_t go to prison. We_gasp!_pay fines. Since I have a ton of money already, a hundred times more than I could spend in a lifetime at the very least, why would that deter me? Am I being too honest? A similar calculation is made in my business all the time. It is why so many choose to bend the rules, break the rules, cheat. The odds of getting caught? Slim. The odds of being prosecuted? Slimmer. If you do somehow get caught, the odds of simply paying a fine that will be lower than the amount of money you stole? Great. The odds of doing any kind of real prison time? A mathematical formula constantly approaching zero. I detest that. I don_t stand for cheaters or thieves, especially those who aren_t doing it to feed a starving family. Yet here I am with my fake ID. Do I appear the hypocrite? _Yeah, Hermit was like a vampire,_ Hormuz tells me. _Only came out at night, I guess._ Hormuz has eyes so heavily lidded I don_t get how he sees anything. He has a bowling-ball paunch and one of those dark faces that appear to be five-o_clock-shadowed seconds after a shave. _You want something to drink?_ he asks me. _Coffee?_ Hormuz shows me his mug, which probably began life as something in the white family but is now stained the color of a smoker_s teeth. _No, I_m good. I understand the mystery tenant used the basement exit._ _Yep. Which was weird._ _Why weird?_ _Because he_d come out over there, to the left. Then he_d circle in front of the building anyway. He_d walk right past me._ _So he took more steps this way?_ _More steps, longer elevator ride, it just didn_t make sense. Except._ _Except?_ _Except the lobby has a ton of cameras. But from his elevator to the exit in the basement, there was only the one._ Made sense. _Did he ever talk to you?_ _The guy in the tower?_ _Yes._ _Not once. He_d go past me like clockwork every Wednesday night. Or, well, it was four a.m. so maybe that was Thursday morning? Still dark out though._ He shakes his head. _Doesn_t matter, whatever. He_d walk past me. For years this would happen. I would nod and say, _Good evening, sir._ I_m polite like that. He_s one of my tenants. I treat him with respect, no matter how he treats me. Most tenants, well, they_re great. They call me by my first name, tell me to do the same with them. But I don_t. I like to show respect, you know what I_m saying? I_ve been here eighteen years, and I would say I still haven_t met half of the people who live here. They_re in bed by midnight when I come on. But the tower guy? I_d nod to him every time. I would say, _Good evening, sir._ He just kept his head down. Never said anything. Never looked up. Never acknowledged I even existed._ I say nothing. _Look, I don_t want you to get the wrong idea. I know he_s dead and all, so I shouldn_t speak bad about the man. I think he had issues, you know. Glenda, my wife, she watches some show on hoarders and whatnot. It_s a real illness, Glenda tells me. So maybe that was it. It_s not like I_m happy he_s dead or anything._ _You said every Wednesday night._ _Huh?_ _You said he walked past you every Wednesday night._ _Or Thursday morning. It_s weird having a midnight gig. Like tonight. I arrived Wednesday night but what time is it now?_ I check my watch. _Almost one thirty._ _Right, so it_s not Wednesday night anymore. It_s Thursday morning._ _Let_s call it Thursday morning,_ I say, because this subject is irrelevant and boring me. _Yeah, okay._ _You said you saw him walk past you every Thursday morning at four a.m._ _Yep, that_s right._ _So it was a routine?_ _Yeah._ _How long had he been doing this?_ _Oh, years and years._ _Summer, fall, spring, winter?_ _Yeah, I think so. I mean, look, there were times he missed. I_m sure of it. There were months I wouldn_t see him at all. Like maybe he flew to Florida for the winter, I don_t know. And there were nights, well, the job is quiet. I sit. I may stick in my AirPods and stream something on Netflix, you know what I_m saying? But as soon as someone touches the door, bam, I_m up. We lock it after midnight. So maybe sometimes he walked by and I didn_t see._ _Did you ever see him leave at other times?_ _No, I don_t think so. Always four a.m. or right around then._ I think about that. _And what time did he come back?_ _He didn_t stay out long. I think he just took a walk. He was back within an hour. Maybe sometimes more. I don_t think it was consistent. Look, I figure he_s a weirdo, wants to be alone. So he takes night walks. I_ve heard of stranger things, right?_ _When he walked past you heading out,_ I continue, _what direction was he going?_ _East._ I glance down across the street in the direction where he_s pointing. _Into the park?_ _Yep._ _Every time?_ _Every time. I figured he was taking a walk. Like I said. Strange time, and I know the park is a lot safer now than it used to be, but you wouldn_t see me strolling around in there at four in the morning._ I think about this. Four a.m. I wonder whether that is a clue. I think it is. _When was the last time you saw him going out like that?_ I ask. _Recently. Last week maybe. Or the week before._ I realize that would have been the day before he was murdered. Ry Strauss goes out for his usual Thursday morning four a.m. walk. On Friday he goes out again, for the first time in forever during the daytime, and comes back with in all likelihood his killer. I have a plan. * * * I stand in the shadows across the street from Malachy_s. The time is four a.m. By law, New York City bars must stop serving alcohol at four a.m. Coincidence? I, for one, hope not. They say New York is the city that never sleeps. That may be true, but right about now, her eyes are blinking closed and her head is nodding in exhaustion. My lizard brain, that survival instinct, is wary of shutting itself down. It prefers preparedness. Even as I move about my day, the lizard brain seeks out potential (or erroneously perceived) enemies and threats. I stay hidden and watch Malachy_s door. I have changed into jogging attire and a sweatshirt with a hood. No, it_s not a hoodie. It_s a sweatshirt with a hood. I would never wear a hoodie. I am patient. I wear earphones. I_m listening to a playlist Kabir created for me featuring Meek Mill, Big Sean, and 21 Savage. Somewhere in the past year or two, after initially scoffing at what I could not comprehend, I have to come to love what we call rap or hip-hop. I know that this music, like Malachy_s Pub, was not created for me, but the underlying anger appeals. I also enjoy the humanism in the desperate posturing and bravado; they want to appear tough but their neediness and insecurity shine through so brightly I assume they must know that we are in on the joke. Right now, as Kathleen and a male bartender lock up for the night, Meek Mill is bemoaning the fact that he can_t trust women because he has issues. I hear you, my troubled friend. Kathleen waves goodbye to the bartender. He heads west toward Broadway, probably to the One train. Kathleen crosses Columbus Avenue and continues to walk with purpose east on Seventy-Second Street. She lives, I know from Kabir_s research, on Sixty-Eighth near West End Avenue. In short, she is not going home. I follow from across the street. Two minutes later, she walks past the Dakota and crosses into Central Park. At this hour, the park is pretty much abandoned. I see no one else. Trailing her will be more difficult. We all possess lizard brains, don_t we? And in a situation when you are a woman alone in a park and a man in a hooded sweatshirt, however tasteful that hooded sweatshirt may be, is following you, you take notice. When she heads north on the sidewalk running along what is simply called the Lake, I take a parallel path west of her that goes through the brush. This path is dark and in some ways not the safest at night, but one, I am always armed, and two, if you are any sort of experienced mugger, you wouldn_t set to pounce in an area so remote that you_d have to wait days, weeks, or months for a profitable target to happen by, would you? I lose sight of Kathleen for seconds at a time, but so far, this appears to be working. She is making her way north toward the entrance to the wildlife thicket known as the Ramble on the north shore of the Lake. The Ramble is a nearly forty-acre protected natural reserve with winding paths and old bridges and a tremendous variety of topography and fauna and the like. There is bird-watching, yes, but in a less enlightened day, the Ramble was best known for hosting homosexual encounters. It was a spot where gay men would _cruise,_ as we used to say. It was supposedly the safest place to avoid being assaulted by those who meant them harm, which is to say, of course, it hadn_t been very safe at all. Kathleen stops on the bridge that crosses over the Lake and into the heart of the Ramble. The moon glistens off the water, and I can see her silhouette. A minute passes. She doesn_t move. There is no reason to pretend anymore. I come down the path. Kathleen hears my approach and turns expectantly. _Sorry to disappoint you,_ I say when she sees me. Kathleen jolts back a little. _Wait, I know you._ I don_t reply. _What the hell, are you following me?_ _Yes._ _What do you want?_ _Ry Strauss won_t be coming tonight._ _Huh? Who?_ But I can see the fear in her eyes. _I don_t know what you_re talking about._ I move closer, so she can see my disappointed frown. _You can do better than that._ _What do you want?_ _I need your help._ _With what?_ _Ry was murdered._ I just say it like that, too matter-of-factly. Breaking bad news is not my forte. _He was_?_ _Murdered, yes._ Tears push into her eyes. Kathleen makes a fist and places the back of it against her mouth to stifle a cry. I wait, give her a moment or two. She puts the fist down and blinks into the moonlight. _Did you kill him?_ she asks me. _No._ _Are you going to kill me?_ _If that were my plan, you_d be dead by now._ That doesn_t seem to comfort her much. _What do you want with me?_ _I need your help,_ I repeat. _With what?_ _With trying to catch his killer._ CHAPTER 13 Kathleen doesn_t say a word as we head back down Central Park toward Seventy-Second Street and my abode. The gate over the arch entrance of the Dakota is locked for the night. I ring the bell. Tom comes out and unlocks it for me. He_s used to seeing me bring women back here at all hours, though not as many in recent years, but I think Kathleen_s advanced age surprises him. We head through a courtyard with two fountains and take the elevator up to my apartment overlooking the park. Some people are intimidated by this place. She is not one of them. She used the walk over here to regain her bearings. She moves straight toward the window and looks out. Kathleen moves with confidence, head high, eyes dry. Her clothes are wrinkled from a long night, the blouse is still working-barmaid-one-button-too-low at the neckline. I bought this apartment fully furnished from a famed composer who lived here for thirty years. You may already be conjuring up the layout in your mind_s eyes_dark cherrywood, high ceilings, inlaid woodwork, antique armoires, crystal chandeliers, oversized fireplace with brass tools, ornate silk oriental carpets, red-maroon velvet chairs. If so, you are correct. Myron describes my abode as _Versailles redux,_ which is both spot-on in terms of impression and technically incorrect in every way, since I own nothing from that particular geography or era. I pour Kathleen a cognac and hand it to her. _How did you know?_ she asks. I assume that she is talking about her weekly meetings in the park with Ry Strauss. I hadn_t known for certain, of course. I just followed my intuition. _For one, you have a police record for twelve arrests, all for civil disobedience at various progressive rallies._ _That_s it?_ _That_s _for one.__ _And for two?_ _You told me that you started working at Malachy_s in 1978. Frankie Boy told me you were a part-timer as early as 1973._ _Frankie Boy has a big mouth._ She takes a deep sip. _Is Ry really dead?_ _Yes._ _I loved him, you know. I loved him for a very long time._ I had figured this. Kathleen hadn_t _rescued_ Lake Davies_or if she had, only inadvertently. Her real goal in facilitating Lake_s surrender was simpler: Remove the competition for Ry Strauss_s affection. _Who killed him?_ she asks. _I was hoping that perhaps you could help me with that._ _I don_t see how,_ she says. _Do the police have any suspects?_ _Not a one._ Kathleen takes a deep sip and turns back to the window. _Poor tormented soul. All of them really. The Jane Street Six. They never meant to hurt anyone that night._ _So I keep hearing._ _Idealistic kids. We all were. We wanted to change the world for the better._ I want to get off this overly worn excuse-justification track and back on one more fertile to my investigation. _Did you know where Ry was living this whole time?_ _Yeah, of course. At the Beresford._ She turns to me. _Have you seen old pictures of him? I mean, when Ry was young? God, he was so beautiful. Such charisma. Sexy as all get-out._ I could see her smile in the window_s reflection. _I knew he was damaged_I could see that right away_but I_ve always been a sucker for the dangerous type._ _Who else knew Ry lived at the Beresford?_ _No one._ _You_re sure?_ _Positive._ _Did you ever visit him?_ _At the Beresford? Never. He_d never allow a guest. I know that sounds odd. Well, Ry was odd. Became odder by the day. A hermit really. He_d never let anyone else in. He was too scared._ _Scared of what?_ _Who knew? He had an illness._ Then, thinking on it for a moment, she adds, _Or so I thought. But maybe, I don_t know now, maybe he was right to be scared._ _How did Ry end up there?_ _In that tower, you mean?_ I nod. _After Lake surrendered, Ry and I, we got together. He moved in with me. I had a place on Amsterdam near Seventy-Ninth. A walk-up above a Chinese restaurant. Then it became a mattress store. Then a shoe store. Then a nail salon. Now it_s Asian fusion, which sounds like a fancy name for a Chinese restaurant to me. Everything that goes around comes around, am I right?_ _As rain._ _What does that mean anyway? Why would someone describe rain as being right?_ I sigh. _Anyway._ _Anyway, I shared a floor with one of those massage parlors. Not what you_re thinking. They were legit. Cheap, no frills, but legit. At least I think they were legit. But who knows? All that happy-ending stuff. Who cares, I_m just babbling, sorry._ I try to sound kind as I say, _It_s okay,_ so as to encourage her to keep talking. _We were happy, Ry and me. I mean, sort of. Like I said, I knew what I was getting in for. It wasn_t going to be forever, but I_m not big on forever. My relationships with men are like a wild buckaroo ride at a rodeo_it_s exciting and crazy and I know it_s going to be me who gets thrown off in the end and breaks a rib when I smack the ground._ I like her. Kathleen turns now and gives me a well-crafted, oft-used side smile that lands. _That ride lasted longer than I would have thought._ _How long?_ _As a couple? On and off for years. As a friend? Well, right up until today._ _I_m sorry._ _I bet the Staunch family found him._ _Nero Staunch?_ _The family always wanted revenge, you know. One of the people who died that night was a niece or something. Ry always figured they got to the others._ _The Staunches?_ _Yeah._ _Ry thought that the Staunches killed the other Jane Street Six members?_ _Something like that, yeah. The Staunch girl who got killed? I think her brother runs the family business now._ She shrugs. _Ry got nuttier and more paranoid as time passed. He was erratic at best. Sometimes, for no reason, he_d start thinking the cops or Staunch was closing in on him. Maybe because he heard a funny noise or someone gave him a weird look. Maybe because Mercury was in retrograde. Who knew? So Ry would run off for a while. Sometimes he_d be gone for months. Then he_d just show up one day and want to live with me again. He_d do that_come back and stay with me_until he got the place in the Beresford._ _When was that?_ _What year? Oh, let me think. Mid-nineties maybe._ Hmm. That would be around when the paintings were stolen. _You set up a weekly meet?_ I ask. _Yeah. Whatever was wrong with Ry, it was getting worse. You take all his issues, which are really an illness, you know, like cancer or heart diseases. Incurable maybe, I don_t know. But you take all that and you take his paranoia and then you add in the fact that he really did have people after him_the FBI, the Staunches, whatever. Then pile on the guilt from that horrible night and, kaboom, like with the Molotov cocktails. So by the time Ry moved into that tower, he couldn_t handle life anymore. He shut out the world._ _Except you._ _Except me._ The R-rated smile again. _But I_m pretty special._ _I_m sure you are._ Are we flirting? I move on: _When you two met for your weekly rendezvous in the park, what did you do?_ _Talked mostly._ _About?_ _Anything. He didn_t make much sense in recent years._ _But you still met?_ _Sure._ _And you talked?_ _I also gave him the occasional hand job._ _Nice of you._ _He wanted more._ _Who doesn_t?_ _Right? And I_d try. For old times_ sake. Like I said, he used to be so damn beautiful, like you, but, I don_t know, by 2000, maybe 2001, he lost his physical appeal. To me at least._ Kathleen arched an eyebrow. _Still, a hand job isn_t nothing._ _Truer words,_ I agree. Kathleen stares me down a bit. I like that. I am, I confess, tempted. She may be on the older side, but she_s got that innate sexual allure you can_t teach_and I did lose out earlier tonight. Kathleen saunters now toward the crystal decanter and gestures whether it would be okay to pour herself another. I do the honors. _To Ry,_ she says. _To Ry._ We clink glasses. _He was also afraid people would steal his stuff._ _What stuff?_ _I don_t know. Whatever junk he had in his apartment._ _Did he ever tell you about his junk?_ _Huh?_ _As in, what he had in his apartment._ _No._ _Did you read about the recovered stolen Vermeer?_ Her eyes are emeralds with yellow specks. She looks at me over the amber liquor in her glass. _Are you saying_?_ _In his bedroom._ _Holy shit._ She shakes her head. _That explains a lot._ _Like?_ _Like how he got the money for the apartment. There were other paintings stolen, right?_ _Yes._ _From someplace in Philadelphia?_ _Right nearby._ _Ry visited Philly a lot. When he_d run away. Had friends there, I guess, a girlfriend maybe. So yeah, Ry could have done it, sure. Maybe he fenced a painting or two, and that_s how he got all that money._ It made sense. _Did you notice any changes in him recently?_ I ask. _Not really, no._ Then thinking more about it, she says, _But, well, come to think of it, yeah, but I don_t think it has anything to do with this._ _Try me._ _His bank got robbed. Or at least that_s what Ry told me. He was freaking out about it. I told him not to worry. Banks have to make you whole if they got robbed, I said. That_s true, right?_ _Pretty much._ _But he wouldn_t calm down._ I consider this. _Was he imagining it or_?_ _No, no, it was in the Post. Bank of Manhattan on Seventy-Fourth. He even told me_last time I saw him, come to think of it_that the bank had left a message._ _On his phone?_ _Don_t know, come to think of it._ _Did he own a phone?_ _Just a burner I bought for him at Duane Reade. It lets you keep the same number for years. I don_t know the details._ No phone, I knew, had been found at the murder scene. Interesting. _He never kept it on,_ she continues. _He was afraid someone could track him. He_d, like, check for messages once or twice a week._ _And the bank left him a message?_ _I guess. Or at the front desk. Whatever. They wanted him to come down to the branch or something._ _Did he?_ _I don_t know._ I consider this. _Ry Strauss left the Beresford during the day on Friday. Less than an hour later, he came back with someone._ _Back to his apartment? With a guest?_ _A small bald man. They came through the basement._ _It had to be with the killer._ She shakes her head. _Poor Ry. I_m going to miss him._ Kathleen throws back the rest of the drink and moves closer to me. Very close. I don_t back up. Her hand rests on my chest. Her blouse is too tight. She looks up at me with the emerald eyes. Then her hand slides slowly down my body, and she cups my balls. _I don_t think I want to be alone tonight,_ she whispers, giving me just a perfect little squeeze. And so she stays. CHAPTER 14 I sleep, though _sleep_ may be the wrong word choice on this particular night, in an antique, baroque, four-poster canopy bed made of carved mahogany with an embroidered lace topper. The bed is a bit much, I confess, dominating the room in every way, the four posts nearly scraping the ceiling, but it still sets the mood. At sunrise, Kathleen kisses my cheek and whispers, _Find the bastard who killed him._ I have no desire to avenge Ry Strauss, especially since it appears likely that he did one or more of the following (in time sequence): Stole my family_s art, murdered my uncle, abducted and assaulted my cousin. Which begs the question: What exactly am I after here? I rise and shower. The copter awaits. When it touches down in Lockwood, my father is waiting for me. He is decked out in a blue blazer, khaki trousers, tasseled loafers, and a red ascot. He wears this outfit nearly every day with very few variations. His thinning hair is slicked back against the skull. He stands with his hands behind his back, shoulders pulled up. I see me in thirty years_ time, and I don_t really like that. We greet with a firm handshake and awkward embrace. My father has piercing blue eyes that seem somehow all-knowing, even now, even when the mind has grown cloudy and erratic. _It_s good to see you, son._ _And you,_ I say. We share a name_Windsor Horne Lockwood. He_s the second, I_m the third. He is called Windsor. I, like my beloved grandfather, am Win. I have no son, just a biological daughter, so unless I, to quote my father, _up my game,_ the Windsor Horne Lockwood name will end at three. I don_t really see this as any great tragedy. We start back toward the main estate. _I understand the Vermeer has been found,_ my father says. _Yes._ _Will any of this reflect poorly on the family?_ This may seem like an odd opening question, but I_m not surprised by it. _I can_t see how._ _Marvelous. Have you seen the Vermeer for yourself?_ _I have._ _And it_s undamaged?_ Off my nod, he continues: _This is grand news. Simply grand. No sign of the Picasso?_ _No._ _That_s too bad._ The barn is up ahead on the left. My father doesn_t so much as glance at it. You may be wondering why I keep making a big deal of the barn, so I will tell you plainly: I shouldn_t. I was wrong. I blamed my mother, and that was a mistake on my own part. I see that now. To be fair, I was only eight years old. How to explain this and not seem crass_? When I was eight years old, not long after Granddad_s funeral, my father and I strolled unsuspectingly into that barn. It was a setup. I know that now. I didn_t then. But I didn_t know a lot of things then. Cutting to the chase: We walked in on my mother naked on all fours, with another man mounting her from behind. Just like the horses. I can see you nodding knowingly. This incident illuminates so much, you think with a tsk. It explains why I can_t get close to a woman, why I only see them in terms of sex, why I am afraid of being hurt. Oddly enough, what I see mostly when I remember that day is not my mother on her hands and knees, her lover_s hand pulling her hair, her eyes rolling back. No, what I remember most clearly is my father_s ashen face, his mouth slightly agape almost as it is now from the stroke, his eyes shattered, staring out at nothing. As I said, I was eight years old. I never forgave my mother. That angers me. I know that my behavior was understandable, but many years later, when I watched my mother die in her sickbed, I realized what a stupid waste it had all been. The clich? applies here_life is indeed short. I think about what she lost and what I lost, how simple forgiveness could have enhanced her short life and mine. Why couldn_t I see that then? I have lived a life of few regrets. This_how I treated my own mother_is my greatest. I never considered the fact that perhaps my mother had her reasons or perhaps she didn_t know better or perhaps she made, as we all do, a terrible, tragic mistake. My mother was so young, only nineteen when she got pregnant and married my father. Perhaps she had wants that she couldn_t express. Perhaps, like her oldest son, monogamy was not for her. Perhaps my father, who ended up getting married twice more, and the trappings of Lockwood Manor were stifling, suffocating, making it impossible for her to breathe. Perhaps my mother didn_t want to break up a family or hurt her children and perhaps she genuinely loved this other man and in the end, who knows the truth, not me, because I never asked, never gave her the chance to explain, refused to listen until it was too late. I was only a child, but I was stubborn. Originally, I razed that barn to rid myself of the awful memory of what my father and I had witnessed, but now I see the new edifice as more a monument to my own foolishness and stubbornness, a monument to my wasteful, judgmental blunder. My father steadies himself by taking my arm. _When will we get the Vermeer back?_ he asks. _Soon._ _Good, and no more loaning out artwork,_ he grouses. _It_s not like we are big collectors. Our two masterpieces should never leave Lockwood again._ I disagree with this, but I see no reason to voice that now. I love my father dearly, though objectively there is little to admire about him. He is a standard-issue, trust fund ne_er-do-well. He inherited great wealth, giving him an array of choices, and his choice has been to spend his life doing exactly what he pleases_golf and tennis, luxury clubs and travel, reading and educational experiences. He drinks too much, though I_m not sure I would call him an alcoholic. He has no interest in work, but then again, why should he? He dabbles in charities the way the wealthy often do, giving enough to appear magnanimous but not enough to cause the smallest of sacrifices. He cares very much about appearances and reputation. There is an odd psychology amongst those who inherit great wealth, because deep down inside, they realize that they did nothing to earn it, that it really was just a matter of luck, and yet how can it be that they are not special? My father suffers from this malady. _I have all this,_ the thinking goes, _ergo I must be somehow superior._ This leads to a constant internal battle to maintain the false narrative of somehow _deserving_ all these riches, of being _worthy._ You push away the obvious truth_that fate and happenstance have more to do with your lot in life than your _brilliance_ or _work ethic__so as not to shatter your self-created myth. But my father and those like him know the truth. Deep down. We all do. It haunts us. It makes us compensate. It poisons. _On the news,_ my father begins, _they said the Vermeer was found in a New York City apartment._ _Yes._ _And that the thief was found dead?_ _There is probably more than one thief,_ I remind him. _But yes, he was murdered._ _Do you know the man_s name?_ _Ry Strauss._ We don_t stop short, but my father slows for a moment. His lips thin. _Do you know him?_ I ask. _The name is familiar._ I briefly explain about the Jane Street Six. He asks a few follow-up questions. We reach the entrance to Lockwood Manor. A woman is dusting in the parlor. When we come in, she vanishes without a word as she_s been trained to do. The indoor staff dress in a brown that matches the wood, the outdoor in a green that matches the lawn, both a camouflage of sorts created by my great-grandmother. The Lockwoods treat help well, but they are always just the help. When I was twelve years old, my father noticed one of our landscapers taking a break to look at the setting sun. My father pointed to the skyline and said to me, _Do you see how beautiful Lockwood is?_ _Yes, of course,_ young me replied. _So do they._ He gestured toward the landscaper. _That laborer gets to enjoy the same view we do. It isn_t different for him, is it? He sees the exact same thing you and I do_that same sunset, that same tree line. Yet does he appreciate that?_ I don_t think I realized at the time how utterly clueless my father was. We are all masters of self-rationalization. We all seek ways to justify our narrative. We all twist that narrative to make ourselves more sympathetic. You do it too. If you are reading this, you were born in the top one percent of history_s population, no question about it. You_ve experienced luxuries that painfully few people in the history of mankind could have even imagined. Yet instead of appreciating that, instead of doing more to help those beneath us, we attack those who got even luckier for not doing enough. It is human nature, of course. We don_t see our own faults. As Ellen Bolitar, Myron_s mother, likes to say, _The humpback never sees the hump in his own back._ Nigel peeks in on us. _Do we need anything?_ _Just some privacy,_ my father snaps. He says _privacy_ with the short i, as though he_s suddenly British. Nigel rolls his eyes and gives my father a mock salute. To me, he glares a quick warning before closing the doors. We sit across from one another in the red velvet chairs near the stone fireplace. My father offers me a cognac. I pass. He starts to pour his own, but his arm is slow and uncooperative. When I offer to help, he shakes me off. He can manage. It_s still early in the morning. You must think he has a drinking problem, but that_s not it; he just has nowhere else he needs to be. _Your cousin Patricia was here with you,_ he says. _Yes._ _Why?_ _She is a member of the family,_ I say. My father lances me with the blue eyes. _Please, Win, let_s not insult my intelligence. Your cousin hasn_t been to Lockwood in over twenty years, correct?_ _Correct._ _And it isn_t a coincidence that the day the Vermeer is found she came back, is it?_ _It is not._ _So I want to know why she was here._ This is my father, the somewhat bullying interrogator. I haven_t experienced much of this side of him since his stroke. I_m glad to see his ire, even though it is aimed squarely at me. _There may be a connection,_ I say, _between the art heist and what happened to her family._ Dad_s eyes start blinking in astonishment. _What happened to her_?_ His voice trails off. _You mean her abduction?_ _And Uncle Aldrich_s murder,_ I add. He winces at his brother_s name. We stay silent. He lifts the glass and stares at the amber liquid for far too long. _I don_t see how,_ he says. I stay still. _The paintings were stolen before the murder, correct?_ I nod. _A long time before, if I recall. Months? Years?_ _Months._ _Yet you see a connection. Tell me why._ I do not want to go into details, so I switch topics. _What caused the rift between you and Uncle Aldrich?_ His eyes flare at me from over the crystal. _What does that have to do with anything?_ _You never told me._ _Our__ He takes a moment to think of the word. _Our dissolution took place years before his murder._ _I know._ I stare into his face. Most people claim that they cannot see family resemblances when it comes to themselves. I can. Almost too much. _Do you ever think about that?_ _What do you mean?_ _If you and Aldrich hadn_t__I make quote marks with my fingers___dissolved,_ do you think he would still be alive today?_ My father looks stunned, hurt. _My God, Win, what a thing to say._ I realize that I_d wanted to draw blood_and apparently, I succeeded. _Do you ever think about that possibility?_ _Never,_ he says too forcefully. _What has gotten into you?_ _He was my uncle._ _And my brother._ _And you threw him out of the family. I want to know why._ _It was so long ago._ He raises the glass to his lips, but now it is shaking. My father has gotten old, an obvious observation alas, but we are often told how aging is a gradual process. Perhaps that_s true, but in my father_s case, it was more like a plummet off a cliff. For a long time, my father clung to that beautiful edge_healthy, strong, vibrant_but once he slipped, his descent was steep and sudden. _It was so long ago,_ my father says again. The pain in his voice is a living thing. The thousand-yard stare, not all that different from the one I_d seen in that barn so many years ago, is back. I see where he is looking_another blank spot on the wall. Once upon a time, a stunning black-and-white photograph of Lockwood Manor hung in that spot. The photograph had been taken by my uncle Aldrich sometime in the late 1970s. It, like my uncle, was long gone now. I had never really thought about that until now, that even Uncle Aldrich_s artistic contributions to this estate had been scrubbed away when he was hurled out of the family circle. _You told me that it was some sort of money issue,_ I say. _You implied Uncle Aldrich embezzled._ He doesn_t respond. _Was that true?_ He snaps out of it with a fury. _What difference does it make? That_s the trouble with your generation. You always want to unearth unpleasantness. You think dragging the ugly out in the sunlight will destroy it. It doesn_t. Just the opposite. You give the ugly thing life nourishment. I never spoke of it. Your uncle never spoke of it. That_s what being a Lockwood means. We both knew that many people thrive on our familial misery. They want to exploit any weakness. Do you understand that?_ I say nothing. _Your responsibility, as a member of this family, is to protect our good name._ _Dad?_ _Do you hear me, Win? The Lockwoods don_t air our dirty laundry._ _What happened?_ _Why are you suddenly in touch with Patricia?_ _Nothing sudden about it, Dad. We_ve always stayed in touch._ He rises. His face is red. His entire body is quaking. _I_m not discussing this any longer__ He is too agitated. I need to calm him. _It_s okay, Dad._ __but I_m reminding you right now that you_re a Lockwood. That_s an obligation. You inherit the name, you inherit all that comes with it. Whatever happened with this art heist_whatever happened to my brother and Patricia_it has nothing to do with a very old rift between Aldrich and me. Do you understand?_ _I do,_ I say in my most tranquil tone, rising from my seat. I hold up my hands in a composed, I_m-unarmed gesture. _I didn_t mean to upset you._ The door opens, and Nigel is there. _All okay in here?_ He sees my father_s face. _Windsor?_ _I_m fine, dammit._ But Dad doesn_t look fine. His face is still flushed as though from overexertion. Nigel gives me a baleful look. _It_s time for your medication,_ Nigel says. Dad grabs me by the elbow. _Remember to protect the family._ Then he shuffles out of the room. Nigel stares at me. _Thanks for not upsetting him._ _How long were you listening in?_ I ask. Then I hold up my hand. It doesn_t matter. _Do you know what the rift was about?_ Nigel takes his time. _Why don_t you ask your cousin?_ _Patricia?_ He says nothing. _Patricia knows?_ Dad stands at the foot of the stairs now. _Nigel?_ he shouts. _I need to look after your father,_ Nigel Duncan tells me. _Have a pleasant day._

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