Reed Farrel Coleman

The James Deans

Chapter One

The reception was at the Lonesome Piper Country Club. The piper was so lonely because no one could afford the membership dues. Situated on a twenty-four-karat parcel of Long Island’s Gold Coast, the clubhouse, the former manse of a railroad robber baron, sat on a tree-lined bluff overlooking the Sound and Connecticut beyond. One peek at the place and you immediately understood why Old New York money had claimed this piece of the island as its enclave.

I had to admit that even if the marriage didn’t last the honeymoon, Craig and Constance would have a hell of a wedding album. As the photographer clicked away-“That’s right. That’s right. Groom, turn a little more to your left. Good. Smile. Perfect. Perfect. Hold it. Just one more …”-I couldn’t help but be curious how Aaron and I had wound up on the guest list. Considering the social status of our fellow invitees, my brother and I had a lot more in common with the help.

Constance had worked for us for about six months while she was finishing up at Juilliard. That was over a year ago, and it wasn’t like she was employee of the century or anything. True, we liked her well enough, as did our customers, but we never fooled ourselves that she’d stay on. Constance was a wealthy, handsome, and talented young woman who was more playing at work than working. It was as if she were fulfilling some sort of missionary obligation to teach the children of the Third World how to read.

Frankly, I didn’t care why we were invited. All I knew was that Katy, my wife, was in better spirits today. Smiling, even dancing with me a little, she seemed almost her old self. She had taken time with her makeup, fussed with her hair, worn a dress that accentuated her curves. She had kissed me hard on the mouth for the first time in months, making a show of wiping her lipstick off my lips with her fingers. It was as if she had awoken from a coma.

“Excuse me, sir,” a red-jacketed waiter said, just touching my shoulder. “Mr. Geary, the bride’s father, would like a word. He’s waiting for you in the East Egg Room.”

It wasn’t up for discussion, and I was curious anyway.

The East Egg Room was a private space on the other side of the clubhouse, away from the dining area and close to the men’s locker room. It was all walnut paneling, green glass ashtrays, and nailhead chairs, and smelled like the ghosts of my father’s cigars. This was the place where members played poker, drank scotch or cognac, made private deals. Mr. Geary smiled at my entrance, but with proper restraint. Six feet tall and square shouldered, he was a man of sixty with the weathered good looks of a cowboy. A cowboy with a North Shore dentist and a personal trainer. He looked perfectly at ease in his surroundings and gray morning coat.

“Mr. Prager,” Geary said, offering me his firm hand. “A pleasure to meet you. Connie tells me you and your brother treated her very well during the time of her employment. I trust you and Mrs. Prager are enjoying yourselves.”

“Very much so. Thank you.”

He cleared his throat. The prepared text or pretext out of the way, he was ready to move on to the real business of the day.

“Do you know Steven Brightman?” my host asked, picking up his Manhattan off a green-felt-covered card table.

“Should I?”

“Come, take a stroll with me, Mr. Prager.”

We stepped through the pro shop, toward the practice putting green and along the driving range. Several of the members nodded to Geary; a few took a moment to congratulate him. They regarded me with suspicion, some scowling as if I were one rung up the evolutionary ladder from silverfish.

“Do you follow politics, Moe? May I call you Moe?”

“No and yes. I’m an ex-cop, Mr. Geary. Cops don’t have much use for politicians, though politicians got lots of uses for cops. None of ‘em any good as far as I can tell. And yeah, you can call me Moe.”

“Though I sometimes find them as distasteful as you do, a man in my position inevitably makes the acquaintance of several politicians.”

“No doubt.”

He pointed out to the first-hole tee box. “Do you play?”

“Some. Brooklyn isn’t exactly a hotbed of great golfers.”

“You know why they call it golf?”

“Because all the other four-letter words are taken.”


I suppose he thought telling me the oldest golf joke on earth was meant to show he was just a regular Joe, that we weren’t really that different, he and I, in spite of minor details like wealth, religion, breeding, schooling, and career. Did he have a career? I wondered what he had time for besides being rich.

“You should play more, you know,” he continued. “It’s a real thinking man’s game. Chess with sticks is how I view it. The uninitiated believe ball striking is the talent, but it’s the ability to manage the course, to think your way around it, that makes a good golfer.”

There was a message for me in there somewhere.

“No offense, Mr. Geary, but what’s this-”

“A young woman named Moira Heaton, the daughter of an ex-policeman like yourself, was working as an intern for a state senator. She left his office on Thanksgiving Eve 1981 and never made it home. She’s been missing ever since. Not a dissimilar story to that of your brother-in-law, Patrick.”

“Do you research all your wedding guests this thoroughly?”

He laughed, but not loudly enough to disturb anyone’s backswing. “No, Moe, not all my guests.”

“This is where I guess that the missing girl worked for Brightman and that you think I can help find her, right?”

“Actually, Moe, I was hoping you would have heard of this and saved me the trouble of the background details. Short of that, yes, I think you might be able to help.”

“Sorry, Mr. Geary, I really appreciate having been invited here and I have had a good time, but I-”

He shushed me politely. “Moe, a wise man listens before making up his mind, and all I’m asking is that you consider taking this on. If, when all is said and done, you choose not to get involved, then we’ll shake hands and part amicably.”

This guy was good. Never had the promise of a friendly handshake sounded so much like a threat.

“Let me think about it, okay?” I parried. “At the moment I’d like to head back to the reception and dance with my wife a little.”

“Absolutely. Pardon my taking you away from her. Convey my apologies, won’t you?”

“I will. Again, congratulations.”

When I got back to the reception, things had changed, and not for the better. Aaron was pacing a rut in the cart path outside the pro shop.

“Where the fuck have you been?”

“Getting a lecture on philosophy and the art of golf. Why?”

His lips turned down, anger changing to sadness. “It’s Katy.”

“What’s Katy? What happened?”

“After you left, I was dancing with Cindy.”

This was remarkable in itself. Aaron and my sister-in-law danced about as often as Siamese cats went scuba diving.

“Yeah, you were dancing and …”

“One of Constance’s cousins walked by our table carrying her newborn, and Katy asked if she could hold the

Вы читаете The James Deans
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату