Fade Away Page 51

“Who played the original Thomas Jefferson?” Win asked. He knew the answer. Life with Myron’s friends was a nonstop quiz show.

“Movie version or stage?”

Win frowned. “I don’t do movie versions.”

“Ken Howard,” Myron answered.

“Correct. What is Mr. Howard’s most famous role?”

“The coach on the White Shadow.”

“Correct again. The original John Adams?”

“William Daniels.”

“Best known as?”

“The obnoxious surgeon on St. Elsewhere.”

“The actress who portrayed Martha Jefferson?”

“Betty Buckley. Best known as Abby on Eight Is Enough.”

Win smiled. “You are good.”

Myron stared out the window, the buildings and cars blurring into one pulsating mass, and thought about Jessica. Moving in with her. There was no reason not to. He loved her. She loved him. More than that, she had made the first move—the first time he could remember such a thing. In most relationships, one partner has more control than the other. It was just the natural order of things. Perfect balance was a hard thing to find. In their case, Jessica currently had the upper hand. Myron knew that—if he hadn’t, Esperanza’s constant references to his being “whipped” would surely have made him aware. It didn’t mean he loved her more or Jessica loved him less. Or maybe it did. Myron wasn’t sure anymore. What he did know for sure was that moments where Jessica made the move—where she was the one exposing herself—were rare. Myron wanted to embrace it, encourage it. He had waited a long time for her to say such words to him. But something held him back. Like with TC, there were a lot of factors pushing and pulling at him.

His mind churned through the pros and cons, but no conclusions spewed forward. What he really wanted was to bounce his thoughts off someone. He deliberated best that way—by thinking out loud with a close friend. The problem was, who? Esperanza, his most dependable confidante, hated Jessica. Win … well, when it came to matters of the heart, Win was simply not your man; something in that nether region had shorted out a long time ago.

Still Myron heard himself say, “Jessica asked me to move in.”

For a moment Win said nothing. Then: “Do you get a full share of the playoff money?”


“You joined the team late. Have you worked out what share of the playoff money you’ll be getting?”

“Don’t worry. It’s taken care of.”

Win nodded. His eyes remained on the road. The speedometer hovered around eighty, a swiftness Route 3 was not built to bear. Win swerved lanes constantly. Myron had gotten somewhat used to Win’s driving over the years, but he still kept his eyes averted from the front windshield.

“Are you staying for the game?” Myron asked.

“That depends.”


“On if this Thumper will be there,” Win replied. “You said she was seeking employment. Perhaps I can interrogate her at the same time.”

“What will you say?”

“That,” Win said, “is a dilemma we both face. If you ask her about Downing’s call, you blow your cover. If I ask her, she’ll want to know the whys and wherefores. Either way, unless this Thumper is brain dead, she will be suspicious. Moreover, if she knows anything significant, she will most probably lie.”

“So what do you suggest?”

Win tilted his head as though in deep thought. “Perhaps I’ll bed her,” he concluded. “Then I can make her talk while lost in the throes of passion.”

“She only sleeps with men on the Giants or the Dragons,” Myron said. Then he frowned and added, “ ‘Bed her’?”

Win shrugged. “Just suggesting an alternative to whipping her with a rubber hose,” he said. “Unless, of course, she’s into that kind of thing.”

“Any other suggestions?”

“I’m working on it.” They took the exit to the Meadowlands in silence. On the CD player, Abigail Adams was telling John Adams that women in Massachusetts needed pins. Win hummed along with the music for a moment. Then he spoke. “As far as Jessica goes”—he took one hand off the wheel and sort of waved it—“I’m not one to ask about such things.”

“I know.”

“You were miserable the first time she left,” he added. “I don’t know why you would risk going through that again.”

Myron looked at him. “You really don’t, do you?”

Win said nothing.

“That’s sad, Win.”

“Yes,” he replied. “So very tragic.”

“I’m serious,” Myron said.

Win put a dramatic forearm to his brow. “Oh, what woe that I may never experience the depths of misery you plunged to when Jessica left. Pity this child.”

“You know there’s more to it than that.”

Win put down the arm, shook his head. “No, my friend, there is not. What was real was your pain. The rest of what you felt is the stuff of cruel delusion.”

“You really feel that way?”


“About all relationships?”

Win shook his head. “I never said that.”

“How about our friendship? Is that a cruel delusion too?”

“This isn’t about us,” Win said.

“I’m just trying to understand—”

“There is nothing to understand,” Win interrupted. “Do what you believe is best. As I said, I am not the one with which to have this discussion.”

Silence. The arena loomed in front of them. For years, it had been called the Brendan Byrne Arena, named for the unpopular governor who had been in office when the complex had been built. Recently, however, the sports authority needed to raise funds, so the name had been changed to the Continental Airlines Arena—not exactly musical, but then again the old name didn’t exactly make you want to break out in song either. Brendan Byrne and his past lackeys cried foul over this affront. What a disgrace, they shouted with grave indignation. This was Governor Byrne’s legacy. How could they sell him out like this? But Myron didn’t have a problem with the name change. Which would you rather do—tax the people to collect twenty-seven million dollars or bruise a politician’s ego? No contest when you thought about it.

Myron glanced over at Win. Win’s eyes were on the road, his fingers tightly wrapped around the wheel. Myron’s mind flashed back to the morning after Jessica left five years ago. He’d been moping around his house alone when Win knocked on the door. Myron opened it.

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