Fade Away Page 6

Myron found the Downing house without any problem. Old Victorian. Very big but not unwieldy, three levels with perfectly faded cedar shingles. On the left side there was one of those rounded towers with a pointy top. Lots of outdoor porch space with all the Rockwellian touches: the kind of double swing where Atticus and Scout would share a lemonade on a hot Alabama night; a child’s bicycle tipped on its side; a Flexible Flyer snow sled, although it hadn’t snowed in six weeks. The required basketball hoop hung slightly rusted over the driveway. Fire Department “Tot Finder” stickers glistened red and silver from two upstairs windows. Old oak trees lined the walk like weathered sentries.

Win hadn’t arrived yet. Myron parked and rolled down a window. The perfect mid-March day. The sky was robin-egg blue. The birds chirped in cliché. He tried to picture Emily here, but the picture would not hold. It was far easier to see her in a New York high rise or one of those nouveau-riche mansions all done in white with Erté sculptures and silver pearls and too many gaudy mirrors. Then again he hadn’t spoken to Emily in ten years. She may have changed. Or he may have misjudged her all those years ago. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Funny being back in Ridgewood. Jessica had grown up here. She didn’t like coming back anymore, but now the two loves of his life—Jessica and Emily—had something else in common: the village of Ridgewood. That could be added to the list of commonalities between the two women—stuff like meeting Myron, being courted by Myron, falling in love with Myron, crushing Myron’s heart like a tomato under a stiletto heel. The usual fare.

Emily had been his first. Freshman year of college was late to lose one’s virginity, if one were to listen to the boasts of friends. But if there had indeed been a sexual revolution among American teenagers in the late seventies/early eighties, Myron had either missed it or been on the wrong side. Women had always liked him—it wasn’t that. But while his friends discoursed in great detail on their various orgylike experiences, Myron seemed to attract the wrong girls, the nice girls, the ones who still said no—or would have had Myron had the courage (or foresight) to try.

That changed in college when he met Emily.

Passion. It’s a word bandied about quite a bit, but Myron thought it might apply here. At a minimum, unconfined lust. Emily was the type of woman a man labels “hot,” as opposed to “beautiful.” See a truly “beautiful” woman and you want to paint or write a poem. See Emily and you want to engage in mutual fabric-ripping. She was raw sexuality, maybe ten pounds bigger than she should have been but those pounds were exquisitely distributed. The two of them made a potent mix. They were both under twenty, both away from home for the first time, both creative.

In a word: kaboom.

The car phone rang. Myron picked it up.

“I assume,” Win said, “that you plan on having us break into the Downing residence.”


“Then parking your car in front of said residence would not be a sound decision, would it?”

Myron glanced about. “Where are you?”

“Drive down to the end of the block. Make a left, then your second right. I’m parked behind the office building.”

Myron hung up and restarted the car. He followed the directions and pulled into the lot. Win leaned against his Jaguar with his arms crossed. He looked, as he always did, as if he were posing for the cover of WASP Quarterly. His blond hair was perfectly in place. His complexion slightly ruddy, his features porcelain and high and a little too perfect. He wore khaki pants, a blue blazer, Top-Siders sans socks, and a loud Lilly Pulitzer tie. Win looked like what you’d picture a guy named Windsor Horne Lockwood III to look like—elitist, self-absorbed, wimpy.

Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

The office building held an eclectic mix. Gynecologist. Electrolysis. Subpoena delivery service. Nutritionist. Women-only health club. Not surprisingly Win was standing near the entrance to the women-only health club. Myron approached.

“How did you know I was parked in front of the house?”

Keeping his eye on the entranceway Win motioned with his head. “Up that hill. You can see everything with a pair of binoculars.”

A woman in her early twenties wearing a black Lycra aerobics suit walked out carrying a baby. It hadn’t taken her long to get her figure back. Win smiled at her. The woman smiled back.

“I love young mothers,” Win said.

“You love women in Lycra,” Myron corrected.

Win nodded. “There’s that.” He snapped on a pair of sunglasses. “Shall we begin?”

“You think breaking into that house will be a problem?”

Win made his I’ll-pretend-you-didn’t-ask-that face. Another woman exited the health club; sadly, this one did not warrant a Win smile. “Fill me in,” Win said. “And move away. I want to make sure they can see the Jag.”

Myron told him all he knew. Eight women came out in the five minutes it took to tell the story. Only two of them were awarded The Smile. One wore a tiger-striped leotard. She was treated to the Full-Wattage Smile, the one that almost touched Win’s eyes.

Win’s face did not seem to register anything Myron said. Even when he told him about taking Greg’s temporary slot on the Dragons, Win went on staring hopefully at the health club door. Normal Win behavior. Myron finished up by asking, “Any questions?”

Win bounced a finger against his lip. “Do you think the one in the tiger-striped leotard was wearing any underwear?”

“I don’t know,” Myron said, “but she was definitely wearing a wedding band.”

Win shrugged. Didn’t matter to him. Win didn’t believe in love or relationships with the opposite sex. Some might take this for simple sexism. They’d be wrong. Women weren’t objects to Win; objects sometimes got his respect.

“Follow me,” Win said.

They were less than half a mile from the Downing house. Win had already scouted it out and found the path with the least chance of being seen or arousing suspicion. They walked in the comfortable silence of two men who had known each other a long time and very well.

“There’s one interesting aside in all this,” Myron said.

Win waited.

“Do you remember Emily Schaeffer?” Myron asked.

“The name rings a bell.”

“I dated her for two years at Duke.” Win and Myron had met at Duke. They had also been roommates for all four years. It had been Win who had introduced Myron to the martial arts, who had gotten him involved with feds. Win was now a top producer at his Lock-Horne Securities on Park Avenue, a securities firm that had been run by Win’s family since the market had first opened. Myron rented space from Win, and Win also handled all money-matters for MB SportsReps’ clients.

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