The Devil Knows You're Dead Page 43

 “They ought to, at the rate galleries are going out of busi-ness these days. When did I decide to open a gallery?”

 “You haven’t yet,” I said, “but I think you’re going to. Or am I wrong?”

 She thought about it. “I think you’re probably right,” she said. “What a scary thought.”

 “Another reason you’d better pick the apartment,” I said, “is you’re the one who’ll be paying for it, or most of it. I de-cided I’d be stupid to let that bother me.”

 “You’re right. You would.”

 “So I’ll try not to.”

 “I’ll list this apartment with a broker,” she said. “I can do that right away. And I’ll see about raising cash on some other properties so we won’t have to wait around for this place to sell. I’ll call now and see if I can set up some ap-pointments for tomorrow and the next day. You want to know something? All of a sudden I can’t wait to move.”


 “We talked and talked about it, and then we stopped talk-ing, and now—”

 “Now we’re ready,” I said. I drew a breath. “When you’ve found a place, and when we’re settled into the apartment and the neighborhood, and you’ve got everything more or less the way you want it, I’d like for us to get married.”

 “Just like that?”

 I nodded. “Just like that.”

 Chapter 26

 It was the middle of January when I finally got down to Lispenard Street to pick up the plinth. I was there with Elaine during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, along with eight or ten other friends of Jan’s who’d come to celebrate the holidays. We’d had every intention of taking the plinth home with us and then forgot and left without it.

 This time I made a special trip. “You look good,” she told me. “How’s the apartment? Are you in it yet?”

 “The closing’s set for the first of the month.”

 “That’s great. I don’t know if I told you, but I’m crazy about your lady. I hope you got her something nice for Christmas.”

 “I had a police artist draw a picture of her father.”

 “Why? Is he wanted for something?”

 “He passed away years ago.”

 “And you found somebody to copy a photograph?”

 “He worked from memory,” I said. “Her memory.” I ex-plained the process. She thought it was fascinating, but a strange Christmas present. “It was what she wanted,” I said.

 “It was a powerful emotional experience for her, working with the artist like that, and it came out looking good. And I, uh, gave her something else, too.”


 “A ring.”

 “No kidding. Well, she’s terrific, Matthew. You did okay.”

 “I know.”

 “And so did she. I’m happy for both of you.”

 “Thank you,” I said. “You’re looking good.”

 “Ha! I am, aren’t I? I’m thinner than I’d like to be, which is something I swear I never thought I’d hear myself say. But it’s true, isn’t it? I’m looking better.”


 “Well, I’m feeling better. I’m trying a few things.”


 “I’ve changed my diet around,” she said, “and I’m doing this raw juice therapy, and I’m on a couple of other quack regimens I’d be embarrassed to describe to you. See, I’ve made a profound inner decision that I want to live.”

 “That’s wonderful.”

 “Well, I don’t know that it’s going to change anything. People have been drinking carrot juice and taking high colonics for years now and I haven’t seen that many under-takers declaring bankruptcy. But I feel better. That ought to be worth something right there, wouldn’t you say?”

 “I would certainly think so.”

 “And who knows, huh? Miracles happen. The medical profession just calls them something else, that’s all. Sponta-neous remission, they call it. Or they say the initial diagnosis must have been inaccurate. But who the hell cares what they call it?” She shrugged. “To tell you the truth,” she said, “I don’t honestly expect a whole hell of a lot. But you never know.”

 “You never know,” Elaine said. “Doctors don’t know every-thing.”


 “All they know is drugs and surgery and radiation. There are a lot of alternatives to traditional medicine, and some-times they work a lot better. It sounds as though she’s doing some really good things for herself. What could it hurt?”

 “I don’t see how it could.”

 “No, and the attitudinal change might make all the differ-ence. I’m not saying it’s all in her mind, it’s very obviously in her body, but your state of mind makes a difference, don’t you think?”


 “And miracles happen, just the way she said they do. God, look at all the miracles we both know walking around. Look at us, for that matter. We’re a miracle, aren’t we?”

 “I’d say so.”

 “So why shouldn’t Jan be one? I’ll tell you something. I think she’s going to make it.”

 “Jesus, that would be great,” I said. “I hope you’re right.”

 “I think I am,” she said. “I’ve got a feeling.”

 She died in April.

 The cruelest month, Eliot wrote. Breeding lilacs out of the dead land. Mixing memory and desire. Stirring dull roots with spring rain.

 That’s about as much of the poem as I’ve ever felt I really understood, but it’s enough.

 The cruelest month, and I guess it got pretty cruel for her toward the end, but she made it through all right. She never did take any painkillers, although a few of us tried to talk her into it. She didn’t shoot herself, either. She wouldn’t part with the gun, wanting to have the option always available to her, but she never chose to use it.

 Nicholson James was arrested in due course and charged with the murder of Roger Prysock. I haven’t followed the case too closely, but it sounds solid. The police turned up both eyewitnesses and physical evidence, and whether he stands trial or pleads to manslaughter, he’s a good bet to wind up doing some serious time. Meanwhile he’s chilling out on Rikers Island while his lawyer keeps getting postponements.

 I’m in my hotel room now. From where I sit I can see the Parc Vendôme across the street, but I can’t see our apart-ment. We’re on the fourteenth floor in the rear of the build-ing, with good views south and west. This room is nominally my office, although I can’t think why I would want to meet a client here. I can’t say I use the place to house my files; what records I keep would fit handily in a cigar box.

 But I still seem to like having this private space, and Elaine doesn’t seem to mind.

 I can see another building besides ours from my window. I have to look all the way to the right, and then I can just get a glimpse of the high-rise where Glenn Holtzmann lived, and where his widow continues to live. Again, I can’t see her window. It’s on the building’s west side, looking out over the Hudson, looking across to New Jersey.

 Sometimes I sit here and look over there, and sometimes her phone number pops unbidden into my mind. Because I remember stuff, I guess.

 This is Matt, I could say. Would you like company?

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