Darkest Fear Page 9

“Can we talk about this tomorrow?” Emily asked.

“Yeah, sure.”

She hesitated again. “Do you have Web access, Myron?”


“We have a private URL.”


“A private Web address. I take photos with the digital camera and post them there. For my parents. They moved to Miami last year. They check it out every week. Get to see new pictures of the grandkids. So if you want to see what Jeremy looks like …”

“What’s the address?”

She gave it to him and Myron typed it in. He hung up before hitting the return button. The images came up slowly. He drummed his fingers on the desk. On top of the screen was a banner saying HI, NANA AND POP-POP. Myron thought about his parents and shook it off.

There were four photographs of Jeremy and Sara. Myron swallowed. He placed the arrow on Jeremy’s image and clicked the mouse, zooming in closer, enlarging the boy’s face. He tried to keep his breathing steady. He stared at the boy’s face for a long time without really registering anything. Eventually his vision blurred, his own face reflecting on the monitor over the boy’s, blending the images together, creating a visual echo of he knew not what.


Myron heard the cries of ecstasy through the door.

Win—real name: Windsor Horne Lockwood III—was letting Myron temporarily crash at his apartment in the Dakota on Seventy-second Street and Central Park West. The Dakota was an old New York landmark whose rich and lush history had been totally eclipsed by the murder of John Lennon twenty-some-odd years ago. Entering meant crossing over the spot where Lennon had bled to death, the feeling not unlike trampling over a grave. Myron was finally getting used to it.

From the outside, the Dakota was beautiful and dark and resembled a haunted house on steroids. Most apartments, including Win’s, had more square footage than a European principality. Last year, after a lifetime of living in Mom and Dad’s suburban sprawl, Myron had finally moved out of the basement and into a SoHo loft with his ladylove, Jessica. It was a huge step, the first sign that after more than a decade, Jessica was ready to—gasp!—commit. So the two lovers clasped hands and took the live-together plunge. And like so many plunges in life, it ended in an ugly splat.

More cries of ecstasy.

Myron pressed his ear against the door. Cries, yes, and a soundtrack. Not live action, he decided. He used his key and pushed open the door. The cries were coming from the TV room. Win never used that room for, uh, filming. Myron sighed and stepped through the portal.

Win wore his casual WASP uniform: khakis, shirt with a color so loud you couldn’t look at it straight on except through a pinhole, loafers, no socks. His blond locks had been parted with the precision of old ladies dividing up a lunch check; his skin was the color of white china with dabs of golf-ruddy red on both cheeks. He sat yoga-lotus-style, his legs pretzeled to a point man was never supposed to achieve. His index fingers and thumbs formed two circles, the hands resting against the knees. Yuppie Zen. Old World European clashing heads with Ancient Oriental. The sweet smell of Main Line mixed with the heavy Asian incense.

Win breathed in for a twenty count, held it, breathed out for a twenty count. He was meditating, of course, but with a Win-like twist. He did not, for example, listen to soothing nature sounds or chimes; no, he preferred meditating to the sound tracks of, uh, skin flicks from the seventies, which basically sounded like a bad Jimi Hendrix impersonator making wah-wah-wah noises on an electric kazoo. Just listening to it was enough to make you rush out for a shot of antibiotics.

Win did not close his eyes either. He did not visualize a deer sipping water by a lapping stream or a gentle waterfall against green foliage or any of that. His gaze remained fixed on the television screen; more specifically, on homemade videotapes of himself and a potpourri of females in the throes of passion.

Myron stepped fully into the room. Win turned one of his finger-Os into a flat-palm stop sign, then lifted the index finger up to indicate he wanted another moment. Myron risked a glance at the screen, saw the writhing flesh, turned away.

A few seconds later, Win said, “Hello.”

“I’d like my disgust noted for the record,” Myron said.

“So noted.”

Win moved fluidly from the lotus position to a full stand. He popped out the tape and put it in a box. The box was labeled Anon 11. Anon, Myron knew, stood for Anonymous. It meant Win had either forgotten her name or never learned it.

“I can’t believe you still do this,” Myron said.

“Are we moralizing again?” Win asked with a smile. “How nice for us.”

“Let me ask you something.”

“Oh, please do.”

“Something I always wanted to know.”

“My ears are all atwitter.”

“Putting aside my repugnancy for a moment—”

“Not on my account,” Win said. “I so enjoy when you’re superior.”

“You claim this”—Myron motioned vaguely at the videotape and then the TV screen—“relaxes you.”


“But doesn’t it also … I mean, sick as it is … doesn’t it also arouse you?”

“Not at all,” Win replied.

“That’s the part I don’t understand.”

“Viewing the act does not arouse me,” Win explained. “Thinking about the act does not arouse me. Videos, dirty magazines, Penthouse Forum, cyber-porn—none of them arouse me. For me, there is no substitute for the real thing. A partner must be present. The rest has the same effect as tickling myself. It’s why I never masturbate.”

Myron said nothing.

“Problem?” Win asked.

“I’m just wondering what possessed me to ask,” Myron said.

Win opened a Ming dynasty cabinet that had been converted into a small fridge and tossed Myron a Yoo-Hoo. He poured himself a snifter of cognac. The room was lush antiques and rich tapestries and Oriental carpets and busts of men with long, curly hair. If not for the state-of-the-art home entertainment system, the room could have been something you’d stumble across on a tour of a Medici palace.

They grabbed their usual seats.

Win said, “You look troubled.”

“I have a case for us.”


“I know I said we weren’t going to do this anymore. But this is sort of a special circumstance.”

“I see,” Win said.

“Do you remember Emily?”

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