Gone for Good Page 60

Hester Crimstein turned to the young D.A. and smiled.

“Mr. Thomson?” the judge said.

Thomson, the young D.A., kept his head down.

Hester Crimstein waited another beat and then dove in. “The victim of this heinous crime, one Katherine Miller, claimed this morning that Mr. Klein was innocent.”

The judge did not like that. “Mr. Thomson?”

“That’s not exactly true, your honor.”

“Not exactly?”

“Ms. Miller claimed that she did not see her assailant. It was dark. He wore a mask.”

“And,” Hester Crimstein finished for him, “she said that it wasn’t my client.”

“She said she did not believe it was Mr. Klein,” Thomson countered. “But, your honor, she’s injured and confused. She didn’t see the attacker, so she really couldn’t rule him out—”

“We’re not trying the case here, counselor,” the judge interrupted. “But your request for no bail is denied. Bail is set at thirty thousand dollars.”

The judge banged the gavel. And I was free.


I wanted to head up to the hospital and see Katy. Squares shook his head and told me that would be a bad idea. Her father was there. He refused to leave her side. He had hired an armed guard to stand outside her door. I understood. Mr. Miller had failed to protect one daughter. He would never let himself do that again.

I called the hospital on Squares’s cell phone, but the switchboard operator said that no calls were allowed. I dialed a local florist and sent her a get-well bouquet. It seemed pretty simplistic and dumb—Katy gets nearly strangled to death in my apartment and I send a basket with flowers, a teddy bear, and a mini-Mylar balloon on a stick—but it was the only way I could come up with to let her know that I was thinking of her.

Squares drove his own car, a 1968 venetian-blue Coupe de Ville that was about as inconspicuous as our cross-dressing friend Raquel/Roscoe at a Daughters of the American Revolution gathering, through the Lincoln Tunnel. Tough going, the tunnel, as always. People claimed that the traffic was getting worse. I’m not so sure. As a kid, our family car—in those days, one of those paneled station wagons—used to creep through that tunnel every other Sunday. I remember how sluggish that trek would be, in the dark, those stupid yellow warning lights hanging batlike from the tunnel’s ceiling as if we really need to be told to go slow, that little glass booth with the worker in it, the soot painting the tunnel tiles a urine-hued ivory, all of us peering anxiously ahead for the breaking light of day, and then, finally, with those metal-looking rubber dividers rising in greeting, we would ascend into the world of high-rises, an alternate reality, as if we’d traveled through a transporter. We’d go to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus and twirl those little lights on a string, or maybe Radio City Music Hall for some show that dazzled for about ten minutes and then bored, or stand in line for half-priced tickets at the TKTS booth, or browse the books at the big Barnes & Noble (I think there was only one back then), or hit the Museum of Natural History, or a street fair—my mom’s favorite was September’s New York Is Book Country on Fifth Avenue.

My father would grumble about the traffic and the parking and the all-purpose “filth,” but my mother loved New York. She longed for the theater, the arts, the razz and jangle of the city. Sunny had managed to shrink herself enough to fit into the suburban world of carpools and tennis sneakers, but her dreams, those long-ago suppressed longings, were right there, right beneath the surface. She loved us, I know that, but sometimes, when I sat behind her in that station wagon and watched her looking out the car window, I wondered if she would have been happier without us.

“Smart thinking,” Squares said.


“Remembering that Sonay was a devout practioner of Yoga Squared.”

“So how did it work?”

“I called Sonay and told her our problem. She told me that QuickGo was run by two brothers, Ian and Noah Muller. She called them, told them what she wanted, and . . .” Squares shrugged.

I shook my head. “You are amazing.”

“Yes. Yes, I am.”

QuickGo’s offices were housed in a warehouse off Route 3 in the heart of northern New Jersey’s swamps. New Jersey gets goofed on a lot, mostly because our most-traveled byroads cut through the butt-ugliest sections of the so-called Garden State. I am one of those who staunchly defend my home state. Most of New Jersey is surprisingly gorgeous, but our critics do score points on two fronts. One, our cities are beyond decay. Trenton, Newark, Atlantic City, take your pick. They get and deserve little respect. Take Newark as a case in point. I have friends who grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts. They always say they are from Boston. I have friends who grew up in Bryn Mawr. They always say they are from Philadelphia. I grew up less than nine miles from the heart of Newark. I have never once said or heard anyone I know say that they were from Newark.

Two—and I don’t care what others say—there is an odor in the North Jersey marshlands. It is often faint but nonetheless unmistakable. It is not pleasant. It does not smell like nature. It smells like smoke and chemicals and a leaking septic tank. That was the odor that greeted us as we stepped out of the car at the QuickGo warehouse.

Squares said, “Did you fart?”

I looked at him.

“Hey, just trying to break the tension.”

We headed into the warehouse. The Muller brothers were worth close to a hundred million dollars each, yet they shared a small office that sat in the middle of a hangarlike room. Their desks, which looked like something bought at an elementary school closeout, were pushed together facing each other. Their chairs were pre-ergonomics shellacked-wood. There were no computers or fax machines or photocopiers, just the desks, tall metal filing cabinets, and two phones. All four walls were glassed. The brothers liked to look out at the cargo boxes and forklifts. They did not much care who looked in.

The brothers looked alike and were dressed the same. They wore what my father called “charcoal slacks” with white button-downs over V-neck Ts. The shirts were buttoned low enough that their gray chest hair jutted out like steel wool. The brothers rose and aimed their widest smiles at Squares.

“You must be Ms. Sonay’s guru,” one said. “Yogi Squares.”

Squares replied with a serene, wise-man head nod.

They both rushed over and shook his hand. I half expected them to take a knee.

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