Long Lost Page 24

Terese turned and looked at me, and it was as though she could tell what I was thinking. We finally moved into the sitting room with barrel-vaulted ceilings and crisp wooden floors. The fireplace crackled. Win, Terese, and I took our places in the plush surroundings and coldly discussed our next steps.

Terese dived right in. ’’We need to figure out how to exhume the body in my daughter\'s grave if there is a body.’’

She said it just like that. No tears, no hesitation.

’’We should a hire a lawyer,’’ I said.

’’A solicitor,’’ Win said, correcting me. ’’We\'re in London. We don\'t use the term \'lawyer,\' Myron. We say solicitor.’’

I just looked at him, refraining from asking, How about the term ’’anal douche bag’’? Do we use that in London?

’’I will have my people look into it first thing in the morning.’’

Lock-Horne Investments had a London branch on Curzon Street.

’’We should also start looking into the accident,’’ I said. ’’See if we can get ahold of the police file, talk to the investigating officers, that kind of thing.’’

Everyone agreed. The conversation continued like this, as if we were in a boardroom launching a new product instead of wondering if Terese\'s daughter who had ’’died’’ in a car crash might still be alive. Crazy to even think it. Win started making calls. We found out that Karen Tower, Rick Collins\'s wife, still lived in the same house in London. Terese and I would go by in the morning and talk to her.

After a while, Terese took two Valiums, headed into her room, and closed the door. Win opened a cabinet. I was exhausted, what with the jet lag and the day I\'d had. It was hard to think that I had landed in Paris that very morning. But I didn\'t want to leave the room. I love sitting with Win like this. He had a snifter of cognac in his hand. I usually favored a chocolate drink called Yoo-hoo, but tonight I stuck with Evian. We ordered up some room service munchies.

I loved the normalcy.

Mee popped her head into the room and looked at Win. He mouthed a no in her direction. Her pretty face vanished.

Win said, ’’It\'s not yet Mee time.’’

I shook my head.

’’What specifically is your problem with Mee?’’

’’Mee as in the stewardess, right?’’

’’Flight attendant,’’ he said again with the terminology. ’’Like with solicitor.’’

’’She looks young.’’

’’She\'s almost twenty.’’ Win gave a small laugh. ’’I so love when you don\'t approve.’’

’’I\'m not in the judging business,’’ I said.

’’Good, because I\'m trying to make a point here.’’

’’About?’’

’’About you and Ms. Collins on the plane. You, my dear friend, see se* as an act that requires an emotional component. I don\'t. For you, the act itself, no matter how physically mind-blowing, is not enough. But I view it from another perspective.’’

’’One that usually involves several camera angles,’’ I said.

’’Good one. But let me continue. For me, the act of two people \'making love\' to use your terminology, because I\'m happy with \'boink\' or \'boff\' or \'screw\' for me, that sacred act is wonderful. More than that, it is everything. In fact, I believe the act is at its best at its purest, if you will when it is all, the end-all and be-all, when there is no emotional baggage to sully it. Do you see?’’

’’Uh-huh,’’ I said.

’’It\'s a choice. That\'s all. You see it one way, I see it another. One is not superior to the other.’’

I looked at him. ’’Is that your point?’’

’’On the plane, I was watching you talk to Terese.’’

’’So you said.’’

’’So you wanted to hold her, didn\'t you? After you dropped the bombshell. You wanted to reach out and comfort her. That emotional component we just discussed.’’

’’I\'m not following.’’

’’When you two were alone on that island, the se* was amazing and purely physical. You barely knew each other. Yet those days on the island soothed and comforted and tore into you and cured you. Now here, when the emotional has entered the picture, when you want to blend those feelings with something as physically benign as an embrace, you can\'t do it.’’ Win tilted his head and smiled. ’’Why?’’

He had a point. Why hadn\'t I reached out? More than that, why couldn\'t I?

’’Because it would have hurt,’’ I said.

Win turned away as if that said everything. It didn\'t. I know that there were many who concluded that Win used misogyny to protect himself, but I never really bought it. It was too pat an answer.

He checked his watch. ’’One more drink,’’ Win said. ’’And then I will go in the other room because oh, you\'ll love this Mee so horny.’’

I shook my head. The hotel phone rang. Win picked it up, talked for a moment, hung up.

’’How tired are you?’’ he asked me.

’’Why, what\'s up?’’

’’The officer who investigated Terese\'s automobile accident is a retired policeman named Nigel Manderson. One of my people informs me that he is currently getting soused at a pub off Coldharbour Lane, if you want to pay him a visit.’’

’’Let\'s do it,’’ I said.

14

COLDHARBOUR Lane is about a mile long in South London and joins Camberwell to Brixton. The limousine dropped us off at a rather hopping spot called the Suns and Doves near the Camberwell end. The building had a third floor that got only about halfway across the top, like someone had gotten tired and figured, ah, hell, we won\'t need more space than that.

We headed about a block farther down and turned into an alley. There was a good ol\'-fashioned head shop and a health food store that was still open.

’’This area has a reputation for gangs and drug dealing,’’ Win said, as though he were a tour guide. ’’Thus Coldharbour Lane\'s nickname is get this Crackharbour Lane.’’

’’Known for gangs and drug-dealing,’’ I said, ’’if not nickname creativity.’’

’’What do you expect from gangs and drug dealers?’’

The alley was dark and dingy and I kept thinking Bill Sikes and Fagin were lurking against the dark brick. We reached a grotty pub called the Careless Whisper. I immediately flashed to the old George Michael/Wham! song and those now-famed lyrics where the heartbroken lothario will never be able to dance again because ’’guilty feet have got no rhythm.’’ Eighties deep. I figured the name had nothing to do with the song and probably everything to do with indiscretion.


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