POPS WAS IN THE KITCHEN scrambling up some eggs when Wendy got home.
"Still in bed."
"It's one in the afternoon."
Pops looked at the clock. "Yep. Hungry?"
"No. Where did you guys go last night?"
Pops, working the frying pan like a short-order lifer, arched an eyebrow.
"Sworn to secrecy?"
"Something like that," Pops said. "So where you been?"
"I spent a little time with the Fathers Club this morning."
"Care to elaborate?"
"Sad," he said.
"And maybe a little self-indulgent."
Pops shrugged. "A man stops being able to earn for his family- you might as well cut off his balls. Makes him feel like less of a man. That's sad. Losing your job is an earthquake for Working Joes and Yuppie Scum alike. Maybe more so for the Yuppie Scum. Society has taught them to define themselves by their job."
"And now that's gone?"
"Maybe the answer isn't in another job," Wendy said. "Maybe the answer is in finding new ways to define manhood."
Pops nodded. "Deep."
"Right on," Pops said, sprinkling grated cheese into the pan. "But if you can't be sanctimonious with me, well, who else is there?"
Wendy smiled. "No one, Pops."
He turned off the burner. "Sure you don't want some huevos de Pops? It's my forte. And I already made enough for two."
They sat and ate. She told him more about Phil Turnball and the Fathers Club and her sense that Phil was holding something back. As they were finishing, a sleepy Charlie appeared in ripped boxers, a huge white T-shirt, and a major case of bed head. Wendy was just thinking how much he looked like a man when Charlie started plucking at his eyes and flicking his fingers.
"You okay?" she asked.
"Sleep buggers," Charlie explained.
Wendy rolled her eyes and headed for the upstairs computer. She Googled Phil Turnball. Got very little. A political donation. There was a hit on an image search, a group shot with Phil and his wife, Sherry, a pretty petite blonde, at a charity wine tasting two years ago. Phil Turnball was listed as working for a securities firm called Barry Brothers Trust. Hoping that they hadn't already changed her password, Wendy signed on to the media database her station used. Yes, everything is supposed to be available on free search engines nowadays, but it wasn't. You still had to pay to get the goods.
She did a news search on Turnball. Still nothing. But Barry Brothers came back with more than a few unflattering articles. For one thing the company was moving out of its long-term home on Park Avenue at Forty-sixth Street. Wendy recognized the address. The Lock-Horne Building. She smiled, took out her cell phone. Yep, after two years, the number was still there. She made sure the door was closed and pressed send.
The phone was answered on the first ring.
The tone was haughty, superior, and, if you could do it in one word, sanctimonious.
"Hey, Win. It's Wendy Tynes."
"So it says on my caller ID."
She could almost see Win, the ridiculously handsome face, the blond hair, the steepled hands, the piercing blue eyes with seemingly very little soul behind them.
"I need a favor," she said. "Some info."
Win-short for Windsor Horne Lockwood III-would not make this easy.
"Do you know anything about Barry Brothers Trust?" she asked.
"Yes, I do. Is that the info you need?"
"You're such a wiseass, Win."
"Love me for all my faults."
"Seems I did that once," she said.
"The Barry Brothers fired an employee named Phil Turnball. I'm curious why. Can you find out?"
"I will call you back."
Win. He was often described in the society pages as an "international playboy," and she guessed that fit. He was blue-blooded old money, very old money, the kind of old money that disembarked from the Mayflower and immediately called for a caddy and a tee time. She had met him at a black-tie event two years ago. Win had been refreshingly up-front. He wanted to have sex with her. No muss, no fuss, no obligation. One night only. She had been taken aback at first, but then thought, Well, why the hell not? She had never done the one-night-stand thing, and here was this ridiculously handsome, engaging man giving her the ideal opportunity. You only live once, right? She was a single, modern woman, and as Pops had recently put it, humans need sex. So she went back to his place in the Dakota building on Central Park West. Win ended up being kind and attentive and funny and great, and when she got home the next morning, she cried her eyes out for two hours.
Her phone rang. Wendy checked her watch and shook her head. It had taken Win less than a minute.
"Phil Turnball was fired for embezzling two million dollars. Have a pleasant day."
She remembered something. Blend, right? That was the name of the place. She had gone there once to see a concert. It was in Ridgewood. She pulled up the Web site and clicked on Calendar of Events. Yep, tonight was open-mike night. It even said: "Special Appearance by new rap sensation Ten-A-Fly."
There was a knock on the door. She called, "Come in," and Pops stuck his head in the doorway. "You okay?" he asked.
"Sure. Do you like rap?"
Pops furrowed his brows. "You mean like the paper stuff on presents?"
"Uh, no. As in rap music."
"I'd rather listen to a strangled cat cough up phlegm."
"Come with me tonight. It's time we opened up your horizons."
TED MCWAID WATCHED his son, Ryan, at the Kasselton lacrosse field. Day had surrendered her rays, but the field, made from some newfangled artificial turf, had stadium-quality lights. Ted was at his nine-year-old son's lacrosse game because what else was he going to do, hang around the house and cry all day? His former friends-"former" was probably unkind but Ted wasn't in the mood to be charitable-politely nodded and made no eye contact and generally avoided him, as though having a missing child was contagious.
Ryan was on Kasselton's third-grade travel team. Stick skills were, to put it kindly, somewhere between "still developing" and "nonexistent." The ball spent most of the time on the ground, no boy able to keep it in the stick webbing for very long, and the game began to resemble hockey players at a rugby scrum. The boys wore helmets that looked too big on their heads, like the Great Gazoo on The Flintstones, and it was nearly impossible to tell which kid was which. Ted had cheered for Ryan an entire game, marveling at his progress, until the kid took his helmet off at the end and Ted realized that it wasn't Ryan.
Standing a little way from the other parents, thinking about that day, Ted almost smiled. Then reality pushed its way back in and snatched his breath. That's how it always was. You could sometimes slip into normalcy, but if you did, you paid a price.
He thought of Haley on this very field-here the day it opened-and the hours she spent working on her left. There was a lacrosse retriever in the far corner of the field, and Haley would come down and work on her left because she needed to improve her left, the scouts would be looking at her left, her weakness was her damn left, and UVA would never recruit her if she couldn't go to her left. So she worked on the left nonstop, not just down here, but walking through the house. She started using her left for other things, like brushing her teeth, writing notes for school, whatever. All the parents in this town trying to push their kids to be better, riding them day and night for better grades, better athletics, all in the hopes of getting into what someone deemed a more desirable institution of higher learning. Not Haley. She was self-driven. Too driven? Maybe. In the end UVA hadn't taken her. Her left became damn good, and she was fast for a high school team or maybe a lower-level Division I program, but not UVA. Haley had been crushed, inconsolable. Why? Who cares? What difference did it make in the long run?
He missed her so damn much.
Not so much this-going to her lacrosse games. He missed watching TV with her and the way she'd want him to "get" her music, the YouTube videos she thought were so funny and wanted to share with him. He missed the dumb stuff, like doing his best "moonwalk" in the kitchen while Haley rolled her eyes. Or purposely over-smooching Marcia until a mortified Haley would frown and shout, "Helloooo, yuck, children present!"
Ted and Marcia hadn't touched each other in three months-by mutual unspoken but implied consent. It just felt too raw. The lack of physical togetherness wasn't causing tension, though he had sensed a widening chasm. It just didn't feel that important to work on it, at least right now.
The not knowing. It weighs on you. You start to want an answer, any answer, and that just makes you feel more guilt-ridden and horrible. The guilt ate him up, kept him up every single night. Ted was not good with confrontation. It made his heart beat too fast. An argument with a neighbor last year over a property line had robbed him of weeks of sleep. He stayed up, rehashed, reargued.
It was his fault.
Man Rule Number One: Your daughter is safe in your home. You take care of your family. However you want to spin this horror, that was the plain fact: Ted hadn't done his job. Had someone broken in and snatched his Haley away? Well, that would be on him, wouldn't it? A father protects. That's job one. And if Haley had left the house on her own that night, sneaked out somehow? That was on him too. Because he hadn't been the kind of father his daughter could go to and tell what was wrong or what was going on in her life.
The rehashing never stopped. He wanted to go back, change one thing, alter the universal time structure or whatever. Haley had always been the strong child, the independent one, the competent one. He had marveled at her resourcefulness, which definitely came from her mother. Had that been part of it? Had he figured, well, Haley doesn't need as much parenting, as much supervision, as Patricia and Ryan?
Useless, constant rehashing.
He was not a depressive type, not at all, but there were days, dark, bleak days, when Ted remembered exactly where his dad kept his pistol. He pictured the whole scene now-making sure no one was home; walking into his childhood house where his parents still lived; taking the pistol from the shoebox on the top of the closet; walking down to the basement where he had first made out with Amy Stein in seventh grade; moving into the washer-dryer room because the floor there was cement, not carpet, and easier to clean. He would sit on the floor, lean against the old washer, put the pistol in his mouth-and the pain would end.
Ted would never do it. He wouldn't do that to his family, add to their suffering in any way. A father didn't do that. He took it on himself. But in his more honest, more frightening moments, he wondered what it meant that thinking about that release, that end, sounded so damn sweet.
Ryan was in the game now. Ted tried to concentrate on that, on his boy's face through the protective cage, mouth distorted by the guard, tried to find some joy in this rather pure childhood moment. He still didn't get the boys' lacrosse rules-the boys' game seemed entirely different from the girls'-but he knew that his son was playing attack. That was the position where you had the best chance of scoring a goal.
Ted cupped his hands around his mouth, forming a flesh megaphone. "Go, Ryan!"
He heard his voice echo dully. For the past hour, other parents had called out constantly, of course, but Ted's voice sounded so awkward, so out of place. It made him cringe. He tried to clap instead, but that, too, felt awkward, as if his hands were the wrong size. He turned away for just a second, and that was when he saw him.
Frank Tremont trudged toward him as though through deep snow. A big black man, definitely another cop, walked with him. For a moment, hope spread its wings and took flight. Ted felt something inside him soar. But only for a moment.
Frank's head was down. As he drew closer, Ted could see that the body language was all wrong. Ted felt the quake begin in his knees. One buckled but he held himself upright. He started crossing the sidelines to meet up with him faster.
When they were close enough, Frank said, "Where's Marcia?"
"She's visiting her mother."
"We need to find her," Frank said. "Now."