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A few moments later, Jack Coldren came on the line. Without preamble, he said, “You think there’s a connection between what happened to me twenty-three years ago and Chad’s disappearance?”

“I don’t know,” Myron said.

His tone was insistent. “But you think—”

“I don’t know what I think,” he interrupted. “I’m just checking out every angle.”

There was a stony silence. Then: “His name was Lloyd Rennart,” Jack Coldren said.

“Do you know where he lives?”

“No. I haven’t seen him since the day the Open ended.”

“The day you fired him.”

“Yes.”

“You never bumped into him again? At the club or a tournament or something?”

“No,” Jack Coldren said slowly. “Never.”

“Where did Rennart live back then?”

“In Wayne. It’s the neighboring town.”

“How old would he be now?”

“Sixty-eight.” No hesitation.

“Before this happened, were you two close?”

Jack Coldren’s voice, when he finally spoke, was very soft. “I thought so,” he said. “Not on a personal level. We didn’t socialize. I never met his family or visited his home or anything like that. But on the golf course”—he paused—“I thought we were very close.”

Silence.

“Why would he do it?” Myron asked. “Why would he purposely ruin your chances of winning?”

Myron could hear him breathing. When he spoke again, his voice was hoarse and scratchy. “I’ve wanted to know the answer to that for twenty-three years.”

6

Myron called in Lloyd Rennart’s name to Esperanza. It probably wouldn’t take much. Again modern technology would simplify the feat. Anyone with a modem could type in the address www.switchboard.com—a Web site that was virtually a telephone directory of the entire country. If that site didn’t work, there were others. It probably wouldn’t take long, if Lloyd Rennart was still among the living. If not, well, there were sites for that too.

“Did you tell Win?” Esperanza asked.

“Yes.”

“How did he react?”

“He won’t help.”

“Not surprising,” she said.

“No,” he agreed.

Esperanza said, “You don’t work well alone, Myron.”

“I’ll be fine,” he said. “You looking forward to graduation?”

Esperanza had been going to NYU Law School at night for the past six years. She graduated on Monday.

“I probably won’t go.”

“Why not?”

“I’m not big on ceremony,” she said.

Esperanza’s only close relative, her mother, had died a few months back. Myron suspected that her death had more to do with Esperanza’s decision than not being big on ceremony.

“Well, I’m going,” Myron said. “Sitting front row center. I want to see it all.”

Silence.

Esperanza broke it. “Is this the part where I choke back tears because someone cares?”

Myron shook his head. “Forget I said anything.”

“No, really, I want to get it right. Should I break down in loud sobs or just sniffle a little? Or better yet, I could get a little teary, like Michael Landon on Little House on the Prairie.”

“You’re such a wiseass.”

“Only when you’re being patronizing.”

“I’m not being patronizing. I care. Sue me.”

“Whatever,” she said.

“Any messages?”

“About a million, but nothing that I can’t handle until Monday,” she said. “Oh, one thing.”

“What?”

“The bitch asked me out to lunch.”

“The bitch” was Jessica, the love of Myron’s life. Putting it kindly, Esperanza did not like Jessica. Many assumed that this had something to do with jealousy, with some sort of latent attraction between Esperanza and Myron. Nope. For one thing, Esperanza liked, er, flexibility in her love life. For a while she had dated a guy named Max, then a woman named Lucy, and now another woman named Hester. “How many times have I asked you not to call her that?” Myron said.

“About a million.”

“So are you going?”

“Probably,” she said. “I mean, it’s a free meal. Even if I do have to look at her face.”

They hung up. Myron smiled. He was a bit surprised. While Jessica did not reciprocate Esperanza’s animosity, a lunch date to thaw out their personal cold war was not something Myron would have anticipated. Perhaps now that they were living together, Jess figured it was time to offer an olive branch. What the hell. Myron dialed Jessica.

The machine picked up. He heard her voice. When the beep came on, he said, “Jess? Pick up.”

She did. “God, I wish you were here right now.” Jessica had a way with openings.

“Oh?” He could see her lying on the couch, the phone cord twisted in her fingers. “Why’s that?”

“I’m about to take a ten-minute break.”

“A full ten minutes?”

“Yup.”

“Then you’d be expecting extended foreplay?”

She laughed. “Up for it, big guy?”

“I will be,” he said, “if you don’t stop talking about it.”

“Maybe we should change the subject,” she said.

Myron had moved into Jessica’s Soho loft a few months ago. For most people, this would be a somewhat dramatic change—moving from a suburb in New Jersey to a trendy section of New York, moving in with a woman you love, etc.—but for Myron, the change rivaled puberty. He had spent his entire life living with his mom and dad in the classic suburban town of Livingston, New Jersey. Entire life. Age zero to six in the upstairs bedroom on the right. Age six to thirteen in the upstairs bedroom on the left. Age thirteen to thirty-something in the basement.

After that long, the apron strings become steel bands.

“I hear you’re taking Esperanza out for lunch,” he said.

“Yup.”

“How come?”

“No reason.”

“No reason?”

“I think she’s cool. I want to go to lunch. Stop being so nosy.”

“You realize, of course, that she hates you.”

“I can handle it,” Jessica said. “So how’s the golf tournament?”

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