Instant messaging in 1979 would have meant I was in the office, within earshot of Rebecca at the time of Nicholson’s frantic call. I’ve never lived comfortably with a schedule, so I wasn’t there. I prefer my mornings to begin when I say they begin. And in my line of work, for what I do and how I perform best, I try not to plan that far ahead. Within an hour or so of the Nicholsons’ call, Rebecca was able to chase me down to the Belbrae Terrace enjoying a chicken liver omelet, some refreshments and a coffee while reading the dailies. Roberto was kind enough to stretch the phone out to me as I knocked off the last of my second bloody and my third Rothmann. How she managed to find me with such ease after checking my several other usual morning haunts still strikes me as mystical and somewhat unearthly. I think her ability to foretell my actions is what made it so easy for me to make Rebecca Mrs. Keates IV, but that’s another tale for another time. All I knew was that I had a client meeting in several hours, and a very brief rundown of the situation at hand. I’ve already told you how that meeting worked out, what I missed was the preamble.
My father was a brilliant lawyer, but an even more adventurous businessman. He made his money in condoms in the late ‘40s as the baby boom was breaking into full stride. For pennies on the dollar his seemingly absurd and expensive purchases of factories in post-war Asia began making money to the extent that he was able to step away from my great-grandfather’s law firm. He and my mother left the family compound by the beach where I live now, and live very comfortably in the lush valley behind the Goode School.
The place in the valley was miles away from the riffraff of the nouveau riche hotel magnates, advertising reps, insurance men and international pornographers; so most of my parents’ brood of seven sporting, handsome children grew and moved on to greater things. Like light off the sparkle of their relationship reflected over seven continents, my older brothers and two very strong-willed sisters rapidly spread the globe over. Being last in line and far from interested in stirring the pot, I chose to get an education at a lesser school while not leaving the confines of the commonwealth’s protective influence. The law school by the Charles was not a big stretch for me, as I was a fourth generation, continuing legacy, but it was boring, and hot, and their sailing team was coached by an a-hole. I will say though, that they can drink there. They can drink like professionals. Like gentlemen. That’s where I learned, and I currently consider myself somewhat adept at it.
Rebecca’s sensible planning allowed me to make it from breakfast at the Terrace to the office after a quick chat with some of the old boys who were on the administrative board of The Goode School. I found Ben Forsythe, ‘Hotfoot’ Gleise, Jordie Plibpst and some mustachioed pommie bastard on the clay courts en route to the parking lot. Sun-browned, half nude and caked in sweaty dust, Forsythe and Plibpst were more than happy to take time out from their ‘friendly’ round to chat. By the looks of it, Gleise and the Brit were killing them.
Amid glasses of water, Forsythe and Plibpst stressed rather vehemently that the school regs looked unfavorably upon any drug use on campus. They assured me, with crossed fingers, that their kids surely wouldn’t know of such nefarious activities. A Sandhurst grad, intense, tall and with a shot of grey at his temples, Gleise seemed to break into a steely-eyed, cold sweat at the mere mention of drugs and booze on campus. He’d apparently forgotten the youth he’d shared with us entirely. Forsythe and Plibpst sort of held their grit-covered hands in the sky as a sign of admonition to a deity who wasn’t watching. It seemed ironic to me that the book-read scholar Nicholson would have his kid judged by the peers of the effete local social elite and an unsupported, sweaty junta.
I bid my old chums adieu, and wiped the clay off my loafers before trotting to the Rover, mindful of the time. I drove home, left the truck in the portico, kicked the morning’s paper through the front door, grabbed a shower, shaved, and dressed to be presentable. Opening the garage with the wall switch, I hopped in the Mercedes for the run back downtown, leaving a somewhat disconcerting plume of blue smoke behind. It took twenty minutes to get through island traffic, around the park and into the heart of downtown. Even then, after the lunch rush hour, things seemed to be busier than usual downtown.
I needed leads to build Nicholson’s defense for the board of The Goode School disciplinary committee, and Plibpst and Forsythe provided them easily. The disciplinary committee was a tripartite blend of arrogant narcissists with too much time on their hands, well meaning but easily swayed PTA mothers, and the old island guard I knew well, but as a childless bachelor could never be a part of. Thankfully, I could count on Plibpst and Forsythe to stall the hearing for a few days as they had ‘previous engagements’ which would take them off island for a few days. They’d be hunting wild turkeys at “Tats” Taylor’s estate, as they had every year since our freshman year. If Tats’ wife weren’t still pissed off about Mrs. Keates III and I, I’d probably be joining them.
Again, I give my thanks to MANVIL for the opportunity to press this cathartic tripe from my memory.