The Hazards of Good Fortune, Part XV

Jay never forgot the sick feeling that overcame him as he watched his cousin pistol-whip the driver. “Ten minutes,” a production assistant said. But as much of a punch to the solar plexus that this represented, in some indeterminate way that he could only begin to discern, it was a relief. But let me ask you—is what I did so terrible that it merits banishment? “I tell you what. It was warm. The consultant looked at the lawyer, imploring him to intercede. Always he had chosen to rein in his personality, content to let the light shine on Bingo. “Aren’t you?”
“I will be governor.” Then Christine Lupo winked at her interlocutor. But Dag’s brother Trey, Lourawls, and Babatunde were a constant presence, as was Imam Ibrahim Muhammad.  
Chapter Fifty-Seven
Dag’s coma lasted ten days. “I’m going to be all right,” Dag said. But the decision to add the charge to the indictment had not been arrived at easily. Went upstairs, but instead of getting into bed, she slipped on a pair of jeans and a sweater. You’re a fucking billionaire.” Marat picked a piece of tobacco from between his teeth and flicked it off his finger with a callused thumb. “How can I help?”
“Talk to Jay,” Nicole suggested. But he had another idea. Probably on a timer, she thought. He said, “I’m a little surprised to see you here.”
“You don’t know me so why would you expect one thing over another?”
Panzer shrugged. Even that slatternly wife of Jay Gladstone was a gift.  
Chapter Fifty-Five
A nurse arrived to administer another round of intravenous hydration. A single light illuminated an upstairs window. “Hand to God? The sheer chutzpah of the gesture was impressive. “Jay Gladstone would be the get of the decade today. The road in front of the house rarely saw nocturnal traffic and Jay listened as a car engine hummed in the distance increasing in volume as it rolled past and then died away. As Lourawls began to distribute the cards, Dr. She hoped not—and departed. “Listen to me, Marat.”
“I’m listening.”
“When you asked me to forget what I saw—”
Marat interrupted, “I’m not going to tell you I’m grateful because I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He drained the vodka in one gulp and poured another. Doomer reported that the commissioner was intransigent. The Sapphire matter was taking suspiciously long to resolve and Bebe told him she was going to reach out to someone she knew in the city bureaucracy to find out what was going on. When the kettle whistled, she brewed the tea, spooned honey into the cup, and returned to the computer. She’s an intelligent young person who is in a phase of life where she is experimenting. Tackman took Jay aside and ordered him to not say another word to the host. Twenty minutes later, when she could not fall asleep, Christine went to the kitchen to make a cup of herbal tea. I do.”
“Did you leak it?”
Jay saw Franklin’s slack body stiffen, the planes of his face become rigid. A partnership with Marat would be like sharing a confined space with a sleeping lion. This mess lands on his desk and I caused it and I’m sorry. Bannister emerged from the room accompanied by the residents, the graveyard in his eyes. Their eye contact excluded Doomer and Tackman, who knew not to intrude. Could none of them discern the falsity at her core? Reasonable people might disagree on whether there was a political tinge to the initial indictment and the subsequent hate crime charge but Jay Gladstone would get his day in court. The wounds were beginning to heal, but his slightly enhanced brain function proved a false dawn. Indistinct voices rose and fell. “I feel terrible about what happened to him. Nicole was undeterred. Bingo Gladstone was a version of Mario Lupo with a lot more money. But, look, I’m not saying that excuses anything.”
“What do the political opinions of your daughter’s girlfriend have to do with what occurred?”
“We had a rainbow Passover this year, black people, white people, a thing of beauty. But curiosity won out: “Try me.”
Before Bebe could answer, Franklin tapped a spoon on a glass and called the room to order. Case in point: The night of the incinerated T-shirt on the backyard grill. Across the room, Rupert Murdoch chatted with the actor Jon Voight. Gladstone,” Christine Lupo said from the front of the room. Then, it hit him: The helicopters lifting off reminded him of the Prophet Muhammad ascending from Al Aqsa astride his winged steed to begin his heavenly journey. Several pairs of eyes swung in her direction. If Gladstone says it was an accident, I believe him.”
“Even after what he witnessed? “Don’t put words in my mouth.”
“Are you saying that because you’re his employer, he should suspend judgment?”
“In this situation, I think he should get the players to stop this silly talk about a boycott, suit up, and go win some playoff games.”
“When Mayor House of Newark was asked to weigh in on your situation, he had no comment. There was one adjacent to the kitchen where the busy wait staff were working. So, did Jay have to reexamine his perception of his father, adjust his place in the pantheon? It was ridiculous. “What can I do?”
“You still know a lot of people in the sports book in Las Vegas?”
“One or two.”
“And that league referee who went to prison for gambling.”
“Not personally, no.”
“There are rumors, Marat, we discuss them at the owners’ meetings.”
“Always there are rumors.”
“Any hint of fixing in a sport can make people think it’s like professional wrestling. No one knew that that horrid clip had come from her phone. That’s not how I talk. So once again, I want to be clear, I apologize to everyone.”
“You have said that your words have been misinterpreted, misunderstood—”
“I have.”
“I want to give you a platform now to say whatever you want to our audience.”
“Thank you.” Jay turned directly to the camera. To finish the novel, you can pick it up in bookstores or order it upon its release on August 21st. “The government can’t seize your property because you said something stupid.”
Tackman suggested they explain the interview by saying Jay was “pre-stroke.”
“I stand by every word,” Jay said. But of these five men, all of whom expressed sorrow at his predicament and conveyed their sincere sympathies, none would speak on his behalf in public. I’m so deeply sorry for this. The Lynx reporter filmed with his cell phone. Did he have to demote him? He’s the leaker. We can suggest the entire episode, going back to the car accident, was a result of physical deterioration.”
“There could be significant ramifications for your legal defense,” Doomer said. “How are you feeling?”
Whose voice was that? There were the two glasses of wine at the Oak Bar, two at the loft—wait, no, one and a half at the loft. Marat, lands’ end court for petitioners with no hope. Why had she come? Knocked the woman down. Lowering the car window, she inhaled the pleasing earthy scent. Although his parents lived in Queens at the time, his mother had insisted on it because she wanted her son to be able to say he had been born on Fifth Avenue. “Thanks for your concern.”
Never before had he felt vulnerable to Franklin. What he knew about Islam mostly came from television: Jihad, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, seventy-two virgins, a grab bag that did not cohere into anything he could comprehend. Jay found himself searching for words to express inchoate thoughts. Nicole could not understand it. Jay was dumbfounded, tried to talk, but his tongue would not obey. He, too, was smoking a cigarette. When his friends took a break, Trey remained at his brother’s side with the imam. What could that woman possibly want? I watched that interview. In the wings, hands clasped at his waist, Franklin beamed. Me? “Excuse me,” she said. Christine Lupo was his politician and who could identify her ceiling? When Tackman left, Jay called Herman Doomer. He thought about the text he had received last night from Nicole: Franklin hacked my phone. Jay did not want to deal with his cousin, who was standing at the foot of the sofa looking down at him over his gelatinous belly. Marat called out for appetizers. She was beneath you. She couldn’t let that virago intimidate her. Marcy was a rigid, conformist nonentity, mother of three spoiled children, all of whom would be living in a cardboard box under a bridge were they not born Gladstones, a woman whose entire existence involved doing the bidding of her overbearing husband. Layers of certainty, conviction, and belief began to dissolve. “I am not a racist. I’m not sure how to say this because for a man in my position, well, everything can be misinterpreted.”
Anderson Cooper wanted some elaboration, but Jay just looked at him. His lower back was swampy. It was a bold move that would demonstrate her credentials as a crusader against racism and generate support in the black community (plummeting since the nonindictment of Russell Plesko) while doing nothing to antagonize law enforcement. “Jay, you need to wait until you’re out of the hospital and you’ve gotten some rest. A man gets upset, says things he shouldn’t say. Who was he? D’Angelo Maxwell died that afternoon. Not all of them.” Marat named a well-known Manhattan restaurant operated by a famous chef and informed Jay that he owned a controlling share. Immediately, she wanted to retract the warmth of her greeting. “Which is why you’re going to be my date.”
The Statue of Liberty set against the velvet jewel box lining of New York Harbor at night never failed to move Christine. Now that they were about to augment the original indictment with a charge that would immeasurably compound its severity, she felt the need to at least mention it as a courtesy so her patron would not be caught off guard when he heard about it. Keep apologizing, he advised. “If you don’t want to do it, I understand. Was it only because she could not endure once again returning to her hotel suite alone?  
Nicole spent five minutes locked in the bathroom, several of them staring at her reflection in the mirror. I want to apologize to my partners and the commissioner. Why had she not done more than just say hello to him at the Waldorf dinner? Tackman had stopped talking and was looking at him strangely. Jay did not mention the particulars of his discussion with Marat, only that he had agreed to consider helping him. Jay Gladstone and Christine Lupo together in a sylvan fantasy, on horses, no less. Jay thought back to the summer when he met his Ukrainian cousin for the first time. Boris pounded three times on the door. No! He had coffee. Don’t make any decisions today.”
He appreciated his sister’s advice and neither Doomer nor Tackman contradicted it. Franklin moved in her direction. Mannequin handsome, with graying hair and a friendly expression, he seemed to know her. Dag’s room was on the tenth floor, overlooking the heliport adjacent to the East River. Now the door was open and his restless intellect impelled him to articulate all the subtle gradations of intent that had led to the catastrophe and then dive into the waves of remorse that subsequently rolled in and gambol like a seal. They can get a judge to issue an injunction removing you from day-to-day management of the team by asserting that the rights of the other owners now supersede yours. After all Jay had accomplished, after reaching the dizzying heights he had, socially and in business, he was standing on a rain-splattered sidewalk in front of a nightclub in Brighton Beach. Tackman concluded by saying, “The only surprise was that no Rumanians complained.”
“There’s still time,” Jay said. Once more she asked how he was feeling. Oh, for heaven’s sake, said another, it’s Jay Gladstone’s wife. The television lights were warm, but he was not uncomfortable. He almost laughed at the wildly improbable nature of the situation but was interrupted by the return of the bearish man, who waved them inside. Is she drunk? It’s not code for anything. She didn’t know him, just recognized his face from television. For his cousin to use the current situation to try and maneuver him out of the way seemed entirely out of character. This was routine, Bannister saw Dag each day, and the entourage left the room. With my hand on a Bible, I will tell you I didn’t mean for it to happen. The nightclub was a large, multi-tiered space ringed with tables surrounding a dance floor. Jay was crying, tears streaking his face. Jay inhaled the pleasant smell. “You’re sure?”
“What are you asking me? His father, who had coached him in youth basketball, who had passed him the Torah at his bar mitzvah, had been prowling around Manhattan unpeeling his secretary? The reaction, on television and the Internet, was predictably merciless. As reprehensible as it was, Jay had to give his cousin credit. He had fainted, the resident who examined him concluded. His mind never used to work like that. “My brother didn’t get to be who he is by bending to the prevailing winds,” she said. Trey Maxwell needed to create some sacred space for himself. The image of the palatial house on a hundred and twenty acres, with pool house, barn, paddock, and bridle paths did not produce resentment or envy or in any way stick in the DA’s craw. He lay there for a few seconds, but when he did not hear the car go away, he climbed out of bed, crossed the hall, and entered a guest bedroom in the front of the house where a timer light was on. Christine Lupo stopped in the middle of a sentence and looked in her direction. Jay freshened his drink and as the whiskey slid into his bloodstream he began to feel its effects. Nothing wrong with that. This suspicion made her think of Dominic Lupo and the personal dishonor she had suffered as a result of his behavior. I don’t talk about people. The floor was cool against the soles of his bare feet. But you learned.”
Marat, philosopher. Yesterday afternoon she contacted Bebe. My partners there are understandably angry. Her immigrant grandparents could not in their wildest imaginings have conceived that their granddaughter might rise from Arthur Avenue to become the Governor of New York. I have a lot of respect for the commissioner and he’s frustrated. “You’re a big fake and shame on you for using Jay Gladstone to advance your political career!”
Several people made hissing noises to indicate their displeasure. “Little help here, okay? He had been dreaming. Jay jumped on the phone with each. No one who knows me will tell you I’m a racist. Marcy was slicing through the guests like a Coast Guard cutter, headed in her direction. She remembered standing on the docks for the bicentennial celebrations, July 4th, 1976, captivated by the sight of the tall ships sailing upriver as bouquets of fireworks burst overhead, tendrils of light illuminating the New York and New Jersey shorelines. “All right,” Anderson Cooper said. The ground swayed. Before this evening, Jay Gladstone was only a prominent citizen charged with crimes, an abstraction. “D’Angelo, the tape—” Her voice trailed off as if she could barely bring herself to enumerate his transgressions. He paused, and then said, “Please look inside and ask yourselves whether you have ever done, or said, or even thought something that would embarrass you if it were made public. Not only will they get you, they get me, and then I’m going back to prison. The attention only emboldened her. The international medical team Jay had assembled could not say if he would emerge from a “persistent vegetative state.” Jamal Jones had not been back after the first week and Brittany Maxwell had returned to California to look after her children. “Why did you bring her?”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“Hmmpf,” Marcy said, a noise intended to convey that to respond would be beneath her. It was an elegant legal maneuver that was sure to pay political dividends. “Franklin,” Bebe said, “should have done a lot of things.”
When the waiter brought the check, Nicole took it and placed a credit card on the table. They listened dutifully. She finished the tea, rinsed the cup, and put it in the dishwasher. How did he know someone hacked her? What if his lawyer’s claims were accurate? “It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Besides, if he had to quit, he could. It was a decision that went against his grain at the time and in the ensuing years he had carried like a virus. Christine waited. He wanted to allow any helpful information time to register. Only his height was unchanged. Nervousness receded.  
Sitting in the car, Christine was in a reverie. “You look better in person than you do on the Internet.”
There was a brief pause while the refined attendees contemplated whether it was permissible to display their delight at this insult, concluded that Nicole deserved it, and burst into sustained laughter followed by applause. You okay?”
“Yes,” Jay said. When the confab was over, Bebe stayed behind and reported what Nicole had done at Franklin’s house the previous evening. “I’m trying to quit,” he said, taking a deep drag and blowing an impressive cloud. I admit that. It’s a shanda!” Bebe looked at her quizzically. “You look like shit.”
“It’s been a difficult time.”
“I always tried to keep my name out of the papers.” Marat waved the smoke away. As far as Nicole’s vague plan to somehow repair her marriage, the release of the tape rendered the degree of difficulty nearly insurmountable. He seized her arm, pushed his face close—the tip of his nose pressed against her hair, she shuddered in revulsion—and whispered, “Everyone’s sorry your phone got hacked, but you should leave right now.”
“Franklin, it’s okay,” Christine Lupo said. They chatted about the presidential election during the cab ride uptown. Church Scott (that traitor!) didn’t know what was in his heart? His balance returned and he felt a surge of energy. When Wysocki left, Jay drove into the city. Nicole knew them, worked with them, slept with them, and now their avatar, an empty suit with padded shoulders, intended to use the power of her office to ruin Jay’s life. Although Dag had shown slight improvement, the doctors had hinted that a full recovery might not be possible, something that would forever haunt Jay. You can help yourself by embracing the stroke.”
“I didn’t have a stroke.”
“Pre-stroke,” Doomer said. Her brother was already in bad shape. Who do you think released the tape?”
“I can’t say on television, but I believe I know the person’s identity and he’s someone who for his own personal reasons does not wish me well.”
Although Jay was tempted to go into more detail, he chose not to. That was inexcusable. For ten minutes, she observed the house. Marcy might ask her what she was doing here or, worse, suggest she leave. A familiar-looking man in a business suit approached. She surmised it was still DEFCON 4 in her husband’s head. A voice said, “Rolling,” and Anderson Cooper introduced Harold Jay Gladstone as a real estate executive and NBA franchise owner to the millions of viewers who would be watching the interview later that evening. Sin and mercy were not helpful when considering a defendant in a pending criminal case. Fifteen rounds. Swimming to consciousness, he saw Doomer and Tackman at the foot of the bed. Sinai. He wheedled and inveigled. Malingering for days in a luxury hotel suite swilling champagne like some dissipated royal was not how she had reached her enviable station in life, and neither was hiding out in Franklin’s bathroom. Jay started to perspire. Absent Franklin’s sulfurous presence, it felt strangely empty. A wedge of purpling clouds roiled over Sheepshead Bay and by the time Jay and Boris arrived in Brighton Beach the sky was sloppy with rain. He felt something good was happening. I’m begging.”
Tentatively, he reached his hand out and laid it on Dag’s bicep. Many of the accused that came under her purview had partners who betrayed them. He didn’t mug me,” Jay said. Certainly, his predicament was thornier than that, the car had not run over D’Angelo Maxwell by itself, but none of the auto-da-fé he was enduring would have occurred had his wife honored her marital vows. Poor Jay Gladstone. He took a step back. As he pulled it over his head, the soft material masking his face, he felt dizzy so he sat on the bed. Now he wasn’t even sure a car had been there at all. When he recovers I will do everything in my power to make it up to him. The Lynx reporter lurked near Bebe. Unbelievable. I did. Why had Nicole come? He needed to stand up and be his own man, gain inner strength, purify, and if one point six billion Muslims could be trusted, Islam was the answer, the word, the “for real” thing. “You need to lose the suit. He did not want his protégé to witness his further abasement. Say I make a couple of phone calls.” Jay straightened his back. Bebe told her she had to get going. “That’s your plan?”
“I don’t have a lot of options.”
“If they push back then on top of all the other trouble, they’ll get you for extortion. This Gladstone lady had fixed her with a dark-eyed gaze and, as Franklin gaped like a trout, was saying, “To not at least convene a grand jury seems like a remarkably tone-deaf response to what happened. As for the fiasco that had taken place in the basketball arena, the man had paid for his sins in the currency of shame. Several minutes later he heard another car. and Lucia they were all part of a chain and that one day they would bring their children to watch the celebration in the harbor. “I don’t care what those assholes think of me.”
Bebe asked if she was all right and Nicole told her she was, and that calling out Christine Lupo was liberating. His organs are failing.”
Trey asked if they could do anything to reverse what was happening and Bannister informed him they were doing all they could. The mustache motioned for Jay and Boris to wait. Marat rose from his chair, smiled, and embraced Jay and Boris in succession. I talked to the doctor this morning, and he’s improving.” Again, Jay paused. But could he have acted so aggressively? She felt safer in the city. The vehicular assault charges he faced? Boris took his glass of vodka and retreated. He turned off his phone, but could not get back to sleep. Well, mercy was not exactly hers to dispense, was it? The words were being sung in Russian but the big, sultry voice was unmistakably that of a black woman, or a white woman who was trying to sound black. It wasn’t on the cataclysmic scale of what Jay had done but to pretend there was no parallel would be disingenuous. How would you feel if some well-meaning black man spouted off about Jews? “What are you talking about?”
“Let’s not get into that now. Whoever it was, they were there for him. Jay pressed on. ¤
This book is a work of fiction. But instead, he said:
“It was an accident.”
Anderson Cooper let the moment linger. She felt their eyes on her as she passed through. It was around six, and the bar was starting to fill up with after-work pleasure seekers and several tables of tourists. He reflected on his father, wondered if he would have traveled to Brooklyn to sit down with Marat and attempted to pull invisible levers that would shift the planes on which everything was built. The interruption had allowed the district attorney to display poise, forbearance, and quick-wittedness. “I might as well ask the waiter.”
Bebe studied the martini. “During sixties, in Soviet Union, all kinds of Africans showed up to attend school,” he said. Was Franklin capable of treachery on this level? True to Tackman’s postgame analysis, the Anderson Cooper interview did not serve the purpose Jay had hoped. I wanted to put the fear into you in a way you would never forget, and then I did the most unimaginable thing I’ve ever done. The television crew wrapped their gear and vanished. The dynamics of their relationship had been set years earlier and had remained static. There was a hitch in Dag’s breathing which caused Jay to start, and he removed his hand and watched Dag’s face for signs of distress. Since the separation from her husband, Christine occasionally found herself missing, not Dominic Lupo exactly, but the companionship he had provided. An oxygen mask covered his features. Who were these pasty-faced white people? “She seems like a strong-minded woman. The words of Ibrahim Muhammad were seductive and welcoming and offered sensible solutions to seemingly intractable problems. The diva thanked them, gathered her gear, and hustled off the stage. He inquired whether they would like a drink and, without waiting for an answer, called into the darkness for a bottle of vodka. A black woman, no less. “Will you sell the team?”
“When Hell freezes over.”
Chapter Fifty-Four
Jay believed the insight and distress he had displayed would go a long way toward rehabilitating his image. It was Bebe who had spoken. “How would I know? His eyes were closed. Thomas Dewey was a New York prosecutor, and he had nearly become president. Someone had arranged for a shave, and his cheeks were smooth. “Fans, Christ, they’re fuckin’ fickle! At least the evidence of his sexual incontinence wasn’t smeared all over the Internet. As the car sailed over the Third Avenue Bridge and north on the Major Deegan Expressway, Christine realized that something about Jay had been peeled back by his wife’s presence and it kept niggling at her because it felt familiar. The room was silent as a cave. Franklin told her not to worry and expressed his admiration for her integrity. Jay glanced at the squiggly green lines of the monitors. She wondered if the woman had done it herself. It was not the profile of a criminal. A hedge fund manager approached with his wife and asked about Wall Street regulation. Christine Lupo droned; the moneyed mollusks opened. Jay had been born at Mt. He told the imam that he wished it had been something more than a decoration. Rather than offering a wisecrack, he said, “Well, I’m glad you’re here tonight. Dr. Next to them was his sister Bebe. The only thing the attending physician prescribed was blood pressure medication and a few days of rest. “Did you hear what happened to me on Saturday night?”
“It was all over the sports page.”
“But you didn’t call or text to see if I was all right?”
Franklin ignored the question. “How do you know?”
“Mom told me years ago. Why should she care what Marcy thought? No one used video cameras anymore. “If I find out you had anything to do with the leaking of that tape, I will cut your legs off. She placed her hand on the steering wheel and saw her bare ring finger, moonlit. Jay’s sister made sympathetic noises and when Nicole asked if her sister-in-law would join her for a drink after work the next day Bebe was game. The poetry of his words had brought her to tears. She could almost hear the brass and strings swell on the soundtrack. When I arrived home, I said a few unfortunate words that, believe me, I’ll regret for the rest of my life. She had more: “Who made you Pontius Pilate?” The smile on Nicole’s face after delivering the last barb was disreputable and rakishly appealing, the kind one uncharitably recalls when sobriety reasserts itself. But, Jay, I’m not going back to prison.” Marat had done time upstate for running a gasoline racket. Sin and mercy were ideas, and she needed to stick to facts. Why you go on television? Jay had never seen Boris smoke. He acted like he was pleased to see Jay and asked how he was doing. Then: “Are you a racist?”
Man, Jay thought, right out of the gate. had deteriorated since he discovered what she had done to his T-shirt, but he would get over it. The wine in her glass was disappearing again. Marat stared at Jay. “You have to knock this interview out of the park,” Doomer said. What would you say to Mayor House?”
“Mayor House is a fine man who’s a little confused right now.”
“Confused how?”
Jay knew he was standing on the edge of a cliff. Jay had hoped to hear from Aviva since he had withdrawn from participating in the commencement, but she had not returned his calls. Everyone’s sorry your phone got hacked. From her position near the bar, she watched Franklin introduce Bebe to Christine Lupo. He told Jay there were no other cars on the road.  
Chapter Fifty-Three
Late that afternoon, the television crew arrived at the apartment to set up. In desperation, Jay pulled up the list of NBA owners on his computer. By the time the police officer arrived at the house, it was gone. “Yes, I did. There were Ezra and Ari, those charter members of the lucky sperm club. She shouted: “I mean on your side!” and the levity rose. A little food might help. Everyone just needs to be a little less sensitive, but people are extremely sensitive, they’re so sensitive it’s like no one has skin anymore, only nerve endings.  
Chapter Fifty
It was a serene Christine Lupo that gazed across the East River at the Queens skyline from the backseat of her town car as Russell Plesko drove north on the FDR. She treated him professionally, which he took to be a positive sign. She wasn’t that drunk. He had assumed it was the latter. His mouth full of herring, Marat said, “You drove all the way to Brooklyn to see me on this beautiful day. Moreover, Christine knew it was an accident. What a nasty person that pipe-cleaner skinny, entitled, rich bitch seemed to be. So far, he was hewing to the Tackman plan. In her view, this was how America was meant to work.  
When Jay reached Dr. Standing in front of a framed pair of boxing trunks worn by the heavyweight fighter Sonny Liston, Franklin was talking to a bond trader from whom he planned to extract a six-figure contribution when he noticed a woman scanning the crowd. Something in her had loosened. I weighed the facts and made the best decision for the citizens of Westchester County.”
“You’re dying to be governor,” Bebe said. When she returned to the hotel Nicole sent the following text to her husband:
Franklin hacked my phone. Jay told Boris to prepare to fly to Hong Kong the following week to familiarize himself with the Asian branch of the business and brief Bebe when he returned. The burning of her son’s T-shirt, she knew, was indicative of the heightened emotional state she was in, but this amounted to stalking. But did he mean to do it?”
“That’s what I’m asking.”
“People wanted to hang me,” Plesko said. “I keep telling myself I’m going to call my therapist who I haven’t talked to in five years, but I don’t want him to judge me.”
“He’s a therapist. “I think you better ask me another question.”
“You said ‘Why is everyone in this family having sex with black people.’ What did that mean?”
“That’s the question you’re going to ask now?” Jay was trying to be light, amusing. Jay believed that Franklin had come to accept the structure of the company and was satisfied with his role. What was it Franklin had told her? He considered the Five Pillars of Islam: Al-Shahadah (Testimony), Al-Salah (Prayer), Al-Siyam (Fasting), Al-Zakat (Almsgiving), and Al-Hajj (Pilgrimage). “What possessed you to make a tape?”
“I was drunk; it was idiotic. The trial’s going to be a circus.”
“My husband didn’t kill anyone.”
“Dag’s still in that coma, isn’t he?”
Nicole briefly thought about tossing her drink in Panzer’s face but preferred to consume the dregs of the glass. He’s doing better, you know. “What do you mean?”
“Was I not clear? The hospital would discharge him as soon as she checked his vital signs. Checked the clip. They didn’t just respond to the message—they loved her. Unkempt brown hair and a mustache the size of a pickle. Trey ordered the winner to shut up and deal the next hand. After lunch at Nathan’s in Coney Island they went to Brooklyn College where Helen had graduated, although did not attend the ceremony because she had to work that day and so never collected her diploma. She pushed between two tall bankers to get a better view. That was never the Gladstone way. Copyright © 2018 by Seth Greenland
First Publication 2018 by Europa Editions
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction
in whole or in part in any form. “Your wife caused quite a scene last night,” Franklin said, satisfaction mixed with the outrage he was impelled to convey. Had Dominic been there, she would have asked him to play the heavy. A minute later his heart rate ceased its campaign of terror. Yes, the politician was a compelling woman who seemed in control of her life in a way that shone a light on Nicole’s precipitous fall. I will regret my behavior as long as I’m alive, Dag. None of the accounts she read had mentioned that detail. Do you know anything about how that tape got out there?”
“Only what I read,” Franklin said. And then he was not alone. You dug your own grave with your mouth.” Jay did not respond. That’s my only comment. “What do you know about that tape?”
Franklin regarded him uncertainly. The gathering of more than a hundred that filled the living room and spilled out on to the deck was a glittering portrait of achievement. Jay knew his cousin would admit nothing out loud but it didn’t matter. “Well, Beatrice, to answer your question, I don’t think about what works for me on a personal level because that would be a betrayal of the contract I have with the citizens of this state. His mind went back to the previous night and the car that stopped in front of his house. Then the light in Jay Gladstone’s upstairs window went out. “And I hurt my wife, Nicole. Bannister and his team attempted to bring him out of it, the patient was unresponsive. What did that mean?”
“What did that mean? Without saying goodbye to Panzer, Nicole tottered off to find a bathroom. He believed he was on his way back to the sunny uplands of acceptance and admiration. Franklin had assumed—that was all. Teams of doctors attended Dag, changing IVs, hooking him up to different machines. He had trouble imagining what it must be like for Boris to have Marat Reznikov as a father. An ambulance brought Jay to Mt. For half an hour, he lay in bed listening to the night and trying to slow his rampaging mind. Jay leaned over the table, lowered his voice: “I only want to be able to communicate to the commissioner that facts might come to light that could cause trouble for the league exponentially worse than what my situation is causing so he’ll have to back off and figure out a way to line up behind me.”
Jay hadn’t intended to drink the vodka, but now he took a sip. It had been years since Jay had seen Marat, from whom he kept a wary distance. One of the reasons he had hired Boris out of college was because Marat had asked, but also, he viewed it as a means to keep Boris out of his father’s orbit. “Russell, what do you think about Jay Gladstone? Their fathers were both men of the Bronx, first-generation Americans who served in World War II, raised families in New York, pillars of their respective communities. Bobby Tackman paced and offered silken words of encouragement as Jay sat in a chair with a bib over his shirt having makeup applied by a quiet young woman with a nose ring and a tattoo of a peace sign on her forearm. That was more God’s bailiwick. “For your own well-being, I think maybe you shouldn’t come to work until things cool down.”
Here was the Franklin he knew, blunt, artless. Tackman looked him over. Jay knew exactly how shit worked, which was why he was here in the Rasputin nightclub swilling vodka with his grizzled cousin. Jay needed to prepare for war. She immediately froze the sympathy she felt and examined it. Jay slipped on his suit jacket. But I occupy a certain position in society so people feel like they can say whatever they want. “My advisors suggested it.”
“Your advisors?” He spat the word like a bloody tooth. As she waited for the water to boil, she booted up her laptop. They arranged a conference call for the next day to discuss subsequent steps. Christine had never ridden a horse. Nicole thanked her profusely for coming, a crumpled a cocktail napkin in her hand. To charge Jay Gladstone with a hate crime was to raise the stakes considerably. He should come back and shake on the agreement in person. “Self-indulgent,” “non-apology apology,” and “insensitive” were leitmotifs, as were “slanderous,” “anti-Muslim,” and, of course, “racist.” Jay was a whipping boy, caricatured, lampooned, dismissed, and the consensus was that his time was over, what he represented was an abomination to right-thinking people, and the acceptable repentance, according to public opinion, was to self-immolate in the middle of Marcus Garvey Boulevard. After the briefest pause during which the marks realized the verbal slip was intentional, a wave of laughter rippled through the room. It’s pretty obvious that my personal situation is being used to advance several agendas that have nothing to do with me. “People understand.” He made a brisk motion with his hand as if to wave away culpability. A lone vehicle in the middle of the night was not a welcome sound. “Under the circumstances, he’s all right.”
“What he did? Is it fair that I should lose a business that I’ve been devoted to, that I love, because of a few words that are being misinterpreted? Between you and me, if I had walked in on Marcy schtupping some guy, I would’ve killed them both.”
“Yes, I’m sure that’s what you would have done.” Jay had not checked with the hospital since yesterday. How can black people have any confidence in the government if they don’t get their day in court?”
“I’m sorry, tell me your name again.”
“Beatrice,” Bebe said. I’m not even sure you and I can work together anymore.”
Tackman ordered him to not engage in further direct contact with the media until they could formulate a new plan. Bannister entered with a group of residents and asked if they would mind stepping out. Too much was slipping away too quickly. His surface was composed, but underneath something simmered that could erupt without warning, like the steamy day when the two of them crossed a potholed street in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, and the gypsy cab lightly struck Marat. While they waited for a doctor to sign the discharge papers, Jay complained: He had believed in the legal system his entire life, and now it was gearing up to steamroll him.  
Chapter Fifty-One
Just after eight the same evening, Bobby Tackman arrived at Jay’s Bedford estate to conduct a simulated interview in preparation for the real one. She had a throaty laugh and always acted pleased to see him when he visited the office as a gangly teenager. As long as it did not become a habit, she believed her behavior on this night was justifiable. Christine’s ability to charm a roomful of New York City honchos had her thrumming with confidence. But now circumstances required Jay to step on stage, and he was ready. As Jay absorbed this litany of transgressions, the apartment, which seemed to have cooled with the extinguishing of the television lights and disappearance of the crew, felt like it was heating up again. “Nicole wants to save the marriage.”
Jay opened his eyes and regarded his sister. Each day the helicopters would come and go, arriving and departing in an endless cycle. Additionally, although it paled in comparison to how he felt about the havoc he had wreaked, he feared losing his NBA franchise and not receiving permission from the city to begin construction on the Sapphire, because those endeavors represented a significant part of his future. Marat poured three glasses and lit a Lucky Strike. “You’re certainly within your rights to maintain that position,” the lawyer said. There was a group photograph with Archbishop Desmond Tutu celebrating Universal Children’s Day that she had previously missed. “Have you thought about doing an interview?”
“About what?” She knew what but wanted to make the creature say it. His father lit one and handed it to him. I wish I could unwind everything.” She told Bebe about their fight before he left for Africa, her desire to have a child, his unwillingness, and her resentment. “I guess you can’t let everyone off.”
With all the certainty at her disposal, she declared: “Jay Gladstone has had enough breaks.”
By the time she climbed out of the car in her driveway Christine had convinced herself it was true. Its familiarity comforted him, but he did not touch his cup. Tackman continued his magpie chatter, but Jay was no longer listening. Bannister and his wife chatted with Michael Steele, who had recently become the first black man to chair the Republican National Committee. Is handicap to be born with money because hard to learn how shit works. What did Anderson Cooper want him to say? AUGUST 14, 2018

THIS IS PART XV of LARB’s serialization of Seth Greenland’s forthcoming novel The Hazards of Good Fortune. Nicole was in a corner, nibbling mixed nuts, nursing a glass of chardonnay. In the living room, Jay sat in a director’s chair next to Anderson Cooper, who was checking notes on a clipboard. I did five years. When Marat saw the look of surprise on Jay’s face, he said, “See, even a guy as smart as you, you don’t know everything.”
“I don’t think it can work.”
“Don’t tell me it can’t work if what you want to say is you don’t have the balls to pull it off.”
Jay said he would think about Marat’s offer and call him. He concluded that that is just what Bingo would have done. What were Jay’s political preferences? The politician was pretty and relaxed, two qualities Nicole felt herself to be decidedly lacking at present. That she had brought Nicole was an overt provocation. There were ways to disguise ownership, Marat said. He ordered Jay to remain in the hospital under observation for the night. But before it arrived, Jay wanted to make another point:
“My daughter’s friend happens to be very anti-Israel and she expressed that opinion at our Seder where she was a guest. He imagined viewers across America, around the globe, and all of them coming to see the untarnished quality of his soul. The nickname was for people she liked. The rain intensified. One came in and another took off, climbing above the river and banking into the distance. There are prominent real estate families in New York City—I’m thinking of one in particular—that would not rent to minorities. The two of them, together in the gloaming, the broad land spread out intoxicatingly before them, like a Technicolor movie. Pagano’s request had gone through, and the cop had been assigned to the DA’s office where he filled in on an as-needed basis. To steady himself he took several deep breaths. I made a terrible mistake and I’m here to apologize to all the people I’ve hurt. “Does he seem like a violent guy to you?”
“I indicted him.”
“Hey, look, you gave me a break, and I’ll always be grateful for it.”
“Tell me what you think,” the DA said. Today Jay was glad of it. It was a surprisingly intimate gesture. “He did it, that’s pretty obvious. Her policies, humor, and improvisatory ability combined to showcase considerable political skills and all of it resonated with the donor base. Her quarry was an estimable man—It’s what made him such valuable prey—brought down by a poor choice in mates. All he could remember was the apologizing he was supposed to do, and he had already done that. He immediately realized that Bebe’s companion was Jay’s wife. Yes, yes, he was a man made of blood and sinew and a beating heart. Was it worth it to make Marat a silent partner? He was having trouble accessing this part of what he had reviewed with Tackman. What he believed in, she recognized, was the efficacy of the system. “Wait a minute,” Nicole said. The entire room was mocking her. To pre-order (and finish the book) on Indiebound, click here; on Amazon, click here; at Barnes & Noble, click here. The DA had everyone reaching for their checkbooks. She needed to stop seeing moral equivalence where there was none. This tangible evidence, first her house, and then the degree, and the pride that filled her as she held it in her unwrinkled hands, enabled him to complete a vibrant picture. How long was he going to live if stress landed him in a hospital bed? The idea of being part of a vast community of believers that stretched around the world held deep appeal. I can barely work a fucking blender.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Hand to God, Jay.” Like a Boy Scout taking an oath, he held his hand up. Let me just say that our family foundation has given away millions of dollars in scholarships, we’ve funded nutrition programs. Marat would turn him into a pavement stain and that would be the end of it.  
It was not difficult to locate Dag’s room and because he was wearing a hospital gown, the night nurses assumed Jay was just padding along the crypt-quiet halls on a late walk. A moment later the door opened revealing a huge man in a tracksuit. “I spoke with the commissioner this morning,” Doomer reported. “Immensely,” Bebe said. “Jay, I think Bobby is right. Dominic was gone, she had a career-making case on her hands, and with adroit handling, there was no reason she could not spin it into political gold. What was she doing on an imaginary horse next to Jay Gladstone riding into a Hollywood sunset? Checked on her sleeping children and went downstairs. This self-abnegation had begun when he was young and continued until his father’s passing. She’s an embarrassment.”
His cousin’s presence further agitated Jay, who rose from the sofa and lumbered to his desk where he flopped into the chair. The cop on duty the night of the accident arrived at the house. As corny as it was, Jay wanted to be the kind of example for his young cousin that his father had been for him, someone to admire, to emulate. There was Franklin, staring at the guest of honor adoringly with Marcy next to him, thrilled to have famous people in their home. Staring at the ceiling Jay felt the weakness and frustration that had become his constant companions, but, more than anything, there was the growing sense that he had slipped on some cosmic banana peel and was now in a continuous state of imbalance. He walked downstairs and sat in a chair facing the front door with the weapon on his lap. What else would have provided it? Nicole certainly thought so. “She reminds me of those days.”
Marat indicated they should join him at the table. “I didn’t expect to see you two,” he said, approximating friendliness. As they drove over the Brooklyn Bridge and slid beneath the cloud-shrouded towers of Manhattan, the wash of shame he experienced was tempered by the distant hope that his gambit might work. The league was insisting that he sell the team.  
Jay immediately saw the car at the end of his driveway. He made a mental note to do that when he finished with his cousin. Everything had gone so transcendently wrong it had begun to seem perversely funny. She imagined him riding a horse along the edge of a luminous meadow, wind at his back, savoring yet another victory. Her relationship with Dominic Jr. “Nicole?”
“Yes, hello, you are—?”
“Fred Panzer, Lynx News.”
That was it! “Is my son causing you problems?” Marat asked with mock concern. He’s O.J. Being addressed like this in front of Boris was painful. When thoughts of his death inevitably arose, he marveled at the symmetry. Without bothering to excuse herself, Marcy flew to his side and when everyone had turned their attention to the host and hostess, Franklin introduced Christine Lupo as the next governor of New York. Who knew what he was thinking about his father, their relationship, and the different roads their lives had taken. Officer Wysocki. The woman had opened fire with both barrels and Christine had crushed her without sacrificing likeability. Could it possibly be true? Jay was in the kitchen nursing a glass of whiskey when Anderson Cooper arrived and said hello before conferring with the producer, a fussy man in a snug suit who seemed barely out of his teens. He believed he had come across as folksy, honest, and repentant. Boris had shown him how to shoot. When the song ended, the men conferred. Who knows what cynics might have made of it? “As long as he’s in possession of his faculties, I think we can all depend on him to make a sound decision.” Bebe held Jay’s hand. Jay tried to concentrate as Tackman related the extent of the damage. “You can’t be serious.” She slowly nodded. I want to talk to her.”
Nicole excused herself and went to refill her wineglass as Franklin grumpily accompanied his cousin across the room. His friends took the news in stride, which is to say they asked him if he was going to wear white robes and sell bean pies up on 125th Street. When the imam arrived at the hospital the following day, Trey asked how he could become a Muslim. To Nicole’s relief, Bebe did not sound angry on the phone, nor was her affect in any way chilly. She began to say something, hesitated, then asked, “Do you think Franklin would mind if I came with you?”
A look of concern clouded Nicole’s worn face. She wanted to have a word with that Lupo woman. It got louder as it drew nearer but then the sound did not recede. The consultant did not like the picture. Most surprising to Jay, he smiled when he asked if they had enjoyed the singer. He reviewed family dinners, Sundays watching football, skiing and sailing vacations, business meetings, shows, charity events they’d attended, endless conversations shared about topics distant and local, and there was nothing he could remember that hinted at Bingo carrying on with his secretary. I like your loft.”
Franklin nodded at Nicole, who smiled uncomfortably and said something about how it was important to listen to all political points of view. “I heard. She almost left him, but she didn’t.”
The news caused a tectonic shift in Jay’s perception. A spasm of self-doubt seized her. Do you think he’s guilty?”
Plesko did not answer right away. He leaned back and waited for the next question. Was this a heart attack? Boris looked away, embarrassed by the teasing. He wondered who would say Kaddish for him. My family has been in the real estate business for generations. Boris listened and nodded. She, too, yearned for a time before the current fractiousness, when America had a common purpose. She stood at the window of a Tribeca penthouse in a guest bedroom having gone there to take a phone call from her daughter, who had a question about homework. He recounted his history and reminded them of his sterling reputation. But when it was employed by another woman to challenge her, she found it distinctly less appealing. “You’re an arrogant schmuck, and you always were.”
He left the office, barreling through the door and slamming it behind him. Why would he do that?”
“To be fair, I think he arranged this before Jay’s—” Bebe searched for the right word—“setback happened.”
“Franklin should have canceled the event,” Nicole said. As the night wore on Trey stared at the blinking lights. Again, he tried to talk but his tongue expanded to fill his mouth and words would not come. He knew them all from league meetings and considered himself friends with several of them. They breathed the salt air and heard the rough surf batter the deserted beach a few hundred yards away. Considering the circumstances, Jay was relatively pleased with how the interview had gone, and would not be lured into a rhetorical trap to be destroyed by his own words. On a small stage, the singer, a statuesque black woman with a huge Afro, belted the Russian lyrics as if she had been raised on the banks of the Dnieper. Bannister, the surgeon informed him there had been some hopeful signs since they had last spoken. Men she squished like they were bugs. His will was in order. Bebe peered around the room, searching for her. “Boris, give us a minute,” Jay said. She noted with no little satisfaction that Imam Ibrahim Muhammad had called a well-attended press conference during which he commented that while the Westchester County District Attorney’s office should have brought charges against the officer who killed John Eagle, the new ones against Jay Gladstone were “a positive step in her relations with African-Americans.”
All of this was going through her mind as she tore herself away from the view to greet the guests at the fundraiser Franklin and Marcy Gladstone were hosting for her gubernatorial candidacy. “She’s getting ready to speak,” Franklin said. She still had no idea. Of the twenty-eight calls his secretary placed, she managed to reach five of the owners. After the polite applause died down the district attorney spieled with great conviction about lower taxes, more police, and eliminating regulations that limit what businesses can do. Is that code for—”
“No, no, no! Get your version out there, gain control of the story.”
“I think you want to contact my husband.”
“He won’t talk to us.”
“Because he’s a very intelligent man,” Nicole said. I was angry, and because you humiliated me, I wanted to scare you. So, there’s my daughter and my wife. I’ll tell you something, Jay, I never liked Nicole. Heckling was not Bebe’s style, but she was impressed with Nicole’s commitment, rash though it might have seemed. To Christine’s pleasure, the hate crime charges had led the local news that evening. ¤
Chapter Forty-Nine
The weekend had been taxing for Nicole. “And for everyone in this room who works on Wall Street, I want you to know that a Lupo administration will be in your pocket.” Far from humorless, the district attorney knew how to land a well-timed joke. “That was impressive,” Bebe said. At Dag’s bedside Trey perused the pamphlets the imam gave him with heightened interest. With all of this on his mind, he shambled to bed. That was the beauty of the system. That would be understandable. Recalled bringing her children down here to see the display on a more recent July 4th, and how she had told Dominic Jr. Big decisions are not easy. “When you first heard the tape, did you remember making that statement?”
“I’ve said all I have to say about those words.”
“All right, let’s talk about you.”
“I’m responsible. She put the napkin on the table and with the index fingers of each hand proceeded to smooth it out. Christine skimmed sports pages and business sites, noted his philanthropic activities and the awards he had received. The same waitress arrived with the same speed and placed two espressos in front of them. Franklin to Bebe: “Haven’t you been here before?”
“Remind me,” she said. Jay assured him he was not. “A few minutes ago, I was looking out the window at the Statue of Liberty, and I thought of my grandmother who was born in Calabria, Italy, and took a boat to Ellis Island where—”
From the back of the room, Nicole said, “You’re a fake,” loud enough to be heard. A breeze disturbed the branches. Christine remembered when her parents brought her downtown as a small child, how they pointed to Ellis Island, the portal through which her grandparents passed on their journey from Italy to the Bronx. “I have a daughter who I love very much. Who was I to say no? If Franklin was culpable, the ramifications for the future of the business were profound.  
Chapter Fifty-Six
On a summer day about a month after Jay graduated from college, his mother invited him to accompany her on a roots trip to her old haunts.  
Chapter Fifty-Two
The next morning, he did not make the mistake of arriving at the office alone. Several others immediately were drawn to her orbit, and so Christine Lupo began to work the room. What had led her to that conclusion? The man ordered them to wait and closed the door. He wished he could have resolved the situation with Aviva. I wish I could undo it. Did you or did you not hack my wife’s phone and leak that tape?”
“Did I hack her phone? He’s a friend and I wish him well. “He wants to know if you’ve reconsidered. They can go to court and force a sale. He did occasional favors for him, like arranging apartments for associates in Gladstone buildings, but their contact was minimal. She had relations with a player and you caught them.”
Anderson Cooper was not pulling punches. Eventually, the cat would awaken. I don’t care who they are. Would the Christian reference disturb Marcy? Exuding the false cheer of hospital rooms where the possibility of upsetting news flickers like a lightning storm on the horizon, Lourawls gloated as he raked in a twenty-three-dollar pot. They’re not allowed to judge you.” One of the many reasons social success accrued to Nicole was because she exuded a potent mixture of refinement and aplomb that captivated men and women alike. This was easier than expected. The place smelled like a mixture of sea breeze, disinfectant, and stale cigarettes. Franklin will have finished the job. He called Doomer and inquired about the situation with the league. It was energizing. He still did not know. That he had been cuckolded by Dag and in a spectacularly misguided attempt to—to what, exactly? But seeing his wife tonight—flushed face, firing squad eyes—listening to her aria of abuse, had brought Jay into sharper focus, and the picture that formed was of a human being who was suffering. To steady himself, Jay locked into Anderson Cooper’s unwavering gaze. “No reason.” She looked over his shoulder for someone else to talk to. It’s awful. Dawn arrived and, bleary-eyed, Trey watched as helicopters rose up like flying horses and arced over the river through the early morning light soaring above the pallid sun toward Arabia. Through the fog, he realized the tears were real and he wiped them away with the back of his hand. From Dag to Nicole to Aviva, the ability to make things conform to the way he wanted them to be had deserted him. If Jay’s sister performed that modest task, the wretched humiliation Nicole experienced in Franklin’s penthouse would be worth it. The evening had been an unmitigated triumph. We can challenge it, but they’ll win.”
“This is America,” Jay reminded them. The word ‘everyone’ was hyperbole, something perhaps you can understand, under the circumstances.”
Anderson Cooper wanted more but Jay decided that he had said enough on the subject. The unseen chanteuse was belting the disco anthem “I Will Survive” in the language of the Moscow trials. Why did she not stand her ground with Marcy? He watched as the consultant buttonholed Anderson Cooper, who was being congratulated by his now ecstatic producer, a man who knew broadcast gold when he saw it, and begged him to not run the interview, a request that was summarily rejected. The cross on Trey’s neck was inked when he was trying to make Church Scott’s team and he derived limited comfort from the art when he was cut loose. Jay still had no idea if Nicole’s accusation was valid, or if she had been drunk texting. Cooper was stone-faced. “I’m not going there. Several members of the Italian-American family that lived there were home and when Helen explained that she had grown up in the house, she and Jay were invited in to look around. You can ask anyone who knows me. By a stroke of luck, no one had reported that incident. “Crime of passion,” Franklin said. So, I admit, I may have had some residual bad feeling. Did she really want to face the woman who was trying to send her husband to prison? He met with Bebe and Boris and briefed them on his preparations with Tackman. She spent most of it holed up in the hotel suite frantically trying to figure out who had hacked her. Perhaps she’d grab a canapé on her way out. Marcy was nothing. Again, she called Franklin Gladstone. The waiter placed Bebe’s drink in front of her, glanced at Nicole—did he recognize her? He’s the leaker. In a way, he had wanted this. All right?”
Nicole effusively expressed her gratitude. Humanizing a defendant was against the rules. Jay had an extensive online presence. Not only was it humiliating for all the obvious reasons, but she had inadvertently added another layer of stress to Jay’s life, and knew her chances of getting him to reverse his decision existed in inverse proportion to his anxiety. Jon Voight and Roger Ailes were gaping at her. Was she persecuting him? Sinai Hospital where doctors determined that he had not had a coronary or a stroke. He willed himself to relax and took several deep breaths, letting the air run slowly out of his nose, which he was able to do since the swelling had decreased. On a real estate site, she typed in Jay’s Bedford address, which for reasons Christine did not want to think about she knew by memory. “Permission to speak frankly?”
“Granted,” she said. A smattering of media people gathered in a corner listening to Roger Ailes hold forth. In a borscht-flavored accent he asked what they wanted. But Jay didn’t know if he had Bingo’s nerve. Her manner was noncombative. Now it sounded jarring in Jay’s ears. A sweater makes you more relatable.”
In his bedroom Jay selected a gray cashmere number with a V-neck. It was not there because of a flat tire. As you know, I can’t control her.”
“Someone needs to. The sweater was making him hot. What were they doing in the enemy camp? He outlined his situation with the league, related that the playoffs started soon, and told Marat that a judge was going to rule on the matter shortly. The amateur porn shattered the illusion of her inviolability. Owners have to vote, Marat was a convicted felon. The declaration became a question: Poor Jay Gladstone? What about what she did? “The equation changes. In the Gates of Heaven Cemetery, Bingo Gladstone lay not far from where Babe Ruth was buried. Of course not! His mouth was dry. It wasn’t so much that he dreaded the prospect of nonexistence, although he had a healthy terror of that. What’s on your mind?”
Jay wrenched his thoughts back from the Bronx. I don’t know. It was a coup to have attracted such prominent African-Americans. I was mad at your brother.”
“You were going to show it to him?”
“No. From the other room came the restless sound of money. Marat slapped her backside as she departed. And you know what? And suffering caused by a cheating spouse was something about which Christine was not without sympathy. “I hear your team is worth more than billion dollars.”
“So I’m told.”
“Give me half.”
His cousin was throwing him a lifeline, but it was one that would strangle him. “Franklin is hosting her in his home? The rattle of his laugh had the gallows in it. There was a risk in trying to ascertain guilt. When Jay thought of Marat, it was as he looked in the 1970s, with a barrel chest, more hair, and a coiled aspect. “When would that have been?”
Franklin’s parrying skills were minimal, but his arrogance rendered them unnecessary. “That’s not possible.”
“I should risk my ass for a box of chocolates?”
Jay insisted such a transaction would be remarkably difficult to engineer. But he felt it. They’re an incredible group of men. Nicole felt hot, blinding shame that rose from her feet to her calves, her hips, belly, up through her back, flaming her neck and thickening her tongue. Probably from stress. Babatunde cursed and told Lourawls he had no talent for the game, it was just luck. He accidentally ran over the man he caught with his wife?”
Plesko adjusted the rearview mirror so he could see his passenger. It was with all of this still reverberating that Franklin appeared. In English, the singer asked if they wanted her to sing another song and one of the men replied that she should audition for one of those talent shows on television, but meanwhile, they would like her to perform in the club starting this weekend. A team of attorneys was preparing to wage war with the league, but the lawyer warned him that when facing a player boycott, their influence was limited. And don’t get me started on what you said about the Muslims. “The more people know your name, the more people want to take you down. To be able to witness the distance she had traveled was to be reminded of his own astonishing luck. The banter continued in the hallway while they waited for the doctor to finish the examination. Louder: “You need a well-off white man on the docket so you can prove you have no racial bias, but you didn’t have the guts to lock up the cop who killed that black guy.”
The two bankers flanking Nicole moved away from her so Franklin, his face tainted with rage, had a clear shot. Stupid words. He wanted to talk, get a few things off his chest. The rooms were neat and small and Jay remembered thinking that it could not be possible that his mother, who explored multiple continents, hosted sophisticated dinner parties, and lovingly smoothed the jagged edges of her coarser husband, could possibly have grown up in such mundane circumstances. I’ve had sources tell me—”
“Look, I put the league in a difficult position. Perhaps the easiest thing would be to arrange a deal with Marat and then not live up to his half of the bargain. Now that his life had once again derailed he found himself compelled by the spiritual succor his new friend offered. He second-guessed telling Doomer to delay bringing legal action. Jay would show the world. He could feel Tackman’s eyes willing him to take control. He made it clear that the opportunity had been outstandingly botched. Years ago, not every landlord would rent to black people. “I’m disappointed. Why had she come at all? I have no idea.”
Nicole was at a loss. On Wednesday afternoon of the second week Dag was in the hospital Trey, Lourawls, and Babatunde were playing poker (Trey’s conversion did not include a prohibition against a friendly card game in Dag’s room). You’re a New Yorker?”
“Born and bred.”
“Well, I will never betray you. Christine thought of the Bronx nuns who taught her at Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow. When the interview ended, the panicked look on Bobby Tackman’s face told him otherwise. “Recent events. “I could lose everything.”
“What everything? Some of them, quite frankly, are worse than Rumanians, who during the Holocaust were worse than the Nazis.”
“Some of them. Then apologize some more, and you will be redeemed because America loves a redemption story. That’s fine. Come on, Nicole. I’m so sorry.”
“Who, specifically, do you want to apologize to?”
Jay was ready:
“There are so many people, starting with D’Angelo Maxwell.” Here Jay paused. in reverse.”
“What does that mean?”
“Famous white guy who killed an African-American. He thought about prison versus death and concluded death might be preferable. I think Christine’s going to make a hell of a governor.”
Bebe raised her well-tended eyebrows. Sean Purcell had bumped a demonstrator with her official vehicle. He talked to Allah and with every cell in his body he supplicated, begged, and prayed. Marcy approached and demanded to know whether she was enjoying herself. I will pray for your recovery each day, and when you recover, I hope you can forgive me.”
Dag’s eyes opened. While she was not going to mention her brother’s case, she had intended to test the politician. A film and TV writer, playwright, and author of four previous novels, Greenland was the original host of The LARB Radio Hour and serves on LARB’s board of directors. The Hazards of Good Fortune will be published in book form by Europa Editions on August 21, 2018. The dalliance with D’Angelo was bad enough, her role in his current predicament unbearable, but an emotional collapse in its wake? Leaning his head back, he said to the ceiling, “I don’t do this often, but please God, save this man. The DA was a formidable adversary, self-possessed and unyielding. Too sensitive, was the consensus. The next day I flew to South Africa where I’m doing a major project. “Those are illegitimate businesses.”
At first, Marat seemed insulted. “Would you stay married to someone like that?”
“You remember that secretary who worked for Dad in the late seventies?”
“Miss Sloves?” Bebe nodded. Foolish. It was impossible to have anything in common with someone so wealthy. Bebe said, “You invited me, didn’t you?” She was drinking club soda. “What? Smirking at the silliness of it, she repressed the vision. Bebe sat down and ordered a vodka martini. Homes like this one often had security cameras, but none were visible. Bebe took a sip and gazed into Nicole’s watery eyes. Wha—?” Franklin shook his head vigorously. Some of them take extreme points of view. She didn’t need this. It appeared Franklin might say something but his only response came from his shoulders, driven upward by the tension he was unable to conceal. Behind one of the two cameras, Tackman stood next to the producer and gave a thumbs-up. When time comes, if things are bad, perhaps then I help you.”
“You say you can’t go to prison.”
“I won’t do that.”
“Then maybe you want to disappear.”
It was still raining when they drove back to Manhattan. Why would you say that?”
“You know nothing about it?”
“Jay, come on! A sound technician pinned a microphone to him.  
It was a surprise to find the house situated on a dirt road bounded by low walls built from stones. To arrive at some kind of rapprochement? Still, her cerebral push and pull would not cease. He still could not get words out. “How’s Jay doing?” Marcy asked, with barely concealed relish. She seemed younger than he had ever seen her that afternoon, and so vivid. She and Jay were public people with families in the process of fracturing. “Did you know you were being recorded?”
“Of course not. The night was cloudless, pricked with stars, and a half moon impassively shone. A nurse inserted a needle into his arm for hydration. In his late sixties now, his hair had thinned and grayed. Her voice was soft and solicitous. Heas leaned toward Dag’s ear and whispered, “I have no idea if you can hear me, probably not. Was Franklin the mastermind? Although the house was dark, several security lights painted the grounds in pale yellow. Where was Nicole? When Trey said, “Ain’t funny,” and they saw he was serious, that temporarily ended the comedy. Despite the retention of a prominent interior design team, Franklin and Marcy had expensively decorated their penthouse loft in no particular style. Now another problem presented itself. To a college student from a world far removed from the first-generation Bronx and Brooklyn experience of his parents, this immigrant seemed like a wild beast. They would have loved the poke she delivered. Marat sent his greetings. Nicole reapplied her lipstick and touched up her eye makeup. He hoped his visitors didn’t notice. “If you don’t introduce us,” Bebe said, “I will. She had been too distracted by Dag.  Links to pre-order the book are below. 
Greenland’s novel follows Jay Gladstone from his basketball-loving youth to his life as a real estate developer, civic leader, philanthropist, and NBA team owner, and then to it all spiraling out of control. To start with installment one, click here. “You really think he’d have a problem?”
“Yes,” Bebe said. I don’t know how I could say such disrespectful words. The team is still refusing to play.”
“I’m not selling,” Jay said. “What about her?” Bebe’s knowing look spilled the old secret. It occurred to Jay that in many ways he had been preparing for this his entire life. Now I know you’re bullshitting.”
“You don’t trust me? Jay did not realize he possessed that degree of malevolence. But no one can do that. Who is that woman, someone said. Jay Gladstone had Sultan of Brunei money, but he employed thousands of people and paid untold millions of taxes into the public treasury. His name was on only a fraction of the enterprises he controlled. Boris told him whom they were there to see. The mixture of relief, shock, and gratitude paralyzed him. One of the men rose from the table and escorted her out a side door. He approached a table where two men in suits sat listening to the performance. The television lights were getting hotter. The same waitress arrived in seconds with a plate of herring and crackers. What if what Jay had done was an accident? When Bebe asked how she was doing Nicole looked down, shook her head, and moaned. They were riding east on the Cross-Westchester Express­way. I blew up her life.”
“You seem remarkably forgiving about her behavior. It was inconceivable. A woman shushed Nicole, but she paid her no mind. He wanted solace in a time of need, not to strap on a suicide vest and blow himself up. She parked on the road in front of the property, turned off the headlights but left the engine idling. At this point, Jay did not care. “It makes you a victim,” Tackman pointed out. Turning to her sister-in-law, she suggested the two of them immediately say hello to the candidate. Now he was glad she could not understand what was happening to him because it would utterly violate the sense of propriety she had worked so hard to cultivate. The clones of these men and women packed Washington to the rotting gills. It was going to happen as soon as Jay informed Franklin of the lawsuit he intended to file. Once, as a girl, her father had put her on a pony at a church fair in Yonkers. Don’t be dramatic. He visualized himself conversing sagely with Anderson Cooper about the scars of American history, the travails of black people, and “the deep well of empathy I’ve drawn from my whole life.” He pictured the easygoing host nodding sympathetically. Continually recalibrating her social position was exhausting and, given its downward trajectory, destabilizing. All of them seemed not only doable but an effective program for gaining control of a sybaritic existence defined by running errands for his brother, whom he loved, but wasn’t it time to think about his own life? “You see how well it’s going.”
Boris asked if he could have a cigarette. Pagano called her at home on Sunday and was surprised she had not immediately agreed but instead had asked for time to think about it. Jay listened as the consultant enumerated his sins:
“You can’t apologize and then disparage your daughter’s black girlfriend, why did you express any opinion at all about Church Scott or the mayor of Newark? Please, please Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, whoever is listening.” Humble and emotionally naked, he felt like he was performing a sacred duty. Any references to historical events,
real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Because white people controlled the media, he viewed much of what it purveyed as inherently suspect. Put a sweater on.”
“I always wear a suit in public.”
“Millions of people are going to watch this and you’re going to remind them of their boss. “With the help of people like you.”
Wanting to end the conversation, Franklin said, “I think it’s time for the DA to speak.”
As the host led the guest of honor to safety in another part of the room, Bebe watched them. He asked after Boris’s mother, and Boris told him that she was well. He looked at her questioningly but did not release his grip. “Would you elaborate?”
Jay paused for a long time. She remembered his speech in Chicago the night he was elected. After having confronted Franklin, he was unimpressed with his denial. An owl broadcast its presence. But tonight, many of the guests had probably watched her have sex with D’Angelo Maxwell, so she had no idea what to expect. Like something caught between her teeth, the similarities continued to nag her. He drained his glass and called for coffee. Nicole deployed it like a ninja. Had she not done something similar in the parking lot at work? Christine Lupo understood what it was like to have a spouse who was a curse. They assured him that her talents were exemplary. “Don’t you want to work up to it?”
“It would help if you answered it.  
Jay was drifting off when Nicole’s text arrived. “Please call me Jay,” he said. There are few businesses as public as professional sports. Muhammad told Trey his own story: The crimes, prison time, and conversion. The theme of the evening was Apology. It meant what I said.”
“Everyone in this family?” Jay did not respond. But the more she thought about it, the less sense her conjecture made. A pierogi-shaped woman with six inches of teased black hair waddled past them holding an umbrella and smoking a cigarette. Doomer had made inquiries, but as far as he knew, no new information was available. It was impossible to know if she was drunk and raving, or if it was true. Go fuck yourself.”
“Go fuck myself?”
“You got what you deserved,” Franklin said. Perhaps she would stage a photo op for her campaign on Liberty Island, one mighty, torch-wielding woman in the shadow of another.  
When Nicole emerged from the kitchen, her target was addressing the packed room. ¤
Seth Greenland is the author of five novels. His latest, The Hazards of Good Fortune (Europa Editions), will be published in 2018. But he was ready. This evocation of the rural past left Christine strangely moved. His clothes were already moist from the downpour and now he wanted to take a shower. It would kill the league.”
“Rumors are like oxygen, Jay.” Marat glanced around the dim room, over one shoulder, then the other, to illustrate his point. Something about brain waves that Jay did not have the bandwidth to absorb but had encouraged the doctor. Franklin wasn’t clever enough to guess something like that. It was his cousin Bebe, chatting to another woman who had her back to him. And who were these black people? Until recently, they both had been paragons, the kind of citizens others were encouraged to emulate. What concerned him was that he would die now, with his reputation not just deteriorating but seemingly in free fall. “Who do you think put that tape out there?”
“You’re asking me?” Bebe said. You are big boy, you can do it.”
The club was starting to feel like the middle of the night on a deserted subway platform in the 1970s, the atmosphere rank with bad possibilities. Perhaps he had underestimated him. An unfamiliar sensation overcame him, and his heart began to tom-tom. Long enough to salvage his reputation and avoid the ignominy of dying in disgrace? He had invited his cousin as a courtesy never imagining she would attend. Foundations adjusted, recalibrated. They were in the sitting area of Jay’s office. Christine Lupo concluded with, “I can’t comment on a pending case.”
Bebe was at her side. It was not beyond the realm of possibility. He took another sip of whiskey. How else to get a feel for her adversary if not by entering his world? What kind of depraved world was this where people leaked sex tapes on the Internet? There was so much to do and undo, and yet as consciousness slipped away, what he felt, oddly, was release. She didn’t want to influence him so did not offer a further prompt. His play Jungle Rot won the Kennedy Center/American Express Fund For New American Plays Award and the American Theater Critics Association Award. He was a writer-producer on the Emmy-nominated HBO series Big Love. Nicole cleared her throat and focused on the district attorney: “The people here tonight, who have a lot more in common with my husband than they do with that poor black man who got killed by a policeman, they’re all nodding in agreement because by crucifying Jay you absolve them of their sins.”
She waited now, pleased with her insight, the freedom with which she expressed it, and wondering if Christine Lupo would respond. Then what of mercy? To her growing consternation, all of it added to this nascent kinship with Jay that she found harder and harder to dismiss. The Constitution guarantees that right. The prognosis went from hopeful to guarded. Jay lost his balance and crumpled, his head striking the floor. “That’s the extent of your comment on the subject?”
“On the advice of my attorney, that’s all I can say about it.”
Anderson Cooper recognized the immovable object in front of him and pivoted. Men beset Nicole whenever she stood alone at a party; they would babble and flirt, gauge their chances with the unobtainable. There was something mystical about the helicopters to Trey, something he could not quite put into words. “That’s all you’re going to say?”
“You are bigger man than your father, and Bingo was great man. A laptop that stored her backing tracks rested next to her on a high stool. As Nicole continued to interrupt the DA, the quiet downs and shushes increased in volume. Attentively, the wallets listened. “About the tape?”
“I sympathize, believe me. Up came a single photograph and a description. No cars passed. Miraculously, it remained on file decades later:
Helen Shirley Goldstein, BA
Brooklyn College, 1952
Jay was aware that his mother existed in a whorl of parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins before she married her husband and eventually became Helen Gladstone of Scarsdale, but his mental image of her earlier identity remained unformed. Her mind returned to Jay as she lay in bed. The bar for proof was high, but it could serve as a useful bargaining chip, should he decide to accept a deal. Had that been racially motivated? When he peeked in and saw Dag was alone, he entered and sat in the chair next to the bed. Mothers and sons found each other in the end. It was morning. His chest rose and fell. They didn’t scare her the way women did. Dag’s long, lean frame lay still. More important, it would send a signal to voters that she was sensitive enough in matters of race to bring the weightiest charges against one of New York’s ruling elite. The Cyrillic letters tattooed on his ringed fingers had faded. Between that and what else you’ve been up to, I’ll have you so tied up in court you’ll be afraid to leave your house without calling your lawyer to see if it’s allowed.”
“I had nothing to do with it.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Why not?”
“Because I know what’s going on in Asia,” Jay said. This negotiation is why he was in Brooklyn. “What kind of idiot goes on television?” Marat still pronounced it “eee-dyote.” His accent still redolent of the Odessa docks. It was why he was reluctant to be saddled with personal security even after the rampage at the arena. No one knew how far she could go. “No, no, no. “Everywhere.”
“I’m not asking you to confirm or deny.”
The expression that had been so welcoming hardened, replaced by a feral wariness that appeared at home in Marat’s weathered features. I’m not saying Bingo Gladstone was Abraham Lincoln, but what I am saying is that I was raised in a liberal tradition, my parents taught me that God created everyone equal, and that’s how I’ve always lived my life.”
“Church Scott, the coach of your team, was quoted as saying, ‘I don’t know what’s in his heart, but I’m praying for him.’ What would you say to Church Scott?”
“Church Scott’s reaction to this—” Jay considered his words. They discussed the fragility of existence and the innate need of humans to submit to something greater than themselves. Jay asked what was going on with the Planning Commission regarding the Sapphire situation. After a week, when Dr. “What did you want to talk about?”
“You’ve got a lot on your plate,” Franklin said. But Christine Lupo struck her as decidedly second-rate, an ambitious hack whose road company charisma stood in sharp contrast to that of President Obama, the only politician Nicole had truly loved. Closing the back door quietly behind her, she climbed into her black Lexus sedan, slipped La Boheme into the CD player, and backed out of the garage. This took several minutes. I would like to say to anyone who hasn’t, you’re a better person than I am.”
“What happened that night in Bedford?”
Jay was prepared for this. He wanted the first apology to resonate like a bell. He said, “It looks like your brother might have sepsis.” Trey had no idea what sepsis was and asked if it was dangerous. Marat told him not to use the phone. In going to Brighton Beach, he had utterly betrayed that idea. It’s a crock of politically correct bullshit what’s happening to you. Her friend Audrey called on Saturday to commiserate and invite her to Nantucket, but Nicole declined. After sitting there for ten minutes, his nerve failed him, and he called the police.  This is the last week of our serialization of the book but it isn’t the end of the novel. Jay had to adjust his eyes to the shadowy darkness. She operated in a matrix of hints and signals. What further light could he shine on the question that would not doom his chances of exoneration? The guests were rapt. The air in the street refreshed her. Trey spent the night at the hospital, grabbing snatches of sleep in the chair next to his brother’s bed. “Take your medicine. Franklin immediately crossed the room to greet the women. He didn’t feel pain in either one. He was impressed that the Prophet was a warrior who vanquished his adversaries and had multiple wives (the Prophet actually reminded him of several guys he knew growing up in Houston). He tilted his head back and closed his eyes. But there’s someone else who’s leading the attack on me, this Imam Ibrahim Muhammad fellow, who happens to be a Muslim.”
“What does that have to do with the situation?”
“I want to tread lightly here because it’s a sensitive area. It was certainly of a piece with Franklin’s surreptitious financial maneuvers. Bastards, Jay thought. He cursed to himself. But that appeared to be what was going on. How could she have let herself sink to such depths? The imam praised him and said he knew Trey would find happiness, tranquility, and inner peace. Her girlfriend is a black woman, which is fine. He went to the safe, opened the combination lock. To discuss what had occurred? “However, we’ve been notified that if you don’t sell the team, he’s going to ban you for life. Christine had never done anything remotely like this. A link with history, an image for tomorrow. “She was battling for you.”
“That’s not the way to do it,” he said, rubbing his temples. “Like they could all read my mind. I’d like to meet her.” Franklin looked stricken, which only heightened Bebe’s determination. Are you fucking kidding me?”
“I’m going to tell you one thing, and then we’re done.” Jay paused to let the weight of what he was about to impart sink in. “Nicole wanted to come. Someone had parked in front of the property. They were in the elevator. Do you know he’s the highest paid coach in the league?”
“You say that like he mugged you.”
“He mugged me? Clear fluid ran from an IV drip into the soft flesh of his wrist. Some Muslims, not all of them, have issues with Jews. “Let the lady speak.”
Under his breath, he hissed, “Goddammit.”
Nicole wrenched her arm away and said to Franklin, “You’re a putz.”
How much had she imbibed? Words bounced off her armor. Behind a flying wedge of corn-fed security, he made it through the demonstrators without incident. Was it the left or the right? Acknowledging this first seemed like the wisest course. They visited her modest home on a quiet street in Bensonhurst. A beefy woman with bleached blonde hair appeared with the vodka, deposited it on the table, and toddled away. His chest had shrunk, and his girth expanded. Had she gotten flustered and left? If it could help Jay avoid prison, perhaps it was. There she was, Christine Lupo, the girl from Arthur Avenue, astride a golden palomino. “It’s a systemic inflammatory response and, yes, it’s dangerous. Boris slid the SUV into a parking space down the street from the Rasputin nightclub and he and Jay jogged along the sidewalk through the deluge. Jay was in the kitchen sipping a glass of water when Tackman barged in. “And say what?”
“I love him, I’m horrified by my behavior, and I’ll do anything to get him back.”
“I’m not sure he’s going to be receptive to that message right now, but when I talk to him next I’ll try to figure out what he’s thinking, and if it’s appropriate, I’ll say something. “It’s a persuasive mitigating circumstance.”
Bebe had heard enough. Franklin had invited her to a fundraiser for Christine Lupo, and because she enjoyed harassing her cousin, and wanted to take the measure of the woman who was prosecuting her brother, she could not resist. He wanted a glass of water. The communications expert reviewed a list of fifty likely questions and made sure his client had responses to each of them. The idea of charging Jay Gladstone with a hate crime was Lou Pagano’s, but this didn’t matter because, as District Attorney of Westchester County, she would get the credit. Marat downed the shot in one gulp. Marat, dispenser of favors. Why had she not left ten minutes earlier? “The league wants you out.”
“The media wants me out.”
“And the league. These thoughts created a disturbance in her well-ordered moral universe. She wanted to know what it was like to be this man, to live in storybook surroundings with a gorgeous young wife and a geyser that spouted money. May I tell you what I’m doing in South Africa?”
“Let’s stay on this subject for now. But a rupture in their relationship was inevitable anyway. When Bebe left the office, Jay lay on the sofa and thought about his father and how he had behaved in the wake of this dalliance. I did a terrible thing and I want to explain. Nicole hoped Bebe would tell Jay exactly what his wife had done, although she wasn’t going to ask her. No one. He remembered that a coronary event was often accompanied by pain radiating down the arm. But this isn’t about her.”
He congratulated himself on the magnanimity he displayed. I have twenty-nine partners in the league. He was about to respond to Tackman when he noticed the vision in his left eye had become occluded and the entire room lost definition, straight planes bending, becoming curvilinear, vibrating, melting, the floor rising and the entire space beginning to disintegrate. Half the charitable organizations in Harlem, Bed-Stuy, and Newark have the name Gladstone on the wall because we want to help. “I can’t go to prison.”
Marat took another drag of his cigarette and released a plume of smoke. Bebe had said nearly the exact words, but her intent was far different. From a fawning profile on, she knew Jay owned horses and wondered if whoever looked after them lived on the premises.  
When it came to audacity in another woman, Christine Lupo was of two minds: Since it was the quality she cultivated that allowed her to achieve her exalted position, she admired those who possessed it. Back in the 1930s, when my father was on his high school prom committee, he refused to hold the event at a hotel where they were going to make the black kids use the service entrance.”
“What does that have to do with—”
“I’m telling you. But what overrode all of this, casting a shadow the size of the world itself, was death. Nerves. This particular imam has been leading demonstrations against me in front of the arena where the team plays, violent demonstrations in front of my offices, spreading the most scurrilous lies. Her Internet scavenging revealed he had made contributions to Democrats and Republicans. For his entire life, he had modeled himself on his father, held him up as a shining example of how to be a man in the world, prostrated at the feet of his exemplary life when all the time, in this most basic measurement of goodness, Bingo was an imposter, a failure. The no drugs or alcohol business might be a problem, but following every rule wasn’t the point, was it? A mule was trying to kick its way out of his skull. Removed the gun, felt the heft of the weapon in his hand. She was walking a small dog with the muzzle of a lion. Why was she even thinking these thoughts? I was jealous.”
Revisiting the experience was making Jay increasingly uneasy. The mustache beckoned Jay and Boris to the table. She wanted to talk with him but not enough time had passed. But, listen. “What can you do for me?”
“Whatever you want.”
“I didn’t say I would do it.”
“Marat, just ask.”
“I love basketball.”
“I do, too.”
“Remember when Russian men’s team stole 1972 Olympics from the Americans?”
“Who can forget?”
Marat smiled as if he were the one who had arranged that farce himself. Her default mode was one of surpassing subtlety, but with the decision to take Dag to bed she had precluded that approach and the luxury of indirection was no longer hers. If the luxury of a Jesuitical debate were permitted, she would never prosecute anyone. Boris arrived and, after a few minutes, the others departed. Near the free bar manned by a white-jacketed waiter, Ezra Gladstone and his twin brother Ari sipped artisanal beer and engaged the daughter of a casino mogul with whom they were exploring a co-venture. I talk about ideas. They met at the Oak Room in the Plaza Hotel. When the dog sniffed Jay’s leg the woman said something to it in guttural Russian and jerked the animal’s chain without stopping. “Not all of them, boychik. When steady breathing resumed, Jay gently returned his hand to the big man’s arm. It was hard to see how his wife’s outburst could make it worse. Ultimately, all that united them was philandering spouses.