NYSD readers may recall an early contributing weekly series "The Adventures of Dickey Scott." Dickey Scott, the creation of a New Yorker named Scott Briggs, was a kind of roman AA clef about a personal trainer working in the gilded halls of Manhattan's higher social circles. Once upon a time, in real life, Mr. Briggs was one of those personal trainers. He discontinued the series a couple of years ago when he sat down to "write the book" about Dickey Scott. Today, Feel the Burn is completed and now available.
Max had been away from Consuelo for over ten hours, the longest he had been separated from her in weeks. He took the stairs in the enormous mansion two at a time, hoping to find her peaceful and resting comfortably.
The private nurse rushed towards Max the second she saw him. “Max, my God, I’ve been trying to call you.”
Max glanced at Consuelo lying in the bed with her eyes closed and then back at the nurse. He said nothing. “It’s time, sweetheart,” the nurse stated plainly but with immense compassion as she took both of Max’s hands in hers. “She said that she would wait until she saw your beautiful green eyes. And then she would be ready for heaven.”
Max closed his eyes and sighed. He felt tears welling up but forced them back. He gave the nurse a quick hug and then walked towards Consuelo. The nurse left the room. Max sat on the edge of the bed, which stirred Consuelo. She opened her enormous and now opaque brown eyes and smiled faintly when she saw Max. “It’s about Goddamn time,” she whispered, with a faint, raspy voice.
“I’m sorry, Consuelo. I was stuck in Harlem at the fucking Department of ...”
Consuelo cut him off by patting him on the hand. “I’m kidding, darling. I’ve just been napping until you arrived.”
Max sighed and bent down to kiss her forehead. Her hair, which was once a warm chestnut color, was now a brilliant silver mane. Max brushed it back affectionately. Consuelo closed her eyes and relished the touch of his hand. She tried to take a deep breath but it came out shallow and rattled.
“Mi amigo,” Max whispered, as he bent down and kissed her cheek. “It’s time to sleep. I love you more than life itself but it’s time to go.”
She smiled without opening her eyes. “Thank you, my baby.” And she was gone.
Max had promised her that he wouldn’t cry but he did. It came in torrents and in whaling sobs and the nurse did all she could to console the man that was for all practical purposes the worshipped son, the once troubled yet fascinating ex-con who had filled a wealthy widow’s life with joy.
Chapter 4: The Snake Loves Armani
After spending two hundred dollars for teeth cleaning and listening to yet another diatribe from his dentist stating the wonderments of his cavity-less mouth, Dickey arrived ten minutes early at the French bistro, Orsay, on seventy-fifth street and Lexington Avenue, for his lunch date with Caroline, which turned out to be a good thing because he was able to wrangle the last two-seater outside under the canopy. He ordered an iced tea with lemon and decided to pass the time by sneering at a loud and obnoxious young mother who was talking baby talk to her child on her cell phone. But she was oblivious to Dickey’s condescension and so his attention strayed to the street where he saw Caroline approaching from a half-block away.
A diminutive man of dark complexion with two small children in tow had stopped Caroline and was asking her something. Caroline removed her sunglasses, listened with a smile, took the man by the hand and pointed him around the corner. He had obviously been asking for directions. As the family strolled away one of the children waved to Caroline. She waved back.
Caroline Matthewson was a rare breed. She had a combination of small town girl sensibility, worldly political and cultural savvy and urban sophistication – not to mention smashing good looks and an easy smile that had melted the heart (and warmed the loins) of many men. She made everyone feel at ease around her because she was truly at ease around everyone in return – whether it be the cab driver that she bummed a cigarette from or the C.E.O. of a major corporation who was knocking knees with her under the table at a charity ball.
She was married to her second husband, Jacob Matthewson, a tall, lanky man with a fabulous sense of humor and a bent towards English clothing. They were out nearly every night, their energy and social dispositions evenly matched – both fabulous at small talk and naturals at navigating endless dinner parties, with Jacob’s affinity for the perfect joke often saving a tense moment when Caroline pushed her political point of view – very liberal – or religious persuasion – atheist – a bit too far. They were perfect partners.
Over the years Caroline had gone from being one of Dickey’s favorite clients to one of his best friends. They shared everything – well, nearly everything – and their training sessions were usually a manic hour of babbling conversation where their only means of communication regarding exercise was through sign language.
Dickey’s eyes were still on Caroline when a limousine honked and pulled up beside her. A tall, well-dressed, black man stepped out of the rear door of the midnight blue town car and gave her a tremendous hug, literally lifting all of her five feet eight inches and hundred and twenty pounds off the ground. They obviously were well acquainted and Dickey couldn’t help but notice that Caroline’s body language was subtly, yet obviously coy and shy, like the skinny, shapeless school girl that blossoms over the summer and catches the eye of the star quarterback on the first day of school.
Caroline was playing with her hair, twirling it between her fingers and laughing dramatically at everything he said; all the while darting her eyes from side to side as if afraid someone was watching. When the dashing gentleman gave Caroline another hug good-bye, Dickey made note that his left hand – wedding ring and all – was perched well below the curve in Caroline’s lower back. Caroline stood for a moment as the car drove away and then dashed quickly towards the restaurant, once again scanning the street for any sign of familiar life.
Caroline’s behavior was a bit unsettling. Dickey had witnessed over the years, at numerous cocktail and dinner parties, dozens of men making a pass at Caroline – sometimes just testing the waters and other times, with real intent. She enjoyed the banter of those encounters and was always in control. But she wasn’t in control here – and that had Dickey worried.
Which may seem strange: Why would a guy who just hours before, received a blowjob from one of his clients, care if another client has an affair with an attractive man? It’s a legitimate query. But Dickey knows Caroline all too well. If it were Anika Rand Dickey would arch his brow and ask for details. But Caroline didn’t have real affairs. It wasn’t her style. Her affairs were flirtations - the knee knocking under tables, the whispered invitations to lunch, the lingering touch of hands when a gentleman passed her a drink and above all, the adoring gaze of men who would have paid handsomely for just one night. But at the end of the day, Caroline was a blushing romantic. She loved the game, but she loved even more, reminding disappointed men, that she was happily married. That was the end game that truly satiated Caroline.
After that first meeting, so many years before, Barclay had tried in vain to seduce Caroline and lure her into an affair as he had so many other women. But Caroline had proven elusive. She was flirtatious and allowed little sexual innuendos to mix with their occasional conversations, but she never swallowed the bait that Barclay cast her way time and time again.
But on this day, Barclay sensed something different. Caroline’s guard was down. He felt certain, that if he persisted, he could finally seduce her. The thought warmed him as his driver pulled up to 21, a midtown restaurant where businessmen met for power lunches and where on that day, Barclay was dining with Jacob Matthewson.
Friday, November 16, 2007