Friday, December 7, 2007

Feel the Burn, Week V

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.

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The Mansion: (continued)

After two shots of tequila with Max, Dickey volunteered to spend the afternoon with him and help him figure out what to do with the laundry list of items that Consuelo had left for him. The work was draining. There were calls to charities and a file of personal correspondence that Consuelo had asked Max to put through the paper shredder.  Sometime around cocktail hour, Jarret Paine called. Max was busy at the shredder so he put him on the speakerphone.

“Max, it’s Jarret Paine.  I just wanted to give you fair warning that Consuelo’s immediate relatives have been notified of her death. And although none of them have legal access to the mansion, I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of them showed up.”

“Thanks for the heads-up,” Max replied.

“And actually, Max, as your lawyer, I would like to suggest that you leave the premises as well.” Max and Dickey looked at each other. “I know that you’ve spent many nights there taking care of Consuelo and that she gave you the run of the house, but legally, you were just her personal trainer. It would be in your best interest to stay out of sight. That is until, the reading of the will.”

Max paused, digesting the information. “Good advice. Thanks. I’ll wrap things up here and lock the door behind me.”

“Good. I’ll be in touch.”

Max clicked off the speakerphone and shot a sad smile Dickey’s way. “The mistress once again.”

“It comes with the territory,” Dickey replied, knowing exactly what he meant.

Max and Dickey had both lost clients in the past that they were extremely close to – people they knew better than anyone else – even lovers and spouses. Yet when they died, Max and Dickey were outside looking in. Often, the families didn’t even know they existed, or at least, had never laid eyes on them. The funerals, the wakes, the shivas, would come and go and there was an eerie sense of exclusion. They would know everyone in the room – intimate details about their lives – but they would know nothing about their loved one’s trainers, or how important they were in the life of their dead relative. “It’s like being the mistress,” Max had said, after Dickey had lost a client last year. And so it was. But as for Max, at least this time, his existence would be hard to ignore.

Chapter 6:  Man’s Favorite Pleasure ... Too

It was nearly seven p.m. that Saturday evening when Dickey arrived at his place of residence; a fairly modest yet highly coveted one bedroom apartment on East Seventy-third Street between Second and Third Avenue. His building was one of six sister residences, three on either side of the street and adjacent to one another.

The structures were known collectively as Eastgate and were designed by the world-class architect, Emery Roth, and built by the Bing & Bing real estate development company, renowned for erecting some of the premiere residential buildings in New York City. The units were built during the depression and intentionally scaled down - mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments, providing a price point that was within reach (at least for some) but still embodying the brilliance of Mr. Roth’s architecture and the sturdy yet elegant bones of a Bing & Bing building.

Dickey’s apartment had come on the market in the spring of 1994 and at the time, nineteen months after moving to New York, would have been unaffordable if it were not for the confluence of two things: the passing of his great aunt and the worst real estate market in Manhattan since the near bankruptcy of the city in the mid 1970’s. His aunt left him fifty thousand dollars, which was exactly twenty percent (the least down payment possible) of the two hundred and fifty thousand dollar asking price. He put in a bid for the full asking price, which was accepted.

But the building was a co-op residence meaning he had to pass board approval – not unlike joining a private country club. Dickey wouldn’t have had a prayer (He had two thousand dollars in the bank, three maxed-out credit cards and his last W-2 boasted an income of forty seven thousand dollars). But as fate would have it, one of his early clients, Penelope Falls, was the president of the board, which not so surprisingly was how he had heard about the apartment – two days before it hit the market.

Penelope pushed him through board approval and a dozen years later, his apartment had quadrupled in value. It was a rare occurrence that Dickey passed through the wooden, revolving door of his apartment building and didn’t quietly thank his great aunt, the dismal real estate market of the early nineties and of course, Penelope Falls.

An hour later, halfway through reading the mail, the telephone rang. Dickey glanced at the caller ID, which caused him to smile. He answered on the second ring. “How’s L.A.’s top litigator?”

“When I run into him, I’ll ask,” Amanda Fellows jokingly replied. They both laughed. “How are you, Dickey? It’s been a while.”

“Tired, but happy to hear your voice. And you?”

“Too busy to be tired. I still have to depose two people today and then scratch out a brief before tomorrow morning.”

“Which means you’ll forget about dinner again, Amanda. And I’m sure you haven’t gained back the five pounds you lost since your last trial.”

“Probably not,” she admitted. “I don’t have you cooking me midnight meals anymore.” Her comment caught Dickey off guard. He only smiled into the phone. “I’m sorry, Dickey. I didn’t call you to go down that road. I simply called to hear a sane, friendly voice.”

“Well, I can handle the friendly part, as for the sane…”

“Hush, Dickey. Tell me what’s been going on in New York – in your life. I need a distraction – I need five minutes of virtual New York.”

Dickey had a million things he would have liked to talk about with Amanda, but Consuelo’s death and Max’s soon to be change of address occupied their sliver of time together.

“I’ve got to go, Dickey,” Amanda interrupted, fifteen minutes after she had called. “One of the partners is about to walk into my office.”

“Then go, Amanda, but keep in touch.”

“I will, Dickey. I promise.”

“I miss you, Amanda,” Dickey said, more or less involuntarily. But Amanda had already hung up. Dickey clicked off the phone and ran his hands through his hair, feeling his stomach roil a bit. “Don’t go there old boy,” he said aloud. “Don’t go there.”

Amanda Fellows and Dickey Scott had been an item – a serious item for nearly three years. They met at a fundraiser in the spring of 2001. Dickey was escorting Caroline and Amanda, a second year Assistant District Attorney at the time, was the date of another ADA – a young man from a New York society family who was comically shorter than Amanda and impossibly full of himself.

Dickey had noticed Amanda the second Caroline and he entered the ballroom. She was cutting directly in front of them and heading towards the ladies’ room. Amanda was taller than average with shoulder length brown hair, nearly the same, chocolate color as Dickey’s, which was offset by her flinty, blue eyes. She was in a strapless dress that revealed subtly tone muscles stretched over olive-toned skin. Her movements weren’t especially graceful but they were athletic and confident. In a nutshell, she was just his type.

Dickey had a clear view of Amanda during dinner and they made eye contact several times, neither of them hiding the fact that there was an attraction. Late in the evening, when Amanda’s date left to use the men’s room, Dickey approached and introduced himself, shaking her hand and slipping a card with his phone number into her palm.

Amanda called him late that night. They made a date for the following Saturday. Two weeks after their first date, they were cohabitating, sometimes at his place and sometimes at hers.

Two years later, and shortly after Amanda had begun searching for work outside of the ADA’s office, she received an offer from a very prestigious L.A. law firm. It was the perfect fit – small yet influential with two women partners. It was exactly what she wanted except that it was in L.A.

Amanda and Dickey spent many late nights talking about their options – what they wanted from their life together. Marriage had never been urgent to either of them. The institution was something that neither of them felt was important to their relationship and as for children, Dickey was in no hurry and Amanda, twenty-seven at the time, was more concerned with her career than the biological clock.

Author, Scott Briggs
But three thousand miles was an issue. Dickey entertained the notion of moving his business to L.A. but he had only a few contacts there and it wasn’t realistic that he could ever be as established in the City of Angels as he was in New York.

Amanda seriously looked at New York law firms, but they all paled in her mind compared to the one in L.A.

In the end, Amanda took the job in L.A. and Dickey stayed in New York. There were many tears and futile promises of a long-term relationship. But late in the summer of the year at hand, Amanda and Dickey called it quits, promising to remain friends and perhaps, someday, reconnect.

Sometimes things were never meant to be ...