“I don’t know how he disappeared,” said Betsy, whose face, it seemed to me, had gone a paler shade of white. “He just left.”
“You mean from one day to the next he was gone?” said Mme X.
“Well, did you call the police?” asked another woman.
Betsy shook her head, flustered. “He used to take off like that all the time.”
“What happened to his stuff – his car and all his things?” asked Margot.
“It was a long time ago,” said Betsy. “Look, let’s just play.”
“Did he even take his car?” asked Mme X.
“Are we talking about that crazy doctor from a long time ago with all those lights?” asked a woman who was lying on the couch.
“Victor Goodlove. I heard Hillary Clinton used to fly in to see him,” said someone else.
“Get out of here!” said the woman on the couch.
“That’s right,” said Mme X, suddenly an authority.
“Did you know he was Jewish?” sneaked in Margot.
“No way!” chorused all the women, except me and Betsy.
“Yeah, his name was really Gottleib.”
“Mahjong!” announced Betsy.
With that the game was over. People got up and began to help clear dishes and gather their things. Conversation turned to other matters. It was past eleven on a weekday night – no one was going to linger. Mme X pulled me aside as I was leaving the bathroom. “Listen,” she said. “I don’t want you to write this on your blog or anything, but there’s something really weird about the Doctor Goodlove story.”
“Tell me about it,” I said dryly.
“You’ll have to come to lunch one day so we can talk about it.”
Anyone who knows me knows I’m in my studio from ten to three and never take lunch. “Yes,” I said. “That’d be great.”
“In the meanwhile, keep coming to maj. You’ll learn quickly, and even if you don’t –“ she gave a quick smile, revealing teeth that had an even prettier luster than the flawless pearls at her throat, “—there’s no better place for gossip or conversation.”
Well, that was the truth. But I had some other ideas about getting info out of Betsy who certainly knew a great deal more than she was willing to admit. I was convinced there was a shady element to her connection with Victor – why else would she change the subject every time his name came up? I was going to find out what it was even if – I shouldn’t say these words – but even if it killed me.
To be continued…
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