Home > Back Spin (Myron Bolitar #4)(9)

Back Spin (Myron Bolitar #4)(9)
Author: Harlan Coben

Then Win’s voice cut through the darkness. “Take a look at this.”

A hand reached out and dropped something on Myron’s chest. Myron risked letting go of the bed with one hand. So far, so good. He fumbled for whatever it was, found it, lifted it into view. A streetlight from outside—campuses are lit up like Christmas trees—cast enough illumination to make out a photograph. The color was grainy and faded, but Myron could still make out what looked to be an expensive car.

“Is that a Rolls-Royce?” Myron asked. He knew nothing about cars.

“A Bentley S Three Continental Flying Spur,” Win corrected, “1962. A classic.”

“Is it yours?”

“Yes.”

The bed spun silently.

“How did you get it?” Myron asked.

“A man who was fucking my mother gave it to me.”

The end. Win had shut down after that. The wall he put up was not only impenetrable but unapproachable, filled with land mines and a moat and lots of high-voltage electric wires. Over the ensuing decade and a half, Win had never again mentioned his mother. Not when the packages came to the dorm room every semester. Not when the packages came to Win’s office on his birthday even now. Not even when they saw her in person ten years ago.

The plain dark wood sign merely read MERION GOLF CLUB. Nothing else. No “For Members Only.” No “We’re Elitist and We Don’t Want You.” No “Ethnics Use Service Entrance.” No need. It was just a given.

The last U.S. Open threesome had finished a while back and the crowd was mostly gone now. Merion could hold only seventeen thousand for a tournament—less than half the capacity of most courses—but parking was still a chore. Most spectators were forced to park at nearby Haverford College. Shuttle buses ran constantly.

At the top of the driveway a guard signaled him to stop.

“I’m here to meet Windsor Lockwood,” Myron said.

Instant recognition. Instant wave-through.

Bucky ran over to him before he had the car in park. The rounded face was more jowly now, as if he were packing wet sand in his cheeks.

“Where is Jack?” Myron asked.

“The western course.”

“The what?”

“Merion has two courses,” the older man explained, stretching his neck again. “The east, which is the more famous one, and the west. During the Open, the western course is used as a driving range.”

“And your son-in-law is there?”

“Yes.”

“Driving balls?”

“Of course.” Bucky looked at him, surprised. “You always do that after a round. Every golfer on the tour knows that. You played basketball. Didn’t you used to practice your shot after a game?”

“No.”

“Well, as I told you earlier, golf is very special. Players need to review their play immediately after a round. Even if they’ve played well. They focus in on their good strokes, see if they can figure out what went wrong with the bad strokes. They recap the day.”

“Uh-huh,” Myron said. “So tell me about the kidnapper’s call.”

“I’ll take you to Jack,” he said. “This way.”

They walked across the eighteenth fairway and then down the sixteenth. The air smelled of freshly cut grass and pollen. It’d been a big year for pollen on the East Coast; nearby allergists swooned with greedy delight.

Bucky shook his head. “Look at these roughs,” he said. “Impossible.”

He pointed to long grass. Myron had no idea what he was talking about so he nodded and kept walking.

“Damn USGA wants this course to bring the golfers to their knees,” Bucky ranted on. “So they grow the rough way out. Like playing in a rice paddy, for chrissake. Then they cut the greens so close, the golfers might as well be putting on a hockey rink.”

Myron remained silent. The two men kept walking.

“This is one of the famed stone-quarry holes,” Bucky said, calmer now.

“Uh-huh.” The man was babbling. People do that when they’re nervous.

“When the original builders reached sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen,” Bucky continued, sounding not unlike a tour guide in the Sistine Chapel, “they ran across a stone quarry. Rather than giving up then and there, they plowed ahead, incorporating the quarry into the hole.”

“Gosh,” Myron said softly, “they were so brave back then.”

Some babble when nervous. Some grow sarcastic.

They reached the tee and made a right, walking along Golf House Road. Though the last group had finished playing more than an hour ago, there were still at least a dozen golfers hitting balls. The driving range. Yes, professional golfers hit balls here—practicing with a wide array of woods and irons and big clubs, nay, warheads, they called Bertha and Cathy and the like—but that was only part of what went on. Most touring pros used the range to work out strategies with their caddies, check on equipment with their sponsors, network, socialize with fellow golfers, smoke a cigarette (a surprising amount of pros chain-smoke), even talk to agents.

In golf circles, the driving range was called the office.

Myron recognized Greg Norman and Nick Faldo. He also spotted Tad Crispin, the new kid on the block, the latest next Jack Nicklaus—in a phrase, the dream client. The kid was twenty-three, good-looking, quiet, engaged to an equally attractive, happy-just-to-be-here woman. He also did not yet have an agent. Myron tried not to salivate. Hey, he was as human as the next guy. He was, after all, a sports agent. Cut him some slack.

“Where is Jack?” Myron asked.

“Down this way,” Bucky said. “He wanted to hit alone.”

“How did the kidnapper reach him?”

“He called the Merion switchboard and said it was an emergency.”

“And that worked?”

“Yes,” Bucky said slowly. “Actually it was Chad on the phone. He identified himself as Jack’s son.”

Curious. “What time did the call come in?”

“Maybe ten minutes before I called you.” Bucky stopped, gestured with his chin. “There.”

Jack Coldren was a touch pudgy and soft in the middle, but he had forearms like Popeye’s. His flyaway hair did just that in the breeze, revealing bald spots that had started off the day better covered. He whacked the ball with a wood club and an uncommon fury. To some this might all seem very strange. You have just learned your son is missing and you go out and hit golf balls. But Myron understood. Hitting balls was comfort food. The more stress Myron was under, the more he wanted to go in his driveway and shoot baskets. We all have something. Some drink. Some do drugs. Some like to take a long drive or play a computer game. When Win needed to unwind, he often watched videotapes of his own sexual exploits. But that was Win.

 

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