“Sedona, Arizona.”

“I know, it rhymes, just like New York, New York. And there the resemblance ends. It’s small and upscale, and the climate’s ideal and the setting’s beautiful, and the town doubles its population every twenty minutes, so a person could drop in out of the blue without drawing attention, and after six months you’d be an old-timer. I figured I’d drive there and see some of the country on the way, and then I thought it through and decided the hell with seeing the country, so I sold the car and flew out to Phoenix and bought a new car and drove to Sedona. I picked out a two-bedroom penthouse condo for myself, and from one window I can see the golf course and from another I’ve got a great view of Bell Rock, and you probably don’t even know what that is.”

“A rock that chimes on the hour?”

“The hair’s different,” she said, “but it’s still the same old Keller underneath it, isn’t it? As soon as I was settled in, I tried to work out a way of getting in touch with you, assuming I could do that without holding a séance. I knew from the news coverage that you made it out of Des Moines, and the law never caught up with you, but if Al got to you first there wouldn’t have been anything in the papers. And if you were alive, there was only one way I could think of to reach you without attracting anybody else’s attention, so that’s what I did.”

“You placed an ad in Linn’s.”

“I ran that damn advertisement every place I could find. Who would have guessed there were so many papers and magazines for stamp collectors? Besides Linn’s there’s Global Stamp News, and Scott’s Monthly Journal, and the magazine the national stamp society sends its members—”

“The American Philatelic Society. It’s a pretty good magazine.”

“Well, that’s a load off my mind. Good or bad, my ad’s been in it, every goddamn month. Plus some others I can’t think of. McBeal’s?”


“There you go. I’ve got run-until-canceled status with all of them, and every month all the charges show up on my Visa statement. And I was beginning to wonder how long I should go on running the ad, because I was starting to feel like that football team owner who always leaves a ticket at the front gate for Elvis, just in case he shows up. And he at least gets some free publicity out of it.”

“It must have cost you quite a bit.”

“Not really. Small ads at low rates, and they get even lower on a long-term basis. The real cost was emotional wear and tear, because every time I got my credit card statement that was one more month without word from you, and it was that much more likely that I’d never hear from you again. You at least had closure, Keller. You knew for sure that I was dead, but I had to sit around wondering.”

“I wonder which was worse.”

“You could probably make a good case either way,” she said, “but either way we’re both alive, so the hell with it. You saw the ad and called the number—”

“After I finally figured out that it was a number.”

“Well, if I made it too obvious the phone would have been ringing off the hook. And I knew you’d work it out once you put your mind to it. But what I still can’t understand is why it took you so long. Not to work it out but to pay attention to it in the first place. How many times do you suppose you saw that ad before it rang any kind of a bell?”

“Just once.”

“Just once? How is that possible, Keller? I don’t suppose you could have had the post office forward your mail, but that ad ran in all the places I mentioned and one or two I forgot. How hard is it to find a copy of Linn’s? Or send in and get a new subscription?”

“Not hard at all,” he said, “but why would I bother? What would be the point? Dot, I saw the ad because Julia picked up a copy of Linn’s and brought it home with her. She wasn’t sure she should give it to me, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to look at it.”

“But you did.”


“What’s not obvious,” she said, “is why you weren’t sure you wanted to, and why you didn’t have a subscription anymore. I’m missing something, Keller. Help me out.”

“I don’t have a subscription,” he said, “because it’s for stamp collectors, and it’s hard to be a stamp collector when you don’t have a collection.”

She stared at him. “You don’t know,” she said.

“I don’t know what?”

“Of course you don’t. How could you? You sort of glossed over that part, going to your apartment, or maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but—”

“I may not have mentioned it. It’s one part I don’t like to think about. I went to my apartment—”

“And the stamps were gone.”

“Gone, all ten albums. I don’t know who took them, the cops or Al’s guys, but whoever it was—”

“Neither of them.”

He looked at her.

“Oh, God,” she said. “I should have told you right away. Somehow it never entered my mind that you didn’t know, but how could you? Keller, it was me. I took your stamps.”

The first thing she’d done in Albany, after she’d found a place to stay, was buy a car. And the first thing she did with the car was drive it to New York City.

“To get your stamps,” she said. “Remember that time you got a case of the whim-whams and gave me elaborate instructions of what to do if you wound up dead? How I should go straight to your apartment and take your stamps home with me, and what dealers I should call and how to negotiate the best price for your collection?”

He remembered.

“Well, I wasn’t going to sell them, not so long as there was a chance on earth you were alive. But as far as getting them out of your apartment, I took care of that as soon as I possibly could, because I didn’t know how much of a window I had before the police came calling. I showed your doorman the letter I had authorizing me to act on your behalf and giving me full access to your apartment and its contents, and—”

“You know, I have absolutely no recollection of writing that letter.”

“Well, don’t go getting tested for Alzheimer’s just yet, Keller. I wrote it out myself on a computer at Kinko’s. I designed a nice letterhead for you, if I say so myself, and I didn’t sweat the signature, because how familiar would your doorman be with your handwriting? He didn’t have to let me in because I had the key you gave me.”

“How’d you manage to get them all out of there? Those books are heavy.”

“No kidding they’re heavy. I found a bag in the closet that held six of them” — his wheeled duffel, he thought — “and I got the doorman to give me a hand, and he brought a luggage cart they keep in the basement, and between us we got everything into the trunk of my car. Oh, and I took your computer, too, but you’re not getting that back. Unless you want to look for it at the bottom of the Hudson.”

“Between the two of us,” he said, “we’re hard on rivers.” He picked up his iced tea and took a long drink of it. “This is all tough for me to take in,” he admitted. “Let me make sure I’ve got it straight. The stamps—”

“Are in a climate-controlled storage locker in Albany, New York. Well, actually, it’s in Latham, but you probably don’t know where that is.”

“Albany’s close enough. And everything’s there? My whole stamp collection is intact, and I can go there and pick it up?”

“Anytime you want to. I probably should go with you, to make sure they don’t give you a hard time. We could fly to Albany tomorrow, if that’s what you decide you want to do.”

“I get the feeling,” he said, “that it wouldn’t be your first choice.”

“Well, I’d like to spend a few days and see New Orleans. But after that it’s your call. You’ll have your stamps back, and you’ll have two and a half million dollars just in case the construction business goes sour. You can just sit back and enjoy yourself.”


“Lord, did I finish that last glass of tea? I’m going to have some from your pitcher, if you don’t mind.”

“Go right ahead.”

“I’ll regret it, when I have to get up once an hour to pee, but if that’s my greatest regret I’d say I’m in good shape. Keller, I think we’re both pretty safe at this point. The cops seem to think you’re dead or in Brazil or both, which is about what I thought until my phone rang the other day. And I don’t know what our friend Al thinks, but at this point he probably has other matters that get the greater part of his attention. He knows I’m dead, and if you’re still on his list you’re way down toward the bottom of it. So there’s nothing we absolutely have to do.”


She sighed. “Oh,” she said, “I’m sure it’s the sign of a defect of character, and there’s probably a seminar I could take to address the issue, and if there is you can bet someone’s offering it in Sedona. But what do you figure are the odds I’ll ever take that seminar?”


“There you go. Keller, I can’t help it. I really would like to get even with that son of a bitch.”

“It was driving me crazy,” he said, “that he was alive and you weren’t.”

“Same with me, that he was alive and you weren’t. Now it turns out we’re both alive, and we’re both millionaires, and we should probably let it go at that, but—”

“You want to go after him.”

“You bet I do. And you?”

He drew a breath. “I think I’d better go talk to Julia,” he said.


“I’d like to meet her,” Julia said, and insisted Keller ask Dot to join them for dinner. They tried to decide on a restaurant, and Julia said, “No, you know what let’s do? Bring her over here, and I’ll cook.”

When he picked Dot up she wore a different suit, with a skirt instead of pants, and her hair was different. “I had to cancel my little Vietnamese girl in Sedona,” she said, “so I asked the concierge, and wound up with a local product who couldn’t stop talking. But I like what she did with my hair.”

Keller brought her into the house and introduced her to Julia, and stepped aside and waited for something to go wrong. By the time they sat down to dinner, after Dot had had the grand tour of the house and said all the appropriate things, he realized nothing terrible was going to happen. Both women were too well brought up.

Julia served pie for dessert, pecan this time, from the little bakery on Magazine Street, and they all had coffee, which Dot chose over iced tea. Throughout the evening Julia had referred to him as Nicholas, and Dot hadn’t called him anything at all, but as he was pouring her a second cup of coffee she called him Keller.

“I mean Nicholas,” she said, and looked across at Julia. “It’s a good thing I live a thousand miles from here, so you don’t have to sit around on pins and needles waiting for me to drop a brick in front of company. Have you ever done that, Julia? Called him Keller?”

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