He’d been back from New York a week and all he’d been thinking about was going off on his own with Brenda. He wondered what kind of retaliation he could expect from Peter and Devon if he actually went through with it. He'd just met with Peter about some bids on Nazi art and stopped by his local bar before going home. Peter had casually mentioned that he had a very important job for him. Brock was curious but didn't press him for details, and at this point, he wasn't offering any. He had watched Peter carefully in his dark, comfortable office, it all seemed like business as usual, several bids were out on some magnificent art that had been stolen from the Jews during Hitler's reign and Peter wanted Brock to handle the exchanges.
When he got home he needed coffee, the beers were floating in his stomach like stones. He hoped the coffee would settle it. He hadn’t heard his wife come in. When he looked up, Jane was standing in the doorway, outlined in arched dark wood. He’d been listening to Chopin; the music was so dreamy it almost made him forget he was being as distant as a prior century.
He patted the couch beside him. “Care to join me?”
He wanted it all to be like it was before, no sad news and no private conversations behind closed doors that involved a puncture to the hot air balloon Devon was riding … Devon, his wife’s father, bastard like no other.
“I wonder why Peter isn’t giving me an assignment,” she said as she placed her bag on the desk and removed her coat. “I hear there’s a Rembrandt in Paris with a high bid.”
Brock eyed her over the rim of his glasses. “Peter look okay to you?”
Jane sat on the other side of the room and looked off pensively. “A bit thin, maybe. I've just left him.”
"You just missed me, I was there earlier today."
Brock took his glasses off and cleaned them with the bottom of his sleeve.
“Five paintings came in yesterday … Nazi art.” The creases on his forehead deepened and appeared like well-traveled lanes. “He tell you about them?”
“No, he did not. That’s for the best, really. I think it sucks selling Nazi art. I mean it’s not their art, it belonged to the Jews.”
He gave her a lopsided grin. “The art we move doesn’t really belong to anyone.”
“That’s one way of looking at it, I guess.”
He stretched out. His legs were too long for the couch and fell over the arm. He put his hands behind his head. What can I say to her?
“Brenda called earlier,” she said and moved her mouth in an odd way.
“Really?” He knew she had information, finally. He hoped she was calling to tell him she'd been wrong, there were no phony bids. “I’ll call her later,” he said.
Jane met his gaze. She looked less serious than he imagined she might.
“I wish you wouldn’t, not tonight anyway,” she said. “I don’t want to be alone.”
He tried to recall what she meant … had he missed her birthday?
Jane looked away. “It was ten months ago today. I think at this precise moment, actually.”
Ah. He swung his feet up and sat up straight … the miscarriage. He held out his hand. “Come here, darling.”
She went to him and nestled close. “I’d like to try again.”
He noticed that her eyes were teary. He stroked her hair. The doctor said they should try again, there was still time and Jane was strong and healthy, not yet forty.
“Do you think we'll ever get out of this family business if we wanted to, do you think we could survive as normal people?"
She didn't answer him; he knew he always asked that question, as if he were serious.
“And if it’s a girl,” she said softly, ignoring his comment, “she’ll dance … or paint.”
He turned her face to his. The phone rang just as he found her lips. They each listened to the voice as it traveled across the room, loud and nervous, rising from the answering machine, vowels lost in imperfect technology. It was Brenda … something about urgent news.
Brock stood. “I won’t be but a moment. I’ll meet you in the bedroom.” He kissed her again.
Jane got up to climb the stairs. “I’ll wait.” She looked annoyed.
He put his hands up as if he were praying, and shook them slightly. “I’ll get rid of her,” he mouthed.
“What the hell is it, I have a blooming headache?”
“I've got some very interesting information. There's word of a buy and a bid has already been put out. And you're not going to believe this one.”
Brock could hear her smoke. She sucked it in through her teeth. It made him cringe.
“That's interesting news, but a bid is hardly eventful, not eventful enough to call so damn late.”
“Oh, it is very eventful,” she said, her words riding on her heavy breath, thick enough to carry her weight. "There’s a source that claims to know the whereabouts of the Eagle Diamond.”
“What?” Brock sat forward. “The Eagle Diamond? The one that was stolen back in the 60s?”
“Peter was told it was in Callicoon.”
“Where the hell is that?”
“New York State.”
“And Peter believed it? Must be another phony bid, right?”
“It appears so.”
Brock was thrown back by his laughter. He put one hand to his forehead and felt his stomach actually bounce. "The Eagle Diamond? What a joke. Who the hell would believe that?"
Brenda went on, as if he hadn’t reacted.
“My sources tell me that Peter was contacted by some fruitcake we used to do business with.” She took a deep drag. “I’m told that Peter had the same reaction you’re having now, at first anyway.”
“Who’s the fruitcake?”
“Some antique dealer. His name is Hunter LaPorte.”
“So Devon had LaPorte send the buy to Peter? Of course it's fake or he would have kept it for himself."
"Well, yes, if Devon was involved."
"Peter informed Prince Vizueta that the Eagle Diamond has surfaced and the prince placed a bid for it right away, jumped on it. It's all too perfect."
"And when Peter accepts the bid from this phony prince once again, he winds up looking like a schmuck because there is no Eagle Diamond. It will all come out. Devon will let it leak that the Yellow Diamond was also a hoax. Our customers will assume that Peter's business is falling apart so he's making preposterous claims to have diamonds that don't exist.”
“It would appear.”
“But why would the fruitcake give Devon phony information? What’s in it for him?”
“Money I assume. But listen to this, I'm told LaPorte went directly to Peter and not to Devon at all."
"That’s crazy, that would mean it might be true; if this LaPorte guy has factual information then the Eagle Diamond might have surfaced."
“Possible but unlikely. Any way, the fruitcake doesn't have the diamond, just claims to know the whereabouts.”
“So then a player put out the buy through the fruitcake, is that what you’re saying?”
"Seems so, but the player is not coming forward."
"You know this is all bullshit? LaPorte has been bought off to pull Peter into a phony buy."
"It would seem."
"Is Peter taking this seriously?"
“It appears he’s taking it seriously. He asked Glen to go out to Callicoon to see if he can make contact with the player.”
“Perfect, Glen gets to make a shmuck out of him twice.”
“Yep, Devon inherits all of Peter's business because word is out on Peter.”
Brock thought quickly. There was always a slim chance the diamond really existed, that the fruitcake really had something and Devon wasn’t involved.
“On the off shot this is real, let's play it out. We can’t assume anything.”
“What? You don’t expect to find the Eagle Diamond in Callicoon, New York, after all these years? What are you smoking out there?”
He could hear the next cigarette being lit, could see the long fingers and her thin narrow lips as she picked the tobacco off her lip.
“Humor me,” he said.
"Look, if Devon is behind this, it’s all bullshit and if it’s not bullshit and Devon gets wind of it, he'll go after the diamond. Devon will try and find his own player, that won't be difficult. Peter's prince is a fake and Devon knows it. If there’s any truth to this story, Devon won't let his brother get all the glory for passing the Eagle Diamond. I for one don't believe it, the damn thing hasn't been seen in years."
"We need to find out if this is another phony set up or not."
"Peter thinks it's real. I think its crap. Just saying."
"Look, can you get up there? Keep your eye on Glen and investigate the whereabouts of the diamond? Just stay incognito. We can't leave any stone unturned … pardon the pun." He laughed.
“Well, I can get a flight out tomorrow morning. Don’t know what I’m going to find out though, shouldn't I just tell Peter his buyer is a fake, there is no Prince Vizueta?"
"I don't know why Vizueta put out a bid, maybe he was told to. Perhaps Devon told him too. Perhaps the asshole really does have funds. Look, if the diamond does exist we can find a player for it ourselves. Just beat Glen to the punch on this; he might be going solo."
"So you believe in fairy tales, do you?"
"Obviously, the fruitcake wants a price for his information?"
"Well, of course he expects a payoff."
"This whole thing smells bad, but I have a hunch.”
"I hear Glen has found some old farmhouse for rent already. He seems to think that the local residents are likely to know if there’s a famous diamond in their town, at least they’d know about the rumor. Glen is passing himself off as a local redneck."
“Good idea to keep some distance from Glen,” Brock told her. “Don’t let him know you’re in town.”
“I concur; but how can I keep my eye on him then?”
“I find it hard to believe some local is sitting with the Eagle Diamond. You could be approached if you look like a player, so be sure that you do. Drive into town in a Maserati and rent the best house you can find. Let Peter chase his tail looking at locals. I say, we have a player up there that sticks out like a sore thumb. You need to find him. He shouldn't be so hard to spot.”
“Brock, for God’s sake, the Eagle Diamond is a long shot anywhere.”
The smoke got held in her teeth before being released in a long, loud blow of air. B rock could hear it. He could even follow the journey it took up from her lungs.
“Especially in some little rural town that I can barely find on a map,” she added. “But I’ll humor you.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish