Today's Reading

The cops don't comment. They listen. Sklar continues talking to them earnestly, making eye contact with each man, impressing upon them that he knows they have a job to do and can see they are both excellent officers of the law. Sklar is usually very adept at creating camaraderie with people by seeming to put himself in their shoes, however costly or cheap those shoes may be. But right now, his folksy approach doesn't seem to be working. The cops are looking at him like they suspect there's something he's not telling them. Time to crack a joke to get them in his corner.

"Candidly, guys? You know the world's gone completely nuts when you're safer in Syria than at The Four Seasons."

That gets a chuckle out of them. And don't they know it too. The world is nuts, all right, full of people who think they can get away with all kinds of shit.

And do.


As the train rumbles toward D.C., I can't believe I actually escaped from that restaurant. Forget The Invisible Man. Older women are invisible and we don't even have to disappear. No one gave me credit for being the shooter. That's why I was able to calmly walk out of there. It used to bug me that I was beyond the gaze of men, overlooked and underestimated. But right now, I'm quite happy no one on this train is paying the slightest bit of attention to me. If they're focused on anyone other than themselves, it's the millennial blonde in the front of the compartment.

As the train rolls on, I replay the scene in my mind. I was pretty cool and calm walking up to that table because I'd rehearsed it so much. But I did get rattled when Sunderland blurted out, "Lois, no! We killed you!" like he'd seen my mother's ghost. I must look a lot more like my mother than I thought. I wonder if she'd be pleased to know that. Doubtful. Mummy so loved being one of a kind.

I close my eyes and think, am I really that same prep school girl whose life was laid out before her like a magic carpet of privilege? Was I ever that innocent young debutante who curtsied to New York Society at the New York Infirmary Ball, then went on to marry the very suitable young man of my parents' dreams? It's hard to recognize myself now. God knows that naïve young girl could never have imagined that in her middle age she'd be sitting on a train wondering if she'd killed a man—and worse—not really caring.


Greta Lauber is with her chef, going over the menu of tonight's dinner party in honor of her dear friend Sun Sunderland when the phone rings. She lets her assistant get it. She has no time to chat. She's much too busy with last-minute details. Greta plans dinner parties the way generals plan battles. Like a social Napoleon, she understands that guests march on their stomachs.

Greta is a famous hostess in New York, known as a grand acquisitor of paintings, porcelain, and people. She has an eye for quality, in life and in art. No "Paperless Post" for her. Invitations to her "small dinners," as she calls them, are handwritten on ecru cards, and much sought-after because, along with the elegant apartment, gourmet food, vintage wines, and glittering table settings, there is always interesting company. Greta coined the phrase, "You are who you eat 'with'." She has a knack for finding new people, young people, people of the moment, who add spice to the stew of old regulars. But the thing that has cemented her reputation as a hostess with the mostest are the dinners she gives for really powerful people—politicians, movie stars, media moguls, billionaires—like the one she is giving tonight in honor of Sun Sunderland, who has just donated one hundred million dollars to New York Hospital for a new cardiac research wing.

Greta has recently noticed that many of her wealthiest friends have become as obsessed with science as they once were with art. The big collectors who used to bring gallerists and fashionable artists to her soirees now bring doctors and research scientists. She attributes this to the fear many of her aging friends have of being themselves collected by the Great Connoisseur in the sky.

Through her long career in the financial capital of the world, she has observed one thing: Money exaggerates who people are. If they are good, they will be better. If they are bad, they will jump right down on the devil's trampoline. If they are fearful of death, they will fund research into the disease they believe they are most likely to die of. Hence, The Sun Sunderland Cardiac Research Center at New York Hospital. She has no idea her august guest of honor is fighting for his life in the very hospital he has just endowed with a fortune. He is not dying of heart disease, as expected, but of a gunshot wound. What are the odds?

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