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TAKEN CHRIS JORDAN

For Lynn Harnett, forever and always.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

The author wishes to thank Diane Shaw and all the good folks at Piscataqua Savings Bank for sharing details of financial intrigue.

CONTENTS

Acknowledgment

1 Field of Green

1 Fairfax, Connecticut

2 In My Chair

3 Olly-Olly-Entry

4 The Man in the Mask

5 What Hinks Thinks

6 Method Man

7 Where’s Jesse?

8 A Small Villa in the Caymans

9 Fasten Your Seat Belt

10 Dead to the World

11 In the Basement

2 The Methods

12 Face Down on the Infield Grass

13 Memory Lane

14 Killer Mom

15 What He Lives For

16 When His Knuckles Brush the Ceiling

17 What the Pastry Chef Said

18 My Bad

19 Queens for a Day

20 Lawyers, Guns and Money

21 Mr. Smith Goes to the Bathroom

22 The Boy Scout

23 The Way a Man Walks

24 In the White Room

25 The Blur called Bruce

26 What Have You Done?

27 Sine Pari

28 Bing-Bing

29 Six Degrees of Pizza

30 Baking Bread

3 The Good Heart

31 No Stinking Badges

32 One Thin Dime

33 Good Night, Irene

34 Following Mom

35 When the Dark Lightning Strikes

36 Tenpins in Heaven

37 A Sleep So Deep

38 Already Dead

39 White Lady in the Moonlight

40 Friends

41 Forming Rank

42 Ask Dr. Google

43 A Pair in the Hole

44 What Would Shane Do?

45 Get You a Flyboy

46 He Said Goodbye

Epilogue

About the Author

Coming Next Month

1 FIELD OF GREEN

1 Fairfax, Connecticut

On a perfect day in the month of June, in a lovely field of green, my life starts falling apart. At five minutes after four in the afternoon, to be exact.

At ten of four things are still fine and dandy. I’m watching eagerly as the handsome boy with the aluminum bat steps out of the batter’s box and readjusts his gloves, just like A-Rod, his big-league hero. I lean forward in the dugout, but resist the impulse to shout encouragement. My son, tall and lanky for his eleven years, doesn’t mind the fact that his mom is an assistant Little League manager, but he has asked me not to shout from the sidelines like so many of the other parents. Parents who are, like, hideously uncool. His phrase. Tomas “Tommy” Bickford. My perfect, precious, truly gifted son. My amazing, maddening child. Amazing because he seems to be changing every day, sometimes from minute to minute. Maddening for the same reason, because I never know if he’s going to be my sweet little boy, goofy and affectionate, or if he’ll dis me with his soon-to-be-teen-stud coolness. Tommy can toggle between the two identities in the space of a heartbeat, and every time it happens it hits me like a soft blow to the belly.

At eleven he’s such a guy. And somehow I never imagined my son would be, well, a guy guy. What did I expect him to be? Did I think he’d stay my baby boy forever? Clinging to my apron strings? And I do wear aprons. Aprons inscribed with the logo for my catering company. I also make cookies. A thousand or so a day, for the upscale delis and restaurants in my neck of the Connecticut woods.

I like to think of myself as a warmer version of Martha Stewart. Warmer and a lot less wealthy. But doing okay in my own small way. Katherine Bickford Catering books over two hundred events a year. Peanuts compared to the really huge commercial catering firms, but more than enough to keep my twelve employees very busy indeed. Average event, eighty-five plates. Average charge per plate, sixty-two dollars. Do the math and you’ll discover that adds up to more than a million dollars gross. A million bucks! Of course, we showed a whole lot less than a million in profit, but still. And I really did start the business in my own kitchen. With a small, frightened four-year-old boy “helping” me sift the flour.

We’ve both come so far in the last seven years that it sometimes takes my breath away. Especially when I admit to myself that when we started out I was even more terrified than the four-year-old. Terrified of suddenly having to raise a child on my own. Terrified I would never get over the grief of losing Ted, the love of my life, my sweet husband. Terrified that I would simply vanish into the black hole of despair if I stopped moving or stopped mothering for even a minute.

Even now, seven years later, just thinking his name gives me a Ted-size pang of melancholy. Like a low, mournful note on a cello, quietly sounding in the deepest part of me. But the anxious fear is gone. Over time the grief has become regret, for all the things poor Ted has missed. Tommy on his first bicycle—Don’t touch me, Mom, I can do it all by myself! Tommy on his way to first grade, fiercely insisting that he not be accompanied into the school—the bravest kid in all the world that day.

Amazing boy. For the first month or so after Ted died, he came to our bed—my suddenly lonesome bed—and slept at my side in a fetal position, reaching out in his sleep as if he thought I, too, might vanish from his life. And then one day at breakfast he quietly announced that he was “too big” to sleep in his mommy’s bed. Hit me two ways, that one. Fierce pride that at four he had such a strong sense of self. And regret that he didn’t seem to need me quite as much as I needed him. At least while he slept.

How many hours did I stand in Tommy’s bedroom door that first year after Ted passed, watching him sleep? More than I care to admit. And yet just watching him helped me. As watching him now helps remind me of who I am. My first and most important identity: Tommy Bickford’s mom. Proud to be, even if he doesn’t want me shouting his name from the dugout.

     

 

2011 - 2015

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