The Jinx: Sample Page 10

“Geez-us, will you look at that!” the scrawny orange-haired student said in a piercing, nasal voice. Adams and Marlboro looked up at the television to see the Knicks fall prey to a series of dazzling three-point shots by a young Celtics guard that Adams had not noticed before. The Knicks were down by twelve.

“I’ve got to ask you this,” Marlboro said. “You seem like such a nice guy. Do you really believe the shit you write in those editorials? I mean, come on, it’s been almost fifty years since Little Rock.”

Adams glanced at the clock on the wall. Eight-thirty. “As much as I’d love to debate my politics, I’ve got an appointment,” he said. “Son, it’s been a pleasure.”

He opened his wallet and pulled out a twenty. The slip of paper his father had given him the night before he died caught his eye. It was a list. He kept it as a frightening reminder of the magnitude of what his family had achieved. These powerful men, his cousins, had made their ancestors’ unlikely plan work. “The Heir Apparent. The Speaker. The Senator. The General. The Spy. The Publisher. The Doctor. The Caretaker. The Assassin.” He sighed and returned the list to his wallet, tucking it in a safer place.

“I’ve enjoyed talkin’ to you, too,” Marlboro said. “Are ya lookin’ for company tonight?”

Adams looked Marlboro in the eyes for a fleeting moment. A rush of thoughts filled his head. Could he trust this man? Did he have AIDS? What would George Thompson think about his 46-year old son cavorting with the Marlboro Man wearing nothing but his cowboy hat? It had been a long time since he had been intimate with anybody, but The Assassin awaited.

“No thank you, son,” he replied, dropping the twenty on the bar and and grabbing his tweed sports coat from the back of the chair. He caught a glimpse of his flabby countenance and balding head in the mirror behind the bar and scowled. “Have a good evening.”

Adams walked out into the chilly November air. He glanced southwards, the brightly lit twin towers of the World Trade Center rising in the distance above the colorful, low-rise buildings of Greenwich Village, then strolled north on MacDougal Street, towards his Fifth Avenue apartment just beyond Washington Square. There was nobody else on the street.

Vivid memories flashed through his mind as he marched towards his date with The Assassin. His eyes moistening, he recalled that solemn night two years earlier when he had finally gained his father’s trust, maybe even his love.

At first Adams had listened in disbelief as the story unfurled that evening over a bottle of Scotch whiskey, probably not unlike the evening when his ancestors hatched the conspiracy of all conspiracies to avenge the murder of their brother 160 years before. He had been so horrified by the plot that his first impulse was to disclose it to the authorities if he could not persuade his father of the scheme’s insanity.

Surely, he had argued, reason must have intervened at some point during the past 160 years? But, no, the elder Thompson had convinced the younger that, indeed, the family had taken its vengeance like clockwork for a century and a half and was prepared to complete its mission as the millennium turned.

Copyright © 2000, 2011 by Larry Kahn

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