I had told myself all along that when I got tired of Europe, I'd just show up unannounced at Suite 19 one day, probably just in time for the first game of the next season, surround myself with a bunch of old pals, and start up the party all over again. I'd let Ken continue to run the show with the help of Pete and Liz Bolton, the team president and an old flame of mine (that was before I found out that she'd gone to the West Coast to take a job as Vice President of Programming for Oversexed Teens on the WB network). I'd let Babs run marketing and promotions and the handing out of comp tickets to celebrity assholes. I'd do my best to stay out of the way of both of them.
Except I never came back that season.
I stayed at Lennox Gardens. I kept in touch with Pete Stanton by e?mail, signing off on the big stuff even while Ken thought he was the one signing off on the big stuff, basically empowering Pete to do whatever he needed to do to see if we could somehow repeat, even though injuries would start hammering us in the preseason and never really stop.
About a month after Annie left, I started up with an actress appearing in the new Tom Stoppard play. About the same time, I made a sizable investment in an upscale gambling club around the corner from The Connaught, and began showing up a few nights a week in a tuxedo and imagining myself as Billy Grace on training wheels. Thinking, way in the back of my mind, that I might go back to Vegas someday, when Billy was finally ready to retire, see if I could run with the big dogs there.
Maybe then I'd be ready to be a full-time boss.
It turned out that while I was screwing around with all this civilized Bond, James Bond, shit in London, the New York Hawks staggered into the playoffs as a 9-7 wild-card team and won three straight upset games on the road in the playoffs. Then, in the Super Bowl, which was played at the new Joe's Stone Crab Stadium in downtown Miami, Benito Siragusa just missed the forty-seven-yard field goal-wide fucking right-against the 49ers that would have made it two Super Bowls in a row.
Now it was the first Sunday in April, a couple of days after Sarah, the actress, had announced that she was leaving both Tom Stoppard and me.
She'd informed me that she was up for the part in a new Fox sitcom, one about an English nanny who goes to work for a gangster in the Federal Witness Protection Program named Gus (The Goat) Triano, tentatively called Goat's Nanny.
"I've seen the script," Sarah said. "I do so much bending over in the pilot, I'm afraid your people back home might think it's one of their exercise shows."
I said, "You trained at the Royal Academy. Now you're going to do tits-and-ass comedy in the States?"
"I'll be wearing lots of the same outfits you're always asking me to wear. Think of it that way."
"Field hockey uniform?"
Sarah said, "Episode three."
I had a half-dozen Sunday papers spread out around me in the living room and was trying to root my favorite soccer team, Tottenham Hotspur, home against somebody, when Ken Molloy called from New York to say that he and Babs had decided to sell their half of the Hawks and how was merry old England, by the way?
"Dick Miles has made us a fabulous offer, and we've decided to take it."
I said, "Dick Miles wants to buy half of our team?"
"Actually, he wants it all, Jack."
"Fuck him, he can't have it all."
"I told him you'd say something like that."
I shut down the sound on the television, walked across the room to the screenwriter's wet bar, poured myself a shot of Dewar's, and drank some.
"Jack, are you there?" my brother said.
"Sonofabitch," I said when I'd cleared the Scotch. "Dick Miles. Captain Commerce himself. Even used to chase some of the same properties the old man did about a hundred years ago. Him and his partner, what's his name, died not too long ago?"
From Red Zone by Mike Lupica. Copyright Mike Lupica 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher, Putnam Publishing.
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