Wednesday, October 13
His voice was hard to ignore -- the same voice I dealt with on
the phone, this summer. As Winters -- or was it one of his
underlings? -- walked away, Randy was all over me: "That creep was
lurking in reception -- I tried to warn you!" He looked me up and
down with insolent approval, adding softly, "Where've you been?
"Please just tell me," I begged him. "Did he ask you any more
I lowered my voice. "He's a special agent with the Treasury
Department. Be careful."
Randy shrugged. "So? I've got nothing to hide -- and where does he
get off bothering you?"
"It's a long story," I said, "and I'm late for the hairdresser. But
please be careful. I know he doesn't scare YOU but I don't want you
to be -- to be hurt." My explanation ended on a lame note as I
groped for the right words.
Actually, I don't want Randy dragged in to Winters' investigation
because, if he finds out ... well, I wouldn't want Randy telling his
buddies that he got free sex from a call girl -- namely me! He's so
young and unpredictable ... Despite my reservations, I lingered over
a pseudo-chaste goodbye kiss, my lips pressed against Randy's
"I'm not engaged," I whispered. "Can't you tell?" His hand
closed tenderly around my upper arm. He breathed the words "I'll call
you" into my ear and I sped off for my hair appointment at
Renato's, my heart fluttering with a mixture of fear and
Randy's touch revived my body's short-term memory. As the taxi
headed west, I couldn't ignore all those recalled sensations -- but
the shock of confronting Winters hit me when we got delayed on
East 77th Street. Wedged between an obstinate delivery van and a
diagonal Mercedes, I thought: what a perfect metaphor for my love
And what was that insidious remark about my boyfriend supposed to
mean? Does Tom Winters really have any idea who my boyfriend is? Was he
talking about Randy? Or Matt? Did Allison tell Winters all about
Matt? Will I have to choose between answering questions about
her or admitting my secret to Matt? And what do I owe her, at
this point -- when someone rats on you, does that change the rules?
I've been in such a panic over Allison's threats that I haven't
allowed myself to face the obvious -- the terrible silence of
losing a best friend. I was relieved when the cab started moving
Thursday, October 14
At Jasmine's insistence, I've made an appointment with the
notorious Barry Horowitz. "Remember that bad-ass nerd who tried to
blow up the A Train? Barry was his attorney," she said with a
definite air of self-importance. "When Tom Winters finds out you're
represented by the lawyer for the A-Train Bomber, he'll think
twice about bothering you in your own neighborhood."
"How do you know Barry Horowitz?" I was impressed with her breezy familiarity.
"Barry's known me since high school," she boasted. "He got me out
of jail." A legal skeleton in Jasmine's closet! Jasmine
maintains she's led a life not exactly free of crime but free of
detection, even as a young drug dealer.
"You got arrested?" I tried to hide my surprise.
"Only once," she said darkly. "In front of Madison Square Garden
for ticket scalping -- when I was 16. I lied to the cops about my
age because I wanted to be tried as an adult -- but Barry talked me
out of it. And helped me to finesse the whole thing with my dad.
So I don't have a record. Of course, he's graduated to bigger and
better criminals since then."
As if I didn't know -- he's constantly in the news defending the
rich and the dangerously alienated. "Great," I said. "What if I run
into one of his sociopaths in the waiting room? And how much have
you told him about me?"
"Just go talk to him," Jasmine urged me. "I told him you were mixed
up with April Ford and with Anabel Weston's Web site --"
I was mortified. "I am NOT mixed up with the Web site madam. I
don't even know that woman! Why did you tell him THAT?"
"For someone who's such a snob," Jasmine opined, "you manage to get
yourself into some rather tacky situations. It was you --
not me -- who got herself totally mixed up with April and she was
working for Anabel. Stop looking at me like that. Barry doesn't think you
were advertising on the Web. But why should you care what he thinks
of you, anyway? You're paying him." Jasmine was shaking her
head in disbelief.
Friday, October 15
The receptionist at Horowitz, Kaplan -- a round-faced Asian guy
with an impeccable goatee -- gave me a curious look when I showed
up for my appointment wearing large black sunglasses and a pleated
Hermes scarf looped around my head.
Horowitz ushered me into his office and
gently closed the door. Trim to the point of boyish, with salt-
a pointy, playful face.
"The Park Avenue Babushka look is over!" he chided me. "You need
to get out of your East Side girl ghetto and check out what people
are wearing downtown. The purpose of camouflage is to make you blend in," he added,
pulling out a chair for me. "The only place you blend in is at an
I removed my sunglasses and peered at the period movie posters on
the wall behind his desk. "I know what the purpose of camouflage
is," I curtly replied. I shook my hair free from the scarf while he
gazed back amiably, fingers steepled together and elbows planted on
the desk. His green and red striped suspenders did not exactly
"I thought I might be followed here and I didn't want to
be recognized," I added. "Do you know what happened to me the other
day?" I told him about the chilling encounter outside of the gym:
"'It's not a crime to lie to your boyfriend but it's a crime to lie to us.'
Why did he say that? How does he know I lie to my boyfriend? Could
he be tapping my phone?"
Barry scowled. "Unlikely. He probably doesn't even know if you
have a boyfriend. Did you answer him?"
"No! I was too stunned."
"Good. Title 18 USC Section 1001,"
he recited: "'It's a crime to lie to a federal agent.' Relax, you
haven't been interviewed by this guy
yet. So, you haven't lied to him. And what does your
boyfriend think you do for a living, if I might ask?" He leaned
back in his
"Um -- well, at one point, I was supposed to be working for a
caterer. Now I'm supposed to be a freelance copy editor. But I may
have led him to believe ..." Barry was steepling his fingers again.
I paused, feeling absurdly like an amateur criminal. "Well, he
led himself to believe that I don't really have to work for a
living. My cousin, who introduced us -- her dad's worth millions --
and my boyfriend doesn't seem to realize I'm the poor
relation! Neither does my cousin, for that matter. She's very
"Wouldn't it be funny," Barry mused, "if your boyfriend was really
after you for your nonexistent money?"
I was tempted to smack him. "Is that really relevant?" I said
sharply. "Let's talk about something else, OK? My best friend is
threatening to turn me in for trying to sell her client book. And
she's being audited by -- did Jasmine tell you about Tom Winters?
And I tried to sell her book to someone you've heard about. April
Ford. And April's the common element --" in more ways than one --
"whenever Winters talks to anyone I know. It's really scaring me."
"Winters is a notorious freak," he explained. "He's trying to turn
all these civil audits into something sexy for the criminal
division. But why were you trying to sell someone else's book?
Whose idea was that?"
I balked at first -- it seems weird to discuss an intimate
piece of Girl Business with a guy. Then I remembered he was not
just any guy. I am, as Jasmine points out, paying him to get me out of
trouble. "Mine," I admitted. "She wanted me to throw it away, and I
"So you were trying to make money off your pal?"
"No!" I protested. Then I told him the whole sorry tale ... how
Allison decided to quit the business by joining Prostitutes
Anonymous, how April met with us both to discuss buying Allison's
book, how Allison obtained money from April and never delivered the
book ... and now the latest: "I didn't even want a cut of the money
-- but she thinks that just proves I was trying to set her up!"
"And now you wish you'd thrown the fucking thing away," he said
with a weary sigh. "Sounds like April was wired when you ladies
were lunching. That question about the out-of-towners -- you really
walked into that. Out-of-state johns -- that's the kind of
thing Winters goes looking for. Federal charges! You know about
April Ford's lawsuit?"
"Against Anabel Weston? Sure," I said.
"Right, well, who doesn't follow the National Enquirer when there's
a good lesbian hooker scandal?" He smirked.
I rolled my eyes. "Well, how did she get Anthea Walgreen to
represent her, anyway? Walgreen's a big-name attorney."
"Oh, that's Classic Anthea," Barry said dismissively. "The
frivolous face of feminism. But Anthea's out of her depth because
this time her client is a much bigger bimbo than she is. April's
going to ruin Anthea's reputation. If I have anything to do with
it," he added with an annoying smile. "You know what? I'd love to
represent Anabel Weston."
"Why? She told the press she was broke -- she probably can't afford
"Because she's crazy. That Web site was incredible! Auctioning off
sex acts to the highest bidder, " he chuckled. "I like
representing crazy people. You, I'm not so sure about --
you might be too normal for me. And I probably can't represent
Anabel if your case gets mixed up with hers."
"I have nothing to do with Anabel," I insisted.
"Yeah, but Winters is trying to connect the dots -- this is how
he spends his days. Hmmm, maybe a joint defense agreement,"
he said. "If you put me in touch with Anabel, I might give you
a discount. Well, if you're not too much of a pain in the neck,
I might even represent you for free."
"Are you serious? What's this really about?"
"I want to be on Court TV! Anthea has all these great TV
connections. If we go up against each other, it'll be the
Walgreen-Horowitz Abuse Hour. The neo-pig vs. the bimbo feminist
-- East Coast beats West Coast into a psychic pulp." He smiled
happily. "I am not just in this for the money, after all."
I was appalled. "Well, I don't know Anabel," I informed him
crisply. "I had no idea who she was until I read about her in the Post. We
run in very different circles."
"That's what Jasmine told me, but a guy can always hope," he sighed.