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The couple sat in their car in the driveway. A torrential downpour kept them
there as they waited for the real estate broker, Lynn Banyon, to show them
the quaint wood framed house on the north side of route 27 in Amagansett.
Even though the property was not south of the highway, the beach side, as
they would have wished, they had agreed to see it on Lynn's word that it was
probably the nicest within their price range north or south.
When Lynn got there she said, "I'm sorry. I had to drive the kids to the rec
center for Tae Kwon Do class, and you know... with the weather and all..."
Lynn had the word "mom" crayoned all over her. She was very pregnant again.
The local housewife turn real estate agent wore expensive fitness sneakers,
oversized overalls and smelled of children, specifically stale American
Stan and Mary Kahn had come up to the Hamptons this stormy Saturday in
November to look at houses for the summer. The finally comfortable Kahns
had devoted their lives to their current well-to-do station in life.
Stan had just gotten a promotion at his firm. He was a diligent worker, well
liked at the office, and could get what he wanted. He could play the
politics - meaning, he could have the propensity to be an asshole behind
closed doors if he had to. With his enlargement of pay, he was granted less
responsibility; so, he could afford to take more time off. This would also
allow him the forty grand for bond at a golf club and give him the time to
Mary worked as a script supervisor for a popular television game show and
had the summer off for hiatus. She liked her job for its unusually large
salary and the freedom of the schedule. Her favorite quotation was "You know
what they say... nothing beats TV money!" Excited about a leisurely summer
of days filled with trips to the Farmer's Market, long strolls on the beach,
and catching up on her reading - she would then casually brag about it to
her friends stuck back in the city.
They were self-made New Yorkers. His parents were Queens grocers; hers a
little more haute, as school teachers in Pellham. Life hadn't been a cake
walk for either of them. They had both had their set backs - from humble
beginnings they both felt they had been given the shaft plenty of times,
from busting their asses in school to fighting for every inch of yardage
they had gained over the course of their careers. Not to mention the fact
that Mary had been flashed by a strange man in the school yard as a little
girl. An event that put her into years of therapy, and, she suspects, has
made it nearly impossible for her to reach orgasm. Stan had a small penis
and was going bald. And yes, they had had their share of fights over the
years, but they always ended in mournful apologies. Stan would give red
roses and jewelry. Mary would cook a delicious homemade Chinese meal and
give Stan oral sex. To their friends they were a delightful couple. They
took pride in the fact that theirs was seen as a sound and solid marriage.
In their late thirties, Stan and Mary had forgone a family. Mary knew she
wasn't the mothering type. Taking the time out of her work schedule and the
possibility of advancement at "the show" (as she called it, yet another
colloquialism which displayed her sass and zest for life) meant more to her
then having to deal with the mess of rearing a child. Stan wasn't interested
in parenting either. His brother had plenty of kids to keep the Kahn name
going. Anyway, what they were interested in was the good life. Nice things
and prestigious positions were what they aspired to, and they were on their
way. Kids would throw a wrench in the works, they agreed. The Kahns had
that understanding and felt it strengthened their marriage: giving them one
up on their friends. If history said anything about the sanctity of having a
family, progeny, they were happy to be sacrilegious. They both unspokenly
thought of Lynn Banyon as a boob.
The two were in the prime of their lives and were excited about buying a
place in the lazy, low key, Long Island town. They had been coming out to
the Hamptons for years, going in on shares with their friends. They had
stayed in "wooded communities" in Quogue, a blind driveway Sag Harbor
cottage on the Cove, condos off of Three Mile Harbor Road, and even a tennis
and beach hotel in Napeague - bunched together with friends and enemies
from the city. Motley groups of up and comers who simply had to summer in
the Hamptons. They would spend every other weekend rain or shine making the
best out of their little slice of the Hamptons.
Part of the joy of having a place out on the east end of Long Island was the
drama that could stir up between supposed friends and housemates. Usually,
just petty differences about eating someone else's stock of food, the
acknowledgment of how dirty a couple could be, or the discovery that someone
didn't make as much as they said they did or gave themselves an elaborated
job title. The Kahns needed the melodrama and thrived on the venom, as did
The barbecues could be pretentious; they might have to withstand the
humiliation of waiting on line for what seemed like hours to eat at a
satellite of an expensive Manhattan restaurant; the twenty minute drive and
half an hour ordeal for beach parking might be frustrating; the supposed
Hollywood parties might only host a single celebrity and that from tabloid
TV's Inside Edition; but Stan and Mary were troopers and stuck to their
guns, returning every year. The Jersey shore was for high school kids,
chiropractors, and cops. Now they finally had the opportunity to take the
next step and buy a place of their own in the choice community.
"And how 'bout this weather?" Lynn said as she ushered them past her and
into the front door of the modern built colonial. She shielded her head from
the Nor'easter with a copy of the Independent. "We can really get bombarded
this time of year."
The echo of foot steps on the hard wood floor clacked through the house. The
room remained dark. Lynn shut the door and walked out of the room. Outside,
the howl of the wind and rain gave their shelter a cold but cozy feel. "It's
so much larger then it seems," Mary noted as she moved forward in circles.
Lynn found the light. With a flick of the switch the room came into view. It
had a standard second home feel to it. It was modest, yet sophisticated. The
walls were paneled with non-descript sand colored wood. Following the walls
up to the high ceiling they could see the second floor. It appeared as a
balcony overlooking where they stood. On the floor lay thick and colorful
Persian rugs over amber industrial carpet. The shelves were filled with
paperbacks and sea shells. Modular gray corduroy couches formed a "U" around
a glass coffee table and faced the brick fireplace. After first glance
around the room Stan and Mary both set their eyes on the most noticeable
furnishing in the room. A black baby grand piano was situated in the far
corner on its own plush rug; on top of the stately instrument stood tens of
framed photographs of different age and size.
Lynn entered the room, bored. "So this is it. Take a look around. Ask me
questions," she said tersely.
As if drawn by a very small magnet in a large vacuum, the couple sauntered
to the piano without much thought or dedication, looking about the room as
they approached. "How many baths?" Stan inquired.
"Two and a half," said Lynn, busy with her own thoughts. She walked to the
window and stared out into the storm. An odd quiet filled the room. The
couple became instantly interested in the photos on the piano. All three of
them seemed as if they were half in a daze. The assuring nature of being out
of the storm had everyone preoccupied.
"Three bedrooms you said?" Mary half heartedly threw the question out and
over to Lynn.
"Yeah, that's right." Lynn continued to concentrate on the rain. Her clients
didn't bother her about her lack of attention; they suffered from the same
non specific meditation.
Stan picked up an old black and white photo of a large immigrant family
posed in rows. The men had thick mustaches, wore hats and dapper yet old and
sooty suits. The women were dressed in heavy off-white dresses and had
kerchiefs over their heads. Two young boys wore knickers. A teenage girl was
the only one smiling, she wore a dark dress and a light colored blouse. A
very young child, Stan couldn't make out if it was a girl or a boy, sat on a
tricycle. "Look at this," he said to his wife. "Looks like your side of the
family." He laughed.
"Hey! My family was much poorer than those poor people," she shot back and
smiled. Mary was holding another frame. She pointed at the teenage girl in
the family portrait that Stan held in his hand and waved the black and white
photo that she held. It was what looked like an older incarnation of the
teenage girl from the family portrait. "Look at her. This must be her.
Isn't she wonderful."
Stan put on a snide smile. "I can't imagine there being two pictures of the
same Gypsy, what a coincidence."
"Stan! Stop being such a pain in the ass." Mary raised the frame in her hand
pretending to wind up to hit him. He flinched on cue. Another, more modern,
color photo caught Mary's eye. In the picture the group of friends were
engaged in a party. The scene contained three couples collapsed upon each
other in drunken glee. The revelers stood on a deck, behind them was a pool.
Mary looked out the sliding glass door across the room to find the very same
deck and pool outside. "Well, they've certainly had some good times here,"
Mary said to no one specifically. She turned the frame to face Stan who was
inspecting a photo of two attractive young women at their high school
graduation. "Look Stan... fun. You think we could achieve such gaiety?"
"No. You know me. I hate fun."
"Yoo-hoo! Are these the owners? Are any of these people the owners?" Mary
waved the picture at Lynn, who broke her stare out the window and joined
them at the piano.
Lynn pointed at the couple who were at the bottom of the pileup. He - olive
complexion with a bit of a paunch, black hair with a wisp of silver in
front, and wore dark sunglasses. She - a too skinny strawberry blonde whose
skin looked leathery with a spotty and scaly tan. "That's them. The
Delmonicos. He's in bonds. She's a family therapist. Had something of an
eating problem." Lynn gestured her finger toward her throat with a gag. The
Kahns nodded knowingly. "They just broke up last year, right after the
summer. Twenty years. Two kids. They chose to sell the house instead of
deciding who should take it. Classic story... he was sleeping with his
secretary. It had been going on for ten years. They even had a kid together
about three years ago. Do you guys have any kids?"
"No. We don't have the time," Stan answered as he had time and time before.
Mary nodded in accordance.
Mary glanced at her husband knowing he really was unfun enough never to have
an affair. Lynn excused herself to the bathroom, saying something only a
pregnant woman could detail about her bowel movements. The Kahns nodded and
resumed their fascination with the landlord's photo-history.
Mary picked up another frame. People sitting around the deck in chairs with
their drinks. She scanned the faces of the guests to see if any were
familiar to her. She didn't know anybody, but familiar they were. The party
members all had a similar look: New York successful; all with their own
Manhattan style: well groomed with a touch of sarcasm in their pose. These
were the type of people Mary and Stan called friend. She thought of the
parties she would have this summer. She thought about how it was her turn to
host. Her guest list would include a whimsical medley of the important and
provocative, like Stan's boss and their friend who created the ad line
"You've got a whole lot riding on your tires" for Michelin.
"What'cha lookin' at?" Stan asked his wife.
"Oh, another party."
"Let me see." Stan took the picture and inspected. "Look at this." He
pointed at a balding bearish man enjoying high ball and a cigar. "Doesn't
that look like Jeff Savoy?"
Jeff Savoy was an old close friend of Stan and Mary's from the city. They
had met him years ago when they were all scammed by the same pyramid scheme
involving an environmentally conscious mutual fund. He was a few years older
than the Kahns, yet always the life of the party. He was outrageous, not
missing a beat since his days in the frat. He worked as an accountant at a
big firm; one of his main clients was a "hot" (his word) rock band. The few
occasional times the Kahns had smoked pot in their adult lives it was with
Jeff. Stan and Mary often wondered if Jeff had changed his name to Savoy to
suit his lifestyle. Stan often said "I bet his real name is Savistonich or
"Yeah that does look a bit like him," Mary concurred. "Funny, knowing Jeff
- he does look like he's having a ball. If there was a lampshade on his
head then I'd believe it."
"But then you couldn't see his face," Stan mused.
Mary shook her head. "You know what I mean."
Stan pointed at another shot. "That is him! It's Jeff! It has to be. What
the hell is he doing in this photo? How does he know these people? That has
to be him."
Mary looked. "That could be him."
"What? You're not convinced?" Mary's response made Stan skeptical again.
Mary picked up a photo of a party that took place in the house during the
late seventies. Everybody had wine glasses in hand. Guests were dressed in
much denim and velour, pants were tight, collars were wide, some women wore
tube tops, hair styles tended to be longer and facial hair (on the men)
abounded. It was a time of lax mores and even feebler fashion. Mary's eyes
lit up with thrill upon setting eyes on the party. She threw it before
Stan's line of sight, in front of the picture he was already looking at.
"Oh my God! Look Stan." She shook the frame. "I think you're right. I think
it is him."
"Let me see, where?" His eyes still hadn't focused on the image.
"Where?" she said sarcastically. "Remember that perm?"
"Holy...! That is him! I told you!. But what the hell is he doing here at
this party. I never met these people." The Kahns were concerned, even
indignant at the fact that they might have been left out of a very important
social scene. Then Stan made an important observation. "Where's Katie?"
Katie was Jeff's wife for almost three decades. She had stayed with her
husband through thick and thin. When his firm made mass layoffs in its upper
echelons in the early Nineties due to over extension in the Eighties she
went back to school to get her teaching degree so she could work while he
got back on his feet.
"I don't know where Katie is, but he looks awfully comfortable with that
woman." Stan pointed to a long black haired woman. The back right pocket of
her tight fitting flared jeans was occupied with Jeff's hand. "That has to
be him. You're right. That's his perm! And she looks like Cher!"
Mary was amused. "Easy honey, let's not get likeness happy here. That's not
Cher. That's definitely not Cher... but that definitely is Jeff."
"Well, she looks a lot like Cher," Stan said humbly, dropping the subject.
"But how 'bout that... if that is Jeff... he's had a parallel set of friends
that we never knew about for as long as we've known him." Stan got a little
angry. "What the hell is that? You think you know someone..."
Mary picked up another photo of a party. It looked relatively recent. In it,
the man they identified as Jeff Savoy was in full embrace and connected by
the lips with a blond woman in a spaghetti string bikini; her hips poured
out over the bottom of the suit.
"Oh my, if that's Jeff... what about poor Katie?" Mary's face dropped
thinking of the implications of their long time friend sullying his marriage
with years of infidelity. She actually thought about what if it was her that
was faced with her husband's infidelity, but then she remembered she was
married to Stan. "What should we do?"
Stan was perplexed. "What can we do? Rat on Jeff?"
"This is weird." Mary grew quiet reviewing their dilemma.
Stan and Mary left the piano in deep thought. They walked from room to room,
checking the place out.
"Maybe Jeff has a twin brother that he never told us about," Mary tried to
"We've met his family. He has no twin brother," shot Stan.
"What are we going to do? This is such an odd, uncomfortable situation."
"Why would he have a group of friends that he never told us about?" Stan
seemed hurt, yet fascinated. And in a rare attempt at hipness used a bit of
street slang that he picked up from some of the younger men in his firm. "I
mean, what? We couldn't hang?"
"Stan, he was screwing another woman."
"That Jeff Savoy is something else. So unpredictable."
The Kahns felt closer to each other now that they held this privileged
information. After years of going out to the Hamptons - this was best dirt
they had ever tread upon. They were giddy with an excitement and power that
rarely comes along. The fate of their friends' marriage was in their hands,
and they intended to have fun with this advantaged position.
The house seemed fine to them. Everything was very basic and standard. That
appealed to the Kahns. They reconvened back at the piano.
About that time Lynn reappeared from the bathroom. "So folks? What do you
think? You seem pretty interested in the pictures. They, unfortunately, do
not come with the house." Lynn laughed at her own joke.
"We'll take it!" Stan said with a gust of spontaneity he hadn't demonstrated
in years, if ever. Mary looked at him happily incredulous. He smiled at his
wife who smiled back.
Memorial day came and went. The Kahns had moved in. It was the beginning of
June and Mary was planning a July 4th party. She wanted it to be as big a
success as what she had seen the Delmonicos' photos; to live up to the
splendor that once graced their deck in summers past. She made all the
plans: hired a caterer, ordered the booze, rented extra chairs, picked out
invitations, and most importantly drew up the guest list. At the top of the
list... Jeff and Katie Savoy.
The Savoy situation had been percolating in both Stan and Mary's heads since
that day back in November. They felt the only way to approach the curious
circumstances of the Savoys without being point blank confrontational was to
have it unfold at the scene of the crime.
"What if he sees the address on the card?" Mary asked Stan.
"So what," Stan replied. "He doesn't know we saw the photos. What type of
excuse would he make up for not coming? 'Katie, I can't go to that party I
have adulterous memories of that house!'"
"He could make up another reason for not coming."
Stan assured his wife. "You know Jeff, he wouldn't miss our party for the
world. If we held it at a morgue he could come."
"Yeah, we know Jeff alright." She smiled viciously. Stan kissed his wife and
they did it once on the floor.
The plan went: if that guy in the photos was indeed Jeff, (and they were
positive it was), Mary and Stan would surely find him out by needling him
with knowing looks and slipped words. What the outcome of this experiment
would be neither of them knew. But they would be sure to press the issue to
the point of making Jeff crack and get it out in the open. This could be a
fourth of July that would live in infamy. Their friends would never forget
A week after the invitations went out RSVP cards started to trickle in
through the mail. Upon opening every one Mary hoped it was the affirmative
response from Jeff and Katie; but no card from the most wanted of guests.
RSVPs filled the mail for the last two weeks of June and stopped as the
month drew to a close. Still no answer from the Savoys. Mary and Stan
thought this a very telling sign that there had to be a problem and it
probably sprung once Jeff saw the address.
Two days before the party a lone response card arrived in the mail. Mary
waited till Stan got home from golf before she opened it. Mary sat at the
kitchen counter with a glass of Merlot and the small envelope before her.
Stan entered to find his wife a bit buzzed, wearing a giddy smile on her
face. "Look what came in the mail," she gloated.
"An RSVP," Stan said. "Think it's from Jeff and Katie?"
"I don't know. I waited for you to find out."
"That's very kind of you - queen of devious."
Mary laughed and opened the envelope with her nail.
"They're coming," Mary said excitedly. "They say they'll be here with bells
It rained on fourth of July, as usual. The party had to be moved from the
deck to inside the house. Mary did a very good job of inviting a party that
resembled one that the Delmonicos' might have. The mix of people in the
house was very Manhattan transfer; a mix of the financial world, TV
production, a doctor or two, and a peppering of lawyers for good measure.
Rain and all, it seemed as if everyone was having a good time, but still no
sign of the unspoken guest of honor and his wife.
At this point both Stan and Mary had tied one on. The rented frozen
margarita machine was working just fine and made such a delicious concoction
that they didn't even realize that they had both downed about eight of them.
They were acting loud and one might even say "goofy," Stirring their party's
anticipation for the one they were waiting for, Jeff Savoy. Stan and Mary's
hidden agenda was cloaked by an actual longing for a guy that brought so
much joy to their festive occasions over the years.
"...This one time," Stan howled, "Jeff made us all drive up to Ski Windham, a
two hour drive mind you! Just so we could take some crumby plastic sled that
he had in his trunk down a trail on the mountain." Stan had the crowd going
with his anecdotes of Jeff's frivolity. A few of the guests inquired as to
the missing guests' whereabouts.
Mary chimed in. "I don't know. They said they were coming." Mary was
virtually bubbling over from anticipation of the sting operation she and her
husband had set up. Ugly, spiteful, thoughts filled her head of how when the
couple arrived she and Stan would move in for the kill. First, asking Jeff
questions about what he thought about the house; then, peering into his eyes
knowing he was more educated on the subject then he led them to believe.
Even if Jeff never confessed to being there before, they could at least
extract a mournful look from his face. Making him regret his shameful
behavior of the past. Why they were so interested in uncovering Jeff's
wrongs the Kahns didn't know, it was instinctual. It had gone way past
curiosity at this point. It was merely a challenge of morality that Stan and
Mary couldn't even back up with their own virtue. Their own scheming
behavior was equally if not more reprehensible.
"Then there was that time we all crashed that party at Tavern on the Green
after the U.S. Open... and Jeff got into that argument with John McEnroe
about a line call in the second set," Mary remembered.
Someone mentioned how years ago Jeff had gotten him a job a small brokerage
house. Now they were a partner. Someone else told a story about how she and
her husband never ever thought they would ever have gone ballooning, but
sure enough it was Jeff and Katie who had invited them. The stories about
the good couple rolled in. And sure enough, Jeff and Katie arrived and were
greeted with a rally of excitement.
Stan and Mary never said anything to Jeff or Katie. They kept their mouths
shut. Jeff stuffed his mouth with pepperoni and fresh mozzarella from the
Barefoot Contessa on water crackers. Katie gabbed about the inner city
school she taught at, and the funny names of the kids she had in her
After the party the Kahns confided in each other how good they felt about
taking the high road.
Jeff Savoy had known he was in the neighborhood but didn't even realize this
was the house that he used to frolic in, the effect of years of daily casual
Back in the city after the summer, Stan started sleeping with his secretary
and Mary started smoking Marlboro lights.
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