Read an Excerpt
By Thomas Tessier
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
"Jeff! Boy, am I glad I caught you. I tried to get here
earlier, but I was stuck in a meeting. I feel real bad about
it. Hey, I'm sorry about your dad."
"He was shaking Jeff's hand vigorously while he talked. It was
Mike Rollins, Jeff finally realized.
"Mike. That's all right. Thanks for coming. I really
appreciate it. It's good to see you again."
He had to remind himself that twenty years had passed since
they were last out on double dates together. Mike must have
gained fifty or sixty pounds. He was virtually unrecognizable.
Jeff introduced Mike to his relatives before they left. Then
he and Mike stood talking under the awning in front of
"You look great, buddy," Mike was saying.
"So do you."
"Yeah, like a house." Mike laughed, evidently not bothered by
his weight. "What're you doing now?"
"Just going back to the house."
"How about a drink?"
"You got a car? You still remember how to get to Ike's? I'll
see you there in five minutes."
Ike's, one of Millville's many bars, had opened in 1956 and
was named after President Eisenhower, who was re-elected in a
landslide that year. Older townspeople still told each other
that Ike's should have been called "Mamie's."
Jeff caught up with Mike at the back of the bar. After they
found an empty booth,Jeff lit a cigarette. He noticed that
Mike was still sweating.
"So what've you been doing all this time?" Mike asked as they
"Oh, I've got my own little business, outside L.A., and I live
nearby. Otherwise not much."
"The land of movie stars and beach bunnies, eh? That's great.
What is it - computers, did I hear?"
"Sort of," Jeff said. "We design special systems. We have one
foot in theory and the other in application."
"Nice." Mike shook his hand loosely. "You always did a have a
brain for that kind of stuff. I bet there's a lot of money in
"How about you?"
"I'm superintendent of the Street Department. How do you like
that" Mike grinned proudly.
"No shit? Superintendent?"
Head honcho," Mike confirmed.
"You've got it made," Jeff said. "That's a job for life."
Mike didn't dispute this, contenting himself with a smile.
"Hey, Millville isn't the liveliest palace in the world," he
said. "But it's home, you know. And somebody's go to stay here
and look after it; otherwise it's fall apart."
Jeff wasn't sure that was such a bad idea, but he didn't say
so. They talked for more than an hour, shuttling back and
forth between the good old days and the present. Jeff caught
up on a great deal of gossip he really didn't care about and
good-naturedly indulged several of Mike's fantasies about life
in Southern California.
"Tell me," he said eventually, "what happened with you and
Georgianne? You were a steady pair, but I lost touch after
that last summer. The summer after graduation.
"Yeah. Georgianne. Right." Mike had a dreamy faraway look in
his eyes. He was on this third gin-and-tonic, the glass all
but lost in his meaty grip. "That was a great summer, wasn't
it? Best damn time in a person's life, as far as I'm
concerned. After that it's just ... shit and more shit...."
"So what happened?" Jeff sipped a tall glass of tap beer.
"Yeah, well. Let's see. Georgianne went to college in Boston,
I went to UConn, and we stayed in touch. We talked on the
phone, we saw each other when we were home for holidays and
breaks. I think I went up to Boston to see her a couple of
times. But ... well, you know me, Jeff. I wanted to screw
everything in sight, and the big difference in college is
there you can almost do it. So ... uh ... Georgianne and I kind of
drifted apart. No big break up, no heavy scenes, but ... you know
how it is."
"I thought sure you two would get married."
"Ha. I was a cowboy, man," Mike said. "I got married, all
right, but not until I was twenty-eight." And even then I
couldn't tell you how it happened. Everybody slips up sooner
or later. You're married, aren't you?"
"Married, then divorced two years later," Jeff said. "Too much
time working and not enough time home with my wife. She took
up with her flying instructor, and for all I know they're
still getting their rocks off at ten thousand feet."
"That's what I mean about California," Mike said obscurely.
"Lemme buy a free man a drink."
"So what happened to Georgianne after that?" Jeff asked when
Mike had returned with a fresh round. "I drove up the New
Haven Road on my way into town and I saw that the house is for
"She got married ages ago. Some guy I never heard of. I don't
think she lives around here, or I would have heard about it
sooner or later, and I haven't heard anything about Georgianne
"Her family still in the house? Or did they all pack up and
"I couldn't tell you," Mike said. "That's a state road, and I
haven't been down it in a long time. Christ, I drove up and
down it enough times in high school to last the rest of my
"Georgianne was a sweet kid, though. A real beauty."
"She was," Jeff agreed quietly.
"Funny thing is ..." Mike rambled on. "I'll tell you, though I
hate to admit it, but the fact is, for all the time I spent
with her, all those hours wrestling in the backseat of my old
man's car, then my car, at the drive-in or out on that dirt
road in Gunntown, for all that, I never did get in her pants.
Not even a finger." He shook his head, as if he still found it
hard to believe.
"I'm glad to hear that, Jeff though, surprised both at the
minor revelation and at the sudden intensity of feeling it
Yes, I'm very glad to hear that.
"Georgianne was one of those gorgeous, unattainable blondes,
you know" Mike continued.
"In high school," Jeff said, "none of us got laid nearly as
often as we said we did at the time."
"Now that's the truth," Mike exclaimed, seizing the point
gratefully. "But we did sure kiss like there was no tomorrow,
and kissing Georgianne was some kind of experience in itself."
"I'm sure it was."
The conversation had become unpleasant and distasteful to
Jeff, but at the same time it seemed strangely important to
him. Something was taking shape.
* * *
Back at the house a little later, Jeff followed a hunch.
Cognac was the only form of spirits George Lisker ever
touched. It took a few minutes, but Jeff found the solitary
bottle, on a shelf in the broom closet. He didn't need another
drink, but he wanted one, and poured a double measure.
He sipped the liquor slowly enjoying it. As he drank and
smoked, the grin on his face would not go away.
So, he thought, Mike had never made it with the wonderful
Georgianne. Never even got a finger in, as he had so
charmingly put it. Jeff still couldn't say why this pleased
him, but it did, undeniably. Enormously.
Excerpted from Rapture
by Thomas Tessier
Copyright © 2006 by Thomas Tessier.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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