Keep the Baby, Faith

Keep the Baby, Faith

by William L. DeAndrea

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781480405950
Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road
Publication date: 03/05/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 179
File size: 958 KB

About the Author

William L. DeAndrea (1952–1996) was born in Port Chester, New York. While working at the Murder Ink bookstore in New York City, he met mystery writer Jane Haddam, who became his wife. His first book, Killed in the Ratings (1978), won an Edgar Award in the best first mystery novel category. That debut launched a series centered on Matt Cobb, an executive problem-solver for a TV network who unravels murders alongside corporate foul play. DeAndrea’s other series included the Nero Wolfe–inspired Niccolo Benedetti novels, the Clifford Driscoll espionage series, and the Lobo Blacke/Quinn Booker Old West mysteries. A devoted student of the mystery genre, he also wrote a popular column for the Armchair Detective newsletter. One of his last works, the Edgar Award–winning Encyclopedia Mysteriosa (1994), is a thorough reference guide to sleuthing in books, film, radio, and TV. 
William L. DeAndrea (1952–1996) was born in Port Chester, New York. While working at the Murder Ink bookstore in New York City, he met mystery writer Jane Haddam, who became his wife. His first book, Killed in the Ratings (1978), won an Edgar Award in the best first mystery novel category. That debut launched a series centered on Matt Cobb, an executive problem-solver for a TV network who unravels murders alongside corporate foul play. DeAndrea’s other series included the Nero Wolfe–inspired Niccolo Benedetti novels, the Clifford Driscoll espionage series, and the Lobo Blacke/Quinn Booker Old West mysteries. A devoted student of the mystery genre, he also wrote a popular column for the Armchair Detective newsletter. One of his last works, the Edgar Award–winning Encyclopedia Mysteriosa (1994), is a thorough reference guide to sleuthing in books, film, radio, and TV.     

Read an Excerpt

Keep the Baby, Faith


By William L. DeAndrea

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1986 Philip DeGrave
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-0595-0


CHAPTER 1

It's not like me to say this, but I really don't have any right to complain about what happened. The night Faith stumbled (literally) into my life, I was hoping for something to happen. Something different. Something exciting. That will teach me.

My name is Harry Ross. A good Scottish name. However. That's "Harry" as in Harry, not as in Henry V, for example. And it's "Ross" not as in "clan of," but as in Rosenzweig. My father would have been just as good a dentist if he'd had his diploma issued to Dr. Rosenzweig, and would have made my mother just as much money to spend in Bloomingdale's. He might even have gotten into the country club, especially in Scarsdale, but you would never have been able to convince him of that. He's dead now. An internist who'd changed his name to Buckingham was treating him for ulcers, and he died of stomach cancer. My mother still lives in Scarsdale (the house is paid for), and still spends money at Bloomie's. My sister lives with her, when she's home from Syracuse. I have the normal complement of aunts and uncles and even cousins, all named Ross. (Grandma Rosenzweig gave up a couple of years ago, bitter at not having enough money in her own name to make it worthwhile to make a will to leave people out of.) There are doctors and lawyers and accountants. There are college professors. There is even a fantastically successful choreographer, my cousin Eliot. He's gay as Mardi Gras, and his mother actually once stuck her head in the oven over it, but eventually, Aunt Bertha faced the inevitable, and has taken to bragging about "my son, the fantastically successful choreographer." The Rosses (or whatever) have done really well for a family just three generations in the States.

But they all brag about me. My son/nephew/cousin the journalist. They actually say journalist. I work for The Grayness.

Every journalist in the world wants to work for The Grayness. And why not? The Grayness is probably the Greatest Publication There Absolutely Ever Was, the World's Diary. If The Grayness hasn't reported it, it doesn't exist. No. That's not exactly right. If The Grayness hasn't reported it, you are a Better Person for not knowing it. The Grayness is printed on cheap paper with cheaper ink (it's the only way many New Yorkers ever soil their hands), but its influence can topple governments; earn the authors of plays and books millions of dollars.

So everybody wants to work for The Grayness. Journalism students send padded resumes to the unassuming building off the square. Working reporters at lesser papers (i.e., any paper that isn't The Grayness) dream of breaking a Big Story, and being invited to join the National Affairs Staff. Deep Thinkers at Famous Liberal Universities eagerly await the call to write Learned Articles for the op-ed page. Authorities in various fields hope to be given the opportunity by the Book Review to assassinate books written by their rivals.

Everybody wants to work for The Grayness, especially the ones who already do. Except me. I'd been on vacation for two weeks, now, with one week to go, and I was looking forward to going back the way I'd look forward to a course of root-canal work.

The cachet, the unadulterated odor of sanctity about that paper, is amazing. People I don't even know seem especially impressed. I can almost see them thinking, My God, the kid's not thirty yet, and he works for (pause) The Grayness. If I run into any doubters, I have a press card to prove it. And if I manage to get away from them before they ask the inevitable next question, I sometimes even leave them impressed.

God knew I sure wasn't. Yeah (my editor at The Grayness would change this to "yes"), I was one of the Fortunate Few deemed worthy to work for the Greatest Publication, etc. I did the TV listings, and I was going nuts.

I mean, my God, every day, lists of numbers and one-sentence write-ups of network and local shows. Check out any questions with the stations, where someone my age, going just as wacko, was standing by for just such an eventuality.

It's hard to say what the worst thing about such a job is. One of the worst things is not being able to complain to anybody about it. At The Grayness, people will avoid like the proverbial dead skunk anyone who isn't a "real reporter." Outside, people can't get over what an easy job it is I've got, all the prestige of The Grayness, but Monday to Friday, nine to five, with no necessity of going anywhere you'd have to duck PLO bullets in search of a story.

And great pay, too, enough to allow me to rent a two-bedroom apartment in a high rise at Seventy-ninth and York. Ask the nearest New Yorker what kind of money that takes these days. The job pays a lot of money because, although it is boring shitwork of the first magnitude, it is important. One of the major lies The Grayness tells itself is that its readers are Too Intelligent To Watch Television—Except Perhaps Wimbledon, And Occasionally PBS. Fortunately for The Grayness, the powers that be are smart enough to know when a cherished lie can cost them money. If the person doing the listings ever misplaced the "A-Team" or the "Odd Couple" reruns on Channel 11, The Grayness's circulation would drop like a rock, and all those refeened secret closet TV-watchers would get their listings from New York magazine. They would die rather than be caught buying TV Guide. I don't tell you this to brag; it's an important part of what happened later.

I hated my job; I loved my apartment. I had my furniture, and five thousand books, mostly mysteries, humor, and science fiction. I had a twenty-four-inch Sony color TV, and two VCRs, and a stereo and records and tapes. I should have been happy, and I would have been—if only I could stand what I was doing for a living.

It might have helped, if, after having me write every conceivable type of news story, a body of work equal in length to War and Peace, before hiring me, The Grayness actually let me write something for publication every once in a while. But probably not. There is only so much you can write about the latest BBC story of Incredibly Sensitive Upper Class English People In The Years Before World War I that is running on PBS (the Primarily British System), made possible by a grant from Mobil (better make that the Petroleum Broadcasting Service). These shows are the only thing The Grayness will admit its readers watch on television. Give me "Miami Vice" any day.

Not that I have anything against British TV, mind you. Or PBS, either. That very night, I watched three different actors play "Doctor Who" on three different area PBS stations (I love cable). That's what I should have been, I thought. Not an actor—I should have been Doctor Who. Or possibly Indiana Jones.

My problem was, I was too romantic. Always had been. Got my ideas of journalism from old Pat O'Brien movies, and never let go of them until mental gangrene started to set in at The Grayness.

I sighed. I reflected, not for the first time, that the best thing for depression would be some Great Sex. Or even Borderline Acceptable Sex. A Peck On The Cheek would even be nice. It had been a long time. My previous girlfriend (two years' worth, mind you) had led me to a remarkable discovery. Women in New York do not want to know men who are depressed. Especially men who are depressed about their jobs. They want to know men who are stockbrokers who make a hundred and sixty-seven thousand dollars a year and up, and who love every second of their fast-paced, high-pressure lives. It also helps if he is six feet tall and looks like Robert Redford.

I am six feet tall.

Where was I? Oh, right, depressed. I should have known. Women in New York also do not like to be with men who are depressed, because that reduces the amount of time they can spend thinking about how depressed they are. The women are depressed because All The Men In New York Are Either Married Or Gay.

This is an irrefutable fact. The poor schmucks who sit at home Friday nights, wishing they were some character in a movie, and trying to forget the six nearly memorized issues of Penthouse sitting secretly on a high shelf in a closet, do not exist. They are figments of their own imagination.

My God, how did I get started on this? Excuse it, please.

Anyway, Great Sex being unavailable, I decided to do what I usually did, and drown my sorrows in an anchovy pizza. I could have called and had it delivered, but the doorman got paranoid over late-night deliveries, and I wanted to get some fresh air. Cold air, at least. In New York, you don't ask for fresh. I slipped into a pair of Ponys, and headed up to York Avenue Pizza.

I did my New York drill as I walked home, balancing the pizza on one hand, while I kept the other in my pocket, grasping my keys. This not only reduced the time it would take to get inside my apartment (in case someone followed me up the elevator), it gave me an instant weapon, like a set of brass knuckles with teeth, to be raked across the face of the pack of drug-crazed juvenile delinquents who were roaming the streets of Yorkville, each carrying a switchblade with my name on it.

Nobody bothered me. Nobody ever bothered me. Part of it was probably the neighborhood. Yorkville is the last of the middle-class family neighborhoods in Manhattan, and muggings are thin on the ground compared to some areas. People still get nervous—people in New York are always nervous about something. Some carry pistols on the subway, and even shoot them, but I go my way, always taking precautions, never needing them. That's probably better than the other way around.

Somebody was arguing with the doorman when I got there. "I have to see him," she said. "I have to!"

"He's no home," Ramon, the doorman, told her. He speaks much better English than that, he just gets tired of dealing with Broadway groupies and movie groupies and literary groupies and various other kinds of maniacs who lay siege to the mid-level celebrities who live in the building. He figures people give up arguing sooner with someone who can barely understand them. "He's no home," Ramon said again. "I see him go out. You come back tomorrow." I smiled. Tomorrow, the day man would be on.

Anyway, Ramon seemed to have the situation in hand, so I figured it was safe to approach the doorway.

That's when the woman screamed my name, and rushed out of the doorway at me.

CHAPTER 2

My first thought was don't drop the pizza. I knew it was idiotic the moment it came to me. But I didn't drop the pizza, either. I did pull my right hand from my pocket, holding tight to my keys.

I wanted to stop and figure out what this woman wanted with me—I mean, it's ridiculous. There are no TV listings groupies.

That, I decided, would have to wait for a better time. The obvious next step was to figure out how to use the keys to any effect if I was so determined to hold on to the pie. Fortunately, I didn't have to work that one out. Not only was the intruder a woman, she was a pregnant woman. She was so slow and so stiff, she was no threat to anybody.

Besides, she was more frightened than I could ever be. If I were carrying a naked machete instead of a pizza, she couldn't have been more afraid. It didn't seem to be me she was so scared of, it was more like she was living with a level of fear the way a person with gout lives with a level of pain. My sudden belligerence was like someone stepping on a gouty foot. She jumped, blanched, and let out a hopeless little scream. She froze, even stopped breathing.

Then I looked at her face. I couldn't believe it. "Faith?" I said.

The woman let her breath go. "Harry," she said. "Thank God."


"Let me get this straight," I said half an hour later. "You called my mother in Scarsdale to find out where I was, but she wouldn't tell you."

"That's right." Faith looked a little better now. She'd spent most of the half hour in the bathroom moaning and running cold water over her swollen left hand. I had managed to get her face washed, and to put Mercurochrome and a Band-Aid on her forehead.

"Why not?" I demanded. It seemed to me my mother would be more likely to volunteer to come to the city and personally escort a girl to my door. Especially Faith Sidon, my sister's best friend from high school.

"She gave me your phone number. Said you were in Manhattan."

"Where were you?"

"Midtown. I was at a hotel, but I couldn't stay there anymore."

"How long have you been in New York?"

"A week. Six days."

"You should have come to me to begin with, dope." That was inadvertent. Older brothers always refer to high-school-age sisters and their friends as "dope." Faith had obviously been through a few changes since I'd seen her last (about three and a half years ago), but I was falling immediately into the old habit. I resolved to watch myself.

Faith didn't even notice. "It wouldn't have been fair," she said. "It still isn't. You have no idea what I might be letting you in for. If I had anywhere else to go, I would. I even thought of taking the train to Scarsdale and calling on your mother, but when she wouldn't give me your address, I got all paranoid. I've been paranoid a lot, lately."

I said, "Even paranoids have enemies," but Faith didn't laugh. "What I don't understand, is why my mother put you off."

"She got paranoid, too. Didn't believe I was me. I think my big mistake was asking for Sue."

Sue is my sister. She's majoring in petroleum chemistry at Syracuse University, which is a big shock for a girl who spent her childhood trying to decide whether to be Sylvia Plath, and commit poetic suicide, or to take the world of ballet by storm. I'm going to go on spelling it "Sue." My sister changes. First, she made it "Su," which probably influenced her choice of college. Then she decided there might be other Susans out there spelling it that way, so she decided on "Soo." That, however, wasn't dignified enough for a potential Nobel Prize winner, so lately, she's been trying "Sioux." It might help her get a job, if somebody has a minority-hiring policy.

"She's at school at the moment, though she should be home for Thanksgiving pretty soon."

Faith nodded, then winced. She held her hand up against her shoulder. I figured I ought to go rig up a sling for her or something.

She wanted to talk. "Tomorrow. Your mother told me that much. Then I asked where I could find you—I figured I was in Manhattan, and the last I'd heard you were just about to move to Manhattan, and I really needed to see a friendly face, you know?"

"Sure," I said. "I'm glad you did."

"Well, your mother apparently thought this was some kind of scam, I was fronting for some white slave ring or something, out to get Sue. Maybe she figured the gang would kidnap you and hold you for a swap or something. Your mother said it was nothing personal, but she didn't like your being in New York, and didn't trust people looking for you there. So she gave me your phone number and said she'd leave it up to you. She said since they hadn't heard from me in three years—"

"Who has? Two weeks after graduation you ran off to Europe, and nobody has seen you since. Sue talks about you all the time. She wouldn't admit it, but I think you kind of hurt her."

"You know why, Harry. I'd just turned eighteen, I got hold of that thirty thousand dollars my father left me, and I'd had just about enough of Scarsdale. I took the money and ran."

"I know," I said. "Sue showed me your postcard. Hell, with thirty thousand bucks and an income—you had an income, right? With that kind of money you could have phoned."

"Things happened."

For the first time, I looked significantly at Faith's stomach. "I can see that."

"I'm married. This is a legitimate baby. This is a special baby. It's the only baby I'll ever have. It's Paul's baby." She said it the way the Virgin Mary might have said, "it's God's baby."

Under normal circumstances, I would have been all over Faith with questions about this Paul character. Like, where the hell was he when his pregnant wife was wandering around New York late at night, accosting doormen, scaring pizza-laden old friends to death. With every second that went by, though, I could see the circumstances were getting farther and farther from normal. All right, Faith had been my sister's best friend, almost like another kid sister to me, but I hadn't seen her in over three years. A lot could happen in three years. Apparently, a lot had happened in three years.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Keep the Baby, Faith by William L. DeAndrea. Copyright © 1986 Philip DeGrave. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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