Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-2

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Chapter 0

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pp. 3-4

The door to unit 6 opened at the Fairfax Apartments and the Actor stepped out. The Actor was in his late twenties with a fit build—he had been to the gym the night before—and he wore swim trunks and a V-neck T-shirt, white. He had a towel and a water bottle and suntan lotion, a pair of headphones and a book. And his phone. It was not yet ten in the morning and already the temperature was rising past eighty degrees. The weather for...

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Chapter 1

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pp. 5-19

That was his first thought when he woke that morning. He thought it again while he showered—and again as he drove to Ballard’s Service Station where they agreed to meet. His car, an eight-year-old Pontiac, rattled a little as he drove down Foothill Boulevard, but the interior was clean (he had taken lemon water to the dashboard and seats the previous afternoon). The radio played the Supremes’ “Where Did Our Love Go.” His jaws...

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Chapter 2

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pp. 20-35

My cousin is dead. Of that I am sure. No one in our family has heard from him in years. Not that I would be the first person he would contact. (“Hey Coz, have slipped into Istanbul, in a bit of a pickle, send money.”) If the FBI has news about him, some lead or sighting, they have not shared it with us. It has been three, four years since they last contacted me, to see if I knew anything, longer since they brought me in under the hot lights....

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Chapter 3

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pp. 36-58

Mike Allison parked his car in the lot at Trinity University. He had never been to the campus before, never played on their fields. He knew they had a baseball team, and a pretty reputable one at that, but this Christian college seemed an unlikely site for his comeback. But then the whole lofty point of this was its unlikeliness, the long odds, the goddammit nature of it, the if I’m going down, I’m going down swinging attitude....

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Chapter 4

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pp. 59-75

I lost track of my cousin for a while. His calls and letters to my grandmother came less frequently, and so there was less news to learn. My grandmother would even ask me, Have you heard from your cousin, have you heard from Billy, using his childhood moniker, but of course I had not. When she would hear from him, she’d announce it as if the Pope himself had sent her a handwritten note. Not that my cousin was mischievous in any of...

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Chapter 5

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pp. 76-90

His name was W. and he had been born in Clyde, Ohio. You could write the rest. It is a familiar story. He did no acting in high school, played sports. But in college a girl he knew suggested he take a class, and he discovered that he liked being on stage. He did not become an Olivier in the making—he was never going to do Shakespeare in the Park—but he was cast in a couple of plays, Happy in Death of a Salesman, Corporal Barnes in A Few Good Men....

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Chapter 6

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pp. 91-104

A police officer stopped by at daybreak, to see if Stacy had come home over night. Jill and Bill had not slept. They stayed downstairs waiting for the creak of the door. Stacy’s brother, younger by two years, waited with them, nodded off now and then. Possessing a younger brother’s irrational disposition toward his sister, he assumed her disappearance was a ploy for attention, that she had something in the works. But by the morning even...

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Chapter 7

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pp. 105-123

Picture Los Angeles from above. Like an airplane arriving into LAX. Or imagine that you are floating, arms stretched out like a superhero or a flying Christ. Maybe you know the neighborhoods. Maybe you don’t. You linger over a patch of real estate. This is no suburban neighborhood. The homes are mansions. And real mansions, not some 6,500-square-foot job constructed in a day. These are palaces from the twenties and thirties, the kind...

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Chapter 8

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pp. 124-142

The boy Bobby heard the plane first, looked up and waited for it to appear. It was a prop plane, but there was no way for them to be seen, not with the thickness of the trees where they were. And anyway, Bobby did not think that the plane was looking for them, or anyone else; he figured it was just some pilot taking out his plane for a spin....

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Chapter 9

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pp. 143-160

Mike rarely forgot that he was black. If he did, this was America— someone would always remind him. Even the girl with the bangs said to him, “I’ve never done it with one of you.”
“Someone who does drywall for a living?”
She threw her head back and laughed. “You know what I mean.”
He did.
She was a sassy girl all around, so he shrugged it off and went back to his omelet, and she started talking about how animals...

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Chapter 10

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pp. 161-177

They were going to be out there for a second night. That was all there was to it.
They had eaten their last bit of real food, the cup of Jell-O, in the early afternoon. They waited a long time for the rescue plane to return, but it never did; so they ate the Jell-O and left the small clearing and wandered back through the woods. They tried to push downhill, thinking that if they walked long enough,...

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Chapter 11

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pp. 178-197

Thus George Latham lost his idols one by one, like branches cracking from a dying tree. Novelists he admired as a young man published disappointing books late in their careers. Athletes turned out to be rapists and tax evaders, and the whole industry of sports was just that, an industry, a giant money grab. And politicians—well, the country was lied to, wasn’t it, about Vietnam and Watergate, and Camelot was a myth carefully constructed in...

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Chapter 12

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pp. 198-208

George was sitting in his campus office when a colleague ducked in and said, “Did you hear? Richard Rodgers died.”
The colleague did not wait for George’s response. He was just passing along a tidbit of news. He did not know how important Rodgers had been to George Latham.
George rose and closed his door. The weather was beautiful in California, almost into the seventies. He wondered what it was like in New York, New Jersey. Probably snowing, certainly cold....

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Chapter X

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pp. 209-212

Helen Garrity moved silently but purposefully through the Carrollton Branch of the County of Los Angeles Public Library system. It was an hour before the library opened and Helen was shelving books. Some of the other librarians complained about this part of the job—it felt as boring to them as making meatloaf— but Helen liked it. She liked the smell and look of books in general, and she especially liked shelving a new book, the sense of...

About the Author

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p. 213