Dead Center - By David Rosenfelt

Acknowledgments

This is the page on which I usually thank the people who helped me with the book, but this time I’m not going to do it. Why should I? Do you think that if the positions were reversed they would thank me? Trust me… no way.

In fact, on any of my previous books, have they ever thanked me for thanking them? Have they ever said, “Hey, thanks for thanking me. I’m really thankful for that?” No.

That’s the thanks I get.

They spend their time thinking, not thanking. They’re thinking… “How come I wasn’t thanked first? How come so-and-so was thanked before me?” They don’t come out and say it, but that’s what they’re thinking… I’m just thankful I can see through it.

Thanking people is a thankless job.

I’ve just figured out a way to get back at them. I’ll thank them in alphabetical order—and in that way I’ll teach them a lesson on the evils of elitist thank-ism. Here goes: Stacy Alesi, Stephanie Allen, John and Carol Antonaccio, Nancy Argent, Susan Brace, Bob Castillo, David Divine, Betsy Frank, George Kentris, Emily Kim, Debbie Myers, Martha Otis, June Peralta, Les Pockell, Jamie Raab, Susan Richman, Robin Rue, Nancy and Al Sarnoff, Norman Trell, Kristen Weber, Sandy Weinberg, and Susan Wenger.

Maybe this page will accomplish something: Perhaps they’ll see the error of their ways. But do I want them to apologize? Thanks, but no thanks.

On a more serious note, I would like to sincerely thank those readers who e-mailed me with feedback on the previous books. Please continue to do so at dr27712@aol.com.

Thank you.

• • • • •

DO YOU GET SPIRITUAL credit for celibacy if it’s involuntary?

This is the type of profound question I’ve asked myself a number of times during the last four and a half months. This is the first time I’ve asked it out loud, which may say something about my timing, since the person hearing it is my first date in all that time.

Actually, “date” may be overstating it. The quite beautiful woman that I am with is Rita Gordon, who when she’s not dressed in a black silk dress with an exceptional cleavage staring straight at me, spends her days as the chief court clerk in Paterson, New Jersey. Rita and I have become fairly good friends over the last few years. No small accomplishment, since her daily job is basically to ward off demanding and obnoxious lawyers like me.

We’re in one of North Jersey’s classier restaurants, which was her choice entirely. I have absolutely no understanding why certain restaurants succeed and others don’t. This one is ridiculously expensive, the menu is totally in French and impossible to understand, the portions are so small that parakeets would be asking for seconds, and the service is mediocre. With all that, we had to wait two weeks to get a reservation on a Thursday night.

The extent of my relationship with Rita until now has basically been to engage in sexual banter, an area in which her talents far exceed mine. She has always presented herself as an expert in dating, sex, and everything else that might take place between a man and a woman, and has volunteered to go with me on this “practice date” as a way to impart some of that knowledge to me.

I can use it, as evidenced by my celibacy question.

“There’s an example of something you might want to avoid asking a date,” says Rita. “Celibacy can be a bit of a sexual turnoff.”

I nod. “Makes sense.”

“On the other hand, swearing off sex increases your dating possibilities, since you could also go out with guys.”

I shake my head. “Finding dates is not my problem; there are plenty of women that seem to be available. The problem is my lack of interest. It’s the ironic opposite of high school.”

Rita looks me straight in the eye, though that doesn’t represent a change. She’s been looking me straight in the eye since we sat down. She takes eye contact to a new level; it’s like she’s got X-ray vision and is looking through to my brain. I’ve never been an eye-contacter myself, and I almost want to create a diversion so she’ll look away. Something small, like a fire in the kitchen or another patron fainting headfirst into his asparagus bisque.

“How long has Laurie been gone?” she asks.

I must be healing emotionally, since it’s only recently that a question like that doesn’t hit me like a knife in the chest. Laurie Collins was my private investigator and love of my life.