Tuesday, June 24, 1969
TERRENCE BOTTOM tapped a sandaled foot on the linoleum-tiled floor and bit his lip. Speaking his mind at a Mattachine Society meeting was a waste of time and energy. But watching the older members of the homophile organization nod their heads in agreement as the speaker droned on about homosexuality being a mental illness had been more than he could take. As the uptight men and women nearby glared at him, he rolled his eyes at Kelsey Ryan and whispered, “You ready to blow this joint?”
Before she could answer, the esteemed speaker concluded his remarks. After a polite round of applause, the well-dressed men and women filled the aisles and chatted as they made for the door of the Columbia University lecture hall where the meeting had been held.
Kelsey and Terrence merged into the slow-moving mass creeping toward the exit. Between reed-thin Terrence’s curly blond hair and Kelsey’s height—never mind that she was built like an offensive lineman for the Washington Redskins—the unlikely pair stood out in the crowd. Rather than the suits worn by other men in the lecture hall, Terrence had on faded bell-bottomed jeans embroidered with flowers, a tie-dyed T-shirt, and a wide white belt with a peace-sign buckle.
“The old guard just doesn’t get it,” Kelsey said, rolling up the sleeves of her oxford shirt to her elbows as she walked. “Working behind the scenes to change the world hasn’t gotten us anywhere.”
“I don’t know about that,” Terrence said, falling in beside her. “Legal challenges to alcohol regulations have helped to crack open the door here in New York.”
“How?” Kelsey shoved her hands into her pockets. “The police have raided every gay bar in town at least once in the last two weeks. Legal victories haven’t stopped them from harassing us every chance they get.”
“Philip and George—”
“Are just like the other men their age working for change.” She shook her head. “They think we should be patient, but my patience has run out. We need new tactics so the world stops seeing homosexuals as mentally ill, morally bankrupt freaks who can’t be trusted to work in the government or around children.”
Terrence nodded. She was on her soapbox now. He didn’t bother reminding her he agreed with her. She was too wound up to stop until she’d said her piece.
“The white men in power aren’t going to give us our rights. We need to stand up and fight for equality, like the Black Panthers or Students for a Democratic Society.” She punched her open palm with a fist. “They didn’t get anywhere until they stood up to the cops. What a fight!”
Despite Kelsey’s pleas, Terrence hadn’t gone uptown with the students in his sociology class last year to show support when the SDS had staged a protest over Columbia University’s backing of the war in Vietnam. The students had been beaten with nightsticks and bombed with tear gas. The sight of his bruised and bandaged classmates afterward had flipped the switch for Terrence. If he hadn’t learned anything else on the streets, he’d learned you fought force with force.
Terrence and Kelsey descended the steps into the subway station to wait for the next train to Greenwich Village. Businessmen, sweating in suits, loosened ties and glared at them. Terrence knew they made quite a pair. He’d toned down his flamboyance some, but next to Kelsey—sturdy, stocky, and rumbling, like a Mack truck—he was the picture of femininity. Despite her efforts to conceal them, her impressive breasts might have been attractive on another woman, but on her masculine frame, they just looked out of place.
“Want to grab a drink at the Stonewall Inn later?” Terrence asked, spotting a headlight moving toward the station.
Kelsey snorted. “And would the reason you want to go have something to do with that high-class callboy you’ve been watching?”
Terrence punched her arm. “You don’t know he’s a callboy.” He tossed his hair and smiled. “And he’s watching me. I just happened to have noticed.”
“Who wouldn’t?” She paused, waiting for the noisy train to come to a stop. “The man is gorgeous, and for me to notice is saying something.” They stepped onto the car and the doors squealed shut behind them. “But he’s a hustler, trust me, and he’s working for the mob. I’ve seen him talking to Frankie Caldarone too many times, and he ain’t shining the man’s shoes.”
Terrence led the way to the back of the subway car, and they settled onto the last seats on each side of the aisle. “Frankie Caldarone? The bald-headed goon at the Stonewall Inn?” Terrence crossed his legs and adjusted the forty-inch bellbottoms to cascade in folds above the sandals he wore. “He’s just a bouncer.”
“More like the enforcer, at an unlicensed private club, owned and operated by who?” She spread her legs wide, leaned back, and wove her hands together behind her head.
“Wouldn’t that be whom?” Terrence didn’t want to admit Kelsey could be right. Trading sexual favors for money didn’t bother him so much. Hustling was a dangerous, dead-end job he’d managed to escape more than two years earlier, thanks to Philip and George. Hustling for the mob, however, was a death sentence with no chance for parole, pardon, or escape.
“Either way, the answer is the same.” She shook her head and leaned forward, dropping her hands to her knees. “You’d be smart to stay the hell away from that one.”
“Come on, Kelsey.” Terrence fluffed his hair and adjusted his headband, feeling the embroidered peace sign with his fingers and shifting the band a bit to center the emblem over his nose.
She laughed and punched his arm. “You say that like going out with him is the furthest thing from your mind.”
Terrence gazed at her, wide-eyed. “You know me better than that.”
“Oh, you are so good.” Kelsey shook her head and folded her arms. “I know you all right. Hearing you can’t have something just makes you want it that much more.”
Terrence sat up, turned to her, and put his hand on her knee. “All we have is right now, this very minute. Two minutes from now, this train could crash, killing us both.”
“Shit, Terrence.” She shuddered. “You know I hate the subway.”
His gaze shifted to the window behind her. He stared, seeing remembered faces in the passing blackness. “When you want something, you gotta go for it—before somebody snatches it away from you and it’s gone forever.” He brushed a fist over his eye and shook his head. “Besides, I’ve never even talked to him.”
“Maybe not, but the way you two look at each other is enough to make me blush.” She chuckled. “I’m just jealous. Hell, I’d pay a year’s tuition to have a pretty girl look at me like that.”
Terrence reached over and tousled her short brown hair. “You’re a good person, Kelsey. If I was a lesbian, I’d be proud to be your girlfriend.” He leered at her and grinned. “Even without those big titties of yours!”
She laughed and reached for her top button. “Careful now, or I’ll turn ’em loose on you.”
PHILIP POTTER opened the door and smiled, delighted to see his first guest had finally arrived. He’d fussed around his Washington, DC apartment all morning to make sure everything was ready for the party. Nervous energy had collided with a dish of chocolates around noon, forcing a last-minute trip to the store to replenish a bowl that seemed to empty of its own volition.
“Lieutenant White!” Philip clasped his hands together. “I’m so glad you could make it.”
“Oh come on, Philip. Must we be so formal?” A dazzling smile lit up her face, the bright red lipstick drawing attention to the contrast between her pearly whites and ebony skin. “Call me Shirley—at least when I’m not in uniform.” She threw her arms around his shoulders and squeezed. “I wouldn’t miss Harold’s graduation party for the world, never mind the chance to see you again. Where’s George?”
“He took the guest of honor out to lunch and has strict orders not to arrive back here a moment before three o’clock.” He glanced at his watch. “There’s coffee. Would you like a cup?”
“Like you read my mind….”
As they turned toward the kitchen, the apartment door burst open. A smiling redheaded boy beelined for Philip. “Zio!” He flung his arms around Philip’s waist, his feet leaving the floor.
“How about I just help myself to a cup of that coffee?” Shirley smiled. “While you greet your guests.”
Philip nodded and then grabbed the precocious child to keep him from falling, holding him close. “My goodness, who is this young man?”
Jade-green eyes peeked out from under blond lashes and rusty bangs as an enormous smile, minus several teeth, spread across his freckled face. “I’m Thad Parker, your nephew, silly!”
Philip set Thad down and ran a hand through his silky hair. “Good grief! You’ve grown a foot since I saw you last week. Dear child, where are your glasses? I don’t suppose you’ve outgrown them too?”
“Here they are,” said Mary Parker, giving Thad his glasses as she came through the door and handing Philip a gift wrapped in white paper and topped with a silver bow. “For the graduate.” She hugged Philip and kissed his cheek. “How’s my little brother?”
“Delighted to see you, as always.” Philip placed the package on the table with several envelopes. “Where’s your husband?”
“He’s coming.” She poked her head out the door. “Hurry up, Alex, we’re letting out the air-conditioning!”
A bespectacled man stumbled into the apartment behind her, juggling a thick brown briefcase and half a dozen short, square boxes. He glanced at Philip, and one of the boxes fell to the floor. “I brought the slides from our trip to Italy.”
“Wonderful!” Philip retrieved the fallen box. “Why don’t you set that up in Harold’s bedroom? I’ll send anyone back who wants to see.”
A disappointed Alex headed down the hall. “But I was thinking….”
“Yes, Alex, I know.” Philip frowned. “But remember how awful everything looked on that dark green living room wall?”
He gave Philip a sheepish nod.
“I think you’ll be much happier with the white walls in the bedroom,” Mary said. “Thad, run along with your father and get everything set up before Harold and George get here.” She hooked Philip’s elbow with her hand and whispered, “Well done.”
“Avoiding another grand viewing of the slides from your trip has become a priority of late,” Philip said, pulling a monogrammed handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his brow.
She laughed. “You’ve only seen them three, maybe four times. What about me?”
“I’m sure we’ll treasure them, years from now.” Philip returned the folded handkerchief to his pocket and steered her to the kitchen. “Lieutenant White, er, I mean Shirley, allow me to introduce my sister, Mary Parker.”
Shirley stood and extended her hand. “Pleasure to meet you!”
Mary grasped Shirley’s hand in both of hers and smiled. “I feel like I know you! Nice to finally meet the woman Philip wrote so much about in his letters.”
During Alex’s two-year deployment to Manila for the State Department, Philip had missed them even more than he’d imagined he would. Except for when he and George had gone to Italy for a visit, Philip had written long, chatty letters to Mary every week while they were abroad.
A series of knocks on the apartment door drew his attention. “Excuse me, ladies. That must be the Dombroskis.” Philip hurried to the living room to greet them. “Mrs. Dee! I’m so glad you could come.”
A pudgy, middle-aged woman in a homemade dress pushed past him, a Tupperware cake carrier in one hand and a well-worn shopping bag in the other. Philip clasped his hands together and smiled at a willowy teenage girl with short blonde hair plastered to her head, darkly rouged cheeks, and enormous, mascara-ringed blue eyes. She held a box wrapped in psychedelic paper with several matching bows. “And look at you, Abigail!”
“Hi, Mr. Potter.” She blushed and looked at the floor.
Mrs. Dee lifted up the shopping bag. “I brought you a few jars of the bread-and-butter pickles, green tomato relish, and blackberry jam I put up last week.” She handed the bag to him. “When the strawberries come in, I’ll bring you some preserves.” She lifted the cake holder to eye level. “And this is jam cake with boiled caramel icing. Harold’s favorite. Which way is the kitchen?”
“This way, Mom,” Abigail said, pointing down the hall. “Where’s Harold?”
Philip glanced at his watch. “He should be here soon. Come on back and say hello to everyone.”
The crowd in the little kitchen spilled over into the living room. Philip did a quick head count as his guests chatted and caught up with each other. “All right, except for Harold and George, I believe everyone is here.”
“Isn’t Terrence coming?” Shirley asked.
“No.” Philip shook his head. “He wanted to be here, but he’s taking classes this summer at Columbia University.”
“He’s come so far.” She patted Philip on the back. “You should be very proud of him.”
“I am. He’s turned into a fine young man.” He cleared his throat and waited a moment for everyone to quiet down. “Thank you all for coming today to celebrate Harold’s high school graduation.” He paused, glancing at the familiar faces around the room. “As you know, the last few years haven’t been easy for him. Holidays and special occasions have been particularly difficult—”
“But not nearly as bad for him as they would have been without you,” Shirley said. Heads around the room nodded in agreement.
“And the love and ongoing support of everyone here.” Philip glanced around the room. “Thank you, for everything you’ve done for us.”
“When do we yell surprise?” Thad asked. A sheepish look came over his face when everyone laughed. “Mommy said I couldn’t have any cake until after we yell surprise.”
Philip glanced at his watch again. “Any minute now, Thad. Okay everyone, into the living room.”
“If he hears us, he won’t be surprised.” Thad put a finger over his lips. “Shhhh!”
CAMERON MCKENZIE walked through Central Park, wondering how he’d landed in such a mess. Trading sex for money was supposed to have been a short-term solution to a temporary cash-flow problem. Now he was trapped.
Pigeons scattered out of his way as he walked. His jeans and T-shirt clung to him in the humidity and heat of high summer, and he resisted the urge to wipe the sweat from his brow with the still-dry shirt slung over his shoulder. He glanced at his watch and quickened his pace.
The cash he’d brought with him from Kentucky had run out in two days—much faster than he’d expected. His experience on the farm didn’t translate into any kind of job in the city. A chance encounter with a kind man who’d stopped to offer him a ride had launched his career. Having sex with men wasn’t so bad, and the money was good. After that, rather than starving to death, Cameron had done what he had to do to get by.
Cameron wasn’t queer. Couldn’t be. He wasn’t the least bit effeminate, had no desire to dress up like a woman, and would never touch a child of either gender. If he ever managed to find a way out of the mess he was in, he wanted a wife, children of his own, and a little dog to keep in a spacious, fenced-in yard somewhere. If women got horny enough to pay for sex, he wouldn’t even be here. But they didn’t. Sex was sex, and though some of his clients were disappointed, they accepted that kissing wasn’t part of the deal.
The point of no return came with his first run-in with the law. The officer had talked with Cameron about his career choice and, because he liked him, had given Cameron another chance. Rather than taking him to jail, the crooked cop had introduced him to Frankie Caldarone, the man he now hurried to meet.
At first Cameron had thought he’d found the perfect gig to tide him over until he landed a breakout role in a big Broadway show. Hustling for Frankie came with a tiny room in a dilapidated boarding house, a free meal from Guiseppe’s every day, a little spending money, and protection from harassment by local police. Instead of walking the streets in all kinds of weather, he hung out in nice, dry hotels with heat in the winter and air-conditioning in summer. Unlike the self-employed hustlers he saw getting tossed out every night, nobody bothered him. Bellhops and front-desk clerks on the mob’s payroll sent johns his way.
The downside hadn’t become apparent right away. Rather than free, Frankie’s deductions for the shabby little room and free meals ended up consuming almost all the money he made. Skipping meals didn’t increase his income either.
Handing over all the money he made was bad enough. Submitting to Frankie’s sexual demands was worse. Whatever he wanted, anytime, wherever they happened to be. But that paled in comparison to what Frankie made Cameron do to his customers.
Frankie sat alone on a bench overlooking the lake. The very sight of his bald-headed employer repulsed Cameron, a feeling that had intensified in the months since he’d tried to quit hustling for a star-making supporting role in an off-Broadway musical comedy. Frankie had laughed, saying Cameron already had a job, and the next day had sent his goons to retrieve Cameron from rehearsals.
Cameron slid onto the opposite end of the bench and waited for Frankie to speak. By the lake, two little boys pulled boats on strings. Cameron saw the way Frankie eyed them and shuddered. His sadistic employer liked them young and was likely responsible for the disappearance of more than a few missing boys.
“Whaddya got for me?” Frankie said, with an accent Cameron had come to identify with the Jersey Shore.
He reached into his pocket, pulled out three wallets, and slid them across the bench with a wad of crumpled bills.
Frankie stuffed the cash into his pocket and then picked up the wallets. “Just three?” He glanced at Cameron. “You used to bring me five or six.” He flipped through the contents, adding any cash he found to the bills in his left pants pocket before dropping the wallets into a brown paper bag on the ground between his feet. “Getting old?”
Cameron watched the dirty old man check him out, looking for signs he’d lost value. He had an extra wrinkle or two, but he hadn’t gained any weight or lost any hair. They wouldn’t be fitting him for concrete wading boots anytime soon. But Cameron knew sooner or later his day would come.
Frankie pulled a ten-dollar bill from his wad of cash with thick fingers and handed it to Cameron before shoving the rest back into his pocket. “The photos of you and that john you picked up at the Hilton Hotel last week turned out to be worth a fortune.”
Cameron wondered which unlucky bastard he was talking about. At first he’d thought stealing the wallets was a crime of opportunity, since the victims were unlikely to tell anyone. But Frankie used the information in the wallets to blackmail the men who’d paid for the privilege of being robbed. The ones who didn’t kill themselves always paid. The alternative was just too costly.
“Come around the club before dark. I need your help.” Frankie retrieved the bag at his feet and stood. Despite his girth, he was solid muscle. Cameron had heard he’d been a small-time professional wrestler known as “The Bull” before he’d hooked up with the mob. “A little birdie told me the police will be dropping by for a surprise visit tonight. I wanna make sure they don’t find anything illegal-like on the premises, capisce?”
Cameron nodded and then watched as Frankie strolled up the sidewalk and stopped to chat with the boating boys before continuing around a curve and out of sight. He got up and, tossing his shirt over his shoulder, strolled alongside the lake in the opposite direction.
Most of the bars he’d frequented in search of clients had closed. The police often raided the few that remained open. With an election in November, the mayor wanted to call attention to his record for ridding Gotham of vile homosexuals. The police raids were never a surprise and didn’t happen without Frankie’s prior approval. He paid the local precinct captain twelve hundred dollars a month for protection that included advance notice of any plans to drop into the Stonewall Inn. On at least three occasions, Cameron had counted the money into a White Owl cigar box for Frankie, only to see Frankie hand the very same box to the captain an hour or so later, who just happened to pop into the illegal club to make sure everything was okay.
The homosexuals hadn’t gone anywhere either. In fact, sissies from across the eastern half of the United States continued to flock to Greenwich Village in droves. They fled the isolation of small towns and cities, leaving behind the bleakness of inconspicuous obscurity. The newcomers were often surprised by the state of affairs in New York City. Various and sundry laws and regulations had pushed the gay scene underground, which, like Prohibition, created an opportunity for the mob to cash in on an unmet need. The Stonewall Inn, thanks to the jukeboxes and dance floors, was the most popular of several Mafia-owned establishments catering to homosexuals.
Although he wasn’t gay—he was sure of it—Cameron had fallen head over heels in lust the first time he’d seen the lithesome man with the curly blond hair at the Stonewall Inn. Since that first night Cameron had seen him dance, the pretty young man had become prominent in the fantasies he thought about to keep his dick hard for clients he didn’t find attractive. In his mind’s eye, he curled his fingers into the blond curls as the pretty boy sucked his dick.
He adjusted his pants, glancing up at the benches as he passed to see if anyone had noticed. An old man leered at him over his newspaper, licking his lips when Cameron caught his eye. Cameron winked, out of habit as much as anything else, and if the creep had looked like he had a good job, would have stopped to chat. Turning perverts like him over to Frankie was a pleasure.
But his victims—most of them, anyway—were nice guys who tried hard to do everything right. Most of the time, they succeeded. But once in a while—perhaps 1 percent of the time—a desire for the company of handsome young men was their undoing. Cameron would assure them he wasn’t a cop, thinking they’d probably be better off if he were.
Letting the nice guys go wasn’t an option. Cameron never knew when he was being watched. Holding out on the Mafia wasn’t an option either. Frankie checked up on him often enough to keep him honest. Cameron knew the rules and valued life too much to risk his for a stranger’s sake.
But it didn’t keep him from hoping that one day he’d find a way out.
HAROLD CLARKSON knew Philip was up to something. Had known, in fact, for weeks. Whispered telephone conversations and talk of the weather when Harold entered the room were dead giveaways. His legal guardian—up to Harold’s last birthday, anyway—was a lot better at keeping a secret than concealing the fact that he had one to keep.
Whatever he was up to, Harold thought today’s outing with George Walker, Philip’s attorney, was somehow connected. Mr. Walker had requested a late lunch meeting to discuss provisions for Harold’s continuing education. Harold thought they’d covered all the bases at a similar meeting back in April when he had turned eighteen, about registering for the draft and his options for avoiding a stint in Nam.
“Have you given any thought to what you’d like to do, now that you’ve finished high school?” Mr. Walker touched a linen napkin to his lips and placed it across his lap before looking over a carnation-filled bud vase at him. Understated, elegant, and timeless in his tailored suit, crisply starched shirt, and narrow silk tie, Mr. Walker fit right in with the staid, conservative décor of the dining room at the Mayflower Hotel.
Harold poked at his salad and avoided Mr. Walker’s gaze. “Some.”
“I see.” Mr. Walker patted his lips again with his napkin. “Well, between grants, scholarships, and the foundation’s support, you can go to college just about anywhere you want.”
“Yes, sir, I know.” But Harold didn’t want to go to college. He’d explained to anyone who’d listen his desire to learn everything he could about hair and makeup before moving to California to open a little boutique catering to movie stars and models. Beauty school was a better choice for him, but Philip wanted him to go to college first.
“Philip is very proud of you for finishing high school.” Mr. Walker shifted in his chair. “I know you hit a few rough spots….”
Harold wondered what all Mr. Walker did know. Terrence had told him he and Philip were lovers, but Harold had met Mrs. Walker and played with her little dogs. The bond between husband and his well-dressed wife was obvious. She’d been just as nice to Philip—hardly the way Harold imagined she’d treat her husband’s lover. Besides, sleeping with a married man was wrong. And yet, he’d seen the way Philip and the man seated across the table looked at each other. Harold wasn’t sure he believed only foundation work forced them to spend so much time together. “Nothing I didn’t bring on myself,” Harold replied. “Philip tried to warn me, but I wouldn’t listen.”
Coming to a new school the first day dressed in a beautifully tailored suit, modeled after one he’d seen on Jackie Kennedy, with his hair teased, a little makeup, and the longest fake lashes he could find hadn’t gone over at all the way Harold had expected. But Philip had allowed him to dress up, knowing what was going to happen, in spite of Harold’s assurances that everything would be fine. Before the first bell rang, a bunch of mean boys had forced him to seek refuge in the girls’ bathroom.
Philip had appeared out of nowhere, making Harold fix his face and repair the damage to his hair before leading him by the hand from the bathroom, down the hall, and out the front door while everyone in the school stared at them. On the way home, Philip had explained that Harold had the right to be whoever he wanted to be, but the less like everyone else he appeared, the more likely he’d be to encounter people who’d want to hurt him for being different.
Changing schools had given Harold a chance to practice what he’d learned, with better results. He still teased his long hair and never left home without at least a little eyeliner and mascara, adding blush and lipstick for special occasions. But the inevitable run-ins with bullies and the sparring sessions with Terrence had taught him how to protect himself, toughened him up, and tempered his desire to stand out in the crowd.
“He loves you very much,” Mr. Walker said, glancing at his watch. “Are you about ready to go?”
Harold thought about stalling. He could ask for the dessert menu and linger over each and every delicious bite, watching Mr. Walker fidget and play with his watch like he was waiting for a bomb to explode. But he was curious and anxious to move on to the next phase of Philip’s secret operation. “Yes, sir.”
MR. WALKER paid the cab driver, and they walked up the sidewalk to the entrance of the building where Harold shared an apartment with Philip. Until he’d gone away to New York for college, Terrence Bottom had been Harold’s roommate and, next to Abigail Dombroski, the best friend he’d ever had.
“After you,” Mr. Walker said, smiling as he held open the door to the three-story apartment building.
Sensing he was about to find out the big secret, Harold bounded up the steps two at a time and waited outside number 203 for Mr. Walker to catch up with him. His pulse raced, as much from excitement as from his rapid ascent up the stairs. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he’d heard shushing coming from inside—like Thad’s “shhhh!” when anyone dared to talk during one of his television shows.
As Mr. Walker reached the second floor, Harold turned the knob and opened the door.
Harold jumped back at the loud chorus of shouted greetings and bumped Mr. Walker, who had to grab the rail to keep from falling backward down the steps. Harold raised a hand to his open mouth and gaped around the living room at the smiling crowd. “Abigail!” He ran to his friend and threw his arms around her. “You were in on this too?”
She nodded and hugged him back, her large eyes almost disappearing beneath the long false lashes she wore.
“How could we have a party without the guest of honor’s best friend?” Philip beamed. “Won’t you stay for some cake and coffee, Mr. Walker?”
“Show him Mrs. Dee’s cake,” Shirley said. “That should be enough to persuade him.”
“Harold and I did skip dessert.” Mr. Walker glanced at his watch. “If you insist.”
Mrs. Dee served cake and Philip brewed more coffee as Harold opened gifts. Thad and his parents gave him a silver pen-and-pencil set with his name engraved on them in a fine script.
“For writing thank you notes,” Thad suggested, over his second piece of cake.
Abigail’s psychedelic box contained a pink corduroy newsboy hat like they’d seen Twiggy, a high-fashion model and the most beautiful woman in the world, wearing on a television talk show. Lieutenant White gave him a keychain with his initials engraved on the silver whistle attached to it.
Philip handed Harold an envelope. The card inside contained a long note he didn’t read, knowing it would make him cry. He’d save it for later, when he was alone. Also in the envelope were tickets of some kind. Harold picked one up for more careful study and gasped. “Tickets for Hair? On Broadway?”
“The very same,” Philip said. “For you and a friend.” He put his arm around Abigail and gave her a hug.
She looked at Harold, her dark-ringed eyes amplifying the concern on her face. “Mom said I could go. That is, if you want me to come with you.”
Harold could hardly contain his excitement. “Of course I want you to come! There’s nobody I’d rather have with me in New York than you.”
Mr. Walker pulled an envelope from his coat pocket and gave it to Harold, who stared at it for a moment, his hand shaking with excitement. Ever since he’d ridden up to New York in the rented van to help Terrence move into his Greenwich Village studio apartment, Harold had wanted to return. And now, to be going with Abigail…. Harold ripped open the envelope and skimmed through the words on the card, trying not to stare at the two, crisp hundred-dollar bills it contained.
“Since you’re going to New York, Mrs. Walker and I thought you might need a little spending money, in case you want to shop.”
“Thank you all, so much,” Harold said, trying to maintain his composure. “I’m so excited! When do we go?”
“Mr. Walker and I have to be in New York for foundation business,” Philip said, glancing at his attorney. “We’ve booked rooms at the Hilton Hotel. We’re taking the train up Thursday morning and coming back Sunday afternoon.”
Harold couldn’t decide what excited him most. Seeing Terrence? Exploring New York with Abigail by his side? Shopping on Fifth Avenue? Seeing a Broadway show? He’d just have to wait and see. No matter what, the trip promised to be an experience he’d never forget.