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Long Time No See

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On an unseasonably warm Halloween night, while I was reading a
snappy treatise on Wendell Willkie's support of FDR's war policies
and handing out the occasional bag of M&M's to a
trick-or-treater, the fair-haired and dimpled Courtney Logan, age
thirty-four, magna cum laude graduate of Princeton,
erstwhile investment banker at Patton Giddings, wife of darkly
handsome Greg, mother of five-year-old Morgan and
eighteen-month-old Travis, canner of peach salsa, collector of
vintage petit point, and ex-president of Citizens for a More
Beautiful Shorehaven vanished from Long Island into thin air.

Odd. Upper-middle-class suburban women with Rolexes and biweekly
lip-waxing appointments tend not to disappear. Though I had never
met her, Courtney sounded especially solid. Less than a year
before, there had been a page one feature in the local paper about
her new business. StarBaby produced videos of baby's first year. "I
thought it would succeed because I knew in my heart of hearts there
were thousands just like me!" Courtney was quoted as saying. "It
all started when Greg and I were watching a video we'd made of
Morgan, our oldest. Fifteen minutes of Morgan staring at the mobile
in her crib! A beautiful, intelligent stare, but still... After
that, another fifteen of her sucking her thumb! Not much else.
Suddenly it hit me that we'd never taken out the videocam for
Travis, our second, until he was six months old!" (I've never been
able to understand this generation's infatuation for using last
names as first names. Admittedly it's a certain kind of name: you
don't see little Greenberg Johnsons gadding about in sailor suits.)
Anyhow, Courtney went on: "I was so sad. And guilty! Look what we'd
missed! That's when I thought, it would be so great if a
professional filmmaker could have shown up once a month and made a
movie starring my son!"

Though not unmindful of the Shorehaven Beacon's aggressively
perky style, I sensed Courtney Bryce Logan was responsible for at
least half those exclamation points. Clearly, she was one of those
incorrigibly upbeat women I have never been able to comprehend,
much less be. She'd left a thrilling, high-powered job in
Manhattan. She'd traded in her brainy and hip investment-banking
colleagues for two tiny people bent on exploring the wonders inside
their nostrils. And? Did even a single tear of regret slide down
her cheek as she watched her children watching Sesame
? Was there the slightest lump in her throat as the 8:11,
packed with her Dana Buchman-suited contemporaries, chugged off to
the city? Nope. Apparently, for can-do dames like Courtney, being a
full-time mom was full-time bliss. Ambivalence? Please! Retirement
was merely a segue into a new career, motherhood, another chance to
strut their stuff.

However, what I liked about her was that she spoke about Shorehaven
not just with affection but with appreciation, with familiarity
with its history. Well, all right, with its myths. She mentioned to
the reporter that one of the scenic backgrounds StarBaby used was
our town dock. She said: "Walt Whitman actually wrote his two-line
poem "To You' right there!" In truth, Courtney was just
perpetuating a particularly dopey local folktale, but I felt
grateful to her for having considered our town (and our Island-born
poet) important.

I think I even said to myself, Gee, I should get to know her. Well,
I'm a historian. I have inordinate warmth for anyone who invokes
the past in public. My working hours are spent at St. Elizabeth's
College, mostly squandered in history department shriek-fests. I am
an adjunct professor at this alleged institution of higher
learning, a formerly all-female, formerly nun-run, formerly
first-rate school across the county border in the New York City
borough of Queens. Anyhow, for two and a half seconds I considered
giving Courtney a call and saying hi. Or even Hi! My name is Judith
Singer and let's have lunch. But like most of those assertive
notions, it was gone by the end of the next heartbeat.

Speaking of heartbeats ... Before I get into Courtney Logan's
stunning disappearance and the criminal doings surrounding it, I
suppose a few words about my situation wouldn't hurt. I am what the
French call une femme d'un certain âge. In my case, the
âge is fifty-four, a fact that usually fills me with
disbelief, to say nothing of outrage. Nonetheless, although I still
have the smooth olive skin, dark hair, and almond-shaped eyes of a
mature extra in a Fellini movie, my dewy days are over. My children
are in their twenties. Kate is a lawyer, an associate in the
corporate department of Johnson, Bonadies and Eagle, a Wall Street
firm whose founding partners drafted the boilerplate of the
restrictive covenants designed to keep my grandparents out of their
neighborhoods. Joey works in the kitchen of an upscale Italian deli
in Greenwich Village making overpriced mozzarella cheese; he is
also film critic for a surprisingly intelligent, near-insolvent Web
'zine called night.

As for me, I have been a widow for two years. My husband, Bob, the
king of crudités, flat of belly and firm of thigh, a man given
to barely suppressed sighs of disappointment whenever he saw me
accepting a dessert menu from a waiter (which, okay, I admit I
never declined), died at age fifty-five, one-half day after
triumphantly finishing the New York Marathon in four hours and
twelve minutes. One minute he was squeezing my hand in the
emergency room, a reassuring pressure, but I could see the fear in
his eyes. As I squeezed back, he slipped away. Just like that.
Gone, before I could say, Don't worry, Bob, you'll be fine. Or, I
love you, Bob.

Except when the love of your life actually isn't the love of your
life, the loss still winds up being devastating. Golden memories?
No, only vague recollections of passionate graduate-school
discussions and newlywed lovemaking fierce enough to pull the
fitted sheet off the bed. Except those times had blurred in direct
proportion to the length of the marriage, and after more than a
quarter century together, Bob and I had wound up with sporadic
pleasant chats and twice-a-month sex that fit neatly between the
weather forecast and the opening credits of

Excerpted from LONG TIME NO SEE © Copyright 2001 by Susan
Isaacs. Reprinted with permission from HarperCollins. All rights

Long Time No See
by by Susan Isaacs

  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Mass Market Paperback: 482 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch
  • ISBN-10: 0061030430
  • ISBN-13: 9780061030437