Skip to main content



The Up and Comer

Chapter OneThe
four of us were having dinner together, as we so often did. It was
at the Grange Hall down in the West Village. There were Connor and
Jessica, Tracy and me. Connor, never one to instigate a
conversation let alone dominate it, was nonetheless center
realized the other day," he began, his narrow eyes darting back and
forth among us, "that we're all at the age now where we can really
only rely on our instincts and intellect in order to succeed."
Connor stopped for a moment, presumably to let the supposed
magnitude of this statement sink in. He continued: "When you think
about it, from the ages of, like, twenty-eight to... oh, let's say
thirty-four, we're all kind of just out there without a net. I
mean, when we're older than that, odds are we'll have collected
enough experience— personal, professional, what have
you—to get our asses out of almost any jam. And when we were
younger, let's face it, nothing really too significant was expected
of us, precisely because we didn't have any experience. But those
in-between years—right now—that's when we're really on
our own."
remember watching Connor finish that last sentence, the way he
deliberately reached for a packet of sugar as if he were testing
out an artificial limb. I remember because it was at that precise
moment that I wish it had occurred to me: I should probably stop
f***ing his wife.
Absolutely incredible!"Tracy stood before me, loaded shopping bags in hand, a smile
ear to ear. She'd been gone a good six hours.
"Back so soon?" I said, barely looking up from my Sunday
Times. But it was clear there wasn't enough sarcasm in the
world to burst my wife's bubble. She just ignored me.
"Everything fit; everything I tried on fit me like a glove. It
was like karma... clothes karma!" Tracy said with a giggle. "That's
what it was!"
hold it right there. Were this most anyone else's apartment and the
same scene was being played out, odds are the guy in my shoes would
start huffing and puffing about how much this little shopping spree
was going to set him back. Some heated words would be exchanged,
followed by a full-blown argument that in turn would give way to
any number of tantrum-related activities such as kicking,
screaming, or heaving a vase across the room.
this wasn't anyone else's apartment, this was our 3,500-
square-foot penthouse loft in Chelsea, paid for in cash by my
father-in-law, Lawrence Metcalf, as a wedding gift two years ago.
Which is not to say I married for money. No, I married for a lot of
when Tracy would go four figures deep into Bergdorf's or Bendel's,
or, on this particular Sunday afternoon, Saks Fifth Avenue, I,
Philip Randall, couldn't really give a shit. It wasn't our money
she was spending, it was Daddy's, and you didn't have to be the
sharpest knife in the drawer to figure out that whatever moral or
self-esteem issues one might have with that, it simply wasn't worth
acting on them. Period.
"Philip, if you want me, I'll be in the bedroom."That
was code, of course. It meant Tracy wanted to have sex. As if
wealth wasn't a blessing enough unto itself, it so happened that
spending money made my wife horny. Really horny. And the more she
spent, the more horny she got. It actually made for an interesting
postcoital ritual. We would finish up, and depending on whatever it
was she had let me do to her and how much she had been into it, I
would try to guess how much money she'd just spent. Once, on a
whim, she bought herself a Cartier Pasha watch at Tourneau. It was
the only time we ever had anal sex.
"That was at least three G's," I gasped, rolling off
thousand," she gasped back. "Though not including tax."
(Truth be told, I wouldn't have rated it much more than a
couple hundred, however, I had learned early on to always come in
at a higher number.)
Tracy got up from the bed and headed for the bathroom. I
watched her. She was still very thin, as thin as when we first met
four years ago. Her breasts were not large, but they were round, a
nice shape. Occasionally, after too much to drink, she'd talk about
getting implants, though I knew it was something that she'd never
guess who I bumped into?" came her voice from the
"Who?"Tracy reappeared in her robe. "Tyler Mills," she
"Yeah, he remembered me and everything. Of course, I didn't
have a clue who he was at first. He looked horrible,
"Funny how a suicide attempt will do that to you," I
"Where'd you see him?""Outside of Saks. He was standing by the doors.""By
Tracy nodded."What'd you talk about?""Nothing, really; I asked how he was doing and all
was— Oh, on second thought, he did say something strange;
well, not really strange, just kind of weird."
"What was it?""He
said he hoped to be talking to you soon."
thought that was weird?" I asked.
was the way he said it, like it was something that you might not
want to do."
"What, did he say that?""No,
I got the sense that there was more to it, though," she said. "Do
you know what it's about?"
a clue."
"Anyway, I gave him our number as well as your one at work.
That was okay, right?"

Excerpted from THE UP AND COMER © Copyright 2001 by Howard
Roughan. Reprinted with permission by Warner Books. All rights

The Up and Comer
by by Howard Roughan

  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446612103
  • ISBN-13: 9780446612104