Talented, clever, sophisticated Iris was his anchor, the one joy in his troubled, lonely life. At Harvard, she transformed John from a shy and awkward undergraduate into an elegant, self-assured man. But now she's gone, and his memories of her are obscured by a miasma of guilt and uncertainty.
One bright day Iris returns. Is she real, or just a cruel figment of his addled brain? Only a journey into the deepest corners of his past will reveal the truth about John and Iris--about life and death and love, and secrets too dark to reveal.
|Publisher:||Global Book Sales|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
SEVERAL WINTERS AGO, YOUNG ROMANTICS IN JAPAN DEVISED AN ELEGANT WAY OF COMMITTING SUICIDE. After draining a bottle of liquor, the despondent soul went to a public park in the middle of the night, where he (it was always a he) stripped naked and rubbed snow all over his body. Soon consciousness deserted him, and he closed his eyes in a velvety hypothermic embrace. It was painless, it was beautiful.
I remember walking past Cambridge Commons, across the Charles River from Boston, with cold freezing my fingertips through my gloves and the wind insinuating itself around my exposed neck. I walked the footpath by the shadowy copses and thought about the Japanese.
In Minnesota the cold envelopes with an embrace equal parts fearful and seductive. Winter is coming.
Don' t get the impression that I'm an unhappy person. Really, nothing could be further from the truth. If you met me, I'll bet I could get you to like me. I used to be very good at that.
On one of the rare occasions when she was willing to talk about him, my mother told me that my father was a construction worker. His particular specialty was industrial interiors drywall, plaster, paint, acoustic ceilings.
Frankly, I have a hard time imagining my father laboring on a construction site, sweat collecting in the wrists of his heavy gloves. From various family members, I gather that my father's long-completed tenure on this earth comprised an uncompromising run of indolence, cheating, lying, abandonment, womanizing, and neglect. He kept those who loved him on edge with the ever-present threat of his hurricane temper. I suppose it was theoretically possible that he might have put down his beer bottle from time to time and gone to work. Everyone does things out of character.
I barely remember him. One time, when I was about five or six, he came to see me. He was angry, red, not doing much talk ing even though he was a visitor to my mother's house. He bickered with her and she left the room before he felt provoked. I was alone with my father, who at first didn't seem to notice I was there. He shook his head, muttering to himself. Then he turned and fixed me with a pitying look.
"Some fucking world. huh?" he said with surprising congeniality. This was the sum total of all the wisdom he had to impart, but he believed in what he was saying.
I sort of knew what he meant.
I bought a house in Minneapolis a little more than two years ago. The first thing I did after closing on the property was to follow in my father's footsteps with some interior work of my own. I tore a hole in my bedroom wall, just above the baseboard. Inside it, I hid a plastic bag of photographs and almost $400,000 in cash. On top of the money, I set down a wooden truncheon bought from a martial arts store in Los Angeles. It's a nasty little club, black and hard, with a handle for swinging, like the ones the cops use on rioters. The club was barely used. Just the one time.
It's stupid of me to keep it. I'm like an arsonist watching his handiwork from behind the police barricade, reveling in the colors of the blaze, twitching every time a detective spots my sweating face in the crowd. But I can't bear to get rid of it. I've wiped away my fiancee's dried blood and doused the thing in rubbing alcohol, knowing full well the capabilities of DNA forensics. Still, it's evidence, and if they ever find Iris Kateran's body, it might suffice to put me in prison for the remainder of my useful adulthood.
Two years ago, I thought Iris was mocking me behind my back. I was afraid of her. I thought she was going to destroy me. When I went back to her home, Los Angeles, I was poisoned by money-by my desire for it, by my new image as someone who deserved it. When everything went wrong, I was no longer my self. The John Wright I once was would never have bashed his lover's head in.
The Pertinent Facts, and Unanswered Questions, of John Wright's Life:
1. He was born poor, and his childhood could best be characterized as uneventful. He was reared by adults who lived lives of no distinction. He evinced intelligence at an early age, though he also developed a nervous disposition and had difficulty relating to others. This may have been due to the influence of his mother's chaotic and mercurial personality. Although his occasional interactions with his father couldn't have helped much, either.
2. He never again contacted his family after high school and has not spoken to his mother since shortly after his high school graduation. Though she was a woman of many faults, John Wright was basically all Sandra Ruth Wright had in this world, and John's actions doomed her to a unique prison of her own devices. He imagines she must have begun a precipitous personal downturn shortly after his departure for college but generally succeeds in driving this thought from his mind.
3. He left his home in Indiana for Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he made his first and only friend. He also lucked into a beautiful and extremely wealthy girlfriend, Iris Kateran, who later became his fiancee.
4. During college, John Wright was a mediocre humanities student. His relationship with Iris evolved quickly, and he began calling himself Jack (her idea). Jack and Iris eventually cohabited in a neighboring town called Somerville. Jack's love for Iris deepened, and he began to embrace the material luxuries she provided.
5. Jack, Iris, and Jack's friend, Frank Lee, decided shortly before graduation to move to Los Angeles. Although daunted by the presence of Iris's overbearing father, Jack agreed to the move because the three friends planned to set up a small investment company, which they would run and which would enjoy the backing of the Kateran family name.
6. Things went all right for a while, but soon after their engagement, Iris and John's relationship began to deteriorate for reasons too complicated to explain here.
7. After a sudden financial and personal reversal, Jack flew into a jealous rage and tried to kill Iris.
8. Jack thought he had killed Iris. But the police never found her body. He waits for the police, or private investigators, to find evidence of his crime. But Iris's disappearance remains unsolved. Jack does not specifically remember killing Iris. He remembers an apartment, her being there, and deadly violence. But the actual killing? No, he doesn't remember it.
9. But, if he didn't, what became of Iris Kateran?
10. No. she has to be dead.
11. Upon seeing that his incarceration was not imminent, Jack moved to a new town.
12. Jack was involved in some very bad things. He can't explain to himself what happened.
13. It's been two years since all that happened.