Train To Nowhere
Author: Charles Salzberg
Henry Swann is hired to find a missing father, a Vietnam veteran, who might well be living as a homeless man in the depths of New York City’s Grand Central Terminal.
Train to Nowhere
“You come very highly recommended, Mr. Swann.”
“I have no idea who might recommend me, much less highly, but I’m not about to argue with them,” I say, as I give a prospective client the once over.
I receive the call from her—she says her name is Karyn Shaw, with a K and a Y, she points out—earlier that morning. She asks if we can meet in the Atrium at the Citicorps Building, on Third Avenue and 54th Street. So that’s where we’re seated, at a table in the center of the large, open expanse. It is nearly 3 p.m., so the lunchtime crowd has evaporated and is replaced by a sprinkling of people obviously killing time till something better comes
along. I know what that’s like and the odds aren’t good. I spend most of my life doing the same thing. Or, to put a finer point on it, what the hell am I doing here?
“How will I know you?” I ask.
She laughs. A throaty laugh. Like Lauren Bacall’s in To Have and Have
Not. I wonder if she can teach me how to whistle.
“Oh, I don’t think you’ll have any trouble picking me out of a crowd. Just look for a woman with long red hair that looks like it could use a good comb through.”
She’s right. I spot her right away. She’s sitting at a table in the middle of the Atrium. Scratch Lauren Bacall and replace her with Nicole Kidman and you’ll have a better idea of what she looks like.
“I’ll get right down to business. I’d like to hire you to find someone,” she says, twirling a wooden stirrer in her Styrofoam cup of coffee.
“Who might that be?” “My father.”
“Your father’s missing?” “Yes.”
“For how long?”
“A long time.”
“When was the last time you saw him?”
She thinks a moment.
“Well, the truth is, I’ve never actually met him.”