Jen Litely. Society babe. Trophy wife.
Married to Leo Litely, philanthropist. Another way of saying Leo was fifth-generation inherited wealth, no particular skills except for giving money away. The pile of cash resulting from previous generations that ripped lumber out of the forests, put down rail lines, speculated in real estate and so forth. That rapaciousness tidied over and forgotten now in light of Leo’s generosity.
“Leo’s still alive?” I asked Duke.
“Clinging to life, that’s Leo’s main talent. How old you figure he is, Brimsnod?”
“A hundred and eighty?”
“Disappointing for Jen. But she manages to get in a few laughs.”
“So you mentioned.”
While Duke was still alive, he and Jen sat together on the Art Institute board. Sitting wasn’t all they did, according to Duke.
Jen was in her late 40s, early 50s. She had a program: yoga, personal trainer, the occasional surgical tune-up, lotions and potions, a colorist, a wardrobe consultant. We shared a table once when Duke hauled me along to an Art Institute gala.
“You both know her?” I asked.
“She was horsey, I was horsey,” Brimsnod said.
“I had a couple, she had a couple. We’d run into each other at the stable. You know how it is, riding boots, jodhpurs.”
“I don’t think I do.”
“We had a roll in the hay a time or two. There’s a lot of hay. In the stable.”
“You don’t really notice.”
“So you both…”
“Not at the same time, if that’s what you’re suggesting,” said Duke.
“Though she wouldn’t have said no.” Brimsnod got lost in thought.
“There’s a huge amount of life you don’t miss at all,” she said. “Then you got your characters like Jen, the jolt you get out of… Oh well. We’re off track. My only worry is, she’s not a focused-on-mortality type.”
“My bet is she’d spend a lot of Leo’s money to find out when he’s going to pop off,” said Duke.
“You can do that?” I asked.
“Early stages of a business, you got to be flexible,” said Duke.
“Seems like a violation of privacy.”
“So let them arrest us.”
“What about me?”
“You got to relax, Fatman. Take it from me, your counsel, there’s no law you’re violating. Unlawful revelation of date of death? The legislature hasn’t gotten around to that one.”
“Oh, please,” said Duke.
Just then my phone rang.
“You answering that?” Brimsnod asked.
It was Doris.
“I’m home, Charles,” she said.
Tomorrow: Here’s what’s going to happen, she said.