I'm not half the shooter he was, a fact dismally confirmed when I returned to New York City. As these words are being written, I await word from Dooney and Klein, who've hinted that they might take pity and run one of my pictures somewhere deep in the magazine, no larger than a grocery coupon.
That would be more than I deserve. There's no hope that Uvula's sentimental tattoo will escape the editorial airbrush, but these days I can admire the jaunty little bird at close range any time I wish.
Did Kurtz scheme for us to find that last remaining camera? Did he know we would try, though inevitably fail, to replicate his singular shot? And did he anticipate what would happen between Uvula and me after he was gone?
I have no answers, only suspicions.
The Bahamian authorities never recovered a body but firmly assert that a plunge from that coral cliff would not be survivable.
It was three weeks later, after the strange and unexpected death of Ian Ricks, when I learned that he was the one who'd ordered the magazine not to pay Kurtz's disputed fig bill. The subject arose over a late lunch at the Stage Deli. Dooney and Klein revealed that Ricks had been cavorting in Nassau with the wife of a Lexus executive when his ocean kayak was run over by a speeding Jet Ski. The driver never stopped, and the water bike later was found abandoned off Paradise Beach.
"We lose two guys to the islands in less than a month," Dooney said through a cheekful of corned beef. "How weird is that?"
"Yeah," I said quietly, "what're the odds?"
Such a dark and heartless coincidence.