The Gate House

Free The Gate House by Nelson DeMille

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Authors: Nelson DeMille
Crown, including, I confess, the Sutters, who still have this conser-vative streak in them—except for my late father, who was a liberal Democrat and who used to get into political arguments at Republican-dominated family gatherings. My crazy mother, Harriet, is also a progressive, and she and Ethel were always allies against the majority of unenlightened, repressive male pigs who once dominated the society of the Gold Coast.
    But even that had been changing, and when I left here ten years ago, if you had a friend or neighbor who was a Democrat, you could talk about it openly without worrying about real estate values plummeting.
    On the subject of war and politics, I was half listening to a conservative radio talk show, and I turned up the volume to listen to a caller saying, “We need to nuke them before they nuke us.”
    The host, trying to sound a bit rational, replied, “Okay, but
do we nuke?”
    The caller answered, “All of them. Nuke Baghdad first so we don’t have to send our boys there to get killed.”
    “Okay, but maybe we should just nuke the Al Qaeda training camps first. They’ll all get the message.”
    “Yeah. Nuke the camps, too.”
    The host cut away for a commercial break that was preceded by the rousing patriotic music of John Philip Sousa, a former Long Island resident who seemed to be making a comeback.
    There had been an amazing transformation in the political and social culture since 9/11, and it was sort of jarring if you hadn’t been here to see it developing. Virtually every house had an American flag flying, including the shops and houses here in Glen Cove, not usually a bastion of conservatism. And nearly every vehicle had a flag on its antenna, or a decal on a window, or bumper stickers that said things like “9/11—Never Forget,” or “Bin Laden—You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide,” and so forth. Also, nearly everyone I’d seen in Locust Valley wore an American flag pin. Thinking about this, I had the distinct feeling that people had been checking out my car for signs that I was a loyal American.
    Anyway, back to the last century, when Glen Cove became home to a large immigrant Italian population, who found work building and maintaining the grand mansions and estate grounds. This manual labor for the rich eventually morphed over the generations into successful Italian-American-owned construction companies, landscaping enterprises, and related endeavors.
    This was a great American success story, but unfortunately, a side effect of the large Italian population of Glen Cove is the existence of a small but persistent group of gentlemen whose business is not landscaping. Thus it was that Mr. Frank Bellarosa from Brooklyn was on his way to Glen Cove, Long Island, a decade ago to meet some business associates at an Italian restaurant. Ironically, today, with GPS, he and his driver—was it Anthony, now known as Tony?—would not have gotten lost and wound up on Grace Lane, and Fate would have been sidetracked by satellite technology. Go figure.
    I headed north on Dosoris Lane, a seventeenth-century road that led toward the Sound, and on which some Sutters had lived in centuries past.
    I’ve never had occasion to visit the Fair Haven Hospice House, but the nice lady on the phone had given me good directions, and assured me that Mrs. Allard could have visitors—though she also cautioned that this situation could change by the time I arrived.
    Dosoris Lane passed through what had once been eight great estates, all belonging to the Pratt family, and built by Mr. Charles Pratt of Standard Oil for himself and seven of his eight children. Why number eight didn’t get an estate is a mystery to me, but I’m sure Charles Pratt had his reasons, just as William Peckerhead of Hilton Head had his reasons for deeding the Stanhope guest cottage and ten acres to Susan, as sole owner. Susan, of course, could have changed the deed, but that would have angered William, and we don’t want to get

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