“Mr. Curran,” Sarah said. She had expected him to ask a question or bark an order. When he didn’t, she gestured toward me.
“Mr. McKenzie, this is Mr. Curran. He’s the president of the club. Mr. Curran, McKenzie is a friend—was a friend of Mrs. Rogers. He’s also friends with Riley Brodin and the Muehlenhauses.”
I didn’t know if she added that last part to protect her or me.
I disliked Curran immediately. He said, “Mr. McKenzie,” in a conciliatory tone and shook my hand and added, “Mrs. Rogers was one of our great favorites.” Yet I went on disliking him.
“Were you friends?” I asked.
“Not friends exactly. We knew each other for a long time. That’s not the same thing, though, is it?”
“No, it isn’t.”
“I’m told that when we die, we regret the things we didn’t do more than those we did. All day long I’ve been regretting…” Curran caught himself. He smiled at Sarah and said, “Thank you, Ms. Neamy.” To me he said, “Mr. McKenzie, may I have a moment of your time?”
I said, “Sure,” and followed him to an office not far from the reception area. It had a large desk and lots of chairs. The walls were filled with photographs of tennis matches, golf games, swimming meets, and all manner of social events. Curran was not in any of them.
He sat behind the desk and bade me take a chair across from him. He stared as if he wasn’t sure how to approach our conversation and finally just blurted what he was thinking—“Did Juan Carlos Navarre have anything to do with Reney’s murder?”
Wow, my inner voice said.
“Why ask me?” I said aloud.
“I’m told that you are … unofficially involved in the investigation.”
“Unofficially then, Navarre had no hand in it that I’m aware of. It’s possible, however, that the man who killed Mrs. Rogers was trying to get information about him. Why do you ask?”
Curran ignored my question and asked one of his own. “What kind of information?”
“I don’t know.”
The man stared at me some more before he said, “You’re not actually a friend of Mr. Muehlenhaus, are you?”
“I’ve never lent him money, if that’s what you mean.”
“But you’re working for him.”
“I’m working for Riley Brodin.”
“Ms. Brodin. I regret that I haven’t been her friend, either. I was an economist, McKenzie. Very successful. Made a great deal of money. Retired young. I promptly became bored out of my mind and let them elect me president of Club Versailles. I think I’ve done a good job here—with the numbers, I mean. The people … There are members that I have seen at least once a week for years and yet I’ve never called them by name, shaken their hands, or had a drink with them. The only time I spoke to Mrs. Rogers was when a member complained about her poker playing on the terrace. You know what I did? I asked her to move her games to the card room. She asked me if I wanted to play. I declined. What an ass.”
“Did you speak with Navarre?”
“Only concerning his application for membership in Club Versailles. He didn’t impress me. No, that’s not true. I was impressed by his bank account. The numbers. McKenzie, we’ve already told the sheriff deputies, so I don’t see any reason to keep it from you—Navarre withdrew his application Friday afternoon.”
“I think he knew I was onto him.”
“What do you mean?”
“It happened earlier in the week. He—Navarre—was sitting on the patio with Ms. Brodin. They had ordered drinks. It was busy and the waitstaff was falling behind, so I brought the drinks out to them myself. As I approached, I could hear that they were conversing in Spanish. I speak Spanish. I addressed them in that language. Ms. Brodin seemed pleased by it. Navarre became angry, almost violent. He ordered me to stop interfering with them—in English.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Spanish is like any other language; it has different dialects depending on where you’re from. Take English. It’s spoken differently in New England than it is in the South or the West or Minnesota or Canada, for that matter. I spent four and a half years in Spain, and Navarre’s Spanish isn’t Spanish Spanish, if that makes sense to you.”
“What Spanish is it?” I asked.
“Mexican, I think.”
“Are you sure?”
“I was sure enough that I nearly took steps to revoke his guest privileges. Navarre clearly did not belong here, and I have an obligation to protect the club.”
“I’m sure you’re very good at it.”
“I didn’t expel Navarre because he was Mrs. Rogers’s protégé, for lack of a better word, and because of his relationship with Ms. Brodin and the Muehlenhauses. It was my intention to inform Mrs. Rogers of my suspicions, and perhaps Mr. Muehlenhaus as well, depending on how Mrs. Rogers reacted to the news. When Navarre withdrew his application, I decided it was better to forget about it. I’ve been regretting that decision all day as well.”