Radical activity from the 1960s comes back to haunt a former militant.
Alan Ripley is a respected attorney with a modest business in wills and real-estate transactions. He’s into his second marriage, has a young son and, at least on the surface, seems quite content. But when he gets a call from Rory Dekker, Alan is reminded of an ugly incident from 20 years earlier. In a spasm of radical enthusiasm, he and some acquaintances had been involved in a scheme to rob a gun store in Lyletown and distribute the weapons to blacks oppressed by The Man. While Alan’s role in the crime was supposed to be modest—he was scheduled to be a lookout while others took care of business—a case of appendicitis removed him from the scene, and Rory took his place. Planned to unfold like clockwork, the crime was unbelievably botched, and Rory was the only one who served time. Now that he’s out of prison, he contacts Alan, but Rory’s motives are murky—a shakedown? blackmail? a power play? Alan has kept his wife Julia in the dark about this sordid incident from his past, and he has to work hard to keep Rory’s presence out of their lives. While Rory’s activities remain shadowy, he continues to contact Alan every few years when he’s in a jam—getting involved with a mob boss in New Orleans, for example, and having to hightail it out of town when he disses the boss’s son. Rory’s creepiness understandably makes Alan uncomfortable, but eventually he’s able to confess his past to Julia and resume his “normal” life...more or less.
Although Rory’s character is occasionally ill-defined, his interactions with Alan remain menacing—and Frederick reminds us of the tenebrous atmosphere of the ’60s.