Laura and Stephen Moredock are our MC Lane’s parents, and they don’t feature in The Good Boy so much as their absence features. On paper, they’re perfect: charming, wealthy, witty, in love…but Lane has felt like a third wheel in their grand romance ever since he was a kid.
Now Laura, CEO of Moredock Investments, is in jail awaiting trail for securities fraud. And Stephen? Nobody knows where the hell he’s run to. Not even Lane, because Stephen won’t answer his phone.
They’ve left Lane high and dry to deal with the fallout from collapse of their business empire and the ensuing investigation. Lane should hate them, of course, but it’s never that simple with family.
In the excerpts below, we get a portrait of Stephen and Laura, filtered through Lane’s childhood memories:
Once, when he was about nine or ten, Lane had sat at the top of the steps at the house in New York and watched his parents leave for a party. They were like a couple from a black-and-white movie. His father was handsome and his mother was elegant, and they bantered back and forth like Tracy and Hepburn: clever, confident, sharp, and funny. They were wonderful. Lane missed that.
He missed them. Did they miss the quiet, mumbling boy who orbited around their periphery, never quite reaching them?
He felt like he was eight years old again, listening to his parents discuss how he’d behaved at one of their dinner parties. His mother had dressed him in a six-hundred-dollar suit. They’d wanted to show him off to a client who had a daughter Lane’s age.
Lane hadn’t been able to open his mouth all night.
He’d tried. He knew almost everyone’s name. He was good with names, learned them by watching and listening. And he remembered details about people—where they worked, how many kids they had, why his parents liked or hated them.
He just couldn’t talk to them.
The client asked what grade he was in.
Such a simple question. He knew the answer. But the words were stuck.
I’m in the second grade.
How hard was it to say?
“He’s in second grade, aren’t you?” his mother had finally said, gripping his arm a little too hard.
He’d spent the rest of the night trying to pretend he was somewhere else. The client’s daughter was perfect. She was quiet when she needed to be but answered the adults’ questions politely and precociously, making everyone laugh.
Lane had finally managed to say thank you to the waiter who took his plate at dinner. No one else was paying attention to the waiter, or to Lane, so it wasn’t so hard to get the words out.
The waiter hadn’t responded.
That was one of Lane’s least favorite things about talking. Sometimes he spent so much effort forcing the words out, only to have the other person fail to reply, or respond rudely.
Acton Wagner had been there, and he’d done a trick where he stood behind the Moredock’s antique sofa and made it look like he was walking down a flight of stairs. That had made Lane smile.
“A smile! I knew you had it in you,” Acton had said.
Later on, Lane stood on the stairs and listened to his parents talking.
“Maybe something’s not right with him,” Laura said. “There’s a child psychologist in Hereford the Stallworths take Hannah to.”
“He’ll grow out of it,” Stephen said.
“People think he’s stupid.”
“Laura, he’ll be fine.”
People think he’s stupid, Lane mouthed now, staring at a vaguely cubist cat painting on the wall.
He’ll be fine.