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Love and Death on the Upper East Side

Next time she saw him, she recognized him only by the Sagittarius chain around his blackened neck.

Later, Buddy Jacobson admitted that these had not been his happiest weeks. He was upset about Melanie but denied there was any "love triangle."

I said that I had heard that he had had no sexual involvement with Melanie for the preceding six months.

"I'm glad you said that," Buddy Jacobson said, twice.

And was there any connection with the death of Cheryl Corey? Cheryl Corey was the model, also with My Fair Lady, and a sometime tenant of 84th Street, who had fallen to her death off a boyfriend's balcony that same Sunday morning.

"No," Jacobson said, adding, "The only connection that there may be is that I learned about it that morning. I don't think I've ever seen a dead body in my life.

"And I think that hearing that, coupled with the events of the prior few days, and the events that were to take place that day, that, at anytime during that day, I was not in the best frame of mind."

He halted and clarified.

"In other words, I was not ready to make some important decisions." The decision, he explained, concerned his defense.

The events that were to take place that day: Melanie Cain returned to 155 East 84th at just before one o'clock. Jack Tupper was not there. She went downstairs and talked with some of the models. The death of Cheryl Corey lent the chat a darkish tinge.

Melanie Cain returned to the seventh floor. Several times. In retelling, the day grows disjointed, increasingly phantasmagoric. Soon she found that although the apartment that she and Tupper shared seemed unruffled there were bothersome details. Jack's boots were still there, and his jogging shoes.

Her eye alighted on something more unusual yet: the address book, a mockleather affair kept shut by an elastic band, without which Jack Tupper seldom went out. Also his gold Cross pen.

It was perhaps at this moment that Melanie Cain first felt a twinge of alarm. She telephoned the agency. A voice answered. A choked voice. It was a moment or so, Melanie said later, before she recognized the voice as that of Buddy Jacobson.

Further curious changes occurred from one visit upstairs to the next. The carpet in the hall, for instance, a piece of vivid maroon plaid, was as it had been on her first return. Later, it had accumulated smears of white paint.

She went to Buddy's apartment and rang the buzzer. She says that she saw shadows beneath the door, but nobody would come out. She went out and began to ring Jack Tupper's friends from the pay telephone on the corner. It was a sweltering Sunday afternoon. Few were home. Tupper's red sedan was still in the street.

Melanie returned. The elevator wouldn't come down. She climbed the seven flights of stairs. The service door was barred, the windows papered over.

She walked back downstairs and returned to the telephone on the corner, where she telephoned her service, to see if Jack had rung. He hadn't. She walked to the All Ireland to see if he was there. He wasn't.

Melanie Cain walked back to 155. The afternoon was turning a sulphurous yellow, and hot as dough baking, but sodden. Treading the sidewalks was like walking the bottom of a contaminated aquarium. The elevator was now working perfectly. But, up on the seventh floor, the rug was missing altogether.

She crossed to Jacobson's apartment and opened the door. Disorder. Shattered fragments of mirror. Cushions tumbled off the sofa beds she had herself purchased. People—she assumed they were some of the Italian construction workers from the house on 83rd—milling around. The rug vanished. Jacobson screamed, "Get out! I don't want to see you." He slammed the door.

Cain says she did not, as has been reported, see blood on the rug. She could not yet accommodate the thought "murder." Finally, she raised one of Tupper's friends on the telephone. Shaw was watching golf on television, a three-way tie on the last hole, Jerry Pate fouling up a three-foot putt. Shaw said he would be along directly. Walking back into the building, Melanie found Buddy Jacobson in the lobby. He was cool, self-possessed. Jack Tupper? "No, babe. I haven't seen him."

Shaw arrived. They looked through Tupper's apartment, examined the hall. Opening one of the service doors, Shaw noted what appeared to be a spot of blood on the brass runner. It was scarlet inside but already brown on the rim. "It could be covered with a dime," Shaw told me. He also found a shred of hair.


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