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Under Water

by Josh Pachter

About the Author: Josh Pachter was the 2020 recipient of the Short Mystery Fiction Society's Golden Derringer Award for Lifetime Achievement. His crime stories appear regularly in Mystery Weekly, EQMM, AHMM, and elsewhere. He also translates fiction by Dutch and Flemish authors and is the editor of numerous anthologies, most recently ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG: CRIME FICTION INSPIRED BY THE SONGS OF BILLY JOEL (Untreed Reads) and THE GREAT FILLING STATION HOLDUP: CRIME FICTION INSPIRED BY THE SONGS OF JIMMY BUFFETT.


“Uncle Frank,” the eighteen of us called him, all the way through high school and for years thereafter.

Not to his face, of course. The only time we actually met our benefactor, after they’d bussed the group of us down to New York City for a “getting to know you” lunch in his midtown office, he was either “Mr. Robertson” or “sir.” If he’d been wearing a ring and had held it out to us, I think most of us would have kissed it.

I know I would have.

We were a dozen and a half brainy teenagers, plucked out of public junior high schools around the country by the Robertson Scholars program and gifted with an education none of our parents could conceivably have afforded without Uncle Frank’s generous support: four years—all expenses paid, including tuition, room and board, airfare home for holidays and summers and even a modest monthly allowance—at the elite Bellman Patterson Hall in Durham, Connecticut. Bellman Patterson, cobbled together in 1924 from the all-boys Bellman School and the all-girls Patterson Hall, was one of the two or three best private prep schools in the country. Off the top of my head, I can name eleven Nobel laureates and six Oscar-winning actors and actresses who were Bell Patt grads—as were seven senators, two vice presidents, and four presidential offspring.

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