Chapter One

One day Karen DiCilia put a few observations together and realized her husband Frank was sleeping with a real estate woman in Boca.

Karen knew where they were doing it, too. In one of the condominiums Frank owned, part of Oceana Estates.

Every Friday afternoon and sometimes on Monday, Frank would put his spare clubs in the trunk of his Seville—supposedly to play at La Gorce, Miami Beach—and drive north out of Fort Lauderdale instead of south.

There were probably others, random affairs. Frank did go to Miami at least twice a week to “study the market” and play a little gin at the Palm Bay Club. He could have a cocktail waitress at Hialeah or Calder. He visited the dogtracks regularly, the jai-alai fronton once in awhile. Cruised for gamefish out in the stream with some of his buddies; went bonefishing in the Keys, near Islamorada, several times a year. Frank could have something going anywhere from Key West to West Palm, over to Bimini and back and probably did. The only one Karen was sure of, though, was the frosted-blonde thirty-six-year-old real estate woman in Boca.

Frank’s actions, his routine, were predictable; but not his reactions. If she confronted him, or hinted around first, with questions like, “Do I know her?” or, “Are you going to tell me who she is?”

Frank would say, “Who’re we talking about?”

And Karen would say, “I know you’ve got a girl friend. Why don’t you admit it?”

And Frank would say—

He might say, “Nobody told you I have a girl friend and you haven’t seen me with anybody that could be a girl friend, so what’re we talking about?”

And Karen would say, “The real estate woman in Boca,” and offer circumstantial evidence that wouldn’t convict him but would certainly put him in a corner.

He might deny it out right. Or he might say, “Yeah, sometimes I go to Boca. Not that it’s any of your fucking business.”

Then what? She’d have to get mad or pout or act hurt.

So Karen didn’t say a word about the real estate woman. Instead, she drove her matching white Caddy Seville up to Boca one Friday afternoon, to the big pink condominium that looked like a Venetian palace.

She located Frank’s white Seville in the dim parking area beneath the building, on the ocean side, backed it out of the numbered space with the spare set of keys she’d brought, left Frank’s car sitting in the aisle, got into her own car again and drove her white Seville into the side of his white Seville three times, smashing in both doors and the front fender of Frank’s car, destroying her own car’s grille and headlamps and drove back to Lauderdale. When Frank came home he looked from one matching Seville to the other. Karen waited, but he didn’t say a word about the cars. The next day he had them towed away and new matching gray ones delivered.

Weeks later, in the living room, she said, “I’m getting tired of tennis.” And said to the dog, sniffing around her feet, “Gretchen, leave, will you? Get out of here.”

“Play golf,” Frank said. He patted his leg and the gray and white schnauzer jumped up on his lap.

“I don’t care for golf.”

“Join some ladies’ group.” Gently stroking the schnauzer.

“I’ve done ladies’ groups.”

“Take up fishing, I’ll get you a boat.”

“Do you know what I do?” Karen said. “I exist. I sit in the sun. I try to think up work for Marta and for when the gardener comes—” She paused a moment. “When we got married—I mean at our wedding reception, you know what my mother said to me?”


“She said, ‘I hope you realize he’s Italian.’ She didn’t know anything else, just your name.”

“Half Italian,” Frank said, “half Sicilian. There’s a difference. Like Gretchen here”—stroking the dog on his lap, the dog dozing—“she’s part schnauzer, part a little something else, so that makes her different.”

“You don’t get it, do you?” Karen said.

“Get what? She’s from Grosse Pointe. I lived in Grosse Pointe one time. What’s that? You buy a house.”

“She wasn’t being a snob. At least not when she said it.”

“All right, what did she mean I’m Italian? What was she? Hill, maybe it was shortened from Hilkowski. Are you a Polack maybe? What’re we talking about?”

“What she meant,” Karen said, “the way you lived, what you were used to. You’d probably be set in your ways. You’d have your man things to do, and I’d have to find woman things to do. And she was right, not even knowing anything about what you really did, or might still be doing, I don’t know, since you don’t tell me anything.”

“I’m retired.” Frank said, “and you’re tired of playing tennis and sitting around. All right, what do you want to do?”

“Maybe I’ll just do it and not tell you,” Karen said.

“Do what?” Frank asked.

“Not tell you where I go or who I see. Or make up something. Tell you I’m going to play tennis but I don’t, I go someplace else.”

“Stick to tennis,” Frank said. He stopped stroking Gretchen. “You have a very hard time coming right out and saying something. You want to threaten me, is that it? Because you’re bored? Are you telling me you’re gonna start fooling around? If that’s what you’re saying, say it. A man comes to me and gives me some shit out the side of his mouth. I tell him that’s it, get the fuck out or talk straight. Now I’m much more patient with you, Karen, you’re my wife and I respect you.

Gold Coast

Publisher: New York : Bantam, 1980
Edition: First Edition
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 218 pages
Original Price: $
ISBN: 0440208327
Genre: Crime/Contemporary
Locations: Detroit
Special Notes: Filmed for Television as: Elmore Leonard’s Gold Coast (1997)

“Mr. Leonard dazzles with hard-boiled suspense, surprising turns and real characters.” (Washington Post)

Gorgeous widow Karen diCilia just found out what it really means to be married to the mob. Her mafia husband Frank left her millions and a Florida Gold Coast mansion. He also left orders that she’d lose everything the day she slept with another man. With his boys as enforcers, Karen was soon a lonely lady. Then she meets Detroit’s Cal Maguire, a sexy, street-smart ex-con with a scam to get Karen her money and freedom . . . or get them both killed