Daughter of the King

Daughter of the King by Sandra Lansky

Book: Daughter of the King by Sandra Lansky Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sandra Lansky
physicians, all affiliated with New York University. If anybody could make Buddy walk on his own, this was the place, on the cutting edge. How I prayed that Buddy could one day throw away his “Canadian crutches,” which wrapped around his frail forearms, and walk like a man.
    A few times, I rode down to Bellevue with Daddy to take Buddy to therapy. In the city, we now usually took cabs rather than the Oldsmobile, because the traffic and parking had gotten so difficult, with everybody buying cars after the war. One day I overheard one of the doctors talking to another. “What’s the point of all this?” the doctor groused. “The kid won’t live that long.” My heart totally sank. I wanted my brother to walk . I didn’t want him to die . Doctor Live Again? What a lie. I wanted to tell Daddy about how cruel these doctors were. They were taking his money for a hopeless case. Again, I didn’t dare. But it made me treasure every second with Buddy, whose amazing bravery I learned to appreciate the older I got.
    Almost in anticipation of the divorce Daddy and Mommy were planning but keeping a secret from me, Daddy found me a permanent nanny to serve as a mother substitute. In the back of his mind, he must have worried that Mommy might have another nervous breakdown. What made Daddy such a brilliant businessman was that he thought like a lawyer, anticipating everything that might go wrong, no matter how long the odds. His was a worst-case scenario mentality.
    My new nanny’s name was Nancy Attina. I think Daddy thought of her as potential family as well, the idea being that she would have been a great wife for Buddy. We had met her in the winter of 1945 on our three months’ stay in Florida. That season, instead of the Roney Plaza, we stayed a short ways down Miami Beach at the equally exclusive and right-on-the-sand Spanish colonial Wofford Hotel. It was Uncle Augie’s headquarters and Nancy worked there as a waitress.
    She was a very pretty, wholesome Italian girl in her early twenties from Bayshore, Long Island. The men were crazy about her, and she was always going out on dates, often to Daddy’s Colonial Inn, which was the hot ticket in Miami, having just opened that season. Her dream was to go out with Frank Sinatra, a dream Daddy could have made come true if he didn’t subconsciously think she’d make a great wife for Buddy.
    “Little Augie” Carfano used to “own” Brooklyn and now, with my father’s guidance, he was in the process of “owning” Miami. The western half of Florida was owned by Uncle Santo Trafficante in Tampa, who was always sending Daddy handmade cigars that Daddy refused to smoke because they smelled so strong. Instead he saved the cigars as collectors’ items and gave them to his friends on special occasions, like births, weddings, and casino openings. Uncle Augie, who smoked Uncle Santo’s pungent stogies with macho and gusto, dressed nearly as well as Uncle Benny Siegel. He was very proud of the huge scar down the whole side of his face and considered himself just as handsome as his best friend, Uncle Joe Adonis. Buddy told me he had gotten the scar in some gangland battle, but Uncle Augie, who had a great sense of humor, liked to call it a “dueling scar” incurred in a fight for the favors of an Italian countess. Suffice it to say, Uncle Augie had an eye for women and had married a series of showgirls.
    One girl Daddy insisted Augie keep his hands off of was Nancy, saving this bobby-soxer for Buddy. He had hired her, I assume, at a very generous salary. I thought of her more as a big sister than a caregiver. During that winter, Nancy would drive me to my favorite restaurants, Pickin’ Chicken, where we would eat outside, and the Lighthouse, a seafood palace you got to by crossing a rickety wooden causeway that was on the verge of collapse and always made the trip there an adventure. I didn’t like fish, but I loved that bridge and the giant turtles that lived in a pond that

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