|Aldrich, Janet M.
|Allan, T. N.
|Allen, M. G.
|Ammonds, Phillip J.
|Augustyn, P. K.
|Aymar, E. A.
|Baumgartner, Jessica Marie
|Bennett, D. V.
|Bernardara, Will Jr.
|Bohem, Charlie Keys and Les
|Boyd, A. V.
|Brown, R. Thomas
|Burke, Wayne F.
|Butler, Simon Hardy
|Cameron, W. B.
|Campbell, J. J.
|Campbell, Jack Jr.
|Cooper, Malcolm Graham
|Corrigan, Mickey J.
|Cosby, S. A.
|Danoski, Joseph V.
|Davis, Michael D.
|de Bruler, Connor
|De France, Steve
|De La Garza, Lela Marie
|Deming, Ruth Z.
|De Neve, M. A.
|Dennehy, John W.
|Di Chellis, Peter
|Drake, Lena Judith
|Dromey, John H.
|Dubal, Paul Michael
|Dunham, T. Fox
|Dunn, Robin Wyatt
|Fisher, Miles Ryan
|Flanagan, Daniel N.
|Flanagan, Ryan Quinn
|Funk, Matthew C.
|Gardner, Cheryl Ann
|Garvey, Kevin Z.
|Gay, Sharon Frame
|Goddard, L. B.
|Greenberg, K.J. Hannah
|Gurney, Kenneth P.
|Hanson, Christopher Kenneth
|Hayes, A. J.
|Hayes, Peter W. J.
|Hockey, Matthew J.
|Hogan, Andrew J.
|Hoy, J. L.
|Huffman, A. J.
|Huguenin, Timothy G.
|Huskey, Jason L.
|Irascible, Dr. I. M.
|Jaggers, J. David
|Jones, D. S.
|Jones, Erin J.
|Kaplan, Barry Jay
|Keaton, David James
|Kevlock, Mark Joseph
|King, Michelle Ann
|Krafft, E. K.
|Lacks, Lee Todd
|La Rosa, F. Michael
|Lerner, Steven M
|Lewis, Cynthia Ruth
|Liskey, Tom Darin
|Lopez, Aurelio Rico III
|Lucas, Gregory E.
|McFarlane, Adam Beau
|Mooney, Christopher P.
|Moran, Jacqueline M.
|Morgan, Bill W.
|Moss, David Harry
|Muslim, Kristine Ong
|Neuda, M. C.
|Ogurek, Douglas J.
|Perez, Juan M.
|Perez, Robert Aguon
|Powers, M. P.
|Purfield, M. E.
|Quinlan, Joseph R.
|reutter, g emil
|Rhiel, Ann Marie
|Richey, John Lunar
|Robinson, John D.
|Rodgers, K. M.
|Sayles, Betty J.
|Schraeder, E. F.
|Seymour, J. E.
|Shaikh, Aftab Yusuf
|Sheagren, Gerald E.
|Shirey, D. L.
|Shore, Donald D.
|Simmler, T. Maxim
|Sinisi, J. J.
|Small, Alan Edward
|Smith, Brian J.
|Snethen, Daniel G.
|Solender, Michael J.
|Stanton, Henry G.
|Stewart, Michael S.
|Stryker, Joseph H.
|Swartz, Justin A.
|Taylor, J. M.
|Thompson, John L.
|Valent, Raymond A.
|Waldman, Dr. Mel
|Weil, Lester L.
|White, Judy Friedman
|Art by Lonni Lees
My Gypsy Girl from Bluefield
She was poor white-trash from Appalachia and that’s
where the story should have begun and ended. But it didn’t.
Her high school kicked her out for performing fellatio on
a number of boys in a stall of the rest room. What the letter to her house said—which,
incidentally, was never read in its entirety by anybody at that address—was that she was expelled for reasons of “moral
turpitude.” The week after that, she walked out of Bluefield, West Virginia,
and never looked back. It turned out that her boyfriend, a senior to her sophomore,
wanted to have sex before his seventeenth birthday. Although he was co-captain of the varsity football team, he was ashamed
of his virginity and he thought a girl from the hollows would be easier to seduce than his current girlfriend, who was National
Honor Society, vice president of the class, and an applicant to four Ivy League universities.
He was right, of course.
Bobbie was smitten, to use an old-fashioned word. She fell in love, but
she’d never admit it afterward. The two of them discovered sex together
and for four weeks it was bliss. She walked around feeling as if she could hear
rushing water in her head every time he winked at her in the hallways. His jock
buddies teased him relentlessly but the truth was they envied the hell out of him.
She was sexually liberated, all shyness gone in the first few weeks of her love for him.
He sent her a note first period and told her to be in the
second stall; there would be an “Out of Order” sign in the janitor’s semiliterate scrawl on the door knob.
She was there waiting for him when he walked in. He was
barely inside the stall when she went down to her knees and unzipped him. She
took him in and gave him as noiseless a blow job as she could. To her, it was
an utterly selfless act of love, ever more proof that he owned her body and soul. She was pretty and genetically blessed,
freakishly so, in the development of her young bosom and the pelvic swell of her hips.
When he exploded into her mouth, she swallowed the jissom easily and, gripping his throbbing meat still trying to peck
at her, she smiled up at him. What happened next wasn’t what she feared might happen when she found his note in her
locker: some busybody hall monitor opening the door on them—or, worst
case, old Mrs. Waddell, the senile math teacher finding them there because she could never remember this bathroom was for
males. It was four of his football teammates standing there with wide grins
on their faces.
“I brought you a little present, Bobbie,” he
said and walked out tightening his belt buckle.
The first one in was Nick DeRosa, the middle linebacker.
He held her down by the shoulders and took himself out and shoved his rubbery meat against her lips until she opened. His eyes were crazy. His girth was
wider than what she was used to and he thrust his hips so that she gagged several times, which made him so angry he raised
his fist to her and told her if she didn’t suck it off he’d beat the shit out of her.
He was followed by the team’s running back, center,
and cornerback, the school’s only black male. By the time he had finished
with her, she was dizzy, scared out of her mind; she was covered with pasty gobs of semen that stuck to her sweater, hung
from one ear lobe, and dribbled from her chin when she coughed up the sticky mess that stuck to the back of her throat.
Before she could get out of the stall, two more boys from
the junior class, not athletes or friends of the four, burst in and held her by the arms.
They shoved her back inside the stall and forced her to sit on the toilet while they too demanded sex.
She lost count; one followed the other; she heard buckles,
zippers, laughs, moans, threats, and commands but it all seemed to be part of a nightmare she was having and not reality. She didn’t know when but a deeper male voice replaced the whispered commands
roiling around in her head. A woman jerked her to her feet and she felt her
breasts squeezed in a vise-like grip that made her cry out. It was the school’s
religious fanatic, Mrs. Hochschartner, the Home Ec teacher; she thrust her face into Bobbie’s so hard and close that
spittle joined the semen stains of her cheek: “God didn’t give you
these so you could become a filthy whore!”
The letter came a week later, but school was impossible. The stares and snickers everywhere—she was so isolated at lunch that twenty
seats were empty in all directions from wherever she sat. Some of school’s
toughest males approached her at her locker and demanded she meet them after school.
Her locker was filled with notes full of obscenities and curses shoved between the slats. Every time she went to her locker there were dozens of stick-it notes slathered across the front of it
in block-lettered abuse, a rotation of “Bitch,” “Whore,” “Slut,” and “Pig.”
Being the school tramp she saw as a consequence of the other. But it was clear that her fantasy was a burning, foul-smelling rubble at her feet.
She berated herself for even thinking that her family, which had spawned nothing
but lowlife troublemakers, welfare scum and criminals, could have been overlooked by the school’s most popular boy. She wept at night in her bed and pulled her hair until she had a scabby line of red
dots at her hairline and swollen cheeks from self-inflicted punches.
When she left, no one said goodbye. Her mother was sleeping after her third-shift job at a taco plant in the next town. Her father was a drunk and long gone from the family. Her
three older sisters were married in different counties and had babies and troubles of their own. Her younger brother was in a juvenile-detention center for stabbing a boy and was destined for a big prison
someday. She stole ten dollars from her mother’s purse, tossed a few clean
clothes and undergarments into a paper bag from the Sav-a-Lot and walked off the front porch.
She ate at MacDonald’s in Beckley and made it as far
as a truck stop in Charleston by nightfall. It was colder in this part of the
state and all she had was a flimsy wool sweater. She ordered coffee in the café
and thought about going back home. She had never been more than fifteen miles
from her house since she was born there. The waitress, a hatchet-faced woman
in rouge, kept giving her the fisheye every time she asked for a refill. She
was so desperate that, when a bandy-legged trucker walked in and sat down, she immediately went over to join him at his booth. He was ancient, about forty-five years old, she guessed, and had a huge pot belly
stretching out the fabric of his work shirt. He gave off a male odor she had
never smelled before; all the high-school boys she knew who shaved doused themselves with excessive cologne.
He bought her a Captain’s Feast seafood dinner and
offered her a ride north to Ohio. He was delivering a load of steel wire to
Youngstown. He turned out to be a kind man, who didn’t want sex from her
and didn’t ask for anything except that she consider “turning to Jesus.”
She promised she would. His cabin was overheated and the country tunes
he favored on the radio were the kind she had heard all her life. She fell into
a long, deep sleep that was full of bizarre creatures, half-demon and half-mechanical, who chased her. She awoke with her hands slapping at the air in front of her. He
was almost invisible except for the magma glow emanating from the luminous dials of his rig.
“Havin’ you a bad dream, hon?”
She gulped and swallowed several times and remembered where
she was. The empty landscape at one in the morning could have been in the Alaskan
tundra for all she knew.
“I’m fine,” she said.
He nodded slowly and said, “Jesus is the answer, darlin’. You-all remember that and you will be just fine.
Just fine,” he crooned.
He dropped her off at a gas station near the 680 loop. She had no idea she was standing near one of the most traveled interstates in the
United States with something like half the country’s population living within 500 miles.
The Escalade that stopped for her at a quarter past two
in the morning screeched its brakes so hard just past her outstretched thumb that it juddered into the shoulder and nearly
slewed into a mileage sign.
He was black and he was grinning from ear to ear when he
popped the door open for her. She stood there looking at him a long time, uncertain.
“Well, c’mon, bitch, make up your mind,”
he said and showed her his gold incisors in a beaming smile; he refused to let the dentist exchange them for the porcelain
once he made his money. They were his street “badges,” he called
them. “Keepin’ it real,” he said.
Bobbie’s fate changed drastically from that day. His name was Reggie Duval, or so he claimed, and he was a very big drug dealer in
Cleveland. He said he was coming back from visiting the Muhammad Ali Peace Center
in Louisville—the champ being a boyhood hero of his—and, “You know,” he said, “one thing led
to another, blasé-blasé,” which was Reggie’s riff for a drug deal wherever he happened to be at the time. He pointed to a spot on the sidewalk of Cedar Avenue where a young thug named Donald
King had kicked a much smaller man to death for failing to pay up when King’s number hit. That was almost fifty years ago, he said to her, and she nodded her blonde head as if this was a package
tour and he was the guide. He babbled some of King’s loony patriotic gibberish in a fair imitation acquired from television
and showed her his gold-tipped smile. The sodium arc lights of downtown bathed the empty dawn streets in a hazy orange glow.
Reggie took her to a motel and started teaching her about
sex. Reggie read books on tantric sex and believed his masculine stamina was
legendary. When he went off to prison a year later, she had become his prize
moneymaker. She danced at his club and did lap dances in the back room that
were sometimes sexual simulations and sometimes the real thing—if the client paid up. When middle-class whites from
the suburbs started to show up at his club because of this tall, gorgeous blonde dancer with large breasts, the cops started
to pay attention. When some of these white gentlemen were mugged on the way to their cars, the city took action and closed
him down. Reggie headed off to the prison in Massillon a week later following
in Don King’s footsteps this way, too.
Bobbie became her own manager and went from the better class
of club to the best in the city, where her tips and money were tripled. She
read fashion magazines and dressed well. She hid her urban slang whenever she
found herself in politer company at Playhouse Square or at dinner in the Blue Pointe Grill in the Warehouse District. Once in a while she’d slip up, say, when a passing taxi spattered her outfit
and she might blurt out a “jackass motherfucker,” showing the awkward merger of the two big strains in her life. She was twenty-four years old, disease-free, and her answering machine carried a
dozen calls daily from men who wanted to know her better. She wrote Reggie one
letter in a childish scrawl and refused to accept his collect calls from prison.
This is the part where I come in. I married her a month after I saw her dance.
It began at a bachelor’s party for a friend at the
Crazy Horse Saloon and around midnight somebody said we were moving on to Ed’s, which is what my crowd called the Executive
Den east of town. It was safe from “the black element,” as my friend
Rory said, who worked for Price Waterhouse downtown; he said that we could party hard, feel up the girls there—“maybe
get our bones smoked in the parking lot.” A friend of his yapped about a beauty who resembled a young Christy Canyon.
“Be careful,” Rory bellowed to the three of
us squeezed into the back seat of his Lexus on the way. “Some of those
bitches are nothin’ but crack whores who let niggers cream into their pussies!”
I was a little drunk when we walked in. Bobbie’s set was the last one before midnight. By
the time she came on stage, I was half in the bag and more than a little tired from a long day. I had seen enough of the dancers, and the music, all techno or eighties retro, was beginning to give me
tinnitus; the girls were young and pretty enough but I was sated by whatever that amount of gynecological voyeurism is that
males require in the limbic brain before they can say, “That’s fine, thanks. I’d like to go to sleep now.”
I just happened to turn around, somebody had given me another
watered down Seven-and-Seven, and I caught sight of her up there. I thought
my heart would stop. I had never seen such bone-aching loveliness in a woman. She made you think in capital letters. I
was rooted to the floor as if somebody had driven railroad spikes through my shoes.
Every undulation of her magnificent body was a caress. Just when you
thought your eyes had feasted on her legs and butt to be satisfied, those gorgeous, symmetrically perfect breasts hove into
At work I was useless.
I ignored my voicemails and didn’t call anybody back who didn’t have the power to fire me. This went on for three days before I got up the courage to go back to Ed’s alone. I waited for her set like a young communicant waiting for the host at his First Communion. She came on and it was magical—just like the first night.
About one-thirty, just as she was preparing to walk off, she looked over at me and gave me an appraising glance. The men clapped and cheered and called her by her stage name: “Dasana!” “Dasana!” The back of
her yellow thong rode high up her crease as she walked. I remembered somebody’s
comment about Marilyn Monroe in Niagara.
Bobbie could make an entrance walking away.
That was the start of it—that one look. The testosterone in the air was thick as fog. I asked one
of the serving girls to give Miss Dasana the note for me and watched her eyes roll up in her head until I showed her the fifty-dollar
Two days later she called me at the office. You would think we had met at a dating service. It was the
easiest conversation I ever had with a woman I had never met in my life. When
I asked her how she acquired the stage name, she said she wanted “Dusty,” but one of the other girls dancing in
a club on Prospect had already snapped it up.
“I was carrying a bottle of water when I got hired,”
she said. “They thought ‘Bobbie’ was too hillbilly for me
so the owner changed my name on the spot to the name on the label, sort of,” she laughed. The exotic motif was added on by the bartender doing the intro for the girls. He couldn’t pronounce “Herzegovina,” which was the first choice, so he and the owner
proclaimed her to be a “Gypsy from Bosnia.” They gave her a bright
scarf to hold across her bosom. It made no difference that she was awkward on
the pole. Her body was so eloquent that no one would even remember the scarf
“It’s a pretty name,” I said stupidly,
“very feminine, like you.” I could see her serious, appraising glance
forming again. “Call me for dinner tomorrow night,” she said.
We dated for three weeks and at the end of the fourth week,
I asked her to marry me. We drove to Monroe, Michigan and found a Justice of
I was unprepared for my own response when she first suggested
we steal millions from my company and abscond to Rio. I said yes without hesitation. She went back to reading her magazine. All
I remember about that conversation is what came afterward. She took her right
breast out of the cup of her negligee and held it out in front of her, examining it carefully.
She was as amoral about sex as a feral cat, which was how I thought of her and her tea-colored eyes.
When she brought the subject up the next morning while I
was dressing for work, she asked me if I meant it. I said yes, I did, as long
as I didn’t have to hurt anyone.
I work for a hedge fund and do most of my trading in the
forex markets where a tenth of a cent on the margin can mean millions. It’s
work for young men with rapid-fire brains for mental calculations under enormous stress and a degenerate gambler’s appetite
for risk-taking; by the way, it helps to have a cast-iron stomach. I was almost
forty and I was burning out. One of my fellow traders gave me a condescending
pat on the back. “You lasted longer than most,” he said. My hands were shaking.
The trouble was, at my age, I should have had a comfortable
nest egg from my past bonuses. But I had a ferocious online gambling addiction
that stripped me to the bone faster than I could make the money. Unfortunately
for me, predicting a change in the yuan in the Asian markets doesn’t have a thing to do with how the Browns will do
that Sunday. Losers don’t last at my level. Bobbie came along at just the right time to push me over the edge before I was dumped on the firm’s
garbage heap where I had seen other men and a couple alpha-women go. I had made
about sixty million for this group as a senior trader on the floor. Now I wanted
some of it back and I knew how to get it.
I told Bobbie how easy it would be to set up a dummy corporation
with ghost assets and wire transfer money into a “deep pool” in the Caymans or a “blank check” in
the British Virgins. I was bragging to impress her but I was really telling
her what was lying at the bottom of my mind like a tiny pearl being formed out of an irritating grain of sand. She didn’t say anything more and we talked about boating in the Caribbean.
My chance came two days later when I had a flash of my old
brilliance. I saw an arbitrage coming before the rest of the pack. I cleaned up on dollars-euro and made a mint for the hedge fund. My
hands were still shaking from the adrenalin rush when I left at one o’clock to meet Bobbie downtown at Piero’s.
I told her what I was going to do and I asked her to come
“Baby, I’ll be your gypsy girl in Rio,”
she said with a smile.
If she had a single, tiny flaw in her lovely face it was
in her lips. For a woman with such bounty—from the luxurious sweep of
her hair all the way down to her shapely feet—it was in the lack of fullness she had on display everywhere else. I noticed a carmine smudge of lipstick on one of her incisors.
“When?” she asked me, leaning forward.
A serving girl came by and dipped her tray of drizzled treats
in front of us and asked us whether we wanted dessert. Bobbie smiled at her
and said, “No, thanks. I’m having his cock in any hole he wants
to put it.”
When I got back to my cubicle at four, my knees were weak. Bobbie had devoured me and I felt as drunk as a Siberian pickle, although I had not
drunk anything since lunch at the restaurant. The firm’s manager spotted
me and made a big deal of checking his watch.
“Long lunch, Guy,” he said.
“What do you want?” I snapped. I didn’t like Frank. He had ferret eyes and made a
big point of professing his faith on public occasions. There’s something
nauseating about a man who thrived in the kill-or-be-killed environment of hedge-fund trading and thumped the bible. It was his idea to fine any traders whose eleven-digit password was discovered taped
to the undersides of their desks. Since these passwords were changed quarterly,
most guys risked the thousand-dollar fine imposed and did it anyway.
“Alicia Fox is taking over foreign exchange Monday,”
“Who fucking says she’s taking over forex, Frank?”
“Mister Kray wants to try her out. It’s her special area of research,” Frank said. His little eyes glittered at me for my impertinence. Sebastian Kray was the fund director, a mysterious man with a lot of rumors and black
clouds hanging over him. Word was he was blackballed in New York and had wound
up in our backwater.
The blood thudding in my temples subsided; it was all clear
now: I’d have to make my move tomorrow by the end of the work day. Monday
I’d lose my chair to Alicia and I wouldn’t have the clearance to do it.
It had to be done on a Friday before the Asian markets closed.
By three in the morning, I had it all worked out. I didn’t sleep. When I walked into the building on the Memorial Shoreway overlooking Lake Erie for
what would surely be the most remarkable day in my life, I was twitching with nerves.
I kept Bobbie in my mind all day long to give me courage. I followed
the contours of that lush body like a desert saint fasting on the single idea of God’s awesome power.
Alicia was right there at my cubicle, eager to begin the
tutoring, scenting the warm blood of my demise. The woman had claws. She had once tried to seduce me. Now she treated me as—well,
what I was about to become—a junior trader.
I was giddy with fear and at times I must have been incoherent
because she scowled at me beneath her piercing blue eyes and said, “What’s the smirk all about, Guy?”
I didn’t get much sleep last night,” I said.
“Lay off the booze, Guy,” she said. “You’re getting too old.”
Fortunately the woman had the habit of making calls on her
cell or punching up files on her BlackBerry every fifteen minutes to follow me too closely.
By three o’clock I had put the pieces in motion; now I just had to ditch her to make the last part of the plan
work, and I didn’t need her watching over my shoulder. I fobbed her off
with some excuse about “personal stuff” I needed to do.
When I walked out of that building at five-forty, the hairs
on the back of my neck were tingling. I was five million dollars richer. The security guard who eyeballed me was the last chance the Kray bloodhounds had
of stopping me. When he grunted a surly good night, I knew I had done it.
Bobbie was waiting for me at my condo with a bottle of wine
in one hand and the front of her bathrobe in the other. She opened the robe
and let me feast on her.
As the plane banked over the dirty gray lake below before
turning south, I looked over at Bobbie already asleep next to me, magically curling that long, feline body into the plush
lining of her winter coat.
We stayed in a deluxe hotel that gave us a view of the world-famous
statue of Cristo Redentor atop his mountain in Corcovado overlooking the beautiful aquamarine waters below. Even the elevators played samba music. Carnival was next
week. I was going to enjoy my new life as a rich, decadent hedonist—oh
yes, very much.
Bobbie pleaded jet lag and stayed behind to catch up on
her sleep while I cruised Avenida Atlântica in an air-conditioned taxi—it was the onset of the Brazilian summer—and
scoped out the exclusive Zona Norte for a place to dine. I had an appointment
at the bank at four o’clock. I had several ideas about investing the money, which I was calling “mine” whenever
I thought about it. I felt no guilt at my theft, only the slight discomfort
of the sun’s excessive warmth. By the end of November in Ohio, you’re
already locked into winter and your blood has thickened.
I had overlooked so many things that didn’t add up
for a hill girl descended from trailer-trash in West Virginia.
The semiliterate note said:
“Forgett looking for me Guy. I realy think you have other concerns on your mind now. Signed, B.”
I’m not sure whether it was the “Signed”
part or the chocolate mint she left me on my pillow that stuck more in my craw. I
made a desperate call to the bank and went through three vice presidents before I got to the president, whose English was
flawless. He confirmed it. While
I was soaking up rays and ogling glistening rumps, she was showing her cleavage at the bank with forged papers. It was gone without a trace. Like Bobbie—vanished.
I remembered how she had taken me to bed as soon as we were
in our room. I wasn’t in the mood for love-making because I was exhausted from the strain and lack of sleep. My eyeballs felt as if they’d been rolled on sandpaper before being put back in my head. She wasn’t taking no for an answer; she rode me hard on the bed, calling herself vile names like
“slut,” “bitch,” “pig,” and “whore”—names I never used on her because
I was never angry with her. Her tawny, gold-flecked eyes stared into mine. I thought she was transformed by lust or greed in some strange way I couldn’t
fathom. She pounded and squeezed me with her muscles and wrung every drop from
my sac. It wasn’t the same woman I had gotten on the plane with. When I realized she was the one who had proposed Rio, of all the places in the world,
I should have been suspicious. I’m Canadian so I don’t need a six-month
wait to apply for a visa like any American. Like Bobbie.
She had it all set up, and I walked into her gaping twat
like a lovesick schoolboy. If I weren’t so wired, I’d have fallen
asleep for days. That’s probably what she intended, too: fuck me into oblivion and then leave me there to wake up broke.
I had enough cash to last three more days in my very expensive
hotel. Then I was faced with sleeping on the beach or turning myself in to Interpol
or the American consulate for voluntary extradition. I could walk down to the
beach and start swimming toward the horizon, but I’m a coward, and the thought of becoming shark food before I slipped
into the black waters to drown was too frightening.
I looked up the address of the American embassy and saw
it was located in El Centro, the downtown area.
Three days . . .
I tried to make the most of them, all the freedom I would
get for a very long time, but the sour taste in my mouth and the feeling in the pit of my stomach made that impossible. I got drunk on the beach from the national cocktail, something called a caipirinha made from lime and a liquor distilled from sugarcane, and tried to chat with the girls but their soft,
mushy-voweled Portuguese made that just as impossible. I went back to the bank,
but they said the same thing. The senhora’s
papers were in order.
Some old man in front of the bank selling fried meat on
skewers said to me as I passed in a daze: “Só o que é bom faz o que é
bom.” I stared at him. Then
he said in English, “Only good things make good things.”
I have that written out in black letters on the wall of
my cell. I’ve done four years and with good time I’ll do four more. All that I told you at the beginning of my story I learned from relentless correspondence
and computer searches. I bartered with a hacker in the next cell block for everything
I know about trading on the margin for his computer know-how.
Someday I’ll find Bobbie, the girl of my dreams. The blonde, beautiful succubus of my nightmares from Bluefield, West Virginia. I wake up every day in the Mansfield Correctional Institution forty miles south of
Cleveland. In the daytime I go to my job in the Tender Loving Dog Care program,
and at night I lie in my bunk listening to men farting and groaning in their sleep.
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me in the hours before sunrise and I’ll have a sharp, sudden hallucination
that turns the reek of stale piss wafting down the cell block into a fragrance of cinnamon and musk like the smell of Bobbie’s
skin after we made love.
What will I do when I find her? Well,
that’s another story now, isn’t it?
“My Gypsy Girl from Bluefield” originally appeared
in Hard Luck Stories in 2007.
|Art by Bryan Cicalese © 2017
“This used to be the go-to place back in the day.”
Jimmy Stoner looked at me as if I cared to reply to that. We were standing near
Elaine’s on 2nd Avenue where I used to drink when I was a greenhorn junior
trader like Stoner. He was on the rise. I was a senior forex trader on the down elevator.
I used to see an arbitrage coming a mile away. Now it had to hit me in the face before
I could spot it. I’d lost the firm a sizable amount on the margins with Deutschmarks.
Our hedge fund manager had as much mercy for staff who couldn’t cut it as a racer
snake for a newly hatched gecko.
I stood watching the traffic while the wind howled among the canyons of the Upper
East Side skyscrapers. I used to love this town. My divorce was finalized on Thanksgiving.
No great loss, but she got the apartment and the dog.
When I turned around, Jimmy had finished his smoke and had gone back inside to celebrate
with the others. When you’re part of the king’s retinue, it’s a good
idea to stay close. In my case, it was irrelevant. Even if I was demoted back to junior
trader, which was doubtful, I’d be wearing a sign around my neck that proclaimed
“What did you say?”
“Nothing,” I said to the voice behind me. “Just talking to myself,”
No passerby on a New York sidewalk in Manhattan or Hunt’s Point would ever
ask a mumbling stranger on the street anything. I didn’t recognize her voice at first.
Kori Andolsek. She was one of the few women on our floor and she was damned good.
I know, I mentored her during her probationary period. She had a killer instinct to go
with her degrees, one in math, and she advanced in record time.
“Why aren’t you inside where it’s warm with all that hot air being
blown around our head trader?”
“You mean the ass-kissing? I’m not feeling it now. Besides,
Harper’s going on about his spoiled brats in some Connecticut prep school and Randolph
is boring everyone, including our boss, with some artsy-fartsy gibberish about a Tang dynasty
exhibition of Chinese tomb figurines at the Guggenheim.”
“So, what are you doing out here in the cold with me? I see no plumes
of vaping smoke around your head like a cotton halo, I hear no intense cell phone conversation
with clients about rupees—”
“Shut up, Dave. You used to be clever. No one thinks so now.”
Kori could wield a scalpel as easily as a hedged grid on market volatility.
“Tell me how you really feel about me.”
“Dry wit isn’t your forte, either.”
“Where’s your plus-one, the little blonde you brought to the Christmas
“Are you being stupid now? She was just a date I arranged.”
“I never took you for a one-night-stand kind of girl.”
“She was there to keep you boys from hitting on me. A single girl at a party
where you guys get a couple dirty martinis in you, and it’s ‘Hey, gorgeous,
wanna see my dick’?”
“That’s us, all right. Depraved, sex-crazed maniacs, one and all. The
toughest motherfuckers in our ivy-league finance classes.”
“Speaking of finance, how bad was your margin call the other day? Everybody’s
talking about it around the water cooler.
“I burned the company for a couple hundred thou.”
“You’re losing it, Dave. You’re supposed to take profits from
a dead cat bounce, not give away the company’s money.”
“Yeah, I fucked up.”
I was shivering from the bitter wind and just about to make a farewell gesture when
she stunned me to silence.
“I want you to be quiet while I say something and then you can say something.”
“Sounds mysterious, Kori.”
“Does ‘be quiet’ register in your vocabulary?”
I stretched out my arms to passing traffic. “Floor’s all yours, m’lady.”
“I want you to come over to my place and have sex with me.”
“Shut up, I said! No talking yet . . . Here’s how I want it to happen
. . .”
Some kinky thing she’d picked up off the classifieds in Backpage.com for
hookups between total strangers. Anonymous internet sex, the latest moral degeneration
of her age group. One party goes to a person’s apartment at a designated time; the
other party is waiting in a specific place. No talk, just sex. Stoner once started a wicked
rumor around that same water cooler years ago; he said she got her career started thanks
to a sugar daddy on Seeking Arrangement.
Kori had conditions; the main was silence, not easy when the rockets go off, but
she was adamant about it. “I don’t want you to speak a single word, got it,
from the moment you walk in, to the moment you stick it in me, and you will leave.
No hanging around for pillow talk and that bullshit. I mean it: Get dressed and get out.”
You won’t find subtlety next to Kori Andolsek’s name in the dictionary.
I’m no prude but it struck me as too weird, even for Ms. Charm.
What the hell, I thought, I’m divorced, unattached, celibate as
a monk in a nunnery. The better dating sites required a courtship period, the sleazy
ones shouted STD’s, mental cases, con jobs, and trouble. Paid escorts and gentlemen’s
clubs not being my thing, Kori’s out-of-the-blue offer sounded weird, like an Amish
“Am I speaking Tagalog, Dave?”
When I agreed to every condition, committed the directions to memory, she left me
standing there without a word and returned inside. Cabs wove in and out of traffic, pedestrians
played their usual dangerous game of skipping across the street like gazelles at a
crocodile-infested crossing. Bits of windblown confetti from the Thanksgiving Macy’s
parade decomposed in the gutter.
I flagged down a cab. One of the nearby restaurants had rigged a loudspeaker to
a pole playing schmaltzy Christmas music. Judy Garland told me to Have Myself a Very Merry
Christmas. I’m sure I had a smile on my face.
* * *
I dropped my clothes behind me in the semi-darkened bedroom. The white skin of a
naked thigh glowed on the bed a few feet from me. In contrast to the rest of the condo
I’d just passed through, this was a descent into the macabre, a discordant note.
Black-and-white erotic photos of women entangled with men and other women lined the walls,
a Mapplethorpe-esque exhibition of sexual frenzy, phalluses ejaculating onto women’s
faces, buttocks, hair. Black satin sheets, black pillowcases. Kori, unmoving, lay
stretched out, her wrists dangling from the bed posts where they were tied in black silk
scarves. The Fifty Shades of Gray ambience, however, disappointed. I’d expected
a more aggressive tableau from a woman like Kori, more sado, less maso.
Twelve years of marital copulation isn’t the best preparation for kinky sex.
Even so, I crawled toward her on the bed on my knees, member stiffening, and felt among
the sheets for the contours of her body. My orders were simple. That’s exactly what
After the orgasm, I lay down beside her, panting. Her hair had tumbled over her
face during coitus, although she too observed her own rules about no talking. She hadn’t
made a sound despite the bucking.
“Kori, enough games,” I said. “Let’s be adults about this.”
The same silence.
“Kori, hey, Kori—”
A pungent odor filled the room. I realized what it was immediately—her bowels
had evacuated all over the bed sheets.
Fuck this, I thought.
I jumped off the bed and hit the light switch beside the doorway.
It wasn’t Kori lying on the bed.
The woman with the wig to match Kori’s hair was younger by many years. Her
face was suffused with blood and the tip of her tongue protruded. I stepped closer to the
body and brushed the hair from her face.
My brain finally caught up. I knew her! Kori’s date from the office party,
the little blonde. The girl was ten years younger, tattooed, dirty-blonde hair in one of
those chi-chi, ragged-looking shorn cuts New York fashion was so enamored of. Jimmy
had mocked her at the party as a cheap-looking club girl. Among our klatch of
financial sharks, all speaking shoptalk, she seemed out of her element, but we dismissed
her as easily as a real shark dismisses the remora fish cruising under its belly.
It got worse in the next ten seconds: I detected
the thin steel wire looped around her neck so tight it embedded itself into the flesh and
was tied off to a dowel obscured by a pillow. The word necrophilia leaped into my
neocortex as if branded there with a white-hot iron. Then total panic.
What the fuck . . . what the fuck . . .
prints, my semen—I had to get dressed, get out of there fast . . .
I should have anticipated it, but a nightmare
has only associational logic to offer. Two detectives were at the receptionist’s
desk in the lobby. They’d been called, obviously, and were asking for me. Approaching,
grim-faced, I overheard their commands to the concierge; they were not very polite about
* * *
My lawyer assured me the jury would never go
for a full murder count because there was no motive provided by the prosecution. Maybe
he should have stayed in law school a bit longer because juries nowadays want forensics,
not motives, and when they hear words like “the suspect’s DNA was found inside
the victim,” they don’t much care about the why of it.
My lawyer struggled with that: “You screwed
her, she didn’t move, her bowels evacuated—yet you’re still doing the
whango-tango with a corpse? Christ Almighty, Dave, you’re one prize perv.”
“Kori told me to do it that way,” I
said. “She insisted!”
“And you always do what your domme
says like a good little boy?”
“It wasn’t like that, I told you.”
“Jesus Christ, you’re a wonder, Dave.”
“She said she’d grease her vag with a
little extra-fine olive oil in case I needed a lubricant. She was concerned about
my age. Her exact words were ‘You’ll be hanging on by your fingernails before
you know it, cowboy.’”
“My appetite for salads just left town
“Fuck you, just get me out of this nightmare!”
He tried, I’ll give him that. Three weeks
of trial ended in twenty-five-to-life. Kori on the witness stand denied everything, the
talk in the street, our secret “arrangement,” which she said “nauseated”
her when she heard it from the detectives. She openly wept for her murdered
“friend” on the bed and even added a lagniappe, as they say in New Orleans, a
little something extra for the jury: “She
saved my life by being in the apartment instead of me.”
I watched the jurors’ faces when she sniffled
through her testimony. Some of them had their mouths so wide open they could have
hit high C at the Met. The judge added three years concurrent for the “abuse of
a corpse.” I can still see his mouth wrinkled in disgust when he tacked that on.
“Be grateful it wasn’t LWOP, Dave,” my
lawyer said as the bailiff put the cuffs on me from behind.
Why did she do it? Why me?
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about
it. I’ll have decades more to ponder if I don’t find the correct answer. My
lawyer said he’d file the appeal that afternoon and assured me I won’t do the
full sentence. Easy for him to say, the prick. He was all about billable hours, not my
freedom or a new trial.
Kori beat out Jimmy Stoner for my position after
the trial. The most my lawyer’s investigator could discover about the dead girl was
that she was a runaway from Iowa, lived in several places in a couple boroughs, met Kori
at a club in Soho. CCTV cameras showed the girl coming and going from Kori’s apartment.
A girl with no history, no family, zilch.
The prosecutor’s lame theory was that
I broke into rape Kori, in some kind of frenzy of goatish lust, found the girl there instead
and forced her into the bedroom, tied her up, and killed her with a ligature while engaging
in deviant sex. The autopsy could not establish a time of death. No rigor, little blood
pooling, just the telltale petechiae of the eyeballs from strangulation.
My attorney went at Kori hard on the stand,
but she came across as sincere, vulnerable to “an older man’s manipulation
from his position of power” at the company. Kori hinted strongly at my “pattern
of unwanted advances” over his numerous objections, although no one at the firm supported
her allegations. The jury gave a big yawn to the witnesses testifying about my character.
Even Jimmy Stoner left a bad taste in their mouths with his nonchalant testimony about
how often he’d seen me with Kori on the trading floor.
“What physical positions were the defendant
and Miss Andolsek in as you observed them?”
“Objection, your honor. Irrelevant,”
my lawyer chirped.
“Dave was usually leaning over Ms. Andolsek’s
shoulder to point out something on the screen.”
The prosecutor objected to any attempt to portray
Kori as anything but a woman struggling against the male bastion of her workplace and then
having her very home invaded, desecrated—here, a lip-curled glower in my direction
at the table—that the judge’s sustaining them had a couple jurors openly grimacing.
They all got the same message: any attack on a dead girl’s character or on my co-worker
was going to backfire and fast.
The fact that Kori was seen on security cameras
leaving 15 minutes before I arrived never got in. The judge ruled in the prosecutor’s
favor at the pretrial hearing.
“She killed her just before I walked into
her place,” I told my lawyer during deliberations. “That’s why the body
was still warm. That’s your proof, damn it!”
“No, Dave, it’s proof of nothing. No
lividity. It’s in the autopsy that way. Did you think she evacuated her bowels
out of some sexual turn-on?”
“At first, I didn’t know what else to
He chuckled and then coughed to cover the stupid-sounding
comment. Yet he was only echoing what the Post had been saying about “The
Backpage Killer” all week.
The whole invitation “excuse” was
deemed so off the wall that, when I testified why I was at Kori’s apartment in
the first place and about our conversation in the street, even my ex-wife refused to believe
it. She got up and left the courtroom.
* * *
Metropolitan Correctional Center is a rathole.
I’ve done six weeks and am scheduled to be transferred upstate to Dannemora. It can’t
come too soon. Every other guy in the chow line is a gang member. Every tenth inmate you
pass here has a zipper for a neck scar from being shanked or shivved, whatever the right
term is. It’s pandemonium from morning wake-up to lights out. I live with fear every
day. I’ve fallen so far, so fast.
“It could have been worse,” my lawyer
said, a useless Job’s comforter if ever there was one. “MCC is a charm school
compared to Riker’s.”
I glared at him through the scarred plexiglass.
“That makes me feel much better, you asshole. Scuttlebutt says they’ve already
got the word on me up there. I’m the ‘Corpse Man’ and they tell me I’d
better pay off the first time I’m asked or I’m going to take a suicide dive off
the top tier.”
“Just con talk, Dave,” the lawyer
said. “That’s how they scare the new arrivals.”
“It worked. I’m fucking scared to
* * *
Prep school, Dartmouth, and a corner desk at
an elite Wall Street brokerage firm were not an adequate preparation for a maximum-security
prison. My cellmate back in MCC was a normal street hood. My cellmate in Dannemora was
a bona fide homicidal, paranoid schizophrenic. Every day was a new challenge to stay on
his good side—if that’s the right word for a maniac. Cons who have beefs with
their cellies settle differences in private inside their cells. Guards don’t interfere.
Every night at bed check, Michael would count
every personal item in his space to make sure nothing was missing or had been replaced
by something inferior by me while he was in the yard or in the shop. I sweated bullets
until he was satisfied with the count. At night, I slept with the proverbial eye open.
A filed-down toothbrush with a razor soldered into the plastic from a contraband Bic was
considered de rigueur at Dannemora, essential accoutrement for all fashionista
After my cell assignment, three burly cons slathered
with helter-skelter tattoos paid me a visit. Clowns collided with spiderwebs and shamrocks
on arms bunched with muscle. The two bigger ones stayed silent, allowing the smallest—a
clean-shaven hillbilly with a pronounced brow ridge, to do the talking. He quietly informed
me in his bollixed-up, inflated diction precisely how much I was to pay “henceforth”
and how the deposits were to be made into the four accounts “so as not to incur undue
curiosity among the penal staff.”
Penal staff . . . Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
I said nothing, they said nothing further, turned around and
walked out, the bigger ones like two pulling guards shielding a running back. The whole
shakedown occurred in less time than it took me to urinate in the morning.
I summoned my lawyer, relayed the shitkicker’s
instructions, and told him if he said one word about not paying these scum
off, I’d use every dollar left in my savings to have him “visited” by one
of those muscle-heads’ friends on the outside. He thought I was kidding, then
he nodded, sighed, and put the instructions of numbered accounts I had him write down
inside his expensive Armani jacket in deconstructed weave. My transition
from shark to minnow was formally and totally complete.
Three months in, I’d had enough. The whole
mind-numbing routine of stupid male chatter, the ragged sleep because of my crazy cellmate,
the starchy food, fluorescent lights everywhere, the clang of cell doors sliding into locks,
the fart-smells wafting up and down tiers, the body odor of mentally deranged and unhygienic
men was taking too big a toll. The boredom of prison is exacerbated only by abrupt moments
of terror, punctuated by the shrieks and cries of the unlucky, vulnerable men singled out
for “demonstrations” by one gang or another for rules infractions, real or
suspected. It was like living inside a combat zone—only one planted inside a rotten
jungle atmosphere. I wasn’t inclined to wait 15 years for a first parole
I got word to the clean-shaven con who’d
entered my cell that first week of my arrival.
No pleasant greeting this time. He walked in
and stared at me sitting on my bunk, shoeless feet dangling.
He cut his eyes to my hands in case I had some
foolish notion of leaping down and sticking him.
“This visit ain’t free,” he said. “You
Jailbird lingo for a ‘legal consultation.”
“I understand,” I replied.
“Have fifty in my commissary account by
the week’s end. Two twenties and a ten. Don’t be stupid and put the whole amount
in at one time.”
“I understand.” You motherfucker .
I told him what I wanted him—or wanted
his outside associates to do for me—and we negotiated a price. The haggling over
his fee took half as much time as my little speech. I agreed to his terms—specific
amounts to be paid to addresses he’d provide me later. Like that first time, he turned
around and walked out sans another spoken word.
When my cellmate returned from shop, he demanded
to know what I’d discussed with “the lifer” from another cell block.
I gave him an abridged version, leaving out pertinent details and names by substituting
a scenario I hoped his deranged, paranoid brain would find acceptable.
I admit I was relieved
when he grunted.
“You know, man, that guy, he’s an
enforcer for the Brand,” he told me after supper, briefly interrupting his count
to glare at me.
“You just bought yourself a pig in a poke,
Subtle as a rain-wrapped tornado, as ever.
I hadn’t heard that colloquialism pig
in a poke spoken in my entire life, but it rang inside my head with the authority
of a papal bull from the Vatican balcony. I was down to the slimmest of hopes. I knew in
my brain, heart, and guts, I could never last three more months in this place, let alone
face the likelihood of parole denial my first time up, which was the norm. Doing the full
life sentence—hell, that was something you’d ascribe to a glacier’s
speed, not to an innocent man trapped in a steel cage.
If this failed, they wouldn’t have to
throw me headfirst off the tier. I’d do the dive myself.
* * *
When I summoned him again two months later,
he showed up just before bed check.
“This ain’t a freebie, neither. Fifty
in the account, same way.”
“I understand. I’ve paid up. I want results.
My lawyer is aware of our deal.”
That wasn’t true. The cash payments were
handled through an intermediary and a different private investigator. My lawyer told
me he wouldn’t get involved in any blackmail. “It’s an ethics thing, Dave
. . .I just can’t.”
“Good for your pig-fucking lawyer.”
“When do I get the results?”
“You’ll know when I do. Why? You goin’
somewhere soon, Corpse Man? Got a Caribbean trip comin’ up?”
“I’m tired of waiting for what I’ve
paid a considerable fortune for.”
His beetle-brow furrowed, making the bump of
his ridge look more Neanderthal than ever. He turned around and walked out without speaking
My cellmate, of course, with his specialized
antennae, already knew about the visit by the time he arranged his items for the nightly
“They say men gossip more than women,”
I said, risking his wrath.
“You’re in a prison, shithead,” he
replied; “what else is there to do but beat off, fight, play chess, cornhole
trannies, lift weights, and send kites up and down the rows about punks who screw
Touché, you crazy prick—
My imagined plummet from the top tier moved
closer to the front of my mind each day from then on. Time didn’t drag, it slipped
like tectonic plates colliding. I was aware of seconds passing, then hours passed while
I barely functioned in my fugue state. The thought of suicide slithered like a banded viper
and curled a forked tongue into the crevices between my thoughts. In no time, the thought
of ending this hell became a siren song, beckoning me when I was at my lowest.
The Neanderthal showed up in my cell one gray
afternoon in spring after rec period.
“I didn’t summon you,” I said. I glanced
at him over my copy of The Wealth of Nations.
He threw a fat manila envelope stuffed with
papers at me and walked out—once again, cat-like, in silence.
I scooped up the papers that had drifted to
the floor and quickly perused what I’d paid a king’s ransom for. It was gold—everything
I needed to end this nightmare.
I paid the ten-dollar fee to get to a phone
from one of the gang members on “phone duty.” I told my new lawyer what I had.
“How’d you get that kind of information?”
“Through people with better sources and
more connections than your shitty investigator.”
“I’ll be up there tomorrow.”
* * *
The nightmare, however, wouldn’t end as
soon as I wanted. The wheels of justice turn slowly but grind exceedingly fine, as Sun
Tzu said. He’d have revised that statement if he’d ever gone through an American
justice system, which grinds up the petitioner along with any semblance of justice. But
on rare occasions, it does work.
When my lawyer presented the evidence to a three-judge
panel in the court of appeals, I was granted a new trial; my sentence was vacated—for
the time being.
The explosive discovery revealed some new facts
pertinent to my case. For one thing, Kori was born Korinne May Andolsek in Gobblers Crossing,
Alabama in 1987. She was state-raised in Tallapoosa County because both of her parents
had died in a trailer fire. Each parent, however, had a neat bullet hole in the skull in
the temporal lobe region. Both were executed in their beds from a Ruger 10/22 deer rifle.
The charred remains were found near the bed after the fire. Kori alone escaped. Or
rather, the papers said, “was spared by the killer,” a man no one could
identify from her vague description and the police composite. Being of tender
age, however, she was spared a grilling by detectives who never did find the
mystery man she claimed broke into her trailer apparently for the sole purpose
of executing the two adults inside.
Kori proved to be a brilliant student, if a
loner, an autodidact who taught herself algebra and calculus while her classmates were
still drawing stick figures for the family refrigerators. A copy of her eighth-grade report
card was notable for two reasons: the straight A’s and the teacher’s acerbic
comments about the girl’s “antisocial, hostile, and downright belligerent behavior”
in her classes.
She attended the University of Alabama in what
should have been her junior year of high school. Her SAT score missed perfection by two
points. She took an advanced degree in math and computer technology from Brown on a full-ride
The motive came like a blinding flash of light
in a darkened room—in this case, my brain, which could not fathom so elaborate a
betrayal for no reason except that it must have been owing to some deviance in her personality,
some hatred that laser-focused on me specifically and irrationally.
It never once occurred to me her motive for
destroying me could be personal.
The bombshell evidence was this: six years ago,
my firm interviewed a Robert Klagg for a position. He was 25, newly engaged, and had all
the right credentials. As a senior trader, I sat on the interview committee with several
partners and the head trader. Possessed of golden reference letters from both business
and academe, Klagg was highly recruited. He was as good as hired—that is, until I
noticed a familiar name in one of his glowing reference letters. Frankly, no one gives
a goddamn what your grades were in college, it’s all about the degree. But that particular
professor happened to be someone I had once consulted for a project concerning the development
of application strategies with robots in the forex market. A robot studies peaks and suggests
reversals or opportunities; in other words, it’s a marriage of necessity
between intuition and IT nowadays.
I asked him several questions about his relationship
to that professor and received curt, dismissive answers. That irked my pride. He was the
interviewee, not me. Right after the interview, I found that professor’s cell number
in my office and called him. He had never heard of anyone named Robert Klagg. I informed
the head trader, and I went as far as to suggest we call Klagg and tell him to clean up
his résumé—a friendly warning, nothing more. I never gave that interview or Robert
Klagg a second thought. I assumed some other firm had snapped him up.
In fact, he was never hired by anyone. That
became clear when I found a xerox of an obituary from a Charleston newspaper six weeks
after his interview. It was perfunctory as obituaries go; none of the lavish praises heaped
upon the dead. Klagg had died “after a short illness” and the clipping stated
few personal details. That translated to death by suicide or by drug overdose. I surmised
the former cause.
My hunch was confirmed by a printout of the
engagement between Robert Klagg of Charleston, SC and Korinne May Andolsek—dated
a year prior to Kori’s hiring.
Kori blamed me for her fiancé’s death. The only person who could have blackened Klagg’s
name in Manhattan was our head trader. His memberships in the most exclusive clubs in Manhattan
and his contacts ensured every big name in finance would know of Klagg’s dishonesty.
It was mere sport for him, a boy pulling the wings off a fly. I’m sure he never gave
what he did to Klagg a second thought.
Kori’s iron will put herself on a path
of intensive study—just to get to me. And she got to me, all right. The girl on
the bed was a sacrificial lamb to her vengeance, another step along the way. A nobody that
no one would miss, another New York girl whose life was interrupted by death. I remember
sorting the papers in my cell that afternoon and shivering despite the warmth. The coldness
I’m looking forward to the second trial.
It looks promising but nothing is guaranteed. I’ll be the main witness, and I’d
better be up to it. Kori is no slouch at acting for a jury.
I haven’t seen her since the day she testified.
Untouchable on the stand, a woman with a genius IQ who manipulated authorities, detectives,
and caseworkers as an adolescent would have no fear of dissembling again. A New York jury
of her peers would be another cakewalk, so I had better be prepared. I even wrote a personal
letter to the Manhattan Southern District DA’s Office begging them to assign one
of their best trial lawyers to the case.
That “research firm” I employed back
in prison cost me most of my savings. Everything is different now. I’ve sold
all my assets, my stocks and cashed out my money-market certificates.
I’m living in a bedsit near the Bowery,
a far cry from my former plush digs on the East Side. I’m working at an all-night
diner waiting tables and learning how to become a short-order cook. It’s a handy
skill. I’ll need it because I’m almost flat broke, my last bond certificate
went to pay for a down payment and a new suit for trial. Good lawyers cost money. I don’t
want a pro bono attorney or a fresh graduate out of Cardozo from the public defender’s
office going up against Kori.
After the trial, I’m leaving to go out
West for the Big Sky country. I’ll never touch a spreadsheet again. I plan to drop
my cell service and go off the grid. Being falsely accused has changed me. Prison has changed
me. But most of all, a brilliant, amoral woman with a block of ice for a heart has changed
me for good. As they say, no one hates you like your friends.
Robb White writes noir, crime, and hardboiled
stories and novels featuring series character Thomas Haftmann. A recent collection
of crime stories is Dangerous Women: Stories of Crime, Mystery, and Mayhem.
He published Perfect Killer and Northtown Eclipse in
2018. “Inside Man” was selected for inclusion in Best American Mystery
Stories 2019. His website is https://tomhaftmann.wixsite.com/robbtwhite.
In Association with Fossil Publications