Jessica Hathaway


By the time I pulled my Hudson up to the scene, the sun was rising over the San Gabriels. It was a big house, with walls and a gate that probably should be called an estate, it was more than a house. I didn’t bother to show my badge to the uniform on the door, “Eddie here yet?” I asked.

“In the library,” the cop said pointing with his chin, as I breezed past him and went in.

I spotted my partner, Eddie Mercks, in a room off the hall talking to some dame. She was a straight haired blonde. Long, lean, and a real looker, the kind of girl who could keep you awake at night. The kind of girl you wouldn’t introduce to your mother. I recognized her. We had a history.

I headed that way and hooked Eddie by the elbow pulling him to the side. He held out his hands, palms down, “wait here doll.” He said to her, “We’re not done yet.”

“What are you doing, Eddie? Do you know who that broad is?”

“Jessica somebody,” he said. Then he consulted his notes, “Jessica Hathaway.”

“Yeah, that’s right and Jessica Hathaway is “Big Paulie” Costello’s girl.” I looked back at her. She was holding an unlit Lucky Strike between long manicured red-tipped fingers and leaning up against a Queen Anne desk. She wore a floor length crimson dress slit high up the front and her long legs went all the way down to the floor ending in high heeled mules that matched the outfit perfectly. I scanned back up the tight fitted dress, looking for weapons. I thought about patting her down but then I remembered “Big Paulie”, “Look Eddie, go easy on the broad, OK. We don’t want any trouble with Big Paulie’s boys.”

He nodded. “Sure thing Dan, but… “

“What’s the matter with you?” I interrupted, “Where’re your manners? Go light the lady’s cigarette – where’s the stiff?”

“In the Conservatory, Dan. It’s that way,” he says pointing further down the hall. Then he adds, “This fuckin’ house has a conservatory! Do you believe it?” He reaches into his pocket for some matches.

“I believe it,” I said pulling a crumpled pack of Camels from my jacket pocket and fishing out the last one. I flicked my Zippo and lit it as I turned towards the door, “Eddie,” I ask through the smoke, “Whose house is this?”

“I thought you knew, Dan.” He said, “This is Paulo Costello’s house. He’s also the stiff in the Conservatory. Tapped twice, once in the chest, once in the head, a real clean job.”

I looked back at Jessica. She smiled, pursed her red lips, and batted her eyes. She didn’t seem all that broken up to me. This case was starting to get interesting.

I headed down the hall.


A Time to Think – A Time to Weigh Your Options


She sits with knife in hand
and pigments in a wooden box at her feet,
mixing a viridescent shade to layer onto lovingly stretched canvas.

The canvas depicts tranquility, calm.
Impasto renditions of what her life is not.

Surprised by the sharp resurgent pain
she takes an even sharper breath and leans forward to layer in the greens,
pleased with what she sees.

Lamenting her sore ribs,
she thinks of Phillip.

He doesn’t understand her art,
her drive to create
something that will last longer than either of them.

Finally deciding, she removes the ring from her hand, drops it, and
presses it down with her foot. To cover it, conceal it,

lose it.


You & Me


Me
I sit on the couch with my head in my hands.
Unnoticed, my cigarette falls from the souvenir ashtray,
slowly scarring the top of the veneered coffee table.

That’s knocking!
I stop pouring, rush to the door.
It must be you.
You’ve come back.

It’s not you at all though, it’s just the rain.
I return to my brown liquor. I return, to wallow in self-pity.

Three times I pull the door open.
Three times I rush to gather you into my arms.
Three times I am fooled by the rain and so;
3 times I crawl slowly… slowly back to the whiskey.

It’s late, after midnight.
I hear the rain at the door and ignore it.
I’ve learned my lesson. I won’t be fooled again.

It’s not knocking
it’s just the rain.

You
There is no answer at the door.
It’s two steps down from the stoop – to the pavement.
Your cab is waiting, engine idling softly.
The rain falling in front of the headlights is liquid fire.
In the cab you wipe your face, you wipe your eyes.

It’s not tears
it’s just the rain.


The ‘900 Series’


“One quarter the take,” Rocky answered.

“What’s that going to be?” I asked; a seemingly endless supplier of questions.

“No less than 50 million.” He set the semiautomatic .45 ACP on the counter and turned it so that the grip was facing me. It was a beautiful pistol with a matte black finish and polished rosewood grips.

“So that would be 12 point 5 for me?” I was still asking questions.

“No, that would be 50 for you. The total will be four times that.”

“And what is it exactly that you want me to do for this 50 million?” I was trying to conceal my interest so I reached over and picked up the piece that he had set down.

“Crack the safe. That’s what you do innit?” Rocky squinted his left eye and peered at me from the other?

“Yeah… yeah it is, for the most part. What kind is it?”

“It’s an ole Diebold, closet safe with a 900 series lock.”

“Nobody’s going to keep that kind of money in an antique,” I said, “What’s the catch?”

Rocky started asking questions, “Are you in, or what?”

“Yeah, I’m in, Rocky. Just ’cause it’s you – and ’cause we go way back.” I racked the slide on the 45. It was smooth.

“There’s a newer safe awright,” Rocky said. “A Hamilton. It’s harder to break, but still doable. The new safe is a decoy though. Ya spend yer time breaking that, all fer nothin’ – while the money sits in a closet, the next room over, in the ole Diebold. It’s only gonna be in there for one night though so our timetable is set. Come on, I’ll show you the layout. We got less than a month.”

I walked around the counter and we went through the curtain to the back room. A workbench and some tools lined one wall. A small round table occupied the other end of the narrow space.

Seated at the table was a tall thin man with close cropped dark hair and a handlebar mustache, I pegged him at about 40 years old. Next to him sat an older woman. She was wedged into a pastel colored summer dress that fit her like a sausage case, her hair washed a light blue. Based on the resemblance and the age difference, I figured they were mother and son. I knew who they must be.

“He’s in,” Rocky told them and you could see them relax as the tension fled out the high transom windows into the alleyway.

“You must be the McCoy’s.” I said and stuck out my hand. “I can’t tell you what an honor it is to meet you both.”

“Join us?” said Martha McCoy indicating the two empty chairs.


The Lottery Ticket


There was a slow drizzle and it was still dark when Luanne got on her bike and headed south. She rode away from Andy Palmgren. She rode away from the house at #13 Avenida Abaddon. She rode away from San Ceviche with no intention of returning.

Her small grip was strapped on the book rack. It held a couple changes of clothes, and what would turn out to be a winning lottery ticket. Most importantly though, tucked into the top was her copy of the book. The Stone, by Alicia Margolies. The book she had bought at the small shop downtown. It was the only copy in the store and Luanne had been drawn by the cover art. Specifically by the palette that the artist had used when creating the cover art but it was what was inside, written on the pages, that really woke her up.

Pedaling quickly, she knew it was important to get as much distance between herself and Andy as possible. Once he realized what she had done he would send his ‘boys’ to look for her and bring her back. You didn’t leave Andy Palmgren – Andy Palmgren left you. Andy was not going to be happy. Luanne’s choice of conveyance was unexpected however, and she didn’t think it would occur to the searchers to look for a bicyclist. She had dyed her hair and cropped it close to her head as an extra layer of insurance.

She considered what she was doing and how she had gotten to this point. Margolies’ book had not caused the need to flee. The fissure, the separation, had existed long before that; but the book certainly contributed to the widening of the gap. What she had read on those pages opened her eyes and gave her a new perspective on life and how she had been living hers. It helped steel her resolve to change things.

The buildings and houses grew further apart as the sun rose. She knew she would have to get off the coast highway soon. On the back roads she would be less conspicuous. She turned inland on 43 and soon found a remote convenience store that would offer something to eat. She pulled in, leaned her bike against a wall, and went inside. From the cooler she chose a bacon and egg sandwich wrapped in cellophane and heated it in the microwave as she filled a large cup with coffee.

Tiny and Ed were standing next to her bike when she left the building. Their long black SUV parked behind. Trying not to show surprise at seeing them, she waved, “Hi Tiny, hey Ed. What’re you guys doing out here?”

“We’re looking for you Luanne. Andy was worried when he woke up and you were gone.”

“I’m just on a bike ride, guys.”

“You never mentioned you were going on a bike ride. We’ll give you a lift back home,” Ed told her. “Tiny, can you put her bike in the back of the SUV?” He reached up to push his hair behind his ear and Luanne saw the blue steel of the pistol he carried in his shoulder holster.

Ed seldom carried a piece, and the fact that he had one now worried Luanne. It meant he had another agenda. She threw her coffee and sandwich at him and turned to run. She didn’t hear the silenced shot. She didn’t feel anything. She only wished that she had gotten further.

The 65 million dollar ticket was never claimed.


Modified to correct spelling and punctuation errors – Thanks RG your input is valued!


I heard the sound, the bump from downstairs. I heard it from my room.
I paid no attention
I needed to sleep.

I heard it again that sound that didn’t fit, didn’t quite belong.
This time a creak from the stair;
Fold the pillow, turn on my side, ignore it again. Try to get to sleep.

The near silent squeak of the bedroom door
So familiar to me,
So out of place for now.
It garners my full attention.
Senses on alert, I lie still; peering into the darkness through half closed eyes,
feigning sleep.

The door swings wide admitting a soft white glow.
On the heels of the light I recognize Darlene,
“Paul? Are you awake?”
The chain operates the lamp on the bedside table, bringing more light, yellower light.
Light the color of cornbread.

Darlene’s face is bruised and bloodied. Her left eye is swollen, almost shut.
Her dress is torn and the heel is broken off of one shoe.
“What happened to you?” I swing my legs off the bed, feet on the floor.

“I was walking home from the theater. He came from behind.
I didn’t know where else to go so I came here. I used my key.”
I stood and moved to take her in my arms.


Yeah – Editor’s Pick!

How To Save Money at Christmas

political-clip-art


“We’ve got to talk.” Susan said after dinner that night.

“Sure, what’s up?

“I noticed a couple of days ago that I’ve lost a lot of friends on Facebook, a lot of people who have been our friends for years. I don’t mean just Facebook friends either but real friends too. People we’ve known like, forever.”

“What’s your point?” I asked.

“I’m not sure when it started. I’m not sure why they’re leaving. It seems to be people who have been our friends. It seems to be friends of us both, not just my friends from work or church. Do you know anything about it?”

“Yeah, I do.” I said, “It started in mid-September. I’ve been watching it too. A lot of them are my friends from the gym.”

“Holy shit, Bobby, what do you think is going on? What have we done to make them unfriend us en mass like this?”

“Susan, I’m doing it. I’m chasing ‘em away.”

“What? Why on earth would you do that?”

“Sit down, Susan.”

She did. Then she crossed her arms and gave me that look. That ‘this better be good look.’

“You remember we were talking about how tight our budget was going to be this Christmas? How you didn’t know what we were going to do if we couldn’t get gifts, or even make gifts, for all our friends?”

“Yeah, but what does one have to do with the other?”

“I ran the data on all our friends and analyzed their political affiliations and leanings. I found it was a pretty even split between Democrats and Republicans.”

“Yeahhhh?” Susan said thoughtfully. I could see the gears churning. I knew she was catching on.

“Well, since you and I seem to be more left leaning, and our friends know that, I started talking trash about the GOP, and all their candidates, on Facebook. The timing is perfect, with the midterm elections coming up in November and all. I think half of our friends are going to hate us before Thanksgiving. Just think how much money we’re going to save not having to buy Christmas presents for our Republican friends. We can win ‘em back after New Years. We’ll tell ‘em my account was hacked or something.”

Susan was smiling from ear to ear. “But you’re only chasing away the Republicans right?”

“Yeah, right.”

“Good, ‘cause Mom’s a Democrat. I don’t want to lose her, I already bought her present. You’re brilliant Bobby! Brilliant!”


Comfortable Together


 

“I wonder where you go sometimes.” She said.
It wasn’t a question or a demand.
Just a statement, “I wonder where you go sometimes.”

I thought quickly about what she said and how she had said it,
It seemed free of malice, containing no hidden agenda.
Maybe a little like saying, “I couldn’t find good peaches at the market today.”

“It’s just work,
“and I can’t really talk about it.”

“I know,” she said, “I know.”

She turned her attention back to her scone. I went back to The Times.


              

Thanks all! This is pretty wonderful!

Inner City Painting


urban-decay

I tried to forgive them, but they didn’t show up. I had to call their boss.

15.September.2014

555-4545
“Thank you for calling Inner City Painting” the robot said, “If you know your party’s extension please enter it at any time. For a company directory please press 7 followed by the pound sign. To leave a message in our general mailbox please press 314, followed by the star key, or wait for the beep.”

7#

“To leave a message for Alberto press 101 followed by the star key. To leave a message for Diedre press 103 followed by the star key. To leave a message for Manny press 104 followed by the star key. To leave a message for Michelle press 107 followed by the star key. To leave a message for Rick press 108 followed by the star key. To leave a message in our general mailbox press 314 or wait for the beep.”

“Shit, who’s the boss?”

101*

Beep

“Hey Alberto. Are you the boss? If you’re not the boss could you pass this message on to the boss? Please?
“You guys were supposed to paint my mother’s house green this week. It’s Friday and the house still looks kinda grey. It looks like it’s auditioning for a part in ‘Amityville Horror’. Can you guys call me back and let me know what’s going on? This is Delbert Dangerfield 313-555-1212. Thanks”

17.September.2014

555-4545
“Thank you for calling Inner City Painting. If you know your party’s ex…”

314

“Thank you for calling Inner City Painting. If you know your…”

314*

“You have reached the general mailbox for Inner City Painting. Please leave your name, number and a brief message after the beep. We will get back to you as soon as possible.”

Beep

“This is Delbert Dangerfield. My number is 313-555-1212. Please call me back ASAP. I think you forgot to paint my mom’s house last week. Thanks.”

20.September.2014

555-4545
“Thank you for calling Inner City Painting. If you…”

103*

“Hi, you’ve reached the desk of Diedre at Inner City Painting. Sorry, I’m not available to take your call please leave a message. I’ll call you right back.”

Beep

“Hi Diedre, my name is Delbert Dangerfield. Can you call me back right away at 313-555-1212. Thanks”

0*

“Thank you for calling Inner City Paint…”

104*

“You’ve reached Manny. Well, you’ve reached Manny’s voice mail. Speak to the beep.”

Beep

“Hi Manny, can you call Delbert Dangerfield back right away at 313-555-1212. It’s about my mother’s house. Thanks”

0*

“Thank you for calling…”

105*

“We’re sorry that is not a valid extension. For a company directory please…”

106*

“We’re sorry that is not a valid extension…”

107*

“Hi, this is Michelle”

“Michell, Michelle, thank God I got a hold of you. I was beginning to lose hope.”

“I’m busy helping other customers right now. Leave a message at the sound of the beep. I’ll call you back.”

Shit, shit, shit, I’ll never forgive them. I gotta go down there now. Where the hell are they?


The Last of the McCarty’s


Photo purported to be Joseph McCarty Antrim. photo discovered by Ray John de Aragon
Photo purported to be Joseph McCarty somewhere around the age of 15 years
Photo discovered by Ray John de Aragon

In the span of a breath, everything changed. It was a rattling breath, a final breath. It was drawn in September 1874. It was the last painful breath of Catherine McCarty, wife of William Antrim, and loving mother of William Henry and Joseph McCarty. It was drawn in Silver City, New Mexico where she was living when she finally lost her long battle with tuberculosis.

Shortly after their mother’s death, William Antrim placed his stepsons in foster homes. He was a miner and a matter-of-fact man. There were no excuses, or emotions associated with this development. It was simply the way things had to be. The boys, at fourteen and eleven, were too young to go into the hills mining with their stepfather. Their mother’s death was pivotal for her sons. The good people of Silver City said they had been well behaved, educated young men. They were friendly and outgoing with generous personalities, just like their mother.

Billy, the older boy was placed with the Truesdell family, owners of the hotel. He worked for his keep and by all accounts comported himself well. Eventually, he set off from Silver City and achieved some level of notoriety through his participation as a Regulator in the Range Wars of Lincoln County, where he was shot dead.

Young Josie went to the Dyers. They were saloon owners and Joe also worked. Although the nature of his work was decidedly different from that of his brother – he grew up rough and he grew up fast. He drank, he fought, he smoked a bit of opium, and he gambled.

The high deserts of New Mexico did not interest Joe McCarty. The grazing lands, where grasses thrived while the trees were twisted and beaten down by the winds, offered nothing that he cared to embrace so he took up the life of a gambler; oscillating between New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado. In 1882 or maybe ‘83 Joe found himself in Tucson where his luck had been good. Riding a wave of good fortune, he married a bordello girl, Rose Marie Perkins, who went by the name of Amber Annie. She refused to settle down to domestic life and Joe would often find himself sitting at the gaming tables downstairs while his wife worked the bedrooms upstairs. Their union did not last long and the emotional toll served only to embitter and further harden young Joe. He left his wife and went back to Denver where he pieced together a living as a gambler.

Joe spent the rest of his life alone in Denver. A pauper’s life; he slept on the streets or, when his luck was good, he would take a room in one of the boarding houses that fringed the downtown area. He died penniless in 1930 at the age of 67 and was buried in an unmarked grave at the expense of the state. No records exist to pinpoint the exact location of his interment.

There were no children. Catherine McCarty had been dead since 1874. No records exist to identify the biological father of her sons, not even his name is known. Joe’s older brother, Billy, had been killed in 1881, also childless. His stepfather, William Antrim had disappeared into the mountains around Silver City about the same time that Joe went to Tucson. His fate was unknown. When Joe McCarty died that branch of the McCarty family tree died with him.


I need to tack on a note that while the McCarty family was real, this story is fiction. Details described herein are primarily the product of my imagination. Please do not use anything written here as reference material for your history report. Thanks.