37 (rough draft)
Amaretto waited on the corner eight blocks from October’s house, sitting on a bench, watching traffic. She hadn’t considered what would happen to Bly, him giving a cop a serious beat-down until October asked. Kyle would have his story, Bly wouldn’t have any kind of reason for his actions.
“I could tell my tale, but Kyle could deny it.” Amaretto assumed she was drugged, which wasn’t proof. “He didn’t have to rape me,” she said to herself, “Which may have been a disappointment for him.”
A car pulled up, Detective Lindsay Fowler bouncing out, her beaver brown hair dangling in her face, down to her shoulders. “Amaretto Stayman,” she greeted, dropping next to Amaretto.
“Thanks for meeting me. I didn’t want to go on the record.”
“First thing this morning, Officer Penrose gave me the heads up that you would likely be bringing a complaint. I remember the way you were carrying on with him.”
“Circle the wagons.”
“Nothing. This has nothing to do with Kyle. He and I had a personal disagreement over some nonsense.”
“Okay. He seemed to think it was a big deal.”
“Men are freaks.”
“Some can be.”
Amaretto produced October’s phone. “Last night, Markus sent this to a friend of mine.”
Fowler narrowed her eyes at the image. “Did you confirm that?”
“The best I can tell, it did seem to come from Markus’ email.”
“What do you want from me?”
“I’m not exactly sure. Markus is sick in love with my friend. Getting in-between the two of them in the hall is why Fisher ended up hitting me in the face.” Amaretto looked at the picture again. “It really makes no sense to me. Even if Markus were romancing my friend, he’s not so dumb to think sending a photo like this would advance that agenda.”
“Markus is a freak, but you didn’t hear me say that.” She presented a hand. “May I hang onto that?”
“Is this going to disappear, you people covering for each other?”
“Here’s what I intend to do, Ms. Stayman. I’m going to drop in on Markus, ask if I can check his computer, and see if he sent the email. Then, I’ll go from there. How’s that?”
“That’s more than I could ask for.”
Fowler sat in her car watching Markus’ house. She knew the rumors of Markus’ predilection, the slippery background check. When she saw the phone, she jumped at the chance to get in the house, have a look around. She felt it unlikely Markus would have anything on his computer.
“Hey, Paul,” she greeted as the door opened.
“Lindsay. Odd. What’s up?”
She presented the phone.
“If you’re coming on to me, Lindsay, you need something better than that.”
“This isn’t you?”
“Of course not.”
“You didn’t send it?”
“No. What to check my computer?”
“If it’s not any trouble.”
At the computer, Markus narrowed his eyes at the timestamp. “I was sound asleep. Must have been a hacker, maybe someone broke in.”
“Let me look over your other email.”
“I have nothing to hide.”
“If that’s the only one, you know.” She sat at the desk, scanning files. She opened the top desk drawer. “I’m not going to find any kiddie porn, am I?”
“I have a couple magazines in the bottom drawer, but they’re hardly kiddie porn. All adult stuff, after all, I’m an adult.”
She opened the drawer. “Paul, what the fuck is this?” She displayed one, then two bags of cocaine.”
“Son-of-a-bitch. I’m being set up. Talk to Banner.”
“What’s Banner know?”
“Talk to Banner.”
“Okay, Paul, but in the meantime, I’m going to have to take you in. This is some serious weight, and even if it weren’t, you’re the principal of the high school. Give your lawyer a call.”
Soon after Amaretto left, Casey went to the kitchen, fishing his throwaway phone from his right sock, sitting at the table, watching Amaretto move on the sidewalk. “Hey, Banner,” he said into the phone.
“Duh, Banner. It’s Little. I think you’re about as dumb as a bag of doorknobs. I had a nanny cam in Markus’ living room. I have you on video taking his drugs. I dropped the bust of the decade in your lap and you cover for him. I figured you were asshole buddies.”
Silence lingered. “What do you want?”
“I don’t want anything. Listening to you squirm is fun, though. I want you to back away. Markus is going down like a five-dollar whore and there’s nothing you can do about it. Who knows, you corrupt asshole, maybe you’re next.”
“When you play with fire, you get yourself burned.”
“Don’t think for a moment that I’m stupid. I have the video of you taking Markus’ drugs well hidden. You can’t touch me.” He broke the connection.
“You have a phone?” October asked from behind.
“Eh, I just got it today. It’s not a real phone.” He turned, looking up at October.
“What was that all about?”
“Not nice to eavesdrop.”
“I wasn’t, eh, don’t turn this around on me. What was that about?”
“It’s better you don’t know anything.”
“I doubt that seriously.” She crossed her arms over her chest.
“Markus is a sick puppy. I’m taking him out of play.”
“Exactly how are you doing that?”
“It’s better you don’t know the details.”
“I really, really don’t like having secrets, you doing stuff behind my back, particularly on my behalf.”
“Well, it’s for you, Ockie. I’m your boyfriend. It’s my job to protect you.”
She narrowed her eyes. “The world is not black and white, sides picked out with a them against us.”
“That has not been my experience. I’ve lived my life an army of one against the vast multitude of everyone else. Now, there’s you. I stand against anything that would be your enemy.”
October came close, running her small hand over his face. “Casey, Principal Markus is not my enemy. He loves me. If loving me is a crime, then you’re guilty, too.”
“It’s way difference.”
“It’s no different.”
“His love is awful, ugly, corrupt. I may be awful, ugly and corrupt, but my love for you is pure.”
“Walk with me, down to Ribs? Chocolate milkshake?”
“If that could be the whole of the universe, I’d be a happy guy.”
“To me, Casey, that is the whole of the universe.”
George Howell struggled with his visitor badge entering the upstairs offices, scanning the room. “I’m looking for Fowler.”
Detective Robert Banner scrambled from his desk. “She’s not in. What can I do for you?”
“I got a call my client has been taken into custody. Paul Markus.”
“Markus. Really? For what?”
Howell grimaced sardonically. “Something about drug charges.”
Banner watched the door, expecting uniforms to pour in, taking him into custody, too. “He’s not downstairs?”
Detective Lindsay Fowler entered, squaring her shoulders in her dark blue JC Penny suit. “You Howell?”
“They told me downstairs they’d sent you up. Markus?”
“I took him right to County.”
“I know that! Why County and not here?”
“Weight, Howell. Weight. Regulations. If I knew he had that kind of weight in the house, I would have called County SWAT.”
“He’s the respected principal of the high school,” Banner objected.
“Respected? Try tolerated.” She narrowed her eyes at Banner. “Circling the wagons.”
“Something someone said to me earlier. I really wish it were Fisher, but I’ll take Markus for starters.”
“Sounds like you have a vendetta, Detective Fowler.”
“Come on, Howell. Markus is a sick fuck and should be nowhere near children with or without a wheelbarrow full of cocaine. There’s a story brewing over the Edgewood-Post on Markus’ predilection. Matter-of-fact, I guess I’ll give James Avery a call, give him a heads up on the bust.”
“You could have kept this in-house until all the details came out,” Banner suggested. “It’s not like Markus is a street thug.”
“By that, you mean he’s a white man.” Her eye twitched. “What do you know about Markus and drugs, Banner?”
“Nothing! News to me!”
Fowler considered her watch. “Howell, County. Take your time. He’s being booked now. You can get an interview, but don’t think bail will even be considered until Monday morning, if he gets bail at all.”
“Your prejudice against my client will be noted for the record,” Howell said.
Fowler took three steps back to her desk, opening the file drawer, removing a three-inch hanging file, slapping it on the desk. “You can see this in discovery, but you can have a peek now if you wish.”
“That’s all Markus?”
“Covering three states.”
“Can I really have a look?”
Banner grabbed the screaming phone, happy for the distraction. “Penrose got mugged,” he announced. “Coming?”
Fowler dismissed him with a wave, dropping to her desk. “I want to get this paperwork done.”
“He’s in the hospital.”
“Another asshole with a predilection,” she bit sharply, asking herself, Is Amaretto Stayman the epicenter of everything that happens in Edgewood?
Detective Robert Banner walked through the hospital like he owned it. “Where’d you stash Penrose?” he threw at the station.
“741,” came the answer.
Banner hit the door without hesitation. “What the fuck, Kyle?” He closed the door.
Penrose, his face sixty-percent bandaged, tried to sit up and couldn’t. “Robert.”
“What did this have to do with the Stayman child?”
“You told Fowler this morning the kid would be bringing some sort of complaint. I don’t have to be Matlock, you know.”
“Nothing, nothing, Robert. Off the record?”
“Sure, off the record.”
“The kid’s got a crush on me. Needless to say, since she’s a minor, I shut her down quick.”
“Needless to say.”
“You should see this kid. A real slut. Goth, you know, she’d fuck anything.”
“I’m sure. Your point?”
“I guess her boyfriend thought I was nailing her.”
Banner worked his phone, flipping through images, presenting the phone to Penrose. “This him?”
“Yeah! That’s the asshole. He came out of nowhere.”
“I was just taking a walk in the park.”
Banner produced his notepad. “Let’s do an official statement. I’ll do a photo array later that you picked him out of.”
Richard Bly cowered, his father, comically small, waving a fist, yelling, “What did you do this time, you dumb shit! You dumb shit!”
Banner, Bly in cuffs, put a palm up to the man. “This can be just a formality. Once I get him down the station, we can have him out, I’m betting, less than $400.00.”
“For that kind of money, you can keep him.”
Halfway back to the station, Banner pulled over, joining Richard in the backseat, removing the cuffs. “We’re going to have another secret conversation. Okay? You know what that means?”
“Yeah, I do. He hurt Apple. He hurt Apple.”
“Relax. We’re going to get this all worked out.”
“You are a big man, Richard,” Banner said. “You could easily hurt someone really bad.”
“Did I kill him, that cop?”
“No. Kyle is okay. But, you could kill someone, if you meant to.”
“I know! I could!”
“How did it feel to hurt Kyle, the cop you beat up?”
“Feel? He hurt Apple. It felt good! I did it for Apple!”
He held his phone for Richard to see. “Would you kill this boy for a pound of pot?”
“He’s a ugly freak. He should be killed so we don’t have to look at him! A pound of pot?”
“With a pound of pot, Apple would do me anal!”
“Is that a yes?”
Amaretto exited the bus, lighting a cigarette.
“Those things will kill you,” John McIntyre greeted, coming up on her.
“They’ll make me sick first. I’ve been thinking of quitting.”
“I smoked for awhile. You just need the proper motivation.”
“A friend of mine said she wouldn’t make out with me because I stank of cigarettes all the time.”
“Hardly a good reason.”
“I’m sure I’d quit and un-stink myself and she’d come up with another reason.”
“I get all sorts of reasons from girls.”
“You’d think no would be good enough, huh?” She stomped on the cigarette as he opened the door to the mall for her. “I have your pot, if you have the money.”
She shrugged. “I’ll hang onto it. Do you do Halloween?”
“As in do I dress up?”
“If there’s a party.”
“Plenty of people to make fun of and mock, huh?”
“Hey, back off. I’m trying to quit. I think I got the proper motivation.” He waved an arm as if presenting the food court. “What would you like?”
“I could eat. Any burger and fries. Cold milk. Make sure it’s cold.” She squirreled onto a chair. “My stomach still isn’t exactly right.”
Amaretto watched McIntyre’s back as he moved off, a happy young man walking happily. “Sweet,” she told herself. “I’m sitting in the mall in a river of humanity with a guy and I don’t want to get high.”
“Talk to yourself much?” a voice came from behind her.
“Hey, Jill,” Amaretto answered, Jillian Lauferty taking a chair.
“Hanging with Apple, huh?”
“John McIntyre. We call him Apple, you know, the McIntyre apple.”
“Funny, Jill, I never took you for being stupid.” Amaretto punched at her phone.
“I wanted to talk to you. About hitting you in the face.”
“I do understand that you’re Brian Fowler’s whore, and the whore has to do what the pimp demands.” She slid her phone across the table. “In the age of Google, ignorance is a choice.”
“I’m not Rat’s whore –” She glanced the screen. “Fuck, damn, really? Years, it’s been.” She worked the phone. “Damn, I was sure McIntyre was an apple.”
“Stayman, that’s me.”
“You have no idea how embarrassing this is.” Jill rolled her eyes. “All these years, Apple, I mean John, let us call him that, I bet, knowing we were wrong.”
“The best mocking is when the mockers are mocked and don’t even know it.”
“Stayman,” Jill read on the phone. “Tart little thing.”
“Green, which is why I make most people sick.”
“I wanted to say something.”
“As long as you don’t yell fire, you’ll be okay.”
“You know, freedom of speech, as long as you don’t yell –”
“This isn’t a crowded movie theater.”
“Which begs the question: Can we yell fire in a movie theater that isn’t crowded?”
“You do know it’s metaphor meaning –”
Amaretto rolled her eyes. “Speech is limited when it can cause predictable harm.”
Jill’s soft blue eyes glistened. “I’m really getting to like you.”
“I’m having trouble getting over that punch in the nose.”
“Whole lot different from being zapped to the floor in a crowded hallway.”
“I heard you didn’t remember.”
“I’m prone to seizures. The doctors had a bit of confirmation bias going on. I wasn’t sure what I remembered, that is until Mason said you stopped by.”
“Your brother, horny little kid not afraid to embarrass himself.”
“That’s his superpower.”
“Watch out. He’ll wear you down with relentless begging.”
“Jill,” McIntyre greeted, setting a tray on the table, taking a chair.
“McIntyre isn’t an apple.”
“Even Richard Bly knows that, Jill.”
“That’s dangerously close to mocking retarded people, John,” Amaretto pointed out.
“Sorry for mocking you, Jill,” he said, biting his sandwich. “I will grant, breaking up with Rat kicked your IQ up thirty points.” He looked hard at Amaretto. “If I’d not mocked Bly that day with my Donkey Kong dance, I may never had my breakfast at epiphanies.”
Jill turned her head, giving Amaretto the wide eyes. “Breakfast at epiphanies?”
Amaretto shrugged, dipping a fry in ketchup.
“That’s when in the morning, over breakfast, you realize something you’ve been thinking true isn’t true at all.”
“I was working through a bowl of Apple Jacks when I realized McIntyre wasn’t an apple,” Jill said.
“Those breakfasts at epiphanies are more common than I thought,” John admitted.
Jill narrowed her eyes at McIntyre. “Anyway, Amaretto. Eh, Apple?”
“Before I had my seizure in the hall, I decided to look you up, and apologize for hitting you, maybe give you some chocolate or something. Then, Mason tells me you stopped by the hospital to see if I were okay. I smack you, you run off bleeding and I don’t even chase after you to see if you’re okay.”
“Man, Jill, you’re a rotten person,” McIntyre said.
“Thank you, Mr. Obvious. That’s my point. I felt bad about it, but didn’t do anything about it. You’re new in school. You’re right. You weren’t aware how things worked. I could have just explained things to you.”
“I’m not sure I’d have obeyed, but sure. I really didn’t think I’d put you in the hospital. It’s fucking Hello Kitty, after all. Hello Kitty.”
“What’s Hello Kitty?” McIntyre asked.
“So what happened?” Detective Lindsay Fowler asked Detective Robert Banner, Banner returning to his desk.
“Looks like a misunderstanding. They’re not even going to keep him overnight.”
“That’s some misunderstanding.”
“He’ll get a couple of paid days off. Everyone likes a paid day off.”
“What of the suspect?
“Like I said, a misunderstanding. I’m sure Penrose isn’t going to want some of the details of the misunderstanding coming out.”
“Did he fuck that child?”
“The Stayman child. Did he fuck her?”
“Not every minor that has sex is a victim.”
“You’ve got some balls saying that to a woman with a gun.”
“There’s nothing on the record.”
“If he did fuck that kid, he deserves a good beating.”
“Justice according to Fowler.”
“Look, Banner, I met with that child earlier today on an unrelated matter. She had concerns for a friend. I brought up Penrose, since Penrose gave me the heads up this morning. She sat there with a poise and dignity that was breathtaking, saying simply that her and Penrose had a misunderstanding. If Penrose did rape her last night, this Stayman kid is a fucking rock star.”
“You can’t rape the willing.”
“Look up the statute covering minors.”
“I know, I know. We have to protect the children, even the children who want to have sex.”
“Oh, come on. Not the blame the victim nonsense.”
“I’m not blaming anyone. I’m just saying, sometimes, you know.”
“Sometimes you have to circle the wagons, is what you’re saying.”
“We watch out for our own, like you watch out for that kid of yours.” He stood. “I have to run downstairs, then I’m going home.”
“Try not to trip and accidently stick your dick in a child.”
Downstairs, toward the back, Banner let Richard Bly out of The Cage. “I didn’t think Dad was coming,” he moaned.
“He didn’t. I made a special deal because you’re special.”
“You assaulted a police officer. You know that’s really serious, right? You could get years in jail. Years.”
Bly looked toward his shoes. “Yeah, I know.”
“Listen carefully. If you do that little thing I asked, you won’t have to go to jail at all. Do you remember?”
“Yeah. I remember.”
“You’ll take care of Casey Little, then?”
“Yeah, I will.”
“Everything will be okay.”
“I get the pound of pot?”
“Yes, Richard. You’ll get the pound of pot, too.”
“And, Apple with give me anal!”
“That must be one sweet ass.”
“It is! It Is!”
Richard Bly didn’t know how to kill anyone. He was excited, knowing he’d get his pound of pot and Apple would love him. On his two mile walk home, he thought he could check the Internet, Apple so often sayings, “In the age of Google, ignorance is a choice.” He reasoned if he couldn’t find the information, Apple would help him find it.
Finally home, Richard entered his house, his father sitting on the sofa, the lockbox open on the coffee table. “Dick,” he said. “I’m really disappointed in you.”
Richard looked at the box. “Don’t call me Dick.”
“Where’s the money, huh?”
“I’m going to pay you back. No problem.”
“Pay me back? Where’s the money? Did you spend it on the little whore you’ve been hanging out with? You little shit head. Huh? Is that it?”
Jumping to his feet, Richard’s father slapped Richard across the face. “You dumb fuck!”
Richard pushed his father aside, stepped to the coffee table, grasped the brown handle of the silver .45 automatic in his right hand, turned on his father, placed the muzzle on his father’s forehead and pulled the trigger sharply once, the gun firing twice.
He turned, approaching the kitchen entrance. As his mother appeared, he planted the muzzle again, managing one discharge. He smeared the blood on his face with the back of his free hand, Lucy and David dead, just like that.
He felt oddly free, thoughts of looking at his father’s magazines all night without any fear of discovery.