Saturday, October 18, 2014

Aphrodite Shuddered - Chapter 3

Chapter 3:
Just Shoot Me

February 18, 1986
Today the news was shitty all 'round. First of all, my employer - Xeno Corporation - had just confirmed the rumor that had been floating around the office for weeks: Xeno was going to eliminate 300 positions at its Seattle corporate headquarters, due to steadily falling demand for its mainframe computer software. The bad news didn't come as a shock to me, as it was clear that businesses had begun to favor the use of networks of personal computers over their much larger cousins, and this trend promised to be permanent. I had years of experience operating huge mainframe computers, but so far my only experience using a PC consisted of typing and printing my job resumes. Six weeks hence, I was to find out whether or not there was an urgent need for an updated one.

And the other big news of the day didn't exactly inspire my faith in local law enforcement: a Grand Jury had been empaneled to investigate corruption within the Prince County Sheriff's Office (for which I happened to be an informant). The Grand Jury was going to examine allegations that elements within the Sheriff's Office had allowed crime to run rampant around the outskirts of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, among other places. Voters living in communities adjacent to the airport were loudly demanding a clean-up of the notorious prostitution and gang-related drug problems in that locale. These problems had become more severe ever since the election, four years ago, of a new sheriff who had served in the Prince County Sheriff's Office for the past 20 years. On the face of it, it was unlikely that this sudden explosion in criminal activity could exist there without the willful ignorance of, or even the connivance of, the sheriff. This apparent tolerance for criminal vice had incubated a sleazy environment which soon led to the murders of dozens of airport-area prostitutes, most of them done-in by the infamous Green River Killer (who, incidentally, was still at-large). Due in part to my hard-headed insistence on living cheaply, Angie and I found ourselves living in the middle of that societal cesspool. However, we had been making plans to move from the area as soon as possible - with the cost being a secondary consideration.
* * *
Three days later:
I drove to Tina's mother's apartment in order to fix Tina's broken-down car. The problem turned out to be nothing more than a couple of fouled spark plugs. She leaned against a fender and watched me cleaning sludge off the plugs, and I said, “Tina, you really ought to change your oil once in awhile.” Two giggling little Hispanic girls ran past us as they chased each other around the parking lot.

With a shrug she replied, “Hey I changed it less than a year ago.”

“Right. So, where've you been keeping yourself lately? Been staying with your mom long?” I hadn't seen and had hardly spoken to Tina in days.

“No, I've just been workin' a lot of overtime this week - Laurie's on vacation.” After a long pause, she sounded a bit defensive: “What - you think I'm hidin'-out because the law ain't caught-up with A.J. yet? I don't understand why yer still worried about him, Hercules. He ain't got no beef with you.”

“He would, if he knew all the stuff I've been telling the cops. I suppose Angie told you already.” When she responded with a blank stare, I prompted her with, “You know, about A.J. and Marta.”

She didn't seem to know what I was driving at: “What - that he was fuckin' that little bitch? Everybody in my building must know it by now.”

I had assumed that chatterbox Angie had told her all about Marta's video escapade. The fact that she hadn't I found rather curious. “No, I'm talking about the video tape that
she - “ All of a sudden we heard loud popping noises coming from the street abutting the parking lot, sounding like a string of small firecrackers but detonating at evenly spaced intervals. With my head under the hood, I didn't fully comprehend what was happening until Tina's left front tire abruptly went flat. Another bullet ricocheted off asphalt and hit the left rear hubcap with a metallic twang. “Get down! Get on the fucking ground,” I roared, grabbing Tina's pant leg and pulling her down off the fender. With Tina whimpering and cursing into my ear, I lifted my head in time to glimpse of the rear of a purplish-colored car peeling away from the curb. Unfortunately I couldn't read the license plate.

The scene became abnormally hushed for a moment, until one of the two little girls began crying plaintively over her fallen playmate. From a 2nd-floor landing, agonized screams erupted from the victimized girl's mother. I tried to help by stanching the blood flowing heavily from an artery in her leg and then applying a tourniquet, while Tina tried without much success to calm the mother's hysterics. However, the girl was still conscious when paramedics whisked her away 10 minutes later. Moments before detectives from the Prince County Sheriff's Office began to interview us and other witnesses, I told Tina, “Well, that asshole really fucked-up, this time!”

Her eyes still expressing shock, she replied, “Who you talkin' about? A.J.? Don't give me that bool-shit! This happens all the time - we just got caught in the wrong place at the - ”

“Of course he was in on it! Who do you think they were targeting - that poor kid? Or maybe someone in another car? What other car? They either followed me here or already knew where you were. He knows that your mom lives here - right?”

She glumly replied, “Yeah.” I recalled Angie once telling me that A.J. had been Tina's mother's boyfriend at one time. However, broaching that subject with Tina would not be prudent, as I didn't want a punch in the nose.

I told the Gang Unit detectives about my suspicion that I had been the intended target and that A.J. was responsible for shooting the girl, but that did little good as at least two police agencies were already hunting for him. I described the drive-by car as a late-70s reddish Chevy Monte Carlo with fancy wire wheels, a car similar in model and color to the one reportedly used in the assault on Marta's father. As for Tina, she pleaded total ignorance to the detectives. However, she hadn't actually witnessed anything aside from hearing the shots.

The first thing I did after answering the detective's questions was to find a phone to contact Angie, who was at work. After a coworker told her that I was on the line, Angie said into the phone, “Hi, Den. We better make this a quickie - I got three hungry customers to deal with, and the manager is glaring at me.”

After telling her what had just happened, all I heard was her anxiously heavy breathing. “Angie, are you still there? Listen to me - when your shift is over, do not go home! Just stay right there. I got Tina with me - we'll come get you as soon as we can.”

Then I attempted to call Detective Jameson. The Sheriff's Office switchboard operator informed me that Jameson was in court that day, but that she could beep his pager and have him return my call when he was free. When the operator asked for a contact number, I hesitated, wondering if “court” meant that Jameson was testifying before the Grand Jury, which had convened for its first session today. The thought of that scared me. For all I knew, he was deeply involved in the very corruption the Grand Jury was investigating. And even before today, I had worried that someone inside the Sheriff's Office had tipped-off A.J. or his confederates that I was an informant. If that worry was justified, it would explain why his gang seemed intent on killing me. “Thanks anyway, but it can wait til tomorrow.” By then, I planned to be living outside the jurisdiction of the Prince County Sheriff.

Returning to the parking lot, I reluctantly granted an interview with a newspaper reporter but adamantly refused to go on camera with a local TV station's reporter, who clearly wanted to exploit my first-aid “heroics” for all it was worth. The highly photogenic Tina didn't mind being on TV. In fact, she appeared to enjoy the attention, in spite of having been scared out of her mind only an hour ago.

Since the detectives were nearly finished with their on-scene investigation, I hurriedly mounted the spare tire onto Tina's car so we could get the hell out of there before they left. While I did that, Tina and her mother Laverne carried-on a heated discussion in the parking lot, and I occasionally felt Laverne's eyes bearing down on me in stern disapproval. She scorned interracial relationships even more than my own mother did. A minute later, as Laverne marched stridently back to her apartment, Tina approached me. Tightening the last lug nut, I said to her, “I distinctly sense that your mom blames me for this, and she probably has good reason to.”

“Aw, don't take it personal, Hercules. She just don't like me shackin'-up with a honkie.”

“I gathered that. Hey I've been thinking. After I pick-up Angie, I'm gonna get us a hotel room. I want you there with us.”

“At a roach-infested motel, you mean? Hell no.” She glanced at her wristwatch and said, “I got to be at work in an hour, so come over later and I'll get you a decent room there.”

That's no good – A.J. knows where you work. Just call in sick tonight, and I'll find us a good hotel, far away from here.”

“I can't - not on a Friday night. The night manager can't replacement me on such short notice, so one of the day clerks would have to work a double shift. Anyway, I refuse to turn my life upside-down for any muthafucka.” I rightfully assumed that that included me.

“Okay, we'll stay there tonight, but that's all. At least the place has security guards on duty, in case he's dumb enough to show his face there. I wonder if those creeps even know they shot a kid yet.” Just before we departed, I suggested to one of the detectives that they should stake-out the Airport Hilton, on the chance that the Monte Carlo with wire wheels would make an appearance there. The detective politely explained that every available patrol officer and detective in south Prince County was already on the lookout for that car - but he promised to pass along my suggestion to his superior.

I closely followed Tina's Toyota on the freeway as she drove the 10 miles to work. Once she was safely inside the hotel, I drove a short distance down International Boulevard to Angie's workplace, Denny's Restaurant. Upon telling her I was going home to pick up some personal items, she wanted to go with me but I insisted she go to the Hilton as planned. I told her, “Just tell me what you need for the night and I'll get it for you. We'll get the rest of our shit when we move, which'll be any day now.” Among the things I wanted to retrieve that night was my Remington pump-action shotgun.

It was dark by the time I left the Hilton, which was located only a mile from my mobile home. Within a few blocks of home I got the jitters again, so I killed the engine and headlights, coasting to a stop one block from home. Then I slipped around to the back of the trailer, away from the street. After tip-toeing around to the front, pinpricks of panic stung my face upon finding nearly every window broken and a snaking string of bullet holes in the aluminum siding and flimsy screen door. Several concerned neighbors were milling around in the street, so I asked one of them, Bobby, if he knew when this had happened. He replied, “I heard the shots about five minutes ago. The police are on the way, I think.”

“Did anybody see anything?” I loudly asked the small group of bystanders, but received no coherent reply.

Going inside, my shoes crunched shards of window glass. The living room was a complete shambles, with the TV, VCR and brand-new $1,000 stereo system ready for the electronic graveyard. I then called 9-1-1, and the operator told me, “We've already dispatched a unit to your address, sir. They should be there any minute.” While waiting for the police, I loaded four shells into the Remington and then packed it and small valuables and clothing into a large duffel bag.

After smoking a Marlboro and downing two shots of brandy, I got impatient. “Shit, it's been 20 minutes,” I grumbled to myself. The hell with it - I'm outta here. For all I know, a COP shot-up the place. So I grabbed the duffel and exited the trailer. To my disbelief and disgust, Angie rolled up in her 1962 Cadillac Sedan Deville. I yanked opened the passenger door and scolded, “I thought I fuckin' told you - “

She smiled apologetically. “I forgot to mention my tampons, Den. I really need 'em.”


“Hey what's goin' on? It looks like a block party!” Then she noticed the damage. ”O my God! W-where's the police?”

“Good question, but at this point I don't give a rat's ass. Now just stay in the car and I'll get you your goddamn tampons.”

“Oh, and a bottle of Midol, in the medicine cabinet.”

“Unbelievable,” I said under my breath.

We drove off a few minuted later, with Angie leading the way. The shotgun was now tucked between the driver's-side door and my leg. Although fretting that a cop might pull me over and see the weapon, I was much more concerned about being a target in a shooting gallery again.

We automatically took the usual route: a left turn at 192nd Street, and six blocks later a right turn at International Boulevard, which would get us to the Airport Hilton within five minutes. The traffic light at 192nd turned red scant seconds after Angie turned left, so I lost sight of her car as heavy cross traffic prevented me from running the light. I was so fixated on looking-out for a Monte Carlo with wire wheels that I failed, at first, to recognize A.J.'s emerald-green BMW on my right, which had slowed to stop at the intersection, just as I got the green light. Impulsively changing my mind, I drove straight ahead from the left-turn lane, which incited the drivers on my right side to honk at me in anger. Speeding up, I expected A.J. to turn right to follow me northbound, but he had apparently continued west on 192nd . Relief swept over me in the belief he hadn't recognized my car, although my hand still shook as it lay on the stock of the shotgun. Then the irresponsible, cowardly part of my brain nagged me with questions and half-truths: See what happens when you try to play solid citizen? Why don't you mind your own business, stupid? Since when did YOU ever give a shit about society, anyway? Marta and those other two chicks in the video are just a bunch of horny young sluts - if it hadn't been A.J. exploiting them it would've been somebody else. Face it, dude, the only reason you ratted on him was because you were jealous that he was fucking Marta - you wanted her for yourself, didn't you? You struck-out with girls in high school, so you had to lust-after a 16-year old when you're almost 30 - HA! What a dumb ass...
Shaking off negative thoughts, I turned left on 188th, as it was the only westbound through-street for the next mile. That street was well-lit, so I had no difficulty in seeing the emerald-green BMW coming at me from the opposite direction. Within a block of each other, I saw what looked like the barrel of a gun pointing at me from the driver's side window. A surreal fight-or-flight sensation washed over me, with only one thought in mind: “I AM GOING TO DIE!” So, as if possessed, I slid the shotgun barrel out the window, tucked the stock under my armpit and squeezed off a round of buckshot in the general direction of the BMW’s rear fender, while two slugs from an automatic weapon blasted through the top of the windshield, my left should nearly paralyzed from the recoiling Remington, which had rocketed out of my awkward grasp and onto the backseat. Blue smoke stung my eyes now, and a chip of safety glass had neatly sliced my cheekbone.

The inaccessible shotgun was useless to me now, as the BMW, evidently undamaged, had pulled a screeching U-turn and was rapidly gaining on me. Traffic got heavier approaching the intersection of 188th and International Boulevard, and I was terrified of having to slow down. With shots still zinging around my Camero, I drove like a drunk trying to get to the bar before closing time. Unable to pass while ascending a hill without risking a head-on collision, I weaved around several cars in order to get to the right lane. With cars backed-up at the light at International Boulevard, I forcibly lurched the right side of my car over the curb and, to the shouts of incredulous drivers, drove on the sidewalk. Seconds later, I saw why traffic was so bad. There was a huge police presence at the intersection, bringing tears of relief to my eyes. Somebody in the car beside me yelled, “Hey you dumb motherfucker!” as I wedged my car back into the creeping traffic in the right lane, but I didn't care. A deputy at the intersection was directing traffic around the line of police cars that surrounded a vehicle they had pulled over: a late-70s purple Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

Copyright 2014 by K.D. Bishop

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Aphrodite Shuddered - Chapter 2

Chapter 2:

"Obviously a Major Malfunction"

January 28, 1986

In contrast to the first three weeks of January, this week had been pleasantly routine (so far). By now, I had mostly forgotten about Marta, and about her father's confrontation with A.J.. But Tina was still angry at A.J. for causing a scene with her next-door neighbor, and had barred him from her apartment indefinitely. What still bothered me were the two unidentified teenage girls I had seen on that video. A tiny voice in the back of my mind kept insisting that I go to the police.

I wished I had heeded that voice sooner because upon watching the local news that evening, one news story left me ice cold: “Outside a Boeing office complex in Everett this afternoon, an unknown gunman fired an automatic weapon near an employee parking lot at a Boeing aircrew training facility. A car exiting the parking lot was riddled by several bullets - fortunately none of the people in the car were injured. The gunman, who eyewitnesses described as an Afro-American male, escaped in dark red or purple late-70s Chevrolet or Oldsmobile, with tinted windows. We hope to have more on that story at the top of the hour, but now we switch to NBC News for an update on the tragic Challenger Disaster...”

For no other reason than an educated guess, I feared that Marta's father had been the one targeted by the shooter. With my hands trembling, I phoned Tina immediately: "Amazon, have you seen anything unusual going-on with Marta's parents today?"

"Hmm, well, when I got home an hour ago, Mr and Mrs E were rushin' outta their apartment with their suitcases. I said hi but they blew me off - that's not like them."

“Did you see their car?”

“I didn't notice, but what's that got to do with anything?”

"Oh, man! I don't know exactly why, but I think A.J. just tried to kill Marta's dad! There was a shooting near his workplace today, at about 3:30. I saw it on the news, but they didn't have much information - then they started talking about the space shuttle blowing up. The getaway car they described sounded nothing like his car, but that doesn't mean anything.”

“Aw, that's fuckin' crazy.”

He's the one who's crazy. I thought it had all blown-over by now, but you know how obsessed he was with Marta, and gangbangers aren't known to forgive getting clobbered with a golf club. Her dad really punked him.”

“Yeah but what's this gangbanger shit? He ain't in a gang.”

“Yes he is - the BWMs. At least, that's what Angie told me the other day.”

“Now there's a reliable source of rumors for ya!” Angie had picked up that information from girlfriends of gang members during A.J.'s New Year's Eve party. Tina asked, “What the hell's a B-W-whatchamacallit?”

“Uh, I'm not exactly sure. Blacks With Money - Blacks With Moolah, whatever.”

She barked incredulous laughter. “With a name like that, they must be a very exclusive outfit! What's their colors – pink and yellow polka dots? HA!”

I cleared my throat and tersely replied, “Green, actually - green as in money.” Then it dawned on me: “And get this: he drives a green BMW. Coincidence?”

“Ooo – the plot thin-ens.”

“All right-all right, just be careful and watch your back. If he shows-up and even looks at you crossed-eyed, call 9-1-1.”

“I will – right after I knee 'im in the balls. He knows better than to fuck with me.”

“But whatever you do, don't tell Angie anything about this - she can't keep a secret to save her life.”

The news of the drive-by shooting incident got buried under the continuous coverage of the Challenger shuttle explosion and the death of the first school teacher to become an astronaut. A small article in next day's newspaper stated that the police had no suspects in custody, with the speculation that the shooting was gang related. As far as I could determine during the previous 18 hours, the person(s) occupying the bullet-riddled car remained unidentified by the media.

Days later, on February 1st , Mr and Mrs Eichenburger still hadn't returned to their apartment, and the story of the shooting was fading into obscurity, supplanted by fresh headlines of even worse gun mayhem in the region. Tina, by this time, was half-convinced that A.J. had indeed run her neighbors out of town, if not out of the country. Marta had told her that she and her parents would be living there until March, upon her father completing his flight training on the 767. Tina had had friendly relations with the family and was sure they would have told her well ahead of time that they were moving. And she had seen no indication of an emergency that demanded their immediate return to Germany (or to anywhere else for that matter).

I possessed no hard evidence that A.J. had been involved in the attack, but I did possess irrefutable video evidence of him committing equally serious crimes. Finally, I screwed up my courage enough to try to make contact with the relevant department within the Prince County Sheriff's Office. After obtaining the phone number of the Vice Division, I walked to a public phone several blocks away. Detective Dan Jameson took my call, and I asked him right off: “If I had proof that a guy I know was making sex videos with underage girls, would you be interested?”

A candy wrapper crackled in the background. “Sure, we would definitely look into that. What's your name, sir?”

“No names yet, okay? This guy I'm talking about - he's in a gang - he wouldn't hesitate to have me killed if he found out.”

“All right, sir. So, what do you got for me?”

“I got a videotape with these young chicks having sex with two men, right? This guy I know, Anthony Davis, he was the one operating the camera. And you can even see him in the video a few times, clear enough to identify him.”

“You sure the girls are underage?”

“I know for a fact that one of them is - the other two I never met but it's obvious they're, like, 14 or 15.”

“I'd like to see that tape as soon as possible.”

Within 24 hours, I went to Jameson's office in order to turn over the tape and supply him with all the background information I knew about A.J. and Marta. Then he and two other detectives then went into another room to view the 15-minute videotape, while I grew more apprehensive by the second: Why did I agree to come here? They'll probably throw ME in the clink!

Jameson opened the frosted glass door and bade me to join them. I then sat with the detectives and endured more questioning. I was answering, “...I don't know where the video was made...No, I have no idea who the guys in bed are, or who those other girls either. Like I just said, I only know guy behind the camera, Anthony Davis, and the blonde chick, Marta EIchenburger...No, she's in Frankfurt, Germany. Her dad - Johann - made her go back there a few weeks ago after I told him what Davis was doing with his daughter...Hell no, I never had sex with her or anybody else on the tape!...Okay, freeze the picture right there - that's Davis, he's working the camera. He lives in the airport area but I don't know exactly where...” We went 'round and 'round with questions and answers until a coherent story finally began to emerge. At this juncture, I suggested to Jameson that he should contact the Everett Police Department, since they may have had information about Davis too, in relation to a recent drive-by shooting in that area. He then said, “I heard about that incident, up near Boeing, correct?” I nodded. “What makes you think he was mixed-up in that?”

“I may be wrong, but I think that the intended victim was the father of blonde on the tape, Marta, and he moved out of his apartment immediately after the drive-by happened, like he was scared to death. See, not long after I told Mister Eichenburger that Davis was fucking around with his daughter, he assaulted him with a golf club outside his apartment - that was on January 15th . He phoned for a County Deputy to come to his apartment that day, so you should have a report from that.”

Jameson turned to one of his colleagues and said, “Bill, run a computer check on a Johann Eichenburger, male Cauc - German citizen, and for an Anthony Davis, middle initial J, black male, age - approximately 35. And pull Davis' jacket if we've got one on him. If we don't, check with NCIC.” After five more minutes of repetitive questioning, Jameson finally got the gist of my convoluted story: “So, the drive-by shooting in Everett may have been in retaliation against the blonde girl's father. Okay, we'll look into it. Everett P.D. may have something useful for the investigation of your videotape. And we, in turn, may have some leads for their own investigation.” He glanced at his watch and stood up. “Well, Denny, thanks for the help. Where can you be contacted if I need you?” During the interview, he had persuaded me to reveal my full name (Denton T. Smith) with the assurance that it would be kept secret.

“Call me only at work or leave a voice mail there, okay?” After giving him my work number, I reiterated, “Now, you'll keep my name out of it, right? At least until it goes to court?”

“No problem.”

Next day, at work, I got a call from Jameson, who informed me: “Denny, Everett P.D. tells me that the vehicle targeted in the drive-by shooting was rented by one Johann Eichenburger, and that their only suspect is Anthony Davis, who they can't locate. That case does seem to tie-in with Davis and the blonde girl in the video. Davis is the only one Everett P.D. believes had a motive to attack her father.

I had tried to keep Tina's name out of it, but for her own safety I told Jameson: “There's a friend of mine who happened to be the Eichenburger's next door neighbor. She witnessed Mister Eichenburger smacking Davis with a golf club that night – and I saw it too. Davis will think we ratted him out, if he gets arrested for that shooting.”

“Don't worry about it too much – he can only assume that Eichenburger was smart enough to figure out who might have shot at him. Now what's your friend's name and address?”

“Tina Kincaid.” Then I gave him the address.

“Okay, apartment 203.” He rustled some papers and said, “I see that the Eichenburgers stayed in 202.”

“If you can't find him anywhere else, you might look for him there. He's very tight with Tina - or was, until she threw him out.”

“I'll pass along the information to Everett P.D. They're searching for him on a warrant for suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, but he recently moved and left no forwarding address. As for our videotape case, there's a long way to go before we can nail his ass for sexual exploitation of kids. First, we need the testimony of those girls – two of which we don't know their identities, and the other one isn't even in the United States anymore. Then we got to prove that Davis was one of the men in the video.”

Immediately after talking to Jameson, I phoned Tina's apartment. “Hi, Amazon – don't ask me how I found out, but it really was A.J. who was involved in that shooting, and Mister E had rented the car that got shot-up! Hey, are you there?”

After a prolonged pause, Tina said, “Huh? Naw man, you got the wrong number.”

“You're kidding – he's there right now? Call me right back - I'm at work”

“Okay, 'bye.”

When she called me back minutes later, after A.J. had left, I told her of my conversations about the drive-by shooting with the police, and the fact that they were going to stake-out her apartment complex. Tina replied, “A.J. thinks I know more than I let on. Before ya called, he was askin' me if I talked to Mister or Missus E on the day they moved, and if I knew where they were stayin' now, and askin' what things me 'n' Marta talked about. But I suspected that motherfucka from the beginning, ya know.”

Her last statement wasn't entirely true, but I didn't argue the point. “I don't think you should be alone over there. I'd feel better if you went somewhere for a few days, until they arrest him. You can stay with Angie and me if you want.”

“Me livin' in yer trashy trailer? I-don't-think-so. I was gonna go visit mama tomorrow anyway, so I might stay the whole weekend, who knows?”

When Angie came home from work that day, I finally told her everything I knew about A.J.'s attack on Mr E and the subsequent search for him by the police. She replied, “Why did you wait so long to tell me?”

“Because I wanted you to act like nothing's wrong if you ran into him, that's all. But now it's just a matter of time until they catch him.”

“Oh, wow, I still can't believe he really tried to kill him! He stopped by the restaurant for lunch the other day and sat at my station. We talked for a few minutes - he didn't look worried.”

“The important thing is that you didn't look worried.”

“What's the big deal? We're not the only ones that know about it.”

“But there's more to it than that shooting. He made a video of Marta fucking some guys – I've seen it. After I found out that he attacked her dad, I turned a copy of the tape over to the cops.”

 I was taken aback by Angie's physical reaction - her face suddenly blanched into a ghostly white of shock. “What, how, how could you see something like that? I, I don't understand.”

“It was recorded on that party video you got from Tina, and I made a copy of it. If you or Tina had bothered to watch the last few minutes of the tape, you would have seen it for yourself. Angie, why do you look like I just told you your mom just died? Do you happen to know anything about what Marta was up to?”

“Uh, um, well she did tell me that she was going out with A.J. behind her parents' back, but I never imagined - this,” she replied with increasing hesitation.

“You knew he was banging a 16-year old but kept it to yourself?”

“I didn't think it was all that terrible, at the time. I remember when I was 16.”

“So do I. Unfortunately – or maybe fortunately - I was in no position to do anything about it.”

* * *

As the days passed without incident, and having had no further contact by the police, a sense of normalcy returned to our lives (whether justified or not).

On Valentine's Day I drove to my mother's house to deliver a bouquet of somewhat wilted red roses, which she gushed over nonetheless. Mother was a divorcee in her late 40s and currently living alone. She had a shadowy boyfriend whom I had met only on occasion, as she took a dim view of “living in sin”. As we sat talking at her kitchen table and eating homemade pecan pie, my mother said, “...So, you're back with Angie again? I just love her - she's darlin'. Wish y'all would get married,” she drawled in her strong Mississippi accent. While I hemmed and hawed in reply, she informed me, “Honey, a little birdie told me you've been datin' a pretty-lil'-black-girl."

I thought: Susan, you rat! Susan, my younger sister, had informed our mother just to make me squirm, no doubt. I replied as casually as I could: "Oh, she's just a friend of Angie's that hangs-out at the trailer all the time."

"Not that I disapprove, necessarily. It's taken me awhile to get used to the way things are these days."

"Yeah, I know - “

"Down home, they used to call it miscegenation." She had grown up in Biloxi, Mississippi. "One could go to jail fo' race-mixin' back they-en."

I grinned at her and unmercifully teased, "Have you ever dated a black guy?"

After choking on a chunk of pecan, she sputtered, "Oh, go on with you! You've always had such a wicked tongue, honey."

Copyright 2014 by K.D. Bishop

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Aphrodite Shuddered - Chapter 1

Chapter 1

What's Mom Going to Think?

All the trouble started in the summer of 1985, after my girlfriend Angie and I moved into a double-wide trailer near the airport, south of Seattle. Although I made a good enough salary at the Xeno Corporation to afford to buy a house, I was (and still am) a dreadful penny pincher. It really wasn't all that bad, though - tacky yet comfortable.

Angie was a waitress at the local Denny’s Restaurant and spent all her tips on cocaine. She was a prototypical Denny’s front-counter girl: a short-lovable-white-blonde, with a self-destructive streak compensated by an eternally cheerful and kindly disposition. She liked to joke that the only reason she started going out with me was because of my name: Denny. We didn’t have much in common aside from our mutual enjoyment of getting loaded, sleeping and screwing - usually in that order of frequency. Sometimes, in looking back, I cringe thinking about my lifestyle in the mid-1980s. But in that era, and in that particular place, it all seemed perfectly normal.

A few months later we met an extremely attractive neighbor of ours, Tina, who lived in an apartment building on the corner. Tina, a young black woman possessing a hard and wiry body like an aerobics instructor, worked as a check-in clerk at a Hilton hotel close to the airport. She was tough minded except for having allowed abusive men to treat her like a doormat. But she, in turn, treated chumps like me like a doormat. She reminded me of one of those junior-high school she-devils who terrorizes all the boys.

Angie and Tina became fast friends after Tina began frequenting the Denny’s Restaurant where Angie worked, which was located right across the street from the Hilton. Soon Tina was visiting our home several times a week, playing cards with Angie and me for hours on end. I had no idea that Angie and Tina were playing much more than Hearts or Spades while I was working the swing shift.

Immediately captivated by Tina’s brash personality and exotic dark beauty, I developed a secret crush on her. I had never fantasized about another woman while making love to Angie, but now when I closed my eyes, l vividly pictured Tina’s bright, confident smile and smoothly muscled cocoa-brown body.

About a month after meeting Tina, my fantasies boiled over during a particularly intense sex session with Angie, and I hissed into her ear as she moaned at the approach of her climax: "How'd you like to watch me with Tina, huh? I bet she fucks like a beast. Would that be hot, huh?"

"You bastard!" she cried as her body trembled under my furious thrusts.

Immediately afterward, reality set in and I said, slightly embarrassed, “Um, I'm sorry, Angie. I just got a little carried away. You know I love you.” After a moment of silence, I said, “Hey, are you really mad at me? It’s just a dumb fantasy. Damn, I'm so stupid - ”

“I ain’t mad…” Her voice faded, like she was drifting off to sleep. But just as I was about to fall asleep, she jostled me and then haltingly said, “Uh, Denny, I was gonna tell you, but I thought, I thought you’d get pissed.”

“Huh? Tell me what?” I mumbled in confusion.

“Me and Tina. We, we’ve been together. Together in bed. I never thought I would get involved in something like that - ”

“Whoa. No shit?” Now I was wide awake. The thought of them naked together made my blood pressure rise in excitement, but then I started wondering why Angie would do such a thing in the first place. “Are you happy with me, Angie? Sex-wise, I mean.”

Holding me tightly, she laughed against my chest. “Sex-wise you are just fine, Den. Sometimes, I don’t even need to fake it.”

“You’re doing wonders for my ego.”

Sliding her slim right leg around my hip, she reached for my groin. “Are you serious about it? I mean about Tina. She doesn't show it but she's attracted to you. She joked around with me and said that we oughta make a sandwich out of you - HA!. You know how crazy she gets when she drinks, but maybe she wasn’t kidding.”

I laughed incredulously and said, “She really said that?”

“Heh-heh - you dirty boy, it’s turning you on.” Then she ducked under the covers and started sucking.

“Yeah...ah, yeah it is,” I sighed.

* * *

A few days later, after Angie informed Tina what I had suggested, Tina hinted to her that she would not mind it. Thus began our torrid three-way affair. I didn’t brag about it - or even mention it - to the few friends I had made since moving to the airport area. For one thing, I didn’t want sex-starved guys constantly hanging around trying to soak up the “surplus”, as it were, something I would have done had I been in their unfortunate shoes.

 Soon I heard a rumor from one of Tina's co-workers that the clean-living Tina was also going out with A.J. Davis, a local drug dealer . Davis was a familiar character in the neighborhood. I had seen him many times at the restaurant where Angie worked, and at the hotel bars near the airport, not far from home. Ever since Tina had brought him over to our place, one month ago, Davis began coming over regularly to make small talk and sell Angie trivial amounts of cocaine. Having my own drug "problem" with marijuana, I thought nothing of it at first. But I began to feel put-out because he then got presumptuous, dropping by the trailer unannounced late one night, interrupting a good fuck. Fortunately it wasn’t a total loss: after Angie got her coke from him and returned to bed with a snoot-full of nose candy, it was a great fuck.

* * *

November 1985, two months later:

Angie was intently snorting a line of coke in the living room when I came home from work one evening. Still in a lousy mood from a hectic day at the office, I flared-up at her: "Why do you still buy that garbage, Angie? You quit your damned job, so how the hell can you afford to - “

"I didn’t buy it. A.J. gave it to me, Denny," Angie said. "I can't afford it, that's for sure," she added in an feeble attempt to mollify me.

I said, "Don't encourage him to hang around anymore. I already told you that I don’t appreciate the dude coming over at odd hours, or when I'm not home.”

"Do you still remember what you told me when we met? That we don't own each other? Well, A.J. is my friend - I like him a lot.” Her voice sounded almost hopeful as she ventured to ask, ”You're actually jealous?"

"No. You should know me well enough by now.” But no matter how I tried to suppress it, I did feel a twinge of unjustified sexual jealousy. “It’s just that, how much do you really know about that dude, anyway? He's probably in a gang, like the Crips. Wait - Crips wear red. Or is it blue?"

Laughing at my ignorance, she then said, “I’m starting to think that you don’t like him just because he’s black.”

“That’s just stupid. Tina's black too, remember?” However, in the back of my mind, I felt insecure, thinking, “His cock is probably twice as big as mine”. “...I'm just tired of worrying that the police will kick-in the door whenever he shows up - he's a bust. So if you wanna snort that shit, do it somewhere else from now on.”

"And what about all that weed you smoke? It's illegal too - duh! You're being hypocritical, as usual. Do you get paranoid about the cops when Rick comes over to sell you weed?“

“It’s not the same thing - “

“Don't I have a fuckin' say about what I do here or who visits me? I pay half the rent on this place, y'know."

My annoyance quickly turned into petty cruelty: the thought occurred that Angie - now amongst the unemployed - was at my financial mercy, as I knew she hardly had two nickels to rub together. Then I began speaking without thinking. "Well, you can pay all of the rent, as far as I'm concerned. I make decent money - I can afford a much better place than this dump whenever I feel like it. I could even buy a house - "

She seemed unimpressed. "Oh phht - don’t bother! Anyway, I don’t believe you, because yer so cheap. And yer an asshole for threatening to move out because I don't have a job. Hell, I could be back at my old job tomorrow if I wanted to.” With false cheeriness, she dropped a bombshell on me, “Oh, and has Tina told you that she asked me to move in with her?”

I laughed at the idea. "Tina won’t put up with living with you for long. She ain't a druggie like us, and hell, she doesn’t even drink a lot. But at least you won't have to worry that she'll snort-up your stash. You know, I bet A.J. is already dealing dope out of her apartment when she's at work. He’s just a user, Angie. Guys like him'll take over your life every time."

“You’re trying to do the same damned thing! You pretend you’re a caring person, but actually you’re the most selfish person I ever met!" I owned most of Ayn Rand's books and naively tried to live up the Rand philosophy. To my disappointment, she had never shown an interest in reading them. She was more into the books of James Michener and Stephen King.

"Selfish? If you had been more selfish and took better care of yourself, you wouldn’t be reduced to couch-surfing now.”

“Up yours - I’m leaving!”

“Well, have a nice life, Angie. But if you end-up a coke whore living in the gutter, don't come begging to move back in."

Angry, red-faced Angie went for the jugular, spewing mindlessly, "You unfeeling phony! Sleazy pervert! Sick fuck! You need porn videos to get-off!"

Her words stung me like a wasp attack, but I managed to put up a last-ditch defense. “That was below the belt, especially considering the fact that you were watching them with me. Doesn’t that make you a sick fuck too?” Angie favorite porn video in my collection featured Johnny “The Human Tripod” Wilcox, whose nickname is self-explanatory. As Angie stormed out of the living room, I idly wondered if Ayn Rand had ever seen a pornographic film. Then I called after her: “Well, grab all your pathetic belongings and go, then! I’ll live like a fucking king with you gone!”

“King Shit, you mean!”

* * *

Having never been in a long-term relationship before, and not used to being separated from Angie for any extended time, I was unprepared for the pain I endured in her absence. To make matters worse, Tina sympathized with her, of course, so she was off-limits to me now as well, a situation that I, cursing myself, had not foreseen. The first few sleepless nights were filled with tortured fantasizes about Angie, Tina and A.J. Davis performing the raunchiest sex acts imaginable with each other. Finally, after two weeks of lonely boredom, I called Tina apartment and talked to Angie. After the tentative exchange of greetings, I found myself begging her to come home. To my utter surprise and relief, she began blubbering about how much she missed me.

Once we had kissed and made-up, life at home became more-or-less blissful again, particularly since Tina stayed overnight with us on occasion. I was also pleased that Angie had returned to her old waitress job, though it meant she would be indulging in cocaine more often than ever. My attitude about that, however, was ambivalent, as many of our friends and acquaintances used a various assortment of illegal drugs.

Late one night around Thanksgiving Day, Angie and I were relaxing in our bedroom, drinking cocktails. Looking for a good movie to watch, Angie rummaged through the stack of video tapes I had rented recently. She joked, “No new X-rated movies, Denny? Your old ones are so worn-out you can hardly tell what's going-on anymore, you've watched them so many times.”

“Yeah, right, blame all the voyeurism on me. But with you and Tina, I feel like I'm living in a porn movie, so why bother watching it anymore?”

In mock fury, she replied, “Oooh, so it wasn't until Tina got involved with us that you felt that way! You must not think I'm hot enough to make porn!” Then she affected a pouting disappointment

“Hey, don't start a fight right now. I feel too good. And don't be so down on yourself - you'd make a damned sexy-looking porn actress.”

“You'd better say that,” she replied while sliding Ghostbusters into the VCR. “Hey, Tina was telling me the other day that A.J just spent, like, five thousand bucks on video equipment. How much you wanna bet that he'll use it to make porn?”

“What else would he use it for? It's hard to imagine that thug earning a living making wedding videos.” I slowly shook my head. “Tsk - I can't believe that Tina's still going out with that dude. He treats her like shit, and she's definitely not the masochistic type. That's what I can't figure out.”

“Those two have a long history together. Can you keep a secret?”

“Yeah, but I don't think I wanna know what it is.”

“A.J. used to be her mom's boyfriend.”

“Whoa – that's way too much information.” Taking her by the hand and pulling her into bed, I said, “Let's drop the whole sordid subject and enjoy the movie - or something.”

“Yeah, lots of something.”

* * *

December 31, 1985 - early morning

Angie tried talking me into accompanying her to a New Year's Eve party at A.J.'s apartment. But I begged off, having a previous engagement to attend that evening's NBA game between the Seattle Sonics and Los Angeles Lakers. She had no interest in basketball whatsoever, and nagged, "Aw c'mon, Denny, it'll be fun. A.J. told me to tell you that you're invited, so there's no excuse for you to be unsociable this time."

"Bah - I'm not unsociable - he really invited me? I didn't think he even liked me.”

"Whatever gave you the idea that he doesn't like you?" Teasing me, she added, "Did I mention that Marta will be there too?" Marta Eichenburger was an appallingly sexy blonde German girl - age 16 - who lived in the apartment next door to Tina, and who was a casual friend of Angie’s. She was living in Seattle only because her father - a Lufthansa Airline pilot based in Frankfurt, Germany - was undergoing training on the new 767 airliner, at a Boeing facility north of town. Angie was amused by Marta's obvious attraction to me and by my subsequent awkward behavior every time she came near me.

After a moment of hesitation, I shook my head and said, “Naw, Angie, I’m going to the game. Some of my co-workers will be there too - that's sociable enough for me." I added in jest, as I departed for work then, “Have fun tonight but not too much.”

Angie didn't relate anything of particular interest to me about the party, other than that she and Tina had nearly come to blows during a drunken, screaming argument, the cause of which Angie couldn't remember. Seven days later, at around 6pm, I came home from work to an empty trailer - not an infrequent occurrence of late. A Post-it note stuck on the living room phone read: “Back soon xoxo”. Then I poured myself a double shot of rum and turned the TV on in the bedroom. Finding nothing of great import on the network news, I hit the power button on VCR, which then ejected a tape that Angie had neglected to remove from it. The handwritten label on the tape read: New Year's. Mildly curious, I shoved it back into the VCR and watched the remaining minutes of the goings-on from A.J.'s party.

Dozens of guests were crammed into his large, expensively furnished apartment, and many of them took the opportunity to act-out for the camera: boisterous young black men guzzling 40-ounce bottles of beer and flashing what appeared to be gang signs, intoxicated young women of various races displaying a naked thigh (such as Angie), or a boob, or (such as Tina and a gorgeous oriental chick) playfully tongue-kissing each other. The last example may explain what had precipitated the drunken fight between Angie and Tina that night.

After about 10 minutes, the tape seemingly ended, since the TV screen suddenly filled with static. But just before I was about the stop the tape, the picture on the screen slowly began to clear again, revealing a completely different recording. Evidently the party antics had been recorded-over the previous contents, although not over its entirety.

Now, a naked girl, her pale blonde hair obscuring her face, was sensuously swaying her lithe body in a room that looked vaguely familiar to me. I assumed this footage was just part a commercial porn video that A.J. had taped-over. That is, until the young lady turned and smiled beautifully for the camera. “Holy fuck - Marta!” I exclaimed in bewilderment. I also recognized A.J.'s distinctive baritone voice now giving her direction in the background.

I will refrain from describing the acts which this 16-year old performed with the two adult men who entered the picture a minute later. Suffice it to say that the recording certainly qualified as being child pornography (ironically, although it is legal in most states to have sexual relations with a 16-year old, it is very much illegal to photograph, film, or videotape it). Before I could recover from the shock of seeing all that, a different sex scene began. In the same room, the same two men who had been screwing Marta were now naked in bed with two other girls, who didn't appear to be a day over 15. When the illicit action began to get X-rated, the tape abruptly ended and began to rewind.

A surreal feeling came over me, as if I had merely imagined what I just saw. Then I watched the sex segments again, not from prurient interest but to try to identify the location where they had taken place. Upon viewing it again, it struck me: it was videotaped in a room at a Hilton Hotel, perhaps the same hotel where Tina was employed. Being the lead night-shift desk clerk, she had once given me an informal tour of the hotel, not long after we first met.

What the hell am I gonna do NOW – Christ! I debated with myself what should be done with the tape, whether I should ignore it, destroy it, hide it, give it to the police or what have you. I couldn't decide what to do with it as yet, being hesitant of going to the police for fear of retribution from whichever street gang A.J. was affiliated with. Because of that distinct possibility, I would keep everything secret for the time being, even from Angie. One thing I could do, and as soon as possible, was to inform Marta's parents about their daughter's ill-advised relationship with a known cocaine dealer/aspiring porn producer. Then I got the idea of taping a copy of the offending video footage. This I easily accomplished, before Angie came home, by cabling both of my VCRs together. Twenty minutes later I stashed the copy in the tool box in the trunk of my car. If I ever had a run-in with A.J. or his gang pals, I figured I could turn it over to the police - A.J. had made the mistake of showing his face on camera

After Angie returned that evening, I casually mentioned viewing the party tape. She replied, “Good, I need to give it back to Tina tomorrow. She borrowed it from A.J.. So, what did you think of the party? Sorry you missed it now?”

“Not really. I hate parties where I hardly know anybody. And some of those guys I saw there, I wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley.”

“For gawd's sake, Denny, you can be so paranoid sometimes. It was fun - I didn't have any problems with anyone.”

“All the same, I don't want you going over there anymore.”

Starting to get irritated with me, she brusquely replied, “Oh don't worry about it - I didn't plan on going back!”

Next morning, after Angie had left for her shift at Denny's Restaurant, I looked through her address book in order to get Marta's phone number, but I didn't see it there. Nor did I find a likely “Eichenburger” listed in the local phone book. A 4-1-1 phone call inquiring on new listings under that name turned up nothing as well. I did know their home address, though, as they lived in the apartment next door to Tina. So I typed an anonymous letter to Marta's father, in which I revealed just enough about his daughter's activities with A.J. to rouse his paternal anger, as well as giving him A.J.'s general description and his full name: Anthony J. Davis. To ensure that he read it, I made the business-size envelope look as official as possible, typing a real return address of The Boeing Company, though using a fictitious contact name: “Mr Harold B. Katz, Airline Personnel Training Liaison”.

Five days after I mailed the letter, Angie informed me, “Well, Den, your little girlfriend is gone.”

“What are you talking about?”

You know - Marta. Her folks sent her back to Germany. Are you heartbroken?”

I was swept with a sense of relief. “Merely devastated. But I'll get over it, eventually.”

“She really had a mad crush on you. Hey, Tina's expecting us for dinner tonight, you know.”

An hour later we walked to Tina's apartment. After dinner, Tina showed me some new wrestling holds she had learned from her step-brother years ago. I secretly enjoyed getting her angry at me and listening to her insulting responses, so, as we stood face-to-face and grappled with our hands and feet, I told Tina: “I know what you’re thinking, Amazon. You think you can knock me out, huh. Don’t even try it. You’ve haven’t seen my bad side yet, which is the only side I ever see of you.

“Yer yellow, Hercules - I can see it in yer eyes.”

“My God! I got hepatitis!”

Shaking her head, Tina laughed, “Damned fool!” While she was thus distracted, I twisted her left hand around behind her back in a wristlock.

“You taught me well, Amazon.” My stiffening cock was tight against her shapely, muscular ass.

“I’m gonna kill ya for sneakin’ up on me like that!” Before I knew what happened, she had reversed the wristlock. The doorbell rang just then, so Tina released the hold and then hip-tossed me to the orange shag carpet as if I were a sack of potatoes, melting my erection. "Take five, Hercules," Tina breezily said, striding to the front door while I rubbed my sore tailbone.

A.J. Davis strolled through the doorway and acknowledge Angie and me with a casual wave. He was a stocky black man in his early thirties, dressed in a pastel green shirt and white sport coat, looking like a villain on Miami Vice. He and Tina huddled near the door. I overheard Davis asking her, "You seen Marta today? When I called her place, her mama hung up on me."

"She went back to Germany," Tina said.

Davis sneered, "You're a damned liar, she said she ain't leavin’ till next month!"

“What’s up? You hung-up on a 16-year old? What are ya, some kinda child molester?”

"Aw fuck-off, bitch." Evidently upset that his beautiful Teutonic Ice Princess had fled the country, Davis stormed out of the apartment, rapped on the Eichenberger's door, and then he called out, "Marta! Hey, Marta!"

Running after him, Tina angrily shouted, "Hey, what're ya doin', you dumb muthafucka!"

I peeked outside. Then the Eichenburger's front door opened. Marta's father was wielding a golf club as he came out on the landing. “Is your name Anthony?”

A.J. gave him a friendly grin. “Yes sir.”

“Filthy svinehoont! This instant the polizei I am calling- you shtupped my Marta!" .

"Yo, dad, watch what yer doin' with that putter!" A second later, Mr E’s putter connected with Davis' right kneecap. He howled, "RAH! You cocksucka!" Retreating in pain, Davis limped/skipped to the parking lot. “Big mistake, dad! Big mistake!” he hollered from a safe distance.

A short time later, a Prince County Deputy Sheriff knocked on the Eichenburger's door as Angie and I left Tina's place, but I played dumb with the cop, since I wasn't keen to explain to my involvement with Marta, not with her father standing right there - he probably would have knee-capped me, too.

Copyright 2014 by K.D. Bishop