Saturday, December 06, 2014

Aphrodite Shuddered - Chapter 6



Chapter 6
Computer Game

Late-April 1986
The illegal sex video I had turned-over to Detective Jameson began an investigation which now appeared to have pried open a large can of criminal worms. Evidence gathered during a police raid of a BWM gang stash-house, two months later, quickly led to subsequent raids of other properties in the Seattle area. While searching those gang-financed apartments and houses, police found residing in one house additional Chinese girls, some of them underage - none spoke more than a few words of English and all were undocumented. Arrested at the scene were two adult women, who were, curiously enough, Chinese-Canadians from the Vancouver, British Columbia area. Both were now sitting in Prince County Jail, charged with conspiracy to promote prostitution. That same day at yet another gang property, several runaway/homeless teen girls, presumably American citizens, were placed under protective custody. All this was a triumph for Sheriff Nuttingham and his hitherto demoralized deputies, since the flurry of publicity from these stunning arrests had pushed the unwelcome Grand Jury-probe out of the headlines. I could only laugh ruefully upon the realization that my uncharacteristic act of good citizenship had probably helped to ensure Nuttingham's re-election come November.

Within days of that police operation (coincidentally or not), US Customs and the US Department of Immigration conducted surprise inspections at container facilities located at seaports all along the West Coast. To the surprise of absolutely no-one, Customs officials at the Port of Seattle had seized scores of kilos of China White which were hidden inside counterfeit merchandise. Of greater interest was what had been found on cargo ships moored at the California ports of Long Beach and Oakland: The Feds had discovered nearly 100 Chinese citizens who had fled crushing rural poverty only to sell themselves into lives of indentured servitude in the United States - all for the chance for a better life in the distant future. They all had been found crammed inside 40-foot containers, having survived (or died) in horrid living conditions during their interminable voyage from Hong Kong.

* * *
While the public and the news media were in an uproar about the cruelty of human trafficking, I received the not unexpected bad news: My position at Xeno was to be eliminated along with 300 others, effective June 1st, in six weeks. I felt sorrier for my affected co-workers than I did for myself, though, since I had a good chunk of money in the bank - thanks to my parsimonious habits. So what the hell am I gonna do now? It was cold comfort knowing I could always accept the as-yet unspecified job offered through MJ Recruiters - a job I would never be allowed to discuss with anyone.

A few days after the ax fell, Joey, a young computer programmer, visited my cubicle. He too was losing his job. Joey, who was well-paid but usually flat broke, was always regaling coworkers with pie-in-the-sky money-making schemes. "Denny! How's it hangin'? Hey, have you heard? Herb, myself, and some other friends are starting a business. Herb thinks it can't miss."

Busily editing a new technical manual, I muttered distractedly, "What is it this time, Joey - Amway distributorships?"

He waved his pudgy hands at me. "No wait man - this is for real! We're gonna start an online service provider like Compuserve and Prodigy - hell, why slave for a corporation when we can do the exact same thing for ourselves. This damned lay-off kinda threw a monkey wrench into our plans, though."

I stopped typing and said, "Let me guess - you don't have enough money to get it off the ground, right?" I tried to conceal my interest but it wasn't easy.

"Heh-heh - you're a real psychic, Denny. Seriously, though, I was wondering if you'd like to invest 5,000-dollars in our start-up company.”

"You software developers make tons of bucks, compared to me. Doesn't Herb have five grand? I thought he was loaded."

"You know how it is. Everybody's still in a state of shock - and mortgaged to the rafters, of course. Shit, I had to trade-in my fuckin' Jag XJ to scrape up a few more thousand for the business - we're calling it ServerComp, by the way. The thing is, Denny, that I need the five grand soon so I can close a deal on some office space. The school district used it as a data center, but it's up for lease."

"Why is it so important to use that place for an office? Hell, run the business out of your garage like Milt Gaines and Steve Workman did, back in the seventies." Gaines and Workman were the co-founders of the rapidly expanding Microno Software Corporation based in Redmond, Washington.

"It's kinda technical to explain it in the King's English you use to write those tech manuals of yours, but that building is already wired with a T3 data connection, which means that a helluva lot of remote users can be logged-in at the time time through a single phone line. It's not cheap to set-up something like that from scratch. Now, if we don't get it together in a hurry, the dollars just don't add up. But if I can swing that lease by the end of the month, we could eventually expand the data network capacity to thousands of connections simultaneously!"

"Hmm, no kidding. That reminds me of when I was in the military, when I worked with a big government computer network called ARAPNET."

Joey's hands clapped together resoundingly. "Exactly! But now it's called the In-ter-net - like in that movie, War Games."

"I never did get around to seeing that movie," I said idly, suddenly feeling five years behind the times - my job skills obsolete at the ripe age of 27.

Joey continued, "Anyway, you can send data all over the country or play computer games - tap into university research material, even. Ron Oldham down in Experimental Research told me that in a few years anyone will be able to send and receive video and audio anywhere in the world with a PC and modem. By the way, Ron's one of the investors. He gave me and Herb the idea for the business, in fact. He runs an online message board and chat room as a hobby."
 
"Well let me think about it for a day or two. I know it's only five grand, but I'll be out on my ass in a few weeks, so - "

Joey's beady eyes suddenly looked desperate. "If you invest now, you'll get a 10 percent share of the business. My lawyer can set it up. Here, let me give you his card."

I asked, "How much capital have you raised?"

"About 50 grand of working capital, and we already have most of the hardware. We're gonna network PCs in such a way that they function like one big computer."

After making the rounds in the office and speaking with several co-workers who were investing in ServerComp, I decided to take the plunge. The start-up's investors - the ones who had not received a termination notice - were programmers and systems analysts, mostly single people with disposable income, so I thought they might stand a chance. At the end of the day, I peeked over the wall of Joey's cubicle: "All right, Joey, it's a deal. Five grand for 10 percent." We shook hands. "I've been meaning to get in on the money-making end of the computer racket anyway." After work that day, at the office of Joey's lawyer, I signed papers and handed over a $5,000 personal check. I now owned 10 shares of currently worthless preferred stock in ServerComp, LLC.

Next day, I accepted an invitation to a party taking place this coming Saturday night, at a condo shared by Sharon and Amy, attractive young Admin Assistants whose cubicles abutted mine. Amy joked that the party was in celebration of the fact that she had managed to hang onto her job. From what she had told me on a previous occasion, Sharon's father was well-to-do, paying most of his daughter's living expenses, and that she herself paid merely a token rent to Sharon.
 
Later, I asked Tina to accompany Angie and me to the party, and she agreed. On Saturday afternoon, she asked me. How many women will be there?"

"I don't know - probably a lot," I replied.

"In that case, I'll dress nice."

One hour before the party: Angie was dressed in her heavy-metal uniform: feathered blonde hair, black spandex halter and pants, black spike heels. A leopard-print mini-dress clung to Tina's curves. I took one look at her and playfully suggested, "Amazon, I think we should skip the party." I tickled her ribcage and she slapped my hand away.

"Forget-choo, mister. I ain't spendin' a Saturday night all bored out of my skull." On the way to the party, she grumbled, "Ten bucks says I'll be the only Negro in the joint."

Sharon's twentieth-floor condo offered a superb view of the sinuous, 20-mile long Lake Washington and of the cold, monolithic Seattle skyline. As it turned out, I should have taken Tina's bet: At the party were Oscar and Merlin, two black men who worked in Xeno's Information Services Department. Unfortunately for Tina they were every bit as nerdy as white dudes such as I, and they constantly talked about computers, a tedious topic for party conversation. Merlin, who was a fellow ServerComp investor, was lucky enough to have retained his programmer job at Xeno. Tina, as the only black woman in attendance, tried flirting with Oscar and Merlin but quickly became disillusioned and wandered away from them. I then overheard snippets of Oscar lecturing to a circle of acquaintances: "System architecture...HTML...digital blah blah network..."

I was flabbergasted to see software mogul Milt Gaines arriving at the party. Later, when I asked Sharon how he happened to be here, she informed me that her father was an early investor of Gaines' Microno Software, and from that relationship she and Gaines had become friends.

Joey showed up at the party, and I said to him: "Joey, you're a hard one to get a hold of - "

"Hey, Big Guy - hang on, I'll be right back. I need to talk to somebody...Mister Gaines, what a pleasure..."

Joey struck up a long conversation with Gaines, and afterward he walked back to me to say: "Great news, Denny! I just sold Gaines a two-and-a-half percent share for 30 grand! Man, things are falling right into place now! The value of our stock's just about doubled - See? I ain't ripping you off, buddy!"

Soon, Gaines waved goodbye to Sharon and departed. I grabbed Angie by the shoulders. "Ange, I'm in business with Milt Gaines!"

"Who's he, Den?"

Tina walked over to us. "Was that that Gaines guy? He's one rich muthafucka."

"Yeah, and he just invested in our company. I just made a several thousand bucks – on paper, that is."

"I love you, Herc," Tina joked.

By 1am the party had loosened up. As Led Zeppelin shook the living room walls, Sharon and others were snorting and smoking cocaine in her bedroom. Sexy Sharon was wearing a short, pink negligee and a long, see-through robe. The fun was spoiled by a cop who called upstairs on the intercom and ordered us to turn the music down. Then most of the guests started going home.

By 2am only a handful of guests remained. Amorous Angie rubbed her spandex on me. "Angie, knock it off - you wanna start something?" I glanced into the bedroom, where Sharon and Merlin were kissing each other deeply while rolling around in bed.

Tina had been sleeping in a chair since she had drunk six Michelobs in the past four hours. I shook her shoulder and said, "Amazon, wake up. We oughta leave soon."

"Hercules, maybe I do love ya, ha-ha," she said with a giggle, and then nodded out again.

Angie's hands were roaming my chest. I hissed, "Sweetheart, I think you're inciting an orgy." Amy and her neighbor, Ed, were getting cozy, whispering and touching hands.

After grappling with Angie on the carpet for a few minutes, I realized that my lips and tongue were getting numb. Angie hadn't used cocaine in weeks (to my knowledge), so I didn't think it was such a big deal. I smacked my tingling lips and said, "Now I know why you're so fwisky - I mean, frisky"

"Aw, Den, it's a party."

"I think the party's over. It sure got quiet all of a sudden." Amy and Ed had disappeared, so I got up and looked into Sharon's room. "Good night - oops." She was now puffing on Merlin's rigid penis. Angie snuck up behind me and goosed my rear. "Wait til we get home, Angie, please!"

I finally roused Tina. Pulling her arms, I groused, "Get up - we're going home to bed! You're in no condition for an orgy, are you. Tsk-tsk - must be getting old." With Tina draped over my shoulder, I carried her to the car.

After getting home at 3am, a bleary-eyed Tina sat down on the sofa and proceeded to keel over into unconsciousness. Angie chortled, "Heh-heh – I gotcha all to myself tonight, Denny!"

Removing Tina's shoes, I said, "Now Angie, you know what happens when you're this loaded - you'll fall asleep in ten minutes."

Angie stuck out her little ass and slowly peeled down her tight, black spandex capris. "I wanna fuck," she purred like Lauren Bacall, her eyes half-lidded.

"Well, I'll race you to bed, then." She was virtually naked when she skipped past me.

Angie sprang into bed and, on all fours, sensuously swiveled her slim hips. "Not bad for 24, huh."

"Nice ass, baby," I hissed lecherously while dropping my pants.

Between kisses on my chest, she sighed, "I-love-you-I-love-you-O-Den-do-you-love-me?"

"Gawd, I love you Angie."

Now she was kissing my stomach and throttling my rod. "Den, do you love me as much as you love Tina?"
I sighed in exasperation. "You are stoned. Angie, you fell in love with her before I ever did, remember? I love you, sweetie. Now shut-up and keep...doing...that.


Copyright 2014 by K.D. Bishop 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Aphrodite Shuddered - Chapter 5



Chapter 5
Dirty Laundry

The headline on the front page of Saturday's Seattle Post-Impressionist:
Suspect's Uzi Linked to Shooting of Prince County Child
This being an election year, I presumed that the local sheriff breathed easier upon learning the results of the ballistics comparison of the dead suspect's Uzi against the spent slugs and shells recovered at the scene of the drive-by shooting. In the midst of the Grand Jury's police-corruption probe, the last thing the Sheriff's Office needed right now was another public relations crisis. However, in this particular instance of Black-Man-Killed-By-Cop, few citizens expressed concern over the elimination of a thug who put a little girl's life in jeopardy, even as the evidence proved that he had not fired shots at the deputies.

* * *
For the next three weeks, Angie and I stayed at less costly temporary lodgings, at a tolerable motel near downtown Seattle, far from the criminal iniquity of the Sea-Tac Airport area. I had asked Tina to join us there, but again she flatly refused, on this occasion citing the reason that she had no intention of - quoting her exactly - “sleepin' on crusty cum-stained motel sheets.” I could only assume that Hilton was very scrupulous in cleaning its linen.

While living at the motel, we devoted our time to hunting for a house or apartment to replace our trashed-out mobile home, to which I had made only a single furtive visit in the early morning in order to board-up the broken windows and grab personal belongings. Our funky old second-hand furniture could be hauled to the city dump, as far as I was concerned.

On Sunday afternoon, less than 48 hours after the dreadful excitement of the drive-by shooting(s), my work week commenced. I was one of the few employees working that day at the 15-story Xeno Building. After loading the company's Unisys mainframe with enough programs and computer tapes to keep it running virtually unattended for hours, I was able to catch-up with my phone messages. Aside from the usual pleas from computer users for technical support, there was a message was from a representative of MJ Recruiters, an employment agency (ostensibly), which had been trying to recruit me, on and off, for the past six years, ever since my military discharge from the United States Air Force in 1980. They had an uncanny knack of knowing whenever I was considering changing jobs or about to get laid-off. Seemingly not by coincidence, it wasn't going to be long before I found out whether my position at Xeno would be cut. If the past was any indication, getting contacted by those “headhunters” at this time made my upcoming unemployment almost a certainty.

MJ Recruiters must have been acting as a front for US intelligence agencies (ultimately for the CIA), since little else could explain their keen, long-term interest in me. There was nothing special about me, except that while working as a low-level analyst in Air Force Intelligence, I had been allowed access to extremely sensitive classified information, referred-to as “ESI”. Having once possessed a security clearance with ESI access made me a convenient, ready-made candidate for employment within the intelligence community. In spy agency jargon, I was considered “pre-vetted'. But because they didn't offer much more money than I could make on the outside, I had always politely rebuffed their persistent recruiting efforts. Furthermore, I had grown weary of the melodramatically secretive and somewhat depressing way of life which goes hand-in-hand with intelligence work. That's why I had decided to leave the Air Force in the first place, despite being offered a lucrative bonus to re-enlist.

* * *
After work that night, Angie and I managed to catch this report on the late local news on TV: “...The man killed by Prince County deputies last Friday has been identified as 22-year old Gary Matthew Edwards, who, according to officers in the sheriff's Gang Unit, had ties to a local street gang called the BWMs. Edwards had previous run-ins with the law...”

When an old police mug shot of Edwards appeared on-sceen, Angie let out a gasp. “Oh my God, I've seen him somewhere before, Den!”

“How could you? You're joking, right?” But for some reason, the longer I viewed the photo, the more familiar he appeared to me, as well.

Flapping her dainty hands in excitement, she said, “No, no, wait-a-minute, where did I see him at? Oh yeah, at the New Year's party at A.J.'s apartment! Everybody there called him 'G'.”

I exhaled heavily. “Well, that only confirms what I already suspected.” Having said that, it suddenly struck me: “G” was one of the two men I had seen balling Marta and the other young chicks to a fare-thee-well on the video tape.

Before going at work on Monday, I called Detective Jameson from a pay phone. I had already decided against accusing him of having an information leak in his office. Because if that happened to be true, there was no sense in making wild accusations and possibly face retribution from corrupt cops. Now that we had moved away, and with Edwards dead and A.J. on the run, I would leave bad-enough alone. So rather than shooting my mouth off, I merely gave Jameson new information pertaining to the sex video: that Gary Matthew Edwards was one of the three men in the video. Jameson replied, “Really? The same Edwards those deputies just put on a slab? Hang-on a second, Denny.” He then punched-up Edwards' mug shot onto his computer screen. “I'll be damned, it sure looks like him. I'll have to take another look at that tape.”

“On the news they reported that Edwards was in the BWMs, and I know that Davis is, so maybe the other guy on the tape is too.”

He wasn't overly impressed by my powers of inductive reasoning : “It's a lead, at any rate.” Then he abruptly shifted gears, as if to catch me with my guard down: “Denny, why didn't you tell me that you witnessed that drive-by shooting of the kid? I'm looking at the incident report right now, which includes your field interview with Sergeant Kronwall of the Gang Unit. Kronwall writes, 'Witness SMITH, DENTON T advised that he believed he was targeted by perp, possible suspect DAVIS, ANTHONY J and/or unknown BWM gang associates'.” Then Jameson admonished, “This is a big county, Denny, and we can't be everywhere simultaneously. Had you told me right away, Davis might be behind bars right now.” And if I had told him right away, I could have received police protection, thus sparing myself from Davis' subsequent attempt on my life, I might have added - but didn't.

Instead I hesitantly said, “Well, I wasn't sure if I could trust you guys anymore, to be honest. I never had to worry about fuckers shooting at me until I gave you that sex tape.”

Skeptically - or so it sounded to me - he replied, “Next thing you'll be telling me is that we got a BWM spy working in this office.”

“Hey, you didn't hear that from me. Listen, if the County Prosecutor wants me to testify against Davis someday, I have no problem with that. But until then, I'm keeping my mouth zipped.”

* * *
April 3, 1986
The day after Angie and I had moved into our new apartment, the law finally caught-up with Davis. His arrest set in motion a chain of events which would eventually expose a criminal network far more extensive than I could imagine at the time.

Here's the gist of the story of his arrest and the immediate aftermath: In the month since I had last spoken to Jameson, the sheriff's Vice Squad, in conjunction with the Gang Unit, obtained court orders authorizing the monitoring of the home phones of Davis' associates in the BWM gang. After two weeks of electronic and physical surveillance, the cops traced him to a BWM stash-house located in a quiet, upscale suburban neighborhood. In addition to collaring Davis and two of his gang cohorts, the Sheriff's Office had seized several kilos of a new type of smoke-able cocaine called “crack”, a kilo of pure China White heroin and a large amount of cash. But what garnered the most media attention was what had been discovered in a bedroom and in the garage. In one bedroom they had come across two underage Asian females, Chinese citizens who had been smuggled into the US, probably hidden inside shipping containers . And inside the attached garage was what was alleged to be a makeshift video studio. As a result, dozens of video tapes were also seized, to be closely examined for suspected child porn content. Davis, who was considered a high flight-risk, had been denied bail and would remain in Prince County Jail indefinitely.

That night, during a brief press conference which was broadcast live on local TV, beleaguered Sheriff Pat Nuttingham beamed with pride as he laid-out in sordid detail the allegations which I have just described. By the time he was finished, his arms must have gotten sore from patting himself on the back. 

Copyright 2014 by K.D. Bishop 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mayor Grants Pardon to Soy-bean Product

In a display of compassion to the Plant Kingdom (or perhaps cynical political pandering to vegan voters?), Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has granted a pardon to a mass of tofu molded in the form of a Thanksgiving turkey. His act of mercy parallels the traditional Thanksgiving Presidential Pardon of an actual turkey, aside from the fact that a "tofurkey" is already dead. Beyond the silliness, though, the purpose of the "pardon" was to publicize a holiday food drive for local food banks. We only hope that the food banks don't give tofurkeys to the hungry!...Only in Seattle!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Aphrodite Shuddered - Chapter 4


Chapter 4
Hotel No-Tell


Seconds later:
The police vehicles surrounding the Monte Carlo had caused such a massive traffic snarl that I had little to fear at this time from A.J., whose car was stuck at least two blocks behind mine. Moreover, obstacles such as trees and a Metro bus shelter prevented him from copying my desperate act of driving on the sidewalk. Nevertheless, I kept a vigilant watch in the rear-view mirrors.

Finally turning the corner onto International Boulevard, I noticed the Monte Carlo's wire wheels, which caused a shudder of recognition as I relived the terror of the drive-by shooting outside Laverne's apartment. Then I wondered why a blue tarp covered the driver's side of the car - until the sight of the Medical Examiner's van answered my question. I obtained grim satisfaction from that, tinged with guilt because I was glad he was dead.

The moment my car cleared the long line of emergency vehicles, I floored the accelerator and wasted no time in covering the last half-mile to the Hilton. While parked behind four cars that were waiting for valet service at the hotel's front entrance, I frantically shoved the shotgun back inside the duffel bag, which I then I tossed into the trunk.

When I got to the front of the line, the middle-aged parking valet looked askance at my 1969 Camero with its spiderweb of cracks in the windshield. Getting behind the wheel, he looked through the windshield - or attempted to - and observed, “You must have a hard time seeing anything at night.”

Slightly embarrassed, I muttered, “Had a little accident just now.” I took out my wallet and asked, “Say, do you know Tina at the front desk?”

His eyes said “yes” but his reply was a non-committal hemming-and-hawing: “Ahhh, well, you know. I'm not supposed to give-out information about the staff or our guests.”

I handed him a 20-dollar bill and said, “That's okay - I'm not looking for information. Would you just let her know if you see a green, late-model BMW pull up? That'll be her crazy ex-boyfriend, and she wants nothing to do with him anymore. He's about 35, black - ”

“Oh yeah, I think I know the guy you're talking about. Do you mean A.J.?” Astonished by his reply, I nodded vigorously and slipped him another 20. His mood brightening, he said with a sly wink, “Unlike yourself, he's a real lousy tipper. I'll call the desk if I see him.” Entering the clinically sterile lobby, I idly wondered how often A.J. had come here in the past, being that the valet had recalled him so readily.

Seeing the weekend hustle and bustle of the lobby, I came to the conclusion that Tina was as safe here as most anywhere else. When I got to the front desk, Tina looked me over and said, “You look like hell, Herc. What happened to your homely face? Did Angie claw you or somethin'?”

Not wanting to distract her from her hectic job, I merely replied, “No, it's nothing, really. Hey, I told one of the valets to let you know if A.J. shows up here.”

“We already got it covered, Herc. Hotel security'll call the cops if they see 'is ass.”

“Great - then I just paid that parking lot scammer 40 bucks for basically nothing. So, how much is this luxurious penthouse suite gonna set me back?”

Abruptly shifting to her smoothly officious mode, she replied, “Sir, since you don't have a reservation, I'm afraid the penthouse suites are unavailable tonight. However, we do have a nice room on the 10th-floor, with a spectacular view of the Sea-Tac control tower - 179-dollars, double occupancy.”

I flopped a credit card down on the counter and grumbled, “Now I know we'll only be staying here for one night.”

“Live a little for a change, Herc.”

“After all the shit that went down today, I'm glad to be living period.

Angie, who had been caught in the same traffic jam as I, then came into the lobby. She and I then went up to our room. After getting off the crowded elevator, I told her what had just happened to me. “A.J. just tried to kill me, Angie - on the way here.” Now all the built-up fear and stress began pouring out, making my hands and knees tremble all over again as I fumbled with the room key. “Today's been fucking nuts - I wish we were a thousand miles away from here!”

Right after entering the room, I dropped to the bed in exhaustion. Rubbing my closed eyes, I then felt Angie cuddle-up next to me. “Denny, you're shaking.” She put an arm around my chest. “It's okay honey, everything will work out - it always does.”

“I tried to do the right thing for once in my life, Angie, and look what happened. That little girl could die, thanks to me,“ I groaned.

She hugged me tighter. “Come on, Denny, you know it's not your fault.”

“I was so na├»ve, going to the cops. I should have known better, considering how they let this area turn into a fucking hell hole since we moved here. Have you watched the news or read the paper lately? From what I've seen, the Sheriff's Department is the biggest criminal gang in the county.”

“Do you think that vice cop told A.J. that you gave him information?”

“Jameson? I thought he did, at first. But it could just as well have been a civilian employee in the department with ties to A.J.'s gang - a file clerk, secretary, whoever.”

“You mean, like, a girlfriend or relative?”

Drowsily I replied, “Yeah.” The radiating warmth of Angie's petit body was very comforting and reassuring, so with a sigh, I immediately dropped-off to sleep. About an hour later, the explosive brrrapp! rat-a-tat-tat! of automatic-weapons fire awakened me with an adrenaline-charged jolt. “What the fuck!” But it was merely the movie Rambo: First Blood Part Two on television, at full volume.

“Oh, Den, I'm sorry! I just turned it on - I didn't realize it would be so loud.”

I stretched my arms and said with a yawn, “That's all right - I feel a lot better now.” I then walked out onto the balcony for a minute for some fresh air. Going back inside, I stopped short, staring at the room and its contents in disbelief.

After about 30 seconds of my standing unblinkingly like a statue, Angie sat up in bed and asked, “Is there anything wrong, Den?”

“No, I'm just admiring the place - nice, huh.”

She reclined again and said, “Hell yes. And I love this giant bed, like floating on a cloud.”

Viewing the room from this angle, I was struck by the fact that it looked much like the one where A.J. had made the sex tape with Marta and two other underage girls, right down to the framed lithographed watercolor of Mount Fuji. Of course, it probably wasn't the exact room. It chilled me to consider the possibility that Tina had been on duty when A.J. had somehow smuggled the three girls upstairs. The tall, willowy, sophisticated Marta could effortlessly pass for 21, thus she might have accompanied the other two girls in the hotel without drawing undue attention from the busy staff or from the hundreds of guests. Although his turning a hotel room into an impromptu child porn studio was very risky, legally speaking, utilizing any other location (such as an apartment) would have been just as risky, or nearly so. Whichever way you slice it, sexual predators are not known for having a brilliant decision-making ability.

As Rambo machine-gunned another dozen Vietnamese soldiers, I grabbed the TV remote, muttering, “I'm not really in the mood for this right now.” I clicked through the channels until my attention was seized by a reporter standing in front of a multitude of flashing red and blue lights. An on-screen graphic read: Live from Sea-Tac. I exclaimed, “Angie, look! This is about that car they pulled-over right down the street. They might even be the same scumbags who shot that girl and destroyed our fucking house!”

The reporter was saying: “...I'm standing at the intersection of South 188th Street and International Boulevard, where a suspect in this afternoon's shooting of an 8-year old girl was allegedly shot and killed by Prince County deputies during a traffic stop. The Sheriff's Public Affairs Officer is here with me - Sergeant Flaherty, were any weapons fired by the suspect, or found in the car?”

Flaherty relied, “Yes, deputies discovered an Uzi-type weapon with a 30-round clip on the front seat.”

“Is there evidence that the suspect fired at police officers?”

“That information is being withheld pending the completion of the crime scene investigators' report.”

“How many officers were involved?”

“There were two officers who discharged their weapons. As of now, they both have been placed on administrative leave.”
 
While watching the rest of the largely uninformative interview, I thought again about the question I had first asked myself two hours ago: did the sheriff's deputies kill the guy in order to silence him? Since he had royally fucked-up by shooting a child, he was now expendable - or so I imagined. One thing was certain: if he had possessed first-hand knowledge about corruption in the Sheriff's Office, he conveniently was no longer in a position to trade that information in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Copyright 2014 by K.D. Bishop

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.”

“Tampons!”

“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