Chapter Twenty One IV
The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on.
It is never any use to oneself.
The video isn’t bad technically. Not professional, but adequate for home entertainment. The lighting is good, the guy pretty and muscular, shaved and smooth. The description of the girl Vanessa gave is spot on. In her tiny schoolgirl skirt, knee socks and white shirt, porn traditional, she looks fifteen, petite, blond and cute.
Nikko and I wait while Vanessa and Janah watch a few selected clips. If Vanessa felt any embarrassment the first day, she doesn’t show it today. She shows scenes she particularly likes, enjoying the humiliation of letting someone see it.
Vanessa whispers to Janah, “I discovered I really liked doing the girl, and her punishment. I guess that’s weird given the circumstances, but there it is.”
“It’s not weird. Except for the blackmail, it’s adults playing.”
“She showed me a driver’s license, she was eighteen, just, but eighteen. I’d never done anything with a woman, well, what we called practice kissing as a kid. Nothing more intimate. I surprised myself, it was engagingly erotic.”
Janah, “I’ve found that to be the case. I’ve never had sex with a man, it doesn’t appeal.”
“That I didn’t know. You and your friends are not the image I have of lesbian.”
“Butch is fine, girls ought to do what they like, it’s not our style. We like the girl part.”
“I discovered, at fifty, I like the girl part too.”
Janah, “Daphne is the tech, she needs to get stills off your video. You won’t be one of them.”
Vanessa hesitates, then, “You need their photos, can’t be helped.”
Back at the apartment, we study the stills I’d taken, head shots of the guy and girl.
Janah, “Any ideas?”
“I’m getting a schoolgirl costume for Nikko. We can play slutty teen.”
Janah giggles, “We do that all the time without costumes.”
“You played one with Demetrius. Kind of enjoyed it as I recall.”
“Oh well, I am what I am. Vanessa is a willing submissive, and the girl played her part to the hilt, teasing, making Vanessa do the most interesting things. Reminds me of something.”
She looks at Nikko, who says, “I don’t have to act.”
Janah grins, “And you are what you are.”
I whisper in Nikko’s ear, “And that’s the best possible thing to be.”
Janah, “Vanessa is in lovely shape, she could pass for northern thirties. Amazing what a regular exercise schedule and nutrition can do. She’s had minor cosmetic work, but that lean body is a consequence of good genetics and exercise. She didn’t do anything but have fantasy fun. Shame some dork has to try and capitalize on it. She paid them well enough, he could have left that well enough alone. Now he gets to deal with us.”
“You don’t think the girl is part of the blackmail?”
“My guess is no, but it’s only a guess. She never contacted Vanessa, only him. We’ll find out.”
Nikko, “We going to play rough?”
Janah, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Now that someone is on to him, he may fold with a talking to. We need to go carefully, there’s no way with today’s technology to be assured he doesn’t keep a copy someplace. I have to think of a way to make it too risky for him to use it. I’d rather not have to bludgeon him into an agreement.”
“Good luck with that.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Janah sends the photos to Mrs. Epstein, gave her the names Vanessa knew them as. She didn’t tell Mrs. Epstein why she wanted to know, likely didn't need to, Mrs. E is not a babe in the woods. Vanessa is sure of the man’s name, she’d actually met him in an upscale gym. They talked, she suggested a way for him to earn some easy cash, he jumped at it. She met him in a hotel the first few times. When he seemed to be reliable and discrete, she had him come to her condo. Shortly after, the videos started. He brought along the girl, after another half dozen sessions, they disappeared. Then a phone call. Vanessa paid him ten grand and hoped he’d go away. Then another ten, then another. That’s when she started looking for help.
The phone rings, Mrs. Epstein, “The man is Jerry Giordano. The girl turns out to be a cousin, Denise Russet. You didn’t say why you wanted to know them, but the girl does internet porn lite, nude photos of herself, occasionally with another girl, no guy sex online. She doesn’t appear to have a boyfriend. She’s a cute little thing. Photos and video on the site are professional looking, even tasteful for porn.”
She gives Janah the website url. Janah finds it and looks over the samples, “Dang, she’s got a nice site. What do they make doing this, any idea?”
Mrs. Epstein, “Naturally it varies by following. A girl gets hot for a while, rakes it in, then the porn crowd moves on to a new face. We estimate a girl with an active site might make a hundred thousand, maybe more for a year or two, then taper off. If they do video, they might hit a streak and add more income. Denise does video and private web cam. That’s a license to steal, seven bucks a minute. A talented girl can keep a customer on the line for an hour. Some attend porn conventions, do specialty work. Age happens, then it’s over. It’s a temp career.”
Janah, “Then they aren’t being coerced.”
Mrs. Epstein, “I can’t say about the foreign girls, Russians, other Eastern Bloc girls. They all look healthy, no obvious signs of being drugged up or abused. The Americans and Canadians are pretty much self generating, many girls have their own business. They put their samples on various central thumbnail websites and hope the samples attract paying customers. Other sites are run like modeling agencies. Girls are paid for photos and video, the material belongs to the producer.”
“To girls that age it’s a lot of money just to strip and get photographed.”
“That’s how they view it I’m told. If they aren’t getting ripped off by boyfriends or producers, and aren’t hurting anyone else, I don’t see the problem. The days of female modesty are long past. They don’t see themselves as disempowered or manipulated, they see themselves as in charge. Men, and not a few women, pay to see their bodies. We talked to one girl who regularly hires men to pretend to talk her into doing porn. She controls the shots, she selects the men, she edits the video and photos. Does a good job too, the quality is high. Lesbian is a popular format, I don’t know about the money in it. You guys aren’t thinking of entering the business?”
Janah laughs, “No, we don’t even make private video. Private video on any digital format accessible by the net is like water in a sealed container. If there’s the slightest crack, the water runs out. We don’t want to watch ourselves having sex anyway, better to just have it. So, you have addresses for me? I need find Jerry and have Daphne explain his new reality.”
Mrs. Epstein e-mails her the address, photos of his home and car, spots where he hangs out..
Janah, “Okay, I got it.”
Mrs. Epstein, “I presume it’s to with a confidential client.”
“He’s making himself a pest. The client is rather high profile and doesn’t deserve the aggravation. This one has to remain with me and the girls. I promised the woman.”
“Then keep your promises. I’ve heard enough New York society slander to last a lifetime. It must be some form of blackmail, it’s pretty obvious. What supplies do you need?”
Janah tells her.
“The materials will be in the truck. Truck will be delivered when you call Transportation.”
“Thank you. Talk to you soon.”
She disconnects, “We pick up the LSD and Ketamine, Pentothal, IV drips, needles and syringes tomorrow. You have the other stuff?”
Where do we get the pharmaceuticals? Dr. Epstein and Janah’s dad are physicians, you can figure out the rest.
“Then day after tomorrow we’ll take him. Transportation is getting us a big delivery van with mystery plates and a key to an empty warehouse near Kennedy. We’ll do the work in the van. I just don’t want it parked on the street for an extended period of time. We need a secluded place with toilets and running water while I work on him.”
“Sounds like a lot of effort. Is it really any different than taking off a finger or two as a warning? We could be in and out in an hour.”
Janah, “You know, I don’t have a good answer. One is permanent physical damage of a relatively minor nature. The other is maybe worse. For all I know we could give him a heart attack, or create permanent psychosis.”
Nikko, “He’s a pimp-ass blackmailer. Let’s do both.”
Janah, “I have trouble working up sympathy too, angel. I want to get the job done, which means making a lasting impression on Mr. Giordano. He needs to mind his manners, which we will teach him, one way or the other.”
Chapter Twenty Two IV
Some people are simply impossible,
and the only sensible thing to do is to
remove yourself from their presence and keep them at a distance,
and not to let them near you for good or ill, or count on you for anything,
quite simply, to cease to exist for them.
Javier Marias, Your Face Tomorrow, Fever and Spear
Day two in the truck. Parked in an abandoned warehouse in Queens. Nikko and I alternate shifts, tour the perimeter, there’s no curious traffic, we might as well be on the moon. The building has power and water, the power for our work in the van is supplied by the van, a beat up nonentity with a brand new battery.
The first day Janah keeps Jerry on Ketamine, he doesn’t know what galaxy he’s in. The sound in the van is cranked up to industrial electronica, with intermittent screeches and blasts of simply noise. Metal on metal, then something like a sandstorm beating on a tin roof.
Ketamine takes about ten minutes to get into the system, for the next hour, given a good dose, the mind loses touch with the body. There are hallucinations. At first, Janah plays the music and uses strobes to keep the environment surreal.
After the effect wears off, the sensation is like a downer from anesthesia, he feels sloppy and disoriented. Janah uses the time to give Jerry something to cling to, her voice. She asks him questions about himself, nothing about Vanessa. He answers slowly, vaguely, he can barely remember who he is. The only thing he can see is a light show, swooping bats and dragons, bursts of brilliant color, back to strobe.
He’s been up for thirty hours. Janah naps when he’s buzzed; Ketamine is a strong stimulant, there is no danger of him getting any rest. She monitors his heart rate and blood pressure, both high, like Jerry.
She lets him skirt near reality, still disoriented, but without the racing heart, presses the plunger on the syringe, sodium pentothal eases into his system.
She asks more questions, he’s completely compliant, “Jerry, what happened to you?”
Jerry, “Don’t know, who are you? Where am I?”
“Jerry, it’s Denise, don’t you know me? It’s Denise. Man you look bad, Jerry. What have you been doing?’
“Denise, I know Denise. Little Denise, pretty Denise," vague video of Denise, right off her website appear hazily on the wall. Her voice disembodied, doesn't match up with her talk to the camera, but Jerry is too out of it to catch details.
“Yes, Jerry, it’s me. I want to help you, you look so sick. You look like you’re going to die, Jerry. I’m scared for you. Let me help you.”
“Denise…., uh,….Denise went….uh, someplace…away.”
“Yes Jerry, I’m in LA. I moved to California. I’m in California now.”
“California, I’m in California…..”
“No, Jerry, I’m in your mind. You’re in New York silly. I’m in California, but I’m in your mind.”
“In my mind….yes….Denise is….in my mind…”
“I got to go now, Jerry. They said you did a bad thing. I want to help you but, I can’t. You are doing a bad thing.”
“No bad…what bad…what thing?”
“You know, Jerry. You involved me in a bad thing, and didn’t tell me. I have to go. I can’t help you, Jerry. Not until you quit this bad thing.”
“Please, help me. I didn’t do nothing, what bad thing?”
“Jerry, you asked me to play with that lady, to play games with that nice lady. And I did, because I’m your cousin, and I was moving to LA. We had some fun with that lady, she gave us money. Now you are hurting her, and I’m involved, Jerry. I have to go. You have to quit doing this, or I can’t help you.”
“Don’t go, please….help me…I don’t know what’s….I don’t know….”
Janah drops a tab of acid in his mouth. In forty minutes, she’s going to help Jerry see worms crawling out of his nose, his ears and his dick. She figures it’s a good time to hose down the van, Jerry has made a bit of a mess, we hose him in the process. He’s naked, makes cleaning him up easier. The cold water, in a pitch dark environment, music blasting on an LSD trip, Jerry’s mind can’t get a foothold. A few minutes of music, then a recording of herself as Denise saying he’s doing a bad thing, she can’t help him unless he quits, over and over.
Into the third day, Jerry is a blubbering idiot. Janah jacks him up on sodium pentothal and begins again.
“Jerry, it’s Denise, look at you. You’re dying, Jerry. You need help, Jerry. I want to help you, Jerry, but I’m scared.”
“Help me, please, for fuck’s sake….help, please.”
“I can’t help you until you tell me what you did with that lady’s videos, Jerry. I’m your cousin, Jerry. And you put me in those videos, and now you want to show them to everyone. That lady didn’t want them shown to people. She did it for herself. You stole them, Jerry.”
“Money…for money…..she’s a rich bitch. I didn’t have no…uh….what?”
“Jerry, I need to know where those videos are. And I need to know you aren’t going to bother that lady anymore, or I have to leave. You’re going to die, Jerry. Then I don’t have to worry about the videos, because you’ll be dead, I guess I’ll go now, Jerry.”
“No!! please!! No! Help me. I’m dying…..I don’t want to die. I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you…..computer….get rid of them….dying.”
“Tell me, Jerry. I’ll have to go and see if I can find them. What computer? How do I get the files, Jerry? I have to get all the files, or you have to die, Jerry.”
After a struggle with his brain, he comes up with a password. I didn’t need the password, we’d take the whole hard drive. She really wants to know if he’d uploaded it someplace where it was stored in cyberspace. She, via Denise, got his e-mail address, his e-mail password, the most likely place to stick a file, then ‘Denise’ asks him about sites he might have used to store the files. She doesn’t need any of that for me to hack his computer, she just wants him fully compliant.
“Did you send the files someplace else, Jerry? I know, as sick as you are, it’s hard to remember exactly what you did. You’re dying, Jerry. I know it’s hard to remember. But if there are files someplace else, I need to know. Then you won’t die, Jerry. Please don’t die, Jerry. Let me help you.”
It’s time to end it, we’re sure the only files are on Jerry’s hard drive and maybe the thumb he’d used to get them off Vanessa’s computer. I go to his place to retrieve the computer and look around for the thumb drive. Jerry isn’t that sophisticated, it’s taped to the inside of a kitchen drawer. The videos are there, at least until I throw the tower and the thumb into the Hudson.
Janah takes the extra step of implanting suggestions in Jerry’s addled mind. Simple now, she owns his brain. When we release him, he won’t have a clear memory of Vanessa, it will seem like a barely remembered dream. If he ever sees Denise again, it won’t matter what she tells him, there’s no evidence.
His phone will be monitored, I Google him, nothing, find a little used Facebook account and close it. No Twitter, no G+, nobody uses My Space, he’s not on Instagram or Pinterest. Jerry is lax about clearing his history, cookies and temp files, not that it would matter much at the bottom of the river. I don't want him logging on to his e-mail from another computer, so I close the account. You're never really sure they actually close the things, so I change the passwords first.
Before I destroyed the hard drive, I went through his e-mail, his recycle bin, his deleted e-mails and all the sites he ever visited. If he’d forwarded the videos anyplace, it doesn’t show up. It’s a pain to send video by e-mail, you usually have to just send a link. There are no e-mails with links, no YouTube’s under Jerry’s or Vanessa’s name, no BigFiles. Janah decides Jerry’s cleaned out. If Vanessa doesn’t hear anything for a month or two, it’s over.
Chapter Twenty Three IV
To bring over to the present what is past, pleasurable or painful, is to prevent the real. Reality has no continuity. It is from moment to moment, timeless and measureless.
J, Krishnamurti, Commentaries on Living, Series II
Vanessa calls a few weeks later, “Thank you. I haven’t heard a thing. It’s an incredible relief. I’ve had Jerry followed. He’s more or less back to a regular life. He spends a lot of time at home. My security people say when they follow him, he often gets lost, he’s slow and appears out of it. He hasn’t touched a computer that we can tell. He doesn’t have one at home, and he’s gone no place to use one. I’m dropping the surveillance. If I do hear from him….”
Janah, “Call me, I’ll deal with it. The girl had nothing to do with the blackmail. She’s been busy making her porn career work. We’ve monitored her phone, her website and her e-mails. She hasn’t called Jerry or anyone else here. She’s an LA girl now, busy displaying her vitals to an appreciative paying audience.”
Vanessa is quiet for a minute, then, “Can I pay you for your time? I have no really adequate way to thank you.”
Janah, “We don’t accept money. Make a donation to Chapmans, in any amount you think appropriate, or the Shaolin Temple in Chinatown. Don’t say it’s from us, or in our names. Nobody knows who helped you, better to keep it that way.”
Vanessa, “Consider it done, and thank you again.”
You’re fund raising again?
I guess. We don’t need money, neither does Chapmans really, the Shaolin can use a little cushion, but they’re in good shape financially. She’ll get a healthy tax deduction.
Nikko can tell we are mentaling, “What’s it like, to mental?”
Janah, “You do mental, just not like we do. When you handle our life business, even when you are just hanging together, there’s a sensory connection. It may be unconscious, but it’s there.”
Nikko is behind me, she puts her arms around me and kisses my neck gently, “Daphne wanted me to kiss her.”
“See, Janah’s right, it works.”
Janah, “She’s always kissing you.”
“And I’m always wanting her to, but I never have to tell her, she just knows.”
“Uh huh. So your synchronicity is merely your need for Nikko’s attention.”
“Well, I don’t know that it’s just that, but it’s the part I like best. I don’t mind needing her attention at all.”
Janah, “Let’s go to the Village Diner and pig. I’m feeling waffley.”
So we do.
“Hey ladies, who’s the biggest hunk in Manhattan?”
“He’s a sort order cook in the Village, some joint called the Village Diner.”
“We have a winner!! Chuck, tell our studio audience what we have for our champion, The Sylk.”
Chuck, “Hey babies. You girls get any more beautiful, I’m gonna have a heart thing, right here in my own diner.’
Nikko slides into a booth, Janah is busy getting hugged by Mini, I make the rounds of locals. Chuck brings me a cup of his special coffee, I’m sitting with two of my cop friends, Eddie and Junior. Eddie is a slim, well groomed GQ uniform, making his way up the system. He’s smart, efficient, by the book and well connected.
Junior is a street cop. He’s born a street cop and will to retire or die as one. Eddie was teamed with him when Junior’s partner of eight years had been shot by a random lunatic. There was no warning, no imminent arrest or other dicey situation. They were getting into the squad car, a man came up and shot Junior’s partner in the back. Junior dropped him from across the roof. There was nothing to do for his partner, just go to the funeral and grieve. Junior is big, black and made of iron. He hadn’t cried, he hadn’t lashed out, but his big grin and casual sense of humor disappeared. He started doing his job like a zombie.
Junior and I had shared a lot of laughs, I felt for his loss. I tried talking to him, Junior shut down. I called in my big gun. Janah sat with him in dad’s office in the condo, I went to our room. This was before moving, before Nikko. With Janah, Junior’s silence lasted about ten minutes, then he sobbed in Janah’s arms for another ten. Then she listened to him recollect eight years of memories, arrests, close calls, family dinners, children’s birthdays, more tears and some smiles over three subsequent visits. She said virtually nothing the first two, then gently interjected comments and observations. By not analyzing or psychologizing, she allowed him to feel whatever he felt. He told her things he didn’t realize he felt until they came spilling out. By the end, he wasn’t the old Junior, life had changed him. But he wasn’t the morose, just going through the motions Junior he’d closed into. That was a few years ago, Eddie has been his partner since.
Eddie, “Why don’t you join the force Daph? I need someone more interesting to ride the streets with than the beast they stuck me with this tour.”
Junior’s black eyes glance at Eddie, then me, “Don’t listen to that honkey’s jive, girl. He’s going for his shield in a couple of months. Had to, his lips were getting calluses from kissing so much ass. I’m finally going to get a real cop for a partner, not a social climbing suit, thinks he going to be the friggin Super one day.”
“He is, Junior. And you’ll be there to keep his head on straight when he gets blinded by all that gold filigree.”
Junior, “Damn right. Just as well, I’m getting tired of trying to explain how to be a real cop to this cracker. He talks in legalize. College boy CJ major.”
CJ is shorthand for Criminal Justice. A degree greased the skids for those interested in going further than Detective. Eddie would make Detective in a couple of months, he’d do his time, then go for the next level, then Precinct Captain, then who knew? He’s already in law school.
Eddie, “I have to get a law degree to keep Junior out of jail. Everything with him is a shortcut. He says I’m by the book, how would he know? He never read the book, doesn’t know where the book is. He’s got a sixth sense for the street though. Like nothing I’ve ever seen. You join up, I’ll see you get partnered with Junior. In a couple of months, you’d have New York all cleaned up. Criminals will all move to Jersey.”
“I couldn’t work with a big stud like Junior, I’d have him in the back seat behind some empty warehouse, making him take advantage of me.”
Junior, “Be my dream job, baby. Ain’t no way even Junior going to take Janah’s place. Can’t say I mind if you was to go spreadin’ that story around though. Enhance my rep if anybody believed it.”
“Well, I’m queer, but if I wasn’t, we’d make that Crown Vic shake honey.”
Junior lets out a big throaty laugh, Eddie shakes his head, “Now I got to listen to him complain that the only thing between him and feminine perfection is his favorite person on earth.”
Junior, “Just be glad it’s Janah, not you. You, I’d just shoot. Janah deserve the best. Besides, I’d still have to deal with Nikko. Shooting Nikko only piss her off. De Seelk is right where she supposed to be. Being on the force just slow her down, she ain’t gonna study no procedure manual either.”
Eddie eases out of the booth, I stand, we hug, then I hug Junior, “Honey, you packing a nine in there?”
Junior, “A ten. And it’s always loaded.”
I screech, our fists tap, then up downed.
Eddie, “You people have no sense of decorum.”
I look at Junior, “By ‘you people’ does he mean blacks or gays?”
Eddie, “Wait! I didn’t mean…..” then he realizes I’m yanking hell out of his chain, he shrugs, I kiss him.
“You’re so adorable when you blush, must give those coeds in law school a rush.”
Eddie, “I’m a dignified officer of the law.”
“Is that what you tell them as you put your boxers back on?”
Eddie, “More or less.”
Junior is hugging Janah, “I owe you, angel.”
“All you owe me is to keep yourself and Eddie safe. And if you need anything, I better hear my phone ring. Got it?’
Junior, “Got it.”
The two cops leave, Janah back in the booth next to Nikko, I take the other side. Chan materializes, a quantum mystery, no one had seen him come in. Chuck starts bringing food, waffles, eggs, hash browns, fruit. Janah eats like Janah eats, Chan like Chan, I do my part. Nikko has a small chunk of cantaloupe, a half chunk of pineapple and a pot of black tea. Somehow she makes the two tiny pieces of fruit last as long as it takes Janah to go though her mega breakfast.
“At least she doesn’t gulp down her cantaloupe. Until I met Nikko, I’d never seen anyone cut up a bite sized piece of fruit before. She’s got Sis doing it.”
Nikko, “Sis has lost five pounds.”
Janah, “Susan is hardly overweight. She’s the same size as Daphne.”
“Now she’s more my size.”
“The difference between you, Sis and Daphne barely amounts to five pounds. You look like triplets. Besides, I like the way you look now. If you start losing weight, Daphne is just going to make you put it on again.”
Nikko, “I don’t lose weight. She cooks her Miss Alva food, and I’m helpless. Ning makes it worse, she has the knack like Daphne. I’ll be a fat old lady one day.”
Janah, “Uh huh.”
Chan, “Why do women always talk about weight?”
“We could talk about Oprah.”
“Who is Oprah?”
Nikko, “She talks about weight.”
“Conversation going in circles. I’ll ask Ning to explain.”
Nikko, “I need to work out later, can you meet us, four thirty?”
Chan nods a nod only his sisters can decipher.
Janah’s cell rings, she taps the screen, “Hi to you too.”
She listens for a half minute, “Is now good?” then, “See you in fifteen.”
She taps the screen again, “We’re going to Park Avenue.”
Chan, “You need me?”
Janah, “Not right now. Go to Ning, I’ll fill you in when we get back.”
Chan does another invisible nod and disappears.
Chapter Twenty Four IV
People repeat behavior that makes them feel good.
What feels good, however, depends on the person.
Mrs. Epstein, “This time girls, there’s an enigma in a mystery. The local authorities are stumped, and the case is about to be dropped. One of the detectives, Marsconi, said that it would take a Janah to figure out. One thing led to another and here you are. The NYPD didn’t want to contact you directly, they are a bit territorial on these things. We arranged to have the videos of interviews sent to us. We want you to take a look and see if there’s something they missed, in body language, tone, the answers themselves. If not, then not, nobody’s expecting miracles.”
Janah, “Sounds interesting," click the mouse, the video starts.
Detective Marsconi is interviewing a woman, there is a third man next to the woman.
Marsconi, “Mrs. Jacobs, how many time have you been married?”
Attorney, “You don’t need to answer that.”
Jacobs, “Harry, please. Let these gentlemen do their jobs, dear. I have absolutely nothing to hide. This will go much easier if you don’t interrupt every time this nice detective asks a question.”
Marsconi, “Thank you. So?”
“I’ve been married four times.”
Marsconi, “Each husband died.”
Marsconi, “May I recap? Number one died skiing. He took, according to your testimony at the time, a wrong turn at high speed and, to put it bluntly, sailed off the edge of a rather high cliff.”
Jacobs, “That’s what apparently happened. I was actually in front of him at the time, I didn’t actually see it. He was there, and then…..wasn’t.”
“Number two died of a heart attack.”
“Yes. He was in the hospital. I was at home.”
“You said you were at home. You didn’t have actual proof of where you were, is that right?”
Jacobs, “Please, sir. Do you make a video of yourself, or punch a clock every time you’re home alone? No one came forward to say I was anyplace else, and I can’t be in two places at the same time. I surely wasn’t at the hospital, it’s a busy place, no one saw me there. I wasn’t hiding at home, I was at home.”
Marsconi, “Your husband died at two a.m. Not overly crowded in the hospital then is it? But we’ll leave that for now.”
“The hospital called me, I answered my home phone. The records showed that.”
“The hospital called an hour later. Again, I don’t need to dwell on it. Indeed, there is no proof you were there at the time of death.”
Attorney, “This is all on the record, do we have to drag Mrs. Jacobs through this again?”
Jacobs smiles at Marsconi, “Harry is doing his job, detective. He’s very good at it. In my case, having nothing to hide, he’s a bit superfluous. Harry, please do me a favor and let’s answer the detective’s questions. Then I can go home and deal with David’s things.”
David is the most recent deceased husband, Marsconi has one dead husband to go before getting to David Jacobs.
“Number three fell off a boat near the coast of Mexico, Cozumel.”
Jacobs says nothing.
“No comments, no explanation?”
“No, I was down in the galley, I heard a splash, I naturally thought Manolo was going for a swim.”
“Turned out the mast broke loose, smashed against his head, he fell into the water. Strange thing, you just heard the splash, nothing else.”
“It’s a boat, things slide, drop on the deck. If I went topside every time there was a thump of rope, or a chair sliding, I’d never get lunch made. Manolo was a beautiful child, tall, dark and handsome. He suffered a common male ailment, more confidence than ability. He was always trying things just out of his reach, and frequently breaking them, or himself. He had broken his arm playing polo, he had broken his leg trying to rollerblade, he smashed his Corvette on a race course.”
“So he was a klutz, a handsome rich klutz.”
“You could say so.”
“He didn’t mind that you had been married twice before? Did he question your former husbands deaths?”
Jacobs, “He felt sorry for me, the dear. I very much appreciated that, and I tried very hard to return his affection.”
Marsconi, “Now David Jacobs is dead as well. From a heroin overdose.”
Jacobs dabs a handkerchief under her left eye, “He suffered from his addiction. He had been out of the center for three months, and as far as I knew, hadn’t touched so much as a glass of wine. Then this. I blame myself.”
“Not keeping a sharper eye out of course. The first six weeks, I followed him like, well, like a detective. We even argued about it, my hovering. I backed off, he seemed fine, occasionally short tempered, jittery, otherwise fine. This came out of the blue. As I’ve said, I was in the pool, David was in his study. Earlier I’d asked him about our dinner plans, he said he had made reservations someplace special, he wanted to surprise me. When I went to tell him it was time to get dressed, I found the body and called 911 immediately.”
“Did he make reservations?”
“I’m sure you already know that the restaurant called when we didn’t show up. The police were still there when the phone rang. Even if it had occurred to me to cancel the reservations, I couldn’t, I didn’t know where he’d made them.”
Harry, “Look detective, this is getting a bit old. We’ve danced around this ground for two hours, for the fourth time. Charge Mrs. Jacobs, or quit hounding her.”
Jacobs, “I just love Harry, he’s been so good through all of this. I have nothing to hide, I must admit, this endless repetitive questioning is very tedious. So, detective, this time, I agree with my lawyer. Make an arrest or leave me in my grief.”
The hanky comes out and dabs under left eye again.
Janah, “I’ve seen enough. She’s pretty good. Lying through her teeth, but pretty good. There are several visual clues, she’s rehearsed this a lot. She’s learned how to cover most everything, doesn’t put her arms up protectively, doesn’t turn away from the questioner, her voice is mostly level, the tone even, unruffled. I wouldn’t have heard the catch when she said she was in the galley when Manolo died without Daphne’s hearing. She also wasn’t animated enough, kept her hands in her lap, or dabbing with the handkerchief. Curiously, she is the only known human that only tears up in one eye. Most people talk with some kind of hand motion. The main thing is fairly obvious.”
Dr. Epstein, ‘I rather thought as much.”
Mrs. Epstein, “What are you two talking about?”
Janah, “Nobody has nothing to hide.”
Dr. Epstein, “Yes. If she said she had nothing to hide one more time, it would have practically been a confession.”
Mrs. Epstein, “So she killed them?”
Janah, “If you mean all of them, I can’t say. One may have died for exactly the reason she said he did, maybe two, that’s not unheard of. She killed at least one of them, likely the last three.”
Mrs. Epstein, “You can’t tell which husband?”
Janah, “Marsconi didn’t ask her if she’d killed them. There was no way to tell if she was lying about that specifically. I’d have to hear her answer, see her face when she answered. What I know is, she’s lying about the circumstances.”
Mrs. Epstein, “Ah, of course. Silly of me not to see the difference. If he’d asked, ‘did you kill Manolo?’ then you could have determined if it was a lie.”
Janah, “Usually, I don’t claim infallibility. He could put the question another way, ‘so, you didn’t kill Manolo?’ The best thing would be for him to ask one way, then ask the other somewhere in the interview. That would increase the odds.”
Dr. Epstein, “Strange that he didn’t, on TV police always ask suspects if they did it.”
Nikko, “So, is she rich now, or will she kill again just because she wants to, or what?”
Mrs. Epstein, “She’s worth ten, maybe fifteen million, mostly cash, some real estate. All of it from marriages. She’s never earned a dime. She’s sophisticated, attractive, has good taste and is well mannered. No doubt her four husbands all thought they’d gotten quite a bargain. We found out she refused marriage to two men because they wanted prenuptial agreements. Most of the assets would go to kids from previous marriages. She didn’t marry anyone with kids, or who wanted kids. Strike against her for the murders.”
Janah, “She didn’t kill them for money.”
Mrs. Epstein, “What do you mean, why else?”
Janah, “She likes it.”
Dr. Epstein, “I must admit, I hadn’t considered that. What leads you to that conclusion?”
Janah, “The first husband left her several million. Now, for some people, that’s just chump change, but I think there’s another dynamic here. Suppose husband number one was really an accident, he was skiing out of control, he missed a turn, sailed off a ledge onto the rocks. The evidence is that’s what happened. It would be hard for her to fake that. She answers questions, there’s some small curiosity by the police. But nothing happens, after all, it’s only number one. She’s titillated by the whole scene. Lots of attention and inheritance to boot.”
Nikko, “The whole show turns her on?”
Janah, “She was turned on during the interview we watched. There was a slight flush in her cheeks, her breathy voice had nothing to do with her subdued grief. It had everything to do with her excitement. If Marsconi had stuck his hand between her legs, she’d have had an orgasm.”
Mrs. Epstein, “So she enjoys killing them?’
Janah, “Killing them is, to her, a necessary first step. The fun is beating the rap. Even though she may not have killed number one, she was questioned, a suspect, if only because of the inheritance. She skated easily, in all likelihood because she hadn’t done anything. She found out she enjoyed being the center of attention, being a murder suspect, even if more in her mind than anyone else’s. When that rush subsides, there’s only one thing that will get her another like it.”
Dr. Epstein, “To really kill, and really be a suspect.”
Janah, “Yes. And I guarantee you, she’s on the hunt for number five.”