"Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before." -Mae West 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chapter 4, cont'd: A consortium of characters.

Hello everyone! miss me? don't answer that..... it's been a couple weeks. -sorry for the wait on my next post.- But luckily for me I have a fairly reasonable excuse, I'm busy. Busy writing a blog that doesn't spout the daily minutia of my life. That's what facebook is for.... no, my blog is not for the faint of heart nor is it for folks who read blogs to entertain themselves while taking a ten minute power dump at work.

I'm adding this particular commentary because I find most blogs to be utterly dreadful. -not all- Now, I am a big foodie fan, also I love bloggers who give me good movie/tv show tips. Since I find most prime time shows to be complete garbage and equally dreadful. Not to be crass -ok, maybe I do- no one gives a rats ass about how you love to run, pictures from your last vacation or how shitty your week is going. [well, at least no one wants to follow a blog that is solely devoted to such cuck. But for the fleeting no brainers of the world] My point is, if you are going to author a blog, post something of substance, something that will entertain. Something that doesn't focus solely on yourself. For Christ sakes, write something thought provoking! Ok- that's enough of that-

Soooo, here is a continuation of chapter 4: a consortium of characters. In this part of the chapter I introduce you to Ronald and Gina Steenley. The chapter is rather long, obv. since I am posting in two parts and this is still not all of it.

With that said, I have already finished writing chapter five. In that chapter my character kills Alex. That is the first murder of the book and perhaps the most cathartic, but rest assured not the last. Again, I'm sorry because you will not know how he is killed unless you buy the book.... ahemm...

Without including the end of chapter 4, one can safely assume that Ron doesn't get a friendly pat on the head and served a chocolate ice cream cone. Soon enough you will find out, not to worry.

Right now I am tightening up what I have already written and working on new material. I have seventeen chapters for this book. It doesn't stop there, as I have said this will have to be published in a series. For now, I offer you samplings of the first book....enjoy.

share, facebook it, send along with holiday cards.... whatever your little heart desires. ciao ~b

That morning my train plummeted through the cavernous dimly lit tunnel until my destination was incoherently uttered over a speaker that clung to life by sparse wires just above my head. My morning began like many others, Jay and I would scope out drive-thrus for the shortest possible line; a girl needs her coffee. Until we received a call over our radio, then off we went to a domestic disturbance only two and half miles down the road. Merely a quick jaunt down the potholed road, where the air feel heavy with a veil of deceit, where dysfunctional dementia loomed in the foreground. Welcome to Dorchester Massachusetts; where it rains and pours.

Along the way, my mind present yet miraculously absent, my view jostled and jolted in time with the wheels that bounded through the asphalt's pits and valleys. My view along the way, swishing past my eyes, were tiny trees that seemed to consume a maze of steel. Their lifeless branches embraced a meager supply of leaves. A parade of limbless greenery sprouted from the streets and populated the median of an otherwise concrete playground. The city's attempt at beautification was transparent with a parade of frail, mangled branches consuming corroded black steel; as though the streets were outlined with the silhouettes of a hundred feeble souls. At least that's how it felt in this part of town; it seemed the trees shared the sentiment.

-Coincidentally, this was the fateful day I had met Mr. Ron Steenley. Now thinking back on that particular morning, the trees and the gloom that pierced the morning sky were certainly foretelling of his macabre fate which laid ahead. The tree's silhouettes our faithful ushers into the outermost circle of hell, and the journey had just begun.-

When we finally arrived at the Steenley's home, the smells of cooking filled the hallways of their apartment building. It seemed there were several people overpopulating this wretched building and were coincidentally home in the middle of the day; judging by the residual sounds of midday TV and the offensive odor that saturated the hallway that assaulted your face the moment you walked through the front door. I would like to think there aren't many folks amongst us who have a proclivity for cooking their garbage. That morning, standing at the entrance of one badly weathered brick and mortar hell, it smelled as though someone had done just that. Dear Lord.

Apparently for weeks now, the Steenley's upstairs neighbor was hearing loud bangs and yelling coming from the apartment just beneath hers. As it turns out the loud bangs were Gina Steenley's body being flung like a dirty dishrag against their living room wall; accompanied by the filthiness Ron bellowed through the halls. With each bounding fling, Gina's body would shake the thin walls of the building to its core; sending ceramic fruit displays and pictures blasting from their well appointed positions.

Our anonymous informant, Dawn Carritta, a single thirty-three year old woman, had done for months what she thought was best and stayed out of it. She figured she didn't need the trouble of some angry half-cocked drunk hassling her about cops nosing around.

She claimed the commotion seemed to occur almost daily until the day her three-year old son, Caleb, looked up at her and asked, “Mommy, does that man upstairs hurt that lady? Why does he call her those bad names so much? I can hear him calling her bad names sometimes when I am going to sleep at night. We should tell him that isn't nice, huh Mommy?”

Two hours after Caleb's curious admission to his mother, we received a call. As far as a witness statement from Dawn, well the history of Ron Steenley spoke for itself along with the details Ron would predictably voluntarily supply. Luckily, most criminals don't have the savvy to withhold all the varied details of their respective sordid lives. Niavely thinking we are their appointed religious counsel of sorts. Like a collection of macabre trophies, Ron's record was a blue ribbon variety, with a string of domestics, 209A restraining orders for a varied number of women - approximately three still current- an A&B kicking around for a bar fight back in 2005 and just for fun... two aggravated OUI's.

Ron enjoyed drinking, problem was liquor was not Ron's friend. He went from jovial and talkative to downright mean; like a hissing cat, mean as the dickens, freshly fished from a pool. This would lend an interesting spin on any attempt at a coherent discussion with Ron when we arrived.

As we later discovered Ron, an iron worker, was laid off from his job and was collecting unemployment. His wife Gina, was home during the day as she would bartend nights at the Bell and Hand. Of course, Ron didn't mind taking every dime of his unemployment till it ran dry. Even when the union called with work he would decline with some piss poor excuse. As the calls for work eventually thinned out, he would sail along on his Commonwealth sponsored drinking benders. Now that your caught up, this should adequately lay the foundation for our appearance that day -enter stage right-.

We ascended the building's awkwardly thin staircase with deliberate footsteps until we reached the second floor, the warped floorboards creaked underfoot and shook the loose handrail that rattled with each step. It seemed nothing was stable in these parts, a stiff wind could bowl this rathole into oblivion.

After an abrupt knock on the door of apartment 2B, a few moments passed as we stood before the white door laden with grey greasy fingerprints smeared along its surface when it swept open a pungent breeze of booze and body odor wafted into the hallway.
With an irritable intonation in his voice, as though we had interrupted his busy day, Ron asked us, “What's going on? How can I help you two?”
With a stereotypical cop like demeanor Jay answered him, “Sir, we received a call that there was a disturbance in your apartment, and we were asked to come and do a well visit. May we come in for a minute?”
Ron replied with a sniveling tone while scratching his gnarly unkept hair with one hand and pulling up his oversized pants above his prominently displayed boxer briefs with his free hand, “Well, I'd rather you didn't, but yeah come on in. I got nothing to hide.”

Upon entering the apartment's narrow hallway after a short trip down a rust colored shag rug, the room would open up to a poorly furnished living room with a large flat screen television on the wall. There appeared to be a bedroom down the hall and a kitchen directly to our right that appeared dark and unoccupied.
Immediately I noticed down the dimly lit hall, a sliver of light illuminating the rust colored pile from beneath the bathroom door and I asked, “Is your wife home?”
Ron replied, “Yes, she's in the bathroom. She will be right out. What is this all about anyway, can I answer something here?”
Ron was doing his best to put on a convincing act, but sadly failed like a puppet whose strings were being orchestrated by an inebriated puppeteer. As he struggled to keep his foothold he stumbled forward a bit while clasping his hands and making his best attempt at affected sobriety coupled with humble offerings. But his slurred speech and awkward movements just made him appear transparent and pathetic. A typical drunk, but not so typical to see prior to noon. Ron Steenley was a grade A drunk, not even the best of them have him beat this time of day.

I stood back from the now uncomfortably close Mr. Steenley and replied, “Sure, Officer Maldonado can speak to you out in the hallway. Typically we like to question both parties separately first, if that is ok with you?”

He quickly agreed and seemed cooperative...for the time being. Boy, was he in for a surprise. In approximately one hour he would leave in cuffs, and that polite demeanor dissipated quicker than a fart in a windstorm. As the story goes, Ron would leave behind a trail of obscenities clinging to the badly tattered wallpaper along with smatterings of saliva and blood from one ill advised struggle.

Ron and Jay left to speak in the hallway, as I sat waiting for Gina. Their living room was infused with a heavy nicotine scent and the walls stained a deep mustard hue. Sporadic streaks of brownish filth infiltrated cracks extending from the ceiling and dissected Ron's only treasured memoirs: tattered wall coverings and paltry drapes encrusted with thick yellow patches of nicotine. Clearly this apartment had never seen the likes of Febreeze.

Coincidentally after I left the apartment, for what seemed like days, the smell of stale cigarette settled deep within my sinuses. While waiting for Gina I quickly ascertained the culprit, one nearly overflowing ashtray sat on a badly scuffed up flea market end table. On its edge, a tiny roach, so tiny if I didn't have time to sit for a moment and inspect my surroundings it would have gone virtually unnoticed. Frankly I didn't care, at the time I was more concerned with arresting the likes of that massive dick who was speaking with my partner just outside the door. Bigger fish to fry, my friends.

During my wait I practiced my deliberate mouth breathing, and then she came out... looking exhausted and teary eyed. Haphazard crimson like patches were raised along the right side of her face with copious amounts of mascara smeared across her moist cheeks, her eyes still red from tears. Gina is a fair skinned girl, with the type of skin that would burn after five seconds of exposure to the sun. God forbid you give this woman even the slightest of pinches; it would assuredly produce a monster of a bruise. She was frail looking but had big breasts, the perfectly round and perky type; the fake looking brand of boob. I immediately noticed what looked like a long shallow scrape on her left arm.

Ordinarily Gina kept her hair straightened and groomed meticulously for work, but left with little time for grooming -contending with that morning's random unexpected blows- her hair was one blonde streaked hodgepodge. The most suiting description for Gina would be trailer trash Barbie, if there ever were one, Gina would fit the bill... in spades. Contrary to her harsh outward appearance, turns out she is very sweet and soft spoken. The girl had a certain something going for her, so it was hard to counter with the notion of why she was there, with Ron Steenley. Although Gina probably feared what most victims had, fear of retribution. An all too real fear that not even a thousand restraining orders could allay.

Gina approached me with an awestruck look, and immediately I could see pain in her eyes. It looked familiar, some were better at hiding that look than others, in the past four years I had nearly perfected this requisite technique...nearly perfected. She dragged herself across the room like a scolded puppy with her tail trailing along behind her. Her right hand clasped her left arm at its elbow, as if to hold herself together, she wore an oversized shirt, one sleeve extended beyond her wrist as she lowered her arm beside her. The sorrow displayed on her face seemed to melt beyond her sleeve and down to her trembling fingertips. Despite her hesitation to join me, she didn't seem too surprised to see me sitting in her living room.

Gina approached the coach and allowed her body to slowly slink along the armrest, slouching a bit into its corner, as far as possible from where I sat. An awkward silence filled the room as her eyes widened, and her delicate arm craned downward to retrieve a stray pack of Marlboros.

As Gina tore open the thin cellophane of her cigarettes, and shuffled for a lighter in her jean pocket, she asked in a rather cavalier fashion, “So let me guess why you're here. Did someone hear us fighting? Because this week Ron seems to have a bad case of PMS, worst than normal. I hate it when he has his man period. But honestly Officer, he does this a lot, nothing that won't pass, you know?”

I quickly dismissed her carefree approach and replied, “No, no I don't know, Gina. This isn't just a phase. Let's cut through the bullshit, because my job is to help people and I can't help you unless you tell me the truth. There is an anonymous informant in your building that claims to hear a lot of commotion coming from your apartment, almost daily. This person has no reason to lie to us, and judging by the way you look...neither do you.”

Gina began her story with a somewhat generic excuse for her husband's behavior. She alluded to his unemployment and how it “made him feel like less of a man”. -Funny, because this sentiment didn't seem to deter his affinity for continual couch surfing.- She claimed that him being at home seemed to make him a bit edgy.

She looked down at the index finger of her right hand and fiddled with an acrylic nail that was cracked down its center and was loose at its base. As she sat playing with the tiny plastic atrocity dangling from the tip of her finger she looked up at me with despair in her eyes and just shook her head. Anyone watching this exchange could easily tell how unmoved I was by her offered excuses for Ron's behavior.

After all I hadn't moved from where I sat. I didn't make headway for the door exclaiming, 'Oh is that all? Sounds perfectly legit to me!' Gina had to know that her distraught and disheveled appearance, coupled with Ron's past and the corroborating witness statement... this situation wasn't going to be easily explained away.

I extended my hand to touch hers, to offer some comfort as her body language clearly relayed her discomfort, she recoiled in her seat to avoid my touch. Once she rejected my comforts, I stood pacing the room to peruse the collection of dollar store frames that littered her living room walls. The predominant guest of honor hanging on the Steenley's wall, a little boy, about age six with squeezable cherub like cheeks and a thick crop of blonde hair sprouting from his head. In one picture, his eyes were tightly clasped shut with a smile that ran from ear to ear, in his chubby little fingers he proudly displayed a yellow matchbox truck.

I looked over at Gina and asked, “Who is this little guy in the pictures? He's a cutie.”
Gina answered, “That's my nephew, Devon. He is cute, such a little doll. I don't get to see him too often. He lives in New Hampshire with my brother and his wife. Sometimes I make a trip up to see him, but I have been real busy with work.”
Even though I had already assumed the answer for myself, I wanted to keep the conversation going, so I asked, “Do you have any kids Gina?”
Gina giggled as she pushed her snarly bangs from her face and craned her thin boney hand toward the ashtray when she answered, “Hell no, like I could take care of a child with the way my life is going. No thank you. I don't know if I will ever be ready for that kind of thing.”

I averted my eyes from their photo wall, a wall with conspicuously absent photos of the happy couple and I looked directly at her when I told her, “I am not sure you have to make that kind of decision for yourself now. You are still very young. You have plenty of time to turn your life around and make changes for yourself. Everyone screws up, don't be too down on yourself. Make changes, positive changes. Anyway Gina, how is your life? Would you describe yourself as a happy woman?”

Apparently what I had said shimmied the floodgates free and released a torrent of details, as she replied, “Sometimes I am happy. Sometimes I am very happy with Ron, work and life, ya' know? There are weeks that everything is great around here and we are very happy. Ron will just do the sweetest things. He will sometimes make us dinner, he's a great cook, and he will buy me a bottle of Merlot. He knows that's my favorite. Sometimes I will come home and there will be flowers waiting for me. He buys them just because and well, sometimes because we had a fight. But mostly because he is just a sweetheart.”

She paused for a moment and then continued. No telling how one might obstruct this virtual word cascade now pouring from this seemingly broken woman. A once recalcitrant Gina, threw caution to the wind and just let it all out. I wish I could do just that, but with my upcoming plans for Alex, I kept my secrets locked safely away in the murky depths of my mind.

She continued with her story after wiping away tears with the back of her hand which was now shaded with ebony streaks of mascara. I extended my hand and gently touched her arm as she stared vapidly into thin air while recounting the sickening details.

Through her intermittent sobs she continued, “Then somedays it's like I am living with a different person. It's like a switch goes off and he is just a totally different person. I don't understand it, I just don't get it. It will be when I least expect it too. Like you know, somedays we will spend the whole day together, and yah know everything went great. Then when I am ready to go to work he will say something about how I am dressed or how I am wearing too much makeup. You know he will say something about how I look like a whore, and not to collect too many phone numbers because he will be checking my phone later. He says it like he's joking when he says stuff like that, but I've caught him looking at my phone a few times. This is strange, I mean I tell him all the time that I think he is handsome and I love him. I am just so confused about all of this bullshit!”

Her trembling voice trailed off melding with the somber silence of the room. She only paused for a brief moment and then continued, “So this one time, a few months back an old friend of mine, John Nagel, came into the bar where I work. He's a real estate agent and I started talking to him about his business, and how I always wanted to get into something like that. You know cuz I don't want to bartend my whole life. Anyway, he gave me his business card to call him about the real estate test, told me he could give me some prep materials and point me in the right direction. I slipped his card in my bar apron and just forgot about it. I meant to call him, but I never got around to it. That's only because Ron found it when he was doing laundry, or at least that is what he tells me. Sometimes I swear he just goes through my stuff looking for things to get pissed at me about.”

There had to be more to this story, since she wouldn't have brought it up otherwise, so I asked, “What happened when he found the card?”
Gina continued with a shameful tone and her best attempt at averted eye contact, “Well, it's no surprise that he trashed the card so I never got to call John. I told him a hundred times why he gave me the card, but he don't trust me. Can you believe that I still hear about that and it happened over a year ago? God, Ron was so mad at me! He accused me of having an affair for months. I told him to call him and John would talk to him about it. I told him that he would tell him what we talked about. Ron just refused and continued to berate me over and over, harassing me about this fucking business card. Like he wanted an excuse to be mad at me about something.”

She inserted a sarcastic chuckle as she continued while leaning over to stub out her already extinguished cigarette in the overfilled ashtray, “For a solid goddamned month he made me sleep on the couch. A whole fucking month!!! One night I got brave and tried to climb into bed and he kicked me out with his foot. Left a wicked bruise for a whole week, and then once I got up I asked him if he would just forgive me. You know, even though I didn't think I really had anything to be sorry about. He told me to 'shut the fuck up and leave him alone'. That whole month, every night I would cry myself to sleep hoping that it would be over the next day. It was hell, just pure hell. Then one day, out of nowhere, he came up to me and told me he had forgiven me and told me not to let it happen again'. It was just fucking insanity. ”

The sadly sobbing Gina began to dissipate and unveil her woman scorned as she began, “You know I still hear about that shit?! The night before last he asked me if I thought of John while we were having sex. Like ok, yeah, I think about him. Sooooo not happening! That whole day with Ron went great, no issues and then that subject reared its ugly head. Honestly, I was so pissed that I just rolled over and ignored him. Of course, Ron persisted and asked me, 'Well, do you?' Like I said, sometimes I think he just likes to torture me. Sometimes I just don't get the guy?! It's like I want him to love me, because I feel like I love him. And then well, days like this I just don't know.”

She had flaunted the perfect segue when I asked, “What do you mean when you say 'days like this'?”
“Honestly Ms., I just don't know if I want to tell you what happened. You have to understand that I just don't want the hassle of court and I just feel like it would be so embarrassing. That's why I just haven't told anyone about any of this. I honestly don't know how it ever got like this.”
Then I began with my hypocrisy fraught lecture, “Gina, he needs to be held accountable if he is hurting you. It is never alright to hit someone, ever. You need to tell me the truth if he is hitting you. If you don't tell the truth, he may never learn from this. He may never change and he may become even worst than he is now.”
Although, I had never taken my own advice, I had a more simple solution than courtrooms and police reports. A solution of which Gina would eventual discover, by default.

Either way, I was determined and had already made up my mind that day, Ron was indeed, leaving in cuffs.
So I reworked my angle a bit, “Ok then Gina, let's start over. Why don't you tell me how it came to this? I mean when did all this fighting start with your husband?”
She looked at up at me from her clasped hands, “Oh, it has been like this for years. I have been with Ron since high school and it has just been a roller coaster ride since we first started dating. All our friends knew he would explode when you least expected. It got to the point, my girlfriends stopped calling me and we were spending more and more time with just each other; because no one wanted to be around him. He would get mad at me in front of people and I think it made them feel uncomfortable.”

She refrained for a moment until I prodded her to continue, when she said, “ Well there was this one time, in front of a couple we knew, he slapped me pretty hard for like no reason. My girlfriend, Tina, her boyfriend at the time got up and pushed him on the floor. They were in each other's faces yelling and stuff. It was just awful and I was wicked embarrassed. Honestly, I don't even remember why he slapped me that night, it couldn't have been anything too bad. But Ron was drinking and sometimes when he's drinking he gets really mean.”
Then for the first time since I had been there she looked me in the eyes and said, “It's always been pretty bad, but it goes in cycles. This month has been pretty bad.”

I leaned toward her and touched the long shallow scrape visible on her arm and asked, “So, what happened here?”
Without any hesitation she replied, “That is from today.”
I replied, “It looks pretty painful, how did it happen?”
With a look of concern on her face and a trembling fear in her voice she asked, “I think you probably know how it happened, and if I tell you then how do I know he won't come back home after he is arrested and hurt me again? I am afraid that he will come home and try to hurt me again. How will you protect me?”

I tried to reassure Gina by telling her a temporary restraining order would be in place until his arraignment and during that time she had better apply for a permanent restraining order with the court. With the restraining order in place, I told her not to give him an inch and call if he should rear his ugly head. She seemed a little more at ease with my response, but the truth is... no one could offer unyielding security. The sad reality is, at times the truth will not set you free. Sometimes, in fact, the truth may kill you, but not if you kill first.