A Song of the Past: Thirty-seven
Sunday, 3:00 PM
Deirdre pulled up along the curb by Alvin’s housing project, and saw him holding court on the stoop of his building with his posse yet again. Within a minute he spotted her sitting in the car. She heard him say, “Yeah, my bitch here again,” and then he sauntered over to the car.
She looked up at him with a dazed expression, and a huge grin broke out across his face. “So, you finally figured it out, huh?”
She nodded numbly.
“So, let’s have a talk, right?”
She nodded again, and Alvin opened the passenger door and slid into the seat next to her. “But we ain’t gonna talk here: We’re gonna take a little ride.”
“No, Alvin, let’s talk here.”
He put his hand into the pocket of his hoodie, and from inside the pocket she could see protruding the shape of a gun. “No, we gonna go talk somewhere else. In fact, I think we gonna go up West Rock. You love it up there, right, DeeDee?”
“I think I am getting away with that. So just drive and shut the fuck up until we get there.”
Deirdre thought for a minute about what she might do instead of following Alvin’s orders, but nothing came to her, so she put the car in drive and pulled away from the projects. Alvin was silent for the fifteen minutes it took them to get to the park, morosely pointing his gun at her all the while.
When they arrived at the top of the park, Alvin instructed her to turn to the right, and soon she found herself back at Judge’s Cave. “Now, let’s take a walk,” Alvin ordered.
They reached the rocks making up the cave, and Alvin commanded, “Stop here for a minute. Let’s make sure you ain’t got no wire.”
His right hand searched her, pausing far too long at her breasts and her crotch, while his left hand continued to point his gun at her.
“You pig, take your hand off of me.”
“DeeDee, you know you like it.” He stopped and grinned. “Or maybe since the other night you decided you like women better, huh?” She looked at him with disgust. “I’m just kidding wichoo. I know you would love a taste of this.” He held his crotch with the hand that had been searching her. “But you ain’t gonna get it. Come on, let’s go chill on the rocks.”
He led her up to a perch a few feet up the face of one of the rocks, sat himself a few feet away, and said, “Relax, take a load off. We have a lot to talk about!”
When she reluctantly sat down, he asked her, “So, how you like it?”
“What are you talking about?”
“My play! The one I put on for you. Murders, secret societies, deep conspiracies, dead fucking cats swinging from fans—that was some good shit, huh?”
“A play? This has all been a play? Staged for me? Why me?”
“You really don’t remember, do you?”
Deirdre, having no idea what he was getting at, shook her head.
“Man, when you was first on the force, just a beat cop patrolling the streets, you busted me for smoking a jay. And I was pissed about that, but I also knew you was really hot. And bright, too. Not as bright as me, of course, but pretty damned bright. So hot and so bright I wanted to make something for you. And so I thought up this whole little drama: the play’s the thing, wherein I’ll catch the attention of the Queen!”
“This was all a play?”
“You never wondered why them clues kept getting dropped in you lap? Oh, wait a second, maybe you won’t believe me unless I talk you way!” Alvin’s voice changed its intonations entirely, and in an upper crust New England accent, he said, “It never occurred to you to wonder why these clues appeared so readily before you, my dear?”
Deirdre stared at him, stunned by the transformation in his demeanor.
Alvin watched her for a few seconds, and then asked, “Yeah, you know why it was so easy to fool you?”
“Cause from the minute you met me, you wrote me off as some dumb nigger from the projects. And all I had to do was keep acting as dumb as you expected me to, and you’d never look at me to have nothing to do with intelligence.”
“Why would you bother? For what?”
“DeeDee, the great soul creates because of the fullness of its own being overflows its boundaries, and must find expression in the world. That’s Nietzsche. You ever read him?”
“You should: my man something else. Beyond good and evil, DeeDee, beyond good and evil.”
“So this was all a performance aimed at me: How did you know I’d get the case when Ben was killed?”
“Yeah, I knew you was the rookie in homicide, and when some piece of shit drug dealer gets hisself killed, who else they gonna give the case to?”
“But what about Evelyn? What happened with her?”
“Look, when I met Jacob, I knew he was a weak mother fucker, and that I could use him. Yeah, I hadn’t wrote the whole play up yet”—he shifted his demeanor as before, and said, “Yes, I had not yet composed the entire work” and laughed, before shifting back to being “himself,” if that’s who he was being—but I still knew I could make him a tool to help me write it. There I was, acting in his plays, and I could see he had the taste for the young boys. So I gave him a couple blow jobs. Small price to pay for having a man with influence at my disposal, hey? From then on, I could ruin him anytime I wanted. Can you imagine, Mr. Preacher Man, Mr. Youth Fucking Charity, accussed of sex with an underage boy? His ass was mine… even though my ass was never his!” Alvin cracked up at his little wordplay. “Scuse me, DeeDee, but if I didn’t have me to entertain me, I’d be mighty lonely!”
He cleared his throat, stood up, and launched into a parody of Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy: “To pee or not to pee, that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler in the dick to suffer, the stings and arrows of the full-ass bladder, or to take arms against the sea of urine, and go take a piss in the bushes over there? Nah, I’m taking up you time. We should just finish up, then I go piss.”
“Anyway, I sussed out what Jacob weaknesses were, and learned that he hated his brother, and lusted after his brother’s wife. So I poured my poison in the porch of his ear, and slowly convinced him that he should have someone go kill Evelyn, and rid himself of her torment, and that we cold try to pin the blame on his brother, and so strike at his hated twin… and then we get a bunch of money, which I’d be happy with just a wee bit o’.”
He looked at her with that crooked grin again. “Oh, yes, Deirdre, I can talk in the fashion of the folk of your blessed isle as well, you know,” he said, in a perfect brogue, and then cracked up again.
“By the way, great archetypes I got in play, huh? The twin brothers and the wanton woman. Nice work on my part, don’t you think?”
“And what about Ben? Why did he kill Ben?”
“Yeah, my boy Ben, he never could keep his mouth shut. He kept shooting it off hen he got high and shit. So I convinced Ben to ask Jacob for money, and I convinced Jacob that Ben was too dangerous to leave alive. Plus, I told him, we could definitely pin this one on Harrison. You know: the shoe, the tie tack, the graffiti.”
“How did the two of you get the tie tack?”
“You never heard of the Internet, DeeDee? People sell that shit. It real easy to get.”
“And the graffiti?”
“Yeah, I put it there. I figured you’d pass it on the way to go get a look at Ben’s pretty-ass corpse. Well, not so pretty after Jacob took his face off, I guess. Why the fuck he shot him in the face I have no idea. My man could fuck anything up.” He shook his head as though reminiscing about a nice night out on the town, instead of a double-murder-and-suicide, and the crooked grin made another appearance. “Excuse me for a sec.”
He took the hand that had been holding the gun out his pocket, reached into the pocket of his droopy jeans, and pulled out a little plastic bag of white powder. Deirdre wondered if she should rush him while he was distracted, but she judged he was just a little too far away: he’d have enough time to get his hand back to the gun. He poured the powder onto the closed fist of his other hand in the little hollow between the thumb and index finger, dropped the bag on the ground, and snorted the entire pile up one nostril. After a couple of seconds, he cracked his neck by titling it rapidly first towards one shoulder and then the other, and said, “Phew! That better. I was feeling a little drowsy there.”
Deirdre was by now terrified. Not only did this maniac have her in isolated spot with a gun trained on her, but he was flying on what had looked to be pretty much an entire twenty dollar bag of coke snorted in one go. All she could think to do was to keep him talking as long as possible, in the hope that someone else would show up or he might let down his guard.
“You don’t care about the people who suffered, who died, to put on your little play? And why the fuck did you have to kill my cat?”
“‘Who can attain to anything great if he does not feel in himself the force and will to inflict great pain? The ability to suffer is a small matter: in that line, weak women’—not meaning the present company, of course!—‘and even slaves often attain masterliness. But not to perish from internal distress and doubt when one inflicts great suffering and hears the cry of it — that is great, that belongs to greatness.’ Guess who?”
“See, I could teach college philosophy. You got it in one!”
“And what about that book I found at Whitlock’s, the one that had been dropped off mysteriously?”
“Yeah, I stole that from the school library a few years ago. Those Puritans was crazy, huh? Anyway, course I couldn’t be sure you’d make it to Whitlock’s, but it was worth a shot.”
“And the note on my doorstep, of course that was you as well.”
“Nice touch, don’t you think? The secret masters will hand over a sacrificial offering, so long you don’t threaten their control of the world! I bet you was ready to believe that shit, wasn’t you?”
“And you drove Jacob to suicide, so that you could walk away scot free. Once he was dead, he couldn’t testify against you, and there’s no conspiracy case.”
“Yep. He called me after you came round his ‘church,’ and told me he thought you was gonna arrest him. I told him I thought the best thing was I just turn myself in and beg for mercy, tell y’all I was sexually abused and whatnot. That’s what really got him. He mighta been able to take being convicted of murder, but no way my man could face people knowing he got blowjobs from a sixteen-year-old boy. Like I told you, I picked him cause I knew he was weak from the start.”
“And it doesn’t bother you that the crimes were really your idea, but he was going to be the one punished for them?”
“‘He who is punished is never he who performed the deed. He is always the scapegoat.’ Of course, Nietzsche again. I’m telling you, my man said some shit, huh?”
“So what now, Alvin? You going to shoot me?”
“Why I wanna do that?” He looked at Deirdre as if she were the one out of her mind. “I went to all this work to make something for you: how you gonna appreciate it if you dead?”
“But you’ve kidnapped a cop at gunpoint.” She wasn’t sure it was in her interest to point this out, but at this point she was so befuddled that she wasn’t sure what was in her interest and what wasn’t. “How do you plan on getting out of that charge?”
“Gunpoint? Gunpoint? What gun, DeeDee?”
He pulled his hand from his pocket and she saw that what he had been hiding there was a large, orange water pistol. He held it up in front of her between his thumb and his index finger, so she could have a good view of it, then he dropped it onto a rock at his feet. He stomped down on it with his foot, breaking it into dozens of shards of orange plastic.
“You really wanna tell the boys back at the station that you got kidnapped with a water pistol, you go right ahead and pick up those pieces and take them wichoo. Personally, I think a lady cop got enough to deal with minus all the boys laughing at her cause she let some punk scare the shit out of her with a plastic toy. And I’ll just tell’em you brought me up here to try to force a confession outta me, and I’ll yell bout the cops abusing poor black kids. You wanna take a bet on how that gonna come out?”
She stared sullenly at the tiny fragments of “evidence” at his feet.
“DeeDee, DeeDee, sometimes you just gotta admit you been beat. Listen, I ain’t gonna make you drive me home—I feel like a walk anyway. So I be going. You know, you ever wanna hook up or anything, you know where to find me. Cause I still think you hot.”
Alvin turned and strode off, taking the same route down from the cave that the Hassidic children had shown her what must have been just a few days earlier, but which now seemed to her like a past life. She watched him disappear down the hillside, and then she began to shake, finding it hard to control her own limbs. Finally, she rose and walked back to the car she had borrowed. She was pretty sure there was some vodka in the freezer back at home, and she was pretty sure she needed to finish it off.