Tuesday, January 17, 2006
1.---Beginning of book about crime-Date July 2000
So, one day the two met--collided together she would say later. But it didn't just happen. Sure, shit happens--and it certainly did in this case--but there were a few unfortunate meetings which led to this fateful pairing.
Let's go back to a meeting of "Doormats Anonymous" where Tinsel attended regularly hoping to get rid of a little pattern she discovered in her relationships. In other words, along with a roomful of other bitter, disenchanted yet still hopeful victims, she was looking to change.
At one meeting in particular, she ran into Belle--an older woman coming out of yet another relationship she felt stifled in. They knew each other previously but hadn't seen one another in a couple of years. After catching up they exchanged phone-numbers and within a few weeks Tinsel had agreed to an out-of-the-blue invitation to a recovery seminar.
There she met up with an old collegue and this led to the rekindling of an alliance which eventually landed her in the quaint little town of Mildew.
Now, don't get me wrong, this is no Transylvania. Oh no! Why, nothing could be further from the truth. From the first moment she stepped off of the EL she was charmed by the wooden platform and Station House. Mildew itself had plenty of perks for a city-dweller like herself. First of all, there were all the obvious things like being close to public trans and plenty of nearby food stores. Then, the apartment itself was huge compared to what she could afford for the same price in the city. And then, last but not least, there was the courtyard--the trees, the birds--and not just pigeons--bluebirds, cardinals and even the occasional yellowbird. Here was a miniature paradise, none of which she was used to in the city and it was a welcome sight.
Later she would smile cynically thinking of how even something as natural as a bird's song would be altered forever after her stay at Mildew.
To make a long story short, the years she spent there were not total bliss but it had less to do with Mildew than her own struggles. But there was one problem which foreshadowed what was to come--and that was the new neighbor who moved in about 2 years into her stay there.
Tinsel had already had her share of hard knocks and was pretty much like a beached whale who was in no hurry to get back in the water. She was, as they say, "processing" a lot of shit she'd gone through and felt glad to be somewhere away from the maddening crowd.
So the crowd came to her--and they didn't knock before they came in either. But, that's getting ahead of myself.
So, here she was--in neutral by choice and feeling an odd mixture of relief from the drama and a tingle of anticipation for what lay ahead of her romantically. Relief from it was the foremost feeling though and that was a result of working on "issues" and feeling a sense of power as she began to understand and become more aware of her own psychology. She felt that "aha" feeling more & more often as the puzzle pieces began to fall into place. This also gave her a newfound feeling of confidence and hope for the future--as though learning where she'd been could erase the ugliness that was and replace it with a clean slate--a new lease on life--a new beginning. It was a very exciting and magical and, despite outward appearances, very enriching time.
But that was over 7 years ago. Back to the present and this weird situation. Tinsel was slowing down day by day in the throes of something she didn't quite understand and yet knowing there was a way out if she could only hang on long enough to find it.
Her ability to concentrate was erratic from one day to the next and this is where she decided to seize the moment and reach out to the only person she knew who might be able to help. And there were only two people she knew who fit the bill. One--a writer and the other--a private eye. Rich would have been the perfect one but unfortunately not available--so that left Manny.
Tinsel was desperate. She felt she had no privacy and not a moment where she could relax. The guard must stay up for every time she relaxed "they" got an inroad. So she didn't hesitate--she went to his office.
Manny was alot like the old Maytag repairman--always sitting around in his office yet never seeming to have any work to do--yet ready to go should any arrive. There was no receptionist to check in with and no waiting room--kind of like a fast food drive-in. Let's just say he was easy to access.
And today wasn't any different. When she burst through the door there he sat--his usual glum expression--the one that looked you over without giving a clue as to what was going on inside. Except for an occasional slip of the eyes, he gave up nothing. For some reason, on him, this was reassuring. One of those stable things you can count on staying in place like a favorite tree or a path in the woods.
As she sat down to spill her story, the familiarity of the room engulfed her similar to the way it might feel for a homing pigeon to arrive at it roost. He was his usual self--quiet, unasssuming and attentive at the same time. She knew she could trust him with just about anything but this was that one-in-a-million situation that fell outside that safety net. She fell silent and lay back wearily.
Her eyes slowly moved across the room taking in each surface slowly as if reacquainting herself with it's various textures and the shadows cast by the small desk lamp. How many times had she done this without even thinking about it? For a moment it was just another one of those days before IT began. The moment passed as she glanced into his eyes and recalled their earlier telephone conversation.
And he had a good reason to wonder. The obtuse round-about account she had given him hardly left him with a clue. All he knew for certain was that she was in trouble--Big Trouble. And, looking at the condition she was in now, it was obvious that nothing had changed since that phone-call.
She opened her mouth to speak and it was as though some unseen force held her back. She'd start--then stop. It was uncanny! He'd never seen her at a loss for words--ever--in all their 15 years of knowing each other.
"What-what is it--are you okay?"
"Yes-I-well no-it's just that..."
"What's this all about? You can tell me."
"It's not that simple."
"Well, we have plenty of time-so start at the beginning."
"When did it begin?"
"I...I'm not exactly sure..."
"Think-when did you first know something was wrong?"
"It's just that..."
"Would you like to go get a cup of coffee?"
"Yes-okay-that would be good."
"Let's get it to go and come back here."
And so they went. As soon as they got outside it began. She got nervous and began to look all around nervously as though she were being pursued by someone or other. He'd never noticed this before and in his line of work he was very observant of people's personal quirks and this wasn't usual for her by any means. It was so unusual, in fact, that he found himself reflexively searching for her pursuer.
"Are you okay?"
"It's just around the block."
When they reached the diner she stopped and looked around nervously and said
"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea."
"Oh no you don't! Not so fast-first we're gonna have that cup of joe."
"I really have to be getting back."
"Tinsel! You're not going anywhere until you tell me what's bothering you--so try to relax and we'll get to the bottom of this. Together--okay?"
"I'm sorry, I just have to be going. I'm sorry to waste your time this way but this is just not the time. I'll call you as soon as the time is right. Sorry again."
And with that she ran off into the rain-soaked streets and disappeared into the crowd in a matter of seconds.
He felt a dull thud in his gut as he looked off after her and finally resigned himself to the fact that this bird just wasn't gonna sing. He didn't know then that he wouldn't see her again for another 10 years.
He found out about her untimely death 2 days after the actual event by mail. Her letter, written some months previously, started out:
"In the event of my untimely death..."
She always was direct but this was more than usual as she normally was better able to read his own ability to take in certain information. Her personal diplomatic touch was missing. I guess it died along with her peace of mind.
She didn't bother beating around the bush with flowery, mushy farewells. No siree, this was a plea for an out-and-out investigation and she was professional all the way--leaving information about her personal health, etc. and pointing him in a very mysterious way towards Mildew.
Though she painted a very intriguing picture so he'd go ahead & look into the suspicious nature of her death, she left more of the puzzle pieces out than in. Apparently she wanted to leave enough crumbs to get him to the scene of the crime but not enough to draw definite conclusions.
"Why?" He wondered aloud. I mean, why would someone play pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey by blindfolding you at this point in the game? After all, this was her last chance to put him anywhere near the damn donkey. Games! Bah! Oh well, one last one couldn't hurt. But it was strange because she never was much for games. In fact, she sneered at them as she considered them a waste of time--and she hated wasting time--hers or anyone else's.
But that wasn't anything she'd ever have to worry about again. Her time was up--none left to waste and certainly she'd be the last one to object to one last game.
Anyway--the donkey will also be dead if we don't move on with the story.
First things first. He checked with her family to see if she was actually dead--hoping she had simply mistakenly mailed out some weird letter she'd written while in a rather depressed mood. But no such luck. There would be no one to spin this player around. He'd have to pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey all by himself and as he read the letter his head was spinning.