Paint It, Red (Part II of II)
The tires of the black ’62 Lincoln Continental dug in and spat out the gravel with frustration. It drew alongside the flight of steps leading into Mr -- --‘s luxurious Long Island estate. He flexed his fingers then tightened them around the handle and climbed from the car. He glances at his Rolex, forty-six minutes to spare before the wife would go nuts, the meeting had been shorter than usual and he had chosen to return home despite his own inner-demon’s voice. Usually he would sneak off to his Midtown mistress but that afternoon he felt relieved and didn’t need a spanking from Lucy. Katharine appeared at that moment, standing atop the flight in a transparent gown, waking the millionaire from his perverted thoughts. He turned back, and waved thanks to Ellroy, his disgruntled driver from Denver, as his Lincoln rolled past him and onto the garage.
Katharine smiled at him, with her full red lips, oval face and long auburn head of hair. She, like her bastard husband, was in her late thirties and still looked as stunning as when he had first met her. She smiled weakly and he became distressed by this, she knew about his antics and he constantly embarrassed her in public with his medication. They had an argument a few weeks back but she stayed; she would leave soon if he didn’t sober himself up. But deep down he didn’t care, she was just another money-grubbing whore to him, he would get as fucked up as he liked, she’d get the house no matter what he did. She was fucking the Mexican gardener, Tiago, behind his back too, when he wasn’t working in the auto-shop with his illegal immigrant cousins. He had skipped town a few days ago. ---- planted a kiss on her cheek and led her indoors once he said hello. She said nothing, as always, and just stood there looking beautiful, which was fine by him. He said he’d take her for dinner, take the car down to a restaurant in Little Italy, Giovanni’s. She nodded and he threw himself on the couch. She sat in her chair and stared dazedly at the television with their audio surround system. Then it struck him as he thirsted for nicotine.
Where the fuck is my father’s cigarette case?
He searched the pockets of his pin-striped suit, turned over the living room for it, it was gone. -- -- had left it in the conference room in the Wall Street office. Fuck. What if he’d lost it? What if it wasn’t at work? What if it had dropped out onto the sidewalk on his way to the car? He took a deep breath and went into the bathroom.
Three lines of coke later he knew exactly where it was, lying next to his Filofax at the head of the conference table, now he was shaking. He gathered his things and told his wife to hurry the fuck up – they needed to pop by the office to get it. Hopefully everyone was still there. He told her to get ready; he’d fetch Ellroy.
His mind was clear and for once he was in a rush to do something. Ellroy was out the front, near the gardens, buffering up the limousine, the Aston Martin gazing impatiently at him.
‘Ellroy, I need to run back to the office. Would you mind bringing the car round?’ -- -- asked.
‘Yes suh, say everything OK Mr -- --?’
‘Sure. Just left something at the office, Mrs -- -- is coming with us.’
‘Mrs -- --? But she…?’
‘I know, it’s just a pit stop, we’re going for dinner at Giovanni’s.’
Ellroy raised an eyebrow, shrugged and nodded to his employer. The rich and their lifestyles, he secretly thought.
Mr -- -- turned back to the house to find his wife, ready, waiting on the stairs for him, he ran in quick and grabbed his flask. He would need it. In reality, Mr -- -- was fucked up already. He had been snorting balls of cocaine through a $50 on the way back from work. The high pitched ringing in his ears from the Quotrons had worsened that day. He popped an aspirin and washed it down with the flask and ran out to the porch. He took his wife’s arm, guided her down the stairs and helped her into the Lincoln; Ellroy gave him another peculiar look.
He toed the accelerator, the journey would take just north of an hour. -- -- was bored and turned the stereo up, Katharine wasn’t too rich on conversation anyway.
♯ I look inside myself and see my heart is black,
I see my red door I must have it painted black,
Maybe then I'll fade away and not have to face the facts,
It's not easy facing up when your whole world is black.♯
He fucking loved this song, one of his father’s favourites. The Stones. He sat in the back, gumming, snorting and drinking through his medicine.
‘Mr -- --?’ Ellroy asked.
The passenger door was open and the great figure was leaning over him trying to wake him out of his stupor. -- -- was drooling spit, he looked about, his eyes red and sharp, his wife just stared impassively at him, bearing no judgement whatsoever. She was sick of his shit.
He sat up, and threw up into the door compartment, filling the fucking thing with acidic, yellow vomit. He heard his father’s voice in his ears: “Son, do something you’ll be remembered for, don’t blow your money on cars, houses and fast women. Do something you’ll be remembered for ‘cos either way, we all end up buried in a hole. What’s the point in it all?” He ignored the voice and opened the car door, leaving his wife waiting in the car.
Steam engulfed him and two pedestrians followed the investment banker across the sidewalk and into the glass Jenga set offices. The sun hid behind the gigantic orange weaves of cotton candy in the East atop the colossal glass and metal stacks of the Jenga pieces. He nodded at Vernon, the old guy who opened and closed the door for $20,000 a year. Afternoon sir was all that he said as Mr -- -- pushed past him and into the lobby. He crossed the room deftly and into the elevator.
Once the lift screeched open on the eighteenth floor, the boiler room, Mr -- -- marched across the hallway to the receptionist beyond, as if late for one’s funeral. Adjusting his red and white dotted necktie and inclined his head at the brunette. Early twenties, thick red lips, elbow propping up her heavy head upon its palm, her eyes half open, gazing vacantly into her computer screen. She didn’t even acknowledge her old employer. Talk about an embedded sense of loyalty right there.
Mr-- --- twisted his head from her and shook it, shoved open the entrance double doors and sprang past his fellow colleagues amiably. Ralph, eyes closed, mouth ajar, glasses clinging for dear life on the cliff of his hook nose, fingers interlocked over his obtrusive bulk of a belly, loafers propped up on the desk.
Pete, pen hanging lifelessly from his wide mouth, phone balancing between his plump fingers.
Removing a small vial and a fifty dollar note, the investor emptied the container adjacent to the basin, rolled up the meaningless green paper and Herbert Hoovered the white crystals. Face numb and eyes bulging he started into the mirror, noticing a creak in the cubicle behind, Donnie, the janitor, head bowed and newspaper outstretched, was still on the toilet.
As the investor exited the rest room he contemplated as to why nobody had taken notice of him.
Mr -- -- took a deep breath, calm and concise, he uttered to himself and charged through the door.
There it was. At the head of the desk. His father’s gunmetal cigarette case.
He seized it and took another glance at his fellow investors.
Maude’s face, contorted and mismatched from the shotgun blast, was missing an eye. Mr -- --‘s father had been blown clear against the wall.
Mr -- -- started for the exit and heard a low moaning on the floor. He looked back along the way he came and saw the new investor, Paul something, laying sprawled on the floor pissing out blood. He smiled and looked around the room for something to use. A fire extinguisher was the best thing he could see. He removed it from its latch on the wall. Stood over the man and bludgeoned him to death with it. His brains spraying up and onto his Savile Row pinstripe.
When I got into the car I suddenly realized that I had been carrying half a pound of coke in my pocket around with me all day. And not much left to show for it. I remember saying to myself, ‘Why do I do this to myself?’ So while the engine and Katharine was still idling I got out of the Lincoln and dumped the rest in a trash can. I then got back in the car and Ellroy started to drive us to Little Italy. We weren’t more than ten feet along the street before the car was blocked. There were cars and ambulances all over the place. At first I thought there’d been a suicide, with Black Monday and all, then I thought, they’re gonna kill me. I saw this police officer pop up alongside the car and jam a gun against the side of my head. I thought it was all over. Then he screamed, ‘Put your hands up and step out of the vehicle motherfucker, make a move and I’ll paint your limo red.’
When Detective Christopher Kavanagh first apprehended -- --, he had no idea that he would be the maddest criminal he had ever encountered in his 25 year career on the force.
It had started just like every arrest. There was a caller. In the -- -- case it was the doorman, Vernon Watts, who had received a call from the dying Paul Tanner prior to being decapitated in the boardroom. He in turn telephoned 911 and Kavanagh just managed to get to -- -- before he drove off.
The suspect was different. Somehow he had managed to usurp the law to satisfy his greed for far too long. Charges of tax evasion, drug possession, prostitutes and battery all began to surface once -- -- was apprehended. His gardener had gone missing too. But as for Katharine, nobody knows what happened to her, all that is understood was that she was never in the Lincoln when he was arrested despite everything he has told me and you.
Lucy Berkley – Making Love to a Murder.”