Authors: Rebecca Lee
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“I did a few of those,” I said, trying not
to sound impatient. “But to the point of why you are here. I did
push the man. He called me a name when I told him his charity was
run by a bunch of thieves.”
“The Red Cross sir?”
“Well they are. They skim off the top.
Non-profit status doesn't mean the people that work for them don't
make way too much money. They never tell the public any of
I could tell the detective thought I was
crazy. He squinted his eyes like he was struggling to make sense of
“Well be that as it may, I am here about the
alleged assault. I wanted to get your version of events”
“Well I did push him, but not hard,” I said.
“I don't regret it. Check my history, you'll see I've done it
before to other charity solicitors.”
He was jotting notes, looking up every few
“So you have an issue controlling yourself
around people trying to help other people?”
“No, I have issues when I know that people
are taking advantage of the kindness of others,” I said.
The whole conversation was tiring me
“If you want to arrest me, go ahead,” I
said. “I don't have anything to hide and I won't lawyer up.”
“That will depend on the alleged victim,” I
said. “He is thinking it over.”
I nodded my head. I felt nothing. None of it
scared me. If news got out, I would have welcomed the opportunity
to explain my feelings on institutional charities to the media. And
while I was at it, I'd shed light on the narcissism of rich people
who ran charities. And why that behavior was a bad, not good thing
There was so much I wanted to say. And I
welcomed everyone in the world thinking I was crazy. In my mind, at
least I wasn't a phony.
It all raced through my mind as I stared at
the detective. I worked hard to make sure I didn't fidget or even
blink my eyes.
He slid the notebook into his inside coat
pocket and attached his pen beside it.
“Sir can I ask you a simple question.
“Why did you do that? It is pretty beneath
you. I saw you in the owner's box at the Eagles' game on TV. I know
about the “Radiosports” web thingy. You have an impressive
background. Why are you getting involved in crap like this? Are you
I didn't react and waited for a count before
“If crazy means living by my conscience at
all times then Yes, I am crazy. Detective I'll pay the just price
on this or any other matter. I won't duck anything.”
“Well I appreciate your time Mr. West,” he
said as he turned and struggled to open the big door behind
“Oh, make sure you be real careful out on
that bike. This isn't the time of year for that.”
Him mentioning the motorcyle caught me by
surprise. And I was always a hard man to catch off guard.
If he knew about many of my other
extra-curricular activities, there was nothing I could do about it.
I didn't know this Altobelli from a hole in the wall, but I knew I
hadn't seen the last of him. And I also knew the next time wouldn't
have a damn thing to do with some piddly assault complaint.
I shrugged my shoulders and ran to the
closet just off the mammoth kitchen near the attached garage. I
needed some air and I needed to wake up. I'd been vegging out in
that dank monument to my parent's greed for too long.
A bike ride on the edge of crazy in the
middle of the winter, sounded like a great way to clear my
I loved the downtown Hyatt on Friday nights.
They had great drink specials and when I'd meet some of my lawyer
friends, it was quiet enough to hear each other talke.
With the big case assignment in
Philadelphia, I had my exit ticket and excuse to not have to be
involved in Christmas. Plus it was the big hour job I needed to
make the difference when the partners were voting on my
Being away from South Florida was just what
I needed, even it mean going to cold, ugly, gross Philadelphia. If
I would have stayed in town, I'd have been tempted to drive through
Andrew's neighborhood, getting pissed off that we couldn't be
It was about eleven and I was getting ready
to leave the Hyatt and home to pack. But like usual, I got another
bitter shot of reality as my night cap.
Andrew was heading to the elevator and with
one of our newest associates. Gabrielle was her name. She was this
hot little Cuban girl from Little Havana who had gone to University
of Miami Law. I thought from moment one she was a total affirmative
action hire. I didn't find her overly talented or intelligent.
But it was clear she knew how to play the
Seeing them together heading into the
elevator, made me feel like I wanted to die right on the spot.
I sat back down at the bar alone and ordered
another drink. I lost count how many I ended up having. I closed
the place down and staggered the whole way to my car.
I saw Andrew's Lexus SUV right away. I was
so blitzed but somehow I parked next to him with running into
The next thing I knew it was morning.
“Don't you have a plane to catch?”
He looked like he slept the whole night,
even though I figured he'd done very little sleeping.
“What if I tell your wife, you fucking pig?
“Then you'll never work in this State again.
You know how this all works Beth. Don't play dumb. I mean really. I
am not stupid. If I weren't the partner, would I have ever gotten
access between those terrific thighs of yours?”
I couldn't answer. I was so hung over and
emotionally whipped from what I'd seen the night before. He took my
silence for agreement.
“That's my girl. I love you. You know that.
But you have to do this on your own. Philadelphia is the key. Now
go make it happen.”
I shook my head and drove off, thinking the
trip and the whole job wasn't a good idea. For the sake of my self
respect. I needed to leave the firm and go get a fresh start.
But who was I kidding? I was headed to
Philadelphia and the Estate of Tyler West. It was all I had. Plus I
would have done anything to avoid Christmas.
You hurt me. You know that?”
Well I make no apologies. It was a one
time thing though. She's a sweet little piece, but, but she isn't
you. She isn't as talented as you, she doesn't have your “it”
factor. You can do this on your own. You are that
How talented is she?”
Give it a rest. You think I became a
lawyer because I gave a damn about some dead rich guy's estate
income tax shelter? I became one because of access. The prestige.
You know what the worst feeling is? Knowing no matter what you do
when you meet a pretty girl, that you have no chance. But now I
don't have to do anything but ask. That's the reason I do what I
You're a pig.”
And you can't get enough of it. Please
this client. Our future awaits us. I am going to talk to Shawna
after the partner meeting.”
Why should I believe you?”
Wait until after the partner
Why the hell David?”
Because he'll handle the accounting
side. You do the legal. Besides being a monumental kiss-ass, he's
an A-1 number's nerd.”
You sure it isn't so he can spy on me?
This Tyler West sounds like a great catch?”
LOL. You do what's best for you. I'll
never deny you that. Take care of my pussy there though. That's all
I ask. Keep it shaved bald, wet, and tight.”
LOL. Pig. I'll send you my first update
after I've made contact with West.”
David sat down next to me and handed over a
Oh thanks. Hold on,” I
said ruffling through my purse.
No. I got it,” he said
with a smile.
I looked at him and flashed a half smile and
a nod of thanks. I knew I had to head to the bathroom or someplace.
Than when I got back, I'd was going to sit across from him. I was
going to pay him back by treating for something on the trip.
It was going to be that kind of trip. Him
being syrupy nice hoping to get me naked and me giving him
increasingly direct signs I was never going to be interested.
The thought of nearly a full week of it sent
my stress level even higher. It piled on my emotions after the slap
in the face of Andrew and that little whore associate the night
I just wanted to get on that plane and focus
on work. That's all I asked.
I loved the dock areas down by the Delaware
River. Especially after dark in the winter. There was activity and
real people trying to get by in life. I loved that I was able to
blend right into the scene.
After going there so much, I knew a lot of
the longshoremen down there by sight but not name.
The streets around the old city were wet
from snow that melted on contact, but the night was turning bitter
cold fast and the surfaces were becoming slick and dangerous.
I was in full winter gear complete with
arctic ski mask. With all the clothing on, I had forced myself into
my black leather riding coat and got on the motorcycle.
I'd never crashed in my many years of
riding. I never thought about it happening, much less took any
precautions. I just did it. Winter rides cleared my head and
reawakened my soul. I had to do them.
I had to stay on the move.
The docks were clear as I turned out of the
city to the area along the water front. The main access road on the
docs left me the freedom and opportunity to let loose.
I popped the front of the bike up at full
speed and began doing wheelies on the wet pavement.
“Come on! Gimme some ice! Get that wimp bull
shit out of here!” I screamed.
I was on the edge and loved it.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see dock
workers looking on. Cold air rushed into my ski mask peep holes
making my water. They felt like they were going to freeze. If I
would have blinked they would have frozen shut. Ahead and fast
approaching, I could see a fence with barbed wire on the far edge
of the access road.
I wasn't slowing down. What would have been
the fun of that?
With only feet left before a full on
collision, I twisted the motorcycle into an abrupt turn. I felt the
sudden scorching burn of the friction of the concrete against my
I dug and slammed the brakes, causing the
machine to pop up. I was safe and sound. My heart raced
I'd cheated disaster again. I couldn't help
but be smug. Over the years, I'd done so many things where more
experienced better men had died when they tried them. I considered
myself invincible. But it ate me up inside with guilt because I
didn't know why I always survived and others didn't.
“Yeah!” There was a cluster of guys smoking
near the plank leading up to a storage ship. They were going wild,
cheering what they had just seen.
I hopped back on my bike and made the long
trip up the access road for my turn into the old city section of
downtown. I saluted the hard working men freezing their butts off
and they waved back. I was in my glory and in my element.
When I was back amid the tall buildings, I
saw a group of carolers singing to storefronts. They had a
When I saw it, it reminded me how much I
didn't trust charities. And how much I'd grown to hate the
hypocrisy and greed of Christmas in America.
The excitement from a few minutes earlier
had give way to feelings of stale boredom with everything.
There was only one cure. One thing that
would get me through the next few days and to get that damn estate
I headed to my small office in South Philly.
Not far from where the Eagles and Phillies have their stadiums. I
brought the motorcycle inside and parked it next to the thread bare
brown couch across the roam from my desk. I shed the double layer
cold weather gear and riding boots and threw on some soft soled
black Adidas, a dark winter cap and a pea coat. Without wasting any
time to warm back up, set out on foot into the dark urban
“Ahh Detective Altobelli. Here to cuff
I could tell he held back a laugh.
It was well after noon the morning after my
death defying ride but it felt like the crack of dawn. I hadn't
fallen asleep until ten in the morning.
“There was a break in at a facility South of
the City and the ownership was listed as a company belonging to
your parents. There was a bunch of cash taken from two faults. I
wanted to alert you personally Mr. West. And see if you had any
idea who would want to steal from you?”