The Angel Maker – Chapter Six

Fez helped Emberlyn through the next few difficult weeks as she watched her life began to disintegrate.  She felt as if she was watching one of those movies where a pivotal moment is played in slow motion.

A company had been hired to come in, categorize and label everything in the house to be prepared for auction.  To them it meant nothing more than a few days’ work.  To her, it meant the end of everything she had come to know and love.  She resented it, even though she knew the proceeds would be going to charity.

All of these things represented her beloved Mr. Carrington and it was like they were selling him, piece by piece.  She looked at Fez and said “is this what happens when you get old?  You don’t matter and your things don’t matter?  I would think his children would want something to remember him by.”

Fez said “I’m sure you have met his children.”  She smiled and said “yes.”

“He would have left them something,” he said.  “But he knew that all it would have meant to them was how much it was worth when it was pawned or sold.  It’s a shame but it’s true.”

He asked her if she had made any plans when it was time to leave.  “I haven’t even thought about it,” she said.  “I really don’t have anywhere to go.”

Fez said “I have an apartment above my law office.  You can stay there as long as you want.”

Emberlyn was completely caught off guard and fumbled when she tried to express her gratitude, while at the same time being insulted by the suggestion.

Fez quickly read her face and said “there are no strings attached.  I had the top floor of the office turned into an apartment for my daughter.  It was a sort of playhouse for her at first.  She would come to work with me during the summer and play up there.  Later, she was allowed to have slumber parties, supervised of course by her mother.”

A little more at ease, Emberlyn asked “but what if she wants to come visit while I’m there?

“You don’t have to worry about that,” he said.  Then his voice trailed off. “She won’t be coming to visit anymore.”  Emberlyn could see a look of intense sorrow when he said that but she didn’t want to pry.

Mr. Carringtons’ estate was finally settled and she had said her goodbyes. She moved into the apartment and tried to begin a new life.

Two years had gone by and she and Fez were spending more and more time together.  They enjoyed dinners and took in a movie from time to time.  She realized that she was becoming attached to him.  He made her laugh and it had been a long time since anybody had done that.  The idea that she might represent a surrogate daughter to him was not lost on her but he had never made her feel like a child.

He eventually opened up to her about his life.  He had been divorced for nearly ten years but not for the usual reasons of screaming, irreconcilable differences or abuse or adultery.  Their marriage had been fractured beyond repair due to the death of their only child, the daughter he had built the apartment for.

She had been killed in an automobile accident.  Against her mothers’ wishes, he had bought her a car when she turned 16.  Against his wishes, her mother had allowed her to go out with friends during a particularly bad rainstorm.

Invisible fingers were pointed at each other as they tried to recover but it was as if all three of them had died that night.  The grief was just too overwhelming and they eventually parted ways.

He had taken care of his ex-wife until she remarried.  They sent Christmas cards to each other for a few years, wishing the best but eventually all communication ceased after she moved to another state with her new husband.

Mr. Carrington had made Emberlyn feel special and she would always treasure him and his memory.  Fez made her feel special too and he also taught her that it was okay to have fun.

She loved to play pranks on him and he loved it when she did.  One day she anonymously called his office and made an appointment for a consultation. When she arrived, she told his secretary that she was his “11:00.” Watching the dumbstruck look on the secretarys’ face, Emberlyn said not to bother announcing her.  She walked into his office, dressed as a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Fez had opened his world to her and she had accepted it with aplomb.  She was playing dress-up again but this time it was different.  She was wearing designer clothes and elegant gowns.  The only dances in her life were Waltzes and Tangos.  Fez could cut quite a rug and she was impressed.

Even though she was now twenty, there was still a little girl hiding behind her grown-up facade.  The little girl she never got to be.  Fez had seen it emerge now and then but not as much as one night when they went to the symphony.  As they were leaving, she excused herself to go to the ladies’ room.  When she came out, she was squealing with laughter.  As they got into the car, she could hardly stop giggling long enough to lean over and whisper “you’re never going to guess what I found in the bathroom.”

Fez smiled and said “tell me.”  She pulled out what looked like two flattened flesh-colored balloons and said “a pair of boobs!”

They were both laughing uncontrollably.  Then he looked at her and said “do you have any idea how much joy you have brought into my life?

The laughter suddenly stopped and that night, they shared their first kiss.

 

To be continued________________________

 

The Angel Maker – Chapter Five

Later that night, Mr. Carrington suffered a heart attack and died.  Emberlyn was now a widow, just three weeks shy of her 18th birthday.

When the police officers and paramedics arrived, Emberlyn gave an honest, detailed account of her relationship with Mr. Carrington, including how they met, the nightly dancing and the one and only kiss.  She wasn’t ashamed of their relationship and defiantly offered no apology.

She watched as they looked at each other with raised eyebrows as if they were hearing somebody read a pornographic Penny Dreadful.

They had questions, of course.  An older man of means and a young teenage girl would make anybody suspect a perfect motive for murder, although there were no signs of foul play and no indication that there were any problems in this unusual marriage.

The coroner had pronounced time of death and said he saw no reason for an autopsy.  Mr. Carringtons’ age, coupled with his health history lent credence to myocardial infarction, which he noted as cause of death.

As they were taking his body away, she heard one thoughtless officer make an off-hand remark that she had “delivered the kiss of death.”  She cast fiery eyes toward him but held her tongue.

After everybody left, she went upstairs to his room.  She pulled out one of his shirts and held it to her chest.  As she lay down on his bed, her gentle cry turned into an audible wail.  She missed him already and the emptiness inside her was there once again.

She loved him.  Not in the intense, steamy, passionate way she had always wanted to love but in a deeply respectful way.  She had lost her protector, her knight in shining armor.  This exquisite man who had shown her grace and dignity was gone.

A few hours later she was interrupted by the maid, announcing that Mr. Carringtons’ attorney was downstairs.  Still in a daze, she walked into the room where this larger than life man stood with tears in his eyes.  He introduced himself as Frederick Eugene Zabinsky, better known to his friends and colleagues as “Fez.”

He looked to be in his late sixties, had what could be described as a powerful build and was imposing, to say the least.

After the initial condolences, he began explaining the distribution of Mr. Carringtons’ assets.  He was the executor of the estate and it fell to him to see that his last wishes were carried out to the letter.

He took her hand and held it as he clarified the events that would take place over the next several weeks.  He told her that Mr. Carrington had provided for her but that she might be disappointed with his bequest.

At that point, Emberlyn didn’t care about bequests or inheritances.  “What about his funeral, Mr. Zabinsky?” she asked, “and where will he be buried?”

“Please, call me Fez” he said.  “He has requested that he be cremated and his ashes are to be scattered on the grounds here.”

Emberlyn looked at him and asked if she could be the one who did it.  “If you want, yes,” answered Fez.  “I think he would like that.”

He went on to say “you can stay in the house until everything is executed and recorded.  Should you choose to challenge his will, you can certainly do that but I will tell you that you will not be successful and you would be hard-pressed to find an attorney to take your case.”

He was professional and made it clear that he was determined to carry out Mr. Carringtons’ last wishes but he seemed to have an unexpected empathy for Emberlyn.

“I will take care of you any and every way I can,” he said.  “That’s what Otis instructed me to do.  He said that you were strong-willed and capable.”  He looked at her and smiled.  “He said you were a survivor.”

She started to cry and he put his arms around her, softly saying “go ahead and cry little one.  Go ahead and cry.”

Emberlyn didn’t know it at the time but she had just met her next husband.

 

To be continued____________________

 

 

 

The Angel Maker – Chapter Four

Life was good for Emberlyn Carrington.  She was in a world she had never dreamed possible.  She was the queen of the castle and it didn’t take long for her to learn the part.  She became an elegant and polished lady, quickly learning the intricacies of fine dining, entertaining and conversation. Extravagance was now her friend and there was no limit.

Mr. Carrington had kept his word.  She wanted for absolutely nothing and her days were spent shopping for clothes or anything her heart desired but the evenings belonged to him.

Every night, she danced for him as promised and he would still playfully slip hundred-dollar bills under her garter.  There was now enough money to buy glamorous outfits and he was delighted every time she bought a new one.

She became surprisingly comfortable when he hugged her and sometimes asked him not to let go just yet.  She couldn’t remember ever having been hugged and with him, she knew that it was sincere and she felt safe.

She was slowly realizing that she genuinely cared for this man.  He was kind, not only to her but to his maids and servants.  He was even kind to his children who came not to visit, but to ask for money.  When he refused, it angered them but he was no pushover and stood his ground, reminding them that they had been given every opportunity and had chosen to squander it.

They were clearly not fond of Emberlyn but Mr. Carrington made it very clear that he would never allow even one disparaging remark to be made about her.  That endeared him to her even more.  She had never had a champion and she had found one in the most serendipitous way.

For two years, Emberlyn experienced a happiness that almost completely overwhelmed her.  The house was filled with joy and laughter…until one day in the fall when Emberlyns’ past came knocking.

Her mother had found her and without hesitation, threatened Mr. Carrington for having married an underage girl without her permission.  She made it clear that she was prepared to do whatever it took to smear his name and ruin his reputation.  It was clear that she had blackmail on her mind.

He listened as she ranted, raved and warned him of her intentions. Emberlyn watched as this sweet-tempered, warm-hearted man took out his checkbook and asked how much her silence would cost.

Emberlyn was outraged and interrupted him.  She said “if you pay her now, you will never stop.  She will always want more and if you don’t pay, she will ruin you.”

“My dearest dear,” he said.  “I’m not worried about me.  I’m worried about you.”  Then he turned to her mother and said “let’s talk business.”

Her mother sat down and Emberlyn was disgusted with the satisfied smirk on her face.  She had never been much of a mother and her pretentiousness made her sick to her stomach.

Mr. Carrington said “I will pay you a one-time amount and you will sign an agreement, saying that should you ever ask for another penny, you will be prosecuted for blackmail.”

Emberlyns’ mother said she would agree, depending on the number.  “What do you think is a fair amount?” asked Mr. Carrington.

“You tell me,” her mother said.  “How much is a virgin bastard child worth these days?  You do know that she’s a bastard, don’t you?”

Emberlyn had never told Mr. Carrington about her past or her mother or the fact that she didn’t know who her father was.  He acted as though her mother had simply told him that it was raining outside and her ugly remarks didn’t have the impact they were obviously meant to have.

Emberlyn was fuming as Mr. Carrington smiled and wrote a check for $10,000.00.  As he handed it to her mother, he said “I don’t ever expect to hear from you again.”  She took the check, folded it in half and stuck it into her brassiere.

As she walked out of the house, her only remark was “it was a pleasure doing business with you.”  There was no goodbye for Emberlyn, no wish for a happy future.  There was nothing but her usual selfishness.

Emberlyn was embarrassed and felt like she had in a sense, betrayed Mr. Carrington by not telling him about her life.  She begged his forgiveness. He took her hand and said “there is nothing to forgive and we will never speak of this again.”

That night, after Emberlyn had danced for him, she walked over and sat on the bed beside him.  “I want to thank you for the wonderful life you have given me.  I truly cherish you.”  Then she leaned over and gently kissed him.

With tears in his eyes, he hugged her and said “it is I who should be thanking you for making my golden years so rich with meaning.”

Those would be the last words he ever spoke to her.

 

To be continued____________________

 

 

The Angel Maker – Chapter Three

Mr. Starks’ children were adamant that an autopsy be performed but Mrs. Stark wanted him cremated as soon as possible.  That of course, led to a temporary injunction and even more hostilities.

Mrs. Stark was hiding something.  I was sure of that.  Mr. Stark was “with the angels” and I wondered.  Did she arrange the meeting?

A return visit to 38 W. Chestnut Hill Avenue for a follow-up interview with Helga, rendered nothing more than what seemed to be a rehearsed account of Mr. Starks’ kindness and generosity.

Thomas the butler, was somewhat guarded but echoed Helgas’ account almost word for word.  In my experience, they both had the signature characteristics of having been coached.  But coached by whom?  Mr. Starks’ children?  Mrs. Stark?

Exercising due diligence, I began to look into Mrs. Starks’ past and I was completely unprepared for what I would find.  Behind doors that opened dark, unknown places with skeletons in every closet, lay deep secrets and a life from the wrong side of the tracks that she had desperately wanted to escape.

Her mother was alive and still lived in the trailer park where Emberlyn Beck had been raised.  They were by all accounts, estranged. Emberlyn was ashamed of her mother and even more ashamed of where she was from and who she was.  She didn’t want anybody to know that she was a “bastard child” as her mother liked to call her, when she was drinking.

Her mother had never married and word had it that she didn’t even know who Emberlyns’ father was.  How she had managed to make ends meet was clear but when she decided to sell Emberlyn to a prospective John, Emberlyn ran away from home.

She quit high school, lied about her age and got a job at a night club as an exotic dancer.  After finding Emberlyn asleep under a bush in the parking lot, the owner, Mr. Richards, allowed her to stay in a back room in exchange for sweeping up after the club closed each night.

He was a strict businessman but he was also a kind man.  He took Emberlyn under his wing and became a father figure to her.  He protected her as if she was his own daughter.  He brought food to her and even added extra locks on the door so she would feel safe.

Night after night, she danced and served drinks, enduring cat-calls and inappropriate drunken passes.  But she was a quick study and soon learned how to manipulate that kind of man.  A little insincere flattery and the promise of perhaps a touch later, would open wallets faster than a speeding bullet.

One night Emberlyn danced for a well-dressed gentleman, named Otis Carrington.  He had become a regular and it was clear that he was completely smitten with her.  He slipped hundred-dollar bills under her garter as she danced in front of him.

It wasn’t long before his benevolence reached beyond the club.   He was a lonely old man who was willing to pay for companionship and she was a young woman who was willing to sell it.

Otis Carrington was a self-made man who himself was from the wrong side of the tracks and like Emberlyn, he knew early in his life that he wanted more.  Not formally educated but highly intelligent, he started a software company and made millions when he sold it.

He was a recent widower, having been married for almost fifty years.  He sired four children, all of whom were drug users and petty criminals.  Their name and his money had kept them from suffering any severe penalties, such as prison but they were entitled children who expected an inheritance that would provide for them.  What they didn’t know was that Mr. Carrington had completely cut them out of his will and everything he had would go to charity.

It wasn’t long before he asked Emberlyn to move into his house with the promise that he would take care of her financially.

He was her ticket to the kind of life she had always dreamed of.  To her, this was a business agreement and having a sharp business acumen, she agreed only if marriage was on the table.  Her hypocrisy did have its limitations. She wasn’t above moving in with a man she didn’t love but she was not going to be his whore.

There was no hesitation on his part and he agreed.  Two days later, he presented her with a 15 carat flawless, near colorless diamond ring.

When she told Mr. Richards of her plan, his only question was “why would you want to marry an old man?”  Her response was “money.”

Despite the disapproval of his children, the date was set and although Emberlyn intended to follow through, she had questions.  “Exactly what are you expecting from me?” she asked.

“All I expect from you is to be my companion,” he said.  “You will want for nothing and I will ask for only one thing.”

“What is that one thing?” Emberlyn asked.

“I would like for you to continue to dance for me,” he said.

“Is that all?” she asked.  When he said “yes,” she was puzzled and asked why.

She listened as he said “I was diagnosed with prostate cancer ten years ago and my reproductive organs no longer function.  I understand that you are a vibrant young woman and you will be in what is a rather unorthodox marriage but I want you to know that if you want to have a friend, it’s alright.  I would only ask that you be discreet.”

At that moment, Emberlyn felt such compassion for this gentle man whose attention she had captured.  He wasn’t trying to buy sexual favors from her. He was offering to take care of her and was even more generous in agreeing to share her.

Suddenly, she wanted to take care of him.

 

 

To be continued_______________

The Angel Maker – Chapter Two

I was looking for any detectable signs of grief but was momentarily distracted when she crossed her legs and let one of her feet slide out of its slipper.  She balanced it on her toe, while gently swinging her leg back and forth.  To say that it was enticingly sexy would have been an understatement.

I watched, almost completely mesmerized by the fluidity of her movements until, once again I snapped back into reality.  She was a potential suspect, not the object of my fantasies.

I had heard of women like her.  Women who could paralyze you with one look and have your complete submission before you even knew there was a battle for your soul.  As I studied her face, I wondered “is she really that beautiful or does she just act like she’s that beautiful?”

Unprompted, she began to talk.  “You know, detective Hooker.  I’m sure like everyone, you probably question my motives for marrying a man so much older than I.  These ‘May-December’ unions are almost never accepted and seem to invite hostile accusations.  Wouldn’t you agree?”

I hesitantly said “yes, I agree but I also understand why people who are close to these older gentleman, especially their children would be skeptical.”

She said “I guess you want to hear me say that I loved my husband and that I would have never wanted anything to happen to him.”

“Did you love your husband?” I asked.

She stood up and slowly walked over to the window.  As she looked out over the expansive manicured grounds, in a soft monotone she said “detective Hooker, love isn’t a tangible thing.  There are different degrees.  There are different planes on which it resides.  It can be passionate.  Obligatory. Casual.  It can be used as a weapon.  It can be used as a bargaining chip.  It can be comfortable.  It can be intense or it can be apathetic.”  She turned and said “it can be any or all of those things.  It can also be platonic.”

“Is that your way of telling me that your marriage to Mr. Stark was platonic?” I asked.

She sat back down and said “unless that is of particular pertinence to your investigation, I am not going to answer that question.”

She had already told me that they slept in separate bedrooms and although forty years her junior, Mr. Stark could have most likely with or without the help of some little blue pills, been functional.  If their union was platonic, there was a reason.

“Would you say your marriage was a happy one?” I asked.

Without missing a beat, she said “is your marriage a happy one?  I mean, I assume you’re a family man.”

When I told her that I wasn’t married, it was like handing her a loaded weapon.  With an almost subtle hostility, she began firing.

“Why is that?” she asked.  “Are you married to your job?  Have you never found the right one or have you just never found who you consider to be your equal?  Are you a snob?  Are you a psychopath?”  Then she leaned forward and said “or is it all of those things?”

I smugly asked “is that supposed to rattle me?”

“Did it?” she asked.  “No,” I said.

With a smile, she said “good, because I was just gauging the temperature.”

I said “okay, now getting back to you.  Was your marriage a happy one?”

With an almost playful look in her eyes, she said “detective Hooker. Happiness is a state of mind, don’t you think?”

She was a smooth operator and an expert at deflection.  She was using my own questions to manipulate me but deflection often reveals more than an answer.

One thing was clear.  Mrs. Emberlyn Stark had a secret.

 

To be continued______________

 

 

Every Woman Needs A MANnequin…Or Two

They say that all men want a good-girl wife and a trashy-tramp girlfriend.  I really don’t buy into the reverse of that belief because sadly, I have always been a one-man woman.

But the times they are a-changing.  I had one MANnequin named after the luscious Wentworth Miller.  I now have another, named Michael after the character played by the luscious Wentworth Miller.

They are great!  They are the perfect men!

They will never lie to me, cheat on me, hit me, ignore me or emotionally murder me.  They won’t pick up a disease from some trampy skank.  I won’t have to listen to any of their drunk-ass bullshit rhetoric.  I won’t have to listen to them proclaim to be “God.”

Alas, the one thing they would do (ala Loser) is stand there like a dead tree while somebody in a drunken stupor, tortures me.  Fortunately, I no longer allow anybody to do that.

So…here is “Michael aka Wentworth Miller aka Kaniel Outis in Ogygia.”

Here is my mannequin wearing his clothes and shoes.


I had a time getting his shoes on.  I had to use pliers.  Then I had to put his pants on before I attached his right leg and stuck his left leg into this thing-a-ma-bob that holds him up.  He is HEAVY.

The clothes came complete with “dirt” stains and a small hole in the back of the pants.  They don’t smell like him (dammit.)  The only detectable smell is the mannequin, which has a rather pungent plastic smell and is actually giving me a headache.

I told my “other” high school friend about them and he just hollered.  Then he said “you have way too much time and money on your hands.”

Oh yeah?  Bite me.

I have dress forms all over my house.  I have one in the second bedroom, wearing a dress made out of a newspaper.  Those were all the rage in the 1960’s.  I have one in the third bedroom that wears an 1800’s dress.  It has lace inserts and was completely hand-made.  In my bedroom, I have one who wears a pink lace “teddy” from Paris.  I’ve never been to Paris of course, but Loser has and he brought that back to me.  I have never worn it, nor did I wear the other three he brought me.  I gave those away and kept the pink one (although I don’t know why.)

I can’t rival Qin Shi Huang and his Terracotta Army and holy moly,  I wouldn’t want to.  I have enough mannequins now, I think..but ya never know.