The Angel Maker – Chapter Ten

The next day, Emberlyn took Mr. Healys’ advice and went to Stark Realty. She timidly walked in and said “My name is Emberlyn Zabinsky.  I understand that Mr. Stark is looking for a secretary.”

The receptionist, with a sort of haughty attitude asked “and what kind of experience do you have?”  Before Emberlyn could answer, Mr. Stark walked out of his office and asked “who’s this?”

The receptionist said “Mr. Stark, Ms. Zabinsky is here to apply for the secretary job.”  Mr. Stark looked at Emberyn and without hesitation said “come on in.”

Inside of a minute, Emberlyn had not only gotten her foot in the door, she had gotten her entire self into the office of the big man himself.  Coleman Stark.

She was hired on the spot.  It was a given that she was soon to be virtually homeless and she explained her situation to Mr. Stark.  He immediately offered to let her stay in one of several condos, used for his numerous out of town visitors.

On the way back to what used to be her home, she couldn’t help but think about the twists and turns her young life had taken.  She had suffered immeasurable grief but there always seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

She was starting to believe in the old adage “every time a door closes, a window opens.”  Twice she had lived like a queen and in the blink of an eye been stripped of her sovereignty only to find another crown waiting.

She decided not to wait for the sale of her former home and immediately moved into the condo.  She wasn’t mean-spirited by any stretch of the imagination but now the “show ready” task would be up to somebody else. After all, she had no stake in the house and hadn’t signed an agreement stating that she would remain until it sold.

After she settled into her new condo, she began her new job.  Mr. Stark wasn’t demanding and was an easy man to work for.  At this point in his life he had made his mark, amassed a fortune and was more or less a figurehead but he was still a prominent leader in the community.

He began to ask Emberlyn to accompany him to various functions and she soon became a fixture in his life.  Just as she had done with Fez, she expertly headed charitable events and became adept at hosting celebratory parties for “million dollar sellers.”  She was a perfect companion and drew high praise from Mr. Starks’ constituents.

Her beauty was not lost on him.  She would be the ideal trophy wife and from the first day she walked into his office, he knew that was exactly what she was going to be.  He would have to give her time to adjust to the loss of her late husband and he knew exactly how to play the sympathetic partner.

After a year, Mr. Stark introduced Emberlyn to his grown children.  To say that they had been unpleasant would be generous.  They made it clear up front, that they thought she was nothing more than an opportunistic trollop.  Their treatment of her angered Mr. Stark and caused a rift between them but he was the patriarch of the family and let them know that their malicious opinions were unwelcome.

Another year went by and Mr. Stark considered that to be an appropriate length of mourning, so he asked Emberlyn to marry him.  Her first reaction was to say “I will never marry again.  I don’t seem to have much luck in that area” but she held her tongue.

Mr. Stark was good to her, treated her with respect and showered her with attention.  He beamed with pride when she was on his arm and included her in every aspect of his life.  Now, he was offering her yet another crown and nobody wore them better.

She was fond of him and could see a possible future but she still silently grieved for Fez.  She had loved Mr. Carrington in her own special way but she knew that nobody would ever be able to hold a candle to Mr. Frederick Eugene Zabinsky.

She also knew that he would have wanted her to find someone who could make her happy.  Believing that Mr. Stark could do that, she accepted his proposal.

 

To be continued_____________

 

 

 

 

The Angel Maker- Chapter Nine

Fez had suffered a massive heart attack.  When the paramedics arrived, they told Emberlyn there was nothing she or anybody else could have done.  Like Mr. Carrington, Fez was now with the angels.

She was not quite twenty-three and once again, a widow.

Getting help from George, Fez’s accountant, she started planning for his funeral.  George had a copy of Fez’s will and hesitantly told Emberlyn that his previous will had never been amended, despite numerous pleas.

“Next week,” was what Fez always said when George mentioned it.  “I’m going to make sure everything is taken care of.  There’s time.”

But time ran out for Fez.  Everything he owned would go to his former wife. His office building, his home and all of his assets would go to her. Emberlyn would be left with only the expense account that he had set up for her.

She wasn’t thinking about that, though.  She was thinking about what kind of burial this wonderful man should have.  George told her that Fez had secured two plots many years ago and the tombstone was already in place. It had his name and the name of his former wife.  Below theirs’ was his beloved daughters’ name.

She asked George whether she should have the tombstone removed and replaced.  “There’s no question that his former wife would most likely not want her final resting place to be beside a man to whom she was no longer married, don’t you suppose?” she asked.

George reminded her that she would not have a say about decisions, up to and including where and how he was buried because not only had Fez never changed his will…he had never changed his medical proxy.  “His former wife can do whatever she wishes.  She might opt to sell the plots, have the tombstone removed and have Fez cremated,” he said.

It was clear that Emberlyn could do nothing but what she could do was contact his former wife to let her know that Fez had died.  At some point she of course, would be reached to receive her inheritance but Emberlyn thought she might want to pay her respects at his service.

Emberlyn made the decision to call his former wife.  A few days later, she and her husband flew into town.  She was cordial but not overly friendly to Emberlyn and made her intentions clear.  Everything would be sold and converted to cash.

That of course would leave Emberlyn homeless, just as she had been when Mr. Carrington died.  Although it was agreed that she could occupy the house until it was sold in exchange for making sure it was show ready, it was implied that she should secure another residence as soon as possible. Accomplishing that was a dim prospect, due to her lack of funds, but Fez’s former wife seemed unsympathetic.

George suggested that she try to find a job.  The only job experience that Emberlyn ever had was as an exotic dancer.  There was every possibility that Mr. Richards would give her a job but dancing for a living was what she had tried to escape and she wasn’t sure she wanted to put herself back into that world.

The next day, the doorbell rang.  Emberlyn answered and a man introduced himself as Dan Healy.  “Mrs. Zabinsky?” he asked.  Emberlyn was somewhat taken aback and said “yes.  Can I help you?”  He said “you called yesterday about having your property appraised but I must say, you sounded much older on the phone.”  Emberlyn said “I believe it was the former Mrs. Zabinsky who called.”

Healy, a little embarrassed, said “beg your pardon, ma’am.  Should I wait and talk to her?”

“No,” Emberlyn said.  “I will be happy to show you around.”  As they walked from room to room, she started thinking.  “I could do this.  Answer a call, meet someone at a house, look around, get them to sign on the dotted line and then collect a big paycheck.  How difficult could that be?”

Not knowing just how the business worked and the education that was required, she casually asked the agent if they needed any help.

“As it happens,” the agent said “the old man is looking for a secretary.” Emberlyn said “oh, I don’t have any skills in that field.”  The agent looked at her and said “I wouldn’t worry too much about that.  He just mainly wants somebody to answer the phone, remind him of appointments and…”
“And what?” asked Emberlyn.  “Look pretty,” he said with a laugh.  “You should call and ask for an interview.”

“Okay,” Emberlyn said.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t catch the agency you are with.”

Healy handed her his business card and said, “Stark Realty.”

 

To be continued_______________

 

The Angel Maker – Chapter Eight

Fez kept his word to his grandmother.  He and Emberlyn arrived in Jerusalem and made the trek to Mt. Zion.  When they found Oskar Shindlers’ grave, Emberlyn was so moved that she began to cry.  “There are so many stones here,” she said, “and each one of them represents such love and respect.”

Fez placed his grandmothers’ stone on the grave and seemed to be memorizing every inch.  Emberlyn was sure he was trying to somehow let his grandmother see it through his eyes as he had promised.   She asked him if he was alright.  He said “he was such an extraordinary man and he’s the reason I’m here.”

Several minutes later, Emberlyn asked Fez if he would take her to the Wailing Wall.  “I want to leave a message,” she said.  “You know that you don’t have to be Jewish to leave one.”  Fez smiled and said “yes, we’ll go.”

Standing in front of one of the holiest of holy places, Emberlyn took Fez’s hand and said “how could anyone look on this and not feel changed?”  She took out a small piece of paper and slipped it into a tiny crack in the stone.

Legend has it that any wishes left at the Wailing Wall will come true and Emberlyn was hoping that hers would.  She didn’t tell Fez her wish and he didn’t ask.

This journey seemed to strengthen their bond even more.  Emberlyn was appreciative of Fez’s heritage and the plight of his people, now considered to be her people, was stirring to her blood.

Fez surprised her with a small Dove of Peace, carved from a Jerusalem stone. It held an olive branch in its mouth and the word shalom was carved into its wing.  It would be something she would always treasure and she held it in her hands on the plane ride back home.

Back in the states, Fez had taken on a difficult case.  He had been hired by Walter Combs, a wealthy local businessman.  Combs’ wife had filed for divorce, citing multiple charges which included serial adultery as well as emotional and physical abuse.  Combs had denied each and every charge and was counter suing, stating that his wife was mentally unstable.

Like any attorney, Fez’s job was to prove the innocence of his client, while simultaneously proving the guilt of his accuser.  Combs had every advantage.  He had position, power and money.  He had removed his wife from all the credit cards, closed the checking account and stopped paying the mortgage on their home.  He had left her almost penniless and at the mercy of whoever was willing or able to help.

It was an ugly divorce and the more Fez talked to his client, the more he knew that all the charges levied by his wife had to be true.  Combs was an arrogant, self-serving, self-important and deceitful man.  More than once he had suggested that Fez help him fabricate evidence but being an honorable man, he refused.

Fez discussed the case with Emberlyn throughout the coming months.  He confided in her that he wished he had never taken Combs on as a client.  It was apparent that the case was taking a toll on him.

One night, Fez seemed particularly anxious.  He told Emberlyn that the next day, Combs’ wife would be put on the witness stand.  He knew that if he did his job, he was going to rip her to shreds and watch her figuratively bleed to death.

That’s exactly what he did.  Combs’ wife was an absolute wreck.  She could hardly answer any questions with credibility and when asked if she had proof of any of her allegations, she hung her head and said “no.”

When Fez finished his cross-examination, Combs patted him on the back and said “way to destroy her.”  Fez looked at him and said “don’t ever put your hands on me again, you maggot.  I despise everything about you.”

Because of Fez’s aggressive attack, Combs was successful.  He was granted the divorce.  The judge awarded very little to his wife and delivered a coup de grâce when he suggested that she seek counsel for her mental illness.

That night, Fez was visibly shaken about the case and Emberlyn could tell. He sarcastically said “I’m such a great attorney.  I just beat the shit out of a poor woman who had already been destroyed by a piece of garbage.” Emberlyn had never heard Fez talk like that before.

Then he looked at her and said “I wish there was something I could do for her.  Maybe I could give her some of the money I made off of that monster husband of hers.”  Emberlyn said “if that’s what you want to do, I think you should.  Maybe you could offer her your apartment until she can get her feet back on the ground.”

Fez looked at her and said “that’s a great idea.  I think I will.  Thank you, dear.”

Emberlyn told Fez that she was going to go upstairs to slip into something more comfortable.  Fez said “I’ll be up in a minute.”

When he didn’t come upstairs, Emberlyn went to check on him.  She knew he was mentally and emotionally exhausted and thought maybe he had fallen asleep in the chair.  As she crept nearer, she realized he wasn’t asleep.

He was dead.

 

To be continued________________

 

Happy Birthday To Me

I went to get a birthday gift
Especially for me.
But couldn’t find a goddamn thing
So I just let it be.

I really don’t need anything
My house is full of stuff.
So why would I want something else
I truly have enough.

I won’t buy love or happiness
Although I know it’s done.
I won’t write checks for company
Or pay for some tramps’ fun.

One more year has come and gone
And it’s just like before.
Get up, get dressed and wonder why
I bother anymore.

It’s just another day for me
It’s been that way for years.
It’ll come and go like Mothers’ Day
No card…no call…no cheers.

Again I’ll tell myself the truth
And once again I’ll see.
It does no good to grieve for things
That aren’t and will not be.

But Michael’s in the bedroom
And Wentworth’s in the den.
And like I said “what we all need
Is our own mannequin!

I gave to me the bestest gift
Although it will be late.
I bought the latest season of
You guessed it…prison break!

On June the twenty-seventh
I’ll get my DVD.
In perfect cadence I will sing
Happy day to me!

 

The Angel Maker – Chapter Seven

Six months later, Fez and Emberlyn were married.  She moved out of the apartment and into his grand house and her life began anew.  She took to her role as a prominent attorneys’ wife, hosting parties and organizing lunches for charitable causes.

Just before her 21st birthday, her past once again came calling but this time it wasn’t for the threat of blackmail.  She received word that her mother had died from a Heroin overdose.  She put on a cavalier face when she told Fez and acted like she didn’t care.

Fez knew about Emberlyns’ troubled past.  He knew that her mother had tried to blackmail Mr. Carrington and he also knew that she had tried to sell Emberlyn.

He told her that she should do whatever it took to make sure her mother had a decent burial.  “The past is the past,” he said “but she was your mother.  Maybe the last thought that went through her mind before she died, was about you.”

Emberlyn wondered how she had been so fortunate to have found not one, but two remarkable men.  Not a day went by that she didn’t whisper a prayer, thanking God for bringing them into her life.

She had her mother laid to rest in the graveyard near the trailer park, aptly called Stoner Cemetery.  She and Fez were the only attendants.  There were no tears.   She left no flowers.  She just stood in silence and then walked away.  The only thing etched on the headstone was her name, date of birth and date of death.  Emberlyns’ past was now dead and buried.

After her mothers’ funeral, Fez surprised her when he said “we need to get to the airport.”  Emberlyn looked at him and said “what do you mean?”

“I’m taking you to Paris for your birthday,” he said.  The little girl in her came out when she squealed “but what about my luggage?”  Fez smiled and said “it’s in the car.”

Emberlyn had never been out of the state of Pennsylvania, much less out of the country.  She had traveled far from her humble beginnings as the bastard child of a prostitute.  Now she was traveling to a place she could have only dreamed of before.  The most romantic city in the world.  The City of Light.

When they arrived, Emberlyn felt like she was living a fairy tale.  They walked hand in hand down the Champs-Élyées.  They kissed in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and The Louvre.  It was a memory that she would never forget but it would be only one of many.

The next year while they were having dinner, Fez asked “do you know who Oskar Schindler is?”  Emberlyn said “yes, we learned about him in school.”

“I am a direct descendant of one of his Jews,” he said.  Emberlyn knew that he was of the Jewish faith but he didn’t practice.  “I thought we’d go to Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, where he is buried.  I want to take a pebble from the dead sea and put it on his grave.  My grandmother gave me a little stone before she died.  She had always wanted to visit him but she never had the chance.  I promised her that someday, I would go so she could see it through my eyes.”

“Then we’ll go,” said Emberlyn “and she can see it through both of us.”

Emberlyn didn’t know what her faith was.  She wasn’t even sure if Beck had really been her last name.  When she asked Fez if he would like for her to convert to his faith, he was moved.  “Would you really do that for me?” he asked.  “I would do anything for you,” she said.  “You have given me a wonderful life.”  Then she hesitated.  Fez asked what she was thinking.  She said “can we still have a Christmas tree?”

He let out a belly laugh and said “of course.  You have also given me a wonderful life and I would never deprive you of anything.”

 

To be continued______________________

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____________________