Rose’s Story is framed by a former Georgia Senator suddenly killed just two weeks before publishing a scathing report linking high-ranking Georgia officials and Georgia’s Child Protective Services (CPS) to child trafficking and child prostitution.
The Senator’s death is reported as a murder-suicide by her distraught husband. Yet it looks more like a double murder to prevent the publication of her report. Shockingly, local police and FBI never explore the double-murder possibility, never seriously collect forensic evidence. Why?
Rose can hire any writer at any price. She chooses Murph to stay low key and undetected and she asks Murph to familiarize himself with the Senator’s death to explain her rationale. Rose must tell her story, yet she fears the repercussions of directly challenging CPS.
Look for Rose’s Story to appear this month.
Carla and Murph return.
Rose Friedlander tells her story, a story of murder and depravity, a story about what goes on behind closed doors in the worlds to which we are generally not privy.
Money and privilege have allowed the people in Rose’s life to create their own rules. Worth nearly a hundred million dollars herself, Rose believes her father has killed her twin sisters and her mother. The man she marries has unusual proclivities, a gross understatement. Rose is about to detail how even the most sacred of sacred can be bought and how the weakest and most vulnerable of us are never truly safe.
Rose’s story will open your eyes, hurt your heart and restore your resolve.
Look for Rose’s Story to appear this month.
…The Chinese restaurant Murph’s mother Pearl loved to eat in was on the same block as the Roosevelt Theater, a bit further down the block and just before the curve. That block was a long one and it actually did curve, and just past the curve was the Long Island Railroad, still overhead at this point although by the time it got to the Bayside Station it was lower than the ground, down two sets of stairs. The Chinese restaurant wasn’t a Chinese restaurant anymore, but back across the boulevard, adjacent to the railroad bridge, on the second floor of a building whose first floor was vacant, was the pool hall and Tattoo Parlor that had always been there, their signs still in English. Murph had never been in either one of those places.
On toward Bayside and out of Auburndale, the memories were more adult memories than childhood ones. Murph sped up a bit and let his mind relax, thinking this wasn’t too far from where he lived now. If he didn’t follow the curve and left Northern Boulevard just before the tracks, he’d find his way toward a different part of Flushing than where he’d been, and with a couple of subsequent turns he’d be pretty close to his apartment. If he had come from there instead of from Carla’s, he would have made the trip on the Long Island Expressway, a faster and much more direct route. He could have done it that way from Carla’s too, but since he’d had the time he’d taken the cruise.
Murph and ugly Mary spent quite a few times together since Alan stayed with his girlfriend and eventually married her. At first they didn’t like each other. Murph thought she was ugly and maybe she thought he was too. She didn’t want to be there, wherever they were at the time, and neither did Murph. She was cold to him and he reciprocated in kind so that their first time at the RKO they could have been sitting in different rows, that’s how far apart they were. She was chubby and pimply and one corner of her blouse stuck out of her jeans. Murph was chubby, had a flat top haircut and wore thick black-frame glasses, a fat four-eyes with braces. Well into the movie, at one point they each looked over to Alan and Andrea and saw them deep into making out, Andrea’s hand stroking Alan and her pants open with Alan’s hand buried in there somewhere.
“Wanna make out?” Murph asked.
“No. I don’t even want to be here.”
“Well, me either. Want some candy?”
“No. Just leave me alone and we’ll get along fine.”
Their second time at the RKO was like an instant replay. Murph only went a second time because Alan promised to buy the beer for the next two months. Murph found out later that Andrea had promised Mary she would do her English homework for six weeks.
“Anyway,” Mary said when they were talking about it, “I wanted to see this movie and Alan had the passes.”
“I don’t care about the movie,” Murph said.
“So why you here?”
“Same as you, to help out my friend.”
“Well, that’s a good thing.”
“Yes it is.”
“That’s why I’m here too.”
“You have a boyfriend?”
“Would I be here with you if I did?”
“Well, same here.”
“No kidding,” Murph said. Then, in a bold and daring move, he put his arm around Mary and she didn’t tear it away, which was a surprise. In fact, he thought, she kind of moved a bit closer to him. Feeling emboldened, he started leaning in to kiss her.
“Wait, wait,” she said. “I really want to see this part.”
Disappointed, Murph sat back in the chair and he would have sulked to the end of the movie if ugly Mary hadn’t leaned over to him and kissed him once on the lips, closed-mouthed, when the part she really wanted to see was over.
“If we have to do this again,” she said, “I’ll make out with you…”
Look for Rose’s Story toward the end of May 2017
…Murph’s head spun with memories as he drove. He remarked to himself in the midst of it that this was why he didn’t travel here often. Nathan hated Husky pants. He hated his son wearing them. Nathan hated taking him to Robert Hall and out toward the Island to Klein’s and Abraham and Strauss, two other stores that carried Huskies.
Jesus, Murph thought as memories bombarded him from numerous directions. He remembered the ripped coat and was thinking about it when he came upon the block Georgewood Florist used to be on. He wasn’t sure this was the exact block anymore because the entire area was Korean and all the businesses had changed. But the bicycle store was still there, its signs in Korean, and the brick church was on the block before it—that was Korean now too.
His thoughts became more like flashes here because too many landmark-recollections were in this space. “Hello Georgewood,” was first, the sound of his aunt’s voice in his ears as she answered the phone with those same words every time. That church was where he and one group of his teenage friends used to go cruising for girls at church dances when he was in high school. They traveled in a pack, cruised for girls, looked for and picked fights. The old Roosevelt movie theater was next, on the other side of the street. He’d felt up ugly Mary there and made out with her because his friend Alan’s girlfriend wasn’t allowed to go out unless it was a double-date. So he and Mary got to be partners of sorts, an arrangement. Mostly they went to the RKO Palace on Main Street in Flushing because Alan’s father owned a share in it and Alan always had free passes, but the old Roosevelt was the usual standby. It wasn’t a theater anymore. Now it was a banquet hall and catering center. The RKO wasn’t a theater anymore either. It was an indoor flea market.
Murph had also made out with Mary Lamb at the Roosevelt. Mary Lamb—that was her real name—had a tongue made of sugar, the sweetest tongue Murph had ever tasted in his whole life. If he could still hear his aunt’s voice in his ears, he could still taste that tongue, and when he allowed himself this pleasure, he could picture her face and remember the first time he’d put his hand under her skirt and felt her up over her panties. She’d told him to stop, but she hadn’t meant it. He knew that because he stopped when she told him to and then she asked him why he stopped. So he continued. That was the first time he’d ever found his way inside a girl’s panties. It was his first look inside a girl’s mind too.
Lots of girls were named Mary back then, especially the Catholic girls, and Murph mostly found himself with Catholic girls because most of the friends he hung out with, who were really Alan’s friends, were Catholic. That was why it was church dances, garage parties, beer and fights. Alan came from a mixed family, Jewish father, non-Jewish mother. Technically he wasn’t Jewish, and actually he wasn’t religious at all. In the scope of things it didn’t matter other than it led Murph to being where he might not have ordinarily been, but then they were kids and kids did what kids did, different back then than it was now…
Look for Rose’s Story toward the end of May 2017
After the trip to Hawaii Murph found himself alone at the McDonald’s where, after some thirty-two years, he’d reunited with Carla. Carla had not retired, not even partially. Her preliminary goal was to plod on to sixty-six, and since she’d just turned sixty-five, it was less than a full year away. That definitely seemed doable.
Murph sat in the same booth he and Carla had shared that morning. Sipping his coffee, he thought back to that moment and smiled a bit as he mulled over their time together, some six months now coursing through three seasons though only one season in full. They had watched the leaves wither and die, then huddled and cuddled together through an unusually cold and snowy winter. The welcomed spring had not brought the desired warmth yet, but as the weather often did, thus far there had been a tease or two.
This morning, as usual, Murph had dropped Carla off at the train. He would have gone directly home to his apartment but he had a chore to run in Bayside, some ten miles down the road from the McDonald’s. Feeling hungry, he’d decided to stop. He’d brought his tablet with him, and once settled in the booth, he read what he’d written yesterday, looking at it not so much for like or dislike or good or bad as for correctness and how it advanced the story. That done, he picked up where he’d left off and worked for about a half-hour.
He hadn’t been back to Bayside for a long time. He still went to the dentist over in Bay Terrace, but usually he went with the Long Island Expressway to the Throgs Neck Expressway. If he did go with Northern, he turned on Francis Lewis Boulevard so he didn’t go into Bayside proper. By the time he got to where he was going today, he would have traveled along Northern Boulevard through Jackson Heights, Flushing, Auburndale, and Bayside.
In Bayside, he was turning right on Bell Boulevard and heading up toward the Long Island Expressway. He was going to meet a woman he didn’t know, a woman who’d read his book and contacted him through his website. She said she was looking for a ghost writer and had liked what she’d seen. Murph had sent her the links to his blog and a PDF of his Doctoral Dissertation, and he told her he’d never done this before and didn’t know if he was really interested, but when she’d told him that the potential earnings went easily into six figures, he’d decided he couldn’t possibly let the opportunity slide by without at least seeing what it was. Her address, from the way he figured it, was pretty close to the church where he had gone to Boy Scouts when he was a kid, maybe a block or two from where Mr. Gilbert, the Scout Master, had lived.
After he’d eaten and worked a little, he drove slowly along. He toured up Main Street Flushing and then went back to Northern Boulevard along the road where the Robert Hall used to be, the clothing store where his father, Nathan, a World War II POW survivor, used to begrudgingly take him to buy Husky pants. The whole area was Korean now with not a word of English to be found on any of the storefronts or businesses. It was the same physical space but a different world…