Thursday, February 28, 2008

Radu-Chapter XXXVII (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)

Previous Installments-
Part One
Prologue and Chapters I-X
Part Two
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
Chapter XXXV
Chapter XXXVII
Radu-Chapter XXXVII (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)
5 pages approximate
When Grace looked at herself in the mirror, the first time she was horrified. The second time, she was sickened. Then, she became angry. Finally, as she looked upon her bloated face, with the boils and the running blisters, pus draining from them as they itched and burned, she looked upon her reddened-grayish complexion with a sense of acceptance of the inevitable.

Then, although she could have never foreseen it, she gradually felt something that transcended mere acceptance. She felt a sense of amusement.

“Eddie, I look like an evil clown, don’t you think?”

Edward Akito smiled.

“It is only temporary, I assure you” he replied. “As soon as you have completed the birthing process, you will be your old self, only better than ever. You will see.”

He stepped up behind her and grasped her waist as he stood closely against her backside.

“I always was taken with you,” he said. “Even when you were a little girl, on that first night we met under such unfortunate circumstances. Unfortunately, my wife did not share my passion, or my enthusiasm. That I could forgive, or at least overlook. What I could never abide was her lack of humor and-well, grace-pun intentional, yet apt.”

“I am so sorry that she died the way you describe, though,” Grace said as she leaned backwards in his arms. “Mad cow disease would be a horrible thing for her or anyone to go through. It would be a terrible thing for you to go through her death in such a manner.”

“I always tried to warn her-‘do not eat the brains’,” he replied. “Alas, she would not listen. The hedonistic lifestyle we engaged in, however, does not lend itself easily to self-discipline. She had her tastes, and I had mine. I cannot fault her. What is that old saying? Oh, yes-‘there, but for the grace of God’-you know, your name does seem to lend itself to puns.

“Really, though, Grace, as magnanimous as it is of you to offer sympathy on my behalf, it is not necessary, nor is it warranted. While I tried to save you, she insisted you be eliminated. I tried to speak up for you. So did Mikhail, and so even did Nadia.”

“I still find that very difficult to believe,” Grace said. “I am sure you must be mistaken. Had they meant to protect me, surely Groznyy would have known, and yet Groznyy killed them and all the others girls and women in their charge.”

“Ah, but then again, Groznyy tried to save you, and yet you killed him, no?” Eddie pointed out as he led her toward the dinner table. She was stronger these last days of her pregnancy, and yet she was still weak. The infant to whom she was the host drained her energy and lowered her resistance to fatigue and to illnesses that ordinarily Grace could fight off with but the slightest effort. Now, she was weak and dizzy, and the walk from the living room to the dining area seemed to be more like a difficult though necessary pilgrimage.

“I was not myself when I murdered Groznyy,” she explained. “Seeing as to what I went through, surely you understand that.”

“I am not trying to engender sympathy for Karl Emile Groznyy,” Akito reassured her. “His reasons for wanting to save you were self-serving, and that is putting it kindly. He was weak. Yet, he saved you. You killed him not for the service he performed, but for the simple fact that somewhere deep inside you understood, even at such a young age, that he outlived his usefulness.

“As for the reason Mikhail and Nadia had to die, let us for now just say it was at the time deemed appropriate in order to protect those whose services were of greater value at the time. Phillip Khoska, in fact, agreed to this. Now, it would seem Mr. Khoska has outlived his own usefulness. That is the supreme irony, in that the man who imagined himself to be in charge of practically everything in the known universe, was in fact a mere pawn.”

They sat, and Grace sat in such a way as to be as relaxed as possible. Soon, he served her dinner. She looked upon the hot, steamy and dark colored liquid placed before her with a modicum of suspicion. Eddie smiled at her.

“Do not fear,” he said. “It is merely chicken broth. It is very good for you.”

She lapped it up quickly, and Eddie watched in approval. Her appetite was finally starting to return.

“I have something I wish to show you, back in the living room,” he told her as she finished the broth.

Once they arrived in front of the large plasma screen television that hung on the wall, Grace noted that she suddenly felt much better. Yet, she still felt some anxiety.

“Must Phelps die?”

Eddie looked at her strangely.

“You were quite fond of him, weren’t you?” he asked as he turned on the television by remote.

“He has been a good friend,” she replied. “If he has to die, I can not help but feel some degree of sadness and responsibility. Or-is he already dead?”

“He is alive for now,” Eddie responded. “If he lives-well, that is up to him, so stop worrying. It is his choice.”

Grace looked upon the television screen, where she saw an interview conducted by a Washington area television reporter, one attached to the D.C. bureau of Fox News. The subject of his interview was former Baltimore area politician Greg Morrison. Morrison seemed contrite, but Grace was not impressed.

“You really ‘pulled a number on him’, as they say,” Eddie noted. “He had to go to the hospital for observation, you know. The poor fellow nearly had a nervous breakdown. Of course, it worked out for the best. While there, his physician discovered his arteries so badly clogged, and his cholesterol so alarmingly high, he deemed it necessary to perform an emergency open-heart surgery. Not many people are aware that the poor fellow actually died on the operating table. Now, he sits there before you on this live television interview, the recipient of the newest state-of-the art pacemaker. He does look somewhat pale and weak, does he not? Well, of course he is yet recuperating. Nevertheless, he will be more than sufficiently healthy to appear before a joint session of Congress, where he will testify about the sex-slave and child pornography scourge of which he was such a vital and important part for such a long time.

“In fact, he is another who, like Groznyy, and like Phillip Khoska, had an unfortunately, shall we say, exaggerated sense of their importance.”

“You mean, you couldn’t get to him?” Grace asked suspiciously. “I find that very difficult to believe. Would it not be dangerous for him to testify? How can you allow this?”

Eddie looked at her with grim curiosity.

“You surprise me, Grace,” he said. “Would it surprise you to learn that the doctor who saw to the care and recovery of our good Mr. Morrison was none other than Doctor Frederick Sherman?”

Grace was stunned beyond words.

“That’s my doctor,” she said in amazement

“Indeed,” Akito replied. “He has taken quite good care of you, by the way-just as I intended. Of course, he was required to give you quite a wide berth. I didn’t want too many restrictions placed on you, and on your journey through life.”

Grace had no idea how to take all this information. It was more than she could reasonably process, and she had taught herself to be ready for any eventuality. Yet, she never suspected.

“I suppose you are going to tell me next you are responsible for the Seventeenth Pulse-for Toby, and for James Berry.”

“No, those were unforeseen occurrences,” Eddie explained. “You handled them quite well, by the way. In fact, they are now quite vital to our needs. People such as this are easily manipulated, of course. Who knows, perhaps they will continue to prove useful. I certainly hope so. It would be a shame to have to dispose them. David Chou, for another example, has also turned into an integral part of the project, as has Marty Evans. For that matter, Aleksandre Khoska, for all his sanctimonious hypocrisy, has proven most vital. And, of course, there is our good, dear Marlowe Krovell, the most important of all.”

“Then-you are the leader of all of this?” she asked.

“I would never be so bold as to go that far,” he answered. “That would be quite presumptuous of me. To be blunt, it would be a lie. I am, in fact, a mere soldier, so to speak. In time, all will be clear to you, Grace. For now, just sit back and watch. What you are about to see is a film about a pacemaker, one which is identical to the one now implanted within the personage of our poor, greatly maligned Mr. Morrison.”

“You know, I believe I shall pop some popcorn,” he added, almost as an afterthought.

He bounded up from the sofa and out of the room with a grace and dexterity that belied his more than forty years, as the television started to come into focus. As the image became clearer, Grace discovered it to be an outdoor scene, with what appeared to be a huge multi-story complex in the background. She realized she was looking not at some kind of documentary, as she had expected, but instead at some kind of live feed, from some undisclosed location. She could hear men talking in the background, with one voice predominant, as it seemed to call out some kind of code, consisting almost entirely of letters and numbers.

Something about the female voice seemed robotic as it droned in a monotone, very rarely interspacing the coded sequence with an actual word-what seemed in fact to be a Slavic word which, despite her familiarity with the language type, she yet could not translate, nor even identify. This continued at some length until Eddie returned with a large bowl full of steaming hot, buttered and salted popcorn.

“Perhaps you would like a soft drink?” he asked.

“I thought you said this was a film about pacemaker,” she reminded him. “What does that old complex have to do with it? Where is this anyway?”

“It’s an abandoned military facility, somewhere out in the desert of Nevada,” he replied. “It was at one time a top secret installation. Very few people know where it is. I do not even know its exact coordinates, to tell you the truth. One of the prototypes of the pacemaker is somewhere inside that largest building.”

Grace grabbed a handful of the popcorn as Eddie poured her an ice-filled glass of cola. She munched the treat hungrily, until suddenly, before her very eyes, the entire complex exploded. At first, a gigantic cloud of dust and smoke hid it from view, as the loud rumblings of the aftershock of the explosion seemed to shake the speakers of the television screen. Grace watched with mouth agape as the dust and smoke finally cleared, to reveal nothing but rubble. The implication was obvious, and unbelievable.

“You have got to be joking,” she said. “Are you telling me that something the size of a pacemaker-did that? I do not believe it. Nothing that small could be that powerful.”

Eddie smiled and paused the film with which he recorded the transmission. He then re-winded it.

“Watch very closely,” he said as. He stopped the film a few seconds prior to the moment of the blast. He then forwarded the film in slow motion.

What Grace saw next was even more unbelievable.

“Now do you see, my dear?”

Grace watched enthralled at the sight of the seven missiles that converged on the old, abandoned complex.

“I believe the colloquial name for those missiles are ‘daisy cutters’”, Eddie explained, as he flipped back over to a Fox News segment, a discussion of the up-and-coming Congressional testimony of Gregory Morrison. Greta Van Sustern, a network regular, was a guest on this particular show, and revealed what she described as a bombshell. Morrison had recently been the recipient of open-heart surgery and was the beneficiary of a new pacemaker. She also revealed that Congress had granted him immunity in return for his coming testimony before Congress.

“Immunity? Ha!” Eddie shouted with delight. “If they only knew!”

Grace was now feeling more anxious than ever. She knew something of monstrous proportions was about to unfold. Yet, even she could never have guessed the extent of the operation Eddie Akito and his organization were about to undertake. This, if true, was the biggest story of the century, perhaps of all time.

She looked over toward the mirror, and took note of the bags that gathered under her eyes, which were now a sickly green, but which glowed with a hideous light. Everything would soon end. It had advanced too far to stop, after all the years of careful planning and allowances for contingencies. The timetable was in place. Soon, the world would be in chaos. She wondered what it would be like, what the long-term consequences would be. She knew that, at this stage, nothing could prevent the coming apocalypse. She also knew that this was merely the beginning-a mere fleeting glimpse, a miniscule portion of what was to transpire.

She felt compelled to try to do something to prevent this travesty. She never understood this aspect of her personality, this maddening urge to do what most people would consider “the right thing”. If she could get to Phelps, could save him before it was too late, perhaps he could tell her what to do, and help her. He would know how to get the word out to the proper authorities. If not him, perhaps Cruiser Dietrich, with his contacts, could get word to them in time to avert this unmitigated criminal conspiracy-this crime against humanity.

All the same, she knew it would be a waste of time. The only person who could conceivably stop this madness was an old Orthodox Romanian Priest by the name of Aleksandre Khoska. Ironically, Grace understood that Khoska was the last person who would listen to her. Yet, he was her only hope-the worlds only hope. In some way she could never understand, Marlowe Krovell was the key. Without him, the entire plan would fall apart. Yet, Khoska was, in some way, the only person who could ever hope to stop him.

She felt herself growing sick, and turned towards Akito, who looked at her, wagging a finger.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” he said.

“What is wrong?” she asked as the room suddenly once more began spinning around.

“I think someone’s conscience is bothering her,” Eddie said with a smile. “That is all right. That is usually the last thing to go, not the first. Of course, yours has not been dead all this time, after all-merely sleeping. It is good we have been able to bring it to the surface. It is perhaps the one flaw in your personality, Grace dear, latent though it has been for all these years. Though its resurgence is unfortunate, we shall remedy that, of course. In fact, it is good that it happened now. We seem to have caught it, just in the nick of time.”

He advanced towards her carefully, and she wanted to run. Instead, as he got closer, Grace went limp. As she fell, she reached for the end table by where she stood, resulting in the bowl of popcorn flipping its contents, sending them flying into the air. Grace then collapsed with a thud to the floor. She then saw the smiling face of Eddie Akito, who was still speaking, loudly, though calmly, and yet now unintelligibly, as suddenly, the lights faded and the darkness engulfed her.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cooking Things Up-Some Good Eatin' With Rachael Ray

If Hillary does win the Democratic nomination, and then the presidency, I have a good idea who might be the White House chef.

They do seem to work well together, Bill Clinton and Rachael Ray. They have even joined forces, so to speak. Rachael opened wide the doors of opportunity, and Bill inserted his able assistance. It is a good cause, after all. What is more to the point, they come from a shared perspective. Bill was an overweight child due to a poor diet. As for Rachael, all you have to do is take a good look at her.

This slightly overweight brunette with the bubbly personality has a lot to offer. She is smart and talented, and though she is some thirty years or more Bill’s junior, they do seem well matched to do good works together.

Bill appeared on her show while Hillary was doubtless busy with her Senate duties, and while preparing her current run for the presidency, in April of 2007. Bill no doubt thought Hillary would quickly win the nomination. Hell, she was supposed to have it all sewn up by Super Tuesday. By the time the Iowa caucus was settled, however, it quickly became obvious things were not going quite exactly as planned.

Thanks to Barak Obama, Bill was obliged to become more involved in Hillary’s campaign than he might have initially planned to be, thereby interfering in the important work that he intended to perform. His work fighting childhood obesity by the side of the lovely and talented Ms. Ray would be one example of one duty he might have had to put on hold.

This of course might offer a valid explanation as to his ill temperament at certain times. This of course would be perfectly understandable. Hell, people-there are children to save. There are young people that need help. And, as we all know, when it comes to young people, Bill Clinton is a very passionate advocate, never wont to pass up an opportunity to fulfill their needs and desires.

Yeah, Bill got a little pissed off, but cut the guy some slack.

As for you, Rachael Ray, you hang in there, girlfriend. My, what a big, wide smile you have. That is just the kind of attitude you need to get through the hard times. While you can get a lot from your partnership with Bill, you certainly bring your own share of talents to bear. Of this, I have no doubt.

By the way, is that a “grease” stain on your leg?

Ralph Nader-The Man Just Can't Help Himself

It's official. Ralph Nader is running for President.

For those who don't understand why, it's simple. He's not trying to win. He knows he can't, which is why he asserts that he won't spend a lot of money in his up-coming campaign.

What he is apparently trying to do is make the Democrats run against him to the left, as opposed to competing with the Republicans for the center. He is not impressed with Obama either, citing his lack of a comprehensive health care plan, and the fact that he, also, is beholden to "special interests". In his case, this seems to be insurance lobbyists, according to Nader.

I find it interesting that Nader waited until now to announce, when it seems Obama will be the likely nominee. His first campaign, as a Green Party candidate, was in 1996, when it was feared he could draw as much as six percent or more of the vote in California, a state Clinton had to win. If he had drawn this high a percentage, it conceivably would have thrown the state to Bob Dole, costing Clinton the presidency.

There were meetings between Naders' staff and Clinton's, and there were reports at the time that Clinton and Nader themselves might meet to hash out some differences. Nader was concerned about Clinton's lackluster record on environmental and consumer rights issues, and felt Clinton was also beholden to the corporate interests.

In that election, Nader drew 2.4 percent of the popular vote in California, though he only won 1 percent nationwide. Clinton went on the win California, and re-election. It was suggested that Nader held back in his campaign in California. Did Nader hold back? If so, why? Were promises made? If so, they seemingly were not kept. When running for the presidency again in 2000, Nader spoke bitterly about the former president.

I have always wondered if promises were made, and then broken. More to the point, did Clinton have anything on Nader?
Why did he wait until Hillary Clinton seems almost certain to lose the nomination before he announced his own run? He has obviously been mulling it over well before the time of his official announcement.

I will be watching to see what he does, particularly if Hillary Clinton does somehow exceed current expectations in the up-coming remaining primaries, and somehow pulls out the nomination. This is not at all impossible or even improbable. If she does so, and Nader then seems to disappear suddenly into the background, that would be noteworthy, and suspicious.

After all, the Clintons have the reputation of having a knack for digging up dirt. It would be worthwhile to see Ralph Nader scurry for the exit. His recent campaign announcement might have been premature. In his case, a run against the Clinton machine might well be-yeah, I have to say it-unsafe at any speed.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

New York Times Journalistic Integrity-Or, The Lack Thereof

Newspapers and television news, what is known pejoratively these days as the mainstream media, were not always “fair and balanced” in their reportage. Okay, they still are not. They do try to portray themselves in that way, of course. Nevertheless, this is, in fact, a relatively recent innovation.

Take just for an example the recent John McCain story of an alleged affair with a female lobbyist, published recently by The New York Times. Suppose the Times published this story not in this year, 2008, but in 1808. It might well read like this-











All the above headings are of course sub-titles that would have contained definitive text following each one. This was the style of newspapers published in the nineteenth century. This enabled a businessman, for example, to briefly scan an article and quickly get the salient, more pertinent facts. He could later peruse at his leisure the remaining article in its entirety.

The point is, newspapers were never unbiased, nor are they now. Somewhere along the line, however, editors and publishers realized they could influence more people by pretending to be so. They could also increase their circulation and subscription rates. Now, they rarely make the pretense. People are aware of the formula, which is the reason for the popularity of talk radio, other alternative media, and blogs. Awareness of the true nature of journalistic "objectivity" has seemed to foster an increasingly corresponding decrease in sales and subscriptions. People would prefer to read sources that are open and honest in their affiliations. It is in effect more honest and above board, less manipulative and coercive.

Note in the above example the use of such terms as “proven”, and the implicit tying together of strings of unrelated facts and innuendos into one cohesive unit. Much use is made of exaggeration, hyperbole, and supposition. Yet, there is not much difference at all in the above example and the recent Times article. In both cases, it is obvious where sympathies lie and where they do not. John McCane is in fact a victim of partisan, biased coverage. It is editorializing within the context of a hard news format.

The most vocal critics of newspapers and network television news programs consider them left leaning. Why is this? It might have something to do with the influence of the various schools of journalism from whence they derived their degrees. Otherwise, it is anyone's guess. I personally have long been of the opinion that the left, particularly the Democratic Party, portrays itself, accurately or not, as more ardent supporters of the First Amendment, especially when it comes to freedom of the press.

Whatever the reason, it is hard to avoid the reality that newspaper editorial boards, even in large areas that tend to lean Republican and conservative, tend to be more liberal than not, or at least left-of-center. Moreover, we live in an age where there are seemingly but a few major conglomerates who own vast holdings of newspapers. There is little in the way of competition. Admittedly, there always seems to be, even in the most liberal newspapers, the obligatory conservative op-ed columnist or two. The New York Times, for example, has recently hired William Kristol as a conservative columnist.

Still, the overall make-up of the editorial staff of most major metropolitan newspapers is liberal. That, in fact, is acceptable up to a point, problematic though it is in it's own right. Where it becomes increasingly problematic is when editorial positions tend to bleed, as they all too often seem to do, into the major front-page news stories. In the case of those politicians and candidates a papers editorial board might be more inclined to support, any negative story concerning them might in many cases end up buried in the back pages, if not altogether ignored.

It has been validly stated, for example, that the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal might well have ended up so buried or otherwise ignored were it not for the efforts of Matt Drudge.

In what might be an attempt at damage control, the New York Times ombudsman has written this article denouncing at least the more salacious and unsubstantiated allegations of the original story. Nevertheless, damage to the Times overall credibility might be irreparable for at least the short term.

Is the Times original story author an Obama/Clinton/Democratic Party supporter? While there is no definitive proof of this, it is certainly easy to jump to that conclusion. After all, there is no definitive proof of the allegations against McCain within this front-page “news” article. Just a series of allegations, wholly unproven and unsubstantiated, derived mainly from anonymous sources said to be former aids who experienced a falling out with the Senator.

If the same author happened unexpectedly to walk into a room where Barak Obama was in the process of devouring a live infant, one wonders what his response would be. Would he write a story about the experience? Would the Times publish it? More than likely, they would. Their journalistic integrity might compel them to. By the same token, the story might well end up buried well into the middle of the paper-maybe under the gourmet food section.

The Emma Beck Story

It ended with her death by suicide, which took place the night before her thirty-first birthday, by hanging. She left a suicide note detailing her reason as being regret over having earlier aborted her twins. According to her mother, she did not really want to do this, but was pushed to it by her boyfriend.

"I see now I would have made a good mum," the Cornwall artist said, going on to explain that she wanted to be with her babies, that they needed her. No one else did.

Now, the hospital that performed the abortion is under fire for failure to provide sufficient counseling services, according to the deceased woman's own mother. The hospital expressed the view that they provided all they could under the circumstances at the time, but will now change their policy. In the meantime, they refuse to provide the names of the two doctors involved in the procedure.

It stands to reason that in any procedure such as this, counseling should be made readily available. This should be true even in the case of rape or incest, and even when the mother's life is at stake. Abortion is a life altering procedure for the woman involved, regardless of the circumstances of the pregnancy to be terminated, and the flood of emotions in the context of such an abrupt and drastic physiological biochemical disruption is undoubtedly profound.

Yet, there are those here in the United States who object to any calls to insure the provision of counseling services or to provide all relevant information that might give one pause in going ahead with an abortion. To some extent, the concerns might be well-founded. There is a legitimate concern that some such laws would be overly restrictive and intrusive.

Yet, it seems obvious that many such objections are self-serving on the part of the Pro-choice advocates as well.

The bottom line is, any woman who seeks to undergo an abortion needs to be confronted with the realities of the choices she is about to make. She should be given access to all relevant information in the way of known facts. This would include the potential emotional as well as physical consequences of abortion.

Clinics and hospitals are, by their nature, science based and tend to be cold and void of emotion. They almost have to be. It is a part of their training. They have to deal with life and death issues on some level on a daily basis in many if not most cases.

By the same token, counseling and other support is a given in a hospital setting in which it is determined that, for example, a certain person has inoperable cancer and only has six months to live. What doctor would give a person that kind of information and then shrug his shoulders and say, "well, that's life. Have a nice day."

Abortion should be treated in the same way as any other medical procedure. To deny the potentially drastic consequences of such a drastic operation, and to fail to give the patient any and all relevant information in order to insure that she has made a decision based on a grounding awareness of the facts, is both criminal and immoral.

The true shame of it is that this should even be subject for debate.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Irresistable Force vs The Immovable Object

Hillary Clinton took time out from her busy campaign schedule to appear at today's State Of The Black Union, an annual gab-fest of black leaders hosted by radio talk show host Tavis Smiley, held this year in New Orleans.

Before she appeared, she faced criticism from some of the conference participants, notably the Reverend Al Sharpton and comedian, civil rights activist Dick Gregory. The criticism is based partly on rumors to the effect that the Clinton campaign is in the process of contacting super-delegates to this year's up-coming Democratic National Convention in Denver urging them to vote for Hillary, despite what the voters in their own districts and precincts decided in the various primaries and caucuses.

It was not polite criticism, especially when it veered toward a discussion of the allegedly racist tone of Bill Clinton is support of his wife.

I watched some of this (during commercials between segments of The Shield) and wondered how Mrs. Clinton would comport herself when it came her time to speak. Surely, I reasoned, she must be backstage hearing all of this.

Well, if she was, it certainly didn't show. She seemed very well composed. In fact, she seemed a little too composed. After a brief address, she was questioned by Smiley, at which point she gave a logical if self-serving explanation as to her drive to convince super delegates to vote for her based on her own assessment that she was the better candidate of the two.

She pointed out that if Ted Kennedy, a super-delegate who supports Obama, were to vote in accordance with the wishes of his state, then he would vote for her, not for Obama, as he most obviously will do.

Then, she apologized for Bill and for any misunderstandings, pointing out his history as president. He, according to her, "lifted more people out of poverty than any other president in recent history."

She was apparently so unruffled and composed during her appearance, once thought came to mind. Stepford Wife.

And therein is the entire problem with the Hillary Clinton candidacy. It's not the message, in this case, it's the messenger.

Anyone that gets a chance to review her appearance should be struck by one fact. She does not compare well with her husband. Listen to her words. Bill Clinton could say the same words, utter the same phrases, word for word and line for line, and would have people on their feet, constantly interrupting him with applause and cheering.

The exact same words from Hillary Clinton draws polite applause, but nothing earth shattering. There is no love within her base of support to match the visceral hatred for her that exists on the Right. Her effect on her supporters is cerebral. There is no feeling. With Bill, the words reach into your heart and flood your mind with a million rationalizations.

It is not likely that Hillary convinced anyone by her appearance here. It is not likely that anyone turned against Barak Obama due to his failure to attend. After all, the man had a campaign appearance somewhere, another rally where he was needed to woo the crowds.

Hillary's appearance came across as one meant to mend fences. Unfortunately, she seems to have put the fence between her and her base of supporters. You know, that herd that has already crossed over into Obama territory via the huge gaping hole created by Bill Clinton's tantrums. He doesn't seem to do so well, after all, when he is campaigning for anybody other than himself. Maybe Al Gore knew what he was doing in 2000.

At any rate, Barak Obama was criticized earlier by Tavis Smiley for his failure to attend, but it has been pointed out that these are the people who earlier floated the idea that Barak isn't an "authentic black".

Now who is being racist? Well, since Barak is actually of mixed race, his mother being a white American, his father being a black imigrant from Kenya who deserted the family when Barak was a young lad, it is easy to see what they were getting at.

Now, however, Smiley is besieged of late by Obama supporters, many of who, according to Smiley, have sent him angry, threatening e-mails, and even gone so far in some cases as to threaten his life. They have even threatened his mother.

Where could it all lead to, this Obama cult of personality? I think that if Obama does fail to get the nomination, it could cause a massive disruption and division within the Democratic Party. Perhaps Hillary's appearance was meant to forestall that eventuality, to at least mute it somewhat. That, in fact, was indeed the main gist of her prepared remarks at the conference. The Democratic party, whoever the nominee, should remain united to "take our country back".

Clinton could still easily win the nomination. She still leads in the polls in Ohio and Texas, though Obama is closing the gap especially in the latter state. If she can win those two and go on to win Pennsylvania, she is back in the race. It could well be that Kentucky, my state, might well award the final winning vote tally in delegates.

If she does win, it is almost incumbent on her to choose Obama as her running mate. Would he accept? What if he got it in his head that she convinced many super-delegates that she would gladly ask Obama to be her running mate if she got the nomination? Would he join in with her for the good of the party? Would he decline? Would it make any difference to many if not most of his supporters?

Of course, Obama at this stage seems to have an advantage. He is the front runner, ahead in victories and overall delegate count.

What if he gets the nomination? Then, what if he loses? What would be the reaction among people who make threats against a black talk show host who is, in fact, a noted liberal and black activist? What if the word circulates to the effect, accurate or not, that there were irregularites at the polls reminiscent of Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004?

Would there be massive demonstrations, possibly even riots, with violence and destruction of property?

For that matter, what if he wins? Could this lead to a repeat performance of what happened in the city of Chicago when the home team Bulls won-not lost-the NBA tournament more than a decade ago?

I don't even want to think of what the result would be if he were assassinated.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Radu-Chapter XXXVI (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)

Previous Installments-
Part One
Prologue and Chapters I-X
Part Two
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
Chapter XXXV
Radu-Chapter XXXVI (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)
6 pages approximate
Sister Agnes knew these days that there was an evil force surrounding her. Wherever she went, she felt the eyes of an abomination piercing her soul. It wanted her. She knew of no man who ever so badly wanted her. At times, it drained her energy, but she always recovered through prayer and meditation. She would keep the depression at bay for some time, but just when it seemed she won, it returned stronger than ever. Never before had she experienced anything like it.

She knew she had to do something. She now had the children to consider. Why in God’s name, she wondered, did she ever allow herself to be convinced to bring them with her to Baltimore? Now, one of them was gone. The oldest of the girls, Elena, had in fact been missing for over a month.

The oldest boy, Augusto, was the last to see her. The two of them were out for a walk, when they saw a woman who looked to be in the throes of misery. She looked to be suffering the ravages of a serious illness, her skin afflicted with what seemed to be some form of leprosy. She stank of death, and could not speak, could make no intelligible sounds at all, but instead merely garbled in animalistic, guttural tones.

“She scared me,” he said. “She looked and acted almost like a wounded animal. I tried to tell Elena we should leave, but she insisted we should try to help her. I left, thinking Elena would come along, but when she did not, I doubled back. By the time I returned, Elena was gone, and so was the woman. I hurried back here, and as I did a car went by. I could swear I saw the woman sitting in the front passenger’s seat. A man was driving, but I could not make him out. He drove by too fast for me to get a license number, and by the time I thought about that, it was too late.”

Augusto was obviously distraught, and when she reported this story to the police, they questioned not only the boy, but all the other children as well. They took him to the police station, and Agnes accompanied him, sitting at his side as he described the strange woman. Then, they showed him pictures. He looked through more than a thousand of them until he found a photo of the woman he insisted was the one he saw.

To their surprise, and to the dismay of Agnes, he identified a woman who turned out to be dead for more than two years, a woman by the name of Raven Randall. Yet, Augusto was adamant. It was she, he insisted.

The police regarded him with some suspicion, and asked him impertinent questions concerning his feelings towards Elena? Did he think of her as like a sister, or a friend, or possibly as a girlfriend? Was she nice, or was she hateful? They asked him if they ever fought or argued over any matter, no matter how trivia?

Augusto was overweight for fourteen years and considered Elena as a part of his family, so these questions both embarrassed and angered him. As he was a sullen boy anyway, this made them look upon him with even greater suspicion, but in due course, they relented. They stopped by periodically those first couple of weeks, but then stopped, though they assured her they would never cease looking for the girl.

They questioned all of the other children too, but they likewise could tell them nothing. Agnes kept the children close to her at all times.

Then, one night, Elena returned, just suddenly appearing at the doorstep of the big house which Phillip Khoska, her brother, earlier purchased for the use of Agnes and the children as a temporary orphanage. Now, Phillip lay in a coma, an attempted suicide, while her older brother Jonathon was dead, shot down in the office of Michael’s own church. Her older sister Dorothy herself was dead, also murdered, and her niece, Dorothy’s daughter, seemed to have disappeared altogether.

Although Agnes was overjoyed to see Elena, the girl looked spiritually dead. The once gleaming light that shone from her hazel eyes now was but a vacant stare. Agnes knew what that look meant in most cases involving young girls missing for long periods, and she immediately prayed this was not the case with Elena.

Elena knew her, knew all the other children, and yet insisted she did not remember where she had been or what had happened while she was gone. The police questioned her, of course, as did a Social Services agent, but no one could make any sense or jar Elena’s memories. She seemed to have complete amnesia insofar as the events of the last several weeks, from the time of her disappearance. In fact, the last thing she remembered was earlier in the day, when she and Eitan, another of the boys, were sitting in the family room watching television and drinking hot chocolate, well before she and Augusto left the house for a walk.

Naturally, the police questioned both boys, and the other children, but no one had any recollections. Finally, in desperation, the police showed her a picture of Raven Randall, but this as well elicited no response from Elena. Naturally, a doctor examined her, seemingly to no avail-at least not at first.

Agnes soon received word of a strange anomaly in Elena’s blood, an interesting component that seemed to lend itself to a rare though not unknown replication faculty. She found herself in the office of Doctor McCann, her father’s personal physician, who seemed curiously puzzled by the anomaly-not only puzzled, but troubled.

He talked to Elena at some length, but the girl yet remembered nothing.

“Has she ever been to Johns Hopkins at any time, including before her disappearance?”

“Of course not,” Agnes replied. “Why should she?”

“Well, this enzyme in her blood is almost identical to an experimental compound which has been successful in treating various conditions of a serious nature. At the same time, the FDA has not approved it for general use. Its use requires signed consent. Due to its experimental and still unknown nature, Johns Hopkins reserves it for use only in the most extreme circumstances, when no other course of treatment is useful or practical. Yet, here it is, within her blood. I can only consider it a case of cross-contamination. Yet, for this to be the case, she would almost have to have been treated at a Johns Hopkins facility.”

“That is impossible,” Agnes assured him. “There must be some other answer.”

“She suffered no traumatic injuries of which you are aware?” he asked. “I am particularly concerned about an apparent injury to her neck. Although it seems healed, I detected earlier the signs of a previous wound, which on the face of it would ordinarily be fatal in nature. In fact, it appears her jugular vein was at one point ripped open”

“I have known this girl for years,” Agnes assured him. “She has never had so much as a sprained muscle, and has rarely been ill at all. She had the flu once, more than seven years ago, and that is about it. I am curious though, and I do not know how to ask. But, since she was gone for so long and since she seems to have blocked everything out of her conscious memory”-

“She is still a virgin,” he assured her, aware of where she was going. “She was not raped or molested in any way sexually, I assure you. My own private opinion is, she seems to have suffered some kind of emotional breakdown and wandered off on her own. Perhaps she simply wandered the streets, picking up food here and there, possibly even benefiting from the kindness of passing strangers who mistook her simply for a child from a poverty-stricken family, possibly even an orphaned one. Something like this, while unlikely, would seem to be the only explanation that might make any sense.

“Still, this blood anomaly is very troubling. Although I am not at liberty to say, I have seen it before. In fact, it manifested in the blood supply of one of your family members. It was your niece, Lynette Khoska. If not for your relationship, I would not reveal her name. Under the circumstances, however, I would feel remiss in my duties were I not to inform you. Fortunately, it seems to be in the process of fading from her blood compared to its presence during the first rounds of testing.”

“Lynette,” Agnes said quietly, now overwhelmed with worry. “How is it exactly that this blood enzyme, or whatever it is, come to be discovered?”

“I am afraid I am in the dark as to that,” McCann answered. “Doctor David Chou is the physician in charge of the program, and he is quite mysterious about it. All I know is he seems to have discovered it within the blood supply of one of his patients. After some wrangling, he seems to have won a patent, which he sold while retaining the rights to study the enzyme under the auspices of Johns Hopkins experimental testing facilities.

“In fact, I have spoken to him about your little friend. Naturally, he was curious, but expressed his assurance he knew nothing of her, and was positive it had nothing to do with his program. Still, I find the odds astronomical that she and your niece could have contracted such a rare blood anomaly, even though you claim they never met.”

“This patient,” Agnes asked. ‘Who was he?”

McCann smiled.

“I’m afraid you’ll never get that information out of David Chou,” he promised her. “It doesn’t really matter. According to him, he has been dead for over half a year now. I’m certain he is not the answer. I do need to ask you something, however, that might be unpleasant. This young girl-has she by any chance ever had a drug problem?”

Agnes looked at him in a futile attempt to disguise her anger.

“Of course not,” she said. “I have never had the slightest problem with her. I have known her since she was seven. Her parents abandoned her, and”-

“Please don’t take offence,” McCann pleaded. “I did not really think she was a user, at least there are no signs of such a thing. Still, it would offer a possible explanation in the way of cross-contamination, particularly if she ever used a needle. Still, it would have had to occur years ago. Recent drug use of such a drastic nature would be impossible to hide. I do not know. I am simply at a complete loss. The only advice I can give you is to continue her therapy, and be thankful she seems to be on the road to recovery from whatever it was that afflicted her. As it is, she seems perfectly healthy, at least physically.”

Michael as well was at a loss as to what to do. When he tried to talk to the girl, she did not seem evasive, yet would not or could not elaborate on her feelings or on recent events. Her answers were vague, seemed evasive at times, and even mysterious.

“So, how do you feel, Elena?” Michael asked her.

“I feel comfortably numb,” she replied.

“Comfortably numb?” he asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “I feel very numb, but comfortably so.”

He smiled at her, and for the first time since she came back, she smiled in return, though briefly. Then, she turned grimly serious, and then sad.

“They are all going to die, you know.”

“Who is that, Elena?” he asked.

“Your children, and your grandchildren, of course-did you not know?”

Michael was stunned into complete immobility. With a supreme effort of will, he forced himself to look into her eyes, and saw there a vague light that seemed to trail off into eternity. Her eyes seemed vacant, and yet, aware. He almost collapsed. As he felt himself going limp, he reached toward the banister of the stairs by which he stood, as Agnes, who heard only a part of the exchange from the adjoining room, entered and rushed to his side.

“Michael, you can’t listen to her, she is not well,” she advised him.

Yet, Michael betrayed no emotion at her pronouncement, only a steady sense of calm acceptance.

“I will be all right,” he said. “I really should go now. I need to call my wife.”

After he left, Agnes asked her what she meant saying such a thing, but Elena acted as though she was not aware she had said anything amiss or out of the ordinary. In fact, she acted as though she remembered saying nothing at all.

Aleksandre Khoska soon paid a visit to the house, and the strangest thing of all happened. Elena suddenly seemed her normal self. There seemed nothing strange or dispirited about her in the least. Elena seemed no different from any other young teenage girl. She engaged him in conversation, as though she had known him all her life. She smiled, and even joked that his beard made him seem wise and old for a man with such young twinkling eyes. After about twenty minutes of such banter, she excused herself. She then bounded out of the room calling out for another of the girls to go with her for a walk.

“Well, that was strange,” Agnes said. Khoska’s eyes were far from twinkling. Such a description of him seemed out of place by quite a few years.

“Something is very wrong,” he said. “Your mother Marta used to say that to me when she wanted to put me in my place, as she put it. That was not a casual conversation, Agnes. That was a warning-a deceptively cordial one, but a warning nevertheless.”

Later on, after supper, Khoska prayed and blessed all of the children privately, including Elena, who acted no different in response from any of the other children. Yet, she was different.

“I have never known a child who acted so transparently familiar with me,” he then confided to Agnes. “Most children look at me with a sense of awe, or at least a kind of reserve. Some of them betray some sense of guilt, mostly over some little trivial matter that in most cases seem based mainly on private imaginings. This girl seems to take on the persona of a hostess of some private adult club, or perhaps of some high society debutante ball. It is most extraordinary.”

As he stood at the door preparing to leave, to return to the bedside of his son Phillip, who yet lay comatose in a private hospital, Elena once more presented herself.

“It was so very good to see you, Father Khoska,” she said cheerfully. “I do hope you will come again.”

At that exact instant, the girl went limp and collapsed onto the floor. Khoska rushed to her side, to see her twitching frantically and foaming at the mouth. Her eyes were wide open as she soon began thrashing frantically.

“She seems to be having an epileptic seizure,” he said. He placed his hand under the back of her neck and gently turned her on her side. Agnes rushed to the phone. The line, however, was dead.

“Of all the times for the phone to not work,” she shouted, tempted for once to curse aloud, and barely restraining herself from doing so.

“I’ll get my cell-phone,” she said.

“That won’t be necessary,” Khoska told her. “It is over.”

The girl now was still and unconscious.

“What if it happens again?” she asked.

“I doubt it will,” he said. “She is just as well off here anyway, until you can arrange an appointment. McCann will probably have to make a referral to a specialist to run tests. More than likely, this is not a permanent condition, but a symptom of whatever psychological trauma she has undergone. The best thing for her would be to put her to bed. You will want to cleanse her, of course, as I am certain you will find she has urinated on herself.”

That turned out to be the case, and after Khoska took his leave, Agnes helped the girl bathe, and then saw her to bed. The other children all entered her room to inquire after her, and to wish her good night. She expressed the wish that all of them remain there with her, not merely her roommate Rea. Agnes, however, was adamant that all the children should return to their room and to their beds at the usual time.

She then made her way toward her own bed. She was too distraught to sleep well, provided she slept at all. Yet, she was also exhausted, and had to get some rest, or at least try. As she lay in bed, her head began rumbling, and soon, she could hear voices, unintelligible murmurings, accompanied by a hatefully joyous laughter punctuated by some odious declarative that was equally unfathomable. She soon felt overwhelmed by waves of exhaustion that nearly paralyzed her. She could barely move as she felt her joints and muscles ache and stiffen.

Finally, she heard a fierce and loud pounding at her door. Yet, she had not locked it. She could not make herself speak in so much as a whisper, let alone a shout, and as she felt herself giving in to waves of terror, she began to pray silently. Then she heard the door give way to the sudden force of a booted foot that followed the door as it flung inward.

She could not gasp as the strange young man entered her bedroom. He looked at her and leered, with his green eyes and his dark hair. His naked torso revealed a montage of tattoos, and his made up face betrayed a hideous, demonically warped soul, struggling for expression.

“The girl is mine,” he hissed. “You can not have her.”

She is just a child, she tried to plead, but could not open her mouth. To her horror, he knew her thoughts.

“To me, you are all children,” he said. “Yet, in your arrogance, you have taken everything from me I ever cared for. Do not dare to suppose that I have forgotten, or will forgive. I passed that stage of humanity centuries ago, long before I animated the form you see before you now. I have asserted my will, and my will is now her will. She has returned here for one reason and one reason alone. All of the rest of you must die.”

Marlowe Krovell then turned to leave the bedroom of the terrified Orthodox nun, she who had devoted her life to serving her God and his children, his most precious creations. She had to stop him. She found the strength and the will to pull herself from her bed and made her way down the hall. She heard Justin, the youngest of the boys, cry out in fear. She hurried to his room in a weakened, dizzied state, and opened the door, only to see, to her utter horror, the boy floating above his bed, crying pitifully, as suddenly his back arched. She could hear it snap, as whatever invisible force held the boy aloft now dropped him down onto the floor, flinging him as though to insure he would hit, not the bed, but the hardwood flood, upon which he landed with a bone-crunching thud.

Agnes grasped frantically at the crucifix that yet hung around her neck as she tried to hurry to his side. Before she could reach him, however, she felt a solid force brush past her, knocking her against the dresser of the small room. She saw then the other boys in the room, Augusto and Eitan, who both lay upon the floor, staring out as though they too were as dead as poor little Justin. Then, she heard screams from one of the girls’ rooms next door. She hurried into the room, to see all three girls who shared the room, floating as Justin had in the air, only this time spinning wildly as they screamed in terror. One by one, their backs arched until their spines snapped, and they dropped to the floor.

Overcome by horror, Agnes turned and lowered her head and cried, until she felt a strong, iron grip on her shoulder. She looked into the mirror to see the face of the green eyed, blonde haired man whose face looked hideously mummified, a face of demonic evil that transcended death. She screamed as he laughed and flung her out of the room. She lay upon the floor of the hallway outside as she heard footsteps. She looked around her to see the children.

Justin was there, as well as Eitan and Augusto. All of the girls as well were there, including Elena. Elena smiled at her. There was something very badly wrong. Agnes could not speak. She could not move. She could only lay there and writhe in horror and agony.

The children tried to speak to her, but she could not hear them.

“What is wrong with her?” Augusto asked Ellena.

“I don’t know, but she must be sick,” she replied. “Perhaps we should call a doctor.”

Another of the girls held Sister Agnes as Eitan ran desperately to the phone. They addressed her, and they tried to comfort her, but she seemed not to hear them. She looked at them, and though she tried to turn away from them, she could not do so. All she saw was their hideously grinning faces, their ravenous glaring eyes, and the protruding fangs that seemed to hunger for her as they clutched and grasped her with hatred and malicious glee.

Monday, February 18, 2008

We're Koo-Koooo For Kosovo! Koo-Koooo For Kosovo!

Congrats are in order, it would seem, to the steadfast and determined people of the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo. It took many decades, but they are now on the verge of achieving their dreams of an independent Albanian state, and having those dreams recognized by the international community.

Of course, ethnic Serbs both within Kosovo and beyond have always recognized those dreams. They have lived those dreams, every day, for decades. Well, nightmares are dreams too, you know.

Well, it’s their own fault, insisting on the deluded belief that Kosovo is a sacred province to them, pretending that their forefathers fought so long and hard to free it from Ottoman Turk domination. They seemed to think that their families and descendants should not have to yield to the same “oppressive” Muslim regime to which the Albanians back in the day so thoughtfully and, it would seem in retrospect, wisely surrendered.

It took many years, thankless decades, in fact, of oppression-and hey, it worked. They just migrated into Kosovo from Albania, and gradually took over, not merely by out-breeding, but by proving that nothing makes good target practice like a lower-class Serb family out for a casual stroll-or out working in their own yards and gardens.

Yep, cheers, boys and girls of Kosovo. You proved those low-class Serbs would finally break and reveal their true natures and start fighting back and oppressing you, just as you have done to them for the many long decades you have migrated onto their so-called “sacred land”. And-hee, hee, hee, hee-it worked. You tricked them into proving what utter barbarians they were. All it took was a long, extended period of doing exactly to them what you knew deep down they wished they could do to you.

Now, you have your own country. Now, Islam, that glorious religion of peace, can grow and prosper, within the hearts and minds of the remaining five percent of ethnic Serbs that remain in Kosovo-or else.

In closing, I now add my voice to that of our glorious president, King George The Dry Drunk, Bush II who, following in the footsteps of previous American monarch and NATO client king-William Jefferson The Wagging Dog, Clinton The First-has encouraged recognition of the new Islamic Albanian ethnic state of Kosovo. Welcome to the international community. For all you do-this bud’s for you.

One word of advice-now that you have your own independent Islamic Albanian state-don’t forget to kill all the pigs. (hint, hint).

Friday, February 15, 2008

John McCane And The Rape Of Conservatives

The conservative movement of America, insofar as it's affiliation with the Republican Party, has been compared to a three legged stool, made up of social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and foreign policy conservatives.

I think comparing it to a three legged witches cauldron is more apt a description-a witches cauldron run by a group of very dark, satanic witches. Unfortunately, the social conservatives have gone from being one of the important and vital three legs, to an unwilling part of the vile broth that has cooked and stewed and simmered into a concoction that is rancid at best.

Who can blame them for wanting to break free and have their well-earned place at the table? Yet, when they try, they find themselves more like a battered wife, one who knows she is being abused, and yet has no place left to go.

Now, just when the conservative movement seemed ready to assert it's rights, along comes John McCain, who tells them to "calm down".

Yeah, I've always heard that rape victims deep down enjoy being raped. I have always heard that in many if not most cases, they "asked for it."

I've also heard that the rapist is himself a person who has problems, perhaps stemming from some kind of abuse he experienced. Well, if that is true, it is easy to see how John "Stockholm Syndrome" McCain seems determined to continue the cycle of abuse by inflicting his condition on members of the Republican Conservative movement.

Some have balked at this treatment and will continue doing so. Some will make their way out of the abusive relationship their party has forced upon them, while refusing to honor their concerns and beliefs. They will walk away, and will not return until those concerns are met satisfactorily. They are tired of the abuse.

Others, however, will remain and continue to put up with the rape and abuse. Not only will they remain, they will convince themselves, in true Stockholm Syndrome fashion, that they enjoy it.

After all, where else can they go? Who else can they turn to? It's a cold, cruel world out there, filled with Democrats, Leftists, hedonists, and secular humanists of all stripes, just ready to pounce and destroy their souls.

How much easier to remain in an abusive relationship? After all, they are getting a little something out of it-ain't they?

Sure, for now, they are getting screwed, in the ass, in the mouth, and in every other orifice they have. Many of them hope McCain will use "protection" in the form of a truly conservative VP candidate. Of course, no form of contraceptive or protection is fool-proof, is it?

Evidently not. The disease is already spreading. Worse, where once it was morning in America, now there is nothing but morning sickness. The future does not look good, and unfortunately, at this late stage, abortion does not seem to be an option, though ironically it might seem strangely tempting.

Maybe in time they will really learn to like it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Radu-Chapter XXXV (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)

Previous Installments-
Part One
Prologue and Chapters I-X
Part Two
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII
Chapter XIV
Chapter XV
Chapter XVI
Chapter XVII
Chapter XVIII
Chapter XIX
Chapter XX
Chapter XXI
Chapter XXII
Chapter XXIII
Chapter XXIV
Chapter XXV
Chapter XXVI
Chapter XXVII
Chapter XXVIII
Chapter XXIX
Chapter XXX
Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXII
Chapter XXXIII
Chapter XXXIV
Radu-Chapter XXXV (A Novel by Patrick Kelley)
8 pages approximate
While Toby strutted back and forth among his background singers he entertained the same question as usual-which one of these hos is going to set me back a bunch of money tonight, and how much Viagra will it take? He settled on Felicia Rashad-not only because she was, after all, his favorite, but precisely because she was his favorite, he saved her for special occasions. He did not want to wear a good thing out, and that rack had a lot of potential.

He felt much better over the last few months after dropping more than fifty pounds, and this was an inducement to him to lose even more. Still, as he rapped to the background music of My Way, he could feel the potential of what might well lie ahead. He finally had the makings of a big hit-not just a regional but a national, maybe even international chart buster. Things were looking up.

He was glad this night was over. He finished the encore performance and prepared to exit the stage. His posse was ready to leave the club, and Felicia was ready, it seemed, to accompany him. He only hoped he was ready. He made his way back to the dressing room and popped the Viagra. Soon, he and Felicia walked side-by-side toward the limousine that waited to take them to the Hyatt.

He felt so good now he even considered popping the question. The only thing that concerned him was the prospect that since she would no doubt agree it would be impossible to back out later. The hell with it, he decided.

“You and me is gonna have us a serious discussion,” he promised her.

“Oh, what about?” she asked with a winsomely delighted smile.

“That’s as far as you go, Mr. Lecher,” a voice suddenly announced. “You are Dwayne Lecher, aka Toby Da Pimp, correct?”

Felicia backed away in obvious fear. Toby always told her there was a danger that someday he might suffer the fate of his idol, The Notorius Mr. Big, alternately known as “Biggie Small”. Mr. Big supposedly died, by gunfire, in retaliation for the earlier murder of rival gangsta rapper Tupac Shakur.

“That’s life,” Toby said often, a refrain that was now to all intents and purposes his signature line these days owing to the rising in the charts of his latest single, the first to receive national airplay.

“It could be worse,” the late Spooky Gold said once. “You could end up like Vanilla Ice. That wouldn’t be good, because I don’t think anybody could hold your fat ass out a window by your ankles without dropping you.”

As Toby considered how good it was to be out of his old gang leaders shadow, for once, he found himself concerned now as to the strange man and his partners who, having so addressed him, now approached him with what appeared to be an outstretched identification badge.

Until he saw this, Toby was relieved to see most of the men were white. Now, he wished they were all black, and the FBI identification could transform into a handgun. He knew how to deal with the pain of gunshot wounds, having experienced this on three different occasions. Actually, he wanted to go out that way-a hero, like Biggie.

“Who the hell are you, fool?” one of the posse members asked.

“Cool it, James,” Toby said. “What’s up, dog?”

“You’re under arrest,” the man said. “I have a warrant here, to take you in on suspicion of interstate commerce violations and suspicion of terrorist activities, and murder, in connection with the bombing of Johns Hopkins University.”

“Say what?” Toby demanded. He expected this for some time, and now projected what he called his dumbfounded look, one he practiced to great extent. This time, however, the practice turned out to be unnecessary. He was truly dumbfounded.

“Interstate commerce violations?” he demanded. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

Before he could further process the implications of what he heard, the agent ordered him to turn around and place his hands on his head. He knew by rote the rights read to him by the FBI agent, a man named Fifer, who then cuffed him and lead him to a waiting sedan. He knew enough by now not to talk, or even to engage in conversation. He would not lower his dignity by sitting back here and professing his innocence. His lawyer would arrive soon and straighten out this mess. All Toby had to do was dummy up.

It was no more than a ten-minute drive to the Federal courthouse where Fifer led him to a large interrogation facility that looked, ironically enough, like a board room with large, swivel chairs surrounding an oblong oak table. For the time being, there were only four of them, until a female agent entered.

The woman, with long blonde hair and somewhat tight grayish blue slacks, entered into what appeared to be a DVD player a copy of his latest recording.

“I wonder what Frank would say about this?” Fifer mused.

“Maybe you can ask him one of these days-soon,” Toby replied. “Now, where the fuck is my lawyer? If I’m being charged with-“

“Just calm down, Mr. Lecher, he’s on his way,” Fifer said. “Believe it or not, he knew about this before you did. See, we try to do things by the book around here. We make sure we have everything all lined out before we take somebody in on a specific charge. You are more than just a person of interest, you know. Ah, you know what-I think we should skip all this and get to the good stuff.”

Fifer paused the DVD, and then fast-forwarded immediately to Strangers In The Night.

“I guess you know this girl’s name, right?” he said.

“Yeah, her name was Susan Chou,” Lecher said. “I know all about her being murdered, and I had nothing to do with that, nor did I have any knowledge of it. So, can I go now?”

The woman now approached Lecher, still handcuffed, and she peered down into his eyes.

“At sixteen years old, what she is doing might well be described as lude and lascivious conduct, which you seem to be encouraging here.”

“She lied about her age and showed my agent a false ID. What can I say-kids these days? What happened to her had nothing whatsoever to do with me and my boys.”

“My, look at how her crotch is glowing.” The woman replied, ignoring Toby’s protests of innocence. “I wonder what would happen if you was to click on it?”

“Right at the time, it would probably gush cum,” Toby said in a cold, steely voice. “Right about now it would probably gush maggots. I don’t really care, then or now. Like I said-it ain’t got nothin’ to do with me.”

Before he finished, however, the female agent managed to click on the area of the girl’s strangely glowing crotch, an act that opened a new screen. Toby’s eyes widened with horror as he saw what happened next.

“You know, this might come as a surprise, but this is the first actual snuff film ever found and verified. You’re quite a guy, Mr. Lecher. When this version hits the internet-and you know that is going to happen any day now-I would be willing to wager it will make sells of the original CD go through the roof. Of course, all you have to do is say you didn’t know anything about this. You’re a real clever guy.”

Fifer listened to this in silence, until he suddenly lurched forward and peered into Toby’s face.

“He would have been a lot cleverer if he had made sure her body wasn’t found,” he added. “Let’s see, what was the cause of death? Oh yeah, I remember, now, in fact, I think we have it right here. What was it again, Bridgett?”

“Loss of blood and shock from internal injuries due to profound physical trauma caused by dog bites, if I remember right,” the female agent replied.

Toby met their gaze in obvious apprehension.

“Those were Spooky’s fighting dogs,” he said to their surprise. “I swear to God, I didn’t know anything about this.”

The two agents shot each other a surprised look, but quickly recovered from this unexpected and seemingly sincere utterance from the reputedly arrogant gang leader, whom they both felt was guilty of more crimes than they would probably ever know about.

“Mr. Lecher-you don’t really expect us to believe that, do you?” the woman, whose name was Bridgett, asked him.

“Hell no, I don’t expect you to believe it, or to admit you believe it if you do, but it’s the truth,” he insisted. “Why the hell would I put something like that on one of my DVD’s? Are you nuts?”

“Crazy as a fox, Mr. Letcher,” Fifer answered. “Pretty clever, seeing as how you can make a ton of money off this thing, all the time denying any involvement in it. You should have been a politician. So let’s see now, since you didn’t do it, who did? Oh wait, I bet I know-it’s all a big plot by somebody wanting to set you up, because you’re an enemy of the racist white government. Or maybe some crooked cops just want to get you off the street, because you’re a bad influence. Or maybe it’s just somebody that wants you out of the way so they can have all the power and control over the hood.”

All the time Fifer was going into this routine, however, Bridgett looked with growing concern at Toby, who seemed to her actually taken aback by this latest revelation. In this matter, at least, he might well be telling the truth, which he now continued to insist was the case.

“I would have to know if this was made from one of the masters or not,” he explained. “If it was, then it was probably one of my people. Why they would do something like this, I don’t know. I swear to you though, I don’t know anything about it.”

“One of your people,” Fifer responded, though even he now betrayed signs of doubt as to Lecher’s guilt. “Would one of those people be a man by the name of Darius Carter, aka Ratchet?”

“Ratchet?” Toby repeated with obviously growing suspicion. “Hell, Ratchet don’t know that much about computers.”

“Oh, that’s right,” Fifer observed. “He’s more of a demolitions expert, ain’t he?”

“He was a demolitions man during the first Gulf War, yeah-what about it?”

Before Fifer could respond, however, something unexpected happened. Toby gasped for breath, and then began breathing quickly and deeply, in short, spasmodic jerks, and for a minute seemed as though he might hyperventilate. He looked around oddly, craning his neck backwards as though focusing on some hitherto unknown force within the room. He began to sweat profusely.

“Mr. Lecher, are you all right?” the woman interrogator asked him. “Would you like some water?”

“No-I’m fine,” he said, as though confused at his sudden, inexplicable symptom. He felt far from all right. He was dizzy and nauseous. He was not about to admit this to them, however. Nevertheless, the sweat dripped down his brow and burned his eyes. Soon, he could taste the salty and poisonous excretion on his lips. He could feel his heart beating wildly in his chest, and focused now on the woman.

“I’m just kind of upset, after seeing that damn link on my DVD. I’ll be all right. God knows, there is no way I would do that kind of shit. Believe me, if it is one of my people, I’ll damn well find out why, and I can probably do it a hell of a lot faster than you ever could. People will talk to me. They won’t say jack to you Feds, you can make book on that.”

He knew, of course, his chances of convincing them of anything were slim. Even now, he sat handcuffed to the large rectangular oak table, unable to move more than one or two foot in either direction even if he tried, as the woman suddenly approached closer.

“Detective Fifer, why don’t you go talk to our other special guest,” she said. “Me and Toby will just sit in here and wait-we might even watch.”

“Yeah, might as well,” Fifer replied as he betrayed a barely disguised disdain for the niceties of polite interrogation. He left the room, and the woman walked even closer. Toby could see plainly her curvaceous form, her thin waste and full hips accented seductively by her bluish gray pants suit, the top button of her blouse suddenly opened.

“It is rather hot in here ain’t it?” she asked as she suddenly unbuttoned the second one. Then, she winked at him.

Now Toby really started breathing deeply, and he began to experience an uncontrollable erection, which strained painfully and fiercely against his jeans. Oh shit, he thought. Bridgett just smiled.

Then, Toby could hear the sound of voices-two of them. They were the voices of two men, one of them Fifer, but the other one made Toby temporarily forget his unseemly predicament. It was the voice of Ratchet, from another room, his and Fifer’s voice now piped in through an intercom system.

“Yeah, like I said, we were all in on it. Marshall Crenshaw ordered it, but Spooky went along with it, and so did all the rest of us. That damn white cop was in on it too.”

“White cop?” Fifer asked.

“Yeah, his name is James Berry,” Ratchet explained. “He was on Reverend Harvey’s payroll, and Spooky covered for this by acting as one of his CI’s. Toby was another one. The cops were supposed to have all the Seventeenth Pulse under surveillance, but Berry was in charge of watching us, supposedly, so he provided the cover for us to go out and do our stuff. It was hard after April Sandusky was murdered, but we managed.”

“So what was the reason for all this?” Fifer asked.

“No one ever really knew,” Ratchet answered. “Harvey Caldwell didn’t even know about it, and when he found out, he went through the roof. We were paid well, though. Tariq’s wife supplied his bank account information, and Hacksaw transferred a lot of his money into a bunch of offshore accounts. I made the bomb, and Mercury Morris delivered the damn thing. Toby kept an eye on Tariq’s kids until it all went down. I think him, Berry, and Spooky were the only ones that knew what it was all about, besides Crenshaw. Crenshaw and Spooky are both dead now, of course. Me, I didn’t know jack shit.

“I just assumed it was meant to get the cops attention off us and on to the big bad Arab terrorists everybody’s always going on about. I just know it’s been eating at me ever since. I’m almost glad you caught me in a way. Given enough time I’d probably end up like Caldwell, living his last days in a psych ward, babbling about dead people climbing out of toilets and such. He didn’t even do anything, and here I am, with all this blood on my hands, and I-”

Ratchet was no longer speaking, however. He just cried, sobbing pitifully, as Fifer tried to encourage him to pull himself together.

“I’m sorry,” Ratchet said. “I’ve killed people before, but it was always people that had it coming. This is something else.”

Damn that fool, Toby thought. Of all the times, and of all the people, to find a damn conscience, it had to be him, and it had to be now. Suddenly, Bridgett thrust a paper in his face. It looked to be a police sketch. What was worse, the image on the paper bore a disconcerting resemblance to him.

“This is a sketch of the man whom the two Tariq children alleged took them to the Washington DC mosque on the day of the Johns Hopkins bombing. They both pretty much agreed on this final version. Of course, it kind of helps that they later pointed you out when they saw your latest DVD. I guess at the time you didn’t think you would be the rising star you now are, huh Toby?”

Toby did not know quite what to say, and in fact, could not say it if he did. He was now burning hot, and the steely look in the blonde woman’s eyes bore into him, reached into the depths of his soul, teasing him and taunting him as she drew ever closer. He could smell her perfume, subtly at first, but wafting now ever closer and stronger with the combined scent of jasmine and lilacs, as her hot breath accentuated ever word from her mouth, which Toby could no longer hear. Every word faded into a low-pitched monotone that was indecipherable. He tried to avoid her gaze, but doing so found his eyes focused on her blouse, the top two open buttons now revealing no bra. Her damn nipples, he realized, were hard, thrusting against her tight blouse with as much intensity, it seemed, as his now raging cock pressed savagely against his pants.

He would ordinarily have cum by now, but he knew he would get no such quick relief this night. He knew what she was after, of course, and soon enough, he would willingly admit to anything, if she would only jack him off, or suck his dick-anything. He would admit to sinking the Titanic if that’s what it would take. This was murder. He simply could not take much more of this. She was getting closer to him, and closer.

Then, he suddenly went limp. Everything went dark, and the pounding in his chest gave way to a high-pitched tone that seemed to pierce his eardrums, and his skull. He heard a chorus of indistinguishable voices, but nothing that made any sense. At one point he seemed to be floating, which didn’t seem right. He soon felt like he was so far deep inside himself, that hopefully no one would ever find him. It was no comfort to him, however. He felt no peace in his hiding place. He always thought that when he died he would finally find some kind of peace. Well, if this was death, so much for that bright idea.

When he could finally see through the darkness and haze that seemed to engulf him, he noticed a bight light, at first from a distance, and then closer. He could see Marshall Crenshaw and Lynette Khoska staring down at him angrily, until they merged into one being who was unrecognizable at first, until he took on the appearance of Spooky Gold.

“Be a man, fool,” Spooky told him. “For once in your worthless life, be a real man.”

Gold bent over him, drew closer, so close that Toby could no longer make out his features, until he backed away to reveal, not his former and deceased leader, but the now grinning face of Doctor David Chou, who laughed in a mad delirium, until his features as well faded, only to be replaced by Marlowe Krovell.

“Thank you for letting me be myself again,” Marlowe told him with a dark intensity that made him finally, at long last, open his eyes, to find himself in a room surrounded by flowers. Someone was in here with him. Where was he, though?

“Thank God you’re awake,” the woman’s voice said. He looked up to see Felicia Blanton, looking relieved and desperately happy to see him awake, and seemingly aware.

“Am I in the hospital?” he asked. “I thought I saw David Chou here.”

“He was your doctor,” Felicia affirmed to his dismay, but then she added, “He saved your life.”

“What the hell happened?”

“You had some kind of stroke, caused by an aneurism, and your blood pressure. You lost a lot of blood, but he saved you. He gave you a transfusion. They said that ordinarily a stroke like yours would either kill a person or leave them permanently incapacitated, but he gave you some kind of experimental blood compound, and you are going to make a full recovery. You are going to be fine, baby. It’s a miracle.”

“An experimental blood compound,” he repeated. He did not like the implications of what he was hearing, but he tried to keep it to himself for now. Felicia bent down over him and kissed him wildly.

“They said you were on Viagra at the time and that might have triggered it,” she said. “So, just what were you planning, huh?”

“What happened with those agents?” he asked, well aware that his problems were far from over, to say the least.

“Baby, I don’t know, I wasn’t there,” she replied. “I figured they just wanted to question you about some drug deals or something. Desmond got it all straightened out though, so don’t worry.”

Desmond? What in the hell did he know about anything, Toby wondered. His forte was criminal law, particularly as it involved organized crime, and police misconduct. All of this was out of his league. After Felicia left, telling him she would be waiting for him at home, he sat for an hour before a nurse came in the course of conducting her rounds to tell him of his imminent discharge.

It was incredible. He felt as though he just woke up form a long, restful sleep, the first such in years. He rose from his bed, feeling better than he had in as long a time as he could remember. Shit, he never felt this good as a teenager, he realized. What in the hell was going on here? He all but jumped out of bed and barely gave it a thought.

When Desmond finally arrived, about three hours later, he made it clear to Toby he was to answer no questions asked him by the press pertaining to his hospitalization or his previous arrest. As for the DVD, Desmond was as explicit as the song video in question.

“You didn’t know a damn thing about it, and don’t approve of it. It might be a little tough for a while. After all, you now have the number one CD in America-in the whole fucking world in fact, and it shows no signs of going down anytime soon. You only have like about two thousand interview requests. You are going to be busy. By the way, nobody is buying your earlier prognosis. Nobody believes you or anyone else could recover so quickly and so completely from such a serious condition, so you’ll have to deal with that too. I’ve arranged for you to get away from here in a way the press won’t hassle you when you leave.”

“Well, what about those Feds?” Toby demanded.

“Oh, they’ve been reassigned,” Desmond replied. “The case has been dropped. Ratchet left a note confessing he alone was responsible for the bombing. Come to find out, Johns Hopkins turned his mother away a few years back, and she died later. He never forgave them for that. When Mercury delivered that bomb, he did not even know anything about it, or even that Ratchet sent it. So far as he knew, he was just making a run of the mill delivery. Ratchet hired Mercury and sent it under an assumed name. Come to find out, the Tariq kids are not so sure you are the one that took them to the mosque after all. They think that might have been Ratchet as well. So you’re off-“

“Hold on, wait a minute, Desmond,” Toby said. “You’re making my head spin. You say Ratchet left a note?”

“Yeah, the one he wrote right before someone murdered him in his cell. Still, his story checks out. They found him really fucked up, with his throat slashed and not one ounce of blood in his body, or anywhere in his cell. Naturally, there’s all kinds of conspiracy theories circulating about that too, so you can expect more questions about that. That’s all stuff we can go over in more detail later-before you start doing interviews, which I don’t think I can stress too much.”

Desmond left a little later-he had a matter of a contribution to a Washington DC area mosque, he explained-while Toby waited around for a couple more hours until a hospital administrator finally arrived with the release papers. He signed them, and then waited in a private lounge for Peter, his agent, with whom Desmond arranged a subterfuge to take him from the hospital away from the prying eyes of reporters and paparazzi. He now had a new house, under an assumed name, one not far from the old crib, which was now a continual hangout for those same reporters and paparazzi, whom both Peter and Desmond insisted he should for now avoid. Felicia was waiting for him there, in fact. If he just rode out the storm of the latest controversy, everything would work out fine. Toby had obviously powerful friends, in high places, friends who attached the strings and pulled them, in this case seemingly just for him. That was something else to consider. Such people did not lightly exercise such influence. What would they expect from him in return?


Toby turned at the sound of the voice, and could not believe his eyes. The young man that stood before him in the patient discharge lounge looked to be a patient, one who seemed in the midst of recovery, presumably soon to be discharged. It was impossible.

“Sean?” he asked in amazement. “I know that ain’t really you there.”

“Hard to believe, huh?” the young man asked. “Yeah, it’s me, walking and talking on my own, with no tubes and no diapers. After what that little skank whore Spanky did to me and the rest of the guys, I figured I’d be laid out in some kind of bed for the rest of my life, not even able to feed myself. Jerome is all right too. He’s already out of here.”

For a few seconds, Dwayne Lecher was at a complete and utter loss for words. Still, he had to say something.

“Who was your doctor? It wasn’t by any chance David Chou, was it?”

“Yeah, who would have thought a chink doctor like that would pull a brother out of the hell I was in?”

Lecher just sat there, too stunned for words.

“I heard about what happened with you and Uncle Spook. Is it true? You and he were working with the man, and he got killed when you turned on him. You know that’s all over the hood, right?”

“It ain’t what you think,” Lecher said. “I tried to get your uncle out from under that, but it backfired. He paid the price, and I almost got killed myself, a bullet right in the gut.”

“Yeah, I heard. Just as well. Uncle Spook could be a dick and all. Still, he be blood. Thanks for looking out for him.”

Yet, Lecher could not help but wonder if Jerome really believed his well-practiced tale of betrayal and attempted redemption. He had rehearsed it enough, and now he hoped it did not sound too rehearsed.

“So, how much longer you in here?” he asked, desperate for a chance to change the subject.

“I’m actually an out-patient, or have been, but I got put back in to run some tests. I heard you got the same experimental treatment. They say the stuff they used on you and me will cure just about everything, except some kinds of viruses. Anyway, it’s really good to see you again, Toby.”

Toby expressed that he too was glad that Jerome, the nephew of his former gang leader, seemed almost as good as new, when Peter, his agent, entered.

“I signed you out already. Are you ready to go?”

Toby said that he was, shook hands with Jerome, and made ready to make his departure. He hoped he could leave without having to face David Chou, and as he walked toward the back exit, he found himself unusually anxious at the thought of running into the man. He knew he was inadvertently responsible for the death of Susan Chou, and he knew that the girl’s father was more knowledgeable of his role than he pretended to be, or at least had to be very suspicious.

Peter had arranged for the purchase of his new home under an assumed name, not too far away from the hood, but at the same time, safely away from any who might take exception to the recent rumors pertaining to his cozy relationship with the Baltimore Police Department. Such a thing like that could ruin him, just when his career was beginning to get off the ground to an extent beyond his previous imaginings. He could not allow that to happen.

The driver drove through the hood, but the place looked all but deserted, only a few stragglers out. One man looked to be sick, and throwing up, while yet another lay shivering on the ground. There were no whores, no signs of random drug buying activity. They passed only one automobile, before Toby heard the sounds of an ambulance, which quickly came into view as it pulled up to a tenement where an old woman waved frantically.

“There’s been some kind of virus going around here,” Peter told him.

“That figures,” Toby said. He could not wait to be gone from this hellhole forever.

They finally arrived at his new home. When they entered, Dwayne was amazed at the spacious luxuriousness of his new digs, as from a back room, he could hear the sound of the music of Sly And The Family Stone, a CD which now began the song “Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself Again.”

“Damn, I got killed after all,” he said. “That’s it, I’m in heaven, right?”

He was only half joking, and Peter assured him it was no dream, as Toby suddenly reacted to the sound of the commode flushing.

“Man, I need to use the john myself,” he said as he spied the female figure moving quickly out of the bathroom into the darkened hallway that led to the master bedroom of the suite.

“It’s got five bedrooms and three baths, and of course a bar, as well as a private study. I take it this will be to your liking.”

“Was that Felicia?” Toby asked.

“Yeah, I guess so,” he said. “We let her stay here to look after the place. We brought some of your clothes here, but we decided to keep your jewelry and other valuables in storage. No offense, but I don’t really know her. She claims you and her might get married, but you know how women are”

“And you’re sure that was Felicia?”

“Yeah, who else would it be?”

“I don’t know, she just looked-different, I guess. Hey, Felicia.”

“Well, look, Toby, I have to get out of here. I’ll be over tomorrow, and we can finalize everything if you want. If something else comes up you know where to reach me.”

He left, and Toby made his way to the bathroom. Damn, he felt good. He had no prescription. There seemed to be no need of one. Now, however, he felt like he was about to bust a gut, and made his way to the bathroom from which he earlier saw the shadowy female figure emerge.

As he stood in front of the commode, however, he saw a sight that he found troubling.

“What in the hell?” he asked, and stood and looked at what appeared to be blood, at the top of the water in the commode, swirling around in what seemed a restless frenzy. He pissed, trying to put it out of his mind. Why was there blood in his commode, he wondered. He seemed to stand there for more than five minutes, and thought he would never finish pissing. Damn, it felt good. Finally, he finished. Zipping up his pants, he walked down the hall. There were no lights, and he almost had to feel his way down to the master bedroom. He opened the door, and could see the female figure in the darkness, silhouetted
by the outside streetlights, her shadow seeming to quake against the luxurious purple drapes.

He turned on the lights, and almost had a heart attack at the horrid sight that awaited him. The woman recoiled at the sudden intrusion of light, and shrieked loudly, and angrily.

“Felicia? What the hell is wrong with you?”

Felicia moved her hands from her face, to reveal a massive eruption of boils, as blood caked around her lips.

“I’m dying,” she said, and collapsed in the arms of Dwayne Lecher as she cried in deep and hopeless despair.