Friday, May 16, 2014

CASEY JAMESON

           Karen Haier pushed the folder across the table to the blond-haired, attractive, young girl sitting across from her. This blue-eyed girl was known to her peers as Casey Jameson, though Karen never got her real name, it didn’t matter; all Karen wanted was the girl’s talent.

Casey reached for the folder and opened the file’s contents: pictures, addresses, phone numbers, and a list of names of the people he knew, the places he frequented. She looked up at Karen and asked, “Why don’t you just hire a private investigator?”

“I looked into it,” Karen replied, “but the cost is way out of my budget, and I don’t know if he is seeing anybody for sure. Regardless, I can’t wait. I figure I could speed things up by doing it this way. I just need a few pictures. So when I told a friend of mine what I was thinking of doing, he told me about you and got me your number. He knows someone in your group.”

“Oh, who is it?" she inquired. 

“Do you know Angie Tate? I think her stage name is Nicky d’Angelo, her father is Italian, or so I’ve heard. My friend Paulie used to date her.” Karen took a sip of her coffee.

“Yes, I know her, nice girl. She’s also a good actor, so why didn’t you choose her?” 

“You just answered your own question, Casey. She’s a nice girl. And besides, you have assets that I can use.” Karen made googly eyes in the direction of Casey’s large breasts, and they both laughed. 

They carried on the conversation for another half hour and after careful consideration, Casey decided to do what Karen wanted. She didn’t have any acting gigs lined up and she really needed the money; her agent always kept in touch, if anything came up she would deal with it.  Since it was late and Karen had to get home to her son, they agreed to lunch the following day to discuss the plan further.

Karen went home and checked with her son to make sure he was getting ready for bed. He had just brushed his teeth and was waiting for her to get back. He was a teenager now and didn’t need much instruction or supervision, but he still like to be tucked in occasionally. This they both enjoyed and savored. She kissed him, they exchanged I love yous, and then she shut off the light and closed the door.

Parallel to her son’s door was her and her husband’s bedroom. The door was ajar and she peeked inside to see if he was sleeping. He was. She felt relieved. She made herself some herbal tea, took a lorazepam, and turned on the TV, these things always helped to switch off the brain chatter. After a while, she got drowsy and went to bed, being careful not to wake the sleeping bear. 

The next morning, Karen had the energy of a twenty year old instead of a forty year old. She got up early, got her son up and ready, and drove him to school. When she got back she cleaned the house, took care of the pets, and even did a load of laundry. She was on a roll, and the brain chatter was at bay.

It was nearly noon when Karen collected the laundry from the laundry room. She had to pee (nerves), then applied a little lip gloss and went to meet Casey.

“Nice place you picked.” Casey said, upon seeing Karen. “It’s very secluded.”

“Yah, thanks, I came across it one night while walking off my anger after a big argument with my husband. We used to live a few blocks down the street.” Karen sat down and got comfortable. 

The waiter came over and they ordered salads and green tea, then Karen started telling Casey the whole story from the beginning. She told her that her husband had seemed to be a loving partner in the beginning, but shortly after the marriage he had begun to drink. They had a son together and he seemed to be happy, but she started noticing that his drinking was getting out of hand and when she confronted him he became angry and violent. He had come home many times drunk and would hit her and try to knock around their son, but she would protect him. Several times she had called the police to take him away somewhere to sober up and he would come home the next day apologetic and regretful, saying that he wouldn’t do it anymore. She had gone to Al-Anon for support and she decided to leave him alone and she would concentrate on raising her son. Years went by and he drank his life away while she raised a child. He didn’t want to admit that he had a problem and after years of heavy drinking he developed Hepatitis and the doctor told him that if he didn’t quit drinking his liver would break down, causing cirrhosis and eventually cancer. 

Casey interrupted, “Did he quit drinking?”

“He tried. I think he really did try. I remember that day we came from the doctor. He said to me, ‘Gee, I musta drank a lot, eh?’

“I wanted to take my fist and drive it right between his two eyes, but then I felt so sorry for him, and I wanted him to get better. My son and I even had an intervention. One evening he came home after work, sober, and we made him choose, the bottle or your family.” Tears filled Karen’s eyes as she rummaged through her purse for tissue.

“So what happened? How did you get to this point?” Casey was curious but patient, and handed over the tissue that Karen couldn’t seem to find.

“Well, he quit for a while, but he started again, this time worse than before. We had a huge fight a couple of years back and I thought that would be the end. I had never before let it all out, but I did that day, and I screamed at him and I had made up my mind. I was leaving. But then, and this is the worse part, when I looked over at my son and saw the look on his face my heart sank. He was crushed. We had always tried to hide our fighting from him, but that time, I had had enough. I went over to him and took him out to the car and he cried, “I don’t want my parents to get divorced!”  I swear to you, Casey, I never saw him cry like that since he was a baby, the one time he fell and hit his head. It broke my heart. So I talked to him and I told him that sometimes parents fight, it doesn’t mean they are going to get divorced. I calmed him down then we went back upstairs where I spoke with that drunken idiot and explained to him the damage we were doing to our son, but I don’t think he cared. But anyway, we got through that and then things were going okay for a while, until the next time he came home, bouncing off the walls.”

“Jesus Christ, why did you stay with him?” 

“Believe me it wasn’t easy. I had spoken to so many people about what to do and I couldn’t figure it out. I was a damn fool to believe he would change. All I could think about was how I grew up without a father and I didn’t want my son to grow up without one. But then I had my sister-in-law telling me that what I was doing was worse. I felt the situation was hopeless. I couldn’t make it on my own, not with my salary, and welfare doesn’t give money to people with credit cards and brand new cars. I would have to sell everything I had and the money that I had in my bank account would be used up fast and then where would I be?”

Casey fell silent and allowed Karen time to compose herself. 

Karen wiped her tears, wiped her nose, and fell back in her chair.

“If it’s any consolation, Karen, I’ve heard and seen worse. My father was a drinker, too. Listen, how about we order a drink to help us get through?” They both laughed at that.

Karen nodded. “Yah, sure, let’s have something strong.” She pushed her uneaten salad aside.

Casey motioned to the waiter to come over and she ordered two whiskeys, straight up.

After a sip of the whiskey, Karen continued with her story. She told Casey that they had moved to a new apartment and that her mother-in-law had passed away from cancer. Karen told her that he hadn’t shown his feelings and after the funeral had started coming home later than usual. She went on to say that they had planned to go visit his Dad for Christmas, he lived in another province and they had to travel by plane. All arrangements for the flights and pets had been made and it was an enjoyable Christmas. She told Casey that her husband had gone home first and she and her son followed two days later. Her husband had picked up all the pets and did the grocery shopping before they had arrived. And a month later he had started cheating on her with the young girl who had taken care of their parrot over the Christmas holidays.

“That lousy son of a bitch! What a prick!” 
Casey was flabbergasted. “How did you find out?”

“I knew something was wrong, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. He was acting more strangely than usual, lying through his teeth, hiding his paystubs, coming home later in the evening and leaving earlier in the morning. Oh, he had a great knack for disappearing. I started investigating and rummaging through his things. One night while he was sleeping I crawled along the floor and grabbed his cell phone. Now, usually he would have it locked, but this time it wasn’t and I saw everything on the phone. I recognized the number and right away I knew.”

“So what did you do?” Casey came in closer, eyes wide with wonder.

“I went to find her and I beat the crap out of her.”

“Oh my gawd,” Casey said, “did she know it was you?”

Karen shifted in her seat and took a sip of her drink.

“Go on.” Casey was getting impatient.

“The next night I told my husband that I was going to the bingo. I knew where she worked, it’s how I found her in the first place. So I waited until the store closed and followed her home. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew I was going to confront her that was for sure, so when she pulled off the main road, I parked my car and walked the rest of the way. She was just getting out of her car as I was walking up. It was dark. The street was dimly lit and there were no lights on in the house. Once I saw her I couldn’t hold back the rage burning inside me. She didn’t even see me coming. I grabbed her by the back of the hair and dragged her in the nearby bushes and when she tripped and fell down, I kicked her in the face, I kicked her in the stomach, and I never stopped until I knew she couldn’t get up.”

Casey was astounded. Her eyes were wide with shock, but yet a tinge of satisfaction rushed through her body. “And then?”

“And then I ran through the bushes, found my way back to the car, and sat there, trying to catch my breath. There was no traffic, so I was pretty sure no one had seen anything. I started up the car and drove for an hour, away from there. I stopped at a bar in the next town and had a couple of drinks. On my way back I stopped at MacDonald’s, got a burger and fries, and downed that to disguise the smell of liquor on my breath. When I got home, everyone was asleep.”

“Holy shit. Karen. Did you say anything to her when you were kicking her face in?” Casey asked.

“Are you kidding, I wasn’t thinking about anything, rage was at play. Of course, if I had been thinking straight, I probably would have just told her off, and threaten to tell her fiancĂ© if she ever saw my husband again. But nothing ever goes as planned does it?” Karen heaved a big sigh, shook her head, and rolled her eyes at the ridiculousness of it all.

“She was cheating on her boyfriend, her fiancĂ©? What a bitch! So what happened after that? Did your husband ever find out about it? Did he hear from her again?”

“I could tell something was wrong, but he never said anything. I mean what would he say? He might have suspected that I found out about his little girlfriend, but I don’t think he ever found out about what I did. A few days later I read about her in the paper. She was fine, if you call a broken nose, missing teeth, and a few broken ribs fine. There were no leads and the police were treating it as random act of violence. A few weeks after that he started treating me better, saying he was going to quit drinking and he was going to go to AA. He started coming home early and spending more time with us. But then a few months later things just went to hell again.”

They were silent for a few minutes, each gathering their thoughts.

Karen started, “I can’t look at him, Casey. He disgusts me. I can’t get past this. I know I should’ve just confronted him and kicked his ass out, but I was just so devastated at his betrayal, I got scared that I couldn’t make it on my own, but I was wrong.  And I think that my son is old enough to understand now. I know we’ll be just fine.”

Casey took a deep breath in. “Well, okay, what would you like me to do, exactly?” 

“Like I said yesterday, I just need a few pictures of you and him, I don’t really care if you get him in bed or not, I’m not asking you to sleep with him, but if you can provide some naked photos of you two together then that’s better. You see, I let him off easy, way too easy, and I don’t want to have it said that the breakup was my fault.” Karen grabbed her purse. “You know how people think. Everyone thinks he is so nice, but nobody knows the hell I have been through.” 

“He usually gets off work around 2:30 pm, so all you have to do is be on the bus. Now, listen, I don’t need updates and I don’t think we have anything else to say to each other. Once I receive the pictures, I will e-transfer the money, and we can go on with our lives.” Karen raised her glass in a toast. “To all the women out there who need women like you, Casey Jameson.”

Casey raised her glass against Karen’s. There was a clink and both downed their whiskey. Karen smiled at her and walked away.

A month later, Karen got an unmarked package in the mail. She went to the bank and put it in her safety deposit box, then she e-transferred the money as promised.

Later than evening, Karen and her son had been watching Big Bang Theory when they heard a knock at the door. Karen went to answer.

“Mrs. Haier?” A police officer was standing in the doorway. Karen felt an immediate sense of panic.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Haier, your husband has been in an accident.” The officer held up her husband’s wallet and identification.

“I don’t understand. My husband is working a double shift tonight. Did he get hurt at work?”

“No Ma’am, he was found shot in a hotel room not far from his place of employment. I’m sorry Ma’am, he’s dead. Ma’am, you need to come with us.”

Karen’s son, who had been listening behind her, fell to his knees.

Karen called her friend Paulie to meet them at the police station, to be with her son while she spoke with the police. 

Karen told the investigator all she knew of Casey Jameson, since they had the file folder she had given Casey. Casey Jameson’s real name was Carrie Lowe and there was a warrant for her arrest. In the past year she had murdered three men, all under the same circumstances. The investigator told Karen that when Carrie had been a child she had been raped by her father and continued to be raped by him until she stabbed him to death and ran away when she was sixteen. 

“We know what you were trying to do; others have done the same thing. But she has such a deep hatred of men that she just ends up killing them. Do you have any idea where she might have gone?” The investigator did not judge Karen, and she would not be in trouble if she cooperated completely. 

“I don’t know. I had coffee with her, then lunch the next day, and that was it. She mailed me the photos and I paid her. That was our business. I didn’t know anything about her and she knew little of me, except what I told her about my husband. I only wanted some pictures.” Karen broke down. 

“Don’t blame yourself, Mrs. Haier; you had no idea what you were getting yourself into.” The investigator said she could go home, but not to leave town, and be available for an official statement. She took her son and went home. Paulie stayed with them, and helped them through. Karen couldn’t believe what had happened. She blamed herself. Instead of becoming divorced she was now a widow. 

                                                ***

Amanda Freeman pushed the folder across the table to the blond-haired, attractive, young girl sitting across from her. This blue-eyed girl was known to her peers as Candace Jansen, though Amanda never got her real name, it didn’t matter; all Amanda wanted was the girl’s talent.