The Book I Wrote: Manifest Destiny chapter 7
It has been about 7 months since I posted the last chapter, you can find it here
As Wednesday approached, uneasy feelings emerged. Short bursts of adrenaline and anxiety would flare up when I thought about what this meeting meant for the investigation. If this Dupont guy didn’t volunteer his DNA sample to me, there was nothing I could do about it. The investigation would hit a dead end and I would be back at square one.
Tuesday had me laying restless unable to sleep. Each scenario churned in my head and trying to fight off my imagination proved frivolous. I tossed and turned over in bed hoping I could shake my restless mind asleep, but I couldn't. Somehow, I managed a little sleep as I woke to the sound of my alarm blaring.
I made certain it was extra loud this morning, it was a big day after all. My stomach churned with anticipation. Anticipation that caused the sheets to fly off and a brisk walk to the kitchen. Rubbing my eyes, I prepared a large batch of coffee. Not out of necessity, but habit. I only bought the premium brand coffee, and for the most part drank it black. I never understood people who put in half milk and creamer, or got fancy drinks at coffee shops, that just wasn’t real coffee to me.
I sat at my table munching on a bowl of Lucky Charms and washing it down with a fresh brew. It wasn’t the best combination, but I had gotten use to the bitter taste. About halfway through, I got tired of the pairing and decided to reach into the fridge for some milk. The blend of cereal and milk I hadn’t had in years. With the reason being I thought it tasted like soggy manure as a kid. It was worth a shot, seeing I couldn’t wolf down much more on the current menu. To my delight and surprise, the breakfast staple was pretty enjoyable. This was going to be a welcomed change to the morning, and to think I had suffered without that sweetness for so long.
Scrapping the bowl of the last rainbow marshmallow, I rehearsed in my head, the cover story. Using my real name was a must because I needed to show identification, but I was dabbling in amateur journalism. Recently getting assigned to do a piece on robberies, and the criminal mind. I decided what better than to interview a career thief. The story sounded surefire to me. As a further explanation, I would tell him I did a little research on crimes in my area and saw Alvin Dupont came up frequently for theft. Searching for him, I soon saw that he was here in Rikers. If he questioned why, which I was almost certain he wouldn’t, I would delve into specifics that I wanted a life-long criminal that did not just have one big robbery, but many smaller ones, since that was often the norm among them. Of course he would love it. Spilling details about crimes and the litany of injustice brought upon him would be a delight. I would pretend to take notes vigorously, ask him about subjects I did not care about, with the hope that our connection is strong enough by the end of our meeting that he would volunteer a saliva sample. I’m sure he would be apprehensive, but if I explained the new DNA process; that a friend from The University of Pittsburgh was researching a link between theft and DNA coding, I might sway him. It could explain why he was so inclined to steal. Then the moment of truth. It was futile to predict what his response might be, all I had was hope.
I finished my last drop of coffee and glanced at the clock. Time for the most excruciatingly long day at the office. I told the partners I had to leave work at 1p.m, making sure I had plenty of time for the drive. I couldn’t be late. Of course, the partners had no problem with me leaving early seeing that I would probably finish my work by noon. After a drive to the office, time screeched to a halt. Every minute crawled by and each hour felt like five. Luckily, some billing landed on my desk around 9. That kept me busy for an hour, in between the daily monotony. The billing was for a client, whose case we didn’t lose, but the settlement was embarrassing. I felt almost guilty that we got commission off it. I never thought our firm was very good. We didn't always have the best results for the clients. And while understanding little about the justice system I witnessed it fail on a regular basis, especially in this case.
It was about eight years ago. I had been working the Firm's accounting for about a year and after we won that huge settlement, we were given more and more opportunities at large cases. One such case slid across our desks that got the whole firm riled up, especially me. The case was that of a young woman by the name of Atina Rodgers who lived alone with her son Hahn. She had a rough go of it, working two waitressing jobs just to make ends meet. She wasn’t sure what was closer to the breaking point, her bank account or her sanity.
However, she got a lifeline in the form of a customer, a man in a nice suit as she described him. He was really impressed with her charisma and asked if she had any experience as a secretary. She did barely, but still he suggested she interview for a personal assistant position at his business. He owned apartment complexes and was looking for another office assistant. Atina was flattered, but unsure. It was typical that customers would take a pass at her, but nothing like a job offer had ever arose. She said she would think about it. But after she got stiffed by her last table on that 16 hour day, her mind was made up.
At a high-rise apartment building in downtown Manhattan, she met the man for an interview at his office on the 22th floor. She had never been in a building so tall and started to become nervous to the point she was going to be sick. Ushered in by an attractive assistant, she couldn’t even greet him before he embraced her in a hug. “Atina, I’ve been waiting for you.” He took his place behind an ornate desk. Taking a seat across from Mr. Bates, his gold nameplate large on his desk, he asked her what she thought of the place. She began about how it was very impressive and she was honored to have an opportunity to prove herself. He then started peppering her with personal questions. Her past, her current job, what kind of movies she liked to see. They talked briefly before she mentioned her child Hahn. At that, Mr. Bates interrupted her to point out the window toward a construction project down the block. “That’s my newest building, set to finish in two year’s. It will be almost twice as tall.”
“That will be quite a feat,” she told him. She remembered how much Bates said he liked her. “We have to get you here, you would fit in perfectly, I mean, look at you.” I was so proud of myself, this was my chance.
Her statement went on
He started to bring on some harder questions. Experience in office settings and responses to different situations. The questions were tough, and it was daunting. She had cursory experience in an office but never interviewed for a position higher than a waitress, it was intimidating. Toward the end of the interview, the line of questioning turned personal again. He asked about a boyfriend. “I felt his eyes stare down at me.”
When she awkwardly answered no, he told her, “I just like to know my personal assistants well, we spend a lot of time together.” He said it all without breaking his gaze. It was an uncomfortable moment that hung until he segwayed into pay, which was almost twice what she made waitressing. She almost tuned out at the mention, thinking of the burden that would take off her. He continued, “The only caveat is you have to live in the building.” An odd stipulation at first, but it made sense soon.
He explained that personal assistant matters came up at all hours and he needed her at the beacon call in case they needed to place an international call to China, or deal with emergency matters. Atina said she couldn’t possible afford the place. Bates laughed and waved his hand stating, “no, no, we provide you an apartment.” Atina was beside herself. This was her opportunity to provide the life she wanted for Hahn. She knew that that there must have been serious competition for the job, she hoped her impression lasted.
Sure enough three days later she received a call, and by the next month she was all moved it. Hahn didn’t want to leave his old school, but Atina assured him he would make new friends, that they would have a better life. “little did I know how wrong I was,” an aside on the page read.
The first month went by easy enough. She was overwhelmed at times, but Mr.Bates was very accommodating, even delegating some of her responsibility to another secretary. With the new pay and free rent, she was putting more in Hahn’s college then she ever had and was even able to spend a little on herself.
Then late one Friday night, Atina heard a knock on her door. She opened it to find a drunk Mr. Bates asking to come in. She obliged, despite how weird his appearance was; moving aside as he walked in and stumbling into the kitchen. He started flipping through cupboards. “What are you looking for”? She offered. “Any booze in this place”? Was all he retorted. She moved to the cabinet above the stove but warned him that she thought he had enough.
“That’s a funny way to talk to your boss.” His voice rose as he poured a small glass of vodka. At this point she became extremely uncomfortable.
“We can have a short talk in the other room, but then I need to some sleep and so does my son, he has a soccer game early tomorrow”. She tried to compromise, but make it clear he needed to leave soon.
Bates attention turned to the boy's bedroom, “I’m gonna wish the little guy luck tomorrow.” he slurred, then strode toward the door.
“No!” Atina nearly yelled and grabbed at his swinging arm. Bates head snapped toward her and an anger arose in his eyes. “Let’s just talk in the other room, he needs his sleep”. She tried to distract and deescalate. The grip on his arm lightened to a holding as she led him to her bedroom.
Once inside he began to kiss her, the vodka still heavy on his breath. She started to resist and pull away, but that only made his grip tighter. The moustache bristled alcohol fumes up her nose as a dry rotting breath left a terrible taste in her mouth. When he reached for her pants she swatted his hand and thrusted him away. He didn’t like that. He came back to her immediately, “no” she pleaded as he pushed her to the bed, his weight pressed upon her. He kissed her neck then moved to whisper in her ear. The heat of his breath felt inside her.
“I brought you into this company because I thought you would do great. You can’t even handle a fraction of the work. I was going to fire you last week, but I thought I would give you chance to prove yourself. It would be sad if tomorrow was his last soccer game.” He brought his face to hers. Atina’s fear turned to terror. Hahn... She closed her eyes and brought her lips up to his.
“Good girl,” she could feel a shadow of a smile creep onto his face.
“No, no, no” she worded as he thrust upon her. She imagined Hahn at his college graduation ceremony, beaming with a diploma that would open more doors then she could count. A dimpled smile as he took photos with his classmates and promised to keep in touch. He would be able to do anything with his life. Make himself truly happy.
The image faded away as he let off a loud grunt and rolled off her. She laid frozen until she could hear labored snores coming from beside her. Trembling as she walked to the bathroom and wept under the stream of the shower. She had to do this for her son, she had to stay strong for him.
For the next month there was no appearance from Mr.Bates, though it didn’t stop her from dreading every Friday and Saturday night. She shook in her room praying she didn’t hear a knock. He was out of town one weekend and she nearly shouted for joy upon hearing it. Then, on the fifth weekend without a visit, the door rapped at midnight. Atina winced and sheer terror shot through her. She felt like she couldn’t breathe. The knock came again, this time louder. Maybe he would go away, maybe he would think we’re out of town. Then a rap so loud it shook the apartment. She sprinted over. “What took you so long.” he looked down up her. “Bathroom”, was all she could muster while staring at his leather shoes. He lifted her chin to his glossy eyes, “you are so beautiful.” He reeked of whisky and sweat, just like her father.
I felt sick at the description. It took a couple minutes before I could resume.
Her father had abused her during her youth, often sneaking into her bedroom during evenings when their mother worked overnights. In the mornings he would give her brother crude advice about girls. “Women love the chase, and they just don’t know they want it.” Her brother would nod in acknowledgment, absorbing knowledge from his idol. The sickening practice led her to the numbing appeal of drugs. Getting pregnant with Hahn saved her life.
After the third visit, she began to have a few drinks every weekend night. It barely helped. She started leaving for weekends, until a comment about the absences on a Monday anchored her back to the apartment. A few drinks turned into a bottle of wine before long. A disgust for herself developed. She wasn’t even good enough to be an office assistant, she had to sleep with the boss just so she could cling to a job, how pathetic. The animosity mounted until she couldn’t show her face around the office without having a buzz going. Whenever approached by Mr.Bates she cowered, absorbed by fear and shame in his vicinity.
Then on a Tuesday he told her they knew she was drinking on the job and that she was being terminated. She had to be out of the apartment by next month.
After a two-week binge and blowing the small nest egg she had left, she was picked up off the street for soliciting prostitution. The short stint she served was enough to have her son taken away, and when released she was beside herself. She saw our advertisement after being dropped off by the complementary bus the prison provided.
What I felt for Atina was beyond professional, this was personal.
Being passionate about the case and winning it was vastly different we soon found out. This Bates character had a couple phenomenal lawyers and a cache of money to throw at our small firm. After officially filing suit we were drowned in paper work, and we worked our ass off to dig us out of it. After about four months we had built a relatively solid case but were unsure if it could stand up in court. The defense was going to argue that the relationship was consensual and Atina a untrustworthy drug addict. At a hearing to determine if our case was to proceed to a jury trial, our side presented and tried to establish the uneven power dynamic, as well as show Mr. Bates tied sexual encounters to continued employment. Sitting in the back of the courtroom, I was optimistic, and fully expected the trial to be heard. In front of a jury, the emotional hammer would be too much.
When we finally turned it over to the defendants, they attempted to twist everything. Portraying Atina as a subpar parent who entered a consensual relationship with Mr. Bates. That on their first sexual encounter, Atina initiated the engagement with a kiss and never said no. A women who became disgruntled when she was let go because of her job performance. I felt her twitch and watched the fist around her thumb tighten. Then, out of revenge and desperation for money, drummed up this ridiculous and unsubstantiated charge. I couldn’t believe my ears. Silent tears rolled down Atina’s eyes. I was sickened, but they had every legal right to construe the truth in the way they did.
“He’s right, I kissed him,” She was trembling. I grabbed her shoulders to console her. “He forced you, you said no”,
“Only once at the beginning, I never told him to stop,” she looked at me eyes blurred, “I was never clear.”
The commotion of the sobs and shrill tone caused the partners to glance back. I was beside myself. “Shhhh....shhhh, now you did nothing wrong.” I squeezed her tightly.
Then it took a turn for the worse. The judge rambled on that there was no ‘concrete’ evidence the relationship was not consensual, and all the evidence was circumstantial as to the charge employment was linked to sexual acts. Therefore, he was dismissing the lawsuit, unless the prosecution had anything more. A request for an extension by a member of our duo was quickly reprimanded by the judge. I could tell from our partners’ frantic tone that the case was in danger. As the partners explained later, they couldn’t believe what had just happened.
Our partners were livid with outrage and pleaded with the judge to reconsider. Their interjections fell on deaf ears though, and the rap of the gravel was the official silencer. The judge ruled in favor of the defendants and threw out the case. It was a sucker punch to the gut. Atina sat next to me and ask what happened. She sensed that something bad had happened to. I told her I had no idea. The partners sat quiet in their chairs while the courtroom filed out, perhaps building up the courage to confront her with what had just transpired. They finally rose and approached, fatally wounded, a look of grave disgust on their faces.
“We’re sorry,” The older partner Rodney started, “we did everything we could to win, just came up short. We would like to pay to put up you and your child up for a couple months though.”
Atina’s eyes shot up for a brief second and accompanied a quick smile, “Thank you very much…….” Her tone then shifted, “but what about the other months? What will give my child the best opportunity to live once I run out of money? I trusted you, I put my sons life in your hands and you failed us. You said we had a good chance"!
Her words stung. The firm didn’t owe her anything, but we still felt responsible for her and her child.
“I’m not sure Ms. Rodgers, and I’m sorry we cannot help you further.” Rodney said.
Susanna simply nodded and stared ahead. Me, the partners and a fellow paralegal slipped out of the courtroom to experience a painfully silent ride back to New Jersey.
I was irate. There was no excuse this. A despicable slimy, excuse for a man held her hostage and prayed on her desire to provide for her son. I couldn’t think of a more pervasive ploy. Then he hid behind his lawyers and money, avoiding consequences. I was not about to let them get away with it, completely. The wheels started turning and the plot began to hatch. I yearend rectify their transgression. I racked my brain. There were many options to choose from, but I finally settled on the one I deemed most viable. I needed Mr. Bates alone. It didn’t matter that the plan I formulated had a high chance of failure, this was personal. He deserved it. Looking back, blind hatred fueled that avenge more than almost any other, and it almost cost me.
I began a surveillance campaign. He was a busy man and often operated inside his offices or weaving his way through a crowded downtown. Getting him alone was key, but I came increasingly skeptical that could be achieved. Eluding all eyes in New York was no easy feat. His large skyscraper in downtown New York presented too much security. The only solution seemed to make my move on his commute to or from work. After his workday he left straight home no exceptions, but it was on his way to work I saw my opportunity.
He liked to walk to work and stopped at a small bakery on his way to the office. Precisely at 6:55, he strolled into Mama Bee’s bagels as part of his daily ritual. He ordered the back leftmost poppy seed bagel, a milk, and a packet of cream cheese. I couldn’t imagine how I could possibly get him alone at the shop. There were cameras, customers and staff in the vicinity.
Then the thought shifted. What if I had a chance while he’s on the walk? In that case he would have to get him off the street voluntarily. The problem with that was forcing a scenario in where he wanted to be alone. It took a couple days to brainstorm an idea, but the wheels started turning after I saw a cycler get off his bike and puke in a trash bin. Poison. It was an idea so perfect I knew I had found my option. I would arrive in the bakery before him, poison his bagel, then trail until he had to step out to puke. He would rush to some back alley behind a dumpster and that would give me the chance I needed. It was beautiful.
I took a week off work and began to scout out every detail. Purchasing a ski mask and an airsoft gun in cash. I spray painted the orange tip to disguise it as a real handgun. I ran over my route, and had every detail synched up except where he was going to stop. Along the way to his work there were a plethora of alleys, with about half providing suitable intervention points. I was fairly confident that he would stop before he reached his offices, I wasn’t sure I could restrain myself from attacking him in the lobby bathroom.
The substance that would induce his vomiting was rather potent. I found the concoction in a book at the local library, and tried it myself first…...it worked like a charm to say the least. I was prepped, and ready to rock. I was in way over my head.
“Hit me with your best shot da-da-da-dun!” jolted me awake. Pat Benatar provided a fitting song for the day. The alarm went off at 3a.m. I had to get a move on. I grabbed a banana and hit the road. Stopping by a local convenience store I picked up today’s paper. September 21st, 1987 the headline reading SOVIETS PERFORM NUCLEAR TEST. I scoffed at the bold letters, of course. I had grown up despising those commies. My father would always advocate for nuking them before they nuked us. Efforts from my mother to talk him down would just aggravate him more.
As I drove to Manhattan bakery for my rendezvous with Mr. Geoffrey Bates, I couldn’t help think, what if this went wrong? Was I ready for the consequences? The thoughts frightened me slightly, but thinking of Atina and Hahn fueled my crusade, soon overtaking my fears.
I pulled up to the quaint donut shop at 6:40 am. It was quite on the sidewalk outside. I rubbed the vomit inducing chemical on my right hand. It was odorless, and for the most part blended in with my skin, a perfect camouflage. I took one last deep breath to collect myself, pausing to reflect on what I was about to embark on. Slowly approaching the entrance while replaying everything one last time; I pushed in the door, and waltzed in. It was a smaller shop but smelled like heaven. A clear counter and display case ran the length of the store with two registers on either end. The cases were lined with delectable pastries, whose smell you could nearly taste. The space was partitioned with wood shelving each holding another variety of delicious treat. Different candies and sweets filled the store, with a lone fridge holding pre-made cakes in the corner. I could have gorged myself, but I had a job to do.
I first paced around a minute examining the wide selection, then moseyed on over to the display case facing the counter, while pretending to be deep in thought. There were two workers that I could see, a young preppy girl, that looked her early twenties, and an elderly lady who I presumed to be the store owner and main baker. The aroma coming from the fresh doughnuts she brought from the kitchen, lured me to her end of the counter.
“Hi miss,” I started, “How much for a bagel?”
“One dollar young sir,” She responded. Young sir? Wow I felt like a real gentleman.
“Hmm...I’ll take one of the poppy seed bagels then.” I pointed to the backmost left one with my finger.
“Excellent Choice!” She exclaimed, reaching with wax paper for the treat. I hoped my gesture influenced which bagel she snatched, otherwise I was going to be buying a lot. To my luck the old bird picked right. Grabbing it, she handed the bagel over the counter to me. I reached with my right hand to grab it, and as I touched it, I changed my mind.
“Uhh on second thought, I’m feeling a bit fat this morning, how bout a doughnut instead”? She paused bagel in hand, then smiled and said alright. I noticed she put the bagel back in the same place, the back left.
Yes! I let out a sigh of relief. “Sorry ma’m I couldn’t make up my mind.” She nodded and smiled. I started toward the doughnut section of the display case. Just then the younger girl spoke up.
“Mom, we should get rid of that bagel, it went over the counter.” I halted in stride. panic surged through my body. Shit, I was so close. That skank. What could I do if they took the bagel away? The older lady hesitated. She seemed torn between listening to her daughter who no doubt was right, and taking a hit to her pride seeing as she was corrected in front of the customer. I held my breath for a tense moment, then decided I needed make an excuse for her.
“I only touched the wax paper, not the actual bagel if that makes any difference” I suggested and held my breath. Fear gripped my chest. Blood pumped with such force arteries might burst, and I felt like my voice came out a bit shaky. The daughter shrugged and obliged. A wave of relief washed over me. All as planned. The elderly women finished grabbing my doughnut and rang me up for a $1.05. I paid in cash and thanked her for her patience. It was the best dollar ever spent. I enjoyed the treat from the comfort of my car. The outside of the donut was fried enough that it was crisp and a little greasy. While the middle remained soft, dissolving at the presence of my saliva. The frosting was generously applied, but not enough so that it overpowered the sugar dough. Mama Bee knew how to make a damn fine doughnut.
As I enjoyed my treat, the man of the hour pulled up exactly at his normal time. He was in and out shortly, presumably grabbing his usual bagel. I watched him devour on the walk. I trailed him a good distance back since the streets were sparser than anticipated. With the major variable of my plan past me, I walked down the street on a high.
About 10 minutes, I noticed my stomach becoming upset, a deep nauseous sensation came on that signaled puke was soon to follow. Over the next five minutes, the urge became stronger until I was certain I would have to duck off the street. That’s when it dawned on me that I never washed my hands after touching Geoffrey Bates bagel. When I ate my donut I still had the substance on my hands. The epiphany cascaded into a frantic turmoil, churning my already fragile stomach. I wanted to scream at my stupidity. Pulled over to puke while he did might unhinge my plan.
It took him two more miles to finally pull off, and that moment couldn’t have come soon enough. I held the vomit in the best I could, but as soon as I let it go it would be like a firehose. Bates mercifully pulled to a stop behind a dumpster halfway down the corridor. I waited until he stumbled behind it before racing around the dumpster across from him and collapsing on all fours. The puke projected like a cannon and I swear flew at least 10 feet. The acid from the vomit coursed through my throat like hot sandpaper that left me gasping for breaths between bouts. At the intermission of each vomit session I would momentarily taste the acidic sugar concoction and its foulness caused me to cringe. It felt amazing to let it out, but every time I thought it would end, pleaded for it, it kept coming. Even when I couldn’t possibly imagine my stomach having anything left I still managed to spew contents and fluid. My throat burned as though someone coated a cactus in gonorrhea and rubbed it against my esophagus. When it all subsided, I looked over at Bates, his face was flush. Murky saliva drained from his mouth and hung, even after repeated spitting and gags. The expulsion of the bagel on the ground in front of him. He looked as defeated as I did. His eyes caught mine, then he glanced back at my car.
“Hey didn’t I see you outside Mama Bee’s”? His breath short.
“Yah…...it was,” I confessed.
“Well that’s the last time either of us go there, that was something else.” A scowl settled on his face.
I simply nodded mirroring his reaction. He was dressed in an expensive black suit with white vest and tie. Glasses and a tie clip were among his accessories. He wore a red colored undershirt and topped off the outfit. This man had style. We continued to recover, the lingering vomit taste started to dilute.
To counter the taste Geoffrey lifted a small cigar and lighter from his suit pocket. As the crisp tobacco burned, the smell wafted to my vicinity and with it my eyes closed to savor the aroma. Bates must've sensed my liking to his stogie because he held it out in offering after he took a few puffs. I savored the slow inhale, allowing it to cleanse my pallet. Geoffrey was pleased. A friendly nod when I handed it back, we were like two old friends.
“Say young man, what’s your name?” He asked.
“Nick Jacobs,” I respond compromising myself. “And yours”?
“Geoffrey Bates,” he said as smoke billowed from his puff.
It didn't matter much that he knew my name because after the vomiting and the shared cigar, I no longer had the will, or the heart to follow through. Still angry though, I wanted to probe about the lawsuit.
“That name sounds familiar, yah I think I recognize it name from a New York Times article I read.”
He held the cigar to his mouth. An expressive eye brow raise acknowledged it was possible.
"What did you do to that women? I read the trial was thrown out, but I also read her description of what you did. You’re a pathetic coward, you must hate yourself. The brazen assault caught him by surprise. It didn’t ease up.
"How weak does someone have to be to blackmail a woman with her son's future? I’ve never heard of a man so...”
"Don't condescend me boy." A snarl interrupted me. “I don’t who the hell you or where the hell this is coming from, but I’ve never done anything of the sort.”
My eyes shot back into my head. His blatant lie unsettled me. I leaned in for the first punch.
“The nerve of you to look me in the eye and tell me you didn’t. I wouldn’t see a more spineless, moral-less scum, if I had visited the isolation ward at Rikers. Since when did you become alright with forcing women to have sex with you to keep their job? When did you exchange your soul to sateen!? And for what? So your limp dick might feel more powerful? I’m genuinely interested what rational you attach to this. I hope you go home tonight and count your lucky stars you got healthy kids, enrolled in some private school with a fast track to executive avenue, because there are a lot of people that can’t say that"! I caught my breath.
I expected some reaction, but the entire rant Bates remained solemn. An unyielding stare matched mine as I beat him into verbal submission. When I finished he took a long pause, sucking in a large batch of smoke and letting it exhale slowly. A sigh indicated he was ready to respond.
"Did Atina send you? I don’t know who the fu-, you know it doesn’t matter. My lawyer will take care of it.” His unfazed demeanor was befuddling. He repositioned himself to face me, giving the impression this was a verbal jousting in which I had smacked goliath with a foam rock.
"You may think your on some justice crusade here, but let me get you a little more educated. I was young, naive, but never as stupid as yourself. What does yelling at someone in an alley for a charge they were acquitted accomplish anything? And on the topic of accomplishments, look at that building there. While you have been mooching off the world I have been building it for you.” In fact, your only accomplishment is sleeping with that drugged out whore. That’s the only way you would be here. Let me ask, how were my seconds”? At the mention I was so enraged I threw myself at him. He lunged, and I grazed him as we reversed positions in the alley. Bates began to back up to the point where he was only a few feet away from the relative safety of the street. He continued.
“I have built something with my life. Can you say the same for you? I have facilitated the development of apartments, and homes that have improved thousands upon thousands of lives. My company has improved the lives, donated millions to charity....." He paused, deflated from his rant.
He sighed. "But you don't care about that. Not when I “used my position inappropriately”. Your searing naivety and jealousy deserves something more cynical, more pragmatic....
"You may say tenfold of good deeds can't wash away the bad.....well that's where your wrong son". His tone turned agitated. "Every great advancement....improvement in humanity and society in history costs something. Many times that cost might not be in dollars. That is the case whether you want to admit it or not. Now, I informed Atina that she was going to be let go, because she couldn’t handle the work. She practically threw herself on me, begged me with puppy dog eyes to keep her, saying she would sleep with me if I kept her on. Don't come here and tell me the responsibility lies on me. When do you put the responsibility on her, a drug addict single mom, because nothing was forced. People will sue food companies for making them fat, doctors for saving their lives. People like you just expect that everyone should be the same. And that you can just prance around mindlessly living a great life, while all the messy details and improvement are left to others. Others, who you seem to expect just be alright with slaving years away. Sacrificing family, friends, and happiness all for minimal compensation because they should share any extra money with those who didn't work as hard or achieve as much.” His seething breaths were probably enough to ignite the stogie into ball of flames. I stared into the ground absorbing the verbal blows.
"Listen", his voice relaxed. "Situations are tough, life gets hard, but I'm not going to cradle those who can't understand. I've wasted my breath plenty on you.” A look of disgustful disdain burrowed into me.
He stared ahead, sucking his stogie down to half. “It was no coincidence we met today was it”?
My face froze as I was sure he read me like a book. A sly smile formed on his face.
“One of us got lucky today.... ". He was so casual. "As is....."
He took another puff,
“If I ever see you again, you will be beat to within an inch of your life. Rocco will see to that.
He strode off and disappeared into the sea of moving New Yorkers's
As did any semblance of moral standing. I grappled with what he said. I wasn't one to talk, but if everyone held his beliefs, the world would be a darker place. He really thought that since he had acquired money and power, it was his right to use that as leverage against women. He saw it as ethical transaction and if they got hurt from it, it was their fault.
It was probably a good thing I hadn't gone through with the plan, because it wouldn't have ended well. He deserved every inch of it, but I bit off more than I could chew, he was right; I was lucky. The drive home was a quiet one.