The agent of magic, part two
by Jon Rappoport
August 4, 2017
Another excerpt from my novel, The Magic Agent, about a breach in space and time, a private eye, and the CIA…
“There are the infamous photo files. It’s said there is enough blackmail evidence in that secret cache to indict half the membership of the US Congress. While this is, of course, a wild exaggeration…
We could dismiss such speculation as complete nonsense, if it were not for the protracted closed session of the House Intelligence Committee in the spring of 1993. The meeting erupted into a frantic battle. Representative Larry Bernstein accused the CIA counter-intelligence director of waging a private war against the legislative branch. Bernstein waved around a photograph of a sexual act taken at the moment of orgasm, featuring a former Congressman and a prostitute in a Portland, Oregon, hotel room.”
Forgotten Legends of the CIA,
I had a feeling I’d met this guy Ralph Renari before. Or maybe he was just an illustration of the distasteful and the disgusting—qualities which I usually work with, but I could hear him in my head prattling on: “Breach in continuum…playing one side off against another opening up a hole in space, the Agency is aware of this…maybe they’re causing it…”
I was sitting in the cafeteria in the basement of Beth Israel Hospital, in Santa Monica. Bright fluorescents, no shadows in the room. Vending machines, a short cafeteria line, a few blank faces.
A doctor walked in. He stopped and looked around.
He came to the table and sat down across from me. His name badge read Dr. Martin Kelly/Cardiology.
“Mr. Palmer?” he said.
“Ralph called me. He’s an old friend.”
His voice was nasal, dry. He was about forty, slender, had black hair cut short, a receding hairline. White coat over a gray suit.
He put his hand on his chin.
“Who are you?” he said.
“An investigator working on spec so far.”
He looked pampered, and occupationally tired.
He rubbed his hand through his hair. “What’s the goddamn drug?” he said.
“It was called Y-103, by Allison-Bowles. For bipolar.”
“I know the company,” he said. “I wasn’t aware they were doing that kind of clinical trial.” He pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Ralph said you knew about the study.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know who you are.” He looked at his hands. “I’m a cardiologist.”
“I’m not used to talking to people about sensitive matters when I don’t know them.”
“Heart specialists have higher standards?” I said.
“You might want to discredit a drug company. I can’t be part of that. I told Ralph I’d do him a favor. But now I think I made a mistake.”
“Or you just like saying no to people.”
“I read you as some kind of thug.”
“Why do you say that?”
He wiped his hands on his white coat.
He stood up. So I stood up.
He walked away and I followed him out of the cafeteria. He kept walking toward a door in the corridor. I stood there and waited until he walked through it.
Where do these fucking people come from?
When I got back to my office, I called Jerry Nevins.
His machine picked up. He had no message recorded. A few seconds of silence and then the beep.
“Me,” I said. “I’m in gear and I need you for a day or two. I’ll be here for a few hours. If you’re broke, come over.”
An hour later, Jerry, wearing tan shorts and a blue short-sleeved button-down shirt, walked in. He’s 5-6, wiry, goes about 150. His head is a prop. Bent nose, long brown hair almost to his shoulders. He affects a stupid blank look. It’s a front.
He pulled out a little notebook with a pen clipped to it, and sat down in an easy chair next to the file cabinet.
He looked up at the ceiling. “What time is it?” he said.
“Okay,” he said. “Lay out the shit.”
He looked at me and his eyes, a frightening pale blue, were very clear.
I told him the story of Ralph, as I understood it so far, and he wrote it down.
Jerry claims to have a poor memory. This is false. He knows the habits of every green at Torrey Pines in all weather. Nine years ago, he finished in a tie for sixth at the Open there, after ending up in a trap at 15 and taking three strokes to get out. Booze eventually began to claim him. A few years after his Open outing, he was off the tour and in AA. He stayed dry for six months. He’s been on and off ever since.
He said, “Maybe we should go over to Alison-Bowles and ask around.”
“I’d rather collect a few facts first.”
“Why don’t you drive to Beverly Hills and talk to Ralph’s ex-wife?”
“Find out if Ralph’s a believable human being?”
“I don’t have her name.”
“Maybe she’s still using Renari.”
He looked out the window. “I could be swimming on a nice day like this.”
“A hundred a day, plus expenses. Just as a gesture.”
“Jesus,” he said. “I could make that hanging out by the liquor store and begging for quarters.”
“I have a gig in a couple of weeks, playing a few rounds with some businessmen from Dallas. At Lace Creek. Bellamy’s bringing out a new line of irons. They’re having in people to try them out. They need a ringer to lay bets and take these guys’ money. Make them feel at home.”
“I’m sure we’ll be done by then.”
“Lace Creek. I shot a 68 there last month.”
“Ralph’s ex-wife has money.”
“I rolled in a putt from the front lip of the 17th. Over the hill and down.”
He nodded, stood up, and walked out.
I called my second friend, Doc Lieber. I have two friends, Jerry and Doc. Doc was at home. He told me to come over.
I walked around the garden at the front of the Hancock Park Tudor and along the path by the side of the house. Doc was sitting on the edge of a large trampoline on the deck of his pool. He was rubbing his neck with a white towel. Black bathing suit, no shirt. Perennial tan.
For a man in his late sixties, he was in good shape. He shaved his head to avoid comb-over temptations, and he wore a tightly clipped white beard, like an artist who teaches people on TV how to paint landscapes. His stomach was almost flat.
On and off for the last two years, Doc had mentioned his missing brother. It wasn’t a job, because he wouldn’t give it to me. He just brought it up now and then. Maybe he didn’t really want to find him.
Once in a while, I got the feeling I was a stand-in for the brother.
He stood up, came over to me and pointed to the little white metal table under a green umbrella. We pulled out chairs and sat down. He had two bottles of Sam Adams waiting under a checkered dishcloth. He took away the cloth and we drank.
“So,” he said. “what defecating mess is it this time?”
“A drug trial conducted by Allison-Bowles. Bipolar med. They called it Y-103. A volunteer beat his wife after the trial was over. My new client’s sister was also in the trial. She thinks this guy is coming after her now.”
He reached into his bathing suit pocket and took out a hard blue rubber ball. He began squeezing it. “I never thought much of Allison-Bowles. Biotech smoke and mirrors. They mostly raise money from investors and do studies. Nothing comes of it. Hard to imagine they’d be running a trial of a bipolar med.”
A black and white border collie came running out through the open French doors at the back of the house. The dog was followed by a slender woman who looked about 30. She was wearing a tiny red bikini. Her black hair was pulled together on top of her head with a few white ribbons.
“This is June,” the Doc said.
She nodded to me and walked to the pool, sat down, and stuck one foot in the water.
The dog took up a position sitting at the Doc’s feet and waited, looking at the ball. The Doc tossed it a few feet. The dog rushed away and brought it back and set it down gently on the concrete. She sat again and stared at it.
“Ginger,” Doc said. “I’m talking. No ball playing.”
The dog ignored him. She kept staring at the ball.
Doc snapped his fingers. Ginger looked up at him.
The dog raced back into the house. In half a minute she came back out with a cell phone in her mouth. The Doc took it and patted the dog on the head. The dog was not interested in the pat. She sat down and looked at the ball.
“I could have trained her to hand me instruments when I was taking out bullets in the old days,” he said. “I swear, she would have been correct. She needs a field and a herd of sheep. I’m a bastard for keeping her here in the yard.”
“I don’t think I’d want to look up from an operating table and see a dog with a scalpel in her mouth. When did you get her?”
He punched in some numbers and waited.
“Marty, this is Lieber. Get back to me. I’m trying to find out about an experimental bipolar drug called Y-103. Allison-Bowles. They did a clinical trial. Possibly aborted. See what you can do.”
He put the phone down on the table.
“Marty Raskel. He has a boat in the Bay. Used to do open heart at Scripps. He knows everybody.”
“I’ve got Jerry on this, “I said. He’s going to Beverly Hills to talk to the client’s ex-wife. She owns an art gallery.”
“How’s his game these days?” Lieber said.
“Shot a 68 at Lace Creek. I hear he’s got a new swing. Winds the fucking club around his neck and then brings it down in a perfect arc. Pisses everybody off.”
Lieber smiled. “He boozing?”
“Right now, as of today, I don’t think so.”
The woman stood up at the edge of the pool and took off her top and bottom. She stretched and then dove into the water. Very little splash. I turned to Lieber.
“She lives in a big house in Rancho Santa Fe,” he said. “Her husband was forced to give it to her in the divorce.”
“She boarding here?” I said.
“A few days a week she stays over.”
“You’re handling it okay?”
He snorted. “Without Viagra, baby. Twenty years as a cutter, I wasn’t going to go to seed after I retired. That would have been cruel and unusual punishment.”
“You know a guy named Ralph Renari?” I said. “He’s my client. He teaches psychology at Santa Monica College.”
“Anything new on your brother?”
He shook his head. “Ted’s changed his name three or four times. Some people say he’s out of the country. I’ve pretty much given up.”
“Listen, what the fuck do they want him for, anyway? You seem unusually sensitive about it. Embezzlement? Bank fraud? Raping a Congressman?”
“Sensitive? You’ve got the wrong guy. He hasn’t done anything really bad. Multiple breaches of National Security. That’s all.”
“You want help?”
“No. Just go your merry way, Frank. It’s old news. Family burdens are a trap. You think you can fix it, but it’s not supposed to be fixed. That’s my personal contribution to the Freudian lexicon.”
This was a side of Doc that made no sense to me. I could accept it, but I knew there were shadows around the man. It was as if he was cultivating them, to prove that things were much less in some way. I had once watched him carve away, with a Swiss Army knife, the remains of a smashed and bleeding finger from a passenger in a car wreck off the 10 Freeway. He had looked hard at the face of the man as he was cutting.
I stood up and waved to June, who was standing in the shallow end of the pool. She nodded at me. I walked away. Doc picked up the ball and threw it in the pool. The dog ran right off the edge and jumped in, swam over, and looked around for it. It had sunk out of sight. I didn’t see the rest.
“Another photograph showed Mississippi Congressman Allen Taurent sitting naked in his backyard with two unknown women. The Congressman died in 2001.”
Forgotten Legends of the CIA,
A little after midnight, Doc called. I was watching Big Love on HBO in my office. It’s not TV, it’s Insanity. I clicked it off.
“Here it is, “he said. “Marty told me they finished the trial. Eight weeks. They didn’t like the outcome. The FDA was not impressed, either. The drug was basically an antidepressant. Probably a tranquilizer thrown in. Pretty amateur stuff. Something to show the investors they were busy boys. ”
I told him about my brief meeting with the cardiologist, hung up, turned off the TV and the light in my office, went downstairs, and strolled up La Brea to my ground-floor apartment on 2nd Street. There was a cool breeze.
A new VW was parked next to my building. The nineteen-year-old woman was sitting behind the wheel reading a magazine.
I walked in, went to the kitchen, turned on the light, and found a bottle of Dane’s in the fridge and drank it.
I brushed my teeth and went to bed.
In the morning, I drove downtown to the gym and punched the heavy bag and worked out on the old Nautilus. Shelly Rogers wasn’t there.
At my office, I found an envelope on the floor below the mail slot, inside my door. There was a check in it, for two thousand dollars. Ralph had signed it. I called his bank and confirmed he had the money in his account.
I walked down to my bank and deposited it.
As I came out of the bank, I saw a tall guy wearing a black leather jacket standing in front of the cleaners next store. He was looking in the window. I walked down the alley by the bank and into the parking lot. He followed me.
I wandered up and down two aisles of parked cars. At the end of the second aisle, he was waiting for me. He was leaning up against a red Pontiac.
“You need something?” I said. I stopped ten feet from him.
“Yeah,” he said. He was about my height, 6-2. He was wearing jeans and cowboy boots. He had a buzz cut and a black moustache. His hands were large and bony.
“What is it?”
He nodded. “I hear you’re interested in Marci Renari.”
“Interested how?” I said. “You mean I want to take her out?”
“Who gives a fuck,” he said. He came up off the car and got into some kind of vague martial arts pose. His hands were out in front of him. I walked up to him and stomped down hard on his instep with my heel. He screamed. I grabbed the collar of his jacket and swung him around into the Pontiac. He went over across the hood. I clubbed him on the back of his neck with the side of my fist. He collapsed on the hood.
I waited. In a minute, he started to move. He tried to turn around. I put my hands around his neck and squeezed hard. I kicked his legs out from under him and he fell and hit his head on the fender of the car and slid off and rolled on to the concrete. He was on his back. His eyes were open and unfocused.
I stepped back. I waited.
He started looking around. His head wasn’t moving, but his eyes were.
“What’s your name?” I said.
After a long pause, he said, “Carroll Montgomery.” His voice was raspy.
“You beat your wife.”
He shook his head. It was a reflex.
“That’s what I hear,” I said.
“So what?” he whispered.
“You’re after Marci.”
He cleared his throat. “I made a mistake.”
“You won’t make the mistake again.”
“That’s where we started,” I said. I bent down and drove the palm of my fist into the point of his nose. I heard it snap. Blood spurted out of his nostrils. He screamed. He kept screaming, to cover up the shock and the pain. He covered his nose with his hands.
His screaming gradually went down to whimpering.
I stood up. “I don’t deal with cops,” I said. “If you go to them, I’ll hurt you a lot worse. If you go near Marci, I’ll wreck your knees.”
Blood was oozing out between his fingers.
He started to cry. He curled up into a ball.
I bent down and searched his pockets. His wallet was in the pants pocket turned toward me. I took it and walked away.
I looked around the lot. A few people were getting into and out of cars. They hadn’t registered what happened. Most people don’t pay attention. They don’t want to.
I looked through the wallet. His driver’s license said he lived on Roscomare Road in Bel Air. He had an American Express and a Visa card. No photos. A few hundred in cash. Other store cards. A script for Lithium from a doctor in Beverly Hills.
I took the driver’s license and dropped the wallet on the ground.
I went to a hardware store and bought three big cans of red spray-paint.
I took the 10 to the 405 North, and got off at Mulholland. I swung up the hill and turned right on Roscomare. Down a mile, I found the address. It was a yellow cottage framed with squat palm trees.
I parked. The garage door was closed. There were no cars in the driveway.
I took the paper bag and walked up to the front door and rang the bell. I waited and then rang it again.
A woman opened the door. She was a petite brunette. She had sunglasses on. She was wearing a light-blue quilted robe. There was a red bruise on her right cheek.
She looked at me and didn’t say anything.
“Mrs. Montgomery?” I said.
She just stood there.
“I’m not going to tell you my name,” I said. “I want you to get dressed and leave the house. I know your husband. He beats you up, and you hang around. That shit stops now. Don’t pack anything. Just get dressed, take whatever cash you’ve got in the house, your credit cards, your checkbook, and drive away. You have a car, don’t you? It’s in the garage?”
She didn’t move.
“Go somewhere where he won’t find you. I’m going to do a few things here. You don’t want to be around. Pull yourself together.”
“Who are you?” she said. Her voice was clear. That was good.
“I’m giving you five minutes,” I said. “I’ll wait in my car. If you’re not gone in five minutes, I’m going to call the station. They’ll come and I’ll tell them he’s been beating you up. You’ll have a case on your hands. You’ll be in court. Everyone will know. It’ll get ugly.”
She frowned. “What the hell is this?” she said.
“I’m counting. You’ve got five minutes. I’m a police detective, Mrs. Montgomery. I live down the street. I’ve seen what’s been happening.”
She still didn’t move.
I took a spray can out of the bag. I forced my way into a thick hedge in front of the house, and started spraying on the façade. She watched me.
BEATS HIS WIFE.
I moved over to the right and started spraying the words again. In larger and thicker letters. It would be quite visible from the road.
She was planted where she stood.
I finished the second round. BEATS HIS WIFE.
I moved further to the right, took a new can out of the bag, and sprayed the name CARROLL MONTGOMERY on the façade. I was on BEATS when she turned back into the house.
I finished the sentence, looked over my work, and walked back to my car. I got in.
Five minutes went by.
The garage door opened.
A white Jaguar backed out fast. She stopped at the end of the driveway, craned her neck to look for traffic. There was none. She backed out into the street and drove down the hill toward Sunset.
I went the other way, up to Mulholland.
A few blocks from my apartment, I threw the spray cans into a dumpster.
Back at my place, I took a long shower and put on shorts, a T-shirt, and sneakers.
I jogged down La Brea all the way to Pico, and back. I took another shower, made a sandwich and drank a beer. I sat down on my couch and watched a few innings of a College World Series game.
I called Ralph Renari and left a message for him. I told him to take his sister and check her into a hotel for a few days.
Jerry called. “I’m in Beverly Hills,” he said. “She still uses Renari. It’s the name of her gallery. She’s taking me on a tour, as we speak.” He hung up.
“I have always had a prurient interest in private discussions. Looking through the loophole. To see what is going on, to hear what people are saying, to know what they are really thinking, this is a reward in itself. You can throw away the veil in your mind. You can admit what life is all about.”
Alexander Markov, Soviet defector, to Arthur Meriden,
Hidden Legends of the CIA
A little after dawn, I woke up to the sound of a click and a laugh in my living room. I walked out there in my underpants and Jerry was putting balls at a glass on the rug. He was mumbling to himself and giggling.
“What about the ex-wife?” I said.
“Back at my place.”
“I was shocked. As soon as I walked into the gallery, she practically attacked me.”
“You’re drunk,” I said.
“Could be. I bought a few bottles of champagne. She has a body of a pampered star. Not too hard and not too soft. Smooth skin. Very white. Moist. There’s the illusion the skin has a layer of oil underneath the surface.”
“You want coffee?”
“In a few minutes.”
“What did she say?”
Jerry had balls lined up side by side. He putted a few. Missed the glass.
I went into the kitchen and made coffee, brought him a large cup of black. He took it from me and tested it with his finger. He sipped it. Smacked his lips.
He laid the putter on the rug and walked to the wall and leaned on it. “She’s a failed painter, according to her. The gallery is Renari Silvan. Her name is Kate. I never asked who Silvan is. The work on the walls is mostly geometric. Large rooms in the gallery. I’m guessing twenty grand a month minimum rent, unless she owns the building.”
“Who did you tell her you were?”
“I mentioned your name. You know, just to say something. Said Ralph was trying to look into his sister’s problem. I explained the problem. She seemed to accept that, though she hadn’t heard anything about it. She’s a pretty cool customer. Course, she was already sizing me up. She showed me a flowery journal article Ralph wrote.”
Jerry took a gulp of coffee.
He said, “October 15, 1999. New Science Journal. The Ghost in the Machine Revisited. Ralph Renari. ‘If soul is not merely an antiquated notion but is instead a metaphor for psychic capabilities shared by all human beings, then the positive results of fifty years of well-designed laboratory studies on paranormal abilities is a doorway into a belated understanding of ourselves’”
Jerry could do that. Alcohol allowed him to do it a little better. His faculty advisor at Stanford, in the early 1990s, told him he was wasting his time playing golf. Instead, he said, Jerry should go on for his PhD in American literature and teach. He had a memory gift that could make him an outstanding academic. Jerry said a career at a university would age him prematurely.
We sat out on the back balcony. Jerry finished his coffee. I brought him another cup.
“Since I’m with the ex-wife for the moment, I think I’ll stay in the game.”
“You like her?” I said.
“Relative term. I’m probably doing unconscious tantra. Extracting energy from the ether.” He chuckled.
“The ether in this case is an art dealer from Beverly Hills.”
“She drives a tan Lexus. She wants to fly to Amsterdam and look at Van Goghs. She is not a vegetarian.”
“I sent you up there to ask about her ex-husband.”
“Best way to find out. Share bodily fluids. Talk, share, talk. She says he’s a flake and not to be trusted. She says he plays games with people. He’s a weasel and a liar and a drug addict.”
“I guess that covers it.”
Over breakfast at Denny’s, Jerry sobered up. I told him about my adventure with Carroll Montgomery and the forced eviction of his wife.
“Broken nose and red spray paint,” he said. “Nice piece of work, right out of the blocks.”
“Montgomery had no way of knowing who I was or where I was. I guess Ralph or Marci told him. Betrayal is a nasty thing.”
“Like dropping a Titleist down your pants into the weeds.”
“Golf being your only metaphor for life.”
“So what about you?” Jerry said. “What’s keeping your hand in now? Sounds like you’re done.”
“You know,” I said. “I’m about tag ends. I find one, I pull on it.”
“A scrap merchant.”
Just to annoy me, Jerry gently put his hands together in a golf grip. “First time I ever hit an iron to a green, I was nine. My father took me to Rancho Park. On the first hole I hit a high seven-iron, got the divot just right, the ball landed on the back edge and checked eight feet from the pin. I was hooked. Years later, I thought sex was better, but it really wasn’t. A terrible admission.”
“You’ve told me that story many, many times.”
“So what? I’m in process. It’s a psychological phenomenon. You’re probably not aware of it. You wouldn’t be. You just break shit.”
“So in heaven they really do play golf.”
He picked up a napkin and wiped a ring of coffee off the table. “I’m counting on it. Fairways and greens.”
Several years back, Jerry had taken me for drinks to the old Rancho Santa Fe Inn. We chatted with Billy Mason, a legendary local pro the PGA tour guys seek out when their swings go south. Billy told me Jerry had one of the sweetest natural swings he’d ever seen. That took in a lot of territory.
Billy said if Jerry wanted to, he could screw himself in on sand at the beach, in six inches of water, and hit a ball bobbing and moving on the low tide. He’d pick up about a cup of water with it, and give you pure backspin. Nothing right or left. Just straight.
Jerry had smiled and picked up his glass of scotch and raised it to his eyes, looking over at Billy.
After breakfast, we walked along Sunset. Jerry nodded at me. “Your instincts are good. I believe there’s going to be some more shit in this trolley car.”
“Could be. We’ll see.”
“A stranger walks into your office, you listen. What a fool you are to be in that kind of business.”
Upside, downside, blind side.
Jerry went off to talk to the people at the Bellamy company about his upcoming game with the businessmen from Dallas, and I walked to my office.
I had a message from Doc Lieber. “Marty Raskel pulled a few strings. Go back to the hospital. That guy you spoke with? He’ll talk to you now.”
I called Jerry’s place. Ralph’s ex-wife Kate didn’t pick up. So I drove over to the hospital for another go-around with the cardiologist.
This time I sat on a small chair at a cloudy glass table, in a little garden full of well-watered ferns and small palm trees set in buckets. There was a fountain going.
Dr. Kelly came walking through a glass door with serious intent. He plopped himself down in a chair next to me and said, “I’ve known Marty Raskel for almost ten years.”
“Isn’t that wonderful.”
He started to crack his knuckles and stopped. “I know people at Allison –Bowles,” he said. “It’s a ticky-tack outfit. Their clinical trial was a minor disaster. They thought of throwing away the last two weeks of data and just using the first six. But even that was unimpressive. So they never published the results. The drug was an SSRI antidepressant. Like Prozac or Zoloft. A spin-off. They added something. A compound that was supposed to level out the manic phase of the bipolar. The antidepressant would kick out the depression and this other thing would put a ceiling on the highs. No one knows why it didn’t work. Maybe they got the proportions wrong. These trials can by a crapshoot.”
“And if something bad happened to one of the volunteers?” I said.
He spread his hands. “I don’t know anything about that.”
“What about the guys who run the company?”
He shook his head. “Only because of Marty I’m telling you this. The honchos are jerks. They’re basically hustlers. But the one you’d want to go after, if something went bad, would be Scott Bestler. He almost had his license yanked a few years back for screwing up plastic surgeries.”
He looked around and stood up. “So who the hell are you anyway?”
“You don’t really want to know,” I said. “I have a client. He wants to find out about the clinical trial.”
“That’s all I’m getting?”
“It’s better that way.”
“Jesus,” he said. He shook his head.
“No,” I said. “Actually, you’re lucky.”
“Because I have a lucid urge.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“To break your hand.”
He stared at me, and then he walked away.
When I got back to my office, Ralph and a woman with expensively cut short blonde hair were waiting in the hall. We went inside and sat down.
She was wearing a gray silk suit jacket and faded jeans with a crease. She pulled at the collar of a white shirt. She looked at me and grinned. Her hands were strong. Nails cut short. No polish. She was wearing open-toed low black heels and her feet were bare. The toenails were painted light pink. She had the face of an ex-cheerleader.
I sat down behind the desk, picked up my cell and called Jerry. He answered. “Come on over,” I said. “Bring your friend.” I hung up.
Ralph said, “This is my sister Marci.”
“Good,” I said. “Are you staying at a hotel?”
She nodded quickly. “Yes.”
“I’ve taken care of the matter. You’re okay now.”
“Really?” she said. “What did you do?” Ralph leaned forward in his chair. His eyes were bloodshot.
“Montgomery came after me. Which was interesting. I put him down. I broke his nose and gave him a few other aches and pains. I believe his wife has moved out of their house.”
Ralph laughed. “Goddamn! You work quick! You broke his nose?”
“Good for you! How did he react?”
“He was in the fetal position in a parking lot when I left him.”
Ralph stood up and then sat back down again. “I wish I could do something like that,” he said.
“So we’re even,” I said. “You paid me and I banked your check.”
“Of course,” he said. “Even.”
“There are a couple of other things. Marci, you were probably given a bad drug in the clinical trial. I’m told Allison Bowles isn’t a reputable company. If you wanted to, you could pursue that. Talk to a lawyer about civil litigation.”
“I don’t think so,” she said. “I just want to be left alone.”
“The other thing, Ralph,” I said, “is that you told Montgomery about me. He picked me up at my bank. Why did you do that?”
Ralph closed his eyes. I thought he might be meditating. I waited. He said, “Of course I told him. I wanted him to find you, so you could take care of the problem.”
“Then you knew where he was. Why didn’t you give me that chunk of information?”
“I only have his cell number. I don’t know where he lives. I assume he’s been moving around.”
“That’s quite a lie,” I said. “But we’ll move on. How did you convince Montgomery you were on his side?”
“I didn’t try. I just said I had information he needed. I threw in a gratuitous remark about Marci. I said she was prone to exaggeration, and I didn’t believe she was in danger from him. I guess it worked.”
“You know how to be vague,” I said. “I’ll give you that.”
Marci looked at him. She smiled a little and shook her head.
“So we’re done,” I said.
“Not quite,” he said.
“Dropping another shoe?”
He looked up at the ceiling. “Carroll has something on us. On Marci and me. I don’t want him to use it.”
“And what would that be?”
“Well,” he said, looking at Marci, “my sister and I are related by adoption. My birth parents are her adopted parents. Marci and I have a sexual relationship.”
Marci didn’t seem upset. She looked at me and shrugged.
“And how long has this been going on?” I said.
“Since we were adolescents,” Ralph said.
“I was seventeen,” Marci said. “Ralph was twenty.” She was calm.
“And Montgomery knows this,” I said.
“How?” I said.
“I told him,” Marci said. “Obviously, it was mistake. That was the only effect of the drug I noticed. It made me talkative. But not in the usual way. I felt a compulsion to share.”
“I assume he felt the same compulsion.”
“What do you mean?” she said.
“He told you he was beating his wife.”
“He didn’t come right out and say it. He intimated it. He was trying to find out whether I liked pain.”
“And you said no?”
“I definitely said no.”
“Which didn’t deter him, because he kept calling you on the phone.”
“We spoke four or five times. He said he liked administering punishment to women.”
“He doesn’t seem like the type who would volunteer for a drug study,” I said.
“He told me he was having trouble sleeping,” she said. “His doctor sent him to a psychiatrist. He was diagnosed bipolar. But the regular medication didn’t help.”
“You two have a facility for bullshitting as you go along,” I said. “Some people work it out beforehand. Anyway, you might have to talk to your ex-wife,” I said to Ralph.
He was startled. “Why?”
“Because my partner, who works with me, Jerry, is having a sudden fling with her.”
Ralph looked at his sister, then back at me. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I sent him up to Beverly Hills to talk to her. I wanted to check up on you. I guess they hit it off. She’s at his place in West LA.”
“Check up on me? What kind of bullshit is this?”
Marci put her hand on his.
“I don’t know you,” I said to Ralph.
“And what the fuck did Katie tell your friend?”
“That you were a flake and a liar.”
“I don’t fucking like this,” he said. He looked down at the floor. “Goddamn bullshit. Who are you to go to my ex and ask her about me?”
“I don’t blame you for being upset. But that’s the way it turned out.”
Marci suddenly said, “Carroll tried to rape me.”
Ralph looked at her. “You didn’t tell me that.”
“Where,” he said.
“In my apartment.”
“You said he was just threatening you.”
“I was lying,” she said. “I wanted to protect you.”
“Protect me?” Ralph said. “From what?”
“Bad news,” she said. “After we had lunch one day, he drove me home. I had taken a cab because my car was in the shop. He dropped me off, asked me for a date, I said no. The next day, about five in the afternoon, he came to my place. I let him in. He tried to take off my clothes. I kicked him in the face when I was on the bed. He decided not to rape me.”
(To read about Jon’s mega-collection, Power Outside The Matrix, click here.)
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free NoMoreFakeNews emails here or his free OutsideTheRealityMachine emails here.