Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fairy Tales of Manhattan: A Creature of Habit

A Creature of Habit (Bluebeard)
by Julie Baumgold


It was a saying of Emily's grandmother that each man has his "pekl", his package or burden, and that if all men were to put theirs down inside a ring eventually each man would go into the ring and pick up his very own.

Emily thought of that one night in the doorway of Sam Greene's new restaurant when she was trapped in the tiny passageway with Danny Steinman. It had been many years.

She reintroduced herself into his tight scowling face as the doorman swung open the outer door and released them both into the freezing night—Emily in Mongolian lamb coat and Danny in just a pinstripe suit and the sheath of his famous power.

Snubbed, she watched him walk up the block, his suit cut close to his body, his head like a bullet, his pace fast. Tan socks to look sockless. He hurried like a man who had been caught at something and yet he had only just left a restaurant. She had not seen who he was with or witnessed any scene and yet he was surely escaping. He had not found what he was looking for. His pekl, his bundle of trouble was there, on him like a backpack.

Now that she was older, Emily was able to see all sorts of things that she had missed when she was a girl. That is when Danny Steinman had hired her for a writing project and paid her a lot of money, allowing her to join The Writer's Guild West.

All the way home with the wind blowing strands of beige fur into her face, Emily thought of what might be in Danny Steinman's secret room. Everyone had one, she believed, and usually it was best not to know what was inside. Emily, like most writers, was much too curious.

The story Danny hired her to write was one that she knew well for she had lived a large part of it—the whole part that was not public. Midway in her writing she realized how she had been deceived and, because it was so painful, she abandoned the project. She still got notices from The Writers Guild Pension Plan and every time she opened one it added to her guilt.

Emily and her friend Franklin had been two only children, undersized, under coordinated, defiant and wild. Also odd. Their mothers were friends, sisters almost, always trying to upstage each other in extravagance. Once they posed the babies, each in elaborate christening gowns and lace caps, for a famous photographer though there was never meant to be a christening.

When Franklin's mother Marjorie tried to nourish Franklin with the blood squeezed from steaks, Emily's mother tried the same thing. Still both children turned their heads aside and later hid food in their paper napkins.

The more elaborate their birthday parties, the more likely they were to turn up dirty and torn, having done something bad. Once at the playground in the city, Franklin threw a rock at a girl called Crystal that hit her hard in the back. They ran away and were not caught.

It was Marjorie's idea to have Emily's parents rent one of the three houses on Windyknoll, the 120 acre estate where they spent their summers.

Franklin was bent, everyone knew it by then and, still, Emily followed him around the estate getting in almost as much trouble as he did. The roughness of the place, its uncultivated wildness suited them both.

Lester, Franklin's father, found them one afternoon alone in the White House, the patriarch's abandoned white marble house. Every room was open to the winds and dead leaves and strands of vines gathered in heaps in the corners. The house was going to be torn down and they wanted to see what they could steal. Franklin found some dead mice and skinned them with his penknife and threw one at Emily. This was in an era when spanking was still permitted but Lester just drove them home and never told Marjorie or Emily's parents.

Another time Emily and Franklin wandered off and wound up in a valley surrounded by tall dark pines with a purple light beam slanting down on them as though they had been chosen.

When they played Red Rover in the swimming pool on the estate with Franklin's cousins, Emily saw that Franklin was cheating.

Lester, Marjorie and Franklin belonged to the estate. The White House, as it was known, had been built for Marjorie's father who was one of the great old men of Wall Street, the American version of a Rothschild prince. He had left the untamed wilderness he found when he bought the estate and then defied it by building an incongruous house that was white marble inside and out. Emily's family had been permitted to rent the main house that was owned by one of Marjorie's sisters.

All summer, every summer the two children wandered off together– lying on their stomachs looking out at the lake, running instead of walking as they had been cautioned across the wooden bridge to the pool and courts, hiding from the young girls hired to babysit them, prowling around and tormenting the cousins with their pranks. Sometimes they hid on Spy Hill in a grove of ancient hemlocks. Or they were in the woods watching as Marjorie drove like a maniac along the dirt roads that connected the three houses, all the families furious at her speed.

Marjorie, who often was taken for Merle Oberon when she was in town, stood at the top of the high diving board, the one once used long ago for competitions and, without pausing, swan dived into the cold waters while Lester drank Tom Collins' and Emily's mother wondered if she might ever get as nice a navy swimsuit and look that way in it.

After four summers of Red Rover and canoeing to Bird Island in the lake, tennis and swimming lessons and long summer nights reading old children's books found in the house, after long hot summers on cots on the screened-in sleeping porch, everyone's life changed.

Marjorie, driving 65 mph, slammed into one of the stone pillars guarding the entrance to the estate.

The mystery of the thing entwined itself with the tragedy. Franklin stormed off and turned his back on Emily. Emily did not understand and nagged at her parents to know why, how. Her mother and father could not explain. Everything was ruined, maybe forever, at the least, everything changed.

Marjorie's sister reclaimed her house and Emily's family had to find another summer place.

Still Emily's parents and Franklin's father saw each other at dinner parties and other New York occasions. Lester appeared on all the seating charts at their dinners and showed no interest at all in any of the attractive matrons placed before him.

Franklin never returned to the city. He went to school in the country, the bus picking him up at the base of the estate near the razed stone post that killed his mother. His nurse drove him down to the new gates every morning and waited for him there each afternoon. Franklin hated her and stayed in a storm of anger, loneliness and hatred throughout the rest of his childhood. There were many doctors.

For a year or two Emily was brought out to the estate for visits. The only thing they found in common then was their hatred for Nurse; otherwise Franklin paid her little attention. Once, when he was especially angry at her, he held Emily's head under water in the pool for too long a time. There was a lot of rushing about and excuses about Franklin's temper and Emily's parents stopped the visits.

Emily's mother stayed sad for a couple of years and kept a picture of Marjorie in a full skirt by her bedside where Emily saw it every morning on her way to school as she went in to kiss her mother goodbye and take a bite of her Gluten toast with farmer cheese and bitter marmalade. Emily knew that her mother, the last to speak to Marjorie before her final drive, had a version of Marjorie's death that was different from all the others. Emily believed her mother's version because it was more comforting.

Franklin went to college in the Midwest but not for very long. He managed to avoid the family Wall Street brokerage house entirely and became the kind of young man who wore army jackets with rolls of cash in the pockets and dated ballerinas, the youngest he could find. When he crashed his Jaguar XKE and injured his passenger, she turned out to be a sixteen year old ballet student and Franklin made the tabloids for the first time.

Emily saw his photograph and noted his long hair and the dark cultivated scruff around his mouth and chin. His eyes were hooded above the high cheekbones and he seemed unfocused to her. She was busy then, excelling at Barnard and taking her wildness into her writing. Her poems were published in a few poetry journals and she won a national contest.

"Hey I read the stuff you sent me," Franklin said in the fall of one year.

Emily waited for him to say more which he did not. They decided to have lunch in Le Roi Quatorze, a big popular new restaurant where the doorman asked if you had a reservation before you got through the door and then talked into his cuff.

"It's my place," Franklin said as they sat down and Emily had to remind herself that he was the heir to his mother's fortune.

The waiter immediately brought Franklin a scotch with one ice cube.

"Anything for you?" She saw he did not care.

"I have to get back to the office, I have a story closing."

"Oh yeah," He did not ask what it was about.

They were both having spaghetti carbonara and the waiter was mixing it at the table doing one of those twirling and raising and fussing things. He made a lovely little nest for Emily and then, as he was approaching Franklin's plate, he miscalculated and half went onto the blue cloth.

Franklin rose up, his face darkened, his eyelid twitching.

"Get out. You're fired."

"He didn't mean it," Emily said.

"Really, sir, it was an accident."

Franklin stood up and was pushing at the man's chest, pushing him away. He picked up a blob of spaghetti and threw it at the man. The manager was leading the waiter away then and clearing the plate.

"Did I tell you how strange my dad has become?" Franklin said suddenly as though nothing had happened and it was again years ago.

"It began right after my mother … he began to walk around the house naked. Even with Nurse there. They were always trying to find friends for me and they bribed this one boy with a new bike. Tommy really loved that bike, rode it over to show me. Lester came out stark naked and said he wanted to try the bike. He got on it and rode all around the driveway. You should have seen Tommy's face." Franklin laughed his laugh which never had sounded like a laugh.

Emily decided then that she did not like Franklin and wanted to leave the table, his table, in his restaurant, forever. What a strange story that was, and Emily wondered if it even was true.

She and Franklin would never love each other and yet they would always be obliged to be this careful with each other because of their childhood.
She did not think about Franklin for several years until one morning when he called accepting her invitation to a benefit at which she had taken a table and needed rich people to come and pledge money.

"I'm bringing my girlfriend."

At that she felt a sudden pain, a flush and a twisting inside for, at that time, she had no one, really nothing at all except her work.

His girl, pretty enough in a very young vague way, put out her hand, cold and weak, dying in Emily's grip. Then suddenly she lunged forward and hugged Emily as though that might be the right and better thing to do.

Emily thought of A Midsummer Night's Dream and fairies in a forest, sprites careening around through the gauzy air. She had the tentative look of many redheads but with a rawness more pronounced. The girl was looking her up and down making Emily sorry that she was wearing Armani.

She is not one of us, Emily thought and therein she included the whole ballroom except for waiters and the scholarship students the others were there helping. Also there was something covetous in that first look, wanting what she and Franklin had had and just assumed they always would have.

Obviously Franklin had not bought her a dress for hers was skimpy and not in a good way. His dinner jacket was expensive, already telling Emily, who was then first beginning to see things, the dynamic of his dominance, her uncertainty and yearning. A sexual current ran through them, that Emily felt right away but barely understood.

"This is Anna Collins," he said meaning she is mine, said with just a bit of pride in the truth and in the fact that he had given her nothing.

It was a long evening and Franklin and Anna slipped from the table, hand in hand, before it was over. Emily watched them leaving the ballroom, her head leaning on his dark shoulder. Then he was ahead, tugging her along, reaching back for her, in a hurry.

Emily looked over at her date, who was applauding the speeches with enthusiasm, and tried to remember all the bad things Franklin had done. Well actually, they had done many of them, like throwing the rock at that girl Crystal outside the playground, together.
Franklin traveled with Anna Collins. They went and saw a guru in Hyderabad and lived there chanting and eating curried rice. They lay prone in robes. Franklin had intestinal problems but none of the answers he sought. Nor did he have peace. He continued to think of himself as cursed.

They fought their way—car fights, map fights– driving through the chateaux of France. Anna had given their itinerary to her Swedish hairdresser who was going to be in France. One night, just after they arrived at Chambord, they saw the hairdresser Lars sitting alone across the vast dining room. He was smiling at the wonderful thing he had done, driving across France to be with them. Anna ran over to him. Franklin refused to let Lars have dinner with them and they sat awkwardly across the dining room from each other all evening.

Franklin took a house in Aspen where Emily had friends who knew them. One of them, Karen, stayed in the bedroom next to Franklin and Anna.

"You should have heard it," Karen told Emily "… all night long, again and again." It was also a weekend of fighting, of Anna banging on the door when Franklin locked her out in the snow and then shoving past him to reach the vodka in the freezer.

Karen could not wait to get to the slopes and left a few days early. Emily, who was writing for magazines then, kept thinking of the phrase "all night long" not quite sure why it bothered her so.
A year later, Anna invited Emily to lunch and held out her left hand with a very small square diamond ring, the kind Macy's featured in its ads.

Astounded at its size, Emily tried to be enthusiastic.

"You are his oldest friend so I wanted you to know first." Emily felt the rictus in her face and wished she could run into the bathroom and get herself in better shape. Anna's nails were bitten down and there were streaks of blood in some of the cuticles. Her hair dribbled over the worn knit collar of her puffer coat. There was white around one of her nostrils. Her eyes were a lovely dark blue.

Emily was trying not to hate the happiness before her.

"Let's have some champagne,"

"Yes, but first, tell me about his mother…"
Emily's powers of observation, inherited from her mother, and her relentless curiosity about other lives helped her journalism. Like her father, she found herself able to talk to anyone and, more importantly, she listened with an impassive or a sympathetic face as needed. She did not ever share an experience similar to the one being related to her. In silence, she let people nervously talk on.

Franklin married Anna with only Lester there, none of the aunts or cousins, no friends. They kept an apartment in midtown in a building with a dark center courtyard. Most of the time they lived on the estate in the main house he had rented from one of the sisters, Emily's house from long ago. They lived alone without help, Anna doing all the housework. Sometimes, at the stove, Anna would think back to that night at the chateau and Lars and the expression on his face as he bent over the fancy menu and ate his dinner alone. Then she would shake herself and go on cooking dinner.

Franklin fancied himself as a sort of woodsman and naturalist in those days. He became interested in the past of the estate. He learned that all the Indian tribes from the area had gone there to hold pow-wows and councils. He found the spring where Uncas, the last of the Mohegans, supposedly drank. He took his canoe to Bird Island and sat there for hours smoking dope and staring out into the lake.

On the weekends Anna, fueled by cocaine, filled their house with her two brothers and their families. They were all over the woods, at the pool, racing around the tennis court not knowing how to play tennis. There were family barbecues with the brothers at the big stone pit. Both brothers were in construction, building extensions to VA hospitals, one of them was a veteran. Anna cooked Italian dinners in the crowded kitchen as Franklin sat scowling, sucking all the joy from the house. He went into the woods to smoke and stayed there.

After four such weekends Franklin threw them all out. He could not stand children around him. Anna knew he would leave a restaurant when he was seated near any child but she had hoped he would change.

Franklin told Anna he could feel the Indian spirits clustering around him. Her family, the children, were disturbing the ancient spirits.

Anna had come to want what Marjorie wanted—new things, luxury, making use of the money to make her life easier and a bit of show.

Franklin, unlike other rich men who enjoyed giving things to their younger wives, made a point of denying Anna. The family always had hidden their wealth as much as they could, never showing off but using the money to get them out of all kinds of trouble. They lived in old big houses in their old good clothes pocked with holes. Anna's yearnings annoyed Franklin. He fancied himself more and more the recluse, the primal woodsman. He took up woodworking with a special set of knives, carving pictures frames from fallen trees in a basement workshop. The fights that had begun long ago continued.
"This is…" Emily did not hear the name of the reporter from the Post. "Your friend Anna Collins Tucker has disappeared. Do you know anything about it? Have you talked" – there was a pause – "to Franklin Tucker?"

What? What? Emily sat down heavily when she heard what the reporter knew then she put down the phone and did not answer when it immediately rang again. She called Franklin on her cell and left a cautious message. "What happened?" She called him and why would she not.

Then she called her parents who told her to stay away, then Lester who did not answer. She decided she would not write anything about the story when she knew it. Yet she already felt that she knew it and, most frighteningly, it did not seem to matter enough to her except for what might happen to Franklin. She supposed that meant some deficiency, a failure in her character that placed too much weight on their past.

She felt as though they each had been born to get the other out of some trouble in the future, to provide the alibi. There was that and the bond of all they had seen and done in the time their parents were young and happy with each other.

She thought of Anna with Franklin, just the same height, both slender and strong, shoving at each other and his temper, his permanent anger and contempt. She went back to the little girl Crystal falling forward into the leaves outside the 76th Street playground. Maybe they had killed her. She went back to that skinned mouse flying through the air at her and the way Franklin had been laughing and the expression on Lester's face when he saw the pile of skillfully skinned mice glistening silver on the white marble floor.

"Skillfully"…That was the key word that came to her now after the years. She had not seen the cleanness and the skill then. He had done it so quickly and without a thought when she was away in another of the marble rooms of the ruin. She thought of Franklin holstered into his toy cap guns and the time he showed her the real one he had a permit to carry.

Franklin had been fighting with Anna who had been disintegrating and wanting to escape. Franklin had smoked dope every day of his adult life and probably long before he was an adult. A lot of coke had gone up both noses, Franklin had been generous with it to Karen when she returned from the slopes in Aspen.

Emily had forgotten another important detail of that ski trip that Karen had told her–how, after their big fight, Anna had cut all his ski pants in half leaving him with a row of neoprene Bermudas. Some she had cut from the crotch to the waist. This was the day before Karen left.

Then there was the phrase "all night long…again and again."

Emily had just read an Anne Tyler book about a woman who walked out of her life. This was not that at all. Anna had wanted much more from her life. She wanted Franklin to buy her a big apartment and good clothes. She wanted a child, she wanted many children and a person who was better than her at the stove, doing the shopping, cleaning up. She wanted a witness in the house. She wanted Franklin to be kind.

Franklin was mean, mean before his mother drove into the wall. Mean to the girls before Anna, mean to that waiter. Never mean to Emily. Always careful, with that delicacy that encompassed their past, the days on the estate, the beauty of the damp steaming woods, the times they would laugh at his mother and the spray of gravel on either side of her wheels as she sped down the road.

What had walked away in this mystery story was the love on both sides. It was a story that was going to get better as more was known. Emily would never write it and was sorry that she half knew it.

There were days of the tabloids and days of the jumping reporters and Emily's old magazine asking her to write it. The interest was all because of the money and the picture of Anna, pretty and smiling, young and vanished. Their doorman in town had seen her from the rear, going out, never returning. The brothers were feverish and furious. There was a call from the producer Danny Steinman, not as powerful then, but permanently intrigued. She refused him.

Finally Franklin called asking Emily to say she had talked to Anna, that Anna was out West on a ranch, thinking things over. He had premeditated his alibi :Anna had called from a roadside. They must wait days until there could be no checking.

She was helping him figure it out without ever hearing his story, knowing that he knew that she knew and would forgive. She never knew how, but she always knew why.

Emily refused to make the call, the only time she had refused him.

The papers said a call had been made, to Franklin, from the west, from a phone booth. She did not want to know how or who, that is where her curiosity stopped.

It was lurid, it was melodramatic, and no one believed it. None of Lester's team of lawyers, none of the public, not her friend Karen who had stayed with them, no parents living or dead. Anna, a missing person, a person missing. Franklin would be suspected forever, never arrested.
Franklin was back on the estate. He thought of himself as the caretaker, the cousins were all scattered, Lester was working and absent. Lester was never to going to remarry though every divorcee and widow of a certain set in the city had circled him. The aunts were afraid to be there, even with the acres between them and Franklin.

The Indian spirits talked to Franklin in the woods. He grew a heavy black beard like a forest ranger. No place was more private–just the wild ducks, the Canada geese, the squirrels, the birds of Bird Island and the rustle of the maples, ash, chestnut trees and whatever else might be in his woods.

Emily called him every six months or so. The conversations were brief and Emily felt, one-sided.

When Emily began her novel she desperately wanted to leave the city and a bad love affair and she called Franklin and asked if she might have one of the houses on the estate. The cousins were scattered all over and one of the houses was available. She felt immune, that Franklin would never harm her or anyone else again.

He wanted her to stop at his apartment in the city and bring him all the sweaters that were there, the doorman would let her in.

Emily hated the feeling in his apartment, everything shabby and neglected somehow so dim and full of absence. As she walked around she felt spied on, as though there might be hidden cameras. The place had been thoroughly searched by the police and Franklin had put it back together carelessly, anxious to get out as soon as possible.

Emily found all of Anna's clothes in one of the closets. The clothes had become vintage, stopped in the 1970's and 80's. There was the fringe, the tie dye, the bell bottoms, the corduroy. On one shelf on hat stands were two falls of red hair and a pile of crocheted beanies, very Anna, very sad. Emily, now more frightened than curious, rushed out with his sweaters in shopping bags.

Everyone tried to discourage her from going up to the estate but Franklin was in her secret room, something in there unfinished and waiting. The women of the secret rooms lived in Emily's Barnard literature– Jane Eyre, The Wide Sargasso Sea, Rebecca –hidden away, but not disappeared.

There was a security man at the gates now. Franklin had said it was because of Anna's brothers who kept driving in, looking around and the kids from the town.

Emily went to Franklin up in the main house for her keys.

She found that the White House had never been torn down after all. A demolition excavator was parked on the knoll, half sunk in muddy ruts. The house was worse than ever with broken windows and graffiti and crushed beer cans in a mound around the Posted No Trespassing Keep Out signs.

Franklin stood in the doorway, a cloud of sweetish air around him, not looking friendly at all, holding the keys as he would for a stranger. He no longer looked like a woodsman, the beard was gone. His eyes were red and twitching and he was very thin. Emily handed him the sweaters, sure there would be no invitation for dinner, glad she had brought food for herself.

"I'm going to take a walk, want to come?" she said.

"Thanks for the sweaters," he was already closing the door.

Emily went off to the bridge over the ravine leading to the pool, remembering how she and Franklin would run instead of walking there. The police had been all over, taking canoes to Bird Island, dragging the lake, leading teams with cadaver dogs.

The pool had been drained. She went into the bath house by the pool, straight from the 1930's, with its women's and men's separated dressing stalls. In the women's she found an old fashioned red bathing suit stiff with mold and a white rubber bathing cap with strap turned yellow and frozen.

She went back to go exploring in the white marble house.

Franklin, who must have been watching her, stuck his head out.

"Be careful in there, everything is falling down."

There were still some books, now fully disintegrated into fluffy shards fringed with mouse droppings.

"Hey!" Emily dropped the ruined book. It was a woman's voice. A blond woman about her age was in the doorway

"Karen! You almost gave me a heart attack! This place is so haunted…" She was immediately sorry she had said that. "How long have you been out here?" She meant "with Franklin."

"Quite a while. We'd have you for dinner but Franklin says you want to work. Otherwise…"

Emily knew then that it was Karen who had made the call she refused to do, that Karen was with Franklin and had been for a long quiet time.

She spent a restless night in the house she had rented and decided that she would not stay. Something on the estate had been spoiled, something was rotting far off in the woods.

Emily drove over the next morning to return the keys to Franklin. She mentioned something about the house being too cold and maybe not quite right for her to work there.

"I have no intention of returning your deposit," he said "a deal is a deal." Karen was not around to say goodbye.
Emily's book, the major effort of her life this far, was not a success nor was her brief marriage. She supported herself with her journalism and the money her parents and ex husband sent along. Occasionally she went out to dinner with Lester and they talked about Franklin and their old summers as though they had been better than they were. Lester never mentioned Marjorie or Anna, nor did Emily. She thought he wanted her to say kind things about Franklin and so she did. There was no romance, the dinners long and quiet in the sawdust of steakhouses.

Emily lost interest in Franklin until she heard about Karen whose throat had been slit during a robbery at her condominium by the water in Jacksonville, Florida.

She had been found near her front door with the blood oozing out into the breezeway and her dog barking without stop. She had been living alone though often she was with a strange looking friend. A neighbor thought the friend might be one of those souls who was in transition from one sex to another—he guessed male to female.

Emily thought about calling Franklin and then decided not to.

This was not a national case but there were friends who were interested and they kept telling her things and asking about Franklin for they all knew Karen had been with him for several years and now she was dead.

Emily read what she could in the Jacksonville Times Union where one report talked about the transitioning friend with red hair, always around. Not friendly.

Emily did not want to know any more than she knew. The crime was on its way to being unsolved and not because there was any great criminal genius at work.

Danny Steinman called her then for he had made the connection. He now did successful true crime programs on his own network on television. He wanted this story and he wanted it only from Emily.

"What if it was your friend Franklin? Did you ever see him wearing women's clothes? Could he have been the woman the doorman saw when Anna disappeared? Think about it. You could tell a terrific story."

He offered Emily more money than she had ever made in two decades of writing.

"He kills women," Danny said, "the woman he kills is himself." Now this was a mind made for reality television. Emily, ever curious, was impressed and intrigued.

Only Emily knew that Karen had been his alibi, she knew it as surely as she knew that she was in danger. She had opened the door to his secret room long ago.

The red hair bothered Emily who had seen Anna's red hair falls in Franklin's closet and could imagine Franklin driving to the city, dressing as Anna with the hair and a scarf over the face, fooling the doorman who only had seen her from the rear.

People do the same things over and over again. They are helpless creatures of habit. Patterns repeat themselves especially in crimes. All crimes are the first crime: the strangler strangles, the shooter shoots, the dismemberer cuts up because he had done it before and gotten away. If he dressed as a woman for the doorman, he could do it again in Jacksonville. Karen would have gone along with anything if she had him and the money. But why, what did that mean?

Emily took the first payment and wrote something incomplete because she did not understand, because she was reluctant. It did not satisfy her or Danny Steinman who was furious because the story might have been his. She was relieved and never told Lester or her parents who were very old then, had their own set of problems and once again would have told her to run.

Anna's brothers had never quit their search for evidence to incriminate Franklin. They snuck onto the estate and went through the woods in grids. They had their own dogs and now their sons were grown and could help them.

They had more than suspicion, they were permanently convinced.
Franklin called Emily to help him tell his story since she was a writer, since she knew its beginning, since he needed to do this explaining. He was tired of the years of suspicion. He was trying to get back to a time in his childhood when the family was whole, a time that could never be reached, a time he knew Emily remembered. His compulsion to confess was mixed with his arrogance that he would get away with it.

He felt the Indian spirits on the estate were calling out to him. He was tired of being a pariah and he was sick. He said he felt down and dirty and not good company. He was tired of his pekl and would not go into the ring to reclaim it. He would take almost any other man's burden.

Emily went to her agent who told her Franklin would lie, she went to her publisher who showed no interest. The story might have been Emily's; it might have belonged to Danny Steinman. Emily might have become well known and her later life would have been different.

They began to talk up on the estate where the workmen were finally pulling down the White House. Inside, away from the haze of marble dust and the jackhammer noise, Emily began taking notes. Franklin began lying, a little smile sunk in his beard, face down, the awful mumble that she knew. She listened and made no comment

When he needed to rest, Emily went back to the city, afraid he would kill himself before they finished or the cases would close around him.

Just before their second set of sessions, Anna's brothers came out of the woods one night and gave Franklin back to the waiting land.


For more on Julie, visit juliebaumgold.com