Monday Matinee - "HER FATE" Episode Three

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Monday, January 22, 2007

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Barbara and Mary Stewart wanted for nothing growing up. Their father Gerald had followed his father’s footsteps and had a successful career in finance, eventually rising to Executive VP for Prudential Professional Money Management. His father Winston had made millions during his years at Prudential running their Strategic Partners Mutual Funds Group.

The Stewarts came to the Haverhill area of Massachusetts sometime in the late 1700’s. Alexander Stewart had been born in England and came across the Atlantic on his own as a 16 year old with one suitcase and £ 50 in his pocket. He began working at a local sawmill, saving his pay as best he could.

Marrying Charity Fowkes, the daughter of the Preacher, they lived a sparse, but satisfying life. Their son, Ballard was born in 1800. By the time he was 25 he had begun Stewart Shoe Company along the banks of the Merrimack River, using the river as a source for power.

The business took off in 1851 when Rowland H. Macy opened his first store in Haverhill. Ballard made a deal to be the sole supplier of men’s footwear to the man who founded the company that still bears his name.

Over the next 80 years Stewart Shoes grew under the watchful eyes of 3 generations of Stewart men. Ballard handed the reigns to his son Samuel. Samuel’s son Ezekiel then took the helm and guided the company through the early part of the new century.

It was during the time Ezekiel’s son John was running the company that the Great Depression hit. They tried to keep the company running, tried to continue to pay their workers, but eventually in 1937, Stewart Show Company closed their doors for the last time.

After dinner one evening John rose from the table, kissed his wife Sophie and daughter Sally who, as she was still unmarried at 27, lived with her parents, and announced he was going into town to check on the factory, now shuttered.

The next day Sally went into town to check on her father, who had not returned home the evening before. Walking into his office on the second floor she found the lights off. At first she thought he had fallen asleep, his head on his desk and had knocked over a mug of coffee. But she realized her mistake when she flicked the light-switch and saw the liquid all over the desk and floor was red – the blood of her father.

He had put his pistol to his head at some time during the evening and taken his own life. The entire family was devastated by the event, but Sally could never get the sight of her beloved father’s blood all over. Three years later at the age of thirty, Sally took her own life, tying a rope around the railing over looking the entry of their home and stepped over the rail and into thin air. Sophie ordered the home sold immediately and moved into Boston where she remained until her death in 1946.

Ann had married Alexander Pineford the heir to Pineford Mills when she was 18. They lived in a home overlooking the town. They asked Sophie to live with them, but she refused. Augustus had worked in the factory, paying his dues until it was time for him to step in and run it when his dad had retired. Well, that was the plan…now spoiled forever by a group of men on Wall Street who caused the crash, thus leading the nation into a period of severe financial hardships.

Augustus was 34 when the factory closed and his father took his own life. He had been married to Julie for twelve years and their son Wilson, (Gerald’s grandfather) was 11. For about a year he tried working at his brother-in-laws mill, but found he had no affinity for the lumber business.

With the little money he had, and his education in finance, he started a small company to help the local businesses track their earnings better. His son Wilson would sit and watch his father balance the books for his customers and seemed to have the same love and skill with numbers as did his father. If it was not for Augustus, the family factory would have closed 4 years earlier and many of their employees would have been much worse off then they were.

Wilson was an excellent student, graduating near the top of his class at Haverhill High School. There were whispers that Wilson was the inspiration for the character Reggie in the Archie Comic books. Wilson graduated with the creator of this popular comic series, Bob Montana.

Wilson was offered scholarships at many prestigious colleges, but chose Wharton University of Pennsylvania where he received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. He joined Prudential right out of school in and his career track was outlined early on.

Incredibly bright and devilishly handsome, Wilson stayed single and worked hard over the next 4 years. Then, in early 1954 one of his female friends announced she was pregnant. Wilson and Missy were married a month later in a small private ceremony and Gerald was born 7 months later. This caused some talk in the halls of his company, but it all died down quickly as Wilson showed time and again his skills at investing money and making it increase up to ten-fold in a short amount of time.

Two years later Wilson was elevated to run the entire Strategic Partners Mutual Fund and from the outside looking in, everything seemed wonderful. The Stewarts had moved into a beautiful town home in Cambridge. Gerald, though an only child, had many friends and was attending the best private schools in the Boston area, eventually ending up at The Andover Academy, where he was 2 years behind Scooter Haverford. Gerald knew the popular Lacrosse captain but they were certainly not close.

When Scooter married Gerald’s sister-in-law; Alice’s sister Barbara, he had no idea who Gerald Stewart was, even having to be shown a yearbook with Gerald’s picture, because Scooter could not imagine not knowing someone who was at Andover when he was. In reality, Scooter was too big a campus hero to remember a skinny kid two years his junior.

Their relationship would change over the next few years and Scooter always wondered if, had he just lied and said he did remember Gerald, things would have turned out differently.

By the time they married Scooter was the owner of an electronics company. Begun in the late 50’s by his father, Monty, Sr. as a 17 year old, the company built the transmitters used in VHF FM single channel military radio sets of that time. When the Vietnam War began Monty Sr. became a contractor for the US Military and the company grew by a factor of 6 in just 3 short years. When Scooter was 18 he joined the Marines instead of waiting to find out his draft number. He spent one tour at the end of the War “in-country” and came home to move right into a management position at Hingham Electronics. As the war wound down, so did the big contracts. The company began to struggle and some lay-off occurred. Scooter tried to attend college at night but got only as far as earning an Associates Degree.

Even without the formal education, Scooter knew how to see the future of things and evolved the company into Hingham Printed Circuit Board, getting in on the ground floor of an industry about to explode with the advent of the computer. The business grew once more and, by offering training to those who were interested, they were able to hire back 80% of the people who had been laid off 3 years before.

By 1983 when Scooter met Barbara “Babs” Stanton he had been named one of the Boston area’s most eligible bachelors three times. She was the daughter of Benjamin and Sarah Stanton, scions of Boston Upper Crust. The Stanton’s had links all the way back to the original Mayflower. Intimates of the Rockefellers and Kennedy’s, the origin of their family’s money was also shrouded in mystery.

Barbara’s younger sister, Alice, had been married for 5 years and had two beautiful daughters. Babs had not been in any rush to find a husband, instead enjoying working with the United Way and traveling around the world.

Scooter knocked her off her feet the night they met at a charity ball. Their romance was a whirlwind and they were married in a huge ceremony, held in the chapel of the Lutheran Church on Harvard Yard.

By 2000, Babs and Scooter had brought Scooter, Jr. and Muffy into the world and were living large. Trips around the world, the best private schools for the kids, even sending Muffy to a boarding school in Switzerland, two years before when she was 9, resulting in a period of pure rebellion and expulsion.

Gerald had been managing the personal account for Babs and Scooter since they had gotten together. Once Scooter was convinced Gerald knew what he was doing, he allowed him to manage even the company’s investment capital.

In 2001, Gerald noticed some things changing. Scooter was asking to have control of more of the company’s money; moving funds from his personal account to the company’s and his personal manner had changed also.

One night in early October of 2003, Gerald was working late at his office in the Prudential Tower when the security guard downstairs called. “Mr. Stewart, excuse me sir, but there is a Mr. Haverford here and he insists you know him and to let him up.” In the background Gerald could hear what sounded like a very drunk Scooter bellowing “Just let me by… do you know I was the most eligible bachelor in Boston THREE TIMES??? What is your name? Where is your supervisor???”

During a slight break in the yelling Gerald said “George, let him up, it is ok, he is my brother in law.”

“You sure sir?”

“Yes, just put him on the elevator and set it for express and I will meet him when the door opens.”

When the elevator door opened on the 48th floor, Gerald was first assaulted with the reek of a very drunk person and then the visual of Scooter, always so well kept, disheveled his shoes untied, shirttail hanging out, tie askew. Scooter stumbled off the elevator into Gerald’s arms.

“Whoa, what happened to you Scoot?” Gerald said using the truncated nickname he knew Scooter hated, but figured in his condition he would not remember in the morning.

Struggling, Scooter still outweighed him by 50 pounds; Gerald managed to get him into a chair in his office and closed the door. There didn’t appear to be anyone else on that floor, but Gerald didn’t want to risk someone seeing Scooter in this condition.

Walking to the wet bar in the corner of his office, he get a glass of water for Scooter and two aspirins. “Here, take these, they will help later. Sorry, there is no coffee made here now. How about you telling me what is going on Scooter, something has been strange for 9 months now.”

Scooter looked up at Gerald and tears rolled down his cheeks. “Ger, I didn’t think it was going to end up like this. I mean, I was just looking for another way to help the company grow. You as mush as anyone knows that business has been tough the last few years.”

“Well, not really Scooter, you have been cutting me out more and more.”

“I did that to try and protect you Ger, I didn’t want you to be involved in case something went wrong, and man has it ever gone wrong and I don’t know where to turn, I don’t know what to do. I can’t let them hurt Babs and the kids Ger, so how do I stop it?”

“Wait Scooter, slow down. Who is going to hurt the kids and Babs? What where you trying to protect me from, what has gone wrong? Start at the beginning.”

“I need a drink Ger, I really do.”

“Man, you have had plenty to drink already…”

“Look Ger, I am practically sober again, just thinking about this. I know you keep a bottle of Pinch in here somewhere, just a couple of fingers.”
Gerald went to the wet bar and poured Scooter a couple of fingers of Pinch and then, thinking about it, poured himself two fingers plus another two. Walking back toward Scooter who was sitting with his back to him, Gerald wondered if he really wanted to hear the story about to be told and took a big gulp, finishing off half the scotch in his glass.

As he took the glass, Scooter began to speak. “Look, you remember when we lost that contract in 1998, that was a full 15% of our business and it was a very lucrative 15%. I was on the road trying to convince some of our customers to up their orders so I could cover the loss. Well I was in Seattle and at the bar in the hotel one night. I had a few cocktails and was eating a burger when this beauty slid onto the barstool next to me. Now Ger, I was not looking for anything but a little conversation. The meeting that day had not gone well and I was feeling a bit down.”

“We talked about some movies that had just come out and her business, interior design she said and had a few more drinks. Well when I got up to leave I felt even drunker then I should have. The next thing I knew, I was in my room, naked with this woman next to me. I couldn’t even remember her name. That was scary enough, but then I realized there was someone else in the room. Sitting in the corner in the chair. When I reached for the light a voice told me to not touch it and to just sit back on the bed. The drapes were open a bit, but he was mostly in shadow. What I could see was the gun in his right hand resting on the arm of the chair.”

“Another?” And Scooter held out his glass. Gerald was glad he had, since his glass was empty also and he knew the worst was yet to come.

Returning with both their glasses containing double amounts, Scooter continued “I asked what he wanted and what he was doing in my room. And you know what he did? DO you Ger? He laughed! Yes, he laughed...and in that laugh was pure evil. And I could feel my body get cold. I even thought, for a moment, that I might have been dreaming it was so bazaar, and that is when I shook the lady in the bed next to me, and felt her skin…cold and clammy. He began to laugh with even more evil and I began to get up. His hand came up and the gun was pointed right at me. He just said SIT and I did. I asked what happened to her and he told me. And when he told me he actually sounded happy like he was telling about his favorite vacation.”

“She’s dead,” said the voice from the corner. Her neck has been broken. And under her fingernails is your skin. And the fingerprints on the necklace she is wearing, well they belong to you also. Your fingerprints are all over the room too. This is not your room, by the way, it is a room reserved in her name. Your fingerprints are on file, are they not? As a contractor for the military, so it will be easy for the Police to find out who the killer is.”

“But why did you kill her? What did she do? What did I do?” Scooter stammered.

Again, a soft laugh before, “She was just a prostitute we hired to do our bidding, a nobody who will not be missed. She was a weapon, used and discarded. As for you well you haven’t done anything yet. Actually your fate is based upon whether you do something for us.”

“Who is ‘us’? And what is it you want me to do?” asked Scooter, still trying to see more of the face on the man in the corner and to place the accent he heard in the words.

“Your company has been struggling, hasn’t it? And you have been making strides on new technology. Do not act surprised Mr. Haverford, do you really think your corporate secrets are secrets? We want that technology Mr. Haverford, and as long as we get it, your life will not change. But if you do not cooperate, not only will your life change but so will the loves of your entire family.”

Scooter looked up at Gerald, “What was I going to do? I mean, they showed me pictures. Pictures of me where I have my hands on her neck. They staged the whole thing. I would have gone to jail for the rest of my life, my business would have been shuttered, my family out on the street.” And the tears came again. Scooter buried his face in his hands and Gerald looked at him and considered how far the great Scooter Haverford had fallen. He immediately chided himself on taking satisfaction in his brother-in-laws pain.

“So, tell me Scooter, what happened next?”

“Well, he told me to get up and get dressed and keep my back to him the entire time. I did as he said and then he told me to leave and they would contact me. I looked in the papers, I watched the news and I never heard a word about the girl…damn, Gerald, I don’t even know her name. I am not sure I ever even got it. Well, I got on the plane the next day and came home. I began sending one of my salespeople to call on that client after that. I didn’t ant to go anywhere near Seattle.”

“Then, one day about three weeks later, my receptionist buzzes me and tells me there are two gentlemen asking to speak with me, a Mr. Anderson and a Mr. Tagahasi. I asked her what they wanted and she told me they had shown her badges and said they were from the government. I went out to the reception area and asked if I could help. Mr. Tagahasi spoke and said “We have to speak.” and my blood ran cold. Gerald, I KNEW…immediately, I knew it was the man from the chair. I opened the door without a word and we went to my office. Once the door was closed, the one who called himself Anderson slapped me with the back of his hand.”

“Don’t let that happen again,” said Anderson, pushing Scooter into his chair. His real name was not Anderson; it was Rafael Famosa, born in Republica de Cuba in 1952. At 18 he was recruited to be part of the personal security team for Fidel Castro. Then about 15 years ago, he was approached by a member of a North Korean contingency visiting Cuba.

The offer for employment with the added adventure of actually doing something other then sitting around waiting for a feeble old man to die, Rafael said yes and the North Koreans helped to smuggle him out when they left a few days later.

Since 1991 he had committed crimes around the world for the North Korean regime. He had been instrumental on getting technology which eventually helped bring their nuclear capabilities online.

The last 5 years he had worked exclusively with “Mr. Tagahasi”, who was actually Ki-baek Kim, a Sojwa ( Major in the US Army), in the Korean Peoples Army, Kim was an experienced operative having “immigrated” to the United States for 22 years. When he needed to be in North Korea he would fly into Thailand and then a private plane to the capital city Pyangyong for meetings with the highest levels of government.

Kim/ Tagahasi spoke next. “So, Mr. Haverford, my voice brought back the memories of a special evening did it not? Would you care to see the DVD we produced. We were able to enhance the details; you can not believe the technology available on the market today.”

And Scooter cringed as Kim laughed his spine-chilling laugh.

“Now, Mr. Haverford, here is what you are going to do for us…”

Gerald spoke. “What did they want?”

“They wanted me to build them some specialized printed boards. When I saw the blueprints, I was amazed, it was even more advanced then designs my engineers had been working on.”

Gerald’s eyes bugged out “So, you have been building some specialized circuit boards for some foreign country? DO you even know who they work for?”

Scooter looked down into his drink. “Well, I didn’t at first, but about a year later I was beginning to have second thoughts and one night on my way home I was forced off the road on my way home. There was Anderson and Tagahasi and three others. The others never spoke, but Tagahasi made his point. He warned me that if I started to make trouble or spoke to anyone about this, my family would end up in a prison in the jungles of North Korea and Muffy and Babs…” he broke into huge sobs “would be used as whores by the other prisoners. What was I going to do? I just couldn’t hold this in any longer. I needed to tell someone, I don’t know what to do. They came to me yesterday with a new design. My engineers will definitely ask questions about this series.”

At that moment the door to Gerald’s office opened startling both men. Scooter saw the two men who entered and jumped out of the chair “Look, he doesn’t know anything, I didn’t tell him anything. This is my brother-in-law, and we were just having a family discussion.”

Gerald’s blood turned to ice as the shorter of the two laughed. He knew this must be Tagahasi and Anderson, it could be none other.

“Sit down Mr. Haverford. Now, Mr. Stewart, it appears your brother-in-law has put you in a very dangerous spot. What are we going to do about this?”

“Now, wait one minute here,” Gerald said as he stepped forward. He never saw Anderson’s hand, only felt the pain as it connected with his chin and he crumbled to the ground.

That was the day Gerald Stewart became a spy against the country he loved.

They made him handle investments for them, turning their money, earned selling technology to countries that should not have it, into even more money that they then used to purchase items not available to the North Korean Government through legitimate channels.

Both men kept deluding themselves into believing that by cooperating their families would be safe.

Six months ago Gerald had thought about contacting the F.B.I. He went as far as going to their Boston headquarters. He never went past the lobby before chickening out and leaving. Then a week later, he dialed the number to Homeland Security in Boston. When the operator answered he hung up, feeling fear again.

He was panicked when, about an hour later two men knocked on the door of his Andover home. He told them he had misdialed and when he heard the operator just hung up without thinking. They appeared to believe him and left soon after.

That night as they slid into bed, Alice asked if he was feeling well. He had been “acting hyper, like you are running to catch something you can never catch.” He assured her everything was fine. And he believed himself when he said it.

On the morning of February 8th, Gerald was in his office his mind only on whether to suggest to one of his larger clients’ to move away from the automotive investments he was holding.

His assistant Janice buzzed and announced there was a call on line one, “They won’t say what it about sir only that it is of utmost urgency.”

Gerald felt a chill come over him and he picked up the phone. “Hello?”

“So, you love your daughter?”

Gerald looked at the pictures of Barbara and Mary on his desk, what was this about?

“Who is this?”

“Shut up and listen. You just don’t listen. ‘Don’t do anything stupid’ was that so hard to understand?”

The phone went dead as Gerald stared at it in his hand.

Across town another phone rang. “Hello?”

“Why do you think we are joking? DO you know where your little Muffy is?”

The phone went dead and Scooter Haverford went white.

In the Bronx, NY, a cell phone woke Joey “The Deuce” out of a sound sleep. “Damn, doesn’t anyone answer the phone around here?” he screamed and then realized the kids, Angelina, 11 and Joey, Jr., 9, would be at school and his wife MaryElizabeth would be out shopping.

He reached over and grabbed the phone, “This better be important or I’m gonna hunt ya down and brake an arm”

“Mr. Fabretti, your cousin Paul – he should know better.”

The phone line went dead and Joey Fabretti cursed out loud.

Music Codes: Best Audio Codes

EMBRYONIC JOURNEY: Hot Tuna; Composer: Jorma Kaukonen
ILLUMINATIONS: Carlos Santana; Composers: Tom Coster & Carlos Santana
HE WHO LIVES IN FEAR: Herbie Hancock; Composer: Herbie Hancock

Customized: 2004 VEM

12 Of Your Sparks

  1. Travis Cody Says:
  2. Hmmmm. Interesting twist. We go from thinking this had something to do with Paul and his loans, to a completely new possibility with international intrigue.

    Very ambitious and it's working.

  3. Got a lot goin' on here, Vinny. My head is trying to absorb all of the details.

    Keep it coming!

    (Sorry my comments are so brief - still riding the high of that Colts game - WOOOHOOO!)

  4. Tisha! Says:
  5. Talk about family drama we all can identify with Bond baby! It brought back some terrible memories BUT every once in a while I need to be reminded of them in order to see how far I've come! A BIG hug you talented sweetheart!!

  6. Schmoop Says:
  7. Interesting Mr. Bond. But unfortunately I will have to re-read it when my flu afflicted body returns to normal!!

  8. Angell Says:
  9. I'm loving every word...on the edge of my seat (which is hard cuz it's leather and I keep falling off).

    Can't wait until next Monday....

    Matinee Monday, Heroes and Monday Night RAW - what more could a gal ask for?

  10. TRAVIS: Thanks for the kind words... but I am wondering if it is too much for here... seems not to be generating interest.

    SONGBIRD; TY congrats on The Colts

    TISHA: Wow how did I bring back bad memories? Silly question... none of my bizneSS

    MATT-MAN: feel better dude

    ANGELL: Glad you like it.. not sure I will continue.. interest is down... maybe quick hits are better then long drawn out stories

  11. Unknown Says:
  12. I like it, too. Quick hits are nice as well... but there´s nothing tosay against a long story - when it´s a good one. And this one is veeeeery good!

  13. Travis Cody Says:
  14. Perhaps. I know I'm enjoying it. Give it a couple more weeks.

  15. Coco Says:
  16. Sorry I haven't been around. The story is excellent, but the installations may be too long for this medium. Don't you dare stop writing it, though. I have to find out where this goes. Friends?

  17. It's a great read, Vinny, but it's taking me quite a bit of reading, re-reading, and more re-reading to absorb all of the details. It's like a puzzle - I'm trying to decode the pieces and decipher how they fit together.

  18. TopChamp Says:
  19. I normally show up and would have been here Monday as usual if it hadn't been so busy - nothing to do with your story being really long... having said which I'm still reading it.

    Do you actually know people called "Scooter" in real life?

  20. Anonymous Says:
  21. Awww, don't stop now!! I'm hooked.


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