The Squatters (#8)
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by Anthony Wolff (Ming Zhen Shakya)
Part 8: One corrective surgery is completed
Lafayette Street was now a happy street and, leaving the security guards still in place, Rick took Helena down to Phoenix and engaged the best plastic surgeon available to correct bone damage caused by the explosion and the superficial work that had been done as emergency surgery. Helena had four different imaging procedures to undergo before the surgeon would give an opinion. Rick therefore went shopping for rugs and some furniture he wanted for his living room. He also checked into a cheap motel near the hospital, telling the clerk that he had no idea how long his stay would be.
After a morning spent getting diagnostic tests, Helena had lunch alone while the surgeon studied the results. Finally he came to discuss her case. “You will never be without some scarring,” he warned. “It won’t be like those miraculous restorations you see in soap operas on TV. You’ve sustained bone damage: orbital… zygomatic…nasal. You’re fortunate that your vision wasn’t damaged. I’ll rebuild the damaged areas and correct the distortions and replace those wide scars with very fine lines. I’ll also prescribe a cream that will help the scars to fade, and then a good quality makeup will do the rest. Repairing the damaged bones will be the most complicated part. Not exactly difficult, but hard on the patient. Delicate areas are involved and your head will have to be immobilized so that you don’t tear out any sutures. The anatomy of the face and neck is far more complicated than people imagine.”
“I’ll be a patient patient,” she said. “How soon can you admit me?”
The doctor checked the receptionist’s “Patient Information” sheet which Helena had filled out as the vital preliminary step. “I see you’ve got good insurance coverage, Mrs. Dubrovsky, and you’re from out of town. Since your condition predates your inclusion in your husband’s policy, we may run into trouble with the insurance company. They tend to regard facial reconstruction as cosmetic work. Your husband has notified the accounting department that he will deposit a letter of credit, that is, he’ll pre-assign payment to me and the hospital whatever total charges are made. And that, I assure you, makes for happy campers. That he should think so far ahead indicates to all of us that he loves you very much.”
“Yes,” Helena said, “he is the most wonderful man God ever made.”
The surgeon stood up. “Now, since you are from out of town, there’s no point in making you travel unnecessarily.” He made a few calls. “We’ll admit you today and get your bloodwork done and run a few more tests. I’ve got an OR I can use at 10 a.m. tomorrow. There’s no reason to operate in stages except, of course, time. We’ll see how it goes. How does that sound?”
It sounded wonderful to Helena. She called Rick’s cell and since he was in the midst of picking out an expensive rug, she told him to come to the hospital the following afternoon. By then, she guessed, she should be out of the recovery room.
Rick told her where he was staying and wished her well. He had admired a silk Persian rug that cost $60,000. “I thought it was too ritzy for Lafayette Street; but once you’ve got those scars removed, no one will notice the rug. I’ll buy it.”
He followed the store’s truck all the way back to his motel room and helped the driver to carry the rolled-up bundle, all wrapped and tagged, into his room. Then he tipped the man, and called out for a pizza and Coke. Things were going well. He derived a special satisfaction from imagining the look on Dawson’s face when he realized that instead of having 500K in the bank, he owed $107K.
The beautiful portrait of Anita Begay had appeared on the cover of a Navajo Nation news magazine. Dave Begay and his wife granted interviews and it soon seemed that there was not a news stand from Tucson to the North Rim in which her portrait did not appear. Who was the mysterious artist who had signed the portrait simply as “M”? Dave would reveal nothing.
Thomas Wauneka, Esq. called Dave Begay to congratulate him on the portrait. “What can you tell me about the artist?”
“I hope I’m speaking confidentially to you–”
“Dave… I’m your attorney. All that you say is confidential. I hope that goes both ways.”
“Ok. I can tell you that her face was scarred from several deep cuts… and her neck had burn scars. She was here with her husband. I’d really like to contact her. The address they gave was a home in a mobile home park. And they’re gone now. My mother-in-law is driving me crazy wanting to commission a portrait from her.”
“If I’m not mistaken, you’ve described clients of mine. Are they in any trouble?”
“No. Their paper was good. They didn’t cause any disturbances. They were nice people, But Tommy, they were laundering money big time. If it hadn’t been for the way Anita’s portrait was turning out – I would sneak down every night and look at it – I’d have sent up signals to be on the look-out for Julius Markovitz.. That’s the name he used. When I heard that other casinos were cashing so much of his paper, I probably should have said something. But as long as nobody was getting burned, I figured what the hell. He was laundering it on sovereign reservation land so fuck the feds. Frankly, I’ve gotten more than a million bucks in publicity over that portrait and I’d like Helena “M” to do a few more.”
“I wonder what money they were laundering?” Wauneka asked.
“It wasn’t drug money. I’d have heard. What I do know is that Dodge Rosewall came here asking for information about Markovitz.”
“That’s interesting. Who’s his client?”
“Probably the source of the money Markovitz was laundering. At least, that’s the impression I got when I agreed to speak to him. He described a guy and I said he didn’t sound familiar. He asked me if I ever heard of a guy named Rick Dubrovsky who lived on Lafayette Street in some upscale development near Holbrook. I said I didn’t know the name; but I had my guys check it out and Dubrovsky is our boy. Helena’s his wife.”
“Yeah… you got it right. I represented them in a squatters eviction and also in a zoning variance. Helena wants to convert her house into a artist’s studio. So I don’t want you to think that because I do criminal work that’s why he contacted me. It wasn’t the stuff of high crimes and misdemeanors. A notice of trespass and a zoning variance. I’m not kidding you.”
“Did they get the variance?” Neither Begay nor Wauneka had any reason to connect “squatters” with an insurance settlement or Markovitz’s money.
“As a matter of fact, they did. But I have no idea about any money laundering.”
“Look, if this guy should need help and there’s any way you can help him on the QT, do it and send me the bill. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not particularly interested in his welfare, but what happens to him happens to Helena. And I’m definitely interested in her welfare. You know, she wouldn’t take a goddamned nickel or let me comp her to a cup of coffee. And then she thanks my wife for having inspired her to paint again. Unbelievable!”
“I’ll let them know that Rosewall is on their ass. As far as Helena’s concerned, she’ll be opening the studio soon. The renovations have started. Incidentally, she’ll be getting plastic surgery done in Phoenix. I had a question about the variance and called Rick. He’s in a motel down there while she’s seeing the surgeon.”
“If he wants to bring her here to recuperate, he’s welcome at no charge whatsoever. He ain’t laundering money any more… not that I’ve heard of.”
The two men spoke Navajo for another twenty minutes and then returned to their work.
Dodge Rosewall was conflicted, not by allegiance to another client or to his own interests, but by his own distaste for Don Dawson. He personally regarded Dawson and his family and friends as sub-human beings, a species of creatures whose chromosomes lacked any gene related to conscience or an empathetic guide to “Golden Rule” behavior. These people were not successful criminals who operated with some sort of code or at least a semblance of communal care. Even Mafiosos, he thought, wanted to be respected and maybe even loved by the folks in their neighborhoods. Yes, these squatters were parasites who would feed on each other with the same indiscriminate regard as they had for the rest of the creatures beneath them on the food chain. No, he corrected his thought, no animal was above or below them. They were one of a kind, a disgusting non-human species, and he hated Rick Dubrovsky all the more for having forced him to lower himself to act as their “representative.” In no way did J. Dodge Rosewall, a fourth generation Holbrookian, represent anything about Don Dawson, He furnished him with legal advice and that was all.
When Dawson called Rosewall, the attorney happened to be in the hotel/casino restaurant. He knew that Dawson would be wanting a progress report and that he would not attempt to conceal where he was. “I just met with my P.I.,” Rosewall said. “I pushed the idea that the “M” that was signed on the portrait could have stood for Markovitz but that it could also stand for Maxwell. Dave Begay doesn’t grant interviews to inferiors, so when my guy couldn’t get in to see him, I drove over here myself. He wouldn’t identify Dubrovsky, but when I described Helena, he agreed that she did the portrait.” The waiter arrived with his steak. “I can’t talk right now. I’m in the middle of lunch.”
“That’s all you got?” Dawson asked. “This guy don’t seem too useful.”
It irritated Rosewall to be questioned by Dawson. He decided to fabricate something that would irritate his client and justify his expenses. “There’s more. After he left here he went to a couple of casinos and talked to friends who were cashiers. All he could learn was that the woman who was with Markovitz was a nice looking gal – definitely not Helena. We know where Helena was… painting Begay’s wife. So I asked him who the broad with Markovitz was? A paid escort or a steady girlfriend? He didn’t know so I sent him back to find out. My guy got both cashiers to reveal that they overheard Markovitz call her, “Holly.” She was unknown to the staff. That’s all he’s got so far.”
“Holly or Olly?”
Rosewall smiled at his little triumph. “He said Holly. What? Are you thinking Olivia was with him? My God, man… Well, I hadn’t thought of that but it wouldn’t surprise me to know that it was someone in your family. I told you that already. Hey… you know the woman. Would she do something like this?”
“That’s what I need to find out.” He paused, “Where is this Casino?”
“Don… for Christ’s sake… Are you like the home owner who signs a listing with a real estate agent who does the legwork and advertises the house and when a buyer shows up, the home owner tries to make a secret deal with him? If you want the results of an investigation, you’ve got to pay the investigator. You can’t let him do the work and then cut him out of his fee. These guys don’t take kindly to cheaters.”
“You know and I know that the guy is Dubrovsky. I wanna know more about Dubrovsky’s girlfriend. He dumps Helena off at one joint and then he takes some gal to go play in another joint? I was away for weeks. Who knows what Olivia was doin’?”
Rosewall tasted the wine, nodded his approval, and the sommelier poured a glass. “Don, I’ve got to make this fast. You’ve got to get me an alternate to blame for touching Shawna. I got a copy of the medical report. That scarring was old. Where did you live before you moved to Lafayette Street?”
“Did she go to school in Phoenix and were any of her teachers male? Or maybe you had a neighbor who was a registered sex offender?”
“How the hell am I supposed to know that?”
“You’re not. That’s why you pay an investigator. But what you are supposed to do is think about renters or neighbors or anybody else that could have harmed her. That’s it. I’ve got to go. You just keep thinking. Make a list.” He disconnected the call.
Dawson sat in the van, parked by the curb, waiting for Olivia to return from the market. He preferred his van to the interior of the squatter’s house. Orren would be home from school and he’d be sitting on the couch watching television. “And I gotta look at that messed-up face and deal with knowin’ my own wife did that to him and then stole the money supposed to fix it. That just chaps my ass,” he said aloud, getting more angry by the minute. “I’ll get it back from her and her boyfriend.” He thought he’d pay his lawyer and then get himself a Hum-V. Then he’d dump her.
Olivia, Babs, and Paulina Sue, pushing a baby coach and two strollers filled with kids and groceries, turned the corner. He signaled Olivia to get into the van. “I wanna talk to you,” he called. The other women went into the house and as Olivia sat in the passenger’s seat, Dawson’s phone rang.
“We’ve got a crisis here in the bank,” the manager said. “You opened your new account with cash and that’s fine. But you also made quite a few deposits into the account that were written on accounts that had been closed for some time.”
“What are you talking about?”
“As of this moment, you owe this bank $107,024.29. And the manner in which you withdrew your cash is highly suspect. In four days you managed to make over fifteen hundred withdrawals from a variety of ATMs. The banking fees you accumulated were huge. I do not remember ever seeing such an ATM statement in my life. Hundreds and hundreds of withdrawals at ATMs that did not happen to have photo records. Many were made at the identical time miles apart. This was a gang raid on that account. I’ve got to warn you that unless you deposit this overdraft within twenty-four hours, the authorities will question you. I have no choice in the matter. Bank fraud is a federal crime. Please don’t take this matter lightly.” His attitude softened. “I’ll look for you tomorrow. If you can’t recover it all, I’ll do my best to work with you. But one way or the other, this debt must be satisfied. Don’t fail to make good on these checks, Mr. Dawson. This constitutes criminal deception. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” Dawson replied in a robotic monotone. “I understand.” Then it occurred to him to ask, “I gave a couple of checks to Dodge Rosewall. I wrote them on those temporary checks you gave me. Did they clear my account?”
“No. They were returned, ‘Insufficient Funds.’ As will be any others you wrote until you solve this problem.”
Don said nothing. He disconnected the call and put his phone in his pocket.
“What’s goin’ on?” Olivia asked.
“I used to think you thought you were smarter than you was. I got it wrong. You’re smarter than I figured. You made a monkey outta me. You stole a million bucks from me. Had a good laugh? Game’s over. Where’s my money?” he snarled.
Olivia fearfully pushed herself back against the window. “What are you talking about?”
It was not the answer Don Dawson wanted to hear. He reached across to grab her hair with his left hand, pulled her head forward so that he could punch her repeatedly with his right fist. She tried to defend herself and he grabbed her right arm and wrenched it out of its socket. She screamed in agony.
Clive had come out to help collapse the baby strollers. He saw the beating and rushed to open the van door. Olivia fell out, writhing, bloody, and screaming. He carried her into the house.
While Babs and Paulina Sue tended to Olivia, Don explained the situation to Clive and Andy.
“You sayin’ we’re broke?” Clive asked.
“Not just broke, Clive,” Andy explained, “but we’re in hock for over 100K. Don’s got reason to believe Olivia was in cahoots with Rick Dubrovsky to get the insurance money – Rosewall got information that Dubrovsky was taking her out gamblin’. As to the ransom money, the bank manager says that in four days hundreds of withdrawals were made that emptied the account and worse, a bunch of bad deposits were made. When they finally bounced it was against an empty account and we gotta make good on the loss.”
Oliva regained consciousness. Six teeth on the left side of her mouth were loosened by the blows, her nose was broken, and her left eye swollen shut. Paulina Sue went into the garage where the three men were still talking. “Olivia’s jaw doesn’t seem to be broken but her nose is and Don knocked a bunch of her teeth loose. I can’t tell the condition of her left eye. Her shoulder’s dislocated and there’s blood all over the place. She’s in awful pain.”
Andy took her aside and explained the situation to his wife. “Are you serious?” she answered. “We’ve been together every goddamned hour of the day since we moved into this dump. ‘Hundreds of withdrawals miles and miles apart?’ Just when do you figure she left her body here and spiritually floated over the Southwest hitting ATM machines?”
Don had been listening to her. “Don’t take us all for fools. You, Babs, Olivia and who the hell knows what friends you used could have done all this together.”
“You’re all sick!” Paulina Sue said disgustedly. She went into the kitchen and filled a few cotton balls with clove powder. Then she took them to Olivia. “We’ve got no money to take you to the dentist, but all he’ll advise you to do is to push those teeth back into their sockets and hold them there till they root up again. Bite down as hard as you can until you feel the teeth being shoved back into their places.” She turned to Babs. “Hold her down and help me so’s I can get her arm back in the socket.” She put her foot into Olivia’s armpit and then pulled her arm until she heard the bone click into place. “Babs, take whatever cash you can find in my purse and go down to the drug store and get her a couple of bottles of peroxide to use as a mouth wash and a two-inch roll of the strongest adhesive tape you can find so we can set her nose.”
Don tried to call J. Dodge Rosewall, Esq. But the attorney was winning at the craps table and, like any responsible casino visitor, he had turned off his phone and left it in his room.
His luck turned after midnight and he had to use the last of his cash to pay two call girls who came, by appointment, to his room. The attorney did not awaken until lunch time. When he finally turned on his phone and got Dawson’s messages, he immediately consulted the “check-out” notice on his bedside and realized that he had only fifteen minutes left to call the desk. If Don’s checks were bouncing, they’d bounce against his account. He thanked God he had had no accident with the Ferrari. He’d find a way to cover the $30,000 in cash. He did have $4000 from Don that was good money in his account and he had made a few other deposits that had to be good. He called the desk to initiate his check-out and he called his office and told his secretary not to mail out any bills that he recently signed.
“Sorry,” his secretary said. “The mailman picked up everything yesterday afternoon,.. and the checks including the large one for rent.”
Rosewall groaned. The insurance check would probably bounce as would the check to the DMV. He threw his clothes into his suitcase and without showering or shaving, left the room.
Once again, he spoke to Don and this time, as he drove back to Holbrook, he had him explain the situation very slowly. But the more Don talked, the more Rosewall’s thoughts drifted back to his own problems. Rousing himself, he said, “Maybe Dubrovsky depleted Orren’s account – alone or with help – but the loss of the other half million was done by many people and he doesn’t have that many friends. For Christ’s sake, he’s new to the area.” Suddenly Rosewall’s train of thought jumped the track. “Incidentally, you do realize that at some future time the kid may sue you for mishandling the money that was entrusted to you.” He quickly realized that he shouldn’t have said this.
“Look, you asshole, Orren ain’t my problem now. I’m worried about committin’ bank fraud. The Feds… you understand what I’m sayin’? The Feds will get me for this!”
Rosewall tried to recover. “I only mentioned Orren because I want to illustrate that you can’t trust family. Dubrovsky may be clever, but he doesn’t have a support group big enough to pull this off. He’s not a Robinhood who overnight develops a band of thieves. The only person he knows is Helena and you know she isn’t the thieving type. You have to consider your own circle of acquaintances as being the recipients of that money.”
“How could they turn on me?”
“Mr.Dawson, who else knew about that deposit? The Internal Revenue Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency may accept that you simply redeposited the insurance money, and Markovitz’s account didn’t exist long enough for them to waste their time poking around the sovereign Navajo nation. So let’s forget that insurance money… and the other things. You need to help me figure out who got your half million and put you in more debt. They represent a threat to you.”
“How do I find that out?”
“You can start by installing surveillance equipment. Record their phone conversations. Put a bug in their cars. Keep your eyes and ears open. Notice what new things they’ve bought or vacations they talk about.”
“Go ahead and buy the stuff outta the four grand I gave you.”
“Mr. Dawson, that money was compensation to me. I was not working pro bono.”
“I don’t have more money. You’re so goddamned smart. Why haven’t you been askin’ yourself why nobody’s raised hell about the bounced deposit checks?”
Rosewall had not given that aspect of the crime any consideration at all since the answer was obvious. “The thieves had to do that so that there would be funds to draw from. When a deposit is made at an ATM it is automatically credited to your account. The bad co-mingle with the good. In a few days the bad is distinguished and charged back to you – that means it is subtracted from your account. The checks that were deposited were from companies that went out of business a few years ago. But so what? They could have been printed yesterday. Your original deposit of half a million in cash was obviously good currency. The thieves wanted it all and you might have spent some of it so they were just protecting the full extent of their theft. So the answer is that they themselves are the depositors of the phony checks. They are not going to complain.”
“So how do I get my money back? I got a court-date comin’ up for filing a false police report. I need somebody to represent me. Are you tellin’ me that I need a public defender?”
“I, too, have bills to pay. Public Defenders do win cases and one can be made that you were acting in accordance with the information you had been given. It was a terrible mistake, one for which you are sorry. Apologize to Rick. You’ll pay for the door’s repair and a new lock. So stay out of trouble and you’ll be fine.”
“Bullshit. Dubrovsky is Markovitz and he’s a clever son of a bitch. He snagged my wife! I should go beat the shit outta him till he starts talkin’.”
“Mr. Dawson, I must caution you against committing yet another crime. You’re a man with a gifted imagination. Surely you can come up with something that will restore the funds you owe the bank!” He disconnected the call.
Helena Maxwell Dubrovsky underwent hours of delicate surgery. At 2 p.m. Rick stood in the doorway of her room, shocked to see her head, covered mummy-like, and secured by clamps so that she would not move it and tear any of the sutures. Two black holes with tubes protruding from them allowed her to breathe. He had see latex suits once in an SM salon in which the submissive would be completely covered in latex and had only two tubes, fragile as soda straws, that were easy to pinch closed and shut off the submissive’s air supply. The sight revolted him. He decided that sadists were sick and, now that he thought about it, masochists were even sicker.
Helena looked so vulnerable… passive and being fed intravenously. He made no attempt to sit by her bed. He would not have done so if he had been asked. Instead, he said, as he passed the surgeon in the hall, “I sure hope the surgery gets a good result,” and then he bought a gallon of cheap wine and went back to his motel room and got drunk. He intended that when he awakened and sobered up, enough time would have elapsed so that Helena would not have looked so other-worldly, so masochistic and unholy when he saw her again.
Twenty-four hours passed. He took a cold, lingering shower to wake himself, and then he turned the hot water on and washed himself. He drank three cans of orange juice from the self-service bar, shaved and dressed. Finally, he felt ready to return to the hospital.
Lafayette Street was eerily quiet. The relatives, each with their share of the cash taped beneath their underwear, had all gone home. Security guards looked occasionally out of the windows of both Helena’s and Rick’s houses. No dogs – not even Bruno – barked or even chased a cat.
A black van slowly drove down the street. The driver took his eyes off the road to stare at Helena and Rick’s houses. The junked cars were gone. There was no trash. Perennial rye grass sodding remained green and had been carefully mowed. Evergreen shrubberies hinted at the lawn’s beauty which would be fully appreciated when Spring let the fruit trees blossom and the flowers bloom. “Bastards,” Don Dawson hissed. “One person in a whole house. It ain’t fair.”
Olivia had told Orren’s physician that there was an unexpected hold on Orren’s money and the doctor softened the news by telling Orren that since he had not yet completed his adolescent growth stage, all his plastic surgery would have to wait. During the settlement negotiations, a plastic surgeon had testified to the extent of the procedures and their approximate costs, and Orren looked forward to getting his face and ear restored to a more normal look. His leg was badly scarred, but he did not limp. It was his disfigured face that tormented him. From the day that he registered at his new school, he was the object of derision. His usually dirty clothing and worn shoes did not make him more appealing.
On the day he entered school, the nurse checked him for vaccinations and recorded his height and weight. After that initial visit, he would frequently stop at the infirmary to ask her to check his height. He had not grown in weeks. Repeatedly he asked his Aunt Olivia when she was going to take him to the doctor to get his repairs done; and repeatedly she answered that the delay was part of his punishment for having done things he shouldn’t have done to Shawna. He hadn’t done anything that was bad, he thought. Shawna had never complained. But after the dogs, he no longer could understand anything that happened within the family. And now, his Aunt couldn’t even talk at all. He felt no compassion for her. When he saw her after Don had punched her several times, he looked at her bloody face and said, in a whisper, “Now you know how it feels, Aunt Olivia.”
As the weeks passed and the mockery persisted, Orren began to search through the mail that was finally coming to “their” Apache County address. He read bank statements and eavesdropped on conversations. He finally understood that the money that was to be set aside for him was gone. There would never be a time when the laughter would end, and he began to feel a deep nebulous anger that tended, like a room filled with the fumes of sulphuric acid, to affect his senses. He could see nothing through his tear-distorted squint as he tried to grope his way out.
Anger is a gateway drug. When it is engaged in a daily basis the ability to remember, concentrate, or think constructively atrophies. The law of diminishing returns becomes the dominant rule. More and more is required to accomplish less and less. He tried to forgive or even to understand everyone’s sins against him, but he did not have the energy to continue to tolerate even the presence of those who had harmed him. His ability to think would not have been more impaired if his head had been filled with opiates.
Sullen and withdrawn, he languished in his teen-age limbo, knowing that his sadness was perceived as a freak’s stupidity. He could not do his school work. His grades dropped. In the lunch room at school, no one would sit with him and so he ceased to eat lunch. He soon began to ditch school and because he couldn’t avoid the mockery in public, he stayed home and watched television. The shows were mindless and the advertisements taunting. He could not afford any clothes, cars, sports equipment, games or social activities. And the beautiful people who did, reminded him constantly of his ugliness. In his nightmares he was always pounding on a door, begging to be let in. And soon his nightmares furnished his burdened brain with the one thought he could focus on: his own family had literally thrown him to the dogs. He hated everyone around him. Occasionally he remembered the sound of gunfire. He remembered Rick covering him with his own body and shooting the dogs that were trying to kill him. Everyone around him hated Rick Dubrovsky, but to Orren, there may have been six billion creatures on the planet, but only one was a human being. He had heard his Aunt Babs tell Paulina Sue that Uncle Don intended to kill Rick Dubrovsky. He decided to betray his family and tell Rick about the plan, and suddenly he became more aware of his surroundings.
On the day after the beating Don put Olivia in a wheel chair and pushed her into the bank. Pamela Sue had made a sling for her dislocated shoulder which displayed a maximum amount of the bruised area. Olivia wore a bra and, over it, a blouse that covered only her left arm. Despite Olivia’s obvious agony, Don had demanded that she put on a performance that would force the manager to agree to an extension of the time he needed to confront Rick Dubrovsky and find a way to force him to return the insurance money.
Olivia could not use her right hand to hold a pen and she could not speak since her mouth was still stuffed with clove soaked cotton. She could barely see with her right eye and not at all with her left. Don, exuding tact and delicacy, wheeled her into the manager’s office and she, requiring twenty five minutes, typed out a message on the manager’s laptop: “i am trying to make good on the debt we owe you. it is my fault, not my husbands. i was injured in an auto accident – the tire blew and i hit big rocks. but i cannot afford to go to the hospital. please give me a little more time and when i can talk on the phone i will make calls and get the money we owe. please have mercy on me.
The manager looked around to see everyone staring at him. Her injuries were so severe and obviously genuine that he feared that if he did not accede to her request for more time, his bank would receive an endless stream of bad publicity. He smiled at Olivia, and said, “Dear lady… you just stay home and get your rest. What happend? Didn’t your air-bag deploy?”
Olive made negative groaning sounds and tried to make puffy movements with her exhausted left hand. Don gently touched her hand and pushed it down to rest in her lap. “It was the airbag that deployed and struck the right side of her face. Those little cuts you see and her right arm and shoulder are from the bag exploding.”
“My God!” the manager said hopefully. “You should sue the airbag manufacturer or the car company. Have you documented her injuries with photographs?”
“No,” Don said. “What good would it do? She’s in awful pain and we can’t afford stuff to ease it except aspirins.”
The manager and his secretary both quickly photographed Olivia’s face, neck, arm and shoulder. She winced in pain and pulled away when Don tried to remove her blouse to show them, “the really bad damage to her lady’s part… you know… under her bra.” He hoped her ribs had not been broken. “We’re prayin’ all we can,” he said boldly. “Prayer changes things.”
With Orren, Clive, or Andy, Don reconnoitered Lafayette Street, but Rick was not at home. Security guards and their company cars were always on site, but Rick and Helena did not seem to be home. Every few hours another security car drove down the street. “Maybe they went on vacation with our money,” he said. He drove to Rosewall’s office and was told by the receptionist that Mr. Rosewall no longer represented him.
“You go ask him where Rick and Helena are. They off vacationing with my money? You go ask him now!”
The receptionist entered Rosewall’s office and then quickly returned to say, “Mrs. Dubrovsky is recuperating from surgery. That is all Mr. Rosewall knows. I’m sorry, but if you don’t leave the office immediately, I shall have to call the police.”
“Tell Rosewall to go to hell,” Don said as he walked out.