Foreword by Stan Lerner: late summer of last year I wrote a short blog as part of a supplement to my novel “Stan Lerner’s Criminal”. Readers kept asking for more story. Anyway, with all of the talk of torture these days I thought it might now appeal to more than just the readers of my book.
Warning this blog is not for the politically correct.
There’s Frank, this is f*cking too much, I can’t even take a walk in peace. Maybe Sam is right I should find a nice cave to live in—wouldn’t be the first time.
Frank walked along beside me. “Nice night for a walk, Stan.”
“The weathers been great all summer…I don’t really need an escort, unless you know something I don’t. I think I’ll live to see another day.”
“Sam wants to see you. He said to have you come with at first sighting—that’d be now.”
“Can’t you forget about the impromptu walk? And we’ll all visit in the morning, when you interrupt my walk to Starbucks.”
Frank shook his head. “Sorry, Stan. He said the moment you came out of that high rise bunker to have you come with…My car is couple of blocks down.”
Doug, large by even large black man standards, walked up along my other side. “Hey Stan, good to see you, bro.” He held out his hand. “Better give me your cell phone—you don’t want a gps imprint.”
I looked over at Frank.
“Doug and your phone we’ll stay in the neighborhood.” He nodded toward Doug—meaning hand over the phone.
“This is different,” I commented, handing Doug the iphone.
Frank lit a cigarette. “I’m not going to bullshit you—it’s serious…Sam wants to see you.”
I got into the nondescript Dodge Durango.
“So why were you out taking a walk, more trouble with that bitch you were talking to the other day—that won’t put your books in Barnes & Noble?”
“No, I was watching True Blood on HBO—it was so bad it put me into a funk.”
Frank tossed what was left of his cigarette out the window. “You’ve gotten kind of sensitive, don’t you think?”
“No, there’s more to it than that.”
“Well we’re going to be driving for a while.”
“My manager pitched Criminal to HBO…”
“And they turned it down,” Frank said, finishing my sentence then laughed. “Stan, try and put yourself in their shoes—they just want to keep getting a paycheck. ‘Yes’ gets people fired, ‘No’ doesn’t.”
He had used my line but I had a response. “This country was built on people saying, ‘Yes’, Frank. It’s all going to come down if things don’t change.”
“So, what’s wrong with that?” Frank glanced from the road to me. “Seriously, you would love it if it all came down.”
“I try not to think like that anymore.”
Frank’s brow lifted slightly. “The key word being ‘try’. Normal people don’t have to try—they like things structured for them. But you—you want to see it burn—you want to see the people that say ‘no’ burn, I know you do… So, how come you never got married and had a family?”
I had wondered this myself. “Maybe because I’m unstable…or maybe it’s just not in the plan for me.”
Frank chuckled. “You went off plan a long time ago…I’m not going to give you shit like I’m sure Sam does, but seriously has it been worth it?”
I had also thought about this a great deal. “I think so, Frank. I’ve accomplished some things. Not as much as I would have liked to, but I’ve done some good work and I’ve made a difference in a few lives…I think…You know I actually ran into a burning house and saved a little girl.”
“Are you trying to make up for the things you’ve done?”
“No. I don’t think it works like that.”
“I think every moment is a choice. And I think God helps you down whatever path you choose. But every moment it’s up to us to make the right choice.”
“And do you, Stan?” asked Frank
I shook my head—a bit sad at the fact. “No. Unless you’re totally dedicated, heart, mind, and soul—and possessions, doing the right thing is hard. You know a lot of times I really think I’m doing the right thing but then it doesn’t turn out.”
Frank looked at me quizzically. “You are really f*cked up.” I looked out the window—he continued, “I’m being serious…you’re a f*cking tiger…people used to cower when they heard your name…you’re a f*cking animal, Stan. What the f*ck’s the matter with you?”
“I took God into my heart, Frank…Even a moment of true goodness, just a moment—you can feel heaven.”
“So this good shit is making you miserable.” Frank shrugged. “Sounds great.”
The warehouse was nondescript. The naked man chained to the metal chair had obviously been tortured for several days. Sam and the other Stan sat on a table next to the tortured man. The table was covered with several bloody instruments—Sam Noah doesn’t believe in water-boarding. No, Sam believes in the kind of pain that makes one beg for death. I glanced down at the car battery and the wires that disappeared into the man’s crotch.
“Hi Stan,” Sam shouted gleefully. “I didn’t think we would catch you until morning but I’m glad you could make it.” He pointed at the man in the chair. “He’s told us everything we need to know…You do recognize him don’t you?”
“Yes.” Mohamed Jmael was a bomb maker. His specialty was suicide vests.
“He made the bomb that blew up your friend Dianna. And now he’s here in the States…”
I was supposed to have lunch with Dianna on Ben Yehuda Street that day in Israel. Instead I left early for New York and sent one of my people to tell her I had to go. The boy wearing the vest didn’t realize that it wasn’t me sitting there eating lunch—he sat down next to the young man, that he thought was me, and Dianna, then blew himself up. My associate was avulsed into a never accurately determined number of pieces—Dianna had 185 surgeries and was never the same, and several other innocent people died.
I stared at Mohamed…Sam’s voice was somewhere off in the distance. “I’m sure you’re wondering how this piece of shit wound up getting the benefit of our hospitality.” The other Stan had moved behind the chair—something that looked like an ice pick in his hand, there was a scream through the fog. Sam’s tone was serious as he looked down at the wrenching body in the chair. “He used one of our supply routes to bring in a load of RDX, which makes me think he was about to whip up a batch of C-4 for U.S. consumption. But you see my brother I don’t give a shit about what sand nigger here wants to blow up. I need to know where your old friend Felix the Cat is hanging these days and that’s who put him on our road…He confirmed it and confirmed it and confirmed it. So, I promised this guy if he told me what I wanted to know that I wouldn’t kill him and you know I never break a promise. I could just dump him somewhere—someone will call the cops they’ll take him to a hospital—they’ll fix him up and of course they’ll have no idea who he really is. And when they release him under whatever bullshit identity he’s using he’ll walk out of the hospital and make up that C-4…” Sam extended a gun to me. “.45 your favorite, Stan.”
A gun or a knife in certain hands offers a unique feeling—of completion.
Sam’s voice continued somewhere, “What are the chances? Maybe he was here to finish you off—probably not though. He brought in enough to finish off a lot of people. Imagine how Dianna feels when she looks into a mirror. What do you think she would want you to do? All the relatives of the people he’s killed? You know if I were in a different line of work I would give this piece of shit to the cops. There would be a big expensive trial—and jail time. But no, if he leaves here he’s free. How much goodness are you feeling right now, brother? You kill this motherf*cker or he’s free.…”
I sat in the Durango thinking that it was a pretty nice vehicle. All the fancy shit I liked had lead me down a path…which might have been different, if it wasn’t for the lust for things. I looked over at Frank, there had been no further discussion, everyone likes to see the animals at the zoo—it’s a different feeling when they get out of their cage. “Take me to the beach, Frank.”
“It’s four in the morning.”
“Frank, drop me off at the beach…Tell Doug to leave my cell phone at the front desk.”
“What the f*ck are you going to do at the beach?”
“I’m going to watch the sunrise…there’s a moment when you can tell the difference between the blue in the sky and the ocean—it’s a special moment.”