Van walked out into the bright sunshine on Madison, turned left and walked the six blocks to the Wells Fargo bank. He cashed the check, then wandered over to The Broadway Cafe for a late breakfast. He chose the two eggs with meat Breakfast Meal, $3.95, and a pot of coffee. He slid open his Iphone, and typed “Kitty Genovese” into Google, after making sure he’d connected to the coffee shop’s WiFi connection. The $40 plan didn’t provide but 500 Mb of data, so he used others’ connections every chance he got. A host of information came up on the small screen, with links to books (easily purchased from Amazon within the same click distance), articles in all the majors and pictures of the victim. He briefly perused the article in The NY Daily News, written by a woman who readily admitted she’d written a book about Kitty. He dismissed the article as ‘not objective’, since she was hawking the book, also timed with the 50th anniversary of Kitty’s murder. Van wondered if Melissa knew this book had come out, and decided not to tell her, lest she cancel the assignment. He looked at pictures of the victim, one that looked like a mug shot, another taken with hertending bar at a decent-enough looking place. He got a sense of what made this such a big deal fifty years ago. There was a fair amount of information about her killer, one Winston Moseley. Labeled a serial killer – Moseley confessed to murdering several other women – he was still in prison at Dannemora, or technically the Clinton State Prison in Plattsburgh. Apparently Moseley’s excuse at his last parole hearing, “I’m the victim here, not the girl,” didn’t fly with the parole board. Van briefly thought about making the angle that the notoriety of the killing is what kept this guy in prison longer than others like him. But he thought twice about the idea, figuring TNR wouldn’t approve of it. Old liberal thinking. New liberal thinking’s angle would be to rehash the story and talk about how much progress had been made in reducing the crime rate in the city since then, using experimental techniques like Community Policing. So much for liberal thinking…”Nixon might have sold the same package back in the 70’s,” he thought. But he made a note of it, in case he needed another bit to make the 5,000 words.
He used the Notepad feature on his Iphone to record the locations of all this information he’d perused, along with notations of how it would fit together into a 5k word piece. He finished his breakfast, took a final gulp of his coffee and thought to himself, “That’s enough work for one day. I’m well on my way to getting this baby wrapped up.” He strolled down Broadway to the 28th Street subway station entrance, and took the train to his apartment in Brooklyn on the corner of Moffat and Bushwick. The neighborhood wasn’t that great, but for $1400 a month, what could one expect? His 1 bedroom was spacious, lots of closets, great hardwood floors and a window air conditioning unit for the lately-more-than-occasional hot summer afternoon. The kitchen was decent, but it’d been months since he’d done much more than put some dirty dishes in the dishwasher. There were some ratatouille remnants in the bottom of his Tramontina 18/10 stainless dutch oven his mother had sent him for Christmas last year. It had a soft fuzz growing over it that made Van wonder if it was safe to clean the pot, or would he be afflicted with some disease like MRSA if he attempted to remove the contents? So there it remained, until he could decide it was worth the risk – in other words, if he was to hear from Sarah, saying she was coming to see him.
Going into the refrigerator for the first Amstel Light of the day, he glanced at the pot on the stove, and thought about Sarah. She had left him a text message back in May, telling him rather emphatically not to contact her any more. She was mad because he’d gotten so caught up in reading about the Times firing Jill Abramson, he forgot they had a tennis date at Prospect Park. Realizing too late that he’d missed their date, he called her. She picked up, and he tried to say he was ill, throwing up and with a wretched case of the runs. After standing her up two weeks before at the movies, she wasn’t buying it this time. Hence the text message. He reflected on how she’d wanted to see Chef and he’d have preferred XMen: Days of Future Past, but that was moot now. He missed her, sort of, but he missed the idea of her more. She was beautiful and funny and did her best to keep him on task. Which frankly could be a tall order at times. Van considered that a positive character trait, thinking of himself as a true Renaissance man for his many and varied interests. When they had that last argument – something about a missed deadline for one of his assignments for TNR – Sarah had said something kind of clever, but kind of hurtful too. Van tried to recall exactly how she’d worded it. Oh yeah. “Slacker might be too kind a word to describe you, Van. You’re like a combination of Ferris Buehler, Jeff Spicoli and The Dude – but without the brains, charm and the persistence of the aforementioned characters.” She’d actually said “aforementioned characters.” “How pretentious,” he thought.
He picked up the pot by one of the two handles and removed the lid, dispensing the ripe aroma of decaying eggplant throughout the kitchen. He put the toxic receptacle in the sink, squeezed in a healthy squirt of dish detergent, and filled it with hot water. The fuzzy piece rose to the top and floated there before he attacked it with a large, wooden spoon and emulsified it in the soapy water. He drained the whole thing, put the pot in the dishwasher, put in the dishwasher pellet and cranked it on. “So much for MRSA,” he thought. Problem solved. He thought, “Ma would be relieved that I’m not afflicted with a terminal dermatitis – it would cost her money, and she sure hates to spend money.”
The thought of his mother made Van feel vaguely uncomfortable for a moment. Their relationship was interesting and often painful. To call it a love/hate relationship was being generous. It was more like hate/hate|hate/love-the-idea-of-a-son affiliation between Van and Maida. Maida Collins is a 64 year old woman with enough money to get by but not enough to get by well. She subsidizes Van, but bitterly complains about it, reassuring him that at some point in the not-too-distant future she would be on her way to beggary and consigned to live under a bridge. This just adds to Van’s resentment and makes him wish she would either remarry (not likely) or die (not likely either – too many really old forebears). So they struggle but never quite connect, nor disconnect. Van calls it a “5 pound test fishing line connection. Strong enough to survive as long as neither of them pulls too hard.” And thus it’s always been.
Van takes his beer into the living room and flips on the TV. He is catching up on shows he’d missed, and thought Hang and Catch Fire might be interesting. But it wasn’t available in his On Demand, so he switched to his Roku and saw it was available for $1.99 on Amazon Video. He selected it, and began to watch the pilot episode. The Amazon Video account was connected to the Discover Card Maida had given him for emergencies. Maida’s and his ideas of what constitutes an emergency were two very different things. She thought in terms of death and dying; he thought in terms of bored or hungry. The show started, and he fell asleep in his leather lounge chair, missing half of it.
He woke up about 4:15, and decided to look at his notes that he’d made over breakfast. He opened his Ipad, and thanks to his Cloud subscription (also an emergency covered by the Maida Collins Discover Card Emergency Fund Source), his notes were available there. He looked everything over, and decided that all this would definitely take more time than Melissa had offered. What was he thinking, agreeing to an October 1 deadline? Then it occurred to him, that this was not going to be a problem. There was so much information available on the web, he’d just do a mash-up of everything – including the pictures – and hand it in to her. She was a good editor – she’d make something good out of it. Van suspected her job might be on the line with this assignment, so he knew she’d come through for him. He went into the kitchen, grabbed another Amstel light, and decided he could finish this thing up in the next few days, wait a bit and then hand it in ahead of schedule. “That’ll make Ms. Everett happy,” he thought. Then an afterthought. “Bitch.” Van walked into the bedroom, and picked up the controller for his League of Legends game. The PS4 and the game were recent “Emergency” purchases that would likely stimulate a call and bitch session from Maida when she got the statement. But it wasn’t anything he hadn’t heard before. He’d deal with it when he had to.