Previous: The Book of Joel, Denouement, Coda
Dead For Now turned on an idea I had years ago–what if Gabriel disappeared? He seeks missing people, what if he became one himself? However, the idea evolved into something deeper, and became meshed with conspiracy theories (as I’ll always add, the good ones) and the need for a definitive story on the Tertullian Society. I love Nero Wolfe stories, and the stories had a recurring villain, Arnold Zeck. However, Wolfe knew at some point he could not continue running into Zeck and getting away with it.
Part One of the book is called Yoni. One of the recurring themes in the story is of death and the afterworld. Yomi is the land of the dead in Shinto mythology. It also relates to rebirth. The creators of the world, Izanagi and Izanami went to Yomi, and from there, Izanagi created the great sun goddess Amaterasu and other gods from the process of cleansing himself.
Introduction: The Unknown Knowns–A fascination of mine after reading the intricate words of Slavoj Žižek. The article is here. It will pop up to read. I read it originally here, but at the moment the page is undergoing construction. On a side note, Žižek has an interesting interview in Index Magazine with Wolfgang Tillman, who is a fine art photographer and documentary maker of gay and gender identity social themes. The more you know….
Let’s continue the Gabriel’s World Journey with Dead for Now.
Prelude–Unknown Known: Alexander Litvinenko
Note: I like the Guardian as a source of news, and they have a collection of articles on Litveneko. Law and Order Criminal Intent fans know that the episode “30” was based on the Litveneko case. The episode featured the marvelous character actor Lee Tergesen (The Americans, Oz, The Blacklist).
Joel is watching Gabriel and his friend Bob play one on one in Warinaco Park, outside Elizabeth NJ. He’s talking via FaceTime to Travis Churchill (introduced in The Book of Joel). Churchill has developed into an enthusiastic patron for Joel, and has hired him to create a mural in the lobby of Churchill’s software company, Spartan.
Joel verbally spars with Gabriel, and reluctantly leaves to pick up his contract from Churchill. Meanwhile, Gabriel feels like he’s being watched. Not just by park passerby, something more serious. After the happenings in the three previous books, Gabriel’s instincts are pretty sound. He and Bob create a little set-up to determine who is watching them–mysterious people in a darkened SUV.
On the PATH train back to NYC, Gabriel picks out the person following him on board, and has fun at his expense. Upon reaching the city, Gabriel has to be amused at his own paranoia, considering that he’s probably reading into things not there.
But…then we have a message from some intelligence personnel that suggest otherwise.
Chapter One–Unknown Known: Danny Casolaro.
Note: I was haunted by Danny Casolaro’s story since reading it in the Village Voice (co-authored by James Ridgeway, an excellent writer) and Spy. Writer Jim Keith , an aficionado of unusual topics like black helicopters, mind control, and the men in black, authored a book on Casolaro with Kenn Thomas. Jim Keith himself later died under “mysterious circumstances,” due to complications after breaking his knee during a Burning Man Festival in 1999. More on Casolaro from Project Censored. Gabriel’s contact in The Hanged Man, Kent Varney, has a Danny Casolaro feel.
Gabriel and his working partner/BFF Veronica are working a case involving stolen archival documents. They have found out who has been stealing documents from the New York Archival Institute, one Wes Darrell, a city employee. Darrell is smuggling the documents out the Institute and selling them online.
Gabriel and Veronica and documenting evidence inside the Institute, when Gabriel runs across an entry showing Ethan Nelson (his antagonist in The Hanged Man) had visited the Institute to review plans of the New York Foundation of Art and Culture (where Nelson was director, and where Gabriel’s client Raymond Booth was a board member).
Gabriel asks to take a look at those plans, and photographs them. But then Darrell arrives at the Institute and begins harassing Veronica. Gabriel stops him, and Darrell appears to lose it–appearing fearful of Gabriel, drawing a gun, and taking an overdose on the spot. Gabriel manages to keep him from killing himself.
Later on, Gabriel is in Joel’s apartment with Veronica, and their bookseller friend Jason Evans. They are planning for an upcoming show–Gabriel now plays part time in Jason’s band. Gabriel receives a call from Nic Ronson. Nic is an editor for the online magazine Gabriel occasionally writes for. She wants him to write about Tom Paine. Paine is a mysterious YouTube personality who has been releasing videos with evidence on various conspiracies. Except…Gabriel is actually Tom Paine. He has followed up on the plans he laid out in Two-Faced Woman to keep exposing the Tertullian Society. But he’s doing this undercover in order to avoid the Tertullian Society finding out he has Kent Varney’s notes. Now he has to figure out how to handle this. When dropping off Jason and Veronica, Gabriel thinks that someone’s been in his car. This leads to him confiding in Veronica exactly what happened the previous year in the Booth case.
Another intelligence message regarding Gabriel’s life.
Some days later, Gabriel and Veronica are in the Herald-Standard offices, talking to crime reporter Clark Ahn. They are accompanied by Walter Cleveland. Gabriel is still working closely with Walter (from Walter’s proposal in The Book of Joel). They are discussing the Wes Darrell case.
Alex, Gabriel’s ex, happens by and tells them that the paper’s new owner is interested in hiring Gabriel and Veronica as security consultants. Although Gabriel’s less than thrilled about dealing with Alex, they speak to the owner and set the deal. Alex then takes Gabriel aside and shows him the impressive library the paper has in the building. Gabriel is indeed impressed and mentions how he’s working on completing a Master’s. Alex also says he wants to be able to work with Gabriel. Gabriel is okay with that, but feels that Alex is holding something back.
When Gabriel returns to Veronica, Clark, and Walter, Clark has news: Wes Darrell has apparently committed suicide–jumping out a courthouse window. Gabriel is shaken over this news.
Chapter Two—Unknown Known: Gary Webb
Note: More weirdness as I was writing the book–last year a movie was released about Gary Webb, Kill the Messenger. Here’s a Telegraph (UK) article on Webb and the movie. And this from The Intercept. I’d followed Webb’s story for years, and recommend his book Dark Alliance.
Gabriel returns home; Joel is there. Veronica has already told Joel about the new deal with the H/S. Gabriel is worried about Joel’s reaction, but Joel is determined to be adult about Alex’s involvement.
Then Gabriel is in the new offices for Gotham Investigations, on Horatio Street in the West Village. It’s late at night. Veronica and Joel are both getting ready to leave. Joel is going to a party with his friend Iz and Veronica home (she just recently broke up with Michaela, their friend).
On his own, Gabriel goes out to buy a pack of Camels. He’s always struggling with quitting. But when he looks at the building from the outside, he sees someone in their offices. He calls and the mysterious person picks up–but doesn’t say anything. Gabriel goes inside while no one is in the office, the stranger is in the hallway with a gun. But disappears when Gabriel backs down. Gabriel is disturbed by the stranger trying to provoke him.
The next day, Gabriel and his father practice shooting at a range in Westchester County. Jeffrey Ross talks to Gabriel about how he feels. They are still repairing their relationship, as started in The Book of Joel. Jeffrey asks if Aaron Comstock, AKA Damon Clement, may be involved. Gabriel isn’t sure. But he is interested in how Jeffrey had handled his difficult experiences on missions for the Army, which are implied to involve intelligence ops and torture. What happens when someone evil tries to interrogate you?
Jeffrey says you need to create another person and let them take over, to let that person handle the torture.
Meanwhile, in another part of Westchester, Mr. Zest is in a remote area, contemplating his life. He has to decide if he’s in or out of the Tertullian Society, and that means if he’s out.
And then Damon Clement contacts him to ask what he knows about Gabriel.
Between the Pages:
- A little bit on Man at the Crossroads, the mural by Diego Rivera that Joel and Travis discuss.
- Joel doesn’t like Jeff Koons; I find him amusing and interesting for his fair use legal issues.
- Gabriel’s code name in with the intelligence people is “Magician.” This is a call-back to The Hanged Man and tarot. For me, Gabriel’s tarot card is always The Magician.
Beyond the Pages:
- However, as Ioan Culianu and Umberto Eco have suggested, a misinterpretation can create a reality greater than the truth. Perhaps Orwell would be pleased to own the quote that didn’t happen. Ioan Culianu died around 30 years ago, and Eco in 2016. When I started reading Culianu last year, I was delighted he knew and worked with Eco. One of Gabriel’s favorite books is Foucault’s Pendulum. Eco appeared to intend the book as a sly fable on occult conspiracies and paranoia. Of course, some have read too much into it because it’s that great a book. It’s why I include the bit about misinterpretation here. The antagonists in Foucault’s Pendulum misinterpret what the three editors are doing as a lark and create a different reality (Eco also wrote about hyperrealities). People have misinterpreted Eco. Gabriel’s trying to interpret what’s going on here, as his watchers are interpreting him.
- In The Doorbell Rang, Wolfe helps a client being harassed by the FBI for distributing a (real) book, The FBI Nobody Knows. Stout himself was investigated by the FBI.
- A real stolen documents case like the one in the chapter.
Questions for Readers:
At one point, Gabriel looks into the eyes of Wes Darrell, and realizes that Darrell sees someone far different from how Gabriel perceives himself. Have you ever had that occurrence? Have you ever imagined how you are perceived by others?
Golden Earring, Twilight Zone. A perfect song about paranoia that is justified. The protagonist is in intelligence work, and being hunted. A huge favorite of mine in the Eighties.
Help, I’m steppin’ into the twilight zone
This is a madhouse, feels like being home
My beacon’s been moved under moon and star
Where am I to go now that I’ve gone too far?
Def Leppard, Animal. This is is mainly because the melody is perfect to open a potential episode, and the rhythm.
Cry wolf, given mouth-to-mouth
Like a movin’ heartbeat in the witching hour
I’m runnin’ with the wind, a shadow in the dust
And like the drivin’ rain, yeah, like the restless rust
I never sleep
Cantara, Dead Can Dance. Cantara is a group from Australia, neoclassical dark wave. The song has a mysterious feel much like Jocelyn Pook’s work on Eyes Wide Shut, and features the exotic vocals of Lisa Gerrard. This song was chosen for the dead reference and the fit with the creepiness surrounding the incident in the Gotham Investigations offices.
Extras: Deleted Scene
I was originally going to start the book with Gabriel being forced to give a deposition in the Mathers case. However, it went on too long and served no purpose for now. So I’ll include it here for fun.
When a defendant is waiting for trial, he or she is held in a county jail. If convicted and sentenced to a term over a year, the person is then assigned to an appropriate state correctional facility. Jail and prison have distinct differences in atmosphere and rhythm. Prison is very disciplined; jail often has a sense of organized chaos, due to the transitory status of the persons incarcerated.
Visitors to a jail or a prison must be on an approved list. Freedom is curtailed by necessity.
One of the incarcerated persons in the Union County Correctional Facility has a visitor issue pretty unique. The person is not on the approved list, but is legally compelled to be there. Because the inmate is representing himself in court, and has subpoenaed the witness for interview and deposition.
We don’t have a lot of problems with me going in, as the prosecutor on the case is with me. She gets us through the initial double check by jail administration and the Sheriff’s office.
We’re taken to an interview room, the kind lawyers use for legal visits. We sit on one side of the table. The stenographer sits to our right.
I move my chair back to the wall behind me. Gia Carcaro, the prosecutor, looks at me. I don’t say anything.
We wait about ten minutes. Then another man appears, with a black portfolio in his arms. “I’m sorry I’m late,” he tells us.
Carcano nods at him. I’m not in a mood to be polite, and I don’t give a fuck. The man is disconcerted.
He walks around the table to sit opposite the stenographer. “Um, you’re, um, Gabriel Ross, is that right?”
Who the hell else would I be? I don’t answer, feeling the hostility the way some people feel the love.
“I’m Neil Fox, Mr. Mather’s support counsel. Ms. Carcano, how are you?”
“Fine, thank you.”
He decides not to ask how I am.
Another five minutes go by. And then a correctional officer walks up to the door with another man.
A man I hate.
Don Mathers is facing the death penalty in his upcoming trial. I have an internal conflict. I’m against capital punishment. Knowing some innocent people have been executed, feeling that death does not equal justice.
I hate Mathers so much, I have difficulty not being okay with execution as punishment for him. It takes everything I have to live by principle.
The correctional officer leads Mathers inside. Because of the severity of his crimes, he’s handcuffed, and the officer connects the cuffs to a chain on the table. I can imagine putting the chain around his neck and choking him.
He looks across the table and smiles at me. “I wish I could say it’s nice to see you again.”
I don’t answer.
Fox unzips his portfolio.
Carcano says, “He’s not allowed to have pens or pencils.”
Mathers looks at the stenographer and shakes his head. “That’s ridiculous. I’m appealing that.”
“Um, well, that is the rules that are stipulated in arrangement with the Sheriff’s office and the prosecutor’s office. So, we’re here today in the deposition for the case of State vs. Donald Stephen Mathers. Ms. Veretti? Ms. Veretti is the reporter for the case. Mr. Mathers is going to ask the questions. I’m here as advisory counsel.”
The stenographer has already started typing. She says, “Can you all identify yourselves? Would you start, Mr. Ross?
I say, “Gabriel Ross.”
“And you are here as?”
“A witness under subpoena for deposition.”
“Gia Carcano, representing the State of New Jersey in the criminal case against Donald Mathers. I’m here to monitor the State’s interest in the witness.”
“Neil Fox, advisory counsel to the defendant, Donald Mathers.”
A pause. Of course, the asshole is going to make it dramatic. He stares at me as he speaks.
“Donald Mathers, the defendant in this criminal case. I’m representing myself, and I am handling the questioning in the deposition of Gabriel Ross.”
Fuck you, Don.
“Ileen Veretti, court reporter. Mr. Ross, I’m going to ask you to take an oath that everything you say today is the truth as you know it?”
“You are on the record as testifying today under oath. Mr. Mathers, you may proceed.”
Fox has given him a manila folder. Making a show of how difficult the cuffs are, he opens the envelope and reviews notes on legal pad paper.
“Mr. Ross, do you understand why you’re here today?”
Because God has a strange sense of humor. “Yes.”
“And why is that?”
“Because I was served with a subpoena.”
He tilts his head. “Do you understand the purpose of this deposition?”
You’re a psychopath enjoying controlling the system. “You tell me.”
“I’m gathering evidence for the defense of my case at trial. To do so, I have the right to interview the state’s witnesses. You are one of the state’s witnesses. You are aware of that?”
“And why are you one of the state’s witnesses?”
“I don’t understand your question.”
“Am I not speaking clearly?”
“The question is vague. I’m a witness for the state because the state has chosen me as a witness.”
“You are a witness because of your role in this case. Can you describe your role?”
Carcano says, “That’s a pretty broad question. You should keep your questions specific.”
Fox says, “The question was appropriate.”
“I don’t mind,” Mathers said. “I can be specific. If this runs into time, I’ll have Gabriel come back.”
He leans forward. “Mr. Ross, when did you hypothesize that I committed the crimes that the state has accused me of?”
“In January of 2011.”
“What was the triggering event to that hypothesis?”
The side of his mouth curls up.
I take a deep breath silently. “When Giselle Greenspan…when I heard she had been murdered. Beaten to death and dumped outside her place of business.”
“And you knew Giselle Greenspan.”
“Were you friendly with her?”
“Did she give you my name at any time?”
“She gave me the name you were using, Tom. Her brother Jacob informed me the name was Tom Smith.”
“Allegedly using. I’d appreciate you noting that I have not been proven in a court of law to have used that identity.”
I don’t want to hurt the state’s case, so I keep control.
“And what did she say about the person with that name?”
“That she was concerned about her boyfriend, Tom. That ‘Tom’ was acting funny and asking too many questions about her friend, Sophia Faulkner. That she wanted me to investigate why he was doing so.”
“I have a transcript of that message she left you. She said, and I’m quoting: “Gabriel, I really want your help. Sorry about this being during the holidays, but I know you would understand with your intuition. See, it’s my boyfriend, Tom. That’s who I’m worried about. He’s acting funny, and it strikes me wrong, like you said. He seems like he’s turning into another person. He’s asked me a lot of questions about Sophie, and even about the women you found. I don’t know why–but he’s so different! Can you get back to me?” Does that sound correct?”
“Did you get back to her?”
“I attempted to several times.”
“But you did not succeed.”
“And why is that?”
“To the best of my knowledge, you had already killed her by the time I was calling back.”
“I am accused of that. Please do not refer to me as guilty. Do you understand, Mr. Ross?”
“I am going by the truth as I understand it.”
He takes a long pause. “Mr. Ross, can you explain the circumstances regarding how I came to be arrested?”
“You were in the basement of a building located on xxx street in Newark, New Jersey, on January x, 2011, without permission. I was in the basement of the building with permission. You attacked me, and I defended myself. At the conclusion of that altercation, police arrived and took me into custody.”
“Do you have knowledge of my injuries—specifically, the injuries you inflicted upon me during the alleged fight?”
“To the best of my knowledge and recollection, during the alleged fight you allegedly sustained a broken arm, a broken leg, and broken ribs.”
“Was this incapacitating?”
“I don’t know.”
“If I couldn’t walk and use one of my arms, I would say that is incapacitating.”
“That’s your opinion.”
“Did you have a weapon?”
“I do not recall a weapon.”
“I remember you had a gun, an automatic. Do you own such a weapon.”
“I own two.”
“And you had neither?”
“Not to my recollection.”
“After you broke my arm, my leg, and my ribs in this fight, did you do anything else?”
“I don’t recall. I had been defending myself from being killed.”
“You don’t recall attempting to kill me by choking me to death?”
“You don’t recall having to have a friend of yours literally drag you off me, because the friends you had there were afraid you were trying to kill me?”
“Do you have memory problems, Mr. Ross?”
“Did a friend of yours live in that building?”
“Yes. Michaela Connor.”
“Were you concerned about her?”
“Yes. You had made a specific threat to kill her.”
“Allegedly. It has not been proven in a court of law that I made that threat. I wish you would stop that. Are you protective of your friends?”
“Were you angry over this alleged threat to Michaela Connor?”
“I was concerned.”
“Were you angry over Giselle Greenspan being beaten to death?”
“Particularly as you were ineffective in helping her with her problem with her boyfriend?”
“I was angry she was murdered.”
“Are you a friend of Robert Jarvey?”
“Were you aware that Robert Jarvey stayed in the room with me in that basement, after you were dragged away?”
“I was not directly aware.”
“Because you had to be taken out, as your friends were afraid you would kill me. Mr. Jarvey said he wished he could finish the job. Are you aware of that?”
“How many years have you known him?”
“Are you aware of his history of narcotics addiction?”
“That was before I knew him?”
“Are you aware he has a criminal record?”
“You have been arrested for assault.”
“That is irrelevant.” This from Carcano.
“You can note the objection on the record.”
“Are you aware of any criminal record for myself?”
“I have none. Mr. Jarvey, who has a criminal record for assault, has stalked me. You, who have been arrested for assault and have a video record of assault, laid in wait for me in that basement. Is that true?”
“No. You were trespassing.”
“Nonetheless, between the two of us, you were arrested for violence, not me. Between the two of us, you were treated at the hospital and left in a day, and I stayed in the hospital for three weeks due to my injuries you inflicted.”
“I don’t know how long you were hospitalized.”
“Much longer than you were. You were personally connected to Michaela Connor, of whom you claim a threat was made, by a recording on your phone. Did you create that recording yourself?”
“No, I did not.”
“You are a longtime friend of Robert Jarvey, who has an animus against me of unknown origin. Did you encourage him to stalk me?”
“Did your lover have him stalk me?”
“Did you not tell your lover to bring Jarvey to listen to me speak?”
“I did not. Ms. Connor directed that action to be taken in order for the defense of her client.”
“Ms. Connor again. Ms. Connor told your lover, Joel McFadden, who is not a licensed investigator of any kind, to take a known narcotics addict and person with a violent criminal history, to speak to me under false pretenses.”
“Is that a question?”
“It is a statement. Ms. Connor did this because you had a hypothesis about my being a killer. That is another statement. Here is a question. Did you discover the bodies of the victims in this case?”
“I found the bodies of several women who had been brutally murdered over a number of years, in the former state psychiatric institution, Wildemore, in Union County. I found the bodies of more women, in the woods off Caraway Road in Union County.”
“Were you not arrested because of this so-called discovery?”
“No, I was held as a material witness, and the warrant was vacated.”
“The prosecutor in that case held you because he felt that it was too coincidental that you found two sets of bodies?”
“I do not know his reasoning.”
“Did you have a case you worked on in 2010, regarding Raymond Booth?”
“Was he your client?”
“Not officially. He started the process, but was killed.”
“His sister was your client.”
“She was killed.”
“And the man who was said to have killed her, and her brother, was also killed.”
“He committed suicide.”
“That’s three people. Were there anymore people who died because of that case?”
“Not to my recollection.”
“You were in a fight because of that case as well.”
“Three men beat me. I don’t call that a fight.”
“Mr. Ross, do you have a fight in every one of your cases?”
“Do people die in every one of your cases?”
“Just your clients. Or people you like. Is that it?”
Carcano interrupts as I see red. “That is an inappropriate question.”
“Is it? My theory of defense is that Mr. Ross set me up to look like I had committed these terrible crimes. I don’t know if he committed them himself or not. Maybe he knew about the bodies and just held on to that knowledge for some kind of vague revenge.”
Note: Still with me here? I give you kudos! This is as far as I got, so at this point it could be like Choose your own adventure. Based on what you know of Gabriel at this point, what do you think he would do?
A. Flip the table and leave.
B. Finish the deposition like a professional.
C. Antagonize Don subtly until Don explodes.
Copyright 2016 Alex Fiano
Page updated 7/27/2017