I wanted to run out the back stairwell when they said they were from the police and wanted to talk to me. They flashed a badge on the security monitor.
They had those firm voices that some people with mustaches are born with.
The elevator came straight up into my apartment. The apartment I was losing because I went broke and could no longer afford the mortgage or the maintenance or the taxes or the food.
The babysitter took the kids into another room. I heard them laughing. She would tickle them and the giggles scratched my heart.
The elevator opened and they showed their badges again, but this time the badges said, “FBI”.
“We only said ‘Police’ downstairs because we didn’t want to scare people on the street,” one of the guys said. Their voices made that logic seem irresistable.
“We have reason to believe you can tell us something about the finances of UBL,” Person A said.
“UBL is Osama Bin-Laden”, Person B said.
Apparently, Dr. Larry Brilliant (his real name and former head of Google Charities) mentioned to them a conversation I once had with him about bin Laden in 1999.
Larry had invested in a company I had started and destroyed during a period where I destroyed a lot of the things I touched. One time I said to Larry that a friend of mine worked at an investment firm that had money from the bin-Laden family.
My friend had said, “it’s on all of their European brochures but none of their American brochures.”
I told this to the FBI guys.
“Yeah, we’ve had our eyes on XYZ Partners for a long time. This is helpful.”
They stuck around and had coffee and we shot pool on my antique 1948 pool table. The first brand of pool table that had automatic ball return.
Later that month, I had to sell the pool table to pay expenses.
“Can I ask,” I said, “How come there haven’t been any other terrorist attacks since 9/11?”
“Believe me,” Person A said, “we’ve stopped quite a few.”
Then they left.
And I was feeling relieved. So relieved. Like I had avoided chains and darkness for one more day.
Because I was guilty. The weight of the two of them in my house crushed me with strangulating guilt. I could barely breathe.
I don’t know why I felt guilty. I write now to try and figure out why. To connect dots but the dots are always shifting.
I wanted my life to be different. Nothing added up anywhere. On the paper, on the screen, on the kaleidoscope of images that would pretend to be my day. I had been an addict in ways that, honest as I try to be, I can’t say.
But enough to put me in jail in my head for 1000 years times 1000. My little baby would cry, the woman on the phone would cry, and I’ll never be able to cheer her up.
It’s hard to be human. People are cruel. The people you love are sent down to test you and it’s a race to see who disappoints who first.
To scrape by and live is often humiliating and degrading. The things we do to tease out love we hide and bury like a dog would bury a dead rat.
Before we are discovered. Before we are found out and hunted down.
And then we create new humans. Somehow it happens. A simple act of ecstasy creates a lifetime of sorrows and failure.
And we have to teach that child to laugh at the cruel joke played on her. So she doesn’t regret what we’ve done by bringing her here.
I’m going to go outside and have fun with the people I love today. I’m free and nobody can stop me. This is the beginning of the beginning.