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Monday, June 17, 2013

The Saint – Part One

Life had become a series of binary choices for Karen Comstock. Rent or telephone bill? Food or electricity? Karen had quickly discovered that desperation and stress can temper the strong and crush the vulnerable, and she had become as brittle as porcelain.

She had been fired from her job at the Food Recycling Plant only a few weeks earlier, and her shuffling of unpaid bills from one pile to another did little to hide the fact that her checking account held only a few dollars and her prospects for employment were slim to none after she had punched the overseeing machinist at the plant. Since seven other line workers had witnessed his groping hands and lewd comments, she thought that her swift left-hook would have gone unpunished. Karen’s oozing naïveté had shattered when she was jailed for two days and none of her ‘I need my paycheck’ coworkers stepped forward to help her. She hadn’t been able to pay her rent for two months now, and so Karen sat alone in an apartment with no electricity, heat, or telephone service, all too aware that her creepy landlord would come knocking within an hour.

Karen pondered her immediate future: she could end her penniless life, skip on the rent and disappear, or allow her landlord to pleasure himself on top of her inert body. As odious as the third choice sounded it beat the first and the second which too quickly became impossible as she heard heavy footsteps on the stairs.

Karen slipped off her clothes and cinched the tie of her bathrobe securely around her midsection. That last thing she wanted was some creepy groping session with her landlord thinking that she was seeking pleasure from this experience. Karen found a few swigs of rum in the kitchen, which she downed as she positioned herself in a threadbare lounge chair that faced the front door of her apartment and waited. Seconds later, the inevitable knock came.

  Karen slowly moved to the door and turned the knob. She would normally use the peephole but she was sure that the landlord would be standing on the threshold. Instead, Karen found a different caller.

“Karen Comstock? My name is Robert…you are Karen, aren’t you?”

Karen blinked mutely. The man on her doorstep was a complete stranger, or at least that’s what she immediately assumed. So much of her memory was gone or hazy that she had come to doubt whether she knew the people she met or not. His myriad of tattoos and stubbly beard peeped out above the neck of a rough t-shirt that covered him to his midsection, where the jacket of his worn coveralls was tied around his waist. He smiled and held out a hand and a business card that proclaimed that he, in fact, worked for one of the law firms that hovered above the ruins of the city along with the entire population of rich elite.

After a few minutes of staring, Karen stammered, “Um…yes?”

Before Robert could finish his next thought, he was rudely interrupted by a shove to the back, “Hey, pal. Take a number.”

“Excuse me?” Robert glanced over his shoulder at the wheezing man who stood behind him in the hallway.

“I got dibs on the next round. She owes me rent and I’m here to collect.”

For half a second, Robert thought that maybe the man was joking, but then he saw the in the man’s piggy eyes and the terror on Karen’s face. Robert looked down at his shoes as he considered for a few seconds what the implications of his actions were going to be, before he shook his head and took a deep breath, and muttered a quick ‘damn” under his breath as he began to clench his fist.

Clarence snickered cruelly, and called over Robert’s shoulder, “So, I guess this is how you are trying to make your living now, Karen? I always knew it would come to this-“ He never finished. Instead, he found himself gasping for air on his knees and clutching his testicles, which had been very effectively crushed by a quick blow from the stranger’s fist.

Karen muttered a cry that was somewhere between a scream and a curse. She grabbed Robert by the shoulders, “What the hell are you doing?”

Robert swallowed hard, and stammered, “I’m sorry.”

“You may have just ruined my chances at saving myself, you asshole!”

“If you will excuse me, Ms. Comstock, but that isn’t entirely true. If you would allow me to come inside, I can explain why.”

Karen stared at him blankly for a moment before she glanced down at Clarence’s writhing form and nodded, “You have five minutes.”

Once they were inside, Robert tried politely not to stare at the squalor of the apartment. He found his way to the couch that Karen offered, which was in its post threadbare stage, and sat down on it, afraid that his weight would make it collapse.

 “So, what do you want?” Karen demanded, her jaw set into an angry line.

“I want to give you three million two hundred thousand dollars.”

She just stared at him for a moment as if he had spoken some lost language.“For having sex with me? Are you crazy?” She said.

From her expression, Robert knew he was in for a beating for laughing, but he couldn’t stop until he began spasmodically choking. Robert lowered himself into a protective fetal position, “My name is Robert Brittman and I am an Investigator for Rawlins, Smith, and McGuire. Your Great Uncle, Herbert Comstock, recently passed away and he left you an inheritance.”

“Is this some sort of sick joke? Herbert what? I don’t have a Great Uncle.., at least, not one that I remember. You’re here because I punched my piece-of-shit boss in the mouth, aren’t you?”

“You might want to work on that temper, Ms. Comstock. I’m trying to give you what is possibly the only piece of good news you’ve had in a long time. Your Great Uncle, Herbert Comstock, whether you know him or not, left you a good portion of his estate.”

“This is amazing. You really think I’m that stupid, don’t you?” Karen exhaled in exhaustion. Her scowl didn’t leave her face until Robert handed her the legal documents and he used the small scanner implanted in her left wrist to verify the seal at the top. Her eyes opened wide and she simply stared at him in shock.

“Actually, it is a little short of amazing.”                                               

“How can three million dollars be short of amazing?
“There might be some problems.”

“You can’t tell someone they’re rich and then tell them there might be some problems.”

“Actually I can. I’ve been doing this for twenty years and rarely do I have any cases where there aren’t difficulties. The probate laws are complicated. But we have gotten to the first step. You are Karen Comstock?”


“Your parents are Samuel and Gloria Comstock?”

“Yes.” The edges of Karen’s mouth turned downward.

“And your paternal grandfather was Glenn Comstock?”



“Does your excitement mean that I get the money?”

“Not yet. Like I said, we have only started.”

“How could you have been doing this work for twenty years when you look like you’re thirty?”

“I look young. I’m actually fifty-one.” Karen looked at him as if he had told her that he was secretly a trashcan. He laughed, “Really. I actually am.”

“So what happens now?” Karen asked abruptly, her eyes moving off his face fast enough to be incriminating.

“The lawyers who I work for start a process which usually takes one to two years. Once all the paperwork checks out and the court approves the distribution then you get the check.”

“What do I do for two years?”

“You go on with your normal life and occasionally you receive correspondence from us which updates you on the status of your case.”

“My regular life?” The look on her face was telling enough, and the air of hope she had started to show evaporated as quickly as it had formed.

Robert could still see Clarence’s grimaced face on the floor outside the door in his mind’s eye. “Are you a prostitute?”

“I was a few minutes from being a prostitute.”

“Was Clarence the…”

“Yes, Clarence would have been the first. I was desperate and I didn’t have many options.” Her eyes were bright and unapologetic, but the severe frown on her face seemed more defensive than resolute.
            “You know he isn’t going to stay in pain forever. When he does recover he is going to be pissed and most men would hurt you for what you did.”

“Maybe we could have his memory removed.”

“I don’t understand. How do you remove someone’s memory?”

Karen looked away and shrugged, “I’ve heard you can, anyway.”

“Okay, I’m not trying to pry into your personal business.” Robert hesitated. Finally, he cleared his throat, “What are you going to do for those two years?”

“I don’t have anywhere to go and who could leave this luxury?” she tried to smile, but it looked more like a pained grimace.

Robert rubbed his eyes with a palm, “My bosses are going to kill me. Pack a bag and let’s get out of here.”


“You heard me. Let’s get out of this dump. I have some contacts in the city, let’s get you out of here.” she stared at him blankly for a moment before she began mechanically packing her bags.

Clarence, who had been laying on the stoop for the entirety of the conversation, had just managed to lever himself into a crouch when the door opened, and Karen walked out with Robert following closely behind.

The landlord grunted, “What about the rent you owe-“ he didn’t finish. This time, Karen’s shoe toe found his genitals and delivered a short, powerful kick.  Clarence found himself gasping for air on his knees and clutching his crushed balls. She didn’t stop there though: once the man had hit the ground, she kicked him brutally two more times.

The irony of this creep having his junk flattened by the women who he thought he was going to poke like a pincushion was too rich and Robert started to laugh. He tried to choke back by coughing but his tears betrayed his amusement.

Karen spat on the man on the ground and hissed, “There’s everything that I owe you, jackass.” she then stepped over the man and hurried out to the street.

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