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A pair of red stilettos I’d never forget.
They were found bathed in blood at the bottom of a six story apartment complex in Greenwich Village.
She had always wanted to make a great exit, uninterested in the grand entrances. It was a way to silence the pain and the voices she had been hearing since childhood, like Saint Joan-of-Arc. She had always been sad; her entire life had been filled with emptiness, and nothingness consumed her, ate her and pushed her into the arms of her last lover.
To her last boyfriend she had said “Death is a better lover than you”.
Nothing saintly about Veronica North.
It was generally believed this last boyfriend was her assassin. And if not him, then certainly some other angry lover. I had been assigned to the case of the “Barbie Doll Murder”. I was young, but skilled, and moved quickly. I interrogated everyone that knew Veronica, from her single mother to her last beau; and practically everyone who had crossed paths with her. It was a showy circus of people I had never imagined lived in New York; each with their own tales so crammed with emotion, violence and horror that it could have spewed from the pages of a gritty pulp fiction novel or popped out of a 1970’s grind house theater. There are, as they say, a thousand stories in the naked city.
The places she had gone. Paris, Vienna, Brazil, Amsterdam, Hollywood, Miami, Belize. She had left lovers everywhere, and never sated, sought more and more, indiscriminately, even among members of her own female sex. Yes, she was a desperate, unfulfilled girl, seeking something indescribable, unattainable, unknowable.
“Perhaps she was seeking God,” her mother’s priest, Father McMahon had said, “perhaps in her own perverse way she was seeking to know Him through sexual intercourse, through holy orgasm, much like painted temple prostitutes of pagan origins; wanting to know the god of fertility, the goddess, merging with man and obtaining his power.”
Sounds like the priest might have had a thing for her too, me thinks.
But the Father proved to be the best answer to the mystery of Veronica North. He had known her mother and Veronica when she was a little girl. Was she ever innocent? Was she ever so pure and so untouched by corrupt thoughts, that she was like some completely different person? Was Veronica girl who played with other girls, Barbie dolls, “house”, tea party, who did all the classic, normal things girls must do such as friend’s birthday parties and slumber parties? Was this blonde child a sweet tender thing to be protected, to be loved, to be nurtured, and to hope that nothing could ever harm her?
“Yes,” said her mother, “she played Barbie.”
More than that. It seemed as if she thought she was Barbie. She had apparently developed quite a huge collection of them. It was an obsession. Every Barbie ever manufactured was in the room she had occupied as a little girl. Blonde Aryan Barbies in pink, red, white dresses, skirts, tennis skirts, cocktail dresses and backless gowns. She had them all in her room, looking at anyone who entered with vapid, expressionless and eerie faces, and such eerie smiles. Did they know that their owner grew up to be a murderous whore?
Father McMahon, staunch Irish Catholic, proud, noble, peaceful, did not weep for her. He had received confessions from her as a pre-adolescent girl, a time of budding passions and vices.
“You must tell me, Father,” I had implored, “you got to tell me everything you know about her.”
“You are a detective; I’m a priest,” was his dry response, “you want answers but I don’t have them. I have only confessions of a troubled child that won’t do any good. She killed out of weakness.”
Did murderers do their thing out of weakness? Were they broken little people, little girls lost, directionless, like Veronica North. Was their real power in killing or nothing but absolute madness that rendered them powerless? Where did she lose her way? Who would tell her what she needed to know.
Veronica became my obsession; and for the first time I felt as if I was staring into the eyes of a little girl that reminded me a little of myself, of the person I had never wanted to be. No; I could never resemble Veronica North, not in the slightest. I am excellent Canadian stock, vintage female, Berkeley graduate with a thesis of unparalleled passion and philosophy, a novelist of crime drama that sold copies by the dozens. It was not possible for me to be mistaken for Veronica North. But there she was, the little girl from the same town in New Brunswick where I hads come from, the same blonde hair, the same eyes, the same shape of face, the same tristesse.
She was a ballad, the lines of a sad song on a paper carried in the wind; picked up by lusty, no-good men who binged on women like her.
Veronica, where are you now?
She was not in the apartment in Greenwich Village, her last known residence. It was here where many believed the murder occurred. bakırköy escort The apartment was hers. She did not live with a roommate or a boyfriend, although many said she almost did live with him. There were so many who disagreed.
“She was an actress, a diva,” a fellow actress had told me, “and like the major stars, did not know reality when she saw it.”
I had seen this dark-haired girl in a hair product commercial, a Fitness informercial and in a horror movie directed by Wes Craven. She looked like an anorexic but I didn’t say a word.
“Direct answers please. Are you implying she was a schizophrenic?”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she was. No one thought she was like that. She heard voices but only of the kind that called her to fame. She wanted to be big, I mean really big. And she was. Just not the way she probably wanted to be.”
“How did you know her?”
“I was her make-up artist first. Then I got into the same school with her, the uh, Neighborhood Playhouse. We learned the Sanford Meisner technique. We were in many plays and student films. We had wonderful times. We wanted to go to Hollywood and conquer it. I didn’t see it the way she did, though. I stayed in New York City. She came back here now and then but, it’s just so hard to know what she was thinking, what she was doing. She was a vampire who only came out at night and I’m a day person.”
“You sound like you really cared for her.”
“I’ll thank you not to inquire about the details of our relationship. Her boyfriend -“
“Yes; Chad Bartram?”
“Chad Bastard. He was never in love with her. He was using her too.”
“Wasn’t he a musician?”
“My ass. A wannabe rock star, total amateur, wrote crap. He thought he was the biggest thing since -“
“They were a perfect match then.”
The rock star and the diva, interested in the conquest of Hollywood, where the sun glowed so fraudulently bright, where profane streets had to be crossed on your way to the better areas, where casting couches became beds of thorns slept by those brave enough to bleed.
“Was she a hooker?”
“An escort. It’s not the same thing.”
“Did she sleep with agents, directors, producers, anyone in the movie industry?”
“I wouldn’t know. She partied all the time. She did coke, heroin, LSD, marijuana, God knows what else.”
“Did she enjoy sex?”
The title of a retro 1980’s VHS tape, with Veronica North on the cover. The last copy I remember seeing was in the home of her rock star boyfriend, that is to say, ex-lover, who had become obese, bearded, foul, disenchanted, old, unemployed. He did not seem to stare at people really, only with dead eyes and with very little respect for everyone. He called me “Detective Girl”.
When I found him, he was blissfully viewing porno movies that Veronica North had made under the name “Alana”. She had dyed her hair red for a couple of movies, as if that would make her unrecognizable. Stupid girl. When you do porn, her boyfriend Chad said, everyone knows you do it. He liked to view her doing other guys and especially other girls on video tapes he collected.
On his antenna TV screen was his former girl, the porn princess, fucking doggy style with some muscular and long haired guy to the elaborate strains of guitar riffs. Maybe it was his way of communing with her spirit.
Her hair was short this time, but blonde, a lot like Sharon Stone had her hair made for “Basic Instinct”; except the video dated from around 1988 so this was before that popular film about fatal attraction. She was sprawled nude on a couch so compact it was a miracle how she was able to fit on it, as well as the stud who was fucking her. The music caught my attention more than the sex; but clearly this sex scene was more than enough to arouse Chad. She held on to a sofa pillow as she steadid her legs on the floor. She cried out incessantly as she was beign fucked from behind, her pussy rammed by the well-endowed cock of her co-star.
“Yeah take it, take it, fuck,” he said.
“Oh fuck yes!” she said in a breathy and ecstatic voice.
There was the feeling that she enjoyed doing porn and it was neither scripted nor fake. She moaned and pushed back, the round walls of her ass jiggling as he spanked them and continued to fuck her. Sweat poured down her back. The scene seemed endless and the athletic sex they were having was amazing that even I was surprised and overwhelmed by it.
They changed positions on the couch. He sat down with his legs spread wide, his cock rock-hard and she began to sit on top of him, slowly settling down on his cock. She began to bounce up and down, and she wasted no time in making him ready to explode inside her. She enjoyed riding him and she screamed in pleasure, muttering wordlessly to herself. He was grunting and crying out, their animal cries piercing the air as if in a jungle.
He held her breasts with his big hands, cupping them and beşiktaş escort squeezing them hard, making her moan in pure pleasure. He was unable to contain his orgasm any longer and it came like a bolt of thunder.
The scene faded to black, with a brief close-up of Veronica’s smile and look of complete satisfaction.
“Yeah, she did a lot of porn,” Chad said,” that’s really how she made most of her money. But that’s not what you want to talk about right?”
“I only care to know what her lovers said about her,” I said to him.
“You writing a book, detective girl? Don’t you write books? I saw some on a window display in Manhattan. “Murder By Phone”, “Blood”, “New York City Midnight”. You had a book signing recently for that one. The New York City skyline was in the cover and a bloody knife.”
“And how would you know this? You read my books?”
“Nah. I wander the city and look into many many windows. I remembered your face and your name on the cover of a book by a window in a book shop. So what’s this all about?”
“I need information, for the murder investigation. A book would be in bad taste since I did not know her.”
“No one knew her.”
“You did. She said she loved you I heard.”
“Oh my God, who told you that shit? Love was a game. She said it, I didn’t. Sometimes I said it so that she’d let me put it in her ass. Usually when she said it, she was high on coke. She didn’t love anyone, not me, not anyone. And no one loved her back. If you ask me, the only love she had was for this brown mutt of a cat she bought in a pet store. I hated the fuckin’ furball. She loved it and when it died suddenly of some infection, she cried her eyes out. I wish someone would cry for me like that when I die.”
“Mr. Bartram, did you know her to be suicidal?”
“Is that what they’re saying now? That it was a suicide?”
He laughed. He took another sip of his Budweiser beer. He was also smoking and the dark cloud around him nearly obscured his face. His laughter annoyed me more than those other things.
“Did you know her to be suicidal?” I repeated.
“Hell yeah. She was always talking about how she’d like to be dead; to turn up dead and to leave a beautiful body, like Marilyn Monroe. She wanted to have a last adventure.”
“I am told she had AIDS. Did you give it to her?”
He laughed again, this time uncontrollably.
“Bitch got it off some guy she slept with. She fucked a lot of guys. Clients of hers, some of them VIP’s in Hollywood, some lovers she chose for whatever reason at random and of course her porn studs. Who knows.”
“She liked to talk about how Charlie Sheen enjoyed a threesome with her. I think she got it off some guy when she was out of the county. The bitch traveled a lot.”
“Did you kill Veronica North?”
He laughed and it was not possible to laugh any harder.
“Only in my mind. She could have at least let me do her in at least one porno movie, the bitch.”
The night seemed endless.
Midnight in New York City lasted an eternity. Yeah, the lights were much brighter downtown, but shadows were there too, deeper darkness than the abyss of Hell. Veronica had been in Hell and she wanted to go to Heaven. Did she leap off that balcony in her own apartment, plunging to her desired destiny? Did she fade out? Did she fade to black? Did she exit the stage? Another theory was that even her death was a performance, a staged death. I talked to a car mechanic she was said to know, who had an auto body shop in the Bronx, a Mexican man who was in business with his wife.
Was this poor man among one of her lovers? I’d dare not ask in front of the wife.
“My name is Jose” he said, “what do you want?”
“Did you know Veronica North.”
“She own a cool-looking Jaguar?”
“Yeah I knew her. Marina, wait here. Come with me into the office, Miss, we’ll talk.”…….
His little office was like a janitor’s closet only with decent furniture, a desk and chairs, and parquet floor. There were no windows. It felt very cold in there. He had posters of cars and those slutty Latina models bending over the cars or spreading their legs, showing their ass or sexy legs. One of the women up there on those ads stood out. She was blonde and had an instantly recognizable countenance. It was Veronica.
Jose noticed me looking at her.
“She only modeled for that sort of thing one time,” he said, “I was there when it happened. She’s a hot little thing isn’t she?”
I stared at him with a stiff look.
His face changed.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know. What happened?”
“It’s a total mystery. She might have killed herself by throwing herself off the balcony of her apartment or she was murdered. Or maybe she’s alive. Her blood was identified and her heels were found. Some flesh, too and nails, but her body is nowhere to be found. It’s also possible she is alive. No one knows.”
“I need to tell beylikdüzü escort you what went on between us,” he said and he lit up a cigarette……
Nothing he said really helped. No leads. No clues. Nothing but darkness, ever increasing. I would never know the truth. He admitted to having serviced her sexually for pleasure and because he was attracted to white women. He told me that she was unhappy, always dissatisfied with life and that she was glad that at least he helped her to maintain a functioning Jaguar. But it was very significant to question this bronze-skinned, stocky mechanic. Veronica’s prized car was found near a shore in Long Island.
“I’m in the dark,” Jose said, “the car was always in the city. I never saw her driving another one. She was always being picked up buy guys in limousines though. She told me she had earned that car herself and that no man had bought it for her. She was very proud of it. It’s a shock to hear it was found so far out of the city.”
“The men in the limousine who were they?”
“She was crazy. She had too many lovers. I don’t know. Important men, probably who made her star in her horror movies, sexy movies or regular movies, or maybe just rich men who took her up as a lover. I wasn’t among them. Well, not the rich ones anyways. Hey if your car ever needs repair, here’s my card.”
Another card, a business card, took me to the home of a real estate agent by the name of Jay West. It was the Hamptons and even here, Veronica had connections and contacts of the kind she made. A married man, his wife, Gabrielle, was expecting a baby. Oh, why did the spouses have to be present? Like telepathy working perfectly, he looked at me and my cop badge and he knew that it was about Veronica.
“Honey, I need to talk to this woman alone, it’s business.”
“Oh?” said the woman whose belly was big with life, ” are you looking to buy a home in the Hamptons?”
When we were finally alone and drinking Earl Grey tea, Jay opened up to me and spoke sadly.
“I thought she was a beautiful sad person, neurotic,” he said, “we were so hot together. I will never forget the time we did it in an elevator at a building where my wife once worked. Man, she could fuck like there was no tomorrow. I didn’t really care who saw us, well, at least at that time. My marriage was experiencing difficulties. I hope that the new baby will fix it up. But with that goddess I never enjoyed better sex in all my life. She was so skilled. She loved men. I was almost certain she loved me but I knew that it was too good to be true. I was sure she wanted to get her hands on my money. But turns out she had made money of her own doing -“
“I know all about it. She is dead, supposedly, but no body was found. There was enough blood to indicate she had fallen from a balcony to her death. Do you know if she could have faked her own death or actually hired someone to kill her and then dump her body?”
“What a crazy idea. Where did you come up with that?”
“Well, she was said to have a fascination with death. Maybe being so morbid, she hired someone to kill her, paid him a lot of money to do such a wicked thing. Would a rich man have done this to her? Did she know someone so rich as to be so vile too?”
“Probably. But if you are implying I did this, I most certainly did not. I wanted to help her get a house, but you know, she was never really looking to use me or get her hands on anything of mine. She was just with me for the sex. I think she loved sex with affluent men the most.”
“Looks like I’ll never find out the truth. It’s been so very difficult.”
“I sympathize. Hey, if you ever are looking to buy a home, here’s my card. Oh you already have one. I also sell houses in Manhattan.”
* * *
I came home to Manhattan.
I sat down, exhausted and fell asleep. It had been a long week. It had been a long investigation that had not turned out well. Lately, it was always the same. I would come home and retire to bed. But tonight was different. Tonight, there were strange dreams. Was it possible that they would tell me what happened to Veronica North? That dreams would be the answer, like some psychic detective thing, eventhough I didn’t believe in that stuff.
In slow motion and haziness, I was lying on my back in the nude, looking up at a statue of Aphrodite, only it was Veronica North as Aphrodite. She came to life, and she had a very naughty and sly look in her face. She was wearing a long white robe but the top of the robe revealed her cleavage. Her breasts were firm, round and beautiful; her nipples were pink. She walked toward me like a tigress that had chosen her mate.
She mounted me and I tried to escape, struggling beneath her but her eyes hypnotized me and she weaved an erotic spell. Her hands were on my own breasts, kneading them, feeling them, holding them as if she was touching a holy thing. She enjoyed the feel of my breasts and I enjoyed the feeling of her hands on me. She began to kiss me, sweetly, tenderly and with slow but burning passion. I was no longer resisting her. A faint music played, Pan’s pipes in the Greek woods where beautiful nymphs with nubile bodies frolicked. They watched us and giggled, while they threw white little flowers like confetti over us.
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