The Shoes of Lambert, A Play
William Jameson: A man who has just turned 50, in good shape for his age, handsome but a bit worn. He wears a hooded Cubs sweatshirt and jeans. His shoes have a glossy, mirror-like finish. An accountant by trade, he uses glasses to read.
Detective David Mendoza: Mid-thirties detective who has moved into his position at a young age due to his stellar work habits and connections. Snappy dresser who takes his job seriously and above all wants to see justice done. He is fit and trim, indicative of someone who works out. He is strangely fascinated by any sexual discussion.
Detective Bill Hurtz: An overweight man in his mid-fifties, he is looking forward to retirement. A product of thirty years of police work, he tries to have fun at his job and never takes much seriously. He is quick to form an opinion, but he does not hesitate to change his opinion. He wears a short sleeve dress shirt with a tie that is too short.
Assistant State’s Attorney Scott Cassadine: A born skeptic, this no-nonsense attorney offers his opinions perhaps more than he should. Someone who likes to be heard, he has to force himself to listen.
The Scene: Interrogation room of a Chicago Police station on the city’s South Side. Just a few days before Christmas, the police station shows the signs of the holiday with a 6-foot wreath bearing a red bow above the entry door and twinkle lights along the top of the front desk. Even the interrogation room, in addition to the standard rectangular table and four chairs, has three-foot cardboard cut-outs of Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman on the walls. A flat screen TV sits atop a cart near a wall.
Stage directions: As the curtain rises, Jameson is sitting on one side of the tab in the interrogation room. Hurtz sits across from him while Mendoza stands back about five feet from the table, one foot atop a chair, his arms crossed atop his knee. A blue gym bag rests on the floor beside the table and a shoebox sits atop the table. The interrogation has already begun and we pick up in midstream.
Hurtz: C’mon Mr. Jameson. You can’t avoid it. I’m giving you the plain and simple truth. You’re looking at six years minimum.
Jameson: I’m hopin’ that doesn’t happen. I’m hopin’ we can be reasonable here.
Hurtz: Reasonable? Are you kiddin me? You robbed a bank and waved a gun around scaring the shit out of everyone in the joint. And some old geezer had a heart attack.
Jameson: But he’s okay, right?
Hurtz: Yah, he is. So what.
Jameson: So he’s okay. That should matter. (Looks to Det. Hurtz for a sign of support but doesn’t get it. Shifts eyes to Det. Mendoza who stares blankly back)
Hurtz: You know what matters. This matters. This right here. (Det. Hurtz stands up and steps over to the TV. He snatches the remote from the cart and clicks it. A video begins to roll. In it we see a man wearing a Barack Obama mask pulling a gun on a bank teller and telling everyone to hit the floor. Det. Hurtz pauses the video when the robber turns towards the camera holding a blue Adidas gym bag filled with money)
Hurtz: (Walks around directly in front of the TV) See that? (Hurtz jabs a finger at the screen. Jameson nods. Det. Mendoza stares at the TV screen and rubs his chin). That’s what matters. That’s you, right?
Jameson: Yah. That’s me. That’s what I said. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I turned myself in.
Hurtz: (Runs the video again) And that’s you waving that gun around. And that’s you walking out with that gym bag full of cash, right?
Jameson: (Voice strong but not too forceful) That’s right.
Hurtz: (Det. Hurts starts to run the video again. He stops it, rewinds and again pauses it) See that guy on the floor, right there. (Hurtz again aims a finger at the screen which shows a man lying on the ground. The three men stare at the TV) That’s the old dude. (Det. Hurtz turns his head towards Jameson) That’s someone’s father, someone’s grandfather. He didn’t get up when you left. They had to rush him to the hospital.
Jameson: But he made it.
Hurtz: Lucky for you he made it.
Mendoza: (His cell phone rings. Det. Mendoza answers the call) Mendoza. (He pauses to listen) Yah. Okay. Sounds good. We’ll hold on. (Det. Mendoza returns his cell to his pants pocket and turns to speak to Mr. Jameson. His demeanor is fair and far less judgmental than that of Det. Hurtz. Jameson is no dummy and wonders if this is a good cop, bad cop scenario) Mr. Jameson, the States Attorney’s Office has someone on the way here. He’d like to talk to you. We hold you and get the facts, but he’s the one who will decide what you should be charged with, if anything. He should be here any minute. Are you willing to talk to him, Sir?
Mendoza: (Picks up the Adidas bag and sets it on the table. It’s the same bag that was in the video) Do you mind if I open the bag?
Jameson: No. That’s fine. (Det. Mendoza opens it and begin to go through a few stacks of bills. He stops and looks up. A stack of bills remain in his hands)
Mendoza: Is it all in here?
Jameson: Yah. All of it.
Mendoza: All $122,000.
Jameson: $122,044, to be exact.
Mendoza: Didn’t spend any?
Jameson: No sir. (Det. Mendoza looks at him quizzically, scratching his head)
Hurtz: You know, you just can’t walk into a police station a year after you rob a bank and hand over the money and expect us, you know (starts laughing) to give you a hearty handshake and say, “Merry Christmas. Thanks, for bringing the money back. Everything is all forgotten.” Things don’t work that way. You see where I’m comin’ from.
Jameson: I do. But doing the right thing’s gotta be worth something. I mean—
Hurtz: (interrupting) You robbed a bank. You had a gun. That’s six years. It’s that simple. You—
Cassadine: (The Door opens and a man in his late thirties wearing a heavy wool coat and carrying a briefcase walks in) Morning detectives.
Hurtz and Mendoza: (in unison) Morning Scott.
Cassadine: (He reaches for William Jameson’s hand. Will stands up) Morning, Mr. Jameson.
Jameson: Good morning.(Will Jameson sits down again)
Cassadine: (ASA Cassadine talks as he takes off his winter coat) My name is Scott Cassadine and I’m a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney. (He pulls a yellow legal pad and a pen from his briefcase) I’m assigned to the Felony Review Unit so I’ve been sent here today to make a determination in your case regarding approval of felony charges. Do you understand this so far, Mr. Jameson?
Jameson: Yes I do.
Cassadine: Okay. So here’s the deal. (ASA Cassadine stops and looks at the detectives) Is the camera on? Is everything being recorded?
Mendoza: Yah. Everything’s running.
Cassadine: Okay. Okay. Mr. Lambert, I know these guys read you your Miranda warnings, right?
Jameson: Yes they did.
Cassadine: And you indicated that you wished to talk to them, right?
Jameson: That’s right.
Cassadine: (Det. Mendoza hands a form to ASA Cassadine, who holds the form in his right hand, eyeballs it briefly, and then sets it in front of Jameson) And Sir, this form that Detective Mendoza just handed to me lists your Miranda rights in writing. Did you read this form?
Cassadine: And did you read it thoroughly and completely?
Cassadine: Do you understand your rights as given in this form?
Cassadine: And is that your signature on the form?
Jameson: Yes it is.
Cassadine: Did you sign your name freely and voluntarily on that form?
Jameson: Yes I did.
Cassadine: Sorry about going through all that again Mr. Jameson. When I come in I just have to make sure you know that anything you tell me can and will be used against you in a court of law. I want to make sure you know your rights.
Jameson: I know. I understand.
Cassadine: And you waive your right to have an attorney present.
Jameson: Yes I do.
Cassadine: Okay, Mr. Lambert, let’s go ahead and talk about how you—
Hurtz: (interrupting) Hey Scott. You wanna see the video?
Cassadine: (Hesitates) Ah, sure . . . Is it very long?
Hurtz: No not really. He was in and out in a minute.
Cassadine: Sure. Let’s see it. (The video rolls again. There are no stops or pauses this time. ASA Cassadine moves toward the corner of the room to watch the video but turns quickly and begins to watch Will Jameson’s reaction to the video. Jameson watches intently but without expression)
Cassadine: Is that you on the bank video?
Jameson: Yes it is.
Cassadine: Barack Obama mask, huh?
Cassadine: I guess you’re a Democrat, right? (Everyone in the room except for Det. Hurtz laughs lightly. Will Jameson appreciates the levity and sighs long and hard after his laughter is over, before speaking)
Jameson: Yep. Lifelong.
Cassadine: (still standing) Right. (ASA Cassadine jots down a few notes on his legal pad. He then swings eyes to the bag) Same bag, Mr. Jameson?
Jameson: Yes it is.
Cassadine: Can I take a look?
Jameson: Sure. Go ahead.
Cassadine: (Takes the bag and brings it to the other side of the table) You brought this bag in today?
Jameson: Yes sir.
Cassadine: Is the money all in there?
Hurtz: Well, he says it is. But, you know, we haven’t exactly counted it yet. But the report says $122,000 and a few bucks was stolen and that’s what Mr. Jameson says is in there.
Jameson: It’s in there.
Cassadine: (Sits down and rubs both hands through his hair. The gym bag is directly in front of him) You didn’t spend a single dollar?
Cassadine: (Lifts a few stacks of Bills. Raises them up and smells them, before dropping them back into the bag. He looks up at the two detectives) Smells nice. Fresh. . . Let’s get this counted up.
Hurtz: Will do. (Det. Hurtz takes the bag and leaves the room)
Cassadine: (Blows out a sigh) We sure do live in a funny world don’t we Mr. Jameson? (Will Jameson looks at ASA Cassadine but doesn’t answer) I mean, why would you rob a bank and then not even spend a single buck.
Jameson: Well, See I—
Cassadine: And why would you bring the money back to the police station?
Jameson: It’s like this. I know the only thing I can do is tell it to you from the beginning. That’s the only way it might make sense. But you still might think I’m nuts.
Cassadine: Nuts. Why would I think that? I meet guys all the time who rob banks, don’t spend any of the money and then come back and turn the money back in almost a year later.
Mendoza: Exactly a year later.
Cassadine: Exactly? (Det. Mendoza nods. Jameson stares at his hands which he has cupped together in front of him. He begins to fidget and move his fingers about though they always remain in constant touch with one another)
Cassadine: We have plenty of time, Mr. Jameson. Don’t worry about being in a hurry. This is your opportunity to tell us what happened. But I gotta tell you and I’m sure these guys already let you know. You rob a bank with a gun, there isn’t a judge around that’ll give you less than six years. It’s the law. That’s the minimum. Now I have to say, you did a good thing bringing the money back and all, but it doesn’t excuse your actions.
Jameson: I know Mr. Cassidy.
Cassadine: No problem. Just letting you know.
Jameson: I’ve read up on all the law and my question is though—the intent to rob. What if it’s not there? What if there is no intent?
Cassadine: If you rob a place, there’s intent.
Jameson: But what if it really wasn’t me or if I couldn’t control what I was doing?
Cassadine: You don’t look like you belong in a mental facility Mr. Jameson.
Hurtz: (Door opens and Det. Hurtz barges in) $122,044. All there. Matches the report of the banks numbers.
Jameson: (Ignores Hurtz) This robbery is just a part of the whole deal. One small part.
Cassadine: (Throws a BE QUIET look at Det. Hurtz. Hurtz takes a chair.) Okay Mr. Jameson, fill us in. We’ve got the time. Like I said, this is your chance to tell it as you see it. (Pause) You want a coffee or anything?
Jameson: Can I get an orange juice?
Cassadine: Sure. (Looks around for a volunteer)
Hurtz: (Jumps to his feet) I gottit. He wants orange juice. He gets orange juice. No problem. (Mutters “orange juice” to himself as he leaves the room)
Jameson: Okay so it’s Christmas last year, a few days before Christmas actually. A Fed Ex package comes to the house. I wasn’t home but I saw the package on the porch when I got home. So I open it up and it’s a box, a shoe box sized box wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper. I ordered some stuff online for my wife and kids but I didn’t order any shoes. So I look at the tag and it says it’s for me in the TO section but there’s no name in the FROM section.
Jameson: So I don’t figure anything big about it. I figure my wife or kids picked up something for me, and just didn’t fill in the tag part. So I toss it under the tree. Two days later it’s Christmas Eve. One of our traditions is that when we get back from Noon mass we open up one present each. So we get home and I’m playing Santa. You know handing out the gifts. I pull up a folding chair beside the tree and I start tossing out a gift to everyone. I have three boys and—
Mendoza: How old are your sons?
Jameson: (Will Jameson looks directly at Det. Mendoza and smiles as if to say . . .thanks for asking. Thanks for making me feel human) Jimmy’s in 6th grade, Alex’s in 8th and my oldest . . . boy will graduate from high school this coming May. He’s 18. (There is a pause and all four men run their eyes over one another) So after I handed out the gifts, I grabbed that shoebox for myself. I shook the box and then asked, “Hey who got this for me?” I look up and none of my kids or my wife claimed it. So I figure they’re just messing with me and I crack open the shoebox and inside . . . are a pair of great looking, black dress shoes.
Cassadine: Dress shoes?
Jameson: Yep. Dress shoes. (The door opens and Det. Hurtz walks in with a glass of orange juice in a clear plastic cup. He hands it to Jameson) Thanks. (Det. Hurtz nods. Jameson downs the entire glass in one, slow, steady gulp. He then sucks in a deep breath and slowly releases it) Now here’s the weird thing. The shoes weren’t brand new. I mean they looked brand new on the outside, but on the inside, you know how the words inside the shoe get worn off when you wear them?
Jameson: Well these were kind of worn off, but I could still tell it said Lambert. I guess it’s some kind of brand name for the shoe.
Cassadine: Never heard of ‘em.
Jameson: Me neither. But here’s the kicker, okay? So the shoes are in the box but there’s a note in the box too. (Jameson reaches into the box on the desk and removes a slip of paper folded in half) I brought it with. (Jameson shakes the note) This is what was in the shoe box.
Cassadine: (Takes the slip of paper from Jameson’s hand and looks at it. It is typewritten. He reads it out loud) “Your mind is the gateway to freedom. Today your mind and your actions unite, but laws may be broken.” (Pause. Will Jameson runs his eyes across the faces of the other three men. Hurtz wags his head in disgust. Cassadine and Mendoza look at the floor, and then Cassadine flips the note on to the table)
Cassadine: C’mon. That’s what you got. (Cassadine is now clearly disgusted as well. He begins to pace) Are you trying to tell me that this note caused you to do this. This note made you wanna go out and rob a bank. I mean you did go and do it that very same day. . . just before all the banks closed up.
Jameson: I have four other notes in here about four other things that the police don’t know about and likely won’t care about. . . except for one. The notes didn’t make me do anything. The shoes did.
Cassadine: (With disbelief) The shoes?
Jameson: Yes, Sir. The shoes.
Hurtz: Jesus Christ. Now I’ve heard everything. Some people say the devil is talking in their ear telling them to do bad things or they heard other bullshit voices telling them to kill someone. I mean, hey, Son of Sam claimed that a dog told him to kill all those people in New York in the’70s. But for you . . . (mocking) it’s your SHOES that told you to do it.
Jameson: Look, I know it sounds nuts. I put the shoes on that day, right then and there. I was like . . . Hah, Hah. This is funny. I even read the note to my family. I asked who was playing the prank. We all got a good laugh out of it. And when I put the shoes on. Things started to change. IMMEDIATELY.
Cassadine: So to free your mind, you had to rob a bank.
Jameson: That’s what I ended up doing. For you (stares directly into ASA Cassadine’s eyes and then shifts to Det. Hurtz) or you (shifts eyes to Det. Mendoza) or you, it would’ve been different. Look, we all have weird things that pop into our heads. Stuff we can’t control. We all do. So we can’t control what pops in, but we CAN control the acting on it part. For me, I’ve always thought it would be cool to rob a bank. Since I was a kid. I never was going to do it. I never planned to rob a bank. It’s not like it’s on my TO DO list or anything. But you know the old time gangsters— Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, all that stuff. It always appealed to me. I read a bunch of books on it. Wrote reports on it in high school. But I’d never do it.
Hurtz: But you did.
Jameson: I mean I also think it would be cool to jump into the sack with three or four women but I’m not gonna act on that either. My wife would kill me. The other weird thing that pops into my head sometimes is when you hear about a guy climbing the Sears Tower, you know those guys that put the suction cups on their hands and feet and climb up there. I mean that looks cool but I’d shit in my pants when I got a third of the way up there.
Cassadine: Climbing the Sears Tower would’ve been better for you, Mr. Jameson. A fine and misdemeanor. Robbing a bank? Ouch. . . That’s a felony.
Jameson: So I put the shoes on that day and within one-half hour, I told my wife and kids I was running up to the store to get some milk and I did and after that . . .BAM . . .it’s what you see in the video.
Mendoza: So Mr. Jameson, during the year that passed . . . what did you do with the money?
Jameson: I put it downstairs in the basement in my tool room. No one ever goes down there. No one but me.
Cassadine: Where’d you get the mask?
Jameson: I had it from Halloween a few years back when Obama ran the first time for president. I just brought it with me.
Hurtz: And the gun?
Jameson: It’s my gun. It’s registered. Hey, my house has been broken into before. They did it while we were in there. While we were sleeping.
Cassadine: So that’s it? That’s the scoop?
Jameson: For this, yes. But there are four other notes.
Cassadine: And where’re the shoes?
Jameson: I have them on . . . right now.
Cassadine: We’ll let’s have a look at these beasts.
Jameson: How do ya—
Cassadine: (Taps the table) Just kick your feet right up here so we can all get a good look. (Jameson agrees and swings his legs around. He is leaning back in his chair with his shoes atop the table. Detectives Mendoza and Hurtz move in close for a look, while ASA Cassadine stares at the shoes from over the detectives’ shoulders. The shoes are shiny and without a scratch. They release an almost blinding reflection from the overhead lighting. All four men stare at the shoes)
Mendoza: Those are some top notch kicks.
Hurtz: Can you take ‘em off? Or is it like some weird, Wizard of Oz, Wicked Witch of the East sort of thing?
Jameson: No it’s not like that. I’ve only worn these shoes five times.
Cassadine: But you have them on today.
Hurtz: The question still stands. Can you take them off?
Jameson: No. Not yet.
Cassadine: Why today? Why do you have them on today, if you rarely wear them?
Jameson: Because I received another note.
Cassadine: Well, let’s see it?
Jameson: Sure, but I think it’s better if we go in sequence. It makes more sense that way. Is that okay?
Cassadine: Sure, sure. Keep it going the way you want. (Cassadine sits down. So does Hurtz. They face Will Jameson and watch as he slowly removes his feet from the table).
Jameson: Here’s the second Note. (Hands a full sheet to ASA Cassadine)
Cassadine: (Examines the note) This is an email.
Cassadine: But there’s no name in the FROM section.
Jameson: I know. That’s the way it came. (Cassadine hands the note to Det. Hurtz who, after examining it briefly, hands it to Det. Mendoza. Mendoza closely reviews the note. He wags his head. He has never seen an email before without the name of a sender. Mendoza reads the note out loud slowly) “You will accomplish one of your major goals in life, but almost no one will know it was you.” (Mendoza continues to stare at the note and sets it softly on the table)
Cassadine: Okay. So what happens here?
Jameson: This one’s easy. When I was 38-years-old, one day I decided that I wanted to write. I wanted to put my stories down on paper. So I went back to school. I went to Columbia College downtown. Night school so I could keep working. I was working on a Masters in Creative Writing.
Cassadine: And you’re a—
Mendoza: He’s an accountant. He runs his own tax business.
Cassadine: Okay. But you always wanted to write?
Jameson: Right. And so I went through the Master’s program. It took me four years to finish. And since then I had a couple of short stories published here and there in different journals no one has ever hear of. And I had a few articles in magazines and newspapers, but like most everyone, I never hit the big time. That main story was just too hard to write. And then I got this email.
Jameson: (Reaches into his shoebox and pulls out a book titled, Whiskey in the Morning. He sets the book on the table)
Mendoza: (Smiling and excited) I loved that book. Great title. Great stories—
Hurtz: (Serious) My old man was like that father in that book. He was an alcoholic too. Used to knock us all around as kids. Haven’t seen the prick for over 20 years. Same sort of stuff.
Jameson: Well . . . That book was written by me.
Hurtz: And I’m Ernest Hemingway.
Jameson: It was. No one has ever seen the author Robinson Douglas. You guys read the papers, the websites, the blogs. He’s the mystery man. That’s part of what’s pushed the book. No one knows who the guy is.
Hurtz: And we should believe that it’s you?
Cassadine: I guess I’m the only illiterate in the room today. (He grabs the book and flips through a few pages)
Hurtz: Prove it. Prove it’s you. That book was the top seller list this year. What do you need to go rob a bank for if you got loads of dough from writing a book?
Jameson: Good point. (Jameson reaches into his shoe box and pulls out a bank statement. He passes it to Det. Hurtz)
Hurtz: There’s a $125,000 deposit into the account of William Jameson on April 1st of this year and another $125,000 in October.
Jameson: The first one was for the advance on the book. The second one was for the movie rights.
Hurtz: And then a bunch of other monthly payments on the first of each month. $5,000, $8,540, $15,240. And more. (He hands the statement to ASA Cassadine who examines it)
Jameson: Those are the monthly royalties. And they all come from Putnam House. And by the way, other than my agent, you three guys are the only others who know who I am. My own wife doesn’t even know I wrote the book. (ASA Cassadine passes the statement to Det. Mendoza. There is a lengthy pause and for the first time, Will Jameson senses that he is making headway)
Jameson: Can I call the agent. She’ll talk to you. She’ll let you know.
Jameson: My literary agent. She’s the one who pushed the book. She handled everything. Here look. (Will Jameson takes the book and reads from the ACKNOWLEDGEMENT section near the front of the book) “To my agent, BJ Rubin, for her hard-work and dedication in getting the book put into print faster than any other book known to man.” (Jameson pauses and looks around.) BJ Rubin is my agent. She pushed the book. I had terms that said if it didn’t go into publication within two months of acceptance, then the deal was off. She followed it through and pushed it. And getting something done that quickly is unheard of in the lit world. (Jameson looks for approval but it is not forthcoming. He feels a sense of despair) Here’s her number—BJ Rubin in Sausalito, California. (Hands ASA Cassadine a slip with her number on it) You can dial it up or verify it online. Whatever you need to do.
Hurtz: I’ll check on it. (He grabs the phone information and leaves the room)
Cassadine: Let’s . . . let’s hold on a minute or two. This shouldn’t take long.
Jameson: Right. Okay. (Will Jameson starts to fiddle with a paperclip from the shoebox, unfolding it and folding it up again. He is lost in thought. Det. Mendoza and ASA Cassadine watch Jameson as he continues this action until, eventually, the paperclip is transformed into a triangular shape. He sets the paperclip on the table)
Cassadine: Good talent there.
Jameson: (Snaps) What?
Cassadine: (Nods towards the paperclip)
Jameson: Oh? Yah.
Hurtz: (Enters the room) It’s good. That’s her number.
Mendoza: (Pulls out his phone and dials as Det. Hurtz call out the numbers)
Hurtz: 945 . . .385 . . .4200
Cassadine: Put it on speaker phone, okay?
Mendoza: Sure. Sure. (Presses button. We hear the sound of a phone ringing)
Receptionist: BJ Rubin and Associates.
Mendoza: Hello, this is Detective David Mendoza with the Chicago Police Department. I’m trying to reach BJ Rubin.
Receptionist: Okay, please hold one moment. (Pause)
Rubin: BJ Rubin.
Mendoza: Hi Miss Rubin, my name is David Mendoza and I’m a detective with the Chicago Police Department. I’m calling regarding a case I’m working on and I just need a few minutes of your time.
Rubin: Okay. What’s this about?
Mendoza: Do you know William Jameson?
Rubin: (No answer)
Mendoza: Miss Rubin, do you know Mr. Jameson? (Again no answer)
Jameson: Can I talk to her? (ASA Cassadine nods. Det. Mendoza hands his phone to Will Jameson.) Hi BJ. It’s Will here. How you doing?
Rubin: I’m good Will. Good. What’s going on? Is everything all right?
Jameson: Oh it’s fine, BJ. I’m just working with the police on a matter and they have a few questions for you. Please answer their questions. It’s okay with me. They can know who I am. But that’s it. Our pact about my anonymity remains in effect as to all others.
Rubin: You sure about all this, Will?
Jameson: Yes. I am. It’s okay. (Hands the phone back to Det. Mendoza)
Mendoza: Mrs. Rubin—
Robbins: (interrupting) It’s MISS Rubin.
Mendoza: Sorry about that. I had it right the first time. Can I just call you BJ (Looks over at ASA Cassadine and mouths the words “BJ.”)
Rubin: Sure. Go ahead.
Mendoza: Okay BJ (shouting) how do you know William Jameson?
Rubin: He’s my client. He wrote the book, Whiskey for Breakfast. I’m his agent.
Mendoza: When did you first . . . come into contact with him?
Rubin: He sent me the first 30 pages of his manuscript in February of this year. It came in the slush pile and things were—
Mendoza: (interrupts) The slush pile?
Rubin: Yes. Well, let me explain. His work came as an unsolicited manuscript. I did not know William nor was I familiar with any of his previous work. We receive mounds of material from thousands of writers every month and if we don’t know them or have a relationship with them, their work goes into the slush pile. (Pause) Most material in the slush pile never makes it out of there.
Mendoza: But Mr. Jameson’s material did.
Rubin: That’s correct. It was a slow week and I happened to grab a couple of manuscripts from the slush pile. Well, one was Will’s. I read the first 30 pages and absolutely loved it. As a matter of fact, I telephoned him immediately and asked him to forward the balance of the manuscript.
Rubin: So he emailed the rest. I finished reading it within two days and let him know immediately I wanted to represent him.
Mendoza: Did you know him as Robinson Douglas at that point or as William Jameson?
Rubin: Robinson Douglas. The William Jameson part did not come about until he had to be paid. We couldn’t pay Robinson Douglas because he does not exist. He has no social and when I told Will about this, that’s when he told me his real name for the first time. Then he let me know about the whole pen name thing and his strong desire for anonymity.
Mendoza: Okay, hold on one minute, Miss Rubin. (Covers the phone with his hand. Looks around at the others) Anything else?
Cassadine: Ask her if anyone else knows about his real name.
Mendoza: Can you tell me if anyone else knows Mr. Jameson’s real name.
Rubin: No one. Except for you apparently. Is . . . is everything okay?
Mendoza: Yes Ma’am, everything’s fine. Thanks for your help. Have a—
Jameson: Can I say goodbye? (Det. Mendoza nods and hands phone over) Thanks BJ. I appreciate your help.
Rubin: You sure everything is okay?
Jameson: Yes. Yes I am.
Rubin: Okay then. If that changes you let me know.
Jameson: Will do. Have a good day now. (Ends call and hands phone back to Det. Mendoza)
Hurtz: This is some crazy sauce. I mean this is the sort of stuff that makes me want to start shakin like a junky.
Jameson: You know, in a strange way. . . it’s . . . it’s probably best that no one knows who I am. As for this book I mean.
Hurtz: How can you say that? I mean, you wrote a great fuckin book and no one knows who the hell you are. Fame man. Fame. Your shot at fame is gone. Hell, people ought to be lined up in bookstores waitin for you to sign their fricken book.
Cassadine: Well, we know who he is. (Pause) And his bank account most definitely knows who he is.
Mendoza: And don’t forget BJ.
Jameson: But what I’m saying is this. If I wrote this in my own name, I doubt my brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins would be talking to me now. You know what I mean. Sure there’s some funny stuff in there but there’s some God awful shit in there too.
Hurtz: Yah. I know what you mean there. (Pause) I gotta ask you. Did your father really try to drown you?
Jameson: Yah he did. But it’s like I said in the book. It’s not like he held me underwater or anything. He just pushed me off the boat in the middle of the lake and rowed away. I thought he was joking around at first but he kept goin. And there I was out in the middle of the lake about a mile to get to shore and I couldn’t swim.
Cassadine: Hold on. Now like I said I didn’t read the book. I’m sorry. But what’re we talking about here. Your own father tried to kill you?
Jameson: When I was nine, I was with my dad fishing in a row boat out in Houghton Lake up near the top of Michigan.
Cassadine: In the U.P.?
Jameson: No. Not the U.P. Near the top of the lower section. Anyways, my dad got kind of blotto while we were fishing, drinking whiskey and beer and next thing I know, BAM, I’m in the water.
Hurtz: And he just oared away in the boat.
Cassadine: How’d you get out. I mean, you just said you couldn’t swim.
Jameson: I was panicking and going under and I popped up one last time and I remember looking at my dad and he wasn’t even looking back. He kept (shows the oaring motion) on rowing backwards so he didn’t have to look at me. I just remember taking a huge deep breath and laying out flat. Kind of like you see people do who actually know how to float. After that. Who knows. I don’t remember anything until about an hour or so later when I ended up on shore.
Cassadine: And what happened to your father after this?
Jameson: Nothing happened to him. I went home and didn’t say anything to anyone.
Cassadine: And what about your dad? What did he do?
Jameson: He didn’t say anything either. Acted like it didn’t happen. But I made sure after that . . . well, that I was never alone with him again. One of my older brothers or sisters was always with me.
Cassadine: (Wagging his head) You see all kinds, but I still sometimes don’t really get it. I mean, how does someone do—
Jameson: I’m the mailman’s son.
Hurtz: (excited) That’s the title of one of the chapters . . .The Mailman’s Son.
Jameson: See I didn’t know it at the time. I was 11 when my dad died, and that’s when my mother told me that he wasn’t my father. All of my brothers and sisters belonged to him, but I didn’t. He knew that, so I guess he was tired of having me around. That’s when I told my mom about the boat and the drowning incident. She couldn’t believe it. And then when I asked who my father was, she said the mailman. And I laughed and said, no really. Who? And she said, the mailman, really. That’s who. I didn’t ask her any more questions about it after that but I always made sure I was around from time to time in the summers at mail delivery time so I could see my real father popping the mail into the box.
Mendoza: He popped the mail into the box, all right.
Jameson: Hey, who’s perfect?
Cassadine: I’m sorry Mr. Jameson, but this is just wild stuff. I never—
Hurtz: (interrupting) It’s crazy sauce man. Like I said . . . crazy sauce.
Mendoza: Where’d “Robinson Douglas” come from?
Jameson: That’s easy. Jackie Robinson and Stephen “The Little Giant” Douglas.
Mendoza: I get the Robinson part, but who’s the Little Giant?
Jameson: He was a US Senator from Illinois in the mid-1800s. You know the Lincoln-Douglas presidential debates.
The Little Giant Himself
Jameson: That’s him.
Mendoza: Cool. I gottit now.
Jameson: (Looking at ASA Cassadine) Do you believe in spells or hexes or ghosts or stuff like that?
Cassadine: I guess there’s room for it to happen. I mean I do believe that people . … spirits or ghosts . . . that they stick around if they’re pissed and need to get even with someone.
Jameson: That’s how I always saw it too. I never believed in the other stuff though. No voodoo or hexes or spells.
Cassadine: But now you do?
Jameson: Unfortunately, now I do.
Mendoza: Are you sure someone isn’t just playing with your mind and sending these notes to you. Maybe you should—
Jameson: I wrote that book in one day. One day! I had these fricken shoes on. . . and I couldn’t stop writing until it was done.
Cassadine: Okay. How many more notes did you say are in there?
Jameson: There’s three more.
Cassadine: Are they all weird like this?
Jameson: Well, I guess it goes by what you mean as weird. But one is bad. Definitely bad.
FINAL SCENES IN THE NEXT EDITION OF FOLEYSPEAK