Keeper: Doug Iannelli
Special Agent Q. Richard Piscapello: “Jaundiced Joe”Friday, January 2, 1998. 7:49 a.m.
Keeper: Pulling into the South Station a little before eight, you pick up the morning edition of the Globe and begin the twenty-minute walk to the Office. It’s a conscious decision you make, to walk. It invigorates your body and drives a wedge in the sleepiness that you find is only exacerbated by the train ride from Rhode Island.
Keeper: You could take a cab – the Bureau would compensate you for it – but you prefer it this way. It doesn’t even really matter that it’s frigid and the forecast is calling for even heavier snowfall this evening. You’re a New Englander and, like they say, the snow comes with the chowder. At least you didn’t have to drive all the way in in it. After four years with the New York Division, the ability to get up at five a.m., drive to the Providence MBTA station, hop a commuter, and still have time to catch a walk is a godsend.
Keeper: Paper tucked under your arm, you turn your collar up against the cold. Crossing Dorance, it looms before of you. One Center Plaza, home to the Boston Regional Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Keeper: Encompassing the entire sixth floor of the John F. Kennedy Federal Building, the Boston Division serves as the nerve center for Bureau operations in Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Along with the Bureau, the JFK building is also the central site for many of the other local branches of federal government such as the IRS.
Keeper: Trudging through the gray berm of two-day-old snow ploughed up along the curb, you stamp your shoes clean of the slush and rock salt and, passing the new concrete security pylons installed in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing. The lobby is still decorated in full holiday season regalia.
Keeper: Reggie, an aging security guard, smiles at your approach, scantly paying you any attention as you flash your credentials and pass through the metal detectors. Great security, you muse.
Keeper: Pausing to wait for an elevator car to descend, you scan the front page of the paper, now damp from its exposure to the light snow outside. With a ding, the car arrives and you enter amid a small crowd of other federal employees and visitors. Checking your watch, it’s 8:15 a.m. Right on time. A few polite nods and two stops later, the doors open onto the sixth floor. As is usual, the Office is abuzz with early morning activity. Passing the visitor’s reception area, secretaries, agents, and support staff fill the halls and offices; many relating war stories from the New Year’s party two nights ago.
Keeper: Stopping at the breakroom nearest your Section, you rummage through the cabinets for your Celtics coffee mug. Finding it, you fill it with the warm, dark liquid from one of the nearby urns. Behind you, a voice speaks. It’s ASAC Hobbson, leaning in the door, nursing his own cup of coffee.
Hobbson: “Missed you at the party, Rich.”
Piscapello: “Yeah, couldn’t make it. It’s a bit of a haul from Providence.”
Hobbson: “I know that, and you know that, but these other young guns around here . . . hell, you are one of the young guns around here. You’re supposed to be eatin’ that kind of stuff up.”
Hobbson: “You really ought to try to get out with the guys once in awhile. It’d be good for you.”
Piscapello: “You’re right. I’ll try to make the next one.”
Keeper: Hobbson nods in acceptance, then, as if remembering something all of a sudden, changes the subject.
Hobbson: “Oh. Listen. Vaughn wants to see you this morning. Come on down to my office when you get situated and we’ll go over together and see what he’s got.”
Piscapello: “You got it. Any idea what he wants?”
Keeper: Hobbson shrugs suspiciously, the faint traces of a grin discernable in his Mick features.
Hobbson: “You’ll have to ask him.”
Keeper: Leaving you hanging, the ASAC leaves the doorway and heads down the hall, stopping to converse with Rich Moore and Terry Hill from the Telemarketing Fraud Unit.
Piscapello: I fish around for some creamer and sugar and then head towards my desk.
Keeper: Taking care not to spill your coffee, you make your way through the halls amid the bustling human traffic acknowledging a flurry of “good mornings” and “Hey, Richs”. Elbowing open the door to the area you share with Aranda and Matthis in the Political Corruption Unit, you toss down your coat.
Piscapello: (whispered) Does this imply that Aranda and Matthis are there or just that I share the office with them?
Keeper: (whispered) Neither are currently in the office.
Piscapello: Is there anything in my in box?
Keeper: Sifting through a pile of memorandums and Bureau junk mail, you discover a packet of notarized from the First District Court. Flipping through it, you find an injunction against Boston City Councilman Michael McConaughy effectively terminating his ability to continue receiving kickbacks from union contractors on the proposed MBTA light rail project. Accompanying these documents is also a Federal Grand Jury indictment against the crooked politician.
Keeper: Eight months of intensive and tedious investigation into the business practices of McConaughy by yourself and the rest of the PCU has finally paid off. No more long hours off site. Case closed. It’s now in the hands of the legal eagles across town.
Keeper: Aranda pokes his pudgy face in the open door, smiling like the Cheshire cat.
Aranda: “D’ya see it?”
Piscapello: “What, the injunction and indictment?”
Keeper: The agent nods like a happy puppy and enters the office, sitting on the corner of his desk.
Piscapello: “Yeah. Things look good.”
Keeper: “Thank God that’s finally over. What’ya say you, me, and Kev get together tonight at Jillian’s and celebrate?”
Piscapello: “Well, the train runs a little infrequently after work but . . . ah, what the hell. Yeah. I’ll definitely be there.”
Aranda: “Great! I’ll go tell Kev. He’s already down tootin’ his horn to Calabrese in PR. If he has his way, come tomorrow morning’s papers, we’ll all be stars.”
Piscapello: “Figures. I’m just relieved it’s over. I thought I’d shoot someone if I had to spend another week on that case.”
Aranda: “That ain’t no shit.”
Keeper: Larry runs off down the hall to share your plans with Matthis.
Piscapello: I sip my coffee while I check the desk for phone messages.
Keeper: Allowing the warm liquid to rejuvenate your still-tired senses, you scan the desk. You see none of the canary Bureau messages.
Piscapello: I sit and finish my drink before heading over to Hobbson’s office.
Keeper: Downing the last of the coffee, you make your way to the east end of the Office, where the senior agents maintain their personal workplaces. ASAC Hobbson’s door is open, as usual. Seeing you, he rises from his desk to shake your hand, smiling.
Hobbson: “Goood work on the McConaughy case, Rich. Goood work.”
Hobbson: (nodding next door) “Ready to go see what the SAC wants?”
Piscapello: “Ready as I’ll ever be. Let’s go.”
Keeper: Patting you on the back, Hobbson beams like a proud father. He leads you to the corner office of the senior agent in the Boston Regional Office, SAC Howard C. Vaughn. With a polite knock at the door, you both enter his receptionist’s office. Mary Tidwell, Vaughn’s heavyset secretary, smiles as you enter.
Keeper: The SAC’s reception area is a marked departure from the drab dÈcor of the rest of the Division. Replete with wood paneling and framed photos of the President, Attorney General, and Director of the Bureau, the comfort-level of the waiting area alone is testimony to the perks that come with 22 years of service and steady advancement. The only inelegant features of the room are mostly derived from Mary’s desk, which is cluttered with paperwork and computer paraphernalia.
Tidwell: “Good morning, gentlemen.”
Hobbson: “Mornin’, Mary.”
Piscapello: “Hello, Mary. How are you doing?”
Tidwell: (laughing) “Pretty good considering it’s Friday already.”
Hobbson: “Is the big man in?”
Tidwell: “Just a moment. I’ll check.”
Keeper: You peer out the large window overlooking South Boston and the Bay as Mary presses a button on her speaker phone and diverts the connection to her headset.
Tidwell: “Sir, ASAC Hobbson and Special Agent Piscapello are here to see you. . . (nodding) Yes, sir.”
Keeper: Mary terminates the connection with another push of a button.
Tidwell: “The SAC will see you now.”
Keeper: Rising, Hobbson motions for you to follow him as he leads you through an adjoining door leading into the SAC’s personal office.
Keeper: The room is large, tastefully decorated with a sofa and several sitting chairs surrounding a glass coffee table on which sits an expensive crystal decanter and six matching glasses. The SAC’s work area is dominated by a large cherry desk and a bookcase; its shelves lined with legal volumes denoting his original legal vocation. The walls present duplicate photos to those in the receptionist’s office as well an impressive collection of academic and Bureau accomplishments. Two closed doors lead to a private restroom and a smaller conference room respectively.
Keeper: From behind his desk, Vaughn rises, inviting you to the sitting area. It is obvious by his demeanor that this is meant to be a cordial meeting,
Vaughn: “ASAC Hobbson. Agent Piscapello. Come in. Make yourselves comfortable.
Piscapello: “Thank you, sir.”
Keeper: Pat takes a seat beside you on the couch as the ASAC moves around his desk to join you. Retrieving a folder from his desk, Vaughn takes a seat in one of the plush chairs across from you and, crossing his legs, sizes you up with intelligent blue eyes before gesturing to the decanter of amber liquid between you.
Vaughn: “Outstanding leg work on that corruption case, Agent Piscapello. If it wasn’t nine o’clock in the morning I’d offer you a glass of Scotch.”
Piscapello: “Thank you, sir.”
Vaughn: “ASAC Hobbson and I have been going over your caseload. We’re both impressed with what you been able to accomplish since coming to this Office.”
Vaughn: “You’ve got just under eight years in the Bureau. Any thought given to advancement?”
Piscapello: “I haven’t really given it a lot of thought as of yet. I’ve been pretty content with my work.”
Vaughn: “Well, something just came up the pipe from the New York Division that I thought perhaps you might be interested in. It’s a definite departure from collecting the laundry on dirty alderman – and it’s high profile. Which isn’t a bad thing if you’re ever planning to go anywhere in the Bureau.”
Piscapello: “What’s it look like?”
Vaughn: “You’re familiar with the ‘Subway Butcher’ case they’re working down there?”
Piscapello: “A little, yeah. Mostly what I’ve read in the paper and Bureau bulletins.”
Vaughn: “Quantico’s sending one of their ISU guys up to assist the task force handling the case. Things have gotten a little stale in the investigation and the SAC heading it up has put out a call for fresh resources. ASAC Hobbson and I feel that, given your demonstrated ability and experience with the New York Division and local law down there, you’d be an excellent candidate for the job.”
Piscapello: “Thank you, sir. What else can you tell me about the case?”
Keeper: Turning to you, Hobbson interjects.
Hobbson: According to the tasking request, you’d be functioning as an aide to the ISU profiler being assigned to the task force. This is a great opportunity for you to broaden your experience base in the Bureau, Rich. Most agents go their entire career without ever having the opportunity to work closely with the Behavioral Science guys.”
Vaughn: “Before you commit, Agent Piscapello, there are a few thing’s I’d like you to consider.”
Vaughn: “Although this isn’t a divisional transfer, it might place you away from home for a while. I understand you have some ‘special’ concerns that prompted your desire to be attached to this Field Office. As usual, you’d be eligible for any uncontrollable overtime and, if things become exceptionally protracted down there, we’ll push Finance to approve the appropriate adjustments. Is that acceptable?”
Piscapello: “Do you have any sense of how long I’d have to be down there?”
Vaughn: “Difficult to say at this point, The case has been active since May of last year.”
Piscapello: (sighs) “I’ll do it. I’ll figure out some way to make it work – maybe commute back on weekends.”
Keeper: Vaughn nods in acceptance and opens the folder on his lap, flipping through several pages before tracing his finger over some material contained therein and quoting from it.
Vaughn: “The profiler’s Dr. Benton Inglewaithe. I’ve never met the man, but from what I’ve read on him, he’s a pretty sharp cookie. MBChb from Oxford at 24, at Maudsley Hospital in London his research for his MD was in the field of forensic pathology. His doctoral thesis, entitled The Personality Structure of the Violent Sociopath, is core curriculum at the Academy.”
Keeper: Vaughn closes the folder and returns his gaze to you.
Vaughn: “If you’re really serious about taking this assignment, we can have you on a flight out of Logan to LaGuardia tonight. That should give you some time to recuperate before meeting up with Dr. Inglewaithe to see what they’ve got down there. As ASAC Hobbson said, this kind of case can only do good things for your career.”
Vaughn: “By the way, Agent Piscapello, how do you feel about working under a woman?”
Piscapello: “I don’t have a problem with it. Why do you ask?”
Vaughn: “The SAC heading up the Bureau end of the task force is Heather Raley, an old friend. We went through the Academy together. Regardless of what you may or may not expressly think about females special agents, Agent Piscapello, accept my assessment that she wouldn’t be the only female SAC in this history of the Bureau is she weren’t worth her salt.”
Piscapello: “I’m sure. I’ll do it. What time is the flight?”
Keeper: Vaughn rises and extends a hand to you. Hobbson also stands.
Piscapello: I return is handshake.
Vaughn: “If we have ourselves a deal, Agent Piscapello, I’ll have Mary coordinate with Office Services to get your tickets and reservations lined up. We’ll call you as soon as they’re confirmed. Due to the sensitive nature of the investigation, you’ll have to forgo full briefing until you report to the task force tomorrow. In the mean time, feel free to balloon and get yourself packed.”
Keeper: Vaughn and Hobbson also exchange handshakes, both obviously satisfied with your decision to accept the assignment.
Vaughn: “Good luck, Agent Piscapello.”
Keeper: Exiting the SAC’s office, you pass back by his receptionist’s desk. Mary smiles politely, if ignorantly, before responding to a buzz from her phone. Within seconds, she is rapidly jotting down information.
Keeper: Once outside and in the hallway nearer his office, Hobbson lets out a gasp of excitement and proudly pats you on the back.
Hobbson: “This is terrific for you, Rich!”
Piscapello: “Thanks. I’m not too thrilled about going back to New York, but I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to work with ISU.”
Keeper: Stopping you, he places both hands on your shoulders.
Hobbson: “You’re a good agent, Rich. You excel in everything you do, and that makes all of us look good. But up until now, it’s all been fodder for the courts. This is the big one. You play your cards right and nab this guy and you’ll make Supervisor before you hit your next Field Office.”
Keeper: Almost more exciting about this development than you are, he looks at his watch.
Hobbson: “Listen, you better get out of here and get packed. It’s a ways back to Providence and you’re gonna have to be back in Boston before long to catch the flight.”
Keeper: With a final shake of your hand, he looks endearingly at you through his Coke-bottle lenses.
Hobbson: “I’m so happy for you, Rich. Really. Tell you’re mother the kids loved the cannoli.”
Piscapello: “Thanks, Pat. I’ll see you when I see you.”
Keeper: Nodding, the ASAC leaves you to respond to a call from his secretary.
Keeper: The commuter line is less crowded for the early trip home. Outside, flurries continue to fall. The forecast on the cabby’s radio on the short drive to the station confirmed earlier forecasts for worsening weather in the evening. More snow. More ice.
Keeper: Sitting alone in your row, body subtly vibrating to the time of the wheels over the near-frozen tracks, your mind recollects the fragments of information it has collated on the so-called “Subway Butcher”. The exploits of this brutal killer are well known to you, to the extent that you have read numerous articles and Bureau bulletins concerning him, and even seen a brief profile of him on America’s Most Wanted. You say him, because the modus operandi of the killer is to kidnap, then kill and rend lone passengers from the downtown Manhattan subway system and all of the victims have been female . . .and juveniles.
Keeper: Textbook profiling dictates that this type of criminal is most often a male meeting fairly uniform demographics. Why a parent would let their kid ride the New York subways alone is beyond your reasoning. But, you concede, in this day and age of latchkey kids, it might not be unheard of.
Keeper: The remains of each victim were later recovered floating in the Hudson River in so horrible a condition that the rumor circulating around the Bureau is they put the City coroner handling them off his lunch. Apparently, in christening the killer the “Subway Butcher” during the media frenzy that ensued, the press had chosen a very apt name. After the third or fourth victim turned up on the Jersey side of the Hudson, the Bureau exercised its jurisdictional prerogative and became involved in the manhunt.
Keeper: Pulling in to the Gaspee Street MBTA Terminal a little after 11:30, it’s another Brisk walk to the Providence RA on Dorance where your car is parked. As you entered the gated lot behind the satellite office, a black security guard checks your ID and signs you in.
Keeper: As you carefully move across the slick pavement two agents, whom you recognize a Glen Jaworski and Jim Gabler of the Providence RA, emerge from the rear door of the small brick building and wave to you as they make their way to one of the several bucars parked in the lot.
Piscapello: “Hey Gabler. Jaworski.”
Keeper: Gabler continues on to the car to start it and get it warmed up. Jaworksi approaches you.
Jaworski: “Heeeey, Piscapello . . .What’s up? Takin’ off early to recoup from all that New Year’s partyin’?”
Piscapello: “Something like that. Where are you two off to?”
Jaworski: “Ahhh, friggin’ stakeout. (looking up at the sky) Shitty day for it. So, what gives? Your Ma alright?”
Keeper: Gabler walks up from the idling car.
Piscapello: She’s okay. I’ve gotta go to New York for a while, so I’m a little worried about her. Mom’s pretty tough, though. (to Gabler) Hey.”
Jaworski: “Shiiiiit. Better you than me, brother. We saw the resource request. So, who’s the ISU headcase they’re sending up?”
Piscapello: “Inglewaithe is his name. Heard of him?”
Jaworski: “Inglewaithe?! That nigger voodoo witchdoctor? Oh, man, is he a piece a work.”
Piscapello: “You eat with that mouth, Jaworski?”
Gabler: “Hey now, Glen. Ease up . . .”
Jaworski: “Ease up, my ass. I was down in Atlanta when that son of a bitch made a ‘diagnosis‘ of insanity on a snitch and blew an eighteen-month Klan slam investigation. Not only did it ruin the snitch’s credibility as a witness, the guy skated for beatin’ the shit out of one of our undercover guys. And he’s one of the people we were down there tryin’ to protect!”
Keeper: Gabler, seeing his partner’s blood pressure rising, intercedes, nodding to the waiting car.
Gabler: “We’ve got to get going, Glen. Take it easy, Rich.”
Piscapello: “See you, Gabler.”
Keeper: Jaworski shakes his head in disgust as he moves away with Gabler.
Jaworski: “You got your work cut out for you man. I shit you not.”
Keeper: The two agents get in their car and pull out, waving as they pass.
Piscapello: I get in my car and head over to my mother’s house.
Keeper: Heading over to Smith Street, you pass the State House and drive west. The snow isn’t sticking yet and traffic is light this time of day so you reach Mount Pleasant in about five minutes. Pulling up to your mother’s solitary residence, a three-story tenement amid a row of like structures stretching down the street, you find the nearest space and park.
Keeper: Climbing the steps and entering the front door, you pass the first floor door of the Weis’, the building’s landlords. A quick flight of dimly lit stairs brings you up to the door of your mother’s second floor apartment.
Piscapello: I knock quickly and let myself in. “Ma?”
Keeper: Opening the door, your senses are immediately drawn back to your youth – the aroma, the dÈcor. It’s like stepping into a time machine every time you visit. The apartment is probably more than a woman your mother’s age needs, but you insisted when it came time for her to sell and move away from the old house that she be as comfortable and have as much room as possible. There are three bedrooms, a double parlor and a spacious kitchen. It is from the kitchen that you hear her voice.
Donnica: “Who is it?”
Piscapello: “Who do you think, Ma? It’s me.”
Keeper: Waddling out of the kitchen in her customary apron, gray hair neatly tied in a bun, she waves you over to the dining room table that she still sees fit to keep fully set for a family of seven.
Piscapello: “Ooooh, Richie! Come in. Sit down. Sit down.”
Piscapello: “How are you doing, Ma?”
Donnica: “I’m fine, I’m fine. You worry too much.”
Keeper: Taking a seat at the table, she presses out the wrinkles in her apron and smiles at you.
Donnica: “How come you’re home so early? You’re not sick, are you?”
Piscapello: I sit at the table beside her. “No, Ma, I’m fine. Listen, I need to talk to you about something. Works going really well for me, but it looks like I’m going to have to go out of town for a little bit.”
Keeper: Although she tries to disguise it, you can see the sadness that your revelation bears.
Piscapello: “They need me to go to New York for a while. It means that I’ll have to be away during the week, but I figure that I’ll still be able to catch a red-eye back on Fridays, so I’ll still be around on weekends when I don’t have to put in overtime. But I need to know you’re going to be alright.”
Keeper: It hurts you to see you Mother so lonely. Despite the perpetual solitude she has felt since the death of you father, she has seen better days. As of late, she’s been displaying signs of what her doctor fears may be early-onset Alzheimer’s. She constantly forgets mundane things and recent events. At 72, you only hope that she passes before the condition deteriorates to the point that she is trapped in body as much as she is trapped in spirit. Withdrawing her pearl rosary from, she fondles it in her shaking fingers.
Donnica: “Well how long do you think you’ll have to stay there?”
Piscapello: “I really don’t know, Ma. They couldn’t say.”
Donnica: “That’s okay, I guess. Anne can come over and keep me company. Are you hungry? Can I make you something to eat?”
Piscapello: “No, Ma. Anne can’t come by, remember? And no, I’m not hungry.”
Donnica: “Are you sure? ‘Cause I can make you something if you’re hungry. You’re not sill skipping breakfasts, are you?”
Piscapello: “No, Ma. I had lost of eggs, bacon, and sausage for breakfast. What about Rose downstairs? Is she still checking on you when I’m at work?”
Donnica: “Yeah, yeah. She comes by all the time. Sweet woman, God bless her. (looking more somber) You’re going to come back though. Right, Richie? I mean, Anthony and Michael, Jr. said they’d come back . . . “
Piscapello: “I’m not Anthony or Micky, Ma. Of course I’ll be back. Every weekend until we close the case and then I’ll be back full time. Do you think you can get by until then?”
Donnica: (beginning to weep) “I just don’t want to be all alone anymore. Please come back, Richie.”
Piscapello: “Don’t worry, Ma. I love you. I won’t leave you. I’ll call as much as I can and when I leave, I’ll stop by and talk to Rose about coming up to visit with you, okay?”
Donnica: “Okay. . .(sniff) I’ll be okay. (looking back to the kitchen) Are you sure you’re not hungry? ‘Cause I’ve got some leftover zitti in the refrigerator and I could make you a nice antipasta.”
Piscapello: “I wish I could, Ma. But I’ve got a lot of stuff to do before I go to New York.”
Keeper: Withdrawing one of your father’s old handkerchiefs from the pocket of her apron, she daubs a tear and leans over to hug you.
Donnica: “You were always my best boy, Richie. God smiles on boys like you.”
Piscapello: “Don’t cry, Ma. You’ll hardly notice that I’m gone. It’ll be just like when I put in overtime in Boston.”
Donnica: “Okay. . .I love you, Richie.”
Piscapello: (kissing her on the forehead) “Thanks. I’m going to talk to Rose now. I love you, too.”
Keeper: Wiping the last of the tears from her eyes, she rises and heads back into the kitchen.
Donnica: “I’m making some biscotti for the little girl upstairs. Make sure you call me when you get there.”
Piscapello: “I will, Ma. You just take care.” I kiss her on the cheek and head downstairs.
Keeper: Heading down the darkened stairs of the infirmary, you stop at the door of the Jewish matron of the building.
Piscapello: I knock on Rose’s door.
Keeper: You hear a bustling from within before the door cracks open to the extent of a security chain. The somewhat frightful face of Rose Weis peers out through the opening, black coif restrained in a hairnet.
Piscapello: “Hi, Rose. It’s Rich Piscapello.”
Weis: “Oh. Hello, Richie.”
Keeper: Briefly closing the door, she slides the chain free and reopens it. Moving out, she stands in the threshold.
Piscapello: “I want to ask a favor, Rose. I have to go to New York for a little while and I’m not going to be around during the week and some weekends. I really appreciate how you look after Ma already, but I need to be sure she’s going to be okay while I’m away. Would it be too much trouble for you to check in on her a little more regularly? Make sure she’s doing okay? I’d really appreciate it.”
Weis: “Nooo problem, Richie. Your motha’s an angel. I’ll make sure she’s alright.”
Keeper: She looks you over, head to toe, in a disconcerting manner.
Weis: “You got a girlfriend yet, Richie? A handsome boy like you should have a wife.”
Piscapello: “Not yet, Mrs. Weis.”
Weis: “Ahh, you should meet my niece Abby in Brockton. Beautiful guyl.”
Piscapello: (smiling) Maybe when I get back from New York. I’m not going to have a lot of time for much of anything until then. Listen, can I give you some money for your trouble or in case Ma needs anything?”
Weis: “Naaah. Keep your money. If it was up to me your mother wouldn’t even pay rent. It’s Morris that’s the bear about that. He forgets someday we’ll be so old, God willing.”
Piscapello: “You’re a sweetheart, Mrs. Weis. I owe you one.”
Weis: “You take care of yourself, Richie. I’ll tell Abby you’ll call her when you get back!”
Piscapello: “Thanks, Mrs. Weis.” I leave her and get back to my car to head home.
Keeper: It is a short drive to your apartment near Empire and Westminster. Unlocking the door, you enter the small two-bedroom unit and toss your coat over the back of the couch. The message light on your answering machine blinks “2”.
Piscapello: I check the machine.
Keeper: With a push of the “play” button, the tape warbles and rewinds. Then, following a sharp beeep, the voice of Mary Tidwell carries over the small monotone speaker.
Tidwell: [“Agent Piscapello, this is Mary Tidwell from the Office. You have reservations for Delta Shuttle flight 1845, departing terminal A, Gate 15, Logan International at 6:30 p.m. and arriving in LaGuardia at 7:55 p.m. The ticket will be waiting for you at the gate. New York Division will provide transportation to be picked up through Port Authority at the airport. Hotel reservations are at the Marriott Financial Center. Your have an adjoining room with the ISU agent who is scheduled to arrive via LaGuardia at 3:15 p.m. Thank you.”] click
Piscapello: I jot down the flight and hotel information.
Keeper: The time attached to the message is 10:12 a.m. After a brief pause, the machine beeps again and the voice of your mother is played by the tape.
Donnica: [“Richie? . . . Are you there? (long pause) It’s Mom . . . (long pause) Nobody ever calls me anymore. You know I haven’t heard from Michael in weeks and Anthony . . . well, who knows what he’s doing nowadays. Did you see Dick Clark on New Year’s? He’s such a good-looking man. I don’t know how he stays that way . . . “]
Piscapello: (starting to pack) “It’s all that clean living, Ma.”
Keeper: As usual, she rattles on an on, never having fully comprehended that your answering machine has a finite recording capability. When the tape finally reaches its limit, the time attached to the message is announced. 12:22 p.m. She must have just missed you.
Keeper: With a sigh, you stare at the machine. You spent all of New Year’s with your mother.