The house on east 14th street

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burdick
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The house on east 14th street

Post by burdick » Mon Dec 08, 2014 7:36 am

The house on east 14th street



James Burdick




A story about a group of people and their children who live in a brownstone in the east village. Second Edition






Contents
Episode one 4
Episode two, 1999 26
Episode Three 61
Episode Four, 2000 82
Episode Five 2001 (Spring) 102
Episode Six, 2001, Summer 109
Episode seven, Fall 122
Episode eight 130
Episode nine 138
Episode ten 2002 149
Episode eleven 2003 162
Episode twelve 170
Episode thirteen 2007 178
Episode fourteen 187
Episode fifteen 192
Episode sixteen 2009 200
Episode Seventeen: 208
Episode Eighteen 2014: 216
Episode Nineteen 2020: 217
Episode 20: 222
Episode 21: 228
Episode 22: two months after landing: 234
Episode 23: 238
Episode 24; year one, CE: 242
Episode 25; year two, CE: 245
Episode 26, 19 C.E. 248
Episode 27, 2021,AD : 21,CE . 255
Episode 28 257
Episode 29 267


Episode one



(April 14, 1999)


It was one of those fine days in spring when the leaves on the trees were still yellow-green with birth and things felt new and clean, so Kar walked from the subway to the brownstone on State Street. Aunt Fatima had been dead for a year now and Uncle Oguz had invited him to live in the second floor apartment with his son Jim (who everyone called “Hav.”).
It was a quiet street, not one that most non-New Yorkers would think of being in a place like Brooklyn. He walked up the worn concrete steps to the massive entre door and saw a set of three Intercoms and buttons, the middle one read “James Hacivat”. He pressed it.
“Yes?”
“It’s me, Hav.”
“Come on up!”

John Karagoz (who the family knew as “Kar”) shifted his duffel and pushed the door open. Jim Hacivat stood at the top of the stairs with a wide grin on his face, still the tall, dark, “bookish” sort of guy that Kar knew from his childhood.
“Bring your stuff right on through. You have the smaller bedroom in front.”
Kar followed Hav through the front room, past the kitchen and bathroom, through the bedroom that Hav had and into the small bedroom which was now his. The two had been good friends since they were four. This was somewhat strange because they were so different.
Karagoz was muscular, earthy, red-haired and freckled. He had been on the football team in High School and had no interest in going on to college. He had joined the Army with the understanding that he would be an MP. He did well in training and because he spoke a little Turkish, was stationed at Incirlik Air Base near Adana. He decided to return to civilian life after six years of service. He had never had any problems finding “girlfriends”, but so far, had not had any long term relationships with any of them.
Hacivat, on the other hand, was tall, thin, and dark haired. His family had never wanted for money so when he had graduated from High School with honors, he went to Exeter College (Oxford) for a "gentleman's" education, resulting in a B.A. degree and a strong cultured “public school" accent. People saw him as being aloof and uninterested in social interaction. Hacivat had always liked and trusted Karagoz, even when as a kid, Kar led him into mischief that resulted in punishment.
It was going to be close quarters, but then it was a step up from his digs in the army (noncom) life! One window, a bed and a small bedside bureau; there was a bookshelf (empty) above the bed. The closet he would share with Hav was in the other bedroom, and the cardboard box with his personal stuff that he had stored with Uncle John sat under the bed.
He unpacked his duffle quickly and neatly, a habit well learned in his former life. Sitting on his bed, he glanced through his old diary, a Christmas gift from his aunt. She told him that it was a good place to put how you felt He had started keeping it about 1981 when he was ten years old and it contained all of his personal grief and stress about the death of his parents in 1978. It was about half full of his life here in the Heights. Flipping through to the last few pages, he read his happier notes about football and wrestling in Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School. While Hav excelled in school and was in the honors program, he (Kar) had been a big wheel jock! He had dated a lot, and the pages had become a score card for him. There were some old, now somewhat yellowed, clippings about him that he had cut out of the New Dealer (school newspaper).
Turning a couple of pages he found his account of beating the shit out of Ronnie, when he caught him bullying Hav.
“Ah memories! Maybe I’ll start writing a few things down again.”
He put it up on the shelf as Hacivat came and handed him a cold beer. They went into the living room and sat down. The living room opened on to a porch with unplanted window boxes on top of the railings. Hav had the door open and the sound of house finches singing freshen the room.
How does the room strike you?” He asked, handing Kar a cold beer.
“It’s…” Kar thought for a moment, began….searching for a word.
“Small?”
“Comfortably tight,” Kar finished tactfully.

“Well”, said Hav, “Tell me your plans. You have told me about the job offer by that security firm here in New York but that is about all. You are welcome to stay here for as long as you like….you know Dad wants to have you around, especially now that Mom is dead. He won’t accept rent from you, any more that he will from me. Brooklyn Heights is a nice place to live and rent in the city has gone out of sight. “
Kar smiled at his cousin and looked out of the porch doors down into the back yard garden. The spring flowers were in bloom, and the sparrows worked busily in the tree branches.
“Tomorrow I plan to go to their office and find out some more about what the job would be. Some of my friends who are MPs said that the police force might be a better deal. … Or maybe I could join an escort service. Who knows? I’ve saved up some money, and I have time to look around. I’ve always liked New York. Can you still walk across the bridge to Chinatown?”
“Yes, it’s a nice walk this time of year. Good luck on the interview. I think it is a good idea to take your time and just settle in”. He took sip of his coffee, “I am working on my Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Columbia University, with a focus and dissertation in the field of anomalous experiences”. He took a quick look over at Karagoz, who looked as if he didn’t understand or didn’t give a damn.
“and women?’ asked Kar.
“Hmmm, yes. I go to the singles club at Plymouth Church, and have met some very interesting women there. You can go over with me some night if you wish; it’s over on Hicks and Orange Street. They also have a very active web site. (Oh, for some amusement”, he thought)”
A few days later, when Kar got around to going to the security firm and he found their office in lower Manhattan. The Brooklyn Bridge was open for foot traffic so he walked to the interview. He would get a fair salary, with bonuses graded on the satisfaction of the client. He liked the idea of not having a 9 to 5 job and no need to report to an office and just sit! They were pleased with his background (was there some sort of reward for hiring a service member?), and the way he handled the interview. He filled out the paper work, and received his first assignment.
Hav sat down in the quiet apartment and closed his eyes. The street sounds were faint and quieted him. He focused on a light in the centre of his vision very far away. It transformed into an open door down a long corridor, through which he could see a bright light, warm and pure. He sensed passageways with closed doors on either side of the passage. He was no longer aware of any sound. Memories, like mischievous wraiths flitted in and out and were brushed aside. The side passages pulled at him as he willed himself towards the door and light. All seemed to fade except the doorway………
“Hey Hav! Whatscha doin?”
“‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is …..”
“Yeah, right.” said Kar. Going to the frig, he pulled out a cold beer, popped the top, took a long pull from it and burped happily. He had just gotten his first assignment from the agency. A new client had requested a man who didn’t carry a gun but was trained in defense and was able to carry heavy objects. His application to carry a conceded weapon had been filed, but not yet processed and so he was somewhat limited in the jobs he could take. This job was one of grunt and protect. Eli Jacobs , a jeweler who lived on fifth avenue was going to take his coins to a coin meet. He needed a person to carry the collection to and from the meet, and wanted protection too. The meeting will be tomorrow (Saturday) at the. Museum of American Finance.


It was a damp, cool day and the joy of spring seemed far away as he walked to the hotel St. George and the subway. He was to meet Mr. Jacobs at his apartment at 8AM and the Clark street stop was packed!
After a bit of pushing and a short ride, he walked up the subway stairs on to Fifth Avenue and continued north. It was a pretty brownstone, painted bright pink with white trim. Mr. Jacobs met him at the door, and seemed a little worse for wear. He had a black eye, and walked back into the house (Karagoz following) with a limp.
Jacobs was not a “talker”! Kar carried three heavy plastic boxes to the car in the private garage and sat beside Jacobs has Jacobs drove the car through a maze of streets and finally downtown to the Museum of American Finance. Karagoz carried everything to the two tables that were assigned to Jacobs. He sat while Jacobs carefully arranged the coins in their cases.
The show opened and a lot of well-dressed men filled the aisles ,sat at tables , peering at coins through loupes. Jacobs was busy most of the time. It was plain to see he knew most of the men well. Later, however, the aisles emptied and Jacobs sat in silence next to Kar.. He moved about a bit stiffly, and at last said, “I had a problem a few days ago that you might be able to handle for me. It would be independent of your job with Rogers Security, if you do it, however.”
“I guess I could do that, but let’s hear what you had in mind before I agree. If it’s illegal I couldn’t do it, of course.”
“No, nothing illegal, it would be recovering my cellphone from a lady that I had a disagreement with. I don’t want my wife to hear about it and the phone has all sorts of sensitive information on it. I’d want you to call the lady up, make an appointment to go over, get the phone and return it to me. She lives in a brownstone on East 14th Street.
I’ll pay you $500 plus expenses for the service”.
“Sounds easy enough. Give me the lady’s name and telephone number and I’ll see what I can do. It may take a few days, and you had better give me a number to contact you privately.” They packed up and returned to Jacobs home, and Karagoz went back to Brooklyn Heights, where he gave “Mrs. Miller” a call.
“Hello, Mrs. Miller?”
“yes?”
“My name is John Karagoz, I work at Rogers Security, and I’d like to speak with you about a cellphone that Eli Jacobs might have left at your house”
There was a short pause, followed by:” Oh yes, he did. I’m sorry but I cannot talk to you about it right now, but I will call you tomorrow if you give me your cellphone number”,
Kar gave her his number, hung up the phone and turned to Hav , who was pouring over his books and making notes in his computer.
“I’m expecting a call from a lady tomorrow”
“’ Man does not control his own fate. The women in his life do that for him.’”, Hav muttered.

Kar thought for a moment then discussed the task that Jacobs had set him and the progress on in to date with the program director of Rogers Security early the next day. It was agreed that he would proceed with it. In looking in the data base, he found that there was an “Elite Escort Service” listed at the East 14th Street address, headed by a Ms. H. Miller.
That evening Kar and Hav walked over to Atlantic Avenue for supper at one of the many good middle-eastern restaurants. They stopped at the Yemen-south Café from which came the clear rich aroma of roast lamb . they were warmly welcomed and found an empty table.
“I’ll have the Baba ghanoush , water, and tea” said Hav.
“and I’ll try your Fatah with Galabah, and a …. beer?”asked Kar.
“Sorry… haram , no beer or wine. How about some tea?”
“ok, but you had better add an order of Fatah for us.”
They ate their meal in the comfortable, secure and happy space that is identified with most of the restaurants on the Avenue. Nothing fancy, but certainly great care had been taken with every dish.
Over tea Kar thought for a moment then laid out his plan to get the cellphone back:
“It looks like I get to look into an ‘Escort Service’, could be fun. She wants me to come over to the place on East 14th Street. That’s still in the village isn’t it?”
“uh”
“’she told me that she found the cellphone and would give it back to me when we met. She didn’t mention that she wanted any money for its recovery. The meeting is set for noon tomorrow
“Yeah, but be careful, remember you’re back in the Big Apple, not in eastern Turkey.You still don’t know the story of how it got lost, nor those boo-boos on Jacobs “
“yes…….and now the bad news. Rogers Security has to provide a night watchman..er ‘Person’ for a warehouse up in the Bronx. Since I’m the last man hired I’ll been assigned the job. So my free days are over, the hours are from 6 PM to 1AM. Guess I’ll be looking for another job unless I can talk my way out of it.”
Hav finished his tea and said: “jobs are hard to find, so hang in there for a while. As Ben tells us:’ All human situations have their inconveniences. We feel those of the present but neither see nor feel those of the future; and hence we often make troublesome changes without amendment, and frequently for the worse.’”
“stuff it” said Kar.


The next morning was one of those fresh bright days that demands to be lived to the fullest, so Karagoz decided to walk to the village. They were working on the Brooklyn Bridge but it was still open to pedestrians ( and bikes!). He walked up Henry Sreet, to Middagh Street ,to the pathway that led up a stairway to the Brooklyn Bridge Pedestrian Path. The walk across the bridge was as wonderful as he remembered it as a boy. He had to watch out more now, perhaps, for fast moving bikes, but less for “street people”. He threaded his way over to Madison and walked through Chinatown to Allen Street…
(hey! this seems to be a longer walk than I remember it! )
where it finally turned into First Avenue. After he crossed 6th street there was a haven at last! Going into the McDonalds, he made a well-earned trip to the head, and sat down for lunch/breakfast before going on to the meeting at the proper time.


The brownstone, when he got to it, was the usual red-brown drab color. It was four stores high and four windows looked out on to the street at each level. Since there was no fire escape on the front he assumed there must be one on the back. There was a stoop and an additional apartment opening under it on the right side, while the left area was occupied by five quite clean, garbage cans. Modest enough , but the Elite Escort Service must has some assets to own it, since most of these (when they were for sale) sold for a couple of million. The first floor was high enough up from street level so you couldn’t see in, but never the less were covered with white sheer curtains. Sitting in front of one of them sat a large fat grey cat, who quietly studied him with his piercing green eyes. He went up the stairs to the front door and pressed the button labeled “ Nigar Miller”. The buzzer unlocked the heavy front door without a challenge, opening it he went in to meet her at the door of the apartment on the first floor.
“Welcome, Mr. Karagoz. “, she held out her hand to shake his, and smiled in perfect pose.
He felt that she must have a psychic link with the cat. Her eyes were, indeed, a shade of green, which went with her light brunette complexion and didn’t do too badly with a really nicely curved body! In short, she was a knockout. He approved and his body gave a salute. It had been a while. He followed her into the main front room (yes, she moved like a cat too) in which were seated two other women. One was a “big boned” blond (natural?) dressed in pastel shades of blue, who looked a little like a lady of the night, the other a tiny oriental woman of uncertain age who seemed to be quietly foreign to everything around her.
Nigar looked down, briefly, then moved to the blond,
“This is Ms. De Luca”


De Luca stood , shook his hand with a surprisingly firm handshake
“ I’m Angela”, she said.
Turning, Nigar introduced the last woman:
“and this is Miss. Sun-ja Park .”
Miss Park did not offer her hand, nor did she stand. She sat in the chair and nodded her greeting. She didn’t seem to be hostile or indifferent, just somehow apart from what was going on around her. Only her dark brown eyes failed to hide her calculating attention. Mrs. Miller seemed to be the ringmaster of this circus, and she continued to act in that role and said:
“Please sit down. I have the cellphone and will give it to you in a minute, but first I’d like you to hear about how I got it.
First of all, the three of us own the Elite Escort Service, and I am the chairperson of the board. The service owns this brownstone. We require our clients to read and sign this agreement (she handed him a three page document), which I would like you to read later. This (she hands him another, thicker, document) is a copy of the articles of incorporation of the firm. Now to the tale of the cellphone…..
Eli has been a client of our firm for some time. He and I have agreed upon certain additional services, provided by me, as are outlined in the written agreement. His wife is aware of our contract and does not disagree, so there are no problems there. Lately Eli has been having what some men like to call ‘a midlife crises’. The firm, through the computer networking skills of Miss. Park, keeps careful (and secure) records of the medical conditions of its’ clients. Before his last visit to see me, he had a ‘ t-shot’. It was given by his doctor, who has no record of the Viagra that he has been using. Sun-ja thought that there might be some problems with this (like side effects), and we decided that Angela had better monitor our meeting. (We have a system to do this and not be seen by the client. ) Angela has some skill in self-defense.
In short, the worse happened. Eli failed in what he wanted, become abusive, and Angela came in to solve the problem. Things got out of hand and I zapped him with my Taser. While he was ‘out’ we put him out on the stoop, and let him recover. What I didn’t know, and was quite improper, was that Angela’s old skills took over and she lifted Eli’s cellphone.
(Angela had the grace to look embarrassed and at the same time a little smug)
Eli was not really hurt, but his pride had been badly damaged. I am sure he will work this out with his therapist and we continue our relationship. All of this is probably best kept to yourself, unless you feel it is necessary to share.
Any questions to this point?” she asked, handing him the cellphone in question.
“Well,” he said, after pocketing the item.” Miss. Park must be very skillful to be able to get those medical records the way she did. Did she run a background check on me too? And…..what is all this material you gave me for? Why the meeting? “
Nigar nodded and smiled.
“Exactly! We have done our work and have come to the conclusion that it would be wise to add a male member to our staff, and we have agreed that you have the proper credentials to be that person. Why don’t you read the documents, do a little research yourself, and come back and talk it over with us?
If you accept, you could have the basement apartment as part of your employment benefits. It would need a good deal of work to get into shape .”
The cat, who had been watching them with a bored disinterest, chose that moment to jump down from the window, and leave the room, tail held high. Kar tried to do the same, but the exit lacked disinterest. He took the subway back to the heights , went back to the apartment, and sat down to study the documents he had. By late afternoon he had researched a number of details on the web and called Mr. Jacobs to tell him he had his cellphone. Jacobs asked him to send it to him by a delivery service Jacobs often used and he agreed. No details were shared, nor even requested.
Hav found him in deep thought when he came back to the apartment.


**********************


The little rains had come and the people of Addis Ababa breathed once more the cool moist African air scented by the tall eucalyptus trees. The valleys in the city had turned green at last and the steep hillsides populated with noisy and mischievous baboon families. The rains had not been enough in the past, and so the moisture was very welcomed. It was always quiet in the compound, which sat back from the street about 20 meters. The driveway was flanked by banana trees fronting the road right up to the walls. After the gate, the drive came up to the house in the center, then circled back. Extensive rose plantings surrounded a small thatched building in front of the house, that was caged and in which brightly colored birds seemed busy inside. In back of the house, built along the back wall were a number of small apartments of no more than one or two rooms each. They had small porches and a fire pit smoked under one of them. The main house was roomy, but not “grand”. One side of the compound wall was built along the edge of a deep and heavily treed valley . The incline was too steep to go up and down, although the baboons and hyenas often used the slope to get to the compound. The servants would throw garbage over the walls for the hyenas, and the baboons went where they wanted to; everyone knew it was best to leave them alone!
Aimone Makonnen looked out from the front window at the roses. The soft rain seemed to brighten their blooms and deepen the healthy green of their leaves. They had been the joy of his wife, Fenet, and he was pleased that they no longer were a melancholy pain of her death, but a piece of her life for him. Still…….it was lonely house. Ethiopia had seen more than her fair share of troubles in his lifetime! Invaded and conquered by the Italians in 1936, she regained her independence and Haile Selassie regained his throne.
There had been some good times. When he was 15 (in 1959, good times for them) he was sent to Harrow, after which he went to Princeton University in the USA. He was talented in languages (speaking Amharic, English, Italian, and a little Oromigna) and studied Russian. All of this education was funded by his mother’s family. When he graduated from Princeton with a BA degree he was 23 years old. He returned to Ethiopia and taught Russian at what was then called “Haile Selassie I University” . in 1970 the Wollo famine cast a shadow of things to come, and in 1974, the world fell apart . Under the direction of Mengistu, the Red Terror swept the nation like a plaque. As someone said, "each squad a law unto itself”. Some looked only for arms, but others confiscated food supplies, building materials, and gasoline; some considered cameras espionage equipment, and others regarded typewriters as highly dangerous. His mother was one of the many who were sent to the reeducation camps and one of the few to return. Through it all, she was somehow able to hide the few letters from his father who had been imprisoned by the British (and died in the camp). It had been impossible to help his mother or the family that gave him his education, but because he was teaching Russian, he was not removed (to be reeducated) from his teaching position. His wife died childless. He had a house large enough for him and his mother when she returned from the camp. She lived a long life and died at 81 years old.
Now the servants took care of the compound. They were like family to him and somehow had stayed with the house through it all. There were two apartments jointing the compound wall for them. The one which had the fire pit in the front porch was that of his cook and her husband, who kept the compound in order. The other housed their daughter and her husband. The daughter cleaned the main house and tended the birds and roses. Her husband worked as laborer in the city.
Over the years he had become more interested in St. Mary’s church and the study of some Ge’ez documents in the library there. While he did not consider himself very religious, he enjoyed the services. The Easter service at St Mary’s was beautiful. He loved the quiet of the church, the way that the congregation stood and the various ways they used their prayer sticks during the service. Most of all, he liked the group of monks, who sang the songs of Solomon in Geez after the service in the hall outside. The combination of the washint ( a bamboo flute ), the senasel,( a sistrum.),dominated by the kebero ( a large hand drum) stayed with him even now. He had known this land as “home “as a boy and man.
Now he was 55…….
A lonely Amhara.
Well, maybe a Ethiopian Italian?
He took the family photo book (one of the few things left to him from the past) and paged through it.
He stopped at an old photo of some of his friends taken with Haile Selassie He didn’t know what had happened to any of them. No one really knew what had happened to Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael , known as a child as Lij Tafari Makonnen (later H.I.M.)….and there were many stories. One story fed into the Rastafari movement. The official announcement was that he had died of "respiratory failure"…true enough, he stopped breathing.
Aimone knew he had been taken to the parking lot across the street from the palace, and machine gunned, but he knew no one would ever really know the truth from those dark times.
Aimone was a man with an uncertain future.
…….and , perhaps, a Makonnen with an important choice to make.
The law firm that had served the House of Savoy for many years had found him after a prolonged search. When Dominic Ruffatti (the man who his mother said was his father) died he left instructions of what was to be passed to a woman he had come to know, named Amara Makonnen. . in the event of her death the property was to be passed on to her” issue”. He had left instructions as to how the firm was to insure that the persons could be correctly identified. The letters were the best proof, and they were safely in Aimone’s care. The firm had purchased first class airplane tickets for him to come to Rome, where a car would meet him and take him to the office in Turin.
His mother had told him about his father, Dominic Ruffatti, but she had decided to not make contact with his family, and told him it would be better if he did not. Dominic was a trusted member of the staff of Amedeo Umberto Isabella Luigi Filippo Maria Giuseppe Giovanni, the Duke of Aosta and died in a British prison camp with him. The fortunes of war had, as they always have, shaped the recorded and accepted account of what men did and how they would be remembered. That Duke of Aosta became a shadow and faded from the history books along with the House of Savoy.; and Dominic? Even more so.
With nothing to lose, and a free pleasant trip to Italy to gain, there was not much to consider
Aimone packed his bags and took the shuttle from the airport motel to the airport. He checked to make sure he had his passport, money, and ticket. He looked at the ticket, but was still unsure about the wisdom of this whole adventure.

****************************************************

In April, San Fernando took a brief break from its usual sun and clear blue sky, and had a period of welcome chilling rain. This is welcomed for the effect it has on the land. The hills turn briefly from a dusty brown to a fresh green. The house finches became active and their lengthy song spoke of new life. The enclosed yards of the houses all have vegetation that requires less moisture than their eastern counterparts. It is , in a way, a replication of the differences between green England and warmer dryer Spain. Spring is a happy time in a comfortable town, ah yes, it is true that San Fernando is a town surrounded by a thing called Los Angeles, but it is a little smug about how it sees itself.
The Casas home on Modd Street (just around the corner from the O’Melveny Elementary School on Woodworth Street) was a typical two-bedroom house of the area. The residents were Emerico Casas (father) Laurita ( mother) and Eulalie (daughter, age 7). Mrs. Casas taught 5th grade in the near-by school. Mr. Casas worked at the” younger actor studio” in Los Angeles (really, studio city) .and Eulalie was a gifted child who had been placed in the 3d grade where she seemed happy enough.
For a week Mama had been serving fish and non-red meat dishes, and they were good, but the Easter meal was to be special! The spicy smell of Arroz Con Pollo (chicken in a tomato sauce and rice, spiced with cumin, garlic, onion, and oregano) harmonized with the familiar odor of black bean soup. Mama loved to cook, and she was good at it. Papa was outside, and Eulalie was curled up in a chair reading a new book, a play by Shakespeare titled “the taming of the shew”. It was fun. She really liked the way Katherina made it seem like Petruchio was the” ruler” of the family , but Eulalie knew that this was a method for Katherina to maintain control. Mama was good at this too.
Walking outside, Eulalie found Papa trimming the grass around the palm tree. The evenings were the most pleasant time of the day for Eulalie.
“Hi, is the dinner about done?’, he asked in Spanish. When they were alone they would speak in Spanish. Mama didn’t speak Spanish, so they did not use it all that often….and Eulalie was not as fluent in it as English.
“Just about, it smells wonderful! I like chicken much better than fish.”
“Dinner’s ready!” called Mama from the front door. The evening meal was always a time when the family shared information and discussed future plans.
“Easter is here, so soon you will have a summer vacation. You could do something like go to a summer camp this year.” (Mama)
“well, “ said Eulalie thoughtfully ,”does your company still offer summer classes in acting for kids?”
“yes they do, is that something you would be interested in doing?”
“I think it would be fun, and I could ride in and back with you.”
“Sounds good to me. Let’s think it over for a while . I bet I could get a discount too! What do you think , Laurita?”
“I think it would be ok….i just hope Eulalie doesn’t like acting, it is a cut-throat business to be in.”
‘oh! I doubt she will find it that interesting.”, said Papa.
(We’ll see, thought Eulalie)
Episode two, 1999


It was hot.
Julys in New York City are usually hot, and uncomfortable. Kar was in the kitchen of his new basement apartment on east 14th street, making a chili to answer the weather outside. In April, facing employment as a night guard, he had given his two weeks’ notice and worked out an agreeable contract with “Elite Escorts”. Part of the deal was that he was to do most of the necessary work on the apartment himself. No problem, he had always been good with his hands and could do the job so it pleased him, and he did. He had a number of escort jobs, (all with women, thankfully) and had proved himself capable of the task. Sun-ja researched all clients and gave him a complete file on the client before the job. It was obvious that she had hacking skills and did not hesitate to use them.
His apartment was really roomy. It had a front living room, a hall that connected to a bathroom, two bedrooms, and a kitchen-dining nook. Outside doors led to the street, to the inside hall and stairs, and the third to an open space in the back of the house. The fire escape towered above this area. Since the brownstone faced north and was quite dark, he had spent a good deal on lighting. The basement also had a room for storage for the apartment tenants, and a room with a washer and dryer that connected with the inside stairwell.
Hav was coming for supper tonight. It would be good to see him again. As much as the two liked each other, Kar doubted that living together would have worked. Both needed their space. Hav had been dating a girl that sang in Plymouth church, and it sounded serious!
Kar smiled.
He thought he would make the second (unused) bedroom into a study.
Cicero, Niger’s’ grey cat, wandered into the kitchen, and smelling the chili, left at once. He seemed to be able to go everywhere, and did. He went to the spare bedroom, which faced south, and sat in the last rays of sunshine that came through the window (under Kars’ only potted plant).
The front door buzzer rattled in the kitchen, and Kar, after checking to make sure it was Hav, buzzed him in. They spend a quiet and enjoyable time together over the chili. Hav had brought a good red wine which went with the garlic bread nicely. Kar told him about the house ritual of all the tenants of the house having a meal together in Nigar’s apartment every Sunday evening. At the end of their meal, Hav was talking about Nan, his new love.
“Hey, you said she was young. How young?”
“She’s 17, but looks and acts a lot older.” He said, defensively.
“My god, she’s about 12 years younger than you….and legally off limits too! Are you sure you know what you are doing?” Kar blurted out before he could stop and think.
“I know, I know. Pop has already read me the riot act. It’s just that we really get along so well. I will be careful.” He moaned.
“For a guy so smart, you sure can do some dumb things”
The two friends left it there, and they were into other things as the evening closed into that pleasant mix of conversation and quiet time they both enjoyed. The sun had set by the time Hav left for the subway.
The next day the paint for the fourth floor arrived with the interior designer. Kar went up to get any instructions he should have to paint the place. A tall thin flamboyant man was flitting about with a black marker in his hand.
(a flaming queen, thought Karagoz)
“Ah, there you are” he said.” I am Antonio, and you are the dear boy to help me achieve my triumph!.....are you gay?”
“no” said Karagoz.
“Pity” said Antonio. “I have marked all the rooms and the paint cans so you will know what to paint and where. All, except the front and back rooms, which need my special care.
(they were in the back room)
Antonio walked over to the window and looked at the room, then went over to wall closest to the window, and two feet from the wall in which the window was, drew a remarkably straight line down it and wrote” 1” on the side closest to the window and “2” on the side farthest . Going across the room he repeated his action. Walking about three feet from the line into the room, he drew another line, “2” on one side, “3” on the other. On the interior wall he wrote “4”.
“I have the paint marked. Just be sure you use the correct ones. Come!”
He flitted from the room, and went to the front room, where he repeated his performance with “5”,”’6”,and”7”.
“There! Wonderful! Call me when you are done, or have any question” and made a classic “exit stage left”out.


*******
The Sunday evening meal was planned and made by Miss. Park. It was Jae-yook (Kim-Chi) Bo-kum( ,or Spicy Pork and Kimchi Stirfry.). Kim-chi is Fermented Cabbage, and the red pepper in it makes it HOT and spicy. She served it with white rice and a dry, light Riesling. As usual the supper was a pleasant meal with lively conversation, but …was there an undercurrent of something here? At the end of the meal, Nigar and Sun-ja cleared the table and stayed in the kitchen. Angela smiled at him. He liked her. She was a woman who used no guile at all, and she came straight to the point.
“The girls thought it would be best for me to talk to you alone. I’m the one who does most of the ‘added services’ for the firm, you see. Let me explain how it works. The elite escort service is just that. We serve that one percent that has it all, and want more. Nigar has access to that society, (she was born to money on her mothers’ side , and to an old family on her fathers’ side). She sorts though the various ‘want lists’. Those that are legal, and within our ability to provide, she passes on to Sun-ja for a background check. This includes health records of course. It’s surprising how many nasty little problems come to light.”
She took a sip of her wine, and thoughtfully looked at it.
“Anyway, all three of us go through the ones that pass that process, and assign the appropriate person to the task. Nigar does all front work. She establishes what the service will be, how much it will cost, and collects the cash.
Now we come to your role in the firm…as to ‘added service’ that is….and your response will not change your present status, so don’t worry about that.
‘Par amour’ has always been central to human beings, and that doesn’t change just because you are rich. You escorted Ms. Cabot recently. Do you remember her?”
Kar knew where this was going, and was glad that it was Angela who was laying this out…..so to speak.
“Yes, it was a pleasant evening. We had supper and then went to Lincoln Center”
“Nigar and Ms. Cabot’s’ mother are half sisters. Liz is married and needs a sperm donor. She wants to have a baby while she is still young enough to do so safely. Liz wants to have a white, red haired child. She doesn’t want to use the sperm banks because she doesn’t trust the doctors. They sometime will misrepresent donor sperm and substitute their own.
(We live in such a shocking world)
She also wants to have some pleasure in the process. Why not? You are quite acceptable to her. Nigar says it would be an extra $1000 a night in your pay check from the firm, and a bonus of $20,000 if you hit the jackpot. There would be all sorts of legal paper work to protect both of you, and Beth would have sole parenthood (no rights for you). Of course the firm makes a tidy profit. ….I provide added services in a similar way. So, how about it?”
Kar smiled.
“I thought something like this might be in the works, and yes , let us try this out …at least once. I liked MS Cabot and think I could live with the conditions. The money is good too!”
“Fine! Now then, how about added service for men?”
“NO.”
‘I thought not’, said Angela, sadly.


************************************

There was a cloud cover over Rome so that one minute you were in the sun looking down on stark white clouds, and the next you were on the ground looking at a cold wet drab day. When Aimone reached the airport terminal he saw a uniformed driver holding a sign with “Makonnen “on it and worked his way through the crowd to meet him. They picked up his bag and went to the parked car, and with Aimone in the back they left the airport taking the A90 around Rome.
It was a long drive north, and he fell asleep. He woke as they crossed A20 and drove into Turin. He checked into the hotel Chelsea and his driver told him how to walk to his meeting the next morning at 10 AM. The city was old, and wealthy, full of treasure carefully and tastefully scattered. The re-education camps seemed a stark and unlikely memory here. Still Italy, herself had been given her fair share of pain over the years, and what good was it to dwell on such things?
After a good nights’ sleep, and a fine breakfast, Aimone went to the lobby, sat in a comfortable chair and read the local newspaper, the Cagliari. There were articles on the president of the USA. a strike in Milan, and the economy. Nothing very different from the news in Addis. The report style was different; Italians and Ethiopians do have different values. At about 10 he walked the three blocks to the office to have his meeting. It would not be good manners to arrive too early.
.
The lawyers’ office was a den of books and warm rich woodwork, designed to state wealth and comfort.
It did.
The coat of arms of the house of savoy was discreetly hung among a number of photographs having some age.
“Mr. Makonnen , welcome! I am very pleased to meet you at last. The firm is acting as the executors of the estates of both your father and Prince Amedeo, Duke of Aosta. This is somewhat unusual, but then the whole situation is unusual. There are a number of details that need to be cleared up before I can tell you much more, but I assure you it will be worth the trouble.
First of all, you have some letters from your father to your mother?’
“Yes, here they are”. Aimone shifted a bit and handed him the rather tired looking packet of letters.
“Ah! Good! “He took out an official looking form and wrote a description of the packet without opening it, signed it, and passed it to Aimone.
“We will need to have these studied. This document states that we are responsible for them during that time”
“Ok” said Aimone, somewhat puzzled.
“And now, it would aid matters greatly if we could have a small sample of your blood. This would establish that you are the proper owner of these letters, I think.”
“Ah! Now I understand. Yes, of course”
The lawyer stood (indicating that the interview was over)shook his hand and said:
“They will do that in the outer office now. We will need some time to get things in order, you understand, but we will contact you when we complete our task. The firm will pay all expenses that you have while you are here, and they will give you an advance of cash too. A fair exchange, I think?
Again, welcome to Italy, and enjoy your visit”
Aimone stood in the street outside the office.
(That was short and sweet! They want to make damn sure I am who I say I am, He thought, and I guess I am pleased with that. I wonder what will come of all this. Anyway, I am going have a good time here at their expense. They gave me 2000 euros as pocket money! I’ll send some of that back to the servants; they have been shorted for some time.)
Three days later, the firm called and set up another appointment.
“ Mr. Makonnen , please sit down, we have done our work now, and everything is as it should be. From this point on the firm now acts as your lawyer. This relationship protects both of us. Is that acceptable to you?”
“Yes, of course.”
The lawyer beamed at him.
“Your father acted as the aide-de-camp to the Duke of Aosta, and was interned with him in the British prisoner of war camp in Nairobi, Kenya. In February, 1942 your father died, and he asked the duke to tend to his affairs and ensure that his natural son (you) received certain items from a bank box here. The Duke instructed this firm to do so, and we got and protected the items. He also asked that your father be given certain assesses that were his (the Dukes’) personal property, not that of the House of Savoy. We were instructed to find you and give them to you. On 3 march,1942, the Duke died at the prison camp, reportedly as a result of complications from both tuberculosis and malaria. You can understand why we were somewhat tardy in our job.
First of all, here are the letters to your mother. Secondly, following the wishes of the Duke , you are now life owner of an apartment on via XXSettembre nearby, and a monthly endowment of roughly 2000 euros a month for life. The property is still owned by the House of Savoy, and will continue to maintain it and staff it. The House of Savoy has agreed to this in writing.
(He handed Aimone a large, official looking envelope with the Savoy coat of arms boldly on it)
And at last, this is the only item we found in the bank box. It was sealed, as you see, by your father, and has not been opened. These things sometimes have surprises which can cause trouble. If you open it now, the firm, acting in your behalf, can advise you what the legal problems may be…..if any.”
He passed a small strong box over to Aimone. It had an unbroken wax seal on it.
Standing, Aimone shifted a bit then broke the seal without comment, and opened the box. Inside were a bunch of letters and documents, and a small jewel case. There were a number of what looked to be unset gemstones inside the case. Some of these were of the old rose cut design. The largest was a yellow color, somewhat flawed by a greenish cast….a citrine he guessed. There were others that were of better quality and different colors. There was also a small bag with four old rings in it.
The lawyer looked at them and said:
“There may be legal problems dealing with those. Would you mind if we have a member of our staff that knows gems, look at them so we know what you have?”
“Please do “said Aimone and sat down.
In a while an older man came into the room, walked over to the desk, took a look at the open box, and said: “it’s The Florentine”.
They agreed to wait until the stones could be checked and future plans reviewed, so Aimone decided to make a trip to London, before returning to Addis Ababa.
It was a quick trip by airplane, and he checked into a B and B., and enjoyed a good night’s sleep.

Having enjoyed a full English breakfast, Aimone left the B and B.. The wind was fresh and gusty and had long ago striped all the leaves from those trees that it could. The lush green of the evergreen plantings stood like jewels against the marble of the nearby buildings. The air was so filled with moisture that it gave a Turner-like feel to the area. He went to the underground and traveled to the Charring Cross underground shopping centre. He walked up to the Strand and to Jessop’s, found a salesperson (good looking young lady that seemed to really know her cameras)and bought a Samsung Galaxy Digital Camera in White .
(Right back into the underground and a trip under the Thames to the London Bridge station, and then a quick walk to Borough Market.)
Aimone took his time walking through the stalls. At length, he stopped at a stall with organic farm fresh eggs.
“Good morning”, he said to well-scrubbed, shining with the health of the country side, girl. “I would like to buy eggs that are fresh and fertile. I want to improve my flock for egg-laying.”
She beamed.” I have two that will do nicely. The best, to my mind is the Goldline (a brown bird) , which is a hybrid, and will lay over 300 eggs a year. There is also the Amber( also a hybrid) that looks like a Rhode Island Red and is a heavier bird than the Goldline.,both would do well for you. “
“Let me have a dozen of the Ambers”
Aimone went back to the B and B and put the eggs in the cooler, and changed from his “dressed-down” clothes to his dress-up clothes( with school tie) and took the camera with him to the British museum ,to talk with the man who was in charge of the documents. He was reluctant to allow Aimone to photograph the documents, and that red light stayed amber for a rather long time before he signaled green. Under normal museum, lighting Aimone photographed the documents he wanted to study at length. Calling Ethiopian Airlines, he booked tickets for Addis Ababa that night, and by the next morning, he was in Addis, and shortly after, in his home.
He sat in his favorite chair in the living room, worn out from the long trip and the tension from it. Sophia brought him a welcome cup of black Ethiopian coffee.
“Sophia, would you hand me my bag, I have bought something for the compound.”
He opened the bag and took out the carefully packed eggs.
“”These are fertile eggs I bought in London. They are from a chicken called ‘the Amber’, which is a rather large brown-red bird which lays more than 300 eggs a year. I think we could improve our flock if we hatch these and interbreed them with Ethiopian chickens. Our birds are good, and they are resistant to the problems we have here..but I think we could try to improve them.”
Sophia looked at the brown eggs.
“They are the right color, and certainly are bigger. I have a hen settling now with a new clutch of eggs. I’ll remove those and give her these to hatch.”
“Good. Now I have some money for the household fund.”
He gave her 900 birr.
“Let God be praised!”, she exclaimed, and hastily disappeared into the kitchen with it.
Aimone wandered through the house in a pensive mood. He looked at his seven year old computer. He had known that the internet was run by the Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC) , and that they filtered the internet carefully. He had not realized how much was missing until he had used the internet in London. Mr Meles had just died and Mr Hailemariam was to be prime minister. The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front still was firmly in control of the nation. It seemed unlikely that there were going to be any major changes in policy.
He pulled out the document that had been in the box with the stones that puzzled him and studied it:
VUKUG VUBTY FDDCC DUERQ CKNKI KNGOW ZYSBD GVSVK DLNVW NBVEN FESHN ADGVK SUVNE DFSDG VZSVE NFDVU EVBDE DBTDG VJXQW UGVKU CKNKS UWWDW WWSFT AKUDQ SVDAN OTDGV BSGZS WYUNV DCDGV SVKUS MVSY YUBUU SGWDE DBYYN CKNCD KEKER QWNBV VDESZ DQDWR XGWBD HTGYN DBNAS EZKDL NVVSS YSENW DKOVW DWDGV MEDQW MUKSL LSSVV UKDGB VGONA EGDBK SUWUP UCTEV KNZKU VW1DG USVCD KMUWW NEDOU ZZSKN WNBUU GSVIR MTHDV IVGZP VMVRL NZTLF KLUTB KHRVH

He spent the rest of the day in minor tasks. Taking down an oil painting that his mother had done of the compound, he packed it. He called Jayden Birru , his old friend who still worked at Addis Ababa University and arranged to meet with him at the John F.Kennedy Memorial Library the next day. He called his bank to find out if the funds he had transferred from Italy had cleared. They had not, he was informed.
“the transfer will take at least another week. There are fees to be taken out too. These are calculated to be able 12% at this time, or 5,620 birr. leaving a transfer balance of 46,840 birr.”
With a great deal of care not to be seen, he slipped into the American embassy and filed for a green card.
The next morning he took the bus to the university campus. It was dry and dusty (the little rains were months away) but looked in good condition and quite busy. He and Jayden Birru had always made it a practice to meet in public places, that way if the government had any issues with either, there would be less to suspect. Aimone remembered the bad days when the government closed the university and sent the students out into the countryside to work.
They talked while they were walking around.
“It is good to see you again. How do you like retirement now?”, Birru asked.
“Fine but it looks like I will be in Italy for some time and I’d like to have you manage some things while I am gone, if you would.”
“Of course!”
“Good, I knew you would. Now listen, and perhaps this would be one of those times you don’t ask too many questions . There is nothing that will get you in trouble, but it is just better to not get involved” said Aimone.
As they walked Aimone explained that he wanted Birr to manage his bank account, and home while he was gone. He had “come into some money” and would be gone for some time. He wanted Birr to write checks when needed, and to make sure the household fund was refilled and Sophia, Isabella, Jayden, and Mason (the servants) were paid monthly. (Birr was to take out 700 birr a month as” manager” for as long as he did this.) They had lived through the red terror together, and Birr asked no questions.
The plan was agreed upon and they went to the bank to sign the necessary papers. They also exchanged e-mail addresses (so he had Aimone’ new one in Italy).
Days passed without much being done. The service at Holy Trinity Cathedral was unchanged with memories that bought the sweetness of his youth back to him, and at the same the rank patios of the bitter years of the revolution all too close. Aimone did see and talk to a number of friends after the service. One of the monks offered to instruct him in geez. Since he wanted to do some research on the documents he found in the British museum, he took the mans’ offer and found the language came back easily.
Still.
He was coming to the conclusion that Addis was no longer “home” to him.
The day that the little speckled hen became the proud mother of ten big soft brown chicks, an email came from Signore Adige asking him to return for a meeting in Turin.

He said goodbye to the good people of Addis Ababa, departed for Italy, and his future.


It was one of those days that the people living “in sunny California” stayed inside and tried not to believe in the cold drizzle of rain which darkly ruled outside. They were people of the sun and the stark blue and white ocean (not that sullen gray form that melted into the colorless sky in the distance), unwilling to bow to the mere reality of weather. It was also a day to celebrate in California !
The Casas family (Eulalie, her mother and father, 5 cousins, and an elderly distant aunt) came together to celebrate papas’ raise and new title , and this started with a wonderful meal spread out buffet style late in the evening .There was chicken and meat empanadas, white rice, yellow rice with chicken creole topped with a traditional Colombian sauce, Argentinean sausage complimented with potato pudding, sweet platanos, red beans and fine meat with chimichurri sauce, and many sweets. The tamalada, or tamale-making party was more a social event for all the family and less skill was used in making them.
There were songs, and best of all for Eulalie, she got to play for the family on her digital piano. Most of the songs were unfamiliar to her. Most were happy and many were ones that had finger play or body movements with them. A few were sung in Spanish by the older adults.
She sat in Papas’ big chair, coughed, cuddled her soft haired toy pussy cat ….and fell asleep.
*******

A few days later, Eulalie walked over to Sandra s’ house to play. Soon Nyasia, Kennedi, and Leticia joined them and the girls started to talk about misdeeds of some of the boys at school. There were periods of scorn, and of giggling that seemed almost out of context, but the group was close knit and had a sort of secret language.
Sandra played the violin in orchestra, and she got her violin out to show them.
“I think it’s real pretty. I love the way the wood is reddish and has these nice patterns in it. It’s very light, and you have to be careful not to hurt it. You hold it like this, and use the bow like this.” (she drew the bow across the strings to make a screechy sound ) “you go up the scale like this” (she carefully put her fingers on the top of the violin, pressed down certain strings, and drew her bow across the strings..then repeated this with different fingering for the scale. The result was an unpleasant series of sour or flat notes in an unpleasant squeaking complaint. )” I have to practice more, of course. What I don’t like is that the strings cut into my fingers.”
(I guess it’s the flute for me, thought Eulalie, I couldn’t stand those bad notes… I wonder if Mom could get them to include a piano in the orchestra, ……….and she said:)
“That’s nice Sandra, it is beautiful. I’ll talk with Mom about it,”
Kennedi tried the violin and made similar sounds on it. Later on Eulalie (coughed that nervous cough) and asked:”does anyone play badminton? “
Two of the girls did and urged her to join up, which she said she would do (“.maybe”, she thought).


While Eulalie was over at Sandra’s’ house, Laurita, and Emerico Casas sat down in the front room.
“Ok, Emerico, I could tell you didn’t want to talk things over with Eulalie around. What’s up? Problems?”
“Only good ones, I think” said Emerico.
“They want me to take over the New York office. I can stay here if I wish, but the salary there is almost double what I get here. The manager there has given a year’s notice. They want me to go out to New York for a month (at the company’s expense) and assess the position. I am sure they will be assessing me at the same time, but that’s fine with me.
It could work well for us, even over the increase in salary. We have only 3 more years of mortgage, the house will be paid off, and the market for our house would (I hope) go back up. We could sell here and buy a house there with our money….and have some to put into Eulalies’ education fund. “
“When do they want you to go out there?”, asked Laurita.
“May 1, what do you think?
“Go for it”. Laurita said, and smiled.
**********

Eulalie got home before her mother every day, which meant that she opened an empty house with a key hidden in a secret place. Her mother was not happy with this but could not figure out an alternative, except for Eulalie to stay at school and walk home with her after she finished her work. They tried this for a while, but then when all sorts of problems started to arise, went to this unsatisfactory solution.
When Mom got home, Eulalie went in to the kitchen to talk with her while she made supper.
“I really like the fourth grade, but why don’t we read as many wonderful stories like Treasure Island or fairytales and talking animals anymore? I mean, we don’t read fiction stuff anymore. The stuff about geography is interesting….but why the change?”

“Believe it or not it is part of a change in the California system. They found out that colleges are demanding that students do much better than they have in the past with reading and understanding non-fiction material, so you will be reading and reporting on things in the newspaper and things like that. “Mom replied.
“Let’s see if I remember correctly there are four areas of writing they will focus on: Descriptive writing, Expository nonfiction writing, Narrative writing, and Persuasive writing,. Remember. The school motto on our webpage is ‘O'Melveny Elementary School is committed to educating students and preparing them for real life through rigorous and meaningful teaching and learning.
I think you might like to join the Orchestra this year. I don’t think that it includes a keyboard instrument, so you would have to learn a new instrument if you do. Or ……. Badminton, or Gymnastics are both offered as Extracurricular Activities and would get you out in the air more.”
The next day, Eulalie went with her mom to buy the weeks’ groceries. She loved to do this; she especially liked the fresh fruit section! Her father was very fond of pears and she always looked to see what kind her mother bought for him. There were so many different kinds, some green, some red or yellow; some were eaten hard and some went they were very soft. Today her mother chose the ones labeled “Bosc”.
“Your father likes this one when it’s good and soft. I put these out in the bowl in the kitchen so he can pick one out when it is just right. “
They were eating dessert at the supper table when Papa said:
“The man in charge of the New York office has just announced his retirement and the general manager has asked me to consider the position. If I took it, it would mean a big raise in salary, and a position I think I would do well in. on the negative side, it would mean we would have to move to New York, and I think we are very happy here. Let’s think about it. There is no hurry yet.”
Eulalies’ heart sank. (Oh no! she was really getting to know the kids here. She didn’t want to move, especially to the dark cold east coast!)

********************
Summer was ending in California, and the valley baked under a sun in a cloudless sky. Eulalie, Laurita, and Emerico Casas climbed into their small U-Haul truck, and with mixed emotions started their long journey to New York City .Emerico had accepted the new position, starting in the summer so Eulalie would be able to start 4th grade. The family decided to rent a small apartment in Manhattan, rather than trying to buy or rent a house. Eulalie would have her own room, however. It was mostly furnished, so the family moved only those things that were too dear to them to sell. Since the company was paying for the move, they planned out a sight-seeing trip. The first stop was to be Las Vegas, then on through the mountains to Denver, across the prairie to Topeka (where Laurita was born), and on to St Louis, Indianapolis, Harrisburg, and finally New York.
“ Eulalie” , said papa, “ the United States is a really big country and our trip across it will take about eight days, because we want you to see things along the way. It is about 2500 miles to New York City. Think of it as an adventure….perhaps the reverse of what the settlers from the east took coming here in the early days of California. It will be something to remember for the rest of your life “
To Eulalie (and perhaps also her parents) it was an adventure, but just little bit scary. To add to her wariness, when they drove into Las Vegas (July 9), rather than the hot dry city they expected to see, they found a flooded city!
*******************


In the first floor apartment on 14th street, Eli Jacobs put on his winter coat, hat and gloves, and gave his paramour a parting kiss. They both were happy with life as they lived it, and Eli was celebrating the completion of his psychoanalysis. Maybe it was the jolt from the Taser that was the cherry on the top?
“I’ll be gone for a couple of weeks” Eli said as he was leaving.” I have to go to Europe on some business that sounds challenging and interesting.”
As the door closed behind him, he walked down the stairs to the street, walked briskly to the nearby subway entrance and was soon back in his 5th avenue home.



>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The meeting between Aimone, Jacobs, and Adige took place in Aimones’ apartment on via XX Settembre .The lawyer had told him that Mr. Jacobs was a respected American gemologist who was bonded by the house of Savoy, and had been successful in selling and buying (more rarely done) jewelry for them. The three men sat down in the triangular living room that had tall windows on two walls, and was always filled with light. Aimone had removed the little box from the bank vault and now he opened it, placing it on the table. The gems were fiery in the bright sunlight. Aimone and Adige sat in patient silence while Jacobs took the gems, one by one, examined them and made notes. The tall clock next to the door measured time in slow ticks. At length, Jacobs stopped, studied his notes and said:
“ I have a ready customer for the emeralds ,as noted Irregular polished 68.15 carats,clear emerald . My offer is $300,000 for the lot.
For the 4 rose cut ,total weigh 35.85 carats white diamonds. My offer is $192,000.
I suggest the remaining stones (minus the large stone) be removed from Italy by me and placed in a bank box in New York City. As a dealer in stones I can legally carry them through customs and not be charged. They can be recovered by Mr. Makonnen at his leisure. The large stone should not be found anywhere but in the United States, it would be unwise for either Mr. Makonnen or me to carry it into New York. I can arrange for it to be brought in unannounced. Perhaps it would be best to have it recut first.
What is your feeling about my suggestions so far?
Sig. Adige spoke first. “acting as his lawyer, I advise him to accept. You would, of course, would require to be bonded higher than you are at present.”
“Yes” said Aimone , “I am happy, sig Adige, you are now acting as my lawyer, not as an employee of the house. I will follow your advice and accept the plan outlined so far. I note, however, that leaves us with the plan for the big diamond.”
“Excellent , “ said Jacobs , “I will transfer $492,000 into Mr.Makonnens’ bank account here in Turin. And take the other stones…..after I am properly bonded by the House of Savoy. It will be some time before I can finalize a plan for the large stone. I think it may be best that you to move to New York for a while. Would this be acceptable to you?”
“Yes, it has been many years since I last visited your country”
“Done then” Jacobs said smiling and stood and shook Aimone hand. “Have you filed for a green card when you were in Ethiopia?”
“Yes”
“Good. I will arrange for a suitable place for you to stay in New York?”
“Please do.”
*********
Things happened quickly after Jacobs returned to New York. The gems went through U.S.customs with no problem, and were safely in a bank box. A new account in Aimone s’ name had been opened (waiting his person to open that is) and money deposited in it. However, it was summer in Turin before Jacobs called and said he would like another meeting.
Jacobs returned to the apartment in Turin alone, and he and Aimone went to the sun-lite room to talk.
“ we come to a time of decision” said Jacobs, “ the history of the diamond called ‘the ’ Florentine , also known as as the Tuscan, the Tuscany Diamond, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, the Austrian Diamond and the Austrian Yellow Diamond.is one of complexity. It was taken from an Indian king and was put in a setting by Lodewyk van Berken for Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. He wore into the in the Battle of Morat on June 22, 1476 where he was killed. The next owner, Bartholomew May, a citizen of Bern, sold it to the Genoese, who sold it in turn to Ludovico Sforza. By way of the Fuggers it came into the Medici treasury at Florence. Pope Julius II is also named as one of its owners. It also is said that Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany succeeded in buying it from the Castro-Noronha family for 35,000 Portuguese scudi crocati
In its present form it was cut by Pompeo Studentoli, a Venetian working in Florence. The finished gem was delivered on October 10, 1615. When the last of the Medicis died through the marriage of Francis III Stephan of Lorraine to Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and it was placed in the Habsburg Crown Jewels in the Hofburg in Vienna. At the time, it was valued at $750,000.
The stone was ‘stolen’ sometime after 1918 by a person close to the family. It has been suggested that it was among the Austrian Crown Jewels stolen by Hitler when Germany annexed Austria.
Your relative may have been connected in some way with that action.
There are reports of it being in South America, and then the United States .If all (or any part of that) is true, why is it sitting in your bank box? Let me assure you, it IS the Florentine.
However interesting and legally important that is, all of that is of little importance. I have attempted to find out who the claimants would be if it suddenly appeared. Believe me it would be nightmare. So…as much as I hate to suggest it the best way for it to see the light of day again is recut into smaller stones (possession is nine points of the law), the largest being about 80 carats .
By the way, the more wordy theory I am working from would be: "in a property dispute (whether real or personal), in the absence of clear and compelling testimony or documentation to the contrary, the person in actual possession of the property is presumed to be the rightful owner. The rightful owner shall have their possession returned to them; if taken or used. The shirt or blouse you are currently wearing is presumed to be yours, unless someone can prove that it is not"
Would you agree to this course of action?
Aimone sat quietly for some time, and then said:
“Yes. How would you do such a thing?”
“It could not be transported by air, or at least I think it would be unwise” replied Jacobs “ I fear it would come to light through the security checks. No, you should carry it to be cut by a man I can trust in Amsterdam, and you should travel by train. You would travel from Turin to Paris nonstop, and after changing trains,on to Amsterdam.
When you reach Amsterdam you will go to meet this man”, (he handed Aimone a 3X5 card with the name, address, and telephone number of a person). Pass this card over to him, but you are not to tell him anything until he says these numbers ‘848361” after that you will pass him the stone and leave. When the stone is recut, I will come to Amsterdam and take the larger pieces through customs. At a later date I will return and take the rest of the lot.
You should then leave Amsterdam and fly to New York . Contact me, I have rented an apartment where you will stay …at least until the stones have cleared, which may take some time.
Is this agreeable?”
“yes”
Jacobs stood “I know that this requires great trust on your part, but there is really very little real risk”
Jacobs shook hands and left Aimone a somewhat relieved man.
Aimone called the train station and booked first class passage to Amsterdam. The train trip took six hours and since most of the journey was during the night, there was little chance to sight -see. He arrived at the gare du nord and was in time to catch the 6:25 train to Amsterdam and while he was on the train he called Hientje Baumann( the man he was to meet). Baumann told him where he would meet him and since he would arrive at noon,it was at a restaurant near the train station.
Some papers were signed and witnessed by an official, and then they enjoyed a pleasant lunch. Leaving, Aimone went straight to the airport and boarded the plane to the USA.
Aimone felt like a great weight had been lifted from him. It was wonderful to have purchased his ticket to New York, even though he somewhat regretted following an old habit of thrift and purchased coach (cabin?) class tickets. The KLM flight left at 6;50 and would arrive at New York at 1:30PM….which sounded easy but the flight really took 13 hours, making a very long day.
The seating was not comfortable. The airline had pushed the travelers together tightly, much more than he remembered in the old days. The first class seats , on the other hand had even more luxury than before. The distance between the haves and the have-nots was becoming more apparent, and he battled in his heart between the ideal of equality and the reality of comfort.
Jacobs had arranged for him to rent an apartment in Greenwich Village from a Ms.Nigar Miller, so he planned to take a taxi from JFK to the house and collapse.
Jacobs estimated that it would be at least six months until the stones were cut and ready to put on auction. He had done the paper work for Aimone to get a green card so he had plenty of time to wait for the process to work itself though.
He had written Jayden Birru in Addis giving him his new address in New York, and he knew Jayden would be a stable force for his old home.
Sleepy, and somewhat bored, his thoughts drifted into “string theory”, and he wrote on a scrap of paper:
Questions

Do these words,
Written: stark black on white,
And dead;
Lay at rest?

Is there movement,
In some magical way,
Transforming them;
Into thought?

Does a song
Invisible- but truly real,
Vibrating briefly,
Ever die?

Do you,
Hidden forever from me,
A string apart,
Exist?

(yes)


Arriving at last in New York, he stood in the long lines at immigration and customs. Everyone would rush to be at the head of one line, only to find themselves rushing to get in another line, until at last they all stood together at the baggage claim area where many look alike bags danced by. Then to the taxi stand where a Middle Eastern man drove him with considerable speed and skill to the house on east 14th street. Aimone pushed the button labeled “Nigar Miller”.
She was a very pretty woman with green eyes.
“Ah Mr. Makonnen, I know you must want to rest from your long journey. Please follow me and I will show you your apartment.” She walked up the stairs and opened the door to the third floor apartment, and handed him the key. She walked him through the apartment which was clean and quite nice. There was food in the cooler and the bed was turned down, the sheets fresh and white.
“Today or tomorrow come down to my apartment and we can smooth out the details for the apartment, but now, please make yourself comfortable in your new home. Mr Jacobs has left word that he will be ready to discuss some matters with you when you are ready. The occupants of the house have a tradition of having Sunday supper meal together in my apartment at 7pm. We would be happy for you to join us.
Again, welcome”
Aimone explored the apartment, took a shower, and went downstairs to 14th street. It was a beautiful early spring day and the world seemed to becoming alive. The pigeons busy at work on the sidewalks, picking up things they judged to be eatable, and courting. After a while he returned to the house and met with Ms. Miller who said:
“if you like, miss Park would be willing to fix you lunch or dinner for $4 a meal. She would cook this in her kitchen and bring it down to your apartment for you. She would just fix double the amount of what she would fix for herself, but she would be happy to vary the meals for your taste. She is a good cook.”
Aimone replied, “let’s try that a couple of days of that and see how it works out. I am used to a cook preparing my meals. Thanks, I had better rest now. I will join you for the Sunday supper, “
Later, at the meal, Aimone sat down next to Sun-ja . The room was warm and pleasant, filled with the homey odor of roast meat, unidentifiable herbs and a low mumble of quiet conversation. She turned to him and smiled. Pretty and reserved, she wore a simple pants suit, which he found to be very becoming to her. It was impossible to estimate her age, somewhere between 35 and 65 was as close as he could guess. As they talked, he noticed that her eyes were a fine mix of light grey and green, and her accent was pure New York. It turned out that they both were a combination of races. Her mother was “white” and her father was with the Korean consult for New York. Her parents were living in Washington when the Korean war broke out. The family returned to Korea after the war. She had attended and graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 1982 and come to the states shortly thereafter and become an American citizen.
Aimone liked her. He did the math, and guessed she was born about 1960. She wore very little makeup and had used the most pleasant perfume that spoke of the best of some impossible combination of tropical flowers and deep forest. They both seemed to assume that she would take over the meal plan that had been suggested, and she quizzed him as to what he liked.

************************
In September, Kar sat in his study, in the dark, without electricity, looking out the window and watched the storm flood the backyard. This was what was left of Hurricane Floyd that still packed enough strength to close schools and open city shelters! Before the power went out Mayor Giuliani had gone on TV and asked private businesses to close. The rain gauge showed 5 inches of rain so far. He thought the worse of it was over, however, so he checked the hallway and went to bed.


this is without the pictures that I feel are central to my book for the grandkids


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heinzs
The Fat Cat
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Re: The house on east 14th street

Post by heinzs » Wed Jan 28, 2015 10:47 am

I enjoyed proofreading your manuscript. Love the final product.

:thumbsup:
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