The house on east 14th street ,episode one,rewrite

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The house on east 14th street ,episode one,rewrite

Post by burdick » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:34 am

The house on east 14th street

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 Fatma 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.
“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 see him as being aloof and uninterested in social interaction. Hacivat has 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 he bed and the closet he would share with Hav was in the other bedroom. 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 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 (Kars) 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.
“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 ladies 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 trafice 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 serviceman?) 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 quieting to him. He focused on a light in the centre of his vision, willing it into an open door down a long corridor, through which he could see a bright light, warm and pure. He sensed passage ways 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 rounded with a sleep’”.
“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 coins to and from the meet, and to 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 8PM 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 little 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, and 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 loups. 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 a telephone number and I’ll see what I can do. It may take a few days, and you had better give 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?”
“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 right now I cannot tell you about it, 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 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, it was 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 too.”
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 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?”
“’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 your 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 ‘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 sunny days that demands to be lived to the fullest, so Karagoz decided to walk to the village. They were working on 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 five 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 settled 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 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 hands 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, though 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 front 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. 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 life! Invaded and conquered by the Italians in 1936, she regained her independence and Haile Selassie regained the 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 and somehow had stayed with the house through it all. There were two apartments a 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 had been 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)

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Re: The house on east 14th street ,episode one,rewrite

Post by burdick » Thu Jun 27, 2013 3:35 am

jpgs still missing, sorry

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