Authors: Peter Blauner
Tags: #Fiction, #General
ALSO BY PETER BLAUNER
Slow Motion Riot
SIMON & SCHUSTER
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places,
and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination
or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events
or locales or persons, living or dead,
is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 1996 by Peter Blauner
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction
in whole or in part in any form.
and colophon are registered trademarks
of Simon & Schuster Inc.
Manufactured in the United States of America
1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The intruder : a novel / Peter Blauner.
1. Homeless persons—New York (N.Y.)—Fiction.
2. Lawyers—New York (N.Y.)—Fiction.
3. Family—New York (N.Y.)—Fiction.
I. Title. PS3552.L3936I57 1996
813’.54—dc20 96-759 CIP
ISBN 1-416-59357-8 ISBN 978-1-416-59357-7
“I Can’t Stop Loving You” written by Don Gibson
Copyright 1958, Renewed 1985 Acuff-Rose Music, Inc.
All Rights Reserved. International Rights Secured.
Used by Permission.
I would like to give special thanks to Larry Schoenbach, Lee Stringer, and Myrna Rasmussen for their time, their patience and their insights. Any mistakes that remain in the book are there despite their best efforts.
I would also like to thank David Singleton, Terry Williams, Kathy Grunes, Sam Bender, Mark Stanley, Janet Allon, George McDonald, Michael Hinton, Michael Daly, Melissa Farley, Marcus Devilla, Lt. Wayne Costello, Howard Taylor, Ellis Henican, Ellen Bender, Kevin McGowan, Catherine Woodard, Harriet Karr-McDonald, La Rose Paris, Ivan Gallego, Judy Clain, Rose Marie Berger, Marty Markowitz, Peter Guber, Terri Seligman, Adrienne Halpern, Joanne Gruber, Todd Black, Adam Platnick, Sam Szurek, Arthur Levitt, Denis Woychuk, Ray Davies, Michael Siegel, Arthur Umar, Richard Pine, Arthur Pine, Lori Andiman, Sarah Piel, Casandra M. Jones, Dominick Anfuso, Chuck Antony, James B. Harris, and Spider.
To my family
Peggy, Mac, Mose, Sheila, Steven, and Andrew
14 A prominent Manhattan lawyer was arrested yesterday and charged with killing a homeless man on the Upper West Side. Jacob Schiff, 44, a white-collar criminal defense specialist with the firm of Bracken, Williams & Sayon, is accused in the beating death of a vagrant who had allegedly been harassing his family. In state Supreme Court, Mr. Schiff, who was charged with second-degree murder, entered a plea of not guilty. He was released on bail after he put up his $1,000,000 town house as collateral.
A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney would not rule out the possibility that prosecutors would seek the death penalty.
Mr. Schiff could not be reached for comment.
At first, there’s only darkness. Then a slight stirring breeze and a dot of light from somewhere deep in the tunnel. The dot turns into a beam and the beam widens as the train approaches the station. The man in the Yankees cap and the MTA jacket stands near the edge of the platform, watching, considering. The growing metallic roar almost matches the scream in his head. The light washes over the tiled walls and focuses into a pair of headlights aimed up the tracks. The train will arrive in fifteen seconds. In five seconds, it will be too late for the driver to throw the emergency brake. The man in the Yankees cap moves closer to the edge, waiting for the sound to catch up to the light. Trying to decide if the right moment is coming.
In the Dispatch Office of the 241st Street station in the Bronx, the red light has stopped moving across the black model board. Somewhere between East Tremont Avenue and 174th Street, a train has stalled.
A husky supervisor named Mel Green puts a soft thick finger up to the red light and shakes his head. “I bet it’s another flat-liner,” he says.
“A flat-liner?” A bald-headed conductor from Trinidad named Ernest Bayard looks up from his poppy-seed bagel and his Shoppe-at-Home catalogue.
“You know, a twelve-nine, man under, one of them guys jumps in front of a moving train,” says Mel, who has a squared-off haircut and wears a purple T-shirt that says
IMPROVE YOUR IMAGE—BE SEEN WITH ME
. “We been having a lot of those lately.”
“I don’t know. Don’t they say April is the cruel month?”
Ernest shrugs and goes back to looking at the hibachi ads in the catalogue. A number 3 train passes like an apartment house sliding by sideways. New York faces in a blur. The dingy beige room rumbles. Two conductors play chess under a clock that says it’s five after eight in the morning.
“Ray Burnham was telling me a story the other day,” says Mel, adjusting the brown Everlast weight belt around his middle. “Big fat guy was sitting on the tracks at the Union Square station. Four train passes over him. Transit cop comes down and says, ‘How you doing?’ Guy looks up, says, Tell you the truth, I’m kinda nervous. It’s only the third or fourth time I’ve done this.’ ”
“Man, that’s a lotta bullshit, that’s what that is.” Ernest laughs and flips to the patio furniture ads as John Gates walks in, wearing his Yankees cap and MTA jacket.
The dust particles in the air suddenly seem to move a little faster and the scrambled eggs in the office microwave glow a little brighter. Another departing train shakes the room.
“Hey, John G.!” says Ernest. “No way nohow you sit in front of a four train and live, right?”
John G. stares at him blankly and says nothing. His left eye twitches.
“Well maybe he was lying down,” Mel Green mutters.
“All I know is if I had one of those, I’d just pull the brake and close my eyes.” Ernest turns halfway around in his seat and puts his hands in front of his face. “I don’t need to see that shit in my dreams.”
“Yo, Johnny, you all right?” Mel watches him.
John G. has raccoon circles around his eyes and a chin dusky with three days’ beard. He’s a pale skinny Irish guy in his mid-thirties with a gauntly handsome face and discreet tattoos on both arms. In another era, he might have been said to have the look of
a merchant seaman. Now he just seems like someone who’s spent too many nights hanging out on street corners.
“Yeah, I’m all right,” he says.
Everyone’s noticed him acting a little buggy lately. Staring into space, mumbling to himself in the motorman’s cabin. There’ve even been some nervous jokes about him maybe going postal: showing up for duty with a Tec-9 machine gun. But no one wants to say anything to headquarters on Jay Street just yet. John G.’s always been a solid dude; he’s made employee of the month three times in the last five years. Besides, the man’s been broken. Give him some space.
“You sure you all don’t want Ray Burnham to take the shift for you?” Mel asks. “You worked Kwanza for him, right?”
“Nah, it’s okay . . .“John G. stares at the general orders on the bulletin board like a man in a trance.
“Hey, John, you had two, didn’t you?” Ernest the conductor looks over his shoulder.
“Two what?” John G.’s mouth goes slack. He still hasn’t taken off his hat or his jacket.
“Two twelve-nines. You know. Track pizzas.” Mel’s throwing him a lifeline, trying to drag him into the conversation. “Guys you ran over.”
The clock on the wall makes a loud clicking sound. The two conductors stop playing chess and look over.
“Yeah, I think I had two.” John G. swats absently at a stream of dust passing under a desk lamp. “I don’t really remember . . .”