Who Is Anthony Stephens?

The Life and Death of a College Grad


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Interview with William Fletcher: Part 2

30 August 2011

– But Les Palmer, he was a new breed. Still batshit crazy, of course. But he wasn’t exactly the same, considering he wasn’t in college when he snapped. But he was around that age. And he lived in a college town, probably hung out with college-going people. And still with the depression, the violence, the extravagant suicide.

– Walked into that motel room that night after the fire was put out, and it was a sad scene. We were lucky to get there in time to confine the flames to Palmer’s room and keep the whole damn building from burning down, so there was some salvageable evidence in there, technically speaking. But as far as he was concerned, Palmer, nothing.

– Son of a bitch soaked himself and the whole bed in gas before he set fire to the place. Boy was beyond recognition. And the room reeked; gas, shit, burnt skin, the works. Made your eyes water being within a hundred feet of the place. Worst smell I’ve ever come across to this day. And what was left of the room that the fire hadn’t destroyed looked like he’d run around blindfolded with a baseball bat before he pulled the gun on himself.

– Piles of scorched painting supplies on the floor, holes in the wall that looked like he’d put his fist through it a couple of times, burnt pieces of clothes scattered on the floor. Small stove in the corner had old dishes stacked and the closet was piled—just a lot of things no fire could have done on its own. Palmer trashed the place then kicked the bucket, way I see it.

– Motive? There wasn’t one. Didn’t need to be one. You hearing what I’m saying?

– There’s no reason for anything these kids are doing nowadays, other than being stark, raving mad. Once the motel owner ID’d him and I found out about his little conniption at that art gallery on Antique, I knew what he’d done.

– Fellow officer—Walton, Officer Walton—showed up at the place a couple minutes after Palmer snapped on the crowd and ducked out the back door. Said he spoke to a couple of the guests and they basically told him Palmer was a lunatic.

– Cut and dry case when it came to me and the body. Way I saw it, all I needed was a name and a time of death, former of which I got from the motel owner—Ms. Bella, sweet old lady—latter of which I got once county got back with the autopsy.

– No, I don’t have sympathy for people who take the easy way out. I’d have at least given him credit if he did the gas thing then just sat there and took it, burned to death like that Buddhist monk back in the sixties. But even back then, he did it as a protest. Still stupid, but at least there’s some reason. A purpose. What Palmer did was ridiculous, overkill, and for what? Because he couldn’t handle the same life everybody else was handed?

– You’ve got to work your way out of your problems the old-fashioned way, perseverance. Anything else and you’re a coward, plain and simple.

– Chemical imbalance, my ass. I could tell Palmer’s life story almost the moment I walked in that room and saw his smoking body laid out on that bed, gun in hand, bullet hole in the wall. And like I said, when I heard about his little art gallery showing, I knew even more. Basic character profile: Mom and Dad not around enough, working class, probably divorced. Palmer himself’s dramatic in high school, acting out, getting in trouble, taking drugs and blaming everybody but himself for the trouble he’s getting himself into. Takes that mentality right out into the real world, never assimilates properly into society. Girlfriend issues. Money issues. Mental issues, self-medicated. Blah blah blah [Detective Fletcher shakes his head] Wouldn’t even have bothered with the paperwork if it wasn’t required. Case closed.


Interview with Catherine D’Amico: Part 18

28 June 2011

– No, I don’t think it was suicide.

– I know it wasn’t, I don’t care what they say [Ms. D’Amico pauses then sighs] I don’t know why I cared so much. About the investigation, I mean, not Tony. He was already dead, nothing I could do about it then. But I went to the police station anyways, on the verge of hysteria, and asked—demanded—to speak to whoever was assigned to Tony’s—Les’s—case.

– They sent me to Detective Fletcher’s office, and he looked at me so—bored. Like the moment I saw him I knew he wasn’t going to help me or listen to me or believe anything I had to say about Earl.

– I explained to him who I was, ended up having to tell him that I was pregnant with Tony’s—Les’s—baby just to get his attention. First person I’d told besides Tony himself, and even then Fletcher still didn’t give a shit. Didn’t know me from Jane Doe, and I knew it was pointless but before I could stop myself I’m spewing all this stuff about Les already having everything so hard and he was just coming out of it and this is ridiculous, that they’re not even investigating. Then I just blurted it out, that he didn’t kill himself.

– I don’t know. He didn’t believe me. He’d already made his decision, I could tell, I could see it in his eyes. God. And I couldn’t have looked like a very credible witness, with my nose running and my eyes all red and puffy and smeared makeup and all.

– “Really?” That’s what he said to me. “Really?” In this mocking tone, then “If he didn’t, then who did?”

– I wanted to tell him Earl did it. I wanted to tell him everything actually. But right then I saw how he was looking at me, expectantly, but in a scornful way, like he was waiting for me to tell him a stupid joke, so he could patronize me. And I knew then this man didn’t have Tony’s best intentions in mind. Then I thought about how I’d be betraying Tony anyways if I told this man anything. I had sworn to Tony I wouldn’t tell anybody about his situation and—I don’t know. He had just died, and it hadn’t really hit me yet that he was gone.

– In my mind, he was still sitting in his motel room, painting, or maybe working on somebody’s house or something.

– I couldn’t tell anybody what he’d been through. That would be admission that my promise to him didn’t matter anymore, which would have been admission of a lot of other things I didn’t want to deal with.

– So I told Detective Fletcher I didn’t know who killed Les Palmer. I just know he didn’t kill himself.  He got kind of suspicious at that, at my hesitation I guess, asked me if I had any evidence, at which point I got kind of frustrated because I knew where this was going.

– You see it happen all the time in movies and on TV: the cop asks if the person has any evidence and  the person always says no and then the police say come back when you have something concrete, which the witness usually goes out and gets at some point, on their own, almost getting killed in the process, which is the whole point of the film. This wasn’t a movie though, and I knew it would dead end in that detective’s office.

– I mean, it’s cliché, I know, but I allowed myself a little bit of hope anyways. No point to it, but I still told Detective Fletcher that I didn’t need evidence, I was just absolutely sure Tony—Les—did not kill himself. He just needed to investigate it.

– He sighed, ran a hand over his head and told me to come back when I had something concrete.

– Another cliché, I guess. Everybody knows there’s no point in screaming at detectives once they say something like that, all they’ll do is have you kicked out. But I did it anyways.


Excerpt from Anthony Stephens’ Mood Journal

August 26 2007,

I can’t believe I actually made it here.

First day of med school tomorrow, my first day.

I mean, I’m in. Biochem and an anatomy lab tomorrow and genetics and embryology the day after.

I couldn’t even really believe it when I was signing up for the classes, thought I was going to get an error message on my comp, like “you have not been accepted to this program. Please exit the web browser and fuck off.”

But I’m in. Actually went all the way with this.

The first year med school advisor told me I won’t be into my psych track until my second year, so for right now I’m lumped in with all the future heart surgeons and gynecologists and whoever else, but it’s a pretty good atmosphere from what I can tell so far. Went to orientation the other day and everybody seems really friendly, like they’re just as excited to be here as I am. Going to be a lot of work but I can’t even really think about all that right now.

Still can’t really believe I’m here. I spent so long heading towards this, it’s weird to see it happening. It’s like I got used to never reaching my goals, and now that I’m here I don’t even know what to do with it.

Click For Parts 114-117

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Written by patrickandersonjr

July 9, 2012 at 9:00 am

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