Who Is Anthony Stephens?

The Life and Death of a College Grad

114-117

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Interview with William Fletcher: Part 3

30 August 2011

– You’d think that would’ve been the end of it, too, but no. Palmer case just wouldn’t leave me alone.

– I go home after county picks up the body and Palmer’s gun’s sent up to forensics and I file my paperwork and bag all his possessions and stick it all in evidence and I’m thinking the whole thing’s over with. Get in bed next to my wife at little past two a.m., glad to be done with it all, wishing I could really be done with it all. The whole damn city. But I wake up in decent spirits regardless and come into work the next morning, and that’s when they tell me I got a girl in my office, bawling her eyes out.

– I walk in and she’s sitting right across from my desk, eyes black with mascara. Starts babbling as soon as she sees me, before I can even get a word in. Tried to pacify her, told her to lower her voice when she started yelling, but she just kept on with the bawling and babbling. Looking me dead in my face and sputtering about this and that, about being pregnant with Palmer’s baby and a whole lot of other stuff I couldn’t really understand.

– Wasn’t really surprised, you know? Palmer would be the type to leave a child behind. But then she spits out that Palmer didn’t kill himself so I say, ok. I’m game. He didn’t kill himself, you say? [Detective Fletcher shrugs then holds his hands out] Then who did?

– Long pause, then she gets all edgy and tells me she doesn’t know, she just knows he didn’t kill himself. Obvious she’s hiding something, gets me kind of curious. But I’m tired too, you know? At this point I’m just damn tired, and I’m not in the mood for games. By this time, I’ve already closed the book on the case. Turned in my paperwork the night before. I’m going to need something concrete to convince myself to pick it back up. And I didn’t want anything forcing me to do that, I’ll admit.

– So, even though I’m curious, I was glad to hear her not really saying nothing. Like I said, case was cut and dry. Found Palmer with the gun in his hand, motel owner and five other witnesses say they heard the shot seconds before they got to the room, and nobody witnessed anybody fleeing the scene. And at that point I’m betting when county gets back to me with the angle of the bullet, it’s ruled self-inflicted.

– If not, maybe this girl’s right, maybe I will have to do some poking around. Either way, that’s later on. Right then, though, she’s not saying nothing and I don’t want the headache she’s trying to bring me. So I ask her again, obligingly, how she knows Palmer didn’t kill himself. She says because he wouldn’t do something like that, and I smile because now I’m done with her and Palmer. I tell her thanks for her time, but I’m really busy. If she gets any evidence other than her own personal opinion, she’s welcome to come back.

– I’m about to escort her out when she starts with the yelling again. Had to get three officers in there just to restrain her and get her the hell out of my office.

– I don’t know. That was my breaking point right there. It was at that moment, while they’re dragging Palmer’s girl out, that I decided I—me and my family—we’re coming back here, to South Carolina.

– I didn’t know if things were different back home than they’d been when I started out, if things were just like how they were in Palm Beach. And they are, a little. Same type of brooding students around here now, not like how it used to be. But at least I feel comfortable here, can still see my old house and remember the days I rode my bike up to campus, around all the students. Happy students.

– Well, I called my wife after Palmer’s baby-mama left, told her the plan hoping not to get an earful. And she was all for it, quit her job that day. She’d been itching to get out herself, hated the place she was at, working as a receptionist. I went to the chief after I got off the phone with her and handed in my resignation, told him I’d be clearing out soon as he approved it, then I headed back to my office with him staring after me, dumbfounded.

– Yeah, right after that. Walked back in and—never stops—I’m in the middle of cleaning out my desk when I get a page from Van Heusen over at county. I pick up the phone and he’s telling me they’ve got autopsy results on the Palmer body for me, forensics on the gun too. Trajectory of the bullet indicates suicide, gun’s a black market .32 cal Smith and Wesson, filed down serial plate. Figures. Good news to me. But then Van Heusen throws in a comment about toxicology, says Palmer had a large amount of Zoloft in his intestines, which just adds to the suicide explanation. Zoloft’s got that effect on people. But, see, it’s also regulated, and I didn’t remember picking up any script bottles from Palmer’s place. Hated myself for even getting curious, but that coupled with the girl’s comments on him not having killed himself made me want to look into it just one more time.

________________________________________________________________________

Interview with Catherine D’Amico: Part 19

28 June 2011

– When I left the police station I spent the car ride back to my apartment trying to forget about my visit there. Forget about everything actually, except just convincing myself it was over.

– Kept telling myself the whole way home, he’s dead, Cathy. Dead. Gone, for good. I repeated it to myself over and over the whole way, told myself I would never see him again, that I’d be raising this baby by myself, that it didn’t matter how he died or who did it, he was dead. No coming back. I told myself to admit it, deep down, and everything would be okay in the long run. I just had to repeat it, understand it, embrace it.

– When I got home, I searched my apartment for anything and everything that had any connection to him. A sweatshirt I’d taken from his place, a couple of t-shirts he’d left at mine when he spent the night. A box of pictures, the few times he let me take some of him. And that was about it. And that’s when it all hit me, everything I’d been feeling as far as the mysteriousness of Tony for our entire relationship.

– I remembered what Detective Fletcher had just told me—come back when you have something concrete. And I thought about how I never really had anything concrete when it came to Tony. I never really knew him at all, actually.

– Searching for signs of him around my apartment, all I came up with were a couple of memories and a seed in my stomach. And, I thought it would be hard, to admit to myself that this man I barely knew had barged into my life, stomped around, then left just as swiftly. And it was hard. But it was doable. I cried when I lay in bed that night, but for the first time in over a year it wasn’t for Tony. It was for me.

– It felt good. As good as it could at that moment, at least. Which was something.

________________________________________________________________________

Interview with Martin Schumacher

who is anthony stephens?

Martin Schumacher is a student at Florida State University with one year left in his “seven-year plan,” which he explains as taking seven years to complete a bachelor’s degree (typically completed in four) for various, occasionally nefarious reasons. Mr. Schumacher was a neighbor of Anthony Stephens during his time in medical school, and conducts his interview outside of the same apartment, next door to where this tale began. Mr. Schumacher wears a tank top and FSU basketball shorts and smokes a cigarette, looking as if he just got out of bed.

7 July 2011

– Yeah, I remember Tony. He stayed right over there my sophomore year, in the one-ones [Mr. Schumacher points at Anthony’s former apartment].

– Pretty cool dude, I guess. Me and Steve—my old roommate, he graduated already—we used to sit and chill sometimes outside and smoke a little, drink a little. Tony’d join us a few times or whatever. Really chill dude. Med student, right? Yeah, he was cool. Whatever happened to him?

– Really? Dude. That sucks.

– Damn, that sucks for real, bro. He seemed like a righteous dude. Me and Steve thought he was pretty cool actually. Used to hang out on the weekends until he met that chick. [Mr. Schumacher smiles and winks] You know how that goes.

– Only time I saw him after that was when she was over and he’d come outside to let her in.

– Anything weird? [Mr. Schumacher thinks for a moment] Actually, yeah, bro.

– I mean, it wasn’t like totally fishy or anything. But there was this dude hanging out over there at one point. Never seen him before, figured it was one of Tony’s boys. He would, like, hover around the place outside sometimes, see him walking in and out of the apartment.

– Then there was this one night, a couple weeks after I first saw him chilling there. I came outside to smoke a cig and this same dude’s sitting outside Tony’s apartment. So I get a good look at him. Looked a lot like Tony actually. Little darker. He was sitting on a chair right outside the door reading this big black book. And crying.

– I swear it. Dude was just sitting there reading and crying. Not like, flat-out bawling or nothing, but crying. You could see it in the streetlight shining down on the dude’s head, he had tears like, all over his cheeks.

– Say something to him?

– Bro. You don’t mess with a dude when he’s crying. Embarrass him and shit? That’s like, man code, bro, you know?

– Dude’s liable to punch you in the face you come up to him when he’s crying.

– I just went inside. Never saw him again after that though. [Mr. Schumacher gets thoughtful] Come to think of it, never saw Tony again either.

________________________________________________________________________

Interview with William Fletcher: Part 4

30 August 2011

– You’ve got to understand, I’d just resigned like five minutes prior. And now I’m having doubts about this one last case. It was an aggravation.

– I did a quick search through the stuff we got in evidence that we took from Palmer’s place after the fire was put out.  Only a few things really, the biggest of which was a painting of some girl, found it in the bathtub with a curtain draped over it, like he’d been trying to save it from the fire.

– In the box, there’s two pill bottles, which I’m glad to see because it means there’s nothing too suspicious, though the name’s been scratched off the label. Odd, but no biggie.

– I was about to leave when I noticed Palmer’s half burnt wallet in there too. Rifle through it and there’s nothing much. No ID of any sort. No credit cards, no pictures, nothing but ten bucks cash, couple of coupons and business cards. So I look through the business cards and find, tucked in the middle of the small stack, one of those little emergency contact cards that come with wallets when you buy them.

– There’s two numbers on the card, one has a Boca area code with the name Cathy next to it. I assume that’s my belligerent little visitor from earlier.

– The other number though, it has a New York area code with Classic written next to it. So I dial the number out of curiosity. Phone’s ringing, ringing, ringing. I’m thinking nobody’s going to answer and then someone does, a guy’s voice.

– I ask him if this is Classic and he says who’s asking—New Yorkers, always got a attitude—so I pull the detective card on him and ask if he knows who Les Palmer is. The guy says he never heard of him and hangs up.

– My family and I left Boca a week later. To my credit, I told the chief he might want to put somebody else on the Palmer case to investigate a little more. Don’t know if he ever did, never really gave him a credible reason for it, just a gut feeling.

– Checked the Post a few weeks later and wasn’t nothing on it, so I’m guessing it never was reopened. County probably filed Palmer away same way we all get filed away at some point.

– I don’t worry myself about it too much. I love being back up here, wouldn’t want to taint that with too much past.

Click For Parts 118-120

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Written by patrickandersonjr

July 13, 2012 at 9:00 am

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