Who Is Anthony Stephens?

The Life and Death of a College Grad


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Excerpt from Earl Bishop’s Prison Journal

1-12-09 (continued):
Prison gangs, they’re the purest friendship people in this position can have. Completely superficial but so damn effective.
Any one of these men would strangle another gang member in a fucking second if it’d benefit him, but the beauty of it’s that they all know that. Nobody’s naïve in here, because they’re all fucking criminals. Joe Schmo in cell block C don’t have to ask himself, “I wonder if that guy would fuck me over if he got the chance.” You’re damn right he would. And once you know something like that, you’ve got no choice but to live day to day.
Once you know something like that, going to sleep with all your fingers and toes intact makes waking up the next morning a fucking blessing.
Yes sir. I’m thinking now that some of these guys are happier in prison than they ever were outside.
Which brings me back to Tony, and my life in here. I’ve got this hope, because of Tony, and hope is fucking unhealthy in a place like this.
It’s like having cancer; once you catch it, your body and mind have no choice but to hold on and let it fester and grow until it’s all anybody sees in your eyes.
I’m an outsider in here. I see everything happening but I’m not involved. I can’t jump headfirst into prison culture because I don’t see myself as a true prisoner. Not the way y’all define prisoner at least. Which is Tony’s fault. I mean, I know I said earlier it wasn’t his fault, and it isn’t his fault that shit went down this way. I’m in here because of my own choices, my own plan.
But after reading his journal, it’s hard to fall into this prison game of friends and enemies. Waiting for the next backstab so you can grab your knife and get to doing some stabbing your damn self. Knowing so much about somebody who’s been through the same shitstorm I have, it makes me a little conceited.
Which can get you killed in a place like this.
Despite all the bullshit, I still jump up every time the guards come around with the mail, irrationally hoping Tony’s name’ll be on a letter slipped into my cell. Impossible, I know, but you know. I can’t help it. Haven’t received anything yet, and I think I might be starting to accept that I never will.
But with that acceptance there’s this little piece of regret that’s started bouncing around my skull, along with that flame of anger. I see things every once in a while, pictures that pop into my head when I close my eyes, whenever I think too long about the fire that night. Horrible, gruesome pictures. Haunting shit.
I haven’t heard from Silverstein in months now. I should’ve known when he promised to get me out in a year on good behavior. Should’ve known it was bullshit, and I kind of did, kind of prepared myself for the long haul. Impossible to prepare for this completely though. Fucking impossible, no matter how many times you watch Escape from Alcatraz.
I’m counting down, hoping this place doesn’t get me before I can get out.


Pamphlet of Les Palmer’s Exhibit

who is anthony stephens?


Excerpt from Anthony Stephens’ Mood Journal

January 11 2006,

One semester in and things have changed so much.

I feel kind of stupid now, looking back at my last entry, how I lost it last summer. How close I came to leaving all of this.

I love it here now; it was just so hard to adjust at first. Like the same part of me that wanted to leave Miami so bad didn’t realize exactly how much he’d be leaving behind. Everything I’d ever known was five hundred miles away and I don’t think I really comprehended that fact until I was sitting in my apartment alone in a city I’d never even visited before.

This past fall though, everything sort of fell into place. It was like something clicked a few weeks into the semester. I stopped being scared to leave my apartment anymore and I stopped shunning everybody who tried to talk to me. I love my classes and I’ve even got a couple of professors this semester who are kind of helping me out a little, more than I think they have to.

People aren’t so bad when you give them a chance, seriously.

It’s like I’m in a different world now, and I’m really feeling it. I thought I’d keep regretting moving up here, thought the feeling would never go away. But things seem more stable now that I’m actually into all this, into my major and making plans and…

I’ve come up with this theory: I feel like all that stuff I was doing before, last summer and the couple of years before that, all that negative shit, it was all a lash out.

Just like Dr. Silver said, I was bored. And I know people say that all the time, “I’m so bored, oh my god this sucks it’s so fucking boring” but they’re not really bored because they have stuff that they like to do in their free time. They just don’t like working, that’s what it is. They’ve got their hobbies, their pet projects, all types of shit they can do on the mornings they wake up and have no plans.

It’s the days they can’t do that stuff that they get all pissy, but that bitching is also what makes their hobbies and free time seem like so much fun.

Like, ok, say right now isn’t right now. Say, instead, it’s a couple years ago, and I’m at my mom’s old place, before I was working at Shambles, after I got kicked out of school, after my mom died. Say I wake up and get out of bed and go out in the living room and don’t go past that point. Every day for like a week, I’m just out in the living room lounging, doing nothing from Monday to Sunday. Every morning, waking up and watching five different movies on DVD, eat a bunch of delivery junk food and playing video games, hitting my bong and making every possible effort to not leave the house even once. Say I do all this for an entire week. Come the following Monday morning, I’m going to wake up and think that house is like my own personal Siberian prison, you know? I’m going to start feeling like it’s my very own white padded cell and I’m stuck here in a straitjacket. I’m going to want to do anything I possibly can to get the fuck out of that place, and I mean anything.

The only problem back then was that, sometimes, that place I was at, that living room/prison I couldn’t bear to live in anymore…it was in my head. And it’s not easy to leave a place when it’s in your head. Even if you leave the physical place that reminds you of it, your mind’s still there. And when that happens, you feel trapped, and trapped people do crazy things.

We’re animals like that. Throw us in a cage, especially a mental one, and bad shit starts happening.


Interview with Jeff Kinsey: Part 1

who is anthony stephens?

Jeff Kinsey is the cab driver in Boca Raton who took Anthony Stephens home from his showing the night of his death.  Mr. Kinsey conducts his interview in his cab, driving past Antique Row and the many shops it holds, one of which is Veicht Studios.

27 June 2011

– Things aren’t the same now as they used to be. Try to switch things up now, so I don’t get too bored. Back then though, back when you’re talking about, I had a ritual.

– Everyday was the same: I’d walk up to the car before each shift, check the gas, the oil, put my rearview mirror in the right position, brush down the seats, spritz some of that vanilla body spray my wife bought me, hang a air freshener for a little insurance, climb in the car, turn on the engine, press the gas and let her purr for a bit, take a deep breath, reverse from the depot and head right over here. Antique Row.

– That’s how I started every shift, every afternoon Monday thru Friday, for almost six years.

– No, sir. Plenty of fares around. Antique Row was the primary source, though. I always drove here first because it’s close by the beach, the tourists, the money. There’s like, five different art galleries around here, you know?

– And they all serve that same sort of clientele, the type of people that love to throw money at things like paintings and sculptures and lamp posts and fucking waterfall swimming pools. Excuse the language. Irks me sometimes though, how these people’ll spend same as my year’s salary on decorations for their house.

– Oh, they was fine once they was in my cab.  Throw some of that cash my way, you can bark directions at me all you want. People’d climb in the backseat and start fiddling through their shopping bags and fanning themselves with hundred dollar bills and fondling each other, yapping on and on about what they was going to do when they got home with all this—shit they’d bought. Excuse the language. Get all excited offa sun tan oil and Benjamin Franklin’s.

– But, you know, these people paid my bills. Put milk in my fridge and toilet paper in my bathroom. Didn’t matter if I couldn’t stand the whole lot of them, I had to respect them.

– No need to wait on calls around here. Just drive out and wait, somebody’ll come. You can always tell the ones that need a ride too, by the lost in their eyes. Especially the New Yorkers. We get a lot of those. They’re used to cabs on every corner, it’s like an epidemic of them up there.

– Up there, you don’t gotta do much but hold your hand up and there’s like five or six cabbies fighting to give you a ride. The guy you’re asking about, though, fella from the art show that night, he was a local. Wack job though. Came out right there. [Mr. Kinsey points at Felicia Veicht’s art gallery as the car passes. In the window, there are a few patrons surveying paintings, Ms. Veicht speaking animatedly with one of them] I’m driving by and I’ve got to slam on my brakes because this idiot just runs out of the place, right in front of my car. He puts his hands on the hood and stares at me through the windshield like I’m Christ returned, then comes around that side and jumps in the backseat.

– Gallery was packed, too. People outside scattered like leaves, sipping champagne and laughing, and I can see through the front door that inside the place is bustling. I stare at the sign outside the front door and there’s a picture of the guy whose art they’re showing and I’ll be damned if the guy in the picture ain’t the same one’s in my backseat hunched over and peeking out the window, on all fours so his ass is in the air and his eyes are so wide I can see the red behind them. I look at where he’s looking out the back window and there’s nothing but more cars behind me, pissed off and honking because I won’t move.

– I ask the guy if he’s alright because, no matter if he’s raving mad, he’s still a client, and I still need my money.

– He tells me to just go and I did, even though I didn’t want to.

– How spooked that guy was, it was crazy. Even had me paranoid. Looking in my rearview every two seconds like death was coming after us both.


Interview with Felicia Veicht: Part 3

25 June 2011

– Fine for the most part. Catherine is an amazing woman, love to have around the gallery. Always so polite, and she genuinely adores the offerings. Honestly, she reminds me so much of myself at her age.

– But the moment she began running around with Les Palmer, I began having this inkling of a feeling—this little pinprick of a thought in my head—that there were things going on that were being kept from me. Things that could affect how I perceived my niece and Mr. Palmer and his beautiful art. And you know my policy on secrets.

– One particular incident comes to mind. About a week before the night of Les Palmer’s showing, I began to notice a peculiar occurrence. Every day, around noon, I’d glance outside the gallery and, standing across the street, right there [Ms. Veicht turns and nods towards the large window behind her desk, where tourists are walking by in scattered groups] would be a man just standing there. He wore sunglasses, very large sunglasses, and a hat, jeans and a jacket. Every time I saw him, he wore that same outit.

– At first he wasn’t a bit suspicious. We’re located in the center of a premier art district; the crowd is constant during the daytime. But most people glance in the many shop windows and keep moving. All except this man. After a while it became a bit more noticeable due to his static stance across the street and his ridiculous outfit. The entire getup stood out, not just his unusually large sunglasses. The oddest things about him, by far, were the jacket and cap. He wore the same brown sports jacket and New York Yankee’s cap everyday for the period of time that I saw him out there. An outfit such as that in ninety degree weather would make anybody quite conspicuous.

– No. No clue.

– Almost a week. After the third time I saw him, I began to wonder if he was maybe scoping out the gallery. As in, maybe he was planning a theft.

– So one day—the day before Les’s showing actually—I went outside to speak with him, or at least get a closer look at his face. I thought, hopefully, if I spoke to him I could scare him enough to get him off the thought of robbing my gallery.

– I was crossing the street, staring right at him, when a car passed in front of my view and then he was gone. Just disappeared. Never saw him again.


Interview with Catherine D’Amico: Part 14

26 June 2011

– Good, most days. An ordeal the others.

– I never knew how he was going to react to anything I told him. It’s like, sometimes I’d come to him with some sort of news, simple things, the type of things girls like to tell their boyfriends, you know?

– Like, if something happened to me at work or while I was with one of my friends or whatever, I’d tell him, share it with him. And sometimes he’d just snap.

– Kick me out of his room, not talk to me for hours.

– Other times I’d come to him with something I was sure would set him off, like, talking about his showing at my aunt’s gallery, or asking him about all the stuff that happened to him in Tallahassee. I’d be scared when I approached him because I really wanted to know but I didn’t want to be crucified for asking, you know? But a lot of those times he’d be fine. Talk to me calmly, no anger.

– Not all the time, but a lot of the times. Enough for me to not really ever know whether we were going to have a good day together or not.

– Like I said, I don’t know if he was clinically bipolar or what, but I know that half the time I was with him he made feel like shit. But it was almost worth it, because the rest of the time he’d treat me like a goddess.

– Which is why it was so hard when I found out.

[Cathy sighs] I had no idea what to expect when I woke up that morning. It was like a week before his showing too, and we hadn’t stayed with each other the night before because we’d gotten in a fight about something or other and I stormed out of his motel room all pissed off. Went home and fell asleep watching TV and when I woke up and got out of bed my stomach was crawling, I remember.

– I barely made it to the bathroom in time and I was bent over the toilet, sick for almost half an hour before I could stand and, I mean—I knew what it was. It was pretty obvious at that point.

– There’d been other signs too, pain in my breasts, bloating, all the signs of PMS without the actually period.

– And, I mean, I threw up a lot that first morning. So either that or food poisoning, right? [Cathy chuckles] I went straight to CVS and got two tests, took one, waited, took the other, then laid them both next to each other and just stared at them sitting on the bathroom counter.

– My mind went blank for a minute, and when it recovered I didn’t know what to think about so I just started crying.

– But it wasn’t like how most people would think a girl in my situation would cry. It wasn’t like I was sad or happy, or anything really. I was just… emotional. That’s it. Just emotional. I was staring at the pregnancy test and this rush of emotion I couldn’t label hit me and I just cried and cried until the two little blue positive lines on each test got all blurry, then I sat on the ground and cried some more. [Cathy pauses, staring at the floor deep in thought] I’ve thought about it since then. And I realized I saw so many things in that blue line, some things I didn’t want to see and others I kind of did.

– Tony and I had been together for a year then. And I was in love with him still, which was a plus, I guess. Would’ve been worse to be pregnant with his baby if we hadn’t been together anymore, especially if I hated him.

– But then again, it might’ve been better.

– Then at least I wouldn’t have cared what he thought. But the fact that I did care about this man and yet had no idea how he was going to react to the news of me being pregnant gave me this queasy feeling in my stomach that had nothing to do with the morning sickness.

– I realized then that I barely even knew who Tony was. I only knew what he’d told me, that’s it. No secondhand accounts of his character traits for me to laugh and be like, “I know what you mean, he does that to me too.” No family or friends to get close to and get incriminating info out of. It was Just Tony.

– To Tony, it was always Just Tony. And now I was having Just Tony’s baby. And, sure, I knew things about him, things he hadn’t told me that I’d deciphered from his actions and random conversations and overall demeanor.

– I mean, I knew more than anybody else in Boca knew about, quote-unquote, “Les Palmer.” But that’s not saying very much.

Click For Parts 99-101

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Written by patrickandersonjr

June 24, 2012 at 9:00 am

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