Who Is Anthony Stephens?

The Life and Death of a College Grad


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Interview with Nicholas Freeman: Part 1

Who Is Anthony Stephens?

Nicholas Freeman is the property manager of Forest Grove Apartments, the complex Anthony Stephens resided in during his time in Tallahassee. The office at Forest Grove is a two room suite with advertisements pasted on all the walls in the main room above two couches and a desk. Mr. Freeman is in his mid-thirties and sits behind this desk now, straightening his tie before folding his hands together and smiling. There is a bag full of mail next to the desk which Mr. Freeman glances at.

6 July 2011

– Tenant mail. [Mr. Freeman chuckles] Was just about to go put it in their boxes before you came in.

– Yes, it’s part of the job.

– This complex is owned by the umbrella company CampusPad Management, so they set the rules. I have nothing to do with that part of operations.

– We used to ask the postal workers if they could just put the mail in the slots themselves, but then we began receiving complaints about misplaced letters, mail sitting on the ground in the mail room, just a big hassle overall. And I don’t blame the postal workers; they have one hell of a job to do. It’s just—a few years ago the higher-ups at regional decided it would be best if the property offices received a daily bag containing the entire complex’s mail and office staff could put it in the boxes themselves. Though I can’t say I was too happy about this decision, it’s part of the job so I deal with it.

– Well—[Mr. Freeman shrugs, then leans in and lowers his voice a bit] I will say though, the same people who made the decision also decided, around the same time, that they were going to cut the entire CampusPad Tallahassee staff by twenty-five percent, which amounted to one less person in each office of every complex in the city. They said it was temporary. [Mr. Freeman shakes his head, smiling grimly] That was about five years ago. At our property, there is now only me and one leasing consultant, Kristina, in the next room. [Mr. Freeman indicates the room adjacent to his office, where a bright-faced Asian woman waves and smiles] We both work six days a week, and one of our duties during those hectic work weeks is to put away the mail. [Mr. Freeman leans back and begins picking at his nails] There’s a bit of an upside, though. After a while of doing it, I noticed that people receive some pretty interesting stuff.

– All types of mail in the tenant’s boxes. And I’m not going to lie, I look through it. I don’t open anything, nothing like that. And I didn’t pay attention at first. But then I realized it’s fairly entertaining and it makes the time go by faster.

– No. It’s perfectly legal as long as I don’t open anything. Like I said, I’m just looking. I can level with you, right?

– Okay, example: apartment 6H, a man named Schumacher, he has a subscription to Playboy, Hustler and—get this—Playgirl. [Mr. Freeman pauses and chuckles] Playboy and Playgirl both.

– Last year had these three guys—Easton, Rodriguez, can’t remember the third guy’s name but I know the Easton ones first name was Sean, he used to give me the rent check and pick up his magazines—who had subscriptions to what seemed like every video game magazine on the planet. I mean, I couldn’t even put their mail in the box half the time, I’d have to leave a note in the box for them to come in here and pick it up. And there’s this other young man who lives in 3B now—where your Anthony Stephens used to live actually—who gets an envelope every two weeks filled with cash. There’s never a return address on it either.

– Odd, isn’t it? I’ll hold each letter up to the light and see a stack of hundreds in there and wonder if he’s never heard of Western Union. Ridiculous.

– I want to reiterate: I’m not doing anything wrong, I just look at it. I don’t open anything, touch anything, nothing. And sometimes it becomes advantageous to the corporation when I do. For instance, getting on the subject of Mr. Stephens, I remember specifically how I caught on to his act.

– Yeah, I remember him perfectly. I was putting the mail away one day and I saw a change of address confirmation form made out to his apartment, 3B.

– You know the forms. If you go online and change the address you want your mail delivered to, they forward all your mail to that new address. But they send a confirmation notice to you first, just to make sure it’s really you making the request. Stephens got a confirmation, said that his mail would immediately be forwarded to a P.O. Box in—Boca, I believe it was. So I put it in his box and didn’t think too much about it until I got back to the office. Then I started running it all over in my head like, well, why would Stephens change his address?

– It was only spring back then, see? This is a college town, with a set schedule. Leases aren’t up until August, the end of the summer semester. And he hadn’t notified us of anything. I brushed it off anyways, thinking that it was nothing. Until I went to put mail in the boxes the next day and checked his box just to see, and the notice was gone. So, he checked his mail. Then later, I noticed that there was no mail for Stephens anymore. Nothing. Not even one of those ad catalogues that everybody throws away as soon as they get them.

– So, a week before rent is due, I decide to go up and knock on Stephens’ door to hand-deliver his bill to him. Perfectly legal to do that. But nobody answers his door. I’m not allowed to enter the apartment without his permission or three days notice, so I taped his bill to the door, went back down to the office and get a NTE—that’s Notice to Enter—went back up and taped that to the door as well.

– I passed by the next day and both the bill and the notice were still there. When I entered the apartment a couple days after that, the furniture was the only thing left. Seems he’d cleared out what he could carry and left everything else behind.


Interview with Robert “Bob” Hill: Part 1

who is anthony stephens?

Robert “Bob” Hill has been a resident of Tallahassee all forty-two years of his life and was a primary witness in the case against Earl Bishop. A personable, family man, Bob lives with his wife and daughter in the heart of Tallahassee, a few miles away from FSU’s campus. He sits now on his couch wearing a buttoned denim shirt tucked into his jeans with his nickname sewed into the breast, his hands covered in motor oil

6 July 2011

– Please, call me Bob. Mr. Hill’s my pops. [Mr. Hill laughs loudly]

– ‘Bout the Bishop boy?

– Don’t mind discussin’ it none. Don’t know what I can tell you I ain’t already told the authorities back then though.

– Weren’t much to tell. I seen the black fella out there carryin’ on and then the house went up, so I wrote down his license plate and called 911.

– Was going to get something from my truck when I seen it. Hell of a scene, let me tell you. And I’ll admit, I ain’t the quickest on the draw. I wouldn’t never thought to look at Bishop’s license plate, or even wanted to if I hadn’t just finished up with America’s Most Wanted, but you know how it is with them shows.

– [Mr. Hill shakes his head and smiles] I tell you, I love that nonsense like ain’t nobody’s business. Used to hate it though. Never really had much a thing for TV at all, tell you the truth, ‘cept maybe some a them sitcoms when I’m bored. You see, Martha—my wife—she loves America’s Most Wanted. I used to think the whole idea a it was just as dumb as all them other reality shows they got on television nowadays. No sense at all, no goddamn sense to any a them, just a bunch of people runnin’ ‘round committin’ all types a adultery, doin’ thangs that’d be illegal for you and me but don’t show up on the police radar when it’s a bunch a TV and movie stars doin’ it.

– Like the ones my daughter’s always starin’ at all bug eyed and fixin’ herself up in the mirror to look like them girls, no goddamn sense. Got her runnin’ ‘round the house talkin’ ‘bout how everybody just found out this one fella’s a gay and now they all messin’ with him and it ain’t fair ‘cause he ain’t done nothin’ wrong and there’s all types a yellin’ and screamin’ goin’ on in that damn house they done packed twenty damn people in. No goddamn sense. That ain’t reality no way I know it.

– Hold a minute!

– Apologize, ain’t mean to startle ya. Just realized how I mighta sounded a little earlier. That ain’t how I meant, when I said “black fella” ‘bout Bishop. I ain’t mean black fella like how you might think I meant it. I ain’t tryin’ to offend nothin’ ‘round here. I know how sensitive people is nowadays with all this politically correct and incorrect nonsense they got going on. Don’t take to none of it myself. Bishop was dark, I ain’t, and ain’t nothin’ wrong with neither. Ain’t nothin’ any party’s to be ashamed of.

– I ain’t know his name when I saw him gettin’ in his car, did I? Never saw him before in my life. So I gotta call him that black fella. What else I’m s’posed to call him? The fella in the truck? How many people got trucks in Tallahassee? Damn near everybody in this goddamn city got some sort a pickup, I bet. And I know we got a whole lot of black fellas ‘round here too and, like I said, ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. But I think it’d be mighty easier to catch a fella if I’d said the black fella in the truck with such and such license plate, ‘stead a just saying [Mr. Hill gets overly animated] ‘I reckon t’was some fella in a truck with such and such license plate.’ [Mr. Hill settles down, shaking his head] Wouldn’t’ve been much help at all if all I said was that, wouldn’t I?

– You know it. Would’ve had half the city out looking for any color type a fella. That’s a whole lot a fellas to look through. So, you see, right there. I cut that cop work right in half.


Excerpt from Anthony Stephens’ Mood Journal

May 29 2004,

Morning: 5 out of 10

Afternoon: 5 out of 10

Evening: 5 out of 10

Got into a pretty in depth talk with Dr. Silver today and he told me it might be some good venting if I write about it, so here it goes:

I had this quasi-girlfriend my junior year in high school named Carol.

On a side note: this isn’t a first-love-type story. Carol wasn’t my first girlfriend or the first girl I had sex with or the first girl I loved. I didn’t love her, I knew that and I think she did too. I had no idea what love was back then, still don’t. I was just following the rules of high school social status.

It takes one failed relationship to make most people realize that everything’s not always as perfect as people in movies and TV shows and the music industry make it seem. Especially not in my generation. People don’t do Boyz II Men anymore. It’s all about 50 Cent and Magic Sticks nowadays. Even Usher used to talk about that sentimental shit sometimes, back when I was in middle school. Now it’s all about breaking up, going out and partying and moving on right away.

Give some high school kids a couple of fucked-up weekend flings right now and they’ll start looking at every person of the opposite sex like they’re a conquest rather than an actual person, and anybody who tells him or her different just hasn’t learned yet, plain and simple. Or at least that’s how it seemed to me.

Carol and I were never “officially” a couple, which irked her and made me feel powerful because I had her on edge, which I thought would keep her from being able to hurt me. That’s how I thought when I was in high school. Like things were that easy to prevent, like all I had to do was will the bad stuff not to happen and the forces of nature would lean in my direction. Make everything just right. I thought I had everything figured out once I hit like seventeen. People tried to tell me that wasn’t the case, and I told them they were jealous. Because I already had my whole life in order and I wasn’t even legal yet.

So, one day, I came over Carol’s house to hang out as usual, wearing a brand new Phat Farm outfit I’d bought with some birthday money and listening to a Walkman I’d got the same day from my mom. Carol was in the pool with some friends of ours, this guy Josh and his girlfriend Jean. Carol got out of the pool to give me a hug and I backed away from her.

That was my phase back then, see. It was a prima donna mind state, I admit, but what can you do about it at that age? Nothing. You’ve got to follow standards, and standards around the people I rolled with said that you weren’t supposed to let anybody mess up a fresh new outfit, especially not with chlorine-filled pool water. That was my excuse.

Carol’s excuse for her reaction to it was a little more enigmatic.

I’m guessing that everybody has a breaking point when they feel like they’re being taken advantage of. Sometimes it’s something big that cracks them, like infidelity or physical abuse. Other times it’s something small. Whatever the case, when I backed away from Carol that day, she snapped. Started screaming and yelling about how I kept disrespecting her, treating her like some annoying puppy that just won’t leave me the fuck alone.

And all I’m thinking in my head is that I just don’t want her to mess up my outfit.

So I laugh, because the situation seems ridiculous to me. I meant it to be a laugh that would diffuse it all, show her how silly this whole thing was, bring our little foursome together so we could all hold hands and sing Kumbaya and smoke a peace pipe or what-the-fuck-ever. But I guess it came out sounding more like a condescending chuckle because next thing I know, she kicks me right in the balls.

I mean like, really kicks me, like how they do in the movies and you always wonder how the guy gets up afterwards.

Getting kicked in the nuts is not a stunt move. It isn’t like getting kicked in the funny bone or the spine or anything like that. The pain that hits you on impact is an imploding pain, like a mini hydrogen bomb just went off in your pants. It’s excruciating, but even then, it’s short lived. And if that’s all it was it wouldn’t have the stigma attached to it that it does. But that’s not it, because once your nuts stop hurting, suddenly your stomach bubbles over like you’ve got the worst diarrhea in the world, then the feeling moves north and your chest sort of feels like it’s going to cave in then it goes back south to your stomach and further down back to your nuts and then everything just hurts all at once.

And to top it all off, while I’m doubled over holding my crotch and spitting at the ground because I taste blood in the back of my throat, Carol pushes me and suddenly I’m in the water. I hear my headphones sizzle and the music go out, my brand new Walkman dead to the world, my brand new outfit definitely messed up now, and I can’t do anything about it because I’m still holding my aching balls the entire time.

Needless to say, when I pulled myself out of the water, my stomach still churning from the ball kick, I was livid. I mean, seeing red. Don’t know if it was the anger or the chlorine, but Carol was like encased in this red bubble when I looked at her, and I went ballistic. Carol saw it coming and took off running. I caught her in front of her house, grabbed her around the waist from behind and she was screaming bloody murder before I even got her off the ground. I dragged her back to the pool area, not really knowing what I was going to do.

I knew what I wanted to do; what I really wanted to do was slap her as hard as I could. I can admit that here, can’t I? I wanted to slap her until her nose bled then punch her in the stomach, right in the ovaries to be exact.

Mostly though, I just wanted her to have balls that I could kick. Big, nasty, hanging testicles that I could just ram my entire shin into, full force.

But there’s this thing in most guys—at least guys with moms like mine—that automatically leashes violent thoughts against women. Because whatever it is you want to do to that woman, you know in the back of your mind your mom’s going to do something twice as bad to you if you go through with it. I wanted to hurt her physically, but I couldn’t. God, I wanted to, more than I think I’ve ever wanted anything. But I just couldn’t do it. It’s like I had a fucking leash around my neck. I willed myself to flick her on her forehead at least, give her an Indian burn, something.

Instead, I just threw her in the pool, then when I realized that wasn’t enough to satisfy that red cloud around in my eyes, I turned and stormed off, back to my mom’s house.


Interview with Jarvis Glassner: Part 1

who is anthony stephens?

Jarvis Glassner has been a fire investigator with the Tallahassee Fire Department since 1993 and was on the scene during the investigation of the fire allegedly started by Earl Bishop and Anthony Stephens. Mr. Glassner is extremely enthusiastic to speak about his job and his experience both with this incident and within Tallahassee’s overall emergency response structure. Mr. Glassner works out of the primary police station in Tallahassee, where he sits in his office now, dabbing sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief

11 October 2011; 13:23

– Eighteen years I’ve been on the job. Past five of them years I spent turning down offers for everything from District Fire Chief to State Fire Marshall. I love Tallahassee. Love my job. Love the action. I refuse to sit at a desk filing papers into folders, sticking them in cabinets. To go out and face the media with some other field officer’s reports. Reports I could’ve very well gone out and made myself. I’ve got to be out here [Mr. Glassner points outside emphatically]—out there—digging through the leftovers. Finding the prints, whether that’s actual fingerprints or footprints or goddamn ass prints. These S-O-B’s always give themselves away at some point. It’s all in the details. One of my boys gives me a good enough description of the scene, I can tell you over the phone whether it’s arson or not, whether it’s accidental or purposeful. Heck, I could tell you if somebody was trying to make it look like a accident when it wasn’t. Can’t pull the wool over my eyes. It’s all in the training, basic to be exact…[1]

– Sure, sure. Just illustrating my point. I never been the type to sit in the background. I got too much sense to lay back and let somebody else fumble around with evidence. Half these men in here got the balls to do the job right when they’re told, but they don’t got the know how.

– The Bishop case now, hell. [Mr. Glassner chuckles and pats his knee lightly, looking around as if he wishes there were a larger audience] I knew that was arson soon as the call came in, moment they sounded the alarm for us to get out there. I’ve lived in this city my whole life. I been passing by them houses on Old Bainbridge almost every day since I was a boy riding in the back of my dad’s pickup.

– Them houses over there, they couldn’t set fire to themselves. Abandoned or not, them houses been standing for years, no problem. So, you see, things like what Bishop done, they just don’t happen coincidentally. And that’s where I come in. [Mr. Glassner leans in and lowers his voice, pointing his thumb back towards his chest] My job is to prove coincidences don’t exist.

[1] Mr. Glassner goes into a lengthy description of his enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corp. before Operation Desert Storm in the late eighties. Mr. Glassner is a former member of the first battalion/seventh marines group, which he proudly states was the first team into Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and one of the only teams to enter into any type of military combat during the conflict.

Click For Parts 49-52

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Written by patrickandersonjr

May 7, 2012 at 9:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. Re footnote 1 states that Glassner enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps during Operation Desert Storm.
    U.N. Resolution 660 was adopted August 2, 1990. Operation Desert Storm occured in 1991. If Glassner enlisted in the Marines inthe late Eighties, it was before, not during, the war.

    I am still enjoying your novel.


    James Hamilton

    July 12, 2012 at 12:16 pm

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