Who Is Anthony Stephens?

The Life and Death of a College Grad


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Interview with Nicholas Freeman: Part 2

6 July 2011

– I saw no other explanation. Which is exactly my point.

– Long story short, because I was a bit nosy and noticed that change of address form, I was able to draft Mr. Stephens’ eviction papers quicker than if I’d waited until I got wind that he hadn’t paid his rent in a while. The papers were ready on my desk the day his grace period ended, and what made it even sweeter, if I can say so, was when the police showed up a few days later.

– I pride myself in efficiency, and if I hadn’t been on the ball I would have been no help to the authorities and would have inadvertently led them on a wild goose chase. As it stood, I was able to show them a copy of the eviction notice, though I left out the little detail about me looking through his mail. No reason to delve on that, in my opinion. Also, [Mr. Freeman sneers] told them that if they ever did find him, they could let him know he’d be hearing from our legal department as well.

– I don’t know. Don’t care, frankly. I did my job, and a damn fine one too if you ask me. You see, the quicker you get eviction papers together in a situation like that, the quicker you get the tenant out and the faster someone else can move in. It’s called a turnover rate, and it’s a very important number in this industry. The sooner someone else occupies a recently evicted apartment, the better my numbers look and the more likely I am to get promoted to regional. At which point I’ll never have to stick another piece of mail in anybody’s box again.

– So, you see, it’s a means to an end, what I do.


Excerpt from Anthony Stephens’ Mood Journal

May 29 2004 (continued)

Two days after the Carol incident, I was nowhere near as angry as I had been. I was actually thinking it was all pretty minor, as far as embarrassing moments go. By then my balls weren’t hurting anymore and my outfit had been washed and still looked decent and I was okay with it all, just doing my thing. I was done with Carol, obviously, and I let her know it. She tried calling twice but I saw her name on the caller ID and told my mom I didn’t want to talk to her. Mom didn’t ask any questions.

Anyways, that all happened on a Friday, so it was a Sunday afternoon that I was in my room playing NBA Live and there was a knock on the front door. I came out in the living room and my mother had already answered and there was Carol’s mom, nose flared, staring over my mom’s shoulder at me like I was something she’d just stepped on in the grass.

She pointed at me and said—word for word I remember perfectly—“I’m going to fucking kill you, you little shit.”

She tried to get in the house and come after me and I wanted to run in my room and lock my door but I stood my ground (more because I was scared shitless than anything else) while my mom pushed Carol’s mom back out the door. My mom was intense, man. Should’ve seen her. She was like superwoman that day. Carol’s mom had at least four inches on her and probably twenty, thirty pounds. But my mom had her back out the door in a second, screaming that she was going to call the police if Carol’s mom didn’t get out. And Carol’s mom turned to my mom, looked her right in her face and said “I already did.

And my mom, looking confused, said “already did what?”

Carol’s mom looked back at me and her face was like fucking Medusa or something. She spit out, “the police, for him,” then pointed at me and, I mean, I could’ve imagined her hair just standing on end right then and hissing at me. Carol’s mom looked back at my mother and suddenly her shoulders slouched, her eyes filling with tears. And while I’m standing there trying to figure out what exactly is going on, Carol’s mom says “your son is a raping bastard.” And then, just to sink it in a little deeper—as if the accusation wasn’t already obvious—she burst out crying and said “he raped my daughter.”

I remember I had to think for a second about it, roll the idea around my mind.

Carol’s mom looked and sounded so convincing right then, so sure that what she was saying was the absolute truth, that I actually stood there and wondered if I had raped the girl. I’m standing there running asking myself, “when’s the last time we had sex? Did she want to? Did she say no? Did she even kind of say no?”

Me, who has never violated anybody or even thought about anything close to the idea of forcing somebody to have sex with me in my life, I’m standing there doubting myself.

And it was in that moment of indecisiveness that my mother chose to turn around and look at me. Not a few minutes later, after I’d gotten my shit together. Not earlier, when I was just surprised by it all.

She looked at me right in the middle of my doubt and saw that wavering look on my face, and she didn’t say anything. Didn’t ask me if it was true, if there was anything I needed to tell her, nothing. She just stared at me with this look that’s hard to describe. It was like she was seeing me for the first time ever and just realizing she hated what she’d given birth to.

Carol’s mom said “they’re on their way” then slammed our door, stormed off to her car and raced out of the driveway. As soon as she was gone my mother opened the door again and pointed outside.

The way she said “get out,” I couldn’t even respond. I just walked into my room, threw a bunch of shit in a bag, and left.


Interview with Robert “Bob” Hill: Part 2

6 July 2011

– And if you goin’ say I shoulda just said “African-American fella,” I got a little somethin’ to say ‘bout that right there, that African American bit.

– I can’t tell you my own experience ‘cause I ain’t black. You see it, plain as day, I’m white. Heat got me tanned to a dark red ‘round this time a year, but you check my ass cheeks brother. [Bob chuckles] Like a newborn baby.

– And I can’t very well tell ya how you gotta to feel ‘bout African Americans. That’d be downright rude. But I do got a little thang I heard from somebody else, a good friend and coworker of mine, name’s Richard Cleveland but we call him Rusty. Rusty’s black, and we seen Obama on the TV one day and the news is there talking ‘bout him looking for the African American vote and all, and Rusty gets to laughin’ and says that he hates that, goddammit.

– Threw me off, I’ll tell you. Didn’t understand what the problem was.

– So I ask Rusty what he means, and he says Bobby—that’s what he calls me, Bobby—he says, Bobby, I ain’t African-American. I ain’t never been to Africa. I ain’t plannin’ on goin’ to Africa. My ma and pa ain’t been to Africa, neither my grandparents nor they parents that gave birth to ‘em. My mama came to Jacksonville from Barbados fifty some odd years ago. Daddy moved up to Duval from Fort Lauderdale ‘round the same time, and his parents ‘fore him was from Michigan. I ain’t never seen nor heard a African part to none of ‘em.

– And let me tell you, Rusty’s darker’n tar in the summer, lips like a peach, like this [Bob demonstrates the look of Rusty’s lips by puckering his and using his fingers to spread them out] and a nose broader’n both yo’ eyes put together.

– Now, if he ain’t callin’ himself African-American, why in damn hell I’ma go and call him that? Or anybody else ‘round these parts for that matter, ‘specially somebody I ain’t never seen before that’s goin’ ‘round settin’ thangs on fire?

– I ain’t never had a racist bone in my body, sir. Even after September 11, I ain’t got nothin’ against nobody.

– I’m just a proud resident of this neighborhood, have been for the better part of eighteen years now. I carried Shirley through the door a this house in her weddin’ dress the night we got hitched and I brung my daughter home from the hospital through that same door, and I’m plannin’ on walkin’ through that same goddamn door with my grandkids someday, and I wouldn’t like to see none a them grandchildren a mine runnin’ ‘round outside with burnt down houses and—that just ain’t gonna happen.

– You let one person get away with somethin’ like that, starts a trend. Next thing you know, you got people comin’ through all hours a the night with tanks a gas, just sprayin’ houses and lightin’ matches and whatnot, and next thing after that, whole neighborhood’s lit up like Jerusalem on doomsday.


Interview with Jarvis Glassner: Part 2

11 October 2011

– Sure can. Remember it perfectly. Place was a time bomb, just like I knew it’d be. I told them all on the way out there, was going to be a scene in there. Weren’t the least bit surprised when I walked in that house after the boys put the blaze out.

– Smelt like a busted gas main. Made you lightheaded just standing there. The fumes was still strong too, too strong. Told the boys to get out, told them I didn’t think the place had done all the burning it could yet.

– Granted, they didn’t listen, and that pissed me off a little bit, I admit that. Nothing ended up happening but, you know… I know what I know.

– No sir. Gas was just confirmation for me. Like I said, I knew it was criminal behavior the moment the call came in.

– You see, most people see a burning house and get all these noble thoughts. In other cases, rape or murder or theft, people assume the worst. They want the perp to get locked up. It’s good television, those crimes. Fire though. Fire’s got enough danger and spectacular in itself to keep people’s attention. So they automatically assume it’s an accident. Stove left on, electrical cord short circuit, gas leak, whatever. And I’m not gonna lie and tell you that ain’t the case. A lot of times, it is.

– But like I said, there’s fingerprints everywhere when you set fire to a place. My job is to find them. Would have been a quick deal for me if it weren’t for the bodies.

– Most situations where nobody’s laying claim to the property, city’s likely to write it off as some punk kids causing mischief. Condemn the place and everybody moves on with their lives. But homicide. Homicide’s a different breed.

– Can’t say I was too happy about it either. Most times, I get to head a case myself. Just me and the boys, four or five of my closest. Close within a day or two and move on to the next. But since Bishop decided he wanted to throw murder into the mix, all of a sudden I got Leon County homicide sniffing around my legs. Like they almost pissed themselves when they heard about it.

– Not exactly. Turned out the fire and the murders was two different things, happened at two different times, so I got to keep my case. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about homicide itself, just the bureaucracy of it all. I don’t got nothing against them boys. We all in it for the same reasons.

– Officers around here are real kind, humble fellows. But in a college town like this, they don’t get to see much action outside of date rape and burglary. So their eyes were wide when they showed up at the scene. Like they was praying for a body or something and their prayers was answered in right fashion. Reminded me of them boys that came into Kuwait after us. Got to looking like they was used to showing up late to the movies, and they’d finally got there during the previews. Boredom will bring out the unusual in anybody.

– Only reason I hate the homicide situation though is because my job gets put on the back burner, not thrown out completely but loses a lot of its importance, you know? And that’s not a good feeling no way you look at it.

– I walk into the Bishop job and the walls is scorched. The second floor’s caved in to the ground. Place smells like a desert oil spill. I get to surface mark it as arson, no search yet, and then I look down and there’s John and Jane Doe barbecued on the floor and suddenly I’m standing behind a bunch of blue shirts. Two seconds earlier, I was first in command. Now everybody’s crowded around taking pictures of them burnt up bodies and then taking pictures of everything else: the walls, the floor, the front door.

– I got some prestige at the department, a little bit of seniority from my investigative record but I haven’t been schooled on how to investigate homicide. And when you got dead people around, nobody pays much attention to the sagging, rotting, burnt up building around them. So nobody pays much attention to me.

– Yes sir. Bodies plain as day in the living room, scorched to the bone. Never did figure out who they were either, from what I know.

– I wasn’t too upset about it, really. There wasn’t any animosity in it all. One of the detectives came up to me afterwards and patted me on the shoulder. Said I had my work cut out for me. Place was a mess, he said. He smiled and I smiled back. Couldn’t hold it against him. He didn’t kill nobody. We all in this together, like I said. It’s just the way things are supposed to run. But a veteran such as myself can’t help but feel like he got the short end of things.

Click For Parts 53-56

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Written by patrickandersonjr

May 11, 2012 at 9:00 am

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