Who Is Anthony Stephens?

The Life and Death of a College Grad


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Excerpt from Earl Bishop’s Prison Journal

From what me and Tony talked about—and from what I read about him in his journal particularly—he came to Tallahassee to get away from all the baggage he had back home in Miami. And I completely understand the desire. It’s pretty much the same reason I came to FSU, to get away from it all, to start over in a new place.
I could have gone to school in NY: Binghamton or Syracuse or NYU, even Columbia if I wanted. I had the grades, they probably would’ve paid for it.
Sometimes I think maybe I should’ve. Probably wouldn’t be in this position right now if I had. None of this would have ever happened. Florida would be far away, nothing but a figment of my imagination.
But then, see, I say that now and it just doesn’t sound right. Sometimes I wish I did feel like that, but then I think about all I’ve learned from my experiences in the past couple of months. Way more than I ever would have experienced if I stayed home.
I’ve grown these last few years, a lot. I always said to myself that I wanted a fresh start, and it’s funny to think about now.
I don’t know what’s any fresher than this.
I just wish I could have some contact with somebody, that’s the only real problem. That’s where the anger’s coming from, why it’s getting just a little more intense in here for me each day: loneliness.
Everybody I had is gone now, and I just wish I had even one person. Family, old professors, anybody.
The other guys in here, they’ve got their mail days, their visitation hours, people giving them that little glimpse of the outside every once in a while, a reason to move forward, to aspire to get out.
It’s the waiting that’s getting to me. The waiting to leave here, the waiting to go back to outside living, the waiting to see if I’ll be alright out there after being in here.
And in here, God. Watching everybody operate, it’s like death’s slowly eating us all alive.
Like just living in here, having a life behind these bars, is against the rules.


Excerpt from Anthony Stephens’ Mood Journal

June 5 2005,

Morning: 2 out of 10

Afternoon: 3 out of10

Evening: 2 out of 10

My girlfriend, Janice, she broke up with me because she found out I didn’t love her. And she found out because I told her, even though I didn’t really realize I was telling her until later.

We were hanging out at Dill’s Tavern having a few drinks one night, and she asked me if I wanted to go visit her family in Texas. We’d been together for a couple months by then and it was a legitimate question, an “I-want-to-see-if-there’s-a-future-in-this-thing” type of question. Janice was twenty-two, mature for her age, looking for something stable, with every right, you know? She can search for potential, I don’t fault her in that.

But I said no. Didn’t just say no, actually. Said “hell no,” which didn’t go over too well. Already on the verge of tears, she gave me a shot of those large green eyes, those haunting fucking emeralds.

“Why?” she asked. “And why do you have to be such a dick about it?”

And staring at her, looking in those beautiful eyes and sipping my beer, knowing that this girl was falling for me, knowing I could have a future with this girl if I would just let it happen, I still couldn’t stop myself.

“Because I don’t want to meet your family,” I said. “Because if you keep fucking asking me I’ll do it and embarrass you in front of them on purpose. I’ll get drunk and hit on your mom and tell your dad what your ass looks like when I’m fucking you from behind and then I’ll walk out.” I paused, made sure she knew I was looking right at her, then said “Because we can keep fucking and hanging out with each other every once in a while, but all this lovey-dovey-family-intro bullshit ain’t happening.”

She gave me a chance, one small breath of a second to take it all back. I could see it in her face that she was waiting, and I couldn’t help it. I laughed.

She broke up with me that night, a couple of hours later (which I’m surprised about, in retrospect. That it took a couple of hours). Janice broke up with me and flat out told me I would never see or hear from her again, and then kept her promise, even when I called her the next night, and a few nights after that.

And the worst part about it is I knew. While I was telling her all that shit, I knew that she would break up with me, and I also knew that I didn’t really want her to.

After hearing the malice in my own voice though, the total disregard for her feelings, it was inevitable.

But that inevitability also made it more certain that I’d go through with the whole thing.

That’s what I’m dealing with lately, Doc. That’s who I’ve been, the other part of myself I don’t even know or understand and can’t seem to rein in. The part that tried to kill me, the part that’s destroyed almost every personal relationship I’ve ever had, whether romantic or friendly.

It’s like there’s this supremely pessimistic, self destructive little prick living in my brain, a short fat old grumpy man sitting back in his recliner and bitching about everything and everybody all day long, one long never-ending curse against humanity, constantly trying to convince himself and me that life sucks and is pointless and everything’s a cliché and I’m stupid for ever giving a shit about anything.

I used to believe him, used to think I had no choice but to believe the asshole. Didn’t even think he was an asshole, more like a prophet.

Now, I hate that dude. Seriously, I fucking hate him and want him to go away.

Which I guess is a step in the right direction, as you like to say.


Interview with Catherine D’Amico: Part 11

26 June 2011

– The first thing he did was check into the motel and look for a job. Which, as you can imagine, was almost impossible.

– It’s hard enough getting a job in this economy when you actually exist in the system. But Tony had no social security number he could use, no ID, nothing. He couldn’t even use his real name.

– That’s when he came up with Les Palmer, actually, as a cover. But—it was weird. He always told me to call him Tony, refused to let me call him Les, even in public, which I thought was super-odd at first. And risky.

– He spent the first month or two telling me Tony was just a nickname, which didn’t make any sense. Then, after we’d been together a while, he told me his story and I kind of understood. I still thought it was taking a huge risk, asking me to call him Tony in public. But he’d tell me he loved Boca and how laid back things were around here, that he didn’t need to worry too much and he just wanted me to call him by his real name. He told me that Earl had taken the fall after the plan went awry which, I mean, despite how screwed up it was, brought the heat off Tony enough so he could try and live as close to a normal life as possible.

– Yeah. But I don’t think it actually had anything to do with him thinking things were blowing over. I think the real reason he wanted me to call him by his real name was to hold on to some sense of normalcy.

– Tony never really took to being called Les. Even after things started getting better for him, whenever somebody would call him Les, it would take him a while to recognize it. And he’d always look upset when he did.


Interview with Felicia Veicht: Part 1

who is anthony stephens?

Felicia Veicht is the owner of Veicht Gallery in Boca Raton. She is the aunt of Cathy D’Amico as well as the promoter of Anthony’s (a.k.a. Les Palmer’s) art exhibition the night of his death. Her office is located in the back of the gallery, a large room with a painting on each wall and a large window behind her head. Ms. Veicht is a middle-aged woman, though she doesn’t look it with bright red lipstick and short, pink hair and a youthful, attractive face. Crow’s feet by her eyes and faint wrinkles in her hands are the only giveaways, as she frequently flails them around while she talks about her association with Anthony Stephens, whom she knew as Les Palmer

25 June 2011

– Les?

– Knew him a little, yes. Hardly know anything about him and Claire, though. [Ms. Veicht scowls] A matter that is still sensitive as far as I’m concerned.

– I abhor secrets. Absolutely despise them. I do not keep secrets from anybody I consider a companion or close acquaintance. And even then.

– No exceptions.

– I’m absolutely serious.

– Ok, an example: the morning of the day I filed for divorce from my ex husband—that very morning, before I got in the car for the meeting that would lead to the dissolution of our arrangement—I walked up to him in our apartment, looked him in his eyes, and told him that I was going to the lawyer’s office, that the papers would be drafted in due time and he’d be getting a call that afternoon.

– Yes, no hesitation in matters of truth.

– Likewise, prior to the divorce proceedings, when Mr. Klein—my lawyer—asked if my soon-to-be-ex-husband had committed any unsavory acts during our marriage that could be used as leverage against him, I told Mr. Klein about my husband’s affair with my half-sister—Catherine’s mother—a matter that I would urge you not to discuss in front of Catherine if you please. For her own sake.

– I also told Mr. Klein about the drunkenly awkward backhand my soon-to-be-ex-husband gave me one night in the driveway. I even told him that the slap came after I called him a sniveling little prick who had his head shoved so far up his mother’s rich, pruned rear-end he could smell her rancid breath from the inside.

– And even after everything, even after the judge awarded me half of his sizable fortune, I still walked up to him and told him that it had been extremely nice doing business with him, and that I would be retiring from my profession as a realtor and opening two art galleries on the coast: one here in Boca and the other on South Beach, in Miami. I told him that my half-sister would be heading the Miami location, and that he should come by and visit sometime.

– Full, complete honesty in each and every situation. The truth shall set you free.

– It’s not cliché, it’s fact.

– What does it have to do with Palmer? It has a lot to do with him. I may exhibit a superb amount of indifference in my social life, sir, but there are no secrets when it comes to me. And I don’t understand why it can’t be the same for other people. Absolve stress from your mind and body, liberate the truth, set it free from its shackles, discontinue this dreadful habit of reining it in.

– I do believe that most people have honest souls, or as honest as they can be. But Les Palmer? Cathy’s lover? I could never tell with him. He was a hard egg to crack, not rotten from what I could perceive, but definitely…boiled.

– A remarkably handsome young man, if I must say so myself. I can see what Cathy saw in him. A bit too rough around the edges for my taste, but handsome nonetheless.

– As an aging woman in this ruthlessly decadent fine art industry, I have nothing but my reputation to hold me above the rest of these money-grubbing heathens, and dating a young, disheveled African-American male with a seemingly dark and mysterious past is not the way to wow the type of crowd that frequents my gallery.

– I wouldn’t care otherwise. From the glow on Cathy’s face in those first few months, he must have been exquisite in bed.


Interview with Wayne “Classic” Price: Part 14

11 July 2011

– Earl was messed up, son. Prison’ll fuck a nigga’s head up like that.

– I ain’t think it was goin’ change Earl too much though, you know what I’m sayin’? I mean, I knew the shit’d get to him, but I ain’t think it’d get him that much.

– When Earl called me to pick him up after he got out the pen, he ain’t sound no different from when me and him used to chill back in the day, when we was young’ns. So I’m thinkin’ I’m goin’ pick up my cousin and we goin’ chill, you know what I’m sayin’? I’m thinkin’ I’ma pull up and Earl goin’ be standin’ there lookin’ all goofy and skinny and shit.

– We fam, son. I know that nigga, better than he probably know his own goddamn self.

– Last time I seen Earl, before he got locked up, he was clean. Nice fade, fresh kicks, decent lookin’. Type a nigga a bitch’d bring home so her pops’d stop cussin’ her out ‘bout the other niggas she be bringin’ ‘round the crib, know what I’m sayin’?

– But I pull up in front a the bus station this day, and Earl standin’ there lookin’ a hot mess. I’m talkin’, long, nappy ass hair all puffed out and comin’ down round his chin and covering his neck like he think he a lion or somethin’. Got me rememberin’ this brother I used to run with back in the day, Red.

– Red was a true hustlin’ ass nigga, son. Muhfucka’d cap yo ass for a dollar if you tried him, know what I’m sayin’?

– I mean, I hustle to make ends meet, son, but this nigga Red, he loved that shit. I’m talkin’, this nigga’d live the life for free son. Straight du-rags, Tim’s and Jets blazers, long, fresh braids.

– Me and Red used to slang shit out in the hood back in the day, cop a few dollars and shoot the rest at our connect. This one day, though, Red runs up on a crackhead looking nigga and starts in with his slick talk, tryna push a dime on the nigga. We’d copped an ounce, right? And we was tryin’ to turn that shit ‘fore anybody ran up on us and shit, know what I’m sayin’? Ain’t good to hold on to that shit too long.

– Turns out though, muhfucka Red was tryna push a dime on, wasn’t no real crackhead.

– Fuckin’ P.O.

– Undercover, nigga. Know what I’m sayin’?

– Fast nigga too, had Red on the concrete in cuffs before me or Red even figured out shit was goin’ down.

– Me? I dipped, son. I ain’t goin’ lie.

– Me and Red spoke ‘bout that shit before. Wasn’t like I was bitchin’ out or nothin’. Ain’t no sense in both a us getting took. So I booked it back to my ma’s crib, ain’t stop ‘til I got there.

– Got away too, but Red got sent upstate.

– Second offense, you know? Four and a half years mandatory.

– I’m gettin’ there, bruh. Point is, I ain’t hear from Red for a minute ‘til I saw him ‘bout a year before Earl came back from the pen, down by county. I’m coming up from the subway to go pay this ticket I got for a busted taillight—told you ‘bout that—and this muhfucka Red’s comin’ down past me, wearin’ a business suit and shit. Braids cut off, got a nice fade, can’t see none of his tatts and shit.

– I stop him and pound the brother and Red look at me like he don’t know me from Joe fuckin’ Blow. Like the nigga’s head got erased while he was locked up.

– And even when he started gettin’ into the shit and sayin’ ‘sup to me, I could still see it in his eyes. Nigga wasn’t there, son.

– Shit got real fucked up when I called him Red and his face just dropped and he all like, “Francisco.”

– So I’m like, who the fuck is Francisco? And Red tells me his name ain’t Red no more. It’s Francisco. Red’s in the past, man.

– That’s what he said: Red’s in the past.

– That’s how I felt when I picked Earl up that day. Like it wasn’t Earl no more.

– I mean, nigga looked kinda like Earl. Remembered the same shit Earl remembered. Sounded like the nigga a little. But that wasn’t my little cuz, bruh. That muhfucka was on some other shit.


Interview with Jesús  Hernandez: Part 1

who is anthony stephens?

Jesús  Hernandez is a probation officer in Queens, New York, and was the assigned P.O. to Earl upon his release from prison. Mr. Hernandez’s office desk is covered with folders and Post-It notes, and Mr. Hernandez himself seems extremely fatigued, his tie loosened and the top few buttons on his dress shirt undone. He yawns and scratches his graying temples before speaking

12 July 2011

– Earl Bishop. Earl goddamn Bishop.

– One month. That’s all it took for him to violate. A month. [Mr. Hernandez sighs and shakes his head] I was surprised myself, actually, I admit. I gave him a week or less.

– I knew he’d violate, after that first conversation. He just had that look, like a chained animal? How they’re willing to chew off their own arm if they have to?

– You work long enough in this job, you get to know the type of people that come to see you just by their mug shot and the charges. I got the call from Florida, says that Bishop’s returning to the city and they need to have his papers sent over and processed. So I get his file and he looks like a decent guy. Small arson conviction, no priors, I can handle that. A lot of stress off my back, you know? Less I got to worry about.

– Then this kid walks in, and there goes my day.

– He sits across from me, on the other side of my desk, and doesn’t say a word. I’m reading through his file, sizing him up, trying to figure out exactly what it is about him that seems so—off.

– He’s looking around the room, at those certificates and the picture of my wife and son and everything, then he looks at me. Gives me this real beady stare, like he’s calm on the outside but seconds away from snapping, you know?

– He stares at me for a good ten seconds, then says “What now?”

– “What now?” All he said. And I just knew.

– Right then, I just knew. He hadn’t learned a goddamn thing in prison.

Click For Parts 82-85

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Written by patrickandersonjr

June 7, 2012 at 9:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. I imagine Les Palmer had a hard time getting a Facebook account!

    James Hamilton

    July 30, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    • I would think so =)
      Just fyi James, I’ve published the story on Smashwords in its entirety as a free eBook if you’d like to download it to your PC or a eBook device like Nook or Kindle.

      You can download it here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/209324

      And when you’re finished, it’d be great if you could leave a review up on one of the various sites, like Smashwords, Goodreads, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.



      July 30, 2012 at 9:32 pm

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