Judson Bottom

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An Able Judas

The Osthoff is an elegant resort in the nearby town of Elkhart Lake. It is almost never patronized by locals but serves as a haven for well-off tourists taking in NASCAR at Road America, or the PGA at Whistling Straits. When one of those acclaimed events is not in swing, the place can often seem ghostly, more like a museum than a functional hotel. The southern wing contains a restaurant with a floor-to-ceiling view of the lake. Kohler businessmen abscond there for boozy lunches away from the office. The bar is a scrollwork mahogany relic imported from antebellum Savannah.

At 5:45 PM, I enter through the lobby. A cubist skylight, cast from aquamarine glass, evokes the bloody rust tones of the carpet and washes the glare-white walls in watery light. The reception desk floats like an island in the center of the space, and a dramatic staircase flares up behind it with the curvature of a whale tail.

“Can I help you?” asks the young brunette in the navy blazer. Her name tag reads Michelle. She ingests my police uniform with a controlled anticipation of excitement.

“Nothing to worry about.” I slide a wallet-sized photograph across the gray marble countertop. “I was hoping you could confirm or deny for me whether this woman checked in here earlier in the afternoon.”

She glances at the photograph. “This woman?” A poor bluffer, biting her tongue figuratively, but also literally in her front teeth.

“Does she look familiar to you at all?”

“I believe so,” Michelle answers cautiously, checking the gold wristwatch that matches her nametag. “I believe she checked in about forty-five minutes ago.”

I swipe the picture back into my pocket. “If you’d be so kind, I need a room number. This won’t take long.”

Her hand moves toward the phone. “Here. Let me get the manager for you.”

“That won’t be necessary,” I object, fixing her with what I hope are kind yet earnest eyes. “The less people know about this the better. I’m going to confide in you, Michelle. This woman is in no small amount of danger. The police and a few adjunct agencies I’m not at liberty to disclose are trying to remedy that. She’s frightened. She has information which is valuable to us and extremely compromising for her. That’s why she checked herself in under a false name, do you understand? We need to get to her before she does something rash. I’m sorry I have to be so vague, but there’s a degree of sensitivity involved . . .” I let the words tumble out of me in a harsh, breathless torrent.

“Of course.” Reverting to auto-pilot, as people are wont to do when distressed or overwhelmed, she types a few keystrokes into the computer and gives me a room number.

I smile. “You’ve done more good just now than you’ll probably ever know. Go about your day like this never happened. Even your manager isn’t on a need-to-know basis.”

“I understand,” she says importantly.

I start to walk away, then decide I had better ask for directions lest I find myself wandering grandiose corridors for twenty minutes. She points me upstairs and to the right. I’m impressed by the height of the structure once I reach the balcony, breathing heavier than I’d like to admit. Michelle looks like a crumb on a crimson tablecloth from up here. A maid’s cart is at the other end of the hallway, her portable radio playing Pat Benatar. I head the opposite way until I reach the identified suite, knocking softly, as though afraid my knuckles will abrade the wood’s varnish.

“Who is it?” a woman asks behind the door.



“Judson Bottom Police, ma’am. I need a moment of your time.”

She hesitates before answering. “Okay. Let me just … I’ll throw on something . . . more suitable.”

I don’t like the octave change in her voice. “It doesn’t matter what you have on, ma’am. Just open the door.” I try the knob. Locked, of course.

“Be right there!”

I count to five, slowly, and knock again, this time the varnish be damned. “Ma’am, open up.”

No reply.


Complete, utter silence.

I glance up and down the corridor in a mild panic. The maid’s head gophers out from the suite she is attending. When we lock eyes, she hastily pretends to be folding towels. “If you don’t open this door by the count of three, I will break it down.” This is nonsense, of course. The worst I could do is go down and pressure Michelle into giving me the key, but I try the threat as a last resort.

Then I hear the oiled click of the brass deadbolt, the metallic slide of the chain, and there stands a woman in a short black kimono, her blond hair tossed up in a way made to look haphazard, though I’m skeptical, as everything else about her screams pristine, from the smoothness of her legs and isometric face, to her berry-coated toenails, to the graceful, sinister arc of her brow.

“You weren’t really going to kick the door down, were you?” she says with a mixture of irony and alarm. “I had to put something on.”

“May I come in?”

When I take a step forward, she obstructs the doorway with one arm draped in a baggy silk sleeve. “Hold on. Let me examine your badge.” She rebuffs my raised eyebrow by explaining, “Perverts try to pass themselves off as cops all the time. Have you ever heard of the Hillside Stranglers?”

My badge undergoes precious scrutiny. She admires its weight in the palm of her hand. She runs her fingertips over the embossed lettering with all the care and attention of an uptown jeweler. I half expect her to make me an offer for the thing. My toe tapping has accelerated into a proto-stomp before I am cleared. Her suite is predictably lavish: plush chairs, an ornate headboard, a cedar entertainment center with several drawers. A sliding glass door stands ajar, opening onto a small balcony which overlooks the Osthoff garden. Sheer white curtains obscure the view but brighten the room. There is an open bottle of red wine on the round tabletop and a half-filled glass beside it, actually one of those plastic hotel cups.

“You keep it awfully warm in here,” I critique, tugging on my collar.

“I don’t like A.C. It makes me feel like a cadaver.” An overnight bag lies on the bed, Louis Vuitton, genuine black suede, its zipper gaping like an invitation. She notices me eyeing it and asks, “What exactly can I do for you, Officer?”

“It’s Detective actually.” I approach the bed. “What you can do for me is try and answer all my questions point by point.” I peer inside the bag at the neatly folded clothes, on top a chiffon blouse the color of dental floss. I wouldn’t look at it twice on a department store rack, but I’m guessing it suits hers just fine. She chokes up when I start pawing the clothes aside to search underneath.

“Excuse me, what the hell do you take me for?” She steps forward. “I know my rights. Show me a warrant or else get out.”

I don’t answer beyond the classic power move of resting my hand on my gun. Her chest does a nervous lurch under the kimono, though she tries to project a laughing confidence. “What are you going to do? Shoot an unarmed woman in a five-star hotel?”

“You gonna give me a reason?” I extract a purple thong from the bottom of the duffel, suspending it in the air between us, examining it with a comic level of scrutiny that matches her treatment of my badge. I stretch the elastic band and shoot it aside onto the pillow.

Her voice doesn’t rise; nonetheless, it manages to boil over with hatred. “I’m not one of your little black boys, you know. I read about cops like you all the time in the paper.”

This hits a nerve. This qualifies as contempt of cop, which is more an idiom than an offense, but can easily be translated into disorderly conduct later on. “Turn around, ma’am, if that’s how you want to play it. Place your hands on the wall. I thought we could behave more civilly than this.”

“You’re arresting me?” she scoffs.

“Just do as I say.”

“You have to at least charge me first, you incomp--”

But I’ve unsnapped my holster. The sight of a gun in her face is enough to render her, and most anyone else, compliant. She stretches herself out against the wall as though manacled to a medieval rack. She does as she’s told. A thrill arises from watching the muzzle bead align with the back of her head, an electric twinge in the wrist, a self-destructive impulse. There is mandatory silence for a long time. I just want to stand there and hear her breathing across the room, the garden sounds of the finches chirping outside, the idyllic babble of a stone fountain. “Ma’am. I’ll need you to explain this contraband packed away in your belongings.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Taking a few measured steps forward, I produce a knotted-up baggy from my breast pocket. Holstering my gun, I come up close enough to smell the coconut shampoo in her hair, combined with the skunky bag of weed I’ve started dangling in her periphery. Her eyes lock on it for a stunned, shrill moment. “You wouldn’t dare,” she says, her breath leaving a hot smudge on the wall. Then she whips around without my say-so. “You want to try and frame me? I’ll lawyer up. I’ll take your whole fucking department to court.”

She slaps the baggy out of my hand. I react by grabbing hold of her hair. She hops up, straddles me with her thighs. I drive her against the wall, gripping her beneath the kimono, buttressing her. A nearby picture frame tilts from the force of impact. She has me lean back so she can fumble at my utility belt. We hear the metallic weight of my gun smacking the floor and somehow it galvanizes us—I feel it in the margin between our bodies, so narrow only a few charged particles can slip through. We laugh. She cinches me tighter in her thigh-grip while my numb, greedy hands throttle her throat and soft breasts, kissing her till I’m drunk off the wine that stains her teeth.

“You caught the bad guy?”

Ismael grinned at me from behind the electric trolley he used to push long trains of shopping carts. He wore a stocking cap pulled low over his head and a neon vest over his parka. Snowflakes fell past his face. The yellow light on top of the trolley was flashing. I decided to waste some time shooting the shit just to aggravate the juvie locked in my cruiser on shoplifting charges. This was the winter of 2015, a few months before Ismael and Bruno’s graduation. In hindsight, it seems probable that he was well down the path toward radicalization by then.

Oblivious as I was, I asked which colleges he had been looking at. He said his parents were both really selling UW-Sheboygan but that he wasn’t too sure. “Too close to home?” I said. “I know how it is. There are advantages to being a few minutes’ drive from a home-cooked meal though.”

“Where did you go?” he asked me.

“Just the academy in Milwaukee. I knew I was going to be a cop right out of high-school.”

“I’m envious of people like that. I have no clue what I want to do.”

“I don’t think you’re in the minority there. I know Bruno at least can relate.”

He was always a handsome kid. His acne had flared up badly around this time, but his smile, once he got his braces off, was straight out of a toothpaste ad. Seriously, I speculated whether he had broken down and got veneers, his teeth were that perfect. And his hair grew in these impeccable waves when he let it get long enough. His eyes were gray and thoughtful, attentive whenever anyone spoke, blinking rarely, as if afraid of missing a split-second detail. Trying to recall any strange impressions I had of him at the time, I can only say that he was too alert for a normal teenager, too cognizant of his surroundings.

“Mr. Fontanel, if you have a moment, there’s something I’d like to tell you. Something I’d like to get off my chest.”

I would have remembered those words for the rest of my life even without his doing what he did later. The scene is crystallized in my memory, down to all the background extras, the shoppers laden with bags shuffling cautiously around the lot, watching for black ice and breathing dragon jets of air. “Sure, anything,” I said.

He issued a nervous laugh, the kind priests must hear all day inside confessionals. “You remember the time Bruno and I were at your place and you got into that fight with Bruno’s mom? About a dog collar?”

I pretended he had only just reminded me, when in fact the episode nagged at my intellect as much as any unsolved crime. “What about it?”

“Well, I planted it there,” he said bluntly. While the words and the implications behind them soaked in, he hurried to attach an explanation. “I found it earlier that day in an alley behind my house. For some reason I picked it up… I don’t know why. Why do kids do a lot of things?”

“I don’t understand.” Which was true, I was still too confused to feel angry. “You planted a choker in my house? What on earth for?”

He shrugged. “I didn’t bring it there planning to do it. I just forgot it was in my jacket. But then I started to worry I’d be caught with it and … well, the truth is, somehow I knew it would make her mad.”

“Make who mad?”

“Mrs. Fontanel. I mean, Ms. Hinojosa.” Never once did he avert his eyes during the whole disclosure. I think he wanted to observe each physical symptom of my surprise, frustration, and betrayal. “I did it for Bruno,” he went on. “He said you and she were thinking about getting back together again. Making amends. I didn’t think that would be good for him. And I wasn’t just putting words in his mouth. He told me life was easier with you and his mom living apart.”

“Ismael, I can’t believe what you’re telling me.”

“I only tried to do what I thought was best.”

“You were too young to know what was best.” I realized that while I hadn’t raised my voice, I was upbraiding with obvious scorn a young man just trying to go about his work—at least that’s how it looked to the public. I willed myself from a boil down to a simmer. “You better have figured out by now that the last thing anyone wants is a third party, especially a child, interfering in their business. You need to learn to keep your head down, Ismael, and your mouth shut. I know your parents raised you better than that.”

“They raised me to follow my instincts.”

“That comes with age,” I snapped. “No teenager ever had good instincts, trust me. I’ve seen the car wrecks and the overdoses. I’ve seen decent guys locked up for statutory rape, decent girls sobbing after abortions. You need to think about the ramifications of what you do, then build your instincts off that.” I pointed at my temple, pantomiming that he should drill every word I was saying into that pimple-ridden head of his for future reference.

“Did you think what the ramifications would be of cheating on your wife?”

He managed to say it without spite, without altering his expression, and that made it all the more infuriating. Not hitting him there in that public space might be the greatest feat of willpower I’ve bothered with to this day. I tried to laugh, but it came out more as a snarl. “You know what happens to high-minded people? They get torn down like the rest of us, only from greater heights. I don’t envy you, Ismael. I think it’s going to hurt especially bad for you.” Regardless of my accidental foresight, it was an inappropriate sentence to level at someone else’s son, especially for vindictive reasons. I have to remind myself now that he was eighteen and should have been hearing those naked truths already. I left him, returning to my shoplifter, whose teeth were chattering in the backseat.

Thereafter, whenever Ismael and I locked eyes in the grocery store, we quickly broke contact instead of waving hello. In fact, those were the last words I ever spoke to him, except for a terse congratulations on commencement day.

I confess I’ve always wondered what the inside of these suites looked like.

“Now you know.” Valerie blows smoke past my face toward the open sliding door. She sets the joint in my mouth. I inhale, hold it, allow it to roil in my lungs, and then exhale in her face. She flails her hand, saying the point is to aim it outside.

“There’s nobody here but us.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Did you see the parking lot? You might as well have booked the whole floor.”

“That doesn’t mean we need to stink it up like the Driftwood.”

“And since when are you too good for the majestic Driftwood Motel?”

“It feels less seedy here, doesn’t it? I always get the impression everyone there is doing the same thing as us, or worse.”

“Me too. Almost like a sort of convention.”

Because of the weed, something in what I’ve said is hilarious. As we’re laughing, she curls herself tighter into my body, like Eve pining for her days as a guileless rib. In my head only, I refer to her as my Ice Queen, cold-featured but warm to the touch. In comparison to her skin, the Osthoff linen feels like sandpaper against my body, which is still entirely naked, a sluggish condom attached to the end of my dick.

I look around at our aristocratic setting and wonder how mad she might get if I were to suggest she was feeling homesick. Her father, Fred Ognavic, is a Chicago broker for a private equity firm. He dotes on Valerie, monetarily at least, perhaps because he feels guilty about her mother running off to Prague with a dance choreographer, perhaps because he feels guilty for not especially caring. They are a family of artists. The old man himself is regularly called upon to sing Bartolo in Rossini or Marcello in Puccini. The mother was once Chicago ballet royalty. As for Valerie, she has been mastering the violin since she was eight years old. Maybe she could have got into Juilliard or Princeton, but at her father’s behest she avoided the East Coast, saying he was wholly convinced she would be “exploited and brutalized” by the likes of “arrogant philistines.” He was a Brandeis alum and she suspected he had bore the brunt of much brutalization himself.

Her ambitions were modest, by Ognavic standards. She enjoyed playing, playing was enough, and at Oberlin that was what they expected of her. After graduating from the Ohio conservatory, she accepted an assistant teaching position at UW-Milwaukee and severed financial ties with her father—or tried to, at least. He insisted on leaving active her childhood checking account, into which he would drop a monthly allowance, letting it accrue indefinitely if she liked. Though I’ve never asked outright, I’m fairly certain her husband knows nothing of this account.

“Oh, my God!” She bolts upright, accidentally ashing on the sheets.

“What is it?”

She falls back against my shoulder and moans, “Nothing. I brought you a box of those Courvoisier truffles you like so much, but I left them in the car. They’ll be melted by now.”

“Maybe not,” I say, touched, though I can’t recall ever having tasted Courvoisier before, in truffle form or otherwise. “I heard the jetstream is pushing a cold front through until tomorrow morning.”

“Oh, is that a fact? Any chance of precipitation?”

“Forty-percent, as a matter of fact. That could fluctuate of course as inclement conditions along the equator, you know, create pockets of meteorological, ummm, infarction.”

“Infarction, huh? Keep going. I’m impressed.”

“Sorry, my teleprompter broke.”

She rolls on her side, holding the joint carefully, daintily, away from the sheets. “When are we going away for a weekend like you promised?”

“Can you spare a whole weekend?”

“I always make time for you, don’t I?”

“A weekend is only two days, you realize. We can’t very well fly to Prague for two days.”

“That’s not funny.”

“Sorry, it’s the first city that came to mind.”

“I was thinking we pick a direction and a specific amount of time. Say, west for six hours. And we pull over wherever we end up.”

“Six hours in any direction is the middle of nowhere.”

“That’s fine. As long as we don’t know anyone and we can be Mr. and Mrs. Mickey Fontanel.”

“Let’s be progressive,” I say, taking the roach from her hand, having a drag and setting it behind me on the nightstand. “Let’s take your name.”

Valerie, in the fifteen years I’ve known her, or rather the ten we’ve been sleeping together, has become as much a location as a person. Around here everyone has a cabin up north, to the point where you wonder how there can be acreage left over for actual northerners who live there year-round. It is such a universal reference that even the words “cabin up north” are imbued with greater symbolism. Call it sanctuary or nirvana or whatever you like. As for me, I’ll call it Valerie, at least for as long as our luck holds out.

“You don’t want my name,” she says, noticing, as she stretches, an ingrown hair lanced in her armpit. She pinches at it, inflaming the area. “You’ll have cousins coming out of the woodwork looking for money.”

“Won’t they be disappointed.”

We somehow get to sucking and touching again. I’m sure I instigate. Seeing the sun turn yellower and change its angle stresses on me that our time together is dwindling. I come at her without much warning, maybe even mid-sentence, or maybe she can smell it in the heat of my quickened breath and comes at me first. I don’t know. All I know is that we change the condom and she’s on top first, like a piece of lean statuary, arched in such a way that she would tip over if I wasn’t her stanchion. The room is spinning and I’m her carousel, the rhythm automated by gears encased in her thighs. The harder I grip her ass the higher she bounces, until I lose patience and flip her over on her back. She whispers something amid the frantic breaths, but I don’t hear it or care. In that animal trance, I fuck her like I’m trying to drive her head through the wall into the adjacent suite, tilting my hips to hit her behind the pubis or whatever the fuck that bony plateau is called. When the moment inexorably comes where my muscles want to slide off my bones like wet cement, my face drops between her sweat-damp breasts. I let her yelps, whimpers, prayers, and supplications drive me to climax—ten or twenty seconds too soon, if I had to wager. But she pretends to come again and I pretend to believe her. And when I roll off, we each lie there panting, tingling, grinning like idiots in that proverbial afterglow of restitution. Restitution for everything in our lives that isn’t this.

On the side of the road squats an orange sandwich board with the words BEER SERVED HERE painted in black text. I’m not sure anyone ever bothered to name the bar, which is little more than a tar-shingle shack. Around here people call it The Fort. It stands in a gravel enclave scooped into the treeline. I check for other bikes that I recognize. There are none, so I park and stop in for something to ground me, something to flush out the dreamy veil of ganja and sex, the grind of leaving her again.

The front door is propped open. Bugs fly in and out freely, riding the steel guitar currents of a Merle Haggard track. A few men and their old ladies, wearing scraps of black leather over civilian dress, drink in the heat and the cheap yellow beer. I grab an empty stool. Before I’m even fully settled, Betsy puts a frosted mug of Spotted Cow before me, moving on to accommodate others with equally succinct and impersonal service. This suits me fine. I am not in any frame of mind to speak with others, just to be in their company. The thought of sitting at home alone depresses me. I’ll only think of her all night, it’s the same every time. Not even Ismael can alter that.

“What’s the matter, Dick?” says the old timer a few stools down. “Hey, how many guns you got at home?” He is talking to me—I know because Dick is short for Detective in his outdated lexicon—but staring somewhere ahead, unable to twist his arthritic torso any farther.

Reggie Heidenreiter is harmless, merely adrift in his thoughts and routine. He used to run a successful triad of supper clubs before selling them off to separate owners: two Albanians and a Texan. Now he spends his days on various lakes with a fishing rod and a case of Schlitz, or visiting his red-haired grandkids, or drinking here at The Fort.

“Just the one,” I answer, patting the leather holster on my hip, though I’ve changed out of my uniform into a T-shirt and jeans. It’s an eccentric fashion statement permitted by living in an open carry state. “Glock 9mm. Same as our standard issue.” According to the statute, I’m not allowed to wear it in a public tavern, but being in law enforcement wins me leniency with certain proprietors, particularly those with a libertarian bent who want to stay off the radar as best they can.

“You keep it strapped on you, eh?” Reggie’s voice warbles, sounding impressed. “That’s good. People oughtn’t be afraid of their rights.”

I smell the beginnings of a tirade, so I intervene. “The fish biting today, Reggie?”

“Today was phooey.” He slices the air with a vein-mangled hand made of putty or clay. “Wasted all of it at the clinic so that doctor could tell me to stay out of places like this. I don’t like him at all. I told the nurse today I want a new doctor. Them clinics in Mexico ain’t up to the same standards we got here.”

“He’s Mexican?”

“Eh?” Reggie shrugs. “He’s brown as a beaver tail, how should I know? Frankly I don’t give a damn. Man can’t even say thyroid properly. Comes out ty-roid. It’s this Affirmative Action, I tell you. They let anyone be a doctor nowadays.”

“Something wrong with your thyroid, Reggie?”

Betsy and I lock eyes across the bar and she winks. I’ve taken her place upon the sacrificial altar. Hopefully that means I get a drink on the house, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s been about a year since I stopped in here, so I’m impressed she remembered my poison in the first place. And frankly, given my behavior the last time, I feel lucky to be getting served at all. I throw an uneasy look over my shoulder. No one here is recognizable. For that I’m grateful.

“It’s hogwash,” Reggie scowls. “They want to give me some radiation pills to kill the damn thing. They want to turn this old man into a walking Chernobyl, if you can believe it. I’ve got to be quarantined! This right here is as quarantined as they’re gonna find me.” He thumps his index finger on the bar. “That’s all they want anyone doing is popping pills. And I’ll tell you another thing. I’m seventy-eight years old, and they still want to push a new vaccine on me every time I walk in there.”

“Is that right,” I say absently. “Seventy-eight. Good for you.”

Valerie will be halfway home by now. Blaring that awful No Doubt mix she claims cheers her up. Maybe she’ll stop at the Grafton Starbucks for one of those frappé things. Caffeine, calories, and third-wave ska: the tried and true prescriptions for heartache. Can they be any less effective than the bigoted ravings of a barstool philosopher?

“—If my immune system can’t look out for itself by now, then why the hell am I still standing? Do you believe my grandson can’t even go to school unless they stick a few dozen needles in his arm? I mean, what’s constitutional about that?”

“You got me, Reg.”

“They say it’s to keep us safe, but in the same breath they won’t even properly vet all these Muslims pouring through the border. I’m all for helping people, Dick, like the Good Book says, but you gotta put national security front and center. When the hell did that become a racist way of thinking?”

Betsy sets a basket of popcorn in front of him. “Reggie, can’t you see you’re putting poor Mickey to sleep with your damn politics?”

The old man gives a contemptuous snort. He shovels a fistful of popcorn in his mouth and a few stray kernels pepper the bar.

Through the open door, on a dead marshy breeze, comes the purr of a few bike engines. I hear them park right up front between the awning posts, where back in the day cowboys would have tied their horses. I get a sinking feeling that coming here was indeed a mistake. Or am I looking for conflict? Is conflict my version of a frappé? There is laughter and jeering as the engines die down, then heavy boots file inside. Nicknames are hollered out. Someone slaps Reggie on the back so hard he almost face-plants in his basket of popcorn. I glance over my shoulder to confirm patches bearing the green Riotville scorpion on this newest procession of leather vests. It’s a patch I’m all too familiar with, having worn it myself once when I co-founded the club with a man by the name of Gian D’Amato. I expect he’s not far behind.

I drain my beer and throw a couple of bills on the bar, beating it out of there when Betsy’s back is turned, without a word to anyone.

The ground kicks up stony white dust as I clear out, helmetless, even after all the gore I’ve seen, the red skid marks left by shattered craniums. Such is the lingering influence of that wolf mentality, the machismo that eventually came to define Riotville.

Twelve years ago, in 2004, my happy little family and I moved from Milwaukee to Judson Bottom. Primarily to offset boredom with my new rural life, I conceived the notion of forming a motorcycle club with a fellow rider I’d met inside the circuit. Time would tell how much our visions differed over what the group should become. I was picturing what amounted to a bowling league, but for bikers. Dads and hobbyists talking shop, letting the Earth spin without them for a few hours a week. Gian, on the other hand, wanted to be the goddamn Hell’s Angels. And the thing was, he was a much more avid recruiter than I.

The next thing I knew, these paroled convicts started cropping up as our newest entrants, donning badges that lionized white supremacy, drug use, and other foibles a city cop would be wise not to associate with. So I broke ties with my own brain child relatively early. Since then it’s been my custom to avoid Riotville hangouts like The Fort, a custom I should have known better than to stray from.

In their scripture, just as in Rhonda’s, I make an able Judas.

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