August 24, 2003
Checkbook Final Draft
Ordeal by Cheque: The life of Jr
Tony turned the corner at a dangerous speed, trying to go even faster, but the sirens behind him did not get any softer. This was all the kid’s fault.
That stupid kid.
Tony sped up, dodging traffic as he had so many times before, except this time it was different. The kid. Tony thought back, remembering everything he could, all the way to the very beginning.
Lawrence Exeter Junior had been born in the heat of the day on September 2, 1903. He was different from the day he was born. His rich parents sensed something was wrong, for parents usually can sense things about their child. Therefore, the day after he was born, Marie and Lawrence Exeter took the newborn to Dr. David McCoy for a check-up. The doctor said that the baby was as healthy as a horse, and there was nothing to worry about. Still, the parents worried, because parents can tell. Jr, as everyone called him, was very quiet as a baby and never had big reactions to things. Everyone said he was just quiet. His parent brought him gifts from California Toyland, but they soon figured out that he was happy with just staring at something or handling a small object. When he reached 6, his father enrolled him in Palisades School for boys. Jr excelled in all of his classes except art and handwriting. Jr’s 3rd report card showed that he had improved his handwriting, so Lawrence Sr brought Jr a bicycle. Jr was immediately fascinated with it. Within a week, Jr had mastered training wheels, and exactly sixteen days after he had mastered training wheels, Jr was riding it without the training wheels. Jr rode his bicycle everywhere. He even started waking up earlier in the morning so he and his dad could bike down to Palisades, which was nine miles away. His bicycle became his treasure. All of his artwork in art class now somehow revolved around a bicycle. On July 24, 1915, the real trouble with Jr started that would ruin many lives, including Tony Spagoni’s.
Jr was out riding his bicycle, when a man by the name of Steve Matterson came around a corner too fast, tried to slam on brakes, but ended up hitting both Jr and his bike. Because Steve had put on his brakes, Jr only suffered scrapes and bruises. His bike however, was a mess. Jr cried for hours that day, his parents comforting him and telling him they would buy him a new one the next day. They never did. They never pressed charges out of courtesy, for they knew it was an accident that anyone would have made. That night, before Jr’s parents put him to bed, he said to them:
“What are you sorry for, honey?” his mom asked.
“You’ll know,” he said, rolling over and pretending to go to sleep. Later, when Jr was sure his parents were asleep, he got up, and wrote a simple letter that read:
He put the letter in an envelope, sealed it, and somehow correctly addressed it to Steve Matterson. Three days later, right before Mrs. Exeter was about to take her son to the toyshop to buy a new bike, she picked up the paper and a certain article caught her eye. It said:
Steve Matterson was found choked
to death in his house. Officials say
Later in the story it mentioned that a letter was found in his house that said i’m sorry.
This was enough for Marie. She knew how to put two and two together.
“What did you do to Steve,” she asked Jr.
“I’m sorry,” he said casually.
“Well, you can’t get a new bike until I know what happened. He glared at her for a moment, then said,
“I made him sorry, too.”
Of course, you can guess that didn’t go over well. The Exeter family never discussed it outside the immediate family. There was much discussion between Mr. and Mrs. Exeter, though. They decided to straighten him out. They knew that he was directly linked to Matterson’s death, but they didn’t have a clue as to what had happened. So, on August 31, Jr, now 12 years old, stepped on to the campus of Columbia Military Academy.
He was a good student, made good grades, fit in, and his only behavioral problem was his reluctance to talk to his teachers and drill sergeants. When he graduated, his father brought him a brand new Cadillac. It was a beautiful car. It ran as sooth as any, and it was from the nicest dealer in town. Not four days after Jr had received his new car, he ran a red light and smashed into the side of a Ford, crushing the hood of the Cadillac.
“You Freak!” he yelled at the person. “YOU’LL BE SO SORRY YOU EVER THOUGHT YOU COULD MESS UP MY HOOD!”
The other person came out of the ford, and gave Jr a dark look.
“You stupid kid,” he said dangerously, “You are an idiot for thinking that you will ever do anything to me. You caused the accident. Goodbye.” The man got back in his car and without another word drove off, leaving Jr standing in the street, furious. Jr’s dad sympathized with Jr’s tale of a man who had cut across traffic, so the father got the car fixed. Jr wrote a letter that would bring an end to the dark man in the Ford and filled out the envelope. On the way to the mailbox, he had looked down and saw that he had written a letter to a man named Tony Spagoni.
Later that year, after many letters to Tony Spagoni (Jr searched the whole paper every day, but couldn’t find Tony’s name anywhere.), Jr’s father had enrolled Jr into Stanford University. After two semesters, Jr was doing real well with his studies, so his father decided to let him have the French vacation that Jr had always wanted. When Jr went to see his parents over the summer, he was surprised by the round trip ticket to France his father gave him. He told them while he was there that a lifeguard named Miss Daisy Windson had saved his life. He told his parents to send her a check for twenty five thousand dollars. They did, and two weeks later, Tony was in France. While he was enjoying France, he met a woman, Miss Ellie Stinson, who was also from the US and touring France. She was from Nevada, he found out. They spent a month together in France. When they got back to the United States, they moved into an apartment together in California. He continued to go out with her, buying her huge arrangements of flowers every now and then. Then, Jr’s dad brought a huge house and had it furnished and decorated with the most expensive furniture. Before the house was finished, Jr went to Beverly Diamond Gift Shoppe and got a ring that sparkled so much you could see it across the room. He asked Ellie to marry him, she said yes, and the next day Jr got his dad to buy them two tickets for a Hawaii cruise ship. The got married privately on the ship, no one else in the room except Lawrence Exeter Jr, Ellie Exeter, and the minister. When they got back from the cruise, Jr’s father gave Jr two hundred thousand dollars as a wedding gift. The couple took their honeymoon in Turkey. They stayed at the Ambassador Hotel in Istanbul. They were there for two weeks, and had the time of their lives. When they got back, their house was finished, so they moved in. Their marriage stayed strong, and Jr still gave her flowers and sweets. Mr Exeter Sr gave Jr his checkbook, because he thought that it was time for Jr to have it. Everything was going great until Jr received the letter in the mail.
The letter had no return address, and all it said was: If you wish to live, go to the Parisian Gown Shoppe. Jr did not share this note with his wife, because he thought it might upset her. The next day, he went to the small, shabby shop. He stepped inside and was greeted by a group of men wearing black suits. One of them with dark features Jr recognized as Tony Spagoni.
“You should be dead,” Jr said, pointing at Tony.
“Correction,” Tony said, “you should be dead. You should have gotten the chair for murder and attempted murder. We know about you, Lawrence. You have talents, which are not to be used. Write a check for $925 made out to the Parisian Gown Shoppe, pick out a dress for your wife, and return home. We will contact you. Do not go to the police, or they will lock you up in a nuthouse.” Jr hurriedly did as they had instructed and returned home, presenting his wife with a gown.
Five months later, Jr was sitting at home reading a book. The doorbell rang. When he answered the door, an attractive young lady stepped into the door.
“Are you Lawrence Exeter Jr?” she asked before he had time to say anything.
“Yes,” he said nervously.
“I am Anita Lingesse Salm. You are to go to the Parisian Gown Shoppe again, on the 1st of April of next year. I demand $750 for my services.”
“What?!” he yelled perplexed. She pulled out a gun before he had time to say anything else.
“I said $750 and be at the gown shop or be dead.” He quickly wrote her a check and she went on. Jr marked the next meeting on his calendar as a business meeting so that Ellie wouldn’t become suspicious, and so that he wouldn’t forget and end up dead.
It was April fools day, but Jr was in no mood to be fooled as he stepped up to the Parisian Gown Shoppe. He opened the door, and stepped inside, and was greeted with a sight that was much the same as before. There were 8 men standing in a semicircle around a small wooden chair.
“Sit,” said a man on the end with blonde hair.
“Jr,” Tony said, stepping forward, “since you were young, you have had a gift that you have used in the past, and tried to use once on me. You are the only one in the world that has that exact talent, but others have similar gifts. People who have these gifts are just randomly killing or injuring others, so a society called The Bootery was created. It had limited funding, so we either prevent the murders by killing the special ones, or we make them give us payments. Before you leave here, you are going to have to pay me $1150, or else you aren’t leaving here. Don’t worry, the payments will get smaller for you, but you can’t hurt anybody, or else we might have to up the payment to keep you safe.”
“Keep me safe?”
“Yes, we are technically illegal and the FBI is after us. What we do is we use your ability to bring down people that should be dead and they aren’t. We never use big political figures, because they usually can’t do something without the media highlighting on it, and because we are trying to stay low. The government knows that we kill people, but they don’t know what those people have done, and they don’t know that we have people with talents.
“See, it all narrows down to this: You have the ability to get rid of people who are a threat to you, your wife, your father, and your mother, and we keep out of jail, no matter what you do. Your talent will be used for the better, and we use the money you give us to recruit others. Will you join us?”
“I guess I don’t have much of a choice,” Jr said nervously. He quickly wrote another check, and was out the door.
Before he got to his car, Tony leaned out of the door.
“By the way,” he said, “you need to get a gun, just in case.” Jr didn’t buy a gun right away, but at the end of October, he got a note in the mail that said it would be in his own best interest to get one soon. So, he went down to the Moderne Sportte Shop, and brought a very nice pistol. Jr met with no trouble for a while, until a note came in the mail. It said that once again The Bootery needed money. Jr sent the check that was required. Then, letters started showing up. They came once a week. They were all from Tony. They told him to write apology notes to people. So, Jr said he was sorry on paper once a week. He didn’t really think about these letters, they had become a part of his life ever since the first one. Then, Tony showed up. He told Jr to pay him $126 now, and the same amount a week from now. Jr didn’t argue, or say a word; he just paid him.
Two months later, as Jr was coming home one day, his neighbor, the nosy Miss Florence Trentworth, leaned out her window and yelled,
“Yoo-hoo. Hi dear! How do you think your wife would react if I told her all the strange people that have been coming over to your house? Maybe the pretty young lady, or the one that looks like a mob hit man? What would Ellie say, I wonder?” She cackled from her upstairs window.
“I’ll pay you to keep quiet!” Jr shouted up, barely able to control his rage. I’ll pay you fifty grand.”
“Okay, but remember, If I see it again, the price may go up,” she giggled. He wrote her a check, and put it under the crack in her door. That afternoon, right before he was about to write a note to Miss Trentworth, the doorbell rang. No one was there, except a note, which reminded him that no more notes were to be written without permission. That night, His wife came home in tears.
“I got a call at work today. It was from our neighbor, Mrs. Betty Ether. She said she was watering her garden when she overheard a conversation. Apparently you are associating with the wrong people, and you let another woman inside our house! How could you! I want a divorce. If you need me, too bad, I’ll be at a friends apartment.”
She left the house, and the next day, he contacted his lawyers. The day after that, they went to court. After the first day, she had sued for $5000. Then, they went on to the prenuptial agreement. After 7 months of trials, she had won the Cadillac and the house. Jr blew up in the judge’s face, was fined $52 by the court, and sent to jail. His mother bailed him out, so he gave her $175,000. He then brought a car from Walker & Walker dealership. The same day, he also got an apartment from Wall & Smith.
The whole time of the divorce, he kept writing his special notes. Ten days after the court process had finished, Tony showed up.
“Instead of this apartment, why don’t you come stay at my house?” he said. Jr agreed instantly. He had grown fond of Tony, and he especially liked writing notes now. Tony only asked for $100 dollars, and Jr, of course, gave it to him. Jr liked Tony’s apartment, and that night Jr asked Tony why Tony hadn’t died. Tony told him that other people had opened the note, and the note wasn’t meant for them, so they hadn’t died. Tony had always kept the first note, folded, so he couldn’t read it. That was how they discovered he had the ability.
The next morning, Tony wanted $100, so Tony got $100. Then, Tony left. While he was gone, Jr got the mail, and saw it was time to write another letter. Jr opened a desk drawer in search of a pen, and found a note from Tony to The Bootery. From the letter, Jr realized that The Bootery was just a family in the mob. This family always had money when they needed it, and whenever there was a threat to the family, all the people involved either died or got seriously injured. A detective named Peter Ventizzi had just been assigned to bring down The Bootery, and Tony was asking the godfather of The Bootery if he could use Jr to kill Ventizzi.
Jr wrote a note to Ventizzi, that had a check for $25, told Peter where he was, gave him Tony’s name, and told him not to open any letters. Jr filled out the address (somehow knowing where Ventizzi lived), and mailed it. Then he went back into the house, dialed 911, said that he was at a murderer’s house, and then sat back. Tony arrived before the police. He saw the note in Jr’s hand, immediately understood, pulled out his gun, and fired, then turned and ran to his car as the faint sound of sirens filled the air. Luckily, an ambulance had also been dispatched. Jr spent the next ten days in the hospital, then he had died of internal bleeding. Dr. McCoy, the same guy that delivered him, had treated him.
Tony, as he turned another corner at break-neck speed, could remember the last two weeks that he had spent hiding, but he had been found by Ventizzi in the end. He knew that if they captured him, they would be able to get names out of him. He opened his glove compartment, pulled out a note, unfolded it, and read the two words written on it.