Excerpt From Slow Coming Dark
“Matt, I’m at Senator Helms’ house.” said Hightower. He sounded haggard. “His private home, not his office. Please come over here right away and tell no one where you are going.”
Twenty minutes later Matt pulled into a graveled driveway on a shady, tree-lined street in one of Raleigh’s inner city neighborhoods, up to an unpretentious but spacious and well kept two-story home of nineteenth century vintage. He knocked on the door and was astounded when the door was opened by United States Senator Jesse Helms himself, a slightly built, dignified old man leaning on a cane, a humorous glint in his eye behind thick spectacles. “You must be Matt Redmond,” he said, extending his hand that gripped Matt’s firmly despite his years. “I remember those fedoras, used to wear one myself when I was your age. Glad to meet you, son! I’ve heard a hell of a lot about all them darin’ exploits of yours!”
“It’s an honor to meet you, sir,” said Matt, flustered. “Ah, I got a message from SBI Director Hightower...?”
“He’s in the parlor,” said Helms, beckoning Matt inside. “Come on in. Matt, we got a hellacious problem we’re gonna need your help with.” He opened the door to the living room. Matt saw Hightower sitting in an armchair. Then he heard a baby give a short cry. He turned and a stunningly beautiful young woman in a pale beige pants suit rose from the sofa, holding a bundled infant in her arms. Her hair was long and blond, her eyes crystalline blue, and her face was a frozen mask of haunted pain and fear. She looked like she was about to turn and flee out the French doors. The first thing that hit Matt was that this woman was terrified out of her wits. Then he recognized her. “You’re Alice Silverman,” he said.
“You’re Matt Redmond?” she whispered.
“Yes, ma’am,” he said quietly, taking off his hat. “How may I be of service to you?”
“You can save my life,” she said dismally. “They killed Carla and Serafina. I heard their terrible screams as they died, while I was running away with my child in my arms. Now they’re trying to kill me, and kill my baby.”
“Who?” asked Matt urgently. It was as if Hightower and Helms weren’t even in the room. “Who is trying to kill you?”
“Bill Clinton,” she whispered. “He wants me dead. He wants my baby dead!”
“Why?” asked Matt gently. She looked up at him in anguish. “I know Clinton and his works, ma’am. You needn’t fear you won’t be believed. Why is he trying you kill you, and why does he want to kill the baby?”
Her eyes and her voice were dead with utter misery. “Eleven months ago, Bill Clinton raped me. After he was through, Hillary Clinton raped me.” She held up the wiggling bundle. “This is Bill Clinton’s son. Now he wants us both dead. I have come to you because you are the only lawman in the country who will believe me, and who has shown that he has the courage to stand up to them. If you don’t help, then my child and I will die. Will you help us?”
“Yes,” said Matt.
“Matt, before this goes any further, can we have a word in private?” spoke up Senator Helms. “You’ll excuse us, please, Miss Silverman?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll still be here when you get back,” said Alice with a wry smile. “I have no place else to go.”
Matt followed the Senator and Hightower into Helms’ carpeted, book-lined study. As soon as the door closed behind them he said, “With all due respect, gentlemen, what the hell is going on here? How did she get here, and why is she here at all? Has she told you anything about who killed DeMarco or what happened on the yacht?”
“She was never on the yacht,” said Hightower. He seemed to have aged ten years. “She’ll tell you in a bit what happened, and it will blow your mind. Matt, this is big. It is beyond anything I have ever come across.”
“As to how she got here, at four o’clock this morning I was awakened by someone pounding on my door,” said Helms. “By the way, Matt, I believe I heard you're a cigar smoker? Try one of these.”
“Uh...rolled Havanas, sir?” asked Matt, his eyebrows arching.
“There's a few things about Cuba I like,” chuckled Helms, his eyes twinkling as he and Matt both lit up. “Anyhoo, like I was saying, I get woke up at four this morning and I find this lovely Hollywood movie star and her baby standing on my porch, with a very incredible story to tell. An incredible credible story, if you follow. A story that I believe, Matt.”
“And what will you do with that story, Senator?” asked Matt bleakly. “Impeachment failed. Sir, let me be blunt. I know that you personally did everything you could and I don’t fault you at all, but your colleagues in the Senate had the chance to rid our country of this sick, drug-addicted tyrant and they dropped the ball. We’re stuck with him now.”
“And the United States Senate shall carry that disgrace throughout its future history,” agreed Helms. “As to what I intend to do with her story, that’s easily told. I intend to make one of the final acts of my lengthy life on this earth the thwarting of William Jefferson Clinton, at least in this one small matter. Maybe that’s a petty reaction, but there it is. There is nothing at all that we can do with Alice Silverman politically. The people of this country have rendered their verdict and that verdict is that Bill Clinton gets a pass, whatever he does. With rage and bitterness in my heart, I have come to accept that. God will judge America for this. I will no longer try. But I still believe that truth and right and justice have enough power and strength to do one thing, and that is keep that girl and that baby alive. I can’t undo the past eight years, Matt. I can do nothing to bring back those nuclear secrets from China or restore the presidency of the United States to some kind of dignity, nor can I bring Vince Foster or Admiral Boorda or Jim McDougal or any one of a dozen others back to life. But I can damned well make sure that two more deaths aren’t added to Clinton’s total body count. Those two lives in there are lives that Bill Clinton will not take. I have sworn that to her.”
“How?” demanded Matt. “How will you keep that promise, Senator, when every other attempt over the past eight years to restrain Clinton from any act, no matter how murderous or treasonous, has failed? I think you both know I'll do whatever I must, but how can you keep her and that baby alive if the most powerful man in the world wants them dead?”
“I haven’t lived on Capitol Hill for almost thirty years without learning a trick or two,” said Helms grimly. “Matt, let me tell you exactly what I am asking of you. I want you to keep Alice Silverman and her baby safe while I negotiate with that yellow dog piece of hillbilly white trash in the White House for her life. I’m flying back to Washington tonight, and tomorrow I am going to ask for a private appointment with the president, ask in such terms that he will be sure to see me. I am going to say some things to him that I believe will convince him that it is best for him and for those whom he serves to accommodate me in this little matter of Alice Silverman’s life. I want you to keep them alive while I do this.”
“I will, or die myself in the attempt,” replied Matt quietly.
“From what I hear, you will.” replied Helms. “Son, I wish to God we had ten thousand more like you in this country. Then maybe we’d have a chance.”
“Matt, you of all people know what you are committing yourself to,” said Hightower. “I don’t mean just Clinton’s gunmen. You heard what that woman from the FBI said about the Mob sending that character Visconti in on this, the one you said you wouldn’t want to go up against unless you had to? Sounds like you may have to if you get in this deep. You sure about this, Matt? What about Heather and Tori?”
“They will understand and expect nothing less of me,” replied Matt. “I want to ask one thing of you both. I want to call my partner Cowboy Garza and have him in on this, and I want to call my wife and have her here when we hear Alice Silverman’s story. I cannot do this without both of them.”
“Do you think you have the right to involve your family?” asked Helms.
“Yes, and neither of them would ever forgive me if I didn't involve them. Gawd, let Tori miss a chance of meeting Alice Silverman? She’d rend me in twain! OK on clearing Cowboy’s case load for this, Phil?” Hightower nodded.
“Son, you do what you have to do,” said Helms. “Just make sure that just this once, the good guys win one. This old bull still has enough horn left on him to be of some use. I’ll back your play all the way.”
Matt took out his cell phone and dialed his wife’s work number. She answered. “It’s me. Heather, it’s happening again. You walked through the fire with me once, Watson. Will you do it again? Are you with me?”
“All the way, Holmes,” she said with out hesitation.
“Then beg off work somehow and come to Raleigh, right now,” he said. “I’ll give you the address and tell you how to get here. I want you in on this from the ground up. We beat them once before, Watson. Now we’re going to beat them again.”
“I understand,” said Heather, turning away, her eyes misting.
“Go on, please, ma’am,” prompted Phil Hightower.
“I went up to the room, I spoke to the Secret Service agent on guard outside, he let me in, it was their best suite, of course. Bill and Hillary were both there, and so I relaxed, I figured it was OK if she was there. I mean, like, what’s he going to do with his wife watching? They offered me a drink, which I accepted, and then they offered me a line of coke, which I didn’t. I don’t do drugs. We sat and talked for a while about general stuff, the movie business and politics. I noticed they were both snorting pretty heavy. Hillary keeps her coke in a compact in her purse, and Bill has a little leather case with a mirror and his works in pockets inside. Then all of a sudden they...” She fell silent.
“Yes?” prodded Matt softly.
“You won’t believe me. No one will.” said Alice Silverman, in her voice the despair of all the world’s end.
“Please continue, ma’am,” said Matt.
“She pulled a gun on me,” said Alice. “Hillary Clinton pulled out a pistol and pointed it at my head and told me to take off my clothes.”
“What?” shouted Cowboy, stunned.
Alice Silverman’s body shook like a leaf in a breeze. She was almost convulsive she was trembling so terribly at the memory. “I started to say something, Hillary kicked me to the floor, and Bill ripped a $17,000 Versace gown off me. By then I knew they were serious, I knew they were sky high and they might kill me, and if they did I’d end up lying in park somewhere as a so-called suicide. So I took off my bra and my panties by myself. It was like some kind of nightmare, like I wasn’t really there, like I was outside my body watching. The bra and the panties were intact afterwards, but the Versace gown was a shredded mess. Then when I was naked they fucked me,” she said lightly, in a giddy voice. “Both of them. Hillary held the gun on me while Bill fucked me, and got me pregnant, and then Bill held the gun on me while Hillary and me...oh God, I can’t speak of that. I can’t. Let’s just put it this way, she’s not a normal lesbian and she likes to do some really weird stuff, and we did it all. I don’t know who was having more fun, her or Bill. He was watching and...making comments and suggestions the whole time.” She leaned back in her chair, staring at the ceiling, her eyes half insane, tears coursing down her cheeks. “Hath no man’s dagger here a point for me?” she whispered. “That’s from Much Ado About Nothing, you know.” She looked at the horrified Redmond. “Matt, I don’t suppose I could persuade you to pull that famous .357 Magnum out and put a bullet in my head? Right now I want to be dead so bad I can taste it.”
“And what will happen to William if you die?” asked Heather, openly weeping.
“I know,” Alice replied.
“Why didn’t you abort the child?” asked Matt. “Our wonderful liberal democracy gives you the right to do that.”
“Look, I’m not a very good person,” said Alice. “In Hollywood sex is a tool and a weapon. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I haven’t been on the casting couch. It took a dirty weekend in Tijuana doing a menage à trois with a producer and his wife for me to get Nancy Drew, and I got Clones by blowing Sid Kaplan in the sauna in his office on no less than four occasions. I’m up for a major part, the female lead in Steven Spielberg’s next film, but to land it I have to get a certain woman executive producer in my corner, and before all this other came up I had already arranged to spend a weekend at her place on Catalina where I would have given her voluntarily what Hillary Clinton took by force. That’s one thing, that’s just business, nothing a good long hot bath can’t take care of.
"But killing a baby, a human life that moves inside you, that’s something else. You’re normal people and I know you think I’m glitterati trash, and I am, but I’m not baby-murdering trash. It wasn’t my baby’s fault that his father is a rapist and a son of a bitch. And once he was born, once I saw his little face and held him in my arms and felt him wiggling and heard him chirping, I knew that something good had come of that terrible night. That’s what has kept me sane and kept the razor blade off my wrists. That’s why I continued to say nothing, even after the fear wore off for a while. God, you wouldn’t believe all the gossip in Hollywood about who his father is supposed to be!” she laughed in genuine merriment through her tears. “Everybody in pants from Bill Gates to Marlon Brando. If only they knew! He is mine, he’s not Bill Clinton’s. I thought he would be mine forever. But now his father is trying to take him away from me...”
Arthur Garza then made a gesture that endeared him to Heather forever. He rose in silence, walked over to the wretched woman sitting in the armchair, took her hand, bent low, and kissed it. Then he returned to his seat, without uttering a word. “Did you tell President Clinton that the child was his?” asked Helms.
“He wouldn’t take my phone calls. When William was born I wrote him a letter and sent it to the White House, and as far as I was concerned that was the end of it. I told him I never wanted him to come near the baby, that he was a disease and his wife was a monster and I wanted nothing to do with either of them ever again.”
“Which did wonders for his ego, I’m sure,” muttered Hightower.
“That letter may well have been your death warrant. Hillary has to have that New York Senate seat. As bad as it must steam her to have to wait for four years while Al Gore keeps her seat warm, she can’t just go leaping into the presidency without any formal experience in office, and she knows it. Did you get any answer from him?” asked Matt.
“Not then. Eventually I got an answer of a sort, yeah. The Coast Guard found his answer floating on the ocean in that yacht,” she said, shuddering. “They were after me,” she whispered in horror, staring at them. “I didn’t believe it, but that little guy Eddie, he told me all about it. He said they were going to kill us all on that boat, just to get my baby and me. Make it look like I got caught up in a drug deal gone bad, maybe blame it on Colombians or the Mob. They killed all those people anyway. I don’t know why.”
“How did you come to meet a gangster mook like Eddie DeMarco, Alice? How did you come to be mixed up with that business on the yacht at all?” asked Matt.
“I never heard anything from Clinton, time went by, and I thought it was all over. A guy named Bob Sipple who was big wheel with DuPont told me he had some heavy investment lined up for my production company, which is something I need. I want to be able to make my own pictures without having to rely on the usual Hollywood sources of financing, not to mention avoiding the casting couch. I was supposed to meet these people on the yacht during a cruise down to the Bahamas. Sipple sent a private jet for me, and as a kind of insurance I took along my secretary Carla Renfrew, and Serafina, who was William’s nanny, and the baby himself. Understand, I wasn’t worried about anything violent, I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t some kind of orgy some corporate big shots were planning with me as the star attraction. I get a lot of that kind of shit, and the presence of a baby with a nanny and a big battle-axe secretary hovering in the background kind of tends to dampen executive ardor, if you get my drift. So we get to Miami and everything looks cool, Bob sends a limo for us to take us down to Key Biscayne, and this guy Eddie is in the back. Say’s he’s the social director for another guy named Joey LaBrassy or something, I didn’t catch the name, who caters for executive retreats and whatnot. On the ride down he was playing with the baby and talking with Serafina, who was young and kind of sweet, and then...oh, I guess he must have had an attack of conscience or something.”
“Eddie Miami had a conscience?” asked Matt skeptically.
“Look, Matt, I know everyone tells me Eddie was a hoodlum, and I guess he was, but he saved my life and my child’s life, and he never asked me for a cent!” returned Alice with some spirit.
“If he really was able to do a decent thing like that, after the life he led, and he came here to North Carolina only to be murdered for that one righteous act, then North Carolina owes him justice,” replied Matt grimly. “Go on, please, ma’am.”
“We get to Key Biscayne and park at the marina, and he sends the driver off to do something, then before we even get out of the limo he jumps in the driver’s seat and starts the engine and we’re roaring back out of town. We didn’t know what the hell was going on, I thought maybe I was being kidnaped, but Eddie gets a few miles out of town and pulls over onto the beach, and then he gets back in the back and he says, ‘Look, ladies, I gotta tell you. I’m a real scumbag, and I always figured there was nothing I wouldn’t do for money, but I can’t do dis thing. I can’t be a part of dis. I mean that’s a baby, for fuck’s sake! Dis whole thing is a setup, Alice! Dey’re going to kill you and dat baby. Bill Clinton has sentenced both of you to death.’ Those were his exact words. Then he told me. And I believed him, because it made sense. He didn’t know why, but he knew that Bill Clinton wanted my baby and me dead. That’s why it made sense to me, why I knew he was telling the truth.”
“What did he tell you, ma’am?” asked Matt urgently.
“When the yacht got out to sea we were to be intercepted by a speedboat, and three people were going to board the yacht and kill us all, with the help of Eddie and this guy Joey LaBrassy. They weren’t supposed to kill LaBrassy, he and Eddie were supposed to go back in the speedboat with an alibi all set up, but Eddie didn’t trust them. Okay, maybe that’s why he helped us, because he sensed they were going to kill him as well, but he was right, you all know what happened. Only they killed LaBrassy too, probably because I wasn’t there and they figured he’d double crossed them.”
“Did he give you any names on these three assassins?” demanded Cowboy.
“Yeah. He said the leader was a guy named Bob Blanchard.”
“Bob Blanchette?” shouted Matt and Phil Hightower at the same time.
“Yes, that was the name,” replied Alice, nodding.
“Who’s Blanchette?” asked Helms. “You both seem to recognize the name.”
“A murdering psychopath” hissed Phil. “A world-class hired assassin from what we call the Dixie Mafia. That son of a bitch has killed at least four people in North Carolina that we know of, Senator, but we’ve never been able to lay a finger on him! For years I have wanted Bob Blanchette’s ass in that Green Room down at Central Prison so bad I could taste it!”
“The Three Musketeers!” exclaimed Cowboy Garza. “Hell, we’ve heard of them in San Antonio! We know they did a couple of jobs in Texas as well, real smooth hits, not a fragment of evidence we could work into any kind of real case. They cut off the head of some federally-protected witness down in Houston and sent the head to the DA. The Texas Rangers use Bob Blanchette’s picture as a target on the pistol range. Matt, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts they did the DeMarco killing! It’s their style, all right.”
“I won’t take that bet, Cowboy, because I think so too,” said Matt with satisfaction. “Alice, let me guess. The other two were a killer slut named Karen Martin and a big mountain muscleman named Luther Lambert. Am I right?”
“You got it,” replied Alice.
“So what happened after Eddie Miami had his conscience attack?” Matt pressed her.
“I was pretty freaked, and so were Carla and Serafina. Carla wanted to go to the police, but what could any Florida cop do against the President of the United States? Eddie asked us if we would trust him. I said yes, what else could I do? I could hardly think straight. He said he would arrange for us to hide in a safe place while he contacted you, Mr. Redmond. I knew your name, I saw that article about you in People magazine when I was a teenager and I also saw those stories they did on you on TV. He told me this weird story about you being the best cop in the whole country and the only one who wasn’t afraid of Clinton, how you were supposed to have had this big gunfight with some big FBI honcho and a team of assassins from the CIA and killed them all and gotten away with it. Sounds almost like a screenplay. Is that story true?”
“More or less,” admitted Matt, exchanging a rueful smile with his wife Heather. [See Fire and Rain - Author] “That’s a long story and not germane to the present situation, but I’ll tell you about it when time permits. What happened next?”