Sunday morning it took a good bit of effort on Jake’s part to pull himself out of bed. He hadn’t even laid down until almost 3:00. But he was already headed for Lafourche by 8:00. He needed to explain the situation to Biggy before Biggy actually came back to town. He was at Biggy’s houseboat at 9:30.
Biggy opened his eyes and found himself staring directly into Jake’s face.
“What the fuck? Why are you here?” he asked Jake.
“Read the paper in the last few days, Big Un?”
“Yeah. Saw where Polly had regained consciousness and was being released from the hospital. It didn’t say anything about what she told the police, though.” Biggy said, sitting up on the side of the bed.
Jake, about to gag from the stench in the tiny room, said, “Get up and get some pants on and meet me on the back deck. We’ll talk there.”
He didn’t wait for Biggy to move before quickly going out the door. A minute later Biggy came outside.
“So do you know more than what was in the paper?” he asked Jake.
“Yeah. She told basically the same story you told me. According to her you saved her from being raped and maybe from being killed.”
“So can I come back to town?”
“Yes, but there will be restrictions and you have to understand that you aren’t in the clear yet. Remember that lawyer whose card I gave you. Missy Allison?”
– Page 93 –
“I talked to her. She thinks the DA might rule that the man’s death was justifiable homicide, in which case you won’t even be tried. But she says its more likely he will charge you with manslaughter, but with extenuating circumstances. If your story and Polly’s corroborate, she’ll be more comfortable about the justifiable thing. That might mean you wouldn’t even have to do any time.”
Biggy scratched his head. “But there’s a chance I will have to do some time? In Angola?” he hesitated and then added before Jake could respond. “How and who’s paying the lawyer?”
Jake chuckled. “One question at a time, Big Un. Last one first. I’ll pay her fee up front but we’ll have to talk later about when and how you will be paying me back. Yes, there is a chance you’ll do some time. But she says at the most it would be a year and more likely much less. Maybe none at all. Since the time we spent together in juvie, have you been in trouble with the law?”
“No. Unless you count a couple of traffic tickets.”
“Then that should help your case. The records from juvie are sealed. They can’t be used.”
“So when do I come back to New Orleans?”
“As early as tomorrow but there’s something else you have to agree to.”
“You can’t come back and do what you were doing for me before this happened. Your lawyer – Missy Allison. The one who’s card I gave you. – says you will have to come completely clean about stalking Polly. You’ll have to tell them how and when you first saw her and how you found out where she lives and about any previous stalking episodes prior to that Friday night when you killed Paul Bonificio. They’ll also want to know exactly what you’ve been doing since you got to New Orleans.”
“Can’t we make up some story? Like I’ve just been workin’ for you at the bar, or somethin’? And maybe that I just happened to see Polly that night on the streetcar and followed her because I thought she was pretty?”
“That would make it look like you meant to harm her. Or at the very least rob her. And she’s already told the cops about seeing you on the streetcar weeks ago. She immediately recognized you as the same guy who, she felt, was pressing himself on her in the streetcar. She was able to do that in the few seconds she was looking at you running towards her and Paul before she was knocked down and lost consciousness. Missy says statistics show most stalkers never harm their victim. In fact, the person being stalked is not even considered to be a victim because they’re usually not harmed. Until the stalker is discovered or reveals himself to the person being stalked, there is not even a crime. So you have a lot to gain and little to lose by telling them the truth. Did you do anything else besides follow her home a couple of times?”
Biggy hesitated again. He looked down at the bayou. “You mean besides peeking in her windows like I told you before?”
– Page 94 –
“No. Nothin’ else.”
“Do you think anybody saw you when you were peeking in?”
“Couldn’t have. It’s really dark along that side of the house. It’s hidden by big bushes. And when I got back to the front I waited and watched the street for a few minutes before I walked back out on the sidewalk. There was no one else on the sidewalk on either side and the shades on the windows of the houses across the street were pulled down.”
“Is that what you were planning to do on that Friday night?”
“Yeah.” he hesitated again. “Listen, Jake, I may not be very smart but I’m smart enough to know that if she discovered me even looking in her window she would call the cops and even if I got away it would be the end of it. I would never be able to look at her again and I loved looking at her.”
Jake just looked at Biggy and shook his head before saying. “Okay. There’s one more thing you have to agree to.”
“What’s that?” Biggy asked.
“Like I said a few minutes ago, you can’t come back to work for me. At least not right now and maybe never. I can’t take that risk. And it can’t be known that you ever worked for me.”
“So what have I been doing? Can we tell them I’d just come to New Orleans?”
“No. Because there’s the incident on the streetcar with Polly that happened three months ago. Miss Sophronia and I have created the perfect alibi for you.”
“What’s that?” Biggy asked.
“You have been working at Miss Sophronia’s. You’ve been sleeping in the little room at the back of her stockroom. You started doing that right after you came here. You came to me first because you knew me. That part’s true. But I sent you to see Miss Sophronia who is a friend of mine and she agreed to let you work there and stay there. Temporarily.”
“What little room at the back of the stockroom? I’ve never seen one there.”
– Page 95 –
“Sophie and I have made all the arrangements. She had a shower installed in the back room yesterday. There was already a toilet and sink in a tiny bathroom. Tomorrow morning I will start work on enclosing an area with old plywood. It’ll be big enough for a bed and nightstand. The shower stall will also be inside the enclosure. Miss Sophronia is really sticking her neck out for you. If she is called to testify she will even have to commit perjury. You’re gonna owe her. Big time.”
“Is that the only option? “
“You don’t like it?”
“I didn’t say that. It’s just that …” he let the sentence trail off.
Jake picked up on his hesitation. “There’s not much alternative Biggy, unless you want to keep hiding out. And if you do they’re going to find you eventually, even if you try to run, and things will be much worse on you if you do that.”
“Okay.” Biggy said. “I guess I have no choice.”
On Monday morning, before he started building Biggy’s bedroom, Jake called Missy Allison and made an appointment for Biggy to meet her at her office on Tuesday morning.
– Page 96 –