It could have been a love story, but no. It didn't happen that way. He was the kind of boy who really just wanted to run around. She had hoped that one fine day he would have wanted her for his girl. It's not that she wasn't patient. Two years is more than enough time to give somebody to figure it out. Now he's dead. Dead as a door nail, whatever that means.*
She knows that she is most likely going to get away with the murder. Only about 62% of murders result in a police identification of a probable killer. Worse yet, many of those cases do not result in a conviction for any number of reasons. In reality, at best, half of murders yield a conviction. Shea Kisko has no remorse. Pierce Dunwoody deserved to die.
Shea is a twenty-two year old average woman of average lineage. She is a graduate of Erasmus High School, class of '05. Erasmus High School was once the pride of Brooklyn. As a result of poor test scores and an unwieldy student body, in 1994, Erasmus was broken into four smaller high schools with different centers of study. They all were located on the Erasmus campus and they all used the common lunch room, auditorium and library. Shea attended the Academy for College Preparation and Career Exploration. The Academy's focus was to ready the student to be admitted to the best college possible. Today Erasmus has five component schools.
Although Shea could have gone to college, she was unmotivated. This wasn't so much her fault or a product of her laziness. Some people just need a positive influence. Too bad for her. Her father, Stosh Kisko, died at thirty-nine. He was in a deli on Flatbush Avenue buying some Marlboro Menthols, when he got caught in a robbery gone bad. The deli owner, Herm Bright, unloaded his saw-offed shot gun into two fourteen year old punks, after they demanded the cash drawer. The kids, both of whom had Glocks, likewise lit Herm up. The shorter of the two punks, Simmy Dellacortes, was spun around by the power of the shotgun blast. Simultaneous with his twisting from the force, Simmy fired off to his left. That Glock shot hit Stosh square in the right eye. Bam, kapow, lights out for Stosh and Herm and Bobby Kingston, the taller punk. Simmy lived.
The deli deaths occurred when Shea was a junior at Erasmus. High school students need guidance and Stosh was all the guidance she had. Her mother had taken to cocaine years before. Cocaine addiction and parenthood are incongruent. While she stopped in from time to time, Denise Kosko spent most of her time in Florida. She worked as a rehab center intaker. She got commissions for each person she convinced to rehab at Sea, Sun and Sand Spa. The four "S", as the it was known around Boynton Beach, was a money maker. Lots of parents spent college education sums to rehab their bad seeds. Since Denise was both a former user and a former parent, she could be persuasive. Ta Da.
Upon Stosh's demise, Denise's half sister, Hazel, moved up to Brooklyn to stay with Shea. Hazel and Denise had different fathers. As pasty and white as Denise was, Hazel was ebony, so ebony that people often thought that Hazel came from Nigeria. Hah. Both Denise and Hazel were born and grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey. After graduation, Shea and Hazel left Brooklyn and they went to live in Hazel's small cottage on Brighton Avenue. Shea tried Atlantic Cape Community College for a semester. She was uninspired.
She learned to deal blackjack and she quickly found a job at the Tropicana. And this is where she met Pierce, whose real name was Luther. He was a slot technician. Luther took on the name Pierce when a drunken, braless women at the five dollar slots told him he looked like Pierce Brosnan. Shea almost missed the obituary, since she only knew Luther as Pierce. There are always surprises when somebody dies.
Pierce was, indeed, a nice looking fellow. He may not have looked quite this good....
...but he wasn't far off. To put it another way, when Luther-Pierce went into a bar, his chances of success approached ninety per cent. Poor Shea, she should have picked a shorter, pot bellied man with a smooth pate. Those men are happy to get a little, a little of anything. Pierce, as it turns out, pissed Shea off one too many times. In 1687, William Congreve penned, The Mourning Bride,
As you'll answer it, take heed
This Slave commit no Violence upon
Himself. I've been deceiv'd. The Publick Safety
Requires he should be more confin'd; and none,
No not the Princes self, permitted to
Confer with him. I'll quit you to the King.
Vile and ingrate! too late thou shalt repent
The base Injustice thou hast done my Love:
Yes, thou shalt know, spite of thy past Distress,
And all those Ills which thou so long hast mourn'd;
Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd,
Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd.
Therein is the origin of the modern phrase, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." Yeah.
And so right there in Atlantic City, right there in the Tropicana Casino, on a rainy, windy and raw November day, Pierce and Shea found themselves huddled in a small doorway facing the boardwalk. There was a small space where they stood smoking, where they could stay half dry. It is a pity how smokers are treated. They shared a few words. They had never met before despite the fact that they had both worked at the Trop for a few months. The Trop is a big place. Shea had her mother's complexion and Stosh's pale blue eyes. On that day Pierce and Shea began a fatal relationship.
Oh, let's be clear, they at times had it all. Passion, fun, laughs, intimacy, you name it. Two hearts beating as one. When their relationship was right, there was none better. As Shea looks back over the last two years, she sequences the ups and downs. The ups were all the same. They were the wonderful and fun times she spent with Pierce. The downs were all the same too. Only the names changed. Maggie, Jill, Tara, Sandi, Rhonda, Kenda and Francie. Everytime that Lothario interrupted their relationship with another foray into the potential spaces of his conquests, he broke her heart a little more. So for two years she lived the life of a roller coaster lover. Two years is a long time when you're twenty-two. For sure.
Hazel told Shea to get out of the relationship, to quit him. Aunt Hazel's words would ring in Shea's psyche, 'Don't be a fool, he don't love you, cause he wouldn't do what he did." Shea wanted to get out, but she was like a bad poker player, who plays too long. He loses all of his money and then he keeps borrowing in desperation to make it right. It takes a lot to accept the fact that you've lost, the fact that you've been beaten. Shea couldn't. Finally she got mad, real mad. It would have been better to walk away. Oh well.
Shea convinced herself that if she couldn't have Pierce for her own, well, no one else could either. She began to plot and scheme a murder. She knew that the body was the main piece of evidence in any murder. She tried to conceive of ways to kill Pierce and to get rid of his body. Things like fishing trips gone bad to sulfuric acid baths to incineration helped to keep her up at night. The body would be a problem. He weighed two hundred pounds.
Also, she didn't know how she would kill him. She had an aversion to guns after Stosh's murder. She learned a perfect weapon might be an icicle. It melts, no evidence! Nah, way too much blood and too messy. Poison had advantages. If she could find an undetectable poison... A Google search led to
Cerbera Odollam is known as the poison tree and is indigenous to India and parts of southeast Asia. She learned its seeds contain a heart toxin called “cerberin”, similar in structure to “digoxin”, found in foxglove plants. Digoxin kills by blocking calcium ion channels in heart muscles, which disrupts the heartbeat, causing death. Cerberin worked the same way. Best yet, it's undetectable unless the pathologist at autopsy does liquid and gas chromatography looking for this poison. She doubted anyone would be looking for this poison in New Jersey. Indeed.
She found a seed distributer out of Mumbai, India. For $14.98 plus shipping she received thirty cerbera odollam seeds. Shea used a public computer at the Comfort Inn to place the order. She used a fictitious name, Sam Williams. Williams was Hazel's last name. And she paid by using a money order, which she purchased at the Wawa convenience store on the Black Horse Pike. You don't have to give your name when you buy a money order. Therefore, her name did not appear anywhere, nor was her computer tainted. The only link to her was Hazel's Brighton address, but there was no way Shea comes under scrutiny. The seeds would not easily be associated with her.
Shea ground the seeds to a fine powder. Since the seeds have a strong flavor, she learned it was best to disguise them in a food with a tang. It was her good luck that Pierce liked spicy Mexican food. The restaurant, Mexico, on Ventnor Avenue was one his favorites. They met. Pierce was always happy to see her. He ordered a hot salsa with a large burrito. She was able to mix in the powdered poison into the salsa, when he had to make a pit stop just before the food made it to the table. Pierce had a weak bladder. They laughed and had a seemingly nice dinner. The salsa must have been plenty hot, Pierce noted nothing unusual as he devoured his meal.
She didn't know what to expect. Pierce looked fine after eating. He wanted her to go back to his apartment with him. Shea knew better. She wanted to be somewhere else to establish an alibi. Shea begged off, saying she felt sick. Out of Mexico, Shea went right and Pierce went left. For a moment, as they shared goodbyes, Shea had second thoughts. Then, she ran the names again; Maggie, Jill, Tara, Sandi, Rhonda, Kenda and Francie. Shea guessed there were even more unknown names. The second thoughts passed. Scorn is a powerful amnesiac.
Shea went to the House of Blues. It's on the other end of Atlantic City. The night was young. She talked to lots of people and she danced and she laughed. A waiting cab greeted her when she hit Pacific Avenue. A quick flip of her hand and she hopped in. The cabbie, Willie McAllister, had her home on Brighton in five minutes. Umm, Shea stared at Willie's identification badge. She might need that name.
The obituary said Luther was found dead in his basement apartment on Baton Rouge Avenue. The police said he had been dead between one and two days. When Pierce failed to appear at the Trop on Monday his supervisor called his cell. Finally, after there was no answer to repeated calls, Pierce's supervisor called the police. Pierce was reliable and he never missed work. The officers found marijuana and cocaine, in small amounts in Pierce's apartment. There was no evidence of foul play or a break in. Pierce was well liked and he had no known enemies.
An autopsy is pending. It will take two to three weeks to get the toxicology reports. No test for cerberin was even considered. Pierce's closest living relative is his brother, Richard. Richard, who lives in Portland, Maine, had Luther cremated and arranged for the ashes to be sent to him. He plans to disperse them on Cadillac Mountain. Luther went there once and he liked it. As for Shea, she continues to deal blackjack and she waits. The Atlantic City detective in charge of Pierce's death investigation has placed it on low priority. He thinks it was probably drug related. Perhaps an accidental suicide or a drug induced cardiac arrhythmia? Perhaps! Perhaps!
* During the middle ages nails were recycled whenever possible, which makes sense when one thinks of the effort that went into making them.
The problem was with doors the nails were knocked right through, and the part sticking out at the back was hammered back flush with the door. These were most probably bigger than normal nails as they were studded for decorative purposes. The reason for bending the nails back, (called clinching or clenching) I could not find, other than a reference that stated this made the door stronger. Doors were made of two pieces that were nailed together.
These nails could not be recycled and were useless for any further use. Therefore dead as a doornail in carpentry terms..
From Graham's Random Rumblings