Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jennifer L. Howley

Name: Jennifer L. Howley

Age: 34

Residence: New Hyde Park, NY, United States

Occupation: Aon Corp.

Location: World Trade Center, Tower 2

Jennifer was a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife, and a mother to be. On the 11th day of September 2001 that ended. This is my tribute to her.
On that day, I awoke. I got dressed. I dressed my six week old child. I dropped her off with my mother. I kissed her good bye and went to work. I admired the beautiful flowers that had arrived at the flower shop that morning. From all over the world. I was in Baton Rouge, LA. I was safe.
On that day, she awoke. She got dressed and went to work. She kissed her husband good bye and went to the tower. New York City, NY. She worked in that building with people from all over the world.
When I signed up for this tribute I had no idea what I was getting into. I expected I would be assigned a firefighter, a police officer, a paramedic perhaps. Not a mother to be. Not someone like me. I was not prepared for that. I think of all the beautiful times with my baby. Times she never got to experience before she died. I wonder what went through her mind, the fear, the sadness in those final moments, the helplessness of it all. I've been told all my life that life is not fair. Life is not fair. And for 2995 other people that day life was not fair.
Jennifer was a beautiful and loved woman. She worked hard, smiled often, had a lovely laugh. She had hopes and dreams and desires. She, like everyone else, deserved to live and long and happy life. She deserved to see her child's face, to have that precious moment of seeing her baby for the very first time. To wait for that very first cry, to count fingers and toes. To hold her child. To hold her child. To hold her child.
On September 11, 2001 I went home and held my child.
Jennifer, I never knew you. I will never forget you.
Here are a some articles that I found about her. I hope you take the time to read them.
This was her obituary. A scholarship has been set up in her name.

DORSEY-HOWLEY-Jennifer Lynn, age 34 yrs, New York, died tragically Tuesday (9/11/ 01) as a result of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. Born to Lyle G. and Donna Jean (Taylor) Dorsey on July 7, 1967, in Lincoln, NE.Graduated from Lincoln Southeast in 1985. Moved to New York City in Oct. 1985. Since 1987, Jennifer has worked in the insruance industry. Since 1994, she has worked with Aon, 2 World Trade Center, 92nd floor, where she was recently promoted from Senior VP to Director. She married Brian Howley in 1997 and they were expecting their first baby in January 2002. Jennifer will always be remembered for her beautiful contagious smile.
Survived by husband, Brian, NY;parents, Lyle and Joan Dorsey; brother and sister-in-law, Matthew and Mary Dorsey; sister, Kristine Leonhardt; grandma, Jeanette Taylor, all of Lincoln; mother-in-law, Mary Ann Howley, VA; brothers-in-law and spouses, James and Leah Howley Jr., NY, Sean and Erica Howley, VA; aunts and uncles; niece and nephews; many special friends. Preceded in death by mother, Donna Jean (Taylor) Dorsey; father-in-law, James P. Howley; grandparents.

Memorial Service Tuesday 2 pm at Faith Bible Church, 6201 S. 84th St., Lincoln. Pastor Tom Rempel,officiating. Memorials in lieu offlowers, care of the family.

***I originally posted this in 2006 on myspace. I promised then to repost this is every single year. I have not forgotten that promise. Jennifer and her unborn child have been on my mind a great deal this week. I will never forget you, Jennifer. Rest In Peace, dear. *****


Jennifer L. Dorsey-Howley

Photo: Jennifer L. Dorsey Howley
Jennifer L. Dorsey-Howley

Lincoln Southeast can be justifiably proud of its 1985 graduate, Jennifer L. Dorsey-Howley. On September 11, 2001 she was last seen ushering co-workers to the stairwell on the fire-engulfed 92nd floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center, before attempting to descend the staircase herself.

In Jennifer's 14 years in the insurance industry, she worked her way up from an entry-level position to the title of Director within Aon Corporation, the world's second largest insurance brokerage and a Fortune 500 company. Her client base was estimated at 1/2 billion dollars.

"I would like to briefly tell you about a woman who defied expectations," Jennifer's husband, Brian Howley, said in accepting LSE's Distinguished Alumni award on her behalf in April, 2002.

"As many of you well know, graduation is decision time...Jennifer's financial situation dictated that a job would be better suited for her than college...after a year and a half (as a nanny to two small children in Long Island, NY)...Jennifer...seized an opportunity to work with an insurance company in Midtown Manhattan, " he said.

"For the next 14 years, and against many odds, Jennifer's intelligence, confidence, hard work, and determination combined to successfully establish herself as a preeminent insurance broker in her industry."

"Because Jennifer did not have a college degree, she had to work much harder...however, once she established herself, a degree became a moot point as she immediately began proving her prowess among her peers."

"What Jennifer didn't do, was to allow the caliber of the individuals within her industry, most of them Ivy League graduates, to intimidate her. Jennifer would never back down," Brian emphasized.

A number of colleagues wrote to Brian to share their thoughts of Jennifer.

One highly respected colleague in the insurance industry noted, in Jennifer's professional vitae, "a reputation for thoroughness, efficiency, organization, energy and originality in problem resolution,...(and)...has become a formidable player and a keen competitor (in the insurance brokerage/risk management industry)."

"Jennifer was like no other. She had the ability to be a team leader, while all the time being a teammate," Brian recalled from those colleagues who wrote to him.
"She learned from mistakes, and grew because of them. She knew that hiding from mistakes was a weakness, and because Jennifer was not weak, she could admit and learn from that takes someone special," Brian said.
"In both the banking and the insurance fields, the expectation is that you will be a dedicated employee (who) will sacrifice yourself for the company. With that sacrifice comes hard work and long hours. Neither of these were an issue for Jennifer- - she was the personification of hard work," Brian noted.

"One of our last goals was Jen's alone. Work 5 more years and then cut back and become a stay-at-home Mom. While I believe she would never leave the workforce, I knew that today's technology would allow her to work from home or virtually anywhere. She also knew this, and we spoke about it all the time. Jennifer had work in her blood. She thrived because of it and somehow it never left her system."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Notes for my sweetheart the drunk

Everyone has those moments in time where everything stops. Time stands still and an image is frozen forever in your mind. No matter where life takes you, when you think of that time, that moment, that place, or view, you are right back there and everything is the same. For me, one of those moments involves a girl named Ann.

Background Details (to set the stage):

I met Fred at club. I was 17 or 18 and had gone out for a rare night of fun with a friend. Even rarer still was that there was even a club in Baton Rouge for people our age. Club M. Looking back it was a cheap, stupid place to hang. It was a converted church, the big fellowship hall converted for moshing. Dank and churchy smelling bathrooms, gravel lot. The works. My fellow club goers that night were the usual. Steven was moshing by him self and throwing himself into a pole (so funny and so lame), Michael (my friend) and her sisters were trying to mack with the long haired guys, and I was kinda feeling left out. The usual. Loud music, classmates I didn't like, expensive drinks, etc... This was back when the legal limit was 18. How old am I. Anyway, midnight comes around and Michael says we have to go soon. Her mom is coming to get us. Shit, just when I was warming up to the social scene. "I don't fucking want to go home," I yelled. That's where Fred comes in. Up walks this hot looking guy and says "Where do you want to go?" WTF! He was very cute and talking to me. Long story short, I left with Fred. He was a catholic school guy and very sweet. Very tall. Had a beautiful silver moonbeam like streak in the front of his hair. We stayed out till 5:00 am just talking. We had a great time. It was awesome, we totally got each other. Me and a Catholic High guy? Hell was sleeting, sleeting I tell you.

We hung out quite a bit that summer. He was smart and sweet and handsome and liked me. It was weird, but what the hell. He liked that I was so far away from all his other friends and that I didn't know anybody else he did. It was like we had each other to ourselves. He has a girlfriends and looking back I see this was a bit of a line. But, I didn't care. We had fun, made out, a little mouth nooky here and there, teenage stuff...

So, summer is over and school starts. We've lost touch a bit and he calls. He's having a big party and invites me and some friends to come. At the party we are all laughing and joking and talking about how we met. I, innocently I may add, say that Fred and I kinda dated over the summer. Fred gets the blankest look on his face and then says, knife poised ready to stab through my heart, "Oh, yeah. We did do that, huh?"


I was devastated. Do you know how hard it is to give head to a guy in a gremlin when he only has maybe five inches to work with? Well, actually, not that hard. You get the idea. I was floored. Surely we had shared some special moments? I waited a few minutes and went outside to sulk.....

Here we go, the real story:

I grabbed a drink and a lounge chair outside by the pool and was determined to drink my self pity away. And, I saw her.


Long brown hair. Long legs. Dancing and gyrating, beer in hand. Spinning and twirling.

She was dancing in an empty pool. All alone, not a care in the world. The most melodic music I had ever heard was playing on a small cd player sitting on the ledge of the pool. I sat and watched for for what seemed like hours. Sipping my drink and thinking of how beautiful a scene I was beholding. I softly asked what she was listening to. "Jeff Buckley" she replied. I had never heard of him, but would never forget him from that night on. I had looked at women before, seen them as beautiful, complex creatures. Wondered what made the pretty ones tick and the ugly ones sad. I had felt attraction before, but always pushed it back. Telling myself that it was wrong, that I was screwed up for thinking those thoughts. That someone would know. Not that night. That night, as I looked at that dancing girl in the pool, it broke free. It felt right, that desire, that longing, the need to feel someone so close. That night, I became officially bisexual.

I'd love to tell you that she noticed me, too, That we fucked like rabbits. But, no. No such thing. I sauntered back to the inside of the party and left her dancing by herself. She barely noticed I was there, yet I never forgot she was.

A few months later I saw her again at a frat party. Turns out, she was a slut. A friend I went with said she hit all the keggers and got shitfaced/laid at all of them. I saw her up close. She wasn't really all that, she was o.k. Do-able. Eh, still nothing could take away that night. I think of it everytime I hear "Last Good-bye"....must I dream and always see your face....

A few months later I had my first full fledged crush on a girl. She worked at the bookstore. I worked at Natural Wonders, right across from Waldenbooks. I would go in everyday to look at her. She was so beautiful. Half-Vietnamese.Super smart and smart ass/sassy. Black hair, brown black eyes. Her name was Ann, too.

What is it about Anns? Anyway, the memories came to this week after I dug out my old cds. Just thought I'd share.

Note: Never saw Fred after this party. Heard he went to Texas A&M for college. Go figure. He really was small.

My Creed Story

Back when I had dreams of being a fancy lady, I worked in a flowershop. Beautiful flowers, candles, and tapestries filled the shop. Everyday something new came in to fawn over. Sounds heavenly, right? Well, if I have learned anything from my nearly 25 years (shut up) on this earth I have learned this: the easier and cooler you think a job will be the more it will suck. Underpaid, overworked, resposible for training idiots to answer the phone (.....fifth ring people, answer the fucking phone!), fights among the family who owned the place, snotty rich bitch customers, no days off in February, May, or October through December. Yeah, lots of fucking fun. It was miserable. Whoever wrote "My Fair Lady" should be shot repeatedly with a sling shot full of hepatitis filled hypodermic needles until dead.

I have literally stood on my feet from 7:30 am to 1:30 am making corsages and bouquets, all while being the PHONE DESK MANAGER and still responsible for ANSWERING THE PHONE! Not to mention lighting Christmas trees until tree sap has eaten through the skin on my knuckles, wrapped rusty wire in floral tape until my hands bled, and the bows..... I have made more fucking bows in my life than I care to remember. I can make bows in my fucking sleep. Seriously, if I were in a coma you could still put a streamer of ribbon in my hands and get the bow of your dreams. I have been cursed at, yelled at, hung up on, cried to, and had things thrown at me. I have busted my ass while other co-workers were upstairs giving/getting blow jobs and smoking weed. Three and a half years. Three and a half years, people! Why put up with this crap? Because of the co-workers of course! I had some fucking awesome co-workers.

Which leads me to the story of who is probaly my most favorite co-worker of all time. Brent. Brent was the shit. Part sweetheart, part batshit insane, Brent was the single reason I clocked in some days. Brent was the blackest sheep you could get from a really, really rich white family in town. His family owned land everywhere, had a very sucessful contracting business, bank, and countless other sources of great wealth. Brent was a delivery driver. He rode a bike to work. He had no car.

Let me repeat the last part, he was a delivery driver. He had no car.

He had a car the first week he worked with us. In the middle of the summer, with the doors closed and the windows up, he cleaned the dash with ammonia and bleach. He damn near killed himself in the parking lot. He ate raw garlic because he read garlic was good for your heart. He ate salmon and black beans straight out of the can, three meals a day, for five months. He rarely bathed, wore no deodorant (because that stuff causes cancer) and never, ever washed his hair. He lived in motel with the prostitues. He once gave me a fax machine. He made homemade foam inserts for shoes and tried to sell them to the ladies at work because he was concerned about them standing on their feet all day. He posted a pair on the bulletin board at work and I serioulsy think some of his pubic hair was in it. There was hair all tangled in the foam. He then FED EX'D a pair to our bosses house. He FED EX'd something to the house of a man he saw in person every single day of the week. Fed Ex'd.

Man, he thought I hung the moon. Seriously, he had the major hots for me. Thought I was gorgeous. Said I had the face of an angel. The face of an angel.

Did I mention that I was about six months pregnant when I worked with him? Didn't think so.

Anyway, in comes Brent one nice shiny day. Up to the phone desk he trots and proceeds to tell me he needs a favor. He has an order to place. See, Brent is taking his vacation and is headed to North Carolina. For a Creed concert. He is flying, bought a plane ticket specifically for the purpose of, seeing Creed in concert. Batshit insane? Yes. Does it get better? Hell, yes. He has an order to place, remember? God, are you people even reading this shit?

Brent: I want to send a gourmet basket to North Carolina.

Me: Um...O.....K...

Brent: I want to some Blue corn chips, hummus, soy chip, corn nuts, Jones soda, gruyere' cheese, buffalo jerky ....

(He proceeds to tell me the name brands and sizes he wants to send.)

Me: Um...O...K.

Brent: You know, nice healthy organic stuff. I wanna spend about a hundred bucks. Make it really nice.

Me: $100.00? Who the hell is this for?

(Remember, he is a delivery driver and lives in a motel. With prostitutes and shit. $100.00.)

Brent: Scott Stapp. You know, from Creed? The lead singer.

Me: (guess my response, anyone?)

Silence ensues as I proceed to give what may very well be the stupidest look I have ever given another human being. I experience what is know as the bottle neck effect. Too many things flood to my mind, insults, laughter, more insults. Nothing will come out. My mind in numb and overloaded. System failure, I repeat, system failure.

(After significant pause......)

Me: Um...O....K... What do you want on the card message?

Brent: Oh, I wrote my own. Actually, it's a letter.

(Long pause......)

Me: Um....O...K....and just how am I supposed to get that put on the basket?

Brent: Oh, I'm gonna bring it with me. I'll go by the flowershop and attach it myself.

(Mind you, I have to call this order in to complete strangers, in North Carolina and tell them it is for Scott Stapp of Creed, tell them the kooky shit that this guy wants, AND tell them that the kooky fucker is coming to their shop to bring in a handwritten letter to attach. And yes, we do in fact employ this guy and pay him money to deliver flowers for us.)


Me: Um...dude? Why did you write a letter to Scott Stapp?

Brent: Well, I think we may be related. See, I'm part native american and he's part native american. I think we may be from the same tribe.

(I am in a complete state of stupification. I may have wet myself.)

Me: Um.......

Brent: Hey, ask the flowershop if I can come by the next day. I want to get the invoice from them with his SIGNATURE on it. I want his autograph.

I can not make this shit up, people. A week later he came back from vacation.

Brent: Hey, guess what. Me and my brother went back stage and met the band. Hey, he never got my basket with the letter. What do you think happened?

Me: I think maybe a roadie signed for it and ate it. Dude, that sucks.

Brent: Nah, it's cool. I got his autograph anyway.

Bloody Footprints

One night a man had a dream, maybe a flashback, he wasn't sure. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. As he stepped over dirty hypodermic needles in the sand (must have been in Jersey), across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he
noticed two streaks of bloody footprints in the sand:
One belonging to him, and the other to the Lord.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he
looked back at the bloody footprints in the sand.

He noticed that many times along the path of his life
there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed
that it happened at the very lowest and saddest
times in his life. Times when he was shooting up, stealing money from churches, addicted to meth, in prison, beating his wife, getting shot by cops, burned with a crack pipe, tasered, homeless, hungry, out of work, turning tricks, hanging out with hookers, and partially blind.

This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it. "Lord, My mamma said that once I decided to follow you, You'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints and they are bloody. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."

The Lord replied,
"Followed me? You 're a dick. What the hell have you been smoking? My son, you are an asshole. I stabbed you in the leg with a soldering iron. "

Ruby's Top Ten Guide to Making the Most out of your job

1) Set off the fire alarm. You will have to evacuate the building. Since you will have to leave the building, you might as well take this time to go get a drink.

2) If you answer the phone and can immediately tell that the person on the other line is an idiot, subtly and casually hang up on them and go to the bathroom. Since there are rarely phones in the bathroom, this means someone else will have to answer that line and deal with them when they call back. Don't worry. They will explain to the person that they must have been accidentally disconnected and will apologize on your behalf.

3) If someone pisses you off at work remember: Anger entitles you to free office supplies.

4) Having an extremely large booger is a medical condition. You may call in sick for this. You may also call in sick for dandruff, foot fungus, and genital warts. These are all legitimate medical conditions.

5) Be Jewish. I can not stress this enough. Being Jewish adds 16 more religious holidays to the mix. Mexican Jews can add Cinco de Mayo as well. You will most likely already be off for New Years, July 4th, Memorial Day, Good Friday, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. That is a full month of holidays.

6) Start smoking. Smokers get more breaks. These breaks are on the company dime.

7) Unless you work in a morgue, looking presentable is a job requirement. Petty cash is your friend. Spend it getting your nails done.

8) Don't waste energy working harder, work smarter. Making your co-workers look bad makes you look better. Look at your co-workers desk. That's a lot of paper. There must be something there that needs to be shredded.

9) Stop wasting your hard earned money going out to lunch. There is plenty of food in the refrigerator and it won't cost you a dime.

10) When updating your resume, learn the difference between "On the job training" and "Hands on training." The key is in the wording. On the job training means you've seen it done before. Hands on training means you've actually done the job. Do not confuse the two. Let us use these in a sentence to clarify the difference. For example: I experienced "on the job" training as a gourmet chef. I have "hands on training" adding food coloring to ground meat to make it look fresher so we can sell it two weeks after its expiration date. Now, which one would you hire to cater your next company Christmas party?

Walmart Police

My child is now scarred for life.

A few weeks ago I took Delilah to the Dollar Tree. For those of you who don't have one around, it's a store that sells crap. Everything is a dollar. That kinda thing. I only went to get some cheap candy for some halloween treat bags I am making for her class. I know, I know. What a good mommy.

Well, when we got outside to the car I saw she had some big green glass pebbles in her hand. She loves rocks. A couple of weeks ago I thought the belt was going out in the washing machine. Nope, just a pocket full of gravel from the playground. Anyway, I asked her where she got them. She looked down at the ground and mumbled "from the store." They were the kinda glass pebble things you put in a fish bowl or something. I remembered seeing a broken open bag scattered all over the floor. She didn't realize that it was merchandise. Hell, to a kid it probaly just looked like trash. So, I didn't bring her back into the store to apologize. I really don't think she completely understood what she did was wrong. I couldn't have really paid for four glass pebbles anyway. I've worked in retail before, we would have thrown this crap away. I scolded the hell of her though. I explained how stealing was very wrong and people that steal go to jail and don't see their mommy or daddy or mama kitty again. It was right about the mama kitty part that she cried. Not mama kitty!!!

She was quiet the whole ride home (because I told her not to even breathe heavy) and I made her come home and tell her daddy what she did. First offense, all was easily forgiven and forgotten.

So, this weekend I took her on some errands with me. Saturday we went to Hobby Lobby and Target to get some supplies to make a gift basket for bosses day. We went to the kitchen gadget aisle where she pointed out the "Cheese Scratchers."

"The what?" I asked.

"It's a cheese scratcher, mommy. You scratch in on the cheese and make the cheese little."

I almost wet myself in Target.

She was very good. When we got into the car to go home she asked me if she had been good. "Yes," I replied, "you were a very good girl."

"Mommy, I didn't stole nothing."

All was good. The next day, we went to Walmart (shut up, it's cheap) for some medicine. The aisle was very crowded and out of the corner of my eye I saw her move the empty buggy in front of us out of the way. The man that was using the buggy looked around and played silly with her.

"Now, dang it! Where did that buggy go? It was right here." He looked down at her. "Did you take my buggy?"

She was silent. He was being very friendly and silly but she was silent. I didn't think anything of it. So, I played along.

"Delilah Jade! Did you steal that man's buggy?" I gasped. "The Walmart police and gonna come and take you to Walmart jail!"

I was joking with her.

She was devastated. HUGE crocodile tears and sobbing ensued. I apologized profusely. I told her I was only joking.

Come was funny, right?

Worst mommy ever.

The Big Wheel

The Big Wheel

She awoke to the sound of grunting and slicing. Gingerly, she touched her left temple. It was warm and sticky and wet. Her long hair felt dirty and damp. Her vision was blurred. She smelled it again. She'd know that smell anywhere. It was that fucking cheese.
She'd only had the job working for her brother for six days. He is her foster brother. She is an orphan, they both are. Without each other they are completely alone. In a system that constantly tears things apart; they have never been apart for more than a month at a time since they were six. They know they are the lucky ones. They aren't even really related, but the bond between them is unbreakable. They are inseparable, co-dependant, joined at the hip, symbiotic. They are the only constant in each other's lives. The only family they have is each other.
She saw him for the first time the day after Christmas. The mall was flooded with people shopping for the same old crap nobody needed or wanted two days before. But, it was on sale now. Now, everything was appealing. Well, except the cheese. Nobody was looking at the cheese. She had stood in the storefront, bored out of her mind for five hours straight without anyone coming in. Even free samples of baby Swiss couldn't detract from the sales everywhere. Who needs cheese when you can get pleather pants for 50% off? Gouda can't hold a candle to Santa sweaters when they are buy one get one free. Cheese, well, cheese is cheese. It doesn't really go on sale.

She was laying on her back, naked in the dark. The floor around her was smooth and cold. She was hurt. She could not remember how she got there. She recognized the scent, but couldn't put a name to it. Her head was throbbing. She could barely remember her own name. The odor was so strong; she twisted onto her left side and threw up. Oh, yeah, that helped.

She was behind the counter reading when he came in. She didn't even hear the door open. She was lost in the same James Ellroy novel, which she had read a hundred times before. When she looked up he was staring at her. She knew that stare. She had been in the system; you saw a lot of those stares in the system. Empty as a grave.

He asked for a wheel of Pecorino Romano. A large one. A local catering company had wiped them out the week before to cater a charity dinner for the mayor's office. They did one every year. $1000.00 a plate. The money was supposed to go into to a fund set up to send foster kids to college. She'd been in and out of foster care for 17 years and hadn't met a soul who it had benefited from that fund.

She told him the largest they could order was a 65 one and would cost him around $600.00. He paid cash up front and said he would be back in a two weeks for it. The entire encounter lasted less than ten minutes. She was glad he was gone. Because she knew that stare. She slid the display of knives on the counter a little closer.

When she was a kid, she always slept with a knife. She got her first one when she was about seven. She stole it from a foster mother's kitchen. She didn't find a use for it until she was ten. An older boy of sixteen had tried to slip into her bed. She stabbed him in the thigh. Femoral artery. He wasn't around to bother her after that. She was lucky. They just called it self-defense and they took her knife away. She had her knives taken away a lot over the years. She always managed to find another and every time they were taken away, she got better at hiding the next one.

It was a month before he came to pick up the cheese. It was the beginning of February and it was colder than she could ever remember it being in this part of the country. He came in and waited quietly while she was ringing up two elderly women. She hated old customers. They always had to sample everything three times, for free, and rarely bought a damn thing. The few that bought anything made you bust your ass for a five-dollar sale. And they almost always had to write you a fucking check. Her brother told her to be more patient with them because they were probably just old and lonely. He said she would be old someday and she would want someone to show her some kindness. She told her brother that when she was old she wouldn't be a cunt. He just shook his head. He was always the nice one. It was what she loved best about him. Despite their upbringing, he was compassionate.

She strained to sit up. Her head was throbbing and her nose had started to run. It was freezing in the room. She doubted that even clothing would have helped much. She could hear his breathing, but could barely see him. The windows appeared to be covered with a thick cheesecloth or muslin. The air was thick and heavy with the scent of the vomit and the cheese. It was making her queasy again. She tried to focus on her surroundings. Something was jutting out of the wall at her. It looked like an arm. As she looked closer she saw were multiple carvings on the walls. Human arms, legs, torsos and breasts were in various poses and contortions. They were all finely detailed, the work of a master craftsman. They appeared to be of marble or stone and they looked so smooth that she thought that they must have been lovingly polished for hours on end.

He wanted to wait for her, but she told him to go home without her. She had detention and with Sister Mary Theresa, she would probably be there twice as long as usual. She hated the nuns and they hated her. They even told her so. She didn't give a damn. It was worth all the detention they could throw at her just to see the look on Sister Mary Theresa's face when she called her a bitch. She would take a thousand detentions for that and not bat an eye. The old bat looked like someone had punched her in the balls. Yeah, she was one manly looking servant of God. She had more facial hair than Father Murphy. No amount of money in the world could convice her that the woman wasn't hiding a hairy nutsack under that habit.

As soon as the nuns let her out, she took off like a bat out of hell. She cut through the same path she always did, behind the school and through woods where the lumberyard used to be. Old man Baker lived by the abandoned yard and was always out front as they passed, with a waving to the kids. The older kids had warned to stay clear of him. That he liked kids. Her brother was too naïve to know what that meant, but she always made sure they ran past the house instead of walking. Racing by this time, she noticed that he wasn't out front. She stopped dead in her tracks. He was always out front. Always.

She knew something wasn't right so she stepped around to the side of the porch. It was later than she was usually out. Perhaps he was already inside for the evening. She crept up slowly and approached the side window to peek in. Her blood ran cold. She knew her brother's cry when she heard it. He was smaller than the other kids and an easy target. She was always in a fight with some dumb punk that had called him a fat ass or a fag or had stolen his homework. She approached the window with trepidation. He was lying face down on a dirty bedspread. Mr. Baker was standing by the bed, getting dressed. She reached into the back of her underpants. This was the second time she used a knife. There was no one around to take it from her this time.
He came back two weeks later and ordered another wheel. He paid cash, upfront again. $600.00. She had taken the day off. Her brother said he asked for her by name. Said he would be back in two weeks.

She scooted over to the wall to get a closer look at the marble foot. The craftsmanship was superb. It was perfectly formed, a woman's foot, just about the same size as her own. It was porcelain white, pure and smooth. She could hear the grunting and slicing sounds again, but could not see his face. She remained silent, did not so much as ask why she was there. She doubted he would have answered anyway. She went back to staring at the wall.
It was a month to the day when he returned for the wheel of Romano, the middle of March. He waited patiently as she opened the crate and pulled back the excelsior that padded the cheese. She stepped aside for him to inspect it and asked if everything was ok with it. As he stared into her eyes, she felt a chill. He said it was exactly what he was looking for.

When she was fifteen she did a breif stint in juvie for breaking a guy's leg with a pipe wrench. The guy had caught her brother making out with his boyfriend and had gotten a couple of his friends to help him beat the crap out of them. It wasn't that bad, really. She was tough enough to hold her own against the girls in there and the guards with the groping hands. The first week in, she did two weeks in solitary for breaking a guard's nose. That was before they caught him in the cell of another inmate, who was a twelve year old girl. After that, no one bothered her much. She was released after serving one month of a six month sentence, just to keep her quiet. She certainly knew how to keep quiet.
Her brother was off that day. He and business partner had planned a trip to the coast of Maine. They were celebrating the one year anniversary of having the store open. It had been her brother's dream as a little kid to have a swanky wine and cheese shop. That's probaly part of what contributed to so many of the ass beatings he got over the years from the other guys.

It was late and when she closed up shop. She detected a faint odor right behind her a hair before she felt the blow. One blow to the head and the lights went out around her.

The longer she was there the easier it became to see. Her eyes begin to focus on what she was seeing. Soft fuzzy shaped sharpened. Colors brightened as details began to reveal themselves. The grunting and the slicing had stopped. She pulled herself up to her feet and leaned against the wall. A new odor was wafting into the room. It was some kind of chemical, sharp and strong. She could taste it in the back of her throat. As she gagged and stumbled forward, her hand landed on the woman's foot and a piece broke off. A ragged red toenail poked through.

He watched as she recoiled in horror. He knew from experience that he had a very limited window of opportunity. She was in shock now, but before long her defense mechanisms would kick in making it harder for him to subdue her. He watched her hold her head in her hands and slip weakly back down to the floor.

She watched as he stirred the contents of the bucket. She glanced at the foot and saw that the polish was chipped. The clear lacquer that had encased the foot was now covered in cracks. The scent of decay clogged her nose, making it hard to breath. She was familiar with that smell, too.

She held her hands to her head and rubbed the area just above the base of her skull. Her head throbbed where he had struck he temple, but the back of her head felt just fine.She rocked as she tried to collect her thoughts

The Romano was ground into a fine powder, like pulverized marble or sand. The glaze was finally mixed and was clear as glass. It was ready to pour over the last piece. He just had one more slice to make.

She rubbed the back of head as she tried to gather her thoughts. She had to think fast and react faster. She would have felt much more at ease with a knife in her hand.

He picked up his blade and slowly stood up. She hadn't made a single move forward or back. She was still in shock. She was rocking as she held her head in her hands. She would be an easy one, too. Just like the last one. He slowly put one foot in front of the other.

She kept her head pointed up to the ceiling and she moved her hands across the base of her skull. Three steps, two steps, one step closer....


He thrust his knife at her about a half of a second after she lunged. The strap from beneath her long black hair fell to the floor. His eyes widened in shock as she plunged the two inch blade into his abdomen. Their eyes locked as the next thrust found its target. Directly into his jugular vein. His knife fell, clean as a whistle, onto the tile floor below.

She had always gotten better at hiding the next one.