Novel by Anne Hart.
You may wish to see the listing online of the title and cover of my paperback novel: Is Radical Liberalism or Extreme Conservatism a Character Disorder, Mental Disease, or Publicity Campaign?: When The One Universal We Have In Common-Imagination-Divides Us. A Novel of Intrigue, paperback by Anne Hart. Published April 19, 2004. 220 pages.
What this novel is about:
What can you tell me about myself, Dr. Lopez? Sara asked." You're doomed to remain idle. You're imprisoned in yourself in a state of nothingness, unless you start teaching what you know online." Anna Kow handed Sara a box of tissues as her tears rolled down into her collar. "Is there any reason for my existing?" Anna asked me. Sara looked at Anna, not at me. There was a pause of silence." I'm hiring you as my mentor even though you're a visual anthropologist and a journalist," Anna said in a throaty voice. "Do you mind?"
"I'll squeeze you into my girdle," Consuelo said. "Mentoring you won't work at this early stage. I'll put you down for one-on-one, starting this evening at seven in my office-without Sara." Consuelo jotted Anna's name and phone number in her appointment book. "How do you like being mother to the world?" Anna asked." Someone's already asked me that before, when I wrapped a young woman in a blanket and asked her to tell me what she felt like as she confessed her anger at her betrayer."
What happens when an extreme liberal meets an extreme conservative? Are they diagnosed with a mental 'disease' or a character disorder? Or is it all a publicity campaign? In a novel of intrigue, will the anthropologist return a tougher soldier than ever? Two females pit their wits in a game and adventure that takes them half way around the world. Intrigue, adventure, and, yes, with humor.
CH A P T E R 1
8:00 A.M. MONDAY
When the school yard bell rang, anthropologist, Consuelo Lopez was in disguise
with the facial bandages and wig, back in the spare wheel chair. She arrived early
at the junior high and saw “frustrated Ben” strewing his papers around the
school. This time she had her video camera wired inside a lunch box. From
behind the post, Consuelo taped him fumbling with his comic books, hate literature,
flyers, and other paraphernalia.
Bora Deville, the 30-year veteran clerical practice teacher, passed him trying to
post the hate flyers and free comic books. “I’ve seen you here before. You’re too
old to be on this campus.”
Ben whirled around. “You want to buy display advertising so the comics can
remain free to the kids? I don’t know any better way to teach literacy other than
with excitement. Don’t you agree, teacher?”
Ben startled her. “You’re in violation of the state education code. It prohibits
material that incites students to commit violent acts on school grounds.”
“What violent acts, teach? These kids learn to read stuff that interests them.
Ben gave a broken laugh and leaped over the fence. Consuelo taped the incident
and turned a copy over to Gamelan for her school project coming up when
the new semester began.
Consuelo also taped a close up of the pamphlets with comic caricatures,
phony stereotypes of Out of Many Diverse Peoples, One Governments with
giant noses represented by stereotyped caricatures of 19
th century Turkish Sultans,
Benin teakwood statues illustrated and re-drawn to look like apes. He left
stereotyped caricatures of the whole world by the drinking fountain. Another
copy would go to the groups monitoring hate literature and to the newspapers.
Consuelo read the literature as she taped:
“Everybody can wear their ethnic power tee shirts. Greek power, Armenian Power, Black power, Asian power, Kiss me I’m Swedish, Irish Blarney Lover. You name it power.
It goes unnoticed. You kids had better work for a white student club on campus,
because the next time you wear your tee shirt saying you’re proud of your
Scottish, German, Polish, Lithuanian, Irish, Norwegian, English, French or
northern European ancestry, you’ll be tossed out of school for ‘hailing’ grandchildren.
Ben had taped a poster to school’s drinking fountain that read, “We’ve never
lost the Renaissance.” Consuelo’s mind flashed back to the memory of her own
new immigrant parents.
Consuelo remembered now that she had once told Ben about her parent’s life
in Plata Del Mar, near Buenos Aires and the chain of clinics they founded as physicians
in Argentina. His only response was to send her a humorous, obnoxious, totally out of place, politically incorrect hate card that read: “I survived Auschwitz, but the food gave me gas.”
Consuelo was outraged at the association between Out of Many Diverse Peoples,
One Governments, and the sadistically cruel comment on the card.
“But I sent it to make you laugh,” he giggled. “Didn’t you get the punch line?”
Her facial expression answered. Several days after Ben sent her the card, she
showed the card to the same judge who had hired her as court-appointed forensic
psychologist to work with Ben. She complained it was beyond therapy.
“What he needs is a new family,” the judge told Consuelo that time.
He was questioned. “Move him beyond that stuff,” the judge encouraged
Consuelo, “Beyond therapy. Find out what makes him hate. It’s got to come
from inside. He must feel so bad about himself,” the judge reasoned. “You’re the
Consuelo thought how in the last year Ben continued to send Consuelo books
saying the holocaust never happened. Her rage and indignation was welling up
strong. Suddenly, Consuelo ‘s visualization vanished when Eve yanked her back
to the present.
Eve rushed over to Consuelo just as she tucked her camera back in the lunch
box. “I’ll catch the rat one of these days,” she panted.
“They always say their numbers are larger than they really are.”
“I’d be scared,” Eve said. “Did you read how many right wingers and
neo-anarchists marched in Germany last week to get new Eastern European refugees
“They want us to panic.”
“Yeah,” Eve said, “Well, I read that three hundred of them nationwide belong
to the White Student Movement. They go from kindergarten through high
school the K-12 set. We’re in deep trouble.”
“We sure can’t low-ball it.”
“To quote Nabokov,” Eve said in a shrill voice, “They’ve got a hot bubble of
“You can sell anything to kids if you put enough sugar on it,” Consuelo mumbled
from behind her face bandages. “Neo-anarchism coated with music, rebellion,
hope, and exciting action…”
“Here’s the kicker,” Eve said. “Power finally replaced sex.”
Eve helped Consuelo turn her wheelchair toward the entrance. “Hey, you’ll be
late for clerical practice.”
None of the teachers noticed that Consuelo wasn’t fourteen years old. In science
class, Consuelo handed in a paper telling everyone how to turn a sow’s ear
into a silk purse. The teacher accepted it without question and promised me an
‘A’ for invention.
“Who says you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? Always question
authority, including your own. Think for yourself. If it isn’t broken, improve it.”
Consuelo told the teacher, speaking in her young girl’s falsetto voice.
“It turns out in 1921 a Boston chemist obtained a batch of female pigs’ ears
from a slaughterhouse. According to a clipping from “Dear Abby,” all you have
to do, Consuelo explained, was to reduce the ears to gelatin by cooking them
down and spinning the ears into thread using a machine that spins gelatin into
“Now you can take out your loom, crochet, or knitting needles and weave or
knit the thread into a purse. In fact, that Boston chemist wove two purses, and
one of the purses is still in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum
of American history. So much for science class.”
CH A P T E R 2
Miguel found no time to suppress a headache. He monitored phone calls
unblinkingly for relaxation. Groggily, he tested the line for voice quality, tuning
in on the Soviet Consulate building where the rumors went around the phone
company that after the break up of the former Soviet Union, the Russian Mafia
was conducting black market business between Los Angeles and Sacramento.
Nobody believed the rumors. Only Miguel bothered to fly up to Los Angeles
and visit the phone company up there, in the meantime wiretapping the consulate
when he could arrange a repair call there. Every three or four months, Sacramento
crafts persons were sent up to Los Angeles or Sacramento for training or to
help out during times of heavy workload, such as during weekends and some holidays.
He wire tapped the Consulate so all its phone lines went directly into the
phone company’s switching office. There Miguel recorded the calls on a small
tape recorder he locked inside his top desk drawer. Miguel made sure the wiretapping
always occurred directly from the phone company switching office.
Bob whistled. “Did I ever teach you how to wiretap any phone from this
office?” His green eyes glistened like tide pools, reflecting the luminescent phone
numbers dying down his screen.
“Tell me something I don’t know, for once.” Miguel laughed out of one side
of his lips. “Anyone working in the switching office can wiretap every line from
here.” A flood of data coruscated across his monitor.
Miguel tuned into Dr. Lopez’s radio talk show during break time. Then he
went back to monitoring more voices. As he listened in on a midnight call coming
out of the Russian Consulate, a man’s voice caught his attention.
“You didn’t finish with the hound of the bitch box.”
“She’ll be at the Consulate party.” The second male voice had a thick accent.
“How will I get in?”
“It’s a private party for some ambassador from one of those Latin American
countries and his Austrian whore. You’ll receive an invitation in the mail.”
The second voice broke out in fiendish laughter. “Dr. Lopez don’t know two
million is on the way to her, yet. See to it she never finds out.”
Miguel busied himself tracing the phone call to a particular office in the Consulate.
He wrote down a code number and kept recording the conversation.
At the end of his shift, Miguel went home as usual. He expected the relentless
insomnia that plagued him since the age of twelve.
Miguel remembered the first morning of the seventh grade when his head
shattered the windshield. The family car ran into a drunken school bus driver
making a kamikaze run at seven in the morning.
Instead of insomnia, drowsiness and double vision shoved him down a deep
hole. Miguel remembered someone rammed a funnel in his mouth and forced
him to swallow a drug to put him out.
He convulsed into a troubled sleep that stimulated the right hemisphere of his
brain. Loud auditory hallucinations commanded him from somewhere just in
front and above his face. He tossed about to dodge the voices, but there was no
where to hide.
At eleven in the morning, his clock radio alarm buzzed loudly, shocking him
out of a deep, drugged sleep. The pain in his head throbbed like a gargoyle’s
wings in hardening cement.
Miguel turned over as a wave of weakness hit him. He felt a stinging sensation
in his forearm and instinctively rubbed it. As he looked down, it bled with puncture
Someone had broken in here last night, he thought. He dialed Bob.
“Someone injected me with something to make sure I was out until that alarm
Bob sighed heavily into the receiver. “Maybe you dreamed.”
“No, I’m telling you, someone’s on to me since I went out there last night.”
“You went where last night?”
“Nevermind, Bob. It’s just that someone hit me and left me lying in the street
for an hour.”
“Did some security guard press charges?” Bob whined. “Geez, why do you
always look for trouble? What’s the matter, is your job getting too routine?”
Miguel looked around his room. “You never asked whether I’m hurt. Don’t
answer. I’ll see you at midnight.” He hung up on Bob.
Bob’s wife was listening on the extension. “More trouble?”
“What a jerk!” Bob said to his wife. “This guy I sit next to at work…he’s
always sticking his nose into other people’s business.”
“That’s because he’s single, right?”
“No,” Bob replied. “It’s because management passed him over for a promotion
to supervisor. Instead they promoted some dumb broad from the clerical
“So? Without the union behind management, she’ll be the first to be fired as
surplus when the lay-offs start. They need you, honey. You’re skilled craft.”
“Not any longer, tootsa. Craft’s surplus now that computers went fiber optic.”
Bob’s wife flipped another apricot pancake onto her plate. Bob fell silent.
Electronic noises took over as he slumped in front of the television and drifted
into an elevated, altered state with the latest tabloid morning talk show.
Miguel dragged himself out of bed and drowsily stumbled into the shower. He
pulled the curtain aside and was about to turn on the hot water when he looked
down into the stall.
Curled up in a fetal position was the nude body of the Russian doctor, Rosa,
he met briefly last night. Miguel jumped back at first. Then he bent down to
She was cold and deader than piles strangled by a rubber band, he thought.
There were two empty champagne glasses turned over and stuck onto her small,
round breasts. A corked bottle of champagne floated on the water which just covered
her body. A box of bubble bath was half-empty. The bubbles still floated on
the surface of the cold water.
Miguel put his hand into the water and touched her shoulder. It was cold as
rigor mortis. He rushed to his phone and called the police.
Detective Peter White was the first to enter Miguel’s apartment, followed by
two officers. Then the coroner came, and then the photographer.
“Someone strangled her sometime during the night. The coroner says between
two and four in the morning.” White sneered as he sat next to Miguel’s on the
narrow bed. “Maybe you have a multiple personality that’s hiding this morning?”
“I work the midnight shift,” Miguel stammered.
“Well check it out.”
Miguel leaned over the body as White held him by the arm.
For a moment he studied her throat. The scar isn’t there, Miguel thought. He
was about to touch her neck when White pulled him back.
The scar on Rosa’s throat flashed briefly in his mind. It was the first detail he
noticed, almost as if she wanted him to see a signal to distinguish her.
“Call the F.B.I.” Miguel demanded.
White circled him. “Someone strangled her with this telephone cable.”
He whipped a cord of telephone wire around Miguel’s neck. “Does that sound
Miguel stared him down. “Don’t look at me.”
“You’re our suspect.”
“The first woman to enter my new apartment leaves in a plastic bag. How’s
that for housewarming?” He poked around in the bathroom.
“Don’t go in there,” White shouted.
Miguel noticed from a corner of his eye that a small change purse protruded
from behind his toilet bowl. He put his foot over the purse and kicked it out of
sight behind the toilet.
“Can I use the toilet for a moment?”
“Go take your leak,” White coughed.
Miguel scooped up the tiny purse and wedged it into the hollow cardboard
toilet paper roll. White called out from outside the open bathroom door where he
stood with his back toward Miguel for a moment of privacy. “Odd, isn’t it?”
“That you’d go to all the trouble of having a tub installed inside a shower
“That’s the landlord’s business. I just rent a bachelor studio.” Miguel called
“Don’t bother flushing. We have to check the tank for evidence.”
“Who was she?” Miguel shouted.
“Don’t you know?” White taunted.
“How’d she get into my tub? All I know is I came here after work, and passed
“Didn’t you use the bathroom last night?”
“I didn’t open the shower curtain.”
White walked around Miguel’s apartment. He snooped in the drawers. “How
can you stand living in such a small bachelor pad?”
Miguel walked out and answered a knock on his door. The coroner came in,
squeezed past Miguel, and took a sample of water from the tub. Miguel looked at
the flask as the coroner bagged it.
White walked into the bathroom. The three men pushed past one another
until White grabbed Miguel by the shoulders and held him briefly over the tub.
The coroner pulled the plug. They watched as the water gurgled down the drain.
At the bottom a yard of telephone cable snaked back and forth. It had a telephone
jack at one end.
“Looks like we might have found the murder weapon,” White said to the coroner.
He put the length of cable in a plastic bag.
Miguel looked at it closely. “That’s the special cable we installed in the foreign
consulates on their request.”
“We’ll get back to you about the consulates. Don’t take any sudden trips.”
The coroner gave him an empty plastic bag. “Don’t flush your toilet until I
“And what am I supposed to do with this?”
White shoved past Miguel forcefully. As Miguel bent over the toilet to give
White space to reach the bathroom door, the purse dropped from his shirt pocket
into the toilet. He started to retrieve it when his elbow accidentally hit the flush
The tiny purse swirled and went down the drain. Miguel frowned with the
most awful look of disappointment.
The coroner spun around in the small bathroom and yammered. “You actually
flushed that toilet!” He squinted at White who stood in the bathroom doorway
brushing the jamb for fingerprints.
“I’m sorry. This room’s like a closet,” Miguel stammered.
Miguel settled into a chair next to the bed. His head hung down, and he
mumbled under his breath. The floor rippled with stripes of shadow. He stared
blankly, held there by the weight of his fear.
White opened the drapes, staring outside for a moment at the bright sunshine
of a hot morning. The drapes were navy blue and darkened the room again as he
finally closed them.
The ceiling shattered into motion by a fan that appeared to arch and stretch.
White leaned forward. Miguel wrenched away from White, who stepped closer
and held him, pulling him to his feet.
Miguel wrenched away as if stung in the forehead by a bullet. He noticed how
White’s head made unconscious contact with the shoulders of the coroner and
the fingerprint officer as they filed by his coffin-like apartment.
He sensed his own retreat to animal grace after the long betrayal. Miguel kept
silent and motionless until the fingerprint man took his prints on a piece of tape
to match it with what he might find on the shower stall or tub.
White handed him a test tube. “Give me a semen sample.”
The fingerprint men pulled the sheet off Miguel’s bed and dropped it into a
plastic bag. White pointed to the bathroom.
“We’ll compare what’s on the bed sheet to what’s inside the corpse. Then we’ll
do a DNA match on you.”
White put his hand on Miguel’s shoulder, drawing over him like a blanket.
Miguel sneered, crouched down like an animal, and screamed. “The thrill of
White laughed, looked askance at the coroner, and repeated. “Come downtown
with me to do a blood test. Stay in town. You’re still our only suspect.”
“Fish and disinfectant, the air smells of fish and disinfectant,” the coroner
complained as he hurried through the door.
“How do I appear to you?” Miguel asked with impatience.
White opened the heavy drapes again and looked up. “You know what I say to
every suspect?” He took a little white business card out of his pocket and handed
it to Miguel.
“The sun is heavy as a magnet to which all the souls have stuck.”
“Okay. I needed to know whether you’re learning disabled or illiterate. Believe
me, it’s important.”
“Don’t get funny with me,” Miguel blurted. “I bet all the dyslectics are suspects.
I hope they sue you.”
“I’m dyslectic,” White said. “I learned to read in community college, and it
took me fourteen years. So what does that make me, a killer or a cop? The prisons
are filled with impulsive people who can’t read.”
“What shall I say?” Miguel turned his back on White. “Can I trust you with
my life to find out who set me up? Can a dyslectic detective fight a corrupt legal
system? Or am I alone with a demon?”
“So now I’m incompetent?”
“Maybe too competent and corrupt. Who paid you to set me up?” Miguel
confronted White. “Cops with a problem overcompensate. I listen to the Dr.
Consuelo show, so I’m not crazy.”
White pulled back the drapes and saw writing on his window. “Did you scrawl
this stuff?” White sniffed at the writing.
“What do you mean?” Miguel went to the window.
“I never saw that graffiti before.”
The coroner came over and scraped a sample. Then the fingerprint man
dusted the window.
“Lipstick,” the coroner said, feeling the waxy, red material. “It’s fresh.”
Miguel interrupted them. “That stuff melted from the heat of the sun. Maybe
it was there when I moved in the apartment five years ago.”
“No,” the fingerprint man said. “It’s fresh. I’ll test it to make sure.” He put
scrapings into a plastic bag. “When the forensic lab report comes back, we’ll
know for sure.”
“Do you want to tell us something?” White shot him a hard squint. A wet,
hacking cough exploded point blank in Miguel’s face.
Miguel barely breathed as he hurried past the coroner who dialed a phone
number. He nodded to White. “I’m a licensed private investigator.” Miguel
moved without a sound. “I’ve got to make a stop at work.”
“Do you have any clients?”
“Doctor Consuelo Lopez."