Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 373

The

Exchang
e

By: Eugene D.
Isaak

Isaak/The Exchange

Acknowledgements
For Clem and Brian.
To Patricia, without whom, this would not have been possible.
To Ana, without whom, this would not have been necessary.
To Illeanna Collazo, Don Sweeney, Annie McCaffery, Dell Smith, Gary Madison, Jack
Young, Marilyn West, Bud Wightman, Dave Bell, Margaret Melaragni, and Ralph
Bacon, without whose collaboration, this would not have been realized.
2014
I must be invisible
No one knows me
I have crawled down dead end streets
On my hands and knees.
I was born with a raging thirst,
Hunger to be free
But Ive learned through the years
Dont encourage me.
When I walk, stay behind
Dont get close to me
Cause its sure
To end in tears
You just let me be.
Some will say that Im no good
Maybe I agree.
Take a look and walk away
Thats all right with me.
Cause Im a lonely stranger here
Will be on my day.
I dont know
Whats going on.
Ill be on my way.
Yes, I will.
Lonely Stranger, by Eric Clapton

Lately I been running on faith.


What else can a poor boy do?
But my world would be right . . ..
Love comes over me.
Lately I been talking in my sleep.
Cant imagine what Id have to say.
Cept my world would be right . . ..
Love comes back away.
Ive always been
One to take each and every day.
Seems like by now
Id find a love who would care,
Care just for me.
And we know it on faith,
All of our dreams would come true,
And our world would be right . . ..
Love comes over me and you.
Love comes over you
And all of our dreams would come true.
Running on Faith by Eric Clapton

Isaak/The Exchange

Chapter 1.
"Affirmed, Jeffrey Huffnagle intoned in what he no doubt thought of as his most
judicial voice. "GRRR! RRRUUUUFFFF, RRRRRUUUFFFFF!" The barks erupted from
Huffnagles mouth suddenly, inexplicably. "FUCKAFUCKAFUCKA!" His neurological
disorder visited him at times of great excitement. Huffnagle actually enjoyed Tourettes;
it was like having a mischievous parrot perched inside of his head. "Well, well, well;
Willy Fenton got fucked. GRRRRR!"
The wrench slipped off the nut; the second knuckle of Willy Fentons middle
finger on his right hand began to drip bright red blood onto the back of the suspended
ceiling tile just above Camp Administrator Huffnagle's immaculate desk. The adjustable
wrench flying into the side of the gleaming air duct sounded like a timpani. The
bleeding digit imparted a salty, coppery flavor to Willy's mouth as his heart and hopes
plunged into the darkest of depressions.
Willy retrieved the fourteen-inch Crescent wrench and visualized himself
pummeling Huff's skull into bright, colorful pulp. It would be so easy; he could be long
gone before anyone discovered he was missing. Crouched six feet above Huffnagle's
head in the crawl space above the suspended ceiling, supposedly adjusting the heat

Isaak/The Exchange

pump in anticipation of the coming air-conditioning season, he could hear Huff


laughing as he processed the decision.
"Kerthump." May 6. Huffnagle, a GS-30 career bureaucrat date-stamped the
upper left-hand corner of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion captioned: "United
States of America v. William E. Fenton," placed the one-page document in the very
center of his large mahogany desk and began to read aloud in his robotic monotone the
dry legalese which identified the paper as the one which signified Willy's fate for the
next five years.
Willy sighed, took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and whispered his mantra over
and over. Soon, he was back in his own space inside his head, focused, clear. He had
worked on the plan for six months. Scheming and dreaming. Selling the idea first to
himself and then to the corrupt former congressman who actually ran the prison. Now
that the farcical legal process had finally run its inevitable course, the time for dreaming
about freedom was over. Now it was time to act.

Isaak/The Exchange

Chapter 2.
Piss. The smell hit him like an olfactory sledgehammer. Chads incipient
migraine blossomed to a full-blown brain-slammer, replete with stomach side effects.
His teeth swam with bilious saliva; his peripheral vision splashed with hallucinations of
colorful starbursts.
"Chadwick R. Lewis, III Esquire." The gold leaf sign on the battered door mocked
his suffering and brought to mind a bitter irony. His grammar school nickname had
been cruel; the kids had called him the Turd, pronounced "da toid." Now that his
doorway had become a pissoir, his christening was complete.
Chad searched in vain for an undefiled space to rest his briefcase, his computer
case, and his large coffee while he unlocked the door to his office. Masses of people
hurried past him, erupting from the subway escalator and striding purposefully through
the melting slush toward Bostons Financial District. He transferred all of his burdens
to his left hand and fumbled in his pockets for his keys. He bent over the reeking
puddle, trying to turn the key without stepping into the offal. Just as the key turned and
the door opened, the Starbucks bag melted and the eighteen ounces of one hundred
ninety degree liquid exploded onto his three hundred dollar wingtips and soaked his two
thousand dollar Armani silk and wool summer suit pants. "Fuck fuck fuck!" Chad

Isaak/The Exchange

chanted in unknowing unison with Jeffrey Huffnagle, nine hundred and fifty miles
away.
He looked down at a sodden envelope steaming with brown Kenya Vienna Roast.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals; the Willy Fenton appeal. Chads head began to throb
like a pile driver. The envelope was anorectically thin; it couldnt possibly contain a
reasoned discussion of his impassioned constitutional arguments or a detailed
dissertation on his brilliant evidentiary logic. He had submitted a ninety-five page Brief
and a three thousand page Appendix; the Courts response could only mean one thing.
Chad turned the envelope over and saw that the coffee had dissolved the flap
glue. He retrieved the stained document from the ruined envelope and focused on the
one word which stabbed his Monday morning vision. Affirmed.
With that one sanctimonious word, three aging white males in black robes had
consigned Willy Fenton to five more years in the Federal Prison Camp at Lewisburg,
Pennsylvania.
Chad trudged up the dark, dank stairway to his shabby office, hit the light switch
and slumped into his once-impressive worn leather desk chair. His hangover, his
headache, his nausea and his depression were excruciating.
What now? What could he do now? Chad had always had options available to
him. Usually a choice among various reasonable alternatives. He had always been told
to keep his options open and he had laid out his life that way. He always had a plan B, a
scheme, another alternative, even if (in the clear light of hindsight) they had mostly
been delusions. Chad sat in a cluttered, shabby, dirty office, located on the bad side of
the intersection of Bostons adult entertainment district called the Combat Zone and the
Financial District, holding his pounding head in his shaking hands, utterly and
profoundly clueless. How could he have lost? What could he find to say to Willy
Fenton?

Isaak/The Exchange

Chad lost all sense of time as he wallowed in his misery and pain. Eventually, he
was roused by the insistent keening of the phone. The look on his tear-stained face was
that of a subhuman confronting twentieth century technology for the first time.
"Collect call from a Willy Fenton," announced the operator. "Will you accept?"
"Yeah," he mumbled. "Sure. Hi, Willy. Que pasa?"
"You know perfectly well what's que fucking pasa, my incompetent so-called
friend. You blew it. I'm gonna to do the whole six ain't I?" Chad closed his eyes and
visualized Willy, slouched against the wall outside of the guard station, his grim face
radiating vicious energy. Willys voice was dense, throaty, and thick with menace.
"Now what, counselor? Any more magic tricks up your sleeve?"
"Uhhh.... I'm really sa-sa-sorry, Willy. I don't understand what happened, Chad
babbled into the phone. His brain refused to engage.
"Well, I understand what happened. You fuckin lost. Thats what happened.
Chad, get your ass down here. We gotta meet. We gotta plan our next move. How long
it take you to get here?"
"Willy, I don't know what good that'll do. I have to think; I need to do some more
research."
"Look, counselor, I'll do the thinking this round. Research? You figure that you
missed the one case that woulda changed their minds? Just get your ass down here,
soonest. I mean it. Soonest. We gotta talk."
Chad tried to hold the phone so that it wasnt touching his head; the menace
emanating from the instrument was more than he could take. He would agree with
anything Willy said, just to get him off the phone.
"All right. Okay. I'll come. I'll be there by tomorrow afternoon. We'll go over yy-y-your o-o-o-options." Chad had developed an intermittent stutter. Tragically, for a
lawyer or poker player, he stuttered when he lied. It took bright people like Willy
Fenton no time to learn about the tic.

Isaak/The Exchange

"Chad, don't shit a shitter. I know that you don't think I got any options. Don't
strain your brain about it. Just get down here, okay?"
"Okay Willy. All right."
Chad checked his calendar. No court dates for a couple of weeks and no filing
deadlines for at least another month. Provided that the other side of the dozen or so
cases on his docket didnt file some motion or other. That, he couldnt predict. He
checked with his service; no calls needed to be returned. Another Monday and Chad
was alone with his thoughts, his practice, and his life. After sitting listlessly in his office
for the morning, Chad trudged down the stairs, locked the door and went back to the
comfortable confines of his old farmhouse.
One of the old lawyer jokes poked into his consciousness: Old lawyers dont die,
they just lose their appeal. He had a better one: Burned-out lawyers dont die, they
just go through the motions. That just about summed up his last two years. Just going
through the motions. He was adrift; it all seemed so boring and pointless after the
frenzy of activity that had preceded this phase of his so-called career.
Hed had a serious bout with cocaine, what Steven King called Columbian
marching powder. Hed almost been killed extricating himself from a Sicilian
organizations messy downsizing and reorganization. Chad had made a lot of money,
both licit and otherwise. But then hed lost his wife Betsy, his soul-mate and, worst of
all, his two daughters. When things were so hot for him that he honestly feared the bad
guys would use his family to get to him, Chad had agreed to the divorce settlement and
exchanged almost all of his licit and illicit ready cash for a waiver of alimony, and a deed
of his house into an irrevocable trust for his kids in satisfaction of his monetary childsupport obligations. Betsy said that she and Rob were going to go to the west coast with
the kids until things settled down. Shed promised to let him know where they were and
to come back as soon as it was safe. Two years later, and they were gone; she had never
called or written. Betsy had always been able to access the little trusting, naive place in

Isaak/The Exchange

his heart; hed never expected her to abuse her power. That last little place was now a
black hole; no amount of money, coke, sex, booze, psychotherapy, or Prozac -- no
twelve-step program, or meditation -- no amount of living could reduce its inexorable
gravitation.
To the outside world, he appeared to be successful. Chad lived on a beautiful old
farm north of Boston; hed spent much of his spare time in the last two years carefully
restoring the house, the grounds, and the outbuildings. Chad had lavished his money
and attention on every detail inside and out. All of the love and devotion he wanted to
give to Betsy and the girls, he now gave to the house and land.
His law practice had taken a hard turn away from general practice to several
esoteric specialties: white-collar crime, RICO, wire and bankruptcy fraud, wiretap and
informant law, government contract law, forfeiture, offshore banking law, and Swiss and
Netherlands Antilles bank secrecy proceedings. All of the esoterica needed to support
the infrastructure of the organized crime families Chad represented. Hed had an
opportunity to represent the new breed of young wise guys who had taken over the
thing, as it was called; but Chad had opted to keep his ties to the old guard retirees he
had gotten to know. At the pace they were dying or being sent to jail, hed be out of the
business entirely before too long. The practice was small; the cases were big cases that
moved at a snails pace. His role was almost that of an in-house counsel. Chad hired
outside help and monitored the progress for his clients who paid him ridiculous sums
when he sent them his one-line bills for services rendered.
Willys case had been a rare exception; hed done hands-on trial work for a friend
who wasnt connected. Chad should have known not to take it on, at least not in the
lethargic state he was in. Hed rationalized it by thinking it would be good for him to get
the juices flowing again. In retrospect it hadnt been so good for him and it certainly
had not been good for his client.

Isaak/The Exchange

10

As he sat in his study in the old farmhouse, the carefully-placed indirect lights
bathing the mossy expanse of his Japanese garden gently washed through the French
doors and illuminated the last photo he had taken of his two daughters. Chad could
barely make out the reflection of his own face as he peered into the picture frame. If he
could rub the lamp now and be granted the traditional three wishes, would he ask to
have them back? Not if he was wise or honest with himself. He wasnt ready to have
them back in his life. He felt like a caterpillar preparing to wrap himself up in a
chrysalis.
Years ago, he had seen a tacky slogan on a memo pad which had obviously been a
management device to instill the correct corporate attitude toward customer service.
The motto was Yagottawanna. To the extent that he had a mantra, this was it.
Unfortunately, Chad didnt wanna. He couldnt make himself want anything enough
to get it or even to try to get it. If the genie came smoking out of the bottle, all hed ask
for was a rain-check. The closest thing he could come to wanting was a time-out; as in
Stop the world, Im outa here. Not a two-week vacation, not a month-long cruise, not
exactly a sabbatical; something where he didnt have to answer phone calls, pay bills, see
clients, or make any decisions. Chad thought if he could only get away from everything
for a good long time, he might be able to get his act together and then be ready for the
genie. He could get to where he wanted something again, wanted it enough to actually
try to get it.
Going to Lewisburg to visit Willy Fenton was exactly what he didnt want or need.
But hed do it. Chad had to face the music.

Isaak/The Exchange

11

Chapter 3.
The sunlight gleamed on Marblehead harbor, transforming the tiny waves into
diamonds. Twelve thousand feet overhead, Carolena Renatta Fenton pulled back on the
controls of her Mooney Aeromaster and executed a series of tight corkscrew loops.
Flying upside down, the plane leveled out at eight thousand feet. Carol flipped the
Mooney over and throttled it almost straight up to fifteen thousand feet. The sleek new
craft handled like a dream and she tingled all over. She remembered the old line from
the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons: A loop a whirl and a vertical climb and once again
you know its time for.... Carol leveled off and wig-wagged a few times. She shuddered
as the orgasm swept over her. Flying was better than sex; God, she loved it. This was
life. The rest was a pale simulation. Up here she could use all of herself-- her brain, her
dexterity, her courage, her spirit. The rewards were immediate. She didnt have to
negotiate with anyone. Nobody whined or made excuses. Of course, if you screwed up,
you died. But thats what made it so exciting. So real. The throb of the engines
synchronized with the tingly vibrations going on inside of her coveralls and she was
rocked with another batch of mini-climaxes. She swept the stray strands of her blond
hair behind her ears and squinted, her green eyes shining behind her Ray Bans.

Isaak/The Exchange

12

Willy had never understood. He refused to go up with her. He was always too
busy with his businesses. Carol had tried to make him feel the exhilaration, the
freedom. Willy had needed only the constant casino of his car dealerships. Nonstop
action. Willy loved to win. Hed worked hard for a couple of years when they were first
together. Then hed learned how to leverage his equity, in Vegas, what they called
doubling down. Pretty soon it wasnt fun unless Willy had everything on the line all of
the time. Willy had known that the car business was cyclical. Hed picked up several of
his stores from people who had gambled and lost during the last downturn. Willy never
thought it could happen to him; he had just kept on rolling the dice, oblivious to history.
And Willy wasnt stupid, either. He hadnt graduated from any prestigious Ivy League
school but hed finished first in his class at the proverbial school of hard knocks. On top
of his high IQ and his street education, Willy was clever. He wasnt the only smart guy
to end up in Club Fed.
Power. Thats what had attracted her to him in the first place. Willy had some
raw animal power that Carol had connected with immediately. The same amoral
certainty that flowed through German lathes and well-tuned aircraft engines seemed to
drive Willy when he was on. And hed definitely been on for most of the seven years
theyd been married.
Until Kelly. Hed taken her death so hard. Shed assumed it would hit her
harder, being the mother. To Carol, it had been difficult. Shed been devastated but she
came back. Women had a little death every month. Maybe that was practice. Shed
never had the feeling that she owned Kelly as a baby. She was there to take care of her
for however long it was. Carol was in awe at the precious life she had helped bring back
into the world; she was serene in her certainty that Kelly was just going around the
wheel one more time.
Willy didnt believe in anything. But he was so possessive about Kelly. Even the
memory of Kelly and her grave. Carol never wanted to see the grave again as long as she

Isaak/The Exchange

13

lived. Her monument to Kelly was in her loins and in her brain. She needed nothing
more to remember her daughter. Willy was a kind and gentle man; the private Willy she
knew. Something in him had died with Kelly. He wouldnt even consider trying again,
for another child. It seemed like his capacity for love had become so twisted. As his
business world had fallen apart, Willy had desperately clung to every disintegrating
crumb. She didnt hate him; the love she had felt had changed into a grim obligation.
She was still loyal to him; she just didnt love him anymore.
For all his greed, he had never been stingy. Willy always let her have her own
toys, even the very expensive, high performance flying toys. For that, she would always
owe him. How many other wives had a half million dollar, three hundred fifty mile per
hour vibrator? Willy was sweet, even if she didnt love him. Their marriage had been
shrunk down to a minute speck, but at least for now, she had it settled in her mind.
Thats why Carol had agreed to see him at that awful federal prison camp every other
week for his conjugal visits.
The Bureau of Prisons certainly had a strange concept of what was an
appropriate setting for sex. First she had to sign in with the guard at the outside gate of
the facility; then speak into a speaker phone like she was ordering at the drive-through
lane at McDonalds. The unseen guards in the tower spoke to you through amplified
stacks like the Wizard of Oz. So, loud enough to be heard in the next county, they would
announce: Mrs. Fenton--here for a conjugal visit with inmate Willy Fenton!
It was embarrassing. The guards leered at her, knowing exactly what she was
going to be doing and probably imagining it in detail as she was doing it. Then looking
at her as she was leaving to see if the earth had moved for her. The setting was so
bizarre.
She was put through a metal detector and an x-ray machine. Then a large, tough
sounding female guard strip searched her and checked her body cavities. Invariably, the

Isaak/The Exchange

14

guard propositioned Carol: Listen, honey, you ever want to swing the other way let me
know.
Finally, Carol would be led into the conjugal visitation area, a small separate
place next to the regular visitation lounge. The CVA consisted of two rooms connected
by a small waiting area with a lamp, a couch, a coffee table and two chairs. The walls
were the same painted concrete blocks as the rest of the prison. The floor was the same
pale yellow vinyl; the ceiling was the same acoustic tile. A large sign covered the wall,
setting out in graphic detail the Conjugal Visitation Rules.
No smoking. Nothing could be brought into the rooms except the clothes on your
back. Complimentary condoms were available from the CVA attendant who had a
supply of surplus rubbers apparently left over from the army withdrawal from the
Philippines. The time limit was thirty minutes. A handy list of statutory citations
provided a stern reminder that certain sex acts were illegal in the state of Pennsylvania.
Inside, the room contained one double bed, a rubber-covered mattress with a
fitted sheet. No pillows; no top sheet. No chairs, no table, no lamp. Two clothing hooks
on the wall. The door did not lock. No windows. A two-tube fluorescent light on the
ceiling and no switch. A clock on one wall and a duplicate sign with all of the rules.
A Trusty served as the CVA attendant, usually an inmate doing a long stretch who
had attained a leadership position both among the inmates and the guards. He had the
job of knocking on the door when the half-hour was up, stripping the bed, wiping the
mattress down with Lysol, putting the fresh sheet on, and escorting the next lucky
couple to their island of conjugal bliss.
Carol had it down to a routine. Fly her plane to the small community airport.
Rent a car and drive an hour to the camp. Spend forty-five minutes being examined,
tested, x-rayed and probed. Chat for awhile with Bernie, the CVA attendant. Get the
official US Army rubber. Lie down and let Willy pump for about ten minutes. Put her
panties back on, pull her dress back down and try to think of something to talk about for

Isaak/The Exchange

15

the next twenty minutes. (Willy would lose face among the other inmates if he didnt
pretend to use all of his allotted thirty minutes.) Wait for Bernie to knock on the door.
Give Willy an air kiss on the way out. Drive back to the airport. Get back in the plane
and let the autopilot navigate back to Boston.
Carol was neither happy nor sad about Willy. She now saw him about the same
amount of time as before he got put away. Their sex life was almost exactly the same
except for the female guard who propositioned her and Bernie. It was comforting,
knowing where Willy was and knowing what he was doing. Shed always had a little
worry about him being away. Now she knew he was safe and was keeping out of trouble.
The only problem was that Willy said the money wouldnt last the full six years.
He had to get out soon or shed have to start selling things to survive. Right now, fifty
thousand dollars magically appeared in her checking account every month. From this,
automatic withdrawals were made to pay the mortgage on the Marblehead Neck house,
the rent and board for the horses, the yacht club dues and mooring fees, the hangar and
maintenance charges for the Mooney, the seaplane, and the Comanche, and the condo
association fees for the Virgin Gorde townhouse, leaving her with twenty thousand for
incidentals.
Willy had never gotten it. The money was never an issue with her. Shed always
made her own money, as much as shed needed or wanted. She could go back to
consulting any time. Part of Willys complex definition of manhood demanded that he
provide lavish amounts of money and all the accouterments that it could buy. Shed
have gladly given all of it up for another baby.
The arrangement with Willy wasnt so bad for now. It wasnt very romantic, but
he was still her husband. They both clung to the hope that his appeal would free him
soon. Willy had absolute faith in his lawyer, another Midwestern transplant who Willy
had befriended when hed arrived in Boston. Carol had only met him a couple of times
and didnt share Willys confidence. Chad Lewis was one of the first things Willy had

Isaak/The Exchange

16

put on his now crowded not to be discussed list. Although she didnt really know the
man, she had an intuitive hatred of her husbands buddies who were up to no good.
Why Willy had chosen Chad over all the other possible lawyers was unfathomable.
It was strange; Willy had called collect last night and had asked her to come visit
today. Never before had he varied his ritual. He was very evasive on the phone and
would only say that it was important for her to meet with him to go over his options.
Willy had a highly-evolved sense of paranoia and a habit of communicating his
paranoid assumptions about the prison to her in throaty post-coital whispers. He knew
that all of his letters (both out and in) were read and copied by prison officials. Inmates
were not able to receive incoming phone calls; all of his outgoing calls were monitored
and recorded, as a matter of policy at the prison. All of the inmates were certain that the
CVA was bugged with listening devices if not videotaped for the entertainment of the
administration. Willy claimed to have spent hours scurrying around in the crawl space
above the offices, visitation areas, CVA rooms, and other facilities. He had seen the
shielded wires that did not lead to any of the normal switches, devices, fire alarms or
monitors.
It was no secret that the individual dormitories were bugged. The guards were
too lazy to use their two way radios and had taken to just speaking into the listening
devices and asking the attendant on duty to relay information.
The biggest question among the inmates was whether or not the attorney
consultation rooms were monitored. Even though these rooms were supposed to be
secure and were protected by statute, regulation and court order, most inmates still
believed that they were bugged.
Carol didnt care. All of her previous notions of privacy had been destroyed by
the events of the past three years. The law suits, the grand jury, the depositions, and the
lawyers had turned her life inside out. Carol didnt care about the body cavity searches,
the CVA or Bernie. Her private parts were inside of her head.

Isaak/The Exchange

17

She was jarred out of her reverie by the gravelly voice of the ground controller
giving her the approach for landing. She had been flying on autopilot in more ways than
one but she efficiently executed a perfect landing and taxied over to the general aviation
area of the small airport. She went through the lobby to the pilots locker room, carrying
her flight bag. Carol quickly zipped her tiny frame out of the coveralls, donned the
Victoria Secret panties, strapped her ample breasts into a Miracle bra, slipped into her
little black dress, dabbed some of her custom-mixed perfume in strategic locations,
brushed out her ponytail with her fingers and assumed her game face. Looking like she
was headed for an afternoon cocktail party and smelling like Paris (with undertones of
aviation fuel), she picked up her flight bag and headed back to the lobby. Avis had her
usual Mustang ready for her and she was on the highway headed toward Lewisburg
within fifteen minutes of hopping off the plane.

Isaak/The Exchange

18

Chapter 4.
The ghostly voice seemed to originate from the Coke machine in the far corner of
the rec room. Psst! Psst! Bernie?
A huge Hispanic inmate appeared to be alternately trying to milk the machines
nozzle or deliver its calf. He had his arm inserted into the door of the nozzle area up to
his elbow.
Fuck you Willy; its only me, Chico. Want me to get Bernie? Get this fuckin
machine to give me a Coke. I done put seventy-five cents into this mother and it pissed
the Coke down the drain.
Chico, get Bernie and Ill get him to open it up for you, man. I gotta talk to
Bernie like right now.
Fuck that right now shit man. You aint out in the world no more and I aint
your yard boy. Ill get Bernie to take care of me first; if he want to talk to you, he talk.
Willy carefully lifted the ceiling tile and lowered himself onto the top of the Coke
machine. He was wearing the Camps regulation dark blue chinos and light blue shirt
along with a well-stocked tool belt. Willy was ostensibly on work detail, checking the
Freon levels in the suspended heat-pump/air-handlers and adjusting the air balance for

Isaak/The Exchange

19

the units that provided the heating and cooling to the central dormitory building. He
was still a pretty fair mechanic and it had taken hardly any grease to get the job. With
the help of a few well-planned emergencies, he had the run of the entire facility.
The control system could be hopelessly compromised by alternately applying a
cigarette lighter and some ice cubes to the temperature sensors. Neither the civil-servant
maintenance man nor the battalion of factory reps had been able to adequately fix the
system so that Huffs office was livable. Willy was the only person whod been able to.
Nevertheless, Huff hated him, correctly suspecting that Willy was somehow responsible
for disrupting his important meetings with the Washington brass and his late-afternoon
trysts with that certain female guard who was, literally, bucking for a promotion. It
always seemed that the blasts of arctic cold or sub-Saharan heat were somehow a bit too
convenient and untimely.
Dusting himself off after replacing the ceiling tile, Willy softly landed on the floor
and almost executed a perfect triple axel as he skated on the spilled Coke.
Nine point five! Bernie exclaimed as Willy slammed into his solid bulk.
Man, this is a dangerous place. Willy leaned over to whisper into the thicket of
dark hairs sprouting from Bernies left ear. I think I should contact my congressman,
ya know, see if he can improve the safety conditions here.
That could be arranged.
The usual? Except private? Willy whispered.
Might bust your budget.
Whatever.
Whatever?
Yeah, what fucking ever.
Must be getting to you, spending all day laying on the ceiling, stroking your
tools.
Well, I still got enough left for the CVA, right Bernie?

Isaak/The Exchange

20

She dont complain to me.


Me neither.
With a couple of monkey slaps on the back, the bargain was sealed. Bernie would
get word to ex-congressman Paulos Mitropolis (just Mitty to one and all) who was
currently residing in the Camps adjacent facility. The meeting would take place in the
little building that housed the pool heater and filtration system and served as the
unofficial caddy shack for the golf course. Mitty held a constituent services session there
every Wednesday night after lights out. Tonight, all other inmates would be turned
away with numbered packs of Marlboros. The smokes were a courtesy; the numbers
preserved the inmates place in line for the following Wednesday. This was costing Willy
a bundle. It had better be worth it, Willy mused.
Bernie, could you open up that Coke machine for Carlos? He lost a months pay
trying to get a drink.
Sure, you want something?
Nah, Im all set. I guess I better be going, Bernie. I gotta change the air filters
down to the Nuke.
The audible portion of their exchange was for the benefit of the monitoring
system. Neither man could take the chance that the guards pulling listening duty were
awake. You just never knew when one of them would actually be paying attention.
Better to be eternally vigilant and always assume you were on stage.
Willy strode through the canteen door into the wide corridor separating the
dormitory from the administrative wing, passing the attorney consultation rooms, and
stopping at a hip-high counter behind which sat a bored young Correctional Officer who
was filling out management reports for the Wendys franchise he owned in town.
Hey, Willy. Man, this paperwork is worse than BOP. You have to do shit like
this for your car store?

Isaak/The Exchange

21

Yeah, but I hired bean counters to do it for me. Wished Id a done it myself,
though. I might not be here looking at your sorry ass, sir. Mr. Correctional Officer.
And dont you forget it. Yeah, youre probably right. I ought a do it myself.
Easier to keep track of the lies that way. It never pays to delegate too much
lying; gets awfully complicated awfully fast.
Speaking of lies, whatre you up to now? Where you headed?
You know how it is with us inmates, busy being model prisoners. Got to change
some air filters up to the Nuke; later look at the pool heater over at the Farm. Maybe
another squirrels clogging the heat exchanger.
Well, give em all a big wet kiss from me; you can have all o them uppity
bastards.
They aint so bad, once you get to know em. Why you so down on the Farm? I
heard you were going to transfer there. What happened?
The guard looked up from his paperwork. What happened is that I was all set.
They had an opening; I passed the exam and I had the seniority.
And?
And I didnt make the cut with the inmates. I heard there was a Kennedy thirdcousin or some such shit. Black-balled me.
But youre Irish!
Protestant. Irish Protestant. You dont know, man. This shit goes all the way
back to the old country.
Thats too bad. Prejudice. I guess they really do run that place like a country
club, huh?
Exactly.
Want me to put in a word with Mitty? Hes all right and he can get that Kennedy
asshole to back off.
Really? Youd do that?

Isaak/The Exchange

22

Sure, buddy. I might actually run into him today. And I maybe could give you a
few pointers about those management reports, too. Youre probably being way too
honest.
Yeah, thats a fact. Thanks Willy.
Hey, thats what Im here for, isnt it?
Actually, I thought it was wire fraud.
Ha ha. Well, I might of pushed the envelope a little.
Really, thanks, Willy. I appreciate it.
Forget about it.
The Nuke was unusual, even by Bureau of Prisons standards. With the
mandatory drug sentencing laws, there had been a huge influx of young ethnic inmates
with long prison terms. Lewisburg had started a pilot project to rehabilitate these young
men with techniques taken from Marine boot camp. If you fit the age and health criteria
and volunteered, you could cut your sentence in half. Thus, the nickname: initially
dubbed the microwave jail, it was quickly shortened to the Nuke. Correctional Officers
(COs) were recruited from the ranks of Marine drill instructors. The inmates dressed in
fatigues and served their entire sentences engaged in an extended boot camp. They
learned discipline and endurance and they marched, ran, climbed, lifted, and exercised
fourteen hours per day. The only discernible difference between the Nuke and Quantico
was the lack of weaponry. At the Nuke, you had to wait until you graduated back onto
the street to get your guns.
Squads of shaved-headed, buffed young sociopaths streamed past the Camps
softball field in a cloud of testosterone, sounding off and triple-time marching, as Willy
walked over to the gym: Two, four, six, eight, we aint gonna integrate. Two, four, six,
eight, we all wanna fornicate.
The platoons were all made up of single affinity groups. There were different
groups of Spanish-speakers, Creoles, and Southeast Asian platoons. The vast majority

Isaak/The Exchange

23

were Black, broken down into posses, their membership strictly conforming to gang
affiliations, drugs of choice, and sometimes by antipathy toward specific basketball
teams. The whites broke down into neo-Nazis and others. The COs used the
Balkanization of the population to keep up inter-group competition. It made the
inmates strive.
Willy watched as the last group strutted down the path towards the woods. Scary
dudes. Why would BOP would be training hundreds of criminals to become a crazed
fighting force? What chance would a fat middle-aged cop have against them? At least it
kept them out of the Farm and the Camp.
It took him only about a half-hour to change the filters in the massive A/C unit in
the gym. The place was ready for the inter-platoon basketball playoffs. The heavy
betting was on the anti-Pistons, as the Black squad united in their hatred of the Detroit
team called themselves. The anti-Bulls had just lost their power forward to an
unfortunately-timed successful appeal.
He had a snack from the machines in the lobby to fortify himself for the long walk
to the Farm.
The Farm was not really a farm. More of a country club. It sported an exquisite
eighteen-hole golf course with some tricky par five holes. Congressmen had been known
to play here even before they were indicted. There were two bocce courts. The second
had been built after an informant from one family had secured the conviction of ten
members of a rival family. There was tennis, of course, both grass and clay. And an
Olympic-sized pool. Only top-tier inmates came here. Milken, the infamous junk-bond
dealer, had passed the cut but decided on the twin facility on the West Coast because of
the weather. Boesky, the New York arbitrage specialist, had come here. There were
general rules of thumb for entry to the Farm. Politicians, but not below the ranks of
governor. Bankers, but from one of the big banks and no mere v-ps. Accountants from
one of the Big Six and partners only. Any Kennedy kin, no matter how remote.

Isaak/The Exchange

24

Stockbrokers, bond traders and investment advisors, but only if the crime involved over
a hundred million and only if from a silk-stocking firm. Milken would have been
breaking new ground as the first junk bond trader. There were lots of them here now.
Exceptions could be made for a nationally-ranked bridge or gin rummy player or if an
inmate was better than a scratch golfer. However, the rules only got you through the
first cut. You could still be blackballed by one of the senior inmates for any reason.
Willy hadnt even tried; just like he never applied for membership in the Corinthian
Yacht Club in Marblehead. Hed joined the Atlantic and was more comfortable there.
The Camp suited him just fine for now. It was a moot point in any event. Soon hed be
back on the outside.

Isaak/The Exchange

25

Chapter 5.
As he paid the toll getting off the Massachusetts Turnpike, heading toward
Connecticut and points west, Chad remembered the day his old friend Willy Fenton had
first bared his soul about his legal troubles. Chad and Willy went way back, all the way
back to East St. Louis, Illinois.
St. Louis, on the Missouri side, had started out as a French outpost, via
Louisiana. Over the years, as the country expanded west, waves of Italians, Jews, and
Germans settled in. It became the river port to ship all of the meat, grain, coal, and
chemicals raised, grown, mined and manufactured east of the Alleghenies and west of
the Rockies. St. Louis relegated all of the unsightly and noxious businesses and people
to the Illinois side. Since Chicago always has and always would command most of the
resources of the Illinois government, East St. Louis became a slum made up of poor
descendants of freed slaves who worked in the slaughter houses, oil refineries, animal
rendering plants, steel mills, junk yards and gin mills unwelcome on the Missouri side of
the Mississippi River. Once the interstate highway system was completed, the lid was in
place over the festering sewer of East St. Louis and the good German farmers who

Isaak/The Exchange

26

populated the rich, fertile Mississippi River flood plain could commune with their
relatives in St. Louis without even looking at the ghetto.
Chad had been slumming at the same East St. Louis honky-tonks as Willy during
the late 60's but they had never met at the time. They met years later when Chad was
helping a bankrupt car dealer north of Boston sell his store to Willy, an upstart dealer
from west of St. Louis. Willy had created an image of a hill billy westerner full of piss,
vinegar and country ways. He adopted a broad country accent, wore boots and a
Stetson, and rode a horse into the showroom for the contract signing. It was inevitable
that the two fish-out-of-water became fast friends. The guys in Detroit had rightly
figured Willy for a comer. He quickly gobbled up all of the nearby competing
dealerships and, with the timely help of insiders from the Big Three, Willy built the first
mega-dealership north of New Jersey. Chad and Willy had never crossed the line into a
professional relationship. They understood each other as only transplants can: both of
them were playing roles in an alien environment and they could let their hair down
together. Chads roller-coaster ride as a lawyer, husband and father coincided with
Willys meteoric rise to television ad stardom, regional name recognition, and ninefigure wealth. To each other, they were always poor Midwestern farm-boys enjoying an
elaborate joke on the uptight Bostonians. Then one night, it all changed....
Chad had spent months in the big garage behind his North Shore farm house
clumsily trying to restore an old Ford in a misguided attempt to recapture the memory
of his first back-seat night of passion. Willy had roared up the mile-long gravel lane in
his latest new Ferrari. Chad knew only one man who would splatter gravel all over a
$60,000 new car.
Fuck! The socket driver slipped out of Chads hand and landed on his nose.
Fuck gravity! Chad instinctively raised his head and banged it on the oil pan. Blood
oozed out of his nostrils as he scooted out from under the car. Chad raised himself up

Isaak/The Exchange

27

off the creeper and began wiping the blood off his face with an incredibly greasy rag,
smearing his face with a mixture of blood and grease.
Yall eat with that mouth? The gravelly voice echoed in the garage.
Fuck you whoever you are.
The signature Stetson filled the entire doorway, followed by the western-styled
handmade Italian suit, draped over Willys lank frame. Hey Chad. Maybe yall ought a
get a pro help you with that shit. You stick with the law.
In his garish, lizard-skin cowboy boots, Willy was about three inches taller than
Chads even six feet. He looked like a Marlboro man, but there was a softness in his
hazel eyes. Willy, you miserable sack of shit! Here, you have at it. Chad pushed the
greasy wrench into the large, immaculately-manicured hand of his friend.
All right, now you gone and done it! Willy lunged at Chad who ducked around
the side of the old Ford. Willy tripped over the creeper and did a pratfall face down into
the middle of an oily puddle. As he righted himself, he brandished the socket driver like
a berserker. When I catch you, Ill make that pretty lawyer face into so much
hamburger.
Uhm hm, you know, that grease looks natural on you, Willy.
Willy inspected his silk tie, his white monogrammed shirt, and his hand-tailored
suit, all splattered with waste oil, looking like a walking ink-blot test. Suddenly, they
both burst into laughter, racked with guffaws.
Man, you are some sorry looking cowboy.
At least I look like something. What ya call that getup?
This ole thing? Chad wiped his hands on the stained coverall, its left breast
adorned with a patch that read Phish. My mechanic outfit, of course.
You look like one o them Village People.
Careful there, dude, youre dating yourself.
At least Im dating somebody; moren I can say for you.

Isaak/The Exchange

28

Whoa, thats harsh. Here. Chad grabbed a clean rag off of the bale on the floor
and tossed a handful to Willy. Together, they headed to the corner of the garage where a
cracked mirror hung over the stained sink and the goop dispenser.
Willy began scrubbing his hands with the bubble-gum pink hand cleaner and
Chad got the water running in the sink. Ya know, buddy, it took me fifteen motherfucking years until I didnt have to get my hands greasy every day. Look what you gone
and did to my manicure. For the life of me, I cant figure out why smart guys like
doctors and lawyers wanna get themselves all dirty and greasy, just for some hobby.
It keeps us humble.
Well, yall sure got a lot to be humble about, that shit-box Ford over there. You
ought a give it a decent burial.
Youre such a fucking phony. Put the cowboy boots on you and you start talking
like Hoss Cartwright. Come on. You didnt come over here dressed like that just to
insult me and give me a mechanic lesson. Something on your mind? Youre not falling
off the wagon, are you? Part of their shared history included a three week stay in a
well-known substance abuse facility in the upper Midwest years ago.
Naw. If Kelly didnt make me hit the shit again, nothing will. Chad, I might
need to hire some of your time. You got time to talk to me tonight?
Always got time for you. You know that. Lets finish cleaning up and go up to
the house.
In the unseasonably warm May night, they threaded their way through a small
forest of evergreens, past a stand of swaying bamboo, over a stone bridge which spanned
a flowing stream stocked with large koi, and entered Chads study through one of six
French doors. The room featured floor-to ceiling bookshelves on the right wall
constructed of softly-oiled cherry. A massive stone fireplace filled another wall and a
shoji screen on the other wall concealed a bank of electronic devices, a stainless-steel

Isaak/The Exchange

29

refrigerator, a small wet bar and a computer desk. The floor was quarter-sawn
rosewood, partially-covered by an eccentric tribal oriental rug.
Now thiss more like it. I see you finally finished it.
Yeah, it took forever.
Willy seated himself in a green leather armchair, facing the open French door and
the softly-lit Japanese garden. Chad slid the shoji screen aside, flicked the CD player on
and opened the cabinet above the small sink. Delta blues emerged from unseen
speakers. Whats your pleasure, Willy?
You still got some o them Cuban cigars?
You think Id commit a Federal crime? Sure, I got a few left.
After they both got a fat Monte Christo going, Chad brought out a dusty bottle of
port and two glasses. This suitable? I have tea or juice, if you want it.
Thiss fine. Whats this, about a hundred years old?
Sixty. Heres to you. Chad clinked their glasses.
You too, counselor.
Chad settled himself in a matching chair, blew a cloud of smoke toward the door
and looked over to his friend. So. Willy, what gives?
Ill just talk for awhile. Somma this you know already, but I gotta go through it
my way, anyhow. You tell me if Im crazy, after Im done.
Chad started to reply but Willy waved him off with the cigar.
Just lemme go through it, then you can ask questions.
You know how I started out -- hell you were there, the first store out here
anyway. Over the years, I guess I told you most of my life story; least the parts I wanted
anybody to know. I grew up on a pig farm, same as you, except mine was west of St.
Louis. I can remember when the county put in the black-top road; man I couldnt
believe it. I was always a crazy sonofabitch about anything with a motor. When I was in
high school, I built a dragster and did some stock car racing too. My uncle had a junk-

Isaak/The Exchange

30

yard way the hell out in the country and he let me work on cars there. I pieced together
cars from the bone yard and sold em; shit, this was years before I had a drivers license.
We didnt have a frame machine or any o that fancy shit; wed just torch em in half and
weld em back together.
Right after high school, I got drafted into Nam and ended up running the motor
pool in Saigon HQ. I was pretty good at keeping the Jeeps and trucks going. Got out in
69 and landed stateside in LA. Bought me a Harley and thought Id fuck and drink my
way east. Ended up in St. Louis, in the city, shacked up with a stewardess. Started
working as a shop manager for a Jeep store in Creve Coer, just outside the Black section,
south of the city. The old man owned the place couldnt organize a two-car funeral.
Well, pretty soon, I was the GM, and he spent his time dealing with the money and the
factory. Then his wife died; he was getting on in years. He had no kids. The place
needed all kinds of maintenance. Meanwhile, I started selling cars. I mean, really
selling. In one year, we went from doing ten units a month to two hundred units a
month, half new and half used.
The old man didnt have the capital to handle the float. One day, the boys from
Detroit came down to see us. They had a binder full of charts, graphs, figures and
market studies. They could a proved that the sun came up in the west and went down in
the east, with all the facts and figures they showed us. They wanted to know how we was
making the water run uphill, that market. Oh, and by the way, the old man was about a
quarter-mil out of trust. He was floating on the floor plan loan, and the Detroit boys had
him dead to rights.
Bottom line-- the old man was invited to retire and they put me in as the dealer.
I didnt have a pot to piss in, but they phonied up the dealer application and the
financials to make me look good. Behind the scenes, between the factory, the old man
and the credit corp, I borrowed every penny they said I needed to take over. I swear to

Isaak/The Exchange

31

God, all I owned in the world was my Harley and a color TV. We opened up on
Memorial Day weekend, 1972. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Jeep was the most fucked-up new-car franchise in the world at that time. We
had Jeep, Ramblers, and Renault. Can you imagine it? Renault in St. Louis? None o
those cars could be kept running. You ever look under the hood of a Renault? Looked
like a French nuclear scientist had shoveled random parts from some power plant in
there. You had to take off the motor mounts to change the spark plugs, I swear to God! I
sold em; shit, I sold every fucking thing I could get my hands on. Then a miracle
happened. Chrysler took over Jeep. I got a personal invitation from Lee to come to
Detroit, along with fifteen hundred other Jeep dealers. Lee was great. Man, that guy
could preach! He came up to me after the big welcome aboard speech and shook my
hand. He handed me a high-ball and was so nice that he made my butt hole pucker, you
know? As in watch out, here it comes.
Those years, it was like I died and went to heaven. Chrysler Credit laid a five
million dollar line of credit on me; I had inventory coming out my wazoo. I was their
fair-haired boy. Sold every miserable piece-of-shit car they pooped out of their factory.
Jeeps with Rambler motors, Jeeps with GM motors, you name it. Their attitude, just
get shed of em and I did. Didnt matter half of em came back behind a wrecker. My job
was just to sell em. I had a coupla buddies up in Detroit. The credit guyd buy anybody
who breathed; the factory guyd call me up with deals on funky cars. Like diesel New
Yorkers at half invoice. Except I had to buy 300 of em. And I didnt even have a
Chrysler badge! Well, you know, it couldnt last; nothing lasts. Nothing.
I was still single at the time; didnt have the time for a relationship. Truth was, I
was getting off on having moren two nickels to rub together for the first time in my life.
At that time, money meant one thing to me: pussy. If there was free love in the 70's, I
guess I missed it. Seems to have cost me a pretty penny.

Isaak/The Exchange

32

One cold fucking March day, raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock, a little
short guy looked like Mighty Mouse wearing a bow tie comes into the store. Hi, Im so
and so from Chrysler Real Estate. So? I says. So, lets go for a ride. I get in the car
and we go for a ride. He pulls onto I-290 and turns toward the airport. He pulls into
the breakdown lane, in this driving fucking rainstorm, pushes the window button down,
and its like Im taking a fucking shower. He points out the window and says There-your new store goes there. Like a dummy, I says What new store? He zips the window
up, reaches into the back seat, and hands me a set of rolled-up drawings. This new
store, he says. I says, Dont I get to say anything about all this? Sure, he says, You get
to say yes. Any detail I should be aware of, this transaction? Sure, he says, You buy
the land, you build the store, you borrow the money, then you deed it to us and we rent
it back to you. In case you ever get the idea you want to fuck us, you cant.
Well, let me tell you, it was a good thing I wasnt strapped, Id a shot the bastard
on the spot. The land hed pointed to was owned half by the State and half by the City.
Long story short, I did it. Had no choice. Them days it was about twenty-five grand
apiece for State legislators and City Councilors, plus the Mayor, the Governor, the A-G,
cars for their girlfriends, plus actually buying the land and building the Taj Mahal. In
eighteen months, I had the place opened right where Mighty Mouse wanted it. My
reward? Pack up and move to Massachusetts. See? Now they owned me. I guess theyd
owned me for a while, except I just didnt realize it.
St. Louis was my test. They wanted me to do it all over again north of Boston.
They flew me to Detroit, showed me the plans for a mega-mother store. I said, This is
pretty large for one little Dodge store. They wanted a store with all six brands Chrysler
owned, a six-pack, they called it. I knew the place they wanted me to take over. All it
had was Dodge, and, legally, they couldnt issue me the other five dealerships at that
location. They told me I was to buy em and move em. I asked What if the other guys
dont wanna sell? Dont worry, they said, By the time were through with them, theyll

Isaak/The Exchange

33

want to sell. I cant afford this, I said. Well, Mighty Mouse actually laughed. We know
to the penny how much you got and how you got it. Its time you realized what your
responsibility is as a dealer. Youve been selected as one of a lucky few to become a sixpack dealer. Dont fuck it up.
Chad, thats when I really started dancin with Mister D.
What do you mean?
Took about three years, beginning to end. Whenever I needed a break, it
magically happened. Lemme tell you, those were some pretty lucky three years, if you
know what I mean.
Willy, I think you better spell it all out for me. First, give me a dollar so this is all
a privileged conversation.
Got change for a hundred?
Ill take the hundred; thisll get you ready for my fee schedule.
This is hard to do. See, I made up a story about how it all happened and I damnnear believed it myself. The truth is, they helped me steal those other five stores from
guys who were fucked over thoroughly.
How could you steal five businesses?
Help from Mighty Mouse. One guy got caught clocking odometers; that was
easy. The Plymouth dealer couldnt get a piece of inventory to save his soul; finally
threw in the towel and said, Take the fucking store. They did and they gave it to me.
The Dodge truck dealer had a real gambling jones. One cold day in January, he got a
personal invitation to Las Vegas; trip and all accommodations comped. Five days later,
they had his marker for two hundred thousand and they had his store. The Black Jeep
dealer, Bubba, was a little harder. He was born-again, didnt drink, smoke, cuss, gamble
or chase women. A talented guy and a hard worker. Saved every fucking nickel and put
both his kids through college, paying full boat tuition. American dream. Detroit hated
him, called him that uppity nigger.

Isaak/The Exchange

34

How did they get him?


He won a government contract, supplying the Jeeps for the National Park
Service. They gave him a special three million dollar line of credit to buy the Jeeps so he
could resell em thirty days later, fulfill the contract.
And?
They built em wrong. Left out the undercoating under the passenger-side front
fenders. Every one of em failed the inspection. Government inspector knew just where
to look, failed every one of em. Thirty days later, he was three million out of trust, and
couldnt pay the Credit Corp. They padlocked the store and put me in. Six months later,
he shot himself.
Jesus!
Not very pretty, huh?
That left just the, uh...
Chrysler dealer. Yeah, he was a piece of work. Real blue-blood. I actually
bought his house on Marblehead Neck along with the store. He retired and lives in Key
West now.
Key West?
You probably already figured out his problem?
Gay?
Yep, and he was passing pretty well, until Mighty Mouse scoped him out. It was
handled very discreetly and he was paid damn-near what the place was worth. I know I
paid full retail for the house, anyway. Were still buddies. I send him a card every
Christmas. He was actually a pretty good guy. Took it like a man.
That supposed to be a joke?
I meant he didnt whine or anything. Knew when the ride was over and left
town.
Boy, Willy, that story was never in your official bio.

Isaak/The Exchange

35

No it wasnt. I guess you remember the meteoric rise to fame and fortune, huh?
Sure, and the ads. Willys Auto World! The Willie Nelson concert at the grand
opening. Mothers, dont let your babies grow up to be cowboys. You on the horse on
TV. The mechanical bulls in the showroom. And you and me. I thought I got to know
you pretty well. I never had a clue. I thought I knew your dark side. All those infamous
pub crawls we did. The fraternal twins thing? Were you just blowing off your guilty
conscience?
Whatever. We did get to know each other. I never told anyone about how it
really happened. Not something Im proud of. Not you, not even Carol.
You couldnt admit to anyone, even yourself, how crooked it all was? How the
self-made cowboy was really a creation of Detroit? How Mighty Mouse wrote the part
and you were just an actor?
Right. No way! But I always thought I could a done it anyway, without Mighty
Mouse. But that aint how it came down.
I got the feeling that theres a punch-line waiting. Am I right? Somethings
happened and youre not going to live happily ever after?
You got that right. And before you say it, yes, the chickens are definitely coming
home to roost.
Why?
Why? The Eastern Regional Sales manager is retiring and his only daughter just
got tenure at Northeastern and had his only grandson. He wants the store.
Hell, Willy, you wrote the book on that one. He wants the store, he gets the
store. End of story, right?
Wrong.
You stupid sonofabitch. You refused?
Yeah, I told em to go fuck themselves. I guess I believed my own press. Truth
is, Im not ready for the pasture; plus, I was too smart for my own good. I had a few

Isaak/The Exchange

36

years to plan for the eventual fucking. Its not like it was a surprise, given the history. I
thought I had covered every possible way they could take me down. Turns out I didnt.
The business was perfect; I knew exactly what the books had to show and I worked
backwards to what they needed to see. All the charts, numbers, ratios, all perfect;
market penetration, growth, etc. Not all my doing. As the saying goes, Hire good help
and get the fuck out a their way. I did that. Right after you and I got out of Hazelton, I
found Carol and got my personal life straightened out. Shes a real prize. Beautiful,
smart, loved working on airplanes, had the engineering degree, and was an absolute
firecracker in bed. We both wanted a family and pretty soon we had Kelly. Turned out,
Kelly was what Id wanted all the time, I just never knew it. Man, I loved that baby. You
should see the pictures at her first birthday party. The shit-eating grin plastered all over
my face. I ought tove known, dont be too happy. Trouble always right behind, you
know. She got sick. Leukemia and not the good kind. The kind they couldnt cure.
Kelly never had a second birthday party. And Mighty Mouse fucked me while she was
on her deathbed. I was so distracted, I never even went to the store for three months.
That was all the time it took to cook me. Warranty fraud. My good help, he saw this as
his main chance. They musta made him a better offer.
Where do things stand now?
Full rectal warranty audit, going back to the opening of the store. All factory
cash withheld until the outcome. Somebodys talkin to the US Attorney; I been
interviewed by the FBI. I got a letter...
Target letter?
Yeah, a target letter.
Shit.
Yeah, shit squared.
Why dont you just accept the offer? Sell?

Isaak/The Exchange

37

Too late. The offer was withdrawn. Theyre doin Plan B. Here. Willy handed
the thick envelope to Chad.
Suit in Federal Court, Detroit, seeking a declaratory judgment that your
franchise is terminated for cause. Warranty fraud, poor customer service rating, and
bad character. Lets see when you got served. In-hand service more than a week ago.
You got eleven days left to file an answer on this. What have you been waiting for? Or
have you been shopping this around, see who will tell you what you want to hear?
Ive been crawled back into my hole. Finally, after I got tired of feeling sorry for
myself, I got pissed off enough to start shopping this around. Basically, youre my first
stop.
Practice before seriously shopping it? You know, Willy, youre looking at the
entire firm here, receptionist, paralegal, partner, just me. What do you want me to say?
Tell me, anything I can do? The truth now, not a bunch a legal mumbo-jumbo.
Make it so a simple country boy like me can understand it.
Here goes, youre being fucked, you fucked up and, you are fucked. Hows that?
Simple enough?
Thats what I figured. Any way I can fuck em back, even a little, on my way
out?
Sure, but its going to cost you. And you cant do it by remote control, from
inside your hole.
Yeah, I figured that out too. Thats why I came out to see you. I guess Id rather
die with my boots on.
As the highway rolled on, Chad mused. I shouldve made him plead. Theyd lost
the trial in Detroit and the jury finding of warranty fraud became a piece of evidence
against Willy in the criminal proceeding. The grand jury indicted and they lost the civil
appeal. Theyd made the US Attorney take them to trial and theyd lost that trial too.

Isaak/The Exchange

38

And now, theyd lost the criminal appeal as well. Its not like Willy needed money. Chad
remembered the rest of the conversation theyd had that night over the old port and the
cigars....
You werent exactly broke when you got out of Nam, were you Willy? I mean, a
smart guy like you in charge of the HQ motor pool? I figure you must have had a pretty
busy used Jeep dealership going there in Saigon. Youll never tell anybody just how
much you got out or how you got it out, but it must have been some small, tangible
items, worth a lot of money for the weight. How am I doing, so far?
Keep talking.
This is just a guess, but did your state-side helper end up as one of your Chrysler
angels?
Like I said, yall just keep talking; Ill stop you when the bullshit gets over my
knees.
Willy, it makes no difference to me, unless you want me to represent you. You
got to tell your lawyer everything before he can help you. Now, I dont think you have
every penny you own tied up in the stores. Far from it. You wouldnt just figure you
could stop them from taking you down, when the time came. You mustve been
stockpiling money from day one. Thats just a romantic fairy tale about the Harley and
the color TV; probably got you laid many times. And I dont believe the payoffs in
Missouri were as high as you said. You no doubt had proof for your buddy Mighty
Mouse, but I bet you took back over half from those guys as you went along. And the
construction, my guess is you got at least ten to fifteen percent kick-back from the
contractors doing the job. Am I right?
The goin rate was fifteen; I made em give me twenty.
See? I have to give you credit for being such a tough bastard. Now, I know you
were running some kind of a game with the stores. It may not have been the warranty
thing, but it was something. You have to be salting money away somehow. Its not

Isaak/The Exchange

39

really important how unless theyre willing to let it come out at the trial. My bet is that
they wont because if they were willing, theyd have bagged you on it. Whats the annual
gross of Willy world?
Two hundred fifty million, give or take.
Give or take. My guess is take. Its impossible for that amount of cash to go
through your hands and not have at least one percent shrinkage.
One? Try two and a half.
Willy, this reminds me of a story. Do you remember how they caught the Son of
Sam killer, Berkowitz?
Cant say as I do, why?
He didnt pay his parking tickets.
Theres gotta be a moral to that story. You saying he could a gotten by with
murder if hed only paid the goddamn parking tickets?
Right. Maybe what theyre accusing you of isnt half as bad as what youve done.
Maybe you should consider it just a parking ticket, pay it and be on your way.
Too late. Anyway, youre trying to be all moral and accuse me of stealing. Think
about it counselor, whose fucking money was I stealing? My own money! How can they
get me for stealing my own money?
You know the answer to that one. Their code says you cant do that. By the way,
why didnt they just dime you to the Uncle?
Thats a laugh. You have any idea how many people report car dealers for tax
fraud? Everybody thinks theyll get the reward from dropping a dime on their local car
dealer. The IRSll never take us down cause thered be hundreds of court cases fighting
over the bounty. And Im no amateur when it comes to cookin books. So, counselor,
have I deeply offended your moral code?
Ill still take your case, Willy. I just wanted to make sure we understood each
other. I dont care what you said to Carol or anybody else about this. I want to make

Isaak/The Exchange

sure youre leveling with me. You want to fight, well fight. They had sounded like
famous last words even as he uttered them.
Chads musings kept coming back to the basic point: He still should have made
him plead.

40

Isaak/The Exchange

41

Chapter 6.
Hubris. As Chad headed south on I-87, the word echoed in his head. Better to
say hubris than arrogant, stupid, and naive. Neither Chad nor Willy had been smart or
cynical enough to realize at the time that when the Ferris wheel ride was over, you got
out of the seat, tore up your ticket and went home with the memories. So they had
fought, fought and schemed and fought and lost. Chad still had his law license and his
house, the house thankfully in an irrevocable trust for the benefit of his children; but his
ex-wife had taken the girls to parts unknown. Willy still had his marriage, such as it
was, and the wife had all of the toys. Willy, had, unfortunately, lost his freedom. Chad
was as much of a prisoner, enslaved by his anger, bitterness, regret and bad habits.
Chad had foreseen the possibility of the coming meeting even before he took the
case but had blocked it from his consciousness. How could he look his friend in the eye
and tell him that there was no hope? How could he tell Willy that he was going to spend
a full six years in federal prison, all because Chad had mistakenly advised him to fight
the inevitable? He had to; he owed it to Willy to face him and tell him the bitter truth.
He rehearsed his speech as he exited the interstate. He changed it as he passed the
Little League Hall of Fame. He changed it again as he passed Clyde Peeles Reptile

Isaak/The Exchange

42

World. It all sounded so tawdry, so much like the bullshit it essentially was. Willy was
no impressionable, pimply-faced, dewy-eyed lame brain. His bullshit detectors were
working fine. Chad committed himself to wing it. Just talk, friend to friend. That was
the best.
Driving up the half-mile one-lane drive, sensing the surveillance cameras
panning his entry, Chad was overcome by a profound sense of dread. Scrotumtightening, asshole-puckering, hyperventilating dread. As he stopped to speak into the
speaker mounted on the stone arch, he could see straight ahead the sixteen foot high
walls of the Hole, topped with coils of razor wire, the guard tower bulging in the middle
like a cyclopean insect eye. The old facility was now used to house the informants who
did their time in solitary confinement and the psych cases who passed their time in a
medicated haze. The new facilities, the Nuke, the Farm and the Camp, were spread out
over the grounds like a college campus or a high-tech research lab. Although it could
look like the Champs Elysees, it was still prison.
He parked in the visitors lot and walked into the low unmarked brick building
which housed the common areas and the administration wing of the Camp. The lobby
was windowed, bright and cheerful. There was a service counter faced with bank teller
glass and a sliding tray like at a self-service gas station. A thirtyish man sat behind the
glass on an ordinary desk chair. He wore a white short-sleeved shirt, dark pants and
had a BOP patch on his shirt.
Mr. Lewis?
Yes?
Please sign the register and proceed through the door to the first conference
room on the right. Willyll be along in a minute. Coffee? Its a fresh pot.
Sure. Thanks.

Isaak/The Exchange

43

Chad sloshed the coffee on the desk, settled himself in the chair behind it, opened
his briefcase and started doodling on a yellow legal pad as Willy Fenton walked in,
closed the door and pointedly sat down in the clients chair without offering his hand.
Counselor.
Uh. Uh. Hi Willy; glad to see you.
Thats your first lie, Chad. I dont want to hear another one.
Youre right. Im not really glad to be here. Its the hardest thing Ive ever had to
do.
I doubt that. Look, let me make it easier on both of us. I obviously know about
the decision; I expected it. I know you dont have any other plan. I know Im facing the
entire six, minus 72 days good time if I keep up the good behavior.
Then why? Why make me come all the way out here? To punish me?
Dont you think you deserve a little punishment? I actually believed your little
fairy tale for awhile there.
Im not doing so well myself, you know. Im punishing myself. The practice has
gone to hell; Betsy split with the kids. Im so depressed, I dont know what to do.
Listen, Willy, we were friends. I like to think that we still are or could be. Id do
anything to get you out of here if I could. I cant. Id do the time for you if I could, but I
cant. Theres literally nothing I can do for you. Trust me; I wish I could.
Yeah? Well, counselor, be careful what you wish for. It might just come true.
Now listen, because Im only gonna run this through once. This place is usually bugged.
Ive arranged for the wires to be cut right about now. I figure we got an hour, tops,
before they think of checking the wiring.
What do you mean?
This is your lucky day. You can do something for me. Youre going to get me out
of here and youll get to do some of my time.

Isaak/The Exchange

44

Chad levered himself up from the chair and Willy slammed his fist into his solar
plexus. He slumped back into the chair, doubled over, his head on the desk. No!
I said shut the fuck up. I got something to tell you and I think you need to listen.
I told you on the phone I was going to do the thinking. I got a plan. Im going to walk
out of here today and youre going to stay. Were going to trade places for awhile. I got
some money stashed; enough money to pay for all of Carols toys, pay for a new life for
me, pay all of the bribes I need to get this done, and theres still a cool million left over
for you. You with me so far?
Chad was still wheezing. Water was dripping from his eyes and his mouth. He
made an animal sound.
Just nod.
Chad nodded. Willy started his sales pitch.
Okay. I know the guy who developed the NCIC computer software. He left a
handy back door and hes already used it to put your face and prints on my record.
Remember that night in the Combat Zone when we got shit-faced and spent the night in
jail? He got your mug shots and prints and changed every record. I am now you and
vice-versa. He was very thorough. All the original paper copies are gone; he even went
back to Missouri and Southern Illinois and redid our cute little birth certificates with the
tiny footprints on them.
Youre out of your mind!
Maybe, but itll work, believe me. Ill walk out of here in your clothes, get in the
car and be back in your office tomorrow. Youll go right from here to the Bus. You
heard about the Bus? Its a quaint little custom BOP has. When an inmate loses his
appeal and is about to settle in for his entire stretch, they transport him all over the
country until he gets to his final destination. Even if he ends up right back here, they
put him on the Bus. Youre gonna end up at the Farm. Nobody knows Willy Fenton

Isaak/The Exchange

45

there by sight. If you got the right prints and you match the computer, youre Willy
Fenton.
Thats impossible. Nobody can escape from a federal prison and get by with it.
Youd have to bribe every guard and half of the inmates. All the money in the world
couldnt get you out of here.
Im only getting help from two inmates and one guard and theyre gonna be well
compensated.
If you want to escape, why dont you just walk out?
You are a dim bulb today arent you? They do roll call every meal and once at
night. As long as the inmates are all accounted for, its okay. If one is missing, they start
a manhunt. This isnt some piss-assed state pen. This is Federal. The record for walkouts is five days. Five fucking days and back in the Hole, facing a mandatory ten more
years for escaping. And by the way, dont even think about trying to rat me out. Even if
they believed you, which they wont, youll get ten for aiding and abetting. My buddy on
the outside left a great trail implicating you. If I go down, so do you.
You bastard. Youre going to make me do your time?
Not all of it. Probably only a couple of months, six max. When I got my new life
ready, Ill switch back and disappear off the Bus. Then Willy Fenton will cease to exist.
So you got to escape twice? Why dont you just do that now?
Escaping takes a lot of planning. I organized the first part from in here. I
couldnt get my new life together from in here. The other part has got to be organized
from outside. Usually, people get a lot of accomplices, do something like this. The more
people involved, the more chance itll go wrong. Im the only one gonna know about my
new life. This way, I get to be my own accomplice.
Why put me in here?
Youre my collateral. My computer buddy doesnt really trust me to pay him. If
Im out, I might just screw him. This way, he has you for a hostage until I come up with

Isaak/The Exchange

46

the money. See, hell just switch us back again, call the feds and get your ass busted for
helping me escape if I dont pay. See how much your friendship means to me? Guys like
him only hold hostages who are important; usually loved ones.
Whats that, some twisted Hallmark card to me?
No, a beer commercial. I love you, man.
Whats wrong with using Carol?
One, shed probably kill him, he threatened her. Hes just a computer guy, not
Rambo. Two, if something went wrong, Carold get a lot of sympathy. Being a woman
and being so damned beautiful.
Oh. And I wouldnt, being a human and so damned ordinary?
Well, Chad, youre a lawyer. Nobodyd care what happened to you, except me.
And Im a convicted felon car dealer.
You are some twisted son of a bitch. But youre right. Everybody hates lawyers.
Now, since weve bared our souls here, why dont you tell me where the money is and Ill
get it, pay him and you can screw?
Counselor, its a long drive back to Boston. Once your ass is out of here, you
might not want to commit a federal felony to help your old friend Willy. I cant exactly
make you, can I?
You dont trust me?
God, I wish they were recording this! Thisd be on Americas stupidest home
videos. Did you just hear yourself? Trust you? Im here because I trusted you. And
dont even suggest me telling Carol where the money is.
What about Carol?
Yeah, what about her?
Is she in on this?
Yeah. She has to be. My old routine will remain unchanged. Youll call her;
shell visit.

Isaak/The Exchange

47

What about the CVs?


The CVs will continue.
Shed do that?
If I dont get the money, she loses all her toys. Our marriage has never been the
same after Kelly. And this hasnt exactly helped it any. Shell do whatever she has to do;
shes not joining me in my new life. When I disappear, shell be the grieving young
widow.
Wont they try to sweat it out of her? Make her tell?
Shell be able to pass a polygraph, if it comes to that. She wont know where I
am and Ill never contact her. Shell keep her regular CV appointments with you until I
am truly gone.
With me? I hardly know her. We met maybe twice the whole time Ive known
you.
You dont actually have to do her; just fake it.
I cant fake it.
Like the movies. Just lay on top of her, in case theyre taping it. Make the noises
and leave after thirty minutes. Its just a half-hour. You just do what Carol tells you and
youll do fine.
So now I not only have to do your time, I have to star in some little porno film
every week?
Believe me, with Carol, you dont get to be the star, just a bit part. And its every
other week.
This is nuts. Itll never work. You dont look nearly enough like me. For one
thing, youre damn-near bald.
Dont start with the fucking hair, okay? Youre lucky I dont have the time; Id
pull yours out with a pliers, I swear. I got a rug, a fake mustache. You shave yours. We
exchange clothes. You get on the Bus. Its a done deal. Besides, remember all those

Isaak/The Exchange

48

times wed go bar-hopping down to the Combat Zone and wed tell girls we were twins,
fraternal twins?
Couple of coke whores in a dim bar is one thing; were talking professional
Corrections Officers!
Dont you know what us inmates are here?
What?
Inventory. Were just inventory here, counselor. They wouldnt give a rats ass if
you walked up with a sucking chest wound if you had the right paperwork.
Dont you even have a clean set of clothes for me? Im not wearing your
underwear. No way.
Im escaping from Federal prison and youre worried about getting cooties from
wearing my underwear? You moron.
What if I refuse? You cant make me go through with this.
Counselor, between me, Bernie and my guard, I think we could get it done the
hard way, you make us.
Ill tell them everything! You wont get past Clyde Peeles Reptile World before
they call out the dogs.
Ive already checked with the counseling files, Chad. Youd be surprised what
happens to inmates when they lose their appeal. Very bizarre behavior. Theyd put you
in the psych ward at the Hole and medicate the shit out of you until you were willing to
admit that you were Willy Fenton. I wouldnt advise you to do that. Believe me, the
Farm is a piece of cake compared with the Hole or even this place. Youd never qualify
to get into a country club as exclusive as that on the outside. Ill bury your million
dollars in your Japanese garden under the laughing Buddha. Ill feed your dog and the
other animals and keep your house good and tidy. You can play gin rummy with the big
guys and network like hell. Youll be out before you know it.

Isaak/The Exchange

49

Whatre you going to do about my law practice? You cant practice law. Youre
going to get me disbarred.
Ill hire somebody. Theres lots of lawyers looking for a job. I dont think itll
really be a problem.
I really would go nuts in here.
You cant face six months when I was facing six years?
I didnt commit any crime!
I didnt either, motherfucker. I was innocent. And you never believed me, did
you? You just went through the fucking motions, thinking the entire time that I was
guilty. You never really investigated this, did you?
I tried. I got nothing but dead ends. Youre right, I did think you were guilty.
Im sorry, Willy. I truly am. Please dont make me do this, please. Theres got to be
another way. Im begging you.
Ok. Tell me what the other way is. Go on. Tell me.
I dont know. Habeas corpus?
Chad. Dont you know, they just consolidated all appeals into one? Remember?
I shot my wad. The only thing you could try is to challenge the new law and raise
ineffective assistance of counsel or newly-discovered evidence. You discover any new
evidence?
Well, if youre innocent, they set you up, right?
Right. How many times did I tell you that? And what did you do to help me
prove it? And you think theyre going to volunteer to testify and get me out? The guy
that did me is long gone and out of the game. Cmon, counselor, dont make me hurt
you.
Chad could see the menace and pent-up rage burning from Willys eyes. He was
not to be denied. Gone and out of the game was where Chad realized he wanted to be.

Isaak/The Exchange

50

Whatever else you could say about Willy Fenton, he was one hell of a salesman.
He stood, looked directly at Chad, and created an aura of inevitability. Willy always
knew when to shut up and let the magic work. Customers closed themselves for their
own reasons. You really didnt have to completely understand the reasons. All you had
to do is let your intuition lead you and let the customer buy. Willyd personally sold over
a hundred thousand cars. Chad was a done deal.
Chad put his head in his hands and began to cry. All right. Okay. Sure. Just
dont leave me here for six years. Promise Ill be out in a couple of months. Swear youll
get me out when the time comes. Swear by Kellys grave.
Yeah. I swear I wont leave you here. By everything -- by the only thing I still
hold dear to me. By Kellys grave. Okay? Now get changed and get on the Bus.

Isaak/The Exchange

51

Chapter 7.
Willy had been right. Once he shaved the mustache, exchanged his suit for the
blue prison chinos, and followed Willy out of the conference room, Chad looked like he
belonged at the Camp. Willy looked a little artificial in the suit, especially with the wig
and mustache. He had apparently practiced the arrogant, aggressive mannerisms of a
court-house lawyer; he carried himself like an alpha male sniffing prey. Chad,
meanwhile had no trouble adopting the cowed, hang-dog crawl of the damned.
The guard who had met him at the beginning of the visit betrayed nothing; he
flawlessly addressed Chad as Willy and Willy as Mr. Lewis. No other guards or
administrators were in evidence. Chad was escorted into a small room which housed a
desk, some computer equipment, a video camera monitor screen and a second door. He
placed his palms on the special scanner and Willys file with Chads prints and photo
popped onto the computer screen. The guard took his photo with a digital camera
connected to the terminal, made some keyboard entries, moused a couple of icons, and a
laser printer whined into action. His picture, prints, file and traveling papers were
printed, bound, and placed into a folder. Ten minutes after entering one door of the

Isaak/The Exchange

52

room, Chad exited the other door as Willy Fenton. The guard gave the bus driver the
folder. The driver motioned Chad to the door of an old blue converted school bus.
As Chad sat in the bus trying not to cry, the guard entered and strode down the
corridor to his seat. Putting his hand on Chads shoulder, he entered into what was
apparently a prepared speech.
Youre on this bus to start a journey to the facility where youll be serving the
balance of your term. Think of this as a test. If you pass the test, you can have a
pleasant, short journey to a safe, not-too-uncomfortable place to live and rehabilitate
your life. If you fail the test, you may have a long, unpleasant journey to a dangerous
and very uncomfortable place. See these? The guard held up a pair of hand-cuffs.
These cut off your circulation, cramp your muscles, and prevent you from drinking a
Pepsi, picking your nose or scratching your nuts. I have the discretion to require these
or not. Its up to you if you want them, Willy.
Chad didnt look or even lift up his head.
Willy?
Chad sat immobile.
Motherfucker?
Chad looked up.
That your name, motherfucker?
No.
You look at me when Im talking to you, Willy.
Uh Uh Uh. Yeah. Sure.
I was saying, you want these, Willy?
No. Uh... sir.
Well, maybe you should see the backup system, before you decide. The guard
held up a riot baton, a leather-covered sap and a nine-millimeter automatic. See, if

Isaak/The Exchange

53

youre not cuffed, and you misbehave, I got the discretion to use any of these here. You
get the picture, Willy?
Uh uh uh.... Sure. Im not going to give you any trouble. Ill do whatever you
say. Chad was still having trouble responding to the new name.
You got the first question correct. You havent passed the entire test, but I think
you know the answers to the rest of the questions. Just remember, my salary, my
vacation schedule, my promotion depend on me delivering you to your destination. I
dont get any points for your condition, so long as I dont misplace you. Any questions,
Willy?
No, sir.
Good, lets get this show on the road.

Chad was the only inmate in the old bus. He didnt dare ask if there were going to
be others getting on. What did you talk about to other prisoners? What are you in for?
Did you do it? How long is your sentence? Nice weather? Is your wife divorcing you
while youre here? Hed just have to observe the other guys, and maybe take his cues
from them.
The first stop was the Nuke. Three young, well-muscled, fatigue-clad men got on;
they swaggered all of the way to the back seat and immediately began arguing about
which NBA player had slept with the most women. At first, Chad assumed they were
comparing lifetime point totals, but it soon became obvious that the term score was
being used in a different context. They apparently had been on the bus before, because
they didnt get the test lecture. Sports. If thats what these guys conversed about, he
was going to be at a real disadvantage.
The bus stopped next at the Farm. The lobby was indistinguishable from a
Sheraton Chad had once stayed at outside of Indianapolis, except for the lack of a neon

Isaak/The Exchange

54

sign. One distinguished, well-tanned late-middle-aged man got on and sat in the seat
directly across the aisle from Chad.
Ben Gunderson. The man extended his hand across the aisle.
Ch... Uh uh uh Willy. Willy Fenton. Chad shook Bens hand and met his gaze.
Im headed to a half-way house; should be home for the holidays. Willy, I heard
about you.
Huh? Me?
Yeah. Mitty said you were going to take the bus to the coast and back and end
up here on the Farm. Damndest thing I ever heard. A half-mile trip and youre doing it
via California.
Really? Uh. Yeah I guess.
Youre the car dealer, right?
Um Hmm.
The one whose lawyer fucked up his trial and then lost the appeal?
Well, I dont know if Id characterize it as fucked up; I guess he did the best he
could, given the circumstances.
Come on, Mitty said you were innocent and thats a mouthful from that old
sonofabitch. Your lawyer let them put away an innocent man. The bastard should be
shot. Whyre you defending him?
Im not, not really. Yeah, Im innocent all right. I guess Im still in a daze about
losing the appeal.
Sorry about that. I didnt mean to bring up a sore subject, but Mitty said you
had a pretty good case of ineffective assistance and that you were going to end up here at
the Farm. We never had a car dealer up here before. The last guy who had anything to
do with cars, a Honda V-P, never made the cut. Im a mite curious about you. It was
just announced at the council meeting and there was no vote. Mitty just said you were
coming and we were to make you welcome. Nobody could remember the last time there

Isaak/The Exchange

55

was no vote and I was the guy with the most seniority. Must have some powerful juice,
get in without a vote.
Chad was about to have a panic attack. He wished the guy would just shut up.
He sounded like one of the old ladies whod sit at his mothers house and quilt and
gossip for hours. Maybe just bluff it. Yeah? Chad gave him what Betsy once described
as the fish-eye stare. So?
Didnt mean any harm, Willy. Of course, your juice is your business. Mittyll
have it all set for you by the time you get back. He asked me could you maybe take some
letters and deliver them, since youre going to run the circuit.
Hey, sure, no problem, Ben. What circuit, he wondered?
Ben slipped Chad a small bundle of envelopes. Theres a couple for Marion and
a couple for some guys at Lompach. Theyre sure going to be happy getting these.
Theyll probably give you some return letters and Mittyd be obliged if you brought em.
Chad began to assume the role. He was becoming Willy; he could almost feel it
coming on like a cold. Okay, Ill be the postman, long as Im all set when I get back and
so long as nobody fucks with me on this bus ride.
Believe me, Willy, its as set up as it can be. Mitty called in a lot of markers for
this. For you. Youll get nothing but respect on the road. Heres how to get these
delivered. Ben slipped into the seat next to Chad and whispered the instructions in
excruciating detail; he asked Chad to repeat them and Chad passed another test.
Whered you say you were headed? Chad looked out the bus window as they hit
the interstate.
Halfway house outside of Philadelphia. My ex and my son both live in Philly.
Got a job waiting for me in a bakery. No bracelet and I get one weekend pass per month.
Six months and Im out.
Me too, Chad silently vowed. Me too.

Isaak/The Exchange

56

The rest of the trip to Philadelphia passed in a fog for Chad. Fast food, using the
tiny closet bathroom, sleeping as the miles rolled by. He soon learned how to construct
a zone of privacy with his eyes and his face and he kept it in place most of the time he
was awake. For once in his life, he had no pen, no paper, no book, no magazines, no TV,
no radio, and no telephone. No schedule, no duties, no responsibilities. Chad was alone
with the contents of his head and it frightened him.

Isaak/The Exchange

57

Chapter 8.
Willy caught his own reflection in the glass of the guard booth as he stood next to
the electronic door that led out of the Administration wing of the Camp to the lobby that
exited to the parking lot. The combined effect of the suit, the wig and the fake mustache
was a grotesque parody of the successful attorney. He imagined alarms ringing at the
guard tower outside of the Hole and armed men swarming out of the doors toward the
parking lot. The activation of the electronic lock buzzed like the sound effect for the
wrong answer to the final question in a quiz show called Judgment Day.
As the buzzing of the lock continued, Willy stood paralyzed like a deer in the
headlights. The voice of his guard came over the speaker next to the video camera up
in the corner. Its all set, Mr. Lewis; just push on through. Ive called ahead to clear
you past the guard tower. Please be sure to sign the book on the way out.
Sure. Thanks. Willy pushed the door open and it took all of the control he
could muster to casually stroll over to the small sign-out counter where the log book sat.
He opened it to the page where Chad had signed in and saw spaces for a date and time
entry as well as a signature. Chads sign-in signature looked like someone had been
trying out the pen to see if it worked. He couldnt discern even one letter of the English

Isaak/The Exchange

58

alphabet among the scribbles. Fortunately, Willyd had to forge so many documents
with his customers names during his years as a car dealer that he was a natural mimic.
He produced a reasonable copy in seconds with a slight flourish of his right hand. He
replaced the pen to the right inside suit-jacket pocket, shot his cuffs, picked up the
briefcase and strode purposefully across the immaculate lobby, through the outside door
and pretended to look at the scenery.
He fished through ten pockets located at strategic places on Chads shirt, pants,
and suit jacket in a futile attempt to find the keys to Chads old Beamer. He placed the
briefcase on the hood, snapped it open, and rifled the contents, to no avail. A glance
through the passenger-side window showed that the keys were not locked inside. A
thorough search of the parking lot under the drivers side door, under the car, behind
the trunk, and over to the sidewalk revealed nothing but a quarter, two pennies, and
various cigarette butts. Willy began to sweat as panic set in. Where in the hell had Chad
put the keys? When he took off the jacket and threw it on top of the briefcase, he heard
a familiar key-like thump and jingle. He must have missed a pocket. Sure enough, the
keys were in a small inconspicuous pocket on the lower edge, inside the jacket. His
hands shook visibly as Willy finally opened the door to the aging black 325i, threw the
briefcase and suit jacket on the passenger seat, and cranked the ignition switch.
Willy scrutinized himself in the rear-view mirror as he adjusted and fastened the
seat belt; the sweat had loosened the mustache enough so that one side actually
drooped. He patted it back into place and slowly and carefully made his way out of the
parking lot, through the stone arch, down the tree-lined lane and then stopped because
he couldnt remember which way to turn to get back to the interstate. The entire time, he
imagined himself being scrutinized by armed guards watching his every move on large
video screens. In actuality, while the comedic routine of searching for his car keys had
been displayed on the monitors, the two guards assigned to watch the screen had been

Isaak/The Exchange

59

otherwise engaged: one was asleep at his desk; the other had adjourned to the area just
outside the entrance door to smoke a butt.
Willy made the wrong turn first and had to cruise past the prison entrance again
five minutes later on his way down the old state road that took him past Clyde Peeles
Reptile World, the Little League Hall of Fame, an adult book and video store, a Wendys,
three churches, several muffler shops, a taxidermist, and the entire franchise freak show
of modern America. About a half-hour after passing the prison entrance, when it
became obvious to even Willy that there was no roadblock waiting for him, his face
became suffused with a big satisfied smile. Hed done it. Hed actually pulled it off.
Free. Free at last.
Before he got to the highway, he gassed up, checked the oil, and grabbed a
burger. Chads wallet contained over $500 in cash, a rubber, and six credit cards.
Chads drivers license picture looked worse than Willy looked in person. He slotted a
Grateful Dead bootleg tape into the stereo and scooted onto the Interstate toward
Boston. Willy was as excited and happy as hed ever allowed himself to be. Hed drive
straight through. He was glad for the time in the car; it allowed him to go over all of the
details needed in order to make it all work
.
Six and a half hours later, Willy pulled into the gravel driveway of Chads old
farmhouse north of Boston. The rain had started as a light drizzle when he hit
Sturbridge on the Mass Pike; by the time he exited Route 128, it felt like a noreaster. It
was the middle of the night and none of the ranch-style suburban houses hed passed
showed any activity. As the car climbed the driveway and curved through the cover of
the tall pines, Willy could hear the barking and see him coming straight at the car
through the driving downpour. The dog skillfully jumped to the side at the last minute
and continued barking and running as Willy rounded the final curve and parked the car
under the overhang formed by the second-floor deck. The dog, a half-collie and half-

Isaak/The Exchange

60

shepherd mix, jumped up, put his front paws on Willys shoulders, and licked him in the
face.
Youre some guard dog, boy. Cmon.
Willy selected the correct door key from the key ring, poked it into the front door
and sprang inside with the dog almost tripping him. There was a touch-pad switch
which turned on what appeared to be every light in the house. Above it was a small oiled
walnut cabinet with a cut-glass insert in the door. Behind the door was a bank of small
switches which individually controlled all of the lights turned on by the touch pad. Willy
was going to have to do some serious exploring to figure out the details of the house and
its systems. He fed the dog, checked out the master bedroom, removed the mustache
and wig, took a shower, and grabbed the darkest clothes he could find from Chads
closet. A frenzied search of every likely closet failed to turn up any foul-weather gear or
working flashlights. Even though all he wanted was to bury himself in the king-sized
bed, he knew he had to do the first and hardest part of the job now. He had to go and
get the money, bootless and hatless, as he was.
Hed made the trip dozens of times; he could have driven it in his sleep. The
night seemed other-worldly as he drove past the reservoir through a wall of rainwater.
The Myopia Hunt Club was unrecognizable, dark grey shapes looming in his peripheral
vision. The farms he knew were there stabbed into view in a lightning flash, bent and
twisted corn stalks poking through the expanse of floodwater. The car almost skidded
into a ditch when Willy maneuvered to avoid a fallen tree as he took the left turn and
parked in a secluded spot in front of an overturned picnic table. The fickle New England
weather was putting on a bizarre display. The storms wind, lightning and driving rain
had given way to hail. A narrow path twisted up the wooded hill; the rainwater and
hailstones flowed like lava down the path toward him.
Willy sat in the darkened interior of the BMW, counting the seconds between the
lightning and the thunder that followed, surrounded by the splattering cacophony of the

Isaak/The Exchange

61

hail. The full fury of the storm was headed his way, but he couldnt wait it out. The ice
crystals scored his face and hands as he bolted out of the car door toward the path. He
was instantly drenched and freezing. Normally, it would have taken him ten minutes to
traverse the quarter- mile path. Battling the hellish storm and crashing through the
underbrush to avoid the fallen trees, it took him the better part of an hour. Finally, he
emerged from the woods and came to the old cemetery. A ten foot square stone
mausoleum was set into the hill on the left. A stainless steel lock pierced the pink
granite door. The thunder and lightning were continuous and simultaneous. Willy
sloshed over to the large sugar maple tree to the right of the path, lifted a flat stone,
scuffed around under it with his fingernails and plucked a shiny key from the cold mud.
He stumbled to the mausoleum door in the sleet and the darkness, fumbled with the key
and finally ducked into the small stone structure. In the cold silent dark, he stood,
shivering and dripping.
Willy began the same macabre ritual he always performed when he visited Kelly.
He lit the hurricane lamp in the corner and slipped the key into the lock of the third
drawer set into the wall. There were three drawers; the third one contained Kellys
casket and body. Hed wondered as a little boy Whats it like? Being dead? Now he
knew. He slid the drawer open and gently lifted the lid of the tiny casket. As he looked
at her remains, he sent a greeting to the spirit of his dead daughter and lifted the
hurricane lamp from the corner.
Hi, Kelly, Daddys here. I miss you so much. Every time Willy came to add to
his stash, hed have a talk with her. Just like when hed tucked her into her bed at home
or held her hand at the hospital towards the end. She was so small and so brave. She
was the best part of him personified. Hed give everything he had, even his own life, if
only Kelly werent dead. Hed imagined trading places with Kelly, lying down in the
drawer as she left.

Isaak/The Exchange

62

Honey, Daddys not going to be able to come back after tonight. Dont be afraid.
Everythings going to be all right. Just remember, no matter what, I love you and I
always will. No matter what. His eyes filmed over with tears as he closed the lid and
slipped Kellys drawer shut.
The other drawers were reserved for Carol and himself. The door and all of the
drawers were keyed the same. Willy opened his own drawer. No more time; just get the
stuff and get back out of here. Every other time he had come out here, hed had no
worry about being followed or challenged. After all, couldnt a grieving father visit the
grave of his deceased daughter? He had no idea what he would do if someone asked him
what he was doing out here tonight. What legitimate reason could the lawyer for the
imprisoned grieving father have for visiting the clients daughters grave at 4 AM?
So now it was just grab and go. Fast. After blowing out the lamp, Willys heart
began to hammer as he struggled to maneuver the two large suitcases out of the small
granite door into the heart of the storm while wearing the backpack. The short sprint
through the cold puddles to the path seemed to take forever and sapped his little
remaining strength. Willy was beginning to crash and began to shiver uncontrollably in
the driving rain. He couldnt survive on pure adrenalin much longer. As he replaced the
key under the rock, the large sugar maple exploded with a sudden flash and the
concussion of thunder. The blast propelled him and his suitcases back to the car at a
run. Once everything was deposited into the trunk and he had the car back on Route 1A,
he drove shivering and dripping back to the house again. Willy didnt bother
unpacking the trunk of the car. After undressing and drying himself with a bath towel,
he just slumped on the bed and went into a seeming coma.

Isaak/The Exchange

63

Chapter 9.
Carol had been so shaken by the half-hour of whispered conversation with Willy
that she hadnt trusted herself to fly back to Marblehead without taking some time to get
her head together. Shed driven her rental car south of Lewisburg to the Amish
community shed flown over once or twice to kill time before her conjugal visits. Far
from calming her shattered nerves, the drive down the narrow dirt tracks, lined with
ankle-high wheat and rye fields had deeply troubled her.
How could these people live like that? She felt disoriented driving a ground car,
deprived of her GPS navigation gear, her altimeter and all of the other gauges and
indicators she had come to trust with her life. Apparently, this particular community of
Mennonites was hard-core Luddites. She noticed a donkey trudging in a circle to draw
well-water for the cows on one farm. Did their God really care whether or not they used
a zipper on their jeans or how they lighted their churches? The few glimpses of the
Amish women she saw were truly shocking. One woman looked as washed-out as the
laundry she was hanging out to dry. Carol wanted to kidnap her, take her up in the
Mooney and show her a different face of the God she worshiped. Blow her mind.

Isaak/The Exchange

64

Carol stopped at the last farm on the dirt road before it intersected with the paved
County road. A radiant young woman was seated reading a Bible behind a wooden
stand which displayed several intricately-stitched quilts. Suddenly, Carol felt awkward
and shy, a legacy of her childhood in Brazil, shed come to realize. Shed come to
America in the sixth grade and, although her English was flawless, you could detect the
Portuguese overtones from her mother and the Briticisms shed acquired from her
English nanny. Occasionally, when she was very tired or nervous, she sounded vaguely
foreign.
Hello. Sorry to bother you. Are the quilts for sale?
Its no bother; sure, the quilts are for sale. Thats why theyre hanging here.
Of course. Did you make them?
We made them together, my mother, my grandmother, me and my two sisters.
Any one in particular you want to look at?
The pink one with the butterflies. Does the design have a name?
No; my grandmother just made it up. She loves butterflies.
The young woman put down the Bible, came around the stand and she and Carol
unfolded the quilt, spreading out their arms and walking slowly apart.
My name is Amy. Do you like butterflies too?
I like all things that fly. Amy, have you ever flown?
Flown? You mean physically? No. Im Amish; we dont-- I mean we couldnt fly
unless one of the horses sprouted wings.
How did you mean, physically? Is there any other way to fly?
Of course. Sometimes, I close my eyes and I fly wherever I want.
And where is that?
I dont think I want to tell. Do you fly?
Yes, I fly airplanes. Amy, would you fly with me someday, in my airplane?
Only if you fly with me someday, my way.

Isaak/The Exchange

65

Fair enough. You may have to teach me.


Whats your name?
Carol.
Carol, why did you come here?
To get away for a little while. Because I didnt trust myself to fly back home just
yet.
Would you like some tea before you get back in your plane?
That would be great.
Carol spent over two hours having tea, fresh muffins, jam, more tea, more
muffins. At first their conversation was awkward, but by the time Carol asked if she
could use the loo, theyd begun to giggle like schoolgirls. Amy gave her the choice of
using the chamber pot in the upstairs hallway, the outhouse in back of the farm house or
the Mobil station a mile up the County road. Carol braved the outhouse and apparently
got points for her courage.
Eventually, they were joined by all of the rest of the quilters who gave Carol her
first opportunity to stitch. The thin needle looked machine-made but Carol didnt
question it. It felt nothing like a socket wrench but Carol gave it her best shot. The
sense of shared work and the conversation felt good, like the time she and the ground
crew had pulled the engine on her Comanche. Except, nobody was constantly hitting on
her.
The afternoon turned out to be just what she needed. She ended up buying the
butterfly quilt and she accepted the basket of muffins and jam gracefully. She promised
not to overfly the farm on her way home. (Amy was sure it would curdle the cows milk
and panic the chickens.) They agreed she would come and visit the next time she flew
into Lewisburg. Driving back down the dirt lane, looking at the farms and fields, Carol
amended her views about Amish women. The men, though, were still probably nuts, in
her opinion.

Isaak/The Exchange

66

Carol sat in her modern chrome and leather chair in her bedroom, wearing
nothing but a faded pair of boys boxers, letting the early Sunday morning sea breeze
raise gooseflesh all over her body. She held a microscopic cell phone to her ear as she
admired the new quilt covering her canopied bed.
Fawn?
Hi, Carol.
What ya doin today? And dont say Going to the office or I may have to kill
you. Fawn Cohen was Carols best friend in Marblehead and her dentist. Theyd met in
sixth grade at Shore Country Day School and had been through a lot together.
Roberts picking the kids up at nine and Im baking some Chocolate Os for the
temple auxiliary bake sale, why? You got a hot date needs some emergency dental work
after you bashed him with a connecting rod?
Yeah, Fritz kept saying Hurt me, hurt me. So I hurt him. Really, though, I need
to talk, get some of your advice.
Well, here goes. Floss more.
Fawn, Im serious. I really need to talk to you.
Is this about the convicted felon soon-to-be-your-ex?
Please?
All right, all right. Mind if I bring my ingredients? High time you broke in your
oven, after what? Six years?
Very funny. When?
Soon as Robert-the-prick picks up his spawn.
Super.
As she thumbed the phone off, Carol stood, stretched, shed her boxers, and began
rummaging through the pile of clothes on the floor of her closet. She retrieved her
favorite sweats, pulled her hair into an unruly pile atop her head and got dressed. This

Isaak/The Exchange

67

was one of those times in her life shed come to recognize, a turning point, a pivot.
Consequences would flow, very different consequences, depending upon how she
decided. She knew she had to work through the divergent possibilities like she had
always done. Shed project herself into the possible future scenarios and see what her
gut told her. Eventually, one path would leave her with that queasiness inside of herself
while another path would excite her or exhilarate her. It was best to begin with a tour of
her house, to see how she felt about leaving.
Carol padded from the master bedroom suite, down the hall to the nursery. Willy
had insisted on leaving the crib, the changing table, the bureau and the rocker in place.
As soon as he had left for Pennsylvania, Carol had dismantled the entire tableau. The
room was now empty of furniture, except for the rocker. The walls were still pale pink
and the stenciled flowers crept up the sides of the windows and marched across the
ceiling. The white lace curtains shone obscenely bright in the morning sunlight. Postersized, grainy black-and-white photos were glued to one wall. Carol, naked, hugely
pregnant, with a wave breaking over her distended belly. Kelly, bowlegged, in a diaper,
walking precariously on the lawn, smiling her goofy four-toothed grin. Willy, balancing
the hours-old Kelly on his right arm, a look of infinite serenity on his craggy face. Carol
sighed and moved down the hall past the house-beautiful guest suites to the narrow
stairs that led to the widows walk on the roof. The deck was built to resemble a firstclass cruise ship. The stairs led her up through a sealed hatch to an oiled teak floor
surrounded by polished brass railings. Canvas deck chairs lounged under a pergola;
twisted vines coiled up the posts from pots and were beginning to show soft green
leaves. To the east, she could see the Atlantic, with the islands in the foreground,
Bakers, Misery, Goat, and Big and Little Egg; to the west, hundreds of bobbing boats
dotted the harbor, beyond the stately gables of the Corinthian Yacht Club.
She sprawled on the nearest deck chair, watching a lobster boat slaloming among
the bright floats. Shed been alone in the house since Willy left, but she felt at home

Isaak/The Exchange

68

here. Hed never inhabited the house like she had. Very specific memories flashed in
her mind at every turn. Good memories. From three stories above, she could hear the
rooster crowing from the chicken shed and the seagulls crying from the beach. Carol
untucked her legs, walked around the railing, peering down at the graceful lines of the
gambrel roof, and silently descended the stairs. She peeked into the silent Oriental
Room, her feet luxuriating in the feel of the tatami mats; she swept past the upstairs
parlor and slid down the shiny banister that bordered the formal stairs. Exiting the
massive front door, she crept onto the front porch, past the stately pillars and down the
stairs to the front lawn. The acre of grass was interrupted by a circular brick drive and
the perennial beds studded with the remains of last years sunflowers and the
beginnings of this springs new growth. Beyond the lawn, through the small stand of
woods, she could see the stone front wall and the tiny stone garden folly in the corner.
She walked down the pea-stone path, stopping and turning around at the
wrought-iron gate and imagined she was doing it for the last time. How could she ever
leave? The house, the grounds, the sea had seeped into her pores. Even through all of
the bad times, she had been happy here. The yellow house sparkled as the sun peeked
over the roof. Carol walked purposefully around the side, past the garage, under the
basketball hoop, and over to the chicken yard. She opened the small door, and thirty
busy chickens fluttered into the enclosure. Inside the little barn, the ammonia assaulted
her nostrils as she gathered a basket full of warm eggs and doled out the fresh mash.
Yes, the house was too big for just her and she didnt need the salt-water pool, the
tennis court, the fresh-water pool, the private beach, or the servants cottage. She
couldnt imagine how many millions the place was worth; but it was obvious that she
could live comfortably on the interest alone for the rest of her life if she sold it. The deed
was in her name and her ownership had survived a government seizure attempt, thanks
to Willys foresight and the efforts of her own lawyer. Willy had made her promise him
shed never sell it. Carol knew the house was some kind of a testament to how much of a

Isaak/The Exchange

69

man Willy wanted to be and how great his love for her was supposed to have been. To
Carol, it was her home and it came as a package. Selling it would be a breeze; shed been
discretely approached several times already. It wasnt as if she couldnt imagine life
without it, but it would certainly be different. She was a survivor and shed been happy
before, in her small studio apartment in Harvard Square. Shed be happy, even if she
didnt live here. But this was paradise.
Bursting through the back door into the kitchen, she surprised Maria, busy
making pasta dough and drinking coffee. Maria was middle-aged, dark, thin and
opinionated. She was, a refugee from the squalid squatter camp south of Rio and had
been with Carol for years. Senora, o meu Deus! Um cafe?
Willy had treated her like furniture; to Carol, she was a surrogate mother. Ever
since Willy left, they spoke only Portuguese. Muito obrigada, Maria. Carol put the
basket of eggs on the table, sipped her coffee and began peeling a mango. With juice
dripping off her elbows, she slipped a piece into Marias mouth while Maria turned the
pasta dough out of the bowl onto the granite counter top.
Carol disposed of the pit and peelings, wiped her arms on the dish towel and
slipped up the back stairs with her coffee mug to take her shower. Whatever she did,
thered be a place for Maria, she vowed silently.
Twenty minutes later Fawn breezed into the house carrying an enormous canvas
bag. She and Carol were as physically opposite as the human genetic code could
arrange. Her dark red hair was cut close to her scalp; a galaxy of freckles exploded
across every inch of her exposed flesh. The outline of Fawns two little acorns as she
called her breasts poked through an enormous white tee-shirt which announced Been
there; did that. Wearing the T-shirt. The shirt ballooned over her wide hips; the green
shorts peeked out underneath. Carols blond curls were twined into an elaborate French
braid which ended in the center of her spine. She wore her usual black Lycra bicycle
shorts and black halter.

Isaak/The Exchange

70

Fawn plopped the bag onto the kitchen island and beamed at her friend. Kiss
kiss. God is so unfair. Why couldnt she have given me even a little bit of what youve
got? And youre wasting it on him.
Youre horrible. Ive put up some water for tea? Lapsang souchong all right?
Liquid lox? Sure. But first I got to pee.
Her ablutions taken care of, Fawn began organizing her ingredients while Carol
assembled all of the equipment. It was a familiar routine; theyd made this recipe
hundreds of times over the years. When the batter was in the oven, Fawn set the timer
and they took their tea into Carols office.
Built as a music room by the original owner, it was the perfect place for Carols
equipment. Two walls were lined with rows of huge speakers. One wall held a column
of rack-mounted electronic gear. In the middle of the room, a small Shaker table was
centered on a large Caucasian rug. Matching flame-stitched love-seats faced each other,
framing the table.
Fawn sprawled lazily on one couch; Carol perched tensely on the other.
You still consulting?
Not for about three years now. Although the rig is pretty good for opera.
I bet. Dont you need to keep up? You know, use it or lose it?
Not really. From what Ive read, this sort of thing is innate; its a part of me.
For good. Carol had a unique talent. She could diagnose jet engines by listening to
them. Experts had surmised it was a result of her constant exposure to engine noise
during her mothers pregnancy and her own early childhood, when her father was
working for the Brazilian government knocking off the Rolls Royce and Boeing engine
designs for Brazils domestic airline industry. Shed worked on and off as a consultant
for a famous Cambridge think-tank ever since her graduation from MIT. For years shed
had to go to the GE or General Dynamics plants to listen to the engines. With the

Isaak/The Exchange

71

advent of digital recording, shed been able to do it at home, provided she had the
equipment.
Carol slotted Vivaldis Four Seasons into her CD player and resumed her seat,
sipping her tea.
Carolena, spill. Whats so heavy?
Fawn, this conversation isnt really going to happen, legally. You must promise
me.
Jesus, youre serious, arent you?
Very.
I swear. You know you can trust me.
Always. When Willy was indicted, I went to my own lawyer. He explained that
in Massachusetts, private conversations between a husband and a wife were excluded as
evidence in any court. But the exclusion wasnt secure if I repeated the conversations to
anyone except my lawyer. So, this never happened.
Yes?
When I visited Willy last time, he told me he was going to escape.
Escape? I always knew he was nuts. When they catch him, hell get ....
Ten more years. And so will anyone caught helping him.
He didnt ask you to help him?
Yes.
No! Youre not considering it!
Please, just hear me out; listen to me.
So talk.
Hes got an elaborate plan; we didnt have the time to go into all of it. If it works
out, Ill never see him or even talk to him again.
Well, thats a no-brainer. Its about time for that outcome. Whats the catch?
What help does he need from you?

Isaak/The Exchange

72

Hes going to get his lawyer to exchange places with him. I know, its bizarre.
He says it will work, but I need to act as if nothing has changed. Act like the lawyer is
Willy for a few months.
Thats absolute unadulterated bullshit. That could never work. Did he tell you
how it was going to work?
You know Willy. Dont worry your pretty little head about that, honey. The less
I know, the less chance I will be tricked into telling about it later.
Id honey him. Why does he need you?
The prison people like routines. If Willys routine changed, theyd start asking
questions. He cant afford to have any questions asked until hes disappeared.
What about the lawyer? Hes going to just rot in jail while Willy gets off scottfree? What about the appeal?
They lost the appeal. Hes doing this now, because he says he wont tolerate
serving the entire sentence. Willy said he needed a couple of months outside to get
everything arranged, then hell change back, the lawyers back outside and Willy escapes
for good. I know it sounds crazy; but I know Willy. Once he sets his mind to something,
theres no stopping him. Hes going to do it.
Well, youre not. Are you?
I dont know.
Willy wants you to put yourself at risk just so he has a better chance of pulling
this hare-brained scheme off? Just dont do it, Carol. Divorce him now. Ill give you a
referral to my divorce lawyer. There wont be enough left of Willy to escape.
Thats your answer to every marital problem. Divorce him.
Its highly effective. I know sometimes I sound like a crusader against those
smarmy family values guys; but Im sincere now. And Im right. Its not the money, is
it? This big barn, all your toys? You know if you sell this place, you could keep all your

Isaak/The Exchange

73

other toys; youd be one hell of an eligible divorcee, let me tell you. I bet guys are
already sniffing the wind, am I right?
Sniffing is the right word. The women at the yacht club and in the neighborhood
have been offering to fix me up with tennis lessons from their favorite pros, you know,
the one with the good stroke; God its awful. I cant even think of another man until
Willy is resolved. No, its not the money, the house, the boat, the condo, the planes. But
I do love this place. It would be hard to leave.
Whats not to love? Except for the expenses. It must cost the world just to keep
it up.
I dont need his money. I have my own, not like Willys and not enough to live
like this. But, I can always make money to live. ADLs been trying to use a Cray for the
diagnostics for the past three years. They call me about every three months. I could
start again tomorrow.
So?
Its the last thing hell ever ask of me. Hes never asked me for anything unless
its been important.
Right. He dragged you through the sewer. Every night on TV, youd be the loyal
little wife during the lawsuits, the indictment, the grand jury, the trial, the sentencing.
No, he hasnt asked much of you.
Fawn....
You still love that big corrupt phony, dont you?
No, I dont. But there is some sense of obligation.
Remember what I used to tell you? Dont be the last rat? As in the last rat off
the sinking ship. The last rat usually drowns; the suction pulls him under.
Im not the last rat. Chad Lewis is the last rat.
No, Carol, hes just a rat. Willys lying to you. You know how to tell when a
mans lying to you? Youre naked, hes naked, you just had sex and his lips are moving.

Isaak/The Exchange

74

We didnt have sex.


Yeah, but hes a car dealer. With car dealers and lawyers, its just the lips
moving. Im serious, Carol. Hes never told you the truth about any of this, how it
happened.
Hes told me hes not guilty and I believe him.
Theres a big space between not guilty and innocent. In Willys case, its as big as
the Grand Canyon.
I know. I know, hes never told me all of it.
Any of the truth, you mean.
I think hes had a hard time admitting the truth to himself.
Ah, but I bet hes told that lawyer; his asshole buddy.
Probably. Id like to finally find out the whole truth about Willy. I cant seem to
get any closure now.
Youll get some closure when they close you in a cell for ten years.
If I went through with it, Id get the truth out of that lawyer.
Carol, you dont think you owe it to Willy to go along with this? You gave him a
good life, you loved him, and you gave him a baby. Enough already.
Kelly.
Kelly? Sometimes I think I should change my specialty listing to Psychiatric
Dentistry. You feel guilty about Kelly. How it devastated him? Is that it?
I dont know. I just dont know. Fat tears drained from Carols eyes. He loved
her so much. He was so completely lost. He still is. Consciously, he knows it wasnt my
fault, anybodys fault. Unconsciously, I know he thinks I didnt love her like he does.
Hes been almost dead to me since then. Maybe this would finally let him get over it.
And I could get over him.
Fawn moved to the other couch and gently took Carol in her arms. Carol, you
dont owe this to him, not this. You grieved in a healthy way; he didnt. She wiped

Isaak/The Exchange

75

Carols face with the bottom of her T-shirt. Hes not a jet engine that you can diagnose
and fix. Hes got to fix himself or just stay broken. You think youre a cross between
Mother Theresa, Amelia Ehrhardt and Wonder Woman. Why cant you just take care of
numero uno for once in your charmed life? Your luck might run out this time. Youre
pushing the envelope a little too far this time.
What if I just go one time? Ill hammer the truth out of Chad Lewis. Ill go to
the Warden or Administrator as they call him, explain that since Willys going to be
serving out the entire sentence, I cant continue. You know me, Ill boo hoo a little for
him. Hell understand. They wont have to investigate anything. Itll all be explained.
And I wont have to break my promise to Willy.
You promised him? You promised to help him? Girl, youre as nuts as he is!
One thing Ive come to understand as a result of a vast amount of field study is that any
promise made with your clothes off is invalid and unenforceable. And its not as if he
hasnt broken a few promises to you.
Fawn, its how Im constructed. Thats the one thing I know for sure about
myself.
Ah shit!
Shit, indeed.
The timer went off. The women disentangled themselves and went back to the
kitchen. The aroma of chocolate was overpowering.
Oh, screw the temple. Got milk?

Isaak/The Exchange

76

Chapter 10.
The warm tongue slurping in and out of his ear brought Willy to the brink of
orgasm, fully awake and urgently erect, his erotic dream apparently becoming a reality.
Oh, baby, oh yes! He opened his eyes when the smell of his dream lovers breath hit
him. Goddamn it! He swatted at the dog and scrambled out of the bed, every muscle
in his body aching and his scrotum throbbing in frustration. The dogs barking was as
loud as thunder. In one fell swoop, the entire nights events erupted into his
consciousness. The dog wanted to play, chasing its tail and finally leaping onto him, its
front paws on his shoulders. Jesus, boy, you got the worst goddamn breath I ever
smelt, even from a dog. What you been eatin?
Willy disentangled himself from the dogs embrace and began to rifle through the
built-in drawers on the wall for some clothes. He finally located some boxer shorts, bent
to pull them on and felt the dogs teeth nip him on his left buttock. Thats it, you crazy
bastard! Willy picked up a mud-encrusted Nike and side-armed it at the dog who
expertly caught it on the fly and disappeared through the bedroom door. Willy padded
over to the French door on the far side of the fireplace and opened it onto a large
second-story deck. The deck was like a tree-house, snuggled up to the massive trunk of

Isaak/The Exchange

77

an ancient copper beech tree which was just beginning to leaf out. He leaned on the
railing, surveying the property. The dog was yipping and jumping around in circles on
the lawn, alternately worrying the Nike and rolling in something. From somewhere
behind the house, Willy heard roosters crowing. To his right, Willy spied the orderly
rows of plants: strawberry, asparagus, raspberry, and grape. Beyond the field and the
stone wall, the twisted shapes of the fruit trees were alive with blossoms. Beyond the
orchard, the hill sloped down to an expanse of water, fiery with the reflection of the
emerging sun.
Not bad, Willy mused. Not Marblehead Neck, but not bad. If Chad did all this
without a crew of migrant farm workers, he was a busy guy. This and the law practice.
Down in the kitchen, Willy successfully produced a steaming cup of espresso
from a machine that resembled a NASA booster rocket. He retrieved the Boston Globe
from the front door step and took his coffee to the small patio in back of the kitchen
which caught the warming rays of the morning sun. This was heaven. All evidence of
the cataclysmic storm was gone, except for the small tree branches that littered the lawn
and the patio. The air had that post-rain clarity he loved. This was the first morning in
over a year that he didnt have the line-up, the communal breakfast with three hundred
other convicted felons, and the daunting effort of filling another coming twenty-four
hours of time. His head buzzed with all of the things he had to organize and accomplish.
He was bursting with energy and yet it felt so good to just sit and read the paper. He
hadnt touched a newspaper for over a year but the news appeared to be just the same,
except for different names. What was that Beatles song...? Ob la di, ob la da, life goes
on? Willy began to whistle as he returned the cup and paper to the kitchen, found a
pair of muck-out boots and shuffled down to the barn to see the animals and do the
chores. By the time hed finished feeding and watering the lambs, the chickens and the
llamas, he had segued into another of his favorite songs, probably the theme song of his
life, If I only had a brain, from the Wizard of Oz. The manure smells, the bleating,

Isaak/The Exchange

78

cackling and snuffling of the animals, and the glorious freedom of the day unexpectedly
hit Willy with a wave of happiness. He was back, back from the dead and he was going to
make it.

Willy stepped to the threshold of Chads office at 7:45, carrying the black
briefcase of his new profession, his body encased in an uncomfortable Italian off-therack light wool blue pin-striped suit, his feet buried in a pair of brogues that must have
weighed twelve pounds and his neck encircled by the least tasteless tie he could find in
Chads closet. As he fitted the key into the lock, Willy meditated on the nature of
temptation. In a little shop off Main Street in Waco, a wizened old boot maker had
plaster casts of his feet and hand-carved wooden lasts to match; with one phone call, he
could have a butter-soft pair of lizard-skin boots that fit him like a condom delivered by
Federal Express. Great, except for the fact that Willy Fenton was still officially doing
time. Hed just have to sacrifice until everything was arranged. First things first.
After trudging up the stairs and hitting the lights, Willy surveyed the space Chad
euphemistically called his office. A fabulous collection of empty coffee cups, diet Coke
cans and pizza boxes were inelegantly displayed on every available surface. Large brown
accordion files were leaning against each other like dominoes in crooked lines, across
the floor. The huge walnut desk was covered with at least a dozen layers of thick
documents, deposition transcripts, and unopened mail. A Road Runner cartoon screen
saver repeated endlessly on the screen of the humming computer terminal. In the
center of the desk, atop a pile of unopened thick brown envelopes, a red Lawyers Diary
sat, opened to Monday. In fat black magic marker, Chad had emblazoned See Willy.
The place smelled of decay and depression, the smell of a life going to seed. No wonder
he lost. One look at Chads office in this condition would have disabused him of the
fantasy of having Chad represent him in the appeal. The suite was actually quite large,

Isaak/The Exchange

79

with a mailroom, a kitchen, several unused offices and a file room. Chads losing battle
against chaos had been centered in the large front office, directly off the reception area.
In the mail room, Willy opened the briefcase full of cash and prepared over a
dozen Express Mail packages, all addressed to different Post Office boxes in different zip
codes. These had to be mailed before he did anything else; Mitty was not a patient man.
Next, he made up small parcel-post boxes of cash for Bernies mom and the kin of a
couple of his special friends back in Lewisburg who had promised to keep Mitty honest,
if it was necessary. The guard was going to involve a little more effort; Willyd promised
to buy him out of the Wendys he owned at a sizeable profit, through a straw. Willy
would have promised him one of his testicles if it would have done the trick. Hed find a
way, somehow, and it would start happening today.
As he emerged from the office door at 8:30, Willy almost tripped over a
disheveled homeless man; no doubt, the same guy whod taken to using the doorway as
his personal toilet. Willy grabbed him by the arm. Hey, buddy. Wanna do me a favor?
Ill pay ya?
Sure, man. What you need?
Wanna buy me a Wendys?
What you want on it, pickles, onions, ketchup?
No, you moron. I dont want a burger; I mean an entire fucking restaurant. You
know, a franchise, building, the entire shooting match.
Jesus.
By the time Willy and Homeless Ben had gotten back to the office from delivering
the packages to the Post Office, Willy had convinced him that he wasnt crazy and that
Ben had a promising future as the new Lewisburg, Pennsylvania Wendys franchisee.
Bens IQ test was in the form of a crisp new hundred dollar bill. If he returned clean,
sweet-smelling, in clean clothes with a shave and a haircut and not stoned, he had the
gig. Otherwise, Willy had assured Ben that he would personally break both of his arm

Isaak/The Exchange

80

and legs the next time he saw him. Seemed like that was the closer; Willy chuckled,
secure in the knowledge that he could still sell.
Back in the office at 9:05, Willy found a back issue of Lawyers Weekly and dialed
the number of the personnel agency with the largest display ad.
Legal Eagle, how may I help you?
Chadwick Lewis the third here. And you are?
Barry.
Barry, I have a proposition that may just interest you greatly.
Yes?
Yes. Im an attorney, here in town, and Ive just had a nasty mishap. Over the
weekend, I tripped and fell head-first into my gas grill.
Oh, dear. Were you injured?
Severely. The doctors tell me Ill have to have some reconstructive surgery, skin
grafts and hair transplants.
And?
And, Im afraid I need someone to keep my office functioning while I get the
surgery and recuperate.
Well, certainly; thats our business and were very good at it.
Thats why I called. You came highly recommended. Lets skip the foreplay,
shall we? I need someone desperately and Im willing to be very generous, to the
person, to your firm and to you personally. Understand?
Surely.
I hope you wont be offended, but I am not in a very PC mood right now; so Ill
just cut to the chase. The person Im looking for must be very physically attractive,
young, pert, a killer dresser and an absolute bitch when she needs to be. And honest, to
a point. She will organize my office, make my appointments, control my schedule, hire

Isaak/The Exchange

81

any help she needs and take no shit from anyone. What do permanent office managers
make at the largest firms, here in town? Im afraid I havent kept up.
Barry named a figure twenty percent higher than his last closed deal.
Well, Im prepared to go about fifteen percent higher for the perfect candidate.
Of course, Ill pay your fee along with a five thousand dollar signing bonus for her and
the same for you personally.
But?
Did I say but?
I believe there was an implied but.
Yes, Im afraid youre right. No wonder youre so highly recommended. Youre
so intuitive. But, I need her today, by noon. I dont have time to interview a lot of
candidates. I want you to find the perfect woman, convince her to take the job, sight
unseen, and start after lunch. You see, Im going into the hospital tonight and Ill be
gone for several weeks. I can have your retainer fee delivered in about fifteen minutes.
If you would just fax me the standard contract, we can get this going right now. How
does that sound?
Marvelous. I think I have the perfect candidate.
Think?
Sorry, Mr. Lewis, I know shes the one. Where shall she meet you?
At the Ritz bar, noon sharp.
How shall she recognize you?
Ill be the guy whose entire head is wrapped in bandages, Barry.
Oh, yes, of course. What about negotiating the contract between you and her? I
usually do that as a service to both of you.
Just have her prepare it before the meeting. Then I can see if shes management
material. Have her put in whatever she needs to make it work, okay?
Certainly, Mr. Lewis.

Isaak/The Exchange

82

Chad.
Certainly, Chad.
Twenty minutes later, after signing the faxed document and arranging for the
retainer to be delivered and a visit to the nearest CVS, Willy was standing in front of the
mirror in possibly the filthiest mens room north of Grand Central Station, preparing to
swathe himself in half a mile of surgical gauze. His Viet Nam experience and his five
childhood viewings of The Invisible Man prepared him for the task. He slathered some
burn ointment on the first layer to get the authentic aroma; by the time he was finished,
he looked like a fire-safety poster boy. He practiced talking in his Marlon Brando
Godfather voice. It would have to do.
After twenty minutes on the phone with an officious travel agent, he was set up
with the flight information for Tijuana, via San Diego. At precisely 11:00, Homeless Ben
reappeared; at least, he claimed to be Homeless Ben. Willy looked over the
transformation with approval. His eyes were clear, his breath was sweet and his cleanshaven face gleamed behind the many small clumps of bloody toilet paper.
He patiently explained the drill. Ben was to sit in the office and wait for a
beautiful, well dressed young woman who would appear at 1:00 PM. He was to follow
her instructions like they were the words of God. Ben would spend a week helping the
nameless woman clean up the office. She would arrange for a local broker to make an
extremely generous offer to purchase the Wendys in question. He would consummate
the deal. The new business would be adequately capitalized and housing for him would
be arranged, here for now, and locally, when needed. The next time they met, in
Lewisburg, Willy would expect a large double bacon cheeseburger without onions, on
the house. Ben nodded frequently and actually asked for a notepad and pen to take
notes, as if this was the most ordinary conversation of his life. Ben never once
mentioned the white gauze that entirely covered Willys head.

Isaak/The Exchange

83

On the cab ride over, Willy remembered the last time hed been at the Ritz, many
years ago; he and Chad had been eighty-sixed after theyd had a Dom Perignon hose
fight and sprayed an elderly matron and her young escort. Fortunately, he wouldnt be
recognized in his new headgear.
The ageless bartender scarcely looked at him as he perched on the seat in front of
the legendary bar. Although he craved a double martini, he ordered water. The
bartender was halfway through the list of exotic designer names when Willy felt the tap
on his shoulder and heard the feminine voice behind him.
Mr. Lewis? Jennifer Patterson.
Willy swiveled the chair around and dropped to his feet as he took in the sight
before him. His first impression was of Natassia Kinski in Cat People, only with shorter,
darker hair, and more bee-stung lips. And, of course, larger breasts. She was dressed in
a bright red jacket, short red skirt, cream-colored silk blouse black stockings and power
pumps. A small strand of pearls stopped two open buttons down her blouse. Her eyes
were blue and feline; her smile was dazzling, generous and appeared to be genuine.
Pleased to meet you, Jennifer. Shall we get a table?
Please.
After they were seated at a small banquette overlooking Newbury Street, they got
right down to business.
Jennifer, Im sorry about the unusual circumstances of this position; as you can
see, Im not myself at this point in time.
Thats perfectly all right. Ive come prepared with my resume and a draft
contract. But first, I want to make something very clear about this. I am not going to
sleep with you, not now, not ever, probably. If thats part of what youve got in mind,
lets just stop now.
Willy almost reverted to his real voice after he snorted three dollars of imported
water through his nose. I have to admit, the thought had crossed my mind after seeing

Isaak/The Exchange

84

you back there in the bar. Unfortunately, I need you for other, more mundane things.
My professional life is a mess. Lets say that I wasnt exactly minding the store for the
last year or so. Maybe this accident was a wake-up call. I dont know. I need several
weeks to get my face and hair back to normal, as normal as the surgeons can make me.
When I return, I intend to make a new go of it. You see, Im suffering a little postconcussion amnesia; I need you to go through every piece of paper in the office and
every computer file and tell me what I have to do on my cases for the next several
months. I wont expect you to do it all by yourself. Youll have the authority and the
budget to hire the help you need to get it all done. You may have to postpone court
dates and meetings for me; I expect that you can be forceful enough to impose your will
on these people, if it comes to that.
Oh yes, thats not going to be a problem. Just so were clear on my original
point; no sex. Barry told me that you had very specific physical requirements for this
position.
Yes, I did. Its my experience that people judge the power and prestige of their
attorney by the quality of their factotums. Ill be judged by the first impression you
create. I think youll do just perfectly in that department. Your personal life is your
business, Jennifer; just as mine is mine, okay?
You should look at my resume and the contract, see if they are acceptable. Id be
quitting a very good job without notice to take this position; Ive required a years
severance if Im let go or if it doesnt work out in the first six months.
Fine by me; I understand.
By the time shed finished her lunch, half of a garden salad and two tiny bites of
sole meuniere, theyd agreed on everything and signed the contract. Shed even agreed
to arrange for someone to feed the dog and the animals. Hed call her every day at ten
oclock, east coast time to see how things were going. Hed wire money into the account
as needed. She would handle Homeless Ben and arrange for the closing on the Wendys.

Isaak/The Exchange

85

If she needed an attorney to handle anything in his absence, she had authority to hire
one of her friends, at her discretion. He had the cab drop her in front of the office, gave
her the key, and an envelope with her signing bonus and asked her to deliver Barrys
envelope. They shook hands as he returned to the cab. Watching her walk across the
street, he became a little wistful; in the bad old days, he would have taken her adamant
stipulation about no sex as a personal challenge to try and con his way into her pants.
Now, he honestly needed her for exactly what he was hiring her to do.
Willy stopped at the garage to retrieve his suitcases and had the cab drop him two
terminals away from his flight. After ducking into the mens room to unwrap his head
and change clothes, Willy walked to the terminal, bought a first-class ticket to San Diego
and prepared for the rest of his life. So far, being a lawyer was easy.

Isaak/The Exchange

86

Chapter 11.
Chad couldnt sleep. The throbbing of the bus diesel engine, the whine of the
tires, the Dopplering sound of the cars passing them, and the low mumbles and slightly
hysterical laughter of the other inmates all conspired to keep him suspended in a dreary
semi-consciousness. He ached for sleep, real sleep in a real bed, not the nervous naps,
slumped against the window of the bus that hed suffered for the last two thousand
miles.
The trip out to California had been more tolerable. In some sick way, it had been
an adventure, stopping at all of the varied Federal facilities, imagining what life was like
behind those walls, secure in the knowledge that he would never have to do more than
this one short visit. Hed had the chance to consciously construct his Willy Fenton
personality and practice it on inmates and guards hed never meet again. It was like
tryouts before a Broadway play opened in New York; you had the chance to take your
part different directions in front of forgiving audiences before you settled in for the long
haul. The trip back was the beginning of the long haul.
Hed had some queasy moments along the way; each of the ten prisons hed
stayed at had a very different flavor. The worst had been Marion, an obscene monolith

Isaak/The Exchange

87

plopped down in the center of an endless flat Illinois soybean field. Marion gave new
meaning to the clich Build it and they will come. His memory of Marion was
cellblock after cellblock, filled with serial killers, mass murderers and incorrigibly
violent repeat offenders, treated like celebrities by the rank and file murderers and
armored car thieves. As a transient, he was obligated to spend his three nights in
Marion in the segregated unit, along with the worst of the worst who were doing life
without parole in solitary confinement. By then, hed become adept at making prison
small-talk; but Chad could find nothing to talk about with the pedophile in the cell on
his left or the cannibal on his right.
Hed delivered the letters from Mitty; one to a crazy tattooed biker who held
some leadership position in a scout troupe called Satans Apostles; the other to a
former postal worker whod done some management downsizing with a sawed off twelve
gauge. Both were quiet and respectful; apparently, Mitty was doing some marketing.
Chad had pretended he knew what it was all about and accepted written replies from
both of them. Who knows, maybe Mittyd give him a sales commission?
Lompach had been very California; the COs exchanged shifts to accommodate
each others surfing schedules, the inmates could choose more casual and more varied
clothing and there was even a wellness dormitory (smoke-free and vegetarian). The
guys at the bottom of the inmate pecking order were the environmental criminals and
two brothers who had sold adulterated wine. Mittys letters went to a former S&L
President and a young hacker. Again, some of Mittys cachet had rubbed off on Chad;
hed been treated to a fine meal in the dining hall as the return messages were delivered
to him.
The return trip had been just endless driving, days through the desert without the
benefit of air conditioning and one memorable night skirting the ring-road around
Vegas, seeing the light show spilling up into the cosmos. The closer to Lewisburg they
got, the more depressed and anxious Chad had become. If the bus ride was supposed to

Isaak/The Exchange

88

break him down enough to be docile and obedient and make him appreciate the relative
luxury of his destination, it was having the opposite effect in one respect. Chad could
feel the homicidal rage hed glimpsed in Willys eyes building behind his own.
Chad had thought that there was only a crumb of the real Chad Lewis left before
the exchange; now, there was virtually nothing left of himself. He was Willy now; he ate
like Willy, he talked like Willy, and he probably thought like Willy.
Just after Pittsburgh, Chad finally fell into a sweaty, fitful sleep. It seemed like
only a few minutes later when the guard slapped his foot with the riot baton and
announced Were home, boys and girls!
The driver at the head of the bus took out his clipboard and, in spite of his groggy
confusion, Chad could hear the guard at the back unsnapping the automatic from his
holster, sliding a live round into its chamber, and announcing with demented
cheerfulness Head em up, move em out.
Waiting for him in the garishly-lit loading dock was the guard whod been there
the day his trip had begun. Chad felt an instant rage, figuring that he was going back to
the Camp, instead of the Farm. Welcome home, Willy. By rights, you should be
spending tonight in seg until we integrate you. But, seeing as how youre a buddy of
Mittys well let you sleep in the A Dorm tonight. Youll get your permanent assignment
tomorrow.
The fuck time is it, anyway?
Three a.m. Whatsamatter, get up on the wrong side of the bed?
Fuck you.
Youre gonna need to get your attitude adjusted before you move into civilized
quarters, inmate. The Farms not going to take that kind of shit.
The Farm?
Yeah, what you figure, youre going to the Camp because Im your escort? Nope.
I transferred. So lighten up.

Isaak/The Exchange

89

Okay. Sorry.
Lets go. Just dont wake up anybody important, putting on your jammies.
It was a tough struggle, but the shower won. Chad had been torn between the
mattress and the shower but he couldnt resist washing the detritus of the trip off his
weary body. Just as hed worked up the lather in his hair for the second time, they came
for him.
Out, motherfucker.
There were three of them, dressed in the fatigues of the Nuke. Two of them
grabbed his arms and the third launched a boot into his ribs. What you doin takin a
fuckin shower? Mitty says you gets your sorry ass over there to the caddy shack. Now.
Chad was bent double, naked, soapy, puking. Just let me rinse off and get
dressed.
Fuck that rinse shit. Here.
The third one threw his smelly chinos and shirt into the spray. One of the others
shut off the shower and dropped Chad on top of his sodden clothes. Get dressed.
Now.
Chad stumbled off into the darkness, barefoot, shivering, and misbuttoning his
shirt. When they arrived outside of the shed, one of his assailants propelled him
through the door with a swift kick.
Mitty sat behind a makeshift desk, his large torso hulking over the top of the
plywood and his dark craggy face sharply shadowed below the shock of white hair. The
hammering of the air compressor in back of Mitty raised waves of nausea in Chads
belly. Have a pleasant trip out West? How was California?
Gnarly.

Isaak/The Exchange

90

Mittys spit hit him on the forehead. Dont get smart with me, boy. Your ass is
mine in here, dont ever forget it. I could make you wear a dress and service the entire
Nuke tonight, I wanted to. Wheres my mail?
Chad handed over the sodden bundle from his back pocket as he wiped the mess
off of his face.
Sit down.
Chad obediently folded onto the floor.
Mitty began tearing open the envelopes and reading his mail. He extracted a
newspaper clipping, read it and threw it at Chad. Read this.
The headline announced Software Genius in Fatal Crash. The article was half
news story and half obit; the sidebar described the genesis of the NCIC network. Chad
began to hyperventilate. Uh, Uh, Uh, Uh, Whats this?
Youre fucked, mister lawyer. Youre Willy Fenton now and forever. That was
the guy; he cant switch you back now. Hes dead.
Chad fought the panic. Maybe he already did it, the switch.
You stupid bastard! They printed you when you came off the bus, didnt they?
Well, didnt they?
Chads answer was an animal sound, the sound an animal makes when its dying.
Mitty got up and came around to the front of his plywood desk. Now listen. I
dont want any trouble. I dont want you claiming some cock and bull story about any
switch. I dont want you going to the press, to Huff, to the Chaplain, to the psychiatrist,
to anyone with any shit about how you arent really Willy Fenton. Because if I hear one
word, youre going to have a bad industrial accident. A fatal one. You understand?
Chad was curled up into a ball on the floor, shaking and gagging. Suddenly, the
compressors urgent percussion was silenced. Mittys voice boomed in Chads ears.
Willy, I said you understand? Talk to me, cocksucker. Mittys boot landed in
the small of Chads back.

Isaak/The Exchange

91

Chad uncurled his body and struggled to a sitting position. Yes.


Good. Tomorrow, youll get your old job back, fixing things and maintenance
and such. Now, get cleaned up and dont be late for chow in the morning. Dont want to
lose any of your good time, do you, Willy?
No.
Mitty strolled through the door. Turn the light out when you leave, Willy.
Sure. Sure.
Chad wrapped his pain, despair and rage into a tight ball and rocked on the floor
for what could have been an eternity. The sweet sound of a guitar roused him. His first
sensation was the maddening itch of the dried soap all over him; he frantically began
scratching, first his head, then any part of his body he could reach. When he tried to
stand, his back began to spasm and his cracked ribs ripped at his diaphragm. The music
drew him and he crawled behind the compressor where a slice of the wall swung out
from a dark recess.
Come on in, if you can make it. The voice sounded like Desi Arnez, only deeper
and rougher.
Hello? Chad croaked.
You need some help, my brother?
No, I can make it. Chad pulled himself up between the wall and the
compressor, coughing and groaning. The hinged portion of the wall that served as a
door gave way to a small room lined with mattresses strapped upright against every
wall. Mattresses covered the ceiling; the floor was plywood, six inches above the level of
the rest of the shed. A large light-skinned Black man with short grey hair sat in a
cafeteria chair, fingering a large old arch-top guitar. Behind him, a dilapidated table
was covered with strange-looking devices studded with vacuum tubes and wires.
My name is Alexander Napoleon Montoyas. I know who you are, Chadwick
Lewis. Why dont you pull up a chair?

Isaak/The Exchange

92

Chad stumbled to the wall, slid another cafeteria chair into the middle of the
room and began to brush the dried shampoo flakes from his scalp. Whatre you doing
here?
Playing my guitar; you see, I dont usually gig on Monday nights, so I get here
early to get the overtime. You have no idea what Im talking about, do you?
No, should I?
I thought perhaps Willy would have explained. You see, I am the maintenance
superintendent here; BOP pays me to fix things but Willy had been doing most of the
work, so he could travel among the various units. This was an excellent arrangement for
me, since I could play music all night and sleep here during my shift. I assume you want
to continue this arrangement, yes?
If I stay here and if I live through the night.
Forgive my manners, my friend. Would you like something for your pain? Here,
put one eyedropper full of this in the back of your throat and have a little water after.
Alexander gently leaned the guitar against the wall and produced a small glass bottle
with a rubber eye-dropper cap. He grabbed a water bottle from a large leather bag at his
feet and extended it to Chad.
What is this?
An herbal decoction which I make myself. I use it for my arthritis. It will not
harm you.
Chad squirted the bitter liquid down his throat and gulped half of the bottle of
water, gasping with the effort.
Where did they hurt you?
In the shower.
I meant where on your body.
Oh. I think they cracked a rib or two; Im having pain when I breathe.

Isaak/The Exchange

93

Alexander got up and pulled Chads shirt up. The purple bruises were beginning
to discolor most of Chads chest and back and the top of his abdomen. This is going to
hurt, but we need to know. The calloused fingertips gently probed Chads ribcage,
generating shock waves of pain. You must have this taped and you cannot go to the
infirmary. You see, my friend, if you get into a fight, they send you to segregation in the
Hole.
I cant go there; Mittyd go berserk if they started asking questions.
Precisely.
All I have is this duct tape; you want me to tape this?
Yeah. Go ahead.
Alexander bound Chads torso with layer after layer of the wide silvery tape.
There. How does it feel to breathe?
Better. Thanks. How do you know about me? Nobody was supposed to know.
Who told you?
I can overhear what goes on in there with a small device that I constructed. It
cancels out the compressor noise and transmits speech. I heard Willy and Mitty work
out the plan. And I heard what happened tonight. You have a very serious problem, my
friend. What shall you do?
I feel like killing him; maybe Ill start there. How does that sound?
Perfectly understandable; but I wouldnt recommend it. You know where that
would get you.
Yeah, Marion. No, I dont know what to do. Its hopeless. Theres nothing I can
do; theres nobody I can go to; I dont exist anymore.
Ah, but you do. Perhaps you just do not want to exist; but you do not have a
choice in the matter.
You want to bet I dont have a choice? Thats the only choice I have left. To be
or not to be.

Isaak/The Exchange

94

I do not think suicide would end your existence, perhaps only your body, this
round of the wheel. But your very existence, I sincerely doubt it, my friend.
What are you, some kind of fucking philosopher?
Chad, do not give in to the urge to be Willy. If you think like him he will have
you. Think of Willy like a cancer trying to invade all of your cells. You must fight it; you
must never submit. Giving in to Willy is suicide.
I cant fight anything anymore. Ive had it. Im finished.
Will you try a little experiment before you go off to make your dramatic gesture
of self-defeat?
What?
A small experiment; it will take only moments. Then you can do whatever Willy
wants you to do.
Chad didnt have the energy to leave. Okay. Sure.
All right. Close your eyes. Imagine outer space, you know, the galaxies, the
clusters. Now, imagine what it looked like before the Big Bang. Alexander slapped the
guitar. Bang! Tell me what you see, before, during and after.
Chad closed his eyes, imagining what it would be like to be nothing. He was so
exhausted, he almost fell asleep sitting in the chair. He shook his head and roused
himself. Before, theres nothing; its all dark. Then, theres a tiny dot of light and it
swirls and expands until theres space, like the pictures the space telescope takes. Okay?
Is that it?
I have a couple of more questions. Before the bang, was it completely black?
Yeah. Nothing was there.
Nothing? Then what exploded to make the bang?
I guess if I knew that, Id get the Nobel Prize. Now can I go? Chad gingerly
levered himself off the chair. Anyway, thanks for the herbal stuff and the tape; it

Isaak/The Exchange

95

helped. He slowly made his way to the doorway and just as he turned to go he stopped
and looked back.
Alexander?
Yes?
What do you think was there, before the bang?
As you may have guessed, I have given the matter a great deal of thought. Why
dont you sit down again for awhile and Ill tell you?
Sure. Chad retraced his steps and sat in the cafeteria chair, facing Alexander.
By the way, do you play? Alexander handed the guitar to Chad.
I used to, a lot. Not seriously or anything.
You can just pick a little while I tell you my theory. You see, there has to be
something to make the bang. I call it a possibility, this something. And this universe is
one of an infinite number of potential outcomes.
Chad began picking gingerly at the strings. Thats brilliant, Alexander, but what
makes this possibility become an actual bang? Youve just made a lateral move,
question-wise.
You are correct, your question is the one all the scientists are trying to answer,
but I believe its the wrong question.
The guitar now began to resonate with Chads ritual warm-up exercises. Why do
I think youre about to tell me the right question?
Ha ha ha, because you are a wise man, my friend. The right question is What
could prevent this possibility from becoming actualized? In my opinion, the possibility
also has some compulsion and since there is nothing in existence, there is nothing to
prevent it.
As he played, Chad remembered. He used to love the ritual: open up the coffinlike case, smell the wood and velvety slight mustiness, grab a pick, position the
instrument on his knee, check the tuning, run the scales up and down the fret board to

Isaak/The Exchange

96

loosen up, and play the song from his repertoire that he had ignored the longest. Play it
over and over until it was clean and fresh again. He felt himself getting back to the old
feeling when hed get beyond conscious thought to the place where he was just moving
fingers. Right, so then its gotta bang? Is this some metaphor for me? Somehow,
make me feel better?
If you wish. Does it make you feel better?
Yes. Maybe its just the herbal stuff and the tape or the guitar or just talking to
someone whos not a sociopath. I dont know. Here, would you play something?
It would please me to play something. This is a song I wrote when my wife Ile
was dying of cancer. Alexander took the guitar back and played. It began slowly, with a
standard blues progression, repeated in double time and then triple time. The tune
seamlessly became a rumba and then a classical Spanish guitar riff accelerated to a
blinding crescendo, followed by another simple slow blues progression filled with
tortured bent strings and slides.
Chad was speechless. He stood up, leaned toward Alexander, reached out and
shook his hand.
Come back after breakfast; perhaps we shall solve some other scientific
mysteries.
I will. Thank you, Alexander, my friend.

There had been just enough time to grab a clean set of clothes from the supply
closet and take a very hot and then a very cold shower before the bell rang for breakfast.
Chad couldnt eat anything but drank several cups of undrinkable coffee. After head
count, he was told to report to the maintenance office in the gym, where hed meet
Alexander and go over the scheduled maintenance list and the repair requests. Since
this was his old job, it was assumed he knew the drill.

Isaak/The Exchange

97

For the first day, he slept in Alexanders room behind the compressor. Alexander
woke him for chow and head counts and gave him doses of the herbal medication. That
night, he got his permanent bunk assignment in a private cubicle located in a clean,
quiet room far enough away from the rec room and the TV lounge to permit Chad to
sleep through the entire night without disturbance. Truly, the Farm was luxurious,
compared to the places Chad had seen during the bus trip.
As the days ticked by, Chad discovered the library, the computer room, the weight
room, the tennis courts and all of the amenities of the Farm that made Mittys
placement service so lucrative. If you had to do time, this was the place to do it.
Mitty behaved as if nothing had ever transpired between them. Chad settled into
a routine. He and Alexander spent hours together wandering the grounds pretending to
work or cloistered in the back room talking and playing the guitar. Alexander was the
unofficial oral historian of the prison; by the end of the week, Chad recognized most of
the denizens of the Farm by name and knew their crimes, sentences and their place in
the prison food-chain. The most mysterious person at the Farm was Alexander himself.
Finally, Chad could contain himself no longer.
They were seated in the back room, Chad practicing a claw hammer bluegrass
picking technique that Alexander had showed him. Alexander, you dont much like to
talk about yourself, do you?
That is correct, my friend.
Well, weve talked about everybody else in this God-forsaken place, weve
dissected me ad nauseam, and dont you think its maybe your turn?
If you wish. What is it you would like to know?
Alexander, I think youre being a bit disingenuous with me, dont you? Come on,
I dont want to take your deposition.
All right, I was born in Cuba. My father was a mid-level official in the police
department, the real police department, not the brain-police. My mother was a multi-

Isaak/The Exchange

98

talented artist and musician, an educated lady and had some property from her parents.
I was an only child, according to my father, spoiled and headstrong; according to my
mother, much-loved and inquisitive. But, according to the prevailing Cuban custom and
public opinion, I was not entitled to the normal prerogatives of a child born to such
parents.
Why not?
You see, my friend, I have many Negroid features; my hair is nappy, my skin is
dark, my nose is broad. I must have been some sort of genetic throwback because
neither of my parents had such features.
This was before Castro, correct?
Yes, but people such as myself still suffer the same sorts of discrimination, even
in Fidels perfect world. Of course, this was when Cuba had a very authoritarian
dictatorship for a government, many large prosperous US casinos and other operations
and a very lively arts and music scene. I wanted to attend the conservatory in Havana
but was unable to. Instead, I went to a trade school and learned about equipment,
electric motors, circuitry and all manner of useful things. I was a voracious reader at the
library and I took music lessons from an old man my uncle recommended to me. He
taught me music and introduced me to the guitar. He even made the guitar youre now
using.
How did you get here?
One day, my father told me that I was going to Barcelona and that the trip was
going to occur in one weeks time. Everybody knew that the government was on shaky
ground, but my father apparently had somewhat better information. So, I flew for the
first time in my life, to Barcelona, and moved in with a very distant relative of my
mothers who was a transplanted Basque. I stayed in Spain for about six months and
then my mother and father joined me when the situation in Cuba became dangerous for
anyone who had been connected with the government. They arrived with only the

Isaak/The Exchange

99

clothes on their backs; our family lost everything. My parents and I were in Barcelona
together for about six more months and then we joined the rest of the Cuban Diaspora
and came to Miami. I was twenty years old when we stepped off the boat in Florida. My
father was unable to get a police or government job here in the States and became a
salesman of janitorial supplies. My mother wilted like a hothouse flower and became
bitter and reclusive. She never liked this country and never lost an opportunity to
express her opinion.
And you, Alexander? What happened to you?
I became a nigger.
The word shocked Chad, intruding into the intimate and comfortable space like
the smell of a skunk. Chad stopped playing the guitar and stared at his friend. In the
week since they had met, Alexander had ceased to look black to Chad; he now just
looked like Alexander.
You see, Chad, there were no ambiguities in the South in the sixties. If you
looked the part, you were a nigger and you were treated as such. Compared to the
relatively mild discrimination in Cuba, this was incomprehensible to me. I had to learn
how to avert my eyes, how to cower, how to accept abuse. To do otherwise, would have
gotten me killed. As it was, I had my share of trouble and, Im afraid, I developed a very
bad attitude. Musically, I became a chameleon, playing as a session man, without credit
on many recordings for white artists. I also toured with different blues bands over the
years. I was always a fish out of the water, not Black enough sounding to be an
authentic blues artist, not acceptably Cuban for the community in Miami, and not white.
Inside, I had a terrible rage building up. I was ready to make revolution here, in the
seventies. Fortunately, I wasnt Black enough for the Panthers either.
That first night, you mentioned your wife died; when were you married?
I met Ile in seventy and we were married about two months later. A year later,
Frieda, my daughter, was born. Ile was my best and my only true friend for twenty-five

Isaak/The Exchange

100

years. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, I used one of my fathers old GSA
connections to get me this job so we had health insurance for Ile. That strategy worked
and it also didnt work. Ile had the best care money could buy but she died anyway.
That must have devastated you.
Oh yes. You see, my friend, Ive been all of the way down in the hole where I
found you last week. I know the landscape down there.
How did you get out?
For one thing, I found over five hundred poems Ile had written over the years
that I had never read. That made me feel like she was still with me. I had her murals all
over my house. And I remembered something my grandmother and my mother used to
call winter weed.
Winter weed? I didnt think there was much of a winter in Cuba.
There is not; however, this was for when it was winter in your head, for when
you were depressed.
Is that whats in the stuff youve been giving me? The stuff you said was for the
pain?
In part. The weed is actually St. Johns Wort and it helps people with
depression. I mix it with things to help me fight my arthritis. Has it assisted you, do
you think?
I dont know how I feel yet; I just know I dont want to hurt myself. The jurys
still out on the rest of it though.
I can tell from your eyes and how you talk; its helping you keep Willy from
taking over. And I think the rage is dwindling.
What happened to your rage, Alexander?
I try to get it out in my music; but Im afraid some of it still lurks there in the
corner. I am able to control the bit thats still lurking, though.

Isaak/The Exchange

101

The bell sounded for dinner and Chad headed for the doorway. Thanks for the
information, Alexander.
Da nada.
On his second Thursday after the bus trip, Chad had to report to the front office
of the Farms main building where he was introduced to a Trustee named Bernie.
Bernie handed him a photocopied Conjugal Visit form with Carolena Renatta Fentons
name next to his, scheduled for 10:30 Saturday morning.

Isaak/The Exchange

102

Chapter 12.
San Diego turned out to be just like the mall, except bigger, with no roof, except
that all of the clothing store mannequins were alive, even if they werent very real. It
seemed as if only the little brown people performed physical work while the blond ones
just looked young and hip and buffed. It hadnt taken Willy long to find what hed been
looking for....
At the dingiest tattoo parlor along a strip within spitting distance from Balboa
Park, two hours after getting off the plane from Boston, he found a green-haired,
tattooed, pierced twenty year-old bilingual female smoking a Camel who agreed to go to
Tijuana with him. As they got into Willys rental Land Rover, Margot assured him that
she could get him exactly the same things he probably wanted in Tijuana right here in
good ole California. Unless, of course, all he really wanted was a bad case of diarrhea.
Willy explained that, although her loyalty to California and her evident patriotism were
admirable, he had need of her translation services in order to transact some complicated
business in Tijuana and perhaps elsewhere in Mexico. Everything would be cool so long
as she got paid, she hastened to explain. Margot made good her promise and, on the
way down to TJ, they stopped and got Willy a passable set of IDs. Certainly enough to

Isaak/The Exchange

103

get him into Mexico and to rent a hotel room. Once they were ensconced in a two
bedroom suite in a luxury hotel far from the muddy all-night revels near the border,
Willy called Jennifer and heard that everything was going swimmingly and my wasnt
his voice improving?
He called his software guy at all three of his numbers, to no avail. Even the pager
went unanswered.
It turned out that the exclusive, private surgery clinic he selected from the list
provided by the Pharmacia next door to the hotel, also assisted patients with certain
paperwork. In other words, you could get new documents to match your new facial
characteristics -- one stop shopping. Willy decided to start with the hair first and then
do some other annoying imperfections. Hed finally let them do the facial surgery if he
was satisfied with their competence. Margot went along, pretending that she couldnt
speak a word of Spanish to see if they said things to each other which were different
from the things they told him in their odd, accented Spanglish. Willy didnt want some
disastrous outcome because of a simple vocabulary misunderstanding. Margot assured
him later that the doctors asides had been discussions about just how rich Willy was,
how much they could overcharge him, and was he fucking the young perforated gringa?
Willy tried the software guy several times per day but was having no luck
reaching him. In frustration, he sent a hotel postcard with a return address, asking for a
phone call.
Once the surgery started, Willy was wheeled to and from the unmarked clinic via
the hotels back elevator and the service exit by Margot, who did a competent if not very
compassionate job of pretending to be a nurse. It took three days for the two surgeons
to cut strips of skin and hair from the back of his scalp and move them to the front to
give him a natural hairline and to fill in with hundreds of individual hair follicle
transplants. The three days of head surgery were interspersed with his butt-tightening,
his love-handle liposuction, his tummy tuck, his cosmetic dentistry, and his chest-

Isaak/The Exchange

104

sculpting. He ordered everything in the brochure theyd shown him except for the penis
enlargement, which was described as experimental in any event. It had to be high risk if
a nameless TJ surgery clinic gave such an explicit warning. And anyway, Margot sweetly
assured him that he didnt need it.
Ten days after hed arrived in Mexico, and just as he was deciding on a strategy
for his facial changes, he got a call from his software guys sister which changed
everything. Dead. The exchange was now permanent and Chad was inside for five more
years. At least not Willy, thank God for small favors. It could still work out as long as
Chad didnt freak when he found out. Willy could probably string him out for several
months before he had to tell him. Mittyd keep Chad in line if it came to that. Nobody
needed the bucket of shit that would come down if there was any kind of an
investigation. Chad was either going to tough it out or Mittyd do what had to be done.
There didnt seem to be much middle ground in the situation. Hed probably end up
paying both Mitty and Chad more now that there was this complication. Why was it that
everything went over budget?
Surgery-wise, it meant that Willy was going to have to live with Chads face,
possibly for the entire stretch. Which reminded Willy. He had to call Jennifer.
The phone system in the hotel was quaint; there was a phone concierge who
handled the messy details of dialing, trading insults with the local operators, and
negotiating the telephonic dirt roads and washed out bridges that constituted Mexicos
antiquated entrance ramps to the information superhighway. Once a local line with an
acceptable amount of echo and interference had been connected to the fiber optic trunk
cables of the US carrier, Willy could almost hear a grenade drop over the sounds of the
burros and street vendors ten stories below his hotel window.
Hello, Jennifer? Willy shouted into the old black phone that spewed sounds not
unlike Niagara Fall into his ear. Can you hear me?

Isaak/The Exchange

105

Im terribly sorry, Mr. Lewis. I had to put you on hold for a second to take
another call.
Is everything all right? It sounds busy there.
Oh yes. The electricians have just finished hard wiring for the network and the
painters are ready to go. The new phone system will be delivered and installed Monday.
I have two people working on the filing and cataloguing and one number cruncher
redoing your books and billing. Weve discovered quite a bit of unbilled time and
uncollected billing. Should I proceed to billing and collection?
Of course. What about the Wendys deal?
That will close in the middle of next week. Bens very excited to be moving to
Pennsylvania; he says its getting tedious staying at the Ritz. He says their burgers are
dry and tough, basically inedible by the time the room service waiters get them upstairs.
Weve had a slight change to the deal. Our Realtor wanted to package the restaurant
with the charming little cape the owner has down the street. Bens accountant feels it is
a sound investment and will shelter some of Bens income and prevent a tax problem
later. Does that sound acceptable to you?
Willy gripped the phone so hard he almost popped a stitch. Bens not there now,
by any chance?
No, hes out doing market research.
Okay. Just fax me the final numbers needed to fund the closing and Ill take care
of the funds transfer from down here; lets just make sure it happens fast and therere no
more changes to the deal.
When will you be back, Mr. Lewis?
Probably another ten days. Listen, Jennifer can you start looking for a full-time
associate and some summer help from the law schools? Id like to interview some
candidates as soon as I get back.
No problem. Excuse me, Mr. Lewis, Ive got another call coming in.

Isaak/The Exchange

106

Okay, Jennifer, I was through anyhow. Talk to you later.


Bye.
Willy sat and fumed and pondered. Hed have to continue being Chad Lewis; if
he suddenly disappeared, there would surely be an investigation. The feds wouldnt find
Willy but if Mitty got busted, Mittys friends would. He couldnt take that chance. He
knew he could finesse running the law practice, with Jennifer. Hed have to stay away
from Carol. And he didnt think he could tolerate visiting his hapless client in
Lewisburg. It was decided then, hed do a little bit of facial surgery for now, set up his
fail-safe hideouts in case he needed them, and wait and see how it all turned out.
As long as he was in the neighborhood, Willy decided to set up his alternate
identities in case he had to vacate Chad Lewis in a hurry. Willy had given this a lot of
thought during the year hed spent in prison. His rapt fantasies and tortured reasoning
had led him to an odd assortment of very specific scenarios. He wanted a small farm on
the Baja coast in Mexico where the whales migrated to have their babies. And he
wanted Mexican legal resident status with a Swiss passport. He had been assured by
one of his buddies that a Swiss passport was the Lexus of passports. He certainly
didnt want the Hyundai of passports. Willy had been advised to purchase property in
Southern California, using Midwestern paperwork and then get everything reissued
fresh with a change of address. The sheer volume of similar transactions would be an
effective screen. Similarly, the purchase of a west Texas quarter-horse ranch was best
handled via an alias out of New England. Finally, Willy would get a ridge somewhere in
the Ozarks where you didnt even need a name to buy property. All you needed was
cash.
The clinics paperwork expert was unfazed by the specificity of Willys requests;
Swiss and American documents were simplicity itself. Margot took the Land Rover to
the coast to locate a suitable property. By the time Willy was finished undergoing a
rhinoplasty and a dermabrasion, he and Margot were ready to begin seriously spending

Isaak/The Exchange

107

money. In the dizzying space of five days, Willy purchased a farm, a ranch, a house, a
mountain, two trucks, three cars, numerous tractors, an old Harley, several hundred
horses and a lot of cheap, worn-out furniture. If hed thought earning money was hard
work, spending it was even harder. He was exhausted from feigning interest in all of the
details, trying to remember his own name and background, bargaining hard for the best
prices, and arranging to pay most of the purchase price under the table so he had
something he could use to insure discretion from the sellers.
By the time they were finished with the orgy of spending, Willy had developed a
repulsion/compulsion relationship with Margot. She had certainly come through for
him in every way and he had shared some special moments with her, sampling her
somewhat peculiar charms. As a business associate, Margot was completely reliable.
She was, as she described herself, totally hard-core. Nothing surprised her; nothing
even elicited a raised (pierced) eyebrow from her. Not the cash, the uncut stones, or the
small gold bricks. Not the surgery, the new identities or the purchases. Willy sensed
deep in his calloused heart that he could trust her. As a special bonus, even though he
paid her extremely well along the way, Willy purchased the dingy tattoo parlor for her.
They spent their last night together at the fabled Del Coronado hotel and, while
his limo was waiting to speed him to the airport to meet his flight back to Boston, they
bid each other fond adieu amid the shocked stares of the conventioneers. Margots most
colorful parts were peeking through the expertly and strategically-positioned tears of her
tiny outfit. As her tongue rod clicked for the last time against his front teeth and she
rubbed the top of her steel-toed boot against his crotch, he knew he would miss her.
Margot had never been known for long or emotional speeches and her parting words to
Willy were no exception: Later, dude.

Isaak/The Exchange

108

Chapter 13.
Carol folded the black lacy bra and matching panties and placed them on top of
her tiny black cocktail dress inside her flight bag. Fawn looked incredulous. What are
you packing your sexy undies for? The lawyer?
Carol was now engrossed in giving herself a pedicure. The sun was setting on the
bay side of her master bedroom and the Friday night boat traffic could be heard through
the open windows. Fawn, Im a creature of habit. I start my preflight the night before.
Ive done this twenty-five times: shave my legs, pack my undies, give myself a pedicure,
varnish my nails, pack my kitbag, lay out a clean pair of coveralls, set the alarm, and go
to bed early. This is just another one of those times as far as Im concerned.
How can you say that? Thats bullshit! You know your husband has escaped
and is out of prison and has been for over a month. And youve not seen him or heard
from him.
Not true. I did receive the card he said hed send me to tell me everything went
according to plan.
Right. You got the unsigned Congratulations card. Sorry. But now youre
going to the prison to confront the guy whose chicanery and stupidity resulted in your

Isaak/The Exchange

109

husbands prison term and probably in the breakup of your marriage. But youre going
to look like a lingerie ad when you do it?
Fawn, you know if Im going to go through with this, I have to make it look just
like all the other times. Im only going to be able to pull this off if I make it exactly like
all the other times.
And just so I got it right, youre going to get naked with him and feign
intercourse just in case they might be filming? Right?
I do think youre getting off on the details, just a little bit. Is there a little
prurient interest on your part? Maybe Im finally going to do something involving a
member of the opposite sex that you havent already done.
Well, maybe since it involves a lawyer, yeah.
Fawn, I never know if I should take you seriously. We talked about all of this
weeks ago and I decided that I was going to do this. Nothings changed; Im still going
to do this. Im going to find out the truth about Willy and what really happened and Im
only going to do this once. Otherwise, itll look to all the world just like the other
twenty-five times I went to Lewisburg.
Except youre not going to pack your diaphragm, are you?
Fawn, is there anything you dont know about me? Must you talk out loud about
everything?
Ill admit, Im a curious person, what can I tell you? You know, if you pack your
diaphragm, youre admitting that theres a possibility you might have sex with the guy.
Sex with Chad Lewis. Is that so?
Thats what my mother always used to say.
When, in grade school? No, I wasnt planning to focus on that little detail; but,
now that you mention it, theres no need for me to pack it. I guess Ill change at least
that tiny detail about my preflight preparations. See? Im really not completely
obsessive/compulsive.

Isaak/The Exchange

110

But what if you need it?


Fawn?
What?
I need to get to bed early. Real early. Like right now.
Oh, all right. Call me right after you get out of there, let me know youre all
right. Ill be worried.
Yes, Ill call. But, itll take me a while to get to a phone. I dont want to call from
the pay phones at the prison.
Right. Take care.
I always do; Im the most careful pilot I know.
Thats not what I meant.
I know what you meant, Fawn, and I will take care.

Carol wasnt as sanguine about the impending visit as she pretended to be. She
lay in her bed wondering if she could really go through with it. Shed had a fairly normal
sexual history, considering practically every male she ever met made it clear to her that
they found her almost irresistibly attractive. Shed chosen to respond to a very few and
had been faithful to Willy during their entire courtship and marriage. Even in the face
of his whoring around, she had not wavered. Even during his prison confinement.
Carol had elevated the upcoming event to such importance, hoping that she could find a
release from the attachment to Willy. To Carol, this visit was pivotal; like a divorce. For
once in her twisted relationship with Willy, she would turn the tables and use someone
else, just as Willy was using her. Shed get to the truth and then move on.
Carol had finally gotten to sleep before midnight, and when the alarm had gone
off, shed already been up, her bathroom rituals completed, packed, and dressed in her
flight coveralls. Exactly like all of the other times, except for the diaphragm, which Fawn
had made her uncomfortably aware of.

Isaak/The Exchange

111

When shed driven her old Morgan to the Beverly airport, she was relaxed and
ready, her body eagerly anticipating the thrill of flying her superb little highperformance Mooney. Carol carefully checked over the entire plane, using her pressureregulated Mont Blanc to tick off every box on her personal checklist. She checked the
main fuel tank and the reserve tank. She always left strands of her blond curls in the
caps as tell-tales, to make sure no one had tampered with the plane in her absence. Both
were topped off, as shed left them the last time shed flown, to prevent condensation in
the tanks. She similarly checked all of her instruments, recalibrated her G.P.S., checked
the parachute and its duplicate, went through the contents of her emergency pack,
including the medical kit and the self-inflating life raft. She checked the hour reading
on the console against the maintenance schedule, called in for the last-minute weather
forecast, filed her flight plan, and was taxiing to the small runway twenty minutes early,
pulling her hair into the usual ponytail and cleaning her Ray Bans. The engines
sounded sweet and clean, like they always did. The ten knot wind filled out the wind
sock nicely and she was as ready as shed ever be. Ground control gave her clearance
over her headphones, Okay, beautiful, youre cleared to go. Carol grabbed the stick
and took off into the glorious mid-June morning.
The flight was uneventful, with a slight tail wind that got her to Lewisburg a halfhour ahead of schedule. She topped off her tanks, replaced the tell-tales, tied the plane
down, and went to the general aviation lounge to get ready for the performance. She got
into her usual Mustang, put the top down and drove to the prison. Bernie met her at the
Camp and personally escorted her to the Farms administration building. By 10:15, she
was sitting in what appeared to be an identical CVA lounge, waiting for the arrival of
Chad Lewis, a/k/a Willy Fenton.
Chads morning had not gone as smoothly. Hed cut himself shaving and had
obsessed about the uneven length of his sideburns while blood dripped from his chin
into the lavatory sink. Hed taken a full ten minutes deciding which of the three

Isaak/The Exchange

112

identical outfits he would wear. Chad became convinced he was having a terminally bad
hair day and longed for a scissors to make adjustments to his shock of unruly brown
hair, his prison haircut clipped to an uneven three quarters of an inch. Hed spilled
coffee on his shirt during morning mess and almost missed the head count as he rushed
back to the dorm to change shirts and vomit up his undigested breakfast. Chad could
still taste the sour contents of his stomach, even after three thorough passes with the
toothbrush. By the time he appeared at the CVA, both of his armpits were slick with his
sweat. His stammer had come back with a vengeance when hed told the guard Willys
name as he passed from the administration desk to the CVA lounge. Chad had not been
as nervous as this the day hed argued his only case at the US Supreme Court.
At the sight of the stunningly-beautiful Carol, sitting, legs crossed, reading a
tattered Readers Digest, Chad abandoned his meticulously-practiced, Hi honey and
opted for silence. Carol sprang to her feet, threw her arms convincingly around him and
kissed him frankly full on the lips while he blushed furiously. She beamed up at him,
grabbed his cold clammy hand and whisked him into the CV room with a husky, Lets
go.
Once the door had closed, shed shimmied out of her tiny black dress and waved
toward the double bed. Cmon, Willy, get naked.
Of course, he was all thumbs. Left to his own devices, it could have taken him all
thirty minutes to get his shirt unbuttoned. Carol had intervened, expertly undressing
him, pushing him onto his back, pulling off his prison-issued boxers, sliding out of her
panties and straddling him in the space of seconds.
Chad had never been naked with anyone as beautiful and as evidently angry as
Carol was at this moment. Her white breasts became infused with color as she
unhooked her bra and bent over to grab his head. Her voice hissed into his ear.

Isaak/The Exchange

113

Try to look like youre glad to see me. She had her knees on his hands, her
mouth on his left ear and her nipples were pressing into his chest, just above the ragged
duct tape, making mischief with the yellowed bruises.
All Chad was capable of doing was stammering, moaning and tentatively
breathing; he was becoming very aware of the hundred pounds of writhing naked
woman above him.
Listen, Ill do most of the action here; you just whisper into my ear. I want the
truth about Willy, all of it. Now. And you better not leave anything out. I want all of it.
Chad complied. He began with Willys childhood, his stint in Viet Nam, his
purloined military equipment and his car dealership in St. Louis. All of the unsavory
dealings that had gone into the creation of the super-store and the exact nature of
Mighty Mouses involvement were economically compressed into ten minutes of hoarse
whispers while Carol had pumped and humped and moaned. By the time Chad had
detailed the demise of the store and the way Detroit had turned the tables on Willy, he
had a very uncomfortable erection peeking out between Carols exquisite labia.
Carols brain had absorbed every detail and every nuance, comparing the truth
with Willys claims and seeing the full extent of his deception for the first time in her
life. Her anger was transmuted into pity as her body became aroused in spite of her
fierce resolve. Tell me about you and Willy, shed finally whispered into his right ear.
All of it.
Chad went through his initial meeting with Willy at the purchase of the first store
and then went on through all of the pub-crawls, parties, drugs, booze and women.
When he got to the stay at Hazelton, Carol had erupted with a seemingly orgasmic, Oh,
God!
Carol sat up and pulled Chad to a sitting position. As he took in the sight of her
breasts, the slickness of her lower lips registered on what was left of his consciousness.
They were both panting now, for real.

Isaak/The Exchange

114

Carol took his head into her delicate hands, pushed her hair behind her ears, and
brought her full lips next to his flaming ears. He told me it was a hunting trip.
Everything was a lie!
Switching positions, Chad whispered throatily, Not everything. He did love you.
And Kelly, of course.
The information had brought Carol to a state of unexpected arousal that needed
some resolution. This was the moment she had anticipated. She knew almost
everything she had wanted to know. Willy was almost expurgated from her life. There
was only one more question. Why? Why did you take the case? He was such a good
friend of yours. He needed the best lawyer money could buy; he could have had Bailey
or Dershowitz, anybody. Why?
Chad had reached the point where it was like finally confessing all of his sins,
making that perfect act of contrition. Im sorry, Im so sorry. I made a horrible mistake.
I loved that man and I failed him. I took it because Willy had bared his soul to me. Hed
finally told me everything and I had to step up to the plate. He told me he was innocent
and I assumed he was lying, like they all do, criminal defendants. They all say theyre
innocent. I never believed him. I took the case, and I failed him. And I destroyed his
life and yours too. Im sorry, Carolena. Im so very sorry.
When she heard her name, her real name, Carol became unglued. She and Chad
had both been intimate with Willy, she physically, Chad emotionally. Between the two
of them, they had shared the love of a very flawed man. She was astride another flawed
man, but her special sense told her he was a good and true man. And she needed him
inside of her as much as she needed oxygen. It was so deliciously wrong, so terribly
perverse that she was compelled to do it. With one fluid motion, Carol adjusted her
hips, grabbed his distended penis with her right hand, grabbed the back of his head with
her left, kissed him with all of her heart and soul and gently slipped his organ deep
inside of her. At that moment, the knock resounded on the door.

Isaak/The Exchange

115

Bernies voice seared through the room Hey, times up.


It was over in the matter of a few seconds of blind motion. They came together,
in a chorus of shared exclamations. They hugged fiercely, oblivious to the duct tape, the
surroundings and the knocking. Their tears mingled as they kissed passionately. Chad
blurted the word, More.
Carol finished the sentence with time!
Bernie must have sensed the exigency of the moment, because he stopped
knocking after the solemn announcement that Chad was forfeiting all of his
accumulated good time, fourteen days. Carol laughed and whispered into his ear Youll
be out in another month, wont you?
Chad realized that she didnt know and whispered the truth into her perfect ear.
Carols face registered her shock as she finally comprehended Chads reality and saw
him, bruised, defeated, but still open to life.
The second time for them was slow, bittersweet and tender, but simultaneously
orgasmic. Chad could have died a happy man at any moment. Nothing in his life had
ever been so good.
Carol leaned into Chad, knowing with that exquisite certainty that this was it, this
was the one, suddenly remembered about the diaphragm, and began laughing as the
tears streamed down her cheeks.
She looked into his eyes. I love it when you say my name, my real name,
Carolena.
Chad had wanted to hear those words, I love... And he wanted to say them, as
stupid and inappropriate as they might seem under the circumstances. I love uh uh the
name, Carolena.
You werent going to say that, were you? Say what you intended to say.
Loudly, knowing it might be recorded, Chad said, I love you, Carolena.

Isaak/The Exchange

116

Carol wiped her green eyes, looked squarely into his and said And I love you. So,
there, weve said it.
Chad and Carol, through some unspoken agreement, got off the bed, and began
reassembling their clothes.
Carolena, you shouldnt come back, you know. Five years is such a long time.
You should move on, start another life.
I know, but I cant abandon you. Youre my husband, after all. Dont worry,
well find a way.
Theyd kissed passionately at the exit and neither one of them could speak.

Isaak/The Exchange

117

Chapter 14.
Before Chad could get out of the administration building, the guard at the door
confronted him and escorted him to Huffs office at the Camp. Chad began to have an
anxiety attack; Huff knew what Willy looked like. This was it; the game was over.
After he was escorted to the door, the guard had left him there. Chad stood
waiting until he was summoned. Through the door, Chad heard the animal sounds, the
grunting obscenities and the high-pitched screeches. What was going on in there?
Come in, Willy, come in.
Chad opened the mahogany door, prepared to assert his Fifth Amendment
privilege and wait for the lawyer to come.
Once inside the huge immaculate office, he stood at attention until Huff finished
rearranging the one piece of paper that contaminated his immense desk.
Willy, youve been a bad boy today, you know that?
Incredulously, Chad met Huffs stare and blurted out an answer. Yes, sir. Im
sorry, sir.
I can understand. PUSSYPUSSYPUSSY! The words erupted from Huffs mouth
but in a manic mechanical voice. They both ignored the outburst.

Isaak/The Exchange

118

As I said, I can understand. After all, Im a man too, you know. And shes a very
striking woman. You realize, of course that you will have to suffer certain adverse
consequences as a result of your impetuous conduct?
Yes sir.
Since your good friend ex-congressman Mitropolos vouches for you, I wont find
it necessary to cancel all of your conjugal visit privileges; however, you have forfeited all
of your accumulated good time. Fourteen days. Is that understood?
Yes sir.
And if you are willing to accept that decision and waive any appeal of the
decision, no further punishment will be considered. Are you willing?
Yes sir.
Good. Sign this.
Huff motioned for Chad to sign the piece of paper Huff had been stroking. Chad
signed Willys name and placed the paper in Huffs small, dry hand. Thank you sir.
GRRRR. GRRR. GRRR!
May I return to my work assignment now, sir?
Sure. And, Willy, dont let it happen again, okay?
Ill try, sir.
At that, Huff actually smiled. You do that, give it your best shot, Willy.
HAHAHAHA!
By the time Chad had returned to the Farm, the noon bell was ringing, so he lined
up for lunch. Apparently, word of his escapade had already spread. The inmates in line
pushed him to the front, cheering and laughing. Chad heard someone say, Lover-boy
needs his nourishment.
After receiving his heaping portion of mystery meat loaf and various side dishes,
he was invited to sit with the Italians, for the first time. The entire contingent led him in
a rousing rendition of Amore. The don himself drew Chad aside and told him, Whats

Isaak/The Exchange

119

fourteen days compared with a woman such as that? Id give fourteen years. Of course,
Im probably going to die here, doing my mandatory forty. But Id die happy.
Willy was now part of Farm legend. Hed made it. By the time lunch was finished
and theyd taken the head count, Chad had several golfing and gin rummy invitations.
His head was spinning as he headed toward the shack to see if Alexander was awake.
Rip Van Winkle must have felt the same way. In the blink of an eye, Chad began
to experience his world again. He felt the small imperfections in the turf beneath his
shoes, saw the vivid contrast between the blue of the mid-June sky and the dull grey of
the concrete-block buildings and felt deep within him the stirrings of something he
could scarcely identify as joy. Emotion, any emotion, had been foreign to him; now,
conflicting ones buzzed through his psyche. It was like suddenly living inside of a video
game and breaking through to a new level where the input was coming at impossible
speeds. He needed to talk to Alexander.
As Chad approached the shack, love and joy, fear and relief, and anger and
despair were all beating a persistent tattoo on his awakening mind. Maybe being asleep
hadnt been so bad; almost anything was better than this emotional overload. When
Chad pushed the door open behind the thudding compressor, his ears were assaulted by
the sounds of amped electric guitar.
Alexander sat in his usual chair, seemingly trying to strangle a strangely-modified
semi-solid-body Gibson, his fingers flying over the frets, a slide stuck to the pinky finger
of his left hand. Chad had never seen anything like the fingering technique Alexander
was using.
Ola, Alexander. There was no possible way Alexander could hear anything
amid the sounds erupting from the matching speaker cabinets that flanked him.
Alexander looked up, removed his hands from the guitar, and motioned Chad to
close the door and sit at the other chair. Meanwhile, the speakers maintained the last

Isaak/The Exchange

120

chord in what was apparently an eternal sustain. After Alexander spun the gain knob on
the guitar to zero, he returned the greeting. Ola, amigo. Please, have a seat.
Where did you get that beast, Alexander? Ive never seen anything like it.
You will not very likely see one, either. I constructed this one myself, after
somebody shot a hole through my guitar case one night in a road house outside of
Jackson and shattered the neck.
Chad finally noticed what looked so bizarre about the neck; it had seven strings.
Whats with the extra string?
A bass string. I used to know an old musician who grew up during the thirties
during the... what do you call this time period?
The Depression?
Yes, the Depression. He was so poor, that all he had was an old bass with one
string. Well, he learned to play all of his music with that one string. Even when I played
with him, he only used the one string. He claimed that the others were just a
distraction. I was so intrigued, I asked him to show me. Later, I worked out how to play
the one string for my music. This just lets me stay grounded when I play electric.
Would you like to try?
Not today, Alexander. I really need to talk. You got time?
Oh, yes. Certainly. The Beast will wait. I was just returning her after I put on
the new strings. Here, have a couple of the old ones; they are useful.
Right, like baling wire, when I was a kid. I used to fix everything with it.
So, how did things go with Mrs. Fenton today? It was today, wasnt it?
You know very well it was today, Alexander. You know Ive been a wreck since I
found out she was coming.
I heard about the commotion at lunch today; something about fourteen days of
good time.

Isaak/The Exchange

121

God, I never knew gossip could move so fast! You heard the story? Whats the
word going around?
That your wife has had a renewed passion for you since you lost the appeal and
now must serve five more years. There is speculation about her motives; but, the
passion was attested to as real by Bernie himself who could not help but overhear. You
are envied for enjoying the attentions of a woman as lovely as she.
Sounds like the entire time was being broadcast on local cable. I still cant
believe it happened.
Why dont you tell me just what exactly did happen, or as much as you want to
share?
You want me to start with me cutting myself shaving and throwing up my
breakfast, or just fast forward to Carolena and me in the room?
Wherever you want to start, Chad, you know. I think I see how it must have
been; you have a look in your eyes I have never seen before when you speak her name.
Chad told it all, avoiding being either too clinical or pornographic. Alexander
placidly encouraged him by nodding and saying an occasional yes.
And, Chad, both of you declared love to the other?
Yes. Love. You think were both crazy, dont you?
No. Quite the contrary. I think when you are with the right person, that is how
it is. You were both being honest. How do you feel about all of this now, some two
hours later?
I know this will sound very bad but I have to be honest with you. Im angry.
It is not bad; anger is good sometimes and useful. At least, my friend, it is an
emotion. I was waiting for you to begin again to feel these things. What is the anger
about?
You know what my life was like for the past two years; weve talked about it and
you know what my time here has been. I was at the bottom. It was depression. I think I

Isaak/The Exchange

122

may be getting a little bit out of my hole, finally. At least accepting the fact that Im here
and I will just have to live through it. You, know, finally, I realized that even if life sucks,
the alternative is worse. And youve really helped me. I desperately needed a friend and
youre it. The winter weed stuff youve given me must have helped me too; I definitely
felt better, even before today.
Yes, Chad, the extract helped me get through Iles loss. I know it helps.
Well, after all that, to find the person who maybe can love me when Im so
absolutely down and out; to finally find her and not be able to be with her, its making
me so angry. Why couldnt I have found her before all this happened? Whats wrong
with my life? Am I doomed?
Love sometimes feels that way, my friend, doomed. I felt that way about Ile. All
I ever wanted in the world was to continue to be with her; and after Frieda was grown up
and gone, after all the years of struggle, and anger at the world about losing my beloved
island, we had come to a place of peace, Ile and I. And it seemed at just that moment,
she got sick. You know, I would give almost anything to have her with me for just thirty
minutes, just once more. You have the opportunity for many such times and perhaps a
lifetime after you are out. Think of that.
I know, I feel like such an ingrate. I havent wanted anything for such a long
time, I dont know how to feel about wanting something.
Its not about knowing how to feel; its just feeling.
Right. But I want to make some plans; some plans for Carolena and me. To be
together, to maybe share a life. Not just a weird visit every other week. Those arent
plans.
Have you tried to think of any such plans?
Thats what really makes me angry. There are no plans possible. I was
beginning to think that I could make a motion to court for something and get a hearing.
They have to transport you to the court for a hearing. Then I was going to ask to see the

Isaak/The Exchange

123

judge and the US Attorney in chambers and tell them about the whole thing. Maybe get
immunity for ratting out Mitty.
You would have to go to the Witness Program?
Yes, the Witness Protection Program; but, at least Id be out. It was a stupid
plan, but it was a tiny false hope I was clinging to. Now, I know thats not possible. Huff
knows about me and is in on everything with Mitty. I see that now. And I couldnt
endanger Carolena or risk her going to jail. Once she showed up here, that option was
over, if it was even an option before.
Can anyone you know outside help?
You know all my mail in and out will be read and photocopied. All my phone
calls are taped and I cant get any calls in from anybody. The only way Carolena and I
can communicate is while were in the CVA and then only if we whisper in each others
ear. There are some people who Carolena might be able to see for me, people in the
Justice Department or people in one of Bostons crime families. But anything that could
be done would jeopardize Carolena, either with a prison sentence or with her safety. I
cant do that.
Would she go with you into the Witness Program?
Based on one morning with me that shes probably now regretting? Maybe if we
had some time together to see if what happened between us has any life outside of this
one crazy circumstance. I dont know. And I couldnt ask that. She has a very special
and privileged life that shed be giving up, probably for good. No.
So what is left?
If I could prove that I had been an ineffective counsel to Willy, I, Willy, could get
a new trial.
You can make the motion as your own lawyer, cant you?
Oh, sure, if I can get permission to act as my own lawyer. For all I know, Willy
will fight it, acting as Chad Lewis. Its so crazy, Alexander. And it would fail unless I

Isaak/The Exchange

124

stated as grounds his failure to believe in my innocence and his failure to investigate the
facts about my innocence.
Why would the motion fail?
It would fail unless I cited newly-discovered evidence that could have been
available if Chad Lewis had done an effective job of representing Willy Fenton. And I
have no way of getting any such evidence.
Could you not just hire a good investigator?
First of all, I have no money. Willy has all of my money and now all of his
stashed cash too.
Surely, Carolena would pay for that?
I hired an investigator before the trial. He couldnt find anything to verify
Willys claims. Willy had a wild conspiracy theory involving senior executives of
Chrysler and a string of dealership failures around the country. Willy was a very
paranoid person. If Id tried to put Willy on the stand at the trial, hed have gotten even
more time than he did. He was guilty of so many other things that hed not been
indicted for that hed have had to plead the Fifth Amendment almost from the first
question on cross-examination. The jury would have fried him.
Did the investigator do a thorough job?
He submitted very thorough reports and billed a lot of time. I suspected that he
might have been tampered with in some way because he said he couldnt even find a
rumor about Detroit deliberately putting some dealers out of business. I had heard
rumors myself about this from another client of mine. But, I didnt bother following up
with my suspicions. I truly went through the entire case just doing the minimum I
needed to get through it. The irony is, I was an ineffective counsel to Willy. Im just in
no position to prove it now that Im Willy Fenton. Hed deny it and I did such a good job
of papering Willys file, Chad Lewis ass is covered on this one.
There must be some way.

Isaak/The Exchange

125

If someone, preferably me, could do the investigation personally so Detroit


couldnt buy off the investigator, maybe some evidence could be found. If my guy was
bought off the case, I think maybe none of the interviews in his report actually occurred.
Maybe it was all a fabrication.
Perhaps Willy was not so paranoid?
Alexander, you know what they say, Its not paranoia if they are really truly out
to get you.
So, its up to us?
Us? Whos us?
You, me and perhaps, Carolena.
No. Its not your fight. Or hers. Its my problem and Ill find a way to get
evidence if there is one.
Chad, my friend, let me explain something to you. You have no control over
anything in your life right now. Perhaps it makes you feel good if you can control the
actions of those who care about you. Or perhaps you just do not permit yourself to
accept freely-given help. Maybe it creates too much of an obligation on your part to
reciprocate. Whatever the problem is, I suggest that you work on it. Because, I do not
feel that you can control either me or Carolena if we want to help get you out of here.
Without daring to speak for her, I will tell you that you cannot control me. Ive spent my
entire life, so far, having people tell me what I cannot do and proving them wrong. If
necessary, I shall do it again. I would prefer it if you would help me get you out. But
even if you do not, I will try because it is the right thing to do. Plus, I can come and go
as I please; I even have several months of unused vacation time accumulated.
Alexander, do you know what youre getting into? If it ever comes out that
youre helping me and that I helped Willy escape, you could lose everything and go to
prison for ten years. Not this place; they dont send people like you here. Youd go to

Isaak/The Exchange

126

Marion. You do not want to be a Black man in that prison. And youd never touch
another guitar for ten years. Why would you risk that?
I think you know why. Friendship isnt always easy. The obligations are
sometimes quite difficult. I have been close to very few people in my life. But when my
friends need me, I help. It is that simple. Always.
You hardly know me. Youve only known me for a few weeks.
I know you better that you think. I know you are trying still to punish yourself
for all of your imagined sins. You should try to stop that; there are enough people out
there and in here to punish you. You do not need to help them; they are very good at it
and they are being paid to do it. Will you help me instead? It makes more sense.
Look, Alexander, I dont have any of my files, any real information about the
people Willy was involved with. Theyre all in my office and the information is inside
Willys head. I wouldnt be much help.
Do not be such a lawyer with me, Chad. You know what I mean. You are the one
who has to be the captain of the team; you have to coordinate the effort. If you write the
motion for the court and create the legal framework, I will assist by obtaining the
information required to fill in the rest of the structure. I believe that you must have help
from your Carolena because she can get all of Willys files and records. Am I correct?
Probably. Youre probably right about all of it, my motives and all that. I just
dont want to screw up anybody elses lives. I dont want anybody to get hurt or get put
in jail.
Is there anything illegal about asking questions?
No.
Mitty told you not to say anything about the exchange. Why should he care if
you call yourself incompetent? And Huffnagle is happy as long as the head count is
correct.

Isaak/The Exchange

127

Yes. It shouldnt matter if I get out on a motion for a new trial. But somehow, I
dont think itll be that simple. Somebody set Willy up for a reason. Probably the guy
Willy called Mighty Mouse. Willy said it was so a sales manager for Chrysler could take
over the store. How much trouble could that guy make if he wanted to?
I have been through much trouble in the South in the Sixties, my friend. Could
such a one be worse than the Klan? I do not think so. Carolena seems to be a competent
and strong person.
Yes. Shes an engineer and pilot. And shes rich and beautiful.
Precisely. Sometimes that is more important in getting things accomplished.
What exactly did she say when you parted?
She said that she wouldnt abandon me, that somehow, wed find a way.
Then perhaps, weve begun to find that way.
I dont even have her phone number. I have no way to contact her.
That, my friend is simplicity itself. I know someone who works at the telephone
company who sits in with the band sometimes; he plays saxophone. He can get her
number. I shall call her and see if she is willing to assist me. Please let me tell Carolena
that you are willing to try.
You know that I want to be with her. Ill do anything to make that happen.
So. It is a deal, then, my friend.
If it gets weird, promise me youll stop.
My friend, it is weird already. I cannot make that promise. You are going to
worry in any event. Just do your part and Carolena and I will do ours. You may not feel
that you deserve anybodys help; trust me, you do deserve something good to happen to
you. Just permit yourself to accept graciously.
Ill try.

Isaak/The Exchange

128

Chapter 15.
As Carol strolled toward her Mustang, replaying the mornings events in her
mind, her hips began a slight swivel and a sly grin crept over her mouth. She imagined
herself enveloped in a post-coital glow. Carol was happy.
It didnt seem to matter this warm June day that she had just begun having sex
with a man who was not her husband, that he was to remain imprisoned for another five
years, that she could only see him for thirty minutes every other week in the sterile
environment of the CVA, or even that when he did get out, he would have to forfeit his
name, his past, his education and his identity.
What mattered to her was that she had managed to find out the truth, that she
had not been shattered by the knowledge, that she had finally severed her emotional
bond with Willy Fenton and that she had again felt something inside of herself she never
knew had been missing.
Carol opened the car door, slid into the seat, inserted the ignition key, pressed the
button to put the top down, fumbled a CD into the player and fired up the engine. As
she proceeded down the tree-lined drive toward the state road, Carol realized that she
didnt know where she wanted to go. If she went right to the airport, she could be home

Isaak/The Exchange

129

by 3:30. But Fawn would expect a complete play-by-play description of her morning
and Carol wasnt ready for that. Maybe she could go see her new friend Amy, do some
quilting, and have a little mint tea.
The diaphragm wasnt the only thing she hadnt packed; her cell phone was still
in its charging cradle next to her bed. She had promised Fawn a call. A glance at her
watch made Carol smile. Fawn had Saturday morning hours at her office. She
invariably shut the doors at noon sharp and went to lunch. Her service would answer
the office phone and she wouldnt be home for another forty-five minutes. If she found
a phone booth in the next half-hour, Carol could make her promised call and not have to
confront any questions from Fawn.
As she drove down the old state road with the wind whipping at her pony-tail,
Carol replayed again and again in her mind their words, his smell, their tears, his touch,
the thrill of their excitement and her own complete surrender to the moment. She had
never been promiscuous. Although shed had a number of lovers during her life before
Willy, she had always been serially monogamous. There was room in her heart and in
her bed for only one man at a time, usually with a suitable time in between to help her
sort out her feelings. This morning with Chad, shed pushed the definition of serial
monogamy to the limit. Thered scarcely been a microsecond between the end of her
fidelity to Willy and the beginning of whatever it was to be with Chad.
Up ahead, she spotted an old-fashioned phone booth at the edge of the parking
lot in front of a Wendys. Hanging from the roof and covering half the glass wall of the
restaurant was a sign proclaiming UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT!
Carol dialed the familiar number and heard the answering service answer
Doctor Cohens office. May I help you?
Yes. Fawn, please.
Im sorry, Doctor Cohen has left for the day; is this an emergency?
No. Would you please give her a message?

Isaak/The Exchange

130

Certainly. Your name?


Carol. Tell Fawn, Im well and mission accomplished.
Mission accomplished.
Right. Shell understand. I wont be reachable for awhile, so dont bother having
her call me back.
All right.
The smells from the Wendys were irresistible as she left the phone booth;
suddenly, Carol was famished. As she sat and ate her Double Biggie Bacon Burger,
Carol watched the man who seemed to be the new owner, greeting customers and
smiling as he dispensed drinks and parceled out food. It felt good to see another happy
human being.
The changes to the fields and the farm country landscape as she approached the
Amish enclave astounded Carol. In the six weeks since she had last traveled these roads,
the wheat and rye had shot up three feet taller, the laden, bearded heads nodding in the
breeze. The trees were fully and exuberantly leaved, the horses and black-and-white
cows fat and shining as they cropped the dazzlingly green pasture. The large,
conventionally-farmed hayfields were studded with huge cylindrical hay bales excreted
by some unimaginable machine. Row upon row of corn and sorghum marched across
the rolling hills that stretched from horizon to horizon. Occasionally, Carol would come
across cheerful rambling red brick ranch-style houses set off from the road frontage by
expanses of carefully-tended lawns, decorated with huge satellite dishes, lawn
ornaments, statues of the Virgin Mother, and decorative shrubbery. The distinctive blue
tube shapes of the silos grouped behind the cow barns at the rear of every homestead. It
was as if the monoculture farming techniques extended to the occupants of the houses
as well as to the crops cultivated.
When she made the turn and the asphalt ended, she was suddenly in a more
complex and humane environment. The fields were small, hedged in on all sides by

Isaak/The Exchange

131

rows of trees and brush. The houses were wood sided and shingled with multiple fieldstone chimneys stretching their thick fingers above the roofs. The yards teemed with
poultry, some which she recognized and some with exotic plumage. The barns were
massive, hip-roofed and multi-floored, built into hillsides atop skillfully-built fieldstone
walls. The various sized outbuildings that flanked the huge barns looked like barnchildren. Small pastures contained black-faced sheep, huge, shaggy horses with thick
legs and broad shoulders and a variety of red, black, grey, brown and spotted cows. She
noticed for the first time the absence of the tall creosote-impregnated power poles, the
strings of wires and dangling transformers that formed the border of the roads she had
traveled before. A horse drawing a shining black buggy approached her car; she slowed
to a crawl and gave them the right of way. A bearded man, a pretty, brown-haired
woman and two tow-headed children stared and waved as they passed. Carol felt
conspicuous in her bright new red Mustang convertible, dressed in a short, tight black
mini-cocktail dress, wearing her party pumps and revealing her ample cleavage between
the tiny spaghetti straps of her dress. Maybe Amy had something that would fit her and
would be more appropriate.
After passing a dozen or so houses, several cross roads and a stretch of dense
wooded hills, Carol came to the familiar house with the quilt rack out front. Amys
grandmother sat in the chair, embroidering a quilt block, wearing a grey bonnet and a
full, long-sleeved grey dress. Her wire rimmed glasses flashed in the sunlight, as her
bethimbled finger deftly slid the gleaming needle again and again into the bright fabric.
If she was surprised by Carols sudden appearance at the farm, she showed no indication
of it.
Carol, I expect youre looking for Amy.
Yes. Is she about?
Shes just finishing setting up for dinner. The men will be coming in shortly.
Oh, I can come back after your meal.

Isaak/The Exchange

132

We wouldnt hear of it. Just go on in and Amyll set another place. They wont
be coming for another little bit. We women can visit together after dinner. Now, just go
on in.
Sure, thanks.
Carol had never found out what the womans name was; everybody seemed to call
her Grammaw. She could hear the sounds of plates and silverware being deposited onto
the table as she walked up the steps and across the porch to the screen door. As soon as
Amy saw her, she yelped a squeal of recognition and ran up to Carol, throwing her arms
around her in a tight hug.
Hello, Carol. Its so good to see you. I thought our primitive ways had
permanently scared you off.
Hi, Amy. No, I havent had occasion to come down here before now. But, I
really wanted to see you. You look radiant. Truly, Amy looked fresh and alive, her
serene beauty glowing inside the light blue dress she wore.
Oh, you too. Youre joining us for dinner? Please.
Yes, Grammaw gave me orders; I mustnt disobey.
Yes, you mustnt. They both laughed as Carol helped Amy rearrange the
settings to make room for her plate and silver on the large dining-room table. Would
you like to freshen up before dinner? You must have had a long trip today.
Actually, Id like to change if you have anything that might fit me. Id feel a little
conspicuous, and half-naked, dressed like this. I dont believe Ive met any of the men
folk. They might not approve.
Or maybe they might approve too much. I bet you dont know that weve got a
shower upstairs, do you?
How?

Isaak/The Exchange

133

Amish engineering is quite advanced; we have a cistern up in the attic, fed by


runoff from the house and the barn, solar heated and gravity-fed. Youre very lucky;
June is a good month for showers.
Im dying to take a shower. Could I?
No problem; come on, Ill show you.
While Carol undressed in the cedar-lined shower room, Amy rummaged through
her wardrobe to find the brightest courting dress she could find.
Carol could smell the spunky aroma of her morning exertions over the smell of
the aromatic cedar. Amy?
Yes?
Underwear, too if you have them, please?
Sure. Everythings laid out in the dressing room, along with some fresh towels.
Enjoy.
The shower was quite cleverly set up. There was a perforated tin funnel poking
through the ceiling. A metal lever was spring loaded and outfitted with a rope pull.
Knots on the rope which slotted into a wooden cleat provided the flow adjustment. The
water felt like a warm summer rain. The chunk of homemade soap lathered furiously
and washed off squeaky clean. Ten minutes later, Carol re-appeared in the dining room,
dressed in a bright gingham short-sleeved dress that extended almost to the floor.
How does it fit?
A little tight up here.
Carol suspected she was still not entirely modest, seeing as how the outline of her
nipples poked flagrantly through the front of the dress.
You look great. How was the shower?
Truly wonderful. Thanks.
Amy encouraged Carol to sit on the porch and let the breeze dry her hair while
she and the other women finished the meal preparations. Dinner was being cooked in

Isaak/The Exchange

134

the small open, summer-kitchen located to the side of the house. This kept the woodburning cook stove from heating up the entire house, Amy explained. Carol sat in an old
wooden rocker, fingering the tangles out of her blond curls and watching the men gather
at a wooden trough beside the barn to wash the dirt and sweat off their faces and arms
before dinner. The smells of baking bread, roasting meat and wood smoke tickled her
nose.
Suddenly, she felt it, the slight involuntary crampy ripple beneath her breasts and
above her pelvis, deep within her. She recognized the feeling; she felt it every month.
She was ovulating. A furious blush flashed across her face, breasts and arms as she
instantly understood the implications. Carol closed her eyes and saw in her minds eye
the images from the NPR special shed seen about human reproduction several years
before. The egg drifting placidly down her fallopian tube. The millions of swarming
sperm swimming to meet it. The frenzied collisions until the special one penetrated the
eggs cell wall and began the rhythmic cell division of the blastula. If the fertilized egg
attached to her uterine wall, she was going to have Chad Lewis baby.
When the bell sounded, she opened her eyes, got to her feet and prepared to have
dinner with Amy, the quilters, and their men folk.
The dinner was not a light lunch. The big table had been heaped with roast
chickens, fresh vegetables, raw and cooked, hot breads, bowls of fruit, crocks of butter,
jugs of milk, pots of strong coffee, and pitchers of tea and lemonade. Carol felt guilty
about not contributing to the fare.
The women, Amy, her two sisters, her mother, and Grammaw sat on one side,
with Carol seated next to Amy in the middle. The men, ten in all, sat at either end and
along the other side. Grammaws husband seemed to be sitting at one end and Amys
father at the other end. Directly across from Amy sat a tall, slender blue-eyed young
man with the scraggly beginnings of a beard. From the looks of rapt attention they
exchanged, Carol surmised that she was not the only one with news to share. After

Isaak/The Exchange

135

Clem, Amys grandfather, said a comprehensive grace, all of the men and the women
introduced themselves to Carol. Carol was introduced as a special friend of Amys who
was going to learn how to quilt. With all of her inner turmoil, Carol immediately
blanked on all of the names, except for Clem, the patriarch and Paul, the name of the
slender young man across from them. The meal was relaxed and fun. The men
concentrated on refueling after a morning of hard work and in preparation for an
afternoon of the same. They all seemed to consume an inordinate amount of food for a
midday meal. Even Carol had seconds in spite of the burger shed had at Wendys. The
men talked about the crops and the animals and made sly inside jokes that completely
eluded Carol. Often, they would give a small explanatory aside in her direction to
include her. The women talked about preparations for the midsummer gathering that
was to happen at the solstice, some two weeks from now. By the time Carol was helping
clear the table in preparation for dessert, the women were gossiping and giggling and
teasing Amy about Pauls ability to eat without looking at his food. Amy replied that,
yes, Paul was good with his hands. The thunderous laughter that erupted from the
kitchen temporarily silenced the men, who sat planning their afternoons labors.
If the men were in any way shocked by her car, her appearance, or her pernicious
city ways, they didnt show it. She did catch one of them looking a little long at the
bodice of her dress when she held out her coffee cup for a refill; but that was hardly
abnormal for Carol. Since she had left her watch upstairs along with all of her other
clothes, she had no idea of the time. The meal seemed to last for hours. Eventually, at
some inconspicuous signal from Clem, the men replaced the cloth napkins next to their
plates, stood up, excused themselves to Carol with varied, Pleased to meet yous and
filed out of the house to return to work. Paul was the last to leave and he and Amy
quickly held a short whispered colloquy before he stepped outside.

Isaak/The Exchange

136

Carol grabbed a dishcloth and helped dry dishes, handing them to Amy who
scurried around the kitchen returning them to their former locations. In no time, they
were finished cleaning up.
Carol, how about a walk? Or would you rather have a nap?
A walk and a talk would be great right now. Amy, I really love your family.
Dinner was great. I only wish I could reciprocate in some way. I guess theres no way I
could have all of you up to Marblehead, is there?
I dont think so; the community hasnt had a wagon train since they came here
fifty years ago.
Very funny. Is there anything I can do or bring you that you might need and
wouldnt violate your beliefs?
Maybe there is something. Ill explain later. What do you think of Paul?
Hes dressed the same as the others but he seemed different, special.
Really?
Really. He would have looked like that to me even if he hadnt had his eyes
locked on you the entire time.
I know. He is different and special. He left the community for two years, moved
to California and went to college. Hes been back about six months now, apprenticing
with a carriage builder.
Amy, dont keep me in suspense, tell me, woman.
Were going to be bespoken, this Sunday.
Im so happy for you! Is bespoken like being engaged?
Its like a pre-engagement. It allows him to court me. Then, after weve courted
for about six months, we can become engaged. We could get married, the soonest, in a
little over a year.
Congratulations, Amy. How do you feel?
Wonderful.

Isaak/The Exchange

137

How does Paul feel?


Hed like to go to Reno tomorrow, or any place where we could get married
immediately. But hell wait, if thats what I want.
So?
Well wait.
Is he the one?
Oh, yes. Yes.
How does the family feel about him?
Mothers glad; she was worried Id end up as an old maid. Twentys old for a girl
here to become bespoken. My father doesnt much like him, says hes a rebel and too
fancy.
Fancy?
Thats the term we use for people who want technology or comforts. Paul
studied engineering when he was in college. He has a lot of ideas about how to make
things easier, but still live within the limits of the precepts. Some people dont like his
ideas, even if they are technically within the rules.
What about Clem and Grammaw?
They love him. He talks German with them and makes them laugh. Clem says
that God wants us to use our brains; we dont have to be stupid, just Amish.
I like Clems attitude. What do you think of Pauls ideas?
Oh, Carol, I love everything about him.
Good. Your father will come around.
I know. They always do. What about you? Whats happening with you? Down
visiting again?
Carol didnt know where to start. Although she hadnt spelled it out, Amy knew
where outsiders came to visit and it wasnt Clyde Peeles Reptile World. How could
Carol ever explain the situation with Chad? But she did explain it all. Nothing seemed

Isaak/The Exchange

138

to shock Amy. They talked and walked through the barn, around the smaller
outbuildings and through the kitchen garden, eventually stopping at a small shady spot
near the pond, out by the far pasture. Carol told her all of it, including her morning in
the CVA and what she suspected was going on inside of her. By then, they were both
crying.
What should I do, Amy? If I wait twenty-four hours, Ill probably be pregnant.
If I go home and get a prescription from my doctor, I can guarantee that I wont be.
Do you want a baby?
Yes, Ive wanted one ever since Kelly was born. We never had another because
Willy refused to even consider it. Yes, very badly.
Not badly, Carol, goodly. This is a good thing happening to you. Be happy about
it. God is giving you a gift. Accept it.
Even if Im not married and hes stuck there for five years?
How could that change what you feel about the baby? If you catch after this
morning, Id say this baby really wants to be born. Help her.
How can you be so certain about all of this? Youre so...
What? Young, inexperienced, religious?
Yes.
Young, maybe. Let me tell you some things about our community, Carol. Were
not little cut-out dolls, wearing grey dresses and bonnets. Were human beings with all
of the desires and everything else humans have. Im not a virgin and I havent been one
for several years. My mother suspects but Grammaw knows. Shes helped me stay out
of trouble until I found the right man.
How?
You know we had lemonade today at dinner? Did you notice one of the men
offering me some? And Paul blushing?
I didnt get any of the humor, Amy; it all went over my head.

Isaak/The Exchange

139

It was funny because we sometimes use a piece of lemon as a cervical cap.


Women have been using that method for years. Supposedly, they used lemons in
biblical times. The size is right, depending on the woman and of course the lemon and
the acidity...
Kills the uh...?
Sperm? I guess.
The precepts allow this?
Nobody ever explicitly asks for a decision and the elders just look the other way.
Its a woman thing and they dont interfere. The joke is about how some women seem to
have a taste for lemonade or need extra vitamin C. Now do you get it?
Yes. Lemons. Do you like lemonade?
Probably more than I should. Yes.
Me too. But you probably believe that what I was talking about is the same as
murder, right?
Not necessarily. Grammaw has some special tea; women drink it the morning
after to make sure the lemon worked. Its the same thing. We all know what the tea is
for and we use it.
Every time?
Not if youre bespoken and you want to get permission to marry without waiting
the full year and the man is the right man.
I see.
So, I could get Grammaw to brew some tea for you right now if you wanted to;
but I dont think you want to. Do you?
No. I guess Im bespoken in my own way.
We have a saying here, that if God wants the baby very much, hell give it to you
early. The elders cant frustrate Gods will in these matters, so they marry the couple
early. We also have a little joke. They say that the race is on, the race between the

Isaak/The Exchange

140

midwife and the elder. Dont question God, Carol. If he gives you a baby with this man
and you want her, keep her.
I will, Amy.
They walked back and talked about everything all over again. Amy admitted that
she didnt care if there was going to be a race in her case; shed take whatever God
handed her. Carol accepted the offer of a nap when they got back to the house and was
laughing too hard to drink her lemonade. She fell into the bed and slept through until
Sunday morning.

Isaak/The Exchange

141

Chapter 16.
First class wasnt all it was cracked up to be, in Willys opinion. He spent six
hours trapped with an assortment of self-important businessmen and their snotty wives,
a pencil-thin, coke-snorting rock star, a gloomy female shrink with a rat-faced little dog
on her lap and an over-the hill starlet who offered him an autograph and a blow-job. All
he wanted to do was sleep; but the flight attendants insisted on waking him every halfhour with offers of alcohol and food. The in-flight movie was an updated Disney remake
of Paper Moon with Arnold as the dad and a cute little Black kid as the daughter.
When he tried to sleep through it, he kept getting awakened by the hideous laughter of
the other passengers or the gun-shot and car-crash sound effects leaking from their
headphones. When he finally accepted the fact that he wasnt going to get any sleep and
he stood to go to the bathroom, the former soap-opera star in the aisle seat accused him
of being grumpy. Willy felt like showing her what real grumpiness was all about.
On the way back to his seat, Willy realized what was really going on. He didnt
actually want to continue the charade. It had been fun for a day or two pretending to be
a lawyer. It might get old fast. Before he heard the news about the death of the
software guy, hed been looking forward to settling in to a life of switching among his

Isaak/The Exchange

142

new alter-egos, raising quarter horses, living like a king in Mexico part of the time, and
visiting Margot whenever the urge hit him. Now, he had to actually try to pull off the
switch on a long-term basis. An image of Margot suddenly skewered him; he was going
to miss her. In fact, he was beginning to miss her before the plane had even landed.
Before Carol, hed always treated women like cars. Willy had always gotten the
flashiest newest models, fully loaded, and driven the hell out of them. He never did any
maintenance and he dumped them before he put too many miles on them. Inventory
was all they were; hed made a point of never getting attached to them. And hed always
had several going at the same time. Carol hadnt really changed his basic calculus; shed
just been different. Carol was one of a kind, definitely not inventory. Willy hadnt
thought of Margot in the same context as either Carol or the fungible floozies hed
always had. In a lot of ways, she was like a guy, totally reliable and totally fearless. Yet,
shed shown him some things sexually that hed never even dreamed of before.
As he waited for his luggage at the carousel, Willy wondered if he, as Chad Lewis,
could have a relationship with Margot. Maybe hed call her and see. Had Chad been
dating anyone before the switch? Hed never thought to ask. Willy made a mental note
to search for a Rolodex or a little black book.
Logan Airport was a zoo at five on a Sunday mid-June afternoon. Hordes of
family vacationers migrated through the perpetual construction site that constituted the
TWA terminal. Willy felt like he was occupying another dimension; the place had some
vague familiarity but was essentially alien. He carried seven sets of identification in his
slim attach case. His memories of Boston were all from a year ago. He couldnt
remember where hed parked Chads car. When he called the limo company, he almost
told them that he wanted to be driven to Marblehead. His watch was still set to
California time. When he made eye contact with himself in a restroom mirror, he didnt
even recognize himself. He was tired but not sleepy. He was too wired to go straight to

Isaak/The Exchange

143

Chads house; yet, he was too exhausted to contemplate going anywhere else. He was
hungry but the thought of food made him nauseous.
In the bad old days, Willy would have scored a half-ounce of coke and hit the bars
around Harvard Square, looking for a college girl. Not tonight. Maybe never again.
Willy had the limo driver take him to the Four Seasons, where he registered as
Chad Lewis. He spent two hours in the spa, working out, having a steam bath, and
getting a therapeutic massage from a taciturn woman who might have been on the East
German track team. After a room service steak and a half-bottle of Dom, Willy made a
list of priorities while he puffed on a Monte Christo Churchill. The list would have
blown the real Chad Lewis mind. Willy decided that if he had to be Chad, hed be all
that Chad could be.
At five the next morning, the front desk called to wake him; Willy was already up
and showered. Breakfast arrived at five-thirty. The concierge was summoned at six to
help Willy arrange for fittings with a qualified tailor and boot maker later in the day. At
six-thirty, Willy contacted an old car-dealer friend of his on the North Shore and
arranged for delivery of a new BMW convertible; the dealer was very curious about
where Chad Lewis had gotten his unlisted number. Willy called Jennifer at home at
seven and arranged to meet her at the office by seven-thirty. At seven-fifteen, the
concierge delivered a suitable off-the-rack ensemble for Willys first day back at the
office. Jennifer was unlocking the office door just as Willy emerged from the cab.
Willyd almost forgotten what she looked like. She looked like a Cosmo cover girl.
Jennifer. Thanks for coming in so early.
Mr. Lewis, great to have you back. Let me get this open and some lights on and
Ill show you what weve been up to. Jennifer slid a small plastic card into a shiny new
slot above the door handle; a second later, a tiny LED flashed green and the door lock
clicked open.

Isaak/The Exchange

144

A large, polished brass plaque spelled out Chadwick Lewis & Associates,
Counselors-At-Law . Everything from the door to the stairway carpet, to the bright
chandelier was sparkling new and clean. Following Jennifer up the stairs, Willy
wondered if he really could stop himself from hitting on her. Upstairs, the reception
area had been transformed into a small waiting room complete with torchiere lamps,
two modern leather couches and a low glass-and-chrome table strewn with current
copies of Smithsonian, the Wall Street Journal, Working Woman, and the New York
Times. An elaborate oriental rug covered the floor; large serigraphs depicting street
scenes hung on adjacent off-white walls. A small Shaker-reproduction sewing table held
a vase of fresh flowers. A large computer monitor and a multi-button phone console
rested on the L-shaped cherry reception desk. Willy smiled as he stroked the leather
and sniffed a rose.
Spectacular, Jennifer. I dont know what to say. Other than thanks. Youd
never know it was the same place. It makes me feel like a new man.
Well, Mr. Lewis-
Chad, please.
Chad, you look like a new man.
Yeah, thanks to the doctors, I didnt come out looking like Frankenstein.
How do you feel? Any residual effects of the accident?
No. I feel great, full of piss and vinegar. Ready to go.
Thats good, Chad. Because, whenever you want to start, Ive got reports for you
of the entire practice. The files, the billing, upcoming deadlines, everything. You want
to see the rest of the office first?
Sure. Lead the way.
Jennifer had redone the entire suite; the office was pleasant, efficient, and
welcoming. It felt like a place youd want to be in, where work would be enjoyable.
Clients would feel reassured but would know the services wouldnt be cheap. The file

Isaak/The Exchange

145

room had industrial open shelving with row-upon-row of brown accordion file folders,
all labeled and arranged perfectly. Every individual office contained a computer; the
library had three, very few books and several racks of CDs.
Willys office had a small separate seating area with a couch, a comfortable chair,
a low table, and a sideboard. His desk was large but not overpowering. Three velobound reports were centered on the desk next to a day-book, opened to Monday. His
computer monitor was on a return to his right. The screen saver scrolled Welcome
back, Mr. Lewis!
Jennifer, you amaze me.
Just doing my job. You want to look at the reports? Ive scheduled an interview
with a potential new associate at nine-thirty. Youve got clients coming in at one and a
scheduling conference in Federal Court at three-thirty. If you feel up to it, I can get
some law student applicants after five. All of the resumes are in the third binder.
Clients? What clients? And that thing in Federal Court?
Ill get the files while youre looking over the reports. Want coffee? How do you
like it? Weve got latte, espresso, hazelnut, French vanilla, decaf, half-caf, you name it.
Just coffee, and make it black and strong.
Maybe Jennifer was too efficient. Clients he could probably deal with, depending
on what it was they wanted done. But the last time he was in the Federal Courthouse,
hed been wearing hand-cuffs. It made him sweat just thinking of going back there. In
the top desk drawer, Willy found a box of Chads engraved business cards. He stuck a
handful in his pocket and put one on the desk where he could look at it.
The first report was phone calls and mail. Each one had a short explanation of
the case it pertained to and what had to be done when. The final section was labeled
triage.
At precisely eight-forty-five, Jennifer delivered a steaming mug emblazoned with
the words Illegitimi non carborundum and a pad of forms.

Isaak/The Exchange

146

Whats this?
Dont let the bastards grind you down. In Latin. And these are your time
sheets. Youd be amazed how much more time you bill when you fill them out.
I would, huh?
Youll see. The system uses tenths of an hour. Every time you look at a file or
think about a client, its a point one. Phone calls are always a point five. It adds up, at
four hundred an hour.
I bet it does.
The guys at my old firm always billed a minimum of ten hours per day. Even
when they left the office at three-thirty. How else are you going to pay for all this?
So far, with my walking-around money. Whats this triage? Last time I heard
that word I was in Nam.
You were in Viet Nam? During the war? I looked up your bio in Martindale
Hubbell and it didnt say anything about being in the service.
Well, I try not to think about it much.
Too painful? Im sorry I used the word. I just arranged everything in the order
of urgency. People who called several times, I put first. Deadlines I couldnt postpone
come before more remote events. Whos Alicia? She called six times and made it seem
quite urgent. But she wouldnt leave a message.
Beats me.
We dont have an open file for her. Why dont you look over the reports and Ill
pull the files for all of the urgent matters so you can review them. Ill hold all calls
unless theyre from someone on the top of the list. Ill let you know when your interview
arrives. If you need me, just hit the intercom button and zero.
Thanks, Jennifer.
Willy imagined what this Monday would have been like at the dealership. By
now, he would have been half-way through with the sales meeting. He would have

Isaak/The Exchange

147

already announced the new weekly sales target and fired the salesman with the lowest
numbers from last week. By this time, he would have awarded the bonus to the number
one guy and declared the new weekly bonus prize for the coming week. He missed the
smells of fear, car exhaust, bad coffee, cheap pastry and mens cologne. His brain was
reeling. Time sheets, tenths of hours, paper. He hated it already. He had to go to the
bathroom but felt guilty. Jennifer would see him slink past the reception desk, wasting
a point two for a mere bowel movement.
Willy took the triage report with him to the bathroom and picked up the files on
his way back. Jennifer pretended a professional disinterest in his movements around
the office. Hed gotten about ten pages into the first file when Jennifer announced that
two elderly Italian gentlemen had arrived for his fitting. She seemed a little put out
about the intrusion and asked if she should reschedule them for later in the week.
When he declined, Jennifer suggested that perhaps he could inform her in the
future of any appointments hed scheduled, just to avoid schedule compression. Willy
felt like a puppy whod missed the paper.
Willy was standing in the center of his office wearing only his undershirt and a
pair of bikini briefs. His feet were planted in two boxes of congealing plaster. One short
wrinkled Italian was measuring his torso, his thighs, his arms and every conceivable
part of his body. The other short wrinkled Italian was entering numbers on an
anatomically correct chart attached to a clipboard. They were carrying on an animated
conversation in rapid-fire Italian. Willy was imagining himself being thrown overboard
wearing the traditional cement shoes. The intercom chirped.
Rodney McCarthys here for his interview.
Okay. Send him in, Jennifer.
If Jennifer was surprised by the tableau, she didnt show it as she escorted the
tall, tow-headed young man into Chads office. Willy had hired hundreds of people in
his days at the dealership. Their average tenure was under one year. People came in,

Isaak/The Exchange

148

full of bullshit and phony enthusiasm and most eventually fell victim to the ritual
Monday morning massacre. You were only as good as your last sale and even that
meant damned little. It was the next sale that Willy had been interested in. His
interview technique had always been to hire them if they could fog a mirror and keep
them only if they could sell.
Rodney might have failed Willys first test; he was so nervous that he seemed
stunned. His cheap polyester suit was a putrid color of green. His tie looked like old
wallpaper. He acted like hed never seen a man dressed in his underwear before. His
hands were sweaty and cold as they shook and his grip was weak. The only reassuring
thing about Rodney was the familiar smell of fear.
So Rodney, you want to be a lawyer?
I already am, sir. Mr. Lewis. Ive been out of school a year now.
Great, what you been doing?
Practicing on my own. Ive got an office on Tremont Street.
Hows it going?
Honestly? Not too well. Its hard to get established. Im mostly doing public
defender criminal stuff, trying to get some accident cases. A couple of referrals from
buddies of mine at some of the big firms, when theyre conflicted out.
What can you do for me?
Just about anything. Jennifer told me you had a lot of white-collar crime,
Federal appeals. Im a pretty good researcher and I like to write. I could be a pretty
good back-up for you.
Back up? I dont need back up. I got Jennifer for back up, boy. I need a front
line nut-cutter. You got any sales experience?
Sales?
Yeah, sales. You ever had a sales job?
Uh, sure. Lechmere, part time during college and summers.

Isaak/The Exchange

149

Selling what?
Appliances, mostly. You know, refrigerators, washers, stuff like that.
Now were talking. You good at it?
Yeah. They were happy with me. Offered me the department managers job, but
I wanted to go to law school.
Ever sell cars?
Part time, summer of my first year at BC Law.
New or used?
Used.
Could you shit down their throats?
Yeah, I guess so. It was just to make some quick money to pay for school. I
volunteered at the AGs office during the day, to get some legal experience.
Never mind about the AG. What kind of grosses did you hold on the used cars?
Two thousand, sometimes more.
Okay. Youre hired. Hand me my pants, Rodney. Heres some walking-around
money. Go to some mens store and get you some clothes. Then come back here;
Jenniferll give you the low-down. You gotta be in Federal Court at three-thirty. Look
over our case list. Anything on there looks good to you, its yours. Most of the stuffs
farmed out; but if you want it, well get it back and you do it. Got any questions?
Uh, whats the salary?
Jenniferll take care of that. Well pay the usual rate. Got a car?
Its in the shop; Ill get it back by Friday.
Heres the keys to my old one. I left it in a garage down the street. Jenniferll
give you a check for the charges. Any other questions?
Do you do any pro bono work?
Tell Jennifer; shell arrange it. Okay?
Sure. Thanks, Mr. Lewis. You wont be disappointed in me.

Isaak/The Exchange

150

I hope not. Just remember, sell like hell. The rest is easy.
Sell like hell.
Thats right, sell. Okay, I gotta get myself chiseled out of these boxes and put my
clothes on.
Just as the boot maker was starting to tap the chisel on Willys right foot, the
office door swept open. Willys first thought was that he was being attacked by an
Amazon. She was tall, buxom and had a mane of auburn curls, hanging down to her
butt. She wore a mannish suit jacket and a short black leather skirt. There was nothing
apparent under the jacket except for her glowing dcolletage. She strode over to Chad,
grabbed his buttocks, and planted a throat-strangling kiss on his startled mouth.
Remember me?
Uh...
Alicia. Remember, the Ritz bar, my apartment.
Alicia. I had an accident. I was out of state, at a hospital.
Yeah, thats what she told me. You fucking her? That Jennifer?
No, no. Shes my assistant.
Shes not your type, anyway. Im more your type. You sure you dont
remember? It was only one night and we were both pretty blasted, but you made an
impression. I certainly remember. Great briefs, by the way. Look, I cant really stay to
chat; I just wanted to welcome you back. How about dinner tonight. Say, Bibas at
eight?
Sure, Alicia. Sounds great.
The two old Italians took everything in stride; no doubt theyd had weirder
mornings. The concierge had assured him that they came highly recommended for their
efficiency and discretion. Some of the names hed mentioned showed up on Chads
appellate criminal list.

Isaak/The Exchange

151

Willy changed his mind about lawyering for the tenth time that morning. It
wasnt all time sheets and paper; there was the prospect of Alicia. Maybe hed better
have oysters for lunch, lots of oysters.
Dressed again, sitting behind the desk, Willy began to leaf through the report.
Jennifer popped into the office. Heres todays mail. Mostly junk except for this
notice from the Bureau of Prisons. Chad, Luigi called and had a question. Something he
forgot to ask you. Ill relay the information, you dont have to call him back.
Okay. Whats he need to know?
How do you usually dress? Left or right?
Left, all right?
Sure, Chad; Ill tell him. Left. He searched her face for a hint of a smirk.
Jennifers demeanor was efficiently neutral; she could probably take shorthand in the
middle of a hurricane.
Willy unfolded the notice. Willy Fenton had lost fourteen days of accumulated
good time for overstaying his conjugal visit. He was suddenly furious. What in the hell
were they doing in the CVA for an hour? As improbable as it seemed, Willy suddenly
had an image of exactly what theyd been doing and he didnt like it.

Isaak/The Exchange

152

Chapter 17.
It was one of those exquisite beach days that seem to come around less and less
often every summer. The sun and the sea breeze conspired to make every pleasurable
neuron fire. Fawn dried herself with a gaudy beach towel, tucked her buttocks back
under her one-piece bathing suit, and donned her oversized sunglasses.
God, even the waters perfect. If only that life guard would agree to be my sex
slave, Id be in heaven. But how could he possibly notice me with what youre not
wearing?
Carol shook the water out of her hair and draped a tattered washed out work shirt
over her string bikini. I get the hint, Fawn. This better?
No, thatll only titillate him more. Why dont you dress like those women do in
Iran? Maybe Id have a chance?

Isaak/The Exchange

153

Ill probably be wearing stuff like that in a few months. They began to walk
along the shore, letting the waves wash over their feet.
Just what are you talking about? Carol, you promised me wed talk about what
happened at the prison. And I waited until we got to the beach and I waited until you
had your swim. Come on. Be fair. I got your cryptic message Saturday and all youve
said is that you slept over at the Amish farm.
What do you want to know?
Everything, and I do mean everything. You know that. Id settle for knowing
why you seem so calm, so centered.
Promise you wont get hysterical?
Moi, hysterical? No, I wont promise. Just what the hell would I get hysterical
about? Why dont you just tell me already? No, let me guess. It was love at first sight
and youre going to have his baby. Right?
Right.
Carol, thats my joke; tell me what happened.
Thats essentially what happened.
What? So, Im hysterical. You happy now?
Fawn, listen. Just hear me out before you go ballistic. All right? Okay. I went
to the CVA, like usual. He was very nervous, even shy. We could only talk by
whispering in each others ears.
You were naked?
Of course.
Oh, right, of course. Isnt everybody?
Fawn, just listen.
I asked him about Willy and he told me everything. Willy was a myth. Most of
what he told me about his business was a lie. It was a relief to finally find out. Then he

Isaak/The Exchange

154

told me all about the two of them, the stuff they used to do. Can you believe Willy was in
rehab that time he was supposed to be on that hunting trip?
Id believe anything bad about that man. If he was my husband, hedve needed
physical therapy too.
Then I asked why hed taken the case.
Yes? And youre naked the entire time, faking the old horizontal bop? Go on.
Well, he apologized and said hed made a horrible mistake. And he cried and he
said my name.
So? Ive seen naked men cry; its usually after they see me naked.
Fawn, Im serious. He said my full name and I sort of lost it.
Lost what?
Control.
You did it didnt you? You had sex with that man, that lawyer?
Yes.
Oh, shit. And you didnt pack the diaphragm. But he used a rubber, right?
No.
How could you?
You know. He said my name, my full name, Carolena. Something in me just
snapped. He was so aroused. We were both crying. I just slipped it in.
You just slipped it in? I understand. Temporary insanity. I suppose it could
happen. Just hope to God he didnt give you anything fatal. Forget about it and dont go
back. You did tell the warden that you wouldnt be back?
No.
Carol, youre not getting involved in this mess are you?
Fawn, I think Im pregnant. I know I ovulated that afternoon.
Pregnant?
Fawn, dont shout. Youre getting hysterical. I knew you would.

Isaak/The Exchange

155

Its not likely youd get pregnant after only one little shot of sperm. You know
that.
Two.
Two? You had two episodes of temporary insanity?
Yes. No. I wanted to both times. I want to have this baby. Im hoping that I am
pregnant. And, before you drag it out of me, Im going back again in two weeks, as often
as I can. And Im going to help get him out of there. Do you hate me?
They stopped walking. Fawn put her arms around Carol and patted her back.
Youre my best friend, Carol. Id do anything for you. Ill support you through
anything, even this. I dont understand it but I dont have to understand it. And I do
know how much youve wanted a baby. Just dont let sperm donation automatically
qualify him for a place in your life. Have the baby; itll be your baby. Theres a big
difference between a biological father and a mate.
I know, Fawn, but I think we may be soul mates. Anyway, Ive got to find out
and the only way is to get him out of there.
And you promised to help him?
Yes, I did. And thats why Im so calm, I guess. Ive committed myself and I
dont really have to make any more decisions, and Willy and I are finally over.
And you think youre going to have a baby.
Right. A baby.
And youre happy?
Yes.
Well, then, so am I.

Isaak/The Exchange

156

Chapter 18.
The cats were glad to see him. They knew the sound of his old Chevy pickup, the
throaty chuckling of the short block V-8 as he downshifted coming down the hill, the
squeak of the springs as he rounded the curve and the solid thud as he closed the door.
Winnie and Maddie sidled off of the porch and wound themselves around his ankles as
he tried to walk up the sidewalk. I know that all you want is the wet food; its not true
love. He put down the guitar case and bent to pet first one, and then the other. Maddie
began to purr and drool; Winnie got so excited that she began to rotate on her good hind
leg, her bent tail dragging in the dust. Come with me, girls, let me see what I can find
in the pantry for you. By the time Alexander had set the guitar next to the door and had
begun to rummage through the cans in the pantry, both cats were yowling next to their
food bowls.
Alexander always had mixed feelings coming home. He loved the house but there
were too many reminders of Ile. The house was off by itself, about a half-mile from the
nearest neighbor, about a mile from the village. The garden took up most of the cleared
land on the south side; terraced perennial beds snaked irregularly up the hill to the
north. Second-growth timber, hardwoods mixed with poplar and white pine, formed the

Isaak/The Exchange

157

backdrop. The house was a mongrelized accumulation of various additions to a small


bungalow. Each addition appeared to have been built by a different person and obeyed
different laws of physics. On the outside, there was no consistency of color, texture,
building materials or even angles. The only unifying feature was the front porch, which
Alexander had built himself, right after theyd moved in.
The evidence of his solitary life lay like a thin veneer over the richness of their life
together. Ile was everywhere in the house. She had painted every surface of the interior,
filling the eccentric intersections with detailed murals. The entire house had been her
canvas. Alexander sometimes thought he caught fugitive glimpses of her out of the
corner of his eye. Sometimes he would wake up in the middle of the night and the smell
of turpentine would be overpowering.
Tonight, the house was filled with the smells of reheated rice and beans and beet
greens from the garden sauted with garlic. He fetched a bottle of home brew from the
refrigerator, carefully decanted it into a mug and took his meal onto the porch. His gig
didnt start for another three hours. There was plenty of time to call his friend and get
Carolenas phone number and make the call. Something would begin with that call,
something he probably would have little control over. Alexander knew from experience
what could happen to Black folks getting themselves mixed up with white folks
business. For him, friendship cut through the color line; hed made a promise and he
would see it through. It didnt matter that there was nothing in it for him. His mother
had always said that virtue was its own reward; his father had always replied that no
good deed ever went unpunished. Ile would not have said anything; shed have known
how it had to be for him.
He finished the last of the beer as the sun set, let out a loud belch and headed
back in the house. As hed suspected, Carolenas phone numbers were unpublished. It
took his friend a few minutes to call back with both her cellular and her home numbers.
Alexander tried the home number first and had a pleasant conversation with Maria, who

Isaak/The Exchange

158

spoke passable Spanish. Hed begun in English and shed answered in Portuguese.
Theyd compromised on Spanish. Carolena was out and she had her cell phone with her.
He told her he knew her number and was a friend.
A minute later, he reached Carolena; Alexander could hear restaurant sounds in
the background.
Carolena?
Yes, whos this?
A friend of Chad Lewis, from the prison.
How did you get this number? He doesnt even have this number.
You are correct to be cautious. I procured the number from a friend at the
phone company; Chad knows I am calling you. Please, do not worry, I am not calling
from the prison. I am at home.
How can you be at home?
You see, I am not a prisoner, Carolena. I work there during the day. I want to
help him get out.
So do I; but why should I trust you?
Because you cannot do this by yourself and I know that you have made a
promise to find some way to help him. I convinced him to start writing a motion for the
court. Chad needs to have some evidence. I can help you get this to him without
anybody else finding out. I do not think they will let him receive anything you send to
him.
You still havent given me a reason why should I trust you. Whats your name?
Alexander. Carolena, there is no reason for you to trust me; you must do what
you think is best.
Can I call you back?
Alexander recited his number and began to make some coffee. It was out of his
hands now.

Isaak/The Exchange

159

Carol, who was that? Fawn ground pepper from the elaborate pepper mill over
her Caesar salad.
Somebody who says hes a friend of Chads. He wants to help.
I thought you were his only friend.
Apparently not. Carol captured a tortellini in her soup spoon and began to
blow on it to cool it.
This is beginning to seem so cloak and dagger. Are you sure you want to get
sucked into this? After all, a woman in your condition...
Thank you for your concern, Dr. Cohen. But Im not exactly disabled.
Alexander- thats his name- Alexander sounded sincere and I do need help getting
information to Chad.
If you can get any. Did you ever think this could be a set-up?
Of course! But if they wanted to get me for helping Willy escape, they have
enough evidence now. All they need is the fact that I visited and never reported
anything. If I really want to help get him out, I have to trust this man. Are you going to
eat those?
Fawn had devoured the entire Caesar salad, except for the thin strips of anchovy
which she draped over the side of the bowl. Yuk.
Those are the best part. You see, Fawn, there is no accounting for different
tastes. We are just different people.
Equally stupid about men, but differently stupid.
Why dont you go powder your nose while I call Alexander back? Hearing the
conversation will only ruin your dinner.
Why do I have the feeling that this will end badly? Some day, Ill look at you and
say I told you so. I know it.

Isaak/The Exchange

160

No you wont; youll want to very much but you will bite your tongue because
you wont want to upset a woman in my condition.
Its times like this that I wish I still smoked. I could do with a Marlboro right
about now. Ill just go to the bar and have a stiff drink while youre ruining your life.
Maybe some completely inappropriate man will pick me up, fuck me blind and get me
pregnant. Then we could be unwed mothers together.
Thats sweet of you, Fawn. Now just run along while I call Alexander.
It took only five minutes for them to make the arrangements. Carol would search
through Willys papers and get any information about the people who used to own the
dealerships Willy acquired. The ultimate goal was to get proof that the man Willy called
Mighty Mouse had set Willy up for his prison term. Alexander offered to accompany her
to interviews if she wanted. They would get together after the next conjugal visit.
Alexander had weeks of accumulated vacation time he could use. His house was only
five miles from the municipal airport Carol flew into.
Carol flipped her cell phone back into her bag just as their entrees arrived. When
she searched the bar for Fawn, she saw her talking animatedly to a tall blond man who
was refilling her martini glass from a half-empty pitcher. Fawn stuck her index finger
into the glass, shook it
off and proceeded to insert it into the blond mans mouth. She made a shooing motion
toward Carol as their eyes met. Carol had the waiter deliver Fawns plate to the bar and
wrap hers to take home.

Isaak/The Exchange

161

Chapter 19.
I dont understand....
Of course you dont understand. Youre a fucking moron! Michael Mighty
Mouse Monson leaped off the couch, stretched his five foot two-inch frame, shot his
monogrammed french cuffs and jabbed his index finger into the sternum of the shocked
president of Canton Castings. Spittle sprayed from his mouth as he berated the
executive. Dont you fucking understand English? You dont get this dump certified,
youre history. Without the auto contracts, youre making go-kart engines. Monson
looked like a trim, darkly handsome version of Danny DeVito, except that he had more
hair and a miniature muscle-mans body.
Who the hell do you think you are, talking to me like that? Earnest Hielsmans
voice was quavering. His face was flushed. His blood pressure was nearing the danger
zone. Weve been casting for the auto industry for sixty years. Do you know how many
strikes weve had? Zero. I held their receivables for eighteen months when they were
damn-near broke. I already eat all of the tooling and delivery charges and inventory
everything for them until the goddamn minute they need it. Our rejection rate is point
zero one percent. Why in the hell do they need proof that we have adequate quality

Isaak/The Exchange

162

control standards? Two years ago, they gave us an award for being their best supplier.
Hielsman pointed at the framed picture of himself on his trophy wall, at a podium
shaking Lees hand. Get out of my office, you little bastard.
Monson grabbed Hielsman by his tie and backed him up to the wall. Several
walnut plaques hit the floor along with the large picture of him with Ronald Reagan.
This is your last chance, you fucking cretin. Every supplier has to get certified or their
contracts dont get renewed. No matter what. You could blow Lee and he couldnt
renew your contract. Lots a guys can get you certified, but Im the only guy who will
guarantee to get it done right and on time and get you all your contracts renewed. Do
you hear me? Guaranteed. Let me put it so even a fucking moron like you can
understand. Heres door number one; choose this and you have to file bankruptcy.
Heres door number two; pick this and you got to sit up every night for a year wondering
if youll get certified or if youll still get any contracts. Heres door number three; pick
this one and its business as usual, guaranteed. Now, Mr. high and mighty Chief
Executive Officer, pick a fucking door before I go down the street to your competition.
Hielsman fumbled in his pocket for a nitroglycerine pill. As the bitterness
drizzled down his throat, he loosened his tie and slumped into his desk chair. How
much?
Two hundred and fifty large plus one percent of all contracts renewed. Thats
my best rate; the moron rate is double that. Youre lucky I didnt have to make a second
sales call. Monson snapped open his slim black briefcase, extracted a clipped pile of
papers and threw them on Hielsmans desk. The top sheet tells you how to make out
the checks. Sign wherever you see a red post-it. Ill wait here for the checks. Your
quality control manual arrives in a week; the inspection a month later. Youll get your
certificate about two weeks after that. Put a copy with all of your bids. And dont even
think about trying to fuck me out of my percentage. I know to the penny how much you

Isaak/The Exchange

163

get from the industry. You fuck me and your registration is revoked. Now get me my
fucking checks; I got another sales call in an hour.
Monson pushed through the revolving door of the limestone office building that
housed Canton Castings executive offices. He reflexively touched the checks in his
jacket pocket, located his sunglasses, and retrieved the remote. He slipped the
sunglasses on and depressed the remote button. His Viper roared to life and the door
locks clicked open. While the air conditioning cooled the car, Monson stood in the
shade of the portico, flicked his cell phone open and retrieved his messages. What he
heard caused him to shut down the Viper and go back into the lobby in search of a land
line.
Randy from Key West. Cocksucking Randy of Chicky and Randy. There was only
one reason Randy would call; someone was nosing around. He hadnt had to think of
the Boston situation in over a year, except for the routine notice of Fentons losing his
appeal. Hed assumed that it was over and done with once Fenton had lost. Monson
located a pay phone outside of the cheerful little executive cafeteria. Randy answered on
the first ring.
Chickys Luxury Cars.
Who, cocksucker?
Michael?
Whos sniffing around?
Oh, hi Michael.
Answer my fucking question.
Well, sure. Uh. Uh. Fentons wife.
Who?
Carol Fenton. Willys wife. She wanted to talk to Chicky and I blew her off.
What the fuck did she want to talk about?

Isaak/The Exchange

164

She said it was private; she needed to talk to Chicky about his business in
Boston.
Thats it?
I swear to God, Michael. I swear, thats all she said, Chickys business in
Boston.
And what did my little cocksucker say?
Please dont call me that, Michael. Look, I called you right away. The second
she got off the phone. You dont have to be abusive.
You love abuse, as I remember it. Now what did you tell her? Every word.
I said Chicky never discusses his business with anyone, especially his old
business in Boston. Then I hung up on her. Honest, Michael. I just hung up on her.
Thats the entire conversation; then I called you.
Did she say why she wanted to know about his business in Boston?
No, and I didnt ask. You told me never to discuss it with anyone and not to let
Chicky and to call you. Thats just what I did. Exactly what you said to do.
You stop whining, you miserable little cocksucker. If youre lying, you know
what Ill do.
I do, Michael; I do. But Im not lying. I swear. She wont get anything out of me
or Chicky. She wont even get a chance to talk to Chicky.
If I ever hear that either of you talked to her...
I cant stop her from making a phone call; but if she does, Ill blow her off again.
I can.
What?
I can stop her from making phone calls. And you too; Chicky too.
Michael, we wont ever talk to her. Please just let us alone. Were happy here.
Let us just be happy here.

Isaak/The Exchange

165

Listen, cocksucker, if Im nervous, youre going to be miserable. If Im unhappy,


you and Chicky wont be around to know it. So you better keep me happy.
The only response was Randys crying.
Michael hung up the receiver, almost breaking the earpiece off the handset. The
timing couldnt be worse. There was a proxy fight coming up; it was his job to see to it
that no dirt came out about the senior management. Even a hint of what happened in
Boston could sway the outcome. There were about a hundred dealership transitions
that had to remain buried. Monson had been given carte blanche. All available means;
no budget limit. Nothing could surface until the leadership was secure. Failure was not
an option. This took precedence over everything.
He called and canceled his next appointment and booked a flight to Lewisburg.
The ex-congressman had better have a good explanation for the phone call.

Isaak/The Exchange

166

Chapter 20.
Human beings are infinitely adaptable. Descendants of subtropical primates
populated the Arctic Circle tundra. Chad Lewis accommodated himself to the rhythms
of the prison. The only privacy he had was in the crawl spaces or in Alexanders lair in
back of the pool shack. His internal clock had him unerringly at head count on time.
The cafeteria served as the calendar; meat loaf followed liver and preceded fish filets.
The succession of ersatz food never varied.
Chad spent his mornings changing air filters, adjusting fan belts and unclogging
sink drains. His afternoons consisted of basketball, workouts in the weight room and
research in the library.
Hed been pleased to find the library contained the entire federal case reporter,
from the first Supreme Court case, Marbury v. Madison, to last weeks Federal District
Court decision from South Dakota. A copy of the decision in United States of America v.
William E. Fenton had been posted on the Wall of Shame, as the bulletin board was
called, along with the dozens of other lost appeals. The library, like all of the other
venues at the prison, had strict protocols. Officially, everybody had access to the books

Isaak/The Exchange

167

during any time of the day they were not required to be elsewhere. This excluded work,
meals, head counts, and dormitory time.
Conceivably, there were about seven hours of possible library time left. In
actuality, prisoners had to buy time in the library from members of the Firm. The
Firm was a group of five inmates who made a business out of drafting prisoners
appeals, critiquing outside lawyers work and selling access to the books. They ran it like
a real law firm; their prices were exorbitant and you got exactly as much time and
attention as you could afford. For basic access to the books you paid in the usual prison
currencies. Cigarettes, candy, porn magazines, time and sexual favors. For real help
like drafting, editing, research and strategy advice, you paid via outside payments to
outside accounts. Mitty brokered all of the outside payments, collected a commission,
and handled the gratuities to whomever in the administration deserved them. No pro se
paper got filed without the Firms involvement. Mitty saw to it that any unauthorized
pleading got lost in the mail.
Chad was rich in inmate currency; he traded condoms inflated with Freon for
packs of cigarettes. The inmates said it got them high; anything that killed brain cells
got you high. But each pack entitled him to an hour in the library. Even with paying for
his time, he was barely tolerated by the Firm. Although they didnt know he was a
lawyer, they deeply resented his facility with the arcane federal reporters. They were
used to seeing frustrated inmates struggle countless hours before finally relenting and
paying for assistance. Chad had even known enough to ask for Shepherds on his first
visit. These essential citation references were kept hidden from the general population
and used to enforce the Firms monopoly. When they tried to charge more for access,
Chad had cheerfully offered to kill one of them in their sleep.
They watched him as he filled page after page of his yellow legal pad with tiny
cramped hand-written excerpts from cases on ineffective assistance of counsel. Since

Isaak/The Exchange

168

there was no photocopier, he had to copy cases in longhand. Legal pads were available
at the prison store as were tiny, stumpy pencils without erasers.
Chad ignored the steely stares of the five men who controlled the library. He
knew that they had lists of all seminal cases, indexed by issue, court, and individual
judge. They also had good canned motions and briefs on all of the major post-trial
remedies. Their help would have cut his research time to a fraction of what he was now
doing. But Chad needed to go through the drill himself. The act of reading case after
case of lawyers whod fucked up their clients lives was cleansing. He felt a camaraderie
with the other incompetents. When hed been a Catholic, hed always enjoyed going to
confession the week before Easter, with the crowd of other penitents. There had been
comfort in kneeling in the crowded church, all the sinners fumbling their rosary beads
and mumbling their Hail Marys.
The years hed spent doing research as a young lawyer had been the best, he now
saw. Hed believed in the system and hed felt that the words had mattered. Chad had
loved operating in a place where logic and order could triumph over chaos. Of course, it
had turned out to be just another fairy tale. Here, in the brightly-lit prison library, Chad
was regaining a different kind of innocence viewed from his unique perspective. He
could finally comprehend both sides of the coin at the same time. As both innocent
prisoner and guilty lawyer, Chad could see the central truth behind the duality. The
truth was as malleable as Einstein had proven space and time to be. The law was as
flexible as a whores body. What had Archimedes said, back thousands of years ago? He
could move the earth with a lever long enough. Chads job was to find the lever and the
fulcrum and proceed to bend the truth and spread the old whores legs.
There was real exhilaration in knowing everything was on the line this time. He
finally was using his skill and his brain with a purpose. For years, Chad had felt like an
imposter as a lawyer. Not anymore. As odd as it might have sounded, Chad felt like a
real lawyer for the first time in his career.

Isaak/The Exchange

169

He knew where the energy was coming from. It was Carolena. The first visit had
been like a dream where an angel blesses a despairing miserable fly-speck of humanity.
The unreality of their first hour together was like his first acid trip: so real it was unreal.
Their second time together had been nervously-anticipated, premeditated lust. They
kissed and fucked and laughed and fucked and cried and fucked. Carolena was no angel
he recognized from his childhood catechism classes. Their carnality had left little time
for whispering about the case or her investigation. All details would be communicated
through Alexander, she had assured him. They were going to have their honeymoon
thirty minutes at a time; they would deal with the case separately.
Alexander told him that Carolena had found a copy of the previous investigators
report, including the names and addresses of the former owners of the dealerships
acquired by Willy. They were going to start with the man in Key West called Chicky.
Carolenas first call had been a disaster but Alexander had convinced her that a visit
might result in useful information. Alexander knew from experience that where there
was heat, there was bound to be fire. The people who least wanted to talk to you were
the ones you needed to speak to the most.
Alexander was taking two weeks of vacation time to help with the interviewing.
Carolena was going to fly them to Florida first and then to wherever the trail led. Chad
was going to keep with his routine. Theyd get back together two Saturdays later and see
how the facts meshed with the law.

Isaak/The Exchange

170

Chapter 21.
Willys new car arrived just as he asked Jennifer to lunch. The young salesman
refused to surrender the keys until he had taken the check across the street to have it
certified. Jennifer used the time to make lunch reservations at Locke Obers. Willy
insisted on taking the new BMW. They sat in choking traffic for half an hour with the
top down, creeping down one-way streets to get to the restaurant. Jennifer pointed out
that it was only a five-minute walk from the office as Willy surrendered the car to the
valet parking attendant. He could hear the engine roaring and the tires squealing as
they entered the dining room.
Jennifer had the mini Cobb salad without dressing, hold the chopped eggs and
hold the bacon bits, with a tiny wedge of pate on the side. Willy had the lazy lobster with
a mini tenderloin on the side. And oysters to start with. In the middle of Jennifers
comprehensive cataloguing of all the celebrities and potentates at the other tables, Willy
stopped her.
I dont give a shit; lets just eat.
I dont get you, Chad.
Whats to get? Heres food. We eat it.

Isaak/The Exchange

171

Youre not like any lawyer I ever met. Its your first day back and all youve done
is buy clothes and a new car. I bet you never even read Rodneys resume. And that
woman. She barges in and practically fucks you. You never even read the files I brought
you.
I read part of one.
You didnt even remember where this place was. You must have eaten here
before.
So? I had my accident; I told you I had memory problems. Thats why I hired
you.
Im not a lawyer; not yet anyway.
Yet?
See. I bet you never even read my contract. Did you know Im going into my last
year at Suffolk night school? That you agreed to pay my tuition and give me two weeks
off before my finals? That I get off work at three on school nights?
Whatever.
Doesnt anything faze you?? Whats your goal for you, not the practice? For
Chad Lewis?
Honestly? Stay out of jail and have a good time.
Stay out of jail?
Unlike all of those sorry bastards we represent. Yeah. And have a blast.
And dress like a king and drive a new car, and fuck some pushy bimbo?
Whoa. What the hell is that supposed to mean? You made it perfectly clear that
you had no interest in me; who I choose to fuck isnt part of our deal. You jealous or
something?
No. I just worked my ass off putting the entire practice back together for you
and all you seem to care about is your personal comfort and appearance. Are you
prepared for the clients who are coming in an hour?

Isaak/The Exchange

172

I will be. With your help.


Just who in the hell are you?
Good question. If I answer it, Im going to ask you the same question. Not
today, some other time and I want you to give me as honest an answer as I give you.
Okay?
Yes.
Jennifer, Im just a pig farmer from the Midwest. When I was growing up, I had
squat. If I wanted anything, I couldnt buy it. I had to build it, usually from stolen parts.
I still used an outhouse when I was in high school. I remember getting hand-me-down
shoes from my aunt who was a nurse, when I was in sixth grade. You know, those white
things? I thanked her and asked her if I was ever going to have a good job like hers. She
said nursing was all right, except for the doctors, the patients, the uniforms and the
hours. I asked her what was left. You know what she said?
What?
Whats left with any job? Emptying buckets of shit and getting paid.
Great.
Well, she was right. I had to learn how to dress, how to talk, how to act,
everything. Everybodys one fuck-up away from the bottom, dont ever forget that.
Enjoy what you can, while you can.
You dont mind that I took advantage of you? That I crammed my contract full
of every self-absorbed detail?
Im proud of you. Thats exactly what Id of done. Id of been disappointed if
you didnt. And Rodney. I hope you arranged a monster package for him too. And that
you make him earn it. Itll get you off my ass. Now lets make some plans for the
practice. Will that make you feel better?
I feel fine.

Isaak/The Exchange

173

Great. Lets hire a bunch of law students this summer and take back all of those
cases. Lets get some of that poor bono shit Rodney wants.
Pro bono. Its Latin, Chad. Pro bono.
Whatever. Get some and turn em loose. Lets put this practice on the map.
Kick some ass. Rodney sounds like he wants to work hard. Lets get some other guys
and let them work hard too.
Guys?
Guys, girls, women. You know what I meant. I dont give a shit if theyre green
transsexuals. This is a big tent. Youre in charge. They gotta be smart and they gotta be
able to sell.
Sell?
Sales is all there is. Anybody can dump buckets of shit, like my aunt. If a person
can sell, theyre gonna win. Trust me on that one. You bring me people who cant sell
and I wont fucking hire them. Like you, you can sure as hell sell, Jennifer.
Me? Ive never sold in my life.
Youve never done anything but sell. That smile, that ass, those clothes. Believe
me, baby, youre selling and theyre buying. True, you got the goods to back it up. The
brains, the organization, all the skills. Pretty soon, youll have the degree and the
resume. But deep down, you know youre sitting on the big persuader.
Youre an awful man, Chad Lewis.
True. I am. But Im keeping my end of the bargain and you will too. I know it,
even if I am an awful man.
Jennifer played with her salad and nibbled a tiny crumb of pate.
Come on, Jennifer, Im not the first awful man youve ever worked for. Im
probably just the first one to admit it.
True. On both counts.

Isaak/The Exchange

Now, lets get my car back from Parnelli Jones out there, go back to the office
and kick some ass. And lighten up, for Christs sake.
Okay.

174

Isaak/The Exchange

175

Chapter 22.
You see, Mr. Huffnagle, the people who hired me, the Principals, were assured
by intermediaries of the ex-congressman that Willy Fenton would have an uneventful
stay at your place. A full-term, quiet stay. Now, Im sad to say, Ive heard that he may
be creating trouble on the outside. Thats causing us some distress. Id just like to hear
directly from Mr. Mitropolos that everything is all right.
Certainly, Mr. Monson, was it? Yes. Mr. Monson. No FUCK, FUCK, FUCKING
problem. Ive asked him to join us.
The intercom on Huffs desk buzzed. Inmate Mitropolos to see you sir.
Wonderful. Send him in.
Monson stood up from the clients chair. His suit was conservative and well-cut.
His tiny hands were smooth. His fingernails were perfectly shaped and buffed with a
satin gloss of polish. May I borrow your phone for a second, Mr. Huffnagle?
Certainly, Mr. Monson. Just dial nine to get an outside line.
Mitty stood at the threshold, an expectant sneer on his full mouth.
Come in, Congressman. Close the door behind you. Mr. Monson wants to ask
you some questions about Willy Fenton.

Isaak/The Exchange

176

Mitty closed the door and strutted into the office, holding his hand out to shake.
Monson detached the receiver from the cord and slammed it into Mittys temple,
knocking him to the floor. Perched like a crazed monkey on Mittys chest, Monson
proceeded to jam the phone down Mittys throat.
What the FUCK! FUCKAFUCK. GRRRRGRRR? Huff began to sputter.
Mitty was gurgling; his face was turning purple. He began to vomit. Grey slime
mixed with blood seeped around the sides of the phone as Monson pounded it deeper
down Mittys throat.
I got a phone call, motherfucker. Fentons stirring up shit and its going to be
your ass on the line. I want it stopped. Maybe thisll remind you to call me and tell me
its all taken care of.
The phone was most of the way down Mittys throat when his stomach began
convulsively trying to empty itself. Snot and vomit streamed out of his nostrils. Monson
stood up and daintily placed his foot on the protruding end of the mouthpiece.
I believe hes aspirating his own vomit, Mr. Monson, Huff said. How can he
help you if hes dead?
Good point.
Monson carefully pinched the phone between his index finger and his thumb,
extracted it from Mittys cracked and bleeding lips, plugged the cord back in and
deposited it back on its cradle. Pinkish-gray mucous dripped from the phone onto
Huffs desk. He then smashed his foot into Mittys sternum, producing a pool of pink
slime that ran down the sides of Mittys face. On the second kick, Mittys mouth emitted
a partially-chewed chunk of gristle that arched over the desk and stuck to the portrait of
President Clinton hanging next to the BOP plaque on the rear wall.
And they call him the Teflon President?
MOTHERFUCKER! COCKSUCKER! PRICKAFUCKAFUCKA.
Shut the fuck up, Huffnagle or youre next.

Isaak/The Exchange

177

Certainly. By the way, I believe that was Reagan, Mr. Monson. The Teflon
President.
Really? Now listen. You stop Fenton; I dont care how, or I will. You wont like
it if I have to do it. There will definitely be collateral damage. Understand?
Perfectly.
Good. I can find my own way out. Monson stepped over the prostrate form of
Mitty who was vomiting what looked to be half-digested beef stew onto the oriental rug.
The intercom buzzed. Phone call, Mr. Huffnagle.
Huff looked at the phone, which dripped a long sliver of slime into a small foul
pool at the edge of the desk. Take a message and send for housekeeping.

Isaak/The Exchange

178

Chapter 23.
Yeah, Jennifer, go ahead and get em in here tonight. I got time to interview
before I go to uh....
Bibas, Chad. Jennifer didnt even try to mask her disgust at the reminder of
Willys impending liaison with the slutty Alicia later that evening. You need
directions?
Probably wouldnt hurt; although my daddy used to say that even a blind hog
sometimes found the corn.
An apt comparison, Id say. Except I bet youve found more than your share of
the corn in your time.
Im pleading the fifth on that one, Jennifer.
They both laughed as once again Willy followed her bouncing butt up the stairs,
his gaze traveling down from her short skirt to her muscular calves as they ascended the
risers. The scene in his waiting room brought him back to the surreality of his first day
as a lawyer. Rodney had been transformed. A butter-soft medium grey double-breasted
suit accentuated his athletic build and appeared to give him an intense authoritative air.
The intensity was softened by the pink shirt and flowered tie. He sat on one of the

Isaak/The Exchange

179

leather comfy chairs paging through a huge, meticulously-organized file, his right leg
resting lightly on his left knee, displaying a grey and pink herringbone-patterned silk
sock and a shiny Cordovan tasseled loafer.
Rodney, ready for this afternoon?
Absolutely, sir...
Chad.
Chad, sir.
Good. Take whatever office you want; Jennifer can show you where the supplies
are.
Chad began to feel a little less like a piranha in a goldfish bowl, a little more at
home. Behind the receptionists desk sat another gorgeous Stepford bride, Kristin.
Another of the endless nubile clones from Jennifers old friends at the temp agency.
Sitting side-by-side on the sofa were two of the strangest human beings Willy had ever
encountered. They were dressed in a mishmash of off-colored, ill-fitting out-of-date
clothing. The man had a scruffy, patchy, untrimmed beard, the same shade of dirty
brown as his wildly unkempt hair. The woman was pale-faced and blue-eyed. Her
blondish hair was wound into a rats-nest of a bun under a hat that looked vaguely like a
pith-helmet. She wore a shapeless psychedelic-patterned sundress with a hideous pilly
orange sweater over the top, restraining her exuberant breasts. Willy couldnt decide if
they were classic nerds or very hip head-bangers. They sported no visible tattoos or
piercings. He did a double take when he saw that they were both wearing earth-shoes.
Could they be his clients?
When he glanced at his watch, they both rose from the couch. I know were
early; you can go to your office. Well wait. The womans voice was high and
adenoidal; she sounded like she had a head cold.
Willy extended his hand. Chad Lewis. Pleased to meet you.

Isaak/The Exchange

180

Weve met before? Although Willy had aimed his hand at the woman, it was
clumsily intercepted by the man who pumped it like he was priming a well. You know,
Jeremy and Lisa? Hawthorne?
Oh sure. You want coffee or something? Ill be with you in a couple of minutes.
Willy slipped into his office, shut the door and began to flip through the file that lay on
the center of his desk. Jennifers summary made him perk up. He simply could not
believe what he read. Willy hit the intercom button on the phone.
Jennifer, could I see you for a minute?
Sure, Chad.
A moment later, Jennifer popped into the office, pen and spiral notebook at
hand.
Can this really be right? About the dead aunts estate?
If I wrote it, its correct. What aspect, exactly?
If I locate any additional assets, I collect fifty percent as a locators fee and we
put the other fifty percent into a trust, collecting another ten percent for probating the
will and fifteen percent of the earnings every year plus we bill time and expenses?
Yes. Youll notice you had the bar counsel make a ruling approving this as well
as getting the probate court judge to sign off. The agreement is air-tight. The only
problem is that you havent done very much work. Theyve been waiting six months for
you to find anything beyond the hundred thousand dollars of stock you found in the first
week. I honestly dont know how we can justify sitting on the file like this. They have
every right to fire you and cancel the deal unless you can show them some progress.
I think I can handle it from here, Jennifer. Just show them in.
A minute later, the Hawthornes were seated on one couch and Willy faced them
on the opposite one.
Look, Jeremy, Lisa, first I want to apologize for the delay. You may have heard
about my untimely accident from Jennifer?

Isaak/The Exchange

181

Sure. Is everything better now? Jeremys voice was soft and squeaky.
Im fine, thanks. Frankly, the delay before my accident was inexcusable. Just to
demonstrate my sincerity, Ill waive the finders fee on everything found so far. Okay?
They nodded in unison.
I think Ill have some very good news for you by the end of the week. A longshot lead may pan out. Your Aunt Mary apparently had a large amount of cash, gold,
diamonds and bearer bonds stashed away in a storage facility that Ive tracked down. Ill
have a better idea of the exact amount by the middle of the week. Suffice it to say, I
think youll end up being millionaires.
Million...
Aires?
Willy thought it was cute how they finished each others sentences. Ill have
Jennifer arrange to make a distribution of the first hundred thousand today, since this is
only a small fraction of the income youll be entitled to before this is all over with.
Their profuse thanks and ingratiating compliments embarrassed him. Willy felt
like the guy on that old TV show who gave away a million dollars each episode. Jennifer
complied with his instructions, but didnt seem too happy about it. After the stunned
couple left, Jennifer confronted him.
Did you really find more assets? You know, if you make a distribution and they
spend it and the estate owes taxes, youll have to pay them yourself?
Yeah. So?
So, how much did you find? They seem to think theyve just won the lottery.
Enough. Several million; it depends on the bond market and the gold fix in
London tonight.
How come you couldnt remember their names an hour ago and now you
remember where youve mislaid several million in clients funds? Is this where youre
getting all of this walking around money? From Aunt Marys stash?

Isaak/The Exchange

182

Willy was momentarily dumbfounded. Jennifer thought he was stealing from


them!
Jennifer, is it a crime to give money to a client?
No. But you still havent answered my question.
Let me give you a hypothetical question. What if a lawyer had gotten a large fee
in cash from a client, but was afraid to deposit the money because hed have to fill out
one of those IRS forms? Hed have to disclose his clients social security number and the
feds would probably arrest his client. Follow me?
Yeah, go on.
What if the lawyer wanted to give that money to another client of his...?
Thereby giving half of it away but earning half of it back legally as a finders fee?
Yeah.
And ten percent of it as a probate fee and fifteen percent of the income from the
rest in perpetuity?
Sort of, yeah?
What do I think?
Yeah, purely hypothetically.
Skip the hypothetically, in fact, Chad Im damned relieved. Youre finally
beginning to think like a lawyer. I was worried this morning. Why dont you go find
Aunt Marys money today? I think youve got a fiduciary obligation to Jeremy and Lisa
not to blow another days interest on the funds. If you hurry up, I can get the paperwork
done and get it into the bank before they close.
Willy could hardly believe it; by giving the money away, he was going to end up
with more in his pocket than if hed laundered it through the guys hed contacted in the
North End. He was beginning to enjoy being a lawyer after all.

Isaak/The Exchange

183

Chapter 24.
Carol was buzzing with pent-up energy. After all of the talk, the soul-searching
and the thinking, finally she was going to do something concrete to get Chad out of that
place. Alexander had convinced her that Florida wasnt a dead end and that they had to
go and confront Charles Chicky Freid personally. In Alexanders view of things,
getting blown off on the phone made it more likely, not less likely, that Chicky knew
something valuable. Carol could see the logic and consciously began to remold her mind
to be as suspicious and conniving as they were. Whoever they were, they probably
had money and power and few scruples. She had best become paranoid. This had been
Alexanders parting admonition on the phone last night: Be paranoid.
She prided herself in being the safest pilot she had ever met. She had flown the
Mooney factory simulator dozens of hours, trying to get the aircraft to fail, flying it far
beyond its safe envelope, searching for its flaws. She had gone up with the customer
service rep in several different demos, trying to determine if the engineering tolerances
for individual planes permitted any deviations in stall behavior or maneuverability.
Finally, she had logged a hundred hours in her own plane with a retired factory rep as
co-pilot before she declared herself ready to solo. She knew her plane as intimately as
she knew her own body.

Isaak/The Exchange

184

Everyone at the Beverly airport knew not to touch her plane; Carol performed all
of the maintenance and insisted on doing her own refueling. She didnt know how to be
any more paranoid about the Mooney than she already was.
As she taxied down the runway, she checked the final half-dozen items on her
pre-flight checklist, put her pen away, put on her Ray-Bans, and snapped the rubber
band around her pony tail. Her hair in her hand reminded her. Had she checked her
tell-tales? When the ground controller gave her take-off clearance, she radioed back
Negative. Im going to taxi back to the hangar. I missed an item on my pre-flight.
Back at the hangar, Carol shut the engines down, popped out of the seat, cranked
open the hatch, and hopped to the tarmac. A minute later, she had the fuel access hatch
covers open and was inspecting both the main and reserve fuel tank caps. Both strands
of blond hair were missing. Carol always refueled before storing the plane to prevent
condensation in the tanks. She always slipped a strand of her hair into the caps so she
could tell if anyone had opened the caps in her absence. She was suddenly furious. Only
later did she get scared.
With the help of one of the mechanics, she drained samples from each tank.
There was no water in either sample and the fluid appeared to be standard one hundred
octane aviation fuel. There was no way to tell if anything had been added without
sending the samples out to a lab. But Carol was certain that the engines had performed
normally during her short taxi up and back down the runway. The mechanic had a longhandled guppy net he used to fish around in the tanks to try to find if any foreign matter
had been introduced. On his third try, he snared a bright red party balloon tied off at
the end with two mothballs inside. The semi-permeable membrane of the rubber
balloon had already begun to swell as fuel migrated to the inside. Eventually, Carol
knew, the balloon would burst, releasing the dissolved contents into the fuel tank, where
the active ingredients would wreak havoc on her engines. Carols hands were shaking by
the time they had fished six balloons out of each tank.

Isaak/The Exchange

185

The mechanic began to drain the fuel out of both tanks and proceeded to fish
several more balloons out during the process. Carol knew that there had to be more
sabotage. Engine failure alone would not kill her. She had practiced dead-stick landings
without engines in the simulator and with her own plane. She could land the Mooney
perfectly with no power and she was confident she could survive a water landing with
the flotation devices and the emergency kit aboard. But not without flap controls.
Engine failure along with hydraulic failure could very well kill her, and it would not look
like murder to investigators.
Carol went back inside the plane and began removing the access panels on the
floor, tracing the redundant hydraulic lines back to the wings and the tail. It didnt take
her long to find the frayed hose as it turned the corner from the fuselage to the wings.
Someone had removed the nylon protector from the wing strut and roughed up the
struts edge to make it slice into the reinforced hose. The wound in the hose looked like
a small hernia. The vibration of several hours of flight would have caused the sharpened
strut to rub through what remained of the hose in the middle of the flight.
Her plane had been raped. Carol now mistrusted everything from the oil to the
gauges to the autopilot.
She called Alexander and told him that she would have to delay her arrival by at
least a day. Unforeseen circumstances was all she would tell him. Carol knew that he
would try to talk her out of doing anything. She was more determined than ever to act.
They might know how to set her up for an accident but they didnt know her.
A minute later, she had her insurance agent and the Mooney factory rep on a
conference call. Her plane would be taken down to the bare frame by factory personnel
under the supervision of an insurance company investigator. The Mooney people would
provide her with a replacement in the meanwhile. Carol made arrangements for the
new plane to be hangared at Logan in a secure facility. She was more determined than
ever to carry on with her plans.

Isaak/The Exchange

186

Chapter 25.
Willy hit a rare mid-afternoon traffic lull when he made his quick trip to Chads
old farmhouse to retrieve Aunt Marys stash. It looked like the old farmer Jennifer
had hired to care-take the place had been doing a good job. The dog came out to greet
him and left a dirty paw print on his suit coats breast pocket. He went inside the
chicken coop and returned to the car ten minutes later, his eyes watering from the acrid
ammonia given off by the manure. Willy carefully checked his shoes for contamination
and, one by one, ripped all five black plastic garbage bags off of the old accordion file
containing the loot. This relatively small portion would give him years of spendable
income, even after all of the deductions and taxes. He sniffed the banded stack of cash;
it smelled vaguely like chicken shit but not enough to bother anyone. After all, money is
money.
By the time he got back to the office, Jennifer had all of the paperwork filled out,
except for the amounts. She had alerted a trust officer at the bank across the street who
was quite willing to handle counting, weighing and inventorying whatever assets were
brought in. Just after Jennifer left for the bank, Rodney returned from Federal Court.
Okay, Rodney, howd it go? Why the shit-eating grin?

Isaak/The Exchange

187

It went fine, just fine. We got the scheduling arranged and I got to say my first
no comment on TV.
No shit? I guess its welcome to the big time, huh? Did you get a chance to look
over the case list to see if theres any of the farmed-out cases you want?
Yeah, I want em all.
Dont be biting off more than you can handle.
Jennifer said you might hire some summer associates. Maybe they could help
out.
Rodney, heres the resumes. Theyre coming in at five-thirty. Why dont you
and Jennifer interview them first and then you bring me the keepers?
Sure, Chad. Do you have any preferences as far as schools, background or
anything?
Yeah. Sales experience, Rodney. You know the drill. Dont bring me any
fucking losers.
Right. Sales experience.

As it turned out, Willy hired the entire study group. There were five of them who
shared a common background in retail sales. They had formed a study group to get
them through their first year at Harvard and they all wanted the same job. It was like
when Willys dog had puppies; he just couldnt bear to separate them. Within minutes,
Jennifer had cranked up the espresso machine and they had all retired to the library to
review Rodneys binder of farmed-out cases. When Jennifer suggested ordering out for
pizza, Willy remembered his date.
Shit. I almost forgot. Alicia.
You do not want to be late for that one, Chad. God knows what she might do.
Jennifer shot him a lewd smile.

Isaak/The Exchange

188

Well, you kids have fun. Ive got to do some networking. Willy could imagine
the stories Jennifer and Rodney were going to tell the study group members the minute
he was out the door.
It was a beautiful evening. The sea breeze cooled the sidewalk as Willy walked
through the small park that stood in the center of Post Office Square. All in all, hed had
a good first day as a lawyer. He liked the way they had all huddled together in the
library, looking at the case book. It had been like Christmas to them, imagining all of
the juicy issues each file contained.
Life was turning out to be an adventure without an itinerary. Whatever the night
had in store for him, it wasnt a head count or dinner with the other inmates and a fitful
sleep in the dormitory. It felt so good to be free that Willy found himself dancing
around in circles, looking up at the pink-tinged clouds. He still had no idea where Bibas
was. Finally, Willy hailed a cab on Milk Street and let the driver take him there.
It wasnt really Willys kind of place. Cute food, small portions, lithe androgynous
waiters with pony tails and fake English accents. No prices on the menu. And there
were too many verbs in the detailed, almost pornographic descriptions of the food.
Every other ingredient seemed to have been drizzled. It didnt matter because Alicia
ordered for both of them.
They were seated in a small alcove where they could observe the other guests but
not be disturbed by their proximity. Alicia had changed into more suitable evening
attire. She wore a very tight, very short gray miniskirt with a translucent gray silk
western style shirt on top. Willy was busy counting the tiny bumps on her silver-dollar
sized areolas which were perched on either side of the row of pearl buttons, when she
asked You like?
Sure, Im just a country boy myself. Wanna go square-dancing after we eat?
I bet we can think of other things to keep us occupied.
I know I can, anyway.

Isaak/The Exchange

189

Chad, you still dont remember much of our last date, do you? I can tell; you
were so interested in my business before.
Im sorry. Maybe well have to go over some old ground here, bring me up to
speed. I lost a lot of memory when I had that accident.
Are you sure? My work is very technical, too specialized for most people. Most
guys just want to screw.
Come on, I dont remember and Im not a good guesser. I swear I really want to
get to know you. Everything about you... before we screw.
All right, Chad. I know a game we can play that will let you know all about me,
but you promise youll play?
I promise. Okay? Now, tell me what it is you do.
I manage money.
Like a stockbroker, financial planner?
Yeah. Both.
Insurance?
Not the kind youre thinking of, but a kind of insurance.
Very mysterious. You work at a firm or on your own?
Both.
Make a lot of money?
Of course. Lots and lots. Enough about me for now; how was your first day
back?
They had a very pleasant dinner. Alicia was able to talk about any subject that
came up. She had been everywhere and knew the Midwest particularly well. When
Willy mentioned that he had taken delivery of a new BMW that morning, Alicia became
visibly animated. She knew astonishing details about the car, the engine, the
transmission, which luxury cars were comparable, the dealer cost and the approximate
retail value. Willy had paid a thousand too much for the car, in her opinion. And she

Isaak/The Exchange

190

was correct; Willy knew he had overpaid but hed wanted it delivered on three hours
notice.
Later, after walking to her condominium overlooking the Charles River, she told
him the rules to her game. They were both naked on her king-sized bed. She would
hold him to his promise. He said he wanted to get to know her better, before they had
sex, and hed get his wish. Alicia handed Willy a tube of bright red lipstick. Now,
Chad, please put this on.
On you? Where?
No, dear, on you; on your lips.
Why?
You want to get to know me? Please put on the lipstick. It wont hurt you.
Willy twisted the bottom of the tube and the small red cylinder slowly emerged.
He spread it on like Chapstick. There. Do I look ridiculous?
No. You look sexy as hell. Now, heres what you do. You can kiss me anywhere
you want, but only once in each place. For as long as you want. But, and this is very
important, you must kiss me everywhere. I mean cover me with red kiss marks, over my
entire body, before we make love.
And what are you going to be doing?
Enjoying it and telling you all about my business.
What about me?
Right, Ill do the same to you before we make love. Thats only fair.
Alicia, just once in any one place?
Just once.
What if I can make you stop talking for awhile, how about I get a bonus?
You can go back to a place youve already done if you make me stop talking.
Okay. And animal sounds dont count. Thats not talking.
Right. Lets get started.

Isaak/The Exchange

191

Willy was a car dealer through and through; he knew how to take maximum
advantage of any deal. His initial instinct was to start at home plate with a fifteen or
twenty minute kiss, then kiss her on the lips and repeat the procedure until she forgot
all about her silly game. Sort of like the instructions on the back of the shampoo bottle,
lather, rinse, repeat. The only thing that stopped him was that Alicia probably figured
hed do it that way. Shed probably go along with it but Willy would fail some test in her
eyes. Instead, he decided to save all of the best places for last and let her talk.
He rolled her over on her stomach and kissed the small of her back. Tell me
your very earliest memory.
I was with my mother and father, riding in a car.
Willy softly outlined a spiraling galaxy of tiny tightly-spaced kisses, emanating
from Alicias lower spine. New or used?
New. It had that new car smell.
Within minutes, they were both hooked. The game became an automatic routine
like breathing. Willy was fascinated by the designs he was making and the challenge of
the terrain. Alicia was deeply into her autobiography, murmuring in a breathy animated
monologue, interrupted only by questions from Willy.
He listened and began to understand about her and about himself. Hed never
really had a genuine conversation with a woman before. For once in his life, Willy
stopped selling. Time was irrelevant. His entire world was made up of the sound of her
voice, the taste of lipstick, and the texture of her skin. Somewhere in the middle of the
process, he applied a fresh coating of Revlon Cherry Red to his bruised lips, kissed her
squarely on her ass, and realized what it had been like for her trying to make it in the
business world.
Alicia rolled over onto her back and Willy finally kissed her full on the lips, a long,
sweet, perfect kiss. She looked like some sacred statue come to life, covered with red
flower petals. Alicia, youre so smart. I think Im beginning to get it.

Isaak/The Exchange

192

Wonderful. Me too. Im so fucking horny, Im about to explode. Lets take a


rain check on the rest of the game and just get to it.
She was not what he had expected; Alicia was sweet, generous and funny. Willy
almost had an out-of-body experience, locked in her moist embrace. He could see
himself through her eyes and feel himself inside her, as she felt it. Their orgasm was like
a slow-motion train wreck.

Isaak/The Exchange

193

Chapter 26.
The morning work assignment, given to him right after head count, was as
routine as ever. Service the central ventilation fan in the gymnasium at the Nuke.
Replace the belts and adjust the vibration dampeners.
Chad consulted the wiring diagram for the gym and had no difficulty locating the
circuit breaker that controlled the motor. He was extremely careful when working on
any piece of equipment at the prison. So, he flipped the breaker to the off position,
taped it, and even opened the giant box to disconnect the wires from it. He found the
two thermostats and humidistats that controlled the fan as well as the manual override
switch. Chad got the key to open the tamper-proof covers for each device and made sure
each was turned off. He even taped them so they wouldnt accidentally become
activated.
It was obvious that the fan had been an after-thought. Probably because the air
conditioning system had not been able to handle the heat and humidity generated by
hundreds of screaming inmates during the height of the summer basketball games.
The gym had large, laminated ceiling beams that were left exposed. Lights hung
suspended from long conduit poles. A long narrow mechanical room jutted out from

Isaak/The Exchange

194

one wall almost to the center of the court; it, too, was suspended from the roof beams.
Three-foot diameter round air conditioning ducts snaked in all directions from its sides.
A four-foot square box extended down through the floor of the mechanical room at the
end nearest the center of the court. This box contained the fan and its louvered grate
formed the boxs floor.
Access to the motor and the belts was complicated. Chad had to use an extension
ladder to get to the mechanical room door located above the hallway leading to the
locker rooms. The light switch activated only one dim bulb inside the room. He had his
tool belt and a large flashlight with an adjustable lens. The air conditioning compressor
was silent and the room was like a sauna in the midsummer morning.
The fan enclosure extended from the floor of the room up through the ceiling.
Above the floor, it was just a large square, galvanized-metal exhaust duct. To get at the
motor, Chad had to climb up a three-foot ladder on the outside, over the Freon pipes,
and then climb down a six-foot ladder on the inside. The two special ladders were
hanging on pegs against one wall of the room. Both had flanges on the top so they could
be hung from the small doorway cut into the duct.
Chad wasnt usually claustrophobic, but the sweltering inside of the duct felt too
much like a tomb. There were only four small areas where he could rest his feet at the
bottom of the box. The motor rested on a tubular frame to one side and the belts ran
directly from the pulley to a large one attached to the fan blade. The blade held thirtysix sharp, curved, hardened-steel fins.
Once inside the duct, Chad crouched over the blade assembly and focused the
light on the four belts that drove the unit. They all appeared to be in perfect condition.
Just as he tried testing the belts tension, he heard the ladder sliding up the duct wall.
By the time he had the flashlight positioned on the access door, he saw the ladder
disappear and the door close. A split-second later, the motor sprang to life.

Isaak/The Exchange

195

In the first seconds of shocked confusion, he dropped the flashlight. Hundreds of


sharp fragments hailed up from between his legs and he was instantly covered with a
fine mist of battery slurry. The vibration felt like he was riding a jack-hammer. The
wind from below almost lifted him off his feet. He was in near total darkness. If he
slipped off of his precarious foot-holds, Chad knew he could quickly become human
hamburger.
His only thought was that he was not going to die, not here and not now.
A cold determined and murderous rage seized Chad. He couldnt see, and with
the wind and noise and vibration, he could barely think. He felt the slimy ducts sheer
walls for something he could use for purchase. Chad felt only some irregularly-spaced
rivet heads along one vertical seam. No way could he use them to wedge his way up the
duct. Chad inventoried the contents of his tool pouch. A couple of screwdrivers, a
hammer, two adjustable wrenches, curved tin-snips, a roll of electrical tape, and the four
new v-belts for the fan. He grabbed the Philips-head screwdriver and began to jam it
into the side of the duct. If he could penetrate the metal, he might be able to use it as a
hand-hold or as a way to start cutting a foothold out of the tin with the snips.
Chad stabbed the wall over and over again, the sound punctuated the screaming
white noise of the fan. Eventually, he felt it begin to deform. Sweat poured off of his
chin and was sprayed upward into his eyes. He could finally see a tiny pinprick of light
through the wall. With the screw-driver in one hand, he was able to use the hammer to
drive the shaft through the duct. He was beginning to lose feeling in his feet and his legs
began to cramp from the tension of trying to maintain his footing. He returned the
hammer to its loop and tentatively rested his weight on the protruding screw-driver
handle. It would work, if he could only make a series of holes up the side of the duct. If
he didnt slip and fall into the fan first.
He lifted his right foot slightly, flexed it and gently shook the crampiness out of
his leg. When he replaced it onto the foot hold, he could feel it again. When he tried it

Isaak/The Exchange

196

with his left foot, he was suddenly knocked off balance by a thunderous impact from
outside the duct. Someone was trying to kick the screwdriver blade out of the hole. He
couldnt find the foothold again with his left foot. He could feel the air flow carrying
shreds of his shoe sole up at him as his foot flailed around. The noise and the screaming
wind was making him crazy. All of his weight was hanging on the screwdriver that was
pistoning in and out of the hole as the kicking continued.
He clung to the wall with his left hand; with his right, Chad grabbed the other
screwdriver and began jabbing another hole above the first one. It only took three
thrusts to penetrate the wall with the second tool. He knew what he had to do. He
slipped the first screwdriver out, put it back in his pouch, grabbed the snips and began
to cut a curving hole through the tin. In minutes, he had a six-inch half-moon-shaped
slot. The kicking continued, first at the screwdriver blade and then at the slot he was
cutting. Suddenly, a boot-clad foot slammed through the slot. The kicker frantically
tried to extricate it but the slot scissored closed as he pulled at it. Chad grabbed the boot
and pulled down with all of his weight. High-pitched screams echoed off the duct walls
as Chad was drenched with salty blood. He managed to replace the snips in his pouch
but he dropped the belts. And the second screw driver. It came flying back up at him,
barely missing his head. Pieces of the belts lacerated his face. He felt himself losing his
footing and saved himself only by transferring all of his weight to the boot and the last
protruding screwdriver. In one frantic lunge, Chad was perched atop the foot, clinging
to the tenuous handhold. He stretched up to his full height and used the hammer to
beat the door latch open. The owner of the foot was wailing for help, his horrific
screams echoing in the machine room as his blood geyesered into the duct.
With one last leap, Chad was through the access door. As he rolled to the floor of
the mechanical room, he saw a fatigue-clad form curling into a ball on the floor next to
him, his now-amputated leg spraying blood.

Isaak/The Exchange

197

A second figure sprang at him from behind the compressor. Chad slipped around
the side of the machine. He and his pursuer stared at each other through the pipes. It
was one of the guys whod come for him on his first day off the bus. He felt in his tool
pouch for the large Crescent wrench. It was useless as a weapon as long as they were
separated by the compressor and the pipes. Chad slowly moved to the fitting nut that
connected the liquid Freon line to the compressor, adjusted the wrench, and began to
loosen it. Freon began to sizzle out of the loosened fitting.
His attacker moved in the same direction. In one quick motion, Chad loosened
the nut further and popped the end of the copper line from the fitting. Liquid Freon
sprayed into the other mans face. With a gasp, the man inhaled a blast of the rapidlyevaporating liquid gas. His throat and face instantly froze; the gas trapped in his lungs
suffocated him and quickly expanded. The buttons on his shirt popped off as his chest
bloated grotesquely. Within minutes, he was fast frozen, still in a crouch.
Chad rolled away from the compressor and ran toward the machine room door.
He ducked to one side when he saw a head pop through.
Tito? Juan? What the fucks going on in there?
Chad felt in his pouch for another tool to use. Hed lost everything when he
rolled away from the compressor. He felt in his pockets and came up with the guitar
string Alexander had given him weeks ago. As the third man cautiously came off the
ladder and crept through the door, Chad jumped him, slammed him to the floor, stood
on his back and slipped the looped guitar string around his neck.
Why? Chad screamed.
The invader croaked, Mitty! and began to try to fling Chad off his back. Chad
tightened his grip on the wire and the man soon stopped twitching, his head almost
severed. Blood spurted from both sides of his neck. Chad pocketed the slimy wire,
stepped over the body and hastily climbed down the ladder.

Isaak/The Exchange

198

He should have known it was a set-up. Alexander would have known, but Chad
had been floating on a pink cloud of routine. And now he was going to pay for his
stupidity.

Isaak/The Exchange

199

Chapter 27.
Alexander was surprised at how comfortable he felt seated in the co-pilot seat,
two thousand feet above the Atlantic Ocean. He always enjoyed the proximity of a
beautiful woman and Carolena was certainly a rare beauty. The feeling he had was what
he felt playing with a really tight band. She had an instinctual command of the plane
and a sweet economy of movement. And the plane itself was a marvel of comfort and
quiet.
The last time hed flown in a small plane, hed been on a disastrous tour with a
blues band opening for a legendary British rock group. Alexander had traveled in the
small, noisy prop-driven overflow plane, while the headliners and their entire entourage
had flown in a 727. The schedule had been so tight that the meth-crazed pilot had flown
through any and all weather. He had sworn off general aviation after that.
Carolena had an air of implacable determination. Success, to her, must merely be
the inevitable result of serious attempt, of will and attention to detail.
The game plan was quite simple. They would fly into a small airport south of
Miami, rent a car and drive into Key West. Chicky owned a large used car business there
that specialized in selling very expensive, pre-owned expensive cars. Chickys Luxury

Isaak/The Exchange

200

Cars had the largest selection of used Bentleys and Rolls Royces on the East Coast. It
was operated just like a new car dealership out of an eclectic gleaming showroom
located right on the Atlantic. Carolena had printed Chickys web page for Alexander to
review on the flight. Several prominent gay entertainers had been spotlighted as
satisfied customers.
Alexander would ask for Randy and claim to have been referred by a member of
Elton Johns back up band. They would test drive a couple of cars while Carolena
walked in on Chicky unannounced. He would probably recognize Carol on sight; theyd
attended several industry conventions together years ago.
Carol had explained how someone had raped her plane and told Alexander not
to even bother with the sermon about stopping the investigation. He could see that she
was more determined than ever to get whatever Chad needed to support his motion.
Chicky wouldnt have a chance against her.
It worked beautifully. On the slow, sweltering Tuesday afternoon, Randy was
ecstatic about the prospect of selling a Rolls to one of Eltons friends. It helped that
Alexander knew the names of the band members and that Randy had been the person
whod actually made the sale to Elton.
Carol got through the two assistants who controlled access to Chicky by saying
she was an old friend from Boston. Chicky had put on a little weight since Carol had last
seen him and his deeply-tanned face looked like it had been peeled and lifted.
Otherwise, he was the same courtly, suave, impeccably turned-out man she
remembered.
Carol Fenton? What brings you to our little island paradise?
I didnt know if you would remember me.
I have a good memory for beauty, Carol. You look astonishingly well. I could
almost be attracted to you, you know. Sometimes I regret my own nature, especially
when I see a woman as exquisite as you. Youre still in the house?

Isaak/The Exchange

201

Oh yes. I love it; I dont think I could ever leave. Of course, you know about
Willy?
My condolences, Carol. Those people in Detroit, theyre brutal. As you know.
Willy actually treated me rather fairly, considering. I have no real regrets. Life down
here is marvelous.
The place looks prosperous. I found your web site; impressive.
Randy likes to play on the computer; Im afraid Im rather incompetent, except
for running a car dealership. Carol, are you doing all right, with Willy gone? Is there
anything I can do to help? You never told me what brings you here in the dead of
summer.
Actually, there is something. Im trying to help get Willy out early. He was
sentenced to six years.
Dear lord, six years!
We think a person called Mighty Mouse from Detroit had him framed.
Anything you could tell me about him would be a great help. I know you talked to
Willys investigator before the trial but Im starting from a position of knowing
practically nothing.
I never talked to any investigator. Id have been happy to but no one ever
approached me.
His report said hed interviewed you.
Its a fabrication, Carol. Monson. His real name is Michael Monson and hes an
evil man. He orchestrated my removal. Im not surprised. I had as little to do with him
as possible when I owned the store. Randy dealt with him most of the time. Little man
with a foul mouth and an ego the size of the Prudential Tower. Carol, you dont want to
get involved with Monson; hes entirely ruthless.
Do you know who he worked for?

Isaak/The Exchange

202

He had several business cards, depending on what he wanted done, all for
Chrysler when I knew him. Dealer Development and Chrysler Real Estate, as I
remember. We dealers all knew what he really did; he was in charge of the black files.
Black files?
They kept extensive files on every dealer. Legitimately, they were entitled to.
They had to do a certain amount of due diligence and they had to update the
information as time went by. But they also had other files. You see, exclusive agency
franchises like car dealerships are worth millions. The manufacturer only has a limited
right to terminate them; essentially, only for cause. But they need to maintain
flexibility. They need to be able to remove any dealer at any time; that power is the only
way to keep the dealers under control. Monson was in charge of the office that
maintained the secret files that enabled them to do dealership transitions whenever
they wanted.
Blackmail.
Among other things. Whatever it took. Essentially covert operations.
Was there really a formal department?
I dont know; I dont think so. I still have some Chrysler stock. I never saw a
dealership transition office listed in the annual report or on the management diagram.
But I imagine if they did it, they did it right. They have the resources. Randy might
know a lot more; after all, he dealt with Monson more than I did. I couldnt bear to be in
the same room with him. Oh, look, Randys back with a customer.
Chicky looked through the glass enclosure of his opulent office to the showroom
as Randy and Alexander were walking toward the offices.
Oh, Randy. Look whos just dropped in. Carol Fenton!
Randy looked like hed just been shot. He firmly pushed Alexander to a chair
outside the office and rushed back to the executive area. Alexander, excuse me a
minute please.

Isaak/The Exchange

203

He ran to the seating area where Carol and Chicky had been conversing and
slammed the office door.
Chicky, stop. Shut up! And you, get the hell out of here and I mean now!
Randy, whats the matter? Carols just asking about Monson. You remember
Michael Monson?
Monson? Randy was screeching. Out! Get out! Just what did you tell her?
Get her out of here!
Randy, control yourself. What do we care about Monson?
Randy slumped to the couch across from Carol and began weeping
uncontrollably.
Im so sorry, Chicky. I feel so guilty. Michael will literally kill me if he finds out
youve been talking to her.
Why? Its been years since I even heard his name. How can he possibly care?
Randy and Chicky huddled together on the couch, oblivious to Carols presence.
He blackmailed me, Chicky.
No. He blackmailed me, remember? He was going to out me.
He blackmailed me too. He has a picture of me having sex with him.
You and Monson?
Yes. He threatened to show it to you. I thought youd dump me. He made me
report to him.
About what?
Anything he could use if you didnt agree to sell. He used me as a back-up plan
in case the threat to out you didnt work.
Why?
Why did I have sex with him or why did I go along with him?
Both.

Isaak/The Exchange

204

I couldnt stand being in the closet. I used to beg you to come out and you were
too afraid. I guess I wanted to force the issue. And as to why I did him, I guess Im just
queer. He had this massive thing and he used to flash it in the john. He knew what he
was doing. One day, I couldnt stand it any more. Before I knew what happened, he
produced this little camera. Blam, he got me, a profile shot, just the side of my face and
his thing. After that, he owned me.
Chicky, Carol said, perhaps I better just leave. Ive done enough damage as it
is. Carol waved to Alexander through the glass and he came to the door.
Oh my God-- Alexander! I forgot! Chicky, Alexander wants to buy a Rolls.
No he doesnt, Randy. Hes with me. We just had to distract you. Carol left the
office and had a whispered colloquy with Alexander in the waiting area. Alexander went
back to his chair and continued waiting. Carol returned to the office. The two men were
still on the couch, holding hands and talking.
Should I go?
No, Carol. I think we both need to hear what Monson was doing. I think Randy
needs to get this off his chest. You cant heal the wound until its thoroughly cleansed.
I dont want to go through our personal problems in front of her, Chicky. She
wouldnt understand.
Oh yes. Married to Willy Fenton, she understands betrayal, dont you, Carol?
Yes I do.
Chicky, he called me last week to threaten me again. If we tell her anything, hell
kill us both. He really scares me.
Ill make it very simple, Randy. Tell everything you know or pack your bags. I
could consider forgiving you if you were at least honest now; I cannot if you continue to
prevaricate and deceive.
Randy pulled his hand away from Chickys and produced a handkerchief from his
pants pocket. He dabbed at his eyes, blew his nose, and took a deep breath.

Isaak/The Exchange

205

Michael basically seduced me. Like I said, he has an enormous penis. He must
have sensed I was gay and he used to follow me into the john at the dealership. Hed
just stand in front of the urinal about three feet away and let fly. I couldnt keep my eyes
off of it.
Randy, enough about his cock. Well go over all of the personal stuff privately;
just tell us about Monsons work. What was he trying to accomplish?
You want confession? Dont always start editing. I have to tell it my way. Make
up your mind. Where was I? I used to just stare at his enormous cock. One day, he just
pulled it out and he didnt even pee. I just grabbed it and did him, right there in the
john. He was very rough trade. He got that picture the first time. Id meet him
sometimes in a motel room on Route One. Michael liked to do drugs, mostly coke and
poppers. Hed get talking and hed brag about how many dealers hed put out of
business. They had a reorganization plan, the guys in Detroit. They had to eliminate a
certain per cent of their dealers and consolidate the stores. Move the consolidated
stores to better new locations. Then they could downsize the central office. Michael was
in charge. He designed the plan and implemented it. He used to laugh. The new places
were worth millions and there were executives in Detroit who wanted to give them to
their own people or even retire and take them over. It was extremely political. Michael
was the king maker.
Chicky moved to the desk, lit a cigarette, and stood silently smoking it with his
back to Randy and Carol. Carol took over the questioning. Randy, did they keep any
records? Was there any support staff?
Michael had printouts, Carol. They had a database. I used to call in my reports
and they had a young Black secretary whod take notes. It was as organized as
everything else they did. Michael was very anal.
Did you ever know her name, the secretary?

Isaak/The Exchange

206

One of those Black made-up names. Sherika, something or other... no, Taleetha.
Taleetha Freeman. She was related to that Black dealer on the North Shore, Bubba.
Distant cousins, but she called him Uncle Bubba. I remember Michael was really pissed
because he never knew that they were related. Taleetha quit when Bubba shot himself.
Do you know where she lives, what she does now?
No idea. Maybe you could talk to Bubbas widow. I think she still lives in Lynn.
She and I got along, oddly enough. Marva felt like we had something in common, you
know, minority dealer spouses?
Did you ever get copies of any printouts?
Nothing. I had a long look at the stuff once. Very elaborate. They had plans for
every dealership in every major metropolitan area. Who was going to be eliminated,
who was going to survive, how long it would take, back-up plans. Incentives for early
accomplishment. And second tier moves, like Willy. They first used Willy to consolidate
all the stores and then they eliminated him to give the place to the regional sales guy. It
was planned from day one. Thats all I know about what happened to Willy. Michael
had him set up. Willy didnt want to leave. So they had him put in jail. Simple story.
I thank you for your help, Randy. I know its been difficult. But Chicky has a
point. Honesty is the first step. I would really appreciate Marvas address and phone
number.
Sure, Carol, here. Listen, be careful. Michael is truly bad news. Hes
determined to stop anybody whos looking into this stuff. He told me hed stop you.
Hes already tried, Randy.

Isaak/The Exchange

207

Chapter 28.
Alicia seemed determined to make the night memorable for Willy. Just as he was
nodding off for a post-coital nap, she began kissing him. Before he realized what was
happening, he was talking about things he never knew he remembered. At first, it was
just sensations, cold, fear, anger, warmth, hunger, need. Then sounds, smells, tastes.
Hot coffee when he was a baby. Bitter beer. Peppery sausage made from fresh-killed
hogs. Wood fire. Blood. The crack of the ax when he split wood. And all the while,
Alicia covered him with soft, warm, moist kisses. Pretty soon they dealt with their
growing passion. And again. She was relentless.
When the first reflections of the rising sun lighted the river on fire, Alicia was on
the receiving end of round three. She was explaining her masters thesis at the Harvard
Business School when Willy had another of his epiphanies.
You designed hedge instruments for the auto industry?
Mmm. Hmm. Everybody was just shorting the stocks when they wanted to
hedge. It was gross. I figured out a way to be a lot more specific. I knew the SEC would
eventually get involved if the executives kept shorting their own stock. See, they were
parking it all over, using straws, street names. But it was all so predictable and so easy to

Isaak/The Exchange

208

trace. Its insider trading, doing it that way. I figured out a way to attract legal hedges
from these guys. Then I used the hedge information to predict movement in the actual
stock of the Big Three.
My main focus was using the hedge information to position serious money in an
industry mutual fund. Once the individual hedge data was pooled, it became a market
indicator, not insider information. I tracked my system using virtual trades. I
outperformed every mutual fund for two quarters.
Of course, once I saw what was happening, I pitched the concept to some people
with real money. A couple of the big Yankee brokerages had a bidding war. And the
winner essentially bought my idea and put me in charge of doing it for real. Thats what
I do now. I run the sector fund for a big outfit and I get to refine and modify my original
idea as I see fit.
Jesus Christ.
Ive got it refined to the point where you can bet on an individual executives
future. I can trade career futures now. Ive even got a newsletter. I call it Whos Hot &
Whos Not.
Youre hot, Alicia. Thats whos hot.
I know. How about one for the road?
Only if you promise me youll let me invest.
That depends on how you do, big guy.
Ive always been a pretty good closer.
Sure. Go for it.
When the cab dropped him at the office at eight-thirty, Willy felt like hed seen
God. And that God had beat the shit out of him and drained him of all of his vital fluids.
All he could think as he ascended the stairs was that his first twenty-four hours as a
lawyer were not what hed expected. The feeling he had was almost indescribable; all of
his senses were flooding his brain with input.

Isaak/The Exchange

Willy felt alive.

209

Isaak/The Exchange

210

Chapter 29.
Alive. Chad concentrated on keeping that front and center in his mind. They
were dead but he was alive and he intended to stay that way. He ran down to the locker
room and saw his own monstrous, blood-caked image in the mirror. Every inch of him
was covered with blood, red rivers of it mixed with sweat dripped from his nose, his chin
and his hands. He lunged into the shower room, stripping off his fouled clothes. Chad
ripped a soap dispenser from the wall and upended it onto his head, lathering his scalp,
his face, every part of himself he could reach. The water ran red at first, then pink and
foamy. When it finally ran clear into the drain, he twisted the faucet closed and began
shivering uncontrollably. He kicked the supply closet door open, shattering the door.
Inside, he found towels and clean sweats. After kicking open two cabinet doors, he
located socks and sneakers.
When he looked up at the clock, he was astonished to see that he still had three
quarters of an hour until the mid-day head count. Chad retraced his steps back up to
the ground floor and up the ladder to the machine room, carefully avoiding the blood.
All he wanted to do was retrieve his tools and try to make it back to the Farm.

Isaak/The Exchange

211

The room still reeked of Freon and slaughter. Incredibly, the footless man was
still alive, moaning and writhing around on the floor. Chad crept over to where he lay
and saw that the upper portion of the mans military-style boot was still around the
ankle. The stump had swollen and the piece of boot was acting as a kind of tourniquet.
Very little fresh blood was dripping out of the end. As Chad stood over the man, wiping
his tools on the damp towel hed brought, he fought down the urge to finish him off. It
would be so easy; he had the hammer in his hand. Hed probably die anyway and it was
Mitty that really ought to die.
On his way back to the machine room door, Chad noticed a discarded scrap of
galvanized metal, left over from building the ductwork. He used the snips to cut a
square and wrapped it up along with the tools in a clean towel hed left by the door.
He was able to stash the towel and the tools in the bushes next to the path that
led to the pool shack on his way back to the Farm.
Somehow, he made it back into the dormitory without being challenged by any
guards. Once inside, he changed into his usual garb, and made it to head count with
minutes to spare. When Mitty saw him getting into line at the cafeteria, he dropped his
tray full of food, splattering pasta sauce on several of the more important inmates. Chad
bent down to help him pick up the utensils.
Mitty, tonight, after lights out. The pool shack. Alone, motherfucker. Just you
and me.
Mitty acknowledged Chad with a shocked grimace but said nothing.

Chad picked up his tools and sheet metal and slipped into Alexanders lair.
Things were going to happen; none of the possibilities was good. When the guards
discovered the mayhem at the gym., he would surely be grabbed and thrown into seg in
the Hole. Chad had one afternoon and possibly one more night to do what he had to do.

Isaak/The Exchange

212

He used the snips to cut out a long, skinny shank with a comfortable handle. He
bent the handle back on itself and used the hammer to blunt the edge of the metal. He
wound an entire roll of black vinyl electrical tape around the handle and proceeded to
stroke the blade back and forth across a shard of granite Alexander used as a whetstone.
When he could dry-shave the hairs from his arm with the edge, Chad proceeded to make
a scabbard out of folded cardboard and more tape. He taped the scabbard to his left
forearm and practiced drawing and slashing until it was automatic.
They would have to make an example of him. Self-defense wouldnt cut much ice
with BOP or even with a jury. Thered be a long line of witnesses whod be happy to
testify that the three dead inmates had kicked and beaten him on his first day. Theyd
remember him saying he was going to get them if it was the last thing he ever did.
Manufactured testimony was so easy to come by; BOP could get anybody to say anything
just by threatening inmates with loss of good time or by offering extra cigarettes. If they
got murder one to stick, hed be looking at three consecutive forty year stretches. Three
twenties for murder two or three fifteens for mere manslaughter. Any way you cut it, he
was fucked.
The three guys were all Latin Kings. They were the top gang in every state and
federal joint in the country. Hed be doing life without parole in seg with a very high
price on his head.
Chad had no doubts or misgivings about his plan for tonight. It wouldnt matter
if he did three or four consecutive terms. He was equally fucked. Mitty was going to die.
His preparations now complete, Chad lay back on the floor and thought about
Carolena and their plans. He should be feeling profoundly depressed, even suicidal, but
he wasnt. The time theyd shared would last him a lifetime in seg if it came to that. He
was still glad to be alive and happy that he wasnt dead even though he was sorry about
not being able to be with her like theyd planned. Prison had taught him to endure the
unendurable, to bear the unbearable.

Isaak/The Exchange

213

Today, Chad had at last become an inmate, devoid of expectation. There was only
time, and shit you had to do and shit you had to take.

Isaak/The Exchange

214

Chapter 30.
The alarm sounded fifteen minutes out of the New York-New Jersey traffic
control corridor. The skies were clear; the autopilot had them heading due north at
fourteen thousand four hundred feet, cruising effortlessly at three hundred twenty miles
per hour.
Alexander had been napping. Carol was deep into her flying meditative state.
What was that? Alexander bolted awake as the plane climbed.
Collision warning. Autopilots taking us up a thousand feet.
Why?
Its hooked up to the radar and the G.P.S. Apparently some other plane is on a
course that would lead to a collision unless one of us corrected. The alarm sounded and
the autopilot automatically adjusted to avoid. So were climbing a thousand feet. Ive
never had this happen except in the simulator. Weve got the right of way; I filed our
flight plan and Newark cleared me at the last hand off.
What other plane? Alexander craned his neck in an arc, looking out of the
cockpit.

Isaak/The Exchange

215

Too far away for visual. By the time you see him at this speed, you could be in
very serious trouble. All you can see is the blip. Here, see it on the radar?
Alexander could see a tiny blinking dot on the small round screen. So it is not a
problem?
No. Probably some local pilot straying.
Suddenly, the alarm sounded again.
Oh-oh.
What?
Same thing. Collision alarm. Carol switched off the autopilot and banked the
plane steeply.
Alexander felt his ears pop, as the plane quickly dropped. He watched with
mounting concern as the needle on the altimeter spun around.
Alexander, look! Carol pointed over Alexanders shoulder. A silver streak
zipped through his field of vision. Small jet. No markings. Probably an executive
plane. Definitely not military or commercial. Hes got to be flying manual; those things
have the same autopilot system weve got. Unless it self-corrected the same way we
did.
Scary.
No kidding. Ill have to ask the Mooney rep when we get back. I always thought
they were set for one to go up and the other down in that situation.
Carol began tuning her radio. Ive got to report this. That guys a menace.
Before she found the correct frequency, they heard a sound like an impact
followed by a high-pitched whistle. Both of them felt their ears pop.
A second alarm sounded and a red light on the ceiling began to blink. Oh shit!
Cabin depressurizing.

Isaak/The Exchange

216

Alexander unfastened his seat belt, reached into his pocket, tied a knot into his
handkerchief and stuck it into a hole on the side of the cabin wall. Looks like a bullet
hole.
The alarm went silent and the red light stopped flashing.
Carols hand was shaking as she held the stick. Thats not possible. You cant
just hold a gun out of the window of a jet and start shooting. Planes like that dont have
gun mounts.
Maybe, but Ive seen bullet holes before and this definitely looks like one.
The collision alarm sounded again. This time, Carol saw it coming straight at
them. A small jet, a Gulfstream, twin engine. There was something sticking out of the
cockpit. It was coming at them from above, so Carol goosed the throttle and climbed,
banking to her left. Fire erupted from the front of the Gulfstreams cockpit. Someone
had mounted a gun in the nose of the jet. Or stuck the barrel through a hole in the
canopy. Somehow, it was spewing lead right at them.
Youre right. Christ! Theyre shooting at us!
Is there anything we can do? Should we just land?
Thats a Gulfstream. Top speed nearly double ours. Carol knew that they could
keep turning and firing. If they hit the fuel tanks, it was all over. By the time she got
headed toward the coast and someplace to land theyd have a dozen chances to take her
down. They couldnt use the chutes because theyd be easy targets floating down so
slowly. Shit!
The alarm sounded again. Carol screamed, Hang on! Theyre coming in from
behind.
Suddenly, the Mooney rolled and dropped, nose first. The scream of the jet and
the pop pop pop of the gun was unmistakable above them. Carol leveled off, flying
upside down, rolled over again and began a hard vertical climb.
Neither of them spoke. Carols thoughts were best not shared.

Isaak/The Exchange

217

The Mooney had a lot more maneuverability. But eventually, theyd get a lucky
shot. Carol knew she couldnt keep this up forever. The guys in the jet were still
amateurs at this but there was always a learning curve.
Alexander broke the silence. Your plan?
I dont know. Maybe a water landing. Wed have to slow down so much. Wed
be an easy target. If we could only take out one of their engines, they wouldnt have such
a speed advantage.
How?
Try to shoot it. Or make them suck something into the intake port. You think
you could pop the hatch and push stuff out? Youd have to tie yourself to the seat so you
didnt get sucked out yourself. The alarm sounded and Carol screamed. Here they
come again! Hang on.
Two bullets ripped through the fuselage. Carol disabled the cabin pressure alarm
as she dipped and rolled to avoid the oncoming fire.
Theyre learning. Theyll hit something vital soon.
Carol switched on the autopilot and unbuckled her seat harness. She showed
Alexander where the emergency kit was stowed and began making a pile of useable
items to toss out when the time came. She got the rope out of the kit and tied Alexander
to the seat with a slip knot. Pull this if we bail out. Dont go down with the ship if were
in the water. Theres a flare gun. In the kit. Ill try to get you a clear shot. Probably
wont be time to reload. After that, just throw everything out.
Heavy things or light things?
Everything. All were trying to do is foul the intake port. A pennyd work as well
as anything. Go for volume to increase our chances.
Luck?
Right. Its all we have. Maybe a little luck. Take everything out of my flight bag.
Tear all the paper to bits.

Isaak/The Exchange

218

Carol unzipped her flight coveralls and crouched naked beside her parachute.
Before you fire flare gun, toss this out and deploy my chute. Carol tied the legs and
arms, attached the parachute harness, and began filling the coverall with canned goods
and heavier items from the emergency kit. The siren sounded and Carol scrambled back
to her seat.
Right, now! Deploy the chute!
The hatch popped open and the cabin depressurized so fast that Alexander felt
himself sucked inexorably toward the opening. He managed to toss the bundled
parachute and stuffed coverall seconds after the hatch opened. The chute blossomed
with the decoy swinging below. He grabbed the flare gun and perched precariously
while Carol banked the Mooney into position. For a fraction of a second, Alexander
could see the bowl-shaped intake port of the jet engine as the pilot slowed and swung
toward the floating parachute. He fired and missed and reloaded. He fired again and
the jet swung into the flares path. The engine blossomed into flame as the jet dropped
out of sight.
I hit it! Alexander screamed. Carol could see the flaming plane descend toward
the water. It leveled off and the flames went out.
Alexander had scrambled back to the co-pilots seat and sat stunned watching the
jet recover.
Carol shouted over the noise of the wind screaming through the open hatch,
Fuck! Its coming back for another pass!
How?
The automatic halon system on the engines put the fire out. They can fly on one
engine; it just slows them down. Dump all the stuff on the next pass. Its our only
chance. Take out the other engine.
The jet came at them broadside and avoided all of the debris. Several more
rounds perforated the fuselage and one whizzed through the open hatch, ripping

Isaak/The Exchange

219

through Alexanders shoulder. As he fell bleeding to the floor, Carol dropped the plane
in preparation for a water landing. It was all she could think to do. Their luck had run
out.
The Gulfstream swung around in a lazy turn and prepared to take one final headon attack. Just as the Mooneys altimeter displayed two hundred feet, the jet swooped
down for the kill and erupted into a blazing fireball. Carol fought to bring the Mooney
back up while banking around the shock waves from the disintegrating cloud of fire.
Soon she had the autopilot back on a northerly course, the hatch reclosed and
Alexander slumped in the co-pilots chair. Shed stuffed parts of his shirt into either side
of the wound and tied the rest of it around his shoulder. It was the best she could do
since all of the rest of their emergency gear had been sacrificed in the effort to disable
the engine.
Carol sat rigidly at the controls, naked and shivering. She started to warm up
again as the heater kicked in and the cabin partially repressurized. Air whistled in and
out of the bullet holes and in and out of her burning lungs as she cried.
Alexander was barely conscious but obviously in pain.
Carols mind was blown. She kept replaying the final explosion over and over.
When she could finally speak again, she called to Alexander, Why did it blow up?
Some delayed reaction?
Alexander shook his head and spoke slowly. I dont know. Monson. He rigged
it to self-destruct. No witnesses.
Designed to blow on landing?
Right. He is cold. Monson.
Why? Would he go through all this? Just to stop us from asking some
questions?
A lot more is going on. Not just Willy Fenton getting out of jail.

Isaak/The Exchange

220

Isaak/The Exchange

221

Chapter 31.
Jennifer was applying lipstick to her pouting lower lip as Willy rounded the
corner of the reception area.
Morning, Jennifer. Revlon Cherry Red? Something a little more on the pink
side would suit you better.
Really? Since when are you an expert on lipstick? She snapped the cap on and
slammed the tube into her purse.
Whats my chances of getting a cup of coffee?
Gee, Chad. It looks pretty good if you take a left at the hallway over there and
the third right into the kitchen. Ill have a latte with one sugar, thanks.
While Willy was waiting for the espresso machine to heat up, he tried to imagine
what had happened between Chad and Alicia that had made her so persistent. Maybe
hed ask her next time they got together. Willy liked the thought of a next time.
Willy emerged from the kitchen with a two steaming mugs. Jennifer was hanging
up the phone with a vexed expression on her face as he handed her one of them.
What an asshole!
Hey, I made the coffee as fast as I could, Jennifer.

Isaak/The Exchange

222

Not you; the guy on the phone. Michael Monson.


Monson? Called here?
What is he, some insurance salesman? He said to give you a message, meet him
at the used car auction in Framingham today at ten. He wouldnt talk to you; he just
wanted me to give you the message and he wouldnt leave a number.
Why? Did he say what he wanted to meet about?
He said Willy Fentons health insurance was about to expire and that he had the
family plan. A very obnoxious man. You understand the message?
Yeah. I get it. Cancel whatever you got me scheduled for this morning; I guess
Im going to Framingham.
Willy took his coffee into his office and closed the door. Monson either knew or
he didnt. Either way, all he probably wanted was silence. His choice of the used car
auction held every week in Framingham at the refurbished GM engine assembly plant
was an inspired one. Monsons Detroit connections would give him ready access and the
place was so noisy that it was impossible to wear a wire. The family plan business
somehow meant Carol. There was no possible way to figure out a strategy for dealing
with Monson; Mighty Mouse always had his own agenda and Willy was just going to
have to play it by ear.
There was a knock on Willys door. Oh Chad, theres a delivery for you.
Come in, Jennifer.
Jennifer brought in a long, rectangular box, tied with a bright red bow and placed
it on the center of his desk. Willy pulled the ribbon and opened the box.
Well, Chad, it looks like flowers. Can I see?
Underneath a cloud of tissue, there were a dozen roses, a tin of smoked oysters
and a tube of lipstick. And no card.
Revlon Cherry Red?
Jennifer, dont you have something better to do?

Isaak/The Exchange

223

Good idea. Ill get a vase.

Three thousand cars gleamed in the midsummer sunlight; two thousand of them
would change ownership in the next six hours. Willy had spent countless days at this
auction and at hundreds of others just like it across the country. If the car business was
a religion, this was a solemn high mass.
He was exhausted; emotionally and physically drained. A little over two days ago,
Willy had been a different person with a different woman on a different coast. It had
turned out to be possible to fool people in Chads world. It might be impossible to keep
up the ruse with Monson. Especially when all Willy wanted to do was kill him.
He had to stop himself from greeting the ancient security guard by name as Willy
stepped through the door. He was chagrined as Joe asked him for a dealer card. Willy
had to trudge a hundred yards further down the length of the old brick building to get to
the visitors door. There he had to explain to a piggish young assistant manager that he
was an attorney with business to transact with someone inside. He was issued a garish
name tag and cautioned against bidding on any cars.
Once inside the cavernous old building, the familiar adrenaline rush hit him like
a fat line of coke. The air was thick with car exhaust and the smells of cheap cologne,
cigar smoke, hot dogs and raw animal excitement. Willy pushed his way past the thirty
pay phones lining the corridor next to the office and emerged onto the auction floor.
The sound of a thousand people talking, laughing, and shouting mixed with the revving
engines and the syncopated whining of fourteen auctioneers to create a visceral wall of
noise. This was a gathering of the most disreputable looking people on the planet. They
had congregated to swap lies, steal each others profits and exchange twenty million
dollars.
Monson wasnt hard to spot. He wasnt sporting the deal cap, oily tee shirt and
blue jeans that was de rigueur for the most prosperous dealers and he was a foot shorter

Isaak/The Exchange

224

than most of the attendees. He was also the only person other than Willy wearing a suit
and tie. Monson reputedly got his clothes from the Brooks Brothers boys department
and the blue seersucker he was wearing today oozed propriety. He was carefully
inspecting a dark green Jaguar convertible which was idling in Lane Seven; the dark
Hispanic driver was popping the hood in response to a hand motion from a dealer.
Willy approached the car and began walking around it, looking it over. Monson
glanced up, saw the suit and read the name tag.
Nice car, isnt it Chad? Nice toy for a lawyer.
Piece of shit if you ask me.
Really? It looks cherry and low mileage.
Chad couldnt resist the bait. Its been hit. Passenger side rear quarter panel.
The paint doesnt match right. Jags got five coats of clear from the factory; whatever
cheap bastard repaired this sled probably used one and didnt even bake it. Used a
cheap imitation wheel cover and an aftermarket rear window. I bet the fuckers even got
frame damage.
The car eased forward to the side of the auction block. A green light went on over
the head of the auctioneer. In three minutes the car was sold for a five-figure price.
Well, Chad, that guy evidently didnt agree with you. And neither did the other
one who lost it at the end.
The other guy was the actual seller; he was goosing the car the entire time.
Probably made a five thousand dollar profit on that piece of shit.
First time at an auction? You seem to know a lot about this for a lawyer.
They walked toward the overhead doors and the parking lot where dozens of
dealers stood in small groups haggling and talking.
Cut the shit Monson. Just what did you get me over here for? I got work to do.
Oh excuse me, what do you blood suckers get now, four, five hundred an hour?
Just bill this to our mutual friend Willy Fenton. Hes loaded.

Isaak/The Exchange

225

You got five minutes; then Im out of here.


I hear hes doing some kind of motion to get his conviction reversed. I want it
stopped.
First I heard of it and Im still his lawyer.
Really? Youre not writing this for him? When was the last time you spoke to
him?
I dont know why I should be talking about confidential client matters with you,
Monson.
Theres worse things than being in prison, you know. Lots worse. And that cunt
of a wife of his. Shes way out of her league. Maybe she should just join the garden club
and let us men handle things. She could get hurt, flying around the country in that
plane.
What is it youre afraid of, Monson? Tell me and I wont go near it.
Im not afraid of anything. And Im not worried about what you do. You were
an incompetent nothing when you did Willys case and you still are. I just wanted to
find out if either Willy or his pretty little wife were manipulating you. Just stay away
from any new evidence.
He can fire me, you know. Then Im out of it. Or I could just resign.
No. I want you involved. If he tries to fire you, youve got to stop him. Stay in
the case and fuck it up again. Or youll be extremely sorry. And get that woman to stay
home; she must want him out of there for some reason. The bottom line is that he stays
there and keeps his mouth shut or he dies there.
Leave his wife alone, Monson. She never knew anything about Willys business.
What do you care? Shes been making phone calls and visiting people she
shouldnt. Her and some nigger from the prison. Talking to the same people I paid that
investigator to forget about. If you care to avoid some unpleasant news, you might want
to warn her. Ive tried, but shes too fucking stupid to get the message.

Isaak/The Exchange

226

Monson. Why dont I just cut through the bullshit and tell you whats really
going on?
You know whats really going on? Just go ahead; Id like to hear it.
Im actually Willy Fenton; Chad Lewis and I exchanged places after the appeal
was turned down. Theres no way he can rat you out; he doesnt know shit about
Detroit.
Monson laughed so hard that tears streamed from his eyes. And Im the Easter
Bunny. Youre lucky Im in a good mood and were in a public place. Ordinarily, I dont
respond well to shit like that. Just remember, Chad, the case is over. Or all three of you
are going to die. I cant make it any clearer than that, now can I?

Isaak/The Exchange

227

Chapter 32.
Fawn picked up the bloody latex gloves and deposited them into the biohazard
bin along with the cotton pads and stained toweling. She washed the surgical tools and
deposited them into the autoclave and put the splattered lab coat into the laundry bag.
This was the first suturing, other than gums that shed done since her surgical rotation
as an intern. Alexander had been extremely lucky. The bullet had sliced through soft
tissue and had missed the complicated juncture of bones at his shoulder. He was also
fortunate that the slug hadnt penetrated the plane before hitting him; if it had been
deformed and flattened, it would have splattered a fist-sized piece of muscle and tissue.
With a little more luck, hed be back playing the guitar in a month.
Now that the work repairing the damage was finished, Fawn could concentrate on
her anger and fear. The cryptic call had come just as she was coming through her
kitchen door. Shed had to take the kids back to the sitter and meet Carol at the airport
with a set of clothes and a blanket. She still couldnt make sense out of the story Carol
had told her on their way back to the office. Someone had tried to kill them but the bad
guys died instead. Somehow, Carol had lost all of her clothes and her friend Alexander
had been shot. They couldnt go to the police and they couldnt take Alexander to the
hospital.

Isaak/The Exchange

228

Fortunately, Alexanders wound had been relatively clean and hed not lost an
inordinate amount of blood. His vitals and pressure were good and he wasnt deeply in
shock. Carol too seemed to be coping remarkably well. Impending motherhood was
undoubtedly strengthening her survival instincts. Also, she was angry, which always
focused her energy.
Fawn didnt really agree with Carols decision to take Alexander back to
Pennsylvania, but Carol wasnt to be dissuaded. Once shed been assured that Alexander
needed only basic nursing care, rest, and good nutrition, Carol declared that she knew
just the place. Amys farm. The hospital was out of the question. They had stopped at
the house to pick up Maria and had been on their way again before ten. Maria accepted
by the prospect of caring for a strange man with a bullet wound and flying through the
night to an Amish farm with her usual good-natured aplomb.
The plan was that Carol would come back to Marblehead in a day or so and
discuss everything with Fawn before she went any further with the investigation. Fawn
would try to talk some sense into her when Carol returned. Meanwhile, she was
exhausted. The kids were sleeping over at the sitters. Fawn planned to go home, pour a
stiff drink, and have a hot bath and collapse.
She picked up her enormous hand bag, hit the light switch and backed out of the
door with her keys in her hand. A gloved hand clamped over her mouth and a cold steel
object jutted into her ear. The smell of the latex glove under her nose made her gag.
This is a gun. Obey or die.
Fawn froze.
Back inside. Dont make a sound. His voice was soft, intimate but
authoritarian.
Fawn obeyed.
Drop the bag and the keys and put your hands behind your back.

Isaak/The Exchange

229

Within seconds, he somehow had plastic restraints attached to her wrists. The
gun never wavered from its position in her right ear. The lights came back on,
overpowering the corridor lights from the open door.
Fawn heard the door shut and the deadbolt click into place.
Dont hurt me, please. What do you want?
The force of the kick propelled her across the carpeted entrance and over the
reception desk. Fawn sprawled face down on the desk, her head dangling over the
receptionists chair and her feet dangling over the modesty panel.
She felt the gun barrel slide between her legs and nuzzle tightly at her episiotomy
scar.
Spread em, Doctor. Now. And dont try to look at me.
Fawn obeyed and restraints bound her ankles to the desks legs. Her pelvis felt
like she was being ripped in half. She began to cry as panic swept over her.
Now, tell me where your blond friend and the nigger went. They didnt file any
flight plan.
Pennsylvania, back to Pennsylvania.
Where in Pennsylvania?
I dont know. Some farm near the prison. I dont know where.
You better not be lying, you kike bitch. Is she going to contact you?
Yes. She took her cell phone. Shes going to call me, tomorrow. Please. Im
telling you everything. Just leave and I wont tell anyone what happened.
Oh, I want you to tell somebody. I want you to tell your friend what she has to
look forward to if she doesnt stop what shes doing. I want you to tell her everything
that happens tonight.
Please dont.
Dont what, Doctor?
Dont do anything to me.

Isaak/The Exchange

230

I bet you never had a great big uncut cock up your ass before. Youre in for a real
treat, Doctor. Ordinarily, Id like to hear you scream, but I dont want to disturb the
neighbors.
It felt like a tennis ball that was squeezed into her mouth; whatever he tied
around her face pinched her hair. He warned her again not to look. Fawn heard the
click of something metallic and felt her pants and panties being cut away. She closed
her eyes and began repeating over and over to herself, I will live through this. I will live
through this.
The pain was like some reverse perverse childbirth, rippling from the outside into
her very center. The act was breathtaking in its degradation. Somehow, the searing
heat of the pain obliterated her shame and cauterized her soul. It could have taken him
minutes or hours; time was meaningless.
Then the pressure was gone. Only the throbbing waves of hurt remained. Fawn
felt ripped, torn, and sundered. Something dripped down her leg; semen or blood, she
couldnt tell. Her teeth were impaled into the hairy flesh of the tennis ball. Tears were
streaming down her face and somehow dripping into her nose. Her breath was ragged
and halting.
She was still alive.
How was that, Doctor? Hope you liked it. I sure did. Tell your buddy thats the
last feeling shell have on this earth, my cock up her ass, before I slit her pretty throat.
Unless she quits fucking around in my business.
Fawn heard the knife click shut, the zipper being zipped, and the light switch. He
was leaving.
Oh yeah, Doctor. I almost forgot. Rinse and spit. Ha ha ha. Rinse and spit.

Isaak/The Exchange

231

Chapter 33.
The red hand imprint flamed on Huffs cheek. Drool dripped down his chin onto
an impossibly white handkerchief as Huff wiped himself. Mitty looked like a living
corpse, dark bruises on his face and his lips cracked and bleeding. When he spoke, he
sounded demented, his tongue swollen and numb.
I didnt mean to hit you so hard; you just wouldnt quit barking.
I know. Its never been so bad before. I guess Im just overwrought.
Chad Lewis has to die tonight; theres no way around it, Huff. Hes got to go.
You heard Monson. Its Lewis or me.
Huffnagle fumbled a sheet of paper out of his desk drawer and passed it to Mitty.
Read this. I got this a month ago. This isnt a BOP directive, Congressman. Its
straight from Justice. Theres a quota now. Based on population; were allowed three
deaths by misadventure during any twelve month period; based on our population,
three. Any more, and they send in a special investigative unit. Thats a representative
from the Inspector Generals Office, an FBI Agent, a polygraph operator, a forensic
pathologist and a criminalist to collect evidence.
So? Juan lived. Lewis only killed two. I can still do him.

Isaak/The Exchange

232

You idiot, dont you remember that guy who choked on a meatball? That was
not quite eleven months ago.
They cant count him! He died of natural causes; thats not fair. That was a
legitimate accident.
Misadventure. Thats what misadventure means. You cant do Lewis for
another month and a half or we all get to take a polygraph.
Goddamn it, how can you function like this? With that fucking bureaucracy. We
can do him tonight and freeze him for a month and a half. Just put him in one of the
freezers in back of the kitchen and lock it up.
No, you cant. You told me to report Juans foot as a kitchen accident. The
OSHA inspector arrives tomorrow to go over the entire kitchen. Lewis is just going to
have to wait.
Im supposed to meet him tonight. What am I supposed to do? Give him milk
and cookies? He killed two of my guys and maimed a third. All Latin Kings. Everybody
knows some bad shit has come down. I had to drag the bodies out of that stinking gym
and clean it up myself.
And I thank you for your consideration. Fast thinking on your part,
Congressman. I think itll actually do some good, making every prisoner view the body
of an inmate who died from ingesting Freon. Make them think before they try to get
high.
Please. Spare me the sermon. It wasnt easy to fake the suicide of the other one,
either. His head was barely attached. The other Kings are pissed off that Im fucking
with their brothers memories. Its going to cost us to keep them from rioting.
What about the foot?
Gone.
It has to be somewhere. It could be really inconvenient if it showed up at the
wrong time.

Isaak/The Exchange

233

I know, but its gone. Juan is all right about it; he knows itd been too long to
reattach it.
Yes. And no doubt, the settlement his lawyer negotiated will help. That was the
fastest Ive ever seen a lawyer act.
Im going to look like a pussy if I dont do Lewis tonight. If he lives, I dont get
any respect.
Youre just going to have to deal with it and make sure everybody understands
that hes off limits.
For forty-five days.
Right. A month and a half.

It was grotesque. Chad had shown up for head count before dinner and the entire
cafeteria marched out to the gym in the company of every guard they could muster.
There was the guy hed sprayed with Freon, melting into a foul puddle in the middle of
the floor of the lobby. Another drug-related death. You could hear the gas escaping
from his frozen throat as he thawed. Chad asked the inmate ahead of him in line what
happened.
Accident, man. Looks like the guy was tryin to get high and sucked too much
shit. Bummer.
By the time Chad had filed past the body, hed heard the news about the other
two guys. Suicide and a kitchen accident. Incredibly, he was not going to be arrested for
murder. Unless it was just a ruse. He still wanted to do Mitty. And hed probably be
able to get by with it. Mitty had enough enemies and there was always the possibility of
a power struggle. By the time dinner was over, Chad was more determined than ever to
kill the former congressman.

Isaak/The Exchange

234

He stayed at the shack all evening, playing guitar and trying not to think. He
slipped back into the dorm for the last head count and returned to the shack to wait for
Mitty.
Mitty showed up alone. Chad spent a half-hour sweeping the area and could
detect no other inmates nearby. He slipped into Alexanders room through the back way
and silently emerged through the wall behind Mitty. The point of the shank was at
Mittys throat before the old man knew what was happening.
Give me one reason why you shouldnt die, old man.
Three. Threes the limit.
Yeah. Youre number three. I heard Juan is still alive. Youre going to die,
motherfucker. Before you can do me.
Wait! The memo. Copy in my pocket. Read it.
Chad kept the point centered on Mittys Adams apple while he pulled the memo
out of his back pocket.
So what?
A guy died. Eleven months ago, by accident. Hes number three. Kill me and
the team comes in; youll be fucked.
I did hear somebody talk about that a while back. Kill me and youre fucked too,
is that it?
Right. Both of us. We cant do anything for forty-five days.
You better hope Im out of here before then, Mitty. Ill do you one minute after
midnight, on the forty-sixth day. Count on it. And just so you dont forget, heres where
youre going to get it.
Chad sliced an x on Mittys left side, cutting through the shirt and through his left
nipple. Remember, old man, x marks the spot.

Isaak/The Exchange

235

Chapter 34.
The office was a safe and comfortable haven after Monsons threats and the
frenzy of the auction. Willy was genuinely glad to see Jennifer. Rodney and the study
group were busily reviewing the contents of the large accordion files spread out over the
conference table.
Their enthusiasm was infectious and Willy joined them for a lunch of take-out
Chinese and Coke. Afterwards, Jennifer had a pile of documents for him to sign along
with some checks and official looking forms. Willy didnt bother reading any of them.
He was trying to decide if he should stay and risk a deadly confrontation with Monson
or if he should just cut and run and take his chances. The new identities were very good
and a little more surgery would completely eradicate any trace of his old life.
His thoughts kept returning to Carol. What could she be doing for Monson to be
so pissed? And why? Carol didnt need anything or anybody. Willy had made the bank
transfers that stabilized her cash flow for the foreseeable future. She was young, rich,
beautiful, and smart. Carol had everything; but Monson had said she was talking to
people, investigating. Willy was so exhausted that he was finally able to penetrate his
denial. Carol was helping Chad Lewis get out of prison because she was involved with

Isaak/The Exchange

236

him. Sexually and emotionally involved. So involved that she was ignoring obvious
threats from Monson. How this had happened in the short time since the exchange was
unfathomable. Why would she risk her life for a man she hardly knew?
Willy looked over at the blood-red roses standing majestically in the vase on the
corner of his desk. Things could happen fast if you were open to them. He wouldnt
leave just yet. Willy extracted Alicias business card from his shirt pocket. He was going
to have a hell of a ride before he split.
Alicia and Jennifer together was not a good idea, but Willy didnt care. He
wanted to place as much cash as he could with her as fast as he could and Jennifer was
just going to have to cope. When Alicia was in her business mode, she was intense. Five
minutes into the meeting, she had told Willy to go powder his nose; when hed returned
to the conference room ten minutes later, Jennifer was blushing furiously and would not
meet his eyes. Alicia had assured him that they could handle it without him and asked
him to be available to sign papers when they were finished.
Willy was engrossed in an article in the new edition of The American Lawyer
when they came in and got him to sign everything.
Jennifer left and Alicia closed the door.
Chad, Ive got a proposition for you.
Im all ears.
Youre all something anyway. I do a radio show every week for a little
syndication outfit in Cambridge; you know, investment advice. Its a call-in. They want
to audition people for a lawyer show. Interested?
Me?
Youve got a sexy voice but authoritative. It would help the practice. Good
advertising.
No. I wouldnt know what to do.

Isaak/The Exchange

237

Please? I already promised the producer. If you dont like it, dont continue.
Just try it once? Ill make it really worth your while.
Alicia, I got a confession to make. Im not really a very good lawyer.
You wont get out of it that easily. I know, youre my stud muffin first and a
lawyer second. But I want you to do this for me. Understand?
Willy was powerless. Okay, sure. When?
Five-thirty.
Tonight? Thats in two hours.
Ill pick you up at quarter of five; its right over the river. Youll have a blast.
Willy sat in the tiny cluttered studio, headphones covering his ears, and the foamcovered boom mike inches away from his face. The maniacal intro music, a synthesized
rendition of Yackety Sax, was blaring. The needles on the board were making him
seasick as they swung madly back and forth in time to the beat. The skin-headed
tattooed producer was on the other side of the glass wall counting down from ten to zero
with exaggerated finger and hand movements. Alicia was giving him a brilliant smile
and two thumbs up when the small light bulb in front of him blinked on.
Welcome to Law Talk. Im attorney Chad Lewis from Boston and Im your host
this afternoon. Got a question or a comment, just give us a call at one eight hundred
LAW TALK. No special topic today, folks. Open forum. Whatevers on your mind, just
call in and see if we can offer any good advice.
The board op handed Willy a note.
Frank from Cupertino, youre on Law Talk. Whats happening, Frank?
Hello?
Frank, youre on the air, bro. Whats your problem?
My neighbors stealing my land.
Shoot him, Frank. No, seriously, hows he stealing your land?

Isaak/The Exchange

238

I got this tree on my side of the property line in the back of the house and he
comes back there every day and waters it or gives it plant food or just touches it. My
tree on my side.
What kind of tree, Frank?
Dawn redwood. I planted it myself.
What time of the day does he fondle your tree?
I see him about ten thirty in the morning and again at three thirty in the
afternoon.
Every day?
Yeah. Every day.
Hmmm.
I went to a lawyer yesterday about this and he told me my neighbor was trying to
get some kind of easement or adverse possession of my land. He told me to put up a
fence and to sue the guy to stop him. If thats what I got to do, it dont seem fair. I gotta
ruin my view and spend all that money just because that guy cant keep his hands Offa
my tree.
How long has he been doing this?
I dont know; I been seeing him for about three months. See, I just retired from
the plant three months ago. I sit in the recliner on the screen porch and I see this bozo
doing something to my tree.
You just retired?
Yes sir.
You got any hobbies other than watching your neighbor?
What the hells that got to do with anything? I want to know what you think I
should do, as a lawyer.
You got a wife, Frank?
Yeah. Clara.

Isaak/The Exchange

239

Can you get Clara on the line for a minute?


Why?
If you put her on the line Ill tell you exactly how to stop him and it wont cost
you a penny. No fence and no legal fees. But I have to talk to Clara.
Ok. Clara! Get on the phone.
Hello?
Is this Clara from Cupertino?
Yes?
Clara, youre on a show called Law Talk and Ive been talking to your husband
about your neighbor.
Oh, dear.
Listen, Clara, just answer a couple of questions and Ill solve Franks property
problem for him. Hows Frank been since retirement? Happy?
No.
I bet hes been miserable, cranky and a pain in the butt, am I right?
Yes.
You tell him to go to the porch to get him out of your hair and he comes back
bitching about the neighbor?
Essentially, right.
Clara, you got to get him a hobby or a part time job or some volunteer thing; just
get him out of the house. Im going to call you folks back next week and if you havent
found something for him, Im asking our listeners to send in some opportunities. Either
you get him something or well draft him. In exchange for your promise to do that, Ill
give him the solution. Deal?
Sure.
Great. Now put Frank back on the line. Frank, I made a deal with Clara. You
got to agree to abide by it and Ill tell you the answer to your problem.

Isaak/The Exchange

240

What deal?
I got the feeling that shes the boss of the house, am I right?
In some things, yes.
Okay. Shell explain the deal later and youll agree to it, okay?
Right. What should I do about the guy and my tree?
Well, Frank, theres written law and theres natural law. Law from before we
were even people, from when we were animals. You should do like the animals do, mark
your territory. Whenever you see the neighbor coming out of his house, you get up off
the recliner, go into the yard, unzip and just mark your tree.
You mean, uh, pee on it?
You got it, Frank. He wont come near you, I guarantee it. He wont be hugging
it either. I bet if you hosed your entire property line, hed get the message.
And dont sue him?
Hell no, dont sue him. If he crosses the property line, just pee on him.
I like it. Ill try it tomorrow morning. Thanks.
Just remember our deal, Frank. Clara has some instructions for you; you got to
live up to our bargain.
All right.
Ok, people, send in your volunteer opportunities for Frank and well see how
hes doing next week. Our next caller is Betsy from Walnut Creek. Hello, Betsy,
welcome to Law Talk; how can I help you?
Chad? Its Betsy.
Right. Youre on Law Talk, Betsy. You got a legal question?
Chad Lewis? You dont recognize my voice?
No. Come on, Betsy, this is a family show. No weird stuff. Got a legal
question?

Isaak/The Exchange

241

I left my husband several years ago and took my two daughters with me. I never
let him know where we were. If I come back to the area and let him know, will I be in a
lot of legal trouble?
Only if he makes a stink, Betsy. What do you think hell do?
I dont know. I thought youd know.
Well, my ESP seems to not be working today and my crystal ball has a low
battery. Look, Betsy, you know your husband best. Just dont come back if it was an
abusive relationship, okay? It sounds like you fit in pretty well out there in California.
You might want to call him before you made the move.
I just did.
Betsy, Im afraid thats all the time Ive got and this is Law Talk, not the Twilight
Zone.

Isaak/The Exchange

242

Chapter 35.
Carols cell phone chirped when they were about a mile away from the farm. The
Mustang was slowly winding its way down a narrow gravel track surrounded on both
sides by windrows of sweet-smelling alfalfa drying in the early morning sun. Maria was
seated in the passenger seat and Alexander was stretched out in the back seat, groggily
trying to position his right shoulder to avoid the jostling of the car on the unpaved road.
Carol dug the tiny device out of her flight bag and punched the talk button with
her thumb. Hello. Fawn?
Carol. He was here and he raped me.
Who?
Monson.
Carol pulled the car to the side of the road beneath a sprawling cottonwood tree.
Her hand was shaking and she was gasping for breath. Fawn, Im so sorry I got you
involved in all this. Where are you? What can I do?
At home. I really need to talk to you, Carol. I just cant seem to stop crying. He
got me as I was leaving the office after dropping you off. It took me a while to get the

Isaak/The Exchange

243

restraints off; I had to bust the legs off my reception desk and melt the wrist bands off
with the autoclave. It was horrible. I was bleeding. Im just rambling here arent I?
Fawn, Im a mile from Amys farm. As soon as I get there, Ill turn around and
fly back. Ill be back by midafternoon. Are you going to be all right?
No, but Ill be here. Please come back soon. I need you, Carol; youre my best
friend.
Did you call the police?
No. I dont want them involved. I want us to handle it.
Fawn, just dont make any decisions yet? Somehow, weve got to stop
everything-- its out of control.
He threatened you Carol; thats what he said hed do to you. What he did to me.
Ill be there as soon as I can, Fawn. Just stay at home.
Carol repeated the conversation to Maria in Portuguese and they sat in the car
beneath the majestic tree, crying.
Carol felt terrible dropping a load of outsider trouble on the peaceful
shoulders of Amys family. Once shed told Amy about everything that had happened,
Amy took charge of all the arrangements. Grammaw took it all in stride and soon had
Alexander and Maria ensconced in a guest room upstairs. Maria felt at home instantly;
she had grown up without any of the conveniences shed become used to in Marblehead.
Amy immediately went to get Paul from the nearby field; they had a short but intense
conversation in the barnyard and openly shared a passionate kiss before Paul returned
to his work. Carol left her cell phone with Alexander along with a spare battery.
Carol was looking for Amy to kiss her goodbye and thank her when she spied her
sitting in the passenger seat of the Mustang.
Come on Carol, lets hurry.
What are you doing?

Isaak/The Exchange

244

Im going with you, of course. The first time we met, you offered to take me up
flying. Nows the time. Come on.
Amy, are you sure? What happens to you when you come back?
If they cant accept what I have to do, I wont want to come back here. Friends
help friends, Carol. You need help right now and I am going to help. Paul understands.
Thats all that matters. Now lets get going.
Carol sped back along the gravel road, leaving giant rooster tails of dust behind
the car. They were both lost in their own thoughts as the Mustang eased its way down
the state road to the airport. It was obvious that Amy was overloading on new
experiences. She occasionally had to close her eyes and force down a choked swallow of
air. Carol drove the little convertible as fast as she dared, passing everything that she
found in her way.
Carol screeched to a stop in front of the general aviation gate and ran to the plane
with Amy in pursuit. It took only fifteen minutes to refuel and taxi out to the runway.
Amy was strapped into the co-pilots seat, her fingers clutching the arm rests. Carol had
no time to prepare her for what was to follow; she had focused on her preflight checklist
and her minute observance of the planes behavior.
Once the planes wheels left the tarmac, Carol engaged the turbochargers and
pushed the nose into a steep ascent. Three minutes later, they leveled off at thirteen
thousand feet, cruising at four hundred forty miles per hour.
Oh, my. Oh my God. Oh! Amy was shaking her head and alternately opening
and closing her mouth and eyes.
Amy? You all right?
I never uh.... I never felt like that before.
I know. It has the same effect on me. You never really get used to it. Is it scary
for you?
No. Just incredibly .....

Isaak/The Exchange

245

Sexual?
Um hmm.
Are you sure youll be all right out here in the modern world? Things could get
bad if that guy Monson shows up again. Just how far beyond your community are you
willing to go?
I dont know. Paul and I have had some long talks. Hes committed to being
back and Im glad he had his time outside. It makes him a little more complicated than
the other men in the community and a little more interesting. But I feel sort of cheated.
Like hes had some adventure but you havent and you never would if you
immediately got married and settled down?
Exactly. But I didnt want to leave just for the sake of leaving.
Aha. But when you had the opportunity, you jumped at it because youd already
done a lot of the thinking. Is that it?
Right. It might seem impetuous to you, but Id been thinking about you a lot in
the past month.
Im just glad you came along; I need some support. Fawn wasnt too coherent on
the phone; she said she wanted us to take care of Monson, not the police.
Carol, shouldnt she report this to the police?
Ordinarily, yes. But maybe she doesnt think itll do any good. What happens if
somebody commits a crime in your community, Amy? Are there Amish police?
No. Well, we dont call them police. The elders are told if anything happens that
is a violation of the precepts. They will confront the person accused. If the person
admits to wrongdoing and is remorseful, theyre forgiven and a penance might be
prescribed. Usually something thats good for the community or good for the
wrongdoer.
Like what, specifically? What if somebody steals a sheep?

Isaak/The Exchange

246

They would have to give it back and probably forfeit one of their own sheep.
Things like that are easy; its a little harder when the crime is violence or sexual
misconduct.
What happens then?
If its serious enough, the person will be expelled from the community. If it isnt
that bad, they might be shunned until they stop.
Shunned?
Ignored by everyone; nobody will talk to them or have any dealings with them.
This sometimes happens when somebody is having an affair with a married person.
You wouldnt expel them for that?
Not if they stopped. We need people and we need genetic diversity in our
community. We cant afford to waste people.
Genetic diversity?
You havent seen how many birth defects happen. Some Mennonite
communities are extremely inbred; ours is lucky. But we have to look over a persons
genealogy before becoming seriously involved. So we dont just expel people if we can
salvage them.
What about violence? Murder or rape; there must be severe punishments for
those crimes.
We dont like to even admit that those kinds of things happen. They are
extremely rare. The elders investigate, pray for guidance from God and decide the truth.
If someone is found guilty, theyre put to death and their property is forfeited to the
victim or the victims family.
Who does the execution?
God does.
God?

Isaak/The Exchange

247

The person is placed on top of a pole with his hands tied behind him and a noose
around his neck. The rope end of the noose is tied to another, taller pole or tree.
Eventually, the person loses his balance and falls or jumps and gets hanged. God
decides what happens to him and when.
So you dont ever go to the outside police?
Not unless its a crime committed by an outsider. If someone beats up one of
our people outside of the community, well press charges and get them arrested. But,
even then, we like to handle things amongst ourselves. The young guys will go out and
find whoever beat up one of their friends and just teach him a lesson, without ever
getting the police involved. The elders actually encourage it because they dont really
trust any part of the government.
Amy, what would you do if someone raped a friend of yours or your sister?
Or me? If he was one of us, Id expect God to execute him. If he was an
outsider, Id probably let a bunch of guys grab him and bring him to me.
What would you do then?
Make sure he couldnt do it to anyone else ever again.
Youd really do that?
Yes. And Id help you do it for Fawn, too.
Is that why you decided to come along?
I had a feeling that you and Fawn would need a lot of help. Help coping and
help dealing with the man who did it. Carol, I do things every day that some people
would find disgusting. I kill chickens, pull out their guts, clean the shit out of their
intestines and fill the intestines with ground up meat to make sausage. I shovel shit out
of the barns and put it on our vegetable gardens to grow food. I can do what needs to be
done. Im not squeamish.
Im not squeamish either, Amy.
And Fawn is a doctor?

Isaak/The Exchange

248

Thats right, Amy. She may be the least squeamish of all of us. I just hope she
can get through the emotional devastation.
All you can do is be there and let her know you love and support her.
I know, but I feel so guilty. I got her involved and look whats happened to her.
Carol, you cant change what happened. Let her know how sorry you are and
dont be surprised if it takes her a long time to forgive you. She probably feels that its
your fault too, even though shell deny it.
Ive felt Fawns wrath before, when we were in high school. It almost destroyed
our friendship.
What happened?
My breasts grew and hers didnt. She never forgave me. Shes always thought
that I was lucky and she was the unlucky one. Shell probably interpret what happened
to her as more proof of that.
You think shell be scared?
Yes, although hes done his worst to her.
Carol, arent you afraid that Monson might come after you?
Not really. I stopped filing flight plans. I think he may have been keeping track
of my movements that way. Anyway, when we get back to Marblehead, Im going to hire
a security service round the clock at the house. Just to be sure nobody is sneaking
around.
Thatll make all of us feel better.
Plus, Ive got Willys gun collection. Theres enough to arm all of us. You ready
to start packing, Amy?
Only if its a low-tech gun, Carol.

Isaak/The Exchange

249

Chapter 36.
The producer looked like he could fry an egg on his shaved head. In a cartoon,
steam would be coming out of his ears.
Willy put down the headphones, retrieved his jacket and emerged from the glassenclosed booth. I think that went pretty well.
You think it went well? Thats what Nixon said after he announced the sixteen
minute gap in the tapes, Chad. I just got off the phone with the Bar Association. Theyre
considering whether or not to open up a formal censure action. For now, theyre just
demanding equal time next week.
Equal time for what?
The guy said he would have the head of the ABA Real Estate Law Section
available to debate you.
Whats to debate? Im entitled to my opinion. Plus, I told everybody at the end
of the show that the advice I give is worth exactly what they paid for it.
That disclaimer is probably all thats going to keep you from getting disbarred.
Disbarred? Why the fuck would they disbar me?

Isaak/The Exchange

250

Youre the lawyer, Chad. You told the man that he should ignore the advice of
his own lawyer and use self-help instead. You even advised him to piss on his neighbor.
That could get him killed, for Christs sake. Not to mention arrested for indecent
exposure. Did you think about the prospect of some old man in California waving his
cock around in his back yard?
Goddamnit, grow up. I also told him to shoot the guy; you really think hes
going to shoot him?
I sure as hell hope not. I dont think we have enough insurance. Jerry Springer
had to pay about ten million to get out of that shooting incident.
Alicia sat in a directors chair across the room shaking her head and trying to
control her laughter.
Chad, youre amazing. You are really just a country boy at heart, arent you?
Goddamn right, baby. Thats how we used to settle things back home. And we
wouldve shot that son of a bitch too, you better believe it.
The phone rang and the board operator began to scribble notes onto his pad,
nodding inanely as he spoke into the instrument. Then, a second line rang; then a third.
Soon, all fifteen of the lines were blinking. The fax machine whined into action. The
producer was listening on one phone, solemnly writing on a yellow legal pad. Alicia was
answering calls, taking down phone numbers and making excuses in her most sincere
voice. Willy refused to involve himself in the melee, pointedly sitting in the studio,
playing with buttons on the console and duping a tape of the broadcast on a double deck
cassette machine.
When the cassette was finished, Willy opened his briefcase, removed a piece of
stationery, wrote a short note, and handed it to the producer as he motioned to Alicia to
follow him out.
As soon as they emerged onto Cambridge Street, Alicia wrapped her arms around
him and kissed him.

Isaak/The Exchange

251

It took Willy a minute to compose himself after the kiss. Nine point nine.
On what scale, Chad?
The Richter scale.
What was on the paper?
I said Id have my agent call him.
Good. Make him squirm.
Jennifer was still in the office when they returned. She looked frazzled.
Chad, what did you do?
Why? Something the matter?
The phones been ringing off the hook. Channel Seven wants to do a live shot for
the eleven oclock news.

Willy licked a drop of sweat off of Alicias left breast, adjusted the pillow between
his spine and the headboard of the bed and watched her puff on a Cuban cigar. Alicia
handed him the cigar and took a tiny sip from the glass of Glen Fiddich resting on the
night table next to the bed. He felt around under the rumpled sheet and comforter until
he found the remote. Willy poked one button after another to no apparent effect.
Finally, Alicia took it from his hand and thumbed the large screen TV and the VCR into
life.
I bet yours still has the clock blinking.
Its just those magic hands of yours, Alicia-- you sure know how to press my
buttons.
Lets see what ended up getting on the air.
Willy cuddled closer to Alicia and began to nuzzle her ear.
Dont start something if you dont want to finish it.

Isaak/The Exchange

252

My momma always taught me to clean my plate, Alicia. I always finish what I


start.
Youre worse than me. I always thought I was some kind of a pervert, but youre
even hornier than I am.
Im exactly as horny as you are.
And I love it.

Willy watched as the pert blonde news anchor read the tease from the
teleprompter. A local lawyer gives Howard Stern a run for his money. Stay tuned after
these messages for a live report.
Thank God for Alicia and Jennifer. They somehow arranged everything while he
went to Luigis little shop in the North End to change. Willy had arrived back at the
office forty-five minutes later dressed in one of Luigis new ensembles. There had been a
satellite truck parked in front of the hydrant across the street from his office; the dish
was fully extended on its boom and technicians busily adjusted levers on one side.
Upstairs, hed pushed through a throng of bored-looking support staff and watched as a
beautiful Oriental woman talked into a hand-held microphone in front of the reception
desk.
Jennifer had grabbed his arm and steered him into the library. A short, swarthy
man introduced himself as his agent and a wiry middle-aged woman began to apply
makeup to his face. The agent thought they could get a network feed out of the story if
they played their cards right, maybe even a remote on the Today Show.
Willy and Alicia watched while they shared the cigar and single-malt scotch. The
pasty-faced guy from the ABA looked old and sickly, his bow tie slightly askew. The
lights glinted ominously off of his wire rim glasses as he ponderously began to mouth
the prepared statement denouncing Chad Lewis as irresponsible. On the other side of
the split screen, Willys tanned, healthy, glowing face exuded a childish charm.

Isaak/The Exchange

253

Following Willys sixty-second statement, a Harvard archaeologist was


interviewed. It seemed that Willys natural law theory of property management was
borne out by field work. Certain anomalous ancient urea deposits could now be
explained as field markings.
Alicia clicked off the TV and placed the remote on the table next to the empty
whiskey glass. You better get some sleep, Chad. The network guys are getting to the
office at six.

Isaak/The Exchange

254

Chapter 37.
Prison rumors were usually nine parts bullshit and one part outright lie. But the
facts were inescapable. Two Latin Kings were dead and one was maimed. Juan had
been transferred to a rehab unit by medevac helicopter, a millionaire leaving in a blaze
of glory. There wasnt a man in the yard who wouldnt have given a limb to be in his
shoe.
Chad had been scared spitless when the head of the gang showed up in the
dormitory after lights out to escort him back to the Nuke. If he was going to die, Chad
vowed hed go out like a man. They had stripped off his shirt and five muscular Latinos
had held him face down on the floor of the barracks. No one had spoken a word the
entire time. Chad expected sodomy, pain and a slow, agonizing death.
Instead, he got tattoos. Luis and Tito with two crosses, surrounded by a wreath
of flowers, on his left shoulder blade; Juan and a small red teardrop on his right
shoulder.
They died with honor and you must show respect for their memories. Juan will
take care of all of our families when he gets his money. Thank you for not killing him.
Well help you take care of Mitty when the time comes. Just say the word.

Isaak/The Exchange

255

Sure. It wasnt a personal thing, killing them.


We know. It was Mitty. Its time for a change; Mittys through. Itll be our time
to be in charge. Too bad Luis and Tito had to die, but some good will come of it.
Chad now had a permanent seat at the Italian table in the cafeteria. Even when
he chose to sit with the Latinos, no one sat in his empty seat next to the old Don. He no
longer had to pay for library time and the senior member of the Firm gave him access to
the file box of citations and briefs. There were no more work assignments at head count.
Chad had his days to himself.
But there was no word from Alexander. Chad found out he was on medical leave
but no additional information was available from any source. He would sit in the room
behind the compressor in the pool shack, strumming the guitar Alexander had left
behind, practicing the power chords and blues progressions that Alexander had taught
him. What were they doing? He and Carolena? Surely an odd couple of innocents
trying to wrest some truth out of the pack of hyenas who inhabited the car business.
Chad was fortunate to have a supply of the winter weed concoction; it steadied him and
stopped the paralytic anxiety.
The motion and the brief were finished. Chad had typed and retyped the drafts.
There was no doubt in his mind; it was the best work hed ever done as a lawyer. The
Firm had helped him edit after the first draft and their suggestions were insightful.
They seemed surprised at the quality of his writing and analysis. They had provided
several unpublished decisions from the trial judge that were extremely relevant to the
issue of judicial discretion. Chad was buoyant. There was hope if he could only get the
papers filed.
Mitty and Huffnagle controlled all access to the mail; no one had been able to
offer any hope of bypassing them. It was relatively easy to smuggle things into the
prison but impossible to get them out without Mittys involvement. Chads only hope
was Alexander. If he was gone for good, it would have to be Carolena.

Isaak/The Exchange

256

Chads conception of time had devolved into two week segments. The minute she
was gone, the countdown to the next visit began. They had a lot to talk about and a lot
of skin to share and not a lot of time to do either.
Chad had loved women before, usually only one at a time. Hed never really
understood any woman hed ever been involved with. It was as if he couldnt hold the
entire thought in his mind at one time. How he felt about a woman, how she felt about
him, how they were together. He had an intuitive sense of what to do in situations.
What to say and when to say nothing.

But Betsy had stunned him. Hed turned

himself inside out for her. There was nothing he could deny her. And the girls theyd
produced were all hed ever wanted out of life. When she left him for another man, hed
felt like hed chewed off his own leg. The years had gone by and the depression had
inexorably dragged him through every form of debauchery he could find. He and Willy
had shared a lot of it, Willy coming into it from the top, Chad from below.
There was some savage symmetry at work in the universe. Chad couldnt imagine
life without Carolena. Willy had lost her forever.
It was simpler in prison, Chad knew. It was a microcosmic world, a bent world,
but hed learned its rules. Through some stroke of luck, he wasnt dead. Hed not only
survived, he was thriving. What would happen if he really did get out? Maybe he was
like an organism that had somehow adapted to life on Mars -- could he survive back on
Earth?

Isaak/The Exchange

257

Chapter 38.
Horses came in all colors and sizes and so did people; God had created them all
and who were we to question his wisdom. That was Clems opinion and few in the
Amish community were willing to question Clems wisdom, at least openly. Some
quietly said that Clem was unwilling to deny his beautiful granddaughter anything,
especially when she was accompanied by her equally beautiful friend who drove the
flashy car.
Regardless of the mumblings, Alexander and Maria were welcomed. They
boarded at Amys old farmhouse. Grammaw provided herbs and salves; Maria washed
and dressed the wound. Alexander ate and slept and interpreted for them, speaking
Spanish with Maria.
Grammaws prescription for healing was fresh air, sunshine, and plenty of good
food. So they walked all over the enclave, taking field roads, fording small streams,
strolling through standing timber, following game trails.
They found clothes to fit Maria and Alexander but they looked alien, dark and
strange in the Amish attire. The little children would stare and giggle. The adults would

Isaak/The Exchange

258

smile and blush. Grammaw became their guide and sponsor, taking them to every
farmhouse and every business. Her curiosity about Brazil and Cuba were insatiable.
Maria found her help welcome and appreciated. She knew what needed to be
done and never waited for an invitation. Somehow, she knew the chores that tended to
be neglected by the women and quietly accomplished them.
Alexander couldnt do much with the use of only one arm. He helped the young
boys pump and carry water and soon had a gang of pre-adolescent buddies following
him around.
Maria slept in Amys room and Alexander had the guest room with the courting
bed. The courting bed was a double bed with a wooden board straddling the middle
from head to toe. In winter, when the fires burned low and the rest of the household
retired to their beds early, courting couples were permitted to court each other late into
the night. They would lie fully clothed, bundled up in feather comforters, side by side,
talking. The board ensured modesty and propriety, though some babies had been
inexplicably conceived in spite of its obstruction.
The board provided just the right amount of decency for Maria to permit herself
to recline and relax and talk to Alexander each night before they slept.
They shared their life stories and the memories of their dead mates. It was the
first time that Alexander had lain so close to a woman since Ile had died. Alexander had
never been a ladies man, even though hed had many opportunities on the road. Ile had
been all he ever wanted in a woman; he hadnt even noticed the possibility of a womans
affection since her passing.
Maria had been married early and widowed early. For her, the candle had never
been fully lit. Great love was for movies and Brazilian soap operas. For rich young
women, not for her.
It was a great surprise to both of them when they discovered that the board could
simply be lifted out of the way.

Isaak/The Exchange

259

Chapter 39.
It was only ten miles from Ocean Avenue on Marblehead Neck to Ocean Avenue
in Lynn, less by boat, and even less as the crow flies. Carolena had prepared for the trip
like she was a spy crossing the DMZ between South and North Korea. She sat in the
passenger seat of a nondescript Chevy, wearing the blue pants and white shirt of a
security guard. Seated next to her, driving the traffic-clogged twisting shore road, was
Tom, a burly, barrel-chested ex-cop who was an Area Commander for Best Security. He
wore a blue blazer over a white shirt with a plain red tie. There was a two-way radio
resting in a holder attached to the dash. There was a shotgun strapped to a springloaded device to the left of Carols knee. He had a fifteen-shot Beretta in a shoulder
holster, resting like a tumor under his left arm pit.
Tom was chatting like a tour guide, pointing out locations devastated by
noreasters and hurricanes, places where hed discovered dope smugglers and the best
doughnut shop north of Boston. Maybe it was the uniform. He seemed to be treating
Carol like a new recruit, showing her the ropes and casually flirting at the same time.
Carol felt a dreamlike detachment as she watched the blond driving her old
Morgan a car-length ahead of them. They had selected a female guard from their

Isaak/The Exchange

260

troupe, dressed her in one of Carols outfits, dyed her hair blond, and used her as a
decoy. A week ago, Carol would have laughed at the notion; but now, the elaborate
security precautions seemed practical and necessary.
Amy and Fawn were back in the big yellow gambrel. Four of Toms operatives
were patrolling the grounds, the street, and the beach, looking for any suspicious people.
The teams changed at irregular times, generally every four hours or so. Tom had
checked the phones and cleared every room with a bug detector. Everything was clean.
The security had given them all three days of much-needed rest.
Fawn had been a basket case when Carol and Amy arrived to take her to Carols
house. She hadnt eaten or slept since Monsons attack. Fawn had needed hugs, chicken
soup, and lots of listening. A door seemed to have opened in her psyche; all of her
defenses were down. Fawn spent hours compulsively confessing all of her indiscretions,
her fears, her salacious desires and bad character traits. Carol listened and hugged and
cried and absorbed it all until Fawn wound down enough to sleep.
Carol had tried to make some sense out of the flood of self-loathing Fawn
emitted. Maybe Fawn believed that it was her karma to be violated; that perhaps she
had slept with one too many hunky commercial airline pilots and had to be punished.
Whatever pretzel logic was involved, Carol listened and murmured soothing sounds.
Fawn was in no mood to be contradicted. Eventually, when the verbal vomiting was
over, Carol had talked. Then they had an intense conversation, with Fawn finally
expressing her anger at Carols drawing the monster into their lives and abandoning her.
Then they had reconciled and both had apologized.
Physically, Fawn was healing quickly. She had treated herself; somehow she had
managed to give herself several stitches. The bleeding had quickly stopped. She had
enough pharmaceutical samples to supply herself with antibiotics. It was obvious why
Monson had used a condom along with latex gloves. Hed left no incriminating DNA

Isaak/The Exchange

261

samples or fingerprints. Fawn had convinced Carol that it was useless to go to the police
or to the hospital. There was no evidence and she had not seen the man.
Emotionally, Fawn was still on a roller coaster. One minute she would be fine,
talking, listening to music, eating a meal. The next minute, tears would start to drip
down her cheeks. She spoke to her kids every day; Robert had them on an extended
road trip vacation. If anything, she was sweeter and more loving to them than before.
It took her until the morning of Carols third day back before she cracked a feeble
joke. She and Carol had looked at each other and simultaneously laughed and cried. If
she could get her sense of humor back, even a little bit, she was going to be all right.
Through all of it, Amy had been unobtrusive but supportive. Carol could detect
some jealousy and resentment of Amy coming from Fawn. It was clear that she would
have preferred not to have to share Carol at a time when she was utterly devastated.
Amy spent her first few days touring the beach and the town with one or another
of the security team. Everything was new to her. She had never seen the ocean before,
except for a glimpse of blue thousands of feet below the plane, when they had descended
for the landing. Carols clothes were a little too big for her, especially the tops. She
refused to wear a swim suit and finally consented to wear a tee shirt and exercise shorts
when she went into the Atlantic for the first time.
Eventually, her enthusiasm won Fawn over. By the time Carol had left for Lynn,
the two women were becoming friends.
If Fawn was upset that Carol was continuing the investigation, she didnt say.
She knew Carol. Anyone who really knew her would know that she would not stop.
Tom pulled the Chevy into the driveway behind the old green Morgan. The house
was right on the Swampscott line, located across Ocean Avenue from the breakwater
and the Atlantic. Carol, Tom and Carols body double walked up the wide front steps
onto the porch that wrapped around the entire front and sides of the old colonial. Carol

Isaak/The Exchange

262

could see that the house needed a little work; the paint was chalking in some spots,
peeling in others. Some of the fir porch flooring was rotted. Her appointment was for
three-thirty. They were five minutes early. Carol was poised to ring the doorbell when a
graying trim Black woman opened the door.
Mrs. Taylor? Im Carol Fenton.
Call me Marva, please, Carol. Whore these other folks?
Associates of mine, Marva. Id appreciate it if they could just stay out here on
the side of the porch while we talk. Is that all right with you?
Doesnt seem hospitable, but its all right with me if thats what you want.
Maybe theyd be more comfortable in the kitchen while we could talk in the parlor.
Sure, Marva.
Marva brought Carol to a large parlor in the front of the house. There was a
pitcher of iced tea and a plate of cookies on a low table in front of a large sofa. Marva
motioned for Carol to join her.
Carol, you didnt say why you wanted to talk to me on the phone; but I know.
Youre Willy Fentons wife, arent you?
Yes.
I used to hate your husband with all my heart and soul. I blamed him for
Bubbas suicide.
I can see why now. I never really understood what was happening when it was
going on.
I understood it when it was happening and so did my husband. We knew what
they thought of him in Detroit; uppity nigger. Thats what they called him. And I guess
he was, too. He always thought of himself as just as good as any of the white dealers.
He sold a lot of cars in his day. A lot of our folks bought from Bubba; lots of white folks
did too. Lynn was a nice place to live then. Anyways, a lot nicer than it is today.

Isaak/The Exchange

263

Marva, I know Willy took over the dealership after they terminated your
husband, but he didnt really set it all up. Did you ever hear about a man named
Monson? His nickname was ....
Mighty Mouse. Yes. Hes a despicable man. A racist. Taleetha warned us
about him.
Taleetha?
Taleetha is my fourth cousin on my mothers mothers side. Her last name was
Freeman then; shes married now. Anyway, she warned us that Monson was planning to
consolidate a bunch of stores north of Boston. Told Bubba to watch out.
Taleetha lives in Detroit?
Yes, she still does. In a suburb southwest of Detroit. Her husbands a teacher at
the high school. Shes got herself two fine little babies now.
When was the last time you spoke to her, Marva?
I got her birth announcement and I called to congratulate her. About a year ago;
itll be a year come September. Willy got put out of business too, didnt he?
Yes. Hes in prison now.
I seem to recall reading about that. I thought it was maybe the Lord, you know,
dealing Willy a punishment. Thats what I thought at the time I read about it.
Do you still think that?
Well, I do think what you do comes back to you. But not always, because Bubba
did an awful lot of good and look what happened to him.
Look, Marva, I know you must be bitter and very angry about what they did to
your husband. And about how my husband profited from the situation.
I said I know why youre here. Why dont you acknowledge to me why youre
here? You want something from me, dont you?
Thats true, Marva. I want you to help me get Willy released from prison.
Why on earth should I want to do that?

Isaak/The Exchange

264

Hes a different person; hes not the man who did this to your husband.
Really? Well just who is he now?
I cant tell you that. And if I did, you wouldnt believe me.
Well, then Im asking again, why should I help him?
They did the same thing to Willy that they did to Bubba. They framed him. He
was innocent of the crime hes being punished for. Im just asking for help getting
information so he can get a new trial.
Theres an old saying, Carol. Any stick will do to beat a bad dog. Willy was a bad
dog. I dont want to help a bad dog get off scot-free.
I want you to help me, Marva.
How is that any different? You might love him, but you cant possibly love your
husband more than I loved mine. Isnt it some kind of justice that youre suffering the
same kind of loss that Ive had to suffer? And, anyway, eventually, youll be reunited.
My loss is forever.
How can we weigh each others pain? Theres enough pain to go around here.
Dont you want to expose them? Maybe stop them from doing this to anybody else?
Carol, I dont know you, except for glimpses of you during a convention years
ago. Youre young, rich, beautiful, and white. Youve led a charmed life from all that I
can see, except for what happened to Willy. The truth is that youre not interested in
exposing them unless exposing them gets your man out of prison.
Youre right, Marva. I have had a charmed life in some respects. But there is
tragedy in everybodys life. I had a little girl who died. Willy has never been the same
since we lost Kelly. I recovered as well as I could. I wanted another child but Willy was
so traumatized he wouldnt consider it. It destroyed us.
You think youll have another baby if Willy gets out? Is that it?

Isaak/The Exchange

265

Im going to have another baby whether or not he gets out, Marva. Im pregnant
and I just want the baby to have a father whos not in prison. A father who I love and
who loves me. I want a whole family and Ill do anything to get it.
I understand, Carol. I hear you. Thats the problem in my community. Children
without fathers, with fathers in jail. Un-whole, unwholesome families.
Willy deserves to be punished; maybe I deserve to have some pain in my life to
balance out all of the charmed aspects, but my baby doesnt deserve this. Please help
me, Marva.
I was always tougher than Bubba, you know. That man had such a soft heart,
especially for children. Girl, you just had to mention babies to him and hed melt. Ill
help your baby, Carol. Ill do it for Bubba, not for Willy and not for you. For him
because hed have wanted me to.
Thank you, Marva, thank you.
Before you thank me too much, how do you know I have any information you
can use?
You have Taleethas phone number and address. Thats all I really need.
Before I tell you anything about her, Carol, I need to have some assurance that
she wont be in danger. Those people who are with you, the mans got a gun. I know
about men with guns. You got him along because theres some trouble.
Youre right. Ive been threatened. They want to stop me from digging, so I
hired some security. I cant guarantee anybodys absolute safety. Not mine and not
hers.
Nor mine, Carol. Did you ever consider that before you came here?
I took every precaution. We werent followed. My phone wasnt tapped; my
house isnt being bugged. Its no secret to Monson who Willy got his stores from.
I know. Bubba and Chicky Freid and the others.

Isaak/The Exchange

266

My actions have gotten Monson involved, but I believe hes just concentrating on
stopping me. He could find Taleetha if he thought she had any important information,
with or without me.
So shes in danger whether or not I give you her number?
I dont know; but shes in no more danger if I have her number. Ill make sure of
that.
Well, Carol, I happen to know that she has quite a bit of very pertinent
information about Monson and what happened to Bubba and to Willy. She and I
decided that no one could be trusted with it; no one in authority would believe it or do
anything about it. So she kept it and kept quiet. Shes just waiting for a phone call to
give it to someone. Someone as determined as you appear to be.

Isaak/The Exchange

267

Chapter 40.
Im glad Carol has chickens here.
Tell that to the neighbors; they tried to make her get rid of them. Until she
unearthed an ancient town by-law that permitted each household to have chickens,
sheep, a cow and several horses. Carol couldve grazed the cow on the town common
and she was prepared to get one until they relented and let her keep the chickens.
Fawn and Amy were collecting eggs and tossing vegetable scraps to the hens in
back of the house.
You could support all of those animals on the grass in the front yard. Its
amazing how much land is wasted here.
Land wasted here? In Marblehead? The houses are practically right on top of
each other, Amy. You should go out to the real suburbs where they have two-acre
zoning. You dont know about zoning, do you?
No.
They have laws that say you cant even build a house unless its surrounded by
two acres of land.
Why? For gardens?

Isaak/The Exchange

268

No. For looks. And to keep poor people out. It makes the houses so expensive
that only the rich can afford to live there. Dont you have some laws preventing
someone in your community from chopping up one of those big, beautiful farms into
little house lots?
No. Theres no way a family could support itself on a little house lot. Theyd
starve. You need so many acres of land to support horses and cows and sheep and to
grow food. You need acres of timber to use for wood to build and to get fuel to burn in
the winter. If you dont have enough timber, eventually you end up with nothing to
burn. If you dont have enough land, you dont have enough to eat.
Youre saying that theres some minimum amount of land needed to make each
household sustainable?
Exactly. And theres even a minimum number of households needed to make a
community sustainable.
See? You have your own kind of zoning laws, dont you?
Theyre not laws. Its common sense. And some things the Elders guide us in.
Thats one of their jobs. To make sure that we look after the health of the community,
not just ourselves.
Fawn sat on the patio. Amy set the egg basket on a glass table and pulled up a
large green Adirondack chair.
Amy, can I ask you something really blunt? You wont be offended?
I dont think you could offend me. But go ahead, try.
If turning the clock back to the nineteenth century makes your people holy, why
dont you go back all the way to the Stone Age and make yourself even holier?
Well, Fawn, the only way to explain it is to ask you a question. If not eating
certain foods makes your people holy, why dont you go all the way and stop eating any
food?

Isaak/The Exchange

269

Youve got a point there. I tried that in college after Id gained my freshman ten
and I just got mono.
Look, Fawn, religion isnt logical. Maybe if we went all of the way back to when
the practices began, wed see more of the logic involved. A lot of the logic is just lost or
buried by now.
How did the idea of stopping the technology clock begin? Do you know?
I was always told it wasnt technology per se, but what it did to us and especially
to the world. First of all, it separates people from the amount of work thats actually
involved in sustaining human life. Shifting work away from ourselves keeps us away
from God. Wed worship, not God, but all of those things that made life easier. Wed
begin to put too high a value on those things. Eventually, wed begin to evade
responsibility altogether. We try to take as much responsibility as we can over every
aspect of our lives. And we try not to get attached to material things, especially things
that are just ornament.
You must think this place is pretty ostentatious.
Yes. I saw what houses are like in the other parts of town. Nice, but a lot
smaller. Our farm house has about as much room as this, but its all used. My sisters
and my grandparents live there with my parents.
Well, Amy, I dont still believe much of the religion I grew up with. I was raised
a very liberal Jew and I guess I never felt like it had much to offer me after I grew up.
That happens a lot to Jews, assimilation. Keeping separate the way that you do,
assimilation isnt so much of a threat.
People leave all the time, Fawn. We get converts too. Thats another good thing
about not having too much technology. The work aspect usually separates the sincere
from the others.
Amy, Carol started telling me how you handle criminals in your community.

Isaak/The Exchange

270

We generally do it ourselves, the punishment. We dont get outside police


involved if we can avoid it.
Do you believe in revenge?
Believe in it? Fawn, Ive actually done it.
Ha ha. You know what I meant. Is revenge the basis of punishment for your
people?
Sure. We follow the old testament in a lot of things, just like you.
So your God is a vengeful God?
When necessary. How about yours?
I dont know if I have a God anymore. But if I had one right now, he or she
would definitely be a vengeful one.
Did Carol tell you that I volunteered to help if you wanted to punish that man? I
meant it, Fawn. You might think Im just this young little innocent, but I can do what
needs to be done.
I bet you can. I just wonder if I could. Plus, I dont exactly know what needs to
be done. I know what Id like to do to him. Before I killed him.
Thats the way we handle it sometimes, let the victim decide the punishment. It
can be a burden, you know. The victim has to live in the community and everybody
judges the decision. The victim carries the moral weight of the punishment just as the
criminal carries the burden of the crime. Sometimes its too much.
Thats whats bothering me. I cant take this to the police. Its been too long by
now and I couldnt even have gone right after it happened. Carols whole thing would
have become unraveled and they wouldnt have been able to get any evidence against
Monson anyway. But I cant let him get off without punishment. And I want revenge. I
just dont know how far Im willing to go.

Isaak/The Exchange

271

You dont have to decide right now. We can just plan how to get you in a
position to punish him. Im sure, when the time comes and youre in that position,
youll make the right choice of what to do.
Youd do that? Help me get him where I could do anything I felt right about?
Even if I felt right about killing him?
Yes.
Even without knowing in advance what I was going to do?
Yes. I trust you. He did something horrible to you; only you can know what itll
take to even the scales. Its your right. I can understand if you dont want the burden of
doing it. Thats also your right, not to do it. But Carol feels so responsible. She sees it as
her duty to do something. Either way, Im in. Ill help because it needs to be done.
When Carol gets back, we can all talk it over, Amy. Its just so creepy sitting
around, waiting for him to show up again, thinking about what he might do. I guess we
just have to be ready to go after him when he appears.
No, Fawn. Thats not what I was thinking about. I think we should go after him
first. Why wait for him to act?
I like that. Us going after him. Youre right; we should just go after him and get
him. Hed never expect that.
Then thats what well plan when Carol gets back.

Isaak/The Exchange

272

Chapter 41.
It was a busy time but it was good to be busy. It kept Carols mind off of her fears
and her hopes.
Marva had called Taleetha and made arrangements for Carol to pick up the
material. The meeting place was not going to be anywhere near Taleethas house and
Taleetha would not be there when Carol arrived. Marva handled all of the details and
wrote the time and place on a card for Carol. Marva had not wanted to talk about any
details on the phone; so Carol had no idea what to expect when she picked it up. The
package would be what it was, Marva had told her. It either was what she needed or it
wasnt. In any event it was all Taleetha had.
When she got back home, Fawn and Amy had been equally excited about their
plan to go after Monson. The problem was that they didnt have his address and they
didnt know how to be certain he was going to be there, even if they could find out where
he lived.
Carol was beginning her own count-down toward the next visit with Chad. The
thought of flying the replacement plane with the jury-rigged patches over the bullet
holes was repulsive. She met with the Mooney factory rep and arranged to get her

Isaak/The Exchange

273

newly-repaired old plane back and had a testy few minutes trying to explain the damage
to the loaner. Eventually, Carol had to agree to pay for half of the damage in order for
the insurance company to agree to pay the other half. In any event, she got her old
plane back, better than ever. Tom had assigned a guard to watch the hangar at the
Beverly airport, just to make sure there wasnt a repeat of the sabotage.
Tom didnt think she should fly at all, but Carol wasnt about to let Monson scare
her out of the sky. Carol had Tom call an associate to meet her at Lewisburg and watch
the plane while she went to the prison. Another would follow her car at a discreet
distance to make sure she wasnt being followed.
Fawn and Amy insisted on going along to provide moral support.
Carol called Alexander the night before they left, just to find out how things were
going and to tell him that they would be back for a short visit. Thats when Carol
remembered that Alexander had tracked down her phone number through a friend of
his. He agreed that he could probably get both Monsons phone number and his
address. But he wanted to know why Carol needed them and Carol wouldnt tell him.
Alexander asked Carol to drive him and Maria from Amys farm back to his
house. When she asked why Maria was going to stay at his house, Alexander wouldnt
say. They agreed that some things could remain a mystery, at least for a time.
It had all worked according to plan. The plane was perfect, as was the weather.
Fawn was getting back to her old wise-cracking self. Amy was still an enthusiastic flyer.
Carol was almost overwhelmed by her need for contact with Chad. How could
she function so well on her own yet be weak-kneed at the thought of being with him? It
was another mystery. There was so much they needed to talk about and so much they
needed to share. Carol couldnt imagine how they could compress all of their needs into
one short half-hour.

Isaak/The Exchange

274

Chad knew that they couldnt. Hed gone to Mitty and told him that he was going
to have a longer visit and to arrange it or else. Mitty hadnt even wanted to know what
the or else was. Hed arranged for a two hour visit and passed the word on to Chad at
the next head count. Apparently, sitting next to the old Don in the cafeteria gave Chad a
virtual blank check. Except for the mail.
Chad had the typed motion and brief taped to his back. Carol would leave with it
taped to her back. He had tried to choreograph the actions they would need to make the
transfer without having it show up on a video monitor. It would be interesting.

Fawn and Amy waited outside in the car while Carol went into the prison. Carol
was dressed in her usual tiny black dress over her Wonder bra and a thong. She was
already anticipating the changes her figure would be undergoing and she intended to
flaunt what she had while she still had it.
The routine was exactly the same as always except that Chad announced they had
a full two hours. Even Bernie seemed excited for them.
Chad was different; less tentative, more confident and even tenderer than Carol
remembered. Prison was changing him.
They made quick urgent love immediately and whispered for what seemed an
eternity. Carol told him about the plane and the bullets. About Alexander and his
wound. And about Fawn. Chad told her about the exhaust fan and the Latin Kings and
the forty-five day reprieve he had. The cuts on his face had scabbed over and Carol ran
her fingers over the fresh tattoos on his back.
They made slow, balletic love while Carol told him about Taleetha and the
information she was going to retrieve. They made their plans and tried to hold back
their fears. They both knew that they were too far into it to stop. Whatever happened
now, it was going to be a fight for everything. Their future, their lives. The monster had

Isaak/The Exchange

275

a name and a face and he wasnt invincible. Hed tried to stop them and four people had
died. But they were alive.
The proximity of death sharpened their desire. It was like they were both on
leave during a war. Their time was urgent but somehow not desperate. They knew they
could now survive anything. All they had to do was be careful and steadfast when they
went back to the trenches.
Carol didnt tell Chad about the baby or her plans to go after Monson. She knew
it would make him crazy and there was not a thing he could do about either one.
The only time Chad was not inside her was the time it took for them to make the
transfer. Carol was not prepared for the announcement that the two hours were over.
The tape barely stuck to her sweaty back; if it hadnt been for her bra strap, the
papers would have slid out as she exited the building.
She was in no shape to drive. Carol sat slumped and silent in the back seat while
Fawn drove out to the farm to get Alexander and Maria. None of the women needed to
talk; they all knew what was going on and what lay ahead.

Isaak/The Exchange

276

Chapter 42.
Willy was enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame. The Today show appearance had
led to another local news story which had led to a short feature in the Herald, which had
in turn led to a picture and a paragraph in USA Today. His agent was talking to People
and The American Lawyer wanted to include him in an article about lawyer talk shows.
The Law Talk producer was trying to line up Dr. Joyce Brothers for the next show along
with the ABA real estate lawyer and the archaeologist. Court TV was going to simulcast
the panel with a live remote from Frank and Claires Cupertino, California home.
The Study Group had succeeded in getting a small sidebar in the Massachusetts
Lawyers Weekly article. Jennifer had dug out her best and most provocative clothes and
acted like the circus atmosphere was perfectly normal. Calls from prospective clients
clogged the phones. Resumes from lawyers wanting jobs or offering affiliations piled up
in the fax machine tray.
It felt like a four-day-weekend inventory clearance sale at the dealership.
Willy and Alicia had been together almost every night. She loved the old
farmhouse and Willy felt increasingly bad about deceiving her. Their best conversations
were when they were naked and they spent as much time as they could playing with each

Isaak/The Exchange

277

other and talking. Alicia was willing to tell him anything he asked; her honesty was
unstinting and almost clinical in detail. She didnt push Willy for his history but it was
increasingly clear that he was skirting large areas of his past.
She knew everything about the auto industry and everybody in the business.
Willy admitted to a little knowledge, supposedly gleaned from work on a couple of cases
dealing with car dealers. It was inevitable that theyd get around to talking about
mutual acquaintances.
Alicia? Do you know a guy named Monson?
Short guy with supposedly a big dick. I met him once but I dont really know
him. You have any dealings with him?
He talked to me about one of my clients, Willy Fenton. Tried to scare me.
Hes bad news, Chad. I heard hes some kind of hit man for the Chrysler brass.
Id stay away from him if I were you. You represented Willy Fenton?
Still do as far as I know. Why? You know him?
Know of him; I never met him except for watching those inane commercials on
TV. He went to jail, didnt he?
Yes. I took the case to trial and we lost and then we lost the appeal. What kind
of stuff did you hear about Fenton on the street?
My information was mostly from guys I know in Detroit, middle management. I
heard he was pretty much of a slime ball but that he didnt do what they said he did.
Yeah. He still claims he was innocent and shouldnt be in prison.
Well, from what I heard, if stupidity was a crime, hed be doing life without
parole.
What do you mean?
Chad, he should have seen it coming. Everybody knew there was a big
consolidation going on. All the smart dealers went straight to Detroit and made their
peace with the power brokers. He evidently believed his own press releases. I was told

Isaak/The Exchange

278

about the regional sales manager wanting Fentons stores a year before they began
fucking around with him.
Really?
Monson had a mandate to do what had to be done to straighten out their
representation in all fifty major markets. His power came straight from the top and a lot
of guys in the zones were pissed. He would just arrive in the zone offices and start
giving orders. If anybody gave him any shit, hed get them on the phone to Detroit. He
got his cooperation but he made a lot of enemies.
You know what hes up to now?
Probably damage control. Theres a proxy contest going on. Monsons probably
got to keep a lid on everything that happened back then. It could be interesting because
the new management slate must be gunning for him.
Who do you think will win?
From what I see, the executives are betting pretty evenly. Its still a toss-up.
What did Monson talk to you about? If its a confidential client thing, just tell me and
we can stop talking about it.
No, its okay. Fentons trying to get out of prison and he evidently is trying to get
information about how Monson set him up, framed him. Monson wants to stop him
from digging into any of the stuff that happened back then. He wants Fenton to just
shut up and serve his time.
So? How does that concern you?
He wants me to convince Fenton to drop the idea and he threatened me if I
didnt stop him.
Threatened you how?
He didnt say.

Isaak/The Exchange

279

From what I heard, Monsons capable of doing whatever he needs to do to


accomplish his goals. Hes definitely a can-do guy. Especially if existing management is
pushing him.
Thats the feeling I got, too. He seemed serious.
Do you really have any control over Fenton? Or are you the one filing stuff for
him trying to reopen the case?
I told him all along to just do his time. Im not getting involved in trying to
reopen the thing. But he could fire me and just do it himself or hire somebody else.
Id love to know if there is really any dirt that could be uncovered tying upper
management to those dealership consolidations. I could make a bundle if I bet right.
I just want to stay out of it. Let Monson do what he wants but keep him away
from me.
Amen to that, Chad. And, really, forget about Fenton. Just let him fire you or
resign first. He was just one of a hundred stupid guys who didnt know when the ride
was over. Your sweet ass is worth a dozen guys like him.

Isaak/The Exchange

280

Chapter 43.
Carol felt puny and insignificant. The Federal Courthouse was so imposing and it
was intimidating going through the metal detectors, having the uniformed guards
pawing through her handbag. Tom had detailed a guard to loiter around the front
entrance of the courthouse while she went inside. Theyd had another variation on
Toms spy vs. spy drills getting Carol out of the house and into Boston. It was
beginning to make her crazy.
The clerk on the seventeenth floor had refused to file Chads papers three times
for three different reasons. He seemed to enjoy pointing out one defect at a time. On
her fourth trip through the metal detector, Carol was determined that she would not be
denied.
Fortunately, the laconic middle-aged man who had been dealing with her was on
a break. This time, a young, obese man with a bad complexion and a nervous, furtive
look came to the service counter.
May I help you?
I hope so. Ive been trying all morning to get these papers filed. This is the
fourth time Ive been up here.

Isaak/The Exchange

281

Well, lets see what you have there. He picked up the pile of paper-clipped
documents and began reading; the moist, pink tip of his tongue protruded from the
corner of his mouth and his short, fat fingers flipped through the pages.
He told me I needed ten sets of copies as well as a cover letter and an affidavit of
service. I went to Kinkos and typed up the affidavit and made the copies. I think
everythings in order, the way he wanted it.
Youre Carol Fenton?
Yes. These are for my husband, Willy. Hes in prison, in Lewisburg.
Bob was helping you?
I dont know his name, but he was the man who was here all morning.
Thats Bob. The way he told you to do this is technically correct but this wont
help your husband. The judge will just deny the motion because theres no factual
affidavit to support it. Even if the brief is brilliant, your husband would lose and never
have the right to file again. The judge would deny it with prejudice. That means without
the right to re-file.
Oh, God. What should I do?
Heres some blank copy paper, Mrs. Fenton. Ill tell you what to write and well
get this set up correctly.
Fifteen minutes later, it was done. Hed let her use the copy machine behind the
counter to make the copies and he had date-stamped each page in each set to prove that
it had been filed.
Let me explain what you just did, Mrs. Fenton. Youve asked the judge to issue
an order of notice to show cause why your husband shouldnt be allowed to represent
himself. I have the authority to issue this in the judges name without consulting him. It
saves the judges time and it makes his life easier. If theres no opposition in five days,
the motion is automatically allowed and he is now his own lawyer. Weve attached the
motion for a new trial and the brief to this as exhibits, not as formal pleadings. This lets

Isaak/The Exchange

282

the judge see them and read them without having the supporting evidence in yet. He
cant deny it on the merits until its formally filed. It also gives you more time to get the
evidence together.
How long?
If theres opposition to the motion, its scheduled for a hearing in ten days. Id
advise you to have everything submitted by the time of the hearing. The judge sees an
awful lot of post-conviction pleadings from inmates that dont have any merit
whatsoever. If you want the judge to take this seriously, youd better have some pretty
solid facts to show him by the hearing date. Otherwise, hell just deny the motion and
let your husbands lawyer file whatever he wants at a later date.
What if theres no opposition?
Hell probably issue another order of notice requiring you to file supporting facts
or have the motion denied on the merits, with prejudice. In English, youd get another
ten days to file the affidavit or bring in supporting facts. This time, the judge would be
deciding the motion for real. If he didnt think there were enough new facts, hed deny it
and your husband would never get another chance.
I see.
Do you expect opposition?
I dont know what to expect. Somebody really wants to see him stay in prison. I
wouldnt be surprised by anything.
Then you better get the facts in. Another thing. If I were you, I wouldnt file
them early. That would give the other side time to refute them. Tactically, Id bring
them in on the day of the hearing.
Is that fair?
No. But, technically, it wont violate the rules, because the new trial motion isnt
formally filed. The beauty of it would be that the judge will get to see the evidence
before the other side gets a chance to shoot holes in it.

Isaak/The Exchange

283

I understand. Will Willy get to attend if theres a hearing?


Oh yes. Ill issue an order to the prison requiring them to have him here as soon
as any opposition is filed. I can do that without even asking the judge.
That would be great.
Now, Mrs. Fenton, youve got to send copies of the entire package to the US
Attorneys office and your husbands lawyer. Youll probably want to keep a datestamped copy for yourself and send one to your husband.
God. Youve been so kind. I almost blew it didnt I?
Bob doesnt like pro ses, people trying to file things without a lawyer. He also
doesnt like prisoners or women either, for that matter. Im glad I could help.
Remember, get the facts in within ten days, preferably the morning of the hearing. Also,
be available in case the judge wants to question you about the evidence youre filing.
Thats been known to happen, the judge putting people on the stand. He hates to waste
time and hell want to know if the facts are substantial or just smoke.
Me? On the witness stand?
Im just warning you. Be ready for anything.
Ive learned to be ready for anything.

Isaak/The Exchange

284

Chapter 44.
Willy was on the phone with the owner of the building. He needed a tax shelter
and Alicia had convinced him that the only reliable one left was real estate. They had
tentatively decided on a price, seventy-five percent to be paid by check, and twenty-five
percent to be paid in cash, under the table. The closing would be in two weeks. Willy
didnt need any contingencies. He wanted the building and hed gotten it.
Jennifer brought in the mail just as he was hanging up the phone. There at the
top of the pile was a fat envelope addressed with handwriting he knew as well as he
knew his own penis.
The firm curves of the letters conjured up a vision of Carol. Her perfectly round
buttocks, her up-thrusting breasts, pert nipples, and the delicious concavity of her
stomach. Her lips. He hadnt thought about her in months but now he could almost
smell her.
He tore open the envelope without disturbing the beautiful script. Willy read
through the papers three times before he understood what was happening. Chad had
somehow gotten his motions filed. The brief mentioned new evidence but none had been
included in the package. Farther down in the pile of mail was an envelope containing

Isaak/The Exchange

285

the formal court notice. Willy had five days to file an opposition or he was fired from
the case.
He wanted out of the case, but Monsons threat haunted him. No doubt Monson
would go after both of them. Both he and Carol were in danger. He had to talk to her.
Willy dialed the familiar cell phone number. His heart leapt when Carol
answered.
Hello?
Carol.
We agreed you wouldnt contact me.
Carol, we have to talk.
I dont think so, Willy. Im just going to hang up now. Dont call me again.
Wait. Please. I got the papers in the mail. Youre in danger. Both of us are.
So?
I dont want you to get hurt.
All right. Talk.
I cant go into it over the phone and you cant come here.
Youre not coming here.
No. I dont think that would be a good idea.
Then where?
Chads farmhouse. In about an hour. Well take a walk and talk things over.
Just this once, Willy. We agreed youd stay away.
Let me give you directions.

It took Carol longer to negotiate the terms of her outing with the security guards
than it took her to drive to the farmhouse from Marblehead. It was more disconcerting
than comforting to know that there were people with sniper rifles on the scene and
armed guards patrolling the area.

Isaak/The Exchange

286

Carol didnt make it up the entire length of the driveway. She stopped the
Morgan when she rounded the curve, coming out of the stand of pines. She could see a
man, walking away from her, across the broad expanse of lawn, throwing a ball for a
large German shepherd. The dog was jumping high into the air to catch the green tennis
ball and running wildly around in circles before relinquishing it for another throw. The
afternoon was warm, bordering on hot. Carol was wearing a short sun dress with
sandals. The man was dressed in exercise gear, baggy shorts and a white tee shirt.
When he turned around, she gasped. Chad was standing there waving at her.
Carol was crying by the time he approached the car.
Carol? Are you all right?
It was Willys voice in Chads body. Carol closed her eyes.
Carol. Its me, Willy.
How could you? Its monstrous! You could have warned me.
What? Oh, my hair and the surgery. Im sorry. I guess I got used to it. The way
I look now.
You stole his body. You could have talked to me on the phone. You did this to
punish me, didnt you?
Punish you for what?
You know very well for what. You never were good at playing stupid.
Oh, you think Im punishing you for fucking Chad Lewis? Maybe you just think
you deserve to be punished.
I deserve a little happiness. I dont deserve this mess.
Come on, Carol. Lets not fight. It wont solve anything. Take a walk with me
and well talk it all over.
Carol got out of the car and had to force herself not to stare and not to run into
his arms. When she looked at his body and the way he stood while listening to him talk,
she could detect the presence of Willy. If she looked at his face, she got all confused.

Isaak/The Exchange

287

This is so incredibly manipulative, Willy.


How do you think I felt when I got that envelope with your handwriting on it?
The court filing? I had to send it. I wasnt trying to mess with your mind.
It messed with more than my mind. It reminded me of you and what we had
together.
Its a little late for that. What did you want to say to me? Im not here to go over
the entire marriage, Willy.
Can I just tell you Im sorry? I truly am. Some part of me will always love you
and Im sorry as hell I was such an asshole. I just wish Id have known then what I know
now.
About what? How youd lose the case and the appeal?
No. Not about that; about life. About women. About happiness.
You think youre different now that youre Chad Lewis?
Thats not whats different. I think I could love you better now.
Maybe you could, but Im not in any position now to find out and neither are
you. Just let the past be the past. They walked through the orchard, down to the lake.
Willy, what are you going to do about those motions?
Monson threatened to kill me and you if you dont stop trying to get Chad out of
jail. He might do it just because you filed those papers. But he told me, ordered me, to
oppose them. If I dont, hell go after me. And I believe him.
He knows about the switch?
No. He thinks Im actually Chad Lewis and its Willy in prison.
But he expects you to talk me out of doing this?
He doesnt give a damn how I do it, Carol. Ive only got to get it done. If I dont,
he will.
Why is it so important for him to keep Willy Fenton in prison?

Isaak/The Exchange

288

It isnt, except that the only way to get out is to expose what happened. And he
cant allow that.
He thinks hell get prosecuted or sued?
No. The guys that hired him to screw all of those dealers cant have anything
surface now. Theres some massive power struggle in the corporation. The other side of
the proxy fight would use any embarrassing information to win the fight. It involves
control over the entire corporation. Hundreds of millions of dollars, stock options, you
name it.
Power.
Right, power.
If they have so much power, why dont they just bribe somebody to let him out?
If they got caught doing that, the result would be exactly the same. I imagine
theyre all under the microscope now. They think Monson can handle it, just like he
handled it up to now. Everybody else is trying to see whos going to win and be with the
winners when the time comes.
And its worth killing people to keep this quiet?
Definitely. Especially with a guy like Monson.
So, youre going to file an opposition?
I have to. It gets him off my ass for now. Carol, you have to stop digging into
this stuff. He will truly kill you. He doesnt care about anything else, just accomplishing
his mission. And his mission is to keep this buried. Dont you care about your own
safety?
Yes, I do. But Im not going to stop. Hes just going to have to find a way of
doing both.
Both what?
Keeping it buried and getting him out of prison.

Isaak/The Exchange

289

Carol, why do you care so much? What in the hell happened to you when you
went to the CVA?
I dont think I want to answer that, Willy. I have my reasons and theyre mine.
Hell be out in five years. Its not forever.
Five years could be very close to forever, Willy. You know; you couldnt stand
the thought of it yourself. Why dont you arrange to get him out like you planned to do
for yourself? Then you could go where you originally planned to go and Chad could
have his life back.
I dont think Chad could do what I planned to do. And even if he could, I dont
want to go where I originally planned to go anymore. I like it right where I am.
You want to keep on being Chad Lewis? Youre stealing his life!
Carol, tell me something. If you go to the town dump and find something
somebody threw away, take it home, fix it up and keep it, is that stealing? I dont think
so.
What are you talking about?
His life. He trashed it. He hated it. He threw it away. I took it and fixed it. I
like it; it has value to me. I enjoy living now; he hated living. Theres millions in the
bank now, after paying all taxes. His clients love me. Im on a nationally-syndicated
radio show. Im going to make Chad Lewis famous. I bought his building today. He
was a depressed basket case when we made the switch.
You bastard!
I hope hes over his depression. I dont want him dead. I never planned it to
turn out this way.
Are you saying that even if, I mean when, we get him out of there, you wont
switch back? Youll keep his name, his identity?
Maybe its a fair trade. His identity for my wife.

Isaak/The Exchange

290

Carol stopped walking and looked him in the eyes. She was determined not to
cry. I think Ive heard all I can stand to hear from you. I dont care who he has to say
he is or what youre doing with his name. Hes getting out and we are going to be
together. If I have to fight you and Monson, so be it. And fuck the corporation and their
power struggle.
She turned away from Willy and began to walk back to her car. Willy looked at
her profile and suddenly understood. He ran after her and tapped her on the shoulder.
Carol, stop. I know whats going on. I understand. I thought it was just me missing
you. You looked so beautiful, like you were blooming. And your breasts; theyre bigger,
arent they?
Shut up about my breasts, Willy. Theyve got nothing to do with anything.
I think they do, Carol. You looked like this once before, before you had Kelly.
Youre pregnant!
What if I am?
You fucked him and got yourself pregnant and thats whats making you crazy to
get him out.
Id put it a little less crudely, Willy. I love him and he loves me and were going
to have a baby. And I want the father of my child to be with me, with us.
You cant love him; you dont even know him.
I do love him and you cant stop us.

Isaak/The Exchange

291

Chapter 45.
Carol didnt find out until she got back home just how close Willy came to being
shot that afternoon. If she hadnt been in the line of fire, Willy might have been history.
By the time Tom had an unobstructed shot, it was obvious that Willy had meant her no
harm. At least not physically.
Carol cried all of the way home. It was getting to be too much for her. The
paranoia, the fear, the guards, the lack of privacy. Life and death. She finally
understood exactly what a deadline was. That small epiphany had stopped her tears.
They began again as soon as she slammed the door after storming into her
kitchen. Fawn and Amy looked at her from the couch in front of the patio doors. Soon
they were all standing in a circle, huddled and hugging. When Fawn asked what the
matter was, all she could get out amid the sobs was one word.
Men!
She hadnt thought she wanted to talk about it; but, eventually Fawn wheedled
her into recounting the entire conversation. According to Fawn, it had been classic,
vintage, Willy.

Isaak/The Exchange

292

Of course handwriting makes him horny; everything makes men horny. And I
guarantee that he wasnt as pissed about your new lover as he was about missing out on
your larger breasts.
They were interrupted by Tom who told them about almost shooting Willy.
Fawns observation was predictable and they all had a laugh. Carol took a long shower
and a short nap. Later the three women went over all of their options and all of their
rationales for what they ultimately decided they had to do.
Fawn and Amy fixed a light dinner while Carol made the phone calls. Marva
agreed to arrange for Taleetha to have the material delivered whenever Carol told her.
Taleetha needed only four hours notice. Alexander gave her Monsons address and all
of his phone numbers. Monson had a dedicated modem line, a fax line, a regular phone
and a cellular phone. There was also a phone line connection to the security system.
Alexanders friend could tell if Monson was home by the activity on the lines, and could
decipher the security signal. Carol told Alexander to offer a substantial bribe to his
friend but Alexander had already done so. Carol would be buying him a new saxophone
after this was all over.
The plan was to go to Detroit, pick up the information and wait for confirmation
that Monson was at home.
The women ate dinner and took their coffee into Carols study to go over the
detailed logistics. Carol picked up the pile of mail from the library table on the way into
the room. Most of it was the usual bills and junk. Two envelopes caught her eye. One
had no return address and had her name and address scribbled in ragged capital letters.
It contained a clipping from the Key West Chronicle. The headline read Local Car
Dealer Commits Apparent Murder-Suicide. Carol dropped the newspaper and barely
made it to the bathroom before she threw up her dinner. Fawn and Amy read through
the article which described how Charles Chicky Freid had apparently shot his longtime companion Randall Benson to death and then fired a bullet through his own skull.

Isaak/The Exchange

293

If any of the women had harbored any qualms about what they were planning,
they had none left by the time Carol returned to the room.
Carol picked up the clipping and waved it at Amy. I killed them. Just by talking
to them, I got them killed.
He killed them, Carol. Dont take it upon yourself. Itll make you crazy. Dont
forget who the victim is here.
Fawn agreed. Yeah. Remember how many times I tried to blame myself or you
for what he did to me? Lets keep the focus clear here. He did this and we can stop him.
Carol laid out the details of her plan. She would handle the hardware. Fawn
would do the costumes and the make-up. All Amy had to do was hack off her hair and
get dirty and smelly.
They would leave two days later in the morning and with any luck, theyd be back
in a couple of days. The hardest part of the planning was how to get Tom and the other
guards to back off without telling him what they were really going to be doing. Fawn
talked Carol through an elaborate set of lies and Carol practiced the explanation until it
sounded real.

After all of the talking and crying, Carol felt good having tools in her hands again,
even if it was only a hack saw and a file. It was a sin (not to mention a crime), cutting off
all but six inches of the barrel from Willys silver-plated English double-barreled twelvegauge. She did a typically thorough job of it, using the bench grinder to level the edges
and shaping the abbreviated stock into a reasonable pistol grip. She had to leave a little
more length on the pump action Remington, but it too weighed a lot less after it was cut
down.
Carol knew how to handle all of the guns in the cabinet and she respected them
like she respected all carefully-made machines. She disassembled the weapons, cleaned
and oiled the parts and dry-fired them until the action felt easy and natural. At first,

Isaak/The Exchange

294

Carol felt awkward wearing surgical gloves, but eventually she forgot about them and
was able to snap the clip out of the nine-millimeter Beretta and feed the cartridges
without pinching her fingers. It was imperative that there be no finger prints on
anything.

Fawn had gone shopping for clothes and other supplies; Tom had agreed to
escort her and theyd made a happy couple despite the gravity of the occasion. Amy was
cleaning out the chicken shed, wearing one of Carols old ripped leotard tops, a pair of
faded worn-out cut-off denim shorts and old running shoes.
Carol had Federal Expressed money orders to the car rental place, the limousine
service and the hotel theyd be using. They were going to do a dress-rehearsal tonight
and leave in the morning.

Isaak/The Exchange

295

Chapter 46.
MOTHERFUCKER! COCKSUCKER, MOTHERFUCKER, COCKSUCKER,
GRRR? MOTHERFUCKERCOCKSUCKER! MOTHERFUCKERCOCKSUCKER.
GRRRRRGRRRR! MOTHERFUCKERCOCKSUCKER.
Mitty sat in the chair waiting for Huffnagle to return to some semblance of
normalcy.
Chad was perched above the tiled ceiling listening intently. Hed spent several
days up there waiting to see if Carol had succeeded in filing the papers and listening for
Huffs reaction.
Huff had wordlessly handed the packet of papers to Mitty when hed walked into
the office. About half way through Mittys reading of them, Huff had exploded into a
tirade of vituperative threats which had culminated in a nasty bout of involuntary
exclamations. Mitty was not inclined to try to snap Huff out of it today. He hoped the
old bastard would simply explode.
Mitty knew what Huff expected of him; some brilliant plan to save all of their
bacon. The trouble was, they were well and truly fucked this time. Somehow, Chad
Lewis had managed to get his paperwork out of the prison. Probably with the help of

Isaak/The Exchange

296

Carol Fenton. And Mitty couldnt really punish anybody; his authority at the prison was
quickly evaporating.
The OSHA inspector had required all of the kitchen staff to wear bright orange
protective ankle guards, to prevent any more injuries. Hed begun a complete inspection
of each piece of equipment in each facility.
To top it all off, the federal court had issued an order of notice and a habeas
corpus. Under the usual circumstances, the motion to proceed pro se would have been
allowed routinely and the new trial motion would have languished in the judges files for
over a year awaiting a cursory review and almost certain denial. Except that dimwitted
Willy Fenton, pretending to be a lawyer, had filed an objection. Mittys fond hope had
been that the judge would see the inarticulate logic and numerous typos in the
opposition as proof of counsels ineffectiveness. But the court had issued an order
requiring the presence of the prisoner at a hearing in Boston.
Even if Carol Fenton never filed any evidence, the judge would see with his own
eyes two identical men, one the lawyer and one the client. Nothing good could possibly
come of it.
Not to mention the fact that Monson would probably kill everybody involved. It
was enough to make Mitty wish hed followed his fathers advice and never gone into
politics.
All right, Congressman, what are you going to do?
Me? Im just an inmate. They pay you the big bucks to make the decisions,
Huff.
I dont really think so, Congressman. If I go down youll go farther down.
Face it, Huff. Thats just an empty threat. You want to go through the options?
Listen. If Lewis doesnt live to make it to the hearing, the judge will surely have the task
force down here, looking up all our assholes. Theres nothing we can do to stop Carol
Fenton from digging up whatever she can find to support that motion for a new trial.

Isaak/The Exchange

297

Somebody has to call Monson and tip him off. We might get some points for telling him,
but I doubt it. Hell have to do whatever he needs to do to stop her; its out of our hands.
When he comes back here to fuck with us, we do him. Ideally, before he even gets out of
his car. Theres no forty-five day rule about civilian deaths.
Good. I like that. You arrange it.
Oh, I intend to.
What about Lewis?
I was hoping that there would be some kind of footnote in the directive about
inmate deaths by misadventure. Something about when they were off the premises.
You mean do him after the court session?
Right. So what you think? Is there an exception?
There could be but only if the misadventure wasnt something obvious, like a
bullet in the head.
Please, give me some credit.
That still leaves a small problem.
You mean that they look alike? I think I can handle that.
Good. See to it that you do.
And, Huff? Dont you have some medication you can take for your little
problem? It seems to be getting worse.
Ive got some medication, Congressman. Its called Wild Turkey. Dont worry
about me. Just take care of this. Now.

Isaak/The Exchange

298

Chapter 47.
Baking soda. It was an anticlimax, after all of the planning and agonizing and the
deaths. Five zip drive diskettes, wrapped in plastic wrap, nestled in a box of baking
soda. Carol had knocked at the door of the tiny house in back of the Elm Street AME
Church and the young soft-spoken minister had almost blown her brains out with a very
large handgun. After Carol had identified herself and picked herself up off of the
sidewalk, he handed her the box Sister Taleetha had given him for safekeeping. No
apology and no questions asked. Carol had handed him an envelope full of cash and
hed said hed pass it on to her. The money was the least Carol could do; she wished she
could just wave a magic wand and make all of the danger disappear.
The zip drive diskettes were identical to those she used to back up her own data at
home. There was no way to know what was on them until Carol got back to her
computer.
The trip to Detroit had been a routine flight except for flying VFR and not filing a
flight plan. Carol had landed at a tiny unattended strip and used her cell phone to call
the car rental place. The small car arrived thirty minutes later and the entire errand had
taken less than four hours from the moment theyd landed until theyd stepped into
their room at the Ren Cen, downtown.

Isaak/The Exchange

299

The waiting was driving them all crazy. Alexander assured Carol that his friend
was monitoring Monsons phone lines every hour on the hour. He simply was not home.
His fax machine was receiving, his Internet connection was always on. His phone
intermittently recorded incoming messages, but his cellular phone was in roaming mode
and his alarm was engaged. He was out of town.
Carol had used the time to call the people at the airstrip and hangar the plane and
refuel. Theyd picked up the limousine and Fawn was practicing driving it. Theyd even
driven their small Chevy past Monsons street and had been shocked to find that he lived
in a gated community. The entire enclave of immense houses were nestled behind a tall
cement and brick wall, with a manned guard station as the only entrance. Fawn
expressed everybodys frustration with a heartfelt fuck! and the cell phone beeped. It
was Alexander. Monson was finally at home.
Theyd had to rush back to the city to get the limo and get into their outfits. And
wait until the middle of the night.

At two in the morning, the long white limousine pulled up to the guard shack.
The androgynous driver, wearing a fitted black and white suit with a neat bow-tie,
lowered the window and looked the guard over. He was a sleepy young Black man who
seemed impatient to get back to the tiny TV flickering on the console next to his chair.
Fawns voice was a hoarse whisper. Strip-O-Gram delivery for one of your
residents.
Really? Lets see.
Carol opened the back door and slithered out, holding an ice bucket with a
champagne bottle inside in one hand and a boom box in the other. Im a gift from a
satisfied client.
Dont look like you got much more to take off, baby. Whos the lucky dude?
Its confidential.

Isaak/The Exchange

300

You dont gotta say. I know. But I think Monsons already got company. You
want I should buzz him?
No. Its supposed to be a surprise.
Technically, you should sign in and I should announce you.
That wouldnt be any fun. Do you ever get to have any fun?
Well, you want to stop by afterward, I dont mind sloppy seconds.
Sure. You bet.
They were in. Amy had been silent ever since theyd heard Monson was at home.
Now she stirred in the back seat. Youre sure hell go for this?
Reasonably sure. You look like an underage runaway. And you sure smell like
it. Were just going to offer him a choice. We only have to distract him for a couple of
seconds.
All right, Carol. Lets do it.
Fawn pulled the limousine up the circular driveway in front of Monsons huge
two-story house. There was a light on the front porch.
Amy grabbed the champagne bucket, opened the door and walked up to the front
door. Carol grabbed the pump shotgun and hid in the rhododendron next to the door.
Fawn stood next to the car and concealed the double-barreled shotgun behind her back.
Amy rang the bell and slouched under the porch light. Nothing happened.
Amy rang the bell a second time and a light went on upstairs. Then a light went
on downstairs.
Suddenly, the front door banged open and a short man in a purple satin robe
stood on the threshold. Who the fuck are you?
Present from Lee, Mr. Monson.
He in the car?
Nope. Just me and the driver. Amy dropped the bucket and popped the cork
on the champagne. You wanna party?

Isaak/The Exchange

301

I got my own party going on. Fuck off.


It took only a second for Fawn to close the distance to the car and pull the gun
from behind her back. Carol held the door so that Monson couldnt close it. Amy
grabbed his foot as he kicked out and Monson was soon flat on his back with a shotgun
jammed into his mouth.
Remember me, Monson? Rinse and spit? Put your hands behind your back.
To emphasize the point, Carol jacked a shell into the pump gun and jabbed it into
his stomach. He complied. Fawn fitted the same tennis ball shed chewed on into his
mouth and tied the length of surgical tubing in back of his neck.
Amy snapped the handcuffs onto his wrists and pulled him to his feet. Within
thirty seconds they had him back inside and were marching him up the stairs. Carol had
the barrel of the pump gun lodged firmly on his anus to remind him of the consequences
of any attempt to fight. The sounds of sobbing got louder as they approached the top of
the stairs.
The crying was coming from his bedroom. A naked teenager lay bleeding atop
the rumpled sheets. He looked stunned as the three women entered the room with
Monson bound and gagged.
Can you walk? Get up. Fawn motioned with the gun.
The boy slipped his feet to the floor. Dont hurt me.
Did he hurt you?
He promised me money to do him; but then he raped me.
Put your clothes on and get out of here. Here, take what you want out of this.
Fawn handed him Monsons wallet from the dresser next to the bed.
Thanks. And dont worry. I never saw nothing; I hope you fuck him up good.
Fawn stuck the shotgun in Monsons chest and pushed him onto the bed. Amy
and Carol cuffed his ankles to the legs of the bed. Finally, Carol wrapped a long rope

Isaak/The Exchange

302

around his neck and under the bed and back around his neck on the other side. She tied
another one around his waist and pulled it tight under the bed.
Fawn, hes all yours. Just remember the time. Come on, Amy. Lets explore.
Maybe hes got something we can use in court.
Forty-five minutes later, Fawn walked into the downstairs office. She was
snapping a new surgical glove onto her right hand, holding the shotgun in her left. Her
face was gray and it was obvious that shed been crying. There was a splatter of blood on
her white shirt.
Amy was holding an armful of papers and photos. Carol was using a screwdriver
on what appeared to be a computer console. Stacks of papers and files were on the floor,
leaning against the sides of the over-stuffed leather chairs. A huge computer monitor
was centered on a large desk cluttered with equipment.
Ill be right back, Fawn. Im just going to drop these off in the kitchen.
Ill be done in a minute. Im taking out the hard drives. Three of them. Can you
believe he just logged on using his password, left the thing on and compromised his
entire security system? All I had to do was change the password. Now everything in
these drives is accessible only to me. Fawn, can you talk?
I dont know.
You dont have to tell us what happened up there. But weve got to communicate
and get the hell out of here.
All right. What do you want me to do?
Theres two file cabinets over there. Some of the stuff is dirt on dealers; some of
it is dirt on executives. Some of its just dirt. Amys putting the stuff we dont need into
the oven in the kitchen. I figured wed just turn the oven to broil when we left. If this
place burns down, so be it. The other stuff, we should just find some boxes or suitcases
and pack it up and get it out of here. Im reasonably sure its all scanned into the
computer anyway, but I just want to make sure. You up to that?

Isaak/The Exchange

303

Yep. Ill look for suitcases.


Good. I want to be out no later than three thirty.
They were back in the limousine by three twenty-five. The guard at the shack
seemed disappointed at first that they didnt really want to party. He brightened up
when Carol slipped him five hundred dollar bills as a consolation prize.
On the way to the highway, they picked up the teenager who had been in
Monsons bedroom and dropped him off at a cab stand.
As soon as they hit the expressway back to the city, Fawn lowered the window
and began throwing surgical instruments into the wind. No one spoke until they were
back at the hotel. They all wanted to take a bath first. It seemed somehow appropriate
when they decided that there was room in the giant square tub for all three of them
together

Isaak/The Exchange

304

Chapter 48.
Alicia was out of town on business and Willy was alone for the first time in weeks.
Things had been going so fast that hed never had a chance to catch up with his own
thoughts until now. The meeting with Carol had shaken him. His life had moved at
light speed but he didnt want to contemplate the turns her life had taken.
Hed filed the opposition to Chads motion without the help of Rodney or any of
the Study Group. It was a pathetic document and hed hoped the judge would just let
him out of the case. Instead, the judge had subpoenaed his entire case file and set the
matter down for a formal hearing. And that was the good news. The bad news was that
Chrysler had hired the biggest firm in town to represent them in an attempt to intervene
in the matter. Chads motion and brief anticipated facts which clearly implicated
Chrysler and they intended to have their interests represented.
Not even Alicia could determine which faction was behind the intervention. The
Assistant US Attorney had called looking for information and hinting at some kind of a
deal. Willy had tried to make noise like a lawyer but couldnt figure out what the angle
was. What kind of a deal could the guy be looking for? Willy had been in enough tough
scrapes to know when somebody was about to get screwed. The smell was in the air and

Isaak/The Exchange

305

it was looking more and more like he was going to be the one. But he had no idea how it
could be him. Not in court, anyway. Not if he was just the lawyer.
Maybe Monson could get to him. That was always possible but Willy had to
believe Monson would think twice about killing a public figure.
Just to be safe, Willy bought plane tickets to Mexico, Texas, San Diego and
Arkansas; all under different names. He bought another car, a tiny new Honda, which
he had stored in a garage down the street from the office; again, using one of his aliases.
And hed found where Chad stored his guns. A locked cabinet door in the back of the
master bedroom closet which Willy had used a crowbar on concealed an unusual
collection of firepower, none of which was even able to be legally registered. Willy had
chosen the Mac ten full auto machine pistol, an ugly little, poorly-machined box which
held a forty shot clip.
Everything was ready for a quick exit, if it came to that. The thought was not a
happy one.
He wanted to stay. The radio show was turning into a smash hit. The panel
discussion had gone beautifully. Frank from Cupertino had followed Willys
instructions and the neighbor had backed off as predicted. Frank and Claire had
become local celebrities and had their pick of rewarding volunteer opportunities. Even
the Bar Association had backed off, finally admitting that law could be fun.
Rodney and Jennifer had reviewed all of the affiliation opportunities and had
recommended that he bring in a fifth-year associate from one of the big firms. The guy
had a client base and a case that was ready for trial. His old firm was pressuring him to
settle and his client wanted to go to trial. Willy bought the case out from the old firm for
a ridiculously small fee and theyd planned to roll the dice on the trial. Hed had no idea
that the law was as much of a casino as a car dealership. For fifty thousand dollars,
Willy got the opportunity to make millions if they won the case. All he had to do was
guarantee payment of the expert witnesses and fund the actual trial. Jennifer had

Isaak/The Exchange

306

assured him that they could find many more opportunities if he was willing to take some
risks.
All he had to do was make it through the hearing and hed be all set.

Isaak/The Exchange

307

Chapter 49.
Chads left eye had swollen shut by the time they got to the Garden State
Parkway. He lay in the backseat of the Crown Vic with his hands cuffed behind his back
and his ankles chained together. The guards had shaved his head and mustache after
cuffing him and before beating the shit out of him. Apparently this was what Mitty had
meant by making sure that Chad and Willy looked nothing alike at the hearing.
The two guards were taking turns driving. They had left at exactly ten at night
and would deliver him to the courtroom at exactly ten in the morning.

Willy couldnt sleep. Hed thought he wanted to be alone but he only lay in the
bedroom listening to the dog snore. Alicia had expected a sexy reunion when she called
him at the office and had been obviously hurt when Willy didnt want to go to dinner.
The digital clock blinked at him; one thirty-four. He couldnt take it any more. Whether
he had to leave or not, he had to tell her.
Willy climbed out of the bed, turned on the lamp next to the bed and grabbed the
portable phone.
Alicia?
Chad? Whats wrong?

Isaak/The Exchange

308

I know, its late. Im sorry.


Thats all right. I wasnt sleeping; I guess Im too keyed up from the trip.
I need you; I mean I need to see you.
Its good to need me, Chad. I need you too and I really need to see you. Ill be
there as soon as I can.

Alexander and Maria looked up at the ceiling of Alexanders bedroom. Iles mural
placed them in an idealized tropical night. Moonlight filtered through palm fronds.
Candles flickered in the slight breeze coming through the windows. The post-coital
sweat on their brown bodies cooled them pleasantly. They murmured together in a
melodic combination of Spanish, Portuguese and English.
Normally, according to their quickly-improvised routine, Alexander would have
played some simple chord progressions to keep his healing shoulder limber while Maria
would sit across from him marveling at her good fortune. But tonight was different.
Alexander had made a decision; he could no longer work at the prison.
His entire life was slipping from its old moorings and the first thing to be thrown
overboard was the job. When hed gone to inform the personnel office, hed discovered
that Chad was gone. Gone to a hearing in Boston.
Both he and Maria had been worrying about the implications of giving Carol
information about Monsons whereabouts. In the heat of their impromptu honeymoon,
theyd blocked from their minds what was probably going on with Carol and Chad.
Now, they had to leave. The pickup truck was ready and so were they.

Carol was treating the night like a typical pre-flight. Her conservative suit, her
prim silk blouse, her classic accessories, and even her underwear were laid out carefully.
She and Fawn and Amy had gone through and organized all of the files purloined from

Isaak/The Exchange

309

Monsons house. Three full file boxes rested on a luggage trolley, strapped down and
ready to roll in the morning.
She hadnt needed to make any copies; all of the information had already been
scanned by Monson into a database residing in the three hard drives taken from his
computer. Carol had installed them into her server and they had functioned perfectly.
Taleethas information was apparently a backup of a portion of Monsons database from
a couple of years ago. Only the dealer dirt. Both sources had similar explicit details
about the Boston market reorganization that had taken Willy down. The paper files
were redundant, containing original photos and printouts of the computer entries.
Carol had everything she and Chad had dreamed of getting to support his motion,
including the payment used to buy off the investigator. If this couldnt get him out,
nothing would.
She quickly brushed her teeth, washed her face and slipped into bed, naked and
happy.

Amy lay in the too-soft bed trying to pray. The smell of the ocean breeze through
the windows of the guest room and the sloshing of the tide distracted her. She wished
Paul was there with her. The prayers wouldnt form in her mind; the sound of the tide
made her think of what God must sound like when he was sleeping. Amy slid out of the
bed and walked to the window overlooking the ocean. The cool breeze made her tiny
nipples harden and begin to throb. She pressed her hands over her breasts to stop the
throbbing but the throbbing only intensified. Soon the throbbing began between her
legs, where Paul liked to kiss her. Amy lay back down on the bed and rolled over onto
her hands which were suddenly very busy.

Fawn walked into the kitchen, took down a wine glass and filled it from a half-full
bottle of Pinot Grigio left over from dinner. A tap on the patio door startled her.

Isaak/The Exchange

310

Peering through the door, she saw that it was only Tom. She reflexively pulled the long
tee shirt down to her mid-thigh before she turned the lock and admitted the security
guard to the room.
Everything all right, Fawn?
Just getting a nightcap before I hit the sack. Whatre you doing? I thought Carol
was only having you guys do routine drive-bys.
I know, but Im still worried about you. I dont know what happened in Detroit,
but Monson might not be the only one involved. And, God knows, shes paid us enough.
I thought Id just keep a lookout.
Arent you sweet?
I dont know about that. Just dont want you guys getting hurt.
I think its sweet. And it sure makes me feel more secure. Thats what I need
right about now, a sweet big man with a gun.
Well, here I am.
You sure as hell are, Tom. Since youre not technically on duty now, could you
maybe join me for a glass of vino?
I guess one glass wouldnt hurt.
They sat on the sofa, with the patio doors open, sipping wine and talking. He
gently brought the conversation around to how she was handling things. She admitted
she was having a hard time with the dark, with empty rooms and with being alone.
Somehow they both came to the same conclusion, that a big man with a gun might be
just what the doctor needed. A sweet and a gentle man.

Isaak/The Exchange

311

Chapter 50.
Court! All rise. The balding court officer opened the side door behind the
bench and a tall, robust, florid-faced man in his mid-sixties swept into the courtroom,
buttoning the front of his black robe as he trotted to his place behind the raised dais.
U.S. District Court Judge Jay Quincy Adams entered his courtroom with the same
flourish hed used when hed been a star linebacker entering Harvard Stadium forty
years ago.
Be seated. Please.
Looking around the courtroom, Willy remembered the first time hed seen it,
when hed been arraigned almost two years before. Everything looked exactly the same.
The art nouveau sconces softly lit the oiled mahogany walls. The immense gilded
circular seal of the United States with the bald eagle clasping three arrows adorned the
wall opposite the jury enclosure. The same diminutive grey woman shuffled papers at
the clerks desk below the judges raised bench. Off to the side, the stenographer
threaded a stack of paper the width of a cash-register receipt into a black machine. A
perky young female law clerk was poised at a computer console on the left side of the
bench. Willys stomach knotted at the memory of the last time hed seen the room,

Isaak/The Exchange

312

when Judge Adams had sentenced him to a mandatory six year prison term for wire
fraud.
Willy sat at a counsel table to the far left. To his right, sat an earnest-looking
middle-aged woman wearing a dark power suit. Not the same Assistant U S Attorney
whod prosecuted him. Not that it mattered. He still couldnt figure out all of the
angles. They were technically arguing on the same side of the motion but he knew she
had a wet finger poised in the air to determine her true position.
Chad sat in the prisoners dock, behind a Plexiglas screen, bald as a cue ball,
squinting through his swollen right eye, trying to maintain any shred of dignity. His
hands were still cuffed behind his back and the chains shackling his feet had been
affixed to the legs of the chair. Two burly BOP guards stood at attention on either side.
Four richly-attired men sat at the counsel table to the far right. Chryslers
contingent from the largest blue-blood firm in the city looked like they were waiting for
a human sacrifice to begin. It was clear to Willy that somebody was going to be thrown
into the volcano today.
There were no spectators and there was no sign of Carol.
Willy would never understand women. Last night had not gone well. Alicia had
listened to his tortured unburdening with a stone-faced dismay and had said nothing.
Shed simply punched him in the balls so hard he thought hed be pissing blood for a
week. Then she had left. Willy had sat in Chads book-lined library, nursing his swollen
testicles and his tortured thoughts until it had been time to get ready for the hearing.
For the first time in his life, hed been one hundred percent honest with a woman and
now hed lost her. He remembered a piece of advice his uncle the junk dealer had given
him back when he was in high school: No good deed would go unpunished.
Now the man in the black robe whod lived off of a fat trust fund his entire life,
who traced his ancestry back to the Mayflower and who seemed to have a permanent
hair across his ass was going to decide if Chad Lewis, pretending to be Willy Fenton

Isaak/The Exchange

313

could fire Willy Fenton, pretending to be Chad Lewis. The result of this farce could
determine whether or not Willy had to pack up his gun and flee to a life on the lam or
stay and possibly have to kill Michael Mighty Mouse Monson. And all Willy could
bring himself to care about was whether Alicia would ever speak to him again.
The clerk handed the judge a stack of papers which he flipped through like a
black jack dealer at a casino. Removing his reading glasses, Judge Adams spied Chad
for the first time.
William Fenton?
Chad shuffled to his feet and tried to speak through his cracked and swollen lips.
Yes, Your Honor?
Whos responsible for this prisoner? the Judge addressed the entire courtroom.
The guard to the left spoke up. Uh, we are, sir.
You, sir are a disgrace to your uniform. Would you mind explaining the
condition of this inmate?
He tried to escape, Judge. We had to subdue him.
That is pure, unadulterated bullshit! The stenographer rolled his eyes at the
Judge and typed balderdash. Take the restraints off of that man and bring him
around to the front of the enclosure. Ive half a mind to order Administrator Huffnagle
into this court to explain the behavior of his employees. You tell Huffnagle that if he
ever sends me an inmate with so much as a scratch on him, Ill order the task force down
there so fast itll make his head spin. Understood?
The second guard was unsuccessfully restraining a grin. Yes sir.
The Judges cheeks were turning a rich crimson as he turned to the court officer.
Get their names and badge numbers. Now.
While the court officer was pointedly following his instructions, the Judge turned
to Willy. Mr. Lewis. While technically, since this is an order to show cause, youre up
to bat first, Id like to hear form Mr. Fenton first. Any objection?

Isaak/The Exchange

314

No, Judge. You just go ahead.


Thank you, counselor. Now, Mr. Fenton, you want to fire your lawyer?
Yes, Your Honor.
Would you be so kind as to explain why?
Well, Your Honor, its all set out in my motion and memorandum. All the
reasons and the case authorities. I believe I have an absolute right to fire him for any
reason.
Mr. Fenton, thats why people go to law school, to learn that no right is absolute.
If everybody tried to represent themselves in this court, wed never get anything
accomplished. Id be forever explaining things to defendants. Did you even look at the
papers that were filed for this motion?
Yes, Your Honor. I drafted them myself.
And you didnt have any help from the group of thugs down there that
euphemistically refer to themselves as the Firm?
They helped a little; mostly editing suggestions. But I wrote every word, Your
Honor.
How would you like to repeat that under oath? Are you aware of the penalties
for committing perjury?
Im aware of them Your Honor and no, I dont think I want to be a witness
today.
I didnt think you would. Just like you didnt take the stand in your own defense
at the trial. Mr. Fenton, do you have any idea how many spurious post-trial motions are
filed here every year? Most of them written by that merry band of felons at your present
home? If they werent already serving sentences well in excess of their anticipated life
spans, Id have them indicted for practicing law without a license.
Just as Chad was framing the answers to those rhetorical questions, the rear door
opened and Carol hurried into the courtroom wheeling a luggage cart laden with file

Isaak/The Exchange

315

boxes and trailed by an entourage of Fawn, Amy and Tom. The entire assembly quietly
watched as Carol wheeled her way to the front row of the spectators benches.
Mr. Fenton, you may have been erroneously informed by your jailhouse lawyers
that this motion would be routinely granted, but let me disabuse you of that notion.
Why dont you just tell me in laymans terms why you think you should be allowed to fire
a fine lawyer like Chad Lewis here and represent yourself?
Chad began to sweat. Okay, Your Honor. First of all, he never really believed
that I was innocent. He was just going through the motions; his heart wasnt in it. And
second, he never adequately investigated my defense. And third, he advised against my
taking the stand.
Stop right there, Mr. Fenton. Lets explore your reasoning. Lawyers dont have
to believe in their clients innocence. It would be gross incompetence if they did. The
vast majority of cases brought in the federal system result in either a guilty plea or a jury
verdict of guilty. Just on the odds alone, youre probably guilty once youve been
indicted. A lawyer would have to be a moron to ignore those odds. Sure, youre entitled
to a competent defense but you are not constitutionally entitled to a lawyer who believes
you. And your last point, youre not taking the stand. I have reviewed the entire case
file from your attorney. It is quite specific on this point. He advised you not to take the
stand because by doing so, you may well have waived your Fifth Amendment privilege
against self-incrimination. He wrote a detailed contemporaneous memo to that effect
which I have perused and you signed a detailed waiver, in which you stated that you
fully understood the implications of not taking the stand and that you concurred with
the decision. Do you recall signing that document?
Yes, your honor. I knew he was just papering his file and covering himself.
Are you claiming that Chad Lewis wrote those memos in bad faith? Anticipating
that you would lose? What evidence do you have in support of that?

Isaak/The Exchange

316

Thats precisely what Im saying, Your Honor. He papered his file; he knew wed
lose.
Let me do something for you, Mr. Fenton. Youve attempted to sully the name of
a fine lawyer here in open court. Lets hear from Mr. Lewis, under oath. Something you
arent willing to do.
Mr. Lewis, please come forward to the witness box and be sworn.
Willy choked down a swallow of bile and moved to the witness stand. He raised
his right hand and solemnly took the oath.
Now, Mr. Fenton, Im going to ask Attorney Lewis the questions because youre
not a lawyer and I havent granted you permission to act as your own lawyer. So, please
be seated. Now, Attorney Lewis, answer a few questions for me. Did you at any time
think Mr. William Fenton was guilty of the crimes he was tried for in this courtroom?
No, Judge, never. Not even to this day.
Did you ever think he was innocent?
Yes, Judge. I still believe that.
Still? To this very day?
Yes, so help me God. And even if that makes me a moron.
Were you both in agreement about the decision not to take the stand?
Absolutely. We went over the waiver word for word and we both signed it. And
we got the court stenographer to notarize both of our signatures, right here in this
courtroom on the last day of the trial.
Now as to Mr. Fentons alleged conspiracy defense, was it ever discussed
between you that Mr. Fenton get a psychological consultation?
Yes.
And isnt it true that Mr. Fenton declined?
Yes.

Isaak/The Exchange

317

And to your knowledge, has Mr. Fenton ever consented to a psychological


evaluation since the trial?
No Judge. Never, even though the prison officials strongly recommended it.
Do you believe that Mr. Fenton got the best representation he could have gotten,
given the facts as you were aware of them at the time?
I dont know, Judge. We were friends for so long. Before the legal problems
began. You always wonder if someone else could have done a better job.
Thank you, Mr. Lewis. Your humility is admirable. You may step down.
Well, Mr. Fenton. You heard his answers. What do you make of that?
Carol looked at Chad with a stricken face and began softly weeping into a
crumpled tissue.
My second point, Your Honor. The investigation. Ive heard that its not
paranoia if they really are out to get you. And they were. I believe that I can prove it
now.
The courtroom erupted into a chorus of objections from the Assistant U S
Attorney and from the coterie of Chrysler lawyers.
The Judges face lit up with a mischievous grin. Hit a nerve, have we? Well....
Ladies first. What objection does our Assistant US Attorney have?
It doesnt matter what evidence is proffered at this point, Your Honor. The only
issue is whether an adequate investigation was done in preparation for the trial and
whether a reasonably diligent attorney could or should have done more. We gave
counsel every scrap of possibly exculpatory investigative material in discovery before the
trial. And our office received a copy of counsels investigators report as well. None of
Mr. Fentons extravagant claims could be corroborated in any way. Anything that may
come out later is in no way relevant to the issue of defense counsels competence or
effectiveness. If I may also say, Your Honor, pleas of ineffectiveness of counsel are the
final refuge for convicted scoundrels. Far too many reputations have been harmed by

Isaak/The Exchange

318

these motions and it makes me extremely upset. Counsel for Mr. Fenton gave it his best
shot. We won, fair and square. Lets be done with this. Id like you to look at his
attached motion for a new trial and see how much additional judicial time he anticipates
wasting if you allow him to proceed pro se. On that basis alone, you should deny the
motion and let him go back to serving his time.
Well, I may just do that, but first I guess I should hear from the Hale and Dobbs
fellows. Mr. Pinkus, would you mind explaining what possible reason you have for
being present at this sorry spectacle? I know God watches over every sparrow but why
on earth is your client concerned about whether or not one of their former dealers gets a
chance to fire his lawyer?
Samuel Pinkus, Esquire unfolded himself from the uncomfortable wooden chair
and looked the judge squarely in the eyes. He and the Judge had been in pre-law
together at Harvard but Jay Adams had unaccountably abandoned Cambridge to go to
Yale for his law degree.
Good morning Your Honor, Ms. Bell-Upton, and Mr. Lewis. Samuel Pinkus
from the firm of Hale and Dobbs, representing the interests of intervener Chrysler
Corporation.
And a good morning to you, Sam. Now. Tell me why in the deuce youre here.
My client anticipates that there may be some attempt by inmate Fenton to
introduce some alleged evidence in support of his motions. If so, then the alleged
evidence may well be fabricated or constitute property stolen from my client.
Or maybe an anticipated attempt to introduce fabricated stolen property? Stuff
that could cast your client in a disadvantageous light? Why dont we wait and see, Sam.
You always were one to play too many moves ahead of the board. Please sit down until
something real happens.
Pinkus sat down, scowling.

Isaak/The Exchange

319

Thank you. Both objections have been duly noted. But, as you know, I have
broad discretion in these matters. Unless my intuition has completely failed me, I
anticipate that the tearful young lady in the front row has some boxes of alleged
evidence that Mr. Fenton wants me to look at. Am I correct, Mr. Fenton?
Correct, Your Honor.
May I hear a formal motion on your part for the bench to receive supporting
factual material de bene?
Yes, Your Honor.
And, Sam, I anticipate that your strong objection and that of the US Attorneys
office will now be renewed. Is that also correct?
Yes.
Yes.
What say you, Mr. Lewis?
Hey, Judge, its your courtroom. Go for it.
I intend to, Counselor. Ill review the material in camera. Court officer, please
wheel the boxes into my chambers. Ill take a one hour recess. And, it is my order, for
the record, that Mr. Fenton may be allowed to confer with the tearful young lady in the
front row until my return. Thank you, one and all.
Court!
They all rose and watched Judge Jay Adams trot back inside his chambers.
Chad couldnt be sure, but he thought he saw Pinkus mouth the words Yalie
prick as the chambers door closed.

Isaak/The Exchange

320

Chapter 51.
The court officer returned and stared at the BOP guards who sat in the jury box
with sheepish expressions on their faces. Chad walked over to Carol who enfolded him
in a smothering embrace. The stenographer fled to the stairwell for an illicit smoke
while the clerk went to the commissary to buy some lottery tickets.
Pinkus collared the Assistant US Attorney and drew her out through the door
with his crew in pursuit. Amy and Fawn hugged and took Tom out into the lobby for a
chat.
Willy tried not to stare at Carol and Chad who were still locked in each others
arms. He strode out of the courtroom in search of a pay phone. He found one in a small
alcove across from the mens room. He got Alicias voice mail at her office and he left an
impassioned plea as a message. He got her machine at the apartment and left an even
more impassioned plea as a message. Her cell phone went unanswered. Willy was
miserable. He checked in with Jennifer and found out that Alicia had not called the
office in his absence. He checked his messages at the farmhouse phone and there were
no messages. Willy rested his head against the cool metal of the pay phone and began to
cry. He glanced at the mens room door and remembered that he had to pee; but his
penis hurt too much to do it. Then he heard her voice.

Isaak/The Exchange

321

How are you feeling? Alicia stood in the hallway, wearing a tight short skirt
with her blouse opened to three buttons. She was smiling.
Not too well. I hurt like hell.
Where?
Everywhere, but especially here. Willy touched his heart.
Me too. Same place, too.
Well, theres another place comes in a strong second.
Good. Got time for a cup of coffee?
The rest of my life is nothing but time.
Yeah. Mine too.
Lets not waste any more of it.
Amen to that, big guy.
They joined hands and walked to lobby in front of the elevators.

The Judges one hour recess stretched to two before the court officer gathered all
the participants to their respective places.
Court! They all stood in unison as Judge Adams resumed his seat on the bench.
Good afternoon. I apologize for the length of the recess, but it simply could not
be avoided. Before we proceed any further, I would ask the young lady in the front row
to please take the witness stand.
Carol complied and was quickly sworn.
Please state your name for the record.
Carolena Renatta Fenton.
You are the wife of William Fenton?
Yes.
Before the recess, did you surrender three file boxes of documents to the court
officer pursuant to my request?

Isaak/The Exchange

322

Yes.
Did you personally procure the documents contained in those boxes?
Yes.
Have you or has anyone else under your direction made any copies of any of
those documents?
No.
You are aware that if any of the statements you made here today are false, you
may be prosecuted for perjury?
Yes.
Do you wish to change any answer to any of my questions?
No.
Do you have anything to add to what you have said here today?
No.
You may be excused. Thank you Mrs. Fenton. I will now see counsel in
chambers. Just you, Sam; not the entire pack. And, Im sorry, Mr. Fenton, but since
youre not a lawyer so you will have to wait outside.

Jay Adams sat in a large leather armchair next to a library table. Pinkus and the
Assistant US Attorney were seated at either end of an over-stuffed sofa to the judges
left. Willy sat in a twin of the judges chair to his right. In the center of a beige oriental
rug was a long, low table covered with stacks of file folders. The lighting was cozy and
indirect. The room felt like an old English club.
Theres coffee if anybody wants it or soft drinks in the fridge over there. The
judge pointed to a small kitchenette behind a partition to his rear. And, as my sergeant
used to say during the war, smoke em if you got em. He pointed to an old-fashioned
standing ash tray.
No one took him up on his offers of hospitality.

Isaak/The Exchange

323

The judge selected a file folder and handed it to Pinkus and gave another to Janet
Bell-Upton, the Assistant US Attorney. Read these and then trade and read the other
one too. I think youll find them both interesting. Chad, we can just chat while they do
their homework.
Sure, Judge. Nice digs.
Yes, isnt it great? We live in a first class country.
None better.
By the way, I caught your show the other afternoon on Court TV. Very
interesting.
The whole thing was a little embarrassing.
Nonsense. Its good for the profession. Maybe itll stop some of those damn
nuisance suits that are clogging the dockets if people used a little more common sense. I
applaud your efforts.
Well, I try to do what I can, in my own small way. Howd you like to be a guest
one of these days? Wed love to have you; you seem to have some definite opinions
about things.
Indeed I do.
My listeners would love to have a real judge on.
I may just take you up on the offer, Chad. Ill have my clerk call to arrange our
schedules.
Both Bell-Upton and Pinkus looked up from their reading with identical stricken
looks on their faces. They swapped folders and read for a few minutes. When they
looked up, their faces were the same shade of sickly grey.
Finished reading? As you can see, the payment to Mr. Lewis investigator was
ten times what he was paid by defense counsel. The paper trail is exquisite; the
documents track the payment back to a dealer development account at the corporation
and we even have the name of the executive who initialed the payment request. It also

Isaak/The Exchange

324

appears that Mr. Monsons remuneration was contingent upon results and that he was
paid out of the same account for his efforts in getting Willy Fenton behind bars.
There was utter silence from the lawyers seated on the sofa.
Sam, feel free to peruse any other papers from the boxes. Some of them are
quite fascinating. Especially the photographs. I had no idea Lee was so flexible in his
old age.
What do you want, Jay?
The same thing we all want, Sam. A way out of this.
How about you, Ms. Bell-Upton?
Please, Judge, call me Janet. In light of the documents Ive seen, it appears that
a miscarriage of justice has occurred. Wed agree to vacate the judgment if you were so
inclined.
Excellent, Janet. Youre a quick study. Now, Sam, do you still want me to
sustain your objection and return these documents to Mrs. Fenton?
No, Jay. Id like you to return these documents to their rightful owner, my
client.
Well, that seems like a distinct possibility, Sam. You know, Im not such a bad
guy, even if I am a Yalie prick. And if I do it, youll owe me a big one. I think Ill start by
denying Mr. Fentons request to proceed pro se and then let his lawyer take a swing at
the ball. Chad?
Im mighty grateful that justice is finally going to be done and the criminal
matter is going to be resolved favorably.
A smile flashed on the judges face. Criminal as opposed to civil?
Yes. It occurs to me that these people have suffered an awful lot, him being in
jail for something he didnt do. And since the Judge here is going to confirm that it
wasnt my fault, theres a pretty good civil case my clients have.
Pinkus looked like he was going to be sick. How much?

Isaak/The Exchange

325

Ten.
Million?
Of course; what did you think, thousand? Thats hilarious.
I have to make a phone call.
The judge pointed Pinkus toward a phone on the desk on the other side of the
room. Dial nine for an outside line, Sam. And hurry up; I havent had lunch.
The judge whispered something to Willy and they both smiled.
Pinkus hung up the phone and stood next to Willy. Ten it is.
Willy winked at the judge and added a final word. Apiece.
What? Ten apiece for what?
Ten for him and ten for her. Loss of consortium, Pinkus. You know, sex, marital
relations?
Oh for Gods sake! Jay, thats blackmail.
Did you see the two love birds out there? I think they could make a strong case,
Sam. And I suspect that if you want her signature, youll have to pay her. Am I right,
Chad?
Correct as usual, Judge.
Pinkus went to the phone again and hit the redial button. From the look on his
face, he didnt like what he was hearing. He came back and sat heavily on the sofa. All
right, ten apiece, but I walk out of here with those documents, all of them.
Now, Chad, go to my desk. I have some forms in the lower right hand drawer.
Be so kind as to get me some blank releases and I imagine youd want some blank
contingent fee agreements as well. I think we should button this up before we leave
today.
Chad found the documents and moved from behind the desk. Ill write up some
wiring instructions for the money, Judge. I dont think we want to wait for a check.

Isaak/The Exchange

326

Excellent idea, Chad. You just go out and talk to Mr. and Mrs. Fenton and Ill
have a little chat with these two about Mr. Monsons future. Lets see if we cant finish
this up before my blood sugar gets too low.
They haggled over the percentages; Chad got Willy down to thirty percent from
his original demand of fifty. And Carol insisted that their share be wired directly to her
account. By the time the judge reconvened the proceedings to put the result on the
record, Willy had a wire confirmation in his hand from the judges fax machine.
The civil settlement was subject to a confidentiality agreement and a strong
admonition from the judge that nothing said, done or seen in chambers was ever to be
disclosed. For the record, the judge staged a formal end to the proceedings.
Alicia had gotten a television reporter and a Herald staffer along with a
photographer to witness the occasion.
Court!
Everybody stood.
Judge Adams spoke slowly and clearly. Ive decided Mr. Fentons motion to
proceed pro se. It is denied. I find that Attorney Lewis conducted the defense of his
client in an exemplary manner and that justice would not be served by permitting a
change of counsel at this stage of the proceedings. Mr. Pinkus?
I ask that my clients motion to intervene be withdrawn.
Consider it done, Mr. Pinkus. The Judge nodded at Willy who stood beside the
counsel table.
Judge, Id like to move to uh uh....
Vacate?
Thank you Judge, yes, to vacate the judgment in this case.
Hearing no objections from Ms. Bell-Upton and finding that allowing your
motion would serve the interests of justice, I so order. The judgment against Mr.

Isaak/The Exchange

327

William Fenton and the sentence imposed by me is hereby vacated. Mr. Fenton, you are
free to go. And please accept my deepest apologies for the damage this matter has done
to your life and your family.
Chad could barely speak. Tears flowed down his battered face. Thank you, Your
Honor. Thank you.
Court is hereby adjourned.
Carol and Chad were kissing in front of the courtroom as the cameras strobe
flashed.

Isaak/The Exchange

328

Chapter 52.
The Herald reporter accosted them before they had even gotten halfway down the
aisle to the back of the courtroom. How does it feel to be out?
Ask me when Im outside. So far, its just very strange, very intense. Intensely
wonderful.
Carol was grasping his hand so hard that it hurt. They slowly walked toward the
back door of the courtroom, trailed by the reporter.
What are your plans now that youre out of prison?
Breathe free air, sleep, and get my head back together. I dont have any plans.
Chad hunched over, his body racked with sobs.
Why do you think the judge set you free?
I cant. Talk. Now.
Why were you trying to fire your lawyer?
Im not coping very well here.
Carol turned on the reporter and pushed him away. Please. Let us just get out
of the building. Talk to his lawyer.
Mrs. Fenton, do you have a statement?
Not now, please. We just want to go home now.

Isaak/The Exchange

329

Amy, Fawn and Tom came back into the courtroom and saw Carol seated in the
last row of benches crushing Chads face into her chest as he sobbed.
Tom surveyed the scene. Ill bring the car around to the judges exit. I already
fixed it up with the court officer; theyve got a private elevator we can use. Wait here.
Chad slowly stopped crying, lifted his head and blinked his good eye and looked
at Fawn and Amy for the first time.
Carol stood next to him. Chad, theres some people you need to meet.
Who?
My sisters.
I didnt know you had any sisters.
I do now. This is Fawn and Amy. They helped me get the documents.
Fawn? Oh God, Fawn. You must really hate me.
No. Im through hating.
Amy, thank you and you too Fawn. You have no idea...
He began crying again.
Tom returned and led the procession back through the courtroom where they
were met by the court officer who guided them through the now-empty judicial
chambers and out a back door to the elevator. Ten minutes later, they were in Toms
Range Rover, headed for the Callahan Tunnel under Boston Harbor, on the way to
Marblehead.
Willy conducted an impromptu press conference on the steps of the courthouses
Federal Street exit. He made up plausible-sounding statements from his client and his
clients wife and used a skillful combination of no comments and innuendo to leave the
impression that the entire drama had been carefully planned by him to win Willy
Fentons release. His final statement almost nauseated him. Well, were all just glad to
see that the system really does work.

Isaak/The Exchange

330

After posing for a few more shots taken by the photographer, Willy took Alicias
hand. They threaded their way through the small group of media and walked across the
street to Post Office Square Park, en route to the restaurant inside the nearby Hotel
Meridian. Alicia hugged him as they strolled. Christ, but you are good!
Who, me?
You made me over a million dollars already today and its not even three oclock
yet. Id do anything to get my hands on the stuff in those boxes. Do you realize that I
could use that information legally; it wouldnt be insider trading?
I knew that.
You are such a bullshitter. Its a good thing that youre such a good kisser or ....
Thats the only part of me that still works, thanks to you.
And dont you forget it, either.
Lets have an early dinner and just relax and talk tonight. Is that all right with
you?
Theres more you have to tell?
Not about the past, Alicia. About the future.
That sounds kind of scary.
Good scary?
Well see.
They crossed the street and the doorman held the door as they entered the
gleaming lobby.
Alicia?
What?
Did you listen to your messages yet?
No. Why?
Just let me erase the messages I left.

Isaak/The Exchange

Oh, I dont think so.


Its just that I sounded like such a pathetic loser.
You could do with a little bit of that; itll keep you balanced. Lets have some
food; Im starved.
Me too.

331

Isaak/The Exchange

332

Chapter 53.
It wasnt until they passed the Wonderland dog track in Revere that Chad
recovered enough to talk. He was in the back seat, sandwiched between Amy and Carol.
Tom was driving and telling Fawn about all of the mob wise guys who lived in Revere.
Amy was deep into her own thoughts. Carol was pressed tightly to Chads side, silently
kissing him over and over again, performing her own form of spiritual CPR.
Carolena. Im sorry. I just freaked out on you, didnt I?
Its all right. Youre just...
Decompensating. Fawn turned around. Thats the term. Decompensating.
Well, I came close to decomposing. They planned to kill me on the way back to
the prison. I overheard them talking.
How?
I dont know, Carolena. I didnt have a clue about how to stop them either.
It was God. Amy said quietly. Thats the only explanation.
It was the three of you.
Carol kissed him again and he surrendered to her touch. Well, thank God, its
over, Chad.
Its not over.

Isaak/The Exchange

333

What? Carol looked like shed been hit in the stomach.


I think I know how guys felt coming back from Viet Nam. You must feel it too.
Its going to take some time for all of us. Getting over this.
We went through it back in Detroit for a while. And last night. But I always
knew. I was certain wed do it. You seemed pretty sure too, in court.
Do you understand just how bizarre that judge acted today? Everybody was
perfectly willing to send me back to Pennsylvania, Willy too. The judge just wanted to
tweak his buddy Pinkus a little bit. The only thing I was sure about was Chrysler
stopping us from going public with those files. There was absolutely no doubt that
Pinkus was going to get those boxes.
Why do you think the judge did it?
Probably he didnt like them beating me up. And he definitely responded to
you.
Me?
Fawn turned around again. Right, Carol. Blond with nice tits. It works every
time.
Well, maybe Amys right, then. God gave them to me.

Alexander and Maria met them at the house. There were hugs and tears and
disjointed conversations.
The small details of normal life were comforting. Taking a shower alone. Eating
a meal with women. Being able to walk around in a regular house with furniture and
windows. At first they would panic when they werent at least holding each others
hands. They decided to wait for their time together until the sun went down. The
anticipation built between them as the afternoon wore on.
Chad had a long shower while Maria and Amy put together a strange meal
concocted from bits of everything they could scrounge in the house, including several

Isaak/The Exchange

334

bottles of Champagne. It was hours before everybody had caught up with enough details
and they all knew the entire story. Tom had stayed and swore himself to secrecy. If he
was amazed by any of it, he didnt show it.
Carol pulled Chad aside in the kitchen for a quick conversation about the
settlement. He agreed that they should divide it up however she wanted among
everybody involved.
Tom decided to do a quick patrol of the grounds and the area while Maria went
back to the cottage. Carol and Amy and Fawn sat at the kitchen table to decide about
the money. Chad and Alexander took a short walk on the beach and settled into chairs
on the patio. Carol and Chad kept glancing at each other through the glass door. By the
time the sky was reddening, they could wait no longer.

Isaak/The Exchange

335

Chapter 54.
Chad was shocked again when he looked into the mirror while he brushed his
teeth. He looked like shit with his bald head and bruised face. He was so tired that
every bone and muscle ached, yet he was so keyed up and empty inside. It was the
adrenaline; he knew how bad it was, coming down. But the knowledge did little to stop
the shaky feeling he had. All he wanted was to feel her next to him.
Chad crawled into the cool clean-smelling bed while Carol finished her bath. The
sun was finally setting through one window while the blue of the ocean darkened
through the opposite one. He lay on his back and let his mind go, trying to connect with
the time he labeled as before. Before his depression, before the Fenton case, before the
prison, before the deaths and the fear. Before Carolena. Try as he would, he couldnt
get there. There was only now. His aching body, his jagged nerves. His need for her.
And then she was there. The bed swayed slightly and he smelled her, sensed her
warm, moist presence next to him. He turned to his side and she spooned into him like
a missing puzzle piece.
They slept.
When Carol awoke, they were still in spoon position, only turned the other way.
She reached out her hand and turned the dimmer on the bedside lamp a little higher.

Isaak/The Exchange

336

She could make out the colors of the tattoos and the bruises on his back, inches above
the place where her nipples had pressed against him.
She knew she should let him sleep, but her desire was intense. She needed
release. Carol snuggled against his back and began softly kissing his neck. Chad
stretched his legs and rolled over. They kissed and Carol slid her leg over his loins,
anticipating his thrust.
Chad cleared his throat. Carolena, its not working.
Whats not working?
You know, my penis.
Carol didnt know how to respond; what to say or do. So she lay there, panting.
Thinking.
Chad, dont move. Ill be right back.
He lay there with his eyes closed, imagining her breasts, her ass, and every inch of
her. Chad could hear her closing the bathroom door. A minute later, he felt her return.
She smelled different. Wonderful.
He kissed her and suddenly it was working. As Carol straddled him, slowly
gorging herself on him, he spoke. Perfume?
Um hmm. With a magic ingredient.
What?
Lysol. You know, the smell the CVA always had.
You are incredible.
I know. So are you.

Isaak/The Exchange

337

Chapter 55.
The phone call came at nine-thirty.
Chad and Carol were talking and engaging in sexual intercourse, two activities
that had consumed them almost nonstop for three days. Their time together hadnt done
much to lessen his sense of disorientation; but, day by day, Chad was feeling less and
less hollow. They were becoming intimate with each other in ways that sex alone
couldnt accomplish. Gradually, in fits and spurts, he had learned of her past and she
had learned of his. He felt it was an unfair exchange; his shit for her gold. It was like
one of those disappearing pictures, doors within doors within doors, going back to his
childhood. Carolena seemed to have the key to each one.
On the fifth ring, Carol stretched her hand to the cell phone on the bedside table
and pressed the button. Chad was teasing her clitoris with his tongue. She scissored her
legs together with enough force to almost pop his eardrums.
Its for you. Willy. Her voice was husky and breathless.
Chad took the phone. This better be important.
Sorry to interrupt you while youre screwing my wife, buddy; but theres a
hysterical lady here whos threatening to call the cops on me. Says shes your ex.

Isaak/The Exchange

338

Betsy?
None other. You wanna talk to her?
No; but I will. Put her on.
She calmed down when she heard his voice and agreed not to call the police.
Chad was to meet her at the small bed and breakfast where she was staying in Concord,
later that afternoon. He promised to explain everything.
Carol knew from the tension in his arms as Chad hugged her that things were
changing already. She had decided that it was time to tell him about the baby; but now
knew shed missed her chance. Whatever was going on, that conversation had to wait.
She had reacted to the information about Chads missing ex-wife and his two daughters
as just a tragic event in his past. Like Kelly was for her. Now, Betsy and the girls were a
reality. A force to be reckoned with.

Later, over coffee and croissants, they talked about all of the details of normal life
that they now had to deal with. Neither one of them wanted to leave the safe confines of
the bedroom where the fire of their passion had served to keep the outside world at bay.
But the world seeped in like a cold fog.
Fawn had left them a copy of the newspaper. The Herald ran two photos side by
side on the front page. One was a shot of Willy triumphantly saluting thumbs up; the
other was of Chad and Carol kissing. The headline read Free Willy!
While they were talking, a large package came in the mail for Willy; a glance at
the return address took Chads breath away as he signed for it.
The Bureau of Prisons had sent back all of the belongings Willy had surrendered
on his first day of confinement. Here was the Stetson hat, the finely-cut tropical wool
suit, the worn pair of lizard-skin cowboy boots, the dark silk socks, the bolo tie, the wide
leather belt with the twenty dollar gold piece soldered onto the buckle, and even the
light gray cotton boxers Willy had dressed himself in on that fateful day. The white shirt

Isaak/The Exchange

339

had yellowed slightly and the acrid-smelling stains under the arms had suffused the
boxs contents with the bitter tang of fear, anxiety and despair. In the space of a
heartbeat, Chad was back in Lewisburg, oblivious to the smell of dark-roast coffee and
French pastry in the kitchen that overlaid the pervasive scent of sea spray and baking
sand that came through the screens. In a sealed envelope, Chad discovered Willys
wallet, containing twelve still-crisp hundred dollar bills, his now-expired drivers
license, his now-canceled firearms permit, his credit cards for several now-closed
accounts, his wedding band, and a small key.
Carol sensed his thoughts and began to cry. He touched her hand.
I know, Carolena; I just want to go back upstairs with you and never come out
again. I cant face the thought of trying to be him and there doesnt seem to be any way I
can be me.
Like you said, itll take time to adjust.
Its going to take more than time. Ive got to get my own life back somehow. I
dont want to adjust to being Willy.
How?
Thats probably whats going to take time. Figuring out how and doing it.
He wont go voluntarily. He already told me that.
That doesnt make any difference to me.
Youre scaring me, Chad. I dont even want you to leave here to go for a walk on
the beach; Im afraid Ill never see you again. I ache when were not together.
Me too. I dont feel safe out there. I feel like I need a gun, some kind of a
weapon. Its so safe here, behind that big solid stone wall, inside this nice solid house,
upstairs in our room, under the covers, with you, touching each other. But I have
unfinished business and Ive got to figure out some kind of a future.
We are the future, Chad. Us, together.

Isaak/The Exchange

340

I know; of course. What am I going to do, though? Sit here all day, living on the
money Willy gave you? Go to school and get a degree for him? Maybe I should sell
cars.
Carol began crying again.
Im sorry. Im being an asshole.
Yes, you were. You have money, Chad. Remember? Theres still seven million
left of the settlement; they wouldnt accept any more than half of it. You dont have to
work.
Yes I do. Not for the money; for my sanity.
You dont have to decide all of that right now. Its too soon.
Youre right, Carolena. But Im going to get my own identity back. I have to, for
us to have our future.
Carol began sobbing again and ran out of the kitchen before Chad could say
anything else. He found her in her office; she was playing a recording of Carmen,
cranked up so loud he could feel the bass in his stomach. He knelt before her as she sat
in the loveseat and gently put his head on her lap. He could feel the hot wet tears
splatter onto the bristly stubble of his hair as the music shuddered through him. After
what seemed like an eternity, he sat up and slid next to her on the sofa.
The CD ended and he spoke into the sudden silence. Ill let it go, Carolena. Its
what I did in prison. Just let it all go and be what and who I am. I guess I was jealous
when I saw the wedding band. I want to be your husband, not me pretending to be him,
not somehow through him. As me.
Oh, you are my husband and Im your wife. If we were any closer, wed be
wearing the same clothes.
I dont recall wearing much clothes since I got here. He motioned to the red
exercise shorts Tom had loaned him. Im sorry, Carolena. You gave me back my life
and I was being an ingrate.

Isaak/The Exchange

341

Chad, when the time is right, it will be there for you, the next step. It always is
for me.
Well, Ive been running on faith so far and its worked out. They hugged and
kissed and nuzzled each other.
Now, we have to talk about some practical things. You need some clothes, some
shoes. You cant drive; Willys license has expired.
Right, I dont want to be picked up for driving without a license. I dont ever
want to look at another cop again in my life. Didnt they send him a renewal form?
I dont know, Chad. I havent opened any of Willys mail since you switched. I
couldnt bear to deal with it. I put it all into a box; its mostly junk anyway.
She got up and brought the box out of a cabinet under the stereo. Chad began
sorting through the pile, filling a waste paper can with all of the obvious junk and
looking for the Registry renewal notice. He found it and four envelopes from the same
place, Mail Boxes, Etc., marked Urgent and Confidential in red.
Did Willy have a private post office box?
Not that I ever knew about. Not that I knew much of what Willy really was
doing. Why?
May I open these?
Dont ask me. You can do whatever you want with Willys things; theyre all in
boxes down stairs, except for the guns.
Chad tore open the one with the latest postmark. They closed his box because he
didnt renew it but theyre holding a package that came for him. Evidently, this is the
fourth time they notified him. Do you know where this place is?
Downtown. We can stop by when we go shopping, if you want.
First, I want to take care of some unfinished business.
What we were doing when the phone rang?
Exactly.

Isaak/The Exchange

342

Isaak/The Exchange

343

Chapter 56.
Nothing is ever easy. The mail box place wouldnt give Chad the package because
the drivers license was expired and the picture looked nothing like him, even though
Carol had identified herself as his wife. The pleasant clerk explained that lots of men
didnt want their wives to know what they got delivered to their private mail boxes. That
was the point of renting one. If Willy Fenton presented a valid license with his picture
on it, he could get the package; otherwise it would be returned to the sender. They only
had a week left before it would be sent back. That was company policy.
The shopping had gone better. Chad felt great wearing the clothes that Carol had
picked out for him. It felt funny for him to be spending money instead of Marlboros; but
all mediums of exchange were equally arbitrary. They ate lunch at a small sidewalk cafe
in the middle of the narrow, winding shopping street in the oldest part of Marblehead.
Carol was thankful that they didnt encounter any of her friends who Chad would have
to pretend to know.
They met Fawn and Tom and Amy back at the house. The plan was for all of
them to go to Concord together, stopping at the Registry office on the way so that Chad
could get Willys license renewed. They would drop Chad at Betsys bed and breakfast.
He would meet them two hours later at the Concord Museum, which was only a five-

Isaak/The Exchange

344

minute walk from the Hawthorne Inn, where Betsy was staying. Chad didnt want the
meeting to be open-ended and was glad to have a definite time set in advance.
Amy had been staying at Fawns house, playing with the kids while Fawn eased
back into her schedule at the office. From the way that they acted together, Tom had
been spending some quality time at Fawns house as well.
Things moved fast at the Registry and within twenty minutes Chad had a new
Willy Fenton drivers license with his own picture on it that made him look like a natural
born killer. The closer they got to the Concord exit off Route 128, the higher the tension
level rose in the car. Fawns opinion was clear from her body language; to her, Chad
seemed to be turning into the same insensitive prick that Willy had always been. There
was simply no excuse for seeing ones ex-wife during ones honeymoon.
No one spoke as they exited the highway and passed the Minuteman National
Park going from Lexington toward Concord. Chad thought that Paul Revere had
probably had a more relaxing ride along the same route. As he was about to leave the
car after they pulled up in front of the elegant cheerful colonial mansion which housed
the inn, Carol gave him a perfunctory peck on the lips. Chad put his arms around her
and gave her a passionate soul kiss that left them both breathless. He hitched up his
new pants, closed the car door and walked down the brick sidewalk to the broad front
porch of the old house as Tom drove off toward Concord center.
Betsy was waiting, sitting in a large wicker rocker in the shade of the porch. From
his vantage point halfway down the sidewalk, she looked like a little girl, wearing a beige
straw hat and an embroidered white sleeveless dress, her small feet planted in a pair of
sensible Birkenstocks. She removed her brown rimless sunglasses as he mounted the
steps. He saw that California had not changed her much. Her hair looked a little
blonder but her clear blue eyes could still burn through his heart. All of the angry, bitter
words hed practiced saying to her over the past two and a half years fled in an instant.

Isaak/The Exchange

345

Chad realized that the black hole of his depression had merely been the collapsed sun of
their love. He stood on the porch feeling large and awkward. Betsy ran to him and
hugged him fiercely. Her body felt fragile and spare in his arms compared with the
lushness of Carol.
She held him at arms length and brushed tears from her eyes. You scared me
half to death, Chad.
So did you, Betsy. Why are you here?
Were coming back. All of us.
As they walked in the meadow behind the inn, they talked. Anyone seeing them
would have assumed that they were lovers out for a stroll. They moved together with the
practiced grace of a long-married couple, sometimes with their arms linked, sometimes
their hands joined. Periodically, one would stoop to pick a wild flower to add to the tiny
bouquet Betsy held in her hand.
He told her everything, sparing himself nothing. He didnt try to cast any of it in
a better light or soften the impact of the events he narrated. Betsy knew him better that
he knew himself. By the time they reached the shade of the massive maple tree in the
middle of the field, he felt drained. They sat facing each other and it was her turn. She
told him of her life and the girls life in Walnut Creek. Of her relationship with Rob and
how she gradually came to know that she could never be completely happy until she had
corrected the terrible wrong shed done to him. Whatever hed done and however hed
screwed up his life, he hadnt deserved banishment from the lives of his children. She
seemed genuinely happy about him and Carol.
Although Rob and the girls were still in Walnut Creek, they would come back as
soon as Betsy located a suitable place for them all to live. She had decided to come alone
when she chanced to hear the radio show and had received such a bizarre reaction from
the man who claimed to be Chad Lewis. Then when shed seen the imposter in Chads
office, she had gone practically berserk.

Isaak/The Exchange

346

They got up from their seats on the matted grass and headed back to the Inn. She
had pictures of the girls and drawings and letters that they wanted him to have. He
glanced at the watch Carol had bought for him. Even if he hurried, hed be late to meet
them. He wanted to stay the rest of the day, listening to Betsy talk about the girls. Hed
been right to set a time limit in advance. He was overloading his already frazzled brain.
As he hugged her goodbye, clutching the large envelope of treasures from his
children, he offered her the farmhouse. When she asked about who was staying there
now, he told her not to worry. It would be ready for them whenever she wanted it.

Isaak/The Exchange

347

Chapter 57.
Carol was sitting on a stone bench in the shade of an old apple tree, its branches
already drooping with green, unripe fruit. She was playing with an old-fashioned
wooden toy shed bought in the gift shop. The flat wooden rectangles unfolded
magically as she held them in front of her.
Whats that?
Jacobs Ladder. Its just wood connected by ribbons but its fascinating.
Chad sat next to her and enfolded her hands within his. Theyre coming back;
Betsy and the girls, and Rob.
Whos Rob?
Her husband. The man she left me to be with.
The worry lines in Carols face dissolved into her usual semi-smile.
Im giving them the farmhouse. Its belonged to the girls anyway, ever since she
left.
Will you get to be with them?
We can have them half of the time if youre willing.
Oh, yes. I just hope theyll come to like me.
Theres no guarantee theyll still like me.

Isaak/The Exchange

348

Theres no guarantee about anything in life, is there?


You were worried that Id go back to her? Because she had the girls to offer
me?
Yes. And because you still love her.
Youre right, I do still love her. A part of me still does, anyway. I always will. I
have to deal with that or Ill never be complete, a whole person. Ive got to go back and
connect the dots or Ill never be any good for anybody. That doesnt change how I feel
about you or what we are to each other.
I know. I understand; I was just jealous of her.
Because of the girls?
Yes.
I was hoping we could have children.
Carol reached for him and kissed him.
Oh, there you are! Fawn walked over to them, laden with bags from the gift
shop. Weve got to hurry if Im going to be back in time to pick up the kids from day
camp.
Chad volunteered to drive back. Tom sat in front and they played a blues tape
while the women huddled together in the back seat, talking.
They dropped Carol and Chad off in front of the mail box place. They were going
to walk back home after picking up the package.
This time, the clerk was more cooperative. Carol and Chad sat on a wooden
bench in front of a take-out coffee store, drinking iced tea and looking at the padded
envelope. The return address was a law firm in Los Angeles. Inside, was a short letter
to Willy and a self-addressed stamped envelope with a receipt to be returned. According
to the letter, dated June fifteenth, the attorneys had been directed by a software escrow
agreement to send Willy the contents of a small enclosed package upon the death of

Isaak/The Exchange

349

their client. Willy was to acknowledge receipt of the package using the receipt and
envelope enclosed.
Inside the carefully wrapped package was a shrink-wrapped CD jewel case. A
reissue of an old Led Zeppelin album featuring their hit tune Stairway to Heaven.
Chad put the CD in his pants pocket, signed Willys name to the receipt, folded it
and placed it in the envelope and mailed it in the first mailbox they encountered on their
way home.

Isaak/The Exchange

350

Chapter 58.
Amy said it was the hand of God; Fawn thought it might at least be his thumb on
the scale. Carol hadnt even seem to be surprised, accepting the information with the
same placid grace that seemed to pervade her countenance and show itself in her face
with what Chad called her Mona Lisa smile.
For Chad, it was like a hit of speed.

They had walked home from downtown Marblehead along the beach, something
that was only possible at low tide, when the rocky stretches of coastline were stranded
by the receding waters of the Atlantic. Chad had tied his shoes and her sandals to his
belt and they had strolled hand in hand in the wet sand, letting the salty water wash over
their feet and ankles. Chad was trying to come to terms with his new life.
August was the height of the race season. The water off the coast of Marblehead
was crammed with fleets of gleaming sailboats. There was no evidence of the dour,
puritanical conservatism that dominated the rest of New England here amid the
conspicuous consumption of yacht racing. Chad began to fully comprehend Carols
world as they walked past the beautiful houses that were perched at the oceans edge.

Isaak/The Exchange

351

She lived in one of the best houses in the best neighborhood in the best seaside town
north of Newport. This was a level of wealth he had only rarely glimpsed before. When
they passed the small park that marked the beginning of the exclusive enclave locals
called the Neck, Carol pointed out a massive yacht that was heading in toward the
harbor and said she had one almost like it moored at the Club. She hadnt been out on
it once this season, even though it was rigged for solo sailing. The boat was bigger than
his goat barn and his chicken shed put together and the prospect of that massive hull
under full sail with her at his side was almost incomprehensible.
They had come upon the house and grounds from the ocean side and the sight
took his breath away. In the past, he and Betsy used to play a game whenever they
walked a different beach, picking out the house they would most want to own. They
would have picked this one. Chad had often played another game inside his own head,
picking out the woman on the beach hed most want to bed in his male fantasy world.
He would have picked Carol.
As Chad and Carol walked up to the house from the beach, the only decision they
had to make was whether to make love before or after they had a swim. They decided
that before and after was the best choice.
And that was how the rest of their day had gone, with a short nap and a quiet
dinner thrown in for good measure. It was only after dinner when Carol asked if he
wanted to listen to some music that Chad remembered the CD.
He unwrapped it and inserted it into the player. There was only the one song,
Stairway to Heaven, that played. When he pulled out the liner notes from the small
jewel box, a short hand-written note fluttered to the carpet and Chads world was rocked
again.
The note was from the dead software guy that Willy had hired to engineer the
switch. According to the precisely-written instructions, if they ran the program
encrypted on the disk, the switch would be reversed and the back-door into the NCIC

Isaak/The Exchange

352

computer database would be closed forever. Chad would be Chad again. The program
would also wire a million dollars from whatever account they wished into an account for
the benefit of the software guys sister in California, representing the final payment
Willy had agreed to back before the entire scheme had unraveled.
Carol was ready to immediately insert the disk into her computer but Chad
stopped her. It had to be done from a computer not easily traceable to them and it had
to be done quickly.
There were no public libraries open at that time of night. Computer stores were
out of the question. It was Fawn who suggested the all-night cyber-cafe in Harvard
Square. They accepted cash payment for on-line time and asked no questions.
It was after one in the morning by the time the entire crew was assembled and
deployed. Tom had apparently watched one too many episodes of Mission Impossible
during his formative years. As a result, Tom, Fawn, Amy, Alexander and Maria
accompanied Chad and Carol to Cyber-Smith. Thankfully, Tom was the only one who
was armed. As it turned out, it went smoothly and quickly. It took more time to get
their elaborate coffee order prepared than it took for the program to run its course.
Chads no-foam latte hadnt even cooled enough for him to drink it by the time it was
done.
The software guy had constructed a professional installation menu. Carol had to
click a little box with the mouse signifying her agreement to the transfer of a million
dollars in order for the program to proceed. Once she typed in her banks ABA transit
code and her account number, the program commandeered the machines modem and
worked its magic. No one from any branch of the law enforcement community made an
appearance and none of their lookouts were accosted by anyone other than the
ubiquitous panhandlers who worked the Square. Chad even collected a refund of most
of his cash deposit since they had been on line such a short period of time.

Isaak/The Exchange

To celebrate, they caught the last set of a pretty good blues band at the nearby
Hard Rock Cafe. When Carol asked him what he was thinking, Chad said he was
figuring out how to blast Willys ass out of his life once and for all.

353

Isaak/The Exchange

354

Chapter 59.
Whatever Willy had been up to the night before, he had called in for his
messages. Willy called back at seven to confirm that he would meet Chad for breakfast
at the Ritz. To his credit, Willy hadnt even asked what life and death matter Chad
wanted to talk about.
It was an act of supreme will power for Carol to smile when she handed Chad the
keys to the Morgan as he walked out of the kitchen alone. She was on the phone to Amy
as the garage door closed. Amy agreed to pray for his safe return.

As luck would have it, they both wore linen suits. Willys was exquisitely tailored
and looked elegantly professional over his pink button-down shirt and flowered Liberty
of London tie. Chads unconstructed off-the-rack jacket was worn over a white tee shirt.
Willy examined the CD, the law firm letter and the hand-written note as he sipped his
coffee. His eggs benedict were congealing on his plate untouched. Chad was picking at
his ten dollar bran muffin.
Okay. I believe it. So what?

Isaak/The Exchange

355

So, get out. Leave.


Why? This changes nothing. Well, only our fingerprints; almost nothing.
Youre bluffing, Willy. Ive played enough poker with you to know. The first
time either one of us gets in a situation where we get printed, its over and the feds get
called in. With a little luck, well both get sent back to Pennsylvania. I expect Mittys got
a little unfinished business with both of us. By the way, did you know that I was printed
when I took the LSAT exam before law school? I can reconstruct every piece of paper I
need to re-establish my identity. Ill just claim they were all stolen. I bet the US
Attorney would cut me a deal just to put your ass back in jail.
Willy gagged and sputtered as his coffee went down the wrong pipe.
Youve turned into a vengeful prick, havent you?
Prison was one hell of a learning experience, Willy.
I know. Chad, you have to know itll never work. You could never step back into
the practice. Theres too many people. Two lawyers, five summer associates, Jennifer
and two part-time secretaries. Plus, the radio show. Even if you looked like me, youd
never sound like me.
Youll school me on what I should know about everybody and how you act in the
office; Ill study all of the case files and then Ill have a little accident.
I already did that! Another one so soon just wont fly.
Its going to have to, Willy. My ex is moving in to the farmhouse and Im moving
back into my office. Deal with it. Itll be easier with your cooperation but Im perfectly
willing to do it without. You have until noon to decide. Otherwise, I call this number
and all bets are off.
Chad threw a business card onto the perfectly-starched table-cloth, next to the
ornate coffee creamer. It was from Michael Smith, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of
Investigation.

Isaak/The Exchange

356

An ex-cop friend of mine gave it to me. Remember, noon. Chad picked up the
card, put it back into his pocket and walked out of the restaurant into the bright
sunshine. He crossed Arlington Street and strolled through the Public Gardens toward
the lagoon where the swan boats were moored.

Willy called at eleven-thirty. Chad flipped open the phone and threw the rest of
the bag of peanuts at the ducks waddling under the willow tree next to the lagoon. They
agreed to meet back at the Ritz for lunch. Chad called Carol as he waited in the ornate
lobby of the hotel. She didnt seem surprised by Willys capitulation, just happy that
Chad was all right.
Willy arrived at precisely noon and surrendered his shining BMW convertible to
the uniformed parking attendant. Chad stood as Willy swung through the revolving
door and strode purposefully toward him. Chad stuck out his hand in greeting and Willy
grabbed it, pushed close, put his arm on Chads shoulder, and whispered You win,
counselor.
The handshake turned into a bear hug. As they separated, Willy looked Chad in
the eye and asked Friends?
Friends.
Come on, counselor, we got some work to do.
They walked side by side, headed for the bar.

Isaak/The Exchange

357

Chapter 60.
The beamer almost queered the deal. They had sat at the booth eating steamed
clams and going over it point by point, agreeing.
Chad was to get the money still in the firms operating account; Willy would keep
all of the money invested by Alicia. Chad would continue to own the building. They
would spend the rest of the day going over each person in the office and what Chad
needed to know to make the substitution work.
Chad would deliver Monsons three hard drives, mounted in a functional
computer system along with the pass words needed to gain access. This had taken a
short phone call to Carol for confirmation; she had been happy to get rid of them. Willy
assured Chad that Alicia would be able to mine the database for gold legally. In any
event, without the database, there was no deal.
They agreed that the exchange of the hard drives would occur at the farmhouse
where Willy could pick up his few personal items before Betsy moved in.
Willy even agreed to travel to Nevada for a quickie divorce and to get a final
round of surgery to make it possible for both of them to coexist in Boston.

Isaak/The Exchange

358

Chad was going to arrange for the accident with the help of Tom who knew how
to expertly fake a one-car collision. That was when Willy had said he assumed he was
keeping the BMW. They had argued about the car through the black forest cake and the
coffee.
Willy finally agreed when they had their cigars lit as Chad reminded him that it
was only inventory. The Krauts made a thousand of them a week. Chad would
personally buy him a new one.
They shook hands on everything and Chad asked So whatre your plans for the
future?
Maybe Ill get me a brokers license.
Real estate?
Stock.
Dont you need to go to college first? Get a degree?
Well, I figure theres got to be a college around here that needs a new library.
Some things never change, do they Willy?
Nope. And Im thankful for that, buddy.
The waiter brought the bill and handed it to Willy who paid the tab with Chads
American Express card.

Isaak/The Exchange

359

Chapter 61.
Carol loved it. Chad had obviously lavished the old farmhouse with time, love,
money and hard work. The restoration was meticulous. After the quick tour, Chad
showed her the before pictures, along with a binder full of shots showing the work-inprogress. The house had once been the center of a three hundred and fifty acre dairy
farm. Over the course of seventy years, the farmland on one side had been diverted to
development. The pasture and the woodlot had been taken by eminent domain and
made into a reservoir for several nearby towns water supply. As a result, the old house
on the hill now overlooked a hundred acre lake and another hundred acres of piney
woods. When Chad had bought it over fifteen years ago, the house had been home to
local wildlife and the outbuildings had been sagging into oblivion. That he would give
the place to Betsy and his daughters was a testament to his feelings for them.
Chad and Carol had arrived early Saturday morning. Chad drove the new
convertible he had bought for Willy with the computer and hard drives in the trunk.
Carol drove the Jeep, laden with folded-up moving boxes. They planned to pack up
Willys few items for him to pick up the following morning. Chad would pack up his own

Isaak/The Exchange

360

clothes and some other things, leaving all of the furniture and most of everything else
for Betsy. If he wanted anything else later, hed just come back for them.
Mostly, Chad had wanted to share his prior life with Carol and spend one night
with her in his old bedroom before he moved on to his new life in Marblehead.
The packing went quickly; it was the sorting that took hours. They spent nearly
half of the day sorting through the photograph albums and separating the accumulated
pictures into two sets, one for Chad and one for Betsy. At first, Carol was fascinated by
the changes she observed in the babies depicted in the family snapshots. Soon, she
realized that she might be getting too much information about his past. She took the
dog for a long walk around the grounds and down to the reservoir while Chad finished.

KER POW! The chickens scrambled into their shack, dust and feathers flying.
The dog howled one long plaintive note and then began hysterically barking. Chad
reflexively reached into the back of the closet for a gun, stuck it in his waist band, rushed
down the stairs, ran out of the door, and dropped to the ground in back of a stone wall.
He immediately retrieved the gun, sliding a cartridge into place and popping the safety
off.
The gun was only a security blanket. Not that he was kidding himself. If the bad
guys really wanted them dead, the gun wouldnt save them. He knew that a part of him
was always going to be attuned to his own mortality as a constant reminder that hed
irrevocably stepped over the civilized line.
The house, barn, outbuildings, orchard and meadow formed a time-warped
island. On one side of the old farmstead were dozens of nearly-identical suburban tract
houses on quarter-acre lots. Because of the evergreen plantings, old wooden fences,
stone walls and the differences in elevation, Chad was usually unaware of their presence.
He accessed his house via a tree-lined one mile lane through the woods north of the

Isaak/The Exchange

361

house. Now, Chad looked for Carol and for telltale puffs of smoke, glints of metal or
movement at the boundary lines visible from his stone wall.
KERPOW! POW! POW! Chad scanned the ground north and east of the barn,
down to where the lake began. What he saw caused a goofy smile to crease his face. He
bounced up and began striding toward the source of the noise, his hands carefully
reengaging the safety and ejecting the cartridge. Chad popped the magazine out of the
handle, slid the cartridge back in, popped the magazine back in place and replaced the
gun to its prior position in his waistband.
Carol stood talking to an ancient man wearing an incredibly filthy pair of bib
overalls, a tattered flannel shirt, a stained deal hat and a pair of beat-up army boots who
was bent in front of a fifty year old International Harvester Model H tractor cursing
impressively in several languages.
Chad hugged Carol to him tightly and pointed to the tractor.
Elton, got a problem? Chad had to shout directly into the old mans hearing aid
in order to be heard.
I was fixing to mow some hay. Somebitch wont start. I been cranking and she
like to took my arm off, backfired like a somebitch. I seed you take that pea shooter out.
Them somebitches aint worth shit in a real fight. Get you a real gun; a forty-five like I
got in the war. Make you some homemade holler points. You shoot one a them Krauts,
you can put your fist in the hole.
Chad climbed on the tractor, adjusted the throttle and choke, and hopped back to
the ground. He was glad the old man wasnt having a flashback. The old bastard was
scary enough as it was.
Sounded just like a shotgun, Elton. Here, let me try. Chad situated the old
black crank in the slot at the front of the tractor and carefully turned the tractor engine
one rotation. Nothing. When he repeated the process, the engine started with a
powerful roar.

Isaak/The Exchange

362

Elton climbed back up on the old tractor, talking to himself so loudly that his
voice carried over the roar of the machine.
Chad explained that Elton took care of the place when he was gone. Elton had
been a demolition expert in World War II and had spent a considerable amount of time
disarming bombs and mines in Europe. His hearing aids were the result of a mine that
had gone off in his face. Elton was crazy, senile and mostly deaf; what little he heard he
interpreted within the context of his own paranoid world. Yet even Elton didnt go into
a combat crouch at the sound of a motor backfire the way that Chad had just done.
The rest of the day was uneventful by comparison. Chad had everything he
wanted packed in several brown boxes, including the small cache of arms and
ammunition that Willy had apparently already plundered. They fixed a late picnic lunch
and ate it in the gazebo overlooking the brightly-flowered sunken garden. The
remainder of the afternoon was spent tending to the animals and bagging up all of the
things Chad decided needed to be discarded. It took two trips to the town dump before
they were through. By nightfall, they were both pleasantly exhausted.
Chad ran a bath for them in the huge cast-iron tub while Carol changed the sheets
on the bed. They had a long bath together and were in bed by nine-thirty. They were
asleep by midnight.

Isaak/The Exchange

363

Chapter 62.
Carol groaned and stretched her legs, feeling for his now-familiar form. He was
gone; she opened her eyes and looked at the bedside clock. A bright yellow post-it was
stuck atop the little display that blinked to six eleven as she watched. Chad was out for a
final circuit of the lake before they left. Willy was going to meet them at nine. They had
plenty of time to eat, shower and pack the boxes into the Jeep before he arrived. Carol
decided to fetch some eggs and make some pancakes before Chad returned.
She threw the covers back off of her naked form and let the cool morning air wash
over her nipples. Carol yawned and closed her eyes as her legs slipped over the side of
the bed. When she put her right foot to the floor, a steel trap snapped closed,
electrifying her leg with pain. Her leg buckled at the knee and the momentum pushed
her left foot into a second trap. She crouched trembling on her hands and knees,
screaming; then she felt his hands on her ass. She rolled over as she felt his finger find
her rectum. The floor was a minefield of huge rusty leg-hold traps, their jaws set, gaping
wide and sinister. A small shod foot kicked the one closest to her away from her
outstretched hand. She felt herself being dragged upright as she continued to scream
and flail her arms. The pain and pressure of her ankles and the traps jaws paralyzed her

Isaak/The Exchange

364

as she was pulled to her feet. Her wrists were pulled behind her back and cold plastic
restraints tightened as she struggled. She saw him in the wall mirror. Monson.
Like the traps? I was lucky to find them in the back of the cellar. You see, fur is
cruel and so am I. His finger was in her ass and she could feel his wet breath on her
back. I wish I could fuck you; Id rip your ass wide open. But I can do other things.
You should have killed me when you had the chance, cunt.
Carol leaned forward and fell on her face. Monson backed away as she rolled
over and lifted her legs, preparing to kick out at him. It took enormous concentration to
form words and they came slurred with wet ropes of saliva that dribbled off of her chin
as she spoke. What.... do .... you.... want?
You mean other than my nuts and the rest of my cock? I dont think you can put
me back together again, can you? I want my hard drives. Then I want my revenge.
Downstairs.
I know where the fucking computer is; but you changed the access codes on the
database, didnt you?
Take these off....Ill tell.
Monson grabbed her hair, pulled her to the stairwell and rolled her over the
threshold. She fell into a heap in the carpeted hallway and began to scream again. In a
flash, Monson had her up on her legs, forcing her to walk on the traps into the library
where the computer screen on the desk flashed the flying windows screen saver.
Monson pushed her down into the rolling desk chair in front of the computer. He
grabbed one of the antique samurai swords hanging over the mantle and a roll of
packing tape from the stack of boxes next to the French door. In a matter of seconds, he
had her thighs taped to the chair seat, and her left hand taped to the arm of the chair,
after using the sword to cut through the wrist restraints. Before she could talk, he
wrapped the tape over and over around the high back of the chair and over her mouth.

Isaak/The Exchange

365

I dont want any more screaming. You just type the codes when the prompts
come up.
Carol shook her head.
Oh I think you will, bitch. Im going to kill you anyway; you know the drill. Slow
or fast. You decide.
He reached over and pulled her right nipple with his left hand. He held the sword
to her areola with his right. You dont cooperate, Ill collect my trophies before I kill
you.
They both heard the door slam. Monson turned his head toward the door and
released his grip. Carol pushed the sword hand up and out of the way while she kicked
at the back of the desk. Monson fell over backward as the chair rolled into him and the
sword clanged against the desk as it fell to the floor.
Chad burst through the door just as Monson was recovering the sword. Chad
ducked to the floor barely avoiding Monsons wide swing of the lethal blade. Chad
lunged toward the fireplace and grabbed the poker from the clutch of fireplace tools to
the side of the screen. He made a feeble attempt to block Monson with the poker.
Monson severed the tool at the handle but got the sword blade stuck in the cherry wood
mantle. Chad plucked the other sword off its pegs and fumbled with it as he ran to the
French door, trying to free the blade from the ornamental wooden sheath. Moments
before Monson tried to plunge the sword point into his back, Chad crashed through the
French door head-first, landing on his feet in the soft moss-covered Japanese garden
after a wobbly somersault, the sword blade finally glinting in the morning sunlight. He
backed to the center of the small enclosed space, wielding the sword with both hands as
Monson advanced.
Chad stood his ground, surrounded on all sides by Buddhas. Stone ones, fat
ones, brass ones and his favorite, the laughing Buddha, sitting nestled in a towering
patch of giant bamboo, smiling at the battle that raged in the garden. Monson cut and

Isaak/The Exchange

366

slashed, his tiny frame in a frenzy of hyperactivity. Chad stood and deflected every
sweep of Monsons sword with the blade and hilt of his own ancient steel weapon.
Monsons attacks were getting wilder and wilder as his anger and frustration flamed
within him. The moment Monsons foot slipped on the wet moss, Chad swung the blade
into a perfect arc that severed his head. Monsons eyes still held their shocked wideeyed look of abject terror after the head hit the ground.
Chad dropped the sword and rushed to Carol who was struggling to free her
ankles from the traps. The traps were the kind with two straps of metal, one on each
side. Chad depressed the springs with his feet and carefully slipped Carols ankles free.
Chad was bleeding from his scalp and face where hed gone through the glass
door and Carol was bleeding from the back of her head and her shoulder from the fall
down the stairs. Her ankles were deeply grooved from the traps and angry bruises
blossomed above her shin bones. They sat on the floor of the library and held each
other. Neither of them cried nor spoke.
Monsons blood splattered the laughing Buddha and soaked into the bed of moss;
his opaque eyes stared into the blazing sun.

Isaak/The Exchange

367

Chapter 63.
Chad carried Carol back upstairs to his old bed. He washed her head with warm
water and a soft cloth. He put antiseptic cream on her ankles and prepared ice packs to
make the swelling go down. He gave her a Tylenol with codeine from his secret stash
and held her until she went to sleep.
His own cuts had scabbed over and he ignored the throbbing headache as he
went back down the stairs to figure out how to dispose of Monsons remains. Willy was
going to arrive in fifteen minutes. Chad fervently hoped they could come up with some
solution together.
He heard a car rattling the pea stone driveway. Instead of Willys BMW, he saw a
large dark old-style Crown Victoria with Michigan plates. Two men in dark suits exited
the vehicle and proceeded toward the porch in a quick march. Chad could see the bulges
from their shoulder holsters as they walked.
Bad days seemed to just get worse before they got better. If they were cops, Chad
was definitely fucked. The only identification he had was Willys license with his face on
it. And then there was the decapitated body in the garden. If they werent cops, there he
was, unarmed.

Isaak/The Exchange

368

Before they could open their mouths, Willy pulled in driving a twin to the new
BMW sitting at the end of the circular drive.
Willy broke the silence. Trouble?
You might call it that, Chad replied.
Willy walked over to the two dark-suited men. Just who the fuck are you guys?
They ignored him and directed their question to Chad. Monson here?
Chad knew that theyd be Mirandizing him if they were the law, so he answered.
Whats left of him. You want him, you can have him.
Willy blocked their way as they moved to follow Chad into the house and asked
his question again.
This time one of them answered. Were from Detroit, Willy, and we dont give a
rats ass what you guys are up to now that youre out of jail. Just give us Monson and
well be outa here.
When Chad walked them through the library and through the shattered French
door into the blood-soaked garden, the talkative one spoke to his partner. Get the body
bag.
Chad looked at Willy. They came prepared.
The guy who stayed was slipping latex gloves over his hands. He looked at Chad.
You got one o them big freezer bags?
Chad stared back at him. How big? For the head?
Yeah. Believe it or not, those were our instructions: Bring Monsons head back.
Thanks for saving me the job of cutting it off.
Willy spoke up. So, whats the deal, you get a bonus or something if you bring it
in?
Damn straight. Theres three pairs of us out looking. The other guys are staking
out the law office and the place in Marblehead. Guess we just got lucky.

Isaak/The Exchange

369

Willy shrugged and watched as they placed the body in the zippered body bag and
the head in the Zip-Lock two gallon freezer storage bag Chad had retrieved from the
kitchen. How come you guys still drive the old body style Crown Vic? Bigger trunk?
Exactly. Well, we got to be going. Have a nice day.
Willy and Chad watched them carry the bags through the house and load them
into the trunk.
Chad waved as they backed up, turned the car around and headed down the
driveway.

Isaak/The Exchange

370

Chapter 64.
Carol finally had her own period of decompression, a delirious, frightening two
days when all she could do was cry and sleep. The only person who was able to get
through to her was Amy. Amy would hold her and murmur softly to get her back to
sleep after some horrible dream brought Carol screaming back to consciousness. Amy
finally snapped her out of her hysteria by showing Carol how to fly without a plane.
How to free her mind of everything and float far above her earthly self.
Then they talked of their plans for the future. Amy was going back to the farm.
She decided to use her share of the settlement money to buy land. The elders would
forgive her anything if she could help them expand the community. And they would let
her marry Paul as soon as she wanted to. Which was definitely a good thing since she
had missed her period.

Things settled down after that.


Betsy, Rob and the girls moved back into the old farmhouse.
Tom staged the accident.
Willy helped Chad arrange his transition at the office. Jennifer was sweet and
understanding and told Chad that she had changed her mind about sleeping with him.

Isaak/The Exchange

371

She was so devastated by his refusal that only the offer of a pay raise convinced her to
stay on.
Judge Jay Adams agreed to take over the radio show until Chad recovered
enough to resume. Willy predicted that the judge would give up the microphone when
they pried it out of his cold, dead hands.
Alexander and Maria vowed to stay together; Chad and Carol offered them the
cottage. Alexander gave the house in Pennsylvania to his daughter.
Chryslers management team won the proxy fight.

Alicia made a killing on the

futures market, betting on the outcome.


Fawn and Tom announced their engagement.
Carol sent Taleethas zip drive cassettes to a young journalist Alicia knew who
was planning to write an expose on the auto industry.
Mitty became a death-by-misadventure statistic in the first week of the new
reporting period. The Latin Kings took over all of Mittys enterprises. Huffnagle bought
a Spanish-English dictionary.
Willy donated a new library to Endicott College; his degree would be granted by
the time the building was dedicated.
Margot came to Boston for a surprise visit and hooked up with Rodney.
Homeless Ben bought a second Wendys next to Clyde Peeles Reptile World.
Chad and Carol began building a livable life together.

It was Labor Day and Carol had still not told Chad about the baby. Fawn told her
that she was beginning to show and Carol knew she was right. Maybe there was not
going to be a perfect time; she vowed shed tell him today, no matter what.
They were going to have an all-day party at the house. Everybody would be there:
Tom and Fawn with Fawns kids, Alexander and Maria, Chad and Carol, and Amy. As a
special treat, Carol had arranged for a friend of hers to fly Paul in from Pennsylvania.

Isaak/The Exchange

372

He and Amy would go back with Carols friend after the weekend. Even Willy had said
he would stop by for a little while with Alicia. Betsy and Rob and the girls were expected
as well.
People were going to start arriving by noon. Carol called to Chad and motioned
for him to come in from the yard where he was setting out chairs.
She wrapped herself tightly around his body as he came into the house and pulled
him down onto the couch next to the patio doors.
Before she could talk, Chad asked her a question. What were the access codes to
the disk drives?
Why in the world do you want to know that?
Willy suggested that I ask you. Is there a mystery about them?
No. There are two words, you know?
Right; thats what Willy said.
The first one is... She clutched his head in her hand and whispered it into his
ear. Hannah.
Whos Hannah?
They looked into each others eyes. Shes going to be our daughter, Chad. Is that
all right with you?
He kissed her face, her neck, and her breasts and pulled up her shirt and kissed
her belly over and over again, his tears coating her with hot wet slickness. He kept
repeating Oh, yes, yes, yes, as he kissed her. Finally, he kissed her full on the mouth
for a small eternity.
You put in the new code back in Detroit, at Monsons house?
Um hmm.
Chad rubbed her belly, imagining the tiny new life, swimming inside. We made
the baby in Pennsylvania?
Um hmm. That first time. I felt myself ovulating right after I left the prison.

Isaak/The Exchange

373

You did all of this pregnant?


Yes.
They kissed again as his tears joined with hers.
Carol held his hand in hers and asked him, Are you happy? About Hannah?
Oh, God, yes. Chad sat and stroked Carols belly and pondered. Whats the
second word?
Yes. That was my answer to Hannah: Yes.

THE END

Похожие интересы