Wednesday, April 28, 2010

H&H Part 18 - The Stalker

After Easter break the crew reassembled back in Jackson. I spent time with friends in Calgary. Kaplan was still back east. I end up at Ari the Greek's with Jorn the cameraman and Ari introduces us to a Polish man who made a fortune in peat moss from the Canadian north. Show-runner Jonathan is there and he seems happier than before. Rino, the other writer seems to be aloof now, and I suspect something is up.

All in all, it's good to be back in Jackson, Louise at Hava Java welcomes me with a quesadilla she's learned to make and a hot coffee. The locals at the bar are happy to see us back. And I missed life in a small town.

But nothing has prepared me for Finbar Riley.

It began when I walked downtown to pick up my copy of the LA Times. I passed two locals talking to each other and noticed that one of them, a short, thin man, seemed to take interest in me. He immediately stopped talking to the other man and instead followed me.

Having lived around Detroit for many years, my street sense is pretty acute and I knew within a few seconds, that he was following me. I entered the magazine store and turned to see him walk up to the door, stop, then step back a few feet and pace back and forth.

I got my paper, saw him outside and left the store and walked away. He walked right behind me, maybe 10 feet or less. Finally I stopped, turned around and confronted him.

"Are you following me?" I said.

Since I'm over 6 feet, the man looked up at me with cold eyes and said this;

"Tell the big boys Pablo's back in town".

Honest to God. That's what he said. What he meant I had no idea of, nor would I ever. But one thing for sure. He meant them.

Most friends of mine will testify I attract weird people. I don't know why, maybe, as a writer, I'm just curious and it seems to come out. I pay attention to people also and that may be a factor. But right now I had no idea what this man was talking about.

I continued walking back the 7 or so blocks to the office. And the little man was about a quarter of a block behind me. Finally I reached Louise's coffee house and turned inside. I tell her someone's following me. She looks out the window, and sure enough he's standing there waiting for me to come out.

"Oh, that's Finbar Riley", she laughed. I'm a little relieved as she says he's a local businessman and quite harmless. I tell her he's following me and Pablo. She has no idea what that means, that's just Finbar. Then she invites me to a party at her house.

By this time Finbar is gone. I step outside, like a kid hiding from a bully and walk back to the office where I tell the story. Everyone laughs and thinks it's great, usually it's the actresses who get stalkers. Yet I see headlines in the weekly paper: 

"Writer gunned down on Main Street by Finbar Riley." 

Someone suggests I go to the local police. I decide to do that just in case Finbar's behaving a little odd and has decided on some action to a stranger. I go to the Police Department and tell a civilian secretary. Not missing a beat, she says...

"You'll want to talk to Officer Dave". 

Officer Dave sits in a small crowded office with his foot in a cast, a little soccer game that got a little out of hand, he laughs. He asks how the TV show is going and is happy to be a police advisor if I want.

I then tell him about Finbar and Officer Dave's smile fades a little. Dave tells me Finbar was a train conductor who somehow married above his station, a woman who comes from a wealthy local family. But after a few years, she got tired of him and is now in the process of dumping Finbar.

To make it even worse, she is carrying on a very open affair with a local divorced man called Mark Roberts. And since it's a small town, Finbar is not only angry but humiliated. 

So where does good old Jim come in? 

Officer Dave continues; Finbar has already threatened Roberts three times and assaulted him on the street once. The police have booked him, fingerprints and all. Dave says they really don't perceive him as a threat but they don't discount it either. He appreciates me telling him about my incident and adds that Finbar is an alcoholic as well. 

But why me? I ask.

Officer Dave doesn't know, but maybe he thought I was Roberts because I look a little like the man who's stealing his wife. He adds that Finbar will probably forget about the whole thing by tomorrow, but if I want, one of the officers will drop by and remind him to not go threatening anyone in town. 

"So who's Pablo". 

Office Dave says he has no idea. I leave a little better, but again, visions of headlines like "he was so harmless", "never hurt a fly" spin in my head. Back at the office, the story has spread like fire and the lovely Marilyn coasts by and smiles her lovely smile, "hear ya got a stalker Jim", she says.

Now I feel like a real idiot. Why couldn't the stalker be Marilyn?

The pay-off comes later at Ari's bar when I explain the story to him. He points at a man standing at the bar nearby. "That's Mark Roberts." He could resemble me in some ways and wears an anarak coat the same color as mine. I wonder if I should introduce myself; "Hey Mark, I hear you're bedding Finbar's wife".

But I decide to leave it alone. And besides Erica the star has entered and demands attention.

I never do see Finbar again, but I heard a few years later that a train ran over his foot.

When it rains it pours.

(Fri: The Party and Ari's past)