The Hazards of Good Fortune, Part IV

I’m not a quid pro quo guy.” He said the words. Tell me how that’s any different than a black actor playing some Greek like Oedipus.”
“Oedipus is a fictional character created by Sophocles to illuminate a universal truth,” Noah offered, flexing his theater history. Eventually, he wandered back to the upstate town of Schuylkill in an old pickup truck he swore he won in a card game. Her curly hair had blonde tips and was tied back with a strip of kente cloth, a gift from Aviva when they started sleeping together in October. Her parents divorced when she was fourteen, and until Aviva went to college, she shuttled between their two households. “Give it up, baby. His play Jungle Rot won the Kennedy Center/American Express Fund For New American Plays Award and the American Theater Critics Association Award. He was a writer-producer on the Emmy-nominated HBO series Big Love. To pre-order on Indiebound, click here; on Amazon, click here; at Barnes & Noble, click here. “It’s cool how you memorized that,” Axel said. “Excuse me,” she barked. I won’t. Already serving in a supervisory capacity, her future was promising. She rang the bell on her bike and weaved past two boys ambling down the path holding hands. Aviva had a complicated relationship with her infirmity. His family had been living in Wisconsin less than six months when Axel’s father died of a heart attack at forty-four. The White Plains Police Benevolent Association represented all police officers below the rank of chief employed by the City of White Plains. What troubled her about the tenor of this meeting was that she was known as indisputably pro-police. But she had no idea who Imam Ibrahim Muhammad was. Over and over Imani and Noah burst through an imaginary door and confronted Aviva as Patty. In their dire need for protection, they were the opposite of Jay Gladstone, who towered over her world like a forbidding peak. I will.”
“And then you can live in a hovel somewhere.”
“That’s my plan anyway.”
“How are you going to earn money for rent?”
“By helping people.”
“That’s admirable, Aviva.”
“The differently abled are just as capable of contributing to society as any other group. Noah and Imani picked up Aviva’s legs, and Aviva wheelbarrowed around the table on her hands. “You gonna get all black up in here?” Aviva said, her sassiness intended as a meta-take on “sassiness,” rather than the thing itself. She looked up from a brief she was marking up and smiled at her boss, white teeth in sharp contrast to her dark skin. Short dreadlocks peeked from a do-rag. There was a slapstick chase. Uscio nel mezzo, altro a sinistra. In a situation like this, it was standard for someone from the DA’s office to meet with religious leaders. Axel liked the idea and offered an adjustment. Axel videotaped the rehearsal with his phone, and the performers watched themselves, pulsing from exertion. She considered taking the rest of the day off but that would be to give in, and she had not ascended to her current station by capitulating to personal feelings. “I would be a white woman playing a black man. At that point, having done due diligence, I’ll decide how to proceed.”
O’Rourke said, “Mind if I ask you a question, Ms. MAY 29, 2018

This is Part IV of LARB’s serialization of Seth Greenland’s forthcoming novel, The Hazards of Good Fortune. When she was still living at home, they would often talk about politics. Aviva’s phone rang. Bright sunlight illuminated five gold studs piercing her left ear. She flipped through it and noticed the heavy underlining and extensive marginalia. Only in abandon did it dissolve. She tried to concentrate on the Puccini playing softly in the background. Sucks, but not my fight.”
“Why isn’t that your fight?”
She waited for his answer. He was obsessed with his work, which did not interest her, and sports, which she viewed as a waste of time. The arrival of a racially explosive situation smack in the middle of these already challenging circumstances was not welcome. Lupo?”
If this guy says Ms one more time, she thought, and said, “Fine. Christine tried not to think about skin color, but she had the fleeting thought that if Vere Olmstead had been white, she would not have asked this question. They spent the next hour working on the kidnapping scene. He was in his late thirties, but sunken eyes and a harried look made him appear older. Lupo,” O’Rourke said, his voice raspy and insinuating, “is that Officer Plesko acted according to police procedure and to even think about convening a grand jury to hear evidence would be a slap in the face not just to the officer but to the entire department.”
Christine suspected he used the prefix Ms. Like her father, Aviva had too much to do. Then we need to wrap up.”
“Is this gonna be your last government job?”
“How is my employment situation relevant to the conversation?”
“Just that people talk, and I’ve heard things. Next to him was a ratty bookshelf choked with paperbacks—novels, history, politics. But those are some weird racial politics.”
Aviva’s self-designed major was Form and Mechanism of Political Art, and for her senior project, her intention was to create an original theater piece. The weakness it represented to her was anathema. Christine’s second-in-command—Lou Pagano, an ADA for nearly a decade—sat to her right, scribbling notes on a yellow legal pad. She agreed to be Patty Hearst, and Imani would play Field Marshall Cinque. “Let’s not. “You worry about Sex Crimes, all right?”
Her words came out more curtly than intended but the DA did not care. “But I’m not sure what it has to do with—”
“Imani is right,” Axel concluded. It was his motto.”
“I don’t believe in mottos.”
Another exchange:
“The rents in your buildings are crazy, where are the poor people supposed to live?”
“There’s housing for people in all income brackets.”
“What about the homeless, where should they go?”
“There are shelters.”
“You should build homes for them.”
“I’m not the government.”
“The government is an occupying force.”
“Why don’t you run for office and change things?”
“Because the whole system is corrupt.”
Although Aviva considered herself to be the polar opposite of her father, when it came to will she was his mirror image. In the winter uniform of jeans and a hoodie, she had smooth, light skin and smelled pleasingly of coconut oil. In the otherwise empty rehearsal space in the basement of the theater arts building, the four of them sat on folding chairs arranged around a table. No one running for office in the current racial climate could afford to improvise, and she was intent on gaming out all possibilities to avoid mistakes. She looked over and saw the smile on Imani’s face as the antics of the group animated the small screen. Hair straightened and styled conservatively, a small gold hoop in each ear. A typical exchange:
“All property is theft.”
“Feel free to donate everything you’re going to inherit.”
“Watch me. “How’s your mom?”
“She wanted me to ask you a question.”
“You can tell her you’re a valuable member of the team.”
Olmstead smiled. “Not so fast.”
“You’ve been here nearly an hour,” Lou Pagano interjected. To his sensitive daughter, Jay was a series of large gestures and loud sounds. “Thanks for coming in,” she said. Why should she take time out of her packed schedule to meet with some obscure holy man? There was no other furniture in the room, which felt not unlike the cell of a bookish monk. In political matters, he exuded more gravitas than the typical Tate student and was usually treated by his friends as something of an oracle. Working title: Patty Revolution. But she had never heard of him. The show revolved around the connection between Patty Hearst and Field Marshall Cinque, the ex-convict who was the leader of the SLA. Pressure from below was unacceptable. Was it too much to ask for a few uncomplicated minutes? “You’re damn right Ima get all black,” Imani said. Are you not aware of what just happened down in Florida with that Trayvon Martin kid? “I’m glad we’ve established that pigs aren’t racist,” Aviva said. “Because pigs are a useful metaphor for a lot of things, which you would know if you read George Orwell,” Axel said, as Noah buried his head in his hands. “A citizen was killed by a police officer,” the DA said to O’Rourke as if she was explaining the whys and wherefores to a golden retriever. The sense of apartness this caused waxed and waned, but she always felt different. Nicole’s pulling out all the stops.”
Aviva said she would think about it. Christine took a deep drag of the cigarette. Here she was with her three peers from the far, and to Aviva more meaningful, side of the social scale, and she felt like one of them. Neither would take it well. Christine was not the kind of executive who took breaks with her subordinates but, in her current state, she welcomed it. She couldn’t stand him. The women stood to the side of the building, Olmstead lighting two cigarettes. They were drinking herbal tea from cracked cups. “What you need to understand, Ms. Christine Lupo intended to hold all of them off until her plan crystallized. She was surprised he knew what they meant. There was a political campaign to think about. “Maybe she’s right.”
“Maybe?” Imani said. That much was true. He wore his uniform with a sidearm in a holster on his hip. Mr. “But you should do the right thing.”
“Are you done, Sergeant?”
“Russell Plesko gets indicted,” O’Rourke said, “and what kind of message does that send to the young people who might want to join the police? To her surprise, Olmstead volunteered to join her. She was standing in front of her boss’s desk, prepared to flinch. She handed one to her boss and said, “My mom called this morning.”
The DA liked Olmstead. The show they devised told the story of the Symbionese Liberation Army, a ragtag group of bumbling revolutionaries—deadly and incompetent in equal measure—that exploded into international prominence in the 1970s with the kidnapping of the newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst. “So, let’s see if we can—”
O’Rourke interjected, “Ms. Ignoring the male dominance game, Imani said, “Cinque was a for real black man.”
“Race blind casting only goes one way?” Aviva said. The son of radical European academics (his father an authority on the Spanish Civil War, his mother a Marxist economist), Axel had moved to America as a six-year-old when they accepted teaching appointments at the University of Wisconsin. “Do me a favor and read this.” Axel pulled a paperback from the shelf and tossed it to Aviva. To be outside, to relax, to partake in this annual seasonal rite. Now, I’m aware of your concerns regarding the legal system and will take them under advisement. From her purse, she removed an iPod, cued La Boheme, placed it in the dock on the credenza behind her desk, and let Puccini’s music coax her down from the ceiling. Six feet tall and broad-shouldered, he wore a pullover sweatshirt, cargo pants, and canvas shoes. “The white girl playing the black dude is more provocative,” Axel said. Her parents were originally from Antigua, and she had grown up in Ossining. Still, she felt sandbagged. She wanted to ask the African-American officer to enlighten O’Rourke. Instead, a significant breach of protocol. “Thanks, but that’s not what she wanted to know.” The DA took another long drag. “They have an oppressive government in Sudan, but you never talk about that,” she said. In the wake of the split, when Jay’s ex-wife wanted to move from the Bedford home to the city, he agreed to spend weekdays in Manhattan as well so his daughter’s life would be less disrupted. He interrupted and harangued. Imani liked to experiment with dialect and knew how to be funny about it. A film and TV writer, playwright, and author of four previous novels, Greenland was the original host of The LARB Radio Hour and serves on LARB’s board of directors. The Hazards of Good Fortune will be published in book form by Europa Editions on August 21, 2018. This was a standard bullyboy tactic. ¤
Seth Greenland is the author of five novels. His latest, The Hazards of Good Fortune(Europa Editions), will be published in 2018. When Axel was eighteen, he matriculated at Tate College on a full scholarship. He and his wingmen had been hammering her for nearly an hour, O’Rourke doing most of the heavy hitting. But as soon as the district attorney had introduced the topic of the grand jury, the mood darkened. “What you need to understand, Sergeant O’Rourke—”
“Excuse me, Ms. Typical alpha male. Why wouldn’t a white ADA have questioned her? They slept with their bodies as far away from each other as possible. Angry community groups, the police union, and the media expected face time with the district attorney. That was all the district attorney had wanted, nothing more than a low-key interlude with a trusted colleague, perhaps some small talk about each other’s children, or where to travel over summer vacation. O’Rourke trafficked in intimidation. “Tell him he’s welcome to meet with one of the assistant DAs.”
Kelly said she would take care of it. That shit is blackface.”
“Tell it, girl,” Noah said, ironically. Sang a lullaby while Imani pretended to blindfold her. She might even gain the support of women who would find inspiration in her resilience. This strained back-and-forth was the pattern of their interactions. The rehearsal had ended an hour earlier, and they had gone back to the ramshackle off-campus house he shared with Noah and several other Tate undergraduates. “Until there’s full equality for black people, yeah, that’s right,” Imani said and crossed her arms. Although the lift in her sneaker allowed her to run comfortably, she would pretend to limp just to get her father to remove her from the game. “I wasn’t going to say anything because I want to respect your agency, but if you go you’re endorsing the policies of the Israeli government.”
“Okay, so to follow your logic, no one should have visited America during the Iraq war?”
“That would’ve been cool,” he said. She had just received actual confirmation of her husband’s behavior, and the emotional fallout would be long and painful. During freshman year, Aviva and Axel had slept together several times, but now they were more like siblings. “Can’t no white girl play a black man. Who knew when they last had sex? Although no longer enrolled in the college, he had become their de facto director. Although her parents assured her it meant nothing, for Aviva, it had been a humiliating flaw. Rather than return to Europe, his mother elected to remain in America. Christine had quit smoking during the nineties, so this was more of a surprise than the revelations about her husband. They played with the idea of violence, miming it without touching one another. The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon. No one had touched the assortment of pastries displayed on the table. He looked at his boss. Noah danced into the room. ¤
Chapter Eight
The same morning Jay began to suspect his cousin Franklin was looting the family till, his daughter Aviva careened down a tree-lined path that ran along the north side of the main quadrangle of Tate College astride a fat-wheeled bicycle with old-fashioned upright handlebars. No help would come from that pension-protecting corner. “You can’t play Cinque because he was a black man.” She was a rangy black woman. Their most successful action, according to Axel, was the freeing of two thousand pigs from a pig farm. The games exhilarated all of them, Aviva most of all. As a small child, she attended a school where the social-emotional learning component did little to stop playground taunts. “He insists on meeting with you,” her assistant informed her. She pressed the cigarette to her lips and inhaled deeply once more, letting the smoke fill her lungs, before exhaling through her nose. Unlike him, Aviva knew when to stop arguing. Not entirely, of course, because some gorges could never be fully bridged, but their connection was close enough. “We need to finish up here,” she said. Back at her desk, the DA tried to medicate herself with more Puccini but found she could not concentrate. I’ve got another meeting waiting. “Or Zimbabwe, or—”
Cutting her off, Axel said, “Those are Africans subjugating Africans. “I appreciate your interest in my career, but I’m not getting into hypotheticals.”
“Union support still matters.”
She knew she should end this right now but wanted to see whether O’Rourke would hang himself. This brief fugue eventually subsided and, although she was not religious, she crossed herself because this is what her parents did when something terrible happened. “Absolutely,” Imani said. The children with cleft palates in magazine advertisements, indigenous tribes whose forest redoubts were being despoiled by the ravages of capitalism, street beggars in India, they all tore at her. “That’s gonna be on you.”
Christine stood up, and Lou Pagano followed suit. Lupo, but what you need to understand,” the cop interrupted, his voice rising, “again, all due respect, is that anything can happen in a grand jury room, and we all know anything can happen at a trial, am I right?” Here he turned to his fellow officers for confirmation and together they sagely nodded. “Mom wanted to know when you think you’re going to convene a grand jury on the John Eagle shooting.”
It was one of those transitional winter-to-spring days when the warming temperatures, the sun’s rays, the pleasant smells, all feel like a reward for surviving another northeastern winter. “It tells you everything you need to know.”
“Is this as dense as that Edward Said book you lent me?”
“The Orientalists? She was insensate, conscious only of pure emotion. It tasted better than she remembered. Christine Lupo had had it. A full head of jet-black hair slicked straight back and small, ratlike eyes that said I take shit from no one. I commend that. There was requisite handshaking, except for Lou Pagano who made a point of snubbing O’Rourke, and then Christine and her deputy left the room. “Why can’t I play the dude?” Noah asked. “It’s an expression.”
“Okay. “Am I talking to you?” O’Rourke said. “March f-o-r-t-h. “I was thinking more along the lines of you getting my case files better organized without my having to remind you.”
“I’m sorry,” Kelly said. Their government doesn’t stand behind them?” He pushed away from the table indicating the show was over. She regarded the framed picture of their children on her desk. I’m not going on that free trip to Israel ’cause I’m not Jewish and you’re not gonna be Cinque.”
“I’m not sure those two things are equivalent,” Aviva said and looked at Axel to see if he agreed. The next day she was leaving on a free trip to Israel provided by an organization whose mission was to expose young Diaspora Jews to the prodigious history and manifold delights of the Jewish state, and still hadn’t gone over the packing checklist. “Semi-black,” Imani teased. “Your presence there is an endorsement of the government’s policies.” She sat on a mattress on the floor of his small, bare-walled room. No one is going to push us aside.”
Jay viewed his daughter’s handicap differently. ¤
This book is a work of fiction. He was over six feet tall, but the five foot six DA regarded him the way an ax-wielding lumberjack looks at a tree. The DA continued, “He’ll talk to all the witnesses and report to me. “Your grandfather was born on March 4th,” he said. “What white folks need to understand (it sounded like unnastan),” Imani began, her oval face arranged in a parody of pedantry, “is that black people gotta play black people.” She scrunched her features, and Aviva tried not to laugh. O’Rourke stared down at the DA. And so he put a little spin on it, one that said I’m calling you Ms. This morning O’Rourke and three uniformed associates were seated in the DA’s conference room across the table from Christine. “I’m not going to leak it,” Olmstead said. She was hardworking and levelheaded. “Why isn’t it your fight?” she repeated. A wave of grief flushed through her. Pagano is the number two person in this office, and he will interview Officer Plesko himself.” Pagano puffed up at this and looked at O’Rourke, who did not meet his gaze. It was impossible to verify any of his stories, but he told them with conviction. But it made her strongly identify with marginality, economic, racial, or gendered. Axel said he needed to think about it. She needed a cigarette. Born with a right leg that was ¾ of an inch shorter than the left, Aviva had worn a lift in her shoe since childhood. Did she have to explain the particular nature of the current situation again? Kelly preferred not to talk to the DA when opera was playing in the office because she knew it was often palliative and she was reluctant to interrupt treatment. Here, it’s relevant.”
Imani nodded, deferring to his perspective. “At least I’m black.”
Half black, half Jewish, and gay, Noah Booker (uniform: jeans and hoodie) was a slim six foot two with a long, thin face. ADAs, as a rule, did not attempt to divine their boss’s intentions. Fierce brown eyes, full lips lightly glossed, and a nose in no way too big but one a less confident person might have considered having bobbed, arranged in a pretty face. Aviva fit right in. When they were out of earshot, the District Attorney of Westchester County turned to Lou Pagano and as twelve years of parochial school indoctrination burst its tightly bound ropes, demurely said, “Fuck that Irish cocksucker.” She laughed loudly then caught herself and looked around to make sure no one had overheard. Were he a prominent cleric, that would be a different order of business. They’re not meant to entertain you.”
Earlier in their friendship, because of her background, which stood in such sharp contrast to Axel’s, Aviva felt that she was constantly in danger of failing some unspoken test. “It’s not blackface if I’m doing it as me,” Aviva said. On the rides home, he would give her pointers and Aviva would either ignore him or say, “Leave me alone, I’m a cripple.” If the price of his attention was going to be the development of athletic skills, she wasn’t interested. “It’s like when we liberated the pigs,” Axel said. Noah suggested adding another piece of business to the scene. Anything else?”
“Your mother told me she’s going to be out of town on Passover so I’d like it if you came to the Seder at our house this year. “The grand jury’s job is to hear the evidence. Is that a question?”
“No,” Kelly said. Her bat mitzvah project entailed calling every one of her parents’ hopelessly bourgeois friends to request they donate one old coat, then asking those people to each call five friends and implore them to do the same. “What did you tell him?”
“He’s coming in at noon?” Kelly said, her voice rising at the end of the sentence. “How long have they been sitting there?”
“Fifteen minutes.”
As Christine walked briskly past her subordinate, she vowed that when she ascended to the office of governor, Kelly would not accompany her to Albany. “We do. Today.”
“Why did you set that meeting without discussing it with me?”
“You told me to take more initiative if I want to get promoted.”
“This is not what I meant, Kelly,” Christine said with less than infinite patience. The chaffing dynamic was a familiar one, and there was no resentment in her voice. Individualism was extolled, conformity abhorred. Let’s not mince words.”
“No,” the DA said, patience vanishing. Then she dropped it half-smoked and ground it out with her shoe. “So, thank you, gentlemen for coming in.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” O’Rourke said and held up his hand. When Aviva was in fourth grade, he insisted she play basketball in the local recreational league and he coached the team. Two years earlier, he had dropped out of college and traveled to Oregon to join a renegade environmentalist collective. A person moved forward, a view inculcated in Jay by his father. “You can’t be a black man.”
Aviva understood that arguments about race between people of different races rarely ended well (and given that Imani was currently her girlfriend, this one was particularly fraught), so it was time to retreat. The meeting had begun pleasantly enough—greetings, handshakes, how do you like your coffee? As if the societal changes wrought by the 1960s had never happened. Aviva experimented with her reactions. He wasn’t intimidated and was careful not to react. But her confidence had grown since freshman year. They followed orders. The bitter February afternoon Aviva spotted a man panhandling in a Comme des Garçons was one of the happiest moments of her life. You listen to me. “Tell your mother that the process will take its course.” Christine’s manner indicated that the matter was now closed. The DA asked if she could bum a smoke. A red anger lit her. Founded in the 19th century as a Christian seminary, it had become a model of progressive education that attracted the kind of student who formulated her own interdisciplinary major and aspired to found a nonprofit, be an artist, or create an app designed to end world hunger. “I understand your feelings, Sergeant O’Rourke,” the DA said, “but I don’t see that I have a choice.”
“Don’t have a choice?” O’Rourke spitting words like pellets. By the end of second semester sophomore year, Axel had flunked out. “What do you want me to do?”
What indeed? He talked in the manner of her soon-to-be-ex-husband, forcefully and with great certitude. Do you have any idea what it’s going to look like if we bypass the grand jury system? Their elected leader was a forty-two-year old pit bull of a Sergeant named Brian O’Rourke. “All due respect, you’re the DA, and you can do whatever the hell you want.”
Christine took a deep breath and waited. “I understand that Russell Plesko seems to be a first-rate officer and appreciate the support he’s getting from the union. The head of Sex Crimes wore a navy pantsuit, starched white blouse, and pumps. “What are you saying?”
“Nothing. “It’s a lot of appropriation, for sure,” Axel said to Aviva.  
“You shouldn’t go to Israel,” Axel said to Aviva. The pair walked past a row of desks staffed by department secretaries stationed in front of offices manned by their ADA bosses. Axel sat cross-legged on the scuffed floor with a copy of the script. “Said the soul sister,” Noah responded. A meeting that’s at least as important as this one, all due respect.” She wielded all due respect the way he employed Ms., like a weapon. Any references to historical events,
real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Greenland’s novel follows Jay Gladstone from his basketball-loving youth to his life as a real estate developer, civic leader, philanthropist, and NBA team owner, and then to it all spiraling out of control. His face was impassive. “The pigs didn’t care what color we were,” Axel said, “because it wasn’t relevant. Her family’s wealth was an unwanted carapace, a boundary separating her from others. To help facilitate their conversations, they invited Axel, who lived in the same off-campus house as Noah, to join them. To start with installment one, click here. When Aviva flew by them, one shouted a greeting. So he claimed. Wanted to say, Don’t you know this case is racially charged? “You don’t hand out meetings with the district attorney like they’re after dinner mints,” Christine admonished her assistant. Despite having read more widely than most of his classmates, and having had a far wider range of experience (again: he claimed), whether from boredom, delayed onset of mourning his father, or just the belief that radicals did not need college degrees—no one could say—he stopped attending classes. She did not have the self-abnegation gene that would allow her to overlook his behavior in the interest of her political career. She allowed that missing ¾ of an inch to define her, as what she deemed to be her father’s perfection came to represent Aviva’s view of him. Alienated from her circumstances, these were her people. He filled several journals (Aviva had seen them) with handwritten observations because one day the world would be interested in how he had spent his early years. “What’s up?”
“I’m just calling to tell you to have fun in Israel and stay out of trouble.”
“Why would I get into trouble?” Guarded, wary of aggression. But Pagano was the son of a New York City transit cop and had spent his entire career around police officers. “When a prosecutor can’t convict a wife-killing scumbag just because he was on a television show, we all know the system is broken. He was raised on a diet of Karl Marx and John Lennon, and as a child accompanied his surviving parent to conferences in places like Cuba, where he learned how to roll a cigar from a man who fought in the revolution, and Algeria where a former member of the PLO taught him to shoot a semiautomatic rifle. The cover was beat-up, several pages folded back. “Are you asking me? The query notched her anxiety level up. There’s chatter you want to be governor.”
This was true, but if O’Rourke was hinting at some below the radar quid pro quo, he was an even bigger jackass than she suspected. What was she going to tell them? O’Rourke’s multiethnic coalition of fellow officers, Irish-American, Asian-American, and African-American, were all roughly their leader’s age. A fruitless week of staring at a computer screen led her to ask Imani and Noah to collaborate. If the officer is blameless, there won’t be an indictment but to not let the system function is a dereliction of duty on the part of my office.” She took a sip of her cold coffee. Then she informed her boss that her 8:30 meeting was waiting in the conference room. On the walls, rows of framed posters of student performances going back to the 1960s, Stoppard, Chekhov, Shepard. That their father had cheated on her? Noah did not appreciate being patronized and flipped his pen at Axel, who snatched it out of the air. The daunting prospect of having to tell the children their parents were splitting up, the logistical nightmare of divorce, that overbearing cop who had hardly bothered to dress up his threats, all of it was upsetting. Briefly, she wept but chose to believe her reaction had more to do with her husband’s stupidity than sorrow that her marriage was about to end. There was improvisation. She screamed. “He’s coming in at noon. Aviva acknowledged her friend with a wave and nearly lost control of the bike. The DA told Olmstead she wanted to take a walk and stretch her legs, but the real reason was that she didn’t want to ride up in the elevator together and risk further conversation on the subject of John Eagle. Here was Pagano, and O’Rourke’s water carriers. “For real?” Imani asked. Her daughter was a sensitive kid, her son prone to sullenness. Imani used her script as a megaphone. She was angry about what nature had wrought and often expressed that anger, indirectly, at her parents. “Aviva—” She could hear him sigh. Copyright © 2018 by Seth Greenland
First Publication 2018 by Europa Editions
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in whole or in part in any form. She may have prepared for the impact, but the reality was brutal. He rode a bus to Sacramento and spent time as a migrant laborer (once more: he claimed), following the harvest from California, to Oregon where he hooked up with a group of animal rights activists with whom he may or may not have participated in the pig liberation about which he was so fond of talking. “We’ve heard the pig farm story, like, a hundred times,” Noah said. Imagine the face of a Leni Riefenstahl subject upholstered with a scrubby growth of beard, dirty blond hair gathered in a short ponytail. Having gotten his attention, she proceeded in a more measured tone. It was time to bring this confab to a close. Continuing to pedal, she reached into her pocket and extracted it. She glanced at the black cop, a thickset man with a mustache and soft brown eyes. They had been working on the script, trying to incorporate the best of the improvisational material, and Axel’s comment was a non-sequitur. She had known men like O’Rourke her entire life, attended the same Catholic schools, saw them at mass on Christmas and Easter. The campus was located in Schuylkill, a quaint town in the Hudson River Valley. Wavy chestnut hair cascaded to the middle of her back from beneath an emerald green knit hat. She knew the status conferred by society on people like the Gladstones had the reverse effect in her current environment where both her “whiteness” and her family’s wealth left her at a constant disadvantage, but still felt bound to advocate for her position. Aviva felt Imani’s hand on her shoulder. Pugnacious, tradition-bound, and often bigoted, changing times had forced them to submerge that third quality in the interest of career advancement. Olmstead had quit smoking, too, but her professional duties and the nature of the defendants in her purview caused the occasional relapse. Did he think she was going to engage in this kind of negotiation with an audience? Her father. The cops rose. “I read Animal Farm in middle school,” Noah said to his palms. By the time she finished pestering, one thousand two hundred and fifty-three homeless people had winter coats. Lupo but I won’t pretend it’s not some brainless, politically correct nonsense. Lupo—”
Again with the Ms. When was the last time they had shared a confidence? It revealed a series of calls her husband made to a young woman, and further research showed visits to a “love nest” in Battery Park City, several of which had taken place on days he had told his wife he was out of town on business. She quickly righted herself and sped toward the theater. Although the tangible evidence only confirmed what Christine had suspected, the news hit like a death in the family. “Don’t we want to mess with people’s preconceptions?” Aviva said. “So, you’re gonna go legitimize the Zionists?”
For all of his intellectual curiosity, Axel’s politics did not allow for complexity. While she sat at her desk in the early morning quiet cogitating on this, the report from Kronos Cyber Security arrived in her email. I have been courteously hearing you out, and for the last fifteen minutes, you’ve been saying the same thing ten different ways. Then, she chastised herself for thinking that. Ibrahim Muhammad had called the office multiple times since yesterday and had identified himself as the imam at the mosque attended by the shooting victim. She accepted that he did not want to answer the question she posed. You overcame obstacles. In the manner of guilt-ridden parents of means, her father plied her with gifts, trips, a horse (Aviva: Can I sell him and give the money to charity?)—but his attention had no discernible effect. Laughed. In the eyes of his peers, he was uniquely qualified to adjudicate disputes like this one because his revolutionary bona fides put him on a different moral plane. The DA met her colleague’s gaze and indicated she would take care of it. She held him in high regard, as much because of his biography as his intelligence. “I still have to pack for the trip.”
Chapter Nine
John Eagle had been dead for one day. He was demanding a meeting with the district attorney to discuss the case. She pushed up the sleeves of her hoodie. Performances set for early May, just before graduation. “Let’s get back to the script,” she said. because it was required. The March wind gusting off the river reddened her pale cheeks as she vigorously pedaled, wool scarf fluttering over her nylon backpack, unbuttoned pea coat flapping like a pirate flag over a sweater and ripped jeans. Divorced politicians were as common as pigeons so what was one more? Walking down the hall where the ADAs worked, she stepped into Vere Olmstead’s office. Scripts covered in markings next to Styrofoam cups of cold coffee. Yeah, kinda.”
“I only got through half of that.”
“These aren’t novels, Aviva. The Lupos were going to a restaurant this evening for their weekly “date night.” Now, she was looking forward to it.  
“I don’t see why I can’t play Field Marshall Cinque,” Aviva said. O’Rourke’s eyebrows rose, and his head tilted back as if from the physical force of her will. Laboring over a paper on Djuna Barnes for her Gender Theory class deep into the night, she had overslept and was late for rehearsal.