Alexis "Lexi" Grayson
Narrator: Babylon. The garbage disposal in the broken down tenement that
was Parlortown. This drab gray building was heavily lined in barbed wire and
housed the most depraved of the depraved: rapists, child molesters, drug lords,
murderers, and now, detectives. Macy Hayes was half of Parlortown’s
only true savior, the Decker & Hayes Detective Agency. At the end of her
last case, Macy had shot a man out of revenge, and, incidentally, in the interest
of justice. Rather than delve into the sordid past that had brought her to
that point, Macy accepted the charges facing her and made the doomed journey
to Babylon. She’d spent the last 550 days behind its bars knitting furiously.
If there was one thing to be said about Macy, she brought color to Parlortown – even
to its prison. She made potholders, oven mitts, coasters, all things Stella
would never use. She had sent each one home with a letter telling Stella that
she would use them when she returned, and Stella had lovingly placed each
one in the cupboard in the kitchen. She’d gotten used to tying her own
tie each morning and ignoring the voice in her head that reminded her of Macy’s
sentence: 25-to-life. Cold-blooded murder. Vengeance and rage at their peak
in Parlortown, even the crime-fighters are falling prey. But Macy made her
way concentrating on her knit, perl, knit, perl, and Stella tightened her
knots and straightened her ties, and neither of them broke the optimistic
tone of Macy’s letters. Business had not been extraordinarily good for
Stella, but what else was new? She’d picked up a few cases in the last
year-and-a-half, and she had the help of some close friends. Tommy Potsdam,
her skinny effeminate secretary, had been beefing up with tae bo classes and
avoiding women since being poisoned and double-crossed by his last girlfriend.
Julian McGuinness, a fellow detective, was offering moral support and the
occasional extra right hook in between dates with people far too beautiful
for him. Sitting at her desk in her office, Stella was absentmindedly playing
with one of Macy’s coasters when her intercom buzzed suddenly and nearly
knocked her off her chair.
Tommy: Miss Decker, a man here to see you.
Narrator: Stella put the coaster in a drawer and pressed the button on her
Stella: Tell him I don’t swing that way, kid.
Narrator: The door between Stella’s office and the lobby opened gently,
and a slim, blond man in his mid-thirties slid around it. He was dressed in
a well-fitting black suit and carried a briefcase with him. He spoke in a
smooth, friendly tone from the door.
Derrick: This is hardly a marriage proposal. May I?
Narrator: Stella raised a brow and motioned him to the chair in front of
her desk. The man closed the door quietly, walked over to the desk, and offered
his hand to Stella. Her intercom buzzed again.
Tommy: He’s a tad persistent, Miss Decker.
Stella: Thanks, Tommy.
Derrick: Derrick Washburn.
Narrator: Stella remained seated but shook his hand firmly.
Stella: Stella Decker.
Narrator: The man took a seat in the chair, his legs together, his briefcase
on his lap. He nervously fingered the latches on the case, and shifted his
eyes from Stella to her desk and back again.
Stella: (friendly, a little sarcastic) So, why are you avoiding the fuzz,
Derrick: I’m….I’m sorry?
Stella: It’s a joke, sir. Usually when a client comes to me there’s
a reason they can’t go to the police. Or, perhaps, the police aren’t
very effective, though you didn’t hear that from me. Far be it from
me to joke in such serious times, though. What seems to be the problem?
Derrick: (laughing nervously) Oh, of course. Well, I suppose I’ll get
right to it then?
Narrator: Derrick spun some dials on his briefcase, opened both latches,
and balanced his briefcase open on his lap. He shuffled nervously through
his papers, and talked in a businesslike manner into his briefcase.
Derrick: My son has been kidnapped. He is six years old. He has been missing
for two weeks.
Narrator: Derrick produced a 4x6 color photo of a small blond boy from his
briefcase and handed it across the desk. Stella accepted the photo and looked
it over. The boy was in denim overalls and a blue-and-white striped shirt,
and he had a big grin on his face.
Stella: I take it you really didn’t go to the police.
Narrator: Derrick then produced from his briefcase an 8 ½ x 11 piece
of printer paper. On the paper were cut and pasted words from various magazines:
Stella: "Daniel is safe but not for long. He likes to sing a very sad
song. He really misses good old Pops, but he’ll cry if you call the
cops. One million dollars, one month’s time. The punishment must fit
the crime." ... I see.
Derrick: I couldn’t call the police. Danny’s life is at risk.
Stella: But you chose to contact me. Aren’t you afraid that they’ll
Derrick: I had to do something. Besides, I trust you ladies. I’ve heard
very good things, and I trust a former Agent to treat this properly. Will
you and Miss Hayes take the case? You’re my only hope, you realize this.
Narrator: Stella looked the young man up and down. He had closed his expensive
briefcase, smoothed his expensive suit, crossed his legs, and revealed his
expensive, well polished shoes.
Stella: Where did you say you were from, Mr. Washburn?
Derrick: Parlortown, of course. I’m from here.
Stella: You must live on the edge of town, then?
Derrick: Yes, of course.
Narrator: Stella paused for a few moments, her eyes mesmerized by the reflective
power of his leather bound toes. She looked him in the eye.
Stella: I will require an upfront fee, as well as provisions. You understand
Derrick: (happy, relieved) Yes, of course.
Stella: Good. See Mr. Potsdam at the desk out there about finances.
Narrator: Derrick got up, grinning like a kid, and shook Stella’s hand
Derrick: I can’t thank you enough, Miss Decker, and please pass that
on to Miss Hayes…… (prying) is she…..out to lunch?
Stella: We’ll be in touch, Mr. Washburn.
Narrator: Stella pushed the button on her intercom.
Stella: Hey kid, hetero coming your way. Draw him up some papers, will ya?
Tommy: Right-o, Miss Decker.
Narrator: Meanwhile, Macy was starting a set of placemats when a guard appeared
outside her cell.
Guard: Got a visitor, young lady.
Narrator: The guard let Macy out and escorted her to a small room with several
tables in it. A few of them were occupied by prisoners and family. At a corner
table sat a stocky man in a crisp suit. At his side stood a slim, dark-haired
woman in an equally crisp though more fashionable suit. They both sported
nametags on their left lapels, and the woman smiled brightly when Macy approached
Macy: (completely shocked) Oh my….god. Lexi? Excuse me – Alexis.
God, I never thought I’d see you again.
Lexi: (warmly) Listen, I can’t hug you or anything...
Narrator: She motioned to the guards standing watch at the door.
Lexi: ...But have a seat.
Macy: Well gee, you’re all dolled up and I haven’t even had time
to do my hair.
Lexi: You haven’t changed a bit, Macy.
Macy: God, how long has it been?
Lansberg: (annoyed) Twelve years.
Lexi: Uh, Macy, this is Matthew Lansberg. He is the head of our organization
Narrator: Macy looked over the unfamiliar man with the chunky gold ring on
his left hand. A school ring of some sort? She couldn’t see. But it
was ugly, and she didn’t like it. She didn’t remember the name
or the face at all
Macy: (a bit untrusting) Twelve years, huh. That’s a long time. Your
girls must be pretty big by now.
Lexi: High school. They think they’re adults, but they still sleep
with the blankets you knitted them.
Lansberg: Well this is sweet, girls, but Ms. Grayson, you and I have business,
and I’m sure Miss Hayes will want to get back to…darning her socks
or what have you.
Macy: I’m sorry, what did you say your name was?
Lexi: Matthew Lansberg. It’s okay, Macy, we’re here to help.
Lansberg: We’d like to talk to you about your days in Russia, Miss
Hayes. Specifically about information you sent to us from Russia – and-
Narrator: One of the pudgy man’s eyebrows raised itself, and his lips
drew themselves into a knowing smirk.
Lansberg: ...about information you didn’t send to us from Russia.
Macy: (curtly) What is this?
Lansberg: Please, Miss Hayes. We’re offering you a chance at freedom
Macy: Just how exactly do you plan to do that? I assume you’ve been
keeping up with the news? (voice lowered) I’m a cold-blooded killer,
Mr. Lansberg, and no amount of gold on your fingers can change that fact.
Narrator: The guard appeared at the table, straightening Macy’s shoulders.
Guard: Keep it so we can hear it, sweet cheeks.
Narrator: The guard returned to the door and Matthew Lansberg continued unfazed.
Lansberg: Now is not the time for games, Miss Hayes. I don’t think
you have to search your memory very hard to figure out just what it is we
are discussing here. The very important information we received from you while
you were in Russia has now, twelve years later, proven to be insufficient.
As a result, lives are at stake – important lives. This is big, Miss
Hayes. My offer is as follows: you give me enough information to satisfy me,
and you get to leave this prison.
Macy: That seems a little too easy.
Lansberg: (a little sarcastic) They told me you were sharp.
Macy: (impatient) Funny, they told me nothing about you.
Lansberg: You prove to me that I can trust you, that you’re in this,
and I’ll get you out of here. You will be released into our custody
until the matter is settled. During this time you will help me deal with the
information you originally withheld, and you will try not to kill anyone in
the process. (kind of joking) That is, you will try not to kill anyone unnecessarily,
and if you do have to kill someone, you will try not to get caught. You help
me and keep yourself clean, and you’re a free woman.
Narrator: Macy maintained a cold, distant stare that slid back and forth
between the fat stranger and her former partner.
Macy: Let me talk to my attorney.
Narrator: And she was out the door. She was escorted back to the cell that
she shared with three other women. She stood on the inside of the sliding
door for a minute after the guard had locked it. She drank in the site – three
other women in matching gray suits lounging uncomfortably in their standard
issue bunk beds. In the bed above hers was a woman who’d shot her husband
and his girlfriend when she found them in bed together. In the top bunk on
the other side of the cell was a large-scale coke dealer, and below her a
woman who’d shot her girlfriend, also over an affair. They were all
reading fashion magazines or Home and Garden, and they were the best friends
Macy could have found in her predicament. She sighed and settled into knitting
in her bunk. It was stiflingly hot, and this wasn’t exactly your five-star
penitentiary, so everyone tried to move as little as possible. After dinner
the guard returned.
Guard: Yo, Miss Congeniality, you’ve got another friend.
Macy: Jesus, what now?
Narrator: She was escorted to the same table.
Stella: (trying to keep her chin up) Hey, Mace. How they treating you in
Macy: Oh, they’ve been leaving me alone since you threatened that other
inmate, and I’ve got my friends and stuff, they’re good gals.
(getting tearful) And I’m starting on some placemats for us. It’s
been kind of a weird day.
Stella: You and me both, babe. Listen, anyone around here know about your
days in the Agency?
Macy: What? How did you….um, no, not around here. In the city there’s
a few, but I haven’t seen them in, oh gosh, north of ten years. What’s
Stella: We got a client today, mentioned how he trusted you to handle his
case because of your Agency training.
Macy: Trusted me to handle it? I don’t understand.
Stella: Neither did I, but I’m sort of putting it together. He knows
about your past, but he doesn’t know about…where you are. So I
figure he’s not from around here.
Macy: Well where did he say he was from?
Stella: That’s the thing. This blondie comes waltzing in in a suit – I
mean, a real expensive deal – saying he’s from the town. Specifically,
from the edge of town. I sort of roped him into that part, but he was lying
through his teeth. Gave me some song and dance about his kid being kidnapped.
He had a photo and a ransom note and everything. Seemed honest and upset enough,
but for obvious reasons I found it fishy. Only took it cause he mentioned
Macy: Did you bring the photo?
Narrator: Stella grinned and handed over the picture.
Stella: Told ‘em it was your kid.
Narrator: Macy looked over the photo. She didn’t recognize the kid.
She handed the photo back.
Macy: And the note?
Stella: Well, I couldn’t bring it, obviously, so you’ll have
to use your skills of memorization. It’s sort of a poem, and it’s
pretty straight forward, but the end is kind of cryptic. I’m going to
have a chat with our client, but I wanted to see if it made sense to you first.
Just look at me and smile like I’m telling you about home.
Narrator: Stella looked indeed like she was telling some sort of cute anecdote
from home as she recited for Macy the poem from the ransom note. Macy listened
patiently and thought for a minute.
Macy: Listen, Stell, something’s happening. I don’t really know
who to trust right now, but let’s stay on this one. (thoughtful pause.)
Huh. Two cases in one day, and I’m a criminal. Business is better than
we thought, huh babe?
Stella: (incredulous) I’m sorry, what? You? You’re….taking
Macy: Listen, I know Julian was hesitant about representing me, being out
of practice and being friends with me and all. But I need a real attorney
now, not a court-appointed schmuck who’s going to get me locked away
forever. This is deep, Stell, and we can trust Jules. Will you impress that
upon him? This is…important.
Stella: Well jeez, Macy, of course. But what is this all about?
Macy: This is about Alexis Grayson and the Mother Country.
Narrator: Has Macy ever had a pristine past? Where did Matthew
Lansberg come from, and what’s his connection to our heroines? Will
Tommy ever love again? Tune in next week for at least some of these answers
in the next installment
of Decker & Hayes, entitled "Shadows of Gotham City."