International Writers Magazine:
as an obscure fishing village on a spit of sand at the point where the
mouth of the Rio de la Plata meets the Atlantic, Punta del Este was seized
upon in the 1940s by developers as the site for a luxury resort because
of its location midway between Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro . It had
evolved as the playground of Latin American aristocracy, its casino, five
star hotels and nightclubs playing host to notables no less eminent than
Juan and Eva Peron, the presidents and industrialists of Argentina and
Brazil, performing artists and sports stars of South America and Europe,
as well as various other monied elements drawn by Uruguays discreet
banking culture and lax enforcement of extradition agreements concerning
fiduciary irregularities. In short, it was the ideal location for a mayor
of New York currently under indictment.
Keynes In Punta del Este
Excerpt from novel in progress entitled "A
Symphony of Fear"
dressed in Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts, exalted at the ocean
breeze as the sun rose over the South Atlantic . The morning air
of Punta del Este smelled of salt spray with a faint odor of pines.
He had just completed his morning constitutional, a walking tour
of the small peninsula that the people of Uruguay consider the jewel
of their country.
The mayor had long ago purchased a duplex in the luxurious Malecón
Condominiums overlooking the Playa Mansa beach in anticipation of just
such an eventuality, and that is where he had retired to following his
inculpation by New York s Republican U.S. Attorney following revelations
of kickbacks relating to the rezoning of Coney Island. Mayor Keynes had
no doubt that he would inevitably get the indictments thrown out. New
York was a Democratic city, and he had had a stranglehold on judicial
appointments to the federal bench in the Southern District for a considerable
number of years. But he was damned if he would give his political enemies
the satisfaction of seeing him led into the courthouse in handcuffs, the
digital images of which would survive for the duration of the Republic.
No, he would take a much-deserved vacation and leave his attorneys to
sort out the legalities of the situation.
He had a private jet awaiting him on a little-used runway at Kennedy Airport
. On his way to the airport, he instructed the driver to change direction
and go by way of the Belt Parkway through South Brooklyn. Once there he
again confounded his security detail, ordering them to take him to Brighton
Beach, where he exited his limo and walked out onto the sand. It was a
clear, moonlit night. He walked in his Saville Row suit and hand-crafted
brogues to the waters edge, turned his back to the bay, and gloated
with triumphal satisfaction on the result of his handiwork, a magnificent,
glittering skyline rivaling that of Miami Beach or even Manhattan. What
had formerly been a shabby, inconsequential quarter of Brooklyn, a squat,
nondescript neighborhood of squalid apartment blocks and ramshackle carnival
attractions fit only for the deracinated masses of immigrants, he had
transformed into a glittering utopia of avant-garde architecture and glamour
bursting at the seams with the cream of the worlds elite who battled
each other tooth and nail for an apartment overlooking Breezy Point (he
had a development plan in mind for that as well) and Sandy Hook.
Mayor Keynes understood that the process had been brutal, neighborhood
cohesion built up over the course of generations having been destroyed.
Helpless people had been uprooted and made to suffer. But if New York
was to survive, it was only by continued growth and development. Where
would Paris be today if not for the vision and ruthlessness of Baron Haussmann?
Closer to home, Robert Moses had been viciously excoriated for his remodeling
projects of the twentieth century, but ultimately been proven right.
Mayor Keynes was unmarried and childless. New York was his only family,
and he intended to leave it grander and richer than he had found it, the
same as one would do for ones own children. He saw the city as an
organic entity: cells die and cells are born the difference being
that the physical body has only a finite expectancy of life whereas New
York was meant to live forever.
Had he personally profited? Of course he had! The concept of the selfless
public servant working for the betterment of the community while himself
refusing to touch filthy lucre was a naïve one at best. Put plainly,
it was pure imbecility. Mayor Keynes had fought himself up from the streets
of Hells Kitchen, where his mother ran a saloon on Tenth Avenue
. He had been a Golden Gloves boxing champion as a teenager, won a full
scholarship to Yale and studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. If he had
gone into government, as opposed to private enterprise, was that any different
than the nobility of Europe who disdained commerce for careers in the
military, government or the clergy? They certainly never entertained the
notion of living modestly like a humble dormouse, and neither did he.
From the start, he had modeled himself as a novus homo in
the tradition of the Roman Empire , an eminence of public administration
who became rich working for the benefit of the collective.
Starting his political career in the office of the City Controller, he
had become notable for his integrity, though he nevertheless developed
close ties to the banking community and used what he heard to occasionally
make a small investment for himself. As he rose through the city hierarchy,
so did the volume of his placements and nobody thought the worse of him
Though naturally gregarious, erudite in fact, he kept his own counsel.
And he never forgot the lessons he had learned as a boxer. Nobody advances
in New York without making enemies, or at least adversaries, and the mayor
kept his stomach tight to withstand hard body blows. Though he tried to
stay outside the reach of opponents and keep them off-balance with jabs
in their faces (rhetorically speaking, of course), he was never hesitant
to step inside and exchange shots at close range, to keep punching with
both hands until he had driven them onto the ropes, exhausted and reeling
from the inundation of blows, whereupon he would shower them with head
shots until they crumpled. People of lesser ability than he, and that
included everybody, soon learned to stay clear of him though it built
him indomitable blocs of enemies that waited and seethed in frustration
as he prospered, until the zoning scandal finally erupted.
The scandal broke when the New York Long Term Credit Bank discovered that
a Brooklyn machine tool manufacturer, Simon Orlovsky, had borrowed hundreds
of millions of dollars secured by forged export orders that did not exist,
and that Orlovsky had invested the money to finance the construction of
luxury condominium developments in Coney Island. When Federal and state
prosecutors became involved, Orlovsky quickly flipped, supplying details
of dummy corporations controlled by The Sea Breeze Gang and wearing a
wire to record discussions involving payoffs to consultants
in return for rezoning resolutions passed by the city council. The payments
were traced to Swiss bank accounts which the compliant Swiss banking authority
revealed to be controlled by shell corporations operated out of the Channel
Islands and Grand Cayman Island . And so on and so forth until, when all
the skins of the financial onion had finally been laboriously peeled away,
the trail finally led to a handful of Tampa millionaires with CIA connections
who had contributed heavily to Mayor Keynes (among others)
election campaigns and who owned vacation properties to which the mayor
held lifetime leases.
These revelations were enough to whet the appetite of the Republican U.S.
Attorney, ominously (for anybody who had ever served time in Massachusetts
) named Shirley Needham. She subpoenaed all Mayor Keynes banking
records and discovered links with other consultancies suspected
of arranging for various exclusive Manhattan properties to be undervalued
for tax purposes in return for cash payoffs.
No smoking gun was ever discovered with the mayors fingerprints
on it, and as the flood of nebulous accusations and innuendo cascaded
daily in the newspaper and media reports, he ceaselessly insisted that
he was the victim of a right-wing smear job fuelled by partisan politics.
But Shirley Needham, who kept a bust of Rudy Giuliani in her office, had
been able to assemble a construct of interlocking interests illustrated
by flow charts and diagrams that convinced the sitting grand jury to indict
him on forty-two counts of conspiracy and racketeering.
In the first interview granted by the mayor from his vacation retreat
in Uruguay, he stated with jocularity, Forty-Two is my lucky number.
These things happen from time to time in New York politics. He continued.
Mayors are often sitting targets for competing political interests.
William Jay Garner was shot in the neck by a disgruntled public employee,
and he eventually died from the wound. Let them say what they like, as
long as they keep their pistols in their pockets.
Mayor Keynes breathed deeply the robust salt air of the South Atlantic
. To witness the inspirational rising of the sun and the multifarious
beauties of nature at dawn was his tonic. He often wished that he had
been inspired by the muse to write poetry like so may of his Roman forebears
(as a person of English extraction, he counted the ancient Romans as part
of his ancestral heritage). Oh, the joy to compose as Cicero had:
Meanwhile the paths which you from earliest days did seek,
Yes, and when Consul too, as mood and virtue called,
These hold, and foster still your fame and good mens praise
His heart quickened. Oh boy, that was poetry! That was life, to dine at
the banquet table in the company of Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassus,
discussing Scipios African campaigns and the politics of the Roman
senate. Life today, with its predigested video life and its sound bites,
was barely tolerable.
Mayor Keynes was nevertheless clever enough to know that not having been
visited by Calliope, the goddess of poetry and, lacking the artistic component,
he was condemned to at best a second-rate existence. Still, he accepted
his limitations as he saw them and persevered.
He breakfasted on croissants and strong coffee at an outdoor café
facing the boat basin and walked back to his apartment. One room of the
apartment had been remodeled into a situation room with T.V. monitors
and an elaborate computer set-up. He switched on three monitors to the
American all-news channels and let them drone on while he perused the
web sites of the New York papers. The hard copies would be FedEx-ed down
to him, but that would be late in the day, too late to respond, so he
gleaned what he could from what was available on the internet. Then he
speed-dialed his press secretary at City Hall.
The mayor had found it useful to have for his spokesman a person of color.
The man he chose for this post, a black man named Julius Knight, was a
retired policeman who had only achieved his B.A. at age 39. Julius Knight
was hard-bitten as they come, having served in the citys most notorious
precincts, but he had kept a vigorous, youthful image by virtue of an
exacting fitness regimen, and would not have been out of place modeling
shirtless and in tights in the color pages of Muscle and Fitness Magazine.
After retiring from the force, he had become active in community affairs
in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he worked as advance
man for a city counselor nowhere near as qualified as he. It was there
that he came to the attention of the mayor, who he met at a community
function. What endeared him to Mayor Keynes was that as a youth, Julius
Knight had been Golden Gloves. The mayor loved boxers.
Julius Knight presented a stern, authoritative image of rectitude before
the television cameras, but in private he was a helpful, eager subordinate.
The mayor loved him and repeatedly promised him all future assistance
in the furtherance of Knights political career (Julius Knight took
these promises with a grain of salt, being enough of a New Yorker to understand
the true value of a boss promise).
When Knights image appeared on the videophone, Mayor Keynes, dispensing
with niceties, plunged into the business at hand. We have to respond
to these Community Board 3 complaints about the emissions from the emergency
generators at the 13th Street Pump Station.
Youll call a press conference and emphasize the fact that
water purity is in the interest of all New Yorkers, and that the short-term
loss of air quality in Alphabet City is an unavoidable by-product of the
current energy crisis. Make sure you throw in something about the fowling
of city waters from the pollution being dumped into the Hudson River by
In the meantime, call Dan Bernstein at the Department of Environmental
Protection and find out where we stand in terms of installing more powerful
filters on the emergency generators.
That rabbi in Brooklyn who got indicted did you find out
if he contributed any money to our last campaign?
As far as I know, his contribution was in the neighborhood
Well, when you find out the exact amount return the contribution
Issue a press release deploring the design of the Regents Math exam,
saying it places an unfair burden on underprivileged city students.
Julius Knight asked, Have you seen the exam?
Well go back to it later. Remember, theres an election
Whats the latest on that officer who was shot in Staten Island
Hes in intensive care.
Who visited him?
The Deputy Police Commissioner.
You feel like taking a ride over there?
If you think I should, sure whynot?
Dont forget to bring flowers.
The guy already got enough flowers to start his own export business.
Thats O.K., think of something else. Dont show
up emptyhanded. Make sure you have something inspirational to say to the
The only thing the press wants to hear is when youre coming
You can remind them that this is my first extended vacation since
I assumed office. Tell them that Im having a conference with the
Uruguayan justice minister to explore international law enforcement cooperation.
Julius Knight smiled, They should get a good laugh out of that.
He who laughs last et-cetera. Have you spoken with my attorneys?
I spoke to Jake Pretzel. Theyre drawing up a motion for the
Court of Appeals to have the indictments thrown out on the grounds that
they are offensive to your rights of due process on the grounds
of the dangerous expedient of commencing an investigation based on media
The mayor exploded. What kind of horseshit is that?! Im not
paying them hundreds of thousands of dollars to bury me by filing frivolous
motions. Tell them to file that motion in the garbage and come up with
a more comprehensive strategy, something with a foundation in case law.
No, Ill tell them myself.
Pretzels in Chicago today, and Hamburger and Frankfurter are
in court trying a counterfeiting case.
Counterfeiting of what?
Youve got to be kidding! Mayor Keynes laughed out loud.
By this time the American dollar had been loaded up with so many security
measures, 3-D halographs of the presidents, bars and water marks that
showed when the bill was held up to the light, even embedded computer
chips, that only the biggest donkey would attempt to knock it off. Who
is this genius? he guffawed.
A guy named Morrie Belo. They call him Pops.
I know Pops, said the mayor. Hes in the rag trade.
Hes already loaded.
Show me a New Yorker who thinks hes got enough money, and
Ill show you an anti-social element, deadpanned Julius Knight.
Anyway, I dont think they got him for participating in the
actual operation. More like being an accessory before the fact, for the
financing of it. The actual counterfeiters are Italian wiseguys from Bay
You think they got a case against Pops? asked the mayor.
If I was privy to that kind of intelligence, I might be better placed
to tell you the true status of your case. My sources just dont extend
Well, I hope for Pops sake that its not as bad as you
say. Counterfeiting, whew!
© Dean Borok November 2007
Want more? Write to Dean Borok and tell him.
Passion of Nino De Jesus
Dean Borok (extract)
Niño de Jesus frequently had marveled at the fork lift truck on
his way to work and one day, when the proprietor had left the gate unlocked,
he snuck in for a closer look. Climbing up the ladder on the side and
peering into the control booth, he noticed that they had left the key
in the ignition. After all, one might reason, who would steal such a monster?
Only a crazy man!
all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibiltiy
- no liability accepted by hackwriters.com or affiliates.