A few weeks before Billy’s parole, Kathy had moved back home to Lancaster, returning to her old job at Anchor Hocking. The only thing that made the job tolerable was her new friend, Bev Thomas. They worked together in the select-and-pack department, examining glassware as it moved along the Belt, talking above the roar of glass-firing burners and air blowers. When Kathy quit Anchor Hocking to begin college at Ohio University in Athens, the two girls kept up their friendship.
Bev was an attractive young divorcee about Billy’s age, with brownish-blond hair and green eyes. Kathy found Bev independent, tolerant and blunt. Bev was interested in psychology; she said she tried to understand the meanness in people and what in their backgrounds caused them to act the way they did.
Kathy told her how her own family—especially Billy—had suffered from Chalmers violence. She invited Bev to her mothers house, showed her Billy’s paintings and told her about the crimes that had sent him to prison. Bev said she’d like to meet him.
Kathy arranged for Billy to go for a drive with them soon after his return home. In the late afternoon, Bev pulled up in front of the Spring Street house in her white Mercury Montego, and Kathy called to Billy, who was working on his VW. She introduced them, but Billy just nodded and turned back to what he was doing.
“C’mon, Billy,” Kathy said. “You promised we’d go for a drive.”
He looked at Bev, then at the VW and shook his head. “Oh, I say, I don’t really feel confident enough to get behind the wheel. Not quite yet.”
Kathy laughed. “He’s in his British mood,” she told Bev. “Oh, I do say, really.”
He glared at the two of them with a haughty look, and Kathy was annoyed. She didn’t want Bev to think her brother was a phony.
“C’mon,” Kathy insisted. “You can’t clown your way out of keeping your promise. Two years without driving isn’t that long. It’ll come back to you. If you’re afraid to drive, I will.”
“Or we can take my car,” Bev suggested.
“I’ll drive,” he said finally, and stepped around to the passenger side of the VW, holding the door open for them.
“At least,” Kathy said, “you didn’t forget your manners in prison.”
Kathy got in back and Bev slipped into the front. Billy walked around, got behind the wheel and started the car. He let out the clutch too quickly; the VW lurched forward and pulled out onto the wrong side of the street.
“Maybe I should drive,” Kathy said.
He said nothing, but hunched over the wheel as he pulled back to the right and drove very slowly. After several minutes of driving in silence, he pulled into a service station.
“I do believe I need some petrol,” he said to the attendant.
“Is he all right?” Bev whispered.
“He’ll be okay,” Kathy said. “He gets this way every so often. He’ll snap out of it.”
As they watched, his lips moved silently. Then he looked around, quickly taking in his surroundings. Seeing Kathy in the back of the VW, he nodded and smiled.
“Hi,” he said. “Beautiful day for a drive.”
“Where are we going?” Kathy asked as he pulled out and drove smoothly and with sudden confidence.
“I want to see Clear Creek,” he said. “I dreamed about it so many times during the past two years in . . . in . .
“Bev knows,” Kathy said. “I explained to her all about what you did.”
He looked at Bev thoughtfully. “Not too many people wouid go around driving with an ex-convict just out on parole.”
Kathy saw Bev looking him straight in the eye. “I don’t judge people that way,” Bev replied, “just as I don’t expect to be judged.”
In the rear-view mirror, Kathy saw Billy’s eyebrows go up and his lips purse. She could tell that Bev’s remark impressed him.
He drove to Clear Creek, where he’d gone camping so often, and gazed at it as if taking in the view for the first time. Kathy watched the water glinting in the sunlight through the trees, and she understood why he loved the place.
“I’ve got to paint this again,” he said. “But I’ll do it different now. I want to see all the places I knew, and do them over.”
“It hasn’t changed,” Bev said.
“But I have.”
After they had driven around the area for two hours, Bev invited them to her mobile home for dinner later that evening. They drove back to Spring Street so that she could pick up her car, and she gave them directions to the Morrison Trailer Court.
Kathy was pleased that Billy wore his new pin-striped suit to dinner. He looked handsome and dignified when he dressed up, trimmed his mustache and brushed his hair back. At the trailer Bev introduced Billy to her children—five-year-old Brian and six-year-old Michelle—and he turned his attention to them immediately, setting one on each knee, telling them jokes, pretending to be a little child himself.
After she fed the children and put them to bed, Bev told him, “You have a way with children. Michelle and Brian took to you right away.”
“I love kids,” he said. “And yours are particularly delightful.”
Kathy smiled, pleased to see that Billy was in his charming mood.
“I’ve invited another friend for dinner,” Bev said. “Steve Love lives in the trailer court, too, but he’s separated from his wife. We’re best pals. I thought you’d like to meet him. He’s a couple of years younger than Billy, half Cherokee, a real nice guy.”
When Steve Love came in a short while later, Kathy was struck by his handsome dark complexion, bushy black hair, mustache and the darkest blue eyes she’d ever seen. He was taller than Billy.
During dinner Kathy sensed that Billy liked both Bev and Steve. When Bev asked him about life in Lebanon, he told them about Dr. Steinberg and Mr. Reinert, and how being able to paint had finally made prison endurable. After dinner he told about some of the things that had gotten him into trouble, and Kathy had the feeling he was boasting. Suddenly Billy jumped up and said, “Lets go for a drive.”
“At this hour?” Kathy said. “Its after midnight.”
“Great idea,” Steve said.
“I’ll get my neighbors niece to baby-sit,” Bev said. “She sits for me at any hour.”
“Where’ll we go?” Kathy asked.
“Lets find a playground somewhere,” Billy said. “I feel like swinging on a swing. ”
After the baby-sitter arrived, they crowded into the VW, Kathy and Steve Love in the back, Bev beside Billy in the front.
They drove to a small schoolhouse playground. At two in the morning, they played tag and swung on the swings. Kathy was glad Billy was having such a good time. It was important for him to have new friends so he wouldn’t become involved with the people he’d been associating with before he went to prison. That was one of the things his parole officer had tried to impress upon the family.
At four in the morning, after they dropped Bev and Steve back at the trailer court, Kathy asked Billy what he thought of the evening.
“Real nice guys,” Billy said. “I feel I’ve made some friends.” She squeezed his arm.
“And those kids,” he said. “I just love those kids.”
“You’ll make a good father someday, Billy.”
He shook his head. “That’s physically impossible.”
Marlene sensed a change in Billy. He was a different person now, she thought, with a hardened attitude; he seemed to draw away from her, as if wanting to avoid her. That hurt, because all the time he had been in Lebanon, she had never gone out with anyone else, dedicating herself to him alone.
One evening a week after his release, he came by to pick her up after work. He seemed himself again, soft-spoken and polite—the way she liked him—and she was glad. They drove out to Clear Creek, one of their favorite drives, and then back to Spring Street. Dorothy and Del were out, and they went to his room. It was the first time they had been really alone, without arguing, since his return, the first time there had been a chance to hold each other. It had been so long that she was frightened.
He must have felt her fear, because he pulled away.
“Whats the matter, Billy?”
“Whats the matter with you?”
“I’m scared,” she said. “That’s all.”
“It’s been over two years since we’ve been together.”
He got out of bed and dressed. “Well,” he grumbled, “that really turns me off”
The break came suddenly.
Billy surprised Marlene when he came by the store one afternoon, asking her to drive down to Athens and spend the night there with him. They’d pick up Kathy from school the next morning and drive back to Lancaster.
Marlene said she didn’t feel like going.
“I’ll call you later,” he said, “to see if you’ve changed your mind.”
But he didn’t call. And a few days later, she learned that Bev Thomas had made the trip with him.
Furious, Marlene called him and told him she wasn’t going to go on like this. “We might as well forget it,” she said. “There’s nothing there.”
He agreed with her. “Something might happen and I’m afraid you might be hurt. I don’t want to see you hurt again.” She knew that now she had to take him at his word, and she felt the pain of breaking with someone she’d waited for, more than two years.
“All right,” she said. “Let’s end it.”
What bothered Del Moore most about Billy was the lying. The boy would do stupid or crazy things and then lie to avoid the repercussions. Dr. Steinberg had told him not to let Billy get away with the lies anymore.
Del told Dorothy, “Hey, he’s not that dull-witted. He’s too bright to pull things that dumb.”
All he would get from Dorothy was the same answer: “Well, that’s not my Bill. That’s the other Bill.”
It seemed to Del that Billy had no skills or aptitude of any kind except painting. And he never took advice or listened to instructions. Del said, “Billy would listen to a total stranger before he would listen to someone who had his well-being at heart.”
When Del asked him who the people were that gave him information or advice, Billy would always say, “Some guy I know told me.” Never a name or explanation who “they” were or where he’d met “them.”
It irritated Del that Billy often would not even bother to respond to simple questions, preferring to silently leave the room or turn his back. Del also grew angry with Billy’s fears and phobias. He knew, for instance, that Billy was terrified of guns—even though the boy knew nothing at all about them. As far as Del was concerned, Billy knew nothing about anything.
But there was one thing about Billy he could never explain. Del knew he was much stronger than Billy; time and again they would arm-wrestle, and there was just no question in his mind that Billy was no match for him. But one evening when Del challenged him to an arm-wrestling match, he was astonished when Billy put him down.
“Let’s do it again,” Del insisted. “But this time let’d do it right-handed.”
Billy put him down again without saying a word, then got up to leave.
“Big strong guy like you ought to be out working,” Del said. “When are you gonna get yourself a job?”
Billy looked at him, confused, and said he had been looking for work.
“You’re a liar,” Del shouted. “If you really was serious about getting work, you would. ”
The argument went on for over an hour. Finally, Billy grabbed his clothes and most of his stuff and stormed out of the house.
Bev Thomas was now living with Steve Love, who had been evicted from his own trailer. When Bev heard about Billy’s hassles at home, she invited him to move in with them. Billy checked with his parole officer and got the okay.
Bev enjoyed living with two men. No one would believe there was nothing sexual going on, that they were just three best friends who went everywhere together, did everything together and had more fun together than she’d ever had before.
Billy was great with Michelle and Brian. He always took them swimming, or got ice cream for them, or took them to the zoo. He cared about those kids as if they were his own. And Bev was impressed that when she came home from work, he’d have the place cleaned up, all except the dishes. He never did the dishes.
Sometimes he acted so feminine that she and Steve wondered if he was gay. Often Bev and Billy would sleep in the same bed, but he never touched her. When she asked him about it one day, he told her he was impotent.
It didn’t matter to her. She cared about him. And she loved the things they all did together, like going to Burr Oak Lodge for three days, camping out and spending fifty dollars on junk food. Or hiking through the woods at Clear Creek in the middle of the night, Billy holding the one flashlight and playing James Bond, trying to find secret caches of marijuana. It was fun the way he would talk with his British accent, giving the Latin names of all the plants. It was all madness, the things they did together, but Bev felt free and happy for the first time in a long time with these two wonderful guys.
One day Bev came home to discover that Billy had painted his green VW black with crazy silver patterns.
“No other VW in the world is like this now,” he said.
“But why, Billy?” Bev and Steve both asked.
“Well, the sheriff’s office is keeping an eye on me anyway. This’ll just make their job easier.”
What he didn’t tell them was that Allen was sick and tired of panicking when he couldn’t remember where someone had parked the car. The distinctive black-and-silver pattern would make it easier to find.
But when Billy met Steve’s brother, Bill Love, a few days later and saw the van he owned, Billy traded the VW for it. Then Billy traded the van to a friend of Steve’s for a motorcycle that didn’t run, but Steve, who had his own bike and who was expert at repairing motorcycles, got it in working order.
Steve discovered that at times Billy rode the motorcycle like a demon and other times he was afraid to ride it at all. One afternoon when they were riding in the countryside, they passed a sharp incline of shale and rock. Steve skirted it and went ahead, but then he heard the roar of an engine above him. When he looked up, he saw Billy at the top of the cliff.
“How’d you get up there?” Steve yelled.
“Rode up!” Billy yelled back.
“That’s impossible!” Steve shouted.
Seconds later he could see that Billy had changed and was now trying to get down, acting as if he didn’t know the first thing about riding a cycle. Several times the cycle went one way and he went the other. Finally Steve left his own. cycle below, climbed up the sheer face of the hill and helped Billy , walk the cycle down.
“I can’t believe you rode up there,” Steve said, glancing , back, “but there’s no other way.”
Billy looked as if he didn’t know what Steve was talking about.
Another time, when Steve was alone with Billy, they went walking in the woods. After two hours of climbing hills, they still faced a peak up ahead. Steve knew he was stronger and a better athlete than Billy, but it was too much even for him.
“We’ll never make that, Billy. Let’s rest and go back.”
But when he fell back against a tree, exhausted, he saw Billy suddenly gather incredible energy and run full speed up the steep hillside to the top. Not wanting to be outdone, Steve scrambled his way up. Up ahead, he saw Billy at the top, arms outstretched, shaking his hands and fingers as he looked down at the view below He was talking in a strange language Steve couldn’t make out.
When Steve got up to the top beside him, Billy turned, looked at him as if he were a stranger and then went running down the hillside toward the pond below.
“Oh Jesus, Billy!” Steve shouted. “Where are you getting the energy?”
But Billy kept running, shouting something in that foreign language. He dove fully clothed into the water and swam quickly across the pond.
Steve finally reached Billy, who by now was sitting on a rock on the far bank, shaking his head as if to clear the water from his ears.
He looked up as Steve came toward him, and said accusingly, “Why’d you throw me in the water?”
Steve stared at him. “What are you talking about?”
Billy looked down at his dripping clothes. “You didn’t have to push me in.”
Steve stared at him and shook his head. He didn’t trust himself to argue.
After they went back to their motorcycles and Billy rode as clumsily as a beginner, Steve told himself he had to watch this guy, because he was surely crazy.
“You know what I’d like to do someday?” Billy said when they reached the roadway between the pond and the hillside. “I’d like to stretch a canvas across the road between those two elm trees, high up so cars could pass under it. I’d paint it so it looked like the mountain with shrubs and trees and a tunnel right in the middle.”
“Billy, you got some strange ideas.”
“I know,” Billy said, “but I’d like to do it.”
Bev found her money dwindling away on food and repairs for the cycles and cars. (Billy had bought an old Ford Galaxy.) She began to hint that Steve and Billy should start looking for jobs. They applied at several factories around Lancaster, and by the third week in May, Billy was able to fast-talk the people at Reichold Chemical into jobs for both of them.
It was heavy work. As the strings of fiberglass came out of the vat and were rolled into wide mats, their job was to cut the mats when the roll reached a certain size. Then they would lift the hundred-pound roll, place it on the cart and begin the new roll.
On their way home one night, Billy stopped to pick up a hitch-hiker who carried an instamatic camera hanging around his neck.
Driving toward town, Billy offered to trade the young man three hits of speed for the camera. Steve saw Billy dig into his pocket and come up with three white tablets wrapped in a plastic bag.
“I don’t do speed,” the hitch-hiker said.
“You can sell these for eight bucks apiece, a quick profit.” The hitch-hiker did some quick figuring and handed over the camera in exchange for the plastic bag. When Billy let the man off in Lancaster, Steve turned to him: “I didn’t know you did chemicals.”
“Where’d you get the speed?”
Billy laughed. “Those were aspirins.”
“God,” Steve said, slapping his thigh. “I’ve never seen anything like you.”
“I once sold a whole suitcase full of phony pills,” Billy said. “I think its time to do it again. Lets make some blotter acid.” He pulled into a drugstore to buy gelatine and a few other ingredients. Back at the trailer he melted down the gelatine in one of Bev’s pans to a patty one sixteenth of an inch thick. When it was hard and dry, he cut it into quarter-inch squares and put it on tape.
“Blotter acid should sell for a few bucks apiece.”
“Whats it supposed to do?” Steve asked.
“Speed you up. Make you see hallucinations. But the beautiful thing is if you get caught pushing these fake ones, there are no drugs involved. And whats the poor sucker who buys them going to do? Go to the cops?”
Billy took off for Columbus the next day. When he came back, the suitcase was empty. He had sold a batch of aspirin and blotter acid, and he was flashing a roll of money. But Steve noticed that he looked scared.
The following day, while Billy and Steve were working on Billy’s motorcycle, a neighbor, Mary Slater, shouted at them to stop making so much noise. Billy threw his screwdriver against the side of her trailer. The sound of the screwdriver against the metal sounded like a gun going off. Mary Slater called the police, who hauled Billy in for criminal trespassing. Del had to post bond. Though the charge was dismissed, Billy’s parole officer told him to move back home.
“I’ll miss you guys,” he said as he packed. “And I’ll miss the kids.”
“I don’t think we’re going to be here much longer, either,” Steve said. “I’ve heard that the manager is going to evict all of us.”
“What’ll you do?” Billy asked.
“Find a place in town,” Bev said, “and sell the trailer. Maybe you can come and live with us there.”
Billy shook his head. “You don’t need me around.”
“That’s not true, Billy,” she said. “You know we’re a threesome.”
“We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ve go to move back home.” When he left, Bev’s children cried.
Allen was bored with the job at Reichold Chemical, especially now that Steve Love had quit. He grew sick of the foreman, who constantly complained that one day he’d do things right and the next day he couldn’t do them at all. Arthur griped to Allen that once again they had taken a job of mindless labor beneath their dignity.
In mid-June he put in a workman’s compensation claim and walked off the job.
Del sensed that Billy had lost the job at Reichold Chemical, and he phoned the company to find out. Keeping in mind Dr. Steinbergs advice to confront Billy with his lies, Del asked him, “You lost the job, didn’t you?”
“I think that’s my business,” Tommy said.
“It’s my business when you live under my roof and I’m flipping for the bills. Money grows on trees for you. But you can’t hold down a simple goddamned job. And you lied about it. You didn’t tell us. You can’t do anything right.”
They aruged about it nearly an hour. Tommy kept hearing Del use the same put-down phrases Chalmer always used. He looked to see if Billy’s mom would come to his defense, but she never said a word. He knew he couldn’t live there anymore.
Tommy went to his room, packed his bags and put them into his car Then he just sat in the Ford, waiting for someone to drive him away from the goddamned place. Eventually Allen came, saw Tommy was upset and realized what had happened.
“It’s okay,” Allen said, driving off. “It’s time we got out of Lancaster.”
They drove around Ohio for six days, job hunting and then pulling off the road into the woods to sleep at night. Ragen insisted on keeping a gun under the seat and another in the glove compartment for protection.
On night, Arthur suggested that Allen try to find a job as a maintenance man. It was the kind of work Tommy could handle easily: repairing electrical appliances, mechanical equipment, heating units and plumbing. As Arthur understood it, a rent-free apartment and free utilities came with the job. He suggested Allen get in touch with a former inmate whom he’d once helped in Lebanon and who now was a maintenance man in a suburb of Columbus called Little Turtle.
“Perhaps he knows of an opening,” Arthur said. “Call him. Tell him you’re in town and would like to drop by.”
Allen grumbled about it but followed Arthurs instructions.
Ned Berger was glad to hear from him and invited him over. They weren’t hiring at Little Turtle, he said, but Billy Milligan was welcome to spend a couple of nights at his place. Allen dropped by, and they partied and swapped stories about prison life.
On the morning of the third day, Berger came back to the apartment with the news that Channingway Apartments was about to advertise for outdoor maintenance help. “Call ’em,” Berger said, “but don’t say how you found out they were hiring.”
John Wymer, the youthful personnel manager of Kelly and Lemmon Management Company, was impressed with Billy Milligan. Of all the men who answered his help-wanted ad, he found Milligan the most qualified and personable. During the first interview, on August 15, 1977, Milligan assured him he could do grounds-keeping, carpentry, electrical maintenance and plumbing. “If it works electronically or by combustion, I can fix it,” he told Wymer. “And if I don’t know how, I can figure it out.”
Wymer said he would get in touch with him after he interviewed the other applicants for the job.
Checking Milligan’s references later that day, Wymer called the most recent employer listed on Milligan’s application, Del Moore. Moore gave him a glowing report—a fine worker and a dependable young man. He had left the job because meat-cutting wasn’t really in Bill Milligans line. He would, Del Moore assured Wymer, make an excellent maintenance man.
Unable to check the two personal references—Dr. Steinberg and Mr. Reinert—because Milligan had neglected to give their addresses, Wymer let it go. Since the job was limited to outdoor work, he had enough to go on with the excellent reference from his last employer. But he did instruct his secretary to run the standard police check made on all new employees.
When Milligan came in for a second interview, Wymer’s first impressions were confirmed. He hired him for outdoor maintenance at the Williamsburg Square Apartments, adjacent to the Channingway Apartments, both of which were managed by Kelly and Lemmon. He could begin right away.
After Milligan left, Wymer handed his secretary the application and W-2 form to file. He did not notice that on both, Milligan had entered the day and the year—“15-77” and “18-77”—but had left off the month of August.
John Wymer had hired him, but Sharon Roth—a young woman with pale skin and long black hair—was Milligans supervisor.
She found the new employee an intelligent, handsome fellow. She introduced him to the other “rental girls” and explained the procedure to him. Each day he would come to the office in Williamsburg Square and pick up the work orders filled out by her, Carol or Cathy. When the job was finished, Milligan was to sign the order and return it to Sharon.
Milligan worked well the fjrst week, putting up shutters, repairing fences and walks, and doing lawn work. Everyone agreed that he was an eager, ambitious worker. He slept at the Williamsburg Square apartment of Ned Adkins, one of the other young maintenance men.
One morning during the second week, Milligan dropped by the personnel office to see John Wymer about renting an apartment. Wymer thought about it, and recalling Milligans description of his strong background and qualifications in electrical, plumbing, and appliance repair, he decided to try him as an inside maintenance man on twenty-four-hour call. He would have to live on the premises to be available for night and emergency calls. A rent-free apartment came with the job.
“You can pick up a set of master keys from Sharon or Carol,” Wymer said.
His new apartment was beautiful. It had a fireplace in the living room, a bedroom, dinette and kitchen, and it faced a patio. Tommy took one of the walk-in closets for his electronic equipment, keeping it locked to prevent the children from getting into it. Allen set up a studio in the small dinette area feeing the rear. Adalana kept the place clean and did the cooking. Ragen jogged around the neighborhood to keep fit. Life at the apartment and on the job was well-organized.
Arthur approved of the situation, pleased that they were finally settled. Now he could turn his attention to his medical books and research.
Through an oversight on someone’s part, the police check was never completed on Billy Milligan.
Two weeks after the move to Channingway, Ragen was jogging through the nearby poor neighborhood when he saw two black children without shoes playing on the sidewalk. He noticed a sharply dressed white man walking from one of the houses to a white Cadillac. He decided the man had to be a pimp.
Moving quickly, he threw the man against the car.
“What’s the matter with you? You crazy?”
Ragen reached into his belt and pulled out a gun. “Give your vallet.”
The man handed him his wallet. Ragen emptied it and threw it back at him. “Now drive.”
When the car pulled away, Ragen handed the black children more than two hundred dollars. “Here. Buy shoes and food for families.”
He smiled as he watched the children run off with the money.
Later Arthur said Ragen had behaved badly that day. “You can’t go around the city of Columbus playing Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to give to the poor children.”
“It gives pleasure.”
“But you know very well that carrying that gun violates the conditions of parole.”
Ragen shrugged. “Is not much better out here than prison.”
“That’s a stupid thing to say. Here we have freedom.”
“But vat you do vit freedom?”
Arthur began to suspect Allen’s hunch was right. Ragen had come to prefer any environment—even prison—in which he could control the spot.
The more Ragen saw of the working-class district on the east side of Columbus, the angrier he became over the struggle of the people to survive in the shadow of the glass-and-steel office buildings of the wealthy corporations.
One afternoon as he passed a rundown house with a sagging porch, he saw a beautiful bond-haired child with wide blue eyes sitting in a laundry basket, her withered legs bent at awkward angles. An old lady standing in the doorway came onto the porch, and Ragen asked her, “Vy does child not have leg braces? Or veelchair?”
The old lady stared. “Mister, you know what them things cost? I been begging the welfare for two years, and there ain’t no way I can get them things for Nancy.”
Ragen went on his way, deep in thought.
That evening he told Arthur to find out which medical-supply warehouse would have childrens wheelchairs and leg braces. Though he was irritated at being distracted from his reading, as well as at Ragens demanding tone, Arthur humored him and made several phone calls to medical-supply distributors. He discovered a company in Kentucky that had the size Ragen describecd. He gave Ragen the model numbers and the warehouse address, but asked, “What do you want this information for?”
Ragen didn’t bother to answer.
That night Ragen took the car, his tools and a nylon rope, and drove south to Louisville. He found the hospital-supply warehouse and waited until he was certain everyone had left. It would not be difficult to break into; he would not even need Tommy’s help. Strapping on the tools, Ragen climbed over the wire fence, slipped around to the side of the building hidden from the street and examined the brickwork alongside the drainpipe.
In TV shows he had seen, cat burglars always carried grappling hooks to climb up to the roof. Ragen sneered at such devices. He fished a steel shoehorn out of his bag and removed the lace from his left running shoe. With the lace he tied the shoehorn so that its curved end turned downward near the tip of his shoe, creating a hook that served as a crampon. He climbed up to the roof, cut a hole in the skylight, reached in and unlocked it and, using the nylon rope fastened to a bracket, slid down the line into the building. It reminded him of the times he’d gone mountain climbing with Jim years ago.
With the model numbers Arthur had supplied, Ragen searched the warehouse for nearly an hour before he found what he wanted—a pair of leg braces for a four-year-old child, and a small collapsible wheelchair. He unlocked a window, lowered the braces and wheelchair to the ground, and climbed out. Then he put everything into the car and drove back to Columbus.
It was morning when he pulled up to Nancy’s house and knocked on the door. “I have something for little Nancy,” he said to the old lady, who peered at him through the window. He brought the wheelchair up from the car, opened it and showed them how it worked. Then he showed Nancy how to put on the leg braces.
“It vill take long time to learn use them,” he said, “but it is important to valk.” .
The old lady began to cry. “I won’t never get the money to pay you for them things.”
“Is not necessary to pay. Is contribution from rich medical-supply company to needy child.”
“Can I make you some breakfast?”
“Vould like coffee.”
“What’s your name?” Nancy asked as her grandmother left for the kitchen.
“Call me Uncle Ragen,” he said.
She hugged him. The old lady brought out coffee and the best pie he had ever tasted. Ragen ate the whole thing.
In the evening, Ragen sat up in bed and listened to unfamiliar voices—one with a Brooklyn accent, the other just plain foulmouthed. Ragen heard something about splitting the money from a bank robbery. He slipped out of bed, got his gun and opened every door, every closet in the place. He put his ear to the walls, but the arguing was coming from right here in the apartment. He spun around and said, “Don’t move! I kill you both.”
The voices stopped.
Then Ragen heard a voice in his head saying, “Just who d’fuck are you to tell me to shaddup?”
“If you do not show yourself, I vill shoot. ”
“Vere you are?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told ya. ”
“Vat you mean?”
“I can’t see where I’m at. I ain’t go no idea where I’m at.” “Vy for you are talking?”
“I was arguin’ with Kevin.”
“Who is Kevin?”
“He’s the one I was yellin’ at.”
Ragen thought a moment. “Give me description of things around you. Vat you see?”
“I see a yella lamp. A red chair near the door. A TV sets on.” “Vat kind is TV? Vat is show?”
“White cabinet. Big color RCA set. All in the Family’s on.” Ragen saw his TV set and he knew the strangers were here in the room—invisible. He searched the apartment again. “I look everyvere. Vere you are?”
“I’m right with ya,” Philip said.
“Vat you mean?”
“I been here all the time, always have been.”
Ragen shook his head. “All right. No more talk.” He sat down in the rocking chair and rocked all night, trying to figure it out, amazed that there were others he hadn’t known.
The next day Arthur told him about Kevin and Philip. “I believe they are a product of your mind,” he said.
“Vat you mean?”
“I’ll give you the logical side of it first,” Arthur said. “As the .keeper of hate, you know what a destructive force you possess. Though hate can conquer much through violence, it is unmanageable. Now, if one wants to keep the physical power of hate but remove its evil side, one will still have hatred* with some bad traits. Our mind wanted to control your violence, to keep the anger selective and manageable. Getting rid of your evil, so that you could be strong without being angry, led to shaving off some of your evil, and thus to the creation of Philip and Kevin.”
“They-are same as me?”
“They are criminals. As long as they have your guns, they would not hesitate to put fear into people to achieve their aims. But only with weapons. Their sense of power derives from weapons. This, they feel, brings them to your level. They’re very vengeful people and certainly commit crimes against property. I declared them undesirable after Zanesville because they committed unnecessary crimes. But you know what happens during the mix-up times . . . Ragen, though you have shown goodness, you still have an evil aspect to your nature. There is no way to completely cleanse hate. It is the price we pay for maintaining strength and aggressiveness.”
“Vould not be mix-up times,” Ragen said, “if you controlled spot properly. Vas better in prison.”
“There were mix-up times in prison, even when you were dominant, thought you were often not aware of them until afterward. Philip and Kevin and some of the other undesirables stole time in prison. Its most important now that they not get in touch with their old criminal friends from Columbus or Lancaster. They would violate the terms of parole.”
“Weil have to make new friends, begin a new life. Working here at Channingway is a splendid opportunity. We must fit into society.” Arthur looked around. “To begin with, we should really fix up the flat.”
In September, he bought furniture. The bill came to $1,562.21, and the first payment was due the following month.
Things seemed to be going well at first, except that Allen was having problems with Sharon Roth. He didn’t know why, but she bothered him. She looked so much like Marlene and she was just as bossy and know-it-all. He sensed she didn’t like him.
By mid-September, the mix-up time was worse than ever, confusing everyone. Allen would go to the rental office, pick up the work order, drive to the job location and wait at the apartment for Tommy to come and do the work. But more and more frequently, Tommy wouldn’t show up. No one could reach him and no one else could handle the job. Allen knew that he himself could never figure out how to do the plumbing or heating repair. And he was afraid that if he touched something electrical, he might blow his shoes off.
Allen would wait as long as he could for Tommy to show up. When he didn’t come, Allen would leave and sign the work order “completed” or write that the apartment door had been “dead-locked,” which meant that he couldn’t get in. But some tenants would call back three or four times to complain that the work hadn’t been done. Once after four callbacks, Sharon decided to drive to the apartment with Billy to see what the problem was.
“For God’s sake, Bill,” she said, staring down at the dishwasher that wouldn’t fill. “Even I can see how to fix that. You’re supposed to be a maintenance man. You’re supposed to repair appliances.”
“I did fix it. I repaired the drain line.”
“Well, that’s obviously not where the problem is.”
When he dropped her off at the rental office, he knew she was angry with him. He suspected she was going to have him fired.
Allen told Tommy it was important for him to get something he could hold over John Wymer and Sharon Roth to keep them from firing him.
Tommy’s first idea was to build a telephone blue box for John Wymer’s car and bug it.
“It’ll be a simple thing to make,” Allen told Wymer. “Then you’ll have a car telephone you can use without the phone company even knowing about it.”
“Wouldn’t that be illegal?” Wymer asked.
“Not at all. The airwaves are free.”
“You can really do it?”
“Only one way to prove it to you. You pay for the materials and let me make one for you.”
Wymer questioned him closely, surprised at Milligan’s knowledge of electronics. “I’d like to look into it first,” Wymer said. “But it does sound interesting.”
A few days later, while Tommy was buying some materials for his own blue box at an electronics supply shop, he discovered a taping bug that could be inserted into a telephone and activated by the phone ringing. All he would have to do was to dial the personnel or rental office, pretend he had called a wrong number and hang up; then the tape recorder would begin. By taping conversations in Roth’s or Wymer’s office, he might learn if there was something illegal going on, and he could use it to threaten them and get them off his back if they tried to fire him.
Tommy charged the electronic bugs to Kelly and Lemmon, along with other electrical supplies.
That night, he slipped into the rental office and inserted the recording device into Roth’s telephone. He did the same in Wymer’s office. Then Allen took the spot and went through some of the filing cabinets to see if there might be any useful information. One folder caught his eye—a listing of what the front office called the “blue-chip investors,” stockholders in Channingway and Williamsburg Square, normally kept secret. These were the people who employed Kelly and Lemmon to manage the apartment complexes. Allen made copies of the names.
With the bugs in tha phones and the list in his pocket, he felt that whatever happened, his job was secure.
Harry Coder first met Billy Milligan when he came to Coders apartment to replace some broken screens.
“You could use a new water heater,” Milligan told him. “I could get one for you.”
“How much would it cost?” Coder asked.
“Wouldn’t cost you anything. Kelly and Lemmon would never miss it.”
Coder looked at him, wondering how Milligan could suggest such a thing, knowing he was a Columbus police officer and a part-time security officer for Channingway.
“I’ll think about it,” Coder said.
“Just let me know anytime. I’ll be glad to install it for you free of charge.
When Milligan left, Coder decided he’d keep a close watch on him. There had been a sharp increase in burglaries in the Channingway and Williamsburg Square apartments. All indications were that whoever was doing it had a master key.
John Wymer got a call from a maintenance man who had been hired about the same time as Milligan was. The man said he felt Wymer should know about Milligan. Wymer asked him to come to the office.
“I feel bad about doing this,” the man said, “but that guy’s a weirdo.”
“What do you mean?”
“He’s been bugging the girls at the rental office.”
“By ‘bugging,’ do you mean bothering or—”
“I’m talking about electronic bugging.”
“Oh, come on now.”
“I mean it.”
“Do you have proof?”
The man looked around the room nervously. “Milligan told me himself. And then he repeated, almost word for word, a conversation I had in the rental office with Carol and Sharon. It was just the three of us, talking about how in high school almost everyone did drugs. Stuff like that. He also said when the girls were alone, they used dirtier language than guys in a locker room.”
Wymer tapped his fingers on the desk thoughtfully. “Why would Billy do such a thing?”
“He said he had enough on Sharon and Carol that if he got fired, he’d take them with him. If he went down, everyone— including Kelly and Lemmon—would go down with him.” “That’s foolish. How could he do that?”
“He told me he offered to make a blue box for your car, free of charge.”
“That’s true, but I decided against it.”
“Well, he also told me he planned to bug that car phone so he could keep tabs on you, too.”
When the man was gone, Wymer called Sharon. “I guess you were right about Milligan,” he said. “You’d better let him go.” That afternoon Sharon called Billy into the rental office and told him he was fired.
“If I go, then you go too,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll be working here much longer.”
At home later that afternoon, Sharon answered her apartment doorbell and was astonished to see Milligan, dressed in a blue business suit and vest, looking like an executive.
“I just dropped by to tell you that you have to be at the district attorney’s office tomorrow at one o’clock,” he said. “I’ve also got to see John Wymer. If you can’t get to the D.A.’s office on your own, they’ll send a car to pick you up.” Then he turned and left.
She knew it sounded absurd, but she was frightened. She had no idea what he was talking about or why the district attorney would want to see her. And what did Milligan have to do with it? Who was he and what was he after? One thing she knew for sure—he was no ordinary maintenance man.
Tommy went directly to the closed maintenance office at five-
thirty, let himself in and removed the bug from the telephone.
Before he left the office, he decided to leave a note for Carol.
With the information he was giving Wymer, he knew she, too,
would have to be fired. At the desk the two women shared, he
flipped the page of the calendar to the next working day,
Monday, September 26, 1977. Beneath the date, he printed a
a new day!
Enjoy it while you CAN!
Then he turned the page back to Friday.
After John Wymer had left his office for the day, Tommy slipped in and removed the bug from his phone, too. On the way out, he ran into Terry Tumock, the district supervisor for Kelly and Lemmon.
“What are you doing here, Milligan?” Tumock asked. “I thought you were fired.”
“I came down to see John Wymer. There are some things going on in this company that I’m about to make public. I want to give John a chance to. deal with these matters before I notify the authorities and the investors.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, as John’s supervisor, I guess you ought to hear about it first.”
A short time after John Wymer got home from the office and settled down for the evening, he got a call from Terry Tumock asking him to come back to the office right away. “Something is strange. Milligan is here, and I think you should come out here and listen to what he’s got to say.”
When Wymer arrived, Tumock told him Milligan had gone back to his apartment and would return in a few minutes to talk to both of them.
“What did he say?” Wymer asked.
“He’s making some accusations. Better let him tell you.” “I’ve got a funny feeling about this guy,” Wymer said, opening his desk drawer. “I’m going to tape this conversation.” He put a fresh cassette into the small tape recorder and left the drawer partly open. When Milligan walked through the door, Wymer stared in astonishment. Until this moment, he’d seen Milligan only in work clothes. Now he looked distinguished in a three-piece suit and tie, and he carried himself with authority.
Milligan sat down and hooked his thumbs through his vest. “There are some things you ought to know about that are going on in your company.”
“Like what?” Tumock asked.
“A lot of it is illegal. I want to give you the opportunity to solve these problems before I go to the district attorney.” “Well, Bill, what are you talking about?” asked Wymer.
For the next hour and a half, Allen described how the records in the rental office were manipulated, how the Channingway and Williamsburg Square investors were defrauded.
Units reported as vacant were actually occupied by friends of certain employees, who were collecting and pocketing the rents. Also, he said, he could prove that Kelly and Lemmon was illegally tapping into power lines to defraud the electric company.
He assured them that he did not believe Wymer was involved in this fraud and embezzlement, but that almost everyone else in the company was—especially a certain rental-office supervisor, who was allowing her friends to occupy these apartments.
“I intend to give you time to investigate these charges, John, and to bring the culprits to justice. But if you can’t or won’t do it, I’ll make it public by reporting the matter to the Columbus Dispatch.”
Wymer was worried. It was always possible that dishonest employees were doing things that might create a scandal. From the way Milligan talked, it was obvious he was alleging that Sharon Roth was behind most of this.
Wymer leaned forward. “Just who are you, Bill?”
“Just an interested party.”
“Are you a private investigator?” Turnock asked.
“I see no reason to reveal myself completely at this time. Let’s just say I’m working in the interests of certain of the blue-chip investors.”
“I always figured you weren’t just a maintenance man,” Wymer said. “I guess you always struck me as too brilliant. So you’re working for the investors. Would you care to tell us which ones?”
Milligan pursed his lips and cocked his head. “I never actually said I was working for the investors.”
“If not,” Turnock said, “then you’ve probably been sent by a rival management company to destroy Kelly and Lemmon’s credibility. ”
“Oh?” Milligan, said, tapping his fingertips together. “What makes you think that?”
“Will you tell us who you are working for?” Wymer asked.
“All I can tell you now is that you’d better get Sharon Roth in here and ask her some questions about the things I’ve told
“I certainly intend to look into your accusations, Bill, and I’m glad you brought this to my attention first. I can assure you, if there are unv dishonest employees working for Kelly and Lemmon, they’ll be dealt with.”
Milligan stretched out his left arm to show Wymer and Turnock a small microphone wire up his sleeve. “I should point out that this conversation is being recorded. This is the receiver and there is another party, away from this location, taping all this.”
“Well, good for you,” Wymer said, laughing, and pointed to his open desk drawer. “Because I’m taping it all too.”
Milligan laughed. “All right, John. You’ve got three days, starting Monday, to clear up the situation and fire the guilty parties. Otherwise I make the information public.”
A short while after Milligan left, Wymer called Sharon Roth at home and told her of the accusations. She protested that it was a lie, and swore that no one in the rental office was stealing from the company.
Concerned now that Milligan had bugged her office, Sharon went in on Sunday to search it. She found nothing. Either he had sneaked in and removed it, or it was all a hoax. She glanced at her desk calendar and automatically turned the page from Friday to Monday. Then she saw the printed note:
a new day!
Enjoy it while you can!
Oh my God! she thought. He’s going to kill me because I fired him.
Terrified now, she called Terry Turnock and brought him the note. They compared it with samples of Milligans writing. It matched.
On Monday at two-thirty, Milligan called Sharon and told her she would have to be at the Franklin County district attorney’s office at one-thirty on Thursday. If she didn’t acknowledge his message, he said, he would have to come for her with the police. Which, he pointed out, wouldn’t look real good.
That evening, Harry Coder called Milligan at the apartment to tell him he’d have to back off bothering the girls at the rental office.
“What do you mean ‘back off’? I’m not doing anything.”
“Look, Bill,” Coder said. “If the girls really have to show up at the D.A. s office, there should be a subpoena.”
“What does this have to do with you?” Milligan asked.
“The girls know I’m a police officer. They asked me to look into it.”
“Are they scared, Harry?”
“No, Bill. They ain’t scared. They just don’t want to be hassled.”
Allen decided to let the matter drop for .the time being, but sooner or later he was going to get Sharon Roth fired. In the meantime, he still had the apartment, but he would have to start looking for another job.
For the next two weeks, Allen job-hunted, but it was impossible to get anything decent. He found himself with nothing to do, no one to talk to. He kept losing time and his depression deepened.
On October 13, 1977, he received John Wymer’s eviction notice. He stormed around the apartment. Where was he going to go? What was he going to do?
As he paced up and back, he suddenly noticed Ragen had left his 9-millimeter Smith and Wesson out in plain sight on the mantelpiece. Why was the gun out? What the hell was wrong with him? That and the 25-millimeter Italian gun in the closet could get him sent back to prison on a parole violation.
Allen stopped pacing and took a deep breath. Maybe that was what Ragen wanted deep down, without even knowing it himself—to go back to prison, a place of danger. So he could rule the spot!
“I can’t handle this anymore, Arthur,” Allen said aloud. “It’s just too much.”
He closed his eyes and left . . .
Ragen’s head snapped up, and he looked around quickly to make sure he was alone. He saw the bills on the table and realized that with no money coming in from the job, they were in great difficulty.
“All right,” he said aloud. “Young ones must have clothes for coming vinter and food to eat. I vill commit robbery. “
In the early hours of Friday, October 14, Ragen slipped his Smith and Wesson into a shoulder holster and put on a brown turtleneck sweater, white running shoes, brown jogging jacket, jeans and a windbreaker. He took three hits of Biphetamine 20s, drank some vodka and left before dawn, jogging west toward the Ohio State University campus.