Yacht for Sale
We met in South Beach. Yes, it was at a club, but I sure don’t deserve that name they call me. Party girl. That’s what they say on Page Six of the New York Post when they mean prostitute. It’s totally unfair. I may be stuck with it, but I’ll never accept it.
I was a model and an actress and I had the credits to prove it. Just local commercials for the acting jobs, but I got modeling assignments all the time. And South Beach modeling assignments are the real thing – great production values, top professionals and good money.
Like I said, we met at a club. I was out with friends when I noticed this good-looking older man watching me. He looked about thirty-two. He was very well built with long black hair, a full beard and the most intense blue eyes I had ever seen. Like most guys on the scene, he wore shorts, sandals and a t-shirt. I never had the least suspicion about his real identity until he told me who he was later on. Porkpie was only a tabloid story to me then, one of those things you read about but never dream you’ll be part of.
On that first night we chatted for a while and he bought me a drink. I have to admit I had walked up to the bar to check him out. I’ve always felt more com-fortable with older guys, and I didn’t hesitate to take the drink and go out to dinner with him when he suggested it. The girls I was with only laughed when I blew them off and left the club. They thought he was cute too. The name he used was Sam Davidson.
“Is Kristi Darnell your real name,?” he asked as we left.
“What a question!” I said. “Did you think I’d give you a phony name?”
“You’re an actress – I just figured you might have made it up. That happens a lot, right?”
“Not so much nowadays, but yeah, it’s a stage name. My real name is Christy Gore. I hated that. So I changed the spelling of the first name and took the last name from an actress my grandfather used to talk about.”
“Who would that be?”
“Linda Darnell. Ever hear of her?”
“No, but I’ll bet anything the world will hear about you, Kristi.”
Sam was a real flatterer. There was no question he was feeding me a line, but it was done with a friendly smile and you couldn’t take offense. Forward motion was his overall method to break down your defenses. At the same time, he was polite and considerate. When you asked him to slow down, he would smile and apologize, but before you knew it he was making another move. Well, when you really like a guy, you don’t mind that.
I’m not going to talk about sex with Sam – I think it’s awful that reporters and other complete strangers question me about what he was like in bed. And they act as if you owe them all kinds of private information, just because they have nerve enough to ask.
I fell for him real fast. From the first night we met, I think I loved him. He had a way of making me feel completely protected and wanted. I must have needed that. Only twenty-two at the time, I often felt unsure of myself in that world – casting calls, modeling, even the SoBe nightlife could make me feel that way.
Sam moved into my apartment in nearby North Beach soon after we met. He had a little money and we shared expenses. He talked about being a dropout from corporate life on the West Coast, looking for fun and a better way to make a living.
“I broke my butt on my last job, Kristi. I put my heart and soul into it only to find out I was the only one who cared. That’s not going to happen to me again.”
“What do you think you’ll do now, Sam?”
“One thing I’ve noticed down here is the tremendous number of boats and yachts. I’d like to be a broker or just work for one as a representative.”
Pretty soon, he was making friends down at a marina on Alton Road. A man named Lou Loiselle had a yacht he wanted to sell and Sam was helping him get it into shape. Mr. Loiselle liked to take his boat out into the Intracoastal, but he was getting older and didn’t want to bother with the yearly upkeep any longer.
We’d laugh about Lou from time to time because of his mannerisms and his habit of wearing certain clothes whenever he took the bridge – always the blue blazer with the brass buttons and his white captain’s hat with the black peak. I thought he was like a father figure to Sam – except for the fact that he was so obviously effeminate.
Besides working on the restoration, Sam did a nice job of describing the yacht for sale. He had fliers printed up and posted around town. Lou was content for the time being to try for a private sale and he promised Sam a percentage if they sold it before he signed with a broker. Sam saw to it the yacht was listed in boating magazines and posted on some Internet sites.
Modeling jobs kept me busy just then, so most days Sam and I would wake up at different times and not see each other until late afternoon. I began to notice how moody he could be and that it did no good to try and draw him out. He could be extroverted and a lot of fun, but in several ways he was the most self-contained person I ever knew.
I would come home to see him lying on the bed, stripped down to briefs and a t-shirt. He wouldn’t say a word unless I spoke first. Hands under his head, he would stare at the ceiling, a blank expression on his face. If I got up the nerve to ask what he was thinking about, he might or might not answer.
One of the conversations we had sticks in my mind. It upset me, and I remember thinking that Sam should look for professional help. I came home after a photo shoot and he was stretched out on the bed in the way I just described.
“Are you day-dreaming, honey? You’re so quiet just lying there.”
“Not day-dreaming, no. Sometimes my thoughts are jumbled up and I think better lying down.”
“What’s on your mind, Sam?”
“A lot of things. There are people who mystify me, you know? Some folks have a way of judging you while they talk to you, like they’re ready to accuse you of something. And you can only wonder about it because they haven’t said anything, it’s what you’re reading in their eyes and their manner.”
“Is there someone in particular you’re concerned about?”
“Maybe. I don’t want to say. I want to put it out of my mind, that’s why I’m trying to relax.”
“Don’t you want to talk to somebody about this? It would bother me something awful to feel that way.”
“I’d rather you didn’t think about it, Kristi. I’ll work through it. It may be nothing. I don’t want to blow it out of proportion and get mad. It’s not good for me to get angry.”
There was something terribly disjointed about the way he was thinking; you could tell he was trying to control it by slowing down. I don’t recall being afraid for my own safety, but I was afraid of what he was capable of doing. He was very strong, and when his mood turned you could see his jaw set and his muscles flex. Combined with that intense stare he sometimes had, the effect was unnerving.
Sam had very few clothes for a guy who was in corporate life previously. He mentioned donating most of his business wardrobe to charity. He did have one rumpled, dirty suit when he first moved in. After a trip to the cleaners, it stayed on its hanger in the bedroom closet. He never wore it that I can recall, just held on to it as a memento of his life in San Francisco. I came to the conclusion that his career had been a terrible failure, and I wondered why he would want a re-minder of that.
I was beginning to wonder about a lot of things. When Sam told me Lou Loiselle had died suddenly, I didn’t understand why it wasn’t in the newspapers.
“Lou’s from Fort Lauderdale, Kristi. I’m sure it’s news up there. He was just visiting Miami, living on the yacht.”
“But you’re still going out to the Marina most mornings, Sam. What’s that all about?”
“Lou’s sister called and told me to keep showing the boat, babe. She wants it sold.”
I said nothing to Sam, but Lou told me he had no family left. Could I be mistaken? No, I was sure. And it must have been my curiosity – or my dread – that brought me down to the Marina early one afternoon a few days later.
I only half expected to find Sam there, but he was gone. As I walked down the pier toward the yacht, I ran into Cindy, a middle-aged lady whose husband owned the boat across from Lou’s. We chatted for a bit while the bright sun warmed my shoulders and the boats rocked gently in their slips.
Cindy hadn’t seen old Lou for a while. She claimed Sam didn’t know where he was either. I was kind of freaked out by that, and I cut my visit short before Sam could show up. What could this possibly mean?
When I got up the nerve to question him about it that evening, he looked at me for a long time, then laughed. It was a sharp, rasping laugh, full of sarcasm. For the first time I felt afraid of my lover.
“I killed him, Kristi. I killed the old fruit. He was drunk and he tried to touch me, wanted to ‘know me better’ is what he said. I grabbed the fire extinguisher and bashed his faggot head in.”
God, the look on Sam’s face was awful as he spoke.
“We had sailed around to the Gulf,” he told me. “The water was calm, the sky clear. A perfect day, really, until Lou had too much to drink. Then he got way too friendly.”
Sam related all this like it was a story he heard somewhere – some filthy, contemptible anecdote that he’d just as soon forget.
Why didn’t I run? Why didn’t I tell somebody? Instead, I wanted to take care of it for him. For the only guy who had ever made me feel safe and wanted, I thought I could return some of that. This is what I struggle with now – becoming an accomplice to the murder of a dear old man I knew and liked. It seemed to me the greater good was to protect this man I couldn’t tear myself away from.
“What did you do with the body, Sam?” I asked.
“I weighted him down with chains and an anchor and dumped him in the Gulf. I don’t think there’ll be a problem. He’s not coming back up.”
When we made love that night it was ferocious. The fear I felt mixed in with the excitement of his lovemaking, and I kept telling myself he would never hurt me. No, not me.
I lay in his arms afterwards while he talked about people crossing him, how it made him feel. Suddenly, I thought about that Dolce Gabbana suit he never wore hanging in the closet. And I remembered the stories in the tabloids about the well-dressed killer Porkpie out west – the big, good-looking murderer who sliced people up and ran away. I knew then I was in love with a man beyond all redemption. How could I get away from him? Did I even want to?
He must have sensed my suspicions about him. The next evening, as we strolled along the beach, he confessed that his real name was Sam Porter, the one the newspapers called Porkpie.
You know the story. He narrated every terrifying detail as if confession might help him understand what he was. I heard about the fuzzy vision and the rush of wind in his ears and the labored breathing. When he got that way, he couldn’t stop until he saw the blood flow. Despite his awful crimes, my heart sickened most when he talked about those women in San Francisco – his wife Angela and her notorious sister, Helena Swann.
I had to stop working; the pressure I felt was overwhelming. My life had changed and I wanted to leave Florida. But I couldn’t take that first step. Sam seemed to be watching me for signs of – what – betrayal, help?
Then we read the newspaper story about Helena Swann leaving San Francisco for parts unknown. Although she had been Sam’s mistress, she tried to expose him before he ran away. The story seemed to hint she might have fled to Europe.
“No … not Europe,” he said. “They’re wrong about that. She has relatives up North.”
“You’re in love with her, aren’t you, Sam?” I asked.
“No, Kristi. Maybe I was once, but that all died in San Francisco.”
I must have looked confused and unhappy. He drew me close and stroked my face with his big hand and smiled without saying anything.
“Do you love me, Sam? I have to know how you feel.”
“My feelings for you are very strong, Kristi, and I want to be with you when I get back.”
“Get back? What do you mean? Where are you going?”
“I can’t tell you, baby. It’ll take about a week. I’ll call before I come home.”
But he never did.