On June 28, my two favorite grifters, Sante Kimes and her son Kenneth, were sentenced to a combined 245 years in prison for over a hundred crimes, including the murder of elderly eccentric Irene Silverman, whose Manhattan mansion the pair were attempting to acquire.
Astoundingly, the murder convictions were arrived at with no: 1) body, 2) confession, 3) eyewitness or 4) forensic evidence. This was a New York State first, and one that set a dubious legal precedent. As juror Robert Hernandez admitted, the Kimeses were found guilty primarily because Sante Kimes took macabre, incriminating notes on her activities a lot of notes.
Admittedly, phrases like; "bring blanket and duct tape," and "Practice signature. Get her keys," do sound suspicious, especially coming from someone suspected of incest who faces various other murder charges and has been convicted of both check-kiting and enslaving Mexican maids. But can writing alone prove a person's guilt? Does a line like "buy stun gun, rope and gloves," however more sinister than "Out of milk," or "Need ice!" warrant two consecutive life sentences?
Being a writer myself, and one with a possibly unhealthy respect for Sante Kimes, I am awed by her output. Fourteen notebooks! The notes for my last novel don't fill a memo pad. And what a tone she has! So exuberant! Economical! So bluntly malignant! I couldn't come up with a line like "easy marks...elderly with money...Yes! Older! Go!" if my career depended on it. Her prose is a depressing reminder that some are born to greatness, while others are doomed to scrabbling honesty and penniless cowardice.
So, tremblingly, I wrote her asking for advice, a clue, anything that would help me with my innate quaking terror of, well, of everything. And she called! We made a deal! In exchange for my mother's social security number and address, and I may have sent a check to her legal defense fund, I forget she mailed me the following notebook, one suppressed by the prosecution:
Sante Kimes' Fifteenth Notebook
Write "noir" crime novel! Title??? Got it! "Old = Vulnerable." Yes! Go!
Story needs hook, but what? Mother-son incest! Yes! People love that! That's why they ban it! Fools!
Think of plot. Not too hard. Heard there's only 40 or so.
Plot harder than I thought. Reader must be impressed with reality, yet believe I made it up. All of it!
Nothing coming. Study carefully: "Document Fraud and Other Crimes" also, "Body Disposal a Manual." Stun guns not listed. Stupid Yellow Pages!!!
Kenny copied Irene's keys today. Love him madly! Buy him present. Blanket? No! Duct tape!
(Begin writing in earnest. I mean it, Sante!) Pitch to publisher? ADVANCE???!!!
Setback: Plot stalled. Stuck! No talent? Don't despair: Work! Like chopping wood! Must DO something with life! Join writer's group??? Don't give up!...Medication?
Research topic: Kill an author to steal his writing! (Has this already been done?) Practice forging signature watch for wobbling!
Setback: Arrested! Police think us murderers. Fools! Call OJ's lawyer? No, no, no! Too expensive! Money doesn't grow on trees!!! Trust this notebook to exonerate us! Yes! Yes!!! Go!