A Tale of Two Towns: July 19, 2009

A Tale of Two Towns

Death comes as the end…

My mother was a great fan of Agatha Christie; I believe she read everything Ms. Christie wrote as Agatha Christie; if memory serves me correctly Christie also wrote books under the name of Mary Westmacott. I don’t recall those having much space on our bookshelves.

Christie, if it was possible, made murder elegant – people rarely died violently, often of poisons, and almost every one of her characters were ladies and gentlemen – or those who served them.

Unfortunately, murder is rarely so neat and never elegant. Christie type deaths don’t happen in real life – something deeply clear to me this past week. A week ago Wednesday a general notice went out to everyone in my office building not to come in – there was a “police action” happening in the building. In this post 9/11 world that has come to have terrifying connotations with immediate thoughts of bombs.

What actually happened was that one of the cleaning people, Eridania Rodriguez, had gone missing the night before and could not be found. The surveillance cameras caught her arriving; they could not find her leaving. For four days the police searched the building until the following Saturday, Eridania’s body was found in an air conditioning duct that was scheduled to be sealed off. Her hands and feet were bound in tape, a gold crucifix was draped over the tape that covered her face and which had been the instrument of her death; she had been asphyxiated.

Nothing in her life would indicate that she could be a candidate to come to a gruesome end. Eridania [Iris] Rodriguez was a single mother of three children, a hard worker, who lived in the northern tip of Manhattan. People who knew her characterized her as a good person, a good mother, and a caring individual. Not a person who deserved to be gruesomely murdered. She came from the Dominican Republic in the early 1980’s looking for a better life with her parents and siblings. She was working the American immigrant dream. And it ended in an American nightmare.

In looking at the pictures of her that have appeared in the paper, I am sure we had passed each other in the hallways and in the elevators. It is not unusual for me to know the cleaning staff of any building in which I am working; I frequently am still working while they are working. There is almost no degree of separation between this poor woman and me. In addition, her brother is a world-class body builder, Victor Martinez. He’s competing in the Mr. Olympia competition [the one that made Arnold famous] and is developing a reality series about his efforts with a producer friend of mine.

Not only is it profoundly disturbing that this poor woman has been murdered working in my office building, it is also, and perhaps even more so, haunting that no one knows who murdered her. The police believe it is someone else who works in the building; there is a suspect but not enough evidence to arrest. Walking the hallways with me is very likely someone who has committed murder. It leaves me – disturbed, deeply. I do not feel at ease there anymore. I am concerned for my colleagues who work nights and wonder what provisions are being taken to keep them safe.

Eridania’s murder reminds me that life can be capricious and unjust; unexpectedly ended, reminding me to do my best to leave nothing unsaid that needs to be said, to not forget to say I love you to someone, to hope that I forgive rather than resent, to admire the beauty of a moment.

DEATH COMES AS THE END was the title of one of Ms. Christie’s novels and death is the end, at least this side of paradise. The cruel death of this woman reminds me of the fragility of life and the random cruelty that walks the planet and the gruesome cruelty with which we often deal with one another, one human to another.
This just in:
A 25-year-old male elevator operator in the building was arrested for Eridania’s murder when DNA tests of skin under her fingernails matched his.

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One Response to “A Tale of Two Towns: July 19, 2009”

  1. beth Says:

    Hi Mat,
    Beautiful piece this week.
    Dealing with the connection between people of different social classes is difficult, you did it well.
    Did you see the film “The Soloist”?
    I think that journalist had the same challenge.
    It was great in that aspect, that it tackled the yearning to connect with our fellow humans.
    Wondering what you think of Bruno.
    I saw it; hilarious.
    Take care,
    I’ll see you more on the train, got my 10 pass, so have to make it pay.
    Beth

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