Plotting Revenge

Links to a.d.sullivan & info on Susan Walsh

 

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The winter of 1996 allowed Sue numerous opportunities to begin her plans

for revenge. When the great blizzard of 1996 struck in January, Sue was

already ill. She had also begun to spin her old tale of alcohol and drug

use. In the political correct world of 1990s social medicine, it is

unpopular to talk about the manipulative aspects of alcoholism, giving

Sue an edge which she might not have had in the less forgiving 1980s.

While Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other such groups understand the

mentality of the classic drunk, most others sympathize with these

characters making critical appraisals hard when it comes to the

anti-social behavior inherent in people like Sue.

 

Few people like Ridgeway or Floyd Merchant seemed to understand that the

biochemical or physiological abnormality may not be the prime mover

behind why a person like Sue drinks. An alcoholic often takes years to

get to the point where his or her mental capabilities are lost, yet

almost everyone connected with Sue's disappearance in July, blamed drugs

and alcohol when she used both less than a year. But then, Sue managed

to select her victims with great care, particularly for their

gullibility.

 

In playing her role as Alcoholic, Sue had a significant choice of people

to help her in her game. Ridgeway, in his interview with Joel Lewis,

attributed much of Sue's troubles to her drinking and drug use. For

years, he had offered to help rescue her from her financial plight, but

now as a growing skeptic of her perceptions, Sue shaped him into the

role of persecutor, someone who would continually scold her for her

drinking, insisting that she find help, telling her that her reporting

skills suffered.

 

With Nultey snow bound on account of more than 17 snow storms during

that long winter, Sue often claimed lack of work for her increasing

anxieties. She feared not being able to make rent, feed her child. She

also feared growing medial complaints, claiming to suffer high fevers

and terrible abdominal pains -- which she claimed were ulcers. Thus, Sue

also had a wide selection of people to play rescuer for her, people like

Melissa Hines, who drove her more than once to the local emergency room,

or a local foot doctor, who may have violated the law to supply her with

a prescription for Xanax. Sue also managed to win the sympathies of a

woman she had interviewed for her book, "Redlight."

 

Mary Nolan, a psychiatrist, has shaped her career around the strip club

scene, a somewhat political feminist, who in choosing to deal with

dancers as victims, may have been blindsided by Sue who knew the dance

scene better and could shape her stories to fit the feminist mythology,

since Sue's guardian angel and hero, was feminist warrior Valerie

Solanas. In treating Sue, Nolan could not know how much of Sue rage was

manufactured, or how well Sue had perfected her role as outraged victim

over the years.

 

Sue apparently sought out Nolan in January, 1996, and though Nolan would

not comment directly on her relationship with Sue, she claimedSue, she

claimed Sue fit into the classic pattern of behavior that traps go-go

dancers into their way of life. So well was Sue's speech rehearsed that

Nolan nearly repeated it word for word in various interviews after the

disappearance, words taken straight out of Sue's diaries on dancing, and

lifted nearly straight from other passages contained in "Redlight." In

fact, Sue repeated this same diatribe (which so many of us heard from

her in college) during a video on dancing during this period in her

pre-publication publicity tour for "Redlight." In this, Sue and Nolan

emphasize the power a woman feels when she first starts to dance, and

how it winds up to be an illusion. Nolan, unfortunately, may have heard

what she wanted to hear or Sue knew enough to feed her the constant

line, after having dealt with doctors like Nolan before. Perhaps Sue was

seeking drugs, as Ridgeway indicated. But Nolan didn't issue her the

drugs, a Nutley-Belleville foot doctor named Noonan did, a man local

street people called "Dr. Feel Good." According to several sources,

Noonan was hooked up with a prominent local attorney, processing M

 

But Nolan did say Sue lived a double life, the mother and the whore,

creating a kind of schizophrenia in which dancers struggled to keep

different roles in their live separate, acting a certain way had home in

Nstruggled to keep different roles in their live separate, acting a

certain way had home in Nutley where neighbors and friends truly

believed she loved and cared for her son, while on the prowl in

Manhattan night clubs where no man was safe from her. Yet in many ways,

the early attraction for power and cash soon gives way to a kind of

permanent deep depression. Most women

 

Nolan, in her liberal need to help Sue, got hoodwinked, the way most

people had during Sue's long career, though now, Sue notched up the

rhetoric, so that everybody she met heard the same line of bullshit.

 

When she met Joel Lewis in the Port Authority in December, 1995, the

first thing out of her mouth was how much she hated dancing, and how she

would like to get into some other profession, something she would repeat

a few weeks later when she called Joel up. Joel had just finished a

successful run of publishing, and wasn't shy about telling people how

well he was doing -- even if his publishing credits tended far exceed

his net worth financially. To Sue, their initial meeting in the Port

Authority, would have seemed like a possible venue for escape, one more

successful writer in a string of successful writers, she would exploit.

The phone call a few weeks later, however, would have made her realize

just how little control she could exert on Joel, who was at least as

crafty as she was.

 

He would not play patsy the way Hardin and other writers had, supplying

her with the raw materials like money or ideas she could take back to

Ridgeway to replace her vampire scheme. And almost as if fate had

delivered him to her, Michael Alexander, an old friend from William

Paterson University, walked through the door to a club where she danced

in Lodi, during one of those moments when the nearly constant snows

hadn't prevented her from getting to and from various new Jersey jobs.

While Michael proved to be little more use to her than Joel, playing the

impoverished role of poet, his companion, Ray Zachmann, proved to be

exactly what Sue needed.

 

Zachmann owned the Liquor Depot on Van Houten Avenue Clifton, and a

go-go bar named Transformations just down the street, over the Passaic

border. He also was part own of Hogs and Heffer's, a higher scale pickup

joint which used to be in the Meatpacking district of Manhattan, a block

from the Vault, where Sue often went to take our her anxiety of

masochistic men. Zachmann and partners opened another joint elsewhere in

Manhattan, too, all the more pleasurable for a woman now sick and tired

of playing the roll of mistress for porno publisher, Al Goldstien.

 

Like Goldstien, however, Zachmann had the same sense of reckless style,

blowing a few hundred dollars on a bout of drinking without batting an

eye. Unlike Goldstien, Zachmann did not love Sue, nor was he so foolish

as to fall for any of her lies. Zachmann knew too much about dancers and

owned a variety of side businesses, many of which of questionable

legality, including management rights to a string of women body builders

who he rented out for magazine without batting an eye. Unlike Goldstien,

Zachmann did not love Sue, nor was he so foolish as to fall for any

 

Zachmann, at 44, was nearly a decade older than Michael, and lived in

Wayne, near Black Oak Ridge Road, near enough where Sue lived during her

college days for them to have met before. Zachmann looked a lot like

Michael. In fact, Zachmann and Michael were often mistaken for brothers.

But Zachmann had more of a worldly outlook, which should have appalled

Michael, but for some reason grew into admiration, even jealousy, and

would have clearly attracted Sue, who always went for men of these kind,

often losing control of her con game, by becoming a real victim. Michael

trailed after Zachmann like a happy puppy, looking to do all the things

Zachmann and his big friends in the industry liked to do for

entertainment. Often, Michael spent money he couldn't afwhere Sue lived

during her college days for them to have

 

"Ray used to like drop in every bar and went to expensive strip bars

with a group of his highflaluting friends," said one source. "Ray was

into traveling from bar to bar with ten or fifteen guys. They would pay

the dancers and tip them a lot."

 

Michael was told not to worry about the bill, yet each man would blow as

much as $300, between drinks and private parties in the back room.

 

Sometimes, Zachmann would arrange to meet Michael at a bar, Michael

would go there, sit there, and then find out hours later, Zachmann

wasn't coming. When he confronted the man later, Zachmann would laugh it

off, saying he hadn't exactly said definitely.

 

Zachmann sometimes lent Michael money in order for him to attend various

events, such as tours of the go go circuit or trips to places like the

Vault in Manhattan. But always Zachmann held these loans against pay

day. Michael worked part time for Zachmann at the Liquor Depot, and

worked with Zachmann at a bank in Maywood -- which is where they met.

Zachmann was vice president of accounting and used to tease Michael with

the idea of a possible more substantial loan from the bank.

 

But Michael often accrued a debt through a back and forth cycle of

payment at the liquor store job. It seemed Zachmann would go weeks or

months without paying Michael, then would come into a bundle of cash,

and would over pay Michael as a result. Keeping track of who owed who

was a nightmare, and often, Michael could not predict when Zachmann

would come into cash -- nor did he completely understand the strange

cycle that allowed his boss to suddenly be inexplicably wealthy after

being inexplicably short of cash for months.

 

"Ray sometimes paid Michael in advance," one source told me. "Michael

worked regular hours. At first, Ray used to pay him every week. Then

every two weeks. After a while, Ray paid him whenever he felt like it.

Sometimes Michael would work for two months without getting paid, then

Ray would pay him for three. They would bounce back and forth like this,

Ray owing Michael money, Michael owing hours to Ray."

 

In the end, before Michael vanished the day before Sue did on July 15,

1996, Zachmann had paid him a bundle in advance. Later, he wanted

Michael's wife to pay him back. Zachmann was also holding about $1,500

of money he had invested for Michael, andLater, he wanted Michael's wife

to pay him back. Zachmann was also holding about $1,500 of money he had

invested for Michael, and wouldn't immediately return this to Michael's

wife once Michael left. At the bank, Zachmann made noises about

recalling Michael's wife's loan on her house, since the loan had been

made with two salaries, not just hers. She managed to avoid a bank

foreclosure by talking to Zachmann's boss, but the incident left a sour

taste in her mouth for the man. Zachmann, most sources claim, lived the

high life, one of those men who has his hands in a dozen schemes at

once, expecting all of them to bring him a fortune. Some of them made

him money, some of the fizzled. But he thought himself as a player and

 

Joel Lewis placed Sue in the same bars at the same time Zachmann and

Michael made frequent, nearly weekly trips to Lodi, places like the

Flamingo. Zachmann and Michael also visited Satin Dolls and the other

Manhattan strip clubs on that circuit during Sue's most frequent

appearances there. From 1994 to 1996, both Sue and Zachmann were at the

same places at the same time, and could not have avoided meeting.

 

Sue would have seen him as the ideal option in her shrinking world of

connections. While Zachmann would have been amused her by her antics, he

would not have likely fallen head over heals for her the way so many

other men had. Still, she would have plotted to have him introduce her

to all the important people he knows -- and he does know important

people. And Zachmann had his own little network, beginning with his

sister, Joyce, who lived behind the Liquor Depot in Clifton and ran the

shop for Zachmann. Andy, her boyfriend, is a private detective operating

out of Clifton, possibly also doing work for friends of Sue's in Nutley

and a multi-media organization there.

 

Andy is a classic high school bully, a fat, six foot tall man with long

brown hair and a constant blush as if sneaking drinks under the counter.

Although he has a long jaw, he has a pudgy face, and thinks himself

macho despite the pot belly stinking out from under this t-shirt and

vest. He usually wears a big belt buckle and likes to take up a lot of

space. Walking down the street, he'll make you step out of his way, or

knock you down, if you don't.

 

As a private investigator, Andy is all hit and run, doing the motel

photograph trick for quick divorce, kicking down a door, taking his

picture before running like hell. For all his stature, he lacks brains,

yet is tough, and irritable, and won't take shit from anybody, and he is

fiercely loyal to Zachmann.

 

One deep source in the Northern New Jersey sex scene refused to divulge

any information about Zachmann's friends, though did acknowledge a

connection between his activities in Clifton and those in Nutley.

 

"I'm not going to say more than that," this man said. "Those kinds of

questions can get us both killed."

 

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Oddly enough, Sue's relationship with Michael and Zachmann brought her

an unexpected scheme. While providing good times for Zachmann, and

perhaps getting promises from him, Sue began to hear the woes of

Michael's marriage. Michael married a woman who Sue knew in college and

hated, and would have done much to harm. In 1985, Sue met Michael at a

poetry reading, and then showed up where he worked with the aim to

seduce him, all with point of causing Michael's later wife anguish. In

1996, Sue felt no more kindness towards her one time rival, and

apparently encouraged Michael to continue a relationship he had found

via the internet. Then, when Michael began to plan his escape, a kind of

disappearing act that would allow him to live with this lover, Sue was

stunned.

 

Michael had always been a kind of romantic, someone who perpetually

talked about "purity" and "perfection," and how people needed to find

the roots of life in order to enjoy life. Now, he began to talk about

stripping away his old identity and creating a new one, a new person for

a new life, elsewhere. He said could drop everything, give up his job,

his house his marriage, moving away somewhere far away where no one knew

him and he knew no one else, to start over, fresh, without all the

baggage that people have placed on him.

 

Zachmann, of course, said Michael was crazy, and treated all this talk

as a joke. But Sue took it seriously. Valerie Solanas was not her only

hero, was not her only hero, nor was shooting Ridgeway the way Solanas

had Andy Warhol Sue's idea of revenge. She did not want to go to jail.

She wanted to get even, and another hero of hers, a East Village legend

made famous for his alleged leap off the Brooklyn Bridge, seemed to

provide Sue with a model, just as Michael had suppl

 

Brodie was made most famous by a Bugs Bunny Cartoon, though the legend

of his East Side behavior was memorialized by a play, then later a movie

starring Geplay, then later a movie starring George Raft. On July 23,

1886, Brodie faked a leap off the Brooklyn Bridge, something that most

people would come to believe as true. More importantly, and certainly

within the purview of Sue's knowledge, was the fact that Brodie also

faked his own death, disappearing at one point from the streets, only to

appear triumphantly on t

 

For Sue, this idea grew over time in the back of head, not so much a

solid plan, as an option. If Ridgeway actually did when she believed he

would do with "Redlight," she would have a tool to get even with, the

kind of typical revenge Mark Sawyer so aptly dramatized in his

"Adventures of Tom Sawyer," and so typical of child-like minds who

claim: "Won't they feel sorry if I were to die."

 

This was also something Sue had done before, if never for such an

extended period of time. At college, Sue often made enemies and created

situations among groups of people which made life uncomfortable for her.

When a scene became too hostile, Sue simply vanished. She routinely kept

a friend or two on standby outside her usual group of friends, some new

lover or some new girl friend to whom she could turn for help.

 

This person she would always swear to secrecy, claiming there were

forces of evil threatening her life, and this new friend was Sue's only

protection. Often enough, Sue instilled so much fear in this new friend

that she had to do little else but take advantage of the protection this

friend offered, as well as taking anything else she found useful, cars,

money, clothing, as well as short-term stays in their apartment. Later,

like Steve Brodie, Sue would show up when things cooled down among her

usual crowd, she pretending as if nothing had happened.

 

The problem is, how would she be able to pull this off for a longer

period? As Michael made his plans to disappear to Texas, Sue began to

search out people she could use to make her own vanishing act, setting

up places where she could stay when the media realized she was gone.

Over the rest of the winter and all of the spring, Sue would begin

sowing the seeds that would convince people she had come to harm. She

played up her illnesses, and her dangers. She would allow certain people

to see her drinking (while those who knew her best and saw her most

frequently didn't see her drinking at all). She would make sure that

people thought she was slipping over the edge (and perhaps in some ways

she was), and when and if the time came, people would believe she was

dead or worse.

 

She wasn't solid on this plan, of course. She wanted publishing credits,

and wanted to be the author of "Redlight," and yet if Ridgeway could

deny her the book and article on the vampire scene, what was to stop him

from denying her credit on "Redlight" itself?

 

If he pulled that, she would be ready.

 

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