The byline read, ‘Ivy-league attorney discovered extorting funds in child porn, new age cult scam’. Tabitha Beckett, twenty-eight-year-old socialite, spiritual seeker and follower of Ohm Inc. stopped reading and deposited the morning paper in the trash bin next to the mahogany Chippendale where she sat.
The Djarum cigarette smoke emanates from Abigail Beckett’s lacquered pursed lips, punctuating every derisive comment directed towards her daughter.
“Look at how you’ve disgraced the Beckett name. We’re the laughing stock of the Hamptons!”
Contemptuous disdain drips off the lips of the family matriarch as she towers over her cowering daughter.
“You actually believe that salvation resides in holding your bowels until permission is granted by a self-inflated cokehead guru with prurient desires for little boys and girls? You would think the hundreds of thousands your father and I invested in your analysis would have cured you of such stupidity.”
Abigail theatrically paces the palatial room, shaking her head in disgust.
Tabitha, head lowered, is silently chanting the Ohm Inc. mantra. “Give all to Ohm and be set free.” Yet here she is facing charges of grand larceny and trafficking of child porn. She had every intention of replacing the monies borrowed from her firm’s legal defense fund. Once her colleagues attended the four-day Ohm seminar they would surely dispense with any monetary attachment for the higher purpose of actualization.
Appealing to her mother, Tabitha pleads, “I was simply extolling the virtues of this wonderful organization to whoever would listen! I was committed to raising funds for philanthropic purposes. How was I to know Dr. Gerald Moskowitz was financing child porn videos and his personal coke habit? I believed in these people. I still do. I finally felt I belonged! Why can’t you understand that? I was never meant to be an attorney. I just did it to fulfill the family legacy. With the help of Ohm Inc., I’ve forgiven you and daddy. And I forgive Gerald. None of us are strangers to losing our way and going astray.”
Tabitha’s plea is met with her mother’s cutting retort, “When I think of the Erte you donated! For what? You banal, mindless girl! I’m going to the club to play mahjong. Let’s hope I can dodge the reporters and paparazzi. In the meantime, I suggest you consider the error of your ways and strategize your way out of this mess!”
The resounding slam of the front door marked the departure of Tabitha’s mother from the Beckett compound. The heaviness of the air penetrates Tabitha’s consciousness, gently hinting at the direction already taking hold of her mind. A strange peacefulness imbues her being just as a shrill noise jolts her back into the room. Perched atop a rare Pembroke serving stand (circa 1815), the designer phone reverberates. Tabitha’s gaze shifts onto the wood and gemstone creation set in 18-carat gold. She considers how its cost could feed a small third world country. Reflexively she walks over to the phone and picks up the opulent receiver. “Beckett residence.”
“Tabitha, is that you darling?” The voice of the patriarch of the Beckett clan, Spencer Beckett, commanded respect. Tabitha capitulates, “Yes daddy, it’s me.”
Tabitha’s eyes glaze over as she regresses into the coquettish woman-child she always becomes with daddy- with all men of stature and dominance.
“I saw the papers this morning. My little girl has gotten herself into quite a pickle- hasn’t she?”
“Not to worry. I’ll take care of it, as always, and then we’ll celebrate. Just you and I. I’ll take you to that wonderful restaurant, Gilt, at the Palace hotel where we were last summer. Do you remember darling? Wasn’t that a special time? Our little secret.”
“Yes daddy, I remember. It was a nice time.”
The vertigo sets in and Tabitha quickly walks over to her handbag where her Xanax resides. Spencer Beckett drones on about his greatness as she downs two pills. Nearby on the other side of the window, she observes their gardener, Joe, toiling in the sun. The begonias are in full bloom. The sun is glinting off the water streaming from the hose, drenching the foliage. A pleasant numbness is taking hold as the meds kick in.
“Tabitha, are you listening to your father? Are you being a bad girl and letting your mind wander like you do? You know how that disappoints me.”
“Sorry, daddy. I’m here. What were you saying?”
“I’ll be home shortly and I do believe your mother is spending some time at the club with her friends, drinking martinis and gossiping ’til all hours. Why don’t you and I spend a quiet time at home together before we head to Gilt. And darling, wear that turquoise Vera Wang dress I bought you. It offsets your eyes so beautifully.”
“Yes, daddy. Whatever you want.”
“That’s my good girl. See you soon darling.”
The gift of disassociation visited Tabitha frequently when engaging with Spencer Beckett, or Daddy as he insisted she call him. The Westminster chimes of the Edwardian clock arouse Tabitha from her stupor. “Three in the afternoon,” she considers. “As good a time as any for the events that lay ahead.”
She places the receiver in its designated place, curious as to where her place is or ever was. Her ponderings are whimsical and amusing. Decisiveness has replaced pathos and Tabitha flashes an ethereal smile in recognition of how easy it is. She now knows her place.
Ascending the staircase, Tabitha’s hand slides up the cherry wood banister. The scent of the beeswax and lemon citrus oil polish waft gently in the air, pleasing Tabitha’s senses. She stops to remove her silver heels, allowing the lush, burgundy wool carpeting to caress her tired feet. She is so very tired. Taking in the surreal rendering of the Tree of Life portrayed in oil colors at the foot of the stairs, Tabitha remains transfixed before proceeding onward. She veers right for the one room in the Beckett mansion that she could ever conceivably call her own. Replete with Ruhlmann art deco and nouveau furnishings, the room has an exotic air.
Seated at her walnut desk, Tabitha gathers her thoughts. She takes out an elegant sheet of stationary etched with a typewritten letter. Meticulously copying from a credit card receipt, Tabitha carefully replicates a signature at the close of the missive. With resolve, she makes her way to her father’s study. Daddy’s midcentury modern Danish décor is a notable departure from the rest of the house. Spencer Beckett’s decorative homage to his Viking roots includes a curio of antiquities containing Scythian armor and a magnificent sword, making the multifunction printer seem strangely misplaced. Tabitha duplicates the letter and places the original in a crisp, inscribed, stamped envelope. Noting the time, she makes a beeline for the stairs to ask a favor of their gardener before he leaves for the day. Luckily, Tabitha catches him just as he is locking up the shed.
Joe has been the Beckett groundskeeper for over a decade. Beyond being originally from Argentina and a soft-spoken, skilled laborer, he remains a mystery. Over the years, Tabitha surmised he came from humble beginnings and was a devoted family man. Despite her memory being murky, she had a vague recollection of him sharing photos of his wife and daughters. He was always amiable with Tabitha, although it was obvious that he kept as much distance as he reasonably could from her parents. She found him oddly endearing in spite of his ambiguity.
“Ms. Beckett! Good to see you. Is there anything I can do for you before I leave?”
“Thank you, Joe. Please, call me Tabitha. Actually yes, there is. If you would be so kind as to mail out this letter for me, I’d really appreciate it.”
“Sure thing, Tabitha,” Joe offers a warm smile as he places the letter in his canvas satchel.
Tabitha waves goodbye to Joe and with clear vision, she returns to her bedroom upstairs. She enters her massive walk-in closet and removes from the hanger the Vera Wang dress Daddy requested she wear. She lays the dress out on her magnificent Louis Majorelle bed and then selects a pair of black leather Christian Louboutin stiletto pumps and nude silk stockings. Striding over to the dresser, Tabitha gently pulls on the bronze handles of the top drawer to retrieve a small wireless device she carefully hid under stacks of sumptuous knitwear. Tabitha clenches the miniscule video camera in her palm and affirms that she’s ready to take what is rightfully hers. Glancing at the clock gracing the dresser, she hastens her pace and heads for the master bedroom down the hall.
Entering the Beckett boudoir instantly awakens Tabitha’s contempt for her parent’s pomposity. While carefully situating the micro wireless video camera between two books on the gold gilded bookcase directly opposite the king size, gold leaf canopy bed, Tabitha considers how satisfying it will be to redecorate. The ornamental crest bearing the Beckett patriarch’s initials will be the first to go. It embellished the bed’s headboard like a dog marking his territory- a dog needing to be neutered, she chuckles to herself. First thing’s first. It was time to get dressed and wait for Daddy’s arrival.
When Spencer Beckett came home, he was pleasantly surprised to discover Tabitha napping in his bed. Attired in the outfit he suggested she wear for him stimulated lewd desires. He was very pleased with her compliance so much so that a budding erection gently pressed against his Brioni slacks. Eager to make use of his carnal prowess, Spencer fervidly ran his hands over his daughter’s inert body. Rousing her from her sleep, Spencer kicks off his alligator loafers and murmurs obscenities in her ear.
In perfunctory fashion he removes his slacks, hitches up her dress and mounts her without reprieve. Tabitha floats over the bed, her disembodied self watching from a safe distance in the same way the micro camera on the bookcase observes and records each moment. With every seemingly sanctioned thrust, Tabitha reminds herself that this time would be the last. Indeed should all go according to plan, the tables will turn and Daddy will be the one reduced to a whore. She smiles inwardly at this thought just as Spencer convulses, discharging his paternal seed into her.
While daddy purges any evidence of his debauchery, Tabitha aimlessly wanders over to the bookcase to retrieve the micro video camera. Fixating on the reverberating sound of the shower bleeding through the bathroom door blunts the tortured wail shrieking in her head.
Returning to her room, she follows the necessary steps to securely upload the footage to her laptop. As planned, she emails the file to her accomplice along with a note solidifying their course of action. Tabitha then retrieves from her medicine cabinet a hefty dose of Dilaudid, and carefully following the instructions, uses a sterile cotton swab to collect a semen sample from her vagina. Placing the sample in a small container to air dry over the next few hours, she walks over to her vanity to retrieve a clean envelope. In accord with poetic justice, the chime of Himalayan singing bowls alerts her to a text message. The video footage was received and the pick-up of the envelope will occur that night as discussed. Knowing that the swabs will offer ample genetic evidence through DNA testing helps to alleviate some of her anguish. All is falling into place.
Hastily putting her emotions aside, Tabitha braces herself for her dinner date with Daddy. Rigidly perched on the edge of mother’s Queen Anne wing chair, Tabitha resembles an eerie porcelain doll as she obediently waits for daddy to finish dressing. Spencer leers possessively at Tabitha as he adroitly knots his red silk tie. Domination is his most cherished pastime and he smiles suggestively as he considers having his way with her again after dinner.
He reflects how his daughter so resembles his late sister Brooke, who he also shared a passionate dalliance with before she selfishly took her own life. Like Tabitha, Brooke was malleable until she became disloyal by revealing their cherished secret. Luckily, her accusations were chalked up to madness and she was satisfactorily medicated. Much like my frigid shrew of a wife with her endless martinis, Spencer concludes.
Slathering on Clive Christian men’s fragrance, Spencer reeks of a woodsy scent. He makes a quick call to his chauffeur and with a gesture signals to Tabitha that it’s time to leave for dinner. She submissively follows his lead and takes his hand like a compliant child as they exit through the main door of the Spencer mansion.
There they are received by the striking storm grey Bentley Mulsanne out front. James holds the car door open, playing the lackey, attired in his black suit and matching driving cap. Tabitha chuckles inwardly as images of Morgan Freeman in “Driving Miss Daisy” flash through her mind. The plush leather interior and the white noise of the car enhance the lulling effect of the Dilaudid, assisting Tabitha with distracting from Daddy’s hand creeping up her dress. Spencer’s ostentatious, faceted signet ring bruises Tabitha’s thighs and snags her silk stockings. Tabitha stealthily tears at her hose magnifying the damage, musing that her unkempt appearance will benefit her agenda this evening.
The arrival at Gilt is a welcome reprieve from Daddy’s molestation. They step out of the car and enter the restaurant where they are greeted by the maître d’ Jacque who escorts them to their private circular booth. Spencer is dismayed that Tabitha’s deliberate awkward gait and disheveled presentation is glaringly visible to restaurant staff and patrons. He hides his irritation behind an unctuous smile and swiftly grabs Tabitha’s arm to prevent her from walking into the sommelier who is handling a very costly bottle of Chauteau Lafite Rothschild. Whispering threats to behave lest he be forced to administer severe punishment once they are alone does not deter Tabitha. In fact it incites an effusion of lascivious advances accompanied by obscene proclamations of lewd desire.
Mortified by the scene Tabitha is creating, Spencer feigns contrition as he loudly imparts to Jacque so that all can hear, “My deepest apology. My daughter is clearly untethered by the recent scandal and is on the verge of a mental collapse. It’s been a traumatic ordeal for all of us.” Like a well-trained subordinate, Jacque nods his head with sympathetic contrivance while duteously uttering, “Pas un probleme, Monsieur Beckett.”
As they near the booth, Tabitha abruptly breaks away from Spencer’s grip to careen her way towards the powder room. Settling into the plush pink leather settee, she places her metallic jeweled clutch on the marble counter. The heady scent of tuberose wafting from the air vents prods her into consciousness and she catches her reflection in the Venetian mirror. Her skin is ashen in spite of the makeup she’s wearing, and her dilated pupils further emphasize her escalating opioid abuse. Tabitha decisively reasons, “Once this is resolved, I’ll be able to re-invent myself and rebuild my life.”
With that intention she opens her clutch and removes the envelope scheduled for pick up and adroitly conceals it in the designated spot behind the vanity. Task complete, Tabitha sends a quick text to her collaborator. She takes a deep breath and composes herself as she leaves the powder room and enters the main dining room. Her eyes furtively meet those of her accomplice as she returns to her dinner date with Daddy.
To Spencer’s chagrin, the rendezvous with Tabitha is mired in florid disobedience deserving of ominous consequence. Throughout dinner, Tabitha is willfully displaying obscene, rowdy behavior, causing derisive murmurs amongst the waitstaff and Gilt patrons. While guzzling a bottle of Cristal like a keg of Miller beer, Tabitha swaddles Spencer as she scoops up a handful of Osteria caviar and smears it on his face. Spencer, inwardly fuming from Tabitha’s defiance and blatant ingratitude, pushes her off his lap and hastily calls for the check. Anticipation of Tabitha’s looming punishment helps to attenuate Spencer’s rage and arouses a titillating sadistic thrill. Thoughts of nipple clamps and administering a spanking with the studded leather paddle brings a smile to Spencer’s face, inspiring him to deviate from his miserly routine and leave an ample gratuity. “That will keep the peons mouths shut,” he smugly assumes.
The drive home is filled with palpable tension. Tabitha surpassed her own expectations when Spencer endeavored to aggressively chaperone her towards Gilt’s exit door. The combination of Daddy’s hard-on grinding against her buttocks as he whispered vicious threats into her ear, spontaneously ignited a sudden elbow to his ribs and a swift knee in his groin. Doubled-over in pain Spencer looked as shocked as Tabitha, albeit her shock morphed into conspicuous jubilance as she jauntily walked outside unaffected by the clamor of commotion that surrounded Spencer. Now seated in the car, silence permeates the space between them. Tabitha evasively looks out the window as Spencer clutches at his bruised rib cage. With strained control, Spencer utters, “Don’t think for one minute little girl that there won’t be severe repercussions. Apparently you forgot who you are dealing with.”
Appearing weirdly wraith-like with her disjointed smile Tabitha counters with a sardonic laugh, “You’re out of your league, Daddy dear. You think you’ll do to me what you did to Aunt Brooke? You’ve taught me well. It’s all documented and ready for broadcast. Right now my media source is assembling all the evidence. You’re my bitch now.” Astounded, Spencer barely mumbles, “We’ll see about that.”
Boldly, Tabitha replies, “Yes indeed, Daddy. We certainly will.”
James efficiently pulls up in front of the mansion and politely assists Tabitha with disembarking from the Bentley. Spencer heatedly steps out of the car slamming the door behind him and joins Tabitha just as Abigail opens the front door, complete with a Grey Goose martini in hand. Tabitha meanders past her mother to place her clutch on the Art Deco console in the foyer. Facing Abigail and Spencer, Tabitha exclaims, “Ah, mother! You’re as plastered as I am buzzed. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Just as well kill two birds with one stone. Please join me in the drawing room as I have much to share with you both.” Bewildered by Tabitha’s audacious demeanor, Abigail looks to her husband for clarity, but all she gets from Spencer is a gruff gesticulation directing her to follow their daughter.
Assembled in the drawing room, Abigail takes a seat on the leather Chesterfield, while Spencer rapidly paces before resigning himself to the matching oversized wingback chair. Tabitha excuses herself, and returns with documents and laptop in hand. Clearing her throat, as if preparing for a sermon, Tabitha faces her parents squarely and begins.
“It’s hard to believe this day has come. You groomed me so effectively, but despite being repeatedly raped by you, Daddy — undeniably sanctioned and enabled by you, mother, and your endless cocktails — I managed to retain a shred of dignity. Still, I am very aware of having to tread thoughtfully and carefully. I know full well what you can do to me should I recklessly make idle threats. So trust me when I tell you that there is nothing hollow or frivolous about this shakedown I’ve conceived.”
Tabitha pauses to savor the moment and allow the bombshell to fully land. Curiously, a surreal stillness ensues. Spencer and Abigail appear oddly spellbound by the turn of events, making for an absurdly comical moment. “Since I apparently have your attention, let’s progress on to the evidence.” Carefully laying out the laptop and documents on the vintage coffee table, Tabitha proceeds to explain what lay before Spencer and Abigail.
“I have here a lascivious letter you sent to me, Daddy, credit card receipts from Gilt where we had a rendezvous or two, or three. For the piece de resistance, here is some footage that is currently safeguarded by an esteemed broadcaster. This video is set to go viral at a moment’s notice if you fail to accommodate my conditions. Oh! I almost forgot! My colleague is also preserving some fresh DNA evidence corroborating today’s incestuous porno. Enjoy!”
Tabitha smugly steps aside to observe her parents anxiously perusing the materials.
Exasperated by the ample proof, Abigail walks over to the crystal decanter and pours herself a shot of straight vodka. Seemingly resigned to defeat, Spencer utters, “Let’s cut to the chase and settle this once and for all. What exactly are your conditions?”
Nearly capsizing from a precipitous turn Abigail bellows, “You can’t be serious! You’re going to arbitrate? She’ll ruin us. Surely, you can fix this. Use your cunning for God’s sake. Have her committed and locked away!”
The moments following Abigail’s rant carry the weight of defilement. Any lingering doubts that Tabitha’s mother was blind to the sexual abuse, is expunged by her venomous words. The absolute certainty that both Abigail and Spencer are the human embodiment of soulless voids galvanizes Tabitha to pragmatically lay out her terms.
“Ohm Inc. certainly had its flaws, but irrespective of its imperfections, it taught me to face difficult truths and stand up to adversaries. With the support of some rather influential folks who I had the pleasure of meeting through Ohm Inc. I found the strength to shatter any illusions that my so-called parents contained a vestige of humanity. You truly are evil.”
In spite of Abigail’s eye rolling and Spencer’s visible scorn, Tabitha continues.
“Here is what is going to happen. You might want to keep in mind that any deviation from this arrangement will result in immediate criminal action. I’ve perused your financials, and I’m willing to agree to a settlement of twenty million and this mansion, which I’ll be converting into an all-inclusive healing institute. Consider this your mea culpa.”
Handing over a binder to Spencer, Tabitha reveals, “I’ve already drawn up the papers. Here you go, Mr. Beckett. You have a week to sign the contract and the deed. There will be no escape clause or proviso. If I don’t receive the signed documents on the designated date, there will be hell to pay. Until then I will bid you adieu. My team is waiting outside for me just in case you resorted to violence. I’ll be staying elsewhere until you move out.”
Intoxicated, Abigail mumbles, “You stupid cunt, after all we’ve done for you. You won’t get away with this. Will she, Spencer?”
Embroiled in scanning the legal docs, Spencer momentarily looks up at Abigail and conveys an expression of irremediable ruin. “She has a J.D. from Harvard. The indictment is thorough and demands monetary restitution. We can risk going to trial, but it would decimate us given her body of evidence.”
Smiling sardonically, Tabitha advises, “You should heed his instruction, Abigail. Otherwise you’ll wind up looking like a stupid cunt.”
With that, Tabitha picks up her laptop and stops momentarily in the drawing room corridor to retrieve her amply packed Gucci duffel bag. Satisfied with the outcome and the explosive commotion she ignited, Tabitha slams the door behind her.
The sweet, crisp evening breeze greets Tabitha as she steps into the open air. Feelings of melancholy and redemption define the moment. She waves to her entourage who are waiting to drive her to a discreet location on the outskirts of New York. Forcing a wistful smile, she gently hugs Micah who takes her bag and escorts her to the Jeep Cherokee parked on the corner. She is grateful for him and her other brothers and sisters from Ohm Inc. who stood by her and encouraged her to devise her liberation.
It is a new beginning, she tells herself. Yet the heavy ache of destitution weighs on her soul. Even as her accomplice, Chava, a prominent journalist and chief international correspondent for a major network, warmly congratulates her, Tabitha feels troubled about her ostensible deliverance. She is unsettled by the infallible truth and the anticipated course of destiny.
As fate would have it, with the passage of time it becomes necessary for Tabitha to renege on the agreement she made with her parents to conceal the litany of familial horrors. Given the larceny charges from Tabitha’s former employer, she needs a powerful defense. Ergo she maintains that mental impairment due to incest trauma and generational familial alcoholism led to her impulsive pilfering of funds. In spite of Spencer’s supposition that patrons and staff at Gilt would disregard the ruckus caused by Tabitha’s lewd behavior, many witnesses from that momentous night testify on Tabitha’s behalf.
The corroboration and ample proof of Spencer’s depraved and criminal conduct affords Tabitha the results sought, although for a brief moment, her father’s sentencing at Butner Prison evoked a tinge of pity. Tabitha rationalizes he will get on well with fellow inmate Bernie Madoff and flourish amongst his brethren.
As for Abigail, having enabled the sexual abuse for years, she is marked as a despicable child abuser and consequently banished from the beau monde. Tabitha considers what a convenient patsy her mother is for the affluent elite, notorious for perpetrating child abuse. Tabitha offers her mother a charitable settlement, allowing Abigail to live out her days as an infamous pariah in the historic Beckett brownstone townhouse on the Upper East Side’s distinguished museum mile. Far from being altruistically motivated, Tabitha took into consideration how the weight of her choices will impact her imminent marketing strategy.
Contingent on her returning the funds to her former employer and completing treatment at a prestigious in-patient facility for addiction and trauma, Tabitha is placed on probation. While Tabitha complies with the court mandates, Micah and Chava take up residence at the South Hampton mansion and lay the groundwork for establishing a viable business plan. Recalibrated and sober Tabitha returns home to commence with the task of transforming the mansion into a world-class wellness center.
Chavas’ notable career in broadcast journalism and Micah’s global experience as a distinguished executive marketing coach attracts a cadre of exemplary employees; interior designers, expert clinicians, celebrity gurus, Shamans, yoga instructors, fitness trainers, and dieticians. Everyone from Eckhart Tolle to Oprah are eager to pitch in. Once Metamorphosis is fully launched, Conde Nast touts it as a cross between the Ritz Carlton and Esalen. Tabitha Beckett and her prestigious legion of cohorts are recognized as the trend du jour.
Late in the evening, wading in the three-tiered infinity pool, Tabitha is soothed by the music of the cicadas and the tranquil sound of the flowing water. Reflecting on all that’s been achieved and on the days ahead, a Nietzsche quote she heard in a discussion group in rehab unexpectedly pierces her thoughts.
“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”
She pauses. Deep down, Tabitha knows who she is becoming. Nonetheless, the perks of virtue pale against the benefits of profit and the adoration of millennial feminists and spiritual seekers. Under the guise of social responsibility and charity, the fawning press is making her richer and more grandiose. The book deals, paparazzi, television interviews, and award nominations enthrall her.
Hence, Tabitha willingly conforms to a politically correct ‘progressive’ stance designed to bolster her fan base and ignite publicity. Her campaign exalts forgiveness, beseeching her followers to ‘not marginalize pedophiles but rather, in the spirit of humanity, forgive and embrace all perpetrators, as they are simply misguided individuals needing the light of love to guide them!’ On the heels of this proclamation, simultaneous backlash and support galvanizes the movement. The desired effect transpired.
Yet as she wraps herself in the hooded Missoni bathrobe, the cozy warmth of the garment doesn’t subside the chill permeating every fiber of Tabitha’s being. Fortunately, lodged into a deep recess of the robe’s lush pocket, Tabitha makes a fortuitous discovery. “Providence!” she convinces herself, as she pops the narcotic into her mouth. The soporific effect taking hold offers reprieve from relentless self-reproach. Anesthetized, she makes her way to her room and defiantly commits to her destiny and to another day. “All for the greater good,” Tabitha tells herself repeatedly, until she anxiously falls into a deep sleep.