but instead, the author has merely given us pages of words. All the precision that expertise in police work evokes is replaced by mealy clichs about Mexican-American culture. The end is satisfying in spite of itself, but Drummond and her characters deserve better. Other gaffes seem the fault of nodding editors. Metaphors that never should have made it past the first draft occasionally snarl the page, usually topical to the Southern setting. They mar otherwise beautiful wordplay such as in the first story when she describes an old woman this way: “tiny folds of skin ripple like a sandy creek bed along the back of her arm:’ But this is nit-picking. If Drummond weren’t mostly wonderful, such flubs wouldn’t stand out. Most of the book is police work, and it is powerful. One story, “Something About a Scar,” is particularly sophisticated. Cathy, on her first day of work at Victim’s Services, meets a woman who has been stabbed in an apparent attempted rape. The detective on the case decides it was a self-inflicted wound and closes the case. Years later, when Cathy and the detective have married and Cathy has become a cop, the woman comes back to have the case reopened, insisting that she was attacked. The reader is drawn from belief to disbelief and then left dangling in the middlein Cathy’s position. And that is the great virtue of this book: No one escapes without some empathy for the policeno small feat with hippies like me. Drummond earns our empathy, but she does not abuse it. When Katherine holds the bleeding head of a drunk wreck victim until the ambulance comes, her arms burning with exhaustion, she does so knowing that he would be better off dead. That’s a bitter, uncomfortable, thankless heroism with ambiguous consequences, like so much of what cops do. There is asscovering; mistakes are made. But the pleasure comes, now and again, in their camaraderie, in a job well done, and in employing those hard-earned, unusual skills like reading hands and eyes, the air and the dark, trying not to get killed. Anything You Say is better than a first book; it is the culmination of Drummond’s own first life, and the beginning of her second. Emily DePrang is a writer in New York. Not everyone was laughing at Andy Fastow. One area where Eichenwald breaks new ground in the Enron story that is, newer than the ground that he’s already brokenis in his revelation of how many employees besides Sherron Watkins, the high-profiled whistle blower, were constantly blowing smaller whistles. Jeff McMahon, who was treasurer while Fastow was CFO, spent a virtual career with his jaw on the floor, astonished at the audacity of Fastow’s schemes. When he complained to Fastow, Fastow lied. When he complained to Skilling, Skilling went to Fastow, and Fastow lied. Then he docked McMahon’s bonus. John Olson, a stock analyst at Merrill Lynch in charge of the Enron account, was summarily fired when he downgraded Enron’s rating. Fastow had simply threatened to take Enron’s business elsewhere if Olson wasn’t canned. The same thing happened to Don Dufresne at Salomon Smith Barney. When Vince Kaminski, an Enron risk analyst, had the nerve to question the ethical soundness of Fastow’s hedge funds, he was shoved into another division. As Skilling told him in a phone call, “We don’t need cops, Vince Of course, the cops eventually show up to put an end to the charade. A suidestroyed laptops, congressional hearingsthe worksmarked the dramatic decline of Enron. But the scene that might be the most poignant moment of the denouement comes when Ken Lay went to the courthouse to plead not guilty. For three hours before his hearing he sat in a holding tank next to two men shackled in leg irons. Here he was, a billionaire, a corporate icon, close friend to the President of the United States, chit-chatting it up with a couple of hardened criminals in a jail cell. For a moment, a fleeting moment, there’s the sense that nobody, no matter what his status, is above the law. It’s a comforting fantasy. A professional historian, contributing writer James E. McWilliams has frequently been seen around town carrying 700-plus page tomes. Enron, continued from page 23 another story. Fastow, by contrast, knew exactly what he wanted: He wanted to make himself insanely rich. Eichenwald’s animus for Fastow runs deep, perhaps too deep. Fastow is the only Enron player whom he fails to develop into a believable character. Skilling can be scummy, especially in his undying loyalty for Fastow, but at least he routinely breaks down crying like a slobbery toddler on the playground. Lay, too, is creepy in his slavish dedication to Skilling and Fastow, but he also evokes a grudging tinge of sympathy for his almost touching naivet. But not Fastow. Fastow’s straight-up slime. Plus, as Eichenwald portrays him, he’s got a room-temperature IQ. Consider this example, one among dozens like it. When he was briefly in charge of Enron’s retail division, Fastow had to present his work to a team of internal analysts. Here’s Eichenwald’s reconstruction of the scene: “Yes,” one analyst began. “How do you manage your interest-rate exposure?” Fastow shrugged. “I don’t have any” The room went uncomfortably silent. Fastow was wrong. Enron booked future cash flows based on their present valuebasically, the net result of a multiyear investment expressed in current dollars. Interest rates were critical to that calculation. And apparently, Fastow didn’t grasp that. The questions wound down, and Fastow departed. One of the analysts, Jeff Kinneman, broke into a smile. “That guy has already lost the company a few million dollars,” Kinneman said, “And he doesn’t even know it.” The analysts cracked up. MAY 27, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25
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