Sunday, December 7, 2008

The end of Fred Keller

One of the major characters in Madness Under the Royal Palms is Fred Keller, who murdered his ex-wife when she was awarded half his wealth. I spent about thirty hours talking to Keller in prison, and it was one of the most disappointing experiences of my career. My technique basically is to empathize with the person I’m interviewing, finding some authentic commonality with the subject. I tried it with Fred but in retrospect, it was a disaster. He was a sociopath and there was nothing to which I could truly relate. Basically, he used me. I was his free shrink and his ersatz friend for a number of weeks.

Yesterday I attended an auction of the last of Keller’s belongings. It was a perfect metaphor for Keller. Money was all that mattered to Fred and this was how it all ended. The only thing that would have made it better was if they had auctioned off his ashes. It took place in a crude industrial park in Rivera Beach, a downscale rude little town where Fred had had his office and was his natural habitat. The room was full of about a hundred bottom feeders, many of them pathetic voyeurs clutching a few dollars that they hoped to parlay into something. The first item sold was a lot that consisted of two brand new cheap sofas, a cheap matching coffee table, a ping pong table, and a kind of card table. It went for one dollar.

Fred had no taste and he bought things that he thought marked him as classy but almost always came up short. There were quasi antiques, Oriental pieces, crystal, some fine tables, a couple of decent paintings but most of it was upscale junk. I was thinking of buying a couple of things but I didn’t. I’m not superstitious but I didn’t want anything of this man in my house. Whatever he touched he destroyed.

Keller's former brother-in-law, Wolfgang Keil, was there wandering among the merchandise, buying a few things. Fred shot him and destroyed his life, and Wolfgang told me that his whole family has been destroyed. The Keils are feuding over money. The only ones truly to benefit are the largely despicable group of lawyers who will walk away with about twenty million dollars.

1 comment:

Tellin It Like it IS! said...

This seems to be a great book. When will it be in bookstores or available online? Thanks P.C.