The Case of the Terrified Tiger

She was a dame with high-voltage looks and an eroticbook contract. Her name was Tiger. No last name. Just Tiger. And she was in trouble.

So they arrested her and took Polaroids to commemorate the event. In them Tiger looked like a tabby cat with eight lives gone. She was wan and weak; her hair hung flat; her glasses completely obscured all sign of Eva the author.

She claims she had visits from cops who knew all about her Arizona adventures. Three days later, they released her without filing charges.

Tiger pushed more papers across the table at me. One was a letter that young Donnie had written to one of her New York friends. It proved to her that Donnie had set her up--or, at least, that she had taken the fall for his left-behind pharmacy.

What the letter really proved is that their relationship had burned like magnesium and left nothing behind but a smoking pile of gray residue.

The kid admitted on the first page that he was trying to write like Hunter Thompson. It's always Hunter Thompson or Jack Kerouac at that age. If he ever kicked the Gonzo habit and found his own voice, he might have enough Tiger material for a coming-of-age novel.

The kid said in the letter that he had already heard the death threat--that it made him laugh--when he got the call that Tiger was in jail.

"... it was just what I needed to top the most ironic and idiotic road trip/love-affair ender/hell-couldn't-be-any-worse trip of my entire 19-year life," he wrote.

"I thought, did they find the meth, the pot, the Valium, the Percocet, the gun and the bong all at the same time, or was it a one-thing-leads-to-another fall? ...

"It must have been hell for her to be arrested only for drugs. She had always told me she was going to go to jail at some point--after all, she was a bad girl--but I never thought I'd still know her when it happened."

He signed it, "Jack McCloud." Maybe he didn't know himself anymore.
I called the kid later, and he admitted he wrote the letter. He promised to call me back and tell me everything, but he never did.

Instead, his mom called. She wanted to make sure I wasn't the next notch in Eva Morris' garter belt after what she had done to her son.

I thanked her for her concern.
Mom tried to convince me that Tiger had led Donnie down the primrose path. I figured the kid never went anywhere he didn't want to go.

I still didn't think I could do anything for Tiger that she couldn't handle herself.

She smiled sadly--a heart-melting smile--before she got back into the red convertible she'd borrowed to get to our interview, then sped forever out of my parking lot.

I told Tiger I had dropped the case, but I guess I hadn't told myself. She was so convinced she'd been wronged by ASU, and even more convinced that the bicycle-tire tracks upside her head, the death threat, maybe even the drug bust were related.

But did all those wrongs make a writing?
Why would the university bother? There wasn't even enough money involved to getthreats from the mob. ASU could shoo her away with a flick of the governmental wrist.

But why would she make it up? And didn't she have enough paper to prove that most of it had really happened?

I called her friends in New York. Even they wondered what had happened to her in Arizona.

Had she fallen into a black hole of bad luck? Had the blow to the head when she was knocked off the bicycle altered her personality? Had she been sharing those drugs she claimed were Donnie's?

And how, after being caught red-handed in possession of illegal drugs, had she managed to walk away from a Colorado jail, case closed?

Had she truly irritated someone in Tempe--someone she knew, someone she didn't know? After all, the man-eating persona she had created might have attracted the kind of attention that even a big cat doesn't want.

Or was it all true?
The ASU attorney said that her contract was honored, the checks were cashed, the story ended.

The bookstore manager, a very busy man, wouldn't come to the phone, but an underling dared to say, "We sold a few of the books, yes, but the sales history did not warrant reordering."

As to whether the book had been banned for its content, he replied, "If it would have sold, it wouldn't have mattered what the contents were."

On November 1, Eva Morris showed up on the Gordon Elliott talk show on NBC.
She was feeling feline--anyone could see that--busting out of a black-lace bustier that she must have bought at a dominatrix supply house. Watching her on TV, I remembered the effect she'd had on me in person. I started to sweat, and I liked it.

The subject was "Fantasy Kisses." Eva was a "sexuality expert," according to the words that flashed across her chest on the TV screen.

"I think a woman should kiss her man at least 25 times before the appetizer arrives," she nearly snarled when Elliott, an obsequious Brit, asked her professional opinion.

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