CheckMate



    [In Lawrence Schiller's "American Tragedy" Bob Kardashian has the opportunity to tell his version of what happened on the first occasion after the murders when he was alone in private with Simpson. Below is another version, which is closer to what I believe really happened.]

    Kardashian was in a daze all Monday morning. This was the most important thing that had ever happened to him, and he had only a vague idea what was going on. He had said as little as possible, and had tried to keep O.J. in sight. Finally in the afternoon they were alone together for the first time in an inner office in Simpson's sixth floor business suite in Brentwood.

    "What the hell happened?" Kardashian said, still in shock after half a day.

    "I didn't do it, man. I didn't do it. You know who did..." Simpson was almost crying.

    "I know, I know," Kardashian said. "But you gotta tell me what happened."

    Simpson collapsed into the chair behind the desk, and stared out the window at the Brentwood hills on an almost-summer afternoon. He saw that the shadows on things were pronounced, but not yet long. When it was last like this -- just yesterday -- he was at the dance recital, and Nic was bitchy, and he was pissed, and how he wished it could be like that right now. Just this time yesterday... It was all so unreal.

    Simpson talked at first in a monotone to the window, as though reciting someone else's story. "I got a call about 10:15. I guess you know who from. She said that Nic had been... killed with a knife at her own front gate, and they were going to frame me for it. She said my own glove was left on Nic's... body, and if I got there before the cops, I could get rid of the frame-up. I couldn't believe it. She told me where they'd got the glove from, and if I went and checked my closet, I'd find it was missing. She said if I talked about the call, I'd just make it worse for myself... and I should think about what happened to Nic because she was going to talk... and think about the kids."

    Simpson swallowed hard and shot Kardashian a quick worried look. " How could they do that, Bobby? Get right in my closet?" Kardashian shook his head, and Simpson turned back to the window. "I looked where she said; the gloves were missing. I still couldn't believe it, but I figured I better check the condo. She said not to call there. I figured... 'Cause of the kids. Or something."

    He looked again at Kardashian. "You remember the trouble last winter..." Kardashian nodded.

    "I didn't know what to think; I didn't trust her. I got the gun, and I took the Bronco. Parked in back. Jesus, Bobby, I didn't know what to do. I've never been so scared like that... After a couple of minutes, there didn't seem to be any commotion, like if the police were there. But, I was glad I brought the gun. I went over the back gate, but screwed it up; cut my hand. But, I was in, and I unhooked the back gate in case I had to get out fast." He took a few deep breaths to steady himself.

    "Jesus, I didn't want to go down that path. It was so dark, I had to feel my way, but up at the end I could see the porch light was on. You know, Nic turns it off at night, so I knew she hadn't gone to bed yet. Maybe it was some kind of a joke, and she was with some guy or something. God, I hoped it was some kind of a joke; any kind of a joke... Well, I got down that path somehow, and to the front porch, and there I saw that the front door was standing open. Oh, God, I didn't like that. I was really scared then. I was beginning to think it was probably true. I figured I'd just get in, get the damned glove and get out. Don't look at anything, try not to see..." Simpson stopped talking then and just stared blankly out the window. After a minute, Kardashian wasn't sure that Simpson was going to continue and was about to prompt him, but then the other picked up the thread again.

    "Near the top of the stairs I stopped, 'cause I could see down into the shadows... Like a heap, you know? And... And maybe blonde hair," he said as though it were a guilty admission. He held his forehead then and talked to his knees for a moment. "And I kind of went real careful down the stairs around it, but trying not to see it. And as I was looking away, I saw something else in the bushes right there. I couldn't believe... It looked like a man just sprawled. I went and looked into the bushes and it was; a dead man with his eyes wide open. I jerked my head away and looked down. It was Nic! Nic, right there at my feet! In all that blood. And the glove right there. Oh God, Bobby. It was just Nic, in all that... that..." Simpson started to sob uncontrollably, and Kardashian didn't know what to do; he put his hand on Simpson's heaving shoulder. Simpson cried for two full minutes, and Kardashian just waited until Simpson finally sniffled, "The guy with his eyes open, and Nic right there, and I didn't know how many more were there in the bushes. So much blood, man... So much...

    "And I thought about the kids upstairs," he sobbed. "And I wondered if they were like this, dead too, with their eyes open, and blood all over the condo, running down the stairs... I remember thinking that the dog got out. The dog is in the street. They didn't get the dog... Maybe the kids were okay, too... But, I just couldn't... You know?"

    "I know, OJ. I know," Kardashain said with an assurance and a calmness that he did not really feel. "The kids are okay."

    Simpson nodded, open mouthed. "I don't know exactly what happened then. I think I was in a traffic accident, but I got home somehow. I think I brought the glove. The limo was there, I couldn't get into the house without him seeing me. I tried to get the flake to come out and talk to him."

    "Kato," Kardashian nodded.

    "And then I knew there was blood on the shoes. Jesus, Bobby. So much blood... everywhere blood. I don't know; I got rid of the shoes somehow, I think. I don't even remember what I did. I was just on pure adrenaline. Not thinking, just doing. I was like paralyzed, but I had to... And so then, I just did... what I was supposed to do. Went on the plane. And that's all."

    "Did you tell this to the police?" Kardashian worried.

    "No. I told 'em I overslept, and didn't hear the limo guy. I mean what am I gonna tell 'em, that I went there and took away the glove? I know I was doing a right thing, but they're not gonna understand. What am I gonna do, Bobby? Should I tell 'em anyway?"

    "You can't," Kardashian sighed. He turned away from Simpson and jammed his hands in his pockets. Kardashian didn't continue for a moment, but Simpson knew he would, and waited. "I got a call this morning -- woke me up in fact -- from the guy in New Jersey. Those checks we gave 'em in January? They went into an account for people that the authorities think do professional murder."

    "Oh, Jesus," Simpson moaned.

    Kardashian turned back to him, worry and remorse on his face. "I know, O.J. I'm sorry as hell I ever got you into this. I tried to tell you and Nicole: these guys play for keeps. Now I'm in it too if those checks ever come out. And, if we're both in jail, I can't very well help you. And, there's more. The guy in New Jersey says that if the authorities get to the mob, that dumb thing with the dope dealer last January will come out. He says Paula's footprints are all over it. Her car, her gun, her private phone number on the stalking sheets... It's gonna look like you and her hired a mobster to kill Nicole so that she could have you all to herself, and I helped..."

    "Oh God," Simpson wailed. "How could this happen? At every turn..."

    "You need a lawyer, O.J." Kardashian said earnestly. "Howard's a nice guy, but...

    "They've got me trapped, man," Simpson said with dread. "I didn't do it; I didn't do it. I tried to stop the frame-up, but I'm trapped. Oh, I wish Nic were here, she would know what to do, but... Oh God, what am I gonna do, man? If they ever figure out I was there... I need something Bobby. I really need something real bad. You got anything?"

    "Not here, O.J. I'll get you something," Kardashian soothed. "And I'll make some calls tonight. I'll find out who the A-list people would get for a lawyer on this."

    "Oh, Bobby. I wish I could talk to Nic," Simpson moaned. "Ask her what to do. Nic would know. I need something, Bobby."

    "Let me see what I can do, O.J." Kardashian said with great concern, heading for the door. "Pull yourself together. Take a few calls from good friends. For the time being just stick to your story about being asleep at home. Until we know what the police find out. Did they say anything about what they've got?"

    Kardashian paused at the door, and Simpson looked blankly at him. "They asked a lot of questions about when I was at the condo last, and how I cut my hand." Kardashian nodded, and knew the worst. He left then to go out into Brentwood Village to find "something" for his inconsolable friend.

Dick Wagner • Van Nuys, CA (7/06/99) NG_563

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