Chapter 8 - April 2, 2003 - Episode 2Listen to podcast
Interview with Louise Lazard Continued
Q: Do you know where your husband was living during your separation?
A: Yes. I assume you know, too, by now. Or you ought to. He had a suite at the Soho Grand. And he spent a lot of time at the office. We’d been in touch in the last week or so. We even had a date; I spent the night at the hotel. I ... I...
A: Nothing. I had hoped we might get back together. Now we won’t. That’s life, as Larry would say. But he’s never going to say that again.
Q: You said there were other things depressing him.
A: The company stock slumped again. The last time that happened there was a hostile takeover attempt. Ever since we went public, Larry’s mood went up and down with the price of the stock. With the stock mainly down, Larry was mainly down; maybe that’s why he had to screw the banker bitch.
Q: And what else depressed him?
A: Nine-eleven depressed him. It depressed all of us, but it took something special out of him. He was there; he was in the Towers and he escaped.
Q: It’s not surprising he’d be frightened by that. We all were.
A: He wasn’t frightened; Larry didn’t let himself be frightened. He didn’t go around worrying that the next high‑rise he was in would get hit by an airliner full of terrorists. He just never got over it, somehow. None of us have, but it seemed to be worse in him. A part of the joy he had before went away and never came back.
Q: And yet you’re sure he didn’t kill himself with all these things depressing him?
A: I’m sure. I’m very sure.
Q: Was there anything else depressing him?
A: One more thing. From what little I know about it, things were pretty rough at work. Dom and Larry used to be friends. They haven’t been for a long time, but apparently things were pretty bitter between them lately.
Q: Do you know why Larry and Dom stopped being friends? They do go back a long way.
A: I don’t know. I asked, but Larry just said that Dom had changed; that he was arrogant; that he wanted credit for everything whether he did it or not and never thought he got enough credit; that he was getting impossible. That could be. Could have been Larry’s fault, too. He likes getting lots of praise and credit. Maybe, when things started not going so well, there wasn’t enough credit to go around and too much blame. Larry wasn’t getting along well with Donna either, and that’s only been recently.
Q: This is a very personal question, but you’ve already said that you know about Donna and Larry’s relationship in college. Did it bother you when he hired her? Did it make you uncomfortable that they were working together?
A: Maybe a bit. ...Okay, it did bother me when he first hired her. I’d been jealous of her looks back in college. But, for Larry, once something is over it’s usually over. And she’s the same way. We’ve actually been pretty friendly with Donna and her husband and I’ve gotten to know her. I think one day they decided it was better for them to be friends than lovers and that’s what they’ve been ever since. Maybe I’m naïve but I’m pretty sure of that.
In fact, since Larry has to have attractive women around, I’ve been sort of glad she’s there. I think she’d scare off anyone else in the office. Didn’t scare off the banker, though.
Q: Why do you think Larry hasn’t been getting along with Donna?
A: He said it was because of her; that she’s turning into a bitch. He said that at our date at Soho Grand last week. I think she may have been mad about the Barcourt woman, too. She might not have liked seeing Larry be such an asshole. She might have felt bad for me, although that’s not like her. She might have felt that another woman — a younger woman — intruded on her space.
Q: But if she and Larry were just friends, why—
A: Why would she care?
Q: Yes. Why would she care?
A: Detective, I hope you don’t have to investigate any cases with women suspects. You don’t understand them very well. Larry and Donna were just friends as far as I know, but they were also a man and a woman and Donna wouldn’t have wanted another woman — especially a younger woman — in the business space they occupied together. She didn’t even like me coming into the office during the day. We joked about that, but it was serious, too. I didn’t intrude in her space and she stayed out of Larry’s bed. Does that make sense to you?
Q: No, but I’ll think about it. After you graduated from college, did you work outside the home?
A: Never for money. I’m active in various charities. I helped Larry with the social end of business, of course. But I was fortunate in never having to work for money.
Q: A year after you were married, Larry confessed to a computer crime and was sentenced to prison.
A: Is that a question? You sound like Larry King.
Q: No; I’m sorry. My question is: What was your reaction to that?
A: You still sound like Larry King: “What was your reaction to your husband going to jail?” “How did you feel about your husband being in jail?”
Q: I’m sorry, but I would like to know what your reaction was and what your family’s reaction was.
A: My father’s reaction was to have a fit. He was appalled. He was shocked and amazed. He didn’t want his daughter married to a felon. How could someone with so much going for him —Harvard Business School and a good job and all — be so stupid? How could he throw all this away? He wanted me out of the marriage. He was willing to pay anything to get me out of the marriage. He contacted Larry and offered to pay his legal fees if he’d make a quick divorce easy. He paid a huge retainer to a fancy divorce lawyer for me.
A: And what?
Q: How did Larry respond to the offer? What happened with your lawyer?
A: Larry told my father to go fuck himself; what do you think he’d say? He said I could have a divorce any time I wanted it. That he wasn’t after my money. And that he didn’t need my father to pay his legal fees or anything else.
Q: And what happened with your lawyer?
A: I fired him and got a refund on the retainer.
Q: You said you had some money of your own. Is that what you lived on while your husband was in prison?
A: Partly. My father gave me a little money every year for tax reasons and he gave me part of his hardware chain before he sold it — also for tax reasons. Larry had some money he got when his father died. So things weren’t too tight. I didn’t spend much during this period, at least not much by my usual standards, and we had money left over when Larry got out of prison to live on while Larry got his consulting business going.
Q: You still haven’t told me what you felt like when, a year into your marriage, your husband committed a crime and was sentenced to prison.
A: He confessed to the crime. It wasn’t like he was discovered.
Q: Does that make a difference?
A: It means there was no knock on the door and no one came to take my husband away. It means that Larry told me before I heard about it some other way. It means... Never mind, it’s just different than if he got caught committing a crime. None of the hacked credit card numbers got misused.
Q: Have you ever had a relative in prison before? Or anyone close to you?
A: Do you count the aunts and uncles and grandparents and other family I never met who died in concentration camps?
Q: No. I mean people you know or are close to. Have any of them been in prison besides the deceased?
A: Please call him Larry. He still has a name. Until Larry went to prison, the only person I ever knew who went to jail was a kid from my high school who was held over night for drunk driving. He thought that made him a hero after his father bailed him out.
Q: Were you disappointed?
A: Was I disappointed in what? That the kid went to jail or that he got bailed out?
Q: Neither. Were you disappointed that the ... that Larry went to prison?
A: It hadn’t been part of my game plan. Of course I was disappointed. And I was lonely. I’d always lived with a strong man, first my father, then Larry. Now my father wanted me back but I couldn’t go because I didn’t want to give up Larry and Larry couldn’t help me because he was in prison. Suddenly I was very alone.
Q: Did you consider leaving Larry? You didn’t have to stay married to him. You didn’t have to stay alone. You could have gone home. I’m sure you could’ve found another man.
A: Why are you so sure I “could’ve found another man?” Yeah, I guess I could’ve. I certainly could’ve gone back to my father. But I loved Larry; I wanted Larry. Period. So, I waited for him to get out of prison. I visited him every chance I got. And he did everything he could to get out early, good behavior, good deeds, all of that stuff.
Q: That must’ve been hard on you.
A: I don’t think that’s a question. But it was hard. You know, the Israelis have a saying: “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” It didn’t kill me so it made me stronger. I also knew it was harder on Larry. He can’t ... he couldn’t stand being told what to do. In prison, he said he couldn’t shit without permission, but he did it and I did it and we were stronger for it.
Q: Did you learn that saying from your studies of Middle Eastern History?
A: No, I learned it from an Israeli woman we met in Switzerland.
Q: How did your friends react to Larry being in prison?
A: They didn’t know how to react. After a while, I realized that they were waiting for me to signal them how to react. So I did. I held my head high. I kept up with my charitable work — just didn’t give as much money that year, but I gave more time. And I threw a big party for Larry when he got out. Most of them reacted fine once they saw that’s what I expected. A few didn’t, and they weren’t friends anymore. No loss.
Q: Was Larry the same when he got out of prison?
A: No, not really. He was ... harder. He grew up, I guess. He was always cynical but he got more cynical.
Q: Please tell me about the gun Larry was given by a fellow ex-prisoner.
A: Is that meant to be a shock question? I mean, suddenly you bring up the murder weapon.
Q: No. I’m sorry to be abrupt. It’s just where I am in my list of questions. And we don’t know that it’s murder.
A: I know that it’s murder. I told you that.
Q: Can you tell me anything about the gun?
A: I don’t know anything about guns. It was a pistol, not a rifle. Larry took it to the office. I didn’t like it here.
Q: Do you know anything about the man who gave it to him?
A: He was a mafia guy, I think. That’s what Larry said anyway. But he wasn’t in for killing someone or anything like that. He was convicted of a white collar crime so he was in the same place as Larry. He told Larry they were both stupid to do the kinds of crime tehy got caught for. He told Larry that next time he wanted to rob a bank he should use a gun.
Q: Did you ever meet this person?
A: Once. We went to dinner with him and his girlfriend in some mafia restaurant in North Jersey somewhere. It was a pretty terrible night.
A: Why did we go to dinner or why was it a terrible night?
Q: Either. Both.
A: We went to dinner because he asked us. It was awful because, first, we’re having dinner with this guy who talks with his mouth full and is fondling his bimbo with whatever hand wasn’t stuffing more food into his mouth. I thought she was going to end up crawling under the table and ... you know. Then some of his friends come in with their bimbos and if anything they’re even more gross. And Larry’s starting to talk like them, I guess just because we were there. I never felt dirty when he was in prison but I did there. It was the only time I felt ashamed.
And then a rat ran across the floor in the next room. These guys think it’s hilarious and they take out their guns and start shooting. Of course they’re all too drunk to hit the rat and bullets are going all over the place and the rat is running around in circles. Then our friend gives Larry his gun and says “here, you try” and Larry — Larry’s a pretty good shot — he kills the rat on the first try, and there’s rat all over the place The bimbos are jumping up and down and screaming and laughing. While I’m trying hard not to be sick.
That’s when he gave Larry the gun. He told Larry: “You’re pretty good with this. Next time you wanna knock over a bank, use a gun. You can’t trust those computers.” He thought that was hilarious.
Larry tried to give the gun back. I don’t think he thought the guy was serious. And the guy says: “Hey, you shot the rat; you gotta keep the gun. It’s the murder weapon.”
Oh, my God... Oh-my-GOD! It WAS. It was the murder weapon that killed Larry. I can’t believe it. I...
Q: Let’s take a break.
A: Thank you. I’m sorry. I can’t stand that Larry’s dead. I...
Q: If it’s okay, I’ll just wait until you’re ready to talk again.
A: Fine. Whatever. I’ll be back in a few minutes.