Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Pattaya had long been recognized as the world's leading destination for sex addicts and lowlifes attracted to the sordid city on the Gulf of Siam by the countless bars, the easy women, lax enforcement of law, crooked police, rampant drug use, stunning ladyboys, and young boys. My ten years in the Last Babylon furthered my research into the darker side of life without any desire to reform a single sinner. My first years were a scandal, but somehow Pattaya became home and I chilled my satanic jets. My friends remained men on the run from the banality of western life. Our pasts were forgotten as long as our pockets were filled with baht. We were rich men in the Orient and we thought that this anti-Eden would last forever.
Sadly my booming fake F-1 enterprise was shut down by the Thai cyber-police. My website posting as # 1 on Google had gained the attention of Ferrari. Even the famed racing team was second to f1-sporting.net. The police treated my crime as a misdemeanor, but suggested that shutting down my business was in my best interests. Without this income I was forced to return to the USA. New York to be exact. I resumed selling diamonds on 47th Street and traveled frequently to Thailand to see my children and wives.
Both my families had also decamped from Pattaya. My time was split between Chai-nat and Sriracha. The allure of a go-go bar offered no competition with my kids, plus Mam, Fenway's mom, was the only woman in the world for me. She swears that she didn't dose me with a magic love potion or sa-neh-haa.
"I am cute. I not need magic to make you love me."
She has that straight and I spent most of this last sojourn in Thailand with her along the Cambodian border visiting her two other children. My step-kids; Fluke and Noy. They call me 'papa' and I call them 'luk'. Saying they aren't my kids are fighting words and I have a short temper.
We returned the direct route. 4 hours flat from a little north of Aranya Prathet to Sriracha. I dropped Mam and Fenway and a cousin at the small house west of the town and headed to Pattaya to drop off the rental car to Pisan, who has a spot in front of the Buffalo Bar. I was six hours late and when asked how much extra I should pay, the Thai mechanic said, "Up to you, but I want small pack of beer."
400 baht and 4-pack of Leo beer was a bargain.
His repair shop was located in a shrinking swamp off Soi Bongkot. I had lived six years on the neighboring complex. The wetland was a haven for birds and mosquitoes. The owners landfilled most of the marsh to build shophouses and a short-time hotel. I arrived to find Pisan and his son burning old tires. The toxic black smoke was a crime in the USA. Pattaya had no such law and it was a Sunday. The police were sleeping off their hang-overs. I handed the beers to Pisan and we drank talking about the old times, as his 18 year-old son tended to the mad blaze at the water's edge.
"Nothing same. Puying old now. Not beautiful. Only have farang old too and Russian and Arab. No fun." Pisan shook his head, thinking as much about the loss of Babylon as his youth. Neither of us could pretend to be young anymore except with a younger woman. The coconut groves had been razed to provide retirees over-seized bungalows. The corner restaurants serving spicy Isaan food had been replaced by KFCs and 7/11s. Condos shadowed the Beach Road and huge shopping malls dominated the tourist market. Babylon was falling under the onslaught of gobalization, but a few places remained true to the tradition of a-tham-ma or lawlessness.
"You want to meet at the Buffalo for a beer later?" We didn't drink in the bar. The stools were reserved for farangs. A warped bamboo bench along Sai Sahm was our spot.
"Sorry, I stay here. Live here. Go nowhere. For what?" He was paying 8000 baht for a elevated patch of land. His shop had no fences to protect against thieves. This was home. He even had some chickens in the back. I thanked him for the rental and headed off to my tailor on Sai Song, calling several friends from the back of a baht bus.
Sam Royalle was busy with his kids up at his house on the reservoir, but Big Al and Ulf were available.
"Meet me at the Buffalo around 6."
My suit was ready. dark grey for business. I had an hour and a half to kill. I took another baht bus to Soi 3. A short walk to the Welkom Inn. I had been a faithful afternoon customer for years. None of the girls at the front recognized me, although the service girls in the garden asked for my dog Champoo. I never left home without her. The farangs at the bar were bland and I wondered whether the Welkom had always been like this.
"No way," I told myself and walked along the Beach Road to Soi 6, the wickedest street in town. The bars were each fronted by a pack of short-time girls. Not one of them caught my eye. They were more interested in stuffing food in their mouths than a single older male. I was no longer 'sexy man'.
A motorsai taxi driver drove me to the Buffalo.
This bar had been in business for over 20 years. It was around the corner from my house. I drank there nightly. The girls behind the bar greeted me my name. I was not a forgotten man here. I bought a round of drinks for my old favorites; two lesbians no longer in love. Big Al showed up first. He commented on my weight.
"Better watch out for your gut." Big Al tipped the scales over 300.
"I can still see my feet." My BMI was a little over the edge, but I sucked in my gut. I hated looking fat to someone as big as Big Al.
"As long as you can still touch your dick, it's okay." An ex-extreme fighter he had left the USA for good, although his businesses had failed in the past two years. "Even worse my wife found out that I went short-time with someone her family knew."
"That's not good." I was 100% faithful to Mam. Not that she believed any man could be 100% faithful in the long run. I couldn't believe it either considering the playboy nature of my younger years. Mam was running me on a long lease. She hadn't called once
"I should have known better." He explained that his wife was more pissed at his spending money on another woman than being butterflying on her. "I calm her down, but I got to get something together."
He told me about a film project about a detective in Thailand.
"It's a long shot." Making movies require money. Big Al had none. He wasn't even drinking beer.
Ulf showed up at the bar. The German had traded Pattaya for the Phillipines. Running a bar. He had returned to my old business. Selling first-class motor-sport gear.
"It almost killed me. Trinken, trinken, trinken." Ulf enjoyed a good time, but six nights a week was a deadly pace for men like us. He had been with me the day that I met Mam. We had been toasting a fallen comrade after the temple service. Mam had smiled my way. I had been her prisoner since and happy about it too.
"A friend of mine had offered me a job running a bar here."
"I turned him down." I wanted to reach 60. Go-go girls and drink would lead to drugs. A fatal combo. "For health reasons."
I excused myself from the two men to go to the bathroom. They were a little alike. Both ex-convicts. Reformed in their ways. I returned to the bar. Neither of them were speaking to each other. A girl grabbed my arm.
"Where you go?" She was about 23. Long-legged and beautiful. A decade before she would have been mine if only for the night.
"Home to my wife." I didn't have a watch, but I knew the clock was ticking back in Srirahca. I bid farewell to my friends. "I'll see you in the new year."
I got back to Mam's house before 7.
She looked surprised to see me. Fenway was happy with the toy I brought him. I kissed Mam on the cheek.
"You go short-time?" She had to ask.
"Not one second." And it was the truth.
Happy to say it, but sad that the Last Babylon is gone.
Same as 42nd Street.
A shopping mall for fat people, but it doesn't really matter, because as the Wicked Witch of the West rued as she melted at the end of THE WIZARD OF OZ.
"Who ever thought a little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness? Ughhhh!!! What a world. What a world!"
What a world indeed.
OPENING DEC 1TH 2008 6-9
Drawings by high wire artist Philippe Petit and photos by Victoria Dearing
255 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013
Tue - Sun 11-7 pm
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 29, 2010
Last Thursday my two-year son, Fenway, his mom, and older cousin hit the road early Thursday morning for a road trip from Sriracha to a small village near Ta Phyara on the Thai-Cambodian border. I had rented a Toyota Altis 1.6 with good AC. Mam wanted me to straight-line to see her two older kids, Noy and Fluke. 4 hours top. It was been over two years since I had last seen them.
I had a different route in mind.
The coastal route to Laem Mae Phim then north to Sakheo.
7 hours with a stop at the beach for a swim and a meal of fresh crab. Mam waived her choice and we stopped at a small restaurant on Cape Mae Phim. No one was on the beach. The full-moon tide was lapping at the sea grass.
Worrying high sea level.
Another sign of global warming, but I said nothing. The future was still another ten years away. Mam and her cousin ordered poo curry and fried oysters and I went swimming in the calm clear water. Fenway couldn't join me. My two-year-old boy had a fever. The food was excellent and I was thankful to be with my son and Mam on such a lovely day.
I toasted my deceased father with two bottles of Leo beer and paid the bill.
Mam said it was time to go.
She had been good enough to allow my communion with the sea.
It was time to get back on the road.
We had a long way to go and I stepped on the gas
Friday, November 26, 2010
Jahn Xavier, once a boy who is now a man
Tomorrow at 10:30pm - Sunday at 1:30am
Location Lakeside Lounge
162 Avenue B (Between 10th & 11th st.)
New York, NY
Come shake off that turkey with Jahn Xavier & The Bowerytones!
The Bowerytones are:
Jahn Xavier (Guitar, Vocals)
Denny McDermott (Drums)
Charlie Roth (Bass, Vocals)
Every diamond shop on West 47th Street was open seven days a week from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. Sales people, guards, elevator operators, schleppers, cutters, setters, polishers, and even Lennie the Bum slaved throughout the holiday rush in hopes of scoring enough cash to buy presents. Stores extended their normal hours to entice late-night shoppers. Thieves and gypsies made up more than 50% of the walk-ins.
Hawkers fought over the Gs or goys. Old customers were as faithful as a runaway cheerleader on crack and they chiseled us for every dollar. Salesman cut prices to the bone to complete a sale. Diamond brokers ran out of stones worth selling. When the beautiful jewelry were gone, my boss Manny would shout, “Sell what you got.”
Moving dreck jewelry was impossible.
My sales were down 30% from 1997 and I would have been suffering from a serious dose of the Grinch, if I hadn’t wangled a few side sales of cheap studs from an upstairs Israeli broker. The diamonds were slightly included to the naked eye and the price was right. I made $100/pair and sold about 30 to friends seeking to happily their wives and girlfriends.
Our company Christmas party was on the 23rd. I drank too much and tried to kiss the daughter of Manny’s partner. Her father disapproved with a frown. She was a married woman. We were only good friends. The next morning I showed up to work with a bacon and egg sandwich.
A dead giveaway of a hangover.
Manny’s son, Richie Boy joked to Leslie that I was going to be his partner soon.
“I’ll kill the goy first” Leslie pulled back his cashmere jacket. His Beretta was in a shoulder holster. I couldn’t ever recall his having pulled out his gun, but today his hand rested on the safety catch.”
“Don’t worry. I know how to keep my place.” I was still too drunk to be scare of an 80 year-old man. Elise had called in sick. I wish I had done the same, except I needed my salary, bonus, and commissions.
Manny took one look at me and said, “Don’t let the goy touch anything valuable.”
“That’s fine by me.”
I needed little encouragement to ‘lb’ or ‘look busy’ for the rest of the day. Customers came and went without my leaving my seat. Richie Boy sold a 5-carat off-color pear-shape to a walk-in, a $15,000 diamond necklace to an old customer, and a $20,000 sapphire to a showgirl. A good next to last day before Christmas, however he spent most of the afternoon fighting with his father. By 3pm Manny called it a day. “Lock the front door. We’re going home.”
“Don’t have to be told twice.” I plundered the jewelry from the front window like a Pirate of the Caribbean.
“You going home for Christmas?” Richie Boy asked, packing a box with diamond rings.
“Never fail.” At 48 I had only missed one Christmas with my family. A drunken weekend in the Isle of Wight.
“You could always celebrate it with us.”
“I’d love too.” Richie Boy’s clan was infamous on 47th street for its familial dysfunctions. “I think I’ve filled this year’s quota for time with your father.”
“Me too.” Richie Boy would have to deal with relatives and wife on his own.
Once the merchandise was locked in the vault, Manny handed over my salary, commissions, and holiday bonus. The first was on the money, the second required some cursing, and the third was less than I had expected, although more than I had feared for an off year.
“I wish it was more.”
“Yeah, we all do.” My fellow workers and I downed a quick shot of whiskey, then I dashed to the Port Authority bus station.
The conga line at Gate 84 snaked into a steady stream of north-bound buses. It was a little past 4pm by the time my bus rolled uptown. A late start for home and I wasn’t alone. I-95 was filled with packed cars. Traffic was tight all the way to the Sturbridge tollbooth and the bus arrived at South Station an hour past schedule. Scores of people waited for payphones in the train terminal. I skipped calling my older brother’s house. He knew I was coming to his Christmas Eve party. The clock said 8. Milton was only 30 minutes away.
I caught the MTA-Red Line to Ashmont. The T was crammed with last-minute shoppers and travelers completing the last leg of the journey home. I got off the trolley at Lower Mills and walked up Canton Avenue past brightly lit mansions. Snow crunched underneath my shoes. I was hungry and the scent of burning wood from spurred my pace.
Cars blocked my older brother’s driveway. The walkway was showed no signs of a shovel. The path had been beaten down by the boots of guest. Glowing windows framed friends and family huddled around a table of food. Tonight no one was worrying about diets. Children chased each other around a Christmas tree drooping with shiny ornaments. I pressed the bell. A muffled scream of ‘Uncle Bubba’ sparked a stampede of nieces and nephews. The front door opened and warm hands pulled me inside. This was my Christmas.
Everyone had a name, until a dreadlocked dog nipped my ankle. “Who’s this?”
“That’s Coco.” My eleven year-old nephew patted the hyperactive toy poodle.
“Coco’s no name for a dog.”
My brother entered the room. He looked good for a man on the brink of fifty.
“Dog? I don’t see a dog.”
“Coco’s certainly not a cat.”
“I wanted Fang.” My brother posed his foot for a mock field goal attempt. “The shelter only had Coco.”
“But we love him.” My nephew clasped the squirming puppy to his chest.
“We’ll find out about love, when he needs a walk.” My brother pointed to the kitchen. “Go help your mother and sister with the plates.”
“Uncle Bubba just arrived and I don’t want to get my hands wet.”
My nephew dropped the dog.
He was a good kid too and I hugged my nephew.
“Go help your mother.” My brother and I never questioned my father. He expected the same from his son.
“Do I have too?” These were different times.
“I’m not leaving yet, so obey your father or else Santa Claus will be late tomorrow.”
“Santa Claus is never late.” He confidently skipped into the kitchen looking over his shoulder at my brother.
“So what’s with the dog?”
“The kids wore down their mother.”
“Mom never surrendered to our pleas.” Our mother held no affection for animals.
“I ever tell you I almost bought you a dog for Christmas?” My brother handed me a glass of wine. He had stopped drinking two years ago. “But Mom said she’d have to take care of it.”
“And you listened to her?”
“You were a little careless then.”
“A dog might have cured that.”
“Let me guess.” My brother lifted his eyes in mock deliberation. He was a lawyer. His refined theatrics were well known in the Boston courts. “You might have settled down?”
“It wasn’t out of the question.” A wife, two kids, a job with the Boston School System, a vacation house in Maine, and a Volvo station wagon should have been attainable goals. I had gone to the right schools. “After all a dog is man’s best friend. I would have sat by the fire. That’s pretty homey.”
“You were free to buy a dog after you left home.” My brother upheld that my vagabond ways arose from smoking marijuana. My first joint came at age 18. I had entered university as a math major. Pot did blunders for multivariable calculus.
“Somehow I never had the time.” HOW MUCH IS THAT DOGGIE IN THE WINDOW had been replaced by Tom Rush’s version of URGE FOR GOING once I was older enough to realize that girls liked hippies better than dogs.
“And you don’t now?”
“I have plans.” After the New Year I was heading to Thailand. Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Tibet. The last was to say a spiritual goodbye to my deceased younger brother. Walking around Mount Khailash was guaranteed to expiate sins. Mine as well as those of my baby brother.
“More running away. You can blame your lack of commitment on not owning a dog all you want.” He rolled his eyes. “But the real reason Mom refused you a dog was that you were scared of them.”
“No, I wasn’t.” Afraid of the snakes under my bed. Never a dog.
“You mean you’ve forgotten.”
Several voices from the living room cried out, “Coco.”
My brother placed his water on a coaster. “Sounds like time for a damage control.”
My nieces, nephews, and their friends raced across the foyer. Coco had a Pokemon t-shirt in his mouth. The posse gave up the chase at the stairs and my brother asked his son, “Why you stop the chase?”
“No one breaks a sweat over Pokemon,” a smart-aleck ten-year old answered with a smirk and I scolded his snide ennui, “You were so into it last year.”
“Pokemon is as dead as Barney.” The kid was growing up fast.
“No, dead as Beanie Babies.”
“No, dead as Power Rangers.”
The children ran into the living room, laughing at their parents’ attempts to placate them with consumerism, while my nephew forlornly retrieved the shirt from the panting Coco.
“Why they stop loving Barney? I didn’t.”
“Sometimes people outgrow their toys.” I would have gone $1000 into credit card debt to hug my one-eyed teddy bear or my hillbilly girlfriend from 1978 again.
“You won’t outgrow me, will you?”
“Not this year and any one of this century.” I liked being around him. He was smart and sensitive. In some ways a lot like me without the meanness.
“Thanks, Uncle Bubba.” He joined the other children opening gifts.
“He’s a good kid.” I said to my older brother. “Makes me wish I had a family.”
“It’s not too late.”
“Not if your wife has her way.”
His buxom wife approached a glass of wine in her hand. She had yet to join my brother’s league of temperance.
“Uncle Bubba, I have someone I want you to meet.” She was an incorrigible matchmaker and optimistically hoped her resolve might convert me into an honest man. “Meet Laurie.”
An attractive blonde in her late thirties followed in her wake. She was twice divorced from professional men, and admired my traveling around the world. I entertained her with tales from the diamond district. When she left for another party, I promised to call her. For her safety I threw her number in the fireplace.
My father and I spoke about my late mother. He got weepy and I comforted him. We drank a little more wine than we should have and I fell asleep on the couch. I woke to a smoldering cascade of glowing logs. Guests were leaving for Midnight Mass. Fathers held their daughters’ hands. Mothers ruffled their sons’ hair.
I had no wife. No family. No house. Nothing to show for my time on this earth. As I reached for my wine, Coco licked at my hand. Scratching his skull, I pondered my brother’s earlier accusation of dogophobia, for a little puppy to call my own would have completed my life as a ten year-old boy in the suburbs south of Boston.
My next-door neighbor, Chuckie Manzi, had owned a fluffy-tailed mutt. I had pretended that it was mine, if only part-time. After school I threw Skippy sticks and wrestled balls from his mouth. I envied Chuckie for owning Skippy. They went everywhere together. At dinnertime he faithfully tramped after his master and I would ask my mother at least once a month, “Can we have a dog?”
“No, because I’ll be the one stuck taking care of it.” With six kids she didn’t need any more work.
“I’ll walk it in the morning and use the money from my paper route to feed it.”
“And when you’re at school?” That question stifled my pleas, but a ‘puppy’ perennially headed my Santa list. The toy soldiers, plastic airplanes, hardcover books, stylish clothing, and $20 bills were no substitute for a yapping puppy, although one spring my mother eased her edict against pets.
Tossing Coco off my lap, I warmed my hands before the fire and said, “Rabbits.”
Winters in New England are long and even longer for ten year-old boys. The snow season of 1962 finally released its grip on the South Shore of Boston in late-March. The warm air thawed the ice-hard ground and soon fragile green leaves sprouted from trees throughout my hometown. Shortly thereafter spring officially arrived with the Red Sox’s opening day loss to the Indians.
The next day the Fenway team followed the debut defeat with a 12th inning win. This victory rekindled our eternal hope for a successful pennant run and the neighborhood boys congregated for the first of many under-teamed baseball games in my back yard. Last year’s gloves were stiff from neglect and the Christmas gift baseballs shined in the afternoon sun. My brother, Chuckie Manzi, and I played ‘pickle’ waiting for the others to fill out the five-on-five sides.
My next-door neighbor was my best friend. His dog chased the tossed ball. Soon seven boys were laughing carelessly at Skippy’s running back and forth. The dog was faster then any of us, but couldn’t leap high enough to snag the ball.
“Your dog’s crazy.” I yelled winging the ball to my brother and Chuckie shouted, “Dogs are supposed to be crazy. Just like us.”
Three more boys ran into the field. Baseball caps on their head. My older brother, Chuckie, and I played on the same side as my two cousins. They attended St. Mary’s of the Foothills like us. The opposing five went to public school. The talent level was almost even, except my younger cousin Russell could really whack the hide off a ball
The ground rules were simple.
Any ball hit into the woods beyond the first base line was an out. A foul ball into my other neighbor’s yard was also an out, since they were in a property dispute with my parents. Two strikes and you were out. Two outs and the other team came to bat. The game was over once someone’s mother yelled for dinner. The team at bat had to provide the catcher. The rest of the rules were adjusted according to the score.
A flip of a quarter decided first-ups.
The public school team scored two runs before striking out twice. Russell drove the first pitch over the centerfielder’s head for a homer. My brother ran out a weak hit to second. Chuckie squibbed out a single. I came to the plate with two men on.
“Wait for your pitch.” My brother was patient and I told myself to be the same.
The pitcher tossed a curve outside the strike zone by a foot. My awkward swing made contact and the ball rocketed toward the Manzi’s house. It missed a bedroom window by inches and plunked into the thicket of rose bushes. The leftfielder scrambled to field the ball. It was beyond his reach.
As I crossed home plate, he yelled from underneath the thorny branches. “Rabbits.”
Both teams looked at each other.
Our suburban development was surrounded by deserted farmlands. Raccoons ate the garbage and foxes chased the chickens at the nearest stables. Last winter my brother spotted the shadow of a rattlesnake in the front yard. In the darkness I imagined the wavering shape was a rattler too. The police appeared at the house with guns drawn and discovered the deadly serpent was a loose sheet of cardboard. Chuckie had a good laugh about our mistake. So did my parents.
Rabbits were not a venomous snake and we ran to the Manzi’s house. The ten of us kneeled on the ground. Damp seeped through my jeans. Chuckie held back Skippy, because against the concrete foundation of his house lay a furry pile of bunny rabbits. None of them bigger than a Twinkie and I told Chuckie. “Get a box.”
He returned with an empty milk crate and I plucked the baby rabbits from the dirt furrow. Seeing them in the box, my brother asked, “What are you going to do with them?”
Skippy yapped his suggestion and I held the rabbits over my head.
“I’m asking Mom, if we can keep them.”
“You think she’ll say yes?” My brother’s timid voice betrayed his guess was ‘no’.
My mother either feared or hated animals. Spiders and butterflies inside the house deserved death by newspaper. My father joked that TVs would never replace newspapers, because you couldn’t swat flies with them. My mother didn’t think his joke was funny and anytime we asked for a dog or cat, she scowled as if we had tracked mud into the living room.
“We won’t know until we ask.”
I looked over to our house. The door to the laundry room was open. We trooped to the clothesline and my mother exited from the house with a heavy basket of wet sheets. She regarded the box with a frown.
“You touch them?”
“Then their mother will abandon them, because they smell of human.”
“So can we keep them?” My mother would never accept a dog, but I prayed these rabbits were different. She put down the basket of sheets. “You’ll take care of them?”
“I will, I will.”
To prove she had not misplaced her trust, I fed the baby bunnies warm milk from an eyedropper. My older brother laughingly called their wooden home a ‘bunny jail’, but Chuckie volunteered to be a bunny guard. Bunnies were definitely cuter than Skippy.
When Mrs. Manzi yelled for dinner, Chuckie asked, “Can I take care of a rabbit tonight?”
They’re a family. Families stay together.” I replied and lay on the lawn with the bunnies curled on my chest.
The sun dropped closer to the horizon. My brothers and sisters watched TV in the den, as my mother prepared dinner in the kitchen. Mr. Manzi came home from the dry cleaning shop. He waved to me and entered his house. Several minutes later my father walked up the street with a troubled weariness on his face. Years would pass before I realized he hated his boss, but tonight he smiled at the bunnies.
“Your mother says you can keep them?”
“Yeah.” I lifted a bunny and he patted its head.
“That’s a surprise. They have names?” My father liked things to have a name.
Rabbits didn’t have souls, so I didn’t have to name them after saints.
“I’ll name them after the planets.”
“None of them look fast enough to be called Mercury.”
“Not yet.” Mars would be the one with the reddish ears.
A bark ripped across the driveway. A large orange Doberman lurked behind a lilac bush. His eyes shined with hunger. My father picked up a rock and chucked it at the intruder. His aim was good and the dog yelped into the woods.
“Better keep those rabbits inside or a dog’ll get at them.” My father patted the rabbit in my arms. “Get inside. It’s time for dinner. And wash your hands.”
“Okay.” I walked inside the garage and placed the bunny jail atop the station wagon. Throughout dinner I couldn’t talk about anything other than the rabbits. Before dessert I asked, “May I please leave the table?”
“To look at those animals?” My mother seemed to regret her earlier decision.
“This better not interfere with your homework.”
She nodded her dismissal and I ran to the garage. The rabbits were where I left them. Safe in their box.
“I’ll be right back.”
I completed my homework in record time and then remained with the rabbits late. Once they were older they would race each other for carrots. The losers would get the same amount as the winners. Close to 11pm I crept upstairs. My younger brothers and sisters were asleep in their beds. My room was dark and my brother out cold. The door to my parents’ room was open.
My mother was under the covers. My father had been asleep for hours. The television was on low. The news showed Kennedy talking to his wife. My mother liked her, but had voted for Nixon. FAILSAFE lay on her chest.
“How are the rabbits?” Her insomnia had nothing to do with my father’s snoring. I had the same genes. Sleep came late for both of us.
“I think they’re happy to be inside.” I whispered and my mother looked over to my father. “Nothing can wake your father once he’s asleep. Bunny rabbits too. They’ll be fine in the garage.”
“I hope so.”
“Get me some potato chips and OJ.”
“For the TONIGHT SHOW?” She loved Johnny Carson.
“You’re a good son.”
“Thanks for the bunny rabbits, mom.”
I watched a little of Johnny Carson monologue with her and then slipped into my bed with THE AGONY AND THE ECSTACY. My eyes grew heavy and my first dream was of bunny rabbits adorning the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
Waking early for my paper route I dressed quickly into my school uniform. Grabbing a bottle of milk from the refrigerator, I entered the garage as anxious as a brand new father. My hand slipped inside the box to touch air. It was empty.
“Bunnies.” I called out. “Mars, Pluto, Venus.”
Bunny rabbits don’t make a lot of noise, but the tiniest panting came from underneath our station wagon. Kneeled on the concrete floor. Their little bunnies weren’t moving and I screamed. My father rushed into the garage, his tie undone. “What’s wrong?”
I blubbered out, “The rabbits.”
“Under the car?”
“Yes.” They were out of my reach.
My father picked them up one by one and laid the bunnies on the hood. “Two rabbits are dead. They must have jumped out of the box.
Mars and Jupiter.
The survivors were breathing like they were in a vacuum. “Why they try to escape?”
“Son, you can’t stop animals from running wild and the other three are too hurt to live. We’ll have to put them down.”
“Put them down?”
I had read THE YEARLING and seen the movie version of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ tale of a boy’s love for a baby deer. The father shooting his son’s pet proved Man has a much greater control over Death than Life.
“I’ll give them whiskey. They won’t feel a thing.”
“Can’t we bring them to the hospital?”
“Wish we could, but it’s better this way.” My mother didn’t liked liquor in the house and my father went to the tool cabinet, filling an eyedropper with Canadian Club.
“You want to say a prayer?” My father held up Venus.
“Only to make them live.”
“They will in another life.” A squirt into their mouths stilled her. Pluto and Mercury were next. My father laid the five bodies in the box. My older brother stood at the door. “What happened?”
“The rabbits tried to escape.”
“Oh.” His expression said God didn’t want us to have pets. I cried and my father held me close. “Go do your paper route and we’ll bury them when you get back.”
Every morning I delivered the Boston Globe and Herald to 54 houses in the neighborhood. My father thought a boy should have his own money. I earned about $5 a week. My brother had 64 customers. He earned over $6for a week’s work. We rode Raleigh English bikes. Every other kid had a Schwinn.
Normally I read the news walking up to each house. This morning the words Civil Rights and Cuba were simply smeared by tears. I returned home thirty minutes later, wiping my eyes with my sleeve. My father had already left for work. My mother was waiting in the back yard with an open shoebox. “Here’s the bunnies.”
They looked asleep. My brother had a shovel. My sisters were dressed for school. The sun was heating up the day. My mother checked her wristwatch.
“Better hurry up, the bus will be here soon.”
My attendance record had been perfect three years running.
“I’ll do it as fast as I can.” Chuckie trotted across the grass. He had heard the bad news. Skippy wagged his tail. Chuckie whacked him. “Go back inside.”
Skippy scurried back to his doghouse and we trudged into the woods. My younger sisters carried the bunny coffin between them. Rituals were second nature for Catholics children. I hacked at the ground with the shovel. Soon the hole was about a foot deep. My older sister placed the box at the bottom and I covered my one-day pets with dirt. My older brother made the sign of the cross.
“Shouldn’t we say something?”
My sister started singing HERE COMES PETER COTTONTAIL. The rest of us joined the song, but didn’t reach to second chorus, because the school bus blew its horn.
“Get on the bus.” My mother yelled and the others running across the lawn to the house, grabbing their lunch boxes and school bags on the driveway.
I lingered at the edge of the woods, the shovel in my hands. My mother called my name. She was going to explain why birds and bees stop flying. I wanted a miracle and returned to the woods.
Nature is cruel. The dog from last night had a dead bunny in his jaws. The fur was white. It was Venus. I raised the shovel and yelled, “Stop.”
With a threatening growl the orange Doberman mauled Vunes’ lifeless body.
My mother ran to my side and grabbed the shovel. The dog recognized her hatred of animals and scooted into the woods. I gathered Venus’ bloodied fur in my hands. My mother shook her head. “Now you know why I don’t want you to have pets.”
“They were only bunnies.”
“I had a cat when I was young and it ran away. All my tears wouldn’t bring it back.” She held the box in her hands. The other four rabbits were untouched.
“Go get the bus, I’ll bury them deep, so no animals will get at them. Go.”
She wiped my face and I ran for the bus. I didn’t speak to anyone on the way to school. My older brother cleaned the blood off my hands. He also made sure no one ridiculed me. Chuckie and he were my best friend and they knew when to keep their distance. The death grip on my school bag frightened the other students from thinking about sitting next to me on the ten-minute ride to St. Mary’s of the Foothills.
The orange dog had forced the rabbits onto the car roof. Their deaths were its fault. An eye for an eye was best exacted in secret. No one. Not my teachers, my friends, or family needed to know my plans and I said nothing throughout the school day.
My teachers and friends were used to my withdrawal from reality. They had seen it pass, but that afternoon I bicycled my paper route in search of the bunny-killing Doberman. He was the evil spawn of the devil. I couldn’t find the dog anywhere on my circuit of Harborview, Ridge Road, Sassamon, or Neponset Streets and I bicycled back to my house, ready to heave the final Herald onto the stairs of number 157 Sears Road.
A bark thundered across the lawn and the Orange doberman bolted from behind a garbage can. I swung the rolled-up paper at his frothing head. Its snarling jaws snatched the newspaper from my hand, nearly yanking me off the bike.
I regained my balance and pedaled to the end of the street. The dog had given up chase in favor of annihilating the paper. Its shreds covered the lawn like confetti and his feral glare warned me to stay off this street. If it had been a bully, I might have obeyed, only he was a dog, and my genetic code demanded another course of action.
When I arrived at our driveway, my brother was playing catch with Chuckie. We had been raised as Irish twins. Thirteen months apart and he could read me like a comic book. “I know you’re thinking about doing something crazy.”
“No, I’m going to the Canyon.” The doberman had to come from a house near the old sandpit and I was finding out which one.
“You want me to come along?”
“No, I’m just going to mess around in the Canyon.” This was my fight.
The Canyon was an abandoned sandpit overrun by small trees and weeds. Water oozed from the eroded slopes to form a stream alive with polliwogs. A dog barked from a nearby yard and I scrambled up the sandpit to peek through a hedge. The orange Doberman was nipping at the blue sundress of a laughing girl my age. I had seen her at church. Her family was the new to the neighborhood. She was pretty.
I inched forward. A dry twig snapped under my foot and the orange doglunged in my direction. My only instinct was for survival and I leapt into the Canyon, tumbling into the stream. The Doberman barked from the rim. I jumped on my bike and didn’t brake until I was halfway home.
This was no normal dog.
My revenge would require drastic measures, yet if I succeeded, the girl in the sundress would hate me, the police might arrest me, and my parents would question what kind of child they had raised, but I wasn’t arguing with the ghosts of bunny rabbits. In my family’s garage I wrapped a short lead pipe with a newspaper and tape.
“What’s with that pipe?” My brother liked to ask direct questions
“Making a blowgun,” I replied and he accepted my answer with a shrug. Best friends didn’t have to tell each other everything.
The next morning was a Saturday. Our neighborhood was quiet. Most families slept as I delivered the Globe and Heralds. I reached Sears Road with four papers, instead of three. My weapon was crude and effective. One whack of the lead pipe wrapped in newspaper would kill the dog. My enemy was well aware of its danger and DJ caught me off-guard, as he charged from a thick bush at 157 Sears Road.
I swung the weighted newspaper. The pipe clunked harmlessly off his skull. This beast was indestructible and I pedaled for my life with his teeth chomping at my heels.
That evening my father demanded, “Why didn’t you deliver all the newspapers papers?”
“A dog attacked me. That dog you threw the rock at. He belongs to the new people on Sears Road.”
“Get in the car. We’ll have a talk with them.”
Within a minute our station wagon parked before the house. Three girls played with the muscular Doberman. The car doors opened and his ears perked up. Keeping our distance, my father asked, “Is your mother or father home?”
“My mother is,” the oldest girl replied with the dog by her side. “I’ll get her.”
Her mother came out in an old cotton shift and hair rollers. She was as beautiful as her daughter and well aware of her effect on men.
“I’m Mrs. Rolla. These are my three daughters. We moved from New York.”
“Welcome to the neighborhood.” My father saw no reason not to be polite.
“Can I help you?” The woman recognized this wasn’t a social visit.
“Seems your dog has been attacking my son on his paper route.”
“DJ? He’s dumb as mud.” The woman patted the dog and DJ grinned idiotically. “Sure, all dogs bark.”
“And barkers bite___”
Mrs. Rolla leaned against the door, studying my father with a covetous interest. He was a good-looking man.
“I’ll keep DJ inside in the morning. Your son can deliver us the paper. Is that okay?”
Mrs. Rolla’s youngest daughter smiled, as if school had been let out early for summer. Delivering their newspaper meant collecting the subscription money every Friday. The young girl might answer the door. The opportunity to speak with her outweighed my desire for revenge.
“I’ll drop the papers in the door tomorrow.”
“This arrangement makes the world a much happier place. It was nice meeting you.” He stammered a good-bye and we walked to the station wagon. I looked over my shoulder and
almost yelped in terror, for DJ’s eyes were beaming with a murderous intent. youngest daughter slapped him on the head. “DJ, stop that.”
It was too late to tell my father that the Rollas were aware of DJ’s ferocity. On the way home he complimented the mother on raising such nice girls. Thankfully Mrs. Rolla kept her promise and DJ vanished from my morning and afternoon paper route.
As April turned to May, the fear of DJ was replaced by my desperate attempts to attract the attention of Mrs. Rolla’s daughter. She blissfully disregarded my acrobatically riding on my handlebars or waving to her at Sunday Mass. With each failure I withdrew deeper within my pubescent cocoon. I stopped playing baseball, fluffed my homework, and disobeyed my parents. My grades were slipping and my mother received a phone call from my teacher. She was not happy to hear that I was a C student. “Wait till your father comes home.”
My father’s harsh words were much more frightening than her smacking my hands with the wooden spoon and I dashed out of the house to the sandpit. Bees buzzed between the wild flowers and birds flew after insects. I took off my shoes and waded into the cool water. The mud squeezed between my toes and the sun was warm on my skin, then a dog growled across the stream.
It was DJ.
His bark signaled that running wasn’t an option. This was a final confrontation. When I grabbed a flat stone from the ground, a girl’s voice asked, “You’re not throwing that at my dog, are you?”
Fearing DJ, I didn’t turn my head.
“If he attacks, I will.”
Mrs. Rolla’s youngest daughter walked into my line of vision. She was holding an ice cream cone. Her thin legs stuck out from under her sundress like two white rails. Her brown hair was pulled back into a bouncy ponytail and her eyes gleamed like green pearls. DJ had witnessed hundreds of boys’ reaction to the Rolla girls and smirked with yellowed fangs.
The doberman’s head and DJ plopped by her feet. “See, he’s a pussy cat.”
“DJ’s not a normal dog, is he?”
“No, we found him eating our garbage” The girl offered the dog her cone. He gulped it with the ferocity of a rabid shark. “He smelled horrible and looks like he had been living in the woods for the entire winter. None of us mess with him when he’s eating, but he won’t bite a friend and you’re a friend, right?”
She patted DJ’s neck and the dog looked like he was waiting a command.
“You had him attack me, didn’t you?”
“I had seen you at church.” Her admission was a surprise. Boys and girls our age were supposed to hate each other, but 13 was only two years away for the both of us and there was no sense in wasting time. She stood with one foot tucked behind the other. “My name’s Kyla. You still throwing that rock? I mean if you throw that rock, you might hit me.” “You want to hit me?”
I dropped the rock and told her my name.
“You can come over my house. My mother will give you an ice cream cone.” She snapped her fingers and DJ dashed into the undergrowth. We walked to her house and by week’s end my neighborhood became a paradise populated mostly by her Eve and my Adam.
My father’s snoring returned me to the present. The fire was dying and I went into the kitchen. My brother was washing dishes and I helped him dry.
“I remember DJ.”
“And how one Thanksgiving Mom cooled the turkey in the garage and DJ ate it on the front yard after you had left the garage door open.”
“I figured it cooled faster that way.” DJ had buried his muzzle inside the turkey carcass. My mother called a hotel for dinner. She hated that dog and every other animals even more than before. I never heard the end of it.
“Mom told you to stop playing with Kyla.” My brother had a wicked memory.
“Only for a short time.” Kyla and I remained sweethearts almost all the way through high school.
“What are you talking about?”
My youngest nephew asked from the door. He loved hearing stories about the stupidity of adults, which were the only stories to tell on a Christmas Eve after the non-family members had gone home.
“This girl ate ice cream and smeared chocolate over her face. And Uncle Bubba would kiss her.” My brother and I loved making each other uncomfortable. All part of a healthy sibling rivalry.
My nephew shuffled his feet nervously, as if he had a crush on a girl as messy as Kyla. Before he could ask my brother or me a troubling question, I grabbed the finished turkey carcass from the table and fit it over Coco’s head. The puppy squirmed in terror, and then barked with delight from within the Promised Land.
My niece and brother laughed. My brother less than anyone else. He really did like Coco. His wife entered the kitchen with a load of plates and reproached me with a playful slap.
She was angry at my not asking her friend out on a date. We laughed harder to the cheers of ‘bad dog’ and ‘Bad Bubba’. My father came into the kitchen to see the commotion. I freed Coco from his prison and he snapped at my hand. My father said that the dog was dangerous, but Coco was no DJ.
Two minutes later we were rehashing my abandonment at the Kittery tollbooth. Another family myth, but none of us challenged the untruth, because tomorrow was Christmas and I was with my family. It was a good feeling. Almost as good as Coco licking my hand, I must have tasted of turkey. Dogs are a sucker for food, then again so are men, which is why they are man’s best friend both now and forever.
Both in this world and the next.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
There was no Thanksgiving in Thailand today. No parade. No turkey. No football. The Thais have yet to discover this American holiday. Probably for the better, but I'm heading from Siracha to Pattaya to meet up with a few friends. A glass of beer at the Welkom Inn on Soi 3. No turkey. I will thank the stars for my health and my well-being of my family. Mem and I will drink more beer later. A good meal along the sea. Sleep before midnight.
Today will be quite different in America, where the country traditionally commemorates Pilgrims’ gratitude to the local Indians lessons in food-gathering, especially those of Squanto who helped the religious refugees survive that first year in Plymouth. In response to this unexpected aid the settlers held a 3-day feast for their neighbors. The holiday was made official in 1789 by George Washington, although Squanto’s tribe had long vanished from Massachusetts.
Dead Indians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.
Still every 4th Thursday of November Americans travel by train, plane, and car to feast with friends and family on turkey and all the fixings. Once their bellies expand to a girth of near-explosion, the men watch a meaningless football game; usually the Detroit Lions versus The New York Jets in a stupor mimicking a boa who has swallowed a goat. Women repair to the kitchen.
Being male I have no idea what they do other than clean dishes and pots. Younger children are happy to gorge themselves on pies, while their older siblings sullen vow to not end up like their parents.
Like all holiday the situation is prime for a good argument.
Last year my father cautioned my plump 20 year-old niece that she wouldn’t lose weight if she ate any more pie. Sensitive about her size she broke into tears. My older brother demanded an apology. My father adamantly said he was only telling the truth. My brother told him to leave the house. My father obliged him and also drove across the lawn rather than wait for anyone to get their car out of the driveway.
I would have really like to have seen his tires plowing furrows in the grass, except I was in New York. No turkey last year either.
I celebrated the holiday alone.
Google Goggle Hey Goggle Hey to paraphrase the Ramones.
Max’s Kansas City had turkey dinner for the punk orphans during the late-70s.
Praise be the Turkey.
And those sexy Pilgrims.
My family’s ancestors crossed the Atlantic on the Mayflower. The Hamlin clan spent that first autumn in Plymouth. Their food supplies were dangerously low and only intervention by the native tribes spared the settlers from starvation. Americans have celebrated the largess of the Indians with an annual feast of turkey and all the fixings. Little if any mention is made of the Wampanoag Indians, who were later wiped out by the Puritans, then again extermination has no place at the dinner table.
Prayers of thanks are saved for family friends and God.
Turkey is the main meal.
I’ve had the bird most every Thanksgiving in my life.
Mothers around the USA spent hours preparing the feast. The day was filled by chores. Peeling apples, potatoes, turnips, carrots for our eight family members and another 5-10 guests. My older brother called it ‘KP Day’.My mother would cool the bird in the garage. Why was never explained to us. She would just take the big bird out of the oven and say, “Put it in the garage to cool.”
One Thanksgiving I obeyed her command. The garage door was open. The air was cold. I had spent the morning at the football game between my hometown and their arch-rivals. My next-door neighbor came over to the driveway with a football. We went into the backyard to emulate the day’s heroes. After bobbling a long pass Chuckie pointed to the front lawn.
DJ, a neighborhood dog, was attacking something. His entire head was stuck in the other animal. I ran closer and then heard my mother scream.
DJ had stolen the turkey from the garage. I picked up a stick from the ground and charged to save our holiday meal. The big black Doberman fled from our yard, leaving behind a mauled meal. My mother cried, “Where are we going to find a turkey now?”
My father looked at me. This was my fault. I didn’t even bother to explain. When you’re wrong as a child, proving you’re right is a waste of breath. My older brother and younger siblings thanked me for ruining Thanksgiving, although it didn’t turn out so bad, since DJ’s owners paid for our meal at a nearby hotel. The food was good and my mother didn’t have to wash any dishes. We didn’t have a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal for another five years.
We still thanked family, friends, and God, but my older brother and I also thanked DJ. Even bad deeds can turn out good as long as no one brings up the Wampanoag Indians.
Benjamin Franklin proposed the turkey for the national bird. The turkey of his era was nothing like the domesticated bird slaughtered for Thanksgiving. The wild turkey was a cunning wood creature living in large communes of fellow avians. Huge flocks of brightly plumed turkeys would cloud the skies. Benjamin Franklin was vehemently against the choice of the eagle as the national bird.
“I wish that the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country, he is a bird of bad moral character, he does not get his living honestly, you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk, and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to its nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him…. Besides he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest. . . of America.. . . For a truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America . . . a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on.”
Nice talk for the national bird.
Wonder what Eagle would taste like for Thanksgiving.
In 1960 my family moved south from the Maine Coast to a suburb south of Boston. Inbound planes to Logan Airport flew over our neighborhood of split-level houses That first night the roar of an approaching jet disrupted my sleep, while my brother was dead to the world. Somehow I thought one of them was going to crash into our home. My uncle came into the darkened bedroom and said, "All those planes are late flights. Maybe only half-full and everyone knows only full planes crash."
I took small comfort from his counsel, however my uncle had led his men out of Korea's Chosin Reservoir in December 1950. He was a hero to me and I went to sleep dreaming of floating planes.
The next day my mother stood in the backyard with her eyes raised to the sky.
"It's amazing that planes stay in the sky." My mother had graduated from high school. Her love for reading kept her up late at night. She had no grasp of aerodynamics and my father explained the concepts of how lift and thrust conquer gravity. He was an electrical engineer. I accepted his words as the truth and never suffered sleeplessness from the fear of a crash jet.
This last week I traveled from New York to Dubai on the Emirates' new A-380. My final destination was Bangkok. The new Airbus was enormous. I relaxed in my seat. More comfortable than a 747. A wide-screen entertainment unit before me. 13 hours to Dubai and I was content to be heading east.
Earlier this month the engine of an A-380 had blown up in mid-air. The plane had descended without mishap or injury to Singapore's airport. Several friends had expressed their apprehension about the palen's safety, but I have full faith in the aircraft, although my deceased mother would have marveled at the smooth take-off.
Airborne into the night sky.
The A-380 was SRO, yet I conquered my paranoia about the danger of flying in a full plane long ago. The passengers were mostly Arbic and subcontinental Asians. Few Americans trusted anything from the Middle East after 9/11. To my left was a young Arab woman with her newly-born infant. To my right a Virginian heading to work security.
"Where about?" It was a simple question.
"Someplace I'd rather not say." His tour of duty was 6 months.
"Oh." I figured him for an employee of Xe Services LLC working as a bodyguard in Afghanistan. That country has eaten its fill of occupying armies. Only the Mongols succeeded in pacifying the populace. They left pyramids of skulls to whiten in the wind. I kept my views on the eternal war to myself and offered simple advice based of the British Army's disastrous retreat from Kabul in 1842. "If the shit goes squirrely, then head north. South is all badlands."
"Yeah, I figured that." Xe Services LLC must have given their employees an escape strategy based on history. The Pentagon will probably go the other way and that is a hard slog to the coast through Pakistan. All of it bad road.
I eased back in my seat and enjoyed the flight, knowing nothing really bad can happen in mid-air. I was surprised to see that the dinner cutlery was steel. The Emirates Airlines were not scared of Al-Quada and neither was I.
Then again I was bound for Thailand; good food, friends, and family.
The night Barack Obama was elected president, people were dancing in the streets of New York. Our man had won against the GOP. I looked into the eyes of a man my age and we started crying, not out of joy, but because of the sadness of the lost years since November 22 1963.
Obama was one of us. He took office two months later. The presidential limousine drove him from the inauguration stage to a series of parties. Thousands of supporters gladhanded their president and at the end of the festivities Barack Obama found himself in the White House.
The Oval Office. The Red Phone to Moscow. The Briefcase. They were his along with two wars and a shattered economy. He must have looked at his wife and said, “What now?”
If I was Michelle, I would have said, “What about the Kennedys?”
Then again I’m from Boston.
The President might have been politically wounded in the last by-year election, but he still has access to deep, dark secrets buried by various agency; Roswell, Martin Luther King, Pearl Harbor. Too many questions, yet nothing new has come to light during the first two years of his administration and considering the body count for asking the wrong questions, I can appreciate his patience.
It takes time to unbury the truth.
Maybe the truth will be set free on 11/22/2012.
Unless the world ends as predicted by Hollywood.
The black Suburban was heading west on Route 2 at the top of Lake Michigan. The late afternoon traffic was nearly non-existent and no state troopers cruised the two-laner crossing the Upper Peninsula. The driver would have accelerated to 85, if he hadn’t spotted a white van in the Wonderland Diner parking lot, instead he stamped on the brakes and SUV lumbered to the side of the road. The tall man behind the wheel reached over for his binoculars and focused on the back of the van.
“Now I have you.” The plates matched those of the fugitive and the driver couldn’t believe his luck. Only this morning the Assistant Field Director in Petrowsky called off the hunt for their quarry.
“The fat man has slipped through our net, but someone that size will surface sooner or later.”
The driver of the black car hadn’t imagined ‘later’ would arrive so soon and he punched a number on his cell phone. The direct line to the agency was busy. 911 and the State Police were off line. Someone jamming the service.
SOP demanded back-up and the agent waited for the phone service to come back on line. The diner’s sign blink HOME COOKING every 15 seconds. The neon enticement was playing to an empty house, for 30 minutes went by without a single car or truck passing the Wonderland Diner.
The sun dropped beneath the pines and the light lessened by half. Darkness would give the fat man cover to escape into the Upper Peninsula’s trackless woods. The agent tapped out 911. Nothing. He pulled out his 9mm. It was loaded with 15 rounds.
“Fuck SOP.” The agent shifted the SUV out of park and drove right behind the van. He flicked off the safety of his automatic and got out of the Suburban.
The door opened with a creak.
Neither the cook nor the young man at the counter broke from their fixation the food fest at table #5, where a fat man in overalls was shoveling down the remains of grits and eggs.
“Where them pasties?” The fat man pushed his stubby fingers through lank hair.
“They’re coming.” Michigan had no law against eating yourself to death and the cook flipped the half-dozen meat-stuffed pasties onto a plate, then turned to the tall man at the entrance. His suit was rumpled and his right hand was behind his back. His build a was little too athletic for a man in his forties, but the cook had seen all types during his ten years running the Wonderland.
“You comin’ or goin’? Cuz either way you gotta shut that door.”
“Business so good you can insult customers.” The newcomer shut the door.
“Sorry, mister, I don’t heat the great outdoors. Not this time of year.”
The tall man sat at the counter. “What’s good?”
“Most everythin’.” The fat man wiped his mouth with the back on his hand. “Chicken pot pie was damn good. Pork Chops too. Ya should try that.”
“I’m not that hungry.” The tall man eyed the young man at the counter. The dirt on his hands had not come from any honest labor and the leaves in his long hair indicated a night under a bridge. He was no one and the tall man whipped out his 9mm.
“Don’t shoot me.” The cook dropped the plate of pasties.
“No one’s shooting anyone.” The fat man poked a fork into the flapjacks.
“Not if I don’t have to.” The tall man produced a badge. “I’m a duly authorized federal agent and that man is a fugitive from justice. You two stay out of the way and nobody will be hurt. Big man, keep your hands in front of you and stand away from the table very slowly.”
“I….” the hippie stammered and the agent snapped,” This doesn’t concern you.”
“Stay out of it,” the fat man mumbled through his pancakes.
“Drop that fork.” The agent approached the booth.
“Ya goin’ to shoot me for eatin’?”
“I’m not kidding.” The agent wasn’t in a laughing mood.
“Damn, who ya’ll? The fat people police?” The big man rose with extraordinary grace for a man his size. “Yer wanna arrest me, Ah ain’t gonna fight.”
The fat man was wanted Dead or Alive and his lack of resistance surprised the agent. Still it was too premature to daydream about glory.
“You’ve been through the drill; turn around, face the wall, and spread them wide.”
“Tell me, if Ah’m gonna be safe with ya’ll.” The fat man stretched his elephantine arms and legs against the Formica wall.
“Ah mean, the only reason Ah ain’t surrendered before was that Ah weren’t sure that yer cud keep me someplace safe.”
“Oh, we have safe places for you.” The agent dangled handcuffs to the cook. “Slap these on the man. If he moves, I’ll shoot him.”
“Shooting a man that big like trying to hit a bear in a vital spot.” The cook took the cuff. “No offense, big man.”
“None taken.” The fat man’s head swiveled to show a toothy smile. “Yer a good cook and Ah gots to dig yer fer that.”
“Keep your eyes straight ahead.”
“Ain’t that a laugh? Here ya are tryin’ to earn a decent living and this bloodhound starts messin’ with yer customers and orderin’ ya around.” The fat man pressed his face to the wall and stuck out his hands. “Bet that makes ya feel real safe.”
“You shut up.”
“Oh, they want to censor what Ah gotta say. That’s why they’re after me. Cus Ah’m privy to the truth about lies. Cookie, why don’t ya ask Bossman why he’s arrestin’ me? Doesn’t have a clue.”
“They’re too small.” The cook fumbled with the cuffs.
“You have to open them up.” The tall man glanced at the silent longhair. His hands were over his head. The agent snatched the handcuffs from the cook and stepped closer to the fat man. “Get real tight with that wall and put your hands behind you.”
“Yeah, yer just doin’ your job, only Ah ain’t done no wrong to no one in a long time. That didn’t keep ‘em from comin’ after me.”
“I’m gonna obey your every command, bossman.”
“Cook, you have tape?” The cuffs were too small.
“Ain’t ya supposed to use government-issue tape?”
“I told you to shut your hole and I meant it. Where’s that tape?”
“Right here.” The cook offered masking tape.
“Wrap his wrists tight.”
“Hey, ya don’t wanna be cuttin’ off the blood. Ah mean Ah gotta eat with these hands.”
“Don’t worry, you’ll be stuffing your yap soon enough.” The agent put the cook out of his line of fire.
“I hate GI Joe grub.” The fat man spun on his heels and pushed the cook.
The agent had been expecting this move and pulled the trigger, only the shot went wide and three hundred plus pounds of sweat, fat, and bones squashed the agent into the wall like a Samoan lineman sacking a quarterback. When the fat man stepped away, the unconscious agent fell to the floor.
“You kill him,” the cook declared with horror.
“Ain’t dead, son, only knocked out and people will come in droves, cus ya had somethin’ happen to hear you tell all about what happened and not much happens this time of year or any other, right? If fact ya should be thankin’ me for savin’ yer winter.” The fat man de-ammoed the 9mm. “Cookie, give the man his piece after I’m gone.”
“What you gonna do?” The cook looked at the payphone.
“Ah’m gonna go down the highway and yer can tell the fellas that come for this one that too.” The fat man picked up the pasties from the counter.
“Sure, take what you want.”
“This ain’t no stick-up.” The fat man handed him several twenties and told the long hair, “You can drop yer hands.”
“I’m no trouble.” The long hair stared at the man on the floor.
“And ya ain’t gonna have none neither. I wanya ta drive fer me.”
“Drive for you?” The hippie lowered his arms.
“They have an all-points on my van, so Ah’m takin’ the bossman’s car.”
The longhair retreated toward the bathroom.
“Maybe ya didn’t hear me right. You’re drivin’. Ah can’t fit behind the wheel and ya’ll can. Afterwards ya can say that Ah forced ya’ll, which is exactly what Ah’m doin’, ifn’t I hear the word ‘no’ agin.”
“You’re not leaving me any choices,” the longhair protested to the fat man.
“Yer exactly right.” The fat man searched the fallen agent’s pockets, finding the car keys, and then jerked the pay phone from the wall. “Sorry, Ah can’t take chances. Thanks for the lunch. It was delicious. Let’s go.”
The hippie exited first from the diner. The fat man pointed to the SUV.
“I like big cars. They make me look thin.”
“There’s not many places to run on the Upper Peninsula.”
“That’s okay, cuz where Ah’m goin’ ain’t no one can follow me.”
“You expecting an alien abduction?”
“They already land on Earth. Sum of ‘em tubes. Funny, maybe that’s why people in the fashion businesses are so skinny and Ah’m so fat. They don’t abduct no fat men, cuz they can’t achieve orbit. Now git in the car, we have to go.” The fat man shoved the long hair behind the wheel and then sat in the rear with the SUV teetering to the right.
The hippie studied the rear-view mirror. This steadiness of his eyes came from training and the fat man pegged the drifter as a government operative. Thankfully no helicopters flitted over the treetops.
“Who’s been chasing you?” The hippie backed out of the parking lot.
“The FBI, the CIA, the NSA and even NASA had a shot..”
“Was that guy one of them?”
“He might have been after the million-dollar bounty on my head.”
“Why you worth a million?” The hippie glanced in the rearview mirror.
“Yer seen me enough at the diner.” The fat man pushed him forward.
“I ain’t seen anyone human eat that much.” It was for more than two people.
“Yer can’t get a better disguise than a fat person.”
“So you didn’t tell me why they hunting you.”
“Ah didn’t, otherwise they’d hunt you to the ground.”
“Heck, I’m already wanted for credit card theft, so I’m off to Canada.” The driver spoke with a grim determination. “I’ll head to the Eskimo nation to hunt seals or whales or carve tusks. I’m good with my hands and there’s not much call for that in the old USA, right?”
“Yer wanna hear why they’re after me?” The fat man leaned forward to whisper in the driver’s ear.
“Hell, I’d tell you I’d keep it a secret, but after two beers or a joint I’d surrender the family secrets to entertain the crowd, so if you don’t want it spread around the Eskimo nation, keep it to yourself.” The driver’s gray eyes gleamed with a hustler’s sincerity.
“I guess I can trust you.” The fat man settled into the seat. “Ah was once young and full of life. One day Ah heard a story, which altered my life. A secret Ah wuzn’t supposed to hear and didn’t believe. Anyway this man told me the truth of this world. Oh, Ah heard why we were in Vietnam to stop communism. Fer dope. Why we gave China to the Reds? To control one billion people under one leader. The government waved the flag and blacklisted commies in America, which was smoke fer the real drama. None of those truths got me in trouble. No, the one that endangered me is the greatest mystery in the American Century. Yer have any idea which one that might be?”
“Is Elvis alive?”
“Elvis is dead. Ah saw the body.”
“Saw the body?” the longhair demanded in disbelief.
“Ah saw plenty in my old job and heard more. Elvis’s death ain’t the greatest secret in America, unless yer an Elvis impersonator. C’mon, try a little harder.” He squinted, as the setting sun’s golden glow filled the long corridor of pines bordering the highway.
“Biggest secret. Oh, I have it. Who killed Kennedy? You’re talking about that, right?”
“You score ten points.”
The driver stepped on the gas.
“Ah’ll tell yer and it’ll only take about seven minutes after which Ah’m gonna step out of the car and you drive away. Yer got that?”
“Ah was alive, when Kennedy was killed. Hell, Ah can tell you what Ah was wearin’, cuz Ah went to a Catholic school. White shirt, blue tie, black pants, black shoes. Anyway Ah believed that Oswald was the killer.”
“Same as the rest of the America.”
“Ah believed that, until Ah met the assassin and he wuzn’t no CIA agent either.”
“Who was he?”
“His identity is unimportant, cuz he wuz part of the machine that killed the president.”
“Cause of the Bay of Pigs?”
“Not warm. This story doesn’t begin with the Kennedys. Yer heard of Marilyn Monroe?”
“Yeah, the movie actress JFK was banging.”
“That proves yer an ignorant fuck buyin’ what the TV sells you.”
“Okay, okay, tell me your story then.” The driver flicked on the headlights.
“What yer do that fer?”
“Cause it’ll be dark soon, that’s why.” The drifter acted like it was normal.
“Yeah, right, so as Ah said, the story starts with Marilyn Monroe. Not many people were aware of that she was the illegitimate daughter of a Mafia gangster. Anyway Marilyn becomes a movie star and every citizens in America believes she’s havin’ an affair with JFK, only JFK is usin’ her as a ‘beard’ to hide his womanizin’.”
“With Judith Exner Campbell.” The driver cracked the window to let in a cold wind smelling of pine.
“Glad you watch The Learning Channel.” The fat man dropped the southern tell the accent. The story went faster without the drawl. “Anyway Marilyn becomes a real pain in the ass and JFK tells his brother, Bobby, to tell her it’s over. Bobby goes to Marilyn after the birthday bash in Madison Square Garden. Normally the sight of a crying woman had no effect on the hard-hearted bastard. Only he’s a man and she’s a beautiful woman and he comforts her broken heart.”
“So JFK never…..”
“Never is a long time, anyway Bobby falls in love with Marilyn and starts telling his business and JFK’s too. Starts talkin’ about leavin’ his wife and the Kennedys had a hard enough time electin’ Catholic in 1960 without having a divorce in the family for the re-election in 1964. JFK orders his brother to dump Marilyn. Bobby says he’s marrying Marilyn. JFK vows to stop this union. He can’t turn to the Mafia, since he’s stiffed them on Cuba. Instead he goes to that old drag queen, Hoover, who’s pleased as punch to get more dirt on the President. The little fruitcake tells him not to worry and flies out to Los Angeles with his boyfriend and they kill Marilyn. Bobby walks in on them and beats the shit out of them. J. Edgar confesses that his brother ordered her murder.”
“Shit. A car’s following us. In fact they’re catching up.”
“Could be anyone.” The fat man glimpsed over his shoulder.
“No, not just ‘anyone’ has flashing lights, but they ain’t catchin’ us on this straightway. So keep the story coming.”
“Thanks, kid, it’s comforting to have a friend in your corner. Now where was I? Oh, yeah, Bobby wants revenge. Nothing comes to him, until the brightest and the best at the White House are discussing the drop in JFK’s polls. The president asked, if anyone has an idea to boost his popularity. Bobby suggested they stage a fake assassination attempt. The rest of the brain trust calls him crazy, except Old Man Kennedy understood street politics and mumbles nothin’ boosts a president’s re-election more than a failed assassination. JFK accepted his father’s edict and gave the CIA the go-ahead. Those university minds plotted the fake assassination in Dallas. A CIA team on the grassy knoll shoots blanks. JFK becomes a hero, the election a landslide, and a mandate assures a new era of prosperity. None of them suspected Bobby would set-up his brother for the old Mafia boss.”
“Who was Marilyn’s real father?”
“Ten points. Bobby tells the old man how JFK had killed his daughter and they planned to place another shooter on the scene.”
“The Texas Book Depository,” the driver spat like he was rushing an answer to a game show.
“No, Oswald was a fall guy. The Mafia chief put his shooter in the building across the street, November 22, 1963. Everyone’s in place. The CIA team shootin’ blanks on the grassy knoll. The fall guy in the Depository. The Mafia hit man waiting for his shot. Anyway the limo makes the turn and the Mafia hit man bangs away, hitting the president. The CIA team is confused by the change in the plans and pulls off a round. The hit man delivers the coup de grace and Bobby has his revenge. Fraticide.”
“It fits,” the driver murmured with the car gliding to a halt.
“I figured you for a cop.” The fat man dipped his hand into the bag of pasties.
“Sorry, big man,” the driver apologized, adding, “I’m only doing my job.”
“No problem, I understand.” He bit into the pastie.
Blinking lights filled the interior of the car.
“You want to make this easy for them?”
“You think about what they’ll do to you, once they’re rid of me?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Officer Tippitt, Lee Harvey Oswald, Dorothy Killgallen, Jack Ruby to name a few, but we don’t have time to discuss this. I step out of this car and I’m a dead man. You’re dead too, because I told you too much.”
“That was some crazy bullshit.”
“Okay, you talk to your boys. If they ask, if I told you anything, then come back to the car and drive faster than hell. A plane is at a deserted airfield nearby and the pilot will wait another ten minutes. Tell them I have a gun and will only surrender to you.”
“You don’t have a gun.”
“Yes, I do.” The fat man withdrew a .22 Beretta from under a fold of fat. “Now if I’m wrong, step away, because I’m not goin’ to jail and I don’t wanna kill you.”
“Why not?” The driver rested his hand on the door handle.
“Because you’re my only out.” The fat man flicked off the Beretta’s safety.
The longhair walked to the men behind the cars. They spoke for a few seconds and the hippie returned to sit behind the wheel. The fat man tapped him on the shoulder.
“You were right.”
“I wish I wasn’t.” The fat man had to trust the longhair. They were both dead men if he didn’t. “You ready?”
“Ready?” The driver stamped on the accelerator. The black car burnt rubber to the crack of shots. Several shattered the rear window, missing the passenger and the driver. Sirens filled their ears and the cold air rushed inside the car. “That’s one way to quit your job.”
“No one in my job has ever retired, so it’s welcome to run for your life.”
“Yeah, head out of the highway, looking for adventure and whatever comes your way,” the fat man sang, imitating Elvis’ voice.
“Fire your guns into space.” The driver showed they were on the same team and the fat man repeated the chorus from Judas Priest, “Head out of the highway.” because the open road was the only world left for people like him, until the expected the ranks of the resistance outnumbered the liars in power and that could take an eternity.
Yesterday no one in Thailand mentioned JFK’s bad day in Dallas.
Neither the BBC, International Herald Tribune, nor Bangkok Post wrote a single line about the November 22, 1963 tragedy, proving the old adage that as you get old you forget and as you get older you are forgotten.
47 years might be a long time for some people, but I can remember exactly what I was wearing, as Sister Mary Honore sobbingly announced over the intercom, “The president has been shot dead in Dallas.”
The standard uniform for St. Mary’s of the Hills was a blue tie, white shirt, and navy blue slacks.
On the bus ride home 5th Grade Paul O’Conner said, “Well, I guess that settles what the Kennedys are getting for Christmas. A Jack in the Box.”
The older boys beat him up for his bad taste, because even 8th Graders understood that America had been changed forever and not necessarily for the better. School was cancelled that week and I hung my uniform in the closet till that next Monday.
There was nothing on TV. No cartoons. No movies. Only the funeral and on Sunday NFL football. The upstart AFL cancelled thier games. That was the turning point for their league.
The Warren Commission concluded that Lee Harvey acted alone. Conspiracy theorists have refuted this finding as well as the official Single Bullet Theory, while also attributing the assassination to the CIA, Castro, the Mafia, Cuban exile groups, and anti-communist Pentagon cliques.
Of course my theory runs counter to the mainstream in that I think RFK arranged his brother’s death for having ordered the murder of Marilyn Monroe by J. Edgar Hoover.
I wrote recently that I had only been in two movies; THE LAST SONG and a foot fetish short, however three years ago my friend Randy Koral came out from Paris to film a version of my short story THE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH. We changed the setting to Thailand and the fat man was on the run to Cambodia. I played the lead and Nick Rieter starred as the black operative hitman.
My screenplay centered on a long monologue of my JFK assassination theory. The day of this scene I had a 103 fever. Every attempt to complete this three minute piece ended in failure further proving the wisdom of my never having pursued an acting career.
Nick on the other hand was great.
Cockney accent and bad teeth.
The film was never edited to a rough cut. Randy was soon diagnosed with brain cancer. Two operations in France has him in remission. He is coming out here next month. Maybe we can reshoot the flubbed scenes then.
I miss JFK, especially after seeing the film 13 DAYS, which shows how a real president should act in a crisis.
His last words in Dallas were in in response to Governor Connelly’s saying, “You can’t say the people of Dallas don’t love you.”
“No, I wouldn’t say that.”
Four shots proved them wrong.
Here's to you John, We barely knew you.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Enheartened by his gubernatorial mandate Mississippi Tea Party governor has thrown his hat into the 2012 presidential race by announcing budget cuts in all departments of the state government. His axe has targeted wasteful spending in education, highway police, mental health care, unemployment assistance, and welfare to the poor.
Mississippi presently ranks last or next to last in a wide range of categories; health and education, but leads the way with obesity.
Go you rebs go.
Back in the 80s Brion Gysin was living his last days in Paris. I was working at the Bains-Douches. I fought a lot at the door. Brion liked rough trade. We were associated through a mutual friend, Jeffery Kime. Dinners, drinks, parties. The collage artist/poet was a gentleman in pursuit of the frontiers of humor. He once sneaked a recipe for marijuana into a cookbook by Alice B Toklas. Every head in America knows her name thanks to Brion's deceit. By 1985 his health was failing and an arms dealer suggested that I work for him in order to secure Brion a steady flow of income.
The man was renown for his dealing with 3rd world insurrections. No one ever said his name in public. My job was to be his right-hand man.
"Don't start any cars," Brion coughed through his oxygen mask. "Just joking. I don't need the money. remember this is France and bad health is free. It's only good health that costs something."
Brion passed away in July 1986. The arms dealer prospered during the final stages of the Cold War. I was sitting on the rocks of Cap d'Antibes later that autumn. A gigantic black ship was streaming east toward Cannes. I mentioned aloud to my companion, a fashion model from South Africa, now known as the ex-model from Paris, that it looked like a sleath warship.
"No, your friend's friend's yacht."
The biggest in the world.
"Why didn't you work for him?" The model from South Africa was married with a French fascist. He had one time thrown grenades into an Algerian mosque packed with women and children. The massacre never made the LE SOIR.
"I like waking up in the morning without thinking someone is getting ready to kill me or that I've killed hundreds of people to make enough money for my Ferrari."
"You'd rather make a little money for being a thug."
"It suits my temperament."
The life of an arm dealer is not easy and this week Viktor Bout, the merchant of death was extradited from Thailand to the USA. He had been arrested last year by DEA agents pretending to be left-wing Colombian rebels seeking ground-to-air missiles. The story sounded funny to me after reading about it in the newspaper.
Arms dealers are savvy people. They normally only trafficked with kindred spirits. Viktor Bout probably knew the pseudo-FARC guerrillas were DEA agents, who were trying to link the rebel movement to cocaine trafficking, and figured that their business is their business. He was only in it for the money.
No arms or money ever passed hands.
It was all talk.
Until the Russian national said he didn't mind if the weapons were used to kill DEA pilots.
The doors were busted down and Viktor Bout was remanded to Thai custody. His extradition angered the Russian authorities, but they said that the 43 year-old knows nothing about nothing. Facign 25 to life Mr. Bout pleaded not guilty in a NY federal court. I would have done the same in his shoes, which are now government issue.
Another mouth to feed on the teat of the American tax payer.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
The short-time bars of Soi 6 and go-go bars of Walking Street are not the only tourist attractions of Pattaya. Farangs and Thais travel down from Bangkok to enjoy lounging on the beach, dining at the thousands of restaurants, shopping at street markets, and taking in the sights. This week Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks promoted its pseudo-museum with a new billboard on Sukhumvit. Farangs couldn’t read the words in Thai, however the giant photo of Adolf Hitler sieg heiling said a million words to foreign travelers on the busy highway.
The ad campaign appears to be aimed at Thais, since the wordage is in the native tongue of Siam.
“Hitler is not dead.”
German and Israeli embassies immediately complained to authorities and the Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks manager apologized for this cultural faux pas.
“We think he is an important historical figure, but in a horrible way. We apologise for causing any offense which was not at all intended. We did not realise it would make people so angry.”
Thais were unperturbed by the mistake.
‘Man kill farang. Not kill Thai. What problem?” One of my Thai friends said over the telephone. Thais aren’t too concerned with anything happening outside their borders or the present. Neither are my fellow Americans. “If he bad. Why no one kill him?”
Indeed Hitler has been rumored to have escape the Berlin bunker. George Steiner wrote THE LAST PORTAGE OF AH about an Israeli intelligence squad finding the Nazi leader in the jungles of Brazil. Several films have centered their plots of the lost empire of the Third Reich. Adolf would be a very old man if he was alive. In fact he’d be the oldest person alive on this planet.
“120 years old.” An overweight Hassidic diamond broker told this joke the other day. “Things are bad on this planet. troubles so bad that people want a strong leader. someone finds Hitler alive in Brazil. 120 years old but still mentally capable. The world leaders struggle to persuade Hitler to take over the world. He refuses time and time again, until he agrees.
“Okay, okay, I’ll do it, but this time no Mr. Nice Guy.”
Yes, Pattaya, Adolf still lives in the minds of many.
Good thing he can’t collect on his royalties.
AH 1889-1945?-2009? and beyond
The TSA has gone crazy
The other day they stripped searched a young boy, as if they were pederast priest fondling an altar boy. I passed through their grips the other day on my way to Bangkok without any harassment, but you never know when it could be your turn for the 'full frisk'
To see a video of this young boy's introduction to the never-ending war of terror, please go to this URL
"Drill baby drill."
Thsi slogan first hit the ears of America during the 2008 GOP convention. Michael Steele was its originator. Saran Palin adopted the pro-Oil mantra during her VP debate with Joe Biden, who was proposing alternative energy investment. It didn't matter that any new wells would take ore than 10 years to bring on line and the feisty Alaskan responded with the peppery line, "The chant is 'drill, baby, drill.' And that's what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into."
Engorged by the success of her Tea Party compatriots in the 2010 by-elections, Sarah Palin has promised to cut federal expenditures to the bone.
Little is sacred.
The new Health Care bill will be aborted under her rule. Same Sex marriage ceremony will be banned at public places. Creationism will replace evolution in order to save money on teaching children two opposing thoughts. Education will be optional for the 'refudiator'
'Cut cut cut'
Till there's nothing left of the government.
She can only dream until 2012.
Then it's all about the ax.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
The Boston Garden was a hallowed destination for fathers and sons in the 60s. Mostly for the Celtics. They were NBA champs year after year. I was a basketball fanatic and my father brought my older brother and me to several games after our move from Maine to the South Shore of Boston, but coming from that northern clime my father's preferred sport was hockey. He flooded an improvised rink in the backyard of our suburban lawn on frigid nights. The next morning the ice shined like a silver mirror. We played hockey before and after school. The Bruins were our team; American-born Tommy Williams, the Uke line of Johnny Bucyk, Vic Stasiuk, and Bronco Horvath along with Don McKenney and Fleming, but in the early 60s the Bruins ruled only the basement.
Their cellar status didn't deter my father from taking his sons to the Boston Garden and on January 31, 1963 we watched the Chicago Blackhawks played the home team. For decades I thought the game had been close and that Bobby Hull, the fearsome scorer, had tied the game with his third goal. A Google search wiped the sleepdust from my eyes. The Bruins had been annihilated by 1st place Chicago.
Stan Mikita first trifectaed the Bruins three goals.
Back then men wore hats and the Garden ice was deluged by a homage of homburgs and borsalinos. My father kept his hat in his hand.
"That was nothing special."
Bobby Hull # 9 changed his mind with his 8th career hat trick at 16:25 of the third. A wicked slapshot with his curved banana stick. The goalie never reacted to the blast.
My father flung his wide brim onto the rink.
"Now that was special."
The Golden Rocket was special and then some.
Just like my father.